Saturday, February 20, 2010

Up to date

Well I had no idea that it had been THAT long since I'd last blogged!... I mean I KNEW it had been a while, but not nearly a YEAR!! Thankfully, due to hubby's request I will try and be a more diligent blogger. ;0)

Ok so here's the wrap up of last year, it's a long one! ...

There was a lot of sea time for B..most of the time it was 3/4 weeks at a time. BLEH! But it was a necessary evil trying to get the boat prepped for the move to Hawaii via the North Pole. ~More on that later.

The beginning of summer 2009 meant that it was time for a family vacation!! We were hoping the Voshell family would be able to join us like they did in 2008, but our schedules didn't mesh. ;o( We wanted something that had some sort of historical aspect but one that didn't have us traveling too far(like DC or the Grand Canyon) as we were short on time!! As it was I put off having knee surgery since that ONE week in June was the ONLY time(or so we thought) we would've been able to take a vacation. Oddly enough we picked their home state of PA for our vacation. Ultimately we picked Hershey and Gettysburg! We stayed in this little farm house outside was so nice to come 'home' to peace and quiet. We spent a day and a half at Hershey Park where Jacob turned into our little adrenaline junkie and was riding every ride he could. We had a blast!! And I'm happy to report that he didn't run off ONCE!! What a HUGE sigh of relief it was not to have a repeat of Six Flags! LOL We spent an afternoon at the Hershey Works too where both the kids were 'employees' and packaged up Hershey Kisses to take home...they even got badges and hats too! We were good and didn't buy much in the way of sweets to bring home. Though we couldn't pass up buying a bag of Twizzlers that were twice the length of the regular ones! Oh and they were soooo fresh too! Nothing like FRESH licorice!! ;0) We spent 2 days at Gettysburg and what an experience it was! No one tells you how beautiful the grounds are; it was not what I was expecting for a battlefield. It was also very disturbing knowing that SOOO many people had lost their life...and not so peacefully either!
Now B and I went into this thinking we'd only be able to do a couple of hours here and there over the span of several days, but was surprised that we were able to see just about everything we wanted in just 2. There were no "this is boring, can we go now?". It was quite the opposite, well at least for L! She was soaking up all the History and B was more than thrilled to fill her in on it all! All J wanted to see were more cannons!! ;0) We were even able to squeeze in a lunch date with my friend Camilla as she lived just a few hours away and met us for lunch! It was so great to see her and catch up!

In July my parents came for a visit. They were
supposed to be able to watch the boat pull in but those sneaky guys came in a few hours earlier than originally planned! In the end it didn't really parents still got to tour the boat and see what/where B works.. Didn't really do too much touristy stuff with them cause they'd already done it. LOL BUT we did take a Thames River cruise. It was really neat to see the Groton/New London shoreline from B's point of view each time he comes and goes!!! The kids LOVED being on the boat!! We even celebrated my mom's birthday with a lobster bake. MMMMMMN, soo good!!

This year J picked Batman as his birthday theme and B couldn't been happier!
It was a low key as we didn't really know that many kids, but all that will change for this year I'm sure!! He's even asked to have Batman for his birthday again this year, but I'm trying to convince him otherwise!

Not only did the kids go back to school, but I went back to work! That first day was sooo weird tho! Not only was I the parent, but the employee. We dropped L off, then J and then B dropped me off! LOL I wasn't too far from the kids as I worked in the other Kindergarten just across J's class. The reality of sending my baby finally to school set in and I REALLY wanted to cry, but I was at work! ;-) It was fun tho and Kindergartners are so funny, really didn't seem like 'work'. One of the perks was that every other week I got to spend recess with J and lunch time with L due to my classes' schedule. :-)

Then we finally had to say goodbye to B and the Texas! We were sad to see him go, but excited to start our lives in Hawaii! It was supposed to be a quick trip, but the ice at the North Pole had other plans! Not soon after he left we got the call that they would be extending their at sea time by almost a MONTH! YUCK! They were able to at go up there and do some stuff, just not pass thru to HI. Instead they'd have to go thru the Panama Canal..a first for B! ..which means yet another award I need to get framed. LOL One benefit of us staying behind in CT was that when the boat pulled into FL the kids and I were able to make a trip down!! I really didn't think B would go for it, but another benefit of him being gone was that we were able to save up some money! I was hesitant at first since it was Halloween and had no idea if the kids would be able to go trick or treating(luckily we were able to go trick/treating at an Air Force housing area! LOL) but I got the 'go ahead' from B!! So I booked our tickets at 7pm on Friday and first thing the next day we hopped on a plane to sunny Florida! Now I knew we only had a couple of days and thought there's no way we'd be able to do the Magic Kingdom, especially since we upgraded our rental car AND had an ocean view suite!! So I prepared the kids and let them know that we'd not being doing Disney,but would at least do Sea World! Well B called the minute we landed and yet again surprises me with what day are we going to Disney!? WHAAT! Now I've ALWAYS wanted to go, but it's soooo uber expensive! BUT when you man gives you the opportunity, you take it!! OMG I wanted to cry!! ..wait I did as we were driving up to the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
Several times throughout the day I would stop and ask B if we were REALLY here or am I dreaming!? LOL There is just something so magical about Disney!! Even our dinner along the Boardwalk(Big River Grill and Brewery) was amazing and it was only a burger! LOL Being that it was the weekend of Halloween the park was open later that night(lucky us!) so we were at the park for 12 hours. We were sooo blurried eyed I don't know how we managed to make it back to the hotel! We all slept REAL good that night! Took the kids to the beach that was a few steps away from our hotel the next day. The water was cold, even for Florida but it was late Oct/early Nov! ..But they didn't care they still had fun! We had an AMAZING time in Florida!! But all good things have to come to an end and we had the leave B and the 70/80 degree Florida weather. We were quickly reminded of the New England fall temps when we got off the plane and was welcomed by the balmy 40 degrees! BLECH!
No worries, eternal summer temps were only a few weeks away! ;-)

L's birthday was perhaps THE BEST birthday she's had so far! Especially with B gone, her and I don't get to have much 'girl' time together, so I sent J to Grammy's for weekend! She invited a few of her girl friends over for a sleep over. We had pizza, made some crafts, watched movies..I even gave them yogurt facials and painted their nails! Then the next day L and I did some shopping and we went out to the restaurant of her choice..Olive Garden. ..Where she was given an dessert and sang t0! ;-) Before her 'family' party she and I went to get pedicures!! She had the most 'peace' full bday!! After all the cool peace sign stuff she got, she is one hippie chic! LOL

Thanksgiving was tough this year with B gone, but at least we were able to talk to him! I was even able to do Black Friday shopping this year thanks to Grammy taking the kids for the weekend!!

On my last day of work which was also my birthday, I talked to the class about Hawaii. They really knew a lot about it!! They were very sad to see me go as was I. I'd promised myself that I would NOT cry, but then SEVERAL of them said they were going to miss me and how they wanted to come visit me...THEN I lost it! LOL My sadness was quickly replaced by joy as B was coming back to CT the next day to move us to Hawaii!! ;-) It sucked not having him here for my bday yet again(I think this makes solo bday #7) but thanks to Tiff meeting me for drinks it wasn't soo bad! It was nice being able to share just one more child-free weekend with B before we moved, thanks again to Grammy!

Getting out of Groton was a royal PITA!! The move/pack out itself went really well! It was the final inspection that was a nightmare. Our inspection was at 4pm, so we figured we be out and on the road by 5pm. Noooo, this lady was the most nit pickiest person you ever did see! After a quick trip to Walmart and scrubbing our hearts out we were done by 6pm. Never again will I clean my own place for a move out. I will be hiring a cleaning company!! So one last good bye to our friends, a quick dinner and we were on the road!

We dropped off our car at the shipping depot in New Jersey where I said a quick little prayer hoping it arrives untouched and in once piece as it was only 6 months old!! Then we had a nightmare of a time getting to Laguardia to catch our flight to Illinois for my brother's wedding. Thanks to the Navy being cheap bastards and not letting us fly out of Newark which was only 20 min from the shipping depot, we NEARLY missed our flight because of all the traffic in NYC!! THANKFULLY luck was on our side and the flight was delayed!! ;0) However due to weather we sat on the plane for 2 hours waiting to take off. So it seemed that luck was on our side yet again and even tho it was super cold in Indy, the weather was clear for us to drive to IL!! We arrived later than originally planned but we fulfilled one of B's eat at White Castle!

The next day was a busy one getting prepped for the wedding..manicures, picking up tux rentals and other last minute items. Rehearsal went smoothly, rehearsal dinner was yummy too. It was definitely weird seeing all of Brian's friends from high school....a couple of them took me a moment to figure out who they were!! lol Mom, Lindsey and I got our hair last thing to have to worry about ya know. Ceremony was beautiful yet odd watching my baby brother get MARRIED!! Dinner reception was fantastic, will definitely be hitting up that restaurant when we return to IL! Dessert reception had some super yummy cakes, candies and what not. Got to introduce B to some friends/family that he'd never met and get reacquainted to some he'd met previously. At the end of the night it was great to just take the elevator to our room and crash!

B headed out ridiculously early the next morning to hop on a plane back to HI. The kids and I stayed behind for a day or 2 before heading out to HI ourselves. The plane rides were long, but manageable! ~ONE WORD OF CAUTION!~ No matter what any airline or travel agent tells you...pets are NOT allowed in cabin on flights arriving to Hawaii! They HAVE to under the plane!! Let me tell you it was heart wrenching to see both the kids in tears as we handed Mallory off to put under the plane. It was DEFINITELY not how I wanted to start our trip. Thank-goodness for in flight movies and comped food/drinks!! The flight itself was pretty uneventful, tho due to headwinds we were delayed arriving into Honolulu by an hour, which meant that the Quarantine Station where we'd go to pick up Mallory would be closed. So we had to wait till the next morning to get her.

Thanks to a friend being out of town we were able to stay at her house instead of a hotel. Thanks Keri! Our first night was very uneventful and we were in bed fast asleep by about 830pm! We didn't do much that first day except laundry and hang out at the beach waiting for B to pull in! Exciting I know!

Sooo, Hawaiians are CRAZY about Christmas!! Let me tell you trees, even mini ones are hard to come by!! They pretty much sell out immediately. B came to the rescue and found one on the 22nd!! My hero!! It was definitely odd not having snow on the ground or at least being the slightest bit chilly. Guess it's something I'll get used to. LOL The kids LOVED everything they got, even the movie "Gremlins"!! LOL Who would've thought! We've tried to rent Gremlins 2, but it always seems to be out! Go figure! B didn't have to go back to work until after New Year's(save a day or 2 for duty) so we headed out to see island. So far we've gone to the Arizona Memorial, several trips to the beach including to Turtle Bay at the North Shore and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, hikes along the Pu'u Pia trail and Pali Highway along with countless breath taking drives on/around the island.

With the New Year, came time for the kids to start back to school. YIPPEE!! I was shocked tho to find out just how far behind CT schools are in comparison to the school here. Sure their schools do get more funding and have better test scores, but that's because that's obviously ALL they are teaching. They aren't teaching what kids REALLY need to know!! The sad part is that we/parents didn't have to buy anything more than a backpack while the kids were attending school in CT, but here in HI(because they don't receive a ton of funding) we had to buy EVERYTHING including hand-soap, paper towels anti bacterial wipes not to mention ALL the regular school supplies!! L isn't having that hard of a time but J is. He's made such a huge improvement since he started, but it may not quite be enough for him to move on to 1st grade next year with out struggling. As of now the teacher has placed him on the list for possible retention and we'll continue to re-evaluate it over the next few months. Ultimately it will be up to us to make the final decision.

We're just about 100% moved in. There's just a few bits here and there that have yet to find their 'home'. I guess B's smart plan of having the movers unpack 95% of our stuff has worked. I gotta tell you tho at then end of that first night when my brother and his wife came to see the house as they were waiting to catch their flight back to the mainland from their honeymoon on the Big Island..I had my doubts. It was mind numbing to see all the piles in every room and I'd be lying if I said we didn't have at least a small disagreement here or there over it! LOL But it's worked out!

Well our time on Texas might be over sooner than later. B has applied for the Squadron ANAV job that's here in HI, if he's selected he'll start in Dec 2010 or Jan 2011-ish. So we hope they won't keep us waiting long! Otherwise we'll be on sea duty till fall 2011. I guess things could still change depending upon the results of E-8 Selection Board...hard to believe B's been a CPO long enough to apply for E-8 already! Those 2 years went by fast!!
We're hoping that B's recent Navy Com(Navy Commendation Medal) will seal the deal! We're both trying hard not to get too excited at the thought of shore duty early, but it's been a difficult 4 yrs on this sea duty. We're just ready to do stuff on a regular basis as a family again! I have to tell ya last week I was able to meet B for lunch 2 days in a row...just a taste of what like shore duty life is like. ;-)

EVERY day I have to pinch myself because it's just soo surreal that we actually LIVE here!! In the morning I look out the bedroom window and see a Wyland Whaling Wall that's painted on a hotel wall nearby. I have a magnificent view of the mountains when I walk out our front door to take the kids to school in the morning. We have most of the 'mainland' stores, so it's easy to forget where you are while you're out running errands...except when the cashier greets you with "Aloha". It's just wonderful living here!

SO PLEASE COME VISIT US!! We've got room for ya!! Oh, and we're just MINUTES from the airport!! ..and of course the beach too! We'll be waiting!! ;-)

PS I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things... oh I just thought of a couple! But I'll cover those next time!