Monday, June 29, 2009

Brian is Out of State

We returned home from WA on Sunday June 14th. After a hard day of unpacking everything, we put a lot of it on hold with Brian saying we would take care of it the next weekend. Then that following Thursday he called me from work to tell me that he was being sent on storm duty. There was a tornado that had damaged about a three mile stretch of power line in Minnesota south of the Twin Cities. They were sending his crew up there that day to work on it. He was expecting to be gone for 10 to 14 days. While he was there he was working 16 hour days in the hot humid weather. Fortunately for him and us, he was able to come home late this past Friday just eight days after he left. It kept a lot at the house undone and he had to work super hard, but I think it was a really good experience for him.
We left last night for Indianola, IA. For those who have paid attention to our travels, that was our very first destination back in October '08. This is where the main office of Brian's apprenticeship is. He has a training today and the kids and I decided to join him for the drive. We are enjoying a relaxing morning in the hotel and then we will head to the pool, library, park and a water park this afternoon. Brian will hopefully get to join us at the water park and then dinner tonight. Once we get back home, we should hopefully not have to go anywhere else, out of state, for a while.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Angela's First Swim Meet

Angela had her first swim meet last night about an hour away from home. It was held at a fitness center whose pool was smaller than a normal 25 yards. That was a-o-kay especially for her first meet. The pool room was super hot and Connor and I were dripping sweat. Angela had it lucky getting to get into the water. She spent a little bit of time warming up with the other team members, but most of the warm up time was spent playing around. Once the meet started and her team mates were cheering each other on she was covering her ears. It was really loud in there with the echo and such. I had to encourage her to take her hands down and cheer on her team. For this meet she did not get to choose her events, the coach placed her into events of his choice. She competed in the 25 free, 25 back, 25 fly and was the second leg in the 100 free relay. She did a great job in all of her events although she did come in last in all of her heats. There were numerous heats per event and we won't know what she placed until they get all the results compiled. They said they would get the information to our coach in about a week. She said that racing made her really tired and she wanted to crawl out of the pool like a worm. She also said that she had a lot of fun. After the end of one of her races I was asking her to get out of the pool, but she asks, "can't I stay in and play?" It was difficult for her to just swim her race and get out to watch everyone else. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to post. I was video taping her races and trying to keep Connor from jumping into the pool. So I didn't have a free hand to take pictures too. Maybe at her next meet Brian and I will both be able to be there and we can get both video and still photos.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Madison Zoo

Thursday we headed into Madison for a trip to the zoo. I was excited to get out of the house for the day, but not really excited for the zoo. All I had heard was that it was a free zoo and I kept thinking about the one that is in the next town over from us. That is also a free zoo and it has some ducks, deer, llamas, a bear and a couple of wolves. It was fun for us, but I thought if Madison is like that will it be worth the drive into town. Boy was I mistaken. This zoo fits the saying of Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!" The first animals we saw were two big shaggy buffalo. Connor thought they were great, but Angela thought they were stinky. She said that they need to shower every day. Then we saw a black bear, a grizzly bear and a polar bear. The black bear and the grizzly bear did not stay visible very long, but the polar bear seemed to want to sit and pose for the camera. After that we got to see some river otters, exotic birds, flamingos and a giraffe. Then there was the tiger! He kept pacing in front of the glass and the kids thought he was great. Every time he'd walk away I would try to move us along, but then he'd come back and they would both go rushing back to the glass to watch him. It took us quite a while to leave him. And I do mean a him. Angela says to me, "I can tell Mom, he's a boy!" She was right, it was quite obvious that he was. Next we went and looked at the rhinoceros. There were two of them and they both seemed a bit worn out. They were laying in the dirt sort of lethargic like. Every once and a while one would lift his head as if to say "What, we're taking a break here, okay?" Connor kept yelling "Hello" to them, but to his disappointment they didn't do anything. Next was a pot bellied pig (that the kids talked to with great snorts), a foreign type of cow, some camels, monkeys, two alligators and some prairie dogs. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and then spent some time playing in the large play toy for the kids. We did not get the chance to use the carousel or the train because the kids wanted to spend their money on ice cream instead of the rides. I also understand that we missed seeing the lions, penguins and a few other animals. This was due to the fact that we had already been there a couple of hours and we were all quite tired. At least it is a free zoo, that is worth the drive, so we will be back again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Across County Travels

Before we left Washington to head across county, I had a cousin who wished us safe travels. He also said, "At least you don't have a motorcycle to fall off this time." So true that was. Our trip across the county seemed very uneventful this time. No, I am not complaining, I am rejoicing that it was safe and easy travels.

We arrived at the Budget truck rental office in Spokane at 8:30 AM (PST). After filling out paperwork and topping off gas we headed up to Colville. Brian, his brother and my brother worked extra hard and got the truck loaded in just over two hours. We then stopped to say goodbye to my parents and head out of town. We stopped in Post Falls, ID for dinner about 6:30 PM (PST). Our next stop was the junk store, also know as the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, MT. I don't think any trip into MT would be complete without stopping there. We finally arrived in Missoula, MT at about 12:00 PM (MST). The next 30 minutes were spent getting hotel rates, the cheapest we could find was $99. So at about 12:30 we ended up at the KOA setting up our tent. Now imagine this: we are sleeping in a four person dome tent on a full size air mattress. We have opened two sleeping bags and zipped them together for the four of us to snuggle into. I want to know what the tent companies base the "four person" status on, because there were four of us and oh my. That night, Brian said he ended up sleeping more on the floor than on the mattress. Due to the fact that we didn't get to sleep until about 1:00 AM (MST) we didn't get on the road quite as quickly as we had hopped. We learned last time that MT is a huge state and we had hopped to get out of there that day. The more and more we drove the less likely that seemed. Finally about 10:00 PM we crossed the border into North Dakota. We thought we could make it a little further into the state, but after about 20 miles I was beat and so we pulled off to find a hotel for the night. Brian went to check prices at a couple of different hotels. Now here we are in the middle of nowhere, ND and the cheapest hotel he could find was $159, are you joking me, no way! We found another campground to stay at. While I was checking us in the man says to me, "Ya see, there are tourist destinations and tourists traps. Now, this here, this is a tourist trap." All I could say is, "I guess we fell into it." Oh well, back to the tent we go. At least Brian was able to sleep on the air mattress this time. That next morning we got up bright and early and were on the road by 7:30 AM. We were so excited, until a couple of miles down the road I pick up my phone and realize that we had already crossed the time zone and it was actually 8:30 AM (CST). Darn it, so much for our good intentions of getting on the road early. Most of that day passed pretty uneventfully. For about the 20 minutes before crossing into Minnesota I felt like I couldn't keep my eyes open, I was so tired. I didn't understand how Brian could have done this drive so quickly. I was so happy to stop, get out and walk around. About 30 minutes later I was back in the same position, trying to keep my eyes open. So Angela and I stop at a rest stop so that I can take a ten minute nap. I gave her the walkie talkie and told her to get a hold of Brian and let him know what we were doing. I also asked her to wake me up in ten minutes since my phone was dead and charging in the truck with Brian; 15 minutes later she wakes me up. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, it was enough sleep to get me to bedtime, the problem was Brian. I asked Angela if she had gotten a hold of him and she says "sort of". I realized that he didn't know we had stopped and he was now 15 minutes ahead of us on the road, also I didn't have my phone to call him. I got back onto the freeway and pushed my speed as fast as the speed limit would allow. My hope was that since he couldn't go that fast in the truck that we'd catch him. After about 40 minutes of trying him on the walkie talkie, I realized that we have OnStar hands free calling in the car for a month, so I called him. It worked out great, we were able to meet up in the next town for gas and nobody was any worse for the wear. That night (at about 8:30 PM (CST)) we got to Minneapolis, MN and stayed with some extended family. It was sort of a unique situation as none of us had ever meet the other, but it worked out well. This was a great spot to stay for a couple of reasons. First, there were lots and lots of toys inside and outside for the kids to play with. They stayed up a bit later than normal playing, since they had been sitting for so long. Secondly, we only had four hours to drive the next day to get home. Sunday morning we were able to relax and not feel too rushed to get on the road. We made on stop for gas and then like a horse returning to the barn was rushed on for home. It was about 1:30 pm (CST) when we pulled up to home. It is a good thing we have two bathrooms as we all were running in to use them. We had a few people off and on over the afternoon stop to help us unload. It took a little longer than we thought, but we got it all unload by dinner time and the truck returned by bedtime. The house is packed full of boxes. It is quite funny seeing all the little paths that have been made around them. I have definitely got my work cut out for me unpacking them all. Brian should have a three day weekend and then we can get some big work done.

We are all happy to have made it home and get back into the swing of things. On a little side note, Angela started a six-week summer swim team today. I'll get a post and some pictures of that on here soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Connor's First Haircut

We'll my posts got a little out of order. Connor got his first haircut on Thursday May 28th. After just over two and a half years his hair had finally gotten a bit too long into his eyes. I really enjoy his curls and so we did not give him the traditional "boys" cut. Instead we just trimmed up the bangs and a little of everything else. We went to a local barber shop, which had a fun old time feel. They had a chair that resembled an old carousel horse. Just like a seasoned cowboy, he climbed right up into the chair. Once in the chair, he just sat stoic like, not moving or saying anything. That really surprised me, since Connor is a mover and a shaker, but he did a great job. Afterwards, he got a Tootsie pop sucker for his "troubles", which he really enjoyed. We then went out for a celebratory dish of ice cream. I don't know if it was to reward him or to comfort me, but either way it worked. On the way home from the barber shop, I cried for the loss of my son's hair. I realized afterwards that I didn't save any hair, which maybe I should have, but there really was not enough to save. Trimming up the bangs really does help as he can see what he is doing now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Girl's Weekend

What a wonderful, amazing weekend. First off, the sunshine and warmth were great. I have heard speculation that Eastern Washington may be loosing Spring and Fall. The thought is that it may just be a Winter and Summer area. I really like the warmth of Summer so I don't know how difficult that would be for me to embrace. Saturday, I met up with a sister-in-law for a day/night of fun. We started out with pedicures. I got my toes painted like watermelons, how fun. I bought polish so that I can do this to Angela's toes. Then we had facials. If I had my choice between the two I would definitely do a facial again. Really, I can rub lotion into my own feet, but the massaging of the face and the hot cloths - amazing! We spent some time window shopping at Finders Keepers (in downtown Spokane) and at the Tin Roof (between downtown and the valley). Next we visited this great organic restaurant called ???, darn I can not remember the name. It is kitty corner from the Tin Roof on Sprague. It uses all organic products and it is a total sliding fee place to eat. None of the food is priced, you pay what you think is a reasonable price for the food you take. If you can't afford to pay then you can give what little you have or you can volunteer an hour of time for a meal of food. It is all on the honor system and I think it is a perfect idea. It also has really good looking food. We had a hunk of rhubarb cobbler and it was so yummy, it just seemed to melt in your mouth. After that we headed out to our hotel. We stayed at the Red Lion Templins in Post Falls. We enjoyed a relaxing walk along the docks. The sun was out, it was warm, the water was lapping at the shore and I couldn't think of anything more enjoyable at that time. We went and got massages that evening. There were a few times the masseuse really dug his thumbs in and I thought, "why am I here?" but then he'd loosen up and it would feel oh so good. We walked out of there in a relaxed euphoria or stupor. I would kind of relate it to coming out of surgery, you should have someone pick you up and drive you home. Also, you probably should not be making any major financial/life decisions or drive heavy machinery. Thankfully we were doing none of the above, we were just on our way to a dinner of chicken fried steak. I had the breakfast and she had the dinner and they both hit the spot! That night in the hotel we laughed and giggled while watching the movie "Bride Wars". We also enjoyed soaking out hands in some paraffin wax. They felt so smooth when we were done. The next day, we picked up Angela and headed to the mall. We had Pita Pit for lunch. This was a first for me and I would definitely go back, the pitas were really good. We ended off the weekend with a trip to Build-A-Bear. Angela had a coupon from her birthday and we seemed to have not gotten around to using it until now. She picked out a pink bear with white heart and named her Hailey. She was able to get a cute sun dress and flip flops for her as well as a pair of shorts. Angela has not let her out of her sight since. Well, as I started this out, it was a wonderful, amazing weekend!