Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm back!

So my "plan" to blog everyday while I was away didn't quite happen. However, I remember very well what happened and am going to add posts below documenting my month away. My time away was GREAT and I am very relaxed and ready to start my 5th year at work. I have some new challenges ahead of me and am very EXCITED for them to start. So check out below for what has been going on with me for the last 4 weeks!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hiatus - Day 28

I get to sleep in my own bed tonight - yesssssssss!

I didn't know when this "hiatus" started that I would look forward to this day so much. Of course, it didn't go nearly as quickly as I wanted it to. I woke up for this final day of training feeling like I had been hit by a Mac truck...and I didn't even drink the night before! Must have been a sympathy hangover for all of my fellow tablemates. Training started promptly at 8am and finished at 3pm (no getting out early for us). We made our way to the train station in Newark at the same time the others made their way to Newark Airport.

Today, the new thing I learned is that there are 2 Penn Stations - Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station.

Got to the train station with plenty of time to spare only to find that the bar was closed (not my idea but an ice cold water sounded great at this point). Got onto the train headed home, keeping tabs on the progress of the flight that we could have taken. We made it home first. I later found out that they sat on the tarmac for over an hour with no air conditioning - I love the train.

Made it home to a big pile of mail - I love getting mail. The majority was junk but it was mail to sort through none the less. My bed looks fabulous and I can't wait to jump in!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hiatus - Day 27

Training Day 4 - One more night in a foreign bed and then I get to sleep in my own!

After a long day of training we have "hospitality" tonight. They advertise Wii and Guitar Hero - my thought is sweet I have never played either one. Little do I realize that Guitar Hero is played on the Wii. So after a few rounds of pool and foosball, Guitar Hero opens up. I watch a few rounds before I take a shot. Let me just say I didn't finish with a goose egg for a score, but the score wasn't that great. Definitely need more practice.

This leads me to something else, does anyone who reads this blog own a Wii and have the Wii fitness? I am contemplating getting one (only because it's subsidized by work - the fitness part, not the entire console). Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hiatus - Day 26

Training Day 3

My thoughts for today:
  • Only 2 more nights in a foreign bed
  • Only 5 more meals at this place (the foods not bad but I am ready to cook for myself)
  • Yay for Grams she gets out of rehab on Friday

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hiatus - Day 25

Training Day 2's hard to focus at training when what is taught is not specific to my industry, in fact I deal with very little of what we are discussing. I find myself thinking about what the next few weeks at work will look like, how Grams is doing and counting down the nights until I get to sleep in my own bed again. I find myself (with work applications open in the background) getting up to date on the most recent celebrity gossip instead of paying attention to what is being taught. One thing I do like about this place (that is in dirty Jersey), is the iced tea they serve outside of our classrooms. The thing that sucks is that I can't seem to find it at the grocery stores around here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Haitus - Day 24

Oh training, you are so fun. We start bright and early at 8am (and this means we have to have made it to the dining hall for breakfast before then). I go to our big group session and then haul back to the break-out rooms to get a decent seat (read as a seat towards the back in a spot where no one can see my computer screen). I sit at a table with my fellow Bostonians and we promptly name ourselves "Dirty Water" (thank-you Charles River). However, we could end up being too much for our fellow classmates and facilitators.

The rooms are nice, but I am very much looking forward to getting back to Boston and sleeping in my own bed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hiatus - Day 15

Bye bye to the Hamel's, hello quiet house...too quiet. I kind of liked the little voice of Miss S, running around in her squeeky shoes, saying "Ra Ra", "Pee", "EE", "My", "Bubbles", "Dada" and "Mama". Thank goodness I do live close enough to be able to hop on a plane to go and visit her on the occasional weekend.

Mom, Pete and I spent the day getting stuff for Grams so she would be comfortable in rehab with a few of "her" things and getting myself packed for my work trip to Tacoma.

When we took Grams her good, Pete and I helped her get all prettied up...

**Grams does not like having her picture taken, but we did it anyways.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hiatus - Day 14

Sad day - must say good by to teh C family after spending the last week and a half with them. I honestly don't remember the last time I spent so many consecutive days with my cousin - it was great! (Note to self: Must move closer so we can do this more often...maybe sometime on my turf.) I had spent the night at mom's house so I got to wake up to Miss S - so fun! We got ready and headed to Elmer's for breakfast. I visited Elmer's quite a bit as a youngster, often on a Sunday after church...or maybe that one time when mom tried to make pancakes for dinner...I won't go there, she reads this blog.

The C family showed up - yay, we get to see Boo again! She is growing up way too fast! Must say that breakfast was super fun with the girlies. They got along great - wish we could have had a few more days to play with all of them.

Said our goodbyes in the Elmer's parking lot and headed back to Mom's. I had some work to do and Miss S needed a nap (so did her mom). Mom and the Uncle headed to the hospital to get Grams loaded into her transport van and then headed to Wilsonville so they could meet her at the rehab facility. They got her settled and figured out what she would for her stay there.

Dad came and picked me up and we headed downtown to meet up with Pete once he got out of work. We wondered around checking out the shops in the Pearl District and stopped in at a bar to cool off while we were waiting. We were sitting down playing some "games" that may or may not have been gambling related, when a group of guys walked in and started playing shuffleboard. Shuffleboard? Oh yes, I too have played this game in Atlanta while at new hire training. First thought to run through my mind, they must be auditors. A while later a girl shows up, who is introduced to the group as the new summer intern and then someone pipes up, "Welcome to Deloitte!". For real? I am good.

We headed down to what used to be Mazzi's (one of the best all-time italian restaurants) and had dinner at Macadam's Bar & Grill. This bar also serves as the host to a bunch of Sun Devil alums during football season. Yay for college football!

Back to mom's for a final game of zilch with the Aunt and Uncle before they take off tomorrow for the other O state.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hiatus - Day 13

The zoo, the zoo, we're going to the zoo!

Up until this morning, the stay in Portland had been very warm - actually rather hot. This morning we woke up and it was barely 60 degrees outside - I think we all cheered a little when we saw this on the news. (I even wore a sweatshirt tied around my waist in case it was "cold".)
We arrived at the zoo fairly early and got our Dino package. (Dino's are huge this summer...did I mention there was a dino exhibit at OMSI?) The first "attraction" we went to was the 3-D simulator ride, we laughed and screamed, Miss M promptly took off her glasses (same thing happened at Disney last summer). Next was planning our way around the zoo so we could hit every attraction, which we almost did. We met up with one of M's friends after lunch and went on the train. I don't remember much of the route from when I was younger, and I definitely don't remember the parts where you are either looking at the mountain side or looking straight down to the mountain side with Highway 26 at the bottom. Luckily for me, I got to stare at the mountain side when heading back to the zoo from Washington Park (and breath again). Miss M clearly enjoyed the view much more than I did, as evidenced in the picture below.
M's friends had to leave after seeing a few more exhibits so we headed over to the Dino walk. Along the walk they had half-size to full-size replicas of different dinosaurs...very cool. Even more cool - Miss M talking ("Hi buddy!") to the ones that "talked" (aka made noises). Each time W and I giggled a little.

I got dropped off at mom's for a quiet dinner with mom, brother, Aunt, Uncle and Miss S. Headed back to the hotel to pick up my stuff so I could spend the night at mom's house.

Grams is getting better - she heads to rehab tomorrow! Way to go Grams!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hiatus - Day 12

Day 12 found Miss M in bed all!

Mom came and picked me up and I spent the day with her, Aunt, Uncle and Miss S.

Just to mix it up, here's a bulleted list of what we did:
  • Picked up lunch at a cute cafe near Grams' home
  • At lunch in Grams' apartment (mom & Uncle had some tasks to complete)
  • Played "Who's who?" with Miss S and the pictures in Grams' apartment
  • Went to Wilsonville to check out the rehab facility, yes Grams' "They're gonna make you go to rehab" (it was a nice place and didn't smell)
  • Costco run to pick up groceries for dinner (FYI - the $1.50 smoothies at the food court are awesome)
  • Mom's house to make dinner with the Aunt and Miss S (the other 2 went to the hospital)
  • Dinner - yummy pasta (whole wheat) with chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, a little bit of italian dressing, black olives and cheese (parmesan and feta). So good!
  • Gift boxes - everyone got a stretchy frog, candy and a water gun (and a few other personalized trinkets)
  • Zilch - we played again, I didn't win but it was fun.

Back to the hotel for the night with M, W & Miss M.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hiatus - Day 11

Woke up in the hotel we booked at the very last-minute and headed down for some continental breakfast. I had barely finished when I was told by Miss M "Auntie Erin it's eight dot dot five nine", which translated into "It's 8:59 and the pool opens at 9:00". I was reminded again at nine dot dot zero one. I threw on my new suit that I had purchased at Wally World the night before and off we went, leaving M & W to themselves. I got to play catch in the pool...Miss M would jump off of the edge and I would catch her. She hasn't started swim lessons and didn't have her water wings with her, so I was her catcher. I got plenty of pool water up my nose which was rather unpleasant. After an hour it was time to get out of the pool (the one hour time limit had been established prior to even leaving the hotel room) and there was no push-back my Miss M - yay!

We all got ready and headed up to the hospital for a quick visit with Grams. Miss M took her kindergarten book to show Grams the progress she made through the year. We also took her a goodie box from our Rattatoille dinner party that we were going to have. Grams got a stretchy frog, some pretty kleenex and a water gun. We weren't sure if water guns were allowed in the hospital but we filled it up for her, telling her to squirt the Uncle if he got unruly. She giggled at that one. It was nice to see her out of the hospital bed and sitting in a chair. Just before we left one of mom's good friends and her mom showed up for a visit. We knew she was excited to see them when her heart rate went up!

After the hospital visit we were off to lunch with the favorite uncle, not mine but Miss M's! Headed downtown Portland for lunch at Henry's. (Here is a picture of M & Miss M in the lobby of Uncle Pete's building...M loves the big beaver!)
Miss M was feeling under the weather but was a trooper and after lunch we went to OMSI. We didn't see very much of the first exhibit before M, W & Miss M headed to their submarine tour. I had been on it before and opted to sit day+ close quarters does not = fun for me. The Aunt, Uncle and adorable cousin (Miss S) arrived just as the three finished their tour and we headed to the kid's zone. We closed it down. It was so great to see Miss M and Miss S running around together, someone has some great pictures of them holding hands...I must get a copy.

Dinner at mom's then off to another hotel for the night.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hiatus - Day 10

Got up somewhat early this morning to pack our bags for the trip to Portland. I spent most of the ride in the backseat with Miss M, which is never dull. We watched the "Bee Movie" for the second time, I opted to watch without headphones. We knew as soon as we hit Portland we were heading to the hospital to check on Grams, but had to make one quick stop in Woodburn...the outlet stores. W had a Gap giftcard that HAD to be used and I wasn't stopping her. I took Miss M so W could shop on her own (Mikee headed to the hat shop), and we did plenty of damage on our own. With Miss M's birthday coming up I let her pick out a few things (she wanted everything pink, sparkled, and the jelly shoes with heels). We also picked out an outfit for Miss S - gotta buy clothes for baby in the family. Met up with W in the check-out line where I found a few sweaters for myself. (Since I am writing this after the fact, I can tell you that the sweaters were quite popular amongst us girls at training this past week.)

Made it to the hospital mid-afternoon to check on Grams. Met up with the Aunt, Uncle and Miss S in the hallway - what a fun surprise! Miss S was cute as ever. Made it to Grams' room to check on her. She was looking better than when I saw her in the ER but was still quite pale and was on oxygen. She was still fighting the pneumonia and was either too hot or too cold. We visited for a while and had fun with the latex gloves (the Uncle showed us how he could be a chicken). After our visit we were off to mom's house for family dinner and then to a hotel for the night.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hiatus - Day 9

Time to pack up camp and head back to the city. Spent the day getting the camper cleaned, parked along the side of the house, and laundry. Our plans changed and we were no longer heading to Black Butte for the next few days, we were off to Portland. We ordered in pizza for dinner and I spent the evening with Miss M watching her favorite (so she says) movie "13 Going on 30".

Grams Update - Now the waiting game as to when she will be moved to a skilled nursing home for rehabilitation.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Hiatus - Day 8

I am getting used to this camping least the way that W does it. We enjoyed the day at the farm/pond chatting, watching the kids fish (Miss M caught a few), and another BBQ for dinner. W and I opted for Gardenburgers over Elk burgers (I am not that adventurous). We opted to crash in the city this night as Mikee isn't feeling too well and the girls were heading to the Mill for a few hours of "girl time".

After dropping W's friends off at the Mill, Miss M quickly realized what was going on and did not like the fact that we (W and I) were going to be heading back to the Mill once we dropped her and Mikee off. In order to calm the upset little girl, W told her she could watch "Mean Girls" (a treat since the flick is rated PG-13). Miss M appeared satisfied with this for a short time but then piped up (from the back of the car) that instead she wanted to watch "Your Dogs ARE Gay". For real? I turned to W, with tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard, to ask what she was talking about...Legally Blonde 2. Tears are subsiding, stomach not hurting so much, and Miss M pipes up "Mom, do you know what gay means?". W and I look at eachother not knowing what will come out of this 5 year olds mouth next. W calmly replies "No, what does it mean?". Miss M is quick with her response of "It's when boy dogs wear pink". The tears start flowing again...where do kids come up with this stuff?

We head back to the Mill, listen to a few songs played by the band in the bar (not the greatest cover band I have ever seen) and then head out to play a few "games". Those games make me $200 richer and I am ready to head home, so is W so we take off.

Grams update - The family from the other "O" state has arrived and Grams remains stable.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hiatus - Day 7

Happy 4th of July!

I survived the first night of camping at the pond/farm. It wasn't really that tough as there was a toilet that flushed, a sink with running water, and we headed back to town for showers in the morning (I love W's way of camping).

We spent most of the day lounging at the pond/farm. I was able to start my new book and watched Miss M frolick with the other kids while her mom and dad were off playing paintball. W loves this picture and was pretty proud of her bruises afterwards.

We enjoyed a nice BBQ for dinner and waited for it to get dark to start the fireworks. Greg did a great job of arranging the fireworks and claims that next year he will have music. I enjoyed the show from my spot near the firepit until an unruly spark hit my leg. I quickly moved far away from the action and went to bed when they were done. The spark did not damage my jeans but drew blood...go figure.
Grams update - stable but she still can't keep her eyes open. Cell phone reception wasn't the greatest so updates were few and far between.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hiatus - Day 6

Busy day ahead of me...the task at hand...babysitting Miss M.

It really wasn't babysitting at all, W had to work and I had offered to hang with Miss M and we had some tasks that we needed to get done.

Task #1 - Cleaning of the closet. According to W, had she asked Miss M to clean her closet she would have asked for a toy to replace all of the toys that were being given away. Flashback - she did a similar activity with Super Nanny (aka my mom) when they moved and did not make such requests. We took all of the toys out from Miss M's closet and sat amongst them going through each item, filling a box and neatly organizing what remained.

Task #2 - Grocery store. We were going to be making dessert for the camping trip and had to pick up supplies. Mikee was home so he was our driver. Thanks Mikee!

Task #3 - Lunch with W. Grabbed some sandwiches from the store next door - delish.

Task #4 - Party boxes! My mom and I had decided that our dinner at BBR was going to be a Ratatouille party - only because we found a cute centerpiece and some cute gift boxes. Just going to celebrate our family vacation. Miss M was very excited to help with the boxes and was very good at keeping what was inside a secret.

Task #5 - Dessert! Miss M and I made some frozen desserts for camping which ended up tasting very good and Miss M was a great helper.

Task #6 - Clean up the "play house". This wasn't requested but it was done. The playhouse is the area under the stairs where Miss M will play for hours on end with her dolls. We got it cleaned out and set-up like a litte nursery for her dolls. Very cute.

Once the tasks were complete and we were waiting for W to get off work, I sat down to watch some TV and wait for the status update on Grams. It wasn't looking good as it was discovered that Grams had aspirated which lead to pneumonia on top of the heart attack. W and I talked and decided to stick with our original plan of camping at the pond/farm (land belonging to their friend's family). When W got home we headed to the pond/farm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hiatus - Day 5

Three parts to this day.

Part 1 - Woke up this morning, excited to meet the two newest members of L's family.

Background information - Mom, L & D meet for coffee at a select Starbuck's, on a select day of the week, for every week during the school year. Occasionally a daughter or two or another educator join them.

Back to the meeting. We had made plans to meet for lunch at Red Robin all 8 adults and 7 children. Luckily we (mom and I) got there early and were able to secure a nice row of tables. We enjoyed our lunch and the new moms enjoyed their babies being tended to by others so they could enjoy a meal. Lunch with 7 children, the oldest two getting ready to enter the 1st grade is quite entertaining. I thanked the daughters of L & D for allowing my mom to play grandma for the time being. Such a fun group, hope we get to do it again the next time I am there.

Part 2 - After we left RR mom checked her phone to see if the uncle had called to inform us of their flight plans for the weekend, instead of a message from him, there was a message from another Michael informing us that Grams had fallen and been transported to St. Vincents. So our excitement from lunch quickly turned to worry as we did not know what to expect when we got to the hospital. We made it there rather quickly - mom was a GREAT driver in that situation. We were directed to Grams room where she was propped up in bed, hooked up to a bunch of machines, unable to keep her eyes open. I don't like hospitals and did not like seeing her like this. While I stayed in the room so mom could use the bathroom, she told me she forgot to brush her hair and her hair felt like a rat's nest - a little ER humor though she doesn't remember. I headed for the waiting area hoping Dad was around to pick me up - I did afterall have a hair appointment that I HAD to make. No dice, he was taking a walk (aka golfing). Thought to myself, this won't be too bad I can turn on my iPod and stare out the dice, iPod was still in my carry-on bag. Went outside and grabbed a free newspaper and was delighted that there were crossword and sudoku puzzles. My aunt arrived a little while later to check-in on things and also drove me to my hair appointment. Made it to the appointment in time and informed Karene to cut four inches off. Mom would have been so proud, instead she had to settle for the shot of the new do from Pete's phone and the shot of the chopped off hair from my camera when we met up a few days later.

Part 3 - After my haircut and Pete got off work, we headed to Eugene for the "kid exchange". I was heading to the coast to spend a few days with my cousin and Boo was heading to Portland to spend a few days with her dad. Eugene is the halfway mark. We met at the old standby - Applebee's to enjoy dessert, swapped luggage, and headed to our respective destinations. At this point all we knew was that Grams had actually had a heart attack at some point in the previous 48 hours. She was admitted to the hospital.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hiatus - Day 4

Big City Dining - that was on the agenda for today.

Mom and I ventured downtown to have lunch with Pete in the Big City today. Pete now works for an advertising firm in the very trendy Pearl District of Portland. Let me just tell you that this was not a place to hang out when I was growing up, in fact I believe I would lock the doors while driving through this part of town back in the day. Once we found a place to park, which ended up being a lot easier than anticipated, we found our way to his office. He met us in the lobby, that was as far as we could go, and pointed out a few interesting things about the building that are visible from the lobby. We then ventured down the street to the Deschutes Brewery for lunch. Although I didn't order them I highly recommend the sweet potato fries - very good, and a serving of vegetables in my book.

After our lunch adventure we headed back to our side of town to get ready for our dinner guests. Once again, I was cooking dinner (yes, you read that correctly). Our guests arrived and we enjoyed hearing about their recent trip, dinner, and learning a new (for me) game called zilch (also called 10,000).

Chicken Alfredo Pasta
5 1/2 oz rotini, uncooked (2 cups)
1 10 oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables
1 9 oz pkg frozen cooked diced chicken breast
1 15 oz can low-fat chicken alfredo-style soup
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Cook pasta and vegetables together in boiling water in a Dutch oven 10 minutes or until pasta is done and vegetables are tender.

Drain pasta and vegetables; return to Dutch oven. Add chicken and next three ingredients to pasta mixture, stirring well. Cook over low heat 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.

Yield - 6 servings