Luke and Jessica’s Wedding

Bridal ShowerLuke was approximately a year old when my fiancé and I had the opportunity to babysit him (my fiancé‘s nephew). Little did I know at that time that the tiny baby I had in my arms would be celebrating his own walk down the aisle a little more than 25 years later.

Yet somehow there we were, packing our gear into our Honda Fit and heading off to Connecticut for an incredibly beautiful wedding. Zeb and Bri are staying with us for a while so they were able to come along with Mom, Chris and myself.

After dropping Mom and the guys off at the place we were staying, Bri and I headed to the bridal shower where we got to meet the bride officially for the first time. We played games and got to talk with Jessica, who seems like a lovely addition to the family. I didn’t any pics aside from this one since I was busy playing the games (and I won a Starbucks gift certificate in one game–lucky night!), but I can tell you that it was fun seeing all the love in the room.

Since the shower was an hour away, I got to spend some time chatting with Bri while we drove, which I really enjoyed.

The strangest thing happened that night. I didn’t get lost. Anyone who knows me will understand what an odd phenomenon that is. And yet it happened. I kind of liked it.

The day of the wedding was pure magic. I’ve never seen anything go so smoothly. We were able to sleep in and get a good rest then we all dressed up and headed to the venue where people laughed, talked, dined, and danced. Vows were stated outdoors under a pristine blue sky and under a trellis by a lake. Our grand-niece did a fantastic job being the flower girl. Here are some pics of the ceremony itself.

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The photographer took family photos and bridal party photos then we headed upstairs for the reception. Amazing food and awesome conversation!


Bri ended up with the bouquet (with some help from Aunt Susan). There was a funny moment when Zeb wasn’t aware of what was happening, but when he heard Bri got the bouquet, he made sure nobody else was going to get that garter. I do think his cousin, the groom, kind of helped him by aiming his way.

The night ended with a fabulous chocolate fountain and sparklers as the wedding couple went on their way. I already miss all our relatives and friends with whom we were able to catch up with there, but the memory of the enchanted time lingers happily on.

Here are some of my personal favorite pics of the day (click them to make them big if you want):

And finally, here’s a fun video summary of the day thanks to Google Photos:

 

On the Road Again

IMG_3342Northern NY, Connecticut, northern NY, West Virginia, northern NY  (with relatives visiting) then western NY. Those were our past two weeks. Very fun and very full. And I fully intended to write, but somehow when I finished my work each day, I was packing, unpacking or just plain ol’ hesitant to crack a computer. I’m a wee bit fried, but it’s all good. Loose ends are finally getting wrapped up, and our lives on the western front (of NY) now have an expiration date.

I’ll do this in catch-up pieces so it’s not too bulky. Let’s start with the car. Times are changing. My man can fix anything, and we live accordingly. In our now 25+ years of marriage, we get a mini-van every few years. They are rust buckets he fixes up, and once we bought one with less than 100,000 miles on it. It baffled us. We kept thinking something was wrong with the odometer. But you know what? Chris is so swamped with our life changes–adjusting to a new home and weeding through generations of treasures from the family (now that we live in a home once owned by his grandparents), that he just doesn’t have time for the car maintenance. And now we want to spend time we have traveling and visiting our grown kids. This last trip to Utah was an eye-opener. It’s time for things to change in our arena.

So we opened our minds to alternative choices.

CJ has been raving about his car deal and telling us it isn’t a horrible move getting an other-than-rust-bucket. And Zeb and Bri (Zeb’s girlfriend) have been saying the same. Bri has had a Honda Fit for many years, and adores it. The more they talked about it, the more we realized it might be the perfect Fit for us (see what I did there? Haha). The mileage is excellent (42 mpg on highways) and with it’s high roof for a little car, it holds a ton. Depending on how you configure the seats, you can easily fit snowboards or bicycles inside the little thing. And the front seats recline so they are almost completely flat in case you want to sleep in the car (which we do in our minivans when we camp). Aaaand we’ve found quite a few Fits for sale with around 250,000 miles on them. Apparently the engines last forever.

We hit Craigslist and dealer sites and found a dream deal in Ct. It seemed so good. We called in the morning, and they said it was still available so we hopped in our broken minivan and took the 4-hour trip to Ct. Only to find out that it was sold the day prior.

Yeah, you read that right. The day before.

And we are very proud of ourselves. We didn’t let ourselves get too depressed, and we didn’t blow up angrily or lash out — all of which are natural instincts. Instead, we parked at a gas station, pulled out the mi-fi and our computers, and really started researching. Connecticut has a lot more Fit opportunity than northern NY. After a half hour or so of dedicated research, we found a place with a beautiful red Fit. I hit their live chat (which I love to do since I do live chat in my job — it’s fun to be on the other side of it). The car was there, and twenty minutes later we were there.

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What a difference from the first place, which made us feel like we were in a machine (one with false info). This place was down-to-earth and friendly. Yet professional. We drove the vehicle and loved it. We didn’t feel pressure, muss or fuss, even though we were getting close to their closing time. In fact, it was only upon our questioning wherein they let us know of other options. And we fell in love with a black one. With tinted windows so my computer won’t get overheated as I work while traveling. And lots of USB ports and charging areas. As a worker-often-on-the-road I was sold.

Chris was sold after seeing the moon roof.

We drove back the next day to pick it up and had a delightful experience at a local coffee shop as we waited.

So yeah, we have officially entered the world of grown-ups. Thanks to our kids. And now have a reliable car. That had 26,000 miles on its odometer (now it has 28,000). This is perhaps a dangerous thing. But it’s amazingly fun. Thanks for the prodding, kiddos!

PS. Not gonna lie, it was a bit embarrassing to realize that we are so outdated and behind-the-times that when we went to leave the lot, we realized we didn’t know how to start the thing. Had to ask for help. How embarrassing, yet funny. I get that.

 

 

Why we Stayed in Lisbon for a Month

Lise arrives after a loooong cab ride (yay strikes)
Lise arrives after a loooong cab ride (yay strikes)

I blame our month-long stay in Lisbon on the fact that I have a cousin in Denmark (how fun is that to say?). The original intent of the trip was a 1.5 to 2-week stint. I was going to join my work team in Lisbon for a meetup for a week, and Chris would join me at the beginning or end. Then my cousin said she might be able to spend some time with us, too. The time we were staying stretched onward, and we finally realized that staying for a month in an apartment was not much more expensive than spending a couple of weeks in a hotel. No brainer. We booked. She visited.

We had a marvelous time with my cousin and her man. You’ve met her before if you read this blog. She played Monopoly with us last year. Thing is — I haven’t seen her live in about 8 years. This was such a treat! So much better than Zoom (although I’m grateful for that).

Lise and Chrissie on the Yellow Bus Tour touring the modern section of Lisbon.
Lise and Chrissie on the Yellow Bus Tour touring the modern section of Lisbon.

Chris and I are serious walkers, and Lise thought she was, too. But the hills in Lisbon proved a little too much for a post-leg surgery patient, so we hit the Yellow Bus Tour. It had horrible reviews, which made me a bit nervous, but we had a marvelous time. I do have to say that in the on-season and on weekends the reviews are justified, but for a low-key weekday in April, it was a fabulous experience.

We sat in an uncrowded bus and cooled off under blue skies while soaking in the history of the city — both old and new. We also enjoyed funiculars, trolleys and ferries as part of the tour. If a radio didn’t work, we switched our seat. No problem.

On the weekend we struggled to get room on the trolleys (hence the correct reviews comment earlier), but weekdays were bliss.

I’m not sure what part of the Wed-Mon visit I loved best (apart from just being with Lise in person). Perhaps it was sharing the wonders of a continent together — from the Moor Castle in Sintra to watching performers in the plaza. Or giggling over childhood stories. Or meeting her boyfriend (also named Chris. Poor Lise, hanging out with Chris, Chris and Chrissie). I guess it’s good that I’m not required to pick a favorite moment.

e, surrounded by Chris's
Lise, surrounded by Chris’s

Funicular Fun:

The funicular in Bairro Alto, Lisbon.
The funicular in Bairro Alto, Lisbon.

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Anyway, that time will always be a treasure in my memory. If you are into pics, check out highlights of our extended weekend:

Our Lisbon Meetup Begins :)

Since I work for a distributed company, I only get to see my coworkers in person twice a year. Last year my team met up in Durham, and this year it’s Lisbon. Another team is here at the same time, and another team will be coming halfway to the week so I get to see lots of my Automattic buddies. 

There is just something super exciting about knowing that your friends and coworkers are all on planes and trains and busses, heading your way for a week of in-person collaborations, learning and fun.

This picture shows where James and I are hanging out at our co-working office for the week. We are working outdoors as we wait for our teammates to arrive. 

Fireside Dining

This meal deserves a post of its own. Our Christmas present from Lauren and CJ was dinner at Fireside Dining at Deer Valley last Friday night. I don’t know what was more impressive. The ambiance or the meal itself. I do know the best part was the company (and that’s saying an awful lot ‘cuz the food and ambiance were phenomenal).

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We drove up snowy roads. Up and up and up, well past the World Cup hill where participants were wrapping up their tricks. The snow fairies were fluffy and swirly, creating shimmering reflections off the lights that decorated trees all along our path. It felt like Christmas again 🙂

As we stepped into the lodge we were greeted by a host who brought us into the dining room. A room that serves as ski lodge by day and ambrosial offerings by night. A huge fireplace crackled on one wall, while another wall was filled with large windows that looked out on a idyllic winter scene. A horse-drawn sleigh went by at regular intervals, completing the picture. (If you look really hard, you can see it in the background of this clip — going from right to left.)

What did we eat? Oh, what did we eat!!! There were four fireplaces, each in a different room. All our hot food was cooked on the fires. Our menu was very similar to this (we had boar rather than quail, and there were minor other differences):

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Ready for your mouth to water? Check out some of what we ate:

Chris topped off his meal with an espresso. Divine decadence.

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The snow was piled high as we headed home to rest.

What a perfect evening and wonderful gift. I will treasure this memory forever.

Drama With Delta

Delta is my favorite airline to fly. Generally flying with them is seamless and pleasant, in my experience. But recently we had a glitch.

Note: That featured image is from a flight a couple of years ago. This is our weather today:

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Here’s the story:

Today Chris and I are headed out to Utah to see CJ, Lauren and Zeb (and to ski and snowboard, and see some co-workers, and …you get the gist of this.) We are on vacation!!!!!!

The incredible company I work for (Automattic) encourages us to take off when we want, and when I mentioned this trip, is was beautiful to see how team-mates shuffled work-loads around to cover my work while I am gone. In addition to getting to take of time whenever we want, we are very flexible on how we schedule our time on a day-to-day basis. I chose to put in a few longer days over the weekend so I was officially AFK by 1pm yesterday.

You know that incredible feeling of freedom when you close out of work to go on vacation? Even when you love your job? That’s what I was feeling as I joined my husband and dog for a walk at the beach. As we walked, Chris and I talked about how whether or not we should offer to get bumped if the situation arose (we discuss that before every trip). I commented that it would be really good to come up with a plan this time since Delta is recovering from a computer glitch and might still be trying to find places on flights.

Feeling like I should get packing, I cut the timing short.

As soon as we got home I went to check in with the airline and discovered that there were no tickets for Chris!!!!

Back-tracking a bit here. Last April I chose to get bumped from a flight and received a $700 voucher to use on flights within a year. Chris and I had planned to drive out to Utah for this visit, but as winter storms started hitting, I chickened out, and we decided to use the voucher for flights to visit the kids young adults. In early January I discovered that I couldn’t get those tickets online so I called Delta. Informed that only I could use the voucher, we paid for Chris’ ticket separately (BOGO is better than nothing). I checked my email and saw the confirmation came through.

**Note to future self – actually open and read confirmations in the future**

So back to yesterday.

When Chris’s ticket didn’t show up on the page no matter how many times I refreshed, I checked out that confirmation. Sure enough. Only my name was on it. I looked at every credit card statement I had and realized we were never billed for his flight. I looked at our points from credit cards and airlines to see if we paid in travel miles anywhere.

Nada.

My pulse was seriously rising. I think my Apple watch thought I was working out, but it was simply sheer panic.

I work in tech/customer support, and I know what it’s like to be on the other end. Sometimes no matter how much you want to help someone, it just isn’t possible. I was about to call Delta, asking where my husband’s ticket was, with no proof of purchase, no credit, and no recording of the conversation I had when I purchased my ticket. And I was doing this right on the tail of their own computer crash as they were re-appropriating other passengers. Talk about horrible timing.

Before calling, I looked at options and realized we still could get Chris a flight, but it would use up almost all our saved points. Or we could shell out $1,1oo. Definitely not optimal.

Generally when I call Delta, I use their regular customer service #. In the best of times, I get put on hold for a minute then request a call-back, and they contact me 30-90 minutes later. I braced for a longer wait time based on circumstances and tried to do some yoga breathing to calm my racing heart. Then I saw a spot on their website that had a number to call if you had a skymiles # (which I did). I called and got help in less than 30 seconds! I explained the situation, and it was no problem at all. They apologized for any confusion and booked Chris on the same flights as me, and even used the rest of my voucher for it! I’m still a bit blown away by that.

So my panic turned to praise. And the entire ordeal took two hrs. (Over 90 minutes of that was my own panicking and hunting for proof of what had happened.)

Once again I am reminded of why Delta is my favorite airline, and I look forward to getting on my flight today. Especially since I get to see our kiddos on the other end 🙂

Another Son Heads to Utah

img_0472Aaaaah, the call of the mountains.

CJ and Lauren raved about life out west so much that Zeb decided to give it a try. On Wednesday he headed out to work at Deer Valley (where CJ is a ski instructor, and Lauren works with housing).

I’m proud of his willingness to venture away from the safe zone of home. And I’m super proud of his mad travel skills. That backpack carries all he felt he needed through at least April!

I think I would have been a bit sad about his leaving, but I knew I’d be seeing him soon. We’re headed to visit the young adults and hit some slopes this week! Wahoo!

And from the pics he texted, I’m thinking he’s all right with the move 😉

(Images shared with permission from Zeb)