Thursday, February 26, 2009

The troubles with travel

So it's been over a week since my last post. No good excuse. I could go on and on about

We really had a great visit with Jon and Renee in California. I promise I will put up some of my favorite pictures, but right now I wanted to highlight the one area that proved to be a bit stressful - the travel!

So we got stuck in Denver on the way there. It was a pretty stressful and exhausting night. Mostly because it had been such a long day, starting our travel at 9am when we drove the kids to Clearfield and finally ending when we passed out in a hotel at 2am. So we lost half of a day (but it was rainy so we weren't too bummed) due to the flight issues.

While we were enjoying our time in California Matt and I talked about trying to get an earlier flight out when we left on Monday. You see, there were very few options out of San Jose on Monday (which I totally understood when I saw how small the airport was, we actually walked outside to get to the plane and up stairs to get on board.). This trip was planned back in September so I didn't remember the specifics but I thought I must have had a reason for having us leave San Jose at 3pm and arrive in Pittsburgh at midnight. I did figure that we'd be on west coast time and would have at least three hours before we'd get really tired and would be better off making the drive home then rather than trying to drive halfway to Clearfield, and then drive again in the morning when we really just felt like sleeping. Plus it would be like getting home a day later and driving straight back would enable Matt to get back into the office and be at a meeting he had that night.

I had arranged for my parents to bring the kids the kids home over the weekend, Matt parents came and watched them until Monday night and then our good friends Joe and Rachael came over to put them to bed and spend the night before getting up at 7am to leave for work Tuesday morning. So that means, we really had to be home by 7am.

I started to get a little nervous about driving through the night. While we used to do it all the time before kids, it's definitely been at least five years since we've attempted anything like it. Matt isn't known for his excessive amounts of energy and I kept imagining him saying that he could no longer drive and we'd pull over to take a catnap and wake up to find that we were two hours from home and it was 7:30am. Yes, I do have an active imagination!

When we looked at standby options the only ones involved us leaving San Jose nine hours earlier, making three stops (all of which would have us on standby so our chancing of getting stranded in Chicago was not unlikely).

So we stuck with our original option that had us in Denver almost exactly a week from our last flight (minus an hour) and me just hoping and praying that everyone would go as planned. And it did! We boarded with no problem and took off on time. We arrived in Pittsburgh (we were flying out of and into P'burgh b/c of the flight rates and b/c we were bringing the kids to my parents so it was closer) at about 11:45. I had a plan - Matt would go get the car and I would go get the luggage and we'd be out of there by 12:15 at the latest.

We were lucky enough to have a good friend who lives close by who dropped us at the airport on the way there and then parked our car in the airport exention lot Sunday night so we would only have to pay for a day of parking. I found our suitcase right away and was waiting at passenger pick up a few minutes later. I called Matt and told him where I was and he got off the phone quickly b/c his hands were freezing. It was 13 degrees in Pittsburgh and he was only wearing sweatshirt (and pants and shoes of course). His winter jacket was in the suitcase we checked.

I waited at the door.

He called 15 minutes later to double check that the car was in 13A of the extension lot. I took a look at my text msg, yup, 13A. He was looking all around and couldn't find it. I started to feel a little nervous. He decided to go to the long term lot just in case it was that lot instead. After 45 minutes he called and told me that I had to call my friend and make sure we had the right section (b/c those lots are big, 13A is a section of it, with rows and rows of cars). So after two tries I woke my friend up (I won't reveal any names - that is up to them!) And it so doesn't matter anymore, we are home and we still didn't have to pay much for parking) and she/he assured me that it was 13A. So Matt kept looking. Finally, it was close to 1am and I was really nervous, because we had to be home by 7am or I would be calling people in the middle of the night to see if they could come over and watch the kids. Matt was freezing and finally gave up. He told me to find someone that could maybe help us. So I wandered out into the cold in my light weight jacket with our luggage. A shuttle driver told me to go the police station across the street and I didn't hesitate.

The roller bags were flopping all over the place and I was stressed out and freezing, scared that we just wouldn't find our car. I don't want to admit it, but I walked into the police station and started crying when a policewoman came out to ask how she could help. I told her that nothing serious was wrong, I was just stressed and tired and didn't have much time to get home.

They called for an officer to come and drive me around. While we waited they asked if I knew my license plate because if I did they could pinpoint it's exact location. Of course I didn't. Not at all. They kept asking, hoping I would remember. I tried to explain that I never knew it so the information was nowhere in my brain and I wouldn't be able to recall it. They asked the make and model of the van and I honestly coudn't tell them. But yet, they still held out hopes that I would know my license plate number. Even as we drove around the policeman kept asking me if I remembered the license plate number. It was like I kept being reminded how easy it would make things if only I knew it! (they were all very nice, I'm not trying to be down on the police)

We found Matt walking through the lot and picked him up. We drove around and around and the policeman assured me that they've never had a car stolen out of one of the lots. Even though I couldn't imagine why someone would steal a nine year old minivan, I was still relieved. Finally, around 1:30 Matt spotted the van in secton 13E. I cannot tell you how relieved and happy I was to see it!

We made it home in 4 1/2 hrs, at 6am, just as the sun was starting to come up. There was one point, when we were outside of Pittsburgh that it started snowing hard and we kept passing plows pulled over as it they were waiting for a blizzard. I thought, you have to be kidding me, please tell me that we aren't coming to get stuck in a snowstorm! Thankfully after 20 minutes it stopped and the rest of the trip was a breeze.

So that is how are trip ended. With a lot of stress and little sleep. We were so thankful to have a week with Jon and Renee and to get away from the hustle and bustle of our normal life. Next time we will just do whatever it takes to fly out of Philadelphia!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beautiful beautiful

We've had an amazing past two days. Wednesday we spent the day in Monterey and Pacific Grove, just walking around, enjoying the beach and the views. Matt and I stayed in Monterey that night and walked around Cannery Row, got a bite to eat and enjoyed the views!

The weather has been great and we are so thankful to have a little respite from winter.

Thursday we drove through the Big Sur area. This was one of my must do's because we had spent an hour or so in Big Sur five years ago and it left me wanting more! It's so beautiful that one hour won't do. We drove and basically freaked out over how gorgeous coastline was. With the blue blue water and rocky cliffs, contrasted by the green mountains it is among the most beautiful places I've been, matched only by the Swiss Alps!

Renee and I had both researched how to access a rather remote beach and were determined to find it despite the unmarked roads. And we were successful! We spent hours on the beach just chilling out just taking in the beauty of God's creation. Matt and I took a cool walk that ended up in a hike when we found a trail that lead up a hill and we were able to overlook the beach area from up high.

After more driving and awe inducing views and one more short hike we headed back for Matt and Jon to find a campsite and then get some dinner. It was dark by the time Renee and I drove back with the kids and it was definitely eerie being surrounded by the dark mountains and dark ocean - the only lights were those from the few cars on the road and the remote houses set high in the mountains.

I put up a few pictures on facebook so head over there to check them out. I had to steal them from Renee's camera since Matt kept ours with him for their camping trip and hike the next day (today).

We are waiting for the guys to get home so we can have a girls afternoon - little do they know that we plan on taking off for a few hours without the kids!

Thanks for your prayers - the weather is great and the kids are doing really well. I talked to Ella for the first time today and she was happy and excited, especially about waking up to the surprise of her beloved cousins at the house for a visit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

California at last

We left our house at 9:00 am on Monday morning. We drove to Clearfield and got the kids settled at my parents before heading on to Pittsburgh to catch our flight to San Jose. The first half of the trip went well, we landed in Denver and were about to make the rest of the trip when everything fell apart (see post below).

One quick thing and then we'll move on from the Denver fiasco. I was wrong, yes there are mountains in Denver. There just weren't any on our side of the hotel. And they are far away. But, yes there are mountains. Courtney, you can continue to have faith in the educational system.

Thankfully we got another flight this morning and now we are hanging out with the Kovalik family in California! Yay!!!! I miss my girls so much so it's nice to have a kid fix with Mia and Nolan. It's so cute to have Nolan follow me around asking me to play and wanting me to read him bedtime stories - feels just like home!

The funniest part was when he came over and snuggled up on my lap (so sweet, and helpful b/c as Matt said, I'm going to go into contact withdrawl b/c I don't the girls hanging all over me all day long). Then we went over and snuggled up with Jon. He told him "I want Megan to come and snuggle with you too!" Huh? Is this what the past few months in California has done to them? Just kidding of course, it just had us all laughing!

Since I don't have kids to play with and take care of, a house to clean and dinners to cook hopefully I'll be posting regular updates during our week. And then you can check out Renee's blog for all the pictures!

Waking up to Sunny Skies

It's a beautiful morning in.....Denver! We are stuck in Denver. Our flight to San Jose was cancelled and we are flying out this morning and went to a hotel last night. We finally got to sleep around 2am EST and were pretty exhausted (still are). We figured if we had to stay in Denver at least we'd get to see some mountains, but apparently there are no mountains in Denver. Who knew? Not me!

Anyway, just thought I'd post a little update as we get ready to leave our hotel and hopefully get on a plan to San Francisco (earlier flight available than San Jose).

The adventures are starting already!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Our Valentines

It's been one of those weeks when every time I go to write a new post I sit in front of the screen, type a few sentences and then kind of zone out and decide I'd rather just read everyone else's blogs than work on my own.

It's also been one of those weeks when we've had some unexpected weather - a little taste of spring that has had us outside riding bikes and tromping around in the mud. And in Ella's case falling from the monkey bars (they aren't that high) into the mud.

But most of our week has been about getting ready for Valentine's Day. I really like Valentine's Day as a family holiday. I see it as something to look forward to and celebrate as a family. I figure Matt and I should be taking time for dates throughout the year, and Valentine's Day can be something we enjoy with the kids.
We spent most of the week doing this:

I can't tell you how many of those little hearts I've vacuumed up in the last few days. Eventually we moved the Valentine making onto their craft table where they could glue and glitter to their heart's delight.

We made sugar cookies to include with Ella's Valentine's (for school) and I hot glued cute little pencils to glittery foam hearts for Catherine (you know, to look like an arrow!)

If by chance my husband is reading this ...Matt stop reading NOW! The girls are working on a little book for their daddy. I'm writing down all the things they love about him and they are drawing pictures. It's so cute to hear what they have to say and the differences in how they express themselves.

Aside from some birthday parties in the afternoon, we will probably enjoy a low key day and all have a yummy dinner together Saturday night. I'm not exactly sure what the menu will be, but I am pretty sure I am making these, courtesy of Bakerella:

I love Bakerella. I just love looking at all her amazing creations. I am definitely going to make some cupcake pops one of these days, just wait and see (If I bother to take a picture).

On the subject of baking, but in a totally different direction another baking site I LOVE is Cake Wrecks. It is a website devoted to professional cakes gone wrong. Oh my it is hilarious! Words don't do it justice, so some day when you're in need of a laugh, check it out and I promise you will get that laugh!

I hope to get at least one more post up in the next couple of days, but if I don't it's because I am busy getting ready for our trip to CA!!!! Matt and I are going to visit Jon and Renee and the kids are staying at my mom's. I am definitely anxious about leaving them for so long, so if you could keep us all in your prayers for the next week and a half (we are gone Mon-Mon) it would be greatly appreciated! Especially for my little Ella who tends to get homesick. Also, if you don't mind, pray for decent weather, I am obsessing over the 10 day forecast and so far every day shows rain. I did see the potential for partly cloudy next Saturday and did a little cheer!

Enjoy your weekend and perhaps the next time you'll hear from me I'll be in California!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Discussion Time

Hey everyone....for those of you participating in the Book Club, I'm going to open discussions tonight. I think that most of us (at least those that let me know) have finished or are about to. I don't want anyone's enthusiasm to dampen so I don't want to wait any longer! But, in case you are getting close to finishing and need this as just some extra motivation to read read read, I think we'll just start with some basic stuff - your overall feeling about the book, liked it or not, the writing style, etc....we don't need to go into any major plot details right away. So that way you can contribute without worrying that something will be given away. I'll post something in the facebook group at some point this evening and then send a message so you all know to come over.

Question? Does anyone want to set a time to "discuss" while we're in the group and whoever is able to can be on group facebook page so there will be lots of feedback and you don't have to keep checking in to see if there is anything new? Tonight might not be great what with The Office on....and I'm out for a girls' night for a few hours in the early evening.

I'm excited to hear what you all thought - I loved it just as much, if not more, the second time around!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Yes I am happy!

This morning, I, along with the rest of Steeler Nation was savoring the Steelers the down to the wire victory in the Superbowl.

It came at the end of a long busy weekend. Saturday we spent preparing for a dinner party we were hosting that night. It was an Italian themed dinner and I made Pancetta Wrapped Pork Roast courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and homemade (I made the crepes, made the sauce) manicotti courtsey of my mom. Both were good, but I think the manicotti was the real hit of the night.

Of course most of the day on Saturday was spent getting our house as clean as possible. I also got out my nice dishes and set the table and had candles lit and the house looks so nice and cozy. I dressed up, wearing my black pencil skirt and my knee high boots. If only I had taken a picture.

Backtracking a bit to Friday afternoon. Earlier in the week Ella expressed a desire to have a Steelers shirt to wear for the Super Bowl. I knew it would be hard to find, but for some reason I put it off until Friday. On facebook I asked for advice on where to find Steeler's gear in kids' sizes and immediately received a ton of feedback. It was almost more overwhelming than not knowing where to look. I realized that if I was thinking clearly I could have had one of my Pittsburgh friends' buy me one and put it in the mail. But with a busy day on Saturday I realized the chance of me even having time to make phone calls to the various stores, let alone driving to one, was slim to none. I just hoped that perhaps Ella wouldn't notice when I put my jersey before church and all would be good. No such luck. As soon as she saw me sporting a number 86, the tears started to fall.

I remembered that I had a Steelers shirt that I longer wore because it had shrunk and was too small. What were the chances I could actually find it in my closet in the few minutes I had to get us out the door for church? I mean, I never know when I'm going to be able to find a shirt I actually wear, let alone one that doesn't cover my midriff. I consider a Super Bowl miracle (because the Steeler's winning was skill, not a miracle!) that I quickly found the shirt and Ella was thrilled to wear it. We both went to church in jeans, white long sleeve shirts with black Steeler shirt overtop. It was too cute. If only I had taken a picture.

Our Super Bowl gathering was as low key as it gets. I didn't want to have to play the role of hostess and we were still recovering from Saturday's busyiness. Just a few friends came over and hung out and ate and watched the game. I made Pittsburgh cupcakes with the girls. They were yellow/gold cupcakes, frosted with chocolate/black. Easy enough, right? Also on the menu was a Pittsburgh style sandwich - grilled chicken topped with melted mozarella cheese, french fries, coleslaw, lettuce, tomato and Italian dressing. They were just as delicious as I remembered and everyone else thought they were awesome. Of course, no pictures of the food either.

Right before halftime my friend Rachael and I started cutting out the 3D glasses for the halftime 3D special. We all put them on. And THAT is when I decided to get out the camera. So over the course of a eventful weekend I have these four pictures to share....

I also think this is the first time I've posted any pictures in 2009.
I've washed Ella's shirt and told her she could wear it to school tomorrow. I hope I remember to take a picture then! If anything, for you all to see that the shirt I used to wear isn't all that gigantic on my five year old daughter. I don't wish is weirder - that she is old enough to wear a shirt of mine without it looking like a dress, or that I wore a shirt that small. I promise you, it really shrunk!

It was a great weekend, despite the lack of pictures. I couldn't be happier that the Steeler's pulled off the victory. After Holmes' touchdown I jumped up and did a crazy and completely uncoordinated spastic dance. Matt asked why I wasn't yelling and I told him that I just couldn't. No idea why my joy expressed itself the way it did, but it was one moment when I was definitely glad that no pictures were taken.

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