Friday, November 19, 2010

Rewind and Recap: far!

Well, November is just over halfway finished, and we've already had an eventful time. It's going to end up being one of those months where we're away almost as much as we're home, which means a lot of travel, a lot of fun, and a lot of craziness.

Our first event this month was ACCA Nationals with the Emmaus Lady Eagles. The top eight teams in the ACCA qualify for the National Tournament, which was held in Kansas City, Missouri this year. Iain and I headed down on Wednesday morning, and Neil and the team joined us Wednesday night. They played three days of intense volleyball, against other teams from all over the country. The girls played really well, beating out a higher seeded team to make it to the semi-finals, and barely loosing a championship spot to the home team in four sets. It was nice to be able to go along and spend time with the girls, and it's always fun to stay at a nice hotel and have some fun that is outside of the normal routine. It was especially nice to be with Neil, and not to have to explain to Iain constantly, or four straight days, that Daddy wasn't here! (He can barely make it through Neil's work day without breaking down in despair that Daddy isn't here, and for the last 15 minutes or so before Neil's home, heaven help us if there's a noise at the back door, or the cat jumps down in another room!)

Iain did really well on the trip. I was dreading the 7 hours in the car with him by myself, but he was just fine both ways; it was his best road trip ever! He slept well in the hotel, thoroughly enjoyed the pool (and now goes "simming" in the bathtub...!) and even sat still long enough to watch most all of their games! It helped that he had learned to yell "EA-GOOS!!" I have to say though, his highlight of the trip was Friday night's dinner at Red Robin, when "Red" came out to visit. I've rarely seen Iain so excited (and so thoroughly confused!) as he looked back and forth from the bird to us, repeating "Izza bird-a! Izza bird-a!!", offering fist bumps and kisses and patting red's beak!
2010 Emmaus Lady Eagles
"Izza bird-a!"
The trip to KC marked the end of volleyball season, and we've spent the last few weeks recovering from our busy fall! The time change has been a bit tough to get used to (...for us, not Iain! He did fine after the first weekend...we're the ones in bed before 9pm every night!) along with the never failing darkness of winter setting in early. It's been fun to get back in the swing of things with cooking together, church events, and having a bit more free time for family fun.

Our other big event this November was our FIFTH anniversary! It's hard to believe it was five years ago that Neil and I said "I do" and promised "to have and to hold, from this day forth". In one way, it seems like I can't remember a time when we weren't married! And so much has happened and changed in our lives, that it certainly feels much longer than that. But on the other hand, when I think back to our wedding day, it feels like it could have been last week. We still love everything about that day, and would do it just the same, if we had to do it all over again (although Mum and Dad might wish to be spared from all the work and headaches they endured for us!) and we think that is a good sign! A huge THANK YOU to all of you, who helped make that day so special, five years ago...we still appreciate it!

Thanks to Mom and Dad Pitman, we were able to spend a fabulous weekend away together, while Iain had a weekend holiday at "Gama and Gampa's" house. It was so nice to reminisce, stay up late, sleep in, relax, enjoy nice dinners and just spend time focusing on each other. We sure wouldn't trade Iain for the world, but it was really nice to have this time away alone. And it really made us realize how much we used to take for granted our "old life", and how we could just do all of those things whenever we felt like it. We missed our boy though, and were ready to get back to "real life" when we got home. Here's what we did:

Friday night: We dropped Iain off for his holiday, and drove to Vernon Hills, IL. I know...not the most charming anniversary location, with its "outskirts of Chicago, suburban, shopping center- laden feel", but we had found an awesome free hotel with our reward points that sold us! We enjoyed an awesome dinner at Green Basil Kitchen Thai Restaurant, complete with appetizers, green and red curry Thai, good conversation, and no rushing!
Then we checked into our hotel, and it was not a disappointment! It was a brand new Hotel Indigo, which had a cool, modern, boutique vibe, mixed with what I imagine would have been a Vegas hotel in the '60s feel! It was a suite-nice and spacious, and a perfect weekend hideout! We stayed up late, (with no worries about being woken up early in the morning!) reminisced, cracked open a bottle of our "anniversary wine", a 2005 Baco Noir (which I can tell you, from my few sips, gets better with age, just like a marriage!) listened to music, talked, laughed, and had a wonderful anniversary night! The fifth is the "wood" anniversary, and we both capitalized on that for part of our gifts, with Neil choosing bamboo cutting boards I'd been coveting, and me finding some specialty beer, aged in oak barrels for him. I did a "five for five" theme, with one gift for each "year", and each "symbol" for the past five: paper (a Harry Potter cookbook), cotton (PJs, which we both sported for a good portion of the weekend!), leather (a playlist of songs from our last five years, on our leather-clad ipod), flowers (made of gumpaste, on chocolate ganache cupcakes), and wood. Neil completely made my day by choosing me a beautiful necklace, the first jewelery he's purchased since my engagement ring! You'll see it in the photo below, along with my PJs, which somehow contrive to look like a business suit, and when coupled with my glasses and wine glass, make me look more like a high-powered exec. than I ever have, or ever will in my life!
Saturday: After a lovely sleep-in, we headed out for a delicious breakfast, including fresh-squeezed orange juice, at Elly's pancake house. We spent the day in nearby Libertyville, looking in downtown shops, walking and talking in the blustery wind and rain.
After a short nap at the hotel, we got gussied up and headed out for dinner at "Philly G's", which we think is the stupidest name ever for a fancy restaurant! But although it evokes the impression of a sports bar that serves Philly cheese-steak, this place was beautiful and delicious! It is family run, in a big old house, very intimate and unique. Neil had the best steak au poivre we've ever tried (we're going to try to duplicate it this weekend!) and I enjoyed fresh pasta with spinach, proscuitto and a vodka cream sauce. Then it was back to the hotel, for more relaxing, staying up late, and sleeping in!
Sunday: We woke up late, and skipped breakfast to stay in bed. We hit up Five Guys (on Graeme's recommendation!) for lunch instead. We give it two thumbs up...especially the fries, which taste just like they came from the Up North chip truck! Then we headed to Barnes and Noble where we spent a couple of hours drinking coffee, reading, and talking. (To those of you without kids, perhaps that doesn't sound exciting... but oh what at treat it was!)
We headed home, excited to see our little man, wondering if he missed us, certain he'd be glad to see us. We arrived at the Pitmans to find this...
...and oh boy...when we woke that snugly little sleeper up, it was not the joyous reunion we were expecting! He cried as we packed his stuff in the car, cried as we put on his coat and bundled him into the carseat, cried all the way home, cried all through dinner...! It took a good hour and a half before he was actually happy to see us, and the only saving grace that we had was that we'd brought him a "new puzzle", which he repeated as he carried it around the rest of the night! It really was a wonderful weekend...and Mom and Dad...thank you again so much! This was the best gift a person could get...and we know (obviously!) that Iain had a great time too!

We have a lovely, lazy weekend ahead of us, followed by a trip to Canada for Thanksgiving. We're praying baby doesn't make an early arrival while we're there, and are very excited to see our family and friends, and take a trip one last time as a family of three. Stay tuned for more...we'll be back soon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rewind and Recap: October!

October was another busy month for the Pitman family! We started the month with an unexpected, wonderful trip to Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving, which also happened to fall on my birthday. (Which is the most beautiful time of the year in Ontario!) Because he knows that this is my FAVORITE time of year to be at home, Neil conspired with my family and planned this fun trip to to surprise me. We left super early on a Saturday morning and Iain and I followed the Emmaus volleyball team to Chicago, where they played (and won, I might add!) two awesome games! Then Neil, Iain and I left for good old Flint, Michigan, where we met my parents and stayed overnight at a hotel. We all left for Canada in the morning, and poor Neil headed back to Dubuque and work. Then he drove BACK to Canada in time for my birthday the following Friday, and we all spent the long weekend there and celebrated Thanksgiving together. It was a great trip, although I don't have many photos to show for it. We did a lot of lounging around, a lot of good family time and a lot of visiting friends, ate lot of good dinners (including a bang-up Thanksgiving feast, fried turkey and all, complete with a drumstick for the little man!), went to our traditional Thanksgiving craft shows, and spent a lot of time"putting" with Grampy for Iain! He even got to try his hand on a real golf course. Needless to say...he loved it! And there were a LOT of tears when it was time to leave! I also enjoyed lunch and a birthday play at the Shaw Festival, with my good friend Deborah, but sadly have no pictures of that day!

Other than that trip, we mostly stuck close to home. We went to lots and lots of volleyball games at Emmaus, (including the inaugural JAM the GYM!) and Iain and I had a super fun sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa Pitman's house one weekend that Neil was out of town with the team. Neil's band, The Surf Report, had a release party for their third album (check them out here!) and it felt like "old times" to stay up late and hang out with friends and listen to music! (Although I must admit, it was a lot harder than it used to be to stay up past midnight!) Iain and Mama baked autumn cookies and delivered them to the neighbors, took a lot of walks in the nice fall weather, and spent lots of time snuggled up inside coloring, doing puzzles, and reading books.

Of course, we finished up the month with a weekend full of Halloween celebrations. On Saturday morning, we headed to the nearby pumpkin patch, where Iain found and collected "bumpkins" and "gourd-as" to his heart's delight. From there, we headed to the apple orchard and got some cider and a tractor ride! We carved our pumpkin in honor of Iain's "funny face", and had a blast trick-or-treating and handing out candy with Uncle Graeme and Aunt Ashlee and our little "burza". (For some odd reason, this is what Iain consistently calls a bear....we're not sure where he got his little Polish accent...!) It was a very harvest-y month, (as October should be!) with lots of leaves, color and beauty, and lots of fall fun. Because I have a TON of pictures this time around, I'll stop talking, and just let you see! Here's what we did in photos!

Reading his FAVORITE book with volleyball buddy Shannon

Advising Grampy as to putting strategies...

The chilly Vineland craft show (pardon me...ARTfest!)

At the golf course with Daddy, Uncle Brett and Grampy

Sister time at the Ball's Falls Craft show!

Thanksgiving feast!

Big boy coloring!

Snuggling at Grandma and Grandpa's

Cookie delivery!

At the Pumpkin Patch, choosing gourds and pumpkins!

Pumpkin carving with Daddy

Little Burza, trick-or-treating

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rewind and Recap: September

Wow. Has it really been over two months since we've had a new blog post! I knew we were busy, but I realize we were THAT busy! It's been a whirlwind fall, that passed in a blur of "pass, set and hit", and "GOOO EAGLES!" That's right, it was volleyball season, which meant a lot of fun AND very little free time. The past two months have seen Neil basically working two jobs, with lots of planning, practices, and games in any and all of his "free" time, and me doing double duty as Mom, since Dad was pretty busy! And of course, lugging Iain to lots and LOTS of volleyball games! Couple that crazy schedule with a busy toddler and a third trimester pregnancy, and you get a picture of our autumn! It was mostly a "if we have a split second free, you'll probably find us napping" kind of time...which meant not a lot of blogging!

Not to say we didn't do ANYTHING but volleyball...! There were some good weekends of family time, and even a trip to Canada! (More about that in October's recap!) And after two months of heading to the "gym" at the "school" to see Daddy's "team" play with the "ball" (four of Iain's favorite words!) our little man is now volleyball's biggest fan! We had a lot of fun with the Emmaus team this year-they are a great group of girls, and did a fantastic job all season! I took some road trips along with them, (both with and without Iain) and Neil took some others without us, and we also had a super-fun team dinner. The season ended just over a week ago, and the Emmaus Lady Eagles finished on a high note at the ACCA National tournament in Kansas City. (More about that in November's recap!)

But for now...September! It almost seems like another world when I look at the pictures, with the green leaves on the trees, and the short sleeves and flip flops, and it sure feels like a long time ago!

Labor Day weekend we headed down to Cedar Rapids to support the Tri-Sate Christian School Lady Huskies in their annual pre-season tournament. It was a lot of fun to watch the TSCS girls play, and a little nostalgic too! Saturday we even found a fun and free farm to take Iain to visit! He liked to see all the animals, but his favorite two things at the farm were the fan on the wall of the barn, and the ball in the pigpen. He also got to ride a duck, and tried his first corn-dog! All in all, a great holiday weekend!

We also went (for the first time!) to the annual Dubuque Labor Day parade! It was cool and windy, and the parade lasted FOR-EVER with about a million trucks, tractors and union workers (guess that's the point of a Labor Day parade though..!) but Iain sure enjoyed it! He was much more keen on all the sights and sounds than he was at his last parade! We even met up with our "across-the-road" neighbor, and got to share her blanket and get to know her a bit.

We baked cupcakes a few times for the girls on the volleyball team, and Iain was reminded how good "cake" is. It's another of his favorite words.

...AND apparently we went through a phase of very static-y hair for Mr. Iain! For some odd reason, his hair looked like this for about a week and then it went back to normal.

More to come from our fall recap tomorrow, and I plan to be a better blogger from here on out! (At least until Baby comes... in about a month!)