Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Travel Lessons # 1 - # 3

After this past weekend of travel nightmares, its going to take a lot to get Shane and I (especially Shane) on a plane again...and once we decide to entrust our safe travels to an airline, it will by no means be Delta.

It all started on Thursday, trying to get Shane into Chicago to (a) celebrate Christmas with my mom and mike and (b) catch our flight to Houston Saturday morning. # 1 lesson in this mess, do not book flights eight months ahead of time. The potential savings is just not worth the extra headaches. What extra headaches, you might ask? Well, back in April, my dad booked us a flight from Chicago to Houston to Puerto Vallarta. Had we been living in Chicago, this would have been a much easier travel day. But no. Shane and I decide to move to DC in September and by that time it was too expensive to reroute the flight, so we left the original flight as-was and decided to fly into Chicago a few days early. One thing we did not factor into this decision: Chicago's December weather -- typically cold, and snow, and lots of snow.

Thus, Shane was originally suppose to fly in late Friday afternoon. In anticipation of the Thursday night/Friday morning snow storm, we switched his flight to Thursday night. Not more than 2 hours after he changed his flight, Southwest canceled his new flight. Thank goodness we checked the status prior to him driving to Baltimore! Needless to say they put him on the 7:30 AM flight Friday morning, which lead us to lesson # 2 of this holiday/travel season.

# 2 lesson in this mess, if you have to leave the house at a god awful early time, do not attempt to save money using public transportation. Just drive your car. Shane tried the train to bus combo to get to the airport. Only once he got to the bus station, he realized that he did not have is cell phone. Deciding that this was a travel essential, he literally ran, in cowboy boots, back onto the train and the 0.5 miles from the train to our house. Hopped in the car, drove to the airport and parked in the expensive parking garage ($17/day), before running through the airport to catch his flight. Had he just driven in the first place, he (a) would not have been sweaty and (b) would have been able to park in long term parking for about half that price -- luckily, he had to fly home two days later on Sunday and the parking fee wouldn't be too outrageous. One question lesson # 2 bears, what in the world did we do without cell phones? how did we operate? That is for another day.

The rest of the lessons are for another day. The include # 3, Delta has the worst customer service. ever; # 4, Do not fly through Chicago during winter months - not only will snow shut down airports, but so will sub-zero temperatures; # 5, Make them come to you. There maybe more, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if we don't post before Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to everyone! I can't believe that 2009 is just around the corner. 2008 was such a great year, that I am sad to see it go...however, I am sure that 2009 will be just as great, if not better! Hopefully, we'll see all of our missed friends and relatives at some point during the new year!

Happy Holidays!

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another airport oops!

After reading our blog last night, my mom emailed me a funny airport story about my grandfather. Here is the airport mess he managed to get himself into. I haven't laughed this hard since Shane had his airport "oops"

almost as frustrating as Grandpa some how managing to get on the flight to midway instead of milwaukee and so i spent hours at milwuakee, he didn't off the flight. I went back and forth thru security and back to the gate thinking maybe i missed him so many times I think security started following me. finally got a call from him, from someone elses cell phone and he was in midway, no way for me to get the very quickly so i called craig to go get him and then he drove around o'hare for about 1/2 hour before calling me and it took us several minutes of talking before we realized he was at the wrong airport

For anyone who didn't know him, he truly was a piece of work. Just imagine Kramer from Seinfield and age him about 20 to 30 years. That was my grandfather almost to a T. I am sure that he was hitting on the flight attendents during the flight trying to get their number. Him and I always had a special bond, whether over logic puzzles, cards (tel-a-funky to be exact), or who was smarter. I still have one of the last letters that he wrote me...typed on out his typewriter!

Its hard to believe that he passed away three years ago already, almost to the date. I wish he was still here. More than anything, I wish he could have gotten to meet Shane. They would have gotten along fabulously!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Uneventful Wednesday Night

Shane and I are just sitting on the couch, enjoying a bottle of two-buck chuck, and relaxing...for the first time in weeks!! Finals are officially over...at least for this semester. Two more grad school classes, and three general accounting classes and then its CPA time. Yay!! (Pick up on the sarcasm?)

Speaking of two-buck chuck, it is $3.29 a bottle out here. It was $2.99 in Chicago and prior to that you could get it for $1.99 (hence the name). At least in Chicago, it was still in the two dollar range. Seeing that the price has eclipsed the three dollar mark, does that mean that two-buck chuck needs a new nickname?

Anyhow, now that finals are done, I can FINALLY get in the Christmas spirit. I cannot believe that its only 14 days away. Crazy! Christmas might be one of my favorite times of the year...not necessarily the actual day, but the whole season. Hence why I am super excited to finally get to enjoy it. Although it with our travel plans, we have decided against getting a Christmas tree. Since we'll be gone for over 15 days, we figured (a) it wasn't worth the price and (b) it wasn't worth the hassle of coming home to a pile of dead pine needles and a bunch of branches. Thus, I must do other things to get in the Christmas spirit. Maybe some ice skating downtown this weekend, maybe a trip to see the White House Christmas tree, who knows. Any ideas?

Well, Shane is telling me to get off the computer. So adios, for now!

Miss everyone!

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just a tad stressed...

Whoever said life was easy?!?! Its certainly not when you are working full time and taking classes. Needless to say, its crunch week for Shane and I.

As most of you know, I am in the midst of obtaining my Masters in Tax. Assuming that I survive this semester, only 2 more classes to go and I can add the letters MST after my name. However, then its time to focus on three more letters...CPA...but let's not get ahead of ourselves. First I've got to get through the following: a 10 page term paper due Saturday, a final Monday (Oil&Gas Taxation BLAH) and a final Wednesday (Tax Methods, Double BLAH).

Shane has a test and a final too, as well as the stresses of a new job! But he is better then me and forces himself to go to the library (I try to work while watching biggest loser and other tv shows) so I am sure that he will do great on both of his tests!

So much going on...and no time to just enjoy life. However, it will soon be over...only 6 more days to go...and then we can relax and focus on Christmas!

I'll post our Christmas schedules/intineraries soon (and yes, just like Thanksgiving they are NUTS!)

Love,

stephanie & shane

Monday, December 1, 2008

And the verdict is in...

After a very fun Thanksgiving at the Stewart household, Shane and I flew to Chicago for a little time with my family and my 10 year high school reunion (yes, I am old!). One of the big questions of the weekend was -- did we plan on moving back to Chicago after DC? After many rehearsed answers, "Maybe.", "We'll see.", "Probably not as Houston is so much cheaper.", etc. I have the finally discovered the true answer to the question --

-- if I have any say in it, the answer is no. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Chicago. And no other city can even compare to Chicago summers and the Cubs. And it has nothing to do with the exorbitant real estate prices. Or the piles of cars that sit on the highway trying to get from point A to point B. Rather, its all because of the weather.

As I woke up this morning at 4:30 AM (ridiculously early, I know!), I was confronted with snow, slush, wind, and ice. Same thing when I went outside to get my Cosi for lunch. It is gross. And brutal. And miserable. And something that I don't want to experience for five out of twelve months of a year...for the rest of my life...

Maybe they can invented heated bubbles. If I could go about my way, protected from the nastiness, maybe I'd consider it. But until then...let me move South, or even East...why East you might ask -- because we all know that they get snow...but let's face it, the East isn't as tough as Chicago. It takes feet, not inches, and ice, not just snow, to shut down this city. But the East is awhole 'nother ball game. Two inches of snow and no ice? No worries. Stay in bed. The city's closed down. Now, that is what I am talking about...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Only My Husband

So today begins our ten days of traveling for Turkey Day, Jerod's wedding and my ten year high school reunion. Given our complicated itineraries, it is only fitting that the day start out like it did...

...so we woke up a bit late and still have to pack, but no big deal. Shane was successfully out of the house by 8:45 and headed to the Metro, which would eventually take him to Baltimore Airport. Amidst his travels, he sent me a message asking me to check him in. Well, I tried, but Southwest's only response is an "ERROR MESSAGE". After several failed attempts, I decided to give up and informed Shane that he has to check himself in when he gets to the airport, and thus, will likely be stuck with a "C" boarding pass. Although there was that gut feeling that something was just not right, I dismissed the feeling and continued working.

However, about 45 minutes later, Shane arrived at the airport to check in and low and behold the kiosk cannot find his reservation. Nor can the man behind the counter. The flight is in 50 minutes and at this point Shane's only options are (a) to stay in the DC area or (b) to purchase the $366 flight to Houston. Seeing that staying in town and missing everything is not an option, Shane chose option (b) and proceeds through security.

Once inside the terminal, his nagging wife (me!) kept pestering him as to whether or not he made it standby on his original flight. Amidst my constant inquiries, we were both walking through all of the steps of booking the flight -- and finally came to the conclusion that he just must not have hit the final button and the transaction didn't go through.

However, this was not sufficient for me and so I hacked (okay, well he gave me the password) into his Southwest account for some investigative work. I saw that he earned an award on 12/20/07 and I saw that the associated credits have been "used" but I could see the corresponding flight. This irritated me and I decided that I am going to call Southwest and get to the bottom of this. This might seem like a normal undertaking, but for those who know me, there might be a little bit of a bitchy side to me...and I was seriously afraid of what I was going to say to the lady on the phone.

After explaining to her the situation -- about not being able to find the reservation to the disappearing credits -- she informed me that she can in fact see the flight that Shane was booked on. She then tells me that he was booked on the 10:05 flight out of DULLES connecting in Chicago and arriving in Houston at 2:30. Well, at this point, I think my jaw hit the desk.

DULLES! Shane was at Baltimore, not Dulles. He didn't go to the airport near our house. He trekked through downtown DC and into the next state...to the WRONG AIRPORT! Only my husband could go to the wrong airport for a flight!

Luckily, she was able to release the award travel to us, and I was able to book him on a later flight out of Baltimore this evening. And luckily for us, the $366 ticket was fully refundable. Total cost of the day - $2.50 service charge for the award travel. Total cost of the memory of my husband going to the wrong airport - Priceless.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Apologies!

For not writing and keeping everyone updated...A lot has been going on, with maybe some upcoming changes (who us, never!) so I will be sure to update everyone soon!

Hope all is well...less than a week until Houston and then Chicago! Yay for holidays and seeing family and friends!

Love,

Steph & Shane

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Houseguests!

So, unless something comes up between now and then (Christina, please no more broken bones while rollerblading that require surgery), we will have our first house guests this weekend! This is exciting on many fronts...

...first and foremost is the actual house guests...Christina and Pablo! Not only do we have an absolute blast with them everytime we hang out, but we actually get to host them for once. We've stayed at their old San Fran pad on two occasions -- one trip to wine country and one to Tahoe -- and we've never been able to return the favor because either (a) Shane and I didn't live in the same city or (b) they stayed elsewhere during their trips to the Windy City. Unfortunately, we don't have luxury, private accommodations in our one bedroom place, but we do have a cleared out corner of the living room, an air mattress and down comforters. Not too shabby. Hopefully it will do! However, it will be quite interesting having 4 people share one bathroom. I will keep all posted on this...

...second, we get to be tourists! Not quite sure what we'll do or what C&P will want to do, but either way, I am sure that we'll get to embark on some sort of adventure that we have yet to do in this fabulous city. Shopping in Georgetown, eating at a yummy restaurants, sipping wine at a local vineyard (did you know northern Virginia rivals Napa? and that there are wineries within 35 minutes of our house?), or seeing the memorials...so much to do! One thing we will be doing for certain is cheering on the marathon runners! Go Karen, Nicole and Denise (and of course anyone else I might possibly know who is running!)

...lastly, it forces us to finish the house organization and unpacking! This is about 95% done, but we cannot find the motivation to finish the last few tasks. All that remains is (1) hanging another level of shelving in the closet (you try cramming two peoples stuff into one small walk in closet -- talk about difficult) (2) re-hanging the bathroom shelves (these were up and looking pretty, but we quickly learned that they had too much weight on them, when Shane's reach made them come crashing down) and (3) the last two boxes (its all miscellaneous stuff -- like all wedding memoirs -- that have no place in everyday life, but need to be saved!)

Alright, time to get back to work. Hope all is well with everyone and hopefully we'll be seeing you soon! The next few months are pretty busy travel wise for us, so I'll post our schedule below, and hopefully we can catch up and see everyone!

Friday 10/31 -- Libertyville, IL -- Mickey Finn's Brewery with the Kiefers and Pastorinos
Saturday 11/1 -- Chicago, IL -- Dave & Tiffany's wedding

Friday 11/21 -- Steph will be sleeping at O'hare; Shane will be in Houston
Saturday 11/22 -- Victoria, TX -- Jerod & Erin's wedding
Sunday 11/23 - Friday 11/28 -- Houston, TX -- Thanksgiving!
Friday 11/28 - Monday 12/1 -- Chicago, IL including my 10 year reunion that Saturday

Wednesday 12/17 - Saturday 12/20 -- Chicago, IL
Saturday 12/20 - Monday 12/29 -- Houston, TX
Monday 12/29 - Sunday 1/4 -- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Whew...that's a lot of travel...after that, house guests welcome! Miss you all tons!

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Friday, October 10, 2008

There's always next year...

...right? So the Cubs choked (or whatever you may call it) again. What's done is done. Although Shane would have liked to see them win (partially for my sake), I think he is at least a tad bit relieved...all the Cubs gear -- the hats, the shirts, the windbreakers, the W flag -- are out of sight until next year. He get's the next six months or so without his wife obsessing about her beloved cubbies...so until next year...

It's college football time!! Nothing makes you feel more like a college kid and an adult at the exact same time. 12 hours of drinking and cheering on your team...sure we can still do it and love every second of it...but that next morning. Ouch. You realize you are just a tad bit older than the crazy fans cheering into the TV cameras. Oh well...go Illini and Aggies!!

Other than that nothing else really excting to report. I promise to post pictures of our place sooner-rather-than later! Miss everyone dearly!

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Forgot one thing. GO CUBS!

Steph - No More Posts About the Cubs!

Stephanie,

Hey dear! You just posted about Jinxes and Hoaxes. Let's not mention these types of things in the same reference to the Cubs. They need all the help they can get.

On a side note to all,

Being that this is my first posting, I wanted to let everyone know that we are excited you all can be apart of our lives through this type of medium. Give us a holler anytime you want. Love you all.

Shane

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here's to curses, jinxes, billy goats and black cats...

...the 2008 MLB playoffs begin today and I am just giddy with excitment! Maybe, just maybe, this is the year?!?!? In anticipation of the excitment (and hopefully not heartbreak) of the next few weeks, I've been singing this song in my head ALL day. Let's just hope that we hear it after every Cubs home game...and in bars throughout the country after every Cubs game! Go Cubs Go!


video

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Official!

On what is a rather slow day of work, and after trying to battle a food coma, I decided that today would be the day that I trek over to the Social Security office and get the ball rolling on my making my name change official. Fearing the worst and expecting to be waiting for upwards of an hour or so, the process turned out to be painless! In-and-out in under 10 minutes. Whoa. It took me three times that long to walk the 2+ mile round trip!

Thus, it is finally official. I am Mrs. Stephanie Rae Stewart (although I did debate officially changing my name to Stephanie Cashman Stewart. However, due to the numbers of letters involved and my growing liking of my somewhat different middle name, I decided on the contrary)

Hope all is well!

Love,

Stephanie

Sorry -- this one isn't from Shane. He didn't know I was going to do this, so he can read it like everyone else :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Furniture

It arrived bright and early on Saturday morning! And it wasn't a moment to soon...as we think the air mattress may have developed a small hole which required us to inflate it every few hours. Needless to say, between the air mattress and the anticipation of our stuff, we didn't sleep very well on Friday night.

We spent most of the weekend unpacking, organizing and running related errands. A very tiring process. As soon as everything is put away and the boxes are in the dumpster, I'll take some pictures and post them so everyone can see our new place.

Other than that, nothing too super exciting to report. We are settling in, both getting into our daily routine and meeting some great people. Well, I really should get back to work, but for all you curious readers, just wanted to keep you up-to-date...our furniture has arrived (and I promise this is the last post about it!)

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fingers Crossed

So we switched tactics today, I told the sales rep that we were considering filing a complaint with the BBB and then I had Shane call to get an update on our stuff...and low and behold, it has left Chicago!

Last update is that it is on a truck in West Virginia and should be delivered to us within 48 hours. This is the best news I've heard in weeks! Please keep your fingers crossed that we only have to sleep on the air mattress for two more nights!

...patiently awaiting a phone call from Ron, the truck driver...

Hope all is well with everyone! We miss you all a ton...and now that it looks like we'll have our furniture sooner rather than later, please come visit us!

Love,

Stephanie & Shane

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Frustration continues...

...as still NO furniture. It is truely one of the most frustrating things EVER. We have been in touch with the moving company, who assure us that we will get it in the "next few days". Funny thing is, though, that they told me "in the next few days" yesterday and the previous Wednesday. Hmm...I wonder what calendar they are using. In all seriousness, they claim that the Great Chicago Flood of 2008 is to blame (heck, it was big enough that Illinois pushed back tax return filing deadlines). Apparently, their warehouse began to flood...which made them move everything to a temporary warehouse...and then back to the original after water subsided, and halted all delivery until everything was back in the original place.

Fingers crossed that it comes this week. I can't wait to shake this feeling of feeling like I am in a hostage situation with my hands tied behind my back. I am so frustrated that I've even researched legal arguments in a potential desire to sue them. Unfortunately, my prospects look rather dim on that...dang federal laws!

On a happy note, the bar we registered for has been purchased and is the process of being shipped. The prospects of a house with an air mattress and a bar is so ironic, that it makes me smile :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Only Frustration...

...still no furniture!! Shane and I have officially been residents of NOVA (Northern Virginia) for 10 days now and other than one small issue, everything has been great so far! We are both adjusting to our new offices. Shane's office and job is pretty much the same as Chicago (aside from the people) whereas my job is completely different. I no longer interact with the Firm's clients. Rather, the client serving people of the firm are my clients. It is my job to help make sure that they are up-to-date, informed and knowledgeable on all State and Local Tax Developments. A lot of reading and writing for me...seeing that I like numbers, we'll see how quickly these two years go!

Outside of the office, things are pretty good as well. Our first weekend here was spent meeting new friends and hanging out with old friends. Saturday afternoon, despite the attempts of Tropical Storm Hannah, we ventured out to watch the Texas A&M game with other alumni. (Speaking of, people in DC are worry-warts. The storm merely brought heavy rains, but seriously, EVERYBODY at work was freaking out on Friday afternoon. You would have thought it was a Cat 5 hurricane. Oh well!) We were fortunate to meet some really cool people. Hopefully, we'll hang out with them again soon! Then on Sunday we ventured to Alexandria to Brent and Ali's place for a BBQ with some of their friends. For those of you who don't know, Brent and Ali are the couple that we met in St. Lucia. Somehow on an island of 90% foreigners (or non-Americans I should say) we were fortunate to meet two people who lived in the DC area! Again, a ton of fun! I can't wait until this weekend when we venture to the Illini alumni bar and watch the Fighting Illini take on the Ragin' Cajuns and meet some other, hopefully, cool people!

But on to our one complaint, and its really not a complaint, but more of a frustration...we still do not have our furniture! All we have currently is what we were able to pack in the Honda...our air mattress, one suitcase of clothes each and some other random items...and some other items that we've purchased since we've arrived, namely plates, a pan and a spatula! Granted, the moving company has until Sunday, September 14, 2008 to deliver our stuff, but regardless, I want it now. I want a bed, my couch, the rest of my clothes...everything necessary to make our place actually feel like home and not a deserted room! I'd also like to be able to cook and not just eat Lean Cusines. Oh well. Fingers crossed our stuff comes soon!

Once we have the place set up, I'll be sure to post pictures! Until then...hope all is well! Time to finish up work, pick up a surprise for tonight (its our 1-month anniversary already!) and then head home!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Honeymoon Pics

Our honeymooon was awesome...we spent two nights in San Juan, PR and five nights in St. Lucia! San Juan was cool, albeit very Miami-esque. Definitely more a place for a fun weekend getaway and not a honeymoon. However, St. Lucia was awesome and our resort was fabulous as well. We stayed at a small all inclusive called Le Sporte Body Holiday...not only were all food and drinks included, but so were 50 minute spa treatments for both of us each day. I think Shane finally understands why us girls tend to spend a lot of $ on massages and the likes! We cannot wait to go back!








Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Big Day

Shane and I got married on August 9, 2008...despite a few little hiccups (ie. the limo not showing up and the flowers not being quite right!), it was the perfect!

We can only hope that our friends and family had as good of a time as we did...but given the fact that Harry Caray's had to kick EVERYONE off the dance floor and out of the building, its safe to say that a good time was had by all!

We are still waiting on the link to ALL of the pictures that our wonderful photographer, Matt Schademann, took, but in the meantime, here a few teasers that he sent us. As soon as we get the link to the rest we'll post it here!

Enjoy the pictures! Thank you again to everyone who was able to share in our big day. I know we've said it over and over again, and it probably sounds cliche, but it really wouldn't have been the same without all of our loved ones there to share it with us. We love and miss you all...please come visit!
Love, Stephanie & Shane








Cubs v. Astros

So many of you are probably wondering what I do all day at work that I can post three consecutive blogs...and the answers is...conference calls! I normally have one or two a week, however, today I have been on three and all of them have lasted more than an hour. Boring. But anyhow, back to the topic at hand...the adventures of Shane and I!

On the Wednesday before our wedding, we were truly blessed! Not only were our beloved teams playing each other at my favorite place on earth (Wrigley Field), but our friends and family from Houston were able to fly up a few days early for the wedding and spend the afternoon in the bleachers with us!

It was truly a great day...especially since the Cubs won!

Go Cubs Go! :)


My dad & I... Liz & I...

Shane & I...my last day wearing my "Cashman" jersey... The Carlisles and soon-to-be Stewarts

August Adventures!

This past weekend Shane and I said good bye (lots of tears on my end) to our friends and family in Chicago, packed up our tiny Honda Civic and hit the road for DC. Although this will be our home, and the newest adventure, for the next two years, August was full of adventures and wonderful memories including...

...Cubs v. Astros game with our new families (Go Cubs!)
...Our wedding ceremony on August 9, 2008 Location: St. James Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL
...Our wedding reception on August 9, 2008 Location: Harry Caray's, Chicago, IL
...Our honeymoon at La Concha in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Le Sporte Body Holiday in St. Lucia

We can honestly say that August was one of the best months of our lives. Not only were the events fun and memorable, but we were surrounded by our friends, family and loved ones. In the next few days, I will post summaries and pictures of each of these events...and then its on to the future and the rest of our adventures! Stay tuned!

Love, Stephanie & Shane

Introductory Blog :)

Hello all!

I just wanted to take a moment and write our first blog! I apologize ahead of time for any headaches and blips that I may incur along the way...but I am new to this blogging thing! I never actually thought I'd become a "blogger", but thanks to our dear friend Liz Carlisle and her fabulous blog, as well as our inability to stay in one place for too terribly long, I figured blogging would be an excellent way to keep everyone up-to-date on our lives as Mr. and Mrs. Stewart!

Stay tuned for more updates...probably a little bit about the wedding and the honeymoon to come and then on to our new adventures!

Love,

Stephanie (& Shane)