Weekend Fun

It was a beautiful weekend. The sun shined bright, the skies were clear, and the temperature was great.

Saturday, on a whim, we decided to head to The Maryland Zoo. It’s been years since I last visited. As a mater of fact, I don’t think Amelia was even 2 years old the last time we went as a family. Unfortunately, the zoo isn’t what it used to be. Half of the attractions are no longer in place & are closed off. But, that didn’t stop us from buying an annual pass. This is the first year we’ve bought the family pass. I figured since we would have paid nearly $50 in admission fees, the family pass would have paid for itself after two trips. Plus, since Greg is now a stay-at-home daddy, he can take the girls anytime he wants.

Amelia had fun and was asking to go back today. Also, given all the walking we did yesterday (including a trip to the grocery store after visiting the zoo) Amelia slept in for the first time in a long time! We all slept in, except for Sofia.

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Sofia fell asleep as soon as we reached the children’s area

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Indoor cave

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Hungry giraffe.

Today, we went to Ft. Smallwood Park. It’s one of my favorite county parks to visit. It has a nice play area and lots of grills for charcoal cooking. Plus, it’s nice to watch the ships come and go.

Greg and I did a first: we let Amelia play at the play area all by herself. Don’t worry, Greg was watching the area like a hawk (very protective of his girls). It was scary yet exciting to let our daughter experience independence. I am happy to report she did very well. Interestingly, she came back to us after about a half hour & hung out with us the rest of our time there.

Overall, it was a great weekend. We didn’t do any chores other than a load or two of laundry and we spent a lot of time together.

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PA or Bust

it was a BUST.

Greg and I did a little road trip to PA this afternoon. Our plan was to visit a couple of PA’s state parks, particularly Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation and Gifford Pinchot State Park.  I’ve never venjured this far into PA (sad, I know) and was curious to know if Hershey Park was near the state parks (another place I’ve never been) and with the weather so… perfect… I wanted to visit. Well, until I went to the Hershey Park website and saw that it was still closed. Oh well, a trip for the future I’m sure.

Why was the PA trip a bust? Well, the parks we visited were not to our… expectations. Boyd Big Tree is very new and wasn’t really toddler friendly; granted there were ‘easy trails’ that we started to walk down, but we learned quickly that this wasn’t something Amelia was going to enjoy. So, we left and drove around a little. Greg was looking for a particular rest stop/overlook along the Susquehanna River, but my patience was wearing thin (I was doing the driving) and I wanted Amelia to get out and run around – after all, it was a gorgeous day! Plus, I was tired of reading all the “Adult Outlet” signs – that strip of road is the mecca for all things porn (and toys)!

About an hour after we left Boyd Big Tree we arrived at Gifford Pinchot State Park. This park is more for the older folk; it is located on a beautiful lake with lots of boating activities and really nice cabins to rent (and pretty cheap, we’re looking into renting a cabin in the Fall), but there wasn’t enough for the young folk – Amelia. There was a small playground, but nothing spectacular, like the ones near us. But, we hung out for about two hours letting Amelia do her thing.

We headed home a little after 5 and stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel in York, PA. Thankfully, dinner was quick, and Amelia actually ate a good bit of her chicken and dumplings. The reason I was thankful that dinner was quick was because I was tired and wanted to get home; that and I don’t really care much for the restaurant – just isn’t “our place” like Houlihans is. I only took a few pictures today, literally, and they were with the iPhone:

the others are on my Facebook page.

So, all in all we spent about 4 hours in a car and a half a tank of gas and we didn’t have the good time we were anticipating. Greg and I began planning this trip earlier in the week when we knew the weather was going to be in our favor (as in no possibilities for rain or anything else) and by Thursday I was counting down to the weekend because of this trip. Needless to say, I had high expectations and was disappointed. So was Greg. But, it was great to get out and be in the sun exploring new areas.

I was curious about something and got the chance to try it out on the trip: last night Amelia and I went to visit my brother and we all went to Target (it’s kinda ‘our thing’  – the brother and I lazily walking around Target buying items that aren’t in dire need). I wanted to see if there was a stereo cable that I could use to plug the iPhone (the headphone jack) to the AUX jack that’s in my car… I was curious to know if I plugged the iPhone to the AUX jack, if the music would play through the car speakers. I was happy when I found these car stereo cables and figured that was what I needed. My brother noticed my curiosity and then doubted my hypotheses; he didn’t believe I had a stereo jack in my car – which made me begin to second guess myself. Well, my brother, being the awesome brother that he is, ended up paying for EVERYTHING (I had picked up a new bonnet for Amelia, some food items, new sippy cups, and my brother threw in a few toys for Amelia), including the stereo cables. So, I was eager to test the cables out but… I erased the 5 songs I had on the iPhone (though, I don’t know how I did that). So, when I got home and had a few drinks (pineapple juice and coconut rum), I attempted to figure out iTunes (still hate the program with a passion) and ripped some songs from various CD’s and miraculously added the songs to the iPhone (still don’t know how I did it with the 3 very strong drinks I had) and my hypothese was correct! Also, I can play songs from YouTube and hear them through the car speakers. So, listening to the iPhone while en route made the trip easier.  And, with this knowledge (which I’m sure die-hard iPhone fans/users already knew about) about the stereo/AUX jack, we no longer have a need for XM Radio so we’re going to cancel the subscription. Yay!

No plans for tomorrow, yet. I want to go to another park (locally) and cook on the grill, but there is a ton of laundry that needs to get done as well as some household cleaning.  Who knows, we’ll see.

And then there were…

6 Days until we fly.

This time next week we will be somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, making our way to the Caribbean Sea heading towards the Grand Cayman Island. I have no idea how giddy with excitement Greg and I (but, probably more Greg than me) will be by this point next week. Gah! I can’t believe I’ll be on a cruise ship NEXT SUNDAY!

And, it still hasn’t sunk in – my level of excitement is no where near where I feel it should be! Actually, I believe I am starting to feel a little bummed that the trip is here; I’ve been looking forward to this cruise since last February, and I won’t have anything to look forward to (vacation wise) once the cruise is said and done. Well, we are thinking of a few things but we can’t really focus on those things until March. But, still.

In other news, Greg and I will probably be attending 3-4 weddings for 2009; this past new years two co-workers (one at his office, and one at mine) got engaged  and are planning for a wedding in the fall.

Michele moved up her wedding to March 28 (from October 10); Greg is a little freaked because he’s their photographer and he doesn’t feel he will be ready (at least equipment wise) by then. I assured him that he will do fine.

This past Saturday was my wedding shower, and belive it or not Greg and I forgot our cameras! So, my cousin took at the pictures and I’m waiting for her to email them, or post them on her MySpace page – then I will share with the world.

Today we spent a few hours with Greg’s Mom. We also celebrated Amelia’s 2nd birthday with her and Greg’s brother, Ken.  It’s nice to feel comfortable around the in-laws; I didn’t feel so comfortable around my ex’s due to my ex’s father – i just hated the guy and didn’t want to within earshot of him… but, Greg’s family is nothing like my ex’s and it’s so nice and refreshing. Even Greg’s brother, Ken, has warmed up to me – giving hugs and chatting with me and Amelia! Greg’s other brother, Pat, warmed up to me at the very beginning –  we even text each other on the occasion … and it’s fun to make fun of Greg (and some of his stupid decisions from his past – like leaving his favorite job to move to NY state for a girl) – in the loving manor that we do.

So, this is the final week of ‘normal’ life before I leave for ‘vacation’ life.  Greg and I have sorta started to get our home ready – we took down the Christmas tree and other decorations! I expressed my desire to have the place clean before we leave so that when we return we won’t have anything to do other than laundry and grocery shopping (as well as copious amounts of sleep – as I am sure we’ll need it).

During the long drive home last night (from my Cousins house), I asked Greg if he was really, truly, ready to be a married man.  Of course he said yes, and I asked him how does he know. And, he said the most beautiful things to me that I actually started to tear up! Basically, he broke down his past 2 ‘serious’ relationships and why he ignored the red flags and he told me that, if he could create the ‘perfect, dream girl’ he can’t think of anything else that I already posses as a person (physical looks don’t count when you’re thinking of the ‘perfect person’). To Greg, I am his dream girl. Awesome! So, we talked a little more about being married (I was so tired and I need him to talk to me to keep my eyes open) and he says that he doesn’t feel anything will change, to him, once we’re married because, to him, we’re already married. I begged to differ and explained why (which lead to the next topic of how does he know he’s ready to be married) – Greg and/or I could walk away and leave the relationship and there wouldn’t be any ‘mess’ to clean up (read: divorce) – there’s no real commitment (a ultimate, higher level, commitment) to each other like there is to being married; to me, when we’re married it means that Greg (and I) are going to be together in every sense of the word.  To me, at least, there will be a different feeling once Greg becomes my husband and I become his wife – Greg is promising to spend the rest of his life with me (and I him). Greg has chosen me as the one that makes him the happiest and that he wants me continue to make him happy for the rest of his life. That means a lot to me. Of course, it helps to know that during our whole friendship/court-ship, as Greg and I were denying our feelings for each other; telling each other that we were not interested in a relationship, much less marriage… that we’re actually going to marry each other! I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again – Greg has fulfilled every dream I’ve ever had since meeting him. Something I’ve never, ever, experienced – during my nearly 30 years of life – before. Guess that Magic 8 ball really is magic! LOL

Oh look, it’s 11:30pm and I have to work this week (4 out of 5 days). Guess I should get to bed, huh?

Random Stuff Part I

“Hey luuk! Yuoo’fe-a gut unuzeer intry tu reed!”

That’s Swedish Chef for: Hey look! You’ve got another entry to read!

Greg and I grew up on The Muppet’s and Sesame Street (rather than Disney) and the Swedish Chef is Greg’s all time favorite character. I’ve been searching through eBay to find something Swedish Chef related for Greg (and doesn’t include Disney’s signature “hidden mickey” on it) and, surprisingly, it’s not a popular item. I’ll more than likely end up getting the plush figure and the DVD’s, but I was hoping to find a little something more. BUt, then again, I have a little time on my side (though not much).

Oh, and here’s the site that does Swedish Chef translation; if any of ya’ll were interested.

My ‘florist’ sent me the pictures of my bouquet!!

She asked me what color ribbon I wanted and, of course, feedback. I don’t know… It almost needs a little something more… maybe yellow/white roses… fill the body a little more. But, I will say, I am impressed at how REAL the flowers look!!! I’ve emailed my ‘florist’ about adding more roses and a few other questions. Can’t wait to hear back from her!

This year, for the holidays, I am participating in two Secret Santa Exchanges! One on the wedding boards and the other on the mommy boards. I’m excited. on the wedding board, I was paired up with someone that is almost my date twin on both wedding days and birthdays! Freaky. And on the mommy board, i was paired up with a little boy that is Amelia’s date twin!

Today was pretty low key; ran over to Costco for a few things and then came home. Amelia’s cold gives her some mood swings and by late afternoon she was pretty irritable. Oh, and gas prices were as low as $1.99/gallon! I haven’t seen gas that low since May 2005 (I actually remember when I filled a tank of gas for $1.98/gal in May 05; I remember the location and date as well. I have no idea why I remember this, but I do).

Tomorrow we’re going to go to a few parks to get more pictures of the Fall scenery. Man, I love the Fall colors. This is the whole reason why I wanted to be married in the Fall.  We’re just hoping the weather will cooperate.

Ok, is anyone else weirded, a little, about the weather we’re having for November? It was hot today. It was hot in the condo and we haven’t turned on our heat in nearly 2 weeks (electric bill was less than $120 this month!).. when is the Fall weather going to kick in? I remember, not too long ago (ok, it was nearly 20 years ago), that we had snow on Thanksgiving! Oh, how I wish for those days.

So, Amelia is actually getting excited about Christmas! She doesn’t know about Santa and all the other characters, but she knows about Christmas Trees. While we were walking through Costco, Amelia was commenting on how pretty the tree’s on display were. So, I was asking Amelia is she was excited about our Christmas Tree and she said yes, and then I asked if she was going to help Daddy and me decorate the tree this year and she said yes and the lady that was standing by, obviously over listening, went “aawwww…. she’s so precious”.

Have I mentioned that Greg and I have talked about getting a kitty when we return from the cruise? We feel Amelia is mature enough (for a 2 yr old) to have a pet and know how to treat said pet. Plus, Greg and I really want a kitty.

I’ve got more, but I need to save it for future posts…

Beautiful Monday

Training starts early

Training starts early

That is probably my favorite picture of the day, followed closely by this one:

Family

Family

We had an amazing day today! The weather was perfect, the scenery was perfect, the drive was (almost) perfect… really, the whole day was perfect!

We did A LOT of walking; there are A LOT of trails and Amelia had A LOT of energy (and she didn’t nap AT ALL until we were leaving; I don’t know where that energy came from) so Greg and I were chasing her every where.

The park is surprisingly small; the map that we printed off the internet is highly exaggerated (with distance)!

We checked out both overlooks, Hawk Point and Wissler Run

There were no warning signs that Wissler Run was a serious (well, not major serious) walk – down hill on rough terain, whereas Hawk Point was all paved and easy to get to. And, wouldn’t you know it, we went to Hawk Point first so we were unprepared for Wissler Point. So, without further adieu, here are the pictures of the day:

View from Hawk Point Overlook

View from Hawk Point Overlook

another View from Hawk Point Overlook

another View from Hawk Point Overlook

I can understand why the state made Hawk Point as its priority, and easily accessible, overlook – the view was amazing and nearly uninterrupted by the nuclear power plant.

Wissler Point… beautiful in its own way:

Wissler Point has a great view of the industrial aspect of the nuclear power – ish. And, like I mentioned, it’s not easily accessible as Hawk Point; it’s a steep-ish and a bumpy walk.

Once we collected our shots, we began the journey back to the car. The journey down was steep and we know going back the way we came in was going to be rough (on us). So, I suggested we try one of the many trails that I noticed on the way down as our means to get out and back to the car. Well, neither one of us had the map with us so we didn’t know which trail lead to where. So, we winged (wung?) it. The trail we choose, which said it was ‘easy’, started out nice enough, but then it went up… nearly straight (possible slight exaggeration) up and it but a burn on our thigh muscles – hence the name of the trail: Fire Trail (in my opinion).

Entering the trail

Entering the trail

I know the picture doesn’t look steep, but it was. And, this was taken midway up the trail.

Needless to say, by the time we made it out of the woods, we were exhausted and ready to head home. But, here are a few more pictures from the park:

Amelia on the tire swing

Amelia on the tire swing

Amelia telling me to sit down (at the table)

Amelia telling me to sit down (at the table)

Amelia *trying* to climb the fence

Amelia *trying* to climb the fence

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

Once we were in the car, Amelia was out for the count in a matter of minutes; I don’t think we were even out of the park before she was asleep.

The only part of the day trip that wasn’t so perfect was the drive out of PA. I got stuck behind three tractors (two separate times) that didn’t go over 25mph – and the speed limits were 55mph! It was a little… frustrating for me… mostly because there are a lot of hills and I drive a manual transmission, so I was constantly switching from 2nd to 3rd gear as the tractor would slow down and then speed up. Thankfully, there were no stop lights on these hills otherwise I may have rolled into the person behind me because he was up on my ass the whole freakin time!

Anyway, the rest of the drive was uneventful; even all of I-95!

We make it to Greg’s Mom’s place around 4pm and have our ice cream social. As I mentioned, Pat, Greg’s middle brother, is leaving tomorrow for Texas, where he’ll begin his 41 weeks of training (some medical engineering job). Oh, and he’s driving to TX, after all, in the last 3.5 weeks, he’s already driven to Michigan and North Carolina.

The time flew by and before we know it, it’s almost 7pm and we need to get Amelia fed, bathed, and in bed. On the way home, we stopped at Border’s to look for a specific book, Photoshop Elements 5, only to learn that it was recently pulled off the shelves by the publisher (because Elements 6 was released and they are planning on releasing 7 soon, therefor 5 is considered outdated). Oh well, guess we’ll buy the book of Amazon.

So, there you have it. This was how we spent our Monday, Labor Day.

The clock says it’s 10:55pm, but it doesn’t feel that late, and yet it does. Darn mental and physical exhaustion!

My new camera should be in tomorrow (it was shipped on Friday), and if it is… it will make my week so much better! I am already dreading going into work tomorrow – even if it’s a short week. I’m really hoping all the drama from Hurricane Gustav won’t lead to crazy people calling the company (and I have no idea what it was like post Katrina). Crossing my fingers that it’s a quiet week… yeah right.

Friends & Family

This weekend was spent with our closest friends (mine) and family (his).

Saturday:

Well, I decided not to head down to La Plata for Olivia’s first birthday party. There were two (well, a few more) reasons: 1. Pat, Greg’s brother, is home for a few weeks (end of Aug) and asked to come over; and 2. Michele was coming down to visit us.

So, Greg and I spent the morning reorganizing the mess Amelia made in the two days she’s been home. Around 1:30pm Michele arrives with her new “friend”, M, and we hang out while we wait for Greg to return from the grocery store (to get goodies for our guests). It was so good to really catch-up with Michele. We didn’t even talk much wedding talk (except for mine; she’s trying to get the time off to come).

The plan was to head down to the Eastern Shore to our favorite restaurant, The Jetty (there all-you-can-eat rate was $26.99 for med/large crabs, a FANTASTIC price!). But, the traffic was horrendous to get over the Bay Bridge! So, we decided to turn around and find another place to eat. We ended up going to Seaside. I’ve eaten there a few times with my friend Lisa, and it was the only good place I knew of.

The crabs were not cheap ($45 a dozen), but I was with good company and decided to splurge. And, Michele’s friend, M, has never ‘picked’ a crab before; and it’s always entertaining to teach someone how to eat a Maryland Crab!

And, one can’t have Maryland crabs without a cold glass of beer:

Michele modeling the way to have MD Crabs

Michele modeling the way to have MD Crabs

Having Michele ‘home’ felt so good . I didn’t realize how much I missed her until she was gone again. We’ve been texting each other like mad since Saturday. We still have a lot of catching-up to do.

After a few hours we went home and hung out at our place for a little while and Greg was kind enough to take some pictures of me and Michele (and Amelia):

Best Friend Bear Hugs

Best Friend Bear Hugs

Michele, Amelia, and Me

Michele, Amelia, and Me

Is it me, or does my head look HUGE in these pictures?

Being Silly

Being Silly

We were able to do a little wedding talk and I know that I am going to be in her wedding party; she’s going to have the wedding in Washington, DC, the wedding is going to be in September 2009 (which I think I’ve already mentioned) and that she’s going “all out” for her wedding! Like, full blown traditional wedding. I can’t wait!

Michele and M left early in the evening, around the time we were expecting Greg’s brothers and Mother to visit. But there was a change in plans (Pat’s) and it was decided they would come over on Sunday.

Sunday:

The morning was rough; for me at least. Amelia was up at 6:30am and it was my turn to tend to her in the morning so Greg could sleep in. I got up easy enough, but I was still very sleepy and exhausted feeling. TMI, but this cycle was a nightmare for me; it drained me of energy, made me more cranky and just all around grumpy; Plus it gave me the worst lower back pain for 4 whole days – even the hydrocodine from the dentist didn’t have an effect on the pain. I was miserable. So, when Greg woke up around 8am I went back to bed.

Ever have one of those days when it feels like time isn’t moving at all; every time you look at the clock, only 5 minutes went by? Well, that was Sunday morning. Amelia was cranky and fought off her nap for as long as possible, I was cranky for obvious reasons, and the combo of the two wasn’t very good. Greg was a good guy and finished all the cleaning and vacuuming of the condo. He’s such a great husband and father.

Anyway, around 3:30 everyone shows up and we play catch-up with each other. Not too long, we break out the Wii and start playing some games (Wii Play, Wii Sports, and Smash Bros.). I let the boys play and watched. Amelia and Grandma K we’re having their own fun:

Amelia and Grandma K

Amelia and Grandma K

Greg and his brothers playing the Wii

Greg and his brothers playing the Wii

**I know. I totally need to hang up some wall art. Darn those cathedral ceilings**

Greg’s Mom and brother Ken (the one in the white shirt) left around 6:30pm. Pat stayed a couple more hours and we chatted about his plans while he’s home, his adventures over-seas, and more childhood stories (which are always the best to hear).

As Pat was getting ready to leave, I decided to take a few pictures of the two (and one we me and Pat):

Greg and Pat *trying* to look serious

Greg and Pat *trying* to look 'serious'

We Mean Business!

We Mean Business!

The boys had a little fun with their photo shoot.

Me and My brother-in-law

Me and My brother-in-law

**yeah, I’m a little blurry ’cause Greg didn’t adjust the focus/depth of field properly**

Anyway, once Pat left Greg and I talked a little more and then I started uploading pictures on to Flickr, got in the shower and then went to bed. I was sleep around 10:30pm; it was an early night for me.