Friday, December 10, 2010

Home, Sweet, Decorated Home

Well, we are finally home.  Nothing could ever feel so good--well one thing could.  That would be if I arrived home without this nasty virus that is going 4 weeks strong.  After two visits to the urgent care and one to an infectious disease specialist, my daily fever, night sweats, chills, headache, and exhaustion have finally been attributed to a mono-like virus called cytomegalovirus, or CMV for short.  And for all you googlers out there, I must feel the need to tell you that yes, I know, it is a *gasp* herpes virus.  My first thought upon reading this was OHMYGOSHWHATDIDTHOSENASTYSHOWERSGIVEME!!?!?!?!?  But, really, you can wipe the fear and disgust off your faces--chicken pox, mono, and shingles are all a part of the same virus group.  PHEW.  And, wipe that smug little smile off your face because 50-85% of people have acquired this virus before the age of 40, but most have no symptoms.  I'm the lucky one who gets to experience these symptoms in full force.  This is probably due to the fact that I run on no sleep and lived in a box for four months.  I like to consider myself an optimist, and one good thing that has come from this whole awful experience is my wonderful husband has taken over baby duty at night--a freezing, teeth chattering, 103 degree mama is no good at night.  Remember, Little likes to wake up anywhere from 3 to a million times a night, but with Sean's help,  we have pretty much weaned him from night nursings (yahoo!), and I get to stay in bed and just listen to his wails while Sean walks and walks and walks with him for hours on end.  I expect Sean to get sick in T minus 5 minutes from his exhaustion.

So, back to coming home.  Home sounded so inviting, so unreal--almost like a distant dream!  I couldn't wait to take a shower without shoes and keep my shampoo in the shower.  Doing laundry in my very own washer and dryer without lugging my supplies to a laundromat was a luxury.  

When it came to Christmas, I had told several people how sad I was that we wouldn't be home enough to really put the effort into decorating our house for Christmas.  So this year, Beckett's first Christmas, our house was going to be Christmas-less.  No tree, no lights, no stockings.  Just barren, cold, boring-ness.  As we prepared to get home, I dreaded unloading four months worth of our possessions into our house, while sick--all the while picturing the floors that I neglected to clean before we left.  As we pulled up to our house, I looked up to see that someone had put lights and garland up on our balcony and railings.  But they didn't stop there, I also saw this:

No porch is complete without Santa!

Michelle put together the arrangement for my boot!  So talented!
I looked at Sean, exclaiming about how sweet Michelle was for decorating outside for us!  No wonder she had asked me about when our HOA allowed decorations to go up.  It all came together now.  I was still clueless about the Christmas wonderland awaiting me inside.  As we opened the door to go inside, the first thing I noticed was that there was a Christmas tree in our living room. As it turns out, one of my best friends from high school, Elizabeth, drove over four hours to meet Michelle and help clean my house from top to bottom and decorate for Christmas. I will let the pictures speak for themselves (kinda):

That is Michelle's Christmas tree from her house!  She refused to let me bring it back to her!  Now that is some selfless Christmas spirit!  There are presents under the tree, and the white box contains ornaments.  They wanted us to enjoy decorating the tree, but not be too stressed, so they left us a small amount to hang!

Elizabeth bought us the stockings.  There are even stockings for Cooper and Baby #2.  Please, don't jump to conclusions--after our nighttime torture device, Baby #2 is a distant dream at the moment.

Who wouldn't want to eat at that gorgeous table?!

So much Christmas spirit! It makes me so happy!  The picture frame in the top right contains a picture of Michelle, Elizabeth, and their puppy dogs, a.k.a. my Christmas elves, as they decorated!
So with tears rolling down my face, I picked up the phone to call Michelle to thank her.  That's when I learned about my other elf friend, Elizabeth, who had driven down.  At this point I realized that home isn't just a place where you can shower without your shoes on.  My home is also a place where I can spend time with some of the best people out there.  There are many of those people that don't live here--but thankfully I was able to see most of those people on our little adventure.  For now, we are going to settle in, turn the fireplace on, light the tree, turn on some Christmas music, and share in family and friend time.  God has truly given us so many blessings--herpes virus or not!

And one last pic from the, parking lot.  Vroom Vroom.  We've got a little trucker on our hands!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grandparents are the BEST!

Today was a very sad day as we said goodbye to a week of relaxation and family.  My grandparents live in Arizona, and we get to see them very rarely.  It was perfect timing with the race schedule to visit them on our way back home.  They had not met Beckett, and we were all so excited for the first meeting!  We had barely pulled up when G-mom and G-dad came running out of the house and started knocking on our windows!  I could barely get Little out of his carseat before G-mom was trying to get him from me!  Of course Cooper tried to make it all about him, but after a little commotion, G-mom was snuggling her great-grandson.  Thus started a week of Beckett spending quality time with his G-mom and G-dad.  He LOVED them.  All he had to do was hear either one of their voices and he'd immediately turn around and grin away at them.  Did I mention that my grandmother is full of laughs?  We had each other laughing all week.  And my grandparents had Sean and I laughing all week as we listened to them go back and forth at each other.  It's funny to listen to G-mom repeat everything three times for G-dad.  And Chicken Dog, well he was spoiled all week long.  G-dad took him for about 6 walks a day.  Poor dog thinks his world has changed, and Separation Anxiety Dog was so quick to jump in the RV when it was time to go, but I think he would be much happier staying with his G-dad and living it up on his walks!  They even had a toy waiting for him when he arrived.  And he didn't let it go his whole time there.  They sure know how to spoil their grandkids, great grandkids, and granddogs!  We started our week with a delicious dinner where we were joined by my Great Aunt Neina and Great Uncle Ralph.  It was so wonderful to see them!

Beckett, quite the fusser and still not sleeping well the beginning of the week made us some tired parents.  We spent the first few days relaxing and just enjoying each other.  It was perfect!  G-mom doted on us hand and foot!  She was constantly feeding us, giving me coffee (hooray!), giving us fresh towels, and telling us stories about family.  It was so nice to hear about her parents whom I was too young to know.  We did get out for a short hike in Madera Canyon in Coronado National Forest, but my camera was MIA, so no pictures!  But we got lots of hanging out pictures!

Beckett with his G-dad.  G-dad built the room in the background and the patio!  He is so talented!

G-dad was constantly on the ground playing with little man!

Beckett is such a help with the laundry!

I told you she is full of laughs! Even Beckett knows!

They love each other!

Little's goal for the week was to capture glasses!
After the first few days, we think the teething subsided--his two bottom teeth finally cut through completely.  And now, he was a HAPPY baby!  The rest of the week he was such a fun little man to have around.  So, in celebration, we took him on his first trip to the zoo!  We went to the Reid Park Zoo in Tuscon.

Okay guys, I'm ready to see some animals!  (How could you ever say no to that face?)

Beckett and the bear

Hello, Mr. Giraffe!

Beckett was mainly interested in the people at the zoo--not the animals.  But, he did like watching the zebras and ostriches.

G-dad even took Sean to the driving range twice.  Sean has never been golfing before.  He did pretty well, according to G-dad.  He's got power, but it seems to curve right.  And sometimes he hits cars.  And golf carts.  And he sends his ball into other people's games.  But besides that, he's great!

Before we knew it, the week had gotten away with us, and it was time for a sad goodbye.  We are so thankful we were able to spend this precious time with my grandparents.  Hopefully, with the continued success of Metro Dash, we will be able to make this a yearly visit.  Though, that's not enough!  Move back east, G-mom and G-dad!

Saying goodbye outside their beautiful house amidst their awesome landscaping

That's Beckett's face that says, "No leaving!"

We are currently driving and almost to Texas and are looking forward to more family time once we make it back to the right coast.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

San Diego, How We Love You!

So, I have been on a blog vacation.  Mainly it's because I have zero energy thanks to our little man who has decided for the past month that it is imperative that he eat every hour at nighttime.  I have been living in a foggy haze.  However, he actually went two and a half hours between eating last night--hallelujah!  I never thought I'd be wishing for a newborn's eating schedule again, but I find myself wishing for my little every three-hour eater to PLEASE come back!  I miss you!  I have a little more energy today from the 2 consecutive hours of sleep I got last hopefully I will be able to finish this in one sitting.

Our visit to the San Diego area began about an hour north of the city staying with one of my best friends, Cate, and her family.  They have an absolutely gorgeous house.  We even got our own bedroom complete with attached bathroom.  And the best part is that we were a floor apart from them, so at least Beckett's nighttime screaming was muffled a little bit.  Cate was my first roommate when I moved to Virginia Beach.  We had SO much fun together, and we spent the week reminiscing of the days when we used to go out together--not even getting ready until 10:00 at night.  Sadly, neither of us can even stay awake that late anymore.  You see, I have my little non-sleeper, and Cate and Jerry have a very energetic two year-old and a 9 week-old.  gjfksal;ygjiao;jgyelk;ajtykle;ajyioeahjlahjklajh.  Oh, sorry.  Fell asleep while typing.  I'm back now.  So we pretty much wallowed in our exhaustion misery and enjoyed each other's company and this (see below) every day.

Jerry and Cate made me peppermint mocha lattes every morning--complete with chocolate shavings and sprinkles of spices.  Bless them.
There was no sightseeing, no shopping, no nothing but enjoying each other's company!  It was awesome and perfect!  Cate is a great cook, and she made us delicious meals.  Did I mention that Jerry is an incredible piano player?  He treated us several times to amazing mini-concerts.  He even played us Christmas music and Beckett and I sang along.  I wish I were there right now!  We did venture out once to go to a Japanese steakhouse.  Cate and Jerry treated us to an amazing dinner.  Tristan, their adorable two year-old, was fascinated with the chef cooking right in front of us.  He was giggling up a storm--it was SO cute!  Beckett, on the other hand was fascinated by the chef and his tall, white hat until he started clanging his spatulas around.  And his little lip stuck out, his forehead crinkled up, and he started wailing.  Sean picked him right up out of the high chair (can you believe our baby can fit into a restaurant high chair now!?!?) and he enjoyed the rest of the show from the comfort of Daddy's arms.  Now let's talk about Emily.  Oh Emily, I just wanted to steal you away from your parents!  She must be one of the most beautiful little girls I have ever seen!  She has a head full of dark, thick hair--just like her mommy!  She has this tiny little face!  Oh I want her!  Beckett made his first of several California girlfriends this week.

Luckily, Emily's daddy didn't break out the guns when he saw Beckett putting the moves on his little girl! :)

Mini-Sean and Mini-Cate.  Love at first site! :)
My beautiful Cate and Emily!  I love them!  Even exhausted, she looks amazing!

Just hanging out!
A face I could kiss forever!

 The only picture I could capture of Tristan--sorry buddy--caught you when you weren't ready! :) Still got those gorgeous eyes you had when I saw you as a baby!
Tristan was even kind enough to share his toys with Beckett who felt like such a big boy!  Tristan was SO sweet.  You'd think he would have been possessive over his toys, but he didn't bat an eye.  He was so gentle with Beckett!  Beckett even got a kiss!

Vroom, Vroom!

Enough with the pictures!  Can we go now!?!?

My 3 boys off for a walk

Choo Choo! Slow down, little fella!
When we sadly had to leave Cate's, we headed off to San Diego.  We spent Halloween with another of our favorite familes we met in Virginia Beach, the Wilson's!  They have four sweet children and one on the way!  I don't know if you can handle all the cuteness on this page.  But, it's coming whether you are ready or not!  We trick-or-treated down the main street on Coronado.  If you have never been there, trust me when I tell you it is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in our country.  I want to live there! :)  The businesses give out candy to kids, and I have never seen so many costumes in one place!  It was fun, but a little crazy trying to keep up with all the kids!  So we headed back to the Wilson's neighborhood where we did some more trick-or-treating.  Our little dragon tuckered out and slept for most of his first trick-or-treating experience.  We got to see the Wilson's two more times while we were there.  I hate how far away we are from so many of our close friends!
Little Miss Charley preferred trick-or-treating sans costume.

Trick or treat!

These little cuties have two of the best daddies!
Charley was SO sweet!  She loves babies!  She was obsessed with Beckett!  She kept petting him.  She is ready for her new baby brother!

All she wanted to do when we laid him down to sleep was give him kisses!  It was precious!  He slept through it all!  He'll regret that when he gets older!  She's a cutie!
To make the week even more fun, I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid in my great friend, Amanda's, wedding.  I spent some much needed girl time with Amanda, her sisters, and the other bridesmaids.  We had a great time, and they were all amazing about the fact that I had to cart my little man everywhere while Sean worked.  He even got to see the breathtaking bride get ready in the bridal suite!

Amanda and her beautiful sisters at the nail salon!  They were such a help while I got mine done! :)

Reunion!  Beckett and I have been in Michelle withdrawal!  We got to spend so much time together!
Mr. and Mrs. Justus with the most beautiful wedding party!  I mean, look at those girls!
Beckett with his Godmommy, Michelle.  They love each other so much!  Michelle's mom bought him the jacket, among many other things! :)
We are currently enjoying beautiful Arizona with my awesome grandparents.  I don't want to leave them--wish we could take them with us!  But we get to go home soon--I can't wait to be home and get this child of mine in his own room!  Please say some prayers for him to sleep so I don't arrive home as a crazy woman!  Thank you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pacific Coast Highway

Upon leaving Portland, Stephanie suggested we take the longer route to San Francisco and later to San Diego to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast Highway.  Thankfully, we decided to follow her advice and take the slower, longer, windier route down the coast of Oregon and California.  For the trip to San Francisco, we got a somewhat late start, but had just enough daylight to catch some amazing ocean views, complete with cliffs and even some ocean spray on the windshield in the lower spots.  We opted to leave the PCH for a 31-mile stretch of the old Highway 101 now lovingly called Avenue of the Giants, which parallels the PCH.  And giants we saw.  Huge, awe-inspiring redwoods on every side of the vehicle.  It was very slow going, but so worth it.  Unfortunately, we didn't stop to take pictures until it started getting dark, so they aren't that great.  But, I will never forget standing at the base of the giant and staring up with my head as far back as I could get it in order to see the top.  Some facts about coastal redwoods for your reading enjoyment:  They are the tallest trees in the world, reaching as much as 350 feet or more.  Some weigh as much as 500 tons!  Most live 500-700 years, with some living as long as 2,000 years!  They only live on the west coast of the United States.  Okay, now that I am done with my little science report, here are some pictures that we were able to capture with our finicky camera.

Monster Tree!

There's that tongue again!

We also enjoyed viewing Sonoma Valley and all the beautiful grapes from the RV with sadly no stops.  Are they generally accepting of babies and big dogs at wineries?  We thought not, so we carried on.  Our stay in San Francisco was largely uneventful.  Partly because I was in mourning for leaving my nice house and friends behind in Portland, and also because of the foggy, cold, rainy-ness of it all.  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge with me singing the theme song to Full House and Sean directing me to "clench your fist and punch yourself in the face as hard as you can."  He even showed me the motions as he described it.  Stand back ladies, he's all mine.  Sadly, we couldn't see much from the bridge, and the fog persisted much of the week.  We were both happy to hit the road again after the event in San Francisco.  Back to the PCH it was for us.  I spoke with a competitor's wife, who lives in Monterey, who urged us not to take the PCH through Big Sur.  She told us it would be a nightmare with our large vehicle and trailer with all the hairpin twists, turns, and up and downs.  We didn't listen.  And despite the drenching rain for the next two days as we drove through, which made it difficult to see much of anything, we were still happy we took the PCH for two excellent events that transpired.  First, we drove by an overlook that gave us a view of a cove at the base of huge cliffs.  The water in the cove was turquoise blue like you would see in the Caribbean.  And to top it all off, there was even a waterfall as I exclaimed to Sean that was "straight out of Lost."  Okay, it was more of a squeal than an exclamation.  In any case, I insisted that we turn around, find a spot to park, and hike down to the waterfall despite the drenching rain because you only live once. Lucky for me, Sean shares this philosophy on life (hence our crazy, somewhat risky adventure).   As it turns out, you can't hike down to the waterfall.  Something about trying to preserve it for all to see and enjoy.  And, Sean did make fun of me for calling it straight out of Lost, as it is somewhat narrow, and it does look like it could be coming from a drainage pipe with all the pouring rain.  BUT, I did win that debate because it is in fact created by a spring-fed creek.  And it is gorgeous!  So even though visions of standing beneath the waterfall mist were crushed, there was a nice trail that led around to a perfect picture-taking view of the falls.  It really was beautiful--even in the yucky, cold weather.  In case you are interested, the falls is called McWay Falls located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Hiking out to the overlook.  Daddy and baby in his rain covering.

So wet!

McWay Falls

Not quite as pretty as in person! 

Fun in the rain

My loves and the waterfall!

On the way back to the RV
Another of the reasons that we were happy we took the PCH was because on our way to just another RV park for the night, we glanced down from the highway to a road that paralleled the ocean.  Parked along this road were many, many RV's.  We're talking oceanfront property.  We saw it and had to stop.  The sites had no electric, water, or sewer hook-up.  Thus the cheap $27 per night price tag.  Rincon Parkway, can we stay forever?  We picked a spot, parked, and enjoyed this view from my seat in the RV:

No zooming in--this was what we looked out our window to for two days!

If he didn't love the beach so much, he probably wouldn't have made it.  He went halfway down and back up several times.
Throughout our time there, we took several walks on the beach:

Little's Little's first trip to the Pacific Ocean
 Cooper got to give the death stare to lots of seagulls:

My favorite part of Rincon Parkway was that we had the opportunity to see the sunset because the rain finally stopped for the day that we spent there.  I am a tad embarrassed to say that I can't recall a time I ever really watched the sun set.  And I am quite positive that I have never seen a sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  So, I insisted that we pull out some chairs and enjoy the incredible sunset.  And of course, we couldn't do that without Sean throwing together some appetizers.  He put together some veggies and a yogurt dill dip as well as crackers with jalapeno jelly and mascarpone cheese.  Oh my goodness.  Have you ever had that jelly and cheese combo?  It is like heaven in your mouth.  It was the perfect little day (oh, I forgot to mention I actually slept every time the baby slept that day.  That was a first, and it helped this exhausted mama immensely.)  And of course, we enjoyed an amazing ending as the sun slipped beneath the horizon.  We count our blessings every day.

Our sunset and snacks!

It wasn't really that cold, but Sean dug out the suitcase from the trailer for something, and it was like Christmas!  Yay warm, snuggly coat!

My favorite snuggle buddy
Okay, bear with me.  I took a lot of pictures of my first sunset!

So high up in the sky, but it set so fast!

My favorite pic!
Don't go yet!
Almost gone

View of Channel Islands National Park.  We thought they were clouds the first night we were there. 
Finally, before we left to visit our great friends, Cate and Jerry and their sweet kids outside of San Diego, Sean had to jump in the COLD ocean for a quick swim.  

Doubting his decision as he quickly lost feeling in his calves.  Chicken dog making a great decision to stay put.

And, he's in!
We will be heading to San Diego this weekend for more fun times after a great week with Cate and Jerry's family.  It's always so hard to leave our friends!  But, we are enjoying every minute!