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LAUREN'S BLOG: Family Vacation Edition

July 24, 2009

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It was great to have an off-weekend in the midst of the busiest part of the season… and our family took advantage of the time to celebrate, relax, and enjoy some time together.

The days after Toronto were busy, busy in order to get ready for my brother’s wedding, which took place at our home on Wednesday evening. 

It was the most perfect, intimate celebration I could have imagined.  Surrounded by only their very closest family and friends, Tony and Michelle said their vows on the front steps of our family’s home.

I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid (actually, I was more like a groomsman, as I stood on Tony’s side during the ceremony), so I had a front row view to watch Makenna, the flower girl, sprinting down the aisle, followed by the GORGEOUS bride. I really don’t know how both of my brothers attracted such babes…

Speaking of babes, even while on best man duty, Ed still couldn’t keep his eyes of his own bride.  In the middle of the ceremony, he leaned over to me, nodded at Heather across the aisle, and whispered, “Lauren! Look… at Heather’s…boobs!”

One would probably be surprised to hear a member of the wedding party make a comment such as that in the middle of the ceremony, but I would expect nothing less from one of my brothers.

After the ceremony, the celebrations continued at the reception on the back porch.  Tony was in charge of the play list, so pretty much every other song played was by Bryan Adams or Michael Jackson.  Meanwhile, my dad took it upon himself, as father of the groom, to be on duty as the chief fire-tender.  He took great care in building his fire, meticulously placing the crumpled balls of newspaper in the pit for optimum flame-age.  In fact, he can be seen in the background of many wedding photos tending to his masterpiece (look to the right of the happy couple in photo below).

For those who know and love my dad, this is Classic Tony; a careful, gentle perfectionist, fully consuming himself with every task or project, however big or small... Sometimes it’s a little goofy, but it’s why we love him.  He’s quirky but completely genuine.

Over all, the wedding was absolutely perfect; a pure celebration of love and family, unmarked with any of the drama, stress, or tension that comes with a busy summer of racing.  Anytime I can have everyone that I love in one place at one time, I’m happy; and there were so many little moments that made me appreciate each member of my family.

I saw one brother look happier and more complete than I have ever seen any person look in my entire life; I listened to my other brother’s insane one-liners at a completely inappropriate (but somehow perfect) moment; I watched my dad patiently build a fire with the same care and passion as I’ve seen him nurture an entire sport; and I know that my brother found a woman amazing enough to meet our mom’s standards for her boys… and that is not an easy task!

After the wedding we were off to Montana, which is quite possibly the prettiest, most peaceful land on planet earth, and the ideal destination to regroup over our off-weekend.  We spent the week kayaking, canoeing, biking, hiking, and boating as a family.  The new, handcrafted canoe became my dad’s latest pride and joy… he took as much care loading it into the water as he did tending to his fire at the wedding.

We were, however, plagued with some near-catastrophes.  For one, Ed learned the hard way that we had a beehive underneath the back porch.  And I learned that if I were a bee, I would go nowhere near Ed Carpenter.

To Ed, the bee stinging him was like a challenge, and it was game on!  He immediately left the house and soon returned equipped with tools to wage war.  I saw that it gave both Ed and James a great deal of joy to open up a can of whoop-ass (in the form of deadly spray) on those little pests.

We had some other scary moments while on the pontoon boat.  On one occasion, Ed, a bit distracted, nearly drove the boat onto the banks of the river.  I don’t know what he was thinking about when he almost forgot to steer away from the land, but I have to wonder if it’s the same thing he was thinking about while warming up his tires in Toronto last weekend.  ;) That close call came only one day after my dad did indeed drive the boat into the dock.

While we did spend a great deal of time outside, I had some business to take care of in front of the TV.  Ed, appalled to learn that I had only seen one of the six Harry Potter films, encouraged me to catch up—quickly—so that we could go see the newest movie while in Montana.

So, I made many trips to the local gas station/grocery store/bait shop/liquor store/movie rental located just down the street, and somehow managed to watch the first five Harry Potter movies before seeing the late showing of the sixth in theaters with Ed.  By my calculations, that is approximately 15 hours of Potter in a matter of three days.  Not only am I currently suffering from Harry withdraw, I am also deeply jealous of his magical abilities.  And, I fully intend to attempt to “EXPECTO PATRONUM” any evil beings that try to come near me in the future.

HP wasn’t the only movie that got us out of the house—Against several warnings from friends, we saw Bruno.  I’m not really sure what to say about that experience… I think it’s one you’ll just have to see for yourself.  That said, I am not encouraging anyone to spend their money seeing it!

Don’t get the wrong impression—I didn’t spend all of my Montana time inside watching movies.  I finally read The Art of "Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein...pretty much in one sitting.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dogs, racing, both, or neither.  (Although I can’t imagine how someone would not love either!)

(EDITOR's NOTE: Vision Racing's co-owner Patrick Dempsey will star in an upcoming screen adaptation of the book.)

It’s heartwarming, heartbreaking, humorous, and inspiring all at once… and there is just a lot of truth in it.  It takes what we know about racing and uses that to reflect life.  Maybe it left more of an impression on me because of the timing, but it hit home in many ways, personally.

I know I talk a lot about what an up and down sport racing is, but I guess life is up and down in that way too.  For those of you who have read the book, you know the anger and helplessness that Enzo feels as he watches the circumstances, and certain people, seek to tear down his “master,” stripping him of things that he loves most and what he has worked so hard to accomplish.

Well, I find myself quite relating to Enzo these days.

Those of you who have read the book also know that Enzo is very perceptive (as all dogs are, I believe), and he has many wise things to say after spending a lifetime at the side of a racing driver, living through the ups and downs of the sport and life.

People in racing get used to these ups and downs; they’re tested and tried every weekend, but ultimately, it’s these tests that build strength.  For this reason, Enzo knew that his master could handle anything that life threw at him, and I can relate to that too.

“They ha Lauren

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