Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Road Trip to Pennsylvania

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we had scheduled to have breakfast with Santa at Boyd's Bear Country in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We had pancakes, eggs, fruit, and sausage as we waited for the Big Guy to come around. Then we all cheered as Santa made his entrance along with Santa Bear and Mrs. Santa Bear. We took some pictures. William was thrilled. I thought he'd be afraid because he's at that age, but he was all smiles and happy shrieks. We all got a plush bear to take home and then we were free to shop the store. It was a little too warm for me and I was more than ready to leave when it was time.

Then Peter and Dad went home with the babies and it was an all girl adventure to Hershey, PA. It was so fun. We went to Chocolate World and took the tour to see how chocolate is made. Got a free sweet treat, and got set loose in the largest candy store I'd ever been in. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka's factory. Every Hershey candy ever made was out for sale. We bought some treats and headed off to the theme park. We rode rides and watched shows and froze our tails off. It was great fun! They had Christmas lights on everything. The whole park was a winter wonderland. Hot chocolate had never tasted so good or felt so comforting. But at 8pm, it was too cold to have any more fun. We went to dinner and headed home.

Shop 'Til You Drop. . . Literally!

Black Friday is quickly becoming a holiday on its own. I look forward to it every year. This year was like the Superbowl of shopping days. It started with Midnight Madness at the Leesburg Outlets with 10,000 people going for the big deals at Pottery Barn, Coach, Williams Sonoma, and dozens of other outlet stores. We got some great stuff and left around 2am. This was only the first leg of our marathon shopping trip. We got to Kohl's at 2:30am to wait until their 4am opening. Robyn and I coached our mom on the rules of combat shopping. We all had our assignments and when the doors opened up, we went running. I sprinted to electronic gadgets and found my assignment, the ONLY one they had on display! I swiped and ran to help with my shopping buddies. We were out in 15 minutes. Great timing, on to Toys R Us and their 5am opening. We were not first in line, but not too far from the front. But as the doors opened and we were about to go in, some riff raff started to cut in front of us. Robyn yelled out, "The guy in the white jacket is cutting in front of everyone!!" This caused a riot. Everyone started chanting and yelling at this guy, calling him a jackass among other names. But he got his as he was blocked in a cart traffic jam and we raced ahead. We got our toys in record time and raced off to Wal Mart. They were already open so we didn't have to wait in line. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the lines were backing up at the cashiers. Robyn's expertise saved the day and we were in and out because we checked out at the Sporting Goods counter. No one was in line there. We were then off to Target and we made it before their opening so more lines to wait in. I couldn't believe it, we got everything on our lists and then some. After a few more stores in the mall, I was beat! I could barely keep my eyes open and my legs moving to get to the car. When we got home at 8:30am, I went up to bed and I remember as I sank into the soft pillow, right before I fell asleep, "Nothing has ever felt as good as this moment, right here, right now."

I never thought I'd be one of those people who would wait outside of a store in the wee hours and shove my way through just to save some money. But let me tell you. Once you experience the rush of running through a store like you're on "Supermarket Sweep" and the victory of finding the only item stocked in the store that you were there to get. All I learned about combat shopping I learned from my sister. Here are some basic rules that I've picked up along the way.
  • Go in a group. Divide and conquer! You have better luck if you split up and tackle different departments at once.
  • Be the first! Check your ads and if you find a deal you just have to have, you must be one of the first in line. When the ad says, "limited supplies," they could very well mean, "only one in the store!"
  • Leave all sense of propriety at the door. Do not be afraid to run at top speed to get your items. If you bump something to the floor (clothing, display box, old ladies, etc.), just don't look back. Keep your eye on the goal.
  • If you see there is trouble ahead (cart jam, rude people standing in the way, electronics department) go through the clothing. Avoid the crowded paths.
  • Have fun! Tell your victory stories and have a good laugh over the faux pas. Celebrate by going out to breakfast, if you are up to it. If you don't have fun, then you might as well stay in bed and sleep. Black Friday is not for wimps or grumps!
I recommend everyone experience Black Friday for themselves at least once in their life. It really is something to behold. Also, if you want to hear another version of this year's Black Friday and more helpful tips, check out the Candland's blog.

Pass the Turkey . . . and the Kleenex!!

Happy Thaygsgibbing! This Thanksgiving I packed up William and we headed up to Gainesville for some family fun. We arrived on the 15th, the same day as my mom. It was great catching up and William loves his Grandma.

We had a great couple of days, but then William started to get a runny nose. That's normal considering the weather was changing and it's runny nose season. But our fourth night there, William had a very high fever and had to be taken to Urgent Care. His temperature was 105 and an ambulance and Rescue Squads were called in. We were all really scared but our prayers were answered and his fever broke and William didn't need to go to the hospital. We were advised to give him Tylenol and Motrin for the next 24 hours. William was better but fragile by the next day. He was back to baby wrestling with Ryan within a couple of days. He still had his runny nose and by now, that had passed on to the rest of the family. I was totally stuffed up, sore throat and even had laryngitis by the end of my trip.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Dad showed up and we were ready to party. I'm sure William was happy to have his Grandpa there to toss him up in the air like his dad would.

Like anyone who has their birthday towards the end of November knows, mine ends up on Thanksgiving every 6 or 7 years. This was my year of birthday turkey. We had a great feast. Robyn and my mom worked all day to prepare a great meal.

Cranberry Sauce
Stuffed Onions
Cooked Carrots
Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Lime Whip Jello
Homemade Rolls
Pineapple Slush Punch
Pumpkin Pie
Cherry Pie
White Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting

We were stuffed by the end of the meal. It was so good and the leftovers were great. I wish I could have another roll right now. All I can say is thank goodness I didn't have to try to make a Thanksgiving dinner in my tiny kitchen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

The rules:
A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 4 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I'm a closet Webkinz junkie! I love the games and activities on this website. My favorites are Home Before Dark, Goober's Lab, and Tile Towers. I used to play on my nieces accounts, but I was playing so much, it was only fair that I get my own account. So I bought myself a black cat and named it Lucky and now I play to my heart's content. After William is down of course.

2. I love to decorate my home. I will take months deciding on just the right duvet cover and matching sheets, shower curtain, towels, whatever. I can't wait until I can have a home big enough for all of my ideas.

3. I love to scrapbook. I have like 20 full scrapbooks and lots more to go. I have a room that's full of paper and supplies and a desk to go crazy at. I haven't been able to do a whole lot since moving in, but I think once I get into the swing of things here, I will probably start pumping out the pages again. I have a website dedicated to getting beginner scrapbookers excited about my favorite hobby.

4. I have lived outside of California for almost a year but I still download the podcasts of the Sacramento morning talk show, Armstrong and Getty. I guess it's my way of keeping one foot in my hometown. Plus, these guys are hilarious and who doesn't love that?

5. Okay, I know this is weird, but when I drink from a glass, I will slightly turn the glass each time so I can drink from a spot that doesn't have lip prints on it and I will usually go all the way around the rim before finishing.

6. I have to do six of these?! Okay, let's see . . . I cannot sleep unless there is noise. A fan, a radio, someone talking, a heater, whatever. If it is completely silent, someone might as well be screaming in my ear because I won't be able to sleep.

Wow, I'm such a weirdo! I guess you don't realize strange habits until you write them down. I'm going to tag Melissa Fowler, Rachel Lingmann, Becky Terry, and Erin Barnes

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goodbye, Sean

Monday was deployment day, the day I had been dreading since Sean first signed up and swore his oath. He'll be gone for at least seven months, maybe more! But, we knew to expect this when we began getting paychecks that paid for Sean's schooling, benefits like free medical care (including having William), and a few fun vacations. Now, I really know what people are referring to when they say, "Thanks for your sacrifice." Sean sacrifices time with his family and William and I sacrifice having a husband and father around for holidays, birthdays, Sundays . . . . Oh, man I miss him!

Monday started very early. We had to leave by 5am. As the Food Service Officer, Sean was trying to locate more forks, knives, and spoons (the boneheads on ship keep throwing them away!) and a carrier had extra to spare. We had to load them up and be back to the ship by 8am.

It was such a short drive with long silences. Both of us didn't know what to say. I knew Sean was excited and sad, but I was just sad. William was indifferent, and asleep in the back. We went on the ship and Sean changed into uniform to get ready to collect silverware. He took William with him and when he brought him back, he tried to be sly about sticking something in William's jacket pocket. I asked him what it was, he just said, "Boys need stuff in their pockets." I thought, "Oh, he wrote me a letter and wants me to find it later in William's jacket. How sweet!"

We were walking down the pier to get to the car when someone asked if we wanted to be interviewed on the news. There was a news van nearby. I didn't really want to, I had frizzy, windblown hair and no makeup in anticipation of crying it off. I also have an uncanny talent for putting my foot in my mouth in the most embarrassing times. Why tempt fate? Sean was all for the interview so we did it. I was such a moron! Sean answered questions like a pro and knew when to stop talking. I, on the other hand, was a disaster that couldn't be stopped. The reporter asked how I was going to deal with the lack of Sean around. I don't remember exactly what I said but when I realized that I was blabbing on about the different locations of my family members, I knew I needed to stop talking. Then she asked if I was worried and I hadn't thought about it until then and holy cow, now I was worried!! I said something lame about being a little worried but not too worried and I have things to keep me busy, and blah, blah, blah. Once again I just didn't know when to stop talking. I was glad when it was over and it is not surprising the reporter went with another story.

After getting the silverware, it was time to get back to the San Jacinito. Many families were there for the send off. We hung around, not a whole lot to say. Sean tried cracking jokes to break the mood. But all too soon it was time for him to go aboard.

I was waiting to watch the ship pull out when one of the other officers came up to me and asked me to give a card to his wife. I guess I had met them at the Dining Out but I couldn't remember what his wife looked like for the life of me. Fortunately her name was on the envelope and he said she was wearing a green sweater so I had that to go by. Now I had the awkward task of finding a green clad stranger to hand her an envelope and hope she doesn't think I'm a crazy person. After several embarrassing attempts to find her, I was lucky enough to find someone who knew the woman I was supposed to find. This sweet lady said she would take the card and drop it off at her home. Thank goodness! I was off the hook.

It was a quite a wait from Sean getting on board and the actual ship off. But as they were counting down to ship off I looked in the bottom of the stroller and found an extra box of silverware that Sean had forgotten to take aboard. I grabbed it and ran to the quarterdeck. Wait! Wait! Fortunately, Sean's boss, the Supply Officer (SUPPO) walked by and noticed me trying to haul a box on board and knew that I wasn't a terrorist. He asked what was in the box and I said extra forks, knives, and spoons. He started laughing. I didn't think it was that funny at the time, but I guess I did look pretty crazy at the time.

Sean came out the side of the ship to talk for a little while and wave at the send off. We had to yell to hear each other because of the wind and ship noise. Then they made all of the families back up to a line to let the fork lifts and vehicles get by. Then our only communication was by sign language. It wasn't really sign language as it was Charades. I bet we had more than a few people laughing at our gestures.

Well, the dreaded time arrived and we had to say our last "I love you's." Then the tug boats guided the cruiser out and he was under way, not to return for more than half a year. I lost it then and started blubbering. I wasn't the only one so I wasn't making a scene.

I slowly walked William back (who had long since fallen asleep in his stroller) to the car. When I buckled him in, I thought of his jacket and the note Sean left me. I quickly went for the pockets and pulled out some folded pieces of paper. With the anticipation of a child at Christmas I unwrapped the notes and tried to find Sean's handwriting. It was no where to be found. I looked closer at what was printed on the paper and discovered it was only trash. Sean had stuffed my baby's jacket with garbage because there wasn't a trash can nearby! I was mad and disappointed but I started laughing because it was pretty funny.

I drove home and put William down for a nap and I needed a rest too. It was quite an emotional morning. I needed to recharge and get ready to be a single parent for the next seven months. So that was deployment day. I can't be specific about his whereabouts on my blog but I do keep in contact with Sean through email so I'm not in the dark. Thank goodness for email! If you want to write him let me know and I'll give you the info. Until next time. . . .

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Quality Time with Dad

It's almost time for Sean to ship out for 7 long months so we've been trying to spend as much time together as we can. It was especially important to Sean to be with William. I picked him up from work and we all went to the nice mall that had a big kids play area. I could see that we were not the only one feeling the time crunch on quality family time. There were many families there and probably 80% of them were military. I hear that many ships are deploying at the same time so it was Dad Day at the playground.
William loves to pretend he's older than he is. He gravitates towards the older kids and tries to do what they're doing. It's a shame he just couldn't keep up. One little boy tried really hard to explain the game "Tag" but it was lost on William. When the boy started to run (because he made William be "it") William would just toddle over to some other kids and try to play their games. It will be nice when he's old enough to understand kid's games.
Sean tried to teach William how to do a summersault. He would pick him up by the waist and bend him over, tuck his head down and flip his legs over. Then William would lay on the floor and laugh and lift his legs up to go backwards. Then Sean would do summersaults in front of him and he would laugh and laugh. My favorite sound!
I'm so glad we got to spend a little time together. William is going to change so much by the time Sean returns. I hope William doesn't forget his dad or how much he is loved by him.