Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Making our escape...

Pat and I spent the last two days planning our escape from our little house on the hill and we accomplished that mission today.
First, our plan required that Pat make it to the house and he did that on Sunday afternoon. He had to park our van at the top of our street and walk the 7/10th of a mile home... that might not sound like a lot, but it certainly is when you're walking in snow and slush. He said the hardest part of the hike was the 1/10th of a mile of our uphill driveway which was covered knee-deep in snow!
I started Sunday morning by calling around to see if I could find someone who could clear our driveway. I called the old owner (who owns a lawn care service) and he doesn't clear snow.
He told me the best thing to do was to call someone who had a tractor because a truck wouldn't be able to get up our driveway.
After calling a few companies, we realized that it might be after Christmas before someone got back to us... and then most of them wanted $180 an hour for their work!
We decided the best thing to do was to at least make ourselves a path to the road because we were going to have to try to get out by Tuesday (when Pat went back to work). From our house, it didn't look like our portion of the road was drivable, but we wouldn't know that until we actually got closer to see how it was at the bottom.
I got up first (as always) on Monday and went out to get the snow off my car...that process took 30 minutes, but I realized that we were going to be shoveling more than two feet of snow in most places.
When Pat got up a short time later we both went out and started working on the driveway while the children slept. When the kids woke up, Pat shoveled on his own and then Savannah and I joined him when Julius took his morning nap.
We got a car length path down more than half of the driveway before Pat started working on a human-length path to the bottom... that was because the snow shovel I bought on Thursday began to crap out and he decided to stop before we had no shovel.
After shoveling into the afternoon, we realized that it was going to be impossible to get our van down the road because we would never be able to get it back up the hill.
We decided the only thing to do was to walk to the van... first with our luggage and then with the children.
We started that effort on Tuesday morning with Pat taking the first load... and once he cleared the driveway and the first hill he saw they had cleared some of the road and it was drivable. He got a ride (thanks to a neighbor with a 4x4 vehicle) to our van and moved it a little closer to the house.
I took the next load and lugged it down our driveway and up the hill to the van. A little boy shoveling snow offered to help me... because I must of looked pitiful lugging a suitcase n a street covered in slush.
It took four trips to get all of our luggage and the children to the van and then we took off to Charlottesville to spend two nights at a hotel before we can leave for our Christmas holiday.
Thank goodness we sent "Santa" home with Mom and Dad a few weeks earlier because we would have had to make more trips to load that in the car... it would have been crazy!
If Pat had left work today there would be no way he could have made it home as our road and the secondary road that we take to the highway are both covered in ice... and walking in the dark would have left him in the ditch.
I'm hoping that we can get home next week when we return... although it looks like the kids and I might be at Mom and Dad's over the weekend. Pat, who has to return to work on Saturday, is going to check out our road and see if we can come home safely.
Here are some pictures from our escape effort... I didn't risk taking out the camera on our journey to the van.
We had plans to go down to Mom and Dad's on Wednesday night so we decided the best thing to do was to all leave the house

Grandpa Gene's favorite cake...

I made a lemon pound cake on Sunday... it was Daddy's favorite cake and I can't make it without thinking about him. It's not a hard recipe at all... in fact, it's just a box of lemon cake mix and a box of lemon jello (along with the other ingredients to make the cake).
I don't know why he loved it so much, but Daddy always asked me to make one of these cakes for him... and he no one could make it like I did so I had to do it.
In the days before he died, I sent him a box of small lemon muffins made from the same recipe. The only difference was I glazed them with a lemon glaze... and I don't think he liked them the way he liked a regular cake.
I bought the ingredients several months ago, but never got up the energy to make the cake because it makes me a little sad. But Sunday I made it to celebrate Pat finally making it home after being "snowed out" of our house for three days.
Here are a few pictures... I think Daddy would approve.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An early Christmas wish from Savannah (and her Mama)...

Savannah in the snow...

I waited until Julius took his afternoon nap (now a daily ritual) to bundle Savannah up and let her go out into the snow again. She had a blast trying to help me shovel the steps to the driveway and then trying to walk in the snow.
I was taken back to her first snowfall in Jan. 2008 and it is amazing how fast time has flown! My little girl who batted her eyelashes at the snowflakes is now her own little person filled with gusto and attitude.
I'm so very lucky to have both of my children and it's these moments that remind me just how blessed Pat and I are.

What happens when Savannah has idle time on her hands...

I was making some phone calls for the newspaper earlier and Savannah thought it would be a good time to go through my new purse.
She was so excited to find some stickers... which are known to grown-ups as U.S. STAMPS!
Savannah wasn't too happy when I took the "stickers" away from her, but I wasn't about to let an $8 package of stamps go down the toilet!

Playing in the snow...

I bundled up the kiddies and let them venture a few steps out our back door this morning... Savannah was chomping at the bits to get into the snow, but I think she quickly realized it was almost impossible to walk in, let alone really play!
She did make herself a little pocket and started throwing snow around and having a good time... and only lost one of her gloves (which I quickly recovered).
Poor Julius wasn't quite sure what to make of the white stuff, but he sat in it a few minutes while I snapped some photos.
I hope to let Savannah get back out while Julius takes his afternoon nap so I can let her really enjoy herself. She wants to go out the front door, but I don't dare risk one of them sliding down the hill... I think I'll wait until Pat comes home to let them have that adventure!
Here are a few pictures from our first venture out.

Winter Storm 2009 - Take 1

Here are a few pictures that I took this morning of the view outside our house. It looks like we've had about two feet of snow already and the white stuff is expected to continue until late tonight.
Pat, who stayed in a motel near the newspaper on Friday, will stay there again tonight as I'm afraid he won't be able to get down our road after dark tonight. According to the sheriff, all the secondary roads in the county we live in are impassible.
I'm hoping that he'll be able to make it home after daylight tomorrow and even if he can't drive up our driveway, at least he'll be able to walk up to the house.
Savannah is still sleeping, but I'm sure she'll want to get out in the snow and play. I will try to take pictures between rounding up children and will post later in the day.

Gifts from Great Uncle Jules and Great Aunt Doris

Before I start posting photos of the winter storm, I want to put a few pictures up of Savannah reading to the stuffed animals she and Julius received yesterday from their Great Uncle Jules (short for Julius) and Great Aunt Doris.
Our Julius is named after his Great Uncle Jules (and Great-grandfather Julius) so I think he feels a special connection to our little fella.
Savannah thinks every package that comes to the house is for her and I was happy to open it for her as she got very excited.
It didn't take her long to show them how things work in the Fitzgerald house... every dolly and stuffed animal needs a story to get him or her through the day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow...

Mother Nature decided she wanted to give us an early Christmas gift tonight and is sending in the snow...and I'm not talking a little, but a lot.
The local weatherman predicted we'll get between 16 and 24 inches of snow in the next 24 hours... a scary amount for a Georgia girl who thinks seeing a dusting is a big deal!
Pat, who has to work on Saturday, is staying at a motel room near his office so that he doesn't have to travel in snow tomorrow. It was my idea and his boss said the company would pay for it so they could be certain he would be able to work... he's even called in one of the employees and told him to take off so he could get his furlough day in this week!
Pat thanked me tonight because he realized getting home would have taken hours and getting into the office tomorrow would probably have been impossible. Although I miss having him here tonight and playing with the children tomorrow, I don't have to worry about him being on the roads while people are trying to get home.
I promise to dress up the kids and let them get out in the snow tomorrow for a few pictures (and maybe even sneak out in the early morning and get a few pictures from our front door.
I know it will be beautiful, but it certainly means we'll be stuck up on the hill for a few days and won't be able to see family before the holidays.

Savannah's Gingerbread House...

Savannah and I built our first gingerbread house this year from a kit I bought at the World Market. I actually built the house and did a little of the roof work and Savannah finished it up with her own unique touch.
As you can see, Savannah ate a few decorations as she went along.
Here are a few pictures from our adventure...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Freelancing Mama...

I've finally finished all of the freelance work for the newspaper and luckily it was more than enough to pay for all of the Christmas gifts I bought and "Santa" for the children. It's been a hectic three weeks, but it's worth it if we can put some money into the coffers that covers those extra expenses.
I got a chance to write about several great people who spend their time giving back to others. It reminds me that it doesn't matter what you do, but it's important to give back when you can.
I think my freelancing budget is tapped out this month as I've written eight stories and had almost 500 miles of mileage... so I'm not sure if I'll be doing any more stories until after the New Year.
I'm just thankful I was able to do all I got to do!

My early Christmas gift...

For a while now, I've been asking Pat for a new camera that would allow me to take pictures of the children at a speed that will move with them. A few days ago he surprised me with my early Christmas gift... a new Canon Rebel.
He gave it to me early so I could be practicing for next week when the Jolly Man comes to see the kiddies. We're going down to Mom and Dad's house in Virginia Beach and I'm hoping to get lots of great shots of paper flying and Julius climbing in and out of the boxes!
This is a powerful camera and I'm still learning all of its functions... so please bear with me as I practice on my children and place many of those pictures on here.
These pictures were taken at a nearby home that is ALL decorated for the holidays.
P.S. The picture of Savannah with the sticky mouth is after she ate cinnamon twists... as you can see she loved them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Too cute...

Savannah and I went into Kroger yesterday and I gave her my change to put into the Salvation Army's collection can. The bell ringer was an older gentleman who looked like he was "ringing the bell" as part of holiday charity and not because he needed the money.
Anyway, Savannah walked up and put the change in one coin at a time... and when she was done she looked up at the man as if to say "What are you going to do with my money?"
When the man looked down at her and said "Merry Christmas!" she looked up and said "Merry Christmas" as she ran into the front doors of the store.
IT was adorable and made everyone that was around us say how cute she was!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Our Julius...

I couldn't add pictures without a few of the most special little guy in my world.
Julius, who will be 10 months old next week, is already taking a few steps on his own.
Each day he amazes me with his ability to do things at such a young age.
Here are a few pictures...

Thanks Mickey and Megan...

Our friends, Mickey and Megan, were kind enough to send the children some books (and a card game) for Christmas. We got the package yesterday and Savannah saw the books before I had a chance to put them away and wrap them up for Christmas.
Anyone who knows our daughter knows that there isn't a book she isn't fascinated with.
Here are some pictures of Savannah "reading" her new books.

The five (of many) faces of Savannah...

Savannah asked her Daddy to take some pictures of her this morning... I guess she wanted to show us all of her moods in one photo shoot.
So here we go...