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Note: I am giving you fair warning – grab snack and a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage – this is a long post with lots of photos. And as I was working on it, I filled up my first blog and had to start another – thetravelinis2. Look for Disney Part 2 and some extra photos at that wordpress.com location.

I believe it was back in March 2014 when we were up north that Courtney announced that the Erik and Jim would be attending a camping conference in Orlando in December and that the wives and children would be joining them afterwards at DisneyWorld. And then I’m sure she said, “Who wants to join us?” Well, that was all I needed to hear and I spread the word and before you knew it everybody was on board and we were going to DISNEY!

The next months were filled with anticipation and a maze of details. Courtney made up countdown calendars and before you knew it it was Thanksgiving and Disney was just days away. Erin ordered groceries from Amazon, of all places, and I shopped at Costco. imageimageimage I spent quite a bit of time in the weeks leading up to the trip crocheting multiple Minnie, Mickey, and Elsa hats for the grandchildren. And then Sam asked me, “Will you make me a Goofy hat?” And so I did.  You will see the hats sprinkled throughout the photos.

Everyone except the Rummelhoffs flew to Orlando. Jim flew down early in the week and Erin, Kristin and the girls flew in on Thursday. The Stroms flew down together early in the week and Courtney and the kids visited a friend while Erik was at the conference. The Condaps and the Stroms checked in at Fort Wilderness on Thursday and they were able to get a head start and go to the park on Friday, December 5. MK_ENTR_7114523850 MK_MSCONFEC_7114528525 MK_MSCONFEC_7114529124

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Brooke and Mike left on early Friday morning, December 5, and drove straight through, with a quick stop at Metropolis, arriving at Esther and Anna Penner’s in the wee hours on Saturday. image image image SATURDAY, December 6 – Travel day and Fort Wilderness On Saturday morning, December 6 – Gladstone’s 66th birthday – all the Mechers – Gladdy, me, Kyle, Jenny, Charlotte, Evelyn, Colby and Caitrin – made our way to Midway Airport and flew non stop to Orlando. There was Disney stuff as we made our way to baggage claim.  We followed the crowd to the transportation area and boarded the Disney express. imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

This shows all the people waiting to get on the Disney Express buses. The logistics are amazing!

This shows all the people waiting to get on the Disney Express buses. The logistics are amazing!

We checked in at Fort Wilderness and boarded a van which would take us to our cabins. As we approached the turn to our loop, we saw a big sign and happy, smiling faces. I was so focused on the smiling faces that I didn’t even notice that the sign said Happy Birthday Poppa.

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Poppa proudly displayed his sign in the cabin all week.

Poppa proudly displayed his sign in the cabin all week.

Brooke and Mike arrived shortly after we did and we unloaded the Costco food that they had packed and passed out the groceries that Erin had ordered from Amazon. Truly, it looked like we were feeding an army. image image image We were housed in four cabins right in a row. Gladdy and I and Rummelhoffs in one, Stroms and Condaps each had one and the remaining Mechers had another. We were amazed at the lengths that people went to to decorate their cabins for Christmas. image image So we kinda settled into our cabins and almost everyone went to the pool.Well, I think I might have been the only one that stayed behind. I think I was working on potatoes or something for dinner.

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Here’s a photo of Gladstone with all 12 grandchildren on his 66th birthday. Blessed. image

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Not long before we left I ordered some Disney trading pins from Amazon and on our first night there we gave them to the older grandchildren. They looked them over, made their selections, and pinned them to their lanyards or the felt pieces Erin had made. image

Waiting in line to make their selections

Waiting in line to make their selections

After dinner we went to a sing-a-long with Chip and Dale at the campground followed by the movie Frozen.

Checking out their pins while waiting for the bus.

Checking out their pins while waiting for the bus.

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Cousins!

Cousins!

We enjoyed every minute of our time there. It was fun to travel on the buses and boats. The kids were real troopers. Sometimes we had to wait a long time for the correct bus but they just entertained themselves. It was fun for the cousins to be together. We did not try to stay together – with 25 people it was impossible. So if I had one complaint it would be that I could not be omnipresent. I wanted to be with every family, all the time. So Gladdy and I just tried to spread ourselves around and hop from family to family whenever possible.

SUNDAY, December 7 – Magic Kingdom On Sunday morning we made our way to the boat which would take us to the Magic Kingdom.

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Joy wanted to hold on too!

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Jim did not want to take any chance of getting wet on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Jim did not want to take any chance of getting wet on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

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Part of Gladdy’s and my morning was spent going back and forth to the main gate because he needed to be present when the military discount tickets were activated. Here we are after the Rummelhoff’s arrival.

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Brooke had made reservations for us at Be Our Guest, the restaurant at the Beauty and the Beast castle. The night before she ordered cupcakes online. When we got there we were told to find a seat and they would bring our order to us. At this point I should mention that with our park admission we were issued really cool wristbands which served as our admission to the park, the key to our cabin, identification for our photo pass (more on that later), it could be used to pay for things at the park and held all the information for our Fast Passes. So cool. Gladdy loved the technology involved. Anyway, we found our seats – Adeline chose to sit in the ball room – and before too long they came with our cupcakes. They were able to locate us because of our wristbands! image  MK_BELLEVILLAGEBRIDGEICONNC_7116667330 image image image image Esther and Anna Penner came to visit us on two occasions which is why you will see them in some of the photos.They arrived when some of us were going to use our FastPasses for the Mine Train Ride.

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The kids enjoyed getting to see the characters, getting their autographs and having their picture taken. We only waited in the lines that weren’t miles long.

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The roller coaster rides were a hit with most of us but the lines for those were always the longest, but some were able to ride on Space Mountain at least once that day.

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It looks as though Kira may not be a fan of the thrill rides just yet!

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In the middle of the afternoon on Sunday we all met up at the Buzz Lightyear ride. Esther and I sat outside with Amelia who was sleeping and visited.  All the rest of the family enjoyed the ride. (These are all PhotoPass shots – see below) Somehow we didn’t get shots of Michael, Sam and Kira. MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116921955MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116922694   MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116923223 MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116923336 MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116923610 MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116926060 MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116926085 MK_BUZZLIGHTYEARRIDE_7116927901 One of the things that we set up ahead of time was the Memory Maker Photo Pass. For $149 all of us were able to have our photos taken anytime, anywhere by the Disney photographers. Someone in the party would have their wristband scanned and the photo was ours. I don’t think it would be such a great deal for a single family, but for 25 people we certainly thought we got our money’s worth.  When we got home we determined that we had taken over 500 photos. We did not have to get the photos printed by Disney and Colby was able to download all the photos to Dropbox for each family. I will be including some of those photos, but definitely not all.

This is the one group photo that we were able to take all week.

This is the one group photo that we were able to take all week.

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Throughout the week, each family set their our own schedules and we enjoyed ourselves. Most of the time we were all at the same park, just not all together. It was fun when we’d run into each other at the park. Our cell phones came in very handy to keep in touch. We’ve come so far!  I remember when we used walkie talkies on a previous trip. There is also a Disney app that we had on our phones that let us know wait times for the rides. Ahhh,. technology! Nov 2014 - jan 2015 194 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 195 Late in the afternoon we rode the monorail with the Condaps to Epcot so they could meet up with Michelle, who had given us the benefit of Disney employee discounts. Nov 2014 - jan 2015 196 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 198

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Later in the evening we went to Hollywood Studios with the main objective to see the Osborne Lights. Trust me when I say that millions and millions of lights synchronized to Feliz Navidad is so cool! I love it!  but some had time for a ride on the Rockin’ Roller Coaster and a visit to the Tower of Terror.STUDIO_HATLEFT_7117420192 STUDIO_HBCSTORY_7117267026

STUDIO_ROCKNRCOASTERRIDE_7117423025 STUDIO_TOWEROFTERRORARIDE_7117333130 STUDIO_OSBLIGHT_7117380599 STUDIO_OSBLIGHT_7117380601 Walt Disney World Photo Gallery Disc Walt Disney World Photo Gallery Disc MONDAY, December 8 – Hollywood Studios The day started out with rain. We were able to keep somewhat dry with the use of the vintage Disney ponchos that Tammy let us use. Gail had purchased them years ago and Tammy hung onto them. Sadly, I think we were all hesitant to take our cameras out in the rain and we have no photos.

The Stroms and all the Mechers happened to go to the Indiana Jones show at the same time. We made enough of a ruckus to ensure that Colby would be chosen to be part of the show. He did an excellent job, especially when he had to act like he was dying – I think it was from a poison dart. Charlotte was thrilled with the show. Nov 2014 - jan 2015 202 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 201 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 203 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 204 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 205 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 206 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 208

Colby tried to sneak in a photo during the show.

Colby tried to sneak in a photo during the show.

Here are some more Monday photosIMG_6373 IMG_6391

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image image image image image On Monday evening we went with the Condaps to see the decorations at the hotels on the monorail loop. We were only impressed with those at the Grand Floridian. We were able to get some Dole Whip at The Polynesian. No photo, but still YUM!Nov 2014 - jan 2015 211 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 214

No, Gladdy is NOT wearing a swan hat!

No, Gladdy is NOT wearing a swan hat!

GRAND_GFTREE_7118520805 You will note that Sawyer is wearing her Elsa hat. While we were riding the monorail a couple commented on the hat and they were chatting with Sawyer. As we were about to get off the monorail, the woman said, “Good-bye, Queen Elsa.” Without missing a beat, Sawyer gave her best queenly bow and exited. I loved it!

Kristin, Gladdy and I went back to the Magic Kingdom and met Courtney there for the fireworks. It’s magical! the things they can do with lasers, light and projectors is amazing, not to mention the thrill of fireworks.image

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TUESDAY, December 9 – Fort Wilderness (for most of us) We did not go into the park on Tuesday and we spent a good part of the day at the pool.  The people from Florida did not think it was warm enough to swim but that didn’t stop my northern babies! Nov 2014 - jan 2015 215 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 219 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 220 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 222 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 223 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 224 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 225

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Nov 2014 - jan 2015 226 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 229 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 231 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 232 The Condaps were able to go to Universal Studios that day and they had a good time there. Erin sent me these photos in a text message.image image image We ordered pizza from the Settler’s Trading Post and ate poolside. Nov 2014 - jan 2015 233 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 234 The pool staff had activities for the kids which included Disney Bingo and a dance party. Adeline surprised us by doing every dance. Nov 2014 - jan 2015 235 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 236 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 237 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 238 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 239 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 246 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 247 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 248 The hot tub was a big hit. Jenny managed to forget her bathing suit in Chicago so she made the best of it. image image image image And while you are in Florida, a game of shuffleboard is a must. image image

We went took the bus back to our cabin – Emmet and Adeline had a secret. When we got there Gladdy “took a nap” on the Murphy bed. The kids had been planning how when Poppa took a nap, they were going to close him up in the bed. (Taking rides on the Murphy bed is a wonderful thing that we discovered on our first stay at Fort Wilderness years ago.) with the help of Uncle Kyle, they were able to succeed with their plan.Nov 2014 - jan 2015 255 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 256 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 257 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 258 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 259

We had lots of fun in our cabins. Meeting for a meal, selecting more pins, adding Christmas decorations and getting a photo of the three youngest granddaughters in their 1st birthday sweaters.IMG_6378 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 260 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 261 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 262 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 264

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We had a BBQ on Wednesday night complete with burgers, hot dogs and ‘smores. After we ate most of us took the boat to the Fort Wilderness Lodge. We looked around at the decorations, the kids traded pins and we went to the gift shops where the parents were able to say “No,” to the many items that caught the children’s eye. Esther and Anna met us there and we took photos by the big tree.Nov 2014 - jan 2015 266 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 267 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 279 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 280 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 282 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 283 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 285 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 286 Nov 2014 - jan 2015 287

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I had Sam take a "secret" photo. No one saw us doing it. Brooke was surprised when she saw it among the PhotoPass pictures.

I had Sam take a “secret” photo. No one saw us doing it. Brooke was surprised when she saw it among the PhotoPass pictures.

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It was getting late and it was time for most of the kids to go to bed, (but not the Rummelhoffs) so those families left. We hung around with the Rummelhoffs and the Penners in the big, beautiful lobby. When I’m rich I’m going to book a big room at the Fort Wilderness Lodge. I had been craving a cupcake, so Brooke had the kids pick one out for me. (Sam really wanted the one with the raspberry on top and since he was overruled he has not forgotten it.)

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That’s it for this blog. To continue go to thetravelinis2 for DISNEY – Part 2. This will also be the blog for all future travels.

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Finishing Touches

Our last day in New Hampshire. Time to put the finishing touches on our time together and on the bathroom project.

We got up this morning with a plan to: Go bowling, Stop by Home Depot to make returns and pick up a few things, and Go someplace fun for lunch. And so we loaded into the van and off we went. Did I mention that it was -9 degrees? What a winter!

The Condaps all bowled two games and Gladdy and I each did one. Erin broke 100 in the first line and Gladdy barely edged her out on the second, but neither broke 100.  But we had fun.

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We inquired at Home Depot yesterday to see if the craft kits that the girls worked on yesterday could be purchased. Both Erin and Gladdy thought they could be used for craft nights. A manager, Diane, told us that if we came back on Tuesday after the craft time at noon, she would see if some kits could be donated.  We were pleased when we were able to take home 48 kits.

Kira measures about 5'4" on the Home Depot measuring pole.

Kira measures about 5’4″ on the Home Depot measuring pole.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch. Many suggestions were made. I heard McDonald’s, Burger King, Panera, Elm City, Olive Garden, Longhorn, Chili’s, Thai Garden, …. But we said no to them all. Jenna had been holding a coupon for a free appetizer or sushi at Koto Japanese Steak House and I thought, “Why not? Dinner and a Show.” It turned out to be a very good choice.  The food was good and the kids….and adults, for that matter enjoyed the table side cooking. Our chef did some fancy cooking that included some stuff with fire.  We definitely succeeded in our quest to go someplace fun for lunch.

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We went home and the girls settled into watch a movie and Gladdy settled into the recliner. Erin and I went out to make the circuit of every store that might have some finishing touches for the bathroom.  We were in search of some art work, a rug and something to help organize all the stuff that needs to be stored in the vanity. We came up almost empty. We did get three small bins and an iron.  (One night the iron worked and the next morning it did not).

Shortly after we got home we hung the art work and towel ring And pronounced the project complete.  And I took photos.  The biggest changes are the floor and vanity.  The room does seem bigger with the smaller vanity.

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Here’s the BEFORE photo just to refresh your memory..

 

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Erin made castings of my feet so she could get orthotics made for my shoes.  She says my arches have fallen. This aging stuff is hard to get used to.  Anyway it was fun to experience first hand part of what Erin does at work.

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Ben will drive us to Alewife tomorrow morning and we fully expect to have an uneventful trip home. It’s been a wild trip, hasn’t it?  Thanks for sharing it with us.

Once things settle down at home I hope to make time to blog about our Disney adventure. It will be out of sequence, but I need to record the memories.

Bed and Breakfast Vacancy In New Hampshire

We woke on Tuesday morning (February 17) to the very familiar surroundings of Embassy Suites, ate a familiar breakfast and proceeded to just sit around waiting – a familiar pastime these days – for the logistics of a ride to the bed & breakfast in Swanzey, NH to be worked out. We were fully expecting to take the MBTA to the end of the Red Line at Alewife, but…

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Jim called and told us to be ready in about 25 minutes; someone would pick us up at the hotel. Within a half hour we were ready, waiting in the hotel lobby, when we got the call that our ride was there. Sharon, who works at Harvard Business School, received a call from Jim that morning and asked if she wanted to provide taxi service to some poor stranded travelers. She had driven her mini van to work that day (she normally drives a small Camry) and so she willingly drove over to pick us up. We are thankful that Jim has so many connections through Pilgrim Pines and Camp Squanto – Sharon grew up as a camper and her daughter is now on summer staff. Sharon drove us to Concord where we were passed off to Ben, a Pilgrim Pines intern. When he saw Bill’s Wheaton knit hat he said he didn’t know if he could let Bill in the van. Ben informed him that he was a North Park alum and Bill said, “Oh, we clean your clock in football every year.”

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Ben drove us to Pilgrim Pines where we met up with Jim and we took a quick tour of the camp.

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We drove ourselves over to The Condap B & B and settled into our new snow covered quarters.

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In the evening, Jim, Gladdy, Bill and Erin went to Home Deport to pick out new flooring, toilet and vanity for the downstairs bathroom project that lay ahead. This was a project that we were going to tackle during the days Gladdy and I were going to be in Swanzey AFTER Iceland. But now we had a jump start and help to boot. I took some BEFORE shots so we could remember.

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Sawyer was playing with my iPad and found “Shake It Off” on Pandora and she displayed her fancy dance moves.

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Jenna greeted us on Wednesday morning with animals that she has fashioned out of marshmallows, peanut butter and sugar. Jenna wanted to be sure to be able to spend some time with Bill and June, so Erin let her stay home from school…so cute.

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Bill and Gladdy were ready to take out their busted travel frustrations out on something, but they waited until Wednesday morning to take out the floor. It came up quickly. Erin and I ran out to go grocery shopping and Jenna lent a hand to the demolition.

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Upon our return, Erin decided on the pattern for the floor tile and then we girls, Erin, me, June, Jenna and Sawyer, hit downtown Keene. We made few purchases at Hannah Grimes and ate lunch at Thai Garden. At Your Kitchen Store, Sawyer opened a little bottle of bubbles that she had in her pocket and they “jumped” right into her eyes…and onto the floor.

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We stopped at Prime Roasters where coffee and milk steamers were purchased and the girls posed in the window for me. Crazy Gramma with a camera.

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The next stop was the Knitting Knook – forgot to take a photo – and next store was Life Is Sweet, a candy store where we purchased bags of assorted candies.

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The Town of Keene is so quaint and we crossed over to take photos in the town square.

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June, who says that she is not a shopper, spent much time picking out things for her family…well, mostly her grandchildren. Just when she thought she was done at this one store I showed her a raincoat for Owen with construction vehicles on it. So of course she had to get it and found a pink one with ponies on it for Ellie.

When we got home the floor was laid and we approved.

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On Thursday morning, goodbyes we said all around and we took off to drive the Aldrins to the Red Line in Alewife. The trip there took two uneventful hours. It was kind of melancholy sending Bill and June off – we really didn’t get to Iceland – but we did have such a good time in spite of it all. June and Bill called later to say that we need to allow a full three hours to get to the airport when we leave on the 25th.

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Erin had to work a full day on Thursday and the girls were at school so when we got home Gladdy grouted the floor and I got to work on the living room drapes. When Sawyer came home from school she was a big help ripping the fabric for the lining. During one of Gladdy’s breaks he joined Sawyer for a game of Guess Who while Kira read and warmed herself by the fire.

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I emailed this phi to to Erin asking if she wanted me to make play clothes for the girls. She replied, "So my children can go prancing around Salzburg?"

I emailed this photo to Erin asking if she wanted me to make play clothes for the girls. She replied, “So my children can go prancing around Salzburg?”

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I only got two panels completed on Thursday night so I got right to work on Friday morning.

Sawyer was playing with her Playmobil people on the new toilet which was by the wood stove in the living room and she came to me with a panicked look and said, “Gramma, can you help me?” She pointed to the hole on the back of the toilet – the”dad” fell into the hole. Poppa was able to lift and shake the toilet and poke to extract him.

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Our time here has been made all the enjoyable with various “Sawyerisms.” As she climbed onto the ladder she told us that the ladder didn’t hurt her bare feet at all. Gladdy told her, “Good. Climb ’til your feet fall off.” To which she lovingly replied, “You are the best Poppa ever!”

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I found her playing with my iPad when she had been told “no more iPad.” I told her to put it it away. She handed it to Gladdy and said, “Poppa, you better put this away up high.” Gladdy asked, “Why? You can’t control yourself?” She replied, “Poppa, I’m only 4.”

Erin bought paint on Thursday so she started painting on Friday after she got home from work. The paint she chose was very similar to the “old” paint – a little darker – so the finished project will not have a totally NEW look, but it will definitely be fresher.

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Gladdy started on the electrical part of the project and Sawyer was a big help in pulling wires.

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Kira had a big weekend in store as she would be going to the Jr. High retreat at Pilgrim Pines. She packed up her bag before she left for school and before she left she got in a few minutes of reading time. Watch out, Kira – crazy Gramma with a camera!

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I was able to finish the drapes for the living room and we are very pleased with the results. I should have taken a BEFORE photo. (You can kind of see what it looked like in the Sawyer dance moves photo)

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We slept in a bit on Saturday morning so Jenna had to wait to make her pancakes.  This time she had eggs. She is so cute in the kitchen. Erin says she’s the best cooker, but she’s also the messiest. 🙂 Breakfast was delicious.

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The project needed a mirror or medicine cabinet so Erin thought it would be to our advantage to go to Hadley, MA where there was a Lowe’s in addition to a bigger Home Depot and Marshall’s. Jenna had trouble deciding what to wear and surprised us with this “super hero” offering  🙂

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Our cart was only filled with children at Lowe’s. Eventually we found a nice, big mirror at Marshall’s, in addition to some fun pillows to go with the new drapes in the living room.

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We stopped at Trader Joe’s where we bought some ice cream bon bons to eat on our way home. It began to snow as we were leaving, so Erin told Sawyer that we could not stay long at Yankee Candle. It “snows” every four minutes in the Bavarian Village. When it started it was so wimpy…I think it was in protest after all of the real snow.

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It snowed all the way home but the road was OK to travel. But still, more snow????? It is soooo pretty though. The icicles hanging from houses are unbelievable – I wish I could have taken a photo of those but we couldn’t stop.

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Later that evening Jenna served us the bon bons that she had concocted. They were very good and we gave her high marks for the presentation.

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It snowed through the night and when we left for church on Sunday morning it was a winter wonderland. I snapped this picture as we were struggling to get up the hill on Ash Hill Road.  I think I can, I think I can…we made it.

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We went to church and afterwards there was an annual meeting, so Gladdy and I took the girls and Kira’s friend Emma, to lunch at Five Guys. After that Gladdy took the girls to Petco while I ran into TJ Maxx. I gave Jenna the camera and told her to take cute photos. When I got the camera back there were lots of photos of ferrets, guinea pigs, a bird and a snake. I did not include them all. There were two of Sawyer. I included one.

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Today, Monday, February 23 was the first day of the girls winter break. Home Depot had a craft time from 9am to noon so we went there. They had cute wooden craft kits for the kids to make – lots of hammering and painting.

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Break time.

Break time.

We made a quick run to Target to get some finishing touches for the project and my next post should include the AFTER photos.

All in all our time at the B & B has been great. I am glad we got to come here to diminish the disappointment of the busted Iceland trip. It still is incredulous that we really didn’t get to go. I’m not whining. I’m not overly sad. It’s just incredulous. After all the excitement, preparation and anticipation the extraordinary Boston winter got us Chicagoans.

Iceland Busted

Well, to make a sad, long story short, after many emotional ups and downs the bottom line is there will be zero blog posts from Iceland.

But here’s the long part of the story: We got up this morning and had a good breakfast. We hung out in our room and checked out at noon. Then we hung around our hotel lobby until about 2 pm.

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And then we went to the airport. We sat in the international terminal – which was bustling in comparison to yesterday – in full view of the Icelandair ticket counter. As soon as someone appeared we got in line. The ticket agent took our passports, checked our luggage and gave us stand by boarding passes so we could get through security. The woman told us that there was a very good chance that we would get on, very good.

We were so happy to go through security it was pure joy to have to take off our shoes.

We were so happy to go through security it was pure joy to have to take off our shoes.

The flight was delayed and now would not be leaving until 10 pm, instead of 8:35. So we sat down to wait. We did a lot sitting and waiting on this adventure.

We ate at the airport location of Durgin Park and we all had delicious meals. We were feeling good!

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We sent out text messages and Facebook posts with the hopeful news – it looks like we are going to Iceland.

Earlier in the day I spoke with a couple who were moving to Ireland. As June and I were walking around I noticed her sitting there knitting a beautiful pink and white baby sweater. I stopped and commented on how beautiful it was. She said thank you and said that she had been admiring June’s sweater. June told her the story of how she knitted the sweater without a written pattern. She told us how she plans on spinning her own yarn when she settles down in Ireland. I had planned on keeping count of how many people would comment on the sweater in Iceland.  So without even getting to Iceland the count is ONE.

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A little after 9 pm the ticket agents came to the gate and the young agent told us that for sure we were getting on the flight. We hugged and laughed and look a selfie by the gate to include in our jubilant Facebook post.

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The passengers began boarding but we still did not have boarding passes. We inquired of the young girl and she assured us that they were working on our seating. I asked if I had time to go to the restroom and she nodded. As I exited the stall, June was standing there with a long face and said “We’re not going. They only have one seat.” Talk about going from a high high to a low low. So we sent out new texts and Facebook posts that basically said, “Never mind.”

Bill tried to plead our case but they said there was only one seat. They told us to go back to the ticket counter to wait for our luggage. Bill did ask them to put us up in a hotel for tonight and we did get a voucher for that. So back to Embassy Suites we go.

We had to wait for a very long time for our luggage. We were starting to think our luggage had the pleasure of going to Iceland without us.  Gladstone even went behind the abandoned ticket counter to see if he could find a number to call.

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Finally the first ticket agent we had seen emerged from the gate area, probably on her way home, and she took Gladdy and Bill back to some holding area and they retrieved our bags.

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So it’s now, just before I publish this, it’s just after 2 am on January 17 and instead of either waking up in Reykjavik or trying to sleep on the plane on our way there I am going to sleep in Boston yet again.

The good news is that tomorrow we get on the MBTA and take the Red Line to the end of the line at Alewife where we will get picked up and driven to Swanzey, NH where we will stay with Jim, Erin and the girls. So glad we don’t have to go back to Chicago.

All we can say is, we tried. We gave it our all and it just wasn’t meant to be. It is not cliche when I say we know that this was God’s will. We trust in Him always. I hope we make it to Iceland someday. I want to see those Northern Lights.

Cancelled

After a fairly good night’s sleep – I hated my pillow – we woke to the winter wonderland view of the car rental facility across the street. We turned on the weather channel and watched the various meteorologists reporting from different snow covered locations. One guy was so excited as he heard the thunder snow. But they gave us hope saying that the storm was going to end earlier.

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We went to breakfast and Bill pulled up the Icelandair website and saw that the flight from Reykjavik to Boston was on schedule, as was the flight from here to Reykjavik. We were hopeful. But as the title of this blog lets you know, before our breakfast was over, Bill said “Oh oh,” and sure enough, both flights were cancelled.

Bill went to the front desk to let them know we needed to stay another night and he was told that we would have to be 10th on the wait list. We came back to our room and started making calls – to the rental car place to tell them we wouldn’t be arriving on Monday morning (Answer: Hope to see you on Tuesday) ; to Icelandair to see if we could get seats on Monday’s flight (Answer after being on hold for about 30 minutes – “No”); to Gate1 Travel to let them know our flight was cancelled and to ask IF we could get to New York, could we leave on the flight leaving tonight from JFK at 8:00 pm (Answer after being on hold for quite awhile – “We will look into any additional fees that would apply and get back to you.”); to rental car places (Answer: no cars available). Now realizing that the New York road trip was off the table, Bill called Icelandair to see if we could be put on a stand by list for Monday’s flight. He was told that Gate1 had changed our reservation and we were booked on tonight’s flight from JFK. (I know….are you just shaking your head along with me?) He tried to explain that: A. We had not approved the change and B. WE CAN’T GET TO NEW YORK!! He was told that we had to call Gate1 Travel to set things right. So I called and after some time on hold,  talked to Cindy. She assured us that they did not make the change because we would have to approve any additional cost. Curious as to what that would have been? How does $1,218 plus $200 for flight change PER PERSON sound? Needless to say, even if we could get to NY we weren’t going to make that change. Cindy informed us that we would need to call the airline back ourselves as they had not made the change.

And so…after 45 minutes on hold, Bill was able to convince them that the change was made in error and to put us on a stand by list for tomorrow’s flight. Then we got the news that they had rooms for us tonight, so we decided that we would share a room tonight. There is a sofa bed and June had to fight me for the privilege of sleeping on it.

I must admit that I cried about three tears and June did too.  I can’t believe we aren’t going to get to Iceland. IF we do get there, it will be especially special.

Since we truly cannot go anywhere of substance – like into Boston, to Erin’s or even back to Chicago – we decided to go to the one place we could go – the airport. We boarded the hotel shuttle and went to Terminal E to see if we could talk to someone at the Icelandair desk. The place was virtually deserted. But Gladstone was so pleased to see that Dunkin a Donuts was open. TSA guys were just strolling around because no flights were going out.

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We went up to the level where the international airlines are and it was deserted. No one to talk to.

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There was a world map on the floor.  Here I am standing as close to Iceland as I might get.  Sob!

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I did talk to a few people to hear their stories of woe, and of course I got to tell mine.  Anu and Avan were hoping to get out to Istanbul at 11 pm tonight. Helen and her husband were on a plane last night, got de-iced and were headed to Budapest, but they did not take off. They spent the night in the airport and had reservations on the flight to Istanbul and then on to Budapest. A young family came by cab from Springfield, MA at 3:00 am and were told that they could not get a flight to Seattle until Monday. They got cots and were settling in for the long haul. A single woman was going to Bangladesh by way of Istanbul. It was fun to hear the stories.

Three of four passengers trying to get to Iceland

Three of four passengers trying to get to Iceland

Anu and Avan waiting to fly to Istanbul

Anu and Avan waiting to fly to Istanbul

Helen and her husband looking surprisingly fresh after spending the night at the airport.

Helen and her husband looking surprisingly fresh after spending the night at the airport.

The Seattle bound family making themselves comfortable on their cots.

The Seattle bound family making themselves comfortable on their cots.

We walked, well rode, on the moving sidewalks to Terminal A and watched the snow removal by the gates underway. The walk was too much for June…not really, but the wheelchairs were just sitting there, so why not?

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They were loading the snow into snow melting machines.

They were loading the snow into snow melting machines.

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From there we spent some time in the Hilton Hotel that’s attached to the airport.

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We decided not to eat there and made our way back to our hotel. We had to wait to eat until 5:30 and now we are back in our room, just chilling for the night.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Well, God knows and we rest in Him.

Iceland or Bust….We Shall See

When we bought our Groupons on October 22 for a 5 day – 3 night trip to Iceland, leaving out of Boston, we did not know that Boston would receive record amounts of snow this winter. Neither did we know that Winter Storm Neptune was poised to strike Boston with blizzard conditions again on February 14-15. But never fear, Gladstone and I, along with Bill and June Aldrin met up at Midway Airport this morning, on Valentines Day, for our flight to Boston, hoping and praying that we will be able to leave for Reykjavik on Sunday evening.

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Our plan was to spend about a day and a half exploring Boston, but the snow already on the ground and the blizzard warning that is in currently in effect has altered our plans. After settling into our hotel room, we took the airport shuttle to the MBTA blue line, got off at the Aquarium stop and headed for Quincy Market. There’s a lot of snow here!

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We got a bite to eat at Quincy Market and then walked in the snow, which started promptly at 3:00 pm, to the North End. I love that neighborhood. The icicles are plentiful and very cool looking….but watch out for falling ice!

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We had to stop at Mike’s Pastry where June got a tiramisu cup. She shared.

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We walked to North Church. The park in between is all covered with snow with a skinny walkway. Most of the sidewalks are now one way. You have to tuck into a doorway to let others pass.

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We think there is a car under that pile…and the owners may not see it until sometime after March 1.

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It was getting colder and a bit snowier so we decided to go back to Quincy Market and kill some time until dinner.  We got drinks at Starbucks and went to sit on the upper level in the center of the market.

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There was a band playing, The Volunteers, a field band from the Army. We enjoyed that. At one point they invited people to crowd around while they videoed a Valentine message. Gladdy and I went down and I am hoping that we will be able to see ourselves on the video when they post it. I heard the Staff Sargeant say that we should look for The Volunteers on Facebook.

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We ate dinner at Durgin Park, famous for Yankee cooking. The dining room was all decked out for Valentines Day with red checked tablecloths and roses. We topped off our meal with strawberry shortcake big enough for four.

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The snow was beginning to accumulate and workers were trying to stay ahead of it. I think it will be a long night if they continue in that mode.

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As we headed back to the subway, we passed a Valentine ice sculpture. When we passed it earlier you had to pay to take a photo there, but now it was abandoned and we stepped up.

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After we got off the train, we walked back to our hotel – a .7 mile walk. It was snowing and kind of windy, but pretty.

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As we sit here in our room, watching TV there is a crawler across the bottom of the screen announcing all kinds of church closures. And all MBTA service has been suspended for tomorrow. So it looks like we will just be hanging out here at the Embassy Suites until we go over to the airport IF our flight takes off as scheduled at 8:30 pm. We shall see….

Please note: if you are reading this blog – and hopefully those from Iceland, please leave a comment. I like to see who is checking out the blog.

A Palette of Fall Colors

On September 25, 2014 we arrived in Iron River to spend the weekend with the Stroms. Courtney had scheduled an overnight trip (Saturday to Sunday) to Appleton, WI with friends to go Christmas shopping. There was a women’s retreat going on at camp so we came up to help Erik with the kids while Courtney was gone.

Upon arriving we went to see the the tree house and the forts that the boys were building. I love that they have so much freedom in the woods. They have a great time on the zipline that has been added and they have skills when it comes to climbing trees. They must get it from their dad!

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Joy is getting so big and the boys and Mommy and Daddy haven’t gotten tired of her yet! 🙂

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Courtney had a project in mind and she and Gladdy got started on it first thing on Friday morning – a modern pegboard shelf for the boy’s room.

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We were blessed to be able to be in the UP at the height of the color season. Around every corner there was a glorious palette of fall colors.

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Dustin had a bumper crop of squash and pumpkins

Dustin had a bumper crop of squash and pumpkins

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Of course the project required a trip to Ace Hardware and I had to get Joy a cute pair of pink boots.

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Michael and his dad arrived late on Friday. They came up to give the Whispering Pines property a serious look on Saturday before they put a bid in on the property. Both Michael and his dad are excellent craftsmen and they had lots of ideas on how to improve the house – and it needed lots of improvement. But it was fun to hear their ideas.

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I had a fun time with Joy. I was thrilled because she didn’t appear to be missing Courtney. We had lots of fun.

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Gladdy continued to work on the project and we hardly saw the boys as they were content to play in the leaves at camp.

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The Stroms are early risers so there was time to play on the computer before we got started for the day. And they don’t mind including Joy. So cute to see them all together.

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Gladdy finished his part of the project, leaving the finishing touches for Courtney.

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We had to leave before Courtney got back and we left the kids in the capable hands of their Dad. It was a good, colorful weekend.

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It should be noted that Michael and Brooke decided that in spite of all the work that needed to be done, they would put a bid in on Whispering Pines. After a little back and forth, their offer was accepted and they were scheduled to close near the end of October. AND THEN…. about five days before the closing Courtney called to tell Brooke that a house just down the road from them just went up for sale. Courtney arranged to go see it and loved it. Brooke and Mike looked at it through the website and felt it was worth a look see. Long story short they drove up to see it (up and back in 24 hours) and loved it. The house needs no work – I mean NO work; move in ready.  They pulled out of the other house and put a bid in on the Hagerman Lake house and it was accepted. We continue to marvel at how God worked to give them above and beyond what they had hoped for. The timing was amazing. He is amazing. Thank you, Lord!