Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Parties

The doldrums of winter are here. There is very little to look forward to other than the occasional snow day. In fact, as this is being written, we are in our 3rd snow day of the school year with a good chance of the same tomorrow. I've finally acquired a snowblower so the days of shoveling the entire drive are behind me. I can't understate how great this device is. I can clean off my entire driveway in minutes rather than hours. Last year we had one snow storm that was particularly nasty. 16+ inches of snow. Same for the winter of 2005. There is very little to like about this kind of weather. That is, until the invention of The Blizzard Party.

The Blizzard Party was invented circa winter of 2005. Our dear friend Desmond came over to our house during one of the snow days. Des and I decided that making a pot of chili sounded like a good idea. We hopped in his truck and made our way to the grocery store. On our way in we saw a mass exodus of road construction workers with cases of beer under each arm. With this image as inspiration, Des and I decided that having a few drinks didn't sound like such a terrible idea. Des, Jackie, and I had a great time eating chili, drinking beer, and watching movies that day. Thus, The Blizzard Party was born. In the years since that fateful day, we have enjoyed numerous Blizzard Parties. One might ask, "Do you have a Blizzard Party whenever you have a day off?" the simple answer is no. For one, it would get too expensive, but there are other factors too. #1: It has to be a weekday. What fun would it be if it were on the weekend? #2: There has to be a high probability we will have the next day off. Those are really the only two factors we look at, but #2 has been ignored before.

There usually has to be forms of entertainment other than movies. We've gotten a lot of milage out of the Nintendo Wii and the Play Station 3.We've played cards and board games too. Other friends have joined us too, but the core three were always there.
Unfortunately, Des moved to Massachusetts last summer to pursue his doctorate. Our Blizzard Parties were thought to be over for good. However, mother nature smiled upon us over his Christmas break and we were able to enjoy one this year. Now that we have a daughter our Blizzard Parties are even more low key, but the times spent with good friends is always worth a day off.

Friday, July 30, 2010

End of the Summer

Another summer comes to an end! :( I have to report Monday morning to work on curriculum. I have no idea when we actually start though. The past month has been busy, but slower than the first 1/2 of summer. Since last post, we celebrated 4th of July over in Grand Mound. For a small town, it packs a helluva punch for celebrations. We kicked off the celebration with the water parade. Basically, it's a town wide water fight. We hung out @ the Blakes for the duration of the day with 40 some people. Fireworks began and blew our minds! BEST FIREWORKS EVER!!!

Next up on the calendar was my party. Hooray for making it one year!!! Ross and I frantically tried to finish some housework up and clean. Unfortunately, the basement entryway (which we just re-sheetrocked) was still 1/2 purple and 1/2 white. Friends and family came over and fun was had by all.

RAGBRAI came to Storm Lake. I took a few days and went there. I played and helped paint. Ross got to enjoy some quality Madeline time.

Besides doing that, we've been busy cleaning up Madeline's art work. She chooses to color on herself, sheets, and walls. Magic Eraser was a great invention. That's about it. I'll keep you posted on what 6th grade is like.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Summer?

Crazy week! Got back Monday. We didn't do a whole lot except laundry until Thursday. Thursday, we went up to Storm Lake and hung out. Friday, we started the traditionally "Petersen weekend at the lakes". Got the tents set up, air mattresses up, beds made, everything ready to go camping....it didn't happen. Sometime before bed, after dark, our tents flooded. We no longer were able to camp. Kyle's dad was nice enough to let us commandeer the large cabin.

It started off by looking like we weren't able to go boating :( After getting ready, eating breakfast, and running to Walmart, we were eventually able to get out! Madeline loved it and even got in the water. It didn't last long. Her, dad, and grandpa went in so Madeline could sleep but she wasn't able to.

We got back in, set up our tents/beds/camping materials, ate supper. Relaxed by the fire. Unfortunately, another line of storms came threw. This time, the sirens went off. The 6 adults, Madeline and two dogs headed into the Hartje's crawl space. What an eventful night!


We decided to stay in Storm Lake. Enjoying an awesome episode of True Blood!!!!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

"There's been a murder...in Savannah"-The Office

Not too surprising!!! It's been a GREAT trip. We got here Friday around 6:00 a.m. Andy picked us up. We headed over to Courtney and Andy's adorable carriage house apartment. We hung out until we met Courtney for lunch at Zunsi's. It was the first of many amazing meals!! We went to Target...we needed to buy a new camera. (Didn't happen) We headed to Pelk and I bought a suit. I know it was our first day in Savannah, but Andy and I headed to a movie. Ross hadn't slept since Wednesday so he went back to their house and slept. We went and saw Toy Story 3. VERY good movie. The coolest thing was that we met up with someone who worked on the animation (the wheeled "characters"). Cool to see her name up on the big screen during the credits. Once the movie was over, he picked up Ross and met up with Courtney to go Moon River for BBQ. Another AMAZING meal!!! Off to Lulu's Chocolate Bar for great desert cocktails. Friday was a pretty low-key night.


We were BUSY!! We headed to Bonaventure Cemetery, Fort Pulaski, Wormsloe Plantation, and then to Tybee Beach. Not to mention the Crab Shack for lunch!! We got back in time to get ready to head out for supper. We went to the city market and got Vinnie VanGoGo's pizza. To say one slice of pizza was enough is an understatement! Once we got done eating, we headed off to the bar where the pub crawl started.
We managed to get crazy drunk during the pub crawl. We visited 4 pubs. The best thing about Savannah...OPEN CONTAINER IS LEGAL!!! We ended up at a bar singing karokee. Bedtime came around 3 a.m.


Sleep in!!! When I woke up I didn't realize it was 10 o'clock already. We got ready and had a brunch at J. Christophers. Crabcakes Benedict with cheesy grits!! :) After lunch, we spent about an hour just driving around town. We saw a bunch of squares, the Mercer house, their old apartment and its resident (a cockroach), and a store where they sell nothing except honey and anything dealing with honey. The thing is about Savannah...it is either breathtakingly beautiful or the hood. There is no happy medium. Courtney and I dropped the guys off and we headed to the market. We stopped at the candy shop and took a carriage ride. That lasted about an hour. We came home and are now waiting for supper. We are grilling tonight. Courntey is relaxing in bed. I'm relaxing on the couch. Andy and Ross are in the kitchen cooking.

As soon as I get home, I'll get pictures up.

We head home tomorrow...we leave around noon. I GET TO SEE MADELINE TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!! Although, it has been a GREAT vacation!! It'll be nice to get home for a few days before we head off to the Lakes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Goodbye, my Love

My last entry on our second leg of the trip. We are finished with Charleston. So many highlights from today, where to begin? Breakfast (eggs Meeting street)? Guided tour of historic Charleston? Dolphins frolicking in the water heading out to Fort Sumter? Spending an hour at Fort Sumter? Visiting the Marketplace? Amazing supper? Who knows!!

What a great day!! Most of the day was spent on our tour. We started at 10:00 with a guided bus tour of historic Charleston. the latter half of that tour was a stop by Fort Sumter. (For those of you who don't know, that's where the Civil War began in 1861.) On the ferry to get out there, we spotted about 10 dolphins swimming close to us. We got back around 2:30. Ross headed up to the room to relax, while I headed out the sightsee. First stop, the cemetery we were at the day before, but I didn't realize John C. Calhoun was buried there. (History note for non-history people: he was Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and VP during the Civil War.) Off to the Market. Good thing this was all in a 6 block radius. Got some cute things at the market. I could have spent HOURS and hundreds of dollars there.

Once I got back, we spent some time researching a new camera. Oops! Then, off to supper. I know it's early, but we didn't have lunch and we are going to bed early tonight since our Amtrak train leaves at 5! Until Savannah....


I have fully fallen in love with Charleston!!! Who cares that it smells; it probably smells better than me!! (especially with all this heat!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not an angry Asian, but still a broken camera....

It's me again. Charleson really is my town, so I'm in charge of the blog. If you ask me, today was AMAZING. It began by sleeping until 10! Yeah!!! We got ready and enjoyed breakfast at the local spot Toast. Enjoying breakfast is an understatement. We split an order of fried green tomatoes, topped with a crab cake, then a poached egg, topped with a roumalade sauce. Not to mention a side order of grits. AMAZING!!! Then off to explore. We were a less than a block away from our hotel and this random cemetery showed up. We decided to go in. As we were looking at the old tombstones, I tripped. I went down HARD. Unfortunately, the camera broke my fall. It also broke in the process. I skinned my knee up too. We went back to the hotel to try to work on the camera. We got it into somewhat working shape and headed off again.

The first stop, the Old Slave Market. What a surreal feeling. We were in the exact spot that they bought and sold slaves. No pictures allowed though, not that it really matter. Our fricking camera is broken. We read tons of information, heard testimonials from former slaves (previously recorded for those non-history buffs), and saw artifacts. We spent a good 30 minutes there and it isn't that big of place.

Next stop...the French Hugenots Church. Amazingly beautiful. Right when we walked into the cemetery, there was a sign stating that Charles Pinckney was burried there. (Another history buff thing). I got a picture of his tombstone after scrutinizing the tombstones. Another surreal feeling. We saw tombstones dating all the way back to the 1700s!!!

Okay...Ross headed back to the hotel. He wasn't feeling well. I headed off to find some place that sells cameras because tomorrow is Fort Sumter. Luckily, CVS Pharmacy is about 1 mile from here. I got to see A LOT of really interesting and historic while looking for it.

the rest of the day is going to be spent hanging out in the hotel and cooling off. Tomorrow's adventure is made up of a tour of historic Charleston followed by 1.5 hours at Fort Sumter. It should be a good day. By the way...bought the camera...it's for a fricking PC!!!!!!! Good thing it was only $20.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


OMG!!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT!!!!! Yesterday was one LONG ASS day. We got picked up at a prompt 7:45. We were going to head to Kennedy. Nope. Another stop. Yay!! Kennedy! Nope. Another stop. This continued on for the next hour. Finally, we were told that we were going to the airboat, next stop. Cool. I would recommend it. I'm undecided if I'd do it again though. We climbed into the flat bottom boat and headed off. Within the first minute, we spotted the largest gator we saw. 10 feet!! We saw about 10 gators yesterday. They ranged from a baby 4 foot gator to the massive 10 foot gator. I didn't realize how shallow that water was, until I saw a herd of cows walking though it. Not the smartest move it you ask me. The tour lasted about 40 minutes.

Next stop...Kennedy Space Center!!!!! I was really worried that we were going to be there too long. HA!!! We were there for 5-6 hours and didn't get to see everything. Wait...Hall of Fame first. I had no desire to go there, but I am SO glad I did. The artifacts on display were interesting. They had space suits from different eras, a mock-up of a Gemini (NOT the easiest things to get in or out of by the way) and dozens more. We were left there for 1 hour. Perfect amount of time.

Off to KSC. We rush in and over to the KSC tours within the complex. It's a guided "at our own pace" bus tour. 4 stops. Stop 1...observation deck. We weren't able to go up to the place where they take off from, but we were within a few miles (close in NASA terms). We saw flight deck a and b. I didn't realize there were two of them. We also saw the caterpillars (the big huge machine they use to move them over there. This machine moves a whopping 1 mph. There were two of them.) Along the same lines, we saw the "road" the caterpillars use.

Stop 2...Saturn/Gemini Space Center. Having no idea what this stop was, we contemplated skipping it. Thank God we didn't. We watched a few short movies about Gemini and the Apollo missions. We stepped into the actual room that was used to launch the famous Apollo missions 11 &13. Of course, they talked about Apollo 1 and 8 as well. The movies got over and the doors opened into what I can only describe as holy shit! THE actual Saturn 5 rocket was in the next room. This thing is AMAZING!!!! It's vast, huge, gargantuan, beastly. We took pictures. I sent some to my mom via my phone. "They look like 5 tin cans". That's about the only accurate desription out there. I can't eve begin to describe the enormous machine. The detail is unbelievable. I was able to touch a moon rock, go shopping again, eat nasty space food.

Stop 3...??? I don't know what it's called, but we were able to scientists working on the STS133 materials. (I learned that STS stands for Space Transit System and the numbers are the numbers of missions. IE...the last mission to fly was STS 132.)
Stop 4....back to KSC vistor's complex. Once we got back we knew we wanted to visit the shuttle, do the shuttle experience, and the 3D Hubble IMAX movie. We were not able to do the shuttle experience, but we did the other two things.

It took me 3 times visiting Orlando to get to the KSC. But I finally did it. It was interesting to learn that they have created thousands of everyday devices in our lives, ranging from the microwave to pacemaker. Not to mention the small amount of time, energy, and researches devoted to space research. NASA is in no way shape or form a waste of time or money. I could have spent all day there, easily, but I'm a nerd like that. Last year, over 40 million people visited Magic Kingdom. 2.5 millions visited KSC. Where are the priorities??