Friday, July 27, 2012

lights out!

We found ourselves in a similar situation a few weeks ago, when we came home from Arizona.
We got home late June 25th, and were struck with a derecho storm on the 29th, which wiped out our power for nearly a whole week.

Unfortunately for us, we are not allergic to dairy. And had plenty of it in our fridge.

We were really happy to be home to Lynchburg, even though it was hard to say bye to our families.
Luna had really missed us.

She got kinda possessive.

I had a lot of work to make up that week, so I had to stay late a couple nights.
Dusty even brought me a picnic one night, complete with a homemade meal and Sonic drinks.
It was so sweet. He used the super-adorable picnic set my grandma got me for our wedding.

Things were looking up. Until.... SeƱor Derecho. 

This is how it went down.

I'm not gonna lie, I have no idea what to do in severe weather situations. I'd be useless in a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, you name it. I only know the desert, and the desert knows me, and I don't really have much interest in getting acquainted with things like derechos.
But it happens.

My reaction was close to, I would imagine, Dorothy's.

A lot of Oz-like images came to mind.
Are we going to be swept away in this? Will we land on a witch with red heels? 
Will we end up in Never Never Land?
Oh wait. That's Peter Pan.
The point is, fictional standards for large storms and mysterious weather are all I've got.

Okay - back it up.

It was Friday night, and Dusty and I were hanging out.
We had decided to make a spontaneous fun-run to Kroger for some tubs of ice cream.
I was experiencing pre-buyer's guilt for the ice cream, but I had a feeling I was gonna eat it anyway, and enjoy it immensely.
We were both playing games on our phones. We kept saying, "Okay, let's go."
Then 10 more minutes would go by. "Dusty, come on. Get up. Let's go. It's getting late."
Then 10 more minutes would go by.
By the time we left, it was probably 45 minutes later than we had originally planned.

We drove to the store, contemplating ice cream flavors, and noticing the dark clear sky.
As we drove into the parking lot, Dusty pointed to the distant horizon and said, "Oh hey, lightening!"

Once inside, we walked straight to the ice cream aisle. We didn't need to go to the store for anything else, so it was just a quick stop.
We spent some time mulling over flavor choices, when the lights began to flicker pretty intensely.
Our first thought was that the store was closing, so we tried to speed things up and grab our ice cream.

Side note: Dusty and I hardly ever share flavors. If we go get ice cream, we almost always end up with 2 cartons. If we go get frozen yogurt, we never share. I like the weirder flavors. Blueberry, pecan praline, tart with lots of fruit or toffee, and coffee flavors. He usually goes for the chocolate on chocolate with chocolate chunks, chocolate candies and a side of chocolate with chocolate syrup.

With our 2 cartons in hand, we hurried to the cash register. We paid, and headed to the exit.
That's when it hit us -- we saw how wet the floor was near the automatic doors, and when we looked out the window, we knew -- it was the apocalypse.

Thankfully it wasn't, but it really could have been. We both were totally shocked. It was pouring rain, and there were leaves and branches and bags and small creatures flying through the air.
Panicky but determined to make it home, we ran to the car, me squealing all the way. The wind was pretty intense, and we were both relieved when the car doors slammed shut and we were safe(er) inside.

Looking around at the terror, I had a flashback to a Godzilla movie. "What did you see?"

(I told you, fiction is my only reference.)

Dusty drove, calming me down. I started praying out loud, just for everyone that was out driving like us, and for our own safety in getting home. It was not a fun drive home. It was windy and rainy and there were trees down on almost every road, with debris flying around and covering the ground.

We turned the corner to the road that leads to our street, and came up to this bad boy:

That's how it was all over the city.
Driving down this particular lane was freaking me out, because it was lined with trees and I was pretty afraid of one falling on us as we drove. Dusty sped through. We were maybe half a mile from home at this point.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief as we turned onto our street.
But then we realized all of the cars in the parking lot of the Elks club...

...and the giant power line that was covering the entire entrance to our apartment complex.

That car was stuck inside.
And we were stuck outside.

We parked in the Elks parking lot (directly in the middle, far away from any other power lines and all trees), and sat there in the car for a few minutes. I think I started panicking a little bit.
What were we gonna do? How were we gonna get home? Where were we gonna stay?
Of course, all calls to 911 or the power company or anything else were totally busy. It was city-wide.

The rain had died down at this point, so after some careful deliberation, we decided to make a run for it.
We had to go into a person's driveway and across their lawn to avoid all of the wires from the powerline.
It was so dark and wet, and I already have a phobia of grass out here, with all of its hidden amphibians and insects. So we ran. With our ice cream.

A silver lining that we didn't realize until much later was that we could have been trapped inside the complex, like a lot of other people. But God bless that craving for ice cream (and our distracting phone games).

With power out all over the city, we decided to make the best of it. First, we needed to eat all of our ice cream as soon as possible. (This is when we started cursing our different ice cream tastes).
Then, we decided to light a bunch of candles and play board games.

Apparently Dusty has a head lamp. Who knew?

The lesson I learned from Dusty having a headlamp is that you should always be prepared.
And also, sometimes that random crap you really want or don't want to get rid of actually does come in handy!
(Thousands of hoarders all over the world nod enthusiastically)

After a very restless night of sleep, we realized we needed to figure out what to do.
In our experience, power outages only last a day or two, tops. But rumors were quickly spreading that power would be out until Saturday. Over a week after the storm.
Our house was getting warm fast! It was a hot week.

But despite the loom and gloom of the next few days, we were incredibly blessed.
Our friends Allison and Greg were out of town for the whole summer, and had asked us to stop in and feed their plants every once in a while. We went to check on their house on Saturday, and they had power!
With their invitation, we were able to stay there and keep cool while we waited on our power to come back on.

There was a lot of walking back and forth, trying to empty our fridge of all of our groceries (it was full, since we had just gone shopping) to take everything over to the Earls and set up camp. Our friend Erica joined us, since she also was out of power and her husband was out of town.
There was also the small matter of Dusty's parents coming into town on Monday...

They didn't even clear the power line from our road until Sunday night. Kind of ridiculous.

The funniest part of this whole experience was trying to go to Wal-Mart.
(We were thinking of trying to get a battery-operated fan for Luna. We felt bad for abandoning her.)
I know, you guys. Obviously in hindsight we should have known it would be a mad house.
If somethings truly disastrous ever does happen to the human race, we'll all be absolutely useless.
The back part of Wal-Mart was littered with people and completely devoid of all merchandise. Survival kits, gas lanterns, anything camping-related, it was all gone. Random items were strewn about the aisles...
Obviously Wal-Mart is stop #1 for the truly panicked.

After a few days, we had to just accept that Dusty's parents would be staying with us on air mattresses at our friend's house...
But just in case, we went home on Sunday night and cleaned our apartment in the heat, getting the guest room ready and hoping that they'd be able to stay at our own apartment at least one night during their visit.
The upstairs had to be 90 degrees. I didn't even mind the heater-less cold shower afterwards.

Despite all these things, Dusty, Erica and I had a really fun weekend together.
We lounged around at our temporary house, playing games and watching Indiana Jones. We shared the fridge to store our groceries, and made meals together. (And finished our ice cream). While we were stressed about the crazy events, we really enjoyed our little weekend adventure. We commiserated. We went out to IHOP one day, and just tried to make the best of things!

Dusty's parents were so great when they arrived Monday night. They didn't complain and were totally up for the adventure. We made it work!
They got us some easy breakfasts, to make the week more manageable.
And Rhonda and I went out for some much-needed pampering after work one night. :)

But the best part of our week was most definitely Tuesday night, when we drove home to see the warm golden lights across the complex. It was an American miracle!
Just in time for the 4th of July.

What a sweet sight.
We had left our front porch light on, so we could know immediately if we had power back.
So that little light above the red door on that white apartment is the sign of true happiness.

We spent one last night over at our friend's house, then cleared out and moved back home on July 4th. Four days and five nights, and we were finally able to be home!
We were fortunate - a large portion of Lynchburg actually did have to wait until Saturday to get their power back.

And that, my friends, is the story of the derecho. May he never come knocking on your door.

In love,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

homeward bound

I used to love that movie. "Homeward Bound."
I think my favorite part was when Sassy got reunited with Shadow and Chance after almost drowning from falling down a waterfall.
I think I just discovered where my fear of water came from.
Anyway, that movie always made me cry. Even thinking about it makes me cry.
I always felt bad for the man who had nursed Sassy back to health, and then had her run away when she heard her boys barking in the distance.
(I couldn't find a video of the exact moment, but this one has a part of it in the beginning!)
"My boys, my boys!"

So, speaking of home, we got to go home for a whole ten days at the end of June!
We went home for our friend Lauren's wedding, and ended up getting to make it a longer trip so we could spend some time with our families.

I think I warned you earlier that I'd be posting about this trip...and that it would include the wedding, a really cute baby, and lots of Mexican food.
I'm going to hold myself to my own promise.

Cue beautiful montage:

Ya know, there's no need for those eyebrow-raising stares. You can't judge us.
Nay, NO ONE can judge us. People don't understand. You will never understand.
People out here think that Preggo and Salsa are one in the same.
They live in the bliss of ignorance, but my friends, we are not so fortunate.
We carry the burden of truth, having to cringe at the "Authentic Mexican Food" signs at every corner, knowing that no matter how much we want it to be true, we will never be fulfilled there.
And we've tried. Oh, how we've tried.

So the 10+ Mexican Food meals we had in an 8 day period cannot be judged.
We needed this. More than you know.

I didn't want to have to tell about this...but I feel I must.
Our first sit-down Mexican food meal was at Si Senor, with Dusty's family.

This kind of glee can't be faked.
To us, the pairing of the classic red and green means more than Christmas, people. It means freedom. And sustenance, and a lot of beans. And more. Like salsa that isn't pasta sauce.

I'm gonna say this fast...
There. I said it.
I tried to order a tamale...and stared blankly at our waiter for 6 seconds (or more!), which is a painfully long time in waiter-world. And then I spit out the word "enchilada". Which is wrong, guys. That's wrong.

So here we are.

Now, instead of judging us for eating Mexican food all day every day for 8 days in Arizona, you are probably just judging us for:
A.) moving to a place that knocks words like "tamale" out of our heads and
B.) maybe for not taking more Spanish in high school and
C.) for actually eating at tomato-paste-serving east coast Mexican food restaurants way more than we're proud of.

All of that to say, home was good. It was really, really good.

We flew out on Friday evening after I was done at work. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole trip. It was hard to believe it had been nearly 6 months since we'd been home!

We spent the weekend with Dusty's family. His brother even flew out from California to spend it with us!

We started out that Saturday with some much-needed Arizona pool time.
(Which was Mexican meal #1, burritos at poolside).
It was an absolutely beautiful day!

One of the most exciting things for us is that the baby population is steadily growing for our siblings. 
My brother and sister-in-law are expecting adorable girly #2 in October (fingers crossed for the 5th, she could be my birthday twin!) and Dusty's sister is expecting her first little one (a bouncing baby boy!) in November.
So we're already incredibly excited for the holidays!
While we were at Si Senor on Saturday night, Emily started feeling her little munchkin kick!
We all got a kick out of the excitement of her brothers -- it was really sweet.
Dusty was determined to feel it, but neither of the boys were ever sure they could actually feel the flutters.

But Rhonda got to feel her future grandson! Seriously exciting. I love these pictures :)

The evening continued to be magical. The sky reminded us of what we'd been missing.

The next day was Father's Day, so we were splitting the day between Chandler and Casa Grande.
I hadn't seen my family yet, so I was getting excited to hug them all!

We had an awesome morning at church, and were able to see a lot of friends and Dusty's extended family throughout the day.
We also had a delicious lunch, including homemade Oreo Ice Cream, which is one of our favorite treats.

We were really excited to give our father's day gift this year. We had been able to do the same thing for both of our parents (Groupon is a marvelous thing), and couldn't wait for them to open it!
For Paul and Rhonda, we got them a canvas print of them in Sedona. We loved the colors of the Arizona landscape :) nothing beats it!

I'd say it's a perfect fit for their dining room!

We were able to have a mini-reunion with some extended family, which was really special!

Dusty entertained our wildest little cousins in the pool for a while, doing all sorts of tricks.
We were both really sunburned from the day before -- although sunburns usually invite people to hit, scratch and bump them, so he gave up trying to avoid vaulting the girls off of his shoulders in the pool. :)

We sure do miss being able to spend the whole summers with these kiddos!

It was such a wonderful, relaxing weekend. We had so much time to chill and just soak up the sun and the bliss of having our loved ones nearby.
We had to say bye to Danny, who was heading back to California that evening.
Erin had been out of town that weekend, otherwise she would've been with him! So by the time the holidays come back around, it will be almost a whole year since we've seen her.
Such an impossible amount of time to have to wait!

Just in case anyone is confused about the "who's who" in our family, I've created a helpful chart for you all.

Just let me know if you have any questions.

We headed out to meet my mom, who was picking up dad's desired Father's Day dinner at Abuelo's (what a good man).
We said "see you later" to Dusty's parents, since we knew we'd be seeing them again at the end of the week. It was a lot easier, not having to say goodbye!

Down to Casa Grande we went!

We arrived to a very happy fatha.
Everyone was there except for my little brother Kevin, who had to work. But we were thrilled to have Michael there, who is busy being a genius in med school!

And, as the star of the show, enter Abigail:

Haha! This is where the "baby" portion of this post starts happening.
I honestly never thought I could love a little baby as much as I love this little booger. I can't wait for her to grow up and we can gossip together and I can spoil the little poo out of her. Right now, she still doesn't really know who we are, which is understandable (but secretly heartbreaking, since we're very self-involved).
I can't believe we're adding two more bundles of joy in the new few months. My heart is going to explode.
I love being an aunt, it's truly a blessing.
She was enjoying the get-together, loving being the center of attention whenever possible.

 She loves her great-grandma and her grand-daddy :)

I remember playing the wobbly knees game, where my dad would hold us on his lap and bounce-bounce-bounce-fall!
He'd let us slip between his knees, but still hold onto us and say, "Where's Caitlin? Oh my goodness, where did she go?"
Sometime he'd pretend we were driving on a really bumpy road.
It's a tradition that has to be passed on.

She has developed a seriously adorable habit of saying "gigglegigglegigglegiggle" in a way that only she can do.

She soooo knows how great she is. What a little monster.

After dancing and running around, it was time for presents!

One of Abby's works of art, topped with "The Best Dads Get Promoted to Grandpa!"
So precious!

Once we got home, we got to give dad our picture, too. :)

We gave him a picture of the two of them in Kilkenny, from our family trip to Ireland. 

It sure felt good to be back in my old room again!!
The summer before we moved out here to Virginia, we worked really hard and cleaned it all out, had a huge garage sale, and re-decorated and painted the room. So now, it functions as Dusty and I's guest room for when we visit :)
But it still has a lot of the old charm from my childhood.

Before long, my best friend Becky was headed over. I think she mostly had to come because I had a belated birthday present for her...I don't even remember if she said "hi" before digging in... :)

She's so purty! I love her.

She had VIP permission to follow us wherever we went during our visit; we didn't have much time to go around seeing friends, since our time with our families was so limited, but she's Becky. She's been a walk-right-in friend since we were little, so she just came to us wherever we were :) we were able to spend a lot of time together that way!

The new few days in CG were really great.
We played a lot of games, continued to eat a lot, and we just slept in and had fun together.

I also got to see another best friend, Amber. We talk almost every day.
She actually kidnapped me when I was 4 or 5, but that's another story.
We got to spend a whole evening together. Her grandma made her famous dumpling soup, which I crave constantly. It was really fun getting to spend time in one of my home-away-from-homes, all growing up!
A lot of fun memories for us. :)

During the week, Dusty and I spent most of our time over at Chris and Amy's new house.

Coffee, donuts and board games :)

In case you ever need to know, my favorite donut is Maple. 
It's the one and only kind of donut I actually love.

If you guys are ever in Casa Grande, do yourselves a favor and go to Little Sombrero.
My go-to there is a bean and cheese burrito enchilada style (no one here knows what the heck that means).
The key is, anything enchilada style there is fantastic.
Us girls went and picked up the Sombrero grub for the whole gang.

This was a seriously refreshing sight.

Aaaahhh, mi amigo sombrero pequeno, me he perdido sus calidos abrazos.

Even though it was 111 degrees outside, it was such a refreshing day.
I loved the heat.

Sometimes here in Virginia, I just sit in my hot car after work for a few seconds, plopping on my sunglasses and enjoying the feel of it.
I miss it. Crazy? Meh.

Now it's the time you've all been waiting for -- a "Baby and Me" slideshow.
I took way too many Abby pictures. Too many but not enough for me :)

She's already a Starbucks baby. She knows how to work a Starbucks cup, and it warms my little heart.
Look at those pigtails!

She also became reeaallly fascinated with Becky's bracelets. It was adorable.
I'm gonna buy her so much jewelry when she's older. 

Just stick with your Auntie Sissy, lil bee. We look good together.

Ya'll are gonna be in trouble when I have my own bebe someday. It'll be a mini overload.

But seriously. Can I help it?

Our last few days before the wedding, we were able to go up with dad and Chris to the Bar conference up in the Phoenix area.
So for us ladies, all that meant was pool time :)

Dusty and I spent the night at his sister's house the night before we were supposed to head to the resort.
We rendezvoused with Becky for some much-needed Culver's time.

I honestly attribute Dusty and Becky's close friendship to the bonding time we had at Culver's the summer before we moved to Virginia. 
While I will never be able to repeat any references, subjects, dialogues or impressions that were made in these extra-special Culver's evenings, I can say that they've meant a lot to all 3 of us. 
I really miss them.

On Wednesday morning, we got to spend some time with Emily and have breakfast before heading out.
One of our must-have stops on the way was to get some AJ's tea!

The snazzy Biltmore.

Abby around the snazzy Biltmore.

Some highlights of our time up there:

1. Going to Christopher's.

This was a restaurant we had been to many times before, when I was younger. My dad took me there often after various Regional events for choir. I also remember us all going there for Mother's Day one year.
Anytime we had something up in that area, Christopher's was the place of choice!
They've moved to a new location in the same marketplace, but Christopher was still there, making his delicious food.
A lot of good memories!

The soup there had always been my favorite.
They have the creamiest, most delicious soups. This time I got a red pepper soup with truffle oil drizzle.
It was devilishly good.

It was such a nice spot!
And wasn't too busy, so it was nice, cool and quiet.

No one can resist desserts.
Even if you're not a "sweet tooth"ed person, everyone has their sweets. Even if you're one of those and you count grapes or dried fruit strips as dessert, at least you have something.
But these would make even the most dried-fruit-toothed people drool.

Well done, Christopher.
As always.

2. Lobby Board Games

Amy, Dusty and I decided to keep away from the sun and hide out in the roomy lobby area, and set up shop.
We unraveled one of our more extravagant board games across 3 of their little mini lounge tables.
It was a blast. Once some of the meetings let out, and it got more crowded, we got a lot of weird stares. Which kind of made it all the better.

3. The Capital Grille and Peek-A-Boo

One of the fancier meals we had this trip was at The Capital Grille.
It was way too expensive for all of us to go -- I think I've officially been blamed for this particular venture. I'll go ahead and shoulder it.
It's an incredible place, with delicious stake, awesome wedge salads, and phenomenal french onion soup.
But the queen bee of all of their delicacies is their lobster mac and cheese.
I can't even, wow. The depth of mouth-watering is truly gross. I could bury my wedge salad in the drool from the mac and cheese. Is that too graphic?
If you haven't been there, pick a night and go. Pronto. Tonight, maybe.

One of the best parts about dinner was that Abby decided to start playing Peek-A-Boo. One of the most adorable features of childhood. She was soooo thrilled with it.

After the wedding, we drove home.
We gave our friend Brenton a ride, which was really fun. We got to catch up on our time apart, and hear about his life and what he's up to. It felt eerily like the old times, making the California to Arizona or visa versa trip to and from school.

We stopped through Chandler to attend the going away party for Dusty's old pastor Curt and his family. He performed our wedding, and has meant a lot to Dusty throughout his life. He was a great mentor, and a great source of wisdom and love throughout our dating relationship and eventual marriage counseling and wedding.
They are moving on to a new church in Phoenix, which is really exciting! We felt really fortunate that the timing worked out for us to be able to go and say thank you, we love you, and good luck!

The morning of our last day in CG, I kinda tried to soak up all the magic of home. It wasn't easy to leave.
I took my time sipping my coffee, looking around outside, and petting good ol' Emery.

We went over to Chris and Amy's one last time, and played one more game with them.
We had to rush to finish to make it to our lunch reservation on time, so we didn't even really have time to clean up the table from all the game pieces.
We headed out to have our final meal at Mi Amigo Ricardo's, another Casa Grande favorite for me. 

The last hurrah.
This is when it started getting really emotional for us.

It didn't help that my sister-in-law posted this picture almost immediately:

Saying: "Sad empty table of memories past. Please hurry home again, Caitlin & Dusty!

Both Dusty and I simultaneously burst into tears as we drove further and further away. 
It was a tough moment!

Luckily for us, we headed straight up to see all the Schanakers in a movie theatre to see "Brave". 
Something fun and light-hearted, to ease our pain!

Our time in Arizona was slowly winding down, and we had to be at the airport at 4:30am on Monday morning.
But, the earlier you go to the airport, the sooner you get home!....right? 

But, C'est la Vie. That's another story. :)

In love,