Archive for 2012

New Year's Eve

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Hello Seattle!!

Actually, hello Poulsbo...and hello Casey & Evan!! Of course, we got into Seattle just before midnight and the last thing on our minds was taking pictures. We wanted to get our bags, get in the car and get out of that airport! And that is what we did, without hardly a pause for hugs and hellos...let alone photos. So, as these trips usually go, we don't have any photos of the lot of us together!! Someday, someday we will remember to take the time, no matter the rush, to take a few photos. 

While we were in Houston airport, waiting for our flight, we had $60 worth of food vouchers left to spend. Unfortunately for us, our terminal had only a few choices and we weren't really very hungry. So we went to Subway and we did our best to use up the vouchers. We each ordered, Harold a foot long sandwich and I ordered a salad with double meat...but Subway had just run out of their salad bowls, so they put my salad in a lid and told me it would be FREE! So here we are, trying our best to use up these vouchers and Subway is giving us a FREE $10 salad. (I'm not complaining, anyone who knows us knows that we rarely turn down free things...but out of all times to receive a free pass!) So as we made our way to our gate, Harold picked up a handful of bottled drinks and packaged snacks, but we still had $40 of vouchers! So after we got comfortable waiting at the gate, with only 20 minutes or so before our flight, I grabbed the vouchers and headed back to the food area. I browsed for a few minutes with a pocket full of snacks and zero appetite, and then I decided that it would be a waste for me to spend those vouchers on things we didn't need...or want. So I took a few minutes and sat down to watch people as they milled about, buying food and other things on their way to their own flights. I decided to pick out 4 people who looked like they would appreciate the vouchers and then went up to each of them and said, "Happy New Year", handed them a voucher and then walked away. 

If you ever have an opportunity to hand someone some free, no strings attached, it. You will feel awesome.

So anyway, after the vouchers were gone, I headed back to the gate and before I knew it we were ready to board. Our flight from Houston to Seattle was not fun. We were tired, we were uncomfortable and Aden was extremely tired of being stuck in his carseat. On top of it all, when we were about an hour in to the flight, I reached for Aden's chocolate milk to fill up his sippy cup and as soon as I touched it the lid popped off and the milk exploded ALL OVER ME. I had chocolate milk soaking my jeans, soaking my hands, sleeves and seat. It was pouring into my boots and sloshing between my toes, and the dang milk had even splashed all over the top of my beloved laptop!! Fortunately, just after this happened the flight attendant came by with the beverage cart and just as I looked up from the mess I saw a full, unopened package of napkins. I asked Harold to grab it, the entire thing, and we spent the next 15 minutes mopping up chocolate milk from EVERYWHERE. 

Right after this happened, the first thing that went through my mind was...

Is that sad? Maybe...but honestly, who doesn't hope that doing good things might make your life a little easier...?

Well, after all was said and done and the milk had dried into a crusty, sticky mess, we finally landed. Our lovely Lee's were there and waiting and we were so, so happy to finally see them. They whisked us away to their gorgeous home in Poulsbo and after some gift exchanging and a little conversation, we were off to bed. The morning came quickly and Aden was up and ready for a new day full of anything but airplanes. And this is where those adorable photos of Aden and the furry Lee babies come in. Those sweet pups are Hanna (the giant one) and Romeo (my little love who currently resembles an Ewok). 

Me & Casey, together again at last! Even if it is only for a night..

After we were all up and ready for the day, we loaded up Casey's jeep (my dream car) and headed into Seattle, and to meet up with Harold's Aunt Brandy and cousin Paige, and a childhood friend of mine, Heather. 

Our trip to Seattle on the Ferry from Bainbridge. The wind was ridiculous! This was the only one where you could actually see Harold's face behind the mess that was my hair.
Casey knew better than I and bundled herself up! As I came back in from outside, I overheard a woman actually say, when referring to me, "She is obviously not from Washington." It made me a little sad at just how right she was. I am so not from Washington anymore. I was NOT prepared for how cold this place is!!

Aden & Harold on our ride over to Seattle.

A few days ago, the night before we left on this trip, I mentioned that two things I was really excited to do was to go to Ivar's and also, to get a picture of us in front of Pike Place Market. Actually, I wanted a picture of Harold eating his first bowl of Ivar's clam chowder, but that just didn't happen. The way we were seated, at a table of 8, wasn't the most convenient setup for photos. But we went there, and we did take pictures of all of us together...but I'm still waiting on a few of those from our friends & family who joined us for lunch. As soon as I get them, I will post them, because that day was such a good time and the food was so, so good. And Harold agrees that Ivar's did have the best clam chowder he has ever had.

Of course, on our way to Seattle, my camera battery...DIED. I felt so ashamed!! As a photographer, as a Mother and as a tourist...I let myself down. I can't believe that throughout our trip, the one thing I forgot to do was charge my camera battery!! And now, I am convinced more than ever that I need an extra battery to keep charged and always ready in my camera bag. But anyway, it died on our way over to Seattle...which means that is where our nice camera pictures end and our iPhone photos begin. 
Here it is! Our family photo in front of the Pike Place Market.

So we all look a little what? This is one of my new favorite photos. The only thing missing is Evan's ugly mug.
A photo in front of Seattle's new ferris wheel.
Me & one of my best friends in the whole world. I'm so sad that she is so far away...and that she is so much taller than me!
And that was the last of our Seattle photos. Our day was full and busy and awesome...and it could have only been better had Evan been able to join us. The Navy is a jealous being, always doing her best to keep our guys away. Our last day of 2012 was one of the best days of the year, though. After we made it back to the house, our friend Kenneth (a pal from high school) came up from Portland, Oregon to spend New Year's Eve with us. Evan came home shortly after Kenneth arrived. After Casey & I picked up pizza, we all ate our dinner, enjoyed some beers and played a few good rounds of our favorite card game, NERTS. (If you haven't played, I urge you to google it and find some pals who are willing to try it out...) And just because I want to prove that I am not a sore loser...Evan won. And just because I am kind of a sore loser...I let him win.

We brought in the New Year fast asleep, all of us laying on the couches and floor, completely exhausted, after watching a wacky movie, The Fifth Element. The guys seemed to enjoy it, but Casey and I were bored out of our minds. Around 1 am, Harold and I woke up and went around waking everyone else up. It wasn't the most traditional or exciting way to welcome the New Year, but I really wouldn't have had it happen any other way.

So long, 2012. 

It's been a year full of a great many things I have no desire to list. I am just happy to see you happy that I never have to go through what I went through this last year, so happy that you are officially part of my past...I have never been so ready to start a new year and begin 2013 feeling fresh.

Houston, Part 2: Space Center Houston

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So, our time in Houston was only half over, and it was my turn to drive. I'm sure that Harold would have preferred to continue on in his usual spot in the driver's seat, but we had to make a quick stop to pick up a Hard Rock Cafe shot glass to add to our collection, and while Harold was inside we were illegally parked. I became paranoid and hopped in the driver's seat, just in case anyone came to share their objections to our law-breaking ways. Anyway, this was one of Harold's only photos he took while on our little mini-vacay in Houston...and yes, I agree, I do drive like a Grandma. But some would say that this is not such a bad thing, especially my Mother, who would suggest that most Grandma's (like herself) are pretty much bad-asses. So say what you offense taken, here.

We spent our morning at the Downtown Houston Aquarium and after Aden woke up from his nap, it was time to head to the Space Center Houston. As much as I love aquariums and all things animals, Harold loves science and all things with informational signs. This place was certain to be my husband's new favorite place, considering if he could do anything in the world I'm sure he would choose to be an astronaut.

Aden is definitely taking after his Daddy when it comes to signs and learning random facts that few people appreciate.  These two were hard to keep up with as they roamed the center looking at all of the exhibits. I'm pretty sure that Aden was mostly drawn to the signs because most of them were glowing and had interactive pictures, but it was still fun to see them both learning together.

Our little tiger doing his best to prove his superhuman strength. "Grrrrrrrrr!!!"
 Last, but not least, in our list of activities at the Space Center, was a quick trip through their giant 'Angry Birds' climbing toy. This thing was massive...the pictures do not do it justice. I don't know if you can see Harold in this one, but there on the left (climbing up the shelves) is Aden in his tiger pants. Harold was just beneath him, and just as he started to climb up after Aden, a wave of 6 or 7 year old boys ran on a raging stampede through the level just behind him. (You can see 2 of what seemed like 15 of them) I sat and watched helplessly as they took over the shelves and shoved their way right over, around and on top of Harold. Somehow they all missed Aden completely (thankfully, otherwise their Mother's would have been hearing a little bit from me) but watching Harold get stuck in a tube while those wild little monsters trampled him was actually one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen!! I was snapping pictures and laughing so hard I was nearly to tears...I wasn't even sure that I had captured any of it (which I really didn't) but I didn't care. This was just too funny to miss in person.

And here we go, on our way back to the airport to get ourselves on that plane and back on track to Seattle. But we couldn't leave without driving by the actual Johnson Space Center, where all the real astronauts are, with all of their real space ships and their real command center...where they really say, "Houston, we have liftoff!"...or at least where they used to say that.

Houston, Part 1: Downtown Aquarium

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Good Morning, Houston!!

After a good 5 hours of sleep, we got up and had ourselves a breakfast of muffins, french toast and yogurt, all thanks to the hotel restaurant. We spent a little time browsing the hotel's brochure shelves and then decided that we would make our way back to the airport to rent a car and take ourselves out and about to downtown Houston. 

Harold's pick: 2012 Chevy Cruze. It made me feel good to have him see just how small those things really are. (He tried very hard to convince me to choose one of these over my much more realistic choice of an Equinox)
 After picking up our car and getting on our way, we decided we would go to the Houston Downtown Aquarium and then we would go to the Space Center Houston, just next to the Johnson Space Center. 

On our way out of the airport! Notice his favorite blanie tucked nicely around his head...this is how he prefers to travel.

Welcome to Downtown Houston!!

Well, this little surprise trip to Texas was definitely a learning experience. We learned that no matter what, Harold will always assume that he is right but eventually he will figure out (after 3 to 5 attempts at finding his own way of doing things) that I am actually right...every. single. time. We also learned that Texas has palm trees. PALM TREES. Who knew? We didn't...maybe it's a little stereotypical of me, but I truly thought that Texas was all flat lands and cactus's.

We also learned that Houston is home to a very cool aquarium. It wasn't the best we have ever seen (if you ever have the chance to go, PLEASE go see the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. BEST. AQUARIUM.) but it was pretty neat and the restaurant definitely lived up to the hype of the brochure. 

 I was really excited for the aquarium...Harold may or may not have faked that smile...

At the entrance to the Restaurant area of the Aquarium, there is this 3 story tube of blue, glowing fish and bubbles. 

In the restaurant, advertised as the 'greatest undersea dining adventure', we were seated right next to this gigantic fish tank. The entire restaurant was decorated to look as if we were in fact eating our lunch sitting at the bottom of the ocean. When it came time to order, I noticed that if I were to order one of their specialty drinks, I would get to keep the glass as a souvenir. So of course I couldn't resist...and the idea of a little booze to take the edge off of our stressful adventure was sounding better by the minute.
It was as good as it looked!! Even Aden wanted some, saying "Juice! Juice!" Sorry, Buddy...this is Mommy Juice.

This grouchy looking fellow joined us for lunch, looking a little less than happy about the fish and chips sitting on my plate.

Aden went to the aquarium in his very comfy, very fashionable tiger pants. Ok, maybe not the most fashionable choice. But, I LOVE THEM. Isn't he the cutest little tiger you've ever seen?

Aden makes everything so much more fun for me and Harold. Once upon a time, Harold could not have cared less about aquariums, and he couldn't have been convinced to go without some serious bribery. But the times have changed, and my grumpy hubby has become a softy...thanks to a little blondie with some serious charm. Harold and Aden have so many things in common, including a love for all things slimy, slithery and/or snake-like. So when we came across the Stingray Touch Tank, these two were ridiculously excited. Slimy, slithery AND they got to touch them!! It was so fun watching Aden smiling ear to ear as he watched the Stingrays circling the tank. 

This is the sweetest little diver I've ever seen! I just love that handsome face!

We ended our trip to the aquarium with a train ride through the Shark Voyage (dun, dun, duunnnnn!!) This was once the Houston Water Works building, recently turned into a shark sanctuary for several different types of sharks, including the rare Sawfish (which we were told is technically not a shark, but a type of ray). It wasn't a very long tunnel, but it was still very neat!!

The Sawfish took a few trips back and forth above us, smiling the entire time. He really didn't look as intimidating as I had imagined he would.
At the end of our train ride, we were told a little tale about a Great White that had escaped the shark tank during the last flood Houston had last year (who knows if they really had one...). The guide told us to keep our eyes peeled, looking for the shark that hadn't been seen since, as we toured the rest of Houston. Harold and I looked at each other with confusion, actually wondering if we would see the Great White while we were out and about. And then, before we realized just how silly that thought really was, a giant spout of water shot out of the little pond beside the train and the fugitive Great White scared the living daylights out of me!! That's right...I had been had. The Houston Aquarium had played their prank and I had been fooled. But at least I wasn't the only one...many people on that train jumped, screamed and laughed as we made our way past that toothy little prankster.

The front of the aquarium as we drove away.

Within minutes of getting Aden buckled in, our little tiger was fast asleep, dreaming sweetly of all of his new fishy friends. And then we were off, on to our next adventure at the Space Center Houston. But now that I'm looking at just how long this post has become, I think I will save the Space Center trip for another post. Today was a day full of amazing memories and another folder of photos to be shared for years to come.


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Yay for Vacation!!


Today is the day we are supposed to be on our way to Seattle. This picture was taken before we knew that, instead of making it to Seattle, we would be stuck in Houston until tomorrow. Now we are at our hotel, hoping to make it out of here in the morning but pretty sure we will be stuck until the last flight out of Houston, tomorrow at 9 pm.

I have been thinking of an interesting way to tell the story, but's just not interesting.
It's frustrating and exhausting and just plain annoying.

So, long story short, our flight from Norfolk to Houston was behind by an hour and a half because of 'mechanical problems'. At first, we were told that there was nothing wrong with the plane or the weather and that it was due to a pilot being late...but eventually that story changed. Not that it really mattered, because either way we ended up missing our connecting flight out of Houston to Seattle. And because we have three people flying, we can't be fit into a flight until 9 pm tomorrow...unless some random seats open up on earlier flights.

Upon learning that we would be sticking around the airport in Norfolk for an extra hour and a half, we decided to down some coffee and a special treat to cheer us up.

Aden took some time to copy Mama...I can only imagine how his blog would read. He kept Daddy busy, running all over the airport playing a quick game of chase. We had a few glares, but mostly people were entertained by how happy and social he was. I really didn't care about anything other than getting rid of as much of his energy as we possibly could before trapping him on a 4 hour flight.

We are finally on our plane!! It's about time!!

Do I look tired? I was hoping my forced smile would look more natural than it does here...

So long, Norfolk!! Bring on Houston...

Our flight was fairly uneventful. Aden did really well until he got a little tired of his carseat and came to sit with me for the last leg. He actually snuggled with me and slept soundly on my shoulder (and for those of you who don't know him, this NEVER happens!!). Once we landed in Houston, we collected a hotel and food vouchers and then headed to the shuttles. On our ride over, we met a guy from Norfolk who happened to be on leave from his station on the USS Eisenhower. It was neat to chat with him for a little while. After we got to the hotel, we cashed in some vouchers for our dinner and came to our room. It's been a long, long day and we are so ready for bed!

Aden was so intrigued by the hotel phone. He was so attached to it, he took it to bed with him.

He would lay down for a little while, then sit up and quickly answer his phone...Hello? Hello?

Maybe it's time for me to go to bed too...Goodnight Houston.