Hello world.  Hello 2014.  Hello Routine.  Hello reality.

Anybody else feeling like they are finally saying "hello" to a few things today?  Here in Minnesota, we are emerging today from the deepest freeze, courtesy of that pesky polar vortex thing that has wreaked havoc all over the country.  Today is my first day out of the house since Saturday night and I have to admit, it kind of feels nice to return to the land of the living again! I have so enjoyed my retreat from all things reality related over these last few weeks but it's good to get back in the groove of things too.

We have enjoyed a very unexpected and extended vacation this week due to the cold temps canceling so many things and my sister and brother in law being stranded after two cancelled flights.  We were all in Iowa over the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Day, and we returned Saturday night so that Trav could go back to work on Sunday and Stacie and Jesse could catch their flight on Sunday morning.  Little did we know that this incredible deep freeze would paralyze everyone and change up all of our plans this week.

We found out on Friday that our Governor was pre-emptively canceling all schools on Monday, something that is totally unheard of here in the frozen tundra.  We deal with horrendous temps and cold weather constantly, but that announcement was our first clue that we were coming home to a whole new animal when even the Minnesotans were freaking out! Stacie and I made an emergency run to Target on Saturday night in order to stock our empty fridge and bare shelves with something to eat and thankfully I had already ordered additional groceries to be delivered on Sunday afternoon.  Work was canceled for Trav on Monday and I was pretty thankful that we were getting one extra day to unpack the suitcases and acclimate a little bit before we had to go back to "normal life."

On Saturday night we started realizing that Chicago was getting hit with a massive snow storm, in addition to the polar plunge and suddenly my sister's flight was definitely in peril because of their connection through Chicago.  Before we went to bed that night we were realizing they weren't making it out of Minneapolis on Sunday and unfortunately, all the flights for Monday were already full.  We were looking at Tuesday afternoon now, which was stressful for them and their jobs, but kind of fun for the rest of us!  Christmas vacation wasn't ending after all!!

Sunday the temps began dropping rapidly and the wind started howling outside.  We had everything we needed to stay in for a few days and we all made the most of it.  We had two huge games to watch that afternoon, the Packer's were playing in the play-offs and immediately following, the Iowa Basketball team was taking on Wisconsin.  As if it couldn't get more exciting, Downton Abbey returned Sunday night with a 2 hour special!!
This was Stacie and I before the games.  Giddy with the prospect of a great day to be "iced in!" 

Unfortunately for us, both games were totally disappointing and nail-biters on top of that.  We were 0-2 in the outcomes and we each had raging headaches because of it.  What can I say??  We are our Father's daughters.  We don't handle losing well and we just can't watch a game without getting all kinds of emotionally involved.  It's best not to recap either game for my mental health, even 3 days later, let's just say by the time Downton Abbey rolled around we weren't even sure we could handle a 2 hour episode without commercials.  We had some stress.  

The silver lining of the evening however were the sweet friends we got to have over for dinner! Trav's great friend and his wife and adorable kids were in town for the holidays and they came over to see us for the night.  
 4 cute kiddos!
 Kristian was the first friend Travis introduced me to when we met, so fun to see them now as Daddies with 4 (almost 5) kids between them!
 Is that little face the sweetest or what??  
 Carter had the best time getting out allllllll of his cars, trucks, and trains for Caden to play with and see.  
Ava was totally smitten with little Miss Kenzie.  She is SO ready for a baby to be in this house and desperate for our baby to be a girl!  We had so much fun seeing our friends and catching up!  They are on their way back to Baltimore today but we are thankful they braved the cold to come see us.  

When we went to bed Sunday night this was the wind chill warning for our county.  

It was only death we were risking if we dared going out the next day! Ha! 

We did not go out at all on Monday, although Jesse and Trav made a few attempts at standing outside the front door in order to "really feel" what -45 feels like! Pretty darn cold is what it feels like! We enjoyed a long day of hanging out in our jammies, watching tv, eating, and taking down all of our Christmas stuff.  Ok, I enjoyed that part and was very grateful for Stacie's help! It was so nice to have a buffer day, although Ava was disappointed that preschool was canceled.  We were anticipating a return to normalcy on Tuesday but soon got the email that once again school was canceled and when Jesse called to check into their flight, again that was canceled too!  

We felt badly for them and the extra stress added to another missed day of work and another round of phone calls to inform their bosses they still couldn't get out, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was really enjoying the thought of more days with them!  It was the perfect thing to wait out a deep freeze and we did lots of laughing and relaxing, although Jesse and Trav did get some work in remotely too.  So thankful Jesse brought his work laptop and had planned to work a little over break anyway. 
 The worker bees, casual dress code in tact. 
 The spacial analyst and accidental weather hawk. 
Why not wear shorts when it's -25 outside???  We were very grateful for a working furnace, warm beds, a cozy house and plenty of food.  Nothing to take for granted! 

Today we did indeed take the South Carolina residents back to the airport and they did manage to get on a flight and are en route as I type.  We miss them already but we sure have nothing to complain about after an almost 3 week break with so many family members!  

So now it's back to normal life, back to reality, back to just the four (five) of us.  And I think I'm ready for that.  I feel very rested and blessed by a great vacation of laying low and just enjoying one another.  

2014 has much promise for us and I'm anxious to say hello to new seasons, hello to big challenges, hello to a new baby, and hello to all that I can't see yet too.  

Happy 2014 friends, hope it's warming up wherever it is that you call home.  Looking forward to saying hello to the blog world this year too, unbelievably, for my 8th year of blogging!!!  What?? 
It's official, this blog is practically geriatric by now :) 
Thanks for sticking with me and Happy New Year!  What are you saying hello to right now? 

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