Monday, July 29, 2013

New Jersery

Steve's grandparents live in New Jersey very close to Ocean City.  We try to make a trip out there way at least once a year to visit the family.  The best time of year is of course to go during the summer in order to enjoy the beautiful beach and strolling along the board walk.  We were able to take an extended weekend just a few weeks ago and visit his grandparents along with his mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and an aunt from California.  While we were there, his uncle, aunt, and cousins who also live nearby came up for a few days as well.  Nanny & Poppy had quite the full house, but we all had a great time getting to see each other!

On Saturday morning, we met Scott & Ashley (Steve's brother-in-law & sister) in Dayton and flew on the same flight to Philly.  We rented a car and drove the final 1.5 hour to Nanny & Poppy's house.  After a quick lunch we met up with the rest of the family who were already staked out at the beach.  We spent the afternoon enjoying the beautiful weather until it was time to head back to his grandparents' house.

On Sunday morning, Steve's mom threw me a baby shower brunch at a local deli.  The food, company, gifts, and getting to celebrate our Bean was perfect!  I had a great time and was overwhelmed with the wonderful gifts we got.  Between the shower my mom put together, and the brunch shower from Steve's mom, I'm finally feeling like we almost have everything to take care of baby.  We still have some major purchases to make, but we've received gift cards to go towards those items.

After the brunch, the girls all met up with the guys who were already back at the beach.  We spent another relaxing afternoon at the beach until weather began to come in.  After returning to his grandparents', everyone waiting their turn in the shower, and a traditional dinner of Manco & Manco Pizza (formerly known as Mack & Manco Pizza), we headed out for an evening at the boardwalk.  We walked around (sometimes I sat on a bench while others walked), hit up our favorite taffy store - Shriver's, and bought a funnel cake.  Yum!

The rest of the trip was spent either visiting with his grandparents, visiting the beach, or just hanging out with the family.  While we were all together, we were all able to show our different vacation photos and videos and catch up.  What a fun weekend!

Here are pictures I stole off facebook from Steve's mom & aunt from the Baby Shower Brunch:

(Hanging out at Fitzpatrick's Deli waiting on our food.)

(Other side of the table)

(All the ladies - Aunt Kim, Trisha, Me, Nanny, Ashley, & Aunt Jill)

(Cousins Ava & Dani)

(Cute baby clothes!  We also got the monitors we had registered for, sleep sack for baby, nursing cover, and had the baby jumper waiting for us upon our return from Jersey.  A stroller is also going to be showing up soon :).  Thanks everyone for the fabulous baby items!)

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Great Flood

It's been hard to get back into blogging when I look back and all the previous posts are full of the Caribbean, sand, and fun.  For me, coming back from the cruise, I kicked into baby mode.  I've made the nursery a priority and will be posting on its progress soon.  For Steve, he returned from the cruise in project mode -- realizing all that needs to get done around the house before winter (and responsibilities of being a dad kick in!).  He has a pretty lofty list of items to get done before the end of summer (anyone want to come help?!) but first off was fixing the garbage disposal.

Ours decided to crap out at the beginning of June.  We lasted as long as we could without one.  Then, Steve ordered a new one and installed it all by himself (okay, maybe dad gave some advice before he switched them out).

(Look at that handyman!  Who would've thought Steve would add garbage disposal repairman to his never-ending list of accomplishments?)

We had an unexpected event occur which added another "house item" onto the to-do list -- a flood in the basement!  Ahhhhhhh!  We have a sump pump -- remember our sump pump woes? -- that probably kicks on way more than a sump pump should have to kick on.  However, we figured out there's some plumbing done wrong in the basement which is a big factor in that, but that wasn't the issue in the flood.

While sitting and watching the evening news before bed, we both realized that the sump pump was kicking on quite a bit and almost running constantly.  We looked outside and saw that it was raining like crazy!  We didn't think much about it since we could hear the sump pump and just assumed all was working fine.  I went up to bed to get ready until I heard Steve yelling for help (around 11pm) in the basement.  I ran downstairs (ever so careful as to not trip) to find lots of water in our basement!  We put shoes on, unplugged the deep freezer (luckily our heater/ac unit was off), and set to work on moving items out of the "flood zone".

It's hard to capture/explain how are basement is set up.  It's divided into 4 areas/rooms.  First you walk down the stairs into the opening of the basement.  This leads to the right into the laundry room, or you can go straight through a doorway into a room that houses our deep freezer, water heater, and ac/heater system.  You can continue through that room to access a storage room to the left.

When we first discovered the water, it was mainly by the stairs and in the central room with the ac/heater system. Most of our items were stored in this room as well, but I'm a genius and had everything stored into totes (okay, I'm not a genuis, but watched my mom learn the hard way when our basement flooded growing up).  The only thing not in totes was the christmas tree and all the boxes I had saved up from our moves.  The christmas tree box was slightly wet.  I examined it after we moved it to the dry area in our laundry room and the tree itself was fine.  The box, however, didn't make it.

After all our items were shifted to dry areas, we set to work getting the water out, but we weren't sure what was the best option. While trying to figure out what to do, we noticed that the water level was still rising.  At some point, we checked outside and the rain had stopped.  When the rain stopped, the water level didn't rise anymore, but wasn't going down much at all.

Steve ended up using the wet/dry vac to suck up water in the stairs room.  Our sump pump is located off the laundry room, but was sealed under plexiglass, making it hard to get water into the well (we figured out later that the drains in the other rooms failed, had they not, the water would have just drained into the well that way).  After Steve pried up the plexiglass in the corners, I discovered that I could "paddle" the water through a hole in the flooded room which would go into the well and be pushed out with the sump pump.

We worked like this for an hour or so and finally called it quits when the water was semi contained in the flooded room.  Luckily, Steve was able to call off work the next day, so we slept in and tried to avoid the disaster area as long as we could.  When we finally went to work in the basement, the water level had lowered from the night before, but there was still an area that needed bailed out.  I started sweeping up debris (water got into our dryer duct so there was lint everywhere, not to mentioned dirt and crud from the drains) while Steve finished the water with the wet vac.

It ended up raining the next day, but our basement was fine.  All we can figure was that it was a combination of a slow working sump pump, too much rain too fast, and a possible clog in the drain.  For now, we just continue to cross our fingers it doesn't happen again (and ignore all the dirt that still needs swept down there!).  What could have been an absolute disaster ended up being just an unexpected mess.  Our only "lost items" were my collection of moving boxes.  Now I just have to find the motivation to finish cleaning it up and put everything back where it is supposed to be!

(The pictures are deceiving, but there's about 1/2"-1" of water in this section.)

(For some reason, the wet vac would leak once it was full.  To make things easier, Steve would pour the water into my handy-dandy Menard's bucket - had to make a shout out to our favorite hardware store - and would then dump the water into our utility basin which would drain into the well for the sump pump.)

(A very clogged drain??)

(This is the main room that had all the water.  Our deep freezer is to the left - luckily only a little bit of water got under it, but we went ahead and unplugged and moved its contents upstairs - while the ac/heater system is to the right.  The door in the back leads to the extra storage room on the left!)

(When we first started moving things, this storage room was dry.  However, water slowly leaked into it from the adjacent main room.  I never mentioned that our entire basement floor is not level.  Some areas are higher than others which attributed to the way the water spread out.)

(I had to include a picture of my beloved moving boxes which are no more.  You served us well fellows.)

(The main room that got flooded.  This is the area with the deepest water.  My guess was that at the lowest point where the drain failed, the level was 5".)

(A closeup of the deep area after over an hour of "bailing out water".  I sat in the folding chair that you can barely see on the left, used a tote lid, and paddled water into that whole in the corner.  On the other side of that hole is the sump pump.  Click here to see what the sump pump area looks like!  Notice the water level marking on the cinder block to the right.  A few inches down, and a few more to go!  We called it quits right around this picture.  When we got up in the morning, there was a 3' diameter circle around the drain in this picture - at the end of the white pipe.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cruise - The Long Trek Home

Usually, cruise ships dock into port by 7 or 8 am and begin the unloading process.  They dock so early because they have to get all the previous cruises off the ship in and prepare for the next round of cruises that begin loading around 11am or noon.  Due to the medical emergency, we didn't get into port until after 10am.

The whole unloading process wasn't well explained with the time delay.  There was a channel on the tv that explained the unloading procedures, but no one was sure if the times changed because of the delay.  We decided to stick with what the video said and left our room with all our suitcases around 8.  We made our way to the theater lounge and found an area to store all our suitcases, sit, and wait out the morning.  Mom stayed with the luggage and the rest of us headed to the Lido deck to grab some breakfast.  It was of course packed so we found some quick lines (like for pastries & fruit) and ate our little breakfast.  I brought some food back for mom when we were done.  The wait really didn't seem too long and before we knew it, we were docked in Port Canaveral.

Things got a little dicey on what to do after that.  There were announcements saying they wanted to unload those with early flights first, and then they'd unload according to the area you were waiting.  However, there were never any announcements after that.  People in the theater lounge began shuffling around and making their way to the door, so we followed suit per Steve and Dad's encouragement.  We had an 8 hour car ride slated for the day & Dad was ready to get on the road!  Good thing we were seated where we were and got up when we did, because we got off the ship pretty quickly.

After going through customs (and Steve breaking a suitcase, which was already broken, so I shouldn't blame him), we walked to the bus to take us to our car.  Once the bus was loaded, we made it to the parking place, loaded up our car, and was on the road around noon.  Pretty good timing!  Only there was one problem in the whole drive 8 hours to our hotel in TN -- every time dad hit the breaks, we heard this gnarly sound coming from the passenger front tire.  Uh oh!

(I don't know if he's more sad about leaving the ship, or the 16 hour drive ahead with an impending break pad change.)

(Steve is sad for no more 24/7 ice cream cones.  Which by the way, I got him his last one that morning when Mom and I made a trip to the Lido deck while waiting to depart.)

(Mom is sad for the reality she is return home to - hahahahahaha!  Her's are real tears, okay I kid, I kid!)

(Sad about leaving the boat and having to sit in a confined space for the next 8 hours to turn around and do it again the next day.)

Good thing we had 2 mechanics in the car.  Both immediately knew it was the break pad.  Neither seemed too concerned over the sound (as they said it didn't sound like metal on metal yet), but Mom & I weren't buying it!  Dad decided that the situation wasn't dire and that sometime in the afternoon, we'd stop at a car parts store and they'd fix it.

When the time came, the stop was relatively easy and quick! Within in an hour (maybe even less), the new parts were purchased, Steve & Dad took the wheel off, put on the new break pad & rotor, Mom & I repacked suitcases for that night's hotel stop, we loaded the car back up, and were off!  We made it to our hotel by 10pm!

(Have I said how amazing it is to road trip with 2 mechanics?!)

(Check out that tool box!  My parents' van is older and has always had weird issues pop up every now and then.  Dad was smart and decided to throw his tool box in the back, "just in case".  Thank goodness!  Made the stop quicker having his own tools to use.)

(Here is a shot of the worn break pad, and the new one.  Notice how there is no pad left!  What?!  That was stopping the car?!  On a funny note -- I see a hidden Mickey!)

(Hotel Bonding)

The next morning, we had a later start than planned because Steve & I didn't set an alarm.  Ha!  We all slept in the same room again and we assumed we'd wake up when Mom & Dad were up.  But I guess our ear plugs did too good of a job!  Ooops :).  After eating a quick breakfast, we were back on the road.  It just so happened that we were passing through Corbin, KY right around lunch time.  Many people (Steve included) don't understand the perfectness of this timing.  Corbin is home to the original Sanders Cafe, which is now opened all across the US as KFC!

My grandpa is from the Virginia/KY area.  When I was younger, we would make trips to the area and would stop at the Sanders Cafe to pay homage to the Colonel - haha!  Steve was pretty skeptical of the stop until we got out and he realized that it was literally a National Landmark!  The Sanders Cafe still has the original kitchen were Sanders made his chicken for the first time, bed room models from the inn that was associated with the cafe, and all sorts of memorabilia around the cafe.  We of course feasted on a wonderful chicken meal before heading back on the road.

(Sanders Cafe!)

(The Cafe was half original and half a KFC.  You ordered the food in the KFC portion, and ate in the Cafe. Pretty neat!)

(Steve said this is what made the whole experience legit! That and the Asian tourists.)

(The original kitchen, where all the magic started.)

(It's not an official trip until you sit next to the Colonel.)

The rest of the journey was uneventful.  We made a pit stop in Cincinnati where the first driver change of the entire journey was made - ha!  Dad was able to take a little nap while Steve got us to our house.  We were home by 6pm, but Mom & Dad still had a 3 hour drive back to IN!  We quickly unloaded our stuff, said our goodbyes, and waved our cruise buddies off as they finished their journey home.  They made great time and were home by 9!

We had an absolutely fabulous vacation!  It was really hard to return home to the reality of a house that needed attention and work for Steve.  We have a few other smaller trips planned in the summer (like a visit to IN for my first baby shower and a visit to NJ to see Steve's family & another little shower!). But the next big thing on our horizon is Baby's arrival!  Can't believe we're than 3 months away from meeting her!  We have so much yet to get done!  I'm currently working on the nursery in preparation for it to be bombarded with all the baby stuff headed this way :)!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cruise - Last Day at Sea

We were all especially excited for the last day at sea, despite the fact that it was in fact our last cruise day.  We were excited because this was the day that our super secret "flash mob" dance was going to be revealed.  There was a dance party planned out on deck in the afternoon to raise some funds for St. Jude Children's Hospital.  After the planned dance party was our flash mob dance.

We headed to breakfast first and ran through our dance moves one more time.  We then changed into our bathing suits and headed out to the main deck area to stake out seats for the afternoon.

(One of the few times Steve will willingly wear a matching shirt.  Here we are at breakfast.  I was impressed he wore the shirt all day long and not just for the dance - show's his commitment to the flash mob dance!  We were prepped and ready for our flash mob - we were encouraged to wear these shirts as all the crew involved in the dance would have them on, too.)

(Our other flash mob buddies!  During the Groove for St. Jude dance party, you could buy the tshirts and Carnival would match the profits from the sales to donate to the hospital.  We had insider info from the dance class as to where to buy the shirts in advance to be fully prepared for the afternoon.Thanks Mom & Dad for the shirts!)

Steve and Dad hung out in the shade at a table while mom and I found spots on the edge of the pool to enjoy the sun while being cooled by the water.  As the dance party got closer, we made our up to the table to dry off.  While we were sitting at the table, they announced they were going to do an "Ultimate Dream Couple" contest first.  They were having a tough time getting participants so after some prodding, mom and dad entered the contest!

The contest started with 6 couples and was split into 3 stages.  Stage one consisted of a balloon contest in which balloons had to be blown up and popped in a certain order.  The top 4 couples continued onto stage 2 which was a scavenger hunt.  Then lastly, the top 3 couples competed in a Tarzan/Jane reenactment.  I was concerned over the balloon portion of the contest just because mom had a bum ankle (she had broken it back in April and was still dealing with weakness in it).  I knew if they could get through that, they'd have a fighting chance.  Not only did they get through stage 1, but they were the first couple to successfully pop all their balloons!

The scavenger hunt consisted of finding as many things off a list they were given in 5 minutes. The list included things like goggles, ice cream cone, sunscreen, guy with abs, lady with a sunburn, sandals & socks combo, a baby, etc.  It was neat to watch the crowd throw out items to mom and dad & volunteer themselves to participate.  A teenager walked up to Mom and said, "Need a guy with abs?  My family is rooting for you and I happen to have some!"    I of course immediately met up with Mom to volunteer my baby!  We weren't sure if they'd count Bean, but after a quick pause, the MC gave mom & dad the point!  (We secretly think the MC wanted mom & dad to win.  They were the longest married couple - actually they may have been the only married couple.)

(Standing in the assigned area with the other couples as they awaited their instructions for the next stage.)

Stage 3 was all about acting and hamming it up - 2 things my dad is great at!  Mom did her best at being a distressed Jane while Dad did a great Tarzan yell, crawled through the jungle (he slid over and under a bench), "swam" through the river (he literally splashed in the nearby pool), battled an anaconda (wrestled a towel), and dipped Jane, laying a big victory kiss on her.  It was obvious by the audience (and Dad's well use of surroundings) that Mom & Dad were the clear winners.  The MC then did a vote according to cheers and sure enough, Mom & Dad were deemed "Mr. & Mrs. Ultimate Dream".  Which by the way, people recognized them later throughout the day and all the fame went to their heads - haha!

After a brief victory rest, Mom & I returned to the deck to participate in the Groove for St. Jude dance party.  After that wrapped up, we staked out our spots and pretended to be bystanders while we waited for our cue to start dancing!  This was probably the highlight of our trip!  Dad was the perfect leader in making sure that Steve and I knew all the moves.  Mom was excellent in her taping skills (which helped us in  all the practicing) and captured the flash mob dance!  I wasn't sure Steve was going to be up for doing it, but he did and we had a blast!  Not gonna lie, we both still randomly break out our dance moves around the house.

(During our brief rest, Mom wanted a picture with Bean & their cruise trophy.  Mom was convinced the bean clenched the title for them.  We do what we can for the Dream couple!)

(Mom & I grooving for St. Jude.  We danced to songs like Cupid Shuffle & Cha Cha Slide.)

After an afternoon full of dancing, and deck shenanigans, it was time to return to our rooms and begin the dreaded packing.  By afternoon, the captain had announced that after the previous day's events, we would only get into port a couple hours late!  Carnival opened up all the phone lines for people to make new travel arrangements.  After getting a lot packed, we got ready for the evening and headed to our last dinner on the cruise :-(.

(Last dinner photo!)

(Can you tell how tired I am?!  All that dancing wore me out!)

(Our fabulous waiters - Roberto, Arthur, & Fernando.  Fernando was the head waiter.  He typically would make sure everything was going well with dinner and would take our orders.  Roberto was next in line and would take our orders, would bring us food, and make sure we always had water.  Arthur was the "food runner".  He'd get the food from the kitchen, sometimes would bring it to us and always kept us stocked with bread.  The three of them worked well together and providing constant entertainment.  As a thank you, we got them matching tshirts from St. Thomas and gave it to them -- a tradition Mom & Dad started back on one of their first cruises!)

(Can you tell the excitement in memorializing our room number?  We got lucky to end up with 2 rooms right next to each other since we booked so late.  I think we ended up with excellent rooms.  They were the last ones in the hall all the way at the front of the ship.  We did feel like we did a lot of walking back and forth through the ship, but it was inevitable since the restaurant and theater were on opposite ends.)

(Our crazy, I mean wonderful neighbors!  Okay, but seriously.  Lots of people probably think - why on earth would you go on a cruise with your parents?  It's as simple as this - they are wonderful parents, fun travel mates, and some of our best friends.  We look forward to the next vacation with our Cruise Buddies!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cruise - 2nd Day At Sea - Helicopter Rescue

Thursday morning marked the beginning of our return to Port Canaveral, or so we thought.  I woke up that morning hearing several announcements for some female to contact guest services.  This was a common occurrence throughout the week for people's names to be announced over the intercom to contact guest services so we didn't think much about it.  However, they kept calling for the same girl over the hallway intercom, every 20-30 minutes for a few hours.

Finally, around 10am, they called over all the intercoms (even in bedrooms) for one last opportunity for her to contact guest services or they would begin to do cabin searches.  Not too long after the cabin search warning, the cruise director announced that they had found the girl but that there was an unrelated medical emergency on board.  She asked for anyone with emergency room medical experience and specifically an anesthetist to contact guest services.  We were at breakfast at this point and not really sure of the situation.  Halfway through our meal, there was an announcement that the captain was at full speed and rerouting for help with the medical situation.

We proceeded about our morning meal and then planned out our day.  After we were done eating, we changed and headed to the top deck to resume our typical lounging spots.  However, when we got up on deck we were hit with tons of wind and realized how fast the boat was cruising!  For the next few hours there were announcements that the injured person had been stabilized and that the captain was in contact with the US Coast Guard and we were headed back south towards Puerto Rico.  The cruise director finally made an announcement that the US Coast Guard was going to do a helicopter rescue and air lift the injured person off the back of the ship and that we were all welcome to watch from the top decks.

We were given a time frame of when the rescue would take place, so we when the time was getting close, we headed to a different area to get a better view of the back of the boat.  It was really windy at that time and we knew that the wind was going to cause a delay.  About an hour after the window we were given, a plane and helicopter were finally spotted in the sky.  The plane did a continual circular pattern around the boat throughout the entire helicopter rescue.

(Awaiting on the very windy deck for further announcements about the helicopter rescue.)

(All the people standing on the top decks watching the rescue.)

(The helicopter hovered perfectly still in relation to the moving cruise ship.  First, one of the US Coast guard repelled down onto the back of the ship -- we couldn't see the area that he repelled down to.  The entire back of the ship was roped off for privacy/safety during the rescue.  Then a basket was lowered followed by a stretcher.  The basket was then raised along with someone sitting in it.  We assumed it was a family/crew member.)

(After the extra person was raised in the basket, the stretcher with the injured person was raised.  You could tell that the person was completely wrapped in white bandages/gauze.)

(Lastly, the US Coastguard that had repelled down first was pulled back to the helicopter.  It continued to hover in its spot until the guard was completely inside the helicopter and the door was closed.  The entire rescue took around 20 minutes!)

(I snapped this picture off our tv screen of how the boat's path shifted due to the helicopter rescue.  The detour from the top point of the original path to the rescue at the the lowest dip took about 4 hours of travelling at full speed.  By the time we had gotten back to our original location prior to detour, about 8 hours had lapsed.  We were unsure of how this would affect our return back to the States, as was the captain.  He made an announcement that more information would be given the following day.)

While watching the rescue take place, Dad & Steve stood on the top deck taking pictures & filming, while mom and I stood on the main deck and watched.  We were standing next to a family that were discussing the days events and we got all the scoop from them.  Supposedly, the girl that had gone missing was a teenager who had spent the evening with another bunch of teenagers/young adults and she fell asleep in their cabin.  They also said that they had heard that the injury was to a crew member. He was apparently working near a steam valve that blew; resulting in 3rd degree burns over 60% of his body.  The next morning, the cruise director did confirm that this was indeed what had happened.  

After the helicopter "show", we went and got something to eat before heading to our rooms to get ready for the last formal evening.  At dinner, or waiters were crazy as usual and full of napkin and dancing entertainment. 

(Arthur showing us how he used binoculars - made out of a napkin - to watch the helicopter rescue that afternoon.)

(Steve then had the binoculars and used them to keep an eye out on our waiters and dinner.)

(Since the binocular napkins wasn't providing enough entertainment, Arthur & Roberto decided that I should be decorated as the Statue of Liberty -- ha!)

(Obligatory dinner picture!)

(Look at that fancy couple!)

(Our crazy waiters at it again -- Dancing!  I think they were supposed to be doing a set dance, but in the end it turned into them all doing different and crazy moves.  They were nuts, which made dinner so fun!)

 After eating, we took some pictures (both professionally and just by ourselves) before heading to our room to change into comfortable clothes before the evening entertainment).  We opted to go watch a comedian in the comedy club instead of watching the main show (which involved a game show theme).  

(This is one of my favorite photos!  While taking our own formal photos, I asked Steve to take a picture of mom & I together.  He took one of us from far away, and then he wanted to do a close up.  Instead of just using the zoom button, he walked closer and closer to us until the camera was right in our faces.  We were laughing so hard at him choosing to move towards us instead of just using the zoom button.  Oh Steve and your camera skills.  I'm not complaining, though.  His skills continually show mine up.)

(Waiting for the comedy show to begin!)

(The comedian this night was pretty funny.  I can't even remember all he joked about other than lots of "age" humor. )