Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Full House

I was nine when my parents moved into this house. I'd consider it very much the site of my growing-up years. It's kind of an odd experience to come back as an adult, with my own family.

For a family of seven, the house was barely big enough. With the addition of three spouses and four kids, it was definitely bursting at the seams. The four of us slept out in the trailer. Perhaps we'll try tents next time?

Barb and her family were there for about a week before we arrived. Peter's family came the same day we did, and left when Barb's family left. We had five days of overlap with everyone there. Even with five days and close quarters, it kind of felt like we didn't actually get to spend much time together, since we were all so busy taking care of babies. The leisurely evenings sitting around visiting or playing games just didn't happen. We did get to play Apples to Apples once, which was a hoot, and played with the pipe chimes (my mom ordered a set to have at home there). I'm kind of bummed now, thinking about it. Does it get better when the kids are older?

I didn't take many photos inside, because of the lighting and my lack of a wide-angle lens, but I did find this one, taken on my mom's camera, where you can see some of the chaos. This was a Sunday evening where some people were helping Karen by making some little felt animals for a zip-up alphabet book that she's been putting together for Elizabeth (Kyle made a sea urchin and Doug made a pink Tyrannosaurus. Barb made a very cute giraffe that I forgot to get a picture of). And it looks like I'm finishing up changing Andy's diaper.

After everyone else left things calmed down a bit, but I still feel like I didn't get anything done. I was hoping to go through some old photos and maybe scan some things, but just couldn't get to it. Andy was cranky a lot of the time (he's been napping so much better since we got home--hooray!).

It was nice to see everyone, and experience Ohio for a while. Humidity! Fireflies! Thunderstorms! (which were pretty exciting, out in the trailer). We had some nice partly-cloudy days with great lighting, and then it got hot. We made the obligatory trek out to Young's Jersey Dairy, and Doug and I even took the kids to Kings Island (more on this later).

The morning that we left, my mom was sitting in her chair with the quilt that Barb made for her. Kate said she was cold, and wanted to snuggle under the quilt with Grandma. So of course we had to get Andy in there too.

Aren't they cute? I wish we all lived closer together!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Andy at 24 weeks

Taken in Ohio, June 13.

Lots of hand-in-mouth action here. Sometimes when I want to take a picture of him with his hands in his mouth, he won't do it. Perhaps it depends on how hungry he is.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flying the friendly skies. And the not-so-friendly ones.

We are back from our two weeks in Ohio! We got back Wednesday night. Actually Thursday morning. We flew United through Chicago, and at this point we're feeling like we'll be perfectly happy to have nothing to do with United or Chicago ever again. Our trip out was fairly uneventful, but coming back was very like a journey through the ninth circle of hell (or whichever one it is that has the eternally long waits, high temperatures, and screaming children).

We knew that traveling with a four-year-old and a baby was going to be quite a production. That's three suitcases, two car seats, one stroller, an overstuffed diaper bag, a camera bag, and two backpacks. This is what the collection looked like on the way there (minus some of the carry-ons, which were still being carried when I took this picture). It looked slightly different on the way back because our stroller broke and we had to get a new one.

We had lots of snacks and some new toys for Kate, to keep her busy. Andy was great and slept for almost the entire way, on both flights. (And they showed an episode of Chuck on the plane, that I hadn't seen before. Wheee!)

Coming home was another story. We had scheduled an early-afternoon flight, and we were supposed to get in at 6:15. Liz Wight (one of my Visiting Teachers) would come pick us up at the airport, and we'd be home in time for dinner.

Our flight from Dayton to Chicago was one of those smaller commuter planes with two seats on each side. We were given seats across the aisle from each other (the girl with the seat next to Andy's was happy to switch with me). It was supposed to be a short flight--in fact, we were joking about it being only ten minutes long because it said it took off at 1:26 Ohio time and landed at 1:36 Illinois time. Boarding was delayed a bit because of something electrical that needed maintenance. As it turned out, the air conditioning also needed maintenance, but apparently that wasn't what they had been fixing. It was so hot on that plane. They kept passing out water and suggesting that people keep their window shades down.

After we'd been in the air for a while, the pilot said, "Some of you may have noticed that we're flying east instead of west--we're in a holding pattern because of thunderstorms in Chicago. If it doesn't clear up soon we may be diverted to South Bend, Indiana to refuel." Which is what happened. A little detour to South Bend (I got a nice view of Notre Dame on the way down), where they set down on the hot tarmac and we got to go inside for a while (air conditioning! Yay!).

We weren't there for very long and then we got back on the plane and back over Chicago and into another holding pattern. They did get us on the ground eventually, but then our gate was occupied, so we sat there for another forty minutes, sweltering.

When we finally de-planed in Chicago after 5:00 we had already missed our connecting flight. (It was delayed a bit, too, because of the weather, but not long enough.) So then began the process of figuring out What To Do Next and taking care of our family at the same time. We weren't sure whether it would be best to find another flight, even if it got in really late, or stay in Chicago overnight, or even go back to Dayton. We got in a very long line at customer service, which did not appear to be moving at all. We did try calling reservations, but with the noise, the non-native accent, and the apparent lack of options, we decided we'd probably have better luck sticking it out with customer service. We took turns holding the place in line while taking care of bathroom and food needs. We were not nearly as well-stocked with snacks as on the trip out, and provisions were running low. Kate wanted a pretzel. And then French fries (with ketchup). And then a blue raspberry lemonade. Then Doug mentioned that there was a play area nearby, so I took the kids there while he continued to stand in line.

We were in the play area for maybe twenty minutes, where Kate staked out a spot for her "house" and fought over cubical cushions with some other kids. Then Doug called my cell phone and said they'd gotten us on a flight on Continental, going through Houston and getting in to Seattle at 1:30 a.m. Which sounded dreadful, but I said, "All right, let's do it." He came to get us and Kate threw a HOLY SCREAMING FIT about leaving the play area. (Yeah. If you were in the Chicago airport Wednesday evening, I'd like to apologize. She does have a very piercing scream.)

We hurried through the airport and found the gate for the Continental flight, only to discover that it was delayed also, so we faced a very real possibility of getting stranded in Houston. I'm still not sure how we made the decision to get on that plane. I think at that point we just really wanted to do something. Perhaps being stranded in Houston sounded more appealing than being stranded in Chicago. And I kept telling Kate that when we got on the plane we would see if we could get her a pillow and blanket, and she could curl up and go to sleep, so that was certainly a strong motivating factor. (Please, get us on a plane so this kid can go to sleep!) We were also pretty sure that our luggage had made it to Seattle without us by this point, and we had a strong desire to follow. So off to Houston we went.

Doug grabbed a fruit cup for me right before we boarded, and I ate it before we even took off. We were all running pretty low. We did get a pillow and blanket for Kate, mercifully, and she did go to sleep.

When we reached Houston, two hours later, we were delighted to discover that the flight to Seattle had not left yet, so we set off for the other end of the airport as quickly as we could (why are connecting flights always as far apart as possible?). It was supposed to leave at 10:52, but they were just boarding when we hit the gate at 11:15. That was the only delay that day that worked in our favor. Thank goodness for small miracles. I finally had the feeling that yes, we were going to make it. And Kate was in a pretty good mood, after getting a little sleep, which definitely made things easier.

We had four seats that were scattered all over the plane, so we enlisted some help in trading. They got me and Andy together, and Doug and Kate together farther back. The flight was almost four hours. I dozed a bit, uncomfortably. Doug reported a similar lack of success--trying to sleep on planes hurts his neck and makes him cranky.

We landed at SeaTac airport (yay!) right on time. Kate enjoyed stepping on the sculpted fish in the floor. "Let's do something fun at home," she said. Doug replied, "How about S-L-E-E-P? That sounds like fun."

We checked with the Continental luggage office, and they were able to confirm that yes, our stuff had made it to the United office, but they had closed at 1:00 so we couldn't pick it up. But, they said, since we'd finished our journey with Continental, they would pick it up from United and deliver it to us themselves, in the morning. They even had a loaner car seat for Kate (we had Andy's with us). The lady there was very helpful and I shall certainly keep Continental in mind for future travel needs.

I'd been calling Liz Wight all along, keeping her updated on our progress. Her son Alan came to pick us up. Good man. (He said he's often awake at that time of night.)

We staggered in the door shortly before 3:00 a.m. Kate threw another screaming fit when we told her she'd have to go to sleep without books and stories. It was a loooong hard day for everyone.

A guy from Continental dropped off our luggage the next morning and all was well. We are back in our own home, enjoying nice cool Washington weather. I had a lovely long nap yesterday. Now I have two weeks' worth of photos to go through.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kate's haircut

Kate got her first haircut! I was planning to get her hair cut anyway, before going to Ohio, and then while we were down at the farmer's market we won a gift certificate for a free child's haircut at a place downtown called Embellish. Great timing!

My attempt at a "before" picture.

The girl who cut her hair did a great job. She put it in a little ponytail first and cut that off, and gave us the ponytail to take home.

Everyone kept commenting on how mature she was. (I think mostly she was just kind of stiff because she didn't know what to expect.)

She thought the towel was fun. ("It's like a hat!")

Dad watches.

This one just made me laugh, the way she's kicking back in the chair with her legs crossed.

"Is that my hair?"

The new 'do!

We went over to the Learning Sprout for a while, and got her a special treat. She was so good getting her hair cut!

I guess I won't be able to braid Kate's hair again for a while. But it sure is easier to brush now. Yay!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Andy at 23 weeks

(Taken last Saturday)

Such personality!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our budding graphic novelist

Kate learned about speech bubbles from Elephant and Piggie. Sometimes she'll draw a bubble and then tell us what she want us to write in it, but she did these all by herself. There's a "no" and a "yes," and I think there's a "help" in there too, but it got a bit squished. (I'm not sure what's going on in this picture, but it seems to involve arguing.)

Kate continues to surprise us with her reading. The other night she sat down and read The Foot Book all the way through (not having seen it for a couple of years), and only needed help with maybe four words. She has some pretty proud parents. Unfortunately she can't go to Kindergarten until next year, since she has to be five before school starts.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Feets and Firsts (and a shout-out to Andy's guardian angel)

Look at those cute little toesies!

Andy has discovered his feet!

He's been doing this a lot when he's sitting in this chair, grabbing his foot and extending his leg up over his head. He makes us laugh.

Andy rolled over for the first time on June 1st! I didn't even notice till I heard him going "Aaah! Aaah! Aaah!" The next day he did it again, and I grabbed the camera before I picked him up.

We also tried rice cereal for the first time. I'm not really sure what he thought of it.

A lot of it came back out. I suppose some went down.

We had a scare a few days ago. I took a blanket outside and lay down with Andy on the grass in the shade (in what I should have realized was not a good spot). I was talking to my mom on my cell phone, and a neighbor boy came down the hill on his little sister's bike, ran off the sidewalk, and stopped that short of Andy's shoulder. I keep replaying it over in my head but it was all so fast that I'm not even sure what happened. I saw him coming, and I think I reached out and either pushed the bike away or stopped it. At any rate, it stopped, and Andy wasn't hurt. He was startled and cried, but he was okay. The boy's family came over and apologized profusely.

Hooray for guardian angels!