Posts in September 2010

In the Middle of our Street

Anna came home last week and is adjusting really well. She was only in the NICU for 3 weeks, Little Miss Champ! Her adjusted age is still little less than a month old, so they are not looking for typical newborn signs – eye contact, head rolling, etc. It’s amazing what the human body can do. We certainly have an amazing Creator.

Kelly is still on dialysis until they find a donor for her kidney transplant. Not sure when this will be, but until then, she’s on dialysis 3 days a week. She passes the time well through her blog: Kidney Mom Dialysis.

Two weeks ago we took our vacation and decided to rent a car (Go, Go, Kia Spectra!) and drive to the east coast to visit Steven’s family. We attended a wedding in Troy, OH, of one of Steven’s friends from high school, stayed at his dad’s house and left the following morning for a week of driving from house to house. It was the first time I had met any of his mom’s side of the family, and it was a tender, emotional and happy trip. See previous post for trip highlights, “My Hurricane’s Name is Earl.”

Two more exciting announcements:

1) We listed our house. For real. I’m nervous, scared and trembling with excitement all at the same time. We figure it won’t hurt anything to just test the waters a little. And, really, we’re never going to even think about taking out a second mortgage, so we’d have to have an offer on our house before we could even put an offer on a foreclosed property. This could take a while on both sides of the spectrum. We’ll see what happens.

2) We are the official winners of the Scotty’s Brewhouse (restaurant in Indy) video contest: paper football. Steven’s brilliant mind of making a “choose your own adventure” video game raced us to the top! Here’s the winning entry. You’ll have to watch on a non-mobile device because the annotations apparently don’t work on phones. Click one our heads to get started:

Posted: September 18th, 2010
Categories: Leah
Comments: 2 Comments.

My Hurricane’s Name is Earl


If you don’t to read the below documentation of the 2500+ miles we drove in 6 days, here’s a short, video version of sights seen:

Saturday: Leave around noon for Ryan and Ashley’s wedding in Troy, OH. Plan is to pick up rental car at Dayton airport, attend wedding with John & Julia Reynolds and Paul & Maggie (to be married 10/16), hang out afterwards with said couples and spend the night at Steve’s dad’s house. Before we went to bed, we were serenaded by our 15-year-old step-brother’s guitar talents. He is becoming a budding musician – writing his own songs, performing with bands and even winning the high school talent show last year as a freshman! I think Deb should be his manager.

Sunday: Head on the road at 8:30 a.m. for Syracuse, NY, to visit with Pa Shattuck and Juanita. Pa is 86-years-old and more active than we are. He and his long-time girlfriend, Juanita, are shuffleboard champions, ballroom dance, bowl and ____ and ____. We arrive around 5pm and are shuffled out the door quickly because Juanita doesn’t want to miss happy hour at their favorite restaurant/bar in town. Steven mentions that I would like to try a local favorite hot spot or dish, and this really troubles Juanita. She’s not sure what is considered a favorite, and some guys at the bar recommend Twin Trees Pizza. Steven remembers how great that pizza was as a kid, so we eat there. We drop Juanita off at her house in Liverpool, NY, and stay for brownies and coffee before Pa says it’s time for bed. We drive through the campus of Syracuse University before heading back to Pa’s house and fall asleep immediately.

Monday: Wake up in the morning to the breaking news that Justin Beiber canceled his performance Saturday evening at the NY State Fair (held in Syracuse) because of a lost voice. Thousands of wailing girls and their moms are upset of the postponement until Wednesday. We eat breakfast with Pa before starting on the road again to Ogdensburg, NY, about 4-5 hours north of Syracuse – close to Lake Chaplain near the border of Canada.

On the way to Ogdensberg, we stop at Alexandria Bay to jump on a boat tour of 1000 Islands. We really don’t have any plans other than visiting people, so we decide to participate in some touristy activities. We eat in a small little touristy area and board an hour-long boat tour that pointed out famous mansions, including the Skull & Bones Society and the Boldt Castle. The tour guide is cheesy and fun, and has great, stupid jokes that he’s probably said 10 tens every day for the last 3 years. We decide to tour the Boldt Castle, which is undergoing a huge rennovation project since 1970 and has plenty more to do. Beautiful place!

Back on the road, we drive for just under a half hour before we reach Aunt Chris’ house in Ogdensburg. She greets us warmly and begins showing us the American Girl doll clothes she has been sewing as a hobby. I really think she should start an etsy site and sell them, but for now she is giving them away to the girls in the neighborhood and relatives. We visit with Davy, Steven’s cousin, who is also living there, and later, Davy’s girlfriend, Kylie, joins us for a late dinner at a local restaurant. There, I am introduced to poutine – which is a borrowed Canadian dish of crispy french fries doused in cheese curd and brown gravy.

Tuesday: We wake up to Aunt Chris pounding on the door, saying, “Stevie! Uncle Bill is on the phone and wants you to visit!” While Steven talks to his uncle in Scotia, NY, to figure out plans, Aunt Chris fixes us a giant breakfast and draws all kinds of maps to various places. She loads us up with food goodies for the car, and we are off to Scotia, about 5 hours from Ogdensburg.

We arrive in Scotia about 3pm, so we decide to walk around Schenectady, the next town over, before we head to Bill & Gail’s house. When we arrive at their house, Nike and Tag, two beautiful and friendly golden retrievers, welcome us in. All the cousins have moved out of the house – Dan is living in Rochester, Jenny is in college in Buffalo and Rebecca is in her first year in Pittsburgh. The dogs keep Bill and Gail company, as newly empty-nesters. We talk with Gail for a while until Bill gets home, have a wonderful meal of homemade spaghetti, and take the dogs on their daily walk around the neighborhood and park nearby. While there, we run into the Collins’ neighbors who also have goldens, and we try to get a photo of all 5 of them, but it is unneventful. Bill and Gail later take us for ice cream and show us several parks around Scotia, Union College, and give us a late-night tour of Albany, NY, and the beautiful downtown plaza of marble.

Wednesday: Filled with another large breakfast, we decide to head down to the Cape before Hurricane Earl makes his presence. At the time, he is still a category 4 hurricane. Another 5-6 hours in the car, we drive completely through New York into Massachusetts, and stop in New Bedford for lunch. We browse through the National Whaling Museum and walk down some of the cobbled streets of New Bedford before driving to Fair Haven, MA, where Steven spent two years of his life as a child.

He shows me the house and apartment where he, his mom and sister lived, and the nearby beach they frequented through a grassy area labeled PRIVATE PROPERTY DO NOT TRESPASS. The beach is beautiful and lined with gorgeous homes on stilts. You can see New Bedford from the sandy beach. Steven drives us to one of his favorite spots, Fort Phoenix, which is a state park on the beach, home to several cannons and history.

Driving another 3 hours, we reach the Hyannis port of Cape Cod. Another touristy area, we stay in a near-beach hotel and eat seafood like kings & queens. The hype of Earl is getting more frenzied, but we know he won’t make landfall at all, and the effects won’t get to the cape until Friday. Our plan is to get some rest tonight and take a ferry to Nantucket the following day. It’s a fun place, and a great spot for a family vacation. We see signs on docked boats saying, “Next sail after Earl.”

Thursday: The morning is chilly – and it’s nice. We arrive board the ferry to Nantucket at 9:15 a.m. and enjoy the breeze and view from the top. The ferry is nice – computer stations, TVs with satellite, free coffee and a full cafe area. The crowd is pretty light this morning… probably because of the coming hurricane! News on the TV says the area most affected will be Nantucket. We are amused because that’s precisely why we’re going to the small island – to say that we were there before the hurricane came! 🙂

The two-hour long ride is wonderful, and we arrive on Nantucket in time for lunch. We make sure to eat lobster of some sort and walk around the brick streets and shops. It reminds me of a more classy Nashville, Indiana. I find a bookstore and tadaa! They have the book that just came out I’d been looking for, Mocking Jay, the third book of the kid’s series by Suzanne Collins. I pick it up along with a small book called, The Book of Whale Insults.

Shop owners start boarding up windows, and some of the tourists are nervous, but you can tell who’s local – they aren’t phased at all. Not worried! We get back on the ferry and watch CNN pretty much the whole way back. Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency and they keep interviewing reporters on Nantucket. We’re leaving the cape before it gets bad. We find a hotel near Steven’s mom’s apartment and watch the news as it gets later in the day. Apparently the hurricane is not so bad afterall.

Friday: We drive less than an hour to Attleboro, MA, where Steven’s mother lives. I haven’t met her before; she lives in a nice, assisted living community for adults with medical challenges, but the residents are able to be fairly independent. The building used to be an old button factory, and they’ve converted it to 182 apartments for older adults and those needing a safe environment. She is thrilled to see us! Photos of us and her other two children are everywhere. I know she thinks and prays for us continuously. She gives us a tour of her apartment, which she is very proud of, and suggests we have lunch at a favorite location called Morin’s. We have a lovely visit, and she asks us all kinds of questions about us, Steven’s siblings and nieces. I tear up a few times, knowing that I’ve finally met this woman, and I instantly love her.

The rain starts to pour, and we buy some cheap umbrellas from the dollar store before going to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette. Carole, Steven’s mom, volunteers here, and she takes us on a tour of the building and votive candle room.

We call Steven’s Aunt Lori to see if she will join us and Carole for dinner. Carole really wants us to met her close friend, Bob, so we invite him to join us as well. Lori and Sadie, Steven’s cousin, come over for a little while, and it’s great to meet so many of Steven’s family. We look through old photos before we eat dinner as a large group. We laugh and have a fantastic time at dinner and hear stories about Sadie and her older sister Abby.

Saturday: The morning news states that the hurricane became a tropical storm before it got near Nantucket. I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. I was excited to experience the first hurricane that MA has seen since 1991! Oh well.

We drive an hour or so to Hudson, MA, to visit Steven’s 90-year-old grandmother, Madeline. She, too, is so excited to see us! We have a nice visit with her in her apartment before getting breakfast at a local favorite spot. She asks us questions about Indianapolis and recalls her trips through the city during some of her vacations. We help her run some errands and she asks us repeated to stay the night – or the week! Unfortunately we have to continue our trip, but we promise to come back to visit her again soon.

The 5-hour drive north to Rochester, NY, doesn’t feel very long since we’re used to the long periods of time in the car. Thank God for cruise control! We arrive at Steven’s cousin Dan’s house in the evening. Jenny, his sister, came over from Buffalo to spend the night as well! The two of them are hilarious and make us laugh even through our comatose states (we’re really suffering from commute-head [and a little homesick for the doggies] at this point). Dan fixes us a fantastic dinner and shows us some of his special moves from a work out similar to P90X (can’t remember the name). Impressive stuff. Jenny is in training to be a Muppeteer. Yes, folks, THE Muppets! How cool. Later, Kristen, Dan’s fiance, comes home from work and joins us before we head to bed. We sleep REALLY WELL.

Sunday: Off AGAIN early, so that we can make sure to be back at the Dayton airport to return the rental car and head home to Indy. The hours pass by, and we meet Steven’s dad and Deb at Texas Roadhouse for an early dinner. We tell them all about our trip and show photos we’ve taken. They help us get our car at the airport, and we’re finally on our way home. HOME. It sounds so good. We get to Indy around 9pm and race to the basement to see our family of dogs who are estatic to see us.

Good trip. Best ending ever.

Posted: September 18th, 2010
Categories: Leah
Comments: 1 Comment.

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