It was the best of times, It was the worst of times. I had no idea that Dickens could sum up this period of my life so clearly. I truly wish this could be titled "the best of times", but alas, that would only varnish
the truth and leave out the important things like friendship & hope. With that, I will slowly unwind the tale of the four cities involved and the cast of characters.
It started in the Los Angeles area in fall of 2010. I spied a post on the AR buzz by Baking Nana inviting folks in her area to her first roundup at her home on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I contacted her immediately to inquire if I qualified as an attendee
though I lived across the Mojave from her, recently transplanted from Maui to Las Vegas. She generously welcomed me and so the tale begins. I nervously attended that first roundup and I was immediately welcomed by a big hug and a bunch of AR peeps who instantly
made me feel welcome. I struggled to put screen names and real names together, and I still left there with a confusing string of names swimming in my head. I also left with the knowledge that these folks were my new found friends and so I started building
a list connecting all the names and addresses of the folks so that I could keep them all straight....if not in my head.....at least in my data base :) The first group included hostess with the mostess....Baking Nana, Marianne, Noemi & her sister Gabrielle,
Keri and her two precious daughters (who have grown before our eyes by leaps and bounds)Patty Cakes and her beautiful daughter Tina,Cathy Meyers, Xray barb, Cozy Cook with her mother (who arrived early and left before I arrived fashionably late), KDub & Good
I arrived home in Las Vegas excited about the future and the next roundup that might occur. If any of you know, I am pretty spontaneous.....not always in a good way, but it usually works out. So I plotted immediately and ran to the AR blogs and buzz and announced
my roundup in Sin City aka Las Vegas. I tried to plan a more affordable time for air and hotels and narrowly missed Mother's Day weekend. (Thank you xray Barb for reminding me in my frenzy to put a date on the calendar) So we spent almost 9 months planning
the event and trying to round up AR peeps. As with most premature births, it seemed daunting and I had a to do list spinning in my head that constantly needed additions. I remember at that time that CatHill gave me some sage advice. Relax, enjoy, it will all
come together (sure Eddie.....I mean Cat). After all she had already accomplished her first round up in the summer of 2010. Well it did all come together and we had a ball. We gathered some of the first group I met at Baking Nana's and added a few others from
around the U.S. Let's see now...me aka mauigirl, Baking Nana, Marianne, xray barb, baby xray, Cathy Meyers,Keri, AllRecipes Elizabeth and her sister Rachel, Lady Sparkle, Magnolia Blossom and our Miss7Up. We also had a cameo appearance by LoveBreezy. If you
read all the blogs you can see that we had a ball and I quickly announced that I would repeat this roundup in May 2012....same weekend!
I made my formal announcement in the winter of 2011 so that folks could start planning and saving for their trip to Las Vegas. I was so excited for the start of a new year and the promises that I thought it held for us. Little did I know some of my toughest
times lay ahead. In January 2012, our son and only child was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. It was a devastating blow and it still hurts to write those words today. I was instantly in mother mode and we flew to different clinicians and specialist to find the
best treatment options for him. Our search led us to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and a treatment plan was underway. As I agonized over the unknown, I realized that several AR members had already bought their airline tickets and I had no idea if I could pull
all of it off. Baking Nana stepped in along with my other attendees and took charge, offering to help pull this soiree off if I could not be in Las Vegas. Well, I attended to my kidlet and I made lists and planned for this gathering with or without me. As
luck would have it, a few weeks before my roundup, the surgeon scheduled the surgery for the day before my roundup. Instantly, my peeps took over and so I left my home along with my husband and we went to LA to be with our son. I left maps and lists and food
mostly ready to go and tried to stage the house for the party and left a key under the mat for the peeps to have a party. Can you imagine???? I can! I knew that I had built a network of people that would pull this thing off to ease my burdens.
The surgery went well and they could find no sign of spread in his abdominal cavity or his lymph nodes and so we were all there together in Los Angeles rejoicing in some good news and counting on my peeps to carry off my party in Las Vegas. As we held bedside
vigil, our son insisted that he wanted me to fly home to see my friends. After all, there were the two of us and his devoted partner and only one of us could be with him at a time. So I kissed them all good bye and headed back to Las Vegas and a quick 45 minute
flight later, I was with my peeps being smothered with their love and enjoying every minute of it. I did arrive while preparations were still in motion. I dictated a few directions (after all I am the Queen) and jumped in the shower and tried to wash away
the exhaustion of the past several months. What can I say, this group surrounded my family and lifted us upon their shoulders. We had some old and some new attendees, but they all felt like old friends by that weekend. Isn't that just an amazing thing, that
these folks, who didn't know us very well came together and raised our spirits spearheading a rescue plan to ease my mind???? Well here is the list of these amazing AllRecipeeps......Baking Nana & NO baking papa, Marianne, Xraybarb, Cathy Meyers, Noemi, Gabrielle,
Patty Cakes and her Carlos, Magnolia Blossom and new peeps Del Mar Girl, B.D. Weld and his bride, Bibi and Tabasco Mom and Allrecipe's own.....AR Elizabeth. These are fabulous human beings and if you ever get the chance to meet them....DO! I love them all!
As our lives settled into a new normal, I watched the plans leading up to the Buckeye Bash, the Southern roundup and the Midwest Roundup on the Allrecipes buzz and blogs. I cannot attend them all, but I live vicariously through their planned reunions and I
rejoice in reading the blogs and seeing the photos after the party is over. As I read about the planned roundups, I was especially touched by the fact that Mike Harvey was participating in the Relay for Life while visiting one of my fav peeps, Cathill, at
her MidWest roundup. He offered to light a luminary to honor our son and his battle against this horrid disease. In case you don't know, Mike Harvey has battled this disease and all the fear that goes along with it over the last couple of years. He has committed
to doing these walks wherever his journeys take him and I tell you....THIS MAN WALKS THE TALK!
So with that knowledge and our son safely ensconced at home, I plotted to surprise all the folks at the MidWest roundup. I tell you, I plotted and I weaseled info out of CatHill and attendees and I put all the pieces together without giving them a clue. My
partners in this clandestine operation were my devoted spousal unit aka Sparky, Baking Nana & Marianne. My boys helped behind the scenes to arrange my standby flights. Until I hit Kansas City, I had no idea if I could pull it off. So I left my home at 4:20
in the morning the day of the Relay for Life. No room on the first flight to Dallas.....but the 7 am flight BINGO!. I felt sure it was all coming together as planned (2 pm arrival in KC).
I arrive in Dallas and new challenges begin. Don't know if any of you have used that particular airport before, but it has a rail line that links the various gates. So I rode the rail from gate to gate in search of a seat to wing my way to KC. I am
not exaggerating when I say that NOT ONE connecting flight was in the same terminal. I spent my day going from gate to gate starting to believe that I would not make the relay after all. I swear the only thing that kept me going were the calls from Baking
Nana, Marianne and Sparky. They were relentless cheerleaders! I finally succumbed to hunger and sat down for dinner and a much needed glass or two of wine and YIKES my phone rings and it is Cat on the ID wondering where her flower delivery driver was (me).
I looked at that phone like it was a rattlesnake and I refused to touch it. I had lied and weaseled so much to Cat that I was plumb out of weasel:) Dinner done and off to catch a train and the hope of the last two flights to KC that night. As luck would have
it , the 7:00 pm was a GO!!!!!!
I arrived in KC about 8:30....I think. I was so out of it that I can't remember anymore. Grabbed my rental car in five minutes and set my g.p.s. to Kearney MO. Checked into the hotel shared by the other peeps and hightailed it to the local high school track
and the Relay for Life. I ran to the grandstands and quickly realized that I didn't know what Mike Harvey (or his beautiful bride) even looked like and the darkness would not make the task any easier. New plan is formulating.....I will walk the track the
wrong way looking for one of the peeps I know. While perusing the track, I look down straight into the eyes of my Magnolia Blossom. I cannot explain the emotions. It was a mixture of relief, excitement and love for my old friend and my new ones. I ran down
the steps and we all hugged and cried with joy! Mike Harvey then led me to the luminary in honor of our son and we watched the solemn ceremony and listened to the names of those that are fighting those that have survived and those who have lost this horrible
Next plan of action...surprise the rest of the peeps at the hotel. Now that was the easy part. I followed Magnolia Blossom in my car and she found LadySparkle & Christine NICU having a drink together outside the motel. I stepped around the corner when she announced
a surprise gift and the tears and hugs started all over again. Then Christine NICU went back to her room to drag her exhausted mama (Candice) out to see what the "Cat drug in". Once again, hugs and giggles of joy! I had to show Candice that I was wearing the
bracelet she made me the year before while attending my Las Vegas roundup. The beaded bracelet is in clear crystals with the word HOPE spelled out. (Little did I know how much HOPE I would need in the year to come.) I made them all promise to NOT spill the
beans to Cat Hill at the planned roundup the next morning. I stopped by Bea's Floral to pick up my delivery and drove through hill and dell to find Cat's place. Suddenly, I realized that I did NOT have CatHill's address and my dam#ed TMobile phone had no service
in these parts. Holy Batman....what to do!!!! As I followed the road for the delivery instructions, I see in the distance, orange flags on a white fence and a orange sign at the driveway welcoming the Midwest crowd. How do you spell R E L I E F ?????
Got to the door, and as you saw in the other blogs, the rest is history. The attendees....Hostess CatHill, bhawk, mi being mi, Mike Harvey & his bride, Candice & daughter Christine NICU, Magnolia Blossom, Lady Sparkle, CooCar and of course moi.....aka mauigirl
The time was short but the conversations long and the food delicious. Most of the events were covered beautifully in all the other blogs. The hospitality could not have been more welcoming though I really hadn't RSVPd. I had a whirlwind day and a half and then
the task of getting home. I thought I had accomplished the tough part.....NOT. I arrived at KC airport and checked in at 5pm on Sunday. I was able to catch the third flight out to Chicago about 8pm????(It is all such a blur) Ran to a gate a mile away at O'hare
only to find that the last flight to Vegas was way overbooked. Off to a hotel for the night (11 pm) and a 4 am wakeup call to try to make the first flight to Vegas. Well that was overbooked too so run to another gate and I was on a flight to LA. If I can
just get that far, Sparky or Marianne or Baking Nana can retrieve me :) It was five and a half hours in a middle seat between two big dudes, but I was just grateful to be winging my way toward my side of the country. Arrive in LA....no luck on the first flight
to Vegas and they had forgotten to roll me over with my flight status so that started a new challenge and a couple hours to work it out. Next flight to Las Vegas I hit the JACKPOT! One hour later, I am reunited with Sparky and at my doorstep exactly 23 hours
after I checked into KC airport to come home. WHEW!!! Are you as exhausted as I am/was? What a trip....but a great one it was and I even lived to tell the tale:) I have said it before & I will say it again.....if you can get to a roundup DO. If you cannot,
organize one in your area. It can be as simple as meeting for coffee or visiting a local farmers market. Your imagination can dictate many possibilities. The only thing I would recommend is to have HOPE and perseverance. It will take you a very long way toward
So about now you are thinking there were really only three cities in my tale..... Los Angeles, Las Vegas & Kansas City.....but you would be wrong. With all that has occurred in the last several months, I have decided that life is WAY TOO SHORT. This brings
me to my next blowout. I am inviting one and all to meet us in the fourth city .....Lahaina.... West Maui on October 17, 2013.
This is the shoulder season for Maui travel, so air, cars and accommodations should be more favorable. You can fly in and out whatever dates work for you, but the official date for the big gathering is Thursday Oct 17, 2013. I know this is NOT a cheap trip,
but I am trying to offer as much money pinching strategies as I possibly can. I will be staying at the Papakea resort at Kaanapali in a condo and I think this would be a great property to accommodate all the peeps. They have studio, one, two and three bedroom
units at all price points. My girlfriend has quite a few units that she manages, so below, you will find a link to my old condo and if you scroll down the page, click on "see all my listings". She has quite a few and if you tell her that you are with Allrecipes/Julie
and Miranda will offer a discount. Beyond any sightseeing, we plan to do alot of communal cooking and just plain hanging out together. I know that many will be sharing condos to cut the cost of this trip even further. I also suggest that you start researching
the airlines that might bring you to Maui (airport code OGG) from your area and if you want to save slowly, buy your favored airline's gift certs so that you can be saving toward the cost of the trip every week or month. You will be surprised at how fast you
can realize that ticket. You might also consider sharing a condo with another peep. I am sure there will be an opportunity for most folks to share if they want to. I will be starting a Facebook page to chat about this in the next week so stay tuned for more
info and more fun. A hui hou kakou! (until we meet again) Warmest aloha, Julie aka mauigirl
You are welcome to contact me at email@example.com. Please include your screen name and your real name.
My heart sank today while standing in the checkout line at the market and reading that Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's son has been diagnosed with MS. You see, the Sharon Osbourne Colorectal Foundation at Cedars Sinai has been very helpful
& generous to our family at this challenging time in our lives. We could not be more grateful for their help and consideration for us and many others battling this terrible disease. We know what it is like to have a seriously ill child and we wish their son
Jack a long, happy and healthy life. Take care all.Julie 6/21/2012