Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I’m starting to get more used to hem now. For whatever reason there are a ton here and not those little wimpy ones that have wispy like little legs. These guys aren’t huge diameter-wise, but their bodies are these big, thick, junk in the trunk ones1 I squished one today that made an audible “pop” like when a zit pops. Nasty. See, I’m not that wimpy, I just really hate snakes!!

Probably the scariest day I have had in awhile…

One of my jobs this week was to get the utilities called in which involved me reading the water and electricity meter. Both of which I had never done before. I discovered that the water meter is actually located at the top of our little cal-de-sac underneath a little metal door that’s flush with the ground. When I realized I was supposed to open the door, I felt my face get hot as I remembered stories from Ethan about opening backflow boxes (from his days in irrigation) and finding the most ginormous snakes. I was holding my cell phone talking to the utility lady and actually contemplated putting the phone down just in case adrenaline (specifically he flight response took over and I screamed like a little girl…

Sure enough, under the metal door was a foam like sheet folded to cover the valve. And it had slugs. Huge slugs. Lots of slugs. They’re gross, but better than snakes. Again, I got hot and jittery as I realized what was next. I had to lift that foam piece to look at the valve. Right where I was sure I’d find the snake. I should mention too, that for our cal-de-sac, there are several of these boxes and you can’t tell which box goes to your house until you did what I was doing and then there’s a chance it’s not my box  and I’d have to do it again, increasing my chances of finding one of the things I am most scared of in my life (not a bad life I lead, I know). I kept wondering if one would be under that foam would I touch it by putting my fingers underneath there just to lift it? We’re in Seattle and it’s cooler here, too cool for snakes, right?  Well, box number 1 wasn’t mine, so I moved to the next one, lifted the metal door and saw even bigger and more slugs and convinced myself that meant there had to be a snake… so I lifted the foam and… Praise Jesus, no snake! I think he knew that would have really put me over the edge that day.

It’s beginning to get empty…

Moving day is less than a week away and sometimes I think we’re in good shape and other days there’s a bit of panic. We have terrific friends that came over after they got off work to take the girls for us so Ethan and I could get some stuff done.

This afternoon, the guy that bought our couch came to pick it up. It was weird to watch it go.  HG was so confused as to why they had our couch and were putting it in their truck and why I wasn’t doing anything about it.  She kept pointing and saying “truck”, with this look of, “don’t you see what’s going on here?!”

That couch saw a lot- welcoming HG home (and Tanner too), a move from Cincinnati to Annapolis to NJ, welcomed Tenley and was the background in many photos, particularly our girls. And it welcomed many new friends into our different homes. Kinda odd to watch it go… but on to our next season of life.

Friday, July 16, 2010

leg #9, the final one, Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA

Wow, last leg!!! We arrived at our new home last night around 7, local time. We were able to go through the house as we waited to meet our new "landlord". We discovered this house after a Peak7 board member emailed Ethan about an available home her sister rents. We had our list of "ideal, but not necessary" and then our "necessary" list. We had quickly realized that we weren't going to get our ideals and were okay with that. Then came the email about this house. It was all our our ideals and the sister was willing to allow us to do some work to it for reduced rent and she wanted to tithe the difference as she felt the Lord was telling her to rent it "to a man of God". So that was it, she wanted to rent it to us if we wanted it. I had said that my one request was not to move into a house sight unseen, but it seemed apparent to me that this was where we were to be, so that didn't really matter to me anymore. We accepted it sight unseen.

So, all that to be said, there was an understandable amount of excitment and anxiety in seeing our new place. The house is great, but it definitely needs a ton of work, much more than the owners ever anticipated. The previous tenants had pretty much wrecked it and didn't do the repairs. However, our new landlors have been so gracious to us. They went in and tried to do a ton of the clean up themselves. We were there at the house all day today and they were there yesterday and part of today as well. Then they are returning tomorrow for the weekend and intend on doing everything they can to help us. They have graciously provided giftcards for us above what they already said they would pay for to make sure it "feels like your own home" and that we "get to do what you want to do". So hopefully before our moving truck arrives, we'll have a remodeled house.

Ethan is there now actually, refinishing the hardwood floors and tomorrow will be laying laminate floors, painting, landscaping, etc. We will be picking out new vanities and some light fixtures and some other things that need to be replaced. So hopefully in just a matter of weeks, it will look like a completely remodeled home. We look forward to blessing this family by getting their home back in the condition that it was when they lived there as a family.

leg #8 Bozeman, MT to Spokane, WA

Bozeman is one awesome town! We woke up and Ethan took Hannah Gray swimming as that has been one of her favorite activities. We went swimming with cousins and we were lucky that most of our hotels have had pools as well. That's what she asks for all the time now, "poo, poo". So Ethan took HG to the pool and we got ready to see the town. Bozeman is a great mix of new and chic with laid back cowboy style. We will definitely be back.

We headed to Spokane after a picnic at some gas station in podunk MT. Hannah Gray enjoyed a chance to get out and run around a bit. We have been looking forward to seeing Cor D' Alene, ID as it is a beautiful town on a huge lake. We could tell we were heading into Cor D' Alene and then it happened. The meltdown that we've been waiting for. It's bound to happen with a 2 yr old and a 2 month old after being in the car for 2 1/2 weeks staying in a different place every other night, then every night. Hannah Gray was sleeping and woke up with that cry that you know means they are still tired, and cranky. I tried to give her her binkie and that didn't work. That's when you know it's trouble. I think I even said, "uh oh". Hannah Gray's crying, I mean screaming woke the sleeping Tenley. Not just woke her, but scared her. So she began to scream which in turn scared HG. It was crazy. I just had to turn back around in my seat, look at Ethan and laugh. Then grab the video camera. We knew at some point this would happen. But I don't think that either one of us expected to miss seeing the long awaited "welcome to Washington" sign. We had been taking pictures of the welcome signs in each state when we could and were looking forward to the final one. Gone, missed, just like that. I seriuosly almost made Ethan turn around to go back. Oh well.

We headed into Spokane to see Ryan and Loran Kerrigan. Ryan is the executive director of Peak 7 and Loran is my friend that I played club soccer with back in the day. They have two kids that are just a bit older than our two. The kids had a great time playing and we had a great time catching up with Ryan and Loran. They were so generous and hospitable.

In the morning, we got a tour of the office and warehouse where all the gear is stored and met some of the staff from Peak7 Spokane. What an incredible ministry and we are so thrilled to be a part of it!!

Leg #7, Cody, MT to Bozeman, MT

Our drive to Bozeman was only about 6 hours, including going through Yellowstone, so we decided to explore Cody a bit in the morning before we left for Bozeman. We visited Sierra Trading Post which is a favorite catalog of ours and had fun looking for deals there. Then we picniked on the outskirts of Cody before we entered into Yellowstone. There was actually an older man there that saw my Miami t-shirt and said he was from Cincinnati, the Colerain area. He works during the summers at Yellowstone. Small world. He too is a Miami grad. Anyway, we headed into Yellowstone and had an incredible time. It was beautiful! We had to keep a good pace going through the park, so we picked a few things and decided what we wanted to hit when we return, because it was that great we know we'll be back. We did go to Old Faithful, and I guess it had erupted not long before we were there. We didn't want to just wait around for at least 90 min, so we took some pictures and continued on our way. We saw plenty of other gysiers spewing steam and hot water that ran into a river creating a steam bath as hot and cold met. I think our favorite part was visiting the upper and lower falls. We hit this part of the park at sunset during that time when shadows are purple and everything seems to glow. Awesome. Hannah Gray LOVED it and kept asking for "moah wa-wa". She was such an amazing trooper. She was SO tired but loving every minute and didn't want to miss anything. She kept thinking she'd see some more "eep". We did have an exciting wildlife day as we had bison that came witin two feet of the car a couple different times.

We left the park around 9:30 or so and headed into Bozeman. We arrived there around 11:30, so it was a late night, but totally worth it.

Leg #6

We left SD and headed to Cody, MT. By the time we were about 2 hours outside of Cody, I think we were all ready to get out of th car. The girls have continued to do really well. We had such a great time driving through Big Horn and the rest of WY, that we decided to slow down a bit and enjoy the drive. Our original plans were to be in Cody in time to take Hannah Gray to a rodeo, but she wss enjoying th ride as well, looking for more wildlife. We got to see 4 moose in a field and she was completely stoked about it. She called them "mooSsss" as opposed to (moo, moo which is a cow). We do have pictures, but I am not working from our laptop as it broke a couple days ago (which is also why I'm just now doing some posting).

So we arrived in Cody and pulled into our hotel to be be greeted by about 4 ambulances, 2 firetrucks and a fleet of cop cars. There were some hazmat materials outside and our minds were beginning to wonder what was going on. Ethan called to see if we could check in and we were informed that we couldn't check in and that our reservation had been cancelled. Seriously?? The town was BOOKED, not a single open room. We managed to find another room, but not until 9:30 or so. We were honestly beginning to wonder if someone had been killed at the hotel. We found out later that there had been some type of a chemical problem with the cholorine in th pool room and that several people were taken away in the ambulances. Apparently some other hotel guests were feeling sick later b/c we saw ambulances return later. So I guess it was a good thing that we didn't stay there or that we didn't go to the rodeo to return even later and missed out on finding a room at all!

Ethan's laptop broke a couple days ago, so I don't have the ability to post pictures right now. Once I do, I will put some up.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Leg #5, MN to SD

This morning we left MN and headed to SD. We knew going in that this was going to be our second longest day at about a 9 hr drive (first longest was our drive to Cincinnati from NJ). We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel (thanks dad) a couple hours after we left and it was the perfect break time. Then we headed west towards the Badlands, through Wall (yes, home of Wall Drug) and finally stopped for the night in Rapid City. But our trip would not have been complete without a stop in Mitchell at the Corn Palace. Yes, the Corn Palace. Complete with their mascot Cornelius which we may need to put some money in the therapy jar for HG. She did NOT like him one bit. I think we saw a bit of anxiety step in once she spotted him. She about scaled Ethan to create a maximum distance. Mission completed. While there she had her first gumball, which she promptly swallowed.

We loved the Badlands and we were there at the perfect time of night. Just as the sun sets and the shadows turn purple, greens are darker and brighter at the same time and the clouds and sky take on new colors. We had some great pictures of HG and a family shot overlooking the bluffs as well as pictures after sunset of some big horned sheep was spotted, but somehow the pictures all got lost. Even our wall drug pic. HG pulled out her binoculars and was actually using them correctly, saying "eep, eep" looking out the window for more big horned sheep. I had that on camera as well. I know, we're very sad and can't figure out how it happened. Here are the few we have of today...

Leg #4, Chicago to MN

We left Chicago on Friday afternoon and continued north to MN to visit Ben, Jaime and their Golden, Bear. We had a great time visiting with them and watching Hannah Gray play with her aunt, uncle, and Bear, introducing Tenley to them and just having a great time catching up. I was curious what Hannah Gray would do around another dog since we haven't had Tanner for a little over a month now. And nothing has changed. She still LOVES dogs and isn't intimidated one bit!!

Uncle Ben and Daddy played ring toss using Hannah Gray as the catching point which she thought was hilarious. Aunt Jaime french braided HG's hair (and tried to teach me too) and made her feel so pretty. She did pretty well sitting still, for a 2 year old. Hannah Gray learned to shoot a squirt gun which she promptly turned on her sister (she picture). Tenley let out a squeek (she was sleeping) and then batted her eyes and scrunched her forehead as he got it square in the face. She's such a good sport. :)

We also went to the park where Bear was enticed to go down the tube slide, much to Hannah Gray's delight. She even got to walk Bear a little bit too. All that to say, we had a great time with our MN Petro's!! :) Thanks for having us guys!

Leg #3, Findlay to Chicago

We left Findlay on Wed am for Chicago to visit Gary, Katie, Grant, Norah and Audrey. While we were there, they took us to their community pool where Hannah Gray had an absolute blast swimming with her cousins. She even ventured down the water slide which had significant water at the bottom. Normally she loves the water but doesn't like to be splashed in the face. So we were pleasantly surprised when she discovered she also loved the splash park. Big cousin Norah gave HG the hair dryer that she was carrying around all weekend. She has done her hair numerous times in the car. She's becoming quite the little girl, playing with bracelets as well. :) Uncle Gary, Aunt Katie and the kids gave HG a little mp3 player for the road trip as well. It's been a huge hit!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Leg # 2: Cincinnati to Findlay

We arrived in Findlay on Sunday afternoon. We had a great time playing with Nana and Papa, looking at trains, going to the playground and swimming and splashing in the pool. We are thankful for our time with our families!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Leg #1 NJ to Cincinnati

We arrived in Cincinnati on Thursday morning, early. Like 4 AM early. We had a ton of fun with my family and the kids played until they were more than exhausted. We had a little open house at my parents' house so we could see our friends while we were in town. The house was loaded with little kids and Hannah Gray had a ball. It was so fun to watch but somewhat sad at the same time. Knowing that if we were in Cincinnati still, this would be a regular occurrence for her. The next day, my sister's family arrived and we had a fun evening of cousin fun. We celebrated Hannah Gray's birthday as a family with cupcakes, singing and gifts. Then the night culminated in an all out family game of keep away, boys vs girls. It was so much fun and we played until it was too dark to see any more as we all took a ball to the face a few many times. We ended when it was too hard to keep the sensor light over the backyard on and we left with plenty of laughs and bug bites.

The next day we started the morning blueberry picking and then cooled off spending the afternoon at the pool. All the kiddos were SO worn out after such a fun day. Uncle Keith treated the kids to apple cider pops and Mimi and all the kids had ice cream sandwiches at the pool.

(I know i am missing pictures of many family members meeting Tenley as I was chasing Hannah Gray and couldn't get the pictures. So you guys know who you are and if you have those pics, if you could please email me those, I would SO appreciate it for the scrapbook!! :) )