Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Snow Day Means.......

....time to do the things that you don't always have time for!

And that means a new post to let you know what the Rahns have been up to and are planning!

In the Rahn house January is typically a month to get back into the groove, watch football, track winter storms, hibernate and look ahead to our summer vacations!!  And that is exactly what we have been busily doing for the past few weeks.

I tend to be more productive when I am overscheduled and very busy!  That is proving true this month.
For starters:
  • I am busily planning our 2 hour school talent show which will be happening at the end of February.  It involves over 80 students, 39 "wonderful" elementary school talent acts and convincing my wonderful, awesome, loving husband that this is fun and Yes...he is a great co-host and will thoroughly enjoy emceeing this event with two other fabulous teachers from school! Both girls are performing solo acts this year.  Katie is singing "Wishes," the theme song from the Magic Kingdom Fireworks Show at Disney World - I know I'll get teary eyed when she performs it...and Carleigh has worked with my sister, Patty, to choreograph a fantastic dance to "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. (I didn't know who he was either, until she introduced me to the song.)
  • I am also co-directing our Fourth Grade musical (the acting part) with another teacher at school. 1607 - Disappearance at Jamestown will be performed on February 10 (2 weeks before the talent show).  It involves two afterschool practice a week with about 20 kids.  I am thoroughly enjoying that also!
  • Throw in 4 basketball practices, 2 dance classes, 1 piano lesson, Girl Scout activities, and Sunday School every week and I guess the word hibernation doesn't really fit!
The calendar is full, but it hasn't prevented us from finding ways to have fun!

Here are some basketball pics - Katie's first time playing and Carleigh's second season:

Since I have so much time on my hands right now (and have nothing else to worry about) :) , I have been doing some serious vacation planning! Here are the updates:
  • Our Florida vacation in June has been canceled! Very sad about that, but also very excited about the reasons behind our canceling.  Once we started thinking about what we could do in Alaska with more $$, we decided to save our return to Disney World and the Florida National Parks for another year.  Hopefully 2012!
  • Vancouver and Alaska planning is in full swing.  Here are some of the details that we have been working on so far:
    • We are going to spend a full day at Whistler Resort outside Vancouver.  I'm having a lot of fun exploring the activities and fun that we could have there including mountain climbing, gondala rides, bungee trampoline for the girls, Alpine slides, nature walks, snow capped mountains, etc.
    • Another day in Vancouver with ziplining (for all 4 of us this time) at Grouse Mountain and a cheesy Lumberjack show (Don will probably sit this one out) 
    • Then we will embark on our 7 night cruise through the Inside Passage of Alaska which we are planning to include:
      • a private 3 hour whale watching adventure in Juneau - already tentatively booked the reservation for the 11 people in our party
      • a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier and then 2 hours in a sled dog camp in Skagway
      • and I am working on a private 5 hour grizzly bear adventure for just Don in Ketchikan.  The girls and I will go shopping and sightseeing that day.
    • The above adventures are the reason that we decided to cancel our June Florida adventure.  One thing that I hold true to with my vacation planning is that I refuse to go into debt to pay for these vacations.  All vacations are budgeted and all money is saved and available for the trip before we leave.
  • I'll miss walking down Main Street in Disney World and feeling the magic...but whale watching and sled dog riding will probably make up for it. :)
  • So...since Florida is canceled, I've got to find a way to occupy my Wanderlust until mid July when we head to Emerald Isle with the family.....Don says no vacations, but that's because he is excited about Alaska, and still fresh from our almost 9 hour road trip home from Erie (which should have taken 6 hours) at Christmas with traffic jams and stress.  Maybe things will change, he wants me to be spontaneous right?  So in the back of my mind.....I'm still planning....
    • maybe 2 nights in Williamsburg over spring break to explore the colonial area with the girls?
    • maybe another NYC adventure with mom and my sister over spring break?
      • That came about because one of mom's friends/connections is opening on Broadway in "Wonderland" in March.  He plays the Cheshire Cat in this new adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at the Marquis Theater and we would be able to go backstage and meet him.  Mom really wants to go and maybe Patty would join us this time.  
    • or maybe just staying home, enjoying the quiet and relax!  Yeah, right.........
Since Alaska is pretty much planned, except for the fine tuning....I needed another mission, so I am now focusing (sort of) on Summer 2012 and our return to the Wild West.  We will be returning to Don's new favorite place in the world - Jackson Hole, Wyoming for 4-5 nights and extend the adventure to 2 weeks.  We are playing around with ideas of where to venture out to.....some of the ideas include:
  • Big Sky, Montana
  • Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone
  • driving the long trip to Mount Rushmore - staying for 2 nights and flying home to Dulles from there
  • Driving through Driggs, Idaho and the Targhee National Forest
I love the planning/exploring WAY in advance part because there is no pressure to find the perfect hotel/resort/location yet....just hours of reading on Tripadvisor and looking at maps to estimate distances, find surprise places to visit and then of course doing pretend budgets to see if it is feasible.  We will need to make some of the hotel reservations this June (to get the exact dates and location that we want for next June), so planning and perusing right now is sort of necessary. :)  Well, maybe not really...but it is a lot of fun!

Haven't thought about Summer, 2013 yet...any ideas?  :)

Oh, forgot about our canine friends....Jack and Lily are settling down and Jack might actually be starting to enjoy having Lily around...as evidenced by allowing her to share his bed.....

So, that's where we are....not a lot of pictures to share, but lots going on!  Enjoy the winter and...

....Stay tuned to see how the Rahns do Hibernation and Winter Boredom!! :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Tale of 4 Christmases...

The holiday season is always a fun time for us!  We get to visit with lots of family in many different places and as usual, create our own fun!

This year was no different....

Christmas #1 - Purcellville
Christmas Eve: attending - Don, Laura, Carleigh, Katie and Rocky and Rina (Laura's parents)
     Our Christmas Eve traditions have evolved over the past few years. To sum it up: cookie cutter sugar cookies, homemade pizzas, matching pajamas, reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with Daddy, and Rocky and Rina....

After reading the story, Rocky and Rina usually leave and either head home or to my sister, Patty's house.  This year...they were off to Bristow to Patty's house.

Christmas #1 contd. - Christmas morning:
     Attending: just the four Purcellville Rahns - we tend to wake up VERY early in our house - I'm as excited as the girls are!  This year was no different, we woke at about 5:00 a.m. and all head downstairs together to see what Santa brought.  We look at our stockings, our Santa presents and then open our presents to/from each other.  This is usally done in the span of about 1-2 hours.  This year we were finished and ready to head out by about 6:30 a.m.  We cleaned up, got the dogs pottied and ready and headed to.....

Christmas #2: Bristow, VA - Patty's House
     Attending this year: Patty, Ev, Rocky, Rina, Don, Laura, Carleigh, Katie and... rotating guests at #2 vary from year to year...this year our VA family Christmas included New York family - Aunt and Uncle from New York Dave and Pam, and newly married local cousins (from the beautiful Castle wedding in September) - Dave and Jen
     - This family Christmas is always a lot of fun and funny! Ev and Don tend to find a seat together and spend the better portion of the morning finding humor in just about everything that happens.  Our morning traditionally starts out with seeing what Santa brought for the Pville Rahns to the family location and then a big breakfast/brunch...then we spend the rest of the morning into the afternoon opening the many presents that are there for all in attendance.  Breaks are taken to have more food and then after all the gift giving has finished, a BIG lunch is shared.

 Pam and Dave (from New York) with the original "Christmas Beanies" the my grandparents used to wear on Christmas morning over 50 years ago!!
 Dad and Patty

 I got a hat!  Patty's dog, Bruno is very interested! :)

 Katie having fun with Don and Ev.
 Patty on top of Katie, having fun with Patty and Ev - notice Katie's legs sticking out between Patty's!
 My sister....The "Bling" Queen!  - shirt from her husband! :)
 Don and Ev playing with Gizmo (Patty's other dog) and also the inserts from the Ugg boots that the girls got - they make good duck beaks!

 Don and Ev got matching Yoda desktop motion detectors!!

It was a great day with fun family from far and lots of laughing and love!!!!!  We left Patty's house in the afternoon to head back to Pville and get ready for.....ROADTRIP!!!!! and.....

Christmas #3: - Aunt Rose's House, Erie, PA
     Every year, on December 26 we pile in the car and head Northwest to Erie, PA to spend a couple of days with Don's family.  During the 48 hours in Pennsylvania there is usually an extended family Christmas Party with all the cousins, aunts and uncles that are home for the holidays!  The number can be VERY large and the party changes locations every year.  This year it was at Don's Aunt Rose's house and those in attendance were: Don, Laura, Carleigh, Katie, Rosie, Chrissy, Nana, Bubba, Aunt Rose, Aunt Gratia, Uncle Alan, Aunt Kathy, cousins Jamie, Jeff, Janet, Brett, Jane, Matt, Erin, Sue, Steve, Dave, and second cousins Ryan, Abby, Alex, Chris, and Izzy....a few were missing, but as usual...the group was very large and we had a lot of fun!! Don's sisters, Rosie and Chrissy went up early and Rosie (the cook in the family) wanted to prepare the party food for everyone, so by the time we arrived at Aunt Rose's house - Rosie was madly cooking....Katie jumped right in and wanted to help-

     Carleigh had a great time at Christmas #3 because she got to play with Izzy - the newest addition to this ever growing PA family and spend time with Abby - a second cousin that was our flower girl 11 1/2 years ago.

 Aunt Rose distributing the gifts to the young ones....
If you look closely - you'll notice the beautiful teeth that all the "kids" are sporting!  (Courtesy of Aunt Kathy and Uncle Alan)

 Carleigh and Abby - having lots of fun together this year...Carleigh was finally old enough to "hang" with Abby (a freshman in high school).

After a long road trip, and a great party with all the PA family, we finally called it a night (at about 11:00 pm) and headed over to Nana and Bubba's house to begin.....

Christmas #4 - Nana and Bubba's house - Erie, PA
    We all crashed, and woke up the next morning to more presents and more festivities!  We spent that day hanging out at the house.  Don and I escaped for a few hours to visit with some of his high school and camp friends that were in the area for the holidays, (thanks to Facebook - he was able to prearrange a fun lunch get together- probably to become an annual event).

After returning back to Nana and Bubba's house - we learned about the fun adventures that Carleigh and Katie had with Rosie, Chrissy and Bubba playing/sledding in the snow while we were at lunch:

Love this one!!!  Bubba looks so happy!

We all ate dinner and then headed out for our last adventure in PA - tomorrow we would head back to Virginia. 

We went to Asbury Woods Nature Center to explore their "Winter Wonderland."  We were meeting up with Aunt Gratia and some of the cousins for this.  It was a lot of fun, walking through wooded trails decorated with Christmas lights, snow, hot chocolate, smores by the fire and some fun crafts.
 Nana and Bubba - and Don! :)

 Getting ready for smores!

 Aunt Gratia with the kids :)
 Sister Love!!
 Don and his cousin, Dave - another LCPS teacher, lives in Winchester
 Carleigh, Abby and Katie

On December 28th we headed back to Virginia to remember what we all did at Christmas #1 - it was a busy 4 days, but SO much fun to spend it with so many people that we care about and don't get to see that often!

The fun that was had, the memories that were made, the reconnecting that happened....all part of our Rahn World....SELDOM A DULL MOMENT!!

Merry Christmas!

Stay tuned for 2011 - the year of the Great Alaska Vacation and who knows what else!! :)