8.31.2009

Father/Daughter Weekend 2009



Although my dad and stepmom live a little over 2 hours away, we still see them about every other month usually. However, with 4 adults, 3 dogs, and a toddler (that is still so strange to write), it's really hard to feel like I have a good chance to hang out with my dad and catch up on things, especially when we are usually busy spending time with more family/friends. So, a couple months ago, I suggested having a father/daughter weekend for just the two of us. We found a weekend in August that worked for both of us and were ready to go!

My dad had back surgery earlier this summer after having a pinched sciatic nerve. Just before our father/daughter weekend, the sciatic nerve in his other leg started to pinch. Luckily, we hadn't picked out where we were going to go or what we were going to do for our weekend together, so we decided to meet in Fort Wayne, closer to where my dad and stepmom live.

After finishing my first 6 mile run that morning, I drove up to Fort Wayne to meet my dad at one of my all time favorite restaurants - Biaggis. I worked there during the summers when I was home from college to help pay for tuition at Hanover. I CRAVE their food, and for once I could justify eating the Ravioli Quattro Formaggi and its 1,000 calories after having ran for an hour that morning. :)

After having lunch and walking around Jefferson Point, we left to check into our hotel. We got a room at the Hilton downtown, and let me just say, the beds were SO comfy! Then we went walking around the city. Walking and talking...walking and talking...it was really the theme for the weekend. Between Saturday and Sunday, I bet we walked at least for 7-8 hours. It gave us such an awesome opportunity to talk about all sorts of things - our past, our present, and our future. I couldn't have asked for anything more!

BUT...I got a lot more than that! We saw The Hangover together, which was hilarious until the credits rolled. I did not want to see THAT with my dad...YIKES! We also had dinner at The Italian Connection, a mom and pop Italian place, and it was DELICIOUS! It was my first experience with homemade pasta, and boy was it fantastic!

On Sunday some highlights included visiting a beautiful cathedral. My dad was raised Catholic, so it was interesting to learn a few things about that faith. We also went to the Botanical Gardens. They were featuring a Wizard of Oz display, which was a tad lame, BUT...it was still nonetheless! I had always wanted to visit the Gardens.



I think the weekend can be wrapped up as this: great food, awesome conversation, lots of laughs, a bit of seriousness, some closure, and an even closer bond with my dad than I've ever had before. I can't honestly remember the last time my dad and I had the kind of uninterrupted time we had together over our two day weekend. It was awesome to be together as adults, totally open and honest...so different from the child/parent relationship we had when I was growing up. I think that is a huge perk to being an adult - finally getting to be friends with your parents.

As the weekend came to a close, my dad had the great idea to get souveniers for my Danette, Ryan, and Noah. They were all so awesome about letting us take some time away, so we stopped by one of my favorite stores - Von Maur - and picked out some fun new clothes for them. We said our goodbyes (sniff, sniff) and went our separate ways home.

I became so excited to get home to see Ryan and Noah. I had missed them a ton! When I pulled into our neighborhood, Ryan and Noah were waiting for my on the corner by our house. Noah started waving, and while I parked the car in the garage, Ryan put Noah down. He started running toward me as fast as he could! Then he took a slight detour when the mailbox distracted him...oops! Oh well! :) It was still hilarious. I came home to a sparkling clean house, with my dog and my boys. They opened their gifts and of course LOVED what we picked out for them.







I don't know if many of you have special times like this with your parents, but I really recommend planning a weekend away with the people you love. Having a meal together here and there...or even getting together as a big family is always nice, but nothing is better than completely uninterrupted time together. I'm starting to realize just how quickly life goes by, and I am so thankful for the weekend I got to spend with my dad. It is something I will always cherish.

8.14.2009

He's All Growns'd Up & He's All Growns'd Up



My baby boy isn't a baby anymore. I don't know how the time went so quickly, but Noah is over 15 months old now. Can you believe it? When he was born, I loved him instantly. I mean, he's my heart outside of my body. He's the best of Ryan and me combined. He's perfectly beautiful, and I love him more than I ever thought possible. This morning, as I watched some little boys waiting for the bus, I realized that Noah is going to be getting on that bus sooner than I want to believe! I can honestly say that every single day Ryan and I just take a step back and watch Noah. We watch him playing, smiling, being goofy, crying, snuggling us, etc. I don't want to forget what he was like at this age. It makes me nervous to have another baby...to have my attention split, knowing that you just cannot be in the same situation as you were with just one child.

Ryan and I have talked several times about having just one child. Things are just so easy right now and manageable in our day-to-day lives. Why change that? I know you just adapt to the change of having two little ones, and I know you love your second child just as much as you love the first one. I don't know...it just seems so much more chaotic! Plus, childcare is just so expensive. I don't know how people really afford it. I was talking to someone recently who is paying over $1,000 a month on childcare for her two kids. I mean, that is a mortgage payment for lots of people! It's crazy. So, for now, unless God has different plans for our lives, we are REALLY happy with just Noah. I'm sure we will have more children someday. I just know that I'm not ready...yet. :)

I went back to work earlier this month, which is partly why I haven't written in awhile. It's always an adjustment, figuring out how to accomplish everything I need to do at home, as well as manage everything at work. This year seems to have started off especially busy, though I'm not sure that it truly is busier...or if the pace of the year evens out as time goes on, so when I hit the beginning of the school year rush that I feel like I'm running around like mad. One thing is for certain - I LOVE MY JOB! I just know it's exactly where I'm supposed to be when I'm there. Then, when I'm home with Noah, I again get that feeling that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. It just feels right, working part time! I am so fortunate to be able to do that.

Sometimes I want to pinch myself to make sure that all of this is real. I am the luckiest woman in the world!

8.04.2009

The Cape Continued...

After a long day in Port St. Joe on very little sleep, we arrived at No Worries in Cape San Blas! The house was more even beautiful in person than it was online. We honestly couldn't have been happier with this home! The kitchen had really nice appliances, dishes, and gadgets. The queen sized bedroom downstairs and the kid's bedroom across the hall worked great for the Irwins. The upstairs part of the house with the master suite, and the walk-in-closet was so huge that Noah ended up sleeping in his pack n' play inside the closet. It was so dark and quiet in there that I'm pretty sure he's never slept better. :) We also had a nice washer and dryer upstairs, which came in handy before leaving for home. I was able to do all of our laundry and bring home clean clothes rather than coming home and having lots of work to do. Very nice!

Noah had just learned how to give kisses right before we left for our vacation. He likes to keep his mouth WIDE open...it's so darn cute! I love that boy. The first night there, Jake and Noah coincidentally wore the same pajamas. With their blond hair, fair skin, light eyes, and same jammies, I seriously think they could be brothers. They almost have the same birthday, too! Jake "The Destroyer" is just a bit bigger than Noah, and he loved having lots of "close" time with Noah. :) I think this picture pretty much sums up who is stronger! Maybe if the boys stay friends over time we can get some other great shots over the years.

Every day of vacation we would wake up, have breakfast, and go straight to the beach. Noah carried around that yellow shovel ALL WEEK LONG. You know how he likes to carry things around with him! We put SPF 70 on him, and he didn't get even the tiniest bit of sunburn. We would play at the beach for a couple hours, running around, playing in the water, building castles, etc.


This picture below is one of my favorites. Whenever I see beams of light coming out of the clouds like that, I always feel like it's God putting His hand on us. I love how Noah is pointing up right into those beams of light, like he and God are touching each other. I love it, I love it, I love it! I think I'm going to have to blow up that picture to hang in our house. It really love how it captures how tiny Noah is and how big the world is in comparison.

On the first day at the beach, Ryan dug a hole in the sand, and the boys kept sitting in it. Well, one hole turned into two holes...which later turned into baby graves. Yes, that is their headstone behind them. Thank goodness for the cookie monster song to capture both of their attention in order to snap a couple photos. Noah was really fussy one day at the beach, so we put him in the stroller so that he could just relax and have a little snack. Jake decided to push him around the beach...so cute!


The third night in Cape San Blas, Ryan and I stayed back with the boys so that Jill and Aaron could go out for dinner. Here we are reading a book before bedtime.
The following night Ryan and I went on a date. We had dinner at Sunset Coastal Grill. The food was pretty decent...I had steak, and Ryan had seafood. :) Jill and Aaron had heard us talking about going horseback riding on the beach for our date night, so they surprised us and bought our rides for us! It was a completely generous gift, and we are still really thankful to have had the experience. The people from Two-Bit Stable were wonderful! I rode a horse named Preacher, and Ryan's horse's name was Sassy...and boy was she. Everytime Preacher would get close to her, she'd give us the stink eye. :) Preacher is quite the comedian...see below!


Throughout the week, we took turns making meals, which was fun! Jill and Aaron made this amazing shrimp boil one night. It was delicious! Jill and I both brought freezer meals, so that cut down on some of the work, too. Typically after lunch everyday, we'd put the boys down for a nap. Ryan almost always stayed inside to take a nap himself, so Jill and I would go to the pool or the beach and read for a few hours. I LOVED the alone time in my Harry Potter world! Reading a good book and getting a tan...I'm not sure there is anything better than that. :)

The time came for the Irwins to head home. Aaron had to get back to Indy to help with the Marion County Fair. We went back to Joe Mamma's Pizza for dinner and to the park to help tire out Jake before their long car ride home. It was sad to see them go, as we really had a great time with their family! I loved getting to know Jill better, and I didn't know Aaron that well from college, so it was nice to spend time with him, too. Jake was so good all week, and he was a great playmate for Noah. You couldn't ask for more considerate, kind, polite people with whom to go on a vacation!


I love this picture of Noah and me...I think it's wedding slideshow material. :) Gotta love those little shorts riding up his little bum. It just captures the stage of life we are in being young parents with a little one. The picture below is out in a gazebo over the ocean near the park where we were playing. Soon after taking this picture, we said goodbye to the Irwins as they headed back to Indiana.

The next day we decided that we needed a break from the beach. We drove all the way down Cape San Blas, stopping for lunch at Coneheads. It was a great place to have some hot dogs, shrimp, chicken sandwiches, mozzarella sticks, fruit, and ice cream! :)


On the way home we stopped at the Cape San Blas lighthouse. It was well...how do you put it...a tad lame. I say that in the nicest way possible! The gift shop next door consisted of post cards, books written by the lady working at the gift shop, some collectable spoons, salt and pepper shakers...well, you get the picture.
Although we didn't have to check out until Saturday at 11 a.m., we decided to go ahead and go home Friday night, driving all night again. So, on Friday, our last day at The Cape, we went back to the beach one more time. You can see Noah below with his *SURPRISE* yellow shovel.

Here are his little baby footprints as we walked back up to our beach house for lunch. Sooo cute!

After a big afternoon nap for both Ryan and Noah, we packed up the car and said goodbye to The Cape. We stopped by Per-Snick-ety, a store I had been dying to visit since we arrived. Noah picked out a little wooden puppy dog toy that is attached to a wooden stick. He can push it around, and the puppy plays a drum. It is really sweet and is actually one of his favorite toys now! I picked out a really cool white platter that you can stick in little decorations for each of the seasons. I love it! We grabbed some Burger King for dinner in the car, and made our way out of Port St. Joe. The picture below is of Noah feeding Kya some of his apple fries. BUSTED!

This was our final view as we left Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas behind us. We couldn't have asked for more from our vacation. Our community was so quiet that we rarely saw anyone else at the pool. We had the beach to ourselves everyday, as it was completely private! We had great time with friends, fun time to play with Noah, and Amy/Ryan time on our date night. There was no cell phone service, no chores to be done, no distractions. We just got to spend time each other and relax every single day. We are so thankful for the trip and the time away together!

Cape San Blas 2009

Last year when I was still pregnant with Noah, Ryan called with some great news! He had won an incentive bonus at work, which meant that he won a $3,000 travel voucher to anywhere in the world. We were pumped! Since I was in my third trimester at the time, we knew we would have to wait to travel. Nearly 8 months passed by, and we decided it was time to get serious and decide where we wanted to go on vacation. We threw out ideas like Hawaii, Europe, a cruise, etc., and although we loved the idea of having some one-on-one time, we knew that it would just be too hard to leave Noah behind. Ryan really wanted to get a beach house somewhere, as his family did that all the time when he was growing up, and he really wanted Kya to come with us. My only thought was that we go somewhere neither of us had been before.
We checked out beach houses here, here, and here, searching for pet friendly houses. We kept running across the city Cape San Blas, FL, finding that it had the largest variety of pet friendly beach homes. Finally, we came across No Worries and fell in love! It was perfect. It was located in a community with five other houses, and the description said that we would often have the beach and pool to ourselves. They were right! Here is a picture of the community pool below. The ocean is just beyond the pool!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should back up a bit. After we first booked the trip, we invited some friends to come along. They coudn't make it, so Ryan and I thought we would just go down by ourselves and have an Abell Family vacation. As the date of our departure got closer and closer, I just felt like we needed to invite another family to come along. I mean, we had been given this HUGE blessing...a free vacation (the house cost less than $3,000, and we were able to put the remainder on a Visa gift card and use it for gas, groceries, going out to eat, etc. )...and it was such an awesome opportunity to bless another family. So, when Jill Irwin, Jake, Noah, and I were at the zoo, Jill mentioned that she was sad that her family did not have a vacation planned for the summer, and the school year was rapidly approaching. The light bulb turned on...this was just the situation I was waiting for! I talked to Ryan, and he agreed that it was a great idea to invite Jill (who works with me), Aaron (who went to Hanover with us), and their son Jake (who was born a few hours after Noah). I called Jill that afternoon to invite them, and after Jill checked with Aaron, she called back to say they were able to go!
Ryan, Noah, Kya, and I left our house around 7:30 p.m. Friday night in an attempt to drive all night while Noah slept. It is a 12 hour trip by car, so not too bad. I took the first shift, driving from 7:30-12:30 a.m., Ryan took the second shift from 12:30 a.m. - 5:30 a.m., and I drove the last two hours so that Ryan could catch a nap before breakfast. Noah stayed awake in the car until about 10:15 p.m. and slept until about 2:30 a.m. I gave him some milk and Cheerios, and he fell back to slept until we arrive in Port St. Joe at 8 a.m. Port St. Joe (above) reminded me of Zionsville, as it had little shops and cute restaurants along the main street. We had breakfast at McDonald's as the rain came pouring down! We attempted to go to this pavilion (below) to stretch our legs because we couldn't check into our house until 4 p.m. However, the lightning started striking around us, so we got back in the car.
We walked along the main strip of Port St. Joe, visited a book store and a dog store for awhile. Then, I was getting really sleepy, so Ryan took Noah into CVS and the Dollar Store while I slept in the parking lot for about 45 minutes. We then decided it was time for Noah's first nap, and parked in a different parking lot by the ocean, and we all slept for about an hour and a half. It was glorious! We were so tired after a full night of driving.
When we woke up, we decided to grab a bite to eat at Joe Mamma's Wood Fired Pizza. It was DELICIOUS! Yes, we were starving. Yes, we were killing time. But seriously, this pizza was fabulous, and so was their Caprese Salad and Clam Chowder. I don't even like Clam Chowder, but their's was delicious. Below is a picture of Noah and me at lunch...we hadn't had showers, brushed our teeth (which were buried in our suitcases), etc. We were so thankful for time out from the rain and for some delicious food!
After lunch we went to visit the Port. St. Joe Public Library. We had a few more hours to kill, and since it was still raining, it seemed like a good idea. You can tell from the picture below that Noah was NOT very excited about the library. He has the attention span of a fly right now, so sitting down to listen to a book after being in a car seat for 12 hours was NOT going to happen. This is a great picture of Noah protesting his time in the library. Meanwhile, Ryan was taking Kya on a walk so that she could stretch her legs. By the way, she was awesome in the car!

After our time at the library, Noah was ready for another nap. We drove around Port St. Joe and out to Cape San Blas to check out our house. He fell asleep in the car for about an hour while waiting to check into our final destination. We woke him up at about 3:15 p.m. in order to go get some groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly. Imagine how difficult it was for me to pay full price for groceries...no coupons, no grocery game, no nothing! I paid like $8 a pound for lunchmeat. GEEZE! I just kept reminding myself that it was being paid with the gift card so not to worry! :)
Next up...our Cape San Blas vacation begins!
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