Friday, July 30, 2010

Airline Disdain

Mid flight, somewhere over podunk U.S.A. between Pittsburgh and Chicago,
 at a volume level loud enough for the entire cockpit and crew to hear,
 Emory informs me that "engines are necessary".
"Yes, very necessary."
"Without a engine mom, the plane would fall out of the sky."
"Thank you so much for that kind reminder Emory".
I don’t like flying. It’s just a necessary evil for me. Pilot husband could chat all day about ground speed and birds eye views, but I’m more of a boots on the ground kinda gal. No doubt, flying is an efficient means of transport. Obviously, if we had to cover the ocean by canoe, it’d take an awfully long time. But, the question for anyone who’s ever flown, ‘what if?’ echoes loud enough.

I take that back. It’s not the pesky question of a plane screaming toward the ground as gravity takes over to an ultimate death. My dislike of flying emanates from various other functions aboard airplanes and around airports. Take for instance the annoying popping, pressure feeling in the ears that happens on ascent and descent. It makes you hear as if you’re thirty thousand leagues under the sea until well after you’ve left baggage claim.

And security. I’m all for making sure no one is trying to light their shoes or underwear on fire in flight. But walking around in an area with total strangers in bare feet is gross. Not nudist beach gross. Still, how do I know if Joe Schmo up there in line doesn’t have planters’ warts? Or Miss Persnickety with the pink suitcase doesn’t have athlete’s foot? Yuck.
Then there’s the airline attendants, bumping into elbows and legs with their carts, and talking in a patronizing tone. The safety videos, which no one pays attention to anyway. If they want people to watch safety instruction, get a celebrity to show us how. Wouldn’t it be more fun to hear how to fasten a belt from somebody like Jerry Seinfeld?

And when it’s all said and done, the jet lag. That has to be the best way to feel hung over without drinking. Clearly Our Creator’s way of saying ‘slow down, you’re going too fast in the wrong direction.’
Speaking of wrong direction, the screaming, restless kids. If not mine, theirs.

And Sky Mall. The most pitiful excuse to spend money. Does anyone ever really purchase from this store in the sky? Who the heck needs a John Wayne 3-D illuminated cuckoo clock? A meek rat gang statue in the yard? How about a “Pooch Power shovel”? The catalogue says this must-have-gadget, which resembles a cheap leaf blower, is “almost like having someone else pick up your dogs waste.” That’s just wrong.
For a mere $69.99 you can purchase “Priceless Print Charms”. Seriously, who are they kidding?
The ad says “when a tangible object bears the uniqueness of a loved one from home the simple act of touching such a thing removes the distance…” Sorry, to disagree. Staring at the fingerprints of loved ones does not close in the gap of 5,000 miles across the Atlantic pond. And anyway, I could ask them to send their fingerprints to me free of charge. Please tell me, why pay $69.99 for that?

The worst thing about flying. The wafting of a fart at 30,000 feet in the air. Unfair. Completely unfair. I know folks who can break wind like nobody’s business. But it’s not ok in an airplane. All trapped in there, with someone on board who’s seriously ill enough to cause O2 masks to deploy. Nasty.

Travel with kids is conquered in a fashion similar to the recent book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Eat- Feed the kids, pack snacks, feed them again.
Pray- that either out of boredom or an overflowing belly, they sleep. And that the in flight movie is worthwhile.
Love- Nothing to love about hours wasted meandering in airports. Always however, on take off and landings, we hold small hands and smile encouragingly into the eyes of four children
For us, long flights on airlines are, for now, necessary. But I really look forward to the day we try an “anchors aweigh” adventure back home. Better yet, the words “Beam me up Scotty!” as we depart for our next undertaking. Or best of all “we’re home sweet home!”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sparklers, the new form of punishment

Grandma has a goodie box of surprises. When kids are well behaved at her house, they can pick something special from the box. Stella chose sparklers. We've been busy however, and put off her sparkler time for quite a bit. Tonight, we had to use them up, as the FAA frowns upon fireworks on airlines.
Little did we know, that this is apparently a form of kid torture.
She timidly handled the sparklers as if it was punishment.

Good to know she's not a pyromaniac.
Perhaps next time she'll spring for water balloons, stickers, or a little snack.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Creekside Finale

Matt and I were both raised in Northwestern PA, but we haven’t been here much with the kids. When we do come home, the time is usually spent visiting family and friends. We rarely take time for much else, but always wish we had spent just a bit more time showing the kids places, or doing things we did as kids.
The latest trip ‘home’ where we were both raised, has been filled with fun and adventure. Most importantly though, it’s been filled with a ton of opportunity to take the kids to places where we spent time at their ages. The local swimming pool, schools, ice cream shops, bike trails, festivals…all places we meandered in childhood, and places where we still hold dear memories of still today.
What it is that makes us want to take the kids to these places, and share stories?
I don’t know. I think it's simply the good times, happy memories, and comfort of friends and family.
There is no comfort like the places we really feel home.
Terry and Nancy~ Thank you!
We really wanted the kids to have a chance to swim in a creek. We fondly remember local swimming holes, drying out on rocky river beds, and splashing hot sunny summer days away. Today we visited some very kind friends who happened to make that wish come true. The day was more of a finale to our three week stay than we could have ever asked for. Absolutely fantastic.

Stella caught minnows in the creek. She was terribly proud of her accomplishment,
initially announcing "I'm holding a fish!" So many firsts on this trip.
As if the creek wasn't enough, the kids were offered a little pony ride to boot. They haven't stopped talking about those horses yet.
So much has changed and yet so much remains the same.
Trains used to run through this tunnel. I can remember being inside as a child, when a train went through. (Note: Not a fond childhood memory, but a crystal clear one, as I was sure I'd lose my life in there).
Now a bike trail, it was truly a great time wandering through with the kids. (and no fear for safety)
Here's to hoping that these kids will have fond childhood memories as well!

OC & T

We rode the "OC & T" aka, Oil Creek and Titusville railroad.
Grandpa and Grandma picked up tix for the three hour journey and the kids couldn't have been happier, riding through the valley where the first oil fields were located. 
The region hosts historical oil boom towns.
The kids weren't interested in oil history though- they just wanted to enjoy the train ride!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Road Trip

The longest car ride in recent history a very, very, very, long time.
We journeyed from Franklin, PA to Norfolk, VA, about 545 miles.
(and then the 545 mile drive back again)

I'm not sure when I felt we were on a never ending odyssey. Perhaps it was at hour 6 when I found Addie in the snack aisle at Sheetz after a potty stop. She was doing high kicks.
Or maybe it was noting the car interior after a mere 2 hours. The minivan borrowed from Matt's parents appeared as if we'd been living in the car and on the road for several months. Covering the floor, an onslaught of smashed Goldfish crackers in rainbow colors, Kleenex, plastic farm animals, crayons, juice boxes, and paper. The windows were no better off. Smeared with handprints, the view of a world beyond carseats held evidence that someone tried to lick their way out of the back of the car.

Instead, it might have been the fleeting moment I overheard Emory shout to his sisters "Smell my feet!" at which we had reached the point of no return.
No, no, I think it was really at the 15 minute mark, when we hadn't been on the road for, well more than 15 minutes. The first, inevitable question, "Are we there yet?"
The next question, "Are we on Route 66?"

Because we lived on the tiny island of Guam for almost 3 years, and because you can't drive too long before ending up in the ocean there, the kids have not been accustomed to a long road trip.
We've travelled lots around Europe, but typically use mass transit when possible.
Lengthy car rides have been somewhat limited.

And all that time, (because of kids, about 12 hours each way) behind the wheel was worth it
because we got to see family.
The toughest part wasn't the road trip, the back seat screaming, the unlimited potty stops and diaper changes at precisely 10 minutes apart, or baby Arleigh's continuous requests to pick up lovey 'bun bun'.
Granted, tolerating Stella's roadside time out or Emory dancing on the 'potty' in Sheetz gas station to Bee Gees "Night Fever" were difficult, but not the worst of the trip.

The most awful part, was having to say goodbye.

Those difficult goodbyes were said not once, but twice.
We set out twice for the return. Twice.
It's hard enough to say goodbye once.
 After 2 different flat tires and an extra night in Hampton Roads (which we aren't complaining about) we finally made progress on our way back.

Addie, apparently beating long-road-trip-boredom, made this video of herself.
How resourceful kids can be!
She was just passing time from a back car seat when she turned her camera on herself.
Check this out. I truly believe on any sad day at the office, this video may just turn things around.
Homespun entertainment.

Funny moment~
Matt announced "Hey guys! We just crossed the Potomac River! We're in Maryland now!"
Emory excitedly cheered in response, "Helll-ooo Penn-syl-vaaaan-ia"!
Poor kids - 6 states in less than 3 weeks, apparently it's time to pull out the geography book.

Matt's not the most spontaneous person.
So it was with much surprise that in a split second driving decision, we decided to detour a bit off the beaten path and onto Skyline Drive through Virginia. The scenic route did not disappoint. Within 15 minutes the kids spotted a turkey, 2 deer, and mile long views across the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley.

Stella decided we must have been "a bazillion miles above sea level" here.
(To tell the truth, it was closer to 2,769 feet). She was close.
We'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
It was great to see everyone!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

First time for everything

We haven't been stateside for quite awhile. There are a lot of firsts to accomplish with the kids.
It seems that there is so much "new" to them.

Thus far, among the 'new things' list, they can cross off....
1) Smelled a skunk
2) Walked on railroad tracks
3) Picked cherries
4) Went Crabbing
5) Saw a 3 -D movie in English, in a theatre
6) Rode waves
7) Caught fireflies
8) Had Root beer Floats
9) Played a Wii

and the latest and greatest,
10) Rode a jet ski

Uncle Pete pulled out the jet skis for the kids today.
Though it was not necessarily on the bucket list, jet skis turned out to be quite a good time.
My children have decided they have a need for speed.
Great fun!
Thanks Uncle Pete!

~ Can't imagine what #10 or #11 will be, but no doubt, it's just around the corner!
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Dog and Cat Hospital

What an amazing experience for us.
Aunt Betsy is our favorite veterinarian and she made way for the girls and I to visit the clinic where she works. We had a fantastic behind the scenes view of what veterinarian work is like.
I was genuinely impressed by the workload around us. As a client with my dog, standing in a waiting room, or the exam room, I had never realized how much work was going on elsewhere in the clinic. It's a very busy place!
The girls thought that holding these newborn puppies was a highlight.
They were quite adorable at only 3-4 days old.
We'd like to send a great big thank you to Dr. Hallstrom and all the folks working at Dog and Cat Hospital, for allowing us to tour the clinic today. We realize what a fantastic opportunity it was to be there.
We thank Aunt Betsy for showing us around and taking the time to grant such an incredible experience.
And we send well wishes to all those animals who are recovering. It seems you critters are in great hands.
Get Well Soon!

Virginia Beach

We haven't had this much fun at the beach since Guam!

Chesapeake Bay Crabbin'

What is that you ask?

If you guessed 2 crabs hanging onto a chicken leg, suspended from a yard of twine,
then you'd be exactly right!
The kids had their first crabbing experience today and it was,
an experience.
How could go to the Chesapeake Bay and not go crabbing?
Lucky for the crabs, we weren't looking for dinner, just a little fun.
They were happily a part of our 'catch and release' program.
A huge thanks to Uncle Pete and Aunt Julie for making this happen,
 for babysitting a little busy body while we were busy on the dock.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cherry Pickin Fun

The Barnett cousins reside in the Erie region of PA.
 Consequently, they are smack dab in the middle of some of the best grape vines and cherry orchards around. We couldn't pass up the chance to pick up an extra hour of fun here.
Nothing better than running through the cherry orchard, climbing ladders into cherry trees, and sneaking a few fresh bites here and there...
This is pure summer fun.
Sweet as,
lets say,
cherry pie!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Craftmatic

The "funnest thing at grandmas"?
A crafmatic adjustable bed.
The kids find that scrunching their feet to their shoulders, or hitting "vibrate" on the remote, in grandma's bed is the purest form of fun.
Free entertainment at its best!
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A highlight of the trip home so far, visiting the family and friends we haven't seen in years.
Next best thing ~ catching fireflies.
My absolute favorite critter, there is something entirely magical about their flickering glow.
The sound of giggling children running around at dusk in pajamas
in a quest to catch them is perhaps the sweetest sound of a summertime evening.

We don't have fireflies in Belgium. So this was a unique experience for the kids.

Lots of lightening bugs caught and freed tonight.
Shine on dear friends!

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