Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree Farm

We made our annual trek to the Carl's mom and dads and the tree farm this past week and weekend. We made lots of wreaths(well I clipped boughs, Carl, Andrea and Alan actually made the wreaths) before hand and they had already been delivered. We arrived Wednesday afternoon amongst the freezing rain but fortunately the roads weren't terrible until we hit the gravel near Carl's house. After almost sliding through the yard when we went to make the turn up to the house we arrived safely with no incidents:) Thursday we decorated wreaths for the display wall and got everything ready for the weekend. Andrea and I finished making the food for our Thanksgiving meal which we ate around 3. We were missing all of the children since they were down for naps(ah peace:) and Nancy who was in with her mom at the hospital, she had broken her hip the week before and also Em's finance who couldn't join us for the weekend since he owns a business and was short a little help. Friday the craziness began. We were so busy we hardly had time to think. Saturday was a repeat of Friday and even a little busier, we did attempt to set this beauty on Saturday between customers however. That is a 14 foot tree, it takes a little man power to get a 14 foot tree shook, carried and set. This attempt actually failed but later we cut a little off and it looks great sitting in the shop, hopefully someone with really high ceilings and lots of room would like to take this home. By Saturday evening we hardly had any trees left in the shop, Andrea and I were scrounging to find our trees we had so few. We decided Matt would go up and get some more the following morning so we weren't sold out for what is usually a very busy Sunday( sidenote we sell Frasier firs brought in from Minnesota in the shop, we also have cut your own which are mostly balsam, some spruce, scotch and white pine, we have just few Frasiers and they are not quite big enough yet) Sunday morning we got up and went out to cut our own trees with the kids(our upstairs kids tree with the fun decorations). Carl got out the tractor with the shaker and Callie had her first ever tractor ride. That tractor looks good with some pink. We loaded the kids up in the wagon and made our way to the plot. The search was on. We finally agreed on one and Gabe was determined to be the one to cut it down. With Dad's help they got it done and got it taken back up to the shop. Gabe ran the tractor to shake it and after the obligatory family picture with the tree they got it put through the netter. Gabe actually learned to run the tractor with the shaker by himself and helped shake the trees for customers as well. He is growing up way to fast in my opinion. Matt arrived with some more trees early Sunday afternoon and it turned out to be a good thing he did as we sold quite a few that day. Andrea and I got to pick out new one's as well. I think it is a pretty nice one, even with no decorations quite yet. On another side note my daughter slept in a pack and play in the laundry/bathroom and apparently got into the drawer somehow and pulled out a tube of great grandmas lipstick. I think she needs a few lessons on how to apply it though:)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to

the best pancake maker there is
the best shoulder ride giver
the best wave catcher
the best tractor ride giver
the best support person
the best tent putter upper
the best dad
the best friend
the best man whom I have the privilege to call my husband.
I was blessed when God gave me you!
Happy 30th birthday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kennedy Space Center Day 2 and Driving Home

We woke up to a beautiful, although somewhat windy and chilly morning on Friday. The weather had actually been upgraded for the day and the chance of launch was at 70% go. We were excited it seemed today was finally the day. What else could go wrong? Well a leak in the GUCP(ground umbilical carrier plate) quickly gave us an answer to that question. While tanking(fueling of the large tank) the leak was discovered and just on a whim on our drive to the space center I checked my phone and discovered the leak. At that point they had not scrubbed it yet they were evaluating their options. We had a pit in our stomach as we pulled into the parking lot and the pit got a little bigger when I saw word that the launch was scrubbed for the day. Our last chance, we had to head home, we couldn't stay. I honestly felt like crying, I think I had tears in my eyes on several occasions throughout the morning. The boys took it great, they were just excited to be at the space center again and get to play. As Carl said sometimes ignorance really is bliss, they really didn't understand what a cool thing it is to see a launch, especially since there are not many left and how some people have tried for a lifetime to see it and never have. We were crushed. We decided to go into the space center anyway just to let the kids play and look around one last time. They had everything set up for launch. The screens were out with images of the shuttle on the pad, vendors were there selling food, signs were posted in the areas where viewing would be the best. In a way it was kind of cool to see all that stuff and know what it will look like on launch day but bittersweet as we knew we would not be there to see it. The kids had fun playing on the slides and play equipment again. We also, at Gabe's request went back to the rocket garden and looked around. Today they had this astronaut walking around taking pictures with people. Gabe almost knocked him over running up to him and grabbing his leg...whoops. Gabe also wanted to ride the shuttle launch experience again so this time Carl stayed with Ty and Callie and I took Gabe on the simulator. He loved it again and grinned from ear to ear the whole time. We took one last opportunity to try and get a picture of the kids in front of the space shuttle at the visitor complex. We then decided we better start for home it was going to be a long drive. We got situated in the car and started heading north. We did have to make one quick stop before leaving the area to snap this picture though. We had been meaning to do it while we were there the whole week but finally decided this was it. After the sign picture we were on the road again. We had packed lunches to take with us to the launch so just ate them in the car instead. The kids did great again and rode really well. We got into Georgia and decided that we wanted to stop at a pecan and peach place we had seen signs for on the way down. We stopped and had peach cobbler with butter pecan ice cream and Carl and I each got a pecan bar to save for later in our drive. We also picked up a few whole pecans to brig back with us. The orchard was so pretty and it was a good place to stop and stretch for a little while. We continued on and stopped for supper awhile after that. We stopped at a Chick-fil-a with a play place and let the kids get rid of some energy and changed them into jammies for our long night drive ahead. They went to sleep shortly after we left and we just kept driving. Carl and I switched at the Tennessee border and I drove the midnight to around 6 am portion of the trip. I had to stop once at a rest stop for some liquid energy but all it really managed to do was make me have to go to the bathroom really quickly but I found that was a good thing to keep me awake as well. We stopped for breakfast at a Hardees in Illinois and just kept going. As we were getting into Iowa I noticed Carl's eyes starting to look very sleepy so we switched drivers again and I drove from outside Iowa City to Newton where we needed gas. We switched again as I was feeling mighty tired and finally around 11:30 am we pulled into our driveway. We were home sweet home! We unloaded the car, ate lunch and then I fell into a DEEP sleep on the couch while the kids were down for nap. We had a great trip and even though it wasn't exactly what we hoped would happen I know we made lasting memories(at least for us and hopefully Gabe:) of a great family vacation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vacation Day 7

Thursday was the day we were supposed to start our trek back to Iowa but since we knew launch was postponed to Thursday and we also knew the weather was most likely not going to be cooperative we extended our stay one night and decided we waited it out this long what's one more day? We awoke Thursday morning to the storms and nasty weather that were predicted all week and just waited for word of the inevitable scrub. If the launch countdown were to continue we would have had to be at the space center somewhat early so Carl and I awoke and started checking the news. Soon it was scrubbed the weather was not favorable enough to even try. It was not a surprise but still a bummer. Since we had decided to stay Thursday night we knew Friday was our last chance, we had to start to drive home Friday one way or another. With that thought looming in our minds we tried to decide what to do on a rainy, stormy day. We decided to check out the local mall and see if we could find a play place, on our way we saw some signs for the Astronaut Hall of Fame which was included in our admission tickets from the space center so we decided to make a detour and do that first. It was a fun place for the kids, they had all kind of stuff for them to look at. Gabe really liked the phone where you could listen to old mission control stuff from launches. They also had several hands on activities for the kids to try, they got to climb in another control module, try on different types of astronaut helmets and there was even a mock moon surface you could walk on. We decided to avoid a little craziness in the gift shop the next day and purchased our Discovery t-shirts and a few souvenirs there instead of at the main complex on Friday. After the Hall of Fame we made our way back to the mall and just walked around and window shopped mostly. The kids had fun riding the moving mall rides(they even had a space shuttle) By the time we made it back to the hotel it was nap time for Callie and the boys had fun just watching a few kids shows on TV. In the evening the rain had cleared up for the time being so we headed down for one last goodbye walk on the beach. The kids ran in front and I had a cheesy mom moment where I just savored the size of their little feet running through the sand. Watching each little footprint was a good reminder that they grow up so quickly! When it was getting too dark to be at the beach we headed back and decided to drive to a spot at Cape Canaveral where we knew we could see the launch pads. We arrived and they did have the shuttle lit up for the night. It is quite a distance from where we were still but you could see it. As we were sitting there an older couple drove up and wondered if we had a binoculars, we said no so they got theirs out and let us look at it through that. They were very nice and he told us he and a friend of his drove here in the 70's to see one of the Saturn V's on the launch pad! As we were talking the lady noticed something down by the car, this is what we discovered. It freaked Gabe out a little bit but after we got back in the car it is all he could talk about for quite awhile afterwards! We got back to the hotel and watched the news and the countdown began for lift off once again as the weather was favorable for a Friday launch.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vacation Day 6

Sorry for the interruption of our very exciting vacation posts but I had a crazy weekend an had no time to blog so without further adieu here is Day 6:)
Wednesday once again a beautiful day for a launch but again didn't happen. This time because of a strange reading from a component from the back up to engine 3 so once again we found ourselves with time on our hands to explore new things. We started off with a lazy day, took our time to get ready and then made a trip to the local Walmart. We needed to pick up a few things so we made a family trip of it. We then surprised the kiddos with a trip to the McDonalds play place and happy meals, they were in heaven and it actually was a really nice McDonalds. Ty made new friends instantly, he had two older girls following him around and he would tell them what to do, it was pretty funny. After lunch we drove to Canaveral Lock, where they open and close the waterways to let ships and boats in and out of the port. We found the coolest shells there up on the ground, some spiral shells and several whole clam shells, the boys had fun trying to find different ones as we walked along the area. No boats came through while we were there, we were hoping to catch one because they say when they open and close the gates manatees and dolphins often time swim along with the boats to get in and out of the lock area but no such luck this day. We did see lots of pelicans and sea turtles though! After the lock we went back to the hotel and headed to the beach again. This time we took a fish floatie with us that Gabe loved, he loved riding it over the waves. I tortured the kiddos with more picture attempts and they played in the sand and the waves. Ty doing his favorite thing on the beach, chasing and growling at the birds. Carl and I attempted a few more artistic photos:) By the end of the day we knew the engine troubles were solved and launch countdown began again, however we also knew the weather was not supposed to be cooperative for Thursday, which was supposed to be our last day in Florida...