Life is A Journey...Come Follow Our's

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Great Flood of 2011

God sometimes answers our prayers in ways other than what we were expecting and that might be just what happened here in the Pope House.  Brad and I had been talking about remodeling our kitchen all summer.  I had even met with a designer and builder to draw up plans; however, the bid came in higher than what we were anticipating for less that what my dream actually way.  I had pretty much written off getting my new kitchen until a later date because I just don't want to go halfway in the project.  "If we're going to do it," I had told Brad, "we're going to do it right and do it right just one time."

Well, after a relaxing 10 days out of town, we pulled into the garage, Brad went to the house and I heard him say "OH NO...WATER!"  The response in my head was an enthusiastic "YES!!!"  I knew right away that I'd be getting my kitchen after all.  What we didn't realize right away was the extent of the damage.  The hot water hose to the dishwasher had broken and was spewing water for possibly as long as 9 days.  The kitchen, dining room, and a portion of the living room were drenched.  As it turned out, the basement bathroom was beyond repair and there was even water damage on the outside of our house.  The damage was so bad downstairs that the bathroom had to be stripped down to its studs, holes have been cut in walls, all our flooring has been removed in the kitchen, dining room, and a portion of the living room, and a portion of the ceiling downstairs has been cut out as well.

On top of that mess, we are hopefully the only people living in the 100+ degree temperatures of Arkansas with 24 heaters blowing hot air into our house (our living room area is typically around 90+ degrees while the bedrooms stay in the low 70s), have no usable kitchen, and have been busy arranging builders to come and look at our projects and make bids.

Remarkably, I am not stressed out at all.  I'm excited to get to remodel but for the short term, I'm really looking forward to being able to lay on my couch and watch tv.  In the meantime, Quinn and I have spent our days staying cool at the splash park, the library, the pet store, and at various kind friends' houses.  I have one week left of my summer vacation and I REFUSE to let something as minor as this prevent me from enjoying it!

Here's to flexibility and new kitchens!  If you see any good ideas for remodels, please e-mail them to me.  I can never have too much help in that area!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

5 Happy Years

My mom is notorious for asking people on their anniversary "How long have you been married?  How many were happy?"  My response this year was 8...5 years of marriage and 3 years of courtship.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Brad and I always try to go scuba diving for our anniversary.  This year was no different as we packed our car, dropped Quinn off in Chicago and we headed down to Turks and Caicos (TCI).  Turks and Caicos is a series of 40 islands and cays located in the Atlantic to the east of Cuba and to the north of Haiti.  All the dive resources I looked into said it was one of the world's top dive locations so we decided to give it a try.

The very next day after Brad's Half Ironman, we boarded our planes to Providenciales, TCI.  We tend to stay very humbly when we travel so that we can spend our money on our diving and on our food and this time was no different.  Staying at the Comfort Suites, our clean and spacious, yet minimalistic, hotel room was right across the street from the white sand beaches of Grace Bay.

TCI was GORGEOUS...always a nice breeze to offset the mid to upper-90 temperatures, crystal blue water, and white sand beaches.  We spent most of our time though out on the water diving.  Taking 2 dives each day, we dove with sharks, the fattest barracuda I've ever seen in my life, rays, spotted moray eels, my new favorite underwater creature sand eels, turtles, and so many fish and beautiful corals.  If I had to describe the diving in TCI in one word, it would be blue.  So many of the fish were this electric royal blue color...AMAZING!

As part of human nature, we quickly got ourselves onto a schedule that looked something like this:

7:00 Wake Up and Breakfast
8:00-2:00 Out on the water Scuba Diving
2:00 Lunch
3:00-5:00 Naps
6:00 Run the Beach
7:30 Dinner
10:00 Bed

It was wonderful.  We were so relaxed the entire time.  If we fell off our schedule, so fact, we didn't even realize we had a schedule until we got home.

The best part about our trip was getting to spend time together - ALONE.  Now of course we love our son, but every couple needs their alone time.  We truly valued our time together and really didn't have time to think about or miss Quinn very much.  Brad put it best when he said "I miss him when I think about him."  I felt the same way.

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure!  ENJOY!

Our hotel beach

Not quite tanned yet!

Turks and Caicos Islands

We dove 8 of these dive sites

Brad ready to take our first dive

TCI from the boat

Just back from our dive (notice the mask marks on our faces?)

Our anniversary dinner at the best restaurant on the island

Happy 5th Anniversary

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Training for an Ironman

Just a funny video about the life of an Ironman...welcome to our world (kind of) =)

My Half Ironman

Brad did it again...he complete 70.3 miles to do his 2nd ever Half Ironman.  70.3 miles?!?! read it right.  He swam 1.2 miles, biked 56 and then ran a half marathon (13.1 miles).  I am so proud of him.  He had set a goal time of 5:30:00 hours and completed the entire race in just seconds over 5:15:00.  AMAZING!  He has worked very hard and deserved that great time.

Even better was that since it was in Wisconsin, a lot of our family was able to watch him compete including his parents, sister Michelle and her husband Fred, my mom, Quinn, and me.  Here are a few pictures of his big day...

What's next?  Ironman Florida, November 6, 2011!  I'll post the Youtube video of "I'm training for an Ironman" so you can see what it's really all about =)

Quinn's Chicago Trip (Part 2)

After our few days in Mendota, Quinn and I headed up to La Grange (right outside of Chicago) to Gigi's house where Quinn was going to be spending the next 9 days.  Quinn LOVED the fact that he was out of the car for good and that he had a HUGE yard to run around in and that he got to spend so much fun time with both his Grandmas...Gigi and Grandma Kristie.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are just a few:

Gigi and Quinn watering the flowers

Quinn decided he could do it on his own

See Me?  I'm doing a good job!

Playing in his new pool at Gigi's house

Grandma Kristie knew how to make it even more fun!

Daddy was racing in Wisconsin so Mommy and I got to play on the beach of Lake Michigan!

While I don't have any pictures of Quinn when Brad and I were gone, we do know that he had a BLAST!  He got to go to the splash park, the Little Red School House (a school house transformed into a nature/animal center), to see the "tick tocks" at Walmart, ate lots of noodles, went swimming, dug in the mud, and played Peek-A-Boo while being chased around the house by Gigi and Grandma Kristie.  As parents, it's so nice to know that your child is having the time of their life and is being well cared for in your absence.  A great BIG thank you goes out to my mom and to Kristie for loving their grandson so much and for taking such good care of him.  Never once did Brad or I question or wonder if he was okay.  We knew he was in the best hands ever.

We LOVE you Gigi and Grandma!

Catching Up...Quinn's Trip to Chicago (Part 1)

Wow!  Things  have been more than a bit of a whirlwind around here.  You'll understand why I haven't posted by the time you get to the last of my (most likely) 5 posts today!

Every year since we've been married, Brad and I have a scuba trip for our anniversary (we postponed last year's to Thanksgiving due to Quinn's birth) and decided that this year would be no different.  I think it's crucial for couples to have time without their children so thanks our our fabulous mothers (Gigi and Grandma Kristie), we were able to leave Quinn in Chicago for 6 days in order for us to get away.  (More on that to come in a later post).  Before we could leave though, we had to get Quinn up to Chicago so here's where the blog really starts.

On Tuesday, July 13th, Quinn and I loaded up our stuff and headed out to St. Louis, our halfway point.  I cannot brag enough about what a good traveler he is.  I kept a bag of sippy cups, cups of food, and toys on the front seat next to me and just kept handing things back to him.  He was so happy and was even happier when we stopped at our favorite Mc Donalds in Rolla, MO to play in their playland.  (On a side note, those places gross me out so much, but kids LOVE them.)  We got to The Grand Hyatt at the Arch and ran around for over an hour.  Escalators are most definitely Quinn's favorite thing to do.  They sure are cheaper than admission to Disney too so I'm not complaining.  Quinn smiled from ear to ear and played "A-Boo" (aka Peek A Boo) with everyone who would engage him.  After wearing him out, he slept like a rock as I sprawled out across my king sized bed all by myself (HEAVEN!).

The next morning, it was time to load up again and finish our trip to Grandpa Cotton's house in Mendota, about 4 hours away.  Before going though, I took Quinn over to The Arch and let him run around, chase birds and dogs, and climb steps for over an hour.  As soon as he laid down on the ground, I knew we were ready to travel again!

Now for those of you who don't know my history, you won't know much about Mendota, but that's quite alright.  You really don't need to know anything about the town except for the fact that it's a farm town where Del Monte sweet corn is processed and they have a Sweet Corn Festival every year where the most beautiful (snicker snicker) farm girls can become the Sweet Corn Queen.  If you're lucky, the mayor may get on stage drunk, at the festival, make a speech and wet himself in front of the entire town.  There is one main breakfast establishment called Ziggy's where all the farmers gather for breakfast and project the price of corn.  They are very cliquey and will not let just anyone sit with them (we therefore sit at a table by ourselves).  My dad was born and raised in this town and to him, the whole world should want to move to Mendota.  My brother, sisters, and I have assured him that when his time to leave this earth arrives (and hopefully it's not for a long long time), we will NOT be continuing on with the family tradition and relocating our families there.  All that said, Quinn and I were both really excited to arrive in Mendota and to get to spend a few days with Grandpa Cotton.

Quinn really enjoyed Grandpa Cotton because Grandpa does some crazy stuff that most sane people would never think about doing (like swimming in the koi seriously...Quinn ended up in the koi pond with Grandpa).  We went to the park and climbed the WW1 German canon that I used to climb as a child, went to the park to ride on the swings and feed the ducks, played with Uncle Bob's dog, and ate. dad LOVES to eat.  I think it's best for me to just show you all our visit:

When we first arrived we headed to the park to climb for a bit 

The old WWI canon I used to climb as a child

Happy Boy

Grandpa Cotton, Quinn, and me at dinner

Grandpa pushing Quinn (notice Grandpa on the phone...classic)

Grandpa and Quinn in the FREEZING Koi Pond 
(Uncle Bob was in the background yelling "Watch Out for his Wee!
You don't want those koi to think it's a worm!")

Did I mention how bad it smelled?!?!?

No matter how nasty I thought the koi pond was, Quinn had a blast.  He and Grandpa Cotton bonded so much that Quinn cried and kept reaching back for Grandpa when we were ready to leave.  Was it the fact Grandpa would save him from going to bed by getting him up to go play with the dog and eat cherry pie at 9:30 at night, or perhaps it was that Grandpa didn't make Quinn wear clothes, or maybe it was just that Quinn loves his Grandpa Cotton?  No matter what it was, we made some great memories and enjoyed our short stay in the country.