Thursday, January 30, 2014

Garett Arrives in Sochi

Garett arrived safely in Sochi, Russia today - despite the cancellation of his first flight to Frankfurt, his re-booked flight number (911) and the abrupt landing at Sochi airport. He said the flight was smooth, but the landing was similar to landing at Midway in Chicago.  Garett made it through passport control, but he had issues getting his Olympic pass validated due to some clerical errors.  So he had to go the Main Media Centre to sort out the issue. Although Garett is working for a London-based catering company, their direct customer is OBS - Olympic Broadcasting Service.

Garett is based in the "coastal cluster" on the Black Sea.  He will be working at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where they will be holding the speed skating and figure skating competitions. The opening ceremony is one week from tomorrow on Feb 7th.

The weather in Sochi is warmer than London and there isn't a flake of snow in sight.  I will update the blog as Garett sends more pictures and updates.


P.S.  There are fireworks in London tonight (they love their fireworks here).  This time it's for the lunar new year - happy year of the horse!

Iceberg Skating Palace

Garett's hotel - less glamorous

Home away from home for the next month

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 4 of Snow Days

Well, fortunately we aren't going stir-crazy yet, since we just got texts announcing that both PHM and Holy Cross will be closed again for the 4th day in a row.  We've cleaned the basement, moved stuff to the other side, moved furniture, and done research on TVs.  John and I are working frantically on trivia night, hoping to get most of it wrapped up by tonight.  Our travel ban was lifted early at noon today, so we did make it out to Grace's gymnastics class.  Hooray!  The kids have done lots of reading, some art projects, movies and Wii time.  Not sure what's up for tomorrow! Let's hope for warmer weather soon!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Crazy Stuff in South Bend

Well, as the title says, it's been a little crazy around here.  Let's start with the weather.  We continue to get a few inches of snow nearly every day it seems.  I had a school delay on Thursday because it was so cold and the roads were so bad.  It got worse Thursday night and overnight and none of us had school on Friday.  It's warmer today, but we got about 4 inches of snow overnight that drifted up to one foot in parts of the driveway.  It took John, Paul, and I about 45 minutes to clear the drive with the snow blower and two shovels this morning.  Lake effect today (2-4 in) and a system overnight (2-4in) and then the temperature starts dropping tomorrow.  Based on the forecast and the school cancellations we've had so far this year it wouldn't surprise me if we have a delay or cancellation Monday-Thursday next week.  It's just crazy.

We're trying to stay healthy as well.  Elizabeth has a bad cold, but is hopefully on the upswing.  Grace had a bout with a stomach bug overnight.  She and I were up most of the night.  She has progressed through ice chips to orange juice and 7Up.  Hopefully we can try some crackers soon.

Mr. Flynn is checking out the snow outside.

After clearing on Saturday morning.  That is a 6 foot fence.

Ryan, remember roasting marshmallows over the fire pit right here?

Check out that cool snow drift on the roof!

We're running out of places to put the snow.

This huge snow bank will be fun to dig a fort in.  Can you see the trellis for the peas way back in the garden?

It's getting hard to see over that snow bank when pulling out of the drive in the hatchback.

The snow is level with the front porch.

The snow drifted on the roof next to Elizabeth's bedroom window.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we had the day off from school. Then it occurred to us that Ryan doesn't have the day off from school in London, so we thought we would write a post on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and why we get the day off from school.
Well, for starters, as Grace says, Martin Luther King had black hair. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an African American minister, who believed that all people should be treated equally. He fought against African American prejudice. Back in the 50's, black people couldn't do the same things as white people could, like they couldn't go to the same restaurants, use the same drinking fountains, or send their kids to the same schools. Many white people believed they were better than the African Americans. Martin Luther led a march in Washington DC, where he gave his famous speech "I have a Dream", which stated that he believed that if people could change their ways, black and white people could be treated equally. He was also an advocate for non-violence. Martin Luther helped change many prejudiced laws, and help change how people treated each other.
Unfortunately, there were some white people who didn't want these laws changed, and hated Martin Luther so much they killed him. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. He was shot by James Earl Ray, who was eventually captured 2 months later, and put in prison, where he died 30 years later.
Dr. Martin Luther  King Jr. was a hero for all African Americans and a great American leader. He believed in what was right and didn't let any one change that. He helped make the United States a better country. That is why we get the day off of school.
Since Grandma Sota and Grandpa M. lived while Martin Luther was alive, we would love to hear any memories or opinions they might have relating to the subject.

Paul, Elizabeth, and Grace

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snow Day Update

Wednesday was another snow day for almost everyone in the area.  Wind chills were still 10-15 degrees below zero in the morning.  It warmed up in the afternoon - to the double digits (which felt like a heat wave!)  We cleaned rooms, cleaned the living room, did MORE laundry, and played with some friends.  The kids finally got to play in the snow again too.

Today, Thursday, was all set to be a regular day, until the phone woke John while I was in the shower.  I have a 2 hour delay.  Holy Cross is running a regular schedule today, but likely will not have outdoor recess.  I'm doing some work on the couch with an afghan and a cup of coffee and will head in when the sun comes up.

Hope everyone else is doing well!

Girl Scout Cookies go on sale tomorrow!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Days

Today was a productive snow day - got the tree down and the Christmas stuff put away.  I'm starting to clean out the bookcases in the living room.  Thanks for the inspiration Shelly and Garett!

Thankfully we only got a few inches of snow overnight and since there is still a state of emergency in the city and county, we didn't go anywhere today and won't be heading out tomorrow either.  Schools and most everything else are closed for Tuesday as well.  Again, John Mellor Design is open for business!

Inspired by Ryan, we pulled out our game of  "No Stress Chess" this evening.  You set up the chess board and then draw a card which tells you which piece to move.  Grace beat me twice despite the fact that I had her in check several times.  It all depends on what card you draw!  She's thrilled.  "And I've never played chess in my life!  Never!"  I wonder who in the family is willing to play with her!  Grandpa?  Uncle Garett?  Ryan?

Here are a few photos from Sunday.  I wasn't willing to venture out today except to look for the paper and mail.  Incidentally, we got neither.

The last photo is Paul cuddled under his new quilt watching a movie on Sunday night.  Grandma finished the quilt for his bed.  He picked out the pattern and fabrics.


Grace and Elizabeth playing in snow before clearing drive for 3rd time

Kids still playing

Elizabeth knocking snow onto John's newly shoveled drive

Drive gets narrower every time we do it

I'm standing in the unplowed street

Grandma finished Paul's quilt.  He's trying it out.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Everyone home, safe and sound

John and Paul just arrived home from fetching Elizabeth from the Carter's house.  She is tired and ready for a shower, but home!

We've cleared the drive and sidewalks twice now and will head out in another hour or two to do it again.  Trying to get as much cleared before the temperature drops and the wind picks up.  Forecast is still 12-18 inches.

Holy Cross and PHM Schools have cancelled for Monday.  John Mellor Design is still planning to open tomorrow though.

Everyone stay warm and safe!


Soccer and Snow

Forecast here is similar to most of the US, temperatures dropping to a low of -10 overnight and that will be the high temperature for tomorrow.  Our challenge for the moment though is snow - we have about 5 inches and John and Paul have done round one with the shovel and snowblower.  We are forecasted for 12-18 inches by Monday afternoon.  Grace is playing outside while she still can.

Biggest challenge of all: Elizabeth is still at her soccer tournament in Fort Wayne, playing the 3rd game.  It should be over shortly after 11am and they are getting on the road from there.  She is with another family and we'll pick her up from their house when they return.  We're hoping that they don't have too much trouble with snow and high winds on I-69 and the Toll Road.  We'll let you know when she's home safe.

No word on school closings for Monday or Tuesday.  We're not quite as severe as Minnesota where the governor closed all the schools in the state!

Everyone else stocked up enough for the next few days?


Friday, January 3, 2014

Home Sweet Home

First of all, we DID arrive home on Thursday night!

The car arrived at Shelly and Garett's at about 8:15 am for our noon flight.  That was a bit early, but gave us a few minutes to get the car loaded and the estimated hour to go AROUND London to get to Heathrow.  What nobody knew was that our driver was Mario Andretti!  We went down Finchley Road and past the following Tube stations: Swiss Cottage, St. John's Wood, Baker Street, Marylebone, Hammersmith, and through Chiswick Park.  Once we were on a highway he switched lanes constantly and drove about 80 mph!  John was glad that the two Ferraris we saw on the way weren't going the same way we were - he figured that Mario would have tried to keep up!  Anyway, we were at Heathrow shortly after 9 am.

No issues at Heathrow - we had a lovely time with coffee and smoothies.  A different way to do things - they don't assign your gate until one hour ahead of departure at which point they start boarding.  Plane ride was fine.

Arrived 30 min. early at O'Hare - about 2:45 Chicago time.  No issues with Passport Control or Customs, but that's when the adventures really started.  As we headed to the train to transfer terminals, we turned on our phones to discover that our 5:40 flight was already cancelled and all the United Express flights that day had been cancelled.  Terri was finally able to find an agent who could help figure out what was going on.  They had rescheduled us on a flight on Sunday, January 5!  The agent got the kids seats on the flight at 9:18pm, but John had to fly stand-by and Terri still had no seat on the flight at all!

Mom and Dad were extremely helpful - figuring out what time buses and trains left Chicago for South Bend.  Ultimately, we took the Coach Express bus. (Put "express" in quotes!)  The bus left O'Hare at 5:15 and was supposed to arrive in South Bend at 9:00 SB time.  We left late, hit rush hour traffic, and the lake effect snow was terrible.  We finally arrived in South Bend at 10:30 last night!  Just over 19 hours of traveling. Fortunately, everyone was calm and patient.

We've had a good night's sleep and everyone is enjoying coffee and hot cocoa with breakfast.  Thanks Mom and Dad!  It will be a slow day doing laundry, starting to put things away, and getting our lives back in order.  Menu planning, groceries, taking down Christmas stuff, and figuring out Elizabeth's weekend tournament will take up most of the time.

Weather note: it was 5 degrees when we left London.  It was 5 degrees when we arrived in South Bend.  It's was 5 below when we got up this morning, but the bottom is about to drop out.  The high for Tuesday is only 2 degrees.  Please note that the only Celsius temperature there is the one in London.  Time to locate all those SmartWool socks!

Shelly, Garett, and Ryan - thank you so much for everything!  Thanks for the fun, the window into your lives, and your flexibility and patience having 5 extra people in your flat.  It is a trip and Christmas holiday we will definitely remember!  I hope you had a nice relaxing day reclaiming your space.

Love to all,
Terri, John, Paul, Elizabeth, and Grace