Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Night at the Firehouse.

A couple of months ago Nana and Papa Marini won a silent auction for spending the evening at Fire Station #1 downtown Lodi.  It was a win-win situation because not only did the money go to support out troops, but we also were in the company of fireman all night.  Enough said.

The auction included a tour of the station, A RIDE IN THE FIRE TRUCK, and then a gourmet dinner prepared by the fireman.  And not just any gourmet meal...a meal prepared by Kris Graves who won the Food Network's "24 Hour Restaurant Battle".  He made us his winning meal from the battle and it was fabulous!!! 

There were so many great memories from the evening.  The first part of the evening included a full tour from one of the fireman who is also a friend, John Rowlands.  He was fantastic!  There was nothing that he wouldn't let the kids do or try.  He basically said to the kids....WE CAN DO EVERYTHING!!  And they did. 

The "Lounge."

At one point of the evening I asked one of the guys how often they wash the truck...he said daily.

And now...on the to the good stuff, the ride in the truck!!!  The kids got to sit in the back and wear the headsets so we could all talk to eachother.  This was the coolest part of the evening by far!

Don't you love the looks on their faces!!

After me and the kids went, it was time for the other grown-ups!  And let's be honest, it doesn't matter if you are five or fifty-five...this was way cool!

Here they are taking off for their trip.

And arriving back.  In the video you can see one of the other fireman running toward the truck to hook up the hose to the engine so the exhaust exits through the roof and doesn't stay in the building.

When we all got back from our ride, the kids all took turns trying on all the gear.  John was telling us that when everything is on, the total weight of the gear is around 150 pounds.

How do you not love this smile...pure joy.

Mikayla trying everything on...we are lucky it didn't tip her over.

Happy girl.

Matthew all geared up.

And the little dude....

And yes, this dude tried it as well.

The kids loved trying on these masks.

One of my favorites from the night.  John showing the kids where we live and where Nana and Papa live.

This was a very hands-on tour of the rig.  The kids were able to pick up and touch pretty much everything or anything they wanted.

I put this picture in because at the end of the evening, the firemen commented on how good the kids were.  They said they were very polite and very well behaved...we told them they were all in their happy place.

The boys all said this was one of their highlights...The Jaws of Life.

Matt thought this looked like an airplane cockpit.

Up there is John's seat when they go out on a call.  He is responsible for turning the wheels in the back of the rig.

Dinner!!!  This was the part of the evening that I enjoyed the most.  Sitting around the table and being able to ask any questions we wanted and getting a first hand glimpse of what their daily life is like. 

The kids sitting down for homemade macaroni and cheese while we grubbed on pork loin with a spicy chutney, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley.  About fifteen minutes into the dinner, the sirens went off and about five guys had to get up and leave for a call.  We were sitting listening to the dispatch lady say all the what, where, who, and whens.  We all got a kick out of them dropping whatever they were doing and flying out of the room.  It took about 30 seconds from the time the sirens started to them pulling out of the garage and being on their way.  Luckily it wasn't a bad call and they could come back in time for dessert.  After an extensive tour, great dinner and conversation, Matthew walked up to me and said..."When does the free tour start?"  The room erupted in laughter...obviously the first two hours of the night were the "paid" tour???

After dinner we needed a few more pictures so we went out into the hall to take this.

What's a firehouse without a pole???  No, the kids did not go down it, but they got to pretend!

While we were taking these pictures, the sirens went off again...this time, EVERYONE went.  As we just stood there, the men flew by us heading out to get all their gear on and take off.  One of the guys asked us if we could put the ice cream in the freezer before we left.  Stacy and I headed up stairs to put it away and felt like we should stay and clean up...but we didn't.  It wasn't our place, and frankly...we had heard what the dispatch had said so we went to check it out where they were!  Probably not appropriate...but by this time, we considered them family.

Thank you to Richard and Sharon for a FABULOUS evening.  This was a treat for kids of all ages.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Needed "Vaca"

This past weekend Rich and I headed to Vegas for a little "vaca"...and a little work.  I feel the Sports Inc. show that is every year at this time is the perfect recharging battery weekend I need every year at this time.  Yes, there is a business aspect of it, but it is a small price to pay for a couple of days in a place where a waitress delivers me a drink for $1 at a penny slot.  Don't worry, both mornings that I ordered had tomato juice and the other had orange juice....totally legit!

On Sunday night we headed over to Townsquare.  It is a shopping center just off the strip that I LOVE!!  It has great restaurants and fabulous shopping.  This year they had this little house set up for everyone to get in line to see Santa...Norman Rockwell inspired!!!

And a huge tree in the middle of the square with Christmas music playing and "fake snow"!!

In the lobby of our hotel they were setting up this ALL EDIBLE display.  Every year when we are there we watch them over a couple of days put this all together.

On Monday we went to The Border Grill.  It is a restaurant in Mandalay Bay that was opened by the
"Two Hot Tamales."  I love mexican food...and this place was FABULOUS!!!

Here is the view from our table out on the balcony...nothing about this pictures says it is November and winter...other than no one is actually in the pool because it was closed.

And here's the deal...when you overlook palm trees...your drinkie has to reflect it.  Best pina colada ever!

Rich had the die for!

I had the fish tacos.  They were delish...but the black beans were over the moon.

And even though I was beyond stuffed...Rich ordered dessert, so I had a bite.  Or two...

That night we went out on the strip.  We were wanting to go and check out some new places for dinner.  Psst...really, I only agreed to go because we were hitting the main part of the strip and the news kept talking about Prince Harry being out at a bunch of casinos and I took this as my chance to find him or at least become a person of interest to the monarchy due to my aggressive behavior.  I told Rich we were in stalker mode and to be prepared for anything....anything. 

We headed to Bellagio to see if they had changed over their decorations to Christmas, but they had not.  We saw some old friends like the talking tree...

And the barn and windmill...

And some new friends...LOVE THEM!!!!

And here is the pool at our hotel. to legally be there...and it is closed.  But, isn't it pretty???  I really just wanted to go splash my feet in the water!! 

Now we are back and ready for THANKSGIVING!!!!