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20 to 31 October

20 October

This morning we finalized our packing and got an Uber to Orly for our 1:40pm flight. It was really nice to not have to wake up too early for a flight for once, and flying out of Orly can be so much easier sometimes compared to CDG, specially when you have to take an Uber (thanks to golf clubs…).

After checking our bags in and clearing customs without much issue we were at the gate with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately our good morning didn’t continue as my mom called us to tell us some terrible news, my Grammy had passed away.

I was on the phone with my mom quietly sobbing (and getting all sorts of looks) at the airport when hearing the news. But then on the other end of the line, my mom starts laughing hysterically. I think she’s lost her marbles. Then she tells us that the family dog, Coco, has also passed away. Again, at a total loss for the laughter. My mom goes on to tell us the following detailed account of my dad and the 2 dogs.

‘You’re father gets home from work and I call and tell him that my mom has passed away. He is as consoling as ever but you can hear the dogs, Brody (a 60 lb 2 year old German shepherd) and Coco (a 10 lb very old Jack Russell) barking and yapping, respectively. He gets off the phone with me and tells me what I’m about to tell you later. As you know, Brody likes to eat his own poop and Coco can Houdini out of the backyard. So your father lets Brody run out into the yard and looks for Coco to put on her harness, but she’s nowhere to be found. Dad looks up and Brody is mid-poop, which means he needs to rush outside, grab the poop bucket and get the the warm present before Brody eats it. He figures he’ll find Coco later. So dad cleans up Brody’s mess (and uses a few choice words in the process) and he goes looking for Coco. It isn’t like Coco to miss a chance to go outside. He ends up going down to the basement and finds Coco on the linoleum floor of the kitchen, with her bowels fully released. At this point your father tells me, well at least she didn’t die on the carpet, because that would have been worse to clean up. He cleans Coco up and finds a nice Amazon box to bury her in. He also tell me he found the perfect private spot by the landscaping in the backyard to bury her. Later that evening when I am home, I ask your dad to show me where Coco is buried. Low and behold, the ‘perfect private spot’ is not private at all but basically in the our middle of the yard. Your dad goes on to explain that we took the shovel and cut the grass of a perfect rectangle, rolling it up like a carpet, dug the hole, placed the Amazon box inside, filled it in, and then rolled the grass back out. Mind you this was at 4pm. Can you imagine what the neighbors were thinking! I then ask him, did you check that Coco was actually dead. A look of panic crossed his face, and he replied, well I didn’t check her pulse but Halloween is just a few days away so maybe we’ll get an unexpected visit from a zombie dog.’

At this point, I’m now laughing hysterically and crying at the same time. At times of great sorrow, my dad can always find a way to lighten the mood.

The flight had no issues and we arrived pretty much on time into Newark where my cousin Julie (and Maxwell!!) picked us up and drove us to Bethlehem. Even though arriving at Newark airport between 4 & 5pm on a Friday isn’t the best idea for traffic, we got lucky and for the most part traffic wasn’t too bad and we were back in Bethlehem before 7pm.

We had a nice family dinner and a relaxing evening around the house tonight as we were pretty tired after a long day.

21 October

This morning I woke up early and went with Carrie for a Barre class as well as to get our nails done after. Jer had some breakfast and relaxed around the house until I returned. Once I was home we got ready for Tony & Ali’s wedding this afternoon.

Right around noon Nick G picked us up and we headed up to Our Lady Queen of Peace in Gilbert, PA for the ceremony.

After the ceremony we had a few hours to kill before the reception, at Great Bear Golf and Country Club, so we went to Shawnee Craft Brewing Company which was just down the street. It had been a while since we had some good beer so we each got a flight of beer so we could taste the different types of beers they had. Scott’s girlfriend Alex also joined us for a little while.

Around 4:30pm we headed up to Great Bear for the start of cocktail hour and then the reception. Around 10pm the reception shut down and we were pretty dead from the time change so instead of sticking around for the after party I drove us back to Bethlehem. I was the DD tonight so that Nick and Jer could have some fun.

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The Hardin’s were also in town for something so we made a stop at Gary and Barb’s house to see them and were home and asleep around 1am.

22 October

This morning we slept in a little, for jet lag standards anyway, then went back to the Hardin’s house because we were having brunch with everyone before they headed back to CA and FL respectively.

We ended up in downtown Bethlehem at Brew Works because they had a Sunday brunch special with a bloody mary bar!

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After brunch we walked around downtown for a little, grabbing some coffee’s and reminiscing about old times. Eventually we said our goodbyes and headed towards Seiple Farms as we were meeting my college girls at the pumpkin patch. Funny enough we saw Meg & Rodrigo as we were walking to the car as they were also spending some time downtown before meeting everyone at the pumpkin patch.

Trying to get to see everyone while we are home is never easy, but with it being around Halloween we figured why not meet at a pumpkin patch. It was great getting Jen, Melis, Meg and I together again (guess it was nice to have Justin, Rod and Jer join us too) and we even got to meet Zoe for the first time! We rode out to the pumpkin patch looking for the best pumpkins. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun. Once we all had a few pumpkins we said our goodbyes and now we were on our way down towards Philly to see the McCarthy’s.

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On our way down we stopped to grab some beer at a local shop. We finally were able to see the McCarthy’s new house since they had moved after we left. We spent a few hours chatting and catching up with the whole family and enjoy a fun dinner together. I even got to read some books to Claire and Molly! After the kids finally went to bed, and the adults enjoyed a few more adult beverages, we headed back towards Bethlehem and we were back by 11pm.

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23 October

This morning we were up early and out the door because I was speaking to accounting students at Moravian. One of my former professors had reached out to me, and I gladly obliged, to speak to them about my experiences at PwC. First though, we had to get dropped off at the airport to pick up our rental car for the week. After we got the car Jer dropped me off and he headed back to the house.

Luckily with WiFi I was able to let Jer know once I was done. As I waited in the parking lot I found it strange that two cars showed back up at Moravian, but found out that Jer and dad were headed to the driving range to hit balls. Jer left me the rental car and we went our separate ways for a little.

After an hour or so Jer and dad returned from their range session. One of the reasons Jer wanted to hit balls today ways because he was headed back up to Great Bear, this time to play golf, with Chupa.

While Jer played golf I relaxed at home, which was much needed after a very busy start to our trip.

Once Jer was done with golf he came back to the house and picked me up to head to PJ’s to get dinner with Tony and Ali to catch up with them a little more since you only get so much time with people at their wedding. We enjoyed a few beers and starting to plan their trip to come visit us next year.

After PJ’s we were on the move yet again as it was time to meet the new Gilbert twins!! After hanging with the sleeping babies for a short time and catching up with John and Kristie we were home around 11pm.

24 October

Today we were up VERY early because I had to be back at Crown for the day to get some work done since this was a home leave trip after all. The original plan was to head down this morning and take care of everything we needed to in Philly today and tomorrow and stay with Nick G tonight then be done in the city Wednesday. Things changed with Grammy unfortunately passing away so it was just a day at the Crown offices instead.

After dropping me off at the office Jer went to Starbucks down the street for most of the day, but also took care of some shopping that we needed to do.

Once I was finally done with work Jer came and picked me up. The one plan that we did have for today, and did keep, was our dinner reservation with my one partner in KOP at Davio’s. We had a very good dinner with him and his wife and were home around 11:30pm.

25 October

This morning we needed to make a run to the store and ended up stopping at TJ Maxx and Walmart to pick up some necessities that we cannot always get while in France. On the way back we stopped at our favorite local grocery store, Elias, to get lunch for everyone.

This afternoon we had the viewing for my Grammy at Downing Funeral home.

Since everyone was home and it wasn’t really a cooking kind of night we ordered from Nick’s Pizza and picked it up on the way home. While we were ordering we thought we had gotten a good amount of food, but it turned out to be too much food thanks to huge stromboli even with everyone being home, plus Bobby and Anne stopping by.

26 October

Today was a day dedicated to the remembrance of Grammy with an early morning viewing followed by mass in her honor at St. Simon. After mass was over we headed to the cemetery to say our final goodbyes.

We continued our remembrance after with a nice lunch at Stefano’s with many family and friends.

After a rough morning we headed home for the rest of the day. While we were at the pumpkin patch the other day we had found 4 different pumpkins so we could do some pumpkin carving this evening. Each person had their own design and boy did they turn out well if I may say so. If you don’t believe me take a look for yourself.

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27 October

Today was yet another pretty busy day, well for Jer at least as he was up and out by 7:30 for a tee time with dad and uncle Bobby at Southmoore. Unfortunately a frost delay caused him to not be able to complete the round because we were having lunch with Laurie and Aunt Toni at Laurie’s house. He wasn’t happy about this either because he was under par through 10 holes.

After lunch and catching up we walked over to see Laurie’s new art show at the local Hellertown library, yes you read that right Hellertown has an actual library. We walked back to her house and after enjoying some dessert and exchanging some gifts (since we won’t be back for Christmas) Jer headed out for yet another round of golf. I stayed and chatted for a while before heading back to my parents for the afternoon.

Jer met Nick G and Tony at Shawnee for their tee time. Let’s say he was very happy that he brought back his clubs and the weather was nice enough for him to get a few rounds in.

While I was waiting for Jer to get home I got to enjoy something we hadn’t gotten the chance to do in 2 years as tonight was trick or treat! I got the chance to sit out front of my parents house and enjoy all the great costumes while handing out candy.

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Once Jer finally got back from golf, and showered, we were off yet again. First, we needed to drop the rental car off at the airport, then we were headed to Carrie and Rory’s to see all the high school girls for the evening.

We enjoyed a bunch of food and drinks and even enjoyed a game of “What do you Meme”. Slowly everyone needed to start heading home and we got back around 1am.

28 October

After all that golf yesterday Jer hadn’t had enough obviously (as I said before he was making the most out of bringing his clubs) so dad and him were off again this morning this time to Allentown Municipal to play with uncle Bobby and Brock. Brock had always wanted to play with Jer and they had never had the chance before so it was nice for them to get out.

Also today, mom wanted to have Thanksgiving since Jer and I won’t be here this year so I stayed back and helped her get everything ready for a small family Thanksgiving.

Jer and dad got back around 4:00pm and we watched the PSU game and had our Thanksgiving, just a little early this year.

29 October

Today was our last day in the States for a while (or so we thought….). We ran a couple of last minute errands in the morning and then spent quite a while trying to get all of our Walmart shopping into a checked luggage and spread the weight out properly.

Jim came to pick us up around 3:45pm to make the drive to Newark to head home. Since we hadn’t seen Jim much this trip we stopped in Basking Ridge to have late lunch/early dinner at 3 West. After a good dinner we got to Newark just after 6pm for our 8:30pm flight.

Unfortunately this is where the trip takes a turn for the worse. As is normal for this airline (OpenSkies by BA) and particular flight we checked in and got through security with little issue and were at the gate with plenty of time. So as usual we sat down at the bar in the terminal to watch some American Football. As time went on we started to realize something was wrong with our flight because we weren’t boarding and the board wasn’t changing. At first they said just give us some time it is a maintenance issue and we will update you soon with a new departure time. At one point Jer went up and was talking with a few of the desk crew who said there was something wrong with a windshield wiper, but who knows. Eventually out of nowhere they just straight up cancelled the flight! We rushed to get downstairs to pick up our luggage and figure out what the next steps were.

The BA employees at the airport could give us any details on our flights as they kept saying they were only there to provide taxi and hotel vouchers to passengers (which they did wrong anyway). While we were waiting their computer system just started scheduling people on flights the following day and not only did they end up putting us on separate flights, but they also put us on flights from JFK instead of EWR. We asked at the airport how we were supposed to get to JFK and they told us to come back in the morning and get a taxi voucher.

Eventually after finally receiving our hotel voucher we got to the Crown Plaza Newark around midnight with about 40 other people and when we arrived they weren’t even expecting us. Needless to say the crowd was getting restless as nothing was going right. Thankfully the front desk was rather quick, and we were in the front of the line, to get everyone set it up the necessary rooms.

Even though we were finally in a room after a long day it wasn’t over yet. As soon as we got into the room Jer started to try to work his magic on getting our flights changed and fixed since we were on separate flights and not the best timed ones. Luckily we travel often as I can’t imagine what this experience was like for infrequent travelers. After we finally got everything worked out the best we could we went to bed, wanting to be home of course, but mostly satisfied with what we were able to make happen.

30 October

Even though we weren’t home, as we wanted, we luckily didn’t have to get up too early to catch our flight. After doing some work and relaxing most of the morning we got the hotel shuttle back to Newark around noon to get our taxi voucher to get to JFK as we were told to do last night.

If you were thinking the drama of this post was over you were wrong because now it gets worse! When we arrived at Newark there was not a soul to be found at the BA counters in the entire airport. Us and 30+ people (mostly French and many who didn’t speak English) just stranded there only being told sorry no one will be here until 4:30pm, AFTER most of our flights were scheduled to leave anyway. After spending about an hour, where we tried to get someone via phone, airport staff, and even going to another terminal to see if there were other BA counters or their partners, we ended up just getting an Uber ourselves and headed to JFK in order to make sure we weren’t going to miss our flight. One would also assume that since we were stuck there for an additional 24 hours we would get food vouchers or something of that nature, but once we actually found some BA people at JFK they told us, nope sorry we don’t do that, you are going to have to submit the receipts yourself!! So knowing this we decided to get ourselves a very nice late lunch while waiting for our flight to leave.

After enjoying lunch we got to our gate and boarding started normally for our 5:15pm flight home. Guess what? Yup that is right you guessed it the story continues downhill. They boarded the entire flight and told us we would just be a little late because they were waiting for the maintenance log. After about an hour or so they said everything was being finished up and then we would head out. Well we tried to head out, but got only a few hundred feet back from the gate and Jer looked at me and said, uh I think we are going back to the gate. He was unfortunately right and we were back at the gate because a final check noted that a bathroom was not functioning properly. So they had to get maintenance back on the plane and try to fix the issue before we could go. Apparently there is some sort of rule about how many working bathrooms need to be operating for overseas flights to take off.

After about a 3h 30 min delay we backed out of the gate yet again, but until we actually left the ground I don’t think either of us thought we were actually getting home.

31 October

After finally getting out of the NY area and about 7 hours in the air later we landed at CDG. We got our bags and Uber relatively quickly, but had to fight some traffic due to the time of our arrival this morning. We finally arrived back at the apartment around 10:30am and I had missed my teaching that I was supposed to do today because of this craziness. Luckily for Jer he still had off from teaching this week with the holiday so he didn’t miss anything.

We spent the rest of the day trying to get ourselves settled back in and get some laundry started before the rest of the week.

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