Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Travel torture survived, family returned

July was crazy busy!  Who goes to Louisiana and Washington state then Alaska within the span of one week?  We do, apparently!  

Picture-filled Seattle/Alaska cruise post to follow, but give me a few days as we just yesterday survived perhaps the crappiest day of travelling I've ever had.  Picture this - it was our first flying trip with all four kids (Eli and Wolfie flew out to Oregon for a fun-filled big kid week with Nic's parents the week before the cruise, so it was just me and Nic and Zeb and Opal on the way out to Seattle, which was grueling enough).  After a five hour flight from Seattle to Charlotte, NC, which arrived at 9 PM EST, the plan was to scarf some dinner then fly out to Philly at 10:30 to arrive at 11:59PM, which would have gotten us home at about 1:30AM with bag collection and driving back from the city.  Awful enough, right? 

But after scarfing said dinner and strapping on She Who Must Be Held for a quick walk, the departure time started creeping up and up and up, until finally around midnight the flight disappeared from the departure board.  Yet they didn't cancel it until about 2AM, at which point Zeb had passed out on some chairs with a Where's Waldo book harassingly placed over his face by his brothers and Opal was squirming angrily in my lap with a pantload of feces. 

It took forever for the airline rep to find us a hotel with two adjoining rooms and a crib, and once they did we went outside to wait for the shuttle and literally every other shuttle from every other Charlotte hotel passed by and collected people at least twice before our cigarette stinking busted ass van finally showed up.  And of course it ended up being a terrible motorcourt-style Days Inn, which I famously swore to never again patronize after the filthy disgusting crustatorium we stayed at in Williamburg, Virginia this past November.  This one was at least superficially clean to the naked eye, but it felt looked and smelled like it hadn't been stayed in since "The Shining" came out, which I bring up because it also felt similarly haunted.  Or maybe that was just the fact that it was three o'clock in the gad-dang morning by the time we walked through its doors and we had to get up at 6:20 for our flight to Pittsburgh.  Yes, Pittsburgh I said, because we had to route through there to get to Philly.  After checking the beds for bedbugs, Nic said he'd stay awake because he thought it would be worse for him if he fell asleep, and he wanted to take a shower, and someone had to call the airline because they accidentally printed out two boarding passes for Eli and zero for me.  So after dozing on top of the covers of the bed with Opal (because those "cribs" were busted gross looking unpacked Pack and Plays sans sheets, so yeah, those aren't getting used) , I had a feeling Nic wasn't in the room.  So I got up and checked and lo and behold, he was passed out on the bed next to Eli, buck naked, with the hotel phone in one hand on hold with US Air.  I'm sad to report he sat up with a start mere moments before I was able to frame the shot with my camera.

So three hours later, off we went on a (late) shuttle to the airport with three cranky dazed boys and a miraculously not that tired baby girl (she barely slept the whole cruise, so what's one more night of not sleeping, right?).  The flights went off without a hitch and the kids were actually very well behaved considering (especially Opal, who proved herself the worst baby flyer we've ever had on our trip to Oregon last month and our trip to New Orleans earlier this month).  Then when we got to Philly and met up with my parents who took the two big boys and our luggage because we couldn't fit all the kids and stuff in the car together, of course we then simply could NOT find our car.  So I sat there waiting for literally almost an hour for the courtesy car to come and drive me around the garage to find it while Nic walked around and I teetered on the edge of insanity.  I actually called my dad and found out he was home with the big boys before we even found the stupid car!  So the return time ended up being about 2PM, a mere twelve and a half hours later than we thought.  So yeah, lemme catch my breath!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fifth of July, the awesomest "of July" there is

In this neighborhood, July 4th is just okay.  We might fire up the grill in a minor way, maybe a couple of (secretly turkey but don't tell the kids) burgers, maybe have Grandpa Teddy over, maybe light a couple of sparklers and smoke bombs and shoot some cap guns.

Or just lose our minds.
 Bad '60s Batman special effects?
 Woog: Amused
And that, combined with our next door neighbors we've only spoken to like once's semi-pro level fireworks display (they bust them out for pretty much every holiday and sometimes for no discernible reason but they go the biggest for this one) and supplemented with TV fireworks (always DVRed in the case of the downtown Philly ones because they always have the longest, most boring concert ever beforehand and the 'works themselves don't air until like eleven, usually mostly in the range of when the news is supposed to be, so you have to DVR both, and you want to get them in HD of course, so it's this huge chunk of your DVR space, but you feel like you can't not DVR the stupid Philly fireworks since they're local and in the cradle of liberty and all, so you have to decide if you're going to delete "Apocalypto" which you saw in the theaters six years ago and DVRed over a year ago but you might, no you definitely want to rewatch it at some point, or maybe one of the fourteen episodes of "The Mindy Project" you keep meaning to watch because you watched all the previous ones but you just can't bring yourself to ever actually watch another one, or maybe one of Wolfie's nature shows, yeah a nature show that's the ticket, so you get permission from Wolfie to delete the "Snake Wranglers" he says he doesn't want to watch again anyway, yet you feel guilty that it had to be one of his shows and not one of your own obviously hoarded shows, and maybe you've got a problem, maybe you should start watching "Hoarders" again, I think you still have one in your upstairs DVR from 2011, the one with the chicken hoarder . . . ) ahem, anyway.  What was I saying?  Oh yeah, the 4th.
July 4th is certainly nice around these parts, but the big enchilada, the best day of the year to live in this neighborhood, is the Friday closest to July 4th (July 5th this year), which is when the Ambler Kiwanis Club puts on their big fireworks display at Wissahickon High School.  It's definitely one of the biggest pro displays in the suburbs.  I remember going to it multiple times growing up, and we always had to park super far away then walk, sometimes on a really busy road, then find a place to sit in the field with the huge crowd.  But now that we live on the same street as the school, we just have to drag out some lawn chairs to the end of the driveway and enjoy the show. 
This is the day we have the big BBQ party.  It feels like a less stressful Thanksgiving in July, plus kind of like Mardi Gras at the end when all the random strangers are wandering down our semi-shut-off street.  I make gross Jello shots nobody actually wants (Arnold Palmer and "Red" flavored this year), we make some basics and people bring other good stuff, we bust out the smores, everyone has a good time.  Earlier this year I was tearing up thinking about how we might already have moved far away by the time the fireworks rolled around this year.  It's probably my favorite thing about this house, it makes the neighborhood seem so wonderfully Rockwellian Americana.  While I do wish we had the moving plans locked down already, I am super glad we got to enjoy the fireworks one more time here this year.
Eli got inspired during an art session earlier in the week to make a huge display of pictures of "Eli City" for the party.

The sign on top reads "Welcome to Eli's Art Galery"
Since school ended, Mommy has been carrying Opal around in the Bjorn almost all day every day while running up and down and all around wrangling dudes.  Her favorite thing is watching her bros, and while the Bjorn makes it easier to give her a good seat to the bro show than pure arm carrying, it still kind of is breaking my back and neck.  So after some mother daughter posing -
Matching strawberry dresses almost unintentional
I heeded my aching back and let others Bjorn the young miss for a while.

Of course you can see the aforementioned Jello shots in the Daddy pic.  I thought the Arnold Palmer Jello Shots, despite being extremely difficult to say without either slowing down or having your words turn to mush (at least if you have a gorgeous Philly accent like we do), would be the big hit of the party.  Sweet tea vodka is the zenith of modern invention, after all.  But the red were actually slightly more palatable.  Oh who am I kidding, everyone hated all of them.

 The face of pure enjoyment
 Alan just got a smooth infusion
 But we bought special spoons!
 Not helping I guess
 Lovin' that ice tea refreshment

Maybe actually lovin' it?
Hide your pain for the sake of the baby

Of course you all might know that I do have a sadistic side when it comes to serving food and drink to guests, so I suppose I was satisfied with the reception after all.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of our annual fireworks visitors, Shoshana (my friend from back when I was Eli's age!) and her sister Aliza.  I could have sworn I took one of Shoshana forcing down the Jello, but I guess not. The big boys cavorted around the yard:

and we all ate, then it was time for fireworks:

Eli and Wolfie were totally loving it, as they always have.  Eli a couple of years ago jumped and cheered for the entire lengthy display, then for several months afterwards was entertained by Youtube fireworks displays (I remember one of his faves was a New Year's display in Sydney).  Wolfie likes them in a more quiet way.  I remember when he was around Zeb's age and fixated on the color green he delighted in pointing out the green fireworks.  Two years ago he famously holiday-gorging-on-chips barfed right before the display, necessitating a rushed bath and resulting in him viewing the display naked in a zebra towel on Grandpa Teddy's lap:

Note that second pic from 2011 with background barfed Woog.  Eli is wearing the same shirt Wolfie wore last night!  Too fast, too fast!  Also note that baby Zeb is totally chillaxing in my lap.  Not so last night.  Zeb, while he enjoyed the fireworks on TV earlier in the day, buried his face in my lap and declared in a loud but relatively calm voice that he didn't like this and wanted to go inside.  Grandpa Teddy obliged.  Opal we knew wouldn't be cool from when she freaked out at the neighbor's display the night before, so Nic stayed inside with her most of the time, but he had a good view from the window in our room.  I tried to relieve him a couple of times but the view was pretty good, and Opal had gone to sleep but in a resisting-crib-or-arm-transfer kind of way.  I still feel guilty though.

We somehow didn't end up going to the carnival at the elementary school last night (another fun thing in the 'hood, and we get to anticipate it the week before by taking walks up to the parking lot and watching as the rides and booths appear), so we're going up there tonight.  Since I'm not pregnant for once, I'll actually be able to ride some rides maybe!  Good times, good times.