Thursday, March 30, 2006

Comments from Ann Arbor

Proms - yeah! Races - Yeah! Allergies - BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Our lives are much more uneventful. Quick rundown:
Jim - played 2 basketball games last night and gets sent back to preschool for 'Fishing with Fathers" with Josh tomorrow
Ginny - still doing the mom/cantor/handbell director thing-lots going on @ church w/ Holy Week coming up. Currently working on Justin's T-shirt quilt for graduation
Amanda - almost done w/ year 1 of college; deciding whether to transfer to a different school and what summer plans will be (work/school combo is the current favorite)
Justin - school band went to band festival competition and scored a I (highest rating); he was in a clarinet quartet that went to district solo and ensemble festival and scored a I, then to state S&E and scored a I. Remember I mentioned the music dept. at his school was named best in the nation by the Grammy Foundation? There will be a special concert on Tuesday, May 30, at Hill Auditorium where the school ensembles will perform and be presented their award by representatives from the Foundation. It's free and open to the public so if anyone wants to hike on over, you're more than welcome; we'll even spring for coffee and dessert afterward! Speaking of May, another fun day looms for us: Justin's final band performance of his high school career and his senior prom are on the same day- the same day as my sister's wedding! - that'll be a fun one! We're heading down to SC over spring break for college orientation.
Drew - driving! - need I say more??? He made JV baseball and having fun. So far the team is 1-0-1. His band went to the band festival, too, and scored a II - the best his school has ever done - they were ecstatic!
Joey - Doing better grasping his first year with 9 different teachers. Spring school band concert went fine. He'll be doing track and baseball this spring
Josh - reading! My first experience with a reading preschooler - fun! He's starting to read signs we drive by - the first time he did it I thought it was a fluke!
Tony - reading by imitation - very convincing:)!

Jim told me my last entry was weak, and I'm not sure this was much better, but that's where we're at in A2!

Love to all.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Another One . . .

So this week was a good one for allergic reactions for Gretchen!

On Friday, I went to lunch with co-workers - Indian food. Called the restaurant ahead of time to make sure I could eat there. Spoke with the server. It was a buffet and he told me there were 2 dishes on it I could not eat. So I picked other stuff, had one bite. Waiter came back and said, oh yeah, you also can't have these 3 other things. Too late. I had tasted one of those on a fork already - it was already in me.

Took some benedryl. Dealt with the mouth hives and esophagus stabs. Left the restaurant, went back to the office to chill out for a bit. Mouth hives were getting better, but then I was suddenly hot from head to toe . Went to the restroom- yep, head to toe hives. Also, what joy, my eyes were swelling up and so were my lips and ears (anyone seen "Hitch"?).

So, took a trip to the ER. Got pumped with the drugs. Called Paul and he came down with Iram. Jason left the airport where he was about to board a flight and came down. We had a little party in the ER for a few hours.

So I'm better today - still on a lot of medicine. They make you stay on it for 4 days. Apparently that's how long it takes to get the stuff all the way out of your system - and since the reaction was so severe, it can recur even 2 or 3 days later. So the meds are making that not happen. Prednazone, Benedryl, and Pepcid.

Yeah. It was awesome.

So today, I called the restaurant to see what it was that I ate. The reaction was so bad, I figured it had to be peanuts. I have not had a peanut or peanut substance since I was 2. And that's my worst one, so I figured it had to have been peanut oil in the thing I ate.

Nope. Spinach, mushrooms, cream, and CASHEW nut paste for flavor. Cashews?? You bastards!

If it was that bad for cashews, I'm really glad it wasn't peanut oil!

So, I'm trying to get in to an allergist on Monday or Tuesday to get retested. I'm a bit freaked out because I'm leaving the country on Thursday to go to Mexico and I've had two allergic reactions this week, so now I'm even more sensitive than usual, so that could suck. My friend Cesar who is from Mexico is going to translate some stuff for me so I can communicate that peanuts/nuts are not good for me. He also filled me in on the mole sauce - apparently mole sauce in Mexico is made with almonds . . . good to know.

That's the story. Gotta find an allergist in my plan now . . . frickin' cashews.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

So this was a new one . . .

So, last night I had an unusual experience . . .

(I promise to keep this post in the realm of the readable for length! Ahem Craiggo!)

I was at a Barrel of Monkeys benefit, (Monkey-O-Kee = bar, karaoke, fundraising) and I was talking to a group of people. Suddenly, my eye didn't feel quite right. It was dry and itchy and felt like something had gotten in it. So, I went to the restroom and flushed it out and returned to my conversation.

But it wasn't feeling any better, so I went outside, thinking that all the cigarette smoke wasn't helping. But it was feeling worse.

So, I took a return trip to the restroom, and took a look . . . and lo and behold the area under my eye was thrice its normal size!

Suffice it to say that after several Benedryl, 4 ice packs, and a rendition of "Summer Lovin'" duetted with my boss . . . the swelling had lessened.

The Theory: There were bowls of nuts on the bar. Someone in the group I was conversing with must have been eating those nuts. That person must have been a spit talker. Said spit must have made direct contact with my eye.

Meanwhile, 24 hours later, the eye is STILL not down to it's normal size and it's quite bloodshot. Oh yeah. It's hot.

Andrew, take note! In my 29 years with this food allergy, that was a new one!

March 21, 2006 - Press Releases

Below are three press releases issued by "Helmreich Worldwide Promotion" this morning.
1. The First Press Release
Now, after years of waiting, wondering and hoping for a chance to see your favorite distance runner in action...
After a ten year hiatus, the greatest distance runner to ever live at 25W475 Hamilton drive from 1985 to 1993, or thereabouts, has officially announced his return to competitive running...
That's right, Kenyans beware... His blinding speed is only matched by his blindingly white skin (well that and his blinding emissions after eating Taco Bell...).
On Saturday May 6, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. (by then Indianapolis will be observing daylight savings time an will be on Eastern Daylight Time!) the one, the only, Craig Joseph Helmreich will be running the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works, responsible for repairing any damage to the 13.1 mile course, has been heard complaining that of the 35,000 registered participants, it is most concerned that Helmreich, with his thoroughbred-like pavement thudding may actually damage the streets used for the race. This concern is shared by the owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, since the race does a lap at the famous oval. However, Helmreich has agreed to pay the race entry fee - and not attempt to use a sponsor's exemption this year to help offset any damage he does to the course.
You, the family, friends, and insanely dedicated fans, are invited to attend the race - and or the post race party (which Helmreich will be informing his spouse of by copy of this e-mail). At this festive post-race event, it is anticipated that Helmreich will be suffering from oxygen deprivation and will, therefore, be unable to incessantly blabber and instead be forced to listen to what others have to say. This PR agent has his doubts... especially since Craig is secretly considering forming a band and rocking out in his yard on the 6th (Finklea and Core consider yourselves warned...).
In late breaking news, Helmreich has boldly announced this morning that he GUARANTEES he will set a new PR for the half marathon distance. At the time this release was issued, researchers could not locate Helmreich's previous PR for this distance, but continue their tireless search.
2. The Second Press Release
In addition to the May 6, 2006 festivities...
On June 5, 2006, in celebration of the eight year anniversary of the union of Craig & Jeanne Helmreich in unholy matrimony (the Catholic Church has obtained a restraining order preventing the use of the phrase "holy matrimony" when an individual raised Catholic gets married in a rent-a-mansion, without first saying 430 "Hail Marrys" and 690 "Our Fathers"), Jeanne and Craig will be celebrating by racing Craig's Corvette in Joliet! The Lotus Car Club of America has invited Craig to attend its annual track day, which this year will be held at the Autobahn Country Club ("ACC") in Joliet, Il. The ACC is a 3.5 mile, 21 turn, 40 ft. wide road course. The event is not competitive and passing is only allowed when waived by. (This prevents relatively inexpensive Corvettes from smashing into not so relatively inexpensive Lotuses...)
Craig will be taking guests for rides around the circuit, so long as they can guarantee they will not soil the vette's passenger seat. The event is from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Monday June 5, 2006. Helmreich Worldwide Promotions is looking for videographers and photographers to capture the excitement of the day. Please submit your resume and portfolio, or in the alternative your e-mail address, if you are interested in shooting photo and/or video for the Free DVD that is bound to be produced in the hours following the event. (And by hours, we mean thousands of hours... thereby removing any obligation to produce and distribute the DVD before Helmreich Worldwide Promotions is darn good and ready to market the same).
Finally, if you miss these two events - do not despair... because:
3. The Third Press Release
On Sunday October 22, 2006 Craig Helmreich is planning to run the Chicago Marathon! The race organizers have confirmed that Craig Helmreich will be in the field at the start and that they are preparing a limited edition DVD of Craig's race highlights. (Notwithstanding the fact that Helmreich paid for the DVD, Helmreich Promotions Worldwide believes the race organizers commitment to tape Helmreich and distribute a limited edition DVD clearly indicates they expect great things from Helmreich in the race.) The initial DVD production run is limited to one copy, but Helmreich Promotions Worldwide is anticipating huge demand and is acquiring the necessary bootleg software to mass produce this collectable title. Order your free copy today! (In fact, Helmreich encourages his fans to mob him at the various points on the course where the video cameras will be located, including the start, 5K mark, 10K mark, 15K mark, 20K mark etc... and by mob, he means ply him with Gatorade, Water, Candy Bars, epinephrine injections and emergency CPR, as necessary.)
We here at Helmreich Worldwide Promotions hope to see you at one or more of these amazing events this summer and fall.
The one, the only,
Craig J. Helmreich

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Under the Sea in 83 Prom Party

Hi Everyone!

We're celebrating Sarah's 30th birthday in April with an 80's Prom!
We've rented out a bowling alley on Friday, April 28th (9pm - 1 am).
For more details and an online invitation, send me your email and I'll mail you one! (sarah at sarahsoda dot com)

Hope to see you there

Friday, March 17, 2006

David & Dale Enjoying Warm Temps

David & Dale are in Aventura, FL with Rick & Bobbie Grawemeyer. Sunny, high 70's.

Just returned from a great weekend in Chicago getting caught up with Jason & Sarah. They are doing well and both working hard toward advanced degrees in Info Tech and Acupuncture, respectively.

Kevin is in Cape Cod (again) visiting Katy - between stints caring for the alpacas.

Keith is house-sitting, we hope!

More news from Ann Arbor

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Jim and Tony had the opportunity to experience 'Donuts with Dad' at Tony's preschool this morning. From what I heard, they had a great time sitting in pint-sized chairs, playing with toys, doing an art activity (I'm told it's a tyranosaurus rex) and, of course, eating donuts. Jim will have to fill in the not-to-be-missed details!

News from the Ann Arbor Birchlers-Justin

Pioneer High School (where Justin attends) was named the 2006 National Grammy Signature school last week. What that means is that the music department at Justin's school is considered by the Grammy Foundation (yes, of the same organization that gives the awards) to be the best high school music department in the country. Justin has had a great experience as a band member at PHS (he's marched & been in the top band for the last 2 years) and we are pleased that he has had the priviledge & opportunity to be part of such a strong program.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Birchtales in da house!

Hi Family,

I got a pretty good response from people today requesting to sign on to Birchtales!

Here's the who's who of invitees (in Birch8 birth order):
-Jason B. and Sarah - invited and accepted!
-Keith J.
Babs - invited and accepted!
-Craig - invited, accepted, blogging
-Gretchen - obviously blogging
-Jason S. - invited and accepted


Please be sure to email me if you happen to talk to a family member who did not receive the original email . . . I'm sure my address book is sorely out of date.

Love to you all,

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Craig's First Post

I just finished a run for the evening and Gretchen had a message waiting for me with Jeanne and another on my phone demanding I immediately try out the Birch Tales blog... Never one to be shy about blabing about myself to the family and various unknown strangers, I liked the idea and now write to inform the world that I am training for the Indy Mini Marathon in early May and just ran 6 miles at 7:30 min/mile pace.

Sweet. I need more Gatorade...


Birchtales Beta

This is a test post to the new Birchtales blog. TEST.