Monday, March 31, 2014 No comments
We scheduled Nellie's pick-up with the last race in the Florida Winter Tour series. The last race was in Orlando.

We picked up Nellie on Tuesday, March 18 and after training, we drove to the track in Orlando and set up camp. The track is not in the most scenic of spots in Orlando, but it was convenient and fit our needs.

It was sunny and a warm 85 degrees the entire week. Perfect weather to escape the frozen, snow covered tundra of the northeast.

Chloe began practice on Wednesday and Oliver, Emma Claire and I got to know Nellie some more and ran errands the next day picking up some items we missed in our shopping trip the first night.

Oliver in front of Chloe's kart.
Oliver and Emma Claire hanging out as we watch practice.
My parents arrived on Thursday morning. We spent the day at the track and in the afternoon took the kids to the pool at my parent's hotel. The kids loved swimming at the hotel in the afternoon and when Chloe was done at the track each day, we all headed to the pool to relax and get some sun!
Chloe and Oliver having fun in the pool.

Friday, was qualifying for the races Saturday and Sunday. Chloe, Matt and PaPaw stayed at the track while BeBe, Oliver, Emma Claire and myself went to Epcot. *More on Disney in tomorrow's post*

Chloe qualified 18th for both the Saturday and Sunday races. After the first qualifying session, we found out that Chloe would have to start at the back of the grid for Sunday's race because of a technical penalty--her fuel failed tech inspection. We think her race fuel got poured into a container that had been used for regular pump gas and it failed when they tested it.

Matt & Chloe
Chloe and her driving coach and tuner, Chris.
Matt had taken Chloe to the Orlando track in early February to practice and learn the track in preparation for this last FWT race. The Orlando track is quite challenging with technical corners and braking. The level of competition was very high, the toughest Chloe will face her entire race season. The FWT brings competitors from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America as well as all over the U.S.  Chloe learned a lot from the series.

For the Saturday race, Chloe finished 12th in the final. On the Sunday race, starting from the back, Chloe finished 13th. We're very proud of her! It was a great start to the 2014 race season and we can't wait to see her driving and race craft develop this season.

Lining up for the start of Sunday's race.

Chloe getting set up to make a pass.

And she made it by.

Whoa, Nellie!

Sunday, March 30, 2014 No comments
I wrote last month about looking at motorhomes and attempting to put an offer in to purchase one and have it bought out from under us. Well, the first offer fell through and we were offered first dibs on the motorhome. So, we dove right in and purchased the 40ft. diesel pusher bunkhouse we now affectionately call "Nellie".

Nellie resided in Florida, Matt drove from Ocala to Tampa when he and Chloe were in Florida for Chloe's kart race in February. He first saw her in a downpour and she hadn't been cleaned or serviced. The original owners were just moving their stuff out and into their new motorhome.

We had looked at enough RV's at this point to narrow it down to what we wanted--a bunkhouse for the kids--and we had narrowed it down to the Winnebago brand after walking through many of their motorhomes.

Nellie fit the bill nicely. But, in the time that Matt left the RV dealer and talked with me on the phone about the motorhome, someone else swooped in and made an offer. Used, diesel bunkhouse motorhomes are hard to come by (that's one reason why we were looking in Florida), especially when you rule out one of the manufacturers who build bunkhouse models because we didn't like their floor plan/layout.

It was back to square one. Maybe we would wait another year.

Then, a week later we get a message from the dealership that the deal wasn't going to go through and did we want to buy Nellie?

We sure did!

We made the deal and officially purchased Nellie at the end of February. Since we were all planning on going to Chloe's next race in Florida, we made arrangements to fly to Tampa, take possession of Nellie and go through all the training and then drive her from Tampa to Orlando and camp in Nellie at the track for the race and then drive her back to NY.

The two weeks between closing on Nellie and actually taking possession had us excited but also worried that we hoped she was as nice as Matt thought she was. He had after all seen the motorhome when she was dirty and in the pouring rain. Ugh, we might have made a very large mistake with this very large purchase.

The 15th of March was Matt's birthday, we celebrated at home with the kids and then with a date night. Three days later, all five of us were on a plane headed to pick up Matt's birthday present, Nellie!
Chloe wrapping one of Matt's smaller birthday presents.

We landed, had to wait for the airline to tell us they forgot to put Emma Claire's car seat on the flight (thanks Un*ited for helping us feel like we made the right choice in buying a motorhome so we could lessen the amount we fly)  and wait for them to dig out a car seat we could use in the meantime (It took them 2 days after we arrived to get our car seat to us from NJ to Florida--two days. I feel sorry for the two guys whose golf clubs got misplaced with our car seat). We picked up our rental car and headed straight for Nellie.

The RV dealership we purchased her from is enormous. They sell a massive amount of RVs and motorhomes. The place is so large you have to travel by golf cart to see all the RVs and motorhomes in stock.
Going to get Nellie.

Oliver, Matt and Chloe riding out to where Nellie was parked. Emma Claire and I followed in the rental car.
Since the paperwork had already been done, we just had to inspect Nellie and go through our training. Our trainer took us out to where Nellie was parked, in the customer campground. And there she was....

She was clean, serviced and pretty impressive.

Matt made a good choice. She was nice.

Nellie at the service bays.

The kids claimed their bunks, we had our training on all the mechanicals and maintenance. We did our walk-thru for any items that needed to be fixed (there were a couple) and then we went to lunch while the minor repairs were made.
The kids love the bunkbeds with drop down TVs. Nellie has 5 TVs inside and one TV on the outside. I think that will do.

After lunch, the repairs and the tank was filled we hit the road for Orlando. Oliver, Chloe and Matt were in Nellie and I followed in the rental car with Emma Claire.

We set up camp at the Orlando track and headed out to grocery shop for the week and buy some Nellie necessities, like bedding, towels and toilet paper.

We spent 5 nights camping in Nellie at the track and we really enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to all the trips we will have with Nellie.
The kids on the drive back home.
Kicking my feet up and looking out Nellie's large windscreen at the Florida highway. I was actually the hostess on the trip, serving coffee, cereal, snacks and dinner.

After the race weekend came to a close on Sunday, we headed out of town to make our way back to NY. The kids were fully entertained and fed on the 19 hour drive back. Matt did the majority of the driving (17 hours) and I took over for two hours (maybe I made Matt a little nervous driving Nellie, she is a BIG girl). We stopped in NC overnight to sleep and made it back home on Monday evening.


Friday, March 07, 2014 No comments
Oliver came home from pre-school today with a drawing he made of me.

Not sure how I feel about the portrait of me.

One of the goals for Emma Claire is to learn and use a pincer grip. Normally Emma Claire rakes her food with four fingers, grabbing a handful and shoving it in her mouth or using this raking to pick things up. We've been trying to develop her pincer grip and Emma Claire's occupational therapist has been giving me ideas to encourage Emma Claire to use a pincer grip. One was to give her a snack with something she would really want and have to pick it out using her index and thumb. So, one day I gave her a snack cup filled with goldfish crackers and a couple of M&Ms. I quickly saw that Emma Claire wanted the M&Ms over the goldfish but she was still not willing to pick out the M&Ms out using her pincer. Instead, she enlisted the help of Flash the dog. I managed to snap some shots of the pair's symbiotic relationship--avoiding the pincer to pick out a particular object but each getting what they wanted.

A snack cup with something really, really good inside. I think I will shove my whole hand inside.

Hmm, I got some crackers. Not what I wanted. I will have to shove my whole hand in their again, take out a fistful and separate the two on the floor.

I am going to put these crackers on the floor and eat this M&M.

Here Flash, you can have these. I don't want them. I want the good stuff.

Cleaning up.

What a team.

19 Months Old

Thursday, March 06, 2014 No comments

Photos I took of a very happy Emma Claire who popped up from her nap to tell me she was "ALL DONE!" napping for the day (and for the most part the evening). It had only been 20 minutes. *SIGH* It was just enough of a nap to give her crazy baby hair.

Emma Claire is 19 months old today. She's been home just over 7 months. The most noticeable change in the last month is that she has really started to babble and use words to communicate. Before she would just randomly say words, mostly pointing to body parts (eye, nose, etc.) and saying the words. Now she is using words in context as a way to get her point across.

Some EC stats -
19 months old
height: 30 1/4 inches
weight: 23 lbs. 8.2 oz.

I had begun taking a mommy and me music class with Emma Claire once a week but stopped that after one session. We have a physical therapist and an occupational therapist come to the house three times a week to work with Emma Claire on some gross and fine motor skills and it was a lot to have something four mornings a week for her. She still prefers her morning nap, albeit a short nap, and having that schedule interrupted three days a week was taking a toll. We will revisit the mommy and me class once Emma Claire has quit the PT services which should be soon.

One thing that hasn't changed has been the night time wakings. Emma Claire wakes anywhere from 1-70000000000 times a night (perhaps a little over-exaggeration but sometimes it feels like it). Our pediatrician told me "she's just not a sleeper" which was SO helpful. It's just unfortunate that the other 4 members of the family are sleepers. It does seem that she calms more easily when she wakes now and that I have to spend less time getting her back to sleep than a couple of months ago (looking or the silver lining). Hopefully sleeping through the night and during nap time is not that far off.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014 No comments
Here we are into March and the snow still blankets the ground. We are all waiting spring's arrival. It seems hardly fitting that this weekend we move our clocks ahead one hour. What for? So we can have more daylight to work on removing the ice pack that blocks us from the barn?

Good news is that the next 5 days should be above freezing and maybe there will be some noticeable melting of the glacier in our yard.
This is the view as of today.
Who needs to lay a tarp to paint? I had a little craft project I wanted to spray paint and just threw it down on the snow to paint.

The view from the front door.

OVRP Banquet

Monday, March 03, 2014 No comments
This past weekend was the OVRP banquet for the 2013 race season. Chloe received two trophies, 2nd place in the OVRP Club Championship and 2nd place in the Northeast Rotax Region. Matt also received two trophies (which he shared with Oliver).

The banquet is also a luncheon and can go on for several hours. Oliver and Emma Claire lost interest pretty quickly after the plates were cleared. I spent most of the event wrangling a toddler.

The NE Rotax Regional Micro top 3.

The OVRP Club Micro Championship top 3.

Matt and Oliver receiving their trophy.

After the awards ceremony we invited 4 families back to our house for a get-together. There were 8 adults and 11 children total to who came back to the house. It was impromptu, but it turned out to be a great evening with our track friends. The kids played games in the basement and even had a soccer game in the barn while the adults talked the upcoming race season and other topics.

The evening really made us look forward to warmer weather when we can hang outside and hold some BBQs with our friends.