Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Soooo busy - but having fun

Last I posted was Sunday - man, how time flies!! Monday, I was frantic trying to get my house somewhat presentable for house guests. My sister, Marysia, arrived on Tuesday. After picking her up from the airport, we two sisters, were quite excited to see each other. Both of us were talking a mile a minute with our volume getting higher and higher. We had so much to say to each other and kept talking over each other in the excitement of the several days we would share. Of course Madeline, an only child, does not quite understand this type of volume since it is usually fairly quiet at home. As the volume level escalated among the sisters, Madeline pipes in from the back seat to tell us, "No screaming, girls!". Needless to say, Marysia and I got a case of the giggles over that.

After the airport, Marysia, Madeline and I headed over to visit her in-laws (the most hospitable people one can ever meet) for lunch. After we left Marysia's in-laws we were going to run a few errands before heading back to my house. Yet, we decided to first take a drive through our childhood neighborhood. Madeline was quite quiet in the backseat so I turned to discover that somehow she got a hold of my make-up bag and was busy decorating her face with lipstick. This photo does not do her cosmetic artwork justice! Again, another case of the giggles for Marysia and me! In the evening, David grilled us up some yummy steaks and afterwards Marysia was nice enough to help me out with some decorations for Saturdays reunion.

Today, David headed off to work but us girls had the luxury of a leisurely morning. We finally got our butts in gear and did some shopping. Marysia is all set for an outfit for Saturday but I still have no idea what I am going to wear.....ahhhhhhh!!!! We did have a good time shopping and we each bought somethings, but nothing for the big event. We did end up buying some casual tops for summer. We both liked the way one of the tops looked and figured that it was okay to each buy the same top since we live in different states. I have included a video below of us with these tops on. The video is absolutely goofy. I have to explain....I was trying to take a photo of us in the dressing room with matching tops on. The video (although poor quality because it was taken with my cell phone) shows us posing for a "photo" however when I realized that we were recording video instead, another outburst of giggles follows while Madeline is telling us to stop laughing. That poor girl....between her Mama and Marysia and the arrival of Margaret, Paul and Rachel later this week, Madeline will be scarred for life!

video

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dress-up (Times Two)

Yeah, yeah, yeah....I know, I am a blogger slacker lately. I have also been soooooo swamped too! Friday, during the day I had a reunion event planning meeting.....it's getting close!!! Saturday, Madeline had dance class and then in the afternoon she attended her first birthday party for a peer. The girl (a daughter of one of David's co-workers) is actually a year younger than Madeline but since Madeline is so tall for her age she just towered over her. The party location was a Party Paradise type place that you just show up, have a private room for your party and the kids played with all sorts on things....climbing sets, dress-up clothes, zip-lines, etc. We had pizza and cake and Madeline had a wonderful time. The only down part of the party is that someone brought their kid, who was sick to the party. Oh.....it gets better! This kid actually puked after the pizza. As a parent, wouldn't you take your kid home at that point? Oh no....they continued to stay the entire party. Needless to say, I doused Madeline in the anti-bacterial gel. Let's just hope that she didn't leave with an unexpected "party favor".

Today, Madeline was able to get all dressed up in her dance costumes and go into the studio for her dance pictures. Madeline was a happy camper because she was able to get some make-up applied for the photos. Above is a photo of Mama-Dirtyfoot giving Madeline a "spa-day makeover". I took these pictures of her in her costumes before she had the professional shots done. I just wanted to give Mama-Dirtyfoot readers a sneak peek of Madeline's recital costumes. The green costume is for tap. For tap, they are dancing to "I Won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan. The pink "elephant" costume is for ballet. For ballet, they are dancing to "Horton Hears A Who" from Suessical the Musical. Now the question is....(a) Will Madeline dance like a pro at her recital or (b) Will Madeline be one of those 3 year olds that stands on stage in their pretty costume, not dancing one step because they have a severe case of stage fright? Certainly, I hope for choice (a) but if I had to bet money....I am leaning towards choice (b).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Franken-kitty (graphic)

Today I picked Packard up from the vet. Good news is that she is doing good and seems much more comfortable. The bad news, however, is that the vet said that the mass that was removed was not a cyst and she is confident that it is malignant. The vet felt that the tumor was pretty aggressive as it was attaching onto the muscles and was at the beginning stages of invading the skull - although no brain matter was exposed. The vet removed at much as she could (about 95%) but did not want to mess too much with the area too close to the skull because as she said, she is "not a brain surgeon". She did, however say that the growth stretched out a lot of the skin atop Packard's head so when she went to stitch up the incision she had to trim away some of the extra skin. Oh....not a neurosurgeon but obviously a cosmetic surgeon. I guess Packard got a free "face lift" :-)

So, one of two things can happen. (1) The tumor can come back and/or spread or (2) things can sort of remain as is and Packard could live to eventually pass away from natural causes at an old age. I'll take option #2!

MNO (Mom's Night Out)

Busy, busy, busy during the day yesterday - although not near as productive around the house as I should've been! "Franken-kitty" (Packard) was dropped off at the vet in the morning for a surgery to remove her big lump on her head. (I guess I can no longer call her "Lumpy"). In the evening, I headed out for my MOMS group's monthly "MNO" (Mom's Night Out). This month we had a mini-party at a local cosmetology school's studio. You had a choice of a number of services you could have done for only $4 each! I wasn't daring enough to have a soon to be graduate cut my hair so I opted for a make-up application and a wash/style (see photo....but DAMN, look at those wrinkles at the corner of my eye!). It was fun for all the moms to "glam up" and chit chat.

Afterwards, I headed out to a club that a former grade school classmate (Mike) manages in the Southtowns. Due to his job he had the ability to offer some great donations for the upcoming reunion/fundraiser and I headed out to pick them up. How crazy it is to see someone you haven't seen in about 20 years! I had a chance to meet Mike's wife (Fun girl! She is a bartender at the club.), catch up on life as well as catch each other up on the other schoolmates that we know the whereabouts of. This pre-reunion's reunion was fun but also got me extremely psyched to see all my other former schoolmates/childhood neighbors at the upcoming reunion (May 2nd)! I'll post those photos after the event.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sugar High!!

This morning Madeline and I had to leave the house early to drop Packard (aka Franken-kitty) to the vet. Packard is having surgery to remove the large cyst and drainage tubes in her head. Neither Madeline nor I are morning people so we didn't have much time for a healthy breakfast before having to leave the house. Instead, I didn't eat and I fed Madeline what I call the "fast food breakfast", a 1/2 banana and a cereal bar, in the car. After the drop off at the vet, Mama-Dirtyfoot was in dire need of coffee. My intention was to drive-thru for a coffee & donut and maybe a Timbit (donut hole) for Maddie. However, I needed to go to the Dollar Store and had some time to kill before they opened at 9am. Madeline and I headed inside and the Tim Hortons had their HUGE donut display case at Madeline's eye level. I told Madeline that she could pick out a donut for herself. Wouldn't you know it....she picked out the most sugar-laden donut in sight! Luckily she only ate a couple bites of it.

This evening, I am getting a Moms Night Out (MNO). The MOMS club I belong to has a monthly MNO. This month it is a mini-spa party. One of the woman has a connection with a local studio and we are getting INEXPENSIVE treatments. We will have the whole place to ourselves so we will also be able to bring refreshments. I am sure this will be a nice girl's gab-fest. After that I am heading out to the Southtowns. One of my former schoolmates manages a club there and I am heading over to pick up some basket donations for the upcoming reunion/fundraiser. Gosh, being a social goddess is tiring!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last Minute Frenzy

I am still quite busy trying to, I guess just catch up on everything. My main priority (other than Madeline & David, of course) is getting things squared away for the reunion/fundraiser that I am working on. This is a twofold project because (a) I have the reunion details to sort out and (b) I will have houseguests (3 siblings and a niece) in from out of town for the reunion. Again, I am soooo excited about seeing my family but my house is a DISASTER.

Today my house was reunion central!! The deadline for tickets is tomorrow but my phone (and email) was ringing off the hook today with last minute ticket requests. I was afraid that we wouldn't have a good showing but now I am thinking we might hit capacity by the time we truly have to cut off ticket orders. This will be a fun evening! I get to have a night out on the town with my siblings, aunts, uncle and friends as well as reconnecting with some long lost friends. The icing on the cake, above and beyond the reunion aspect of the event, is that it is also a fundraiser for a good cause.

What else is new....nothing. Madeline is doing her thing, Mama is keeping busy and Papa is soooooo swamped at work. He'll even have a couple late nights while my family is visiting (ummmm, one a dinner with the Governor!). Also, Packard...aka "Franken-kitty" is going in for surgery tomorrow to get her drainage tubes and cyst removed.

Pray for our sanity in the next few weeks at the Mama-Dirtyfoot household. Hopefully things will calm down a little and David and I can start thinking about summer road trips and relaxing evenings out on our deck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sooooo Non-Productive!

I was soooooo not productive enough this weekend! Friday was a social evening for me as I went to a wine tasting party at a friend's house. The party ended up carrying over to a neighbors house for a huge bon fire. On Saturday, (the only productive thing I did) I had some time to shop at a craft store for some supplies for the reunion/fundraiser that I am helping organize on May 2nd. Also, David, Madeline and I took a ride out to Jos A Bank to take advantage of a great sale! David needed more work clothes so we ended up buying 3 suits.....crap, menswear is expensive!!! Today, we scoped out some areas for houses (here we go again). Yet the mounds of housework that needs to be accomplished was hardly touched.

I still have mounds to do for the reunion/fundraiser that I helping organize on May 2nd. My house is a DISASTER and I will have house guests beginning April 28th. As far as preparing my house, with a 3 year old, I am taking one step forward and two steps back. This week is crazy for me....a Doctor appointment for Madeline (a shot), a "Mom's Night Out" event, Madeline's swim lessons, Madeline's dance class, Madeline's dance photos (on a different day than her class) a 2 year old's birthday party, a 45 min drive out (each way) to pick up donations for the fund raiser (plus the time for the social visit) and also a reunion/fundraiser planning meeting.

I will try to keep all posted on our daily adventures but things will be a bit chaotic for a couple of weeks. Please stay tuned even if I lag a bit in regular postings. As of now I have a lot on my list of things to do and I just don't know where to start...... Oh wait, I know!!!.....ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phobia In The Making

If Madeline grows up with a fear of butterflies we can at least say that she takes after her Aunt Carolyn. We could also say that we know where the fear came from! The schools are on spring break here. My friend, Tammy, is a teacher so she and her two daughters have been home all week. We made plans to get together today and started our day enjoying a gut-busting Bob Evans late breakfast. We also decided to be spontaneous and take a ride across the border, into Canada. We ended up visiting the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls, Ontario. All I have to say is - Way Cool!! The experience was much better than I anticipated.

During the course of our visit I would say that I probably had 15-20 butterflies on me (not at the same time). At first, the butterflies flying around appeared as though they were swooping at you but....you know how butterflies fly around aimlessly. Once you got used to it, the experience was really neat and quite educational. Both Mama and Madeline were freaked out at first but eventually we were both fascinated by the butterflies. I have include some photos of Mama-Dirtyfoot and Madeline as well as Tammy and her daughters, Jenna (in red) and Tanya (in blue) , exploring the conservatory. The video at the end of the post is while Madeline was still freaked out. Yes, that is her screeching in terror. I do have to say, however, that Madeline really enjoyed herself after a while. Once we left, Madeline kept asking, "Mama, 'member the butterflies"? When we got home, Madeline was quite excited to tell Papa about seeing the butterflies and telling Papa about watching the butterflies eating.

But before Tammy, the girls and I headed home we drove over to Clifton Hill (the tourist strip in Niagara Falls, Ontario) and stopped for ice cream.....yum! The weather here today was great and it was a perfect day for an ice cream cone.

















And the video................
video

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slacker

I feel like such a blogger slacker. I haven't posted nearly as much as I did while we were in Europe but after that experience, I feel as I have nothing exciting to say.

What have I been up to lately?

-Easter is over but now I have to (1) stop eating the damn candy and (2) get those baskets, decorations etc back down in the basement and stored for next year. I hate that part of post-holidays!

-It took forever to catch up on laundry after our trip but now I am buried in it again. I had to hurry to do all our travel laundry as I had a repair man in on Friday to repair a small crack in our basement wall (we would get water during a winter thaw or a heavy rain). In preparation for the repairman we had to disconnect our washer and dryer. Also, while the washer and dryer were moved out of the way, David decided to tile the laundry room floor before reattaching the washer and dryer. I am now trying to unearth us from the laundry that buried us during this time.

-I am in the last minute frenzy of planning a large fundraiser reunion from the former school/parish of my childhood. I am having fun working on this but it is keeping me busy! In fact, I am heading to the hall for a meeting later today.

- I am in the midst of some serious (and much needed) spring cleaning. Three of my five siblings are coming into town for the reunion and will all be staying at my house. I am SOOOooooo excited about that however, if I don't clean they will think we acquired some new cats as my dust balls are the size of a kitty!

Oh yeah....and somewhere in there I am squeezing in a few social gatherings. I couple MOMS club field trips, a MOMS club Mom's night out, a wine tasting party at a friend's house, a trip to a former schoolmate's to pick up basket donations for the reunion and an afternoon get together with my friend Tammy.

So, what have I been up to? Nothing....but a whole lot of everything.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Dyngus Day!

For those not from the Buffalo area (even if you *are* Polish) you might not even know what Dyngus Day is. Dyngus Day is a day of celebration on Easter Monday. What has evolved through the years as playful courting rituals (water play and flirtatious tapping from pussy willow branches) has become just one big excuse to party. In fact, Buffalo, NY is considered to have the world's largest organized Dyngus Day celebrations. If you were to ask my dad about Dyngus Day's roots, he would've snubbed his nose at the actual authenticity of its Polish background, yet as the lyrics of one polka song says, "Every body's Polish on Dyngus Day". Actually, to accommodate the Dyngus partiers, an entire section of the newspaper was devoted to outlining the Dyngus Day bashes around town. The pussy willows are still plentiful at Dyngus Day celebrations. It's not uncommon to get swatted by pussy willows as you pass by someone yet, after people began bringing "super soakers" years ago, water guns are now banned at all celebrations.

If you know me, you know that I was born with my dancing shoes on. I got that from my mom! I remember dancing with my mom to the radio in our kitchen - and now I do the same with Madeline. In later years, as an adult, I would go out polka dancing with my mom at lease once a month. Knowing how much Madeline also loves music and loves to dance I decided to ring up an old dancing buddy to head out to an afternoon Dyngus party (The afternoon parties are *much* tamer than the evening ones!). Madeline had an absolute blast!! The biggest challenge on my part, however, was trying to teach Madeline that you must circle the dance floor's perimeter and not take over the entire "stage". I would say that with Madeline's enthusiasm, polka will not die in her lifetime! Above is a picture of Madeline being a polka band groupie.

Happy (Belated) Easter

We ended up having a pretty quiet, laid-back Easter. All three of us ended up sleeping in a little bit (I think we are all now finally readjusted to our own time zone.). Since we were running a little behind and still had to eat breakfast and hunt down Easter baskets before church we decided to hold off having Swienconka (Polish Easter) until later in the day. Therefore we had a "lazy mama" breakfast of frozen pancakes.

Madeline had fun looking for her Easter basket this year. It was fun watching her look around and her excitement when she found her basket. The Easter bunny did good this year and gave very limited amounts of candy, although the bunny had some other non-candy treats in there instead. The Easter bunny had fun filling David's basket too but.....um, sent Mama shopping for her own stuff??? Hmmmm..... I think I need to have a talking to with that Easter bunny to set him straight for next year.

I can't complain too much, however, because we did end up getting a new camera to replace the one that was left in a taxi in Dublin. Mama-Dirtyfoot is happy about that, although I haven't quite figured out how to add pictures from my camera to my computer yet. I had to have David transfer them to the computer for me. We have to find time to have David give me lessons.

We ended up having the blessed food for dinner on Easter. We ate fresh (not smoked....or as others say 'the gray stuff') kielbasa, ham, Swiss, rye bread, a butter lamb, hard boiled eggs, potato salad & wine for dinner. We had placek (crumb coffee cake) and a poppy seed coffee cake for dessert. Ohhhhh soooo Polish! As you can see from the photo, by dinner time I changed out of my Easter clothes and was nice and comfy with a big baggy sweatshirt and my hair pulled off of my face in my "Mom hairdo".

This meal is somewhat passable for David if eaten later in the day but my mom always served this as breakfast and David could hardly stomach it that early in the morning. I guess it makes sense why such a heavy meal was traditionally eaten early Easter-because Catholics were able to break from their Lenten fasts and indulge in all the naughty things that where given up during Lent. (I remember staying up 'til midnight one year so I could have some chocolate!)

Yes, this Easter was quiet and uneventful but it was very relaxing and filled with family time. What a wonderful way to spend the day reflecting on God's gifts to us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eve

Today, aside from taking Packard to the Vet (see post below), taking Madeline to dance class, and running to our tax guy to sign the consent forms for electronic filing, we also prepared for our Easter celebration. Here are some photos.....

Coloring Easter eggs














The finished product














Our baskets. We took our food for tomorrow's celebration in baskets (Polish tradition although the last memory of me doing this was as a little girl with my Grandma M.) for the afternoon "Basket Blessing" service.














Oh yes, and the every so important toilet fixing that David so patiently had Madeline help with.














Oh yeah.....and a video

video

Franken-kitty

Okay....just a warning......for those that are faint at heart, I will not post the photo until the end of the post so that you may choose not to look. One of our kitties, Packard, has had a lump on her head. It wasn't giving her much difficulty but was getting quite large and therefore we wanted to have a vet take a look at it. Packard was brought to the vet in the Fall and it was determined that she had a cyst. The vet, then, told us that we could keep an eye on Packard and bring her back if it started to bother her. Recently the lump got larger and was starting to pull on her eye.

Today, David took Packard to the vet while I took Madeline to dance class. I spoke to David on the cell phone prior to seeing Packard again. Packard had the cyst drained and the vet opted to keep a drainage tube in her for a few days to help the cyst continue to drain. I asked David how Packard was doing and David said, "Fine, except she looks like Franken-kitty". David explained over the phone that the tube is sticking out of Packard's head in two spots. I asked him if it looked like antena but David said it looked more like she was stabbed in the head with a straw. Yep, that's pretty much an accurate desciption. The tube (straw size) pokes out on the front side of Packard's head and proceeds to poke out of the back side as well. Yep, pretty gross...but Packard is doing great (although David was feeling a little week-kneed when he saw Pacakrd at the vet)

By the way, we have come to call Packard, "P" for short. We have also called her "Sweet P" but since the cyst we have been know to call her "Lump-P". I guess now that she has a straw out of either side of her head, we may now call her, "Sip-P". GRAPHIC PICTURE BELOW>>>





Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Preparations

We are still slowly getting re-adjusted to the time difference since our return home. Also, we are in the midst of preparing for Easter. Yesterday, Madeline and I headed out to Buffalo's Broadway Market. The Broadway Market is a 120 year old market. The market is located in Buffalo's inner city. Other than the week or so before Easter, the Market is basically deserted. However, once a year, suburbia swarms the Market in order to taste a bite of nostalgia and gather the goods for their family's traditional Easter meals.

Yesterday, Madeline and I headed to Buffalo to partake in the traditional regional holiday chaos. We bought a very fragrant hyacinth, pussy willows, fresh horseradish, poppy seed coffee cake, placek (Polish for a crumb coffee cake) and a Polish hand-painted egg. I also picked up some fresh whole bean coffee and some hard to find wine from a regional winery. Also, while at the market Madeline made a visit to the Easter Bunny. I do have to say that the Market's bunny was the lamest I had ever seen! You could totally see the guy's face through the costume's eyes. Oh well, Madeline didn't seem to notice.

Although there are plenty of meat markets at the Market, my mom swore by Redlinski's kielbasa. Unfortunately, Redlinski's Meats is located a few miles away from the Broadway Market. After leaving the Broadway Market, Madeline and I took a ride out to Redlinski's to purchase some ham and kielbasa for Sunday's Święconka (traditional Polish Easter). The place was absolutely mobbed! We walked in, grabbed a number to begin our wait. I looked at our number - we had #71. However, they were on #7!!!! I thought I would try to wait out the line but five minutes into the wait, Madeline decided she wanted to use the potty. I decided to leave and try to return at a later time. Today, I headed back and although the place was still very busy, my number was being called as I was pulling it off of the roll. The return trip was completely worth it! We still have several preparations to make for Easter but at least we still have another day to accomplish what we still need to accomplish.

By the way, the photos that are posted were taken by my cell phone. There has been no news on our camera that we lost in Ireland. I am thinking that another "Easter preparation" will be to buy a new camera.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recovery Time

Yesterday and today, by the time 9pm rolled around, David and I were pretty much ready for bed. Although the luggage is unpacked and 98% of the laundry is done, I am still moving in slow motion. I can't seem to light a spark under my butt. Although the laundry is done, it is sitting folded just waiting for me to put it away. The suitcases are empty but I have a few piles of things sitting on my stairs to take up with me, yet I keep passing it by. All the souvenirs for others are unpacked and sitting in piles waiting for me to pack them up and move them along towards their future home. And now I am beginning to think about the list of things to do to prepare for Easter - such as re-introduce Madeline to the concept of the Easter Bunny (I don't think she remembers much from last year).

Now that I am home, I feel like I do not have anything exciting to report....other than, "I'm tired"! I have bet David that we probably won't be re-adjusted 100% until the weekend. Until then, coffee is my best friend. And now I am off to bed! G'nite!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home......Finally!

We finally made it home! With 24 hours of travel, it was quite the journey. We woke up at 7:30 am in Dublin (2:30am EST). Loaded up our suitcases (which, by the way will need to be replaced after this trip. We lost a wheel on one of the suitcases and the handles broke on two of them!) and headed to the airport. Upon arrival at the Dublin airport, we found that Continental was having trouble locating return flights for Madeline and me. Hmmmm....was David trying to ditch us in Ireland??? We had to leave the general check-in counter and go to the customer service counter. This was quite stressful because the time remaining to our flight was ticking away as we stood there waiting for them to figure out the problem. Also, we could see the absolutely HUGE security line and were worried about making our flight. WE did, however, get through security and had only a few minutes before they started boarding the plane. The flight from Dublin to Newark went very smoothly. Thank goodness, because 7 hours on an airplane with a 3yr old has the potential of being hell. But, I must say, Madeline was awesome! That is until we landed and got in line for Passport Control. At this point, Madeline was quite tired and hungry (she hardly ate any of the food on the plane).

If you have never flown internationally, I have to describe the process once you land. What a nightmare! When you land, you have to go through Passport Control, where they look at your Passport to see what you have been up to. Then, you have to get all of your luggage (the stuff you checked in) from the baggage claim, then you have to go through Customs to declare any items, next you re-check your suitcases for your connecting flight (in our case from Newark to Buffalo....which, oh yeah, just like in Dublin, they had a hard time finding our tickets in Newark too!) and finally, you proceed through the security gates again. It was a hoot doing all of this while trying to juggle our carry-ons and a screaming, tired and hungry 3yr old. Somewhere in this process we found out that our 2:45 flight was cancelled. This flight would have gotten us home around 4pm. The next flight was at 4:30pm but was booked and after that the next flight was at 9:15pm. David tried to hook Madeline and me up to fly stand-by on the 4:30pm flight so that I could get Madeline home to bed and he would just take a later flight home. In the meantime we considered driving home from Newark, but all the car rentals were sold out. We also considered a train but that didn't depart until 7:15am. Finally, we considered that we would get a hotel and fly out the next morning but we were told that the next flight available was 9:15 PM the following day. So we waited and waited and waited.....

The 4:30PM flight got canceled. The 9:15 flight kept getting delayed. During this time, we grabbed some dinner and thankfully, Madeline fell asleep (as did I for a while on the floor of the airport....YUK!) Finally, our flight was rescheduled for 11:15pm. David's co-worker, Carolyn, gave us the heads up to get our seats re-checked. Now, I must tell you that during this process, David was on the phone with Continental and they said that we were confirmed on the 9:15pm flight. About the time we are ready to board the plane we were told that we did not have seats on the flight and that we had to go stand-by. At this time David and I were about to "go postal" because we were told that our seats were confirmed on the 9:15 flight.....even though it was now well after 11pm, we were still boarding the "9:15" flight. Luckily, we didn't have to cause an ugly scene because we were able to get on the flight. After all was said and done, the plane finally departed at 12:30am!!.......Oh, we are not done!!!

The flight itself freaked me out. I am not the best of fliers. But, to make matters worse, part of all the delays were due to weather. We were on a prop job - the same type that crashed in Buffalo 2 months ago because of icing. Yep, we were flying the same route, in the same type plane, in similar weather conditions. Also, my rock, David was seated (not by our choice) about 10 rows away from me. I knew we were getting ready to land but because of where I was seated and where the landing gear is located on this type of plane, I was able to see the landing gear go down. Just as I thought to myself, "Hmmmm....that seems a little early", one of the flight attendants runs down the aisle to her seat and quickly buckles in. All I could think was what's going on?!?! Now I am crazed (being sleep deprived doesn't help the situation), I turn to the flight attendant who is only two seats behind me and ask, "Is everything okay?" The flight attendant just looks at me and then starts staring at her hands and doesn't say anything. I try again. "Is there a problem?" I get the same response. By this time, in my mind I am thinking that she just can't tell me that we are going to crash. She is turning inward because she knows that we are all going to die. I look out the window and the landing gear is still down and we are flying, flying, flying but it doesn't seem as though we are anywhere near the airport - although, I couldn't see the ground due to the weather anyway. I turn to the flight attendant again and say, "Is there a problem?" Finally, she responds, "Are you talking to me?" Geez, all this time I thought she wasn't responding because she was saying her prayers. Well, now that I had her attention I asked if there was a problem and she said she had wanted to clean up one last cup and wanted to get back to her seat before the landing gear came down. Hmmmm....only a little relief on my end. I wouldn't feel better until we landed safely - I still couldn't see the ground. Why was that landing gear down so early??? So there I sat, looking out the window, inspecting the wing for icing, and waiting to spiral out of control. But alas, we broke through the clouds near the Eastern Hills Mall - only a couple of miles from the airport. I could see the snow on the ground and prayed for a safe landing. Obviously, since I am typing this, we arrived in one piece at 1:45am Whew......get the luggage and go home.
Not so fast.....

That's right folks, one of our three suitcases was lost. Now, at 2am I am standing in line to report a lost suitcase. After a mini-nervous breakdown at the lost luggage counter we had to retrieve our car from long term parking and head home. Finally, we got home! We awoke in Dublin that day at 2:30 EST and arrived at home the next day at 3:30am EST! The kicker is that David had to be to work for an important meeting at 8:30am!

Yes, that trip home was hell but, things could always be worse. David, Madeline and Mama-Dirtyfoot are happy to be home, in one piece, with 3 of the best cats and oh, I can't forget, the BEST bed in the world! (and they found our suitcase!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

STUCK IN NEWARK!!!!!

We are all EXHAUSTED!! and we are stuck in Newark! Maddie was very good on the trans-Atlantic but began to hit the wall when we got into the airport.....just to find that our flight was cancelled due to weather. I probably won't post until tomorrow.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Heartbreaking Day - Day 14 (Back in Dublin)

We are absolutely drained and ready to head home tomorrow. The opportunity to do and see all that we have has been wonderful but dealing with the airports and flights on TWO consecutive days with a 3-year old has exhausted us. And to think that we have a trans-Atlantic flight tomorrow AND a connecting flight from Newark to Buffalo! All three of us are drained and to the point of getting testy and everything is starting to annoy each of us.

We started off today with breakfast at the hotel, a swim in the hotel pool and a flight to Dublin. I must say that London's Heathrow airport in and of itself is the size of a country. Just navigating that would exhaust anyone. We checked into our room, dropped our stuff and caught a taxi to head out for dinner and some souvenir shopping. Madeline was getting a kick out of these two Leprechaun street performers. I wanted to get a picture of the events and that is when we realized that David forgot to grab the camera when we got out of the taxi. I have to say that it felt like someone died. David and I went back to the location that we asked the taxi driver to drop us, thinking that the taxi driver might have returned it there - no luck. We hung out near the corner where the driver dropped us off thinking that he might circle around - no luck (and there are about a gazillion taxis in Dublin). Luckily I happened to glance at the Taxi Drivers name id and I remembered his name. We spoke to three different taxi drivers, who were all very helpful. They gave us information on the best place to call to check in on the camera however, it is not open on Sundays and we have a flight out in the morning. We were chit chatting away with the taxi driver and we do believe that the taxi guy was a nice, honest man. However, it is quite possible that he didn't notice the camera bag before another fare hopped in the taxi and that person could've snagged it. We gave contact information all over the place and pray to God that somehow it gets back to us.

Luckily for me, I do blog and therefore I uploaded pictures into the computer every night. So, the only pictures I missed out on were of Madeline in the pool this morning and this evening in Dublin. What is truly heartbreaking is, not the camera. Although there is expense there, it can be replaced. It's not the pictures, as I said most of that is already in the computer. What is heartbreaking is our pin collection. It began when David and I got a free souvenir pin for riding the Bobsled in Lake Placid. We thought, "What the heck are we going to do with this?", so we stuck it on our camera bag strap. From there it grew and every time David and I would travel places we would add to our pins. We had a Hard Rock Cafe pin from Moscow, another Russia pin, Berlin, London, Dublin, Outer Banks, Chicago, Frankfurt, Disney,.....and I can't remember the others off hand. Like I said, it felt like someone died. BOTH David and I said that we just felt like crying.

So now you know why there are no pictures with this post. I thought of pulling a graphic off of Google Images like I often do. Yet, I thought the lack of photo would more closely represent the loss we are feeling.

So, tonight, please say a prayer to St. Anthony (the Patron Saint of Lost Things). St. Anthony has interceded for me many times and he has always done the trick. I will pray the prayer to St. Anthony that my Grandma O. would always say, "Tony, Tony, look around. Something is lost and can't be found."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hello Heathrow - Day 13 (Back in London)

Today we began making our way back home. We flew into London Heathrow. We wanted a more relaxing day so we didn’t venture back into downtown London. Instead we took a taxi to Windsor. The town is so nice. It reminds me of Niagara-On-The-Lake except 50 times larger and a huge castle plopped in the middle. We strolled around in the nice Spring weather, did some window shopping, “ooooo’ed and aahhhh’ed” at Windsor Castle and had a bite to eat for dinner. We got back to our hotel at a decent enough time but decided to save the pool until tomorrow morning. Tomorrow we are off to Dublin….more from there. But below are some pictures of our day.

Another shot of Windsor Castle (also castle seen from a distance that takes up the *entire* horizon in the photo at the start of this post)











Photo of small bridge in Windsor crossing over River Thames









Maddie on Merry-Go-'Round









Madeline on swings











Mama and Madeline at dinner








Friday, April 3, 2009

Last Day in Berlin - Day 12

David had to get up early today to catch a flight. He had a 1pm meeting with a company in Frankfurt today. So, his day consisted of catching a 9:30 flight to Frankfurt, an hour drive to meet with a company, an hour drive back to the airport and an hour flight back to Berlin in order to get him back here at around 7pm. So, with David in Frankfurt, Madeline and I had the day to hang out together. Quite honestly, it was very impressive to see the sights that I did see, but there was nothing else here that I really felt I needed to go out of the way to see. Parts of what I saw were quite impressive, yet I preferred London and Dublin better. Madeline and I headed out to run some errands. I was quite impressed with myself that I could manage these everyday kind of errands by myself, in a foreign country with a language barrier (even though Berlin is quite large, many people speak very little English.)

Madeline and I headed out, bought a yummy pastry to split. I next found a bank (ATMs don't seem to be everywhere like they are in the States). Next stop, the Apothecary for my sore throat....I think I am getting what Madeline and Carolyn had. Then I found a post office and a store that carried batteries for my camera. These are all easy errands back home but the language barrier magnifies the ability to get your bearings. I am proud of doing this by myself in a foreign county.

After these errands, Madeline and I dared to catch a subway back to Kurfurstendamm (aka Ku'damm), where I was the other day. Yes, we had to take 3 different subway lines and I managed to do this with out any guidance....yippee!! Madeline noticed the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church that was greatly damaged in the war and said, "Church has no cross", because the top of the steeple was missing. She wanted people to climb on top and give it a band-aid.

Mama-Dirtyfoot and Madeline stopped out for a girl's lunch out. We shared a Shnitzel, potatoes and cole slaw. I cut up the Schnitzel to resemble chicken fingers. She chowed on some of that and absolutely devoured the cold slaw (not like at home. No mayo...mostly just cabbage). The potatoes were delicious but Madeline had absolutely no interest.

After lunch, Madeline and I did a little window shopping. The main reason we went back to the Ku'damm was because I saw a really cool bed & bath shop that had a huge variety of rubber duckies. I thought Madeline would get a kick out of picking one out as a souvenir. She chose a small pink duck with darker pink hearts all over it. This photo of Madeline is her pointing out the above ground train to me. We were only about two doors down from the duckies store when I snapped this photo.

When we got back to the flat, Madeline and I layed down together for a short nap. Madeline didn't nap but I dozed off....it felt so good! Later, David came back and the 3 of us went out for a bite to eat.

Tomorrow we start working our way back home. Long story....but we are not heading directly back home. We have one night back in Londaon and then one night in Berlin. I am sleepy now and need to work on packing more so I will end here. Next stop, London.

Side note: Marysia and her family are heading to Costa Rica tomorrow. I wish them tons of fun and a safe relaxing trip. I miss talking to you, Mush, and I hate that I have to wait to chit chat with you until after *you* get home....well after I do. Have fun! Love you!






Thursday, April 2, 2009

An New Day, A New Little Girl - Day 11 (Berlin)

A good night's sleep did wonders for Madeline. She woke up a brand new person. I still wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of venturing out too far this morning as I wanted to make sure that Madeline continued to rest. David ended up coming back to the flat at about 2:30pm and by this time Madeline was bouncing off the walls and Mama-Dirtyfoot was pulling her hair out! Therefore, after a full morning and early afternoon of "resting" for Madeline, we figured it was okay to head out for a little bit. We hopped the subway here. It is nowhere near as nice as the Tube in London but still very easy to navigate. We took the subway to the Olympic Stadium (1936 Olympics). The stadium is quite impressive and the architecture, as David puts it, was designed to make you feel so small but yet part of something great all at the same time.....hmmm, how fitting for that time.

Madeline had a great time getting some fresh air and running around in the grassy open areas around the stadium. We also enjoyed seeing the landmarks of the stadium itself. I have included some photos below. The photo directly to the left is of Madeline running around the outside of the stadium.

Below is a photo of the Olympic Stadium's swimming pools. I thought of my nephew, Chris, who is well on his way to a future Olympics.

















Below Papa and Madeline are standing by where the Olympic Torch burned. Below that, Madeline is enjoying sitting next to Papa, overlooking the stadium, as they rest their feet.




















I find these last two photos of the Stadium fascinating. Madeline is standing by the original bell that hung in the clock tower of the stadium. The bell has a German eagle holing the five Olympic rings in its talons on one side, and the Brandenburg Gate on the other. The bell also had two swastikas cast into the rim and as you can see (near Maddie's foot) are still partially visible. The bell was damaged during WWII. There is a hole the in one side of the bell and a long crack that passes through the bell as a result of the bell tower being destroyed.


































After visiting the stadium, we hopped on the subway again to Potsdamer Platz. This area is very rich in history. It is all quite interesting and for a true appreciation of this area you can read a very brief synopsis by clicking HERE. At Potsdamer Platz there was a public art display that acknowledged the history of this area. Here, they also had small sections of the Berlin Wall displayed in the area along the parts of the path of where the Wall once stood. This photo is me standing near a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Currently in Potsdamer Platz, there are plenty of shops (although I enjoyed the Ku'damm, where I was yesterday, much better. I think I might head back there tomorrow.) David, Madeline and I took a stroll through a shopping center. It is quite common here to take your dog into stores, etc. As we were strolling along, we stopped to watch a fountain that had "dancing" streams of water that would occasionally pop out and jet across, criss crossing, to the other side of the fountain. This guy with his dog also stopped to watch the water and the dog was going nuts because it so badly wanted to get the fountain streams. The dog was whining, and eventually yapping at the water. Before long, the owner finally allowed the dog on the ledge of the fountain so that it could "attack" the water as it came out. It was the funniest thing. Not only was the dog having a blast, but Madeline was having a blast watching the dog.

After our stroll we stopped for dinner. We tried an Australian themed restaurant because it had outdoor seating with cozy outdoor heaters. Leave it to me to order the wild, wacky and adventurous item off the menu - a kangaroo meat wrap! (It was between that and Crocodile Tornadoes) After dinner we hopped back on the subway to head "home", but first Papa and Madeline had a blast playing with the fountain near the restaurant. After getting back, David had to go to a business social with a bunch of contacts. It was sort of like a happy hour event that was set up by a person at one of the companies that he has been working with. You have to go along and be seen, rub elbows, etc. The social was....Salsa dancing! Ummmm......if you know David, that is Soooo not his thing. It is totally up my alley, but not David's AT ALL! So, I had the evening to myself to blog (Carolyn and Jeff went too.) David should be home soon as he has a long day tomorrow. He is flying to Frankfurt for the day so Madeline and I will be exploring on our own tomorrow. Tommorrow I will fill you in on those adventures.