Thursday, June 24, 2010

Storms in the Dakotas are Better!

I love thunderstorms, but I do not like flying tree branches. And, really, the Dakotas have the best ones; their lightning is BLUE! I got to see quite a bit of stormin' goin' on while in the midwest! It all started very early Thursday morning...

After three tries to get on a flight PDX to MDW, I finally got on the 130p, which (after the two-hour time difference) got me into MDW around 730p, CST. I was starving by this point so when my aunt & uncle (& mom; she got in earlier in the day) picked me up, we headed to Olive Garden for dinner, then drove about an hour to their house.

Mom & I stayed at D&R's house for two days before DW and JH came in to start our annual GIRLS' TRIP. So, Friday we slept in, and decided (even though uncle D left us his car) to just hang at the house. My cousin, B, was up first. After chitchatting with him for a few minutes, he asked if cousin MJ was up. Nope, so he went down to wake him (something along the lines of, "M! Get your ass outta bed! Your favorite cousin is here!"). MJ and I visited for about an hour, then he had to get ready for work (he's the manager of one of the four restaurants inside the FOUR WINDS CASINO in Michigan).

Mom and I read, I computered (haha), and watched a little t.v. before Uncle D got home (early). Aunt R was home about an hour later, so after packing up some picnic stuff, we headed out to a small state park about 1/2 hour away to watch an outdoor folk concert (my aunt & uncle are huge fans -- Sons of the Never Wrong). Definitely NOT my kind of music, but whatever.

We got there while the "opening band" was still playing, and set up our chairs. It was cloudy and trying to rain, but we had umbrellas, and the tickets DID say "rain or shine"... About five minutes later, B called R and told her about the "huge storm, with up to 85mph winds" that was supposed to be headed straight for us. About that time, the announcer came onstage to ask us to wait in our cars for a few as they were going to postpone the start of the concert about 15 minutes...

No sooner had we gotten back to the car that the dark clouds rolled in... then the rumbling... then the rain... then the lightning... then, the piece de resistance, the winds! The Element was rocking like the bed of newlyweds! A few people left, but we stayed. After about 20 minutes, the winds started to die down, so when the Parks Director came around, we thought he was telling us it was ok to go back in, but no... "Concert Cancelled; sorry!!" Ok, I guess we just donated to the local public radio station, then.

Since we were hungry by this time (we WERE going to eat at the park), we drove another 1/2 hour (through felled trees, flooded streets, and power outages) to the casino. We ended up having dinner at M's restaurant, then got a tour of the casino, ending with B's restaurant (he had to get back to work). Seems their kitchens lost some power until the generators kicked in, but the slots (of course) did not. :) Then, once M got home, we ended up staying up for two more hours, talking & catching up. Side note - I finally got behind the truth of his extreme dislike of Princess' bio (he was living nearby when MG and I were married, and we worked together for a while, as well... I knew MG didn't like MJ, but I know now why MJ felt the same).

Saturday, R made muffins & pancakes, and laid fresh fruit out for breakfast. Uncle D shared some interesting family history (apparently my great-grandfather worked for Brinks for 30+ years). Then it was time for showers & packing up... our condo was waiting! Took us a little over an hour to get to Chicago, but we found our building just fine, got checked in, and I sent a message to DW. JH texted me about 1/2 hour later, telling me they were on the "L" headed our way.

After we all got settled in (we were renting a 2br, 1 3/4ba - that means no tub; just shower - unit on the 27th floor in the middle of downtown Chicago -- awesome), it was time for dinner... and there was a nice Italian place right around the corner! Drinks, dinner, then a walk around the neighborhood, and it was definitely time to crash.

Sunday was Father's Day; we spent the morning meandering through Millennium Park and checking out a few other points of interest nearby, then Uncle D came out (R was supposed to join him, but she was sick) for a CUBS (vs Angels) game with us! As with the Yankees game we saw a couple years ago, and the Saints game we were in town for but didn't go to, the CUBS won. It was so great to see all the dads there with their kids... all ages, too!

At one point, I texted Ace to ask what the kids did for him (he had all three kids at home while I was on vacation), and he replied, "AK got me a cute plaque, DK did dishes, and MK gave me an awesome card that says how much she loves me as well as a book about dads. Oh, and they're not arguing at the moment." Cool. Even though they drive us batty at times, I love those kids. After the game, we went to Gino's East Pizzeria for some deep dish Chicago-style pizza!

Monday, we met up with our "Chicago Greeter", Doug, and took a three-hour walking tour of downtown Chicago. We got a lot of architectural history, and got to see a lot of cool things. Chicago's history is interesting; if you ever have a chance to go, I highly suggest meeting with a greeter!

Lunch was next on the agenda; at a great place just a few blocks from Millennium Park (can't remember what it was called), then we were off to the river cruise! We entered off the Riverwalk, and took the Wendella boat. It's an hour and a half, with a little on Lake Michigan, too. Afterwards, we did a bit of shopping (gotta get those souvenirs).

Since that was our last night in Chicago, we returned home to freshen up and chill for a bit before dinner; we had 630p reservations at Le Colonial for my birthday (a Thai/French place). When we were done, we headed back to pack up and check loads. We were all able to get on an 830am flight home; mom & I back to the PNW and DW & JH back to Northern California.

Next year: probably Boston!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fickle Beast...

As in "Time is a fickle beast". That word, I swear, is going to kill me. I have updates regarding Princess & her spring sport, B.D.'s shenanigans, kitchen & flooring, and summer plans. But, first, I am leaving. I'm leaving my husband and my children, and I'm going to Chicago.

As you should know, my two older sisters, my mother, and myself go on a "girls' trip" every year. This year, it happened to work out better for all of us to go in early summer, instead of in the fall. For me, that means Princess had no school, no activities, no appointments. It's not that Ace can't get her to these things; of course he can... and does. It's that, with me being gone, it's a whole lot easier for him if (a) he's home (on "vacation" himself) and (b) he can focus on spending quality UNstructured time with her.

In this case, he also has his own two children; they're here for the first part of our summer parenting time (they'll be here through the 4th of July holiday weekend). While I'm gone, they'll be working on clearing out their rooms of junk they don't need &/or they've outgrown and mowing & edging the yard. I am leaving my car here, as well, because my birthday present from Ace is tinted windows!

I leave at, as my dad likes to say, "zero dark thirty" on Thursday morning, and return the evening of my birthday: Tuesday, June 22nd. Scheduled, so far, is a Cubs game, visit to mom's hometown, visit with mom's brother & his wife (perhaps their "boys", too?), a boat tour &/or a hop-on-hop-off tour, and (of course) true Chicago cuisine! Mom has also set up a "Chicago Greeter" for us to do a short walking tour.

Next time I check in with you, I promise to tell you all about our trip to the Windy City!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adventures in & around THE CITY (by the Bay)

Friday --

* Got up the same time as Ace, made coffee, got dressed, packed car, and left.
* Got to airport 1 1/2 hrs before flight.
* Played cards with Princess & hung out 'til flight.
* Landed earlier than expected.
* Found HOTEL SHUTTLES just fine.
* Was asked what hotel, gave hotel name, was told to wait.
* Got on shuttle, road over an hour out of our way, north, into the city -- right hotel, wrong location (they really should ask "which one"!).
* Was returned, at no cost, to actual hotel, to eat lukewarm IN 'n OUT burgers.
* Was given rough time by brother & sister & mom.
* Took a walk toward the park nearby, but detoured along a walking/biking path instead.
* Spent rest of afternoon chillin' & visiting.
* Switched rooms so that East Coasters & Cali folks could be closer.
* Had dinner with mom, Princess, Bug, Mer & her kids at hotel restaurant.
* Chilled in room 'til I got a text from D, asking for assistance with Firefly (Bug was already asleep).
* Sent D on her way, got Firefly to sleep, and watched a little t.v. while Princess read until D got back.

Saturday --
* Woken up by Bug "being quiet" while mom got showered & ready for the day. Mom then took her down to breakfast downstairs.
* Princess & I were allowed to sleep 'til 830a, and Bug brought me my mocha.
* Got dressed & ready for a day in the city, checked in with T & D, figured out transit schedules with mom, and headed out.
* Shuttle to airport, BART to Powell St, cable car to Fisherman's Wharf.
* Sudden stop on cable car in the middle of a street when some @$$ decided to run the light. Those wooden brakes do NOT smell good.
* Wait for a push (literally). Got going again...
* Lunch at Cioppino's.
* Bay Cruise around Alcatraz.
* Shopping & ice cream at Pier 39.
* Window shopping at a few more places (actually, I bought only hats for Princess, Bug, and myself) on our walk back to the cable car station near Ghiradelli Square.
* Cable broke at some point near the station, so we were let off 9 1/2 blocks away. Shuttle was coming, but mom didn't want to wait.
* Walked about 1/2 block before mom decided Bug was too slow, so she picked her up.
* Three of those 9 blocks were uphill. My left calf hurt for three days.
* Stopped at Cable Car Cafe for dinner.
* Hopped back on BART. Got to the airport, learned Princess's father had called, so had Princess call him back while we changed Bug, and used the restroom.
* Hotel shuttle back to hotel.
* Checked in with T & D.
* Bug decided she wanted to sleep in our room (originally with Princess, but I told her that "grammy" & I didn't fit in the other bed, so she settled on sleeping with "grammy"), so we had to get stuff from T & D's room.
* Princess helped Bug get ready for bed, including a new diaper (she won't change poopy ones, but wet ones are fine), read her a story, and got her tucked in.
* Mom got herself ready & into bed.
* Princess & I played some cards while I was going back & forth w/D about taking Firefly (in their room, of course).
* Sent Princess to bed.
* Read until I finally got a slight knock on my door around 1045p, was told she was just giving D the "death stare" and not going to sleep, so she decided to just take her downstairs.
* Climbed in bed, and promptly fell asleep.

* Mom took both the girls down to the cafe and they brought me my mocha when they came back up.
* We had a very "chill" morning; I got internet for the room so Princess could work on a homework project she brought with her.
* Bug played and watched t.v. and "read" her books.
* Lunch was quick & easy, then another hour or so of quiet time for Bug while Princess finished her homework, & mom packed.
* We all went down to the pool; stayed a bit too long as Princess got a little red on her shoulders.
* Back up to the room for a snack and some reading, while mom took care of our travel docs.
* Over to D's room for a little visit, then dinnertime.
* On the walk to dinner (two blocks), Bug was telling us all about where all the airplanes were going (we could see SFO from the water). My favorite commentary: "That one is going to land, then go to Pasco, then go to KUBLACON!"
* Benihana for dinner -- Bug was "OOoooh"ing and "Coo-uhl"ing as well (her way of saying "cool").
* Got D food to go, walked back to the hotel, gave D her food, tracked down T, let Bug say goodnight (she opted to sleep in our room again).
* Mom wanted to have brunch with us all before she left, but T told her he wasn't going to be up that early and since he only sees Corey & Manny once a year, he wanted to do their regular later brunch. Mom was kinda upset... Oh, well.
* After fighting Princess about her pajamas, Bug finally settled down and let Princess read her a book. About halfway through, Bug was asleep (as was mom).
* Princess & I played cards for a bit, then we went to sleep ourselves.

* After the usual morning, mom finished packing up and left.
* Bug "helped" Princess & I pack up, then we tracked down T & D.
* Had final food - brunch - in the cafe with the whole crew.
* D went back work, and T handed Firefly over while he finished packing up.
* Princess & I said our goodbyes at 1p, and headed back to the airport on the shuttle.
* We were home by 715p.

It was a great trip. I probably never would have taken the girls to the city by myself... not that I couldn't have, just that I am not comfortable travelling to places I don't know. I hadn't been to the city in almost 15 years (maybe more?).

I also really like Mer, Corey, their kids, & Manny. This is a great group and they've made me feel as if I'm family. If I'm ever in their areas, I'm thinking I won't need a hotel! :D

Next year, it looks as if D's mom will be accompanying T & D on this adventure, but I'll make sure the weekend is free, anyway, just in case...

Monday, June 7, 2010


Time is a funny thing... Sometimes, you think you have a LOT of time... Other times, not so much. It's been over a week since the Bay Area trip, and in a few ways, I have yet to recover. The most important to YOU, readers, is this blog. I have a LOT going on, and very little of that precious time to actually sit down and update. So, this blog is not a "what I'm doing" or "what I have done" blog; it is only an apology, and a promise that before the week is done, I will finish my already-started blog about our trip to the Bay Area, and update you on our house updates.