Friday, August 1, 2008

I'm officially back home!

We actually got home just shy of midnight on Wednesday, but Thursday was spent trying to unpack, dealing with returning phone calls and emails, saying goodbye to Rachel and Carole, getting some food in the house, etc. So today I will consider myself officially home and back into the swing of things... LOL

We had a FABULOUS time visiting Dan's extended family (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins) in the Pittsburgh area. We stayed with his Aunt Danielle and Uncle Bob, who also have his cousin, Miranda, and her husband, Lucas, living with them while they save up to build their own house (they recently moved from Arizona). The kids had a room to share, which they LOVED doing. Dan and I had our own room as well. The house was huge, including a basement with a giant TV on one end, and a work-out area at the other (which I used twice! Better than not at all...). There was a 12ft wide by 2.5ft deep pool in the backyard my children took full advantage of. We spent two of the days there doing nothing but swimming, basically! They are all TAN now, especially Emily. The tips of Connor's hair all sun-bleached out, so he looks like a baby surfer dude or something. LOL The weather was typically low 80's and HUMID, but totally tolerable (especially with air conditioning in the house). Coming home to low 60's, a cloud layer and recent rain (the small puddle in my driveway as evidence of rain) felt COLLLLLLLLD! I took an extra long/hot shower this morning to drive off the chill!!

We spent the Thursday we arrived in PA recovering from an overnight flight with a three hour layover in Atlanta, then spent Friday at a theme park called Idlewild. I met up with Kaci and Toni, two internet friends, and we had the BEST time! They were just what I expected them to be (except Kaci was shorter than I was imagining...LOL) and I TRULY wish I could spend more time with them in person. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and meeting up with them in person felt like hanging out with old friends. Technically, we've all known each other for a few years, and talk on the phone and email and IM and whatnot, but hadn't officially met in person yet (well, Kaci and Toni have met twice, but this was MY first time meeting them). It was FANTASTIC. Idlewild was awesome as well, and the kids went on rides and played in the water park portion until we just couldn't stay any longer (though I think the kids were all still going strong; it was us adults who'd reached our end.) We went back to Toni's for dinner and s'mores and stayed until pretty late.

On Monday, we went to Kennywood, and it started out just Dan and I and the kids, along with Dan's cousin Miranda, but later in the day, we were joined by Aunt Danielle, Uncle Steve, Aunt Tina, and Dan's little cousins, Katie and Jill (Katie is almost 10 and Jill is only four months older than Emily). We all split up a little bit so everyone was able to ride the rides they wanted and it worked out really great. We stayed for 11 hours and the kids were having such a good time, they didn't even want to leave, except the park was closing and we were getting kicked out. It was a blast. Emily rode a lot of the "big kid" (tamer adult) rides, including the log jammer TWICE (her favorite ride, if you ask her), and two roller coasters (one of them twice). Jared wasn't tall enough for a lot of those rides, but got spoiled by different adults with soft pretzels, slushies, cotton candy, ice cream, etc. Connor rode all the kiddyland rides, some of them several times over (he wouldn't get off the TINY merry-go-round, and swatted at the ride attendant who tried to unbuckle him, and since there was no line, they just kept letting him go around again. He rode three times before I insisted they pry him off the ride--they don't let parents enter the actual ride area to assist in loading/unloading kids). He rode a mild adult ride called the Kangaroo and he LOVED IT. I think he went three times? Same with the whip (both the adult versions and the kiddyland one).

We spent time with his mom's side of the family as well. Sunday was a big lunch at his Uncle Stevie's house, which lasted so long, it turned into dinner as well. LOL His cousin Andrew is going on 9, I think, and Sammy is only one day older than Connor. The kids all enjoyed playing together, and we got to see Dan's Aunt Margie, Uncle Bill, Uncle Billy, Aunt Carole, Uncle Nick, and Grandma B as well.

I'm sure there's pertinant story-telling topics I'm forgetting, but that was our trip as it stands out in my head right now! It was our best trip back there BY FAR, and we honestly could have been happy staying a few more days. The flight home STUNK, but with layovers and flight delays and over-stimulated, tired kids, what can you expect??? LOL!

I am working on getting the pictures loaded to do some sort of slide-show, but I have A LOT of pictures to go through, so it may take awhile. There's definately too many to try and post individually.

PS I want to include a HUGE "thank you" to Kaci and Kristina for guest-blogging for me while I was away. And another thank you for their sweet words. You'll never know how much they meant to me...

Kristina: as I've told you before, I honestly don't remember the phone call where your mom told me you were showering with the dog, so your horrifying moment is only in YOUR mind, not mine! LOL And I do remember the driving incident with your mom wearing knee pads, etc. That was HILARIOUS!!!! And did I really give you that same card twice? I don't remember that either! What a dork I was, apparently! LOL!! Emily in your wedding was just the sweetest thing, wasn't she? I was so thrilled you wanted to include her and I still have that little dress hanging in her closet!!

Kaci: Bruce is a great name for Connor. You definately hit the nail on the head there. LOL He's a tough little bruiser, FOR SURE. Just ask all of Dan's PA family. It was the running joke by the time we left how busy he is and how NOTHING slows him down. I think at the point he got mad about something and ran over to bite the doorframe (no joke), I should have strongly debated changing his name officially to Bruce. I was so thankful I had you to lean on during that rocky part of the pregnancy with Connor, and I was very glad I could be there for you during your move. I know it was and IS still hard on you! Flipz are SUPER YUM. I came across those a few years ago and have to make sure not to buy them very often because they DON'T LAST LONG if I do!

I'm very lucky to have such great friends! You guys are awesome!!

Now here is a link for the slide show (I've spent HOURS putting captions on most of the pictures and rotating them the proper direction, HOWEVER, a few of them play in the slideshow turned sideways and/or minus their captions, so I'm FRUSTRATED, and nothing is coming up in the correct order of when they happened, but you'll get the jist of things, at least...) Password: EmmyJnCJ and it is case sensitive so type carefully!"


Steph said...

Yeah I am so happy you had a good vacation and even happier that you are willing to guest blog! Here is my email give me a shout when you can swhln72 at Thanks again

Kristina said...

Even though your pictures weren't in the order you wanted, I totally enjoyed that slide show! I loved the captions...without being able to sit next to you on the couch and get the stories firsthand, that's a close second!

I'm glad you don't remember the shower thing...I obviously can't forget it. I'm working on it, though!

Welcome home!

Kaci said...

YAY you are back!

Betsy said...

I am sooo glad you are home, and am even more glad that you had a great time. I am gonna look at those pics later when I have a miniute to sit, M is REAL sick today, so I can't be online like I usually am!

Shan said...

Welcome back! Sounds like it was a great trip!!

Cheryl said...

I agree with Emily about the log jam ride! I love those kind where you get wet. Sounds like you had lots of fun with the family & friends. The pictures were so cute! I think Connor must be a "ham" because he sure had some cute pictures. LOVED the picture of the house--that was awesomely huge!