Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Smells of PA

I love the smell of Pennsylvania! It's kind of an old smell, not as pure as dirt, but sort of like a rustic attic when you opened its windows after a rain. Yes, I'm bizzare. I smelt it in almost all the places I visited. It reminds me of Grandma's old, green house. Although Aunt Colleen's house smelled like beef jerky, since they just made some- I think I ate half that bag- so good. And then there was the food... My mouth waters thinking about it. All the relatives, throughout the week made their specialty dishes. YUM! I think my favorites were the tomatoe and onion pasta with poppyseed dressing, the strawberry salad, the cheesy sour creame potatoes, the ham sandwich with horseradish sauce, the chocolate balls, the roasts (turkey and pork) with mash potatoes and gravy, and the french toast with bacon and sausage. Yum!!!

We went for a week to Pennsylvania to visit my relatives, have some fun, and attend a family reunion. It was a much-needed, great vacation. In a nutshell, here's our itenerary- Day 1- we went by plane to PA and rented a car, then traveled to inner Pittsburg and saw many bridges, their open air market, a Singing Fountain which the girls had so much fun dancing and getting wet, Hard Rock Cafe, an incline that we unfortuately didn't get to ride (note to self- get out cash before next trip- not all places take Visa), then traveled to Monroeville and spent the night at Red Roof Inn eating at Golden Corale. Day 2- traveled to Fort Liggoner- the only fort never to be captured, where General Washington commanded at one time. Took its tour and also hiked a nearby trail that was part of the Appilation Mountaions. Then traveled to Ebensburg and spent night with Aunt Colleen, Uncle Mark, and cousins Steve and TJ- talked and talked and talked. Colleen made us a great diner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, unfortunately, the girls were too excited to eat. Day 3- traveled 3+ hours to Gettysburg (stopped at yucky Long John Sivers for lunch- Jer's pick), and took a audio carride tour of the Civil War park- it was a 4 hour tour, but I was told only an hour and a half- needless to say, the kids were exhausted, but it was well worth it- I would recommend this to anyone. You could stop and get out of the car and look at the monuments. That night we traveled to Hershey and stayed at Motel Milton and ate at a restraunt beside the motel. Day 4- woke up and ate their complimentary breakfast and headed to Hershey park that opened at 10. What fun!!! This is a definate for anyone who has kids 5 and under. Victoria could ride 75% of all rides and Bella 50%. They loved it. Their favorite ride was the Leaping Frog Ride- it would take you up 20 feet then drop you 5 feet, then raise you 1 foot, then drop you 5 feet, then raise you 1 foot, then... you get the picture- they had smiles plastered on their face the whole time. We rode soooo many rides, saw indoor and outdoor shows, walked everywhere (didn't bring the stroller, which actually worked out quite good) and drank a ton of cold drinks- Icees, cokes, etc- we got hot even though it was only in the low 80s. We stayed until 9 o'clock (almost made it until the park closed at 10) and went back to our motel and crashed. Day 4- traveled back to Colleen's house and had supper at a pizza joint with a ton of family- Grandma Mary, Grandpa Joe, Jeff, Paul, Colleen, Mark, Aunt Mary Anne, Uncle Mike, cousins- Zack and Taylor. Victoria was quite shy in the begining and wanted to hide under the table. She warmed up fast and played with Taylor who quickly became her best friend. After pizza, we went over to Mary Anne and Mike's house for a beer and to check it out. They've done some neat upgrades, since last we saw it. Day 5- woke up late and had coffee talk with Colleen, while Jer took the girls to a park near her house with a real Merry Go Round, which I was told she fell off. They came back, and Jer went off to run some errands, while us girls got to play Beauty Palor with some makeup that she had bought for them. The girls had a blast putting makeup on each other and Colleen and I. Later that night we went over to Aunt Mary Kay and Uncle Doc's house for supper. Brain, his girlfreind Mary Beth, Jennifer, her new husband Ryan, their kids Dustin, JT, and McKayla were all there along with my parents and brothers. They had a neat backyard deck that we sat outside and let the kids play chase and hide and seek. Victoria developed a slight crush on JT and wanted to play with him nonstop, while Bella was mesmerized by baby McKayla. Day 6- traveled to Johnstown with Paul to ride an incline. At the top was a playground for the kids to clown around for a while, then went back to Ebensburg and visited my Grandparents old house and their graves. We went back to Colleen's house and napped. During the nap, Jer poked his head in and said he was traveling to the Reunion early with Mark and that we could meet him there with Colleen in an hour after our nap. When I woke up, I began to pack all our stuff. When I took it to the car, I realized that there was a problem. Jer had taken the car keys with him. Of coarse there was no cell phone signals out at the lodge, so after much fuss, we finally got ahold of him by calling the main reservation line. Mary Anne drove Jer back to Ebensburg and off we went to the reunion a half an hour away, but by the time we got there it was 8, instead of 4, and we chowed down on ham sandwiches. I have to admit that that 1st night at the reunion I was overwhelmed (sort of like Victoria) with all the people (~50 relatives) and newness, and what-do-I-do type feeling. I started to calm down and relax when we went down to the bonfire. I held Bella in a chair and just melted into the wilderness, enjoying the stories of cousins and relatives, and laughing at Mary Kay's solo round song of Row, Row, Row a Boat- too cute. Day 7- we woke up and went up to the main lodge where the adults were staying (cousins in the guesthouse half a block away) for some much needed coffee. The guys made a grand breakfast for us. We had a fun day of playing outdoor games, like holey board, kick the ball, and some other game I didn't get the name of which involved a foot sting with two rubber balls on the ends that you throw up in the air and try to get it to wrap around a target 20 feet away. We talked a ton and met so many relatives I hadn't seen in 10 years. We also went fishing- yes, all of us caught a fish, including Bella, Victoria, and I. We took a nature walk seeing buffalo, deer, and elk up close. The landscape was spectacular! And the weather was amazing. Later that night, we played Dirty Bingo, and I got a Lottery Ticket that won 4 dollars. We sat out at the bonfire and talked some more. Bella would not go to sleep, so once again, I held her out at the bonfire. I think she really liked it. Day 8- woke up early and went back to Pittsburg to travel by plane home. It was a wonderful trip. I wish I lived closer to all my cool relatives. We had so much fun.

Funny stories- When we woke up at 5 in the morning the first day to go to the airport I asked Victoria if she needed to pee, her response- "I can't. My pee's still sleeping."

Bella had an aweful time sleeping in hotel beds- she kept falling out of them, even with me and Jer sleeping next to her with tons of pillows. In Hershey, we got wise and pushed the bed against the wall, so that Bella was cornered and Victoria slept on the outside. It worked out beautifully the first night. On the second night, we heard a huge crash and crying. Jer grabbed the child and started saying- shhhh, you're alright Bella. I looked and said- no Jer, it's Victoria. Bella had kicked Victoria out of the bed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Perfect Hostess

I was so impressed with Victoria the other night. We had my parents over for supper and dessert. She wanted to help so I let her make the Strawberry Short Cakes. She was so proud of herself. First she placed all the minicakes on plates, then scooped the precut strawberries out of the bowl and onto the cakes, then topped them with whipcream, and passed them out to everyone. She was so sweat. She was having the best of times and even licked her fingers when the whipcream topped over and she straightened it out. (I took that piece.) Then she sat down and thouroughly enjoyed her dessert.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July

What fun we had! We went over to Jerry and Barb's lakehouse for the weekend. It was a family get together- Josh, Renae, Caleb, Chloe, Keira, Carol, Dick, Dave, Denise, Quinn, Tessa, Sally, Barb, Jerry, our family, and Jerry's neat neighbors- Paul and Yvonne. The only upseting part was when I discovered that we didn't bring our suitcase that I spent 3 hours packing! Walmart got some business that day. We took the girls down to the dock and rode on a giant inner tube that held three adults and three kids (Josh, Renae, me, Chloe, Victoria, Bella) while Dave and Caleb dragged it behind them on the jetski. FUN! We went swimming in the lake- Bella jumped to me, Victoria didn't like it as much. Caleb and Chloe jumped from a high diving board to us. Then, I was introduced to the world of the jetski- Josh taught me how to ride. I got my first taste of adrenaline. Wow! I wanted more! I was speeding as fast as it would go and turning sharp so that I was whipping in the water under a bubble of water. I was jumping wakes left by other boats and going ultra fast. So much FUN! However, I don't think I was as daring as my James Bond cousin Dave and the Dare Devil herself Quinn, but there's always next year. We ate a grand meal of shredded brisquet in BBQ sauce on buns, BBQ beans, a brocolli and cauliflower salad, mixed fruit, and the desserts- 4th of July cupcakes and Renae's chocolate and peanut butter cookies. It was good. My contribution of chips and crackers/spreads weren't as thrilling. Note to self- find a good side dish for next years outing. When it got dark, we lined up chairs on the walkway to the dock and sat in disbelief at the beautiful firework display that Jerry, Paul, and Dave shoot off from the dock. I, however, was getting eaten alive by mesquitos (they love me even though I slathered myself in Off) and Victoria was getting tired after half an hour, so we went in and took a shower and fell directly asleep. The next day, we went for a boat ride (Paul was captain) while Quinn and Dave took turns jumping the jetski on the boat's wake. Jer and I took both Victoria and Bella out on the jetski. Victoria loved the speed and laughed so hard. Bella was frightened slightly by the motor sound- she's afraid of our lawnmower. Bella actually fell asleep while I was giving her a ride though- too much fun mixed with not enough sleep equals naptime. We drove home after supper (yummy leftovers) and crashed as soon as we hit the bed. Proof we had a great time- Jer has a sun burn and I have misquito bites. We found our suitcase blocking our bedroom door when we got home and had to chuckle.


This past Wednesday we went to visit my parents in Coppell. They have a giant wooden playground (3 times the size of Frisco Commons) that the girls enjoyed. Although the playground was amazing with its slides and mazes and towers and ladders and ropes and fun mirrors, the girls enjoyed being pushed by my father on the swings best. He was giving them "underducks." They kept saying "higher, higher." A couple of times i was scared that the swing would tip over, but they just kept laughing and saying "higher, Grandpa!" Afterward, I read a book to them on Turtles and Snails and we went for a walk down to the pond to feed the turtles. On the way down Victoria got a splinkter froma wooden bridge in her thumb and you would of thought life was over- highstrung. (Although, I don't think Grandma's attempt at making her feel better by saying "We'll get a NEEDLE when we get home and take it out." helped much.) At least thirty turles came over and let us feed them old hotdog rolls. Amazing! Victoria and Bella loved it, but it was so hot outside that we had to hurry and get back to the car. We had lunch over at Grandma and Grandpa's house. My dad introduced me to a new Italian chicken salad, and of coarse, I can't think of the name right now. The girls fell asleep on the ride home.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rookie Mistake

We were watching Sesame Street this morning and they were talking about triangles. Afterward I was having the girls make colorful triangles by using markers and coloring Popsicle sticks, then gluing them into triangles. I sort of got side tracked and stepped out of the room for a second. (I'm also packing for our family trip.) When I came back in, I could see Victoria delicately coloring each of her Popsicle sticks, and Bella... yikes. Look at the picture- she had colored everything but the Popsicle stick. It looked like she was trying to draw whiskers on herself. Along with a colorful triangular nose on her forehead. (Hey, at least she got the concept of the triangle down.) After much scrubbing, using wet wipes, warm water rags, Vaseline and Kleenex, the markers have dulled some. I'm hoping a play in the swimming pool and warm bath will get the rest off, before our 4th of July weekend. I can definitely say that I know which of my kids will be getting a ta too first.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Anniversary

This past Saturday, my parents came by and watched the girls while Jer and I went out. It is so fun to reconnect and do things together and actually talk. We went shopping for some new sheets for our bed- a good anniversay present:) We went to Lefty's Lobster House and had the lobster and bisque- yum. We went to the Flying Saucer and Jer tried an expensive monkish beer that was quite good. Then we did some window shopping and came home. They gave us some port as a gift and we sat around and drank and talked,a very great weekend. Today hasn't been as great- Jer was rear-ended on his trip home tonight- ahh, fun.

Build A Bear

Lake Ray Roberts

Memorial Weekend 2009

Brothers Visit

Christmas '08

PA Vacation Slideshow