We are back! It has been a very up and down last few days and feels very off kilter to have not been blogging. As we were about to board our plane at LAX early Thursday morning, my mom called me to let me know that my sister was in the hospital and had been in a near fatal car accident. At that point, she appeared O.K., but they would continue to run tests. My sister was coming home from picking up my nephew late at night, and a car heading in the opposite direction jumped the median and flew, airborne like a missile, at 60mph and hit my sister's car head-on. The airbags saved both her and my nephew's lives. The car was totaled and the other driver, a young woman in her 20's lost both of her legs in the accident. My sister was released on Saturday and will have a follow-up check-up. She is emotionally traumatized, and I cannot even imagine having to relive seeing that car airborne in front of you over and over again in your head. My nephew was fine other than a cut lip and some bruising. It is a miracle that they are alive. I was shaky and distracted all weekend. Still am.
The weekend was full of many varied moments:
The kids did very well on both flights. On the 2nd flight to our destination, BOY & GIRL got to go into the cockpit and talk to the pilot and co-pilot. The co-pilot showed them the steering wheel and all the various buttons. They were given their wings, which they wore proudly.
We were picked up at the Birmingham airport by E's brother-n-law who got just a little....lost and what was supposed to be a 2 1/2 hour trip to Columbus, GA took 4 1/2 hours as we toured lower Alabama in the dark. Never, ever believe that men are immune to getting lost while trying to drive and chat at the same time. I am here to tell you. It is now a proven fact. Not an ideal way to travel with two tired 3 and 4 year old children who have been cooped up all day. Especially for a GIRL who decides she wants to use your hair for yanking practice. My brother-n-law will have a hard time living that down.
After finally arriving at our hotel in Columbus, we realized that we had left the garment bag with all of our dress clothes for the rehearsal dinner & wedding...at the Birmingham airport - 2 1/2 hours away.
E's brother saved the day by making the drive all the way to the airport and picking up our bag the next day. He was a GOD.
The entire time I was there, I was struck with how nice and helpful everyone was. Everyone. From the people at the hotel, to the woman on the phone at the airlines desk that helped us find our lost luggage, to the friends of E's sister. I miss the south.
During the weekend BOY & GIRL did not eat one vegetable. They lived off of fried chicken, pizza, fried chicken, muffins, fried chicken, cake, donuts and did I say fried chicken?
Lollipops were in a bucket in the lobby, easily accessed by children. Lollipop chunks were stuck to clothes, hair and were attracted to JCK's bare feet.
GIRL was SO proud of her wings that at various moments throughout the weekend, would flash her wings and recite the details of how she earned them. The vision of her in her little red velvet pantsuit telling her grandfather about earning her wings....
A few Whiskey & Cokes thrown in for good measure.
BOY and GIRL saw snow falling from the sky for the first time on the morning of the wedding. It was bitterly cold, but magical... for them.
There was an indoor pool at the hotel. E had the foresight to bring his bathing suit. I did not. BOY could wear shorts. GIRL wore her underwear as a monokini. BOY wanted to move in. E played for hours in the pool with BOY & GIRL. This tired them out...which was good - as we were staying in a hotel.
BOY took 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps each day. We lucked out and BOY slept quietly throughout the entire wedding ceremony. No quick exits needed. Although toward the end, judging from GIRL's body language, she looked like she was going to erupt into shenanigans.
BOY & GIRL got to see all of E's family and they got to see them. Worth every moment. E's sister and husband, and all of their girls welcomed us and showed us a good time.
GIRL got to dress up and go with me to the bridesmaids luncheon. She LOVED it! She felt very grown-up.
The wedding reception was in an old restored mill. It was a fantastic, open space for a happening. And E's family knows how to party. GIRL was a dancing, whirling dervish during the reception. She danced for over 2 hours with two other little girls. BOY did wind sprints around the space and then would slide across the floor on his knees. His version of break dancing. He tried for a while to dance with GIRL, but after getting spurned multiple times gave up and continued to do his own moves.
E's niece, the bride, was stunning. And SO very happy.
Wedding cake lying around on plates. Nirvana for BOY who served himself a few times.
Best lines delivered at the reception:
I'm going to the bathroom and tossing this girdle in the garbage.
What are those fat things? - delivered by BOY to a young woman, commenting on said young woman's lovely cleavage. We'll have to work on his way with women.
After hearing E's reading during the wedding ceremony:
A woman asked me at the reception, Are you Episcopalians or Catholics?
I just KNEW y'all had to be Episcopalian or Catholic by the way he did that reading!
Well he is an actor, he's had training...---
---Well, I just KNEW he was Episcopalian or Catholic! [What a waste that acting training was...all along, it was just O.K. that he was Episcopalian. Who knew?!]
Another woman told E that he sounded, "Evangelical." That threw E ...just a little.
We'll just say that it was an outstanding reading and leave it at that.
BOY managed to fall in a creek fully clothed the morning we were leaving to drive to the airport. Then at the airport: he got trapped within a compartment of a revolving door, purposefully went down the wrong escalator and tried to walk back up it, then leaped on a moving sidewalk going in the opposite direction of our gate, all before we boarded our first flight heading home.
On the way home, the first flight was uneventful. The flight from Memphis to LAX was not. BOY & GIRL were very well behaved. E and I had some challenges with both a flight attendant and a passenger.
Encounter #1: BOY was sitting next to E in a window seat. (3 seats to a row.) E went to the bathroom, BOY stated he did not have to go. Of course... about ....30 seconds later BOY decided he did need to go. He crawled under the aisle passenger's legs to get to the aisle, and was headed toward first class looking for daddy. By the time I got out of my seat across the aisle and got to him, he was greeting passengers in 1st class. I then steered him toward the back of the plane. A flight attendant approached me:
What seems to be the problem here? It was the tone. Not nice.
He has to go to the bathroom.
Well, the pilot has the seat belt sign on and you need to get back in your seats. Tone. Increasingly not nice.
He will pee in his pants. Me, equally not nice at this point.
Well, if you want to take responsibility... Very condescending tone.
Fine! We will TAKE responsibility. Me setting my own tone at this futile conversation in ridiculousness, seeing E heading back our way and spotting BOY doing the pee pee dance, while clutching his crotch. E accompanies BOY to restroom. I sit down fuming. [Note: I am not one to ignore airline safety rules, and know that they are important, but at this point there was no turbulence, nothing going on and we had an emergency. I guess I could have asked if she'd prefer that he take a whizz in the aisle.]
Encounter # 2: Basically the kids were really great on the flight. No crying. No whining. No getting up or crawling under passengers- other than the bathroom incident. This 2nd flight was 3 1/2 hours. The entire time BOY played with his Thomas the Tank Engine & Percy trains, making up stories and games with and without daddy. He used his socks for tunnels and a straw as a rescue link. E occasionally told him to lower his voice when he got too excited with his Thomas & Percy conversations, but really he was AMAZING for a 4 year old boy on an airplane. So....
The lady in front of them turned around and said, Well I should have told you earlier, but could you PLEASE be quiet for 30 minutes! We're at the end of a long day of travel! [I guess she thought she was the only one who was tired.]
E, basically incredulous: Well, it's obvious you've never had kids.
Cranky Lady: Yes, and there's a good reason for that.
Cranky Lady had no response. Probably a good thing. You don't want to aggravate a tired father of a 4 year old boy, who has been behaving really well.
Last encounter at LAX airport:
Security opening up the doors of our van and peeking inside. Ooops!! Caught red-handed. Nefarious deeds entailed trying to install 2 car seats back in the van and half-naked preschoolers being put into PJ's and pull-ups. Pretty terrifying stuff.
It's good to be home.