Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Family Visit & Changes on the Home Front

First, I must mention how incredible the weather has been here in the suburbs for the last few days. It's been breezy and between the 60's-70's! It's sure nice since most days are over 80 and close to 90 degrees, with humidity. It has felt exactly like what I'm used to in Southern California.

Moving along... we were so happy to have Ray's parents and grandparents visit last weekend. Ray's parents are now on summer vacation (though my MIL still has work but is lucky enough to choose which days!) and more available to come out and visit. They brought along Gramie and Papa for the visit to explore Chicago (though they've all been before) and see our home. When they arrived on Friday, I had lunch waiting for everyone. We had the champagne glasses cued up with white grape juice and sat down to eat. At this point, no one had any idea we were about to break some serious baby news! They were just assuming we were being sweet and toasting their visit.

Ray gives the toast and says something along these lines... "We're so happy to have you all our here to visit and that Gramie and Papa were able to come ... and that Brandy is pregnant!"

Oh, the faces. Between the tears and dropped jaws, I think we thoroughly surprised everyone.

Quick backtrack... when we told my parents via Skype just 2 days prior, we had similar reactions. I had been cleverly scheming how I would creatively tell them, so we sent my dad a package for Father's Day, full of goodies. At the bottom was a wrapped present for the both of them. My dad was so confident that he knew what it was until it was opened-- Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul with a post-it that announced they are soon to be grandparents! Inside the book were photos from our first ultrasound appointment. My mom asked me THREE times if I was pregnant. Three times!

Needless to say, we shocked everyone.

On Friday afternoon, I chatted with the ladies while Ray took Papa and his dad to his work to give them a tour. When they came back, we had dinner and hung out. They were all so tired from their early rise, the 1-hour time difference, and the flight. It was an early night.

Saturday was the downtown visit. Kay, my MIL, had booked tickets for us all to go on an Architectural tour through the waterways in Chicago. We drove down there quite early and I'm sure glad we did! The traffic wasn't forgiving and the Puerto Rican parade that was going on had the streets blocked. It was difficult navigating with two cars, but we managed to get there in time for lunch before our cruise! It was a 2-hour cruise around the waterways and we listened to a recent University of Chicago graduate of architecture discuss all things related to the building structures, their architects, etc. It was nice to be out on the water on such a nice and sunny day. Ray and I even walked down to Navy Pier to grab some amazing Garrett's Popcorn to share with the group. They also had muffins, cookies, and beverages for us on the boat cruise. Here's a photo I took on the cruise...

We finished the evening off with a nice dinner at a popular restaurant, Rosebud, in Naperville. Gramie and Papa treated us to dinner this night and the food was great! We had so many leftovers because they serve such huge portions.

On Sunday, we made our way to church in the morning and to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. It was awesome! We had no idea that this place near the 88 freeway would be so nice. We walked through some of the park and were able to drive through the rest. There are hiking and biking trails as well as a fantastic children's area. We'll definitely become members and go more frequently when we have kids of walking age. During our drive through the park at the end, we felt as though we weren't even in the same state! It really felt like we were driving through a mini version of a national park. I highly recommend checking this place out some time... especially if you have kids or like hiking in this flat state. That evening we headed to a Father's Day dinner at the House of Emperor Chinese restaurant. My FIL, Steve, loves Chinese and we're also big fans. This place came highly recommended and we really enjoyed it.

Before they left... Gramie and Papa also had a special surprise for us. Because Ray has an Air Force military background, Gramie and Papa wanted to honor him by giving us a family heirloom that means a great deal to Gramie and Papa as well as Gramie's late mom, Big Ceil. As you can see below, there is a large photo of a man-- General A.W. Vanaman, Gramie's uncle. This (vase) was a gift given from their many military travels and is now a family treasure. This is a Cloisonné vase. Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork and often involves intensive skill and precision. Each coil is a tiny piece of wire inset and decorated on another metalwork. It really is striking. We're honored to have it.

We had a wonderful visit with Kay, Steve, Gramie, and Papa! We're so happy they came and we were able to celebrate so many great things with them. We'll see them again in August when we drive to Pennsylvania for the annual family reunion at Seven Springs.

On another note, the house work has been non-stop. Actually, that's not true. This week, it hasn't really been a big priority and as a result, we've had a wonderful time being a carefree (almost) married couple. On Friday evening, I went for a run and Ray played ultimate frisbee with a bunch of our friends... I joined later and was able to socialize with some of the girls we know from our small group. We went out to dinner that night (though the food at Pete & Johnny's was terrible) with all the friends who played frisbee. We spent this past Saturday at a pool party for a friend, Jessie, dinner with our friends Sandy & Chuck (tried a new-to-us deep dish place, Lou Malnati's), and went to see Date Night at the movies with our friends Derrick and Liz! Sunday was equally fun because we went to church, relaxed, and had a game night with our friends Jim & Kristi.

But, since there is some housework that has been done recently, I'll update y'all. This is actually pre-repair, but I have no photos from what it looks like now because I don't have a desire to sweep the deck for a photo! Ray scrubbed, by hand, the entire deck, replaced all of the rotten boards (which required him renting a truck from Menards himself, strapping the wood in, and returning the truck), and stained it with a paintbrush BY HAND! I helped a bit with the railings and it took a lot of time and effort. But hopefully the deck will last us a few more years! The dangerous boards are all gone and new ones have taken their place. Try to envision a more cherry wood color and that's what it looks like now!
Also, I don't believe I ever posted a photo of our finished dining room. The chairs are here and being used. We love the decisions we made on both the table and chairs. We're so happy we bought the chairs at Carson Pirie Scott for $85 each rather than at Crate & Barrel for $200 each!
The basement basically went from a finished (and gorgeous) basement to an unfinished basement with no carpet and lots of missing drywall in a matter of a week's time. We found water damage and all kinds of other things that just frustrate me to talk about, so I'll just leave it at that. Luckily, the rest of our house functions just fine despite the unfinished basement. It's nice to have enough space that we don't really need it. Though, eventually we will re-do the basement and get it all fixed and usable. That time is not right now.

Finally, here's a new addition to the front of our house... the flag! Just in time for the 4th of July, Kay, Steve, Gramie, and Papa left this behind for us as a gift. I think it looks perfect!
Okay, what a post... I'll probably post again tomorrow about the baby, but until then, I think this is enough reading material! :)