Sunday, December 30, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

This has been a Christmas to remember. An adventure, really. Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy the tale and photos.
Our adventure began on the evening before Christmas eve, when we decided to drive down to stay the night at a hotel near the airport we were departing from. On the way down, I realized we (okay, *I*) forgot to pack William's Leapster (I did remember to pack the charger for it!). Usually we cannot survive a happy restaurant experience without the Leapster. After thinking about dropping everyone at the hotel and going home to get it, Robert convinced me just to stay put. William didn't seem to miss it. We had a restless night, because for some reason, William didn't really want to sleep which of course, means Mom & Dad didn't get much sleep. I think I finally fell asleep at 2am. My alarm was set for 3am, so I could wash up and get my makeup on before we left.... I am that vain~ I do not want to travel without looking my best, no matter how I feel. We woke the kids about 3:45 and we left the hotel shortly after. I dropped everyone except William off curbside with the luggage, so they could check the bags while I parked the car. I found a great spot, got William out and we walked to the terminal together, meeting up with Robert, Sarah & Doug.
William was awesome going through security, and happily held Daddy's hand walking to our gate. He was excited sitting in his seat on the plane, thinking we were going to Scooby Doo's Spooky Island.
Robert & William
Sarah loved being at a window seat, and thrilled to be on her way to see Mariko.
Sarah
After an uneventful flight, we landed and looked to see what our next departure gate was, only to see that the flight had been cancelled. The post below goes into that.
Doug & William while we waited to find out about another flight
Doug & William
Passing the time, watching a movie
William
While having a bit of breakfast at an airport restaurant, William completed this drawing Daddy started
Artwork
Artwork
William finally got tired enough to nap while we waiting for another flight
Waiting
Which made for a grumpy boy when we finally got to get on the airplane, where we waited for takeoff
Grumpy boy
It was great to see Mariko again; we've all missed her.
Mariko & Robert got some snuggle time in
Robert & Mariko
On Wednesday we met up with some friends of ours from an online Down syndrome board, and after lunch we went to a nearby park.
William loved the slide
William
William & Riley try to figure out which way to go
Park
Riley & Andi
Park
Emily & Sarah
Park
On Thursday we met up with Mariko and Sarah at the Stanford campus so she could give us a little tour.
Campus Tour
The church there is impressive
Campus tour
We walked a little loop, from the oval to the medical center and back, and then headed out for lunch and shopping. We met back up at our hotel.
Mariko & me
Mariko & Mom
Robert & WIlliam
Tickle time

Robert and I did get the chance to go to dinner with Andi and her husband Jeremy, but I totally forgot to take any pictures because we were having such a good time laughing, eating and chatting. It won't be the last visit we make to Palo Alto, so there will be pics of us together in the future.

No visit with Mariko is complete with a game (or several) of Scrabble, so I packed my travel Scrabble. Mariko laughed as she put down the word 'doctors'
Scrabble
Doug won that game; I won the other 3, thank you very much.
William was so pooped the night before we left, but he still has to sleep with his best buddies, Buzz and Woody
Snoozing
Saturday morning, Mariko brought Sarah back to the hotel (Sarah had stayed with Mariko at the dorm the night before), had breakfast, and then it was time to load the car up and head to the airport. It was wonderful to see Mariko and spend time with her, but the week passed by so quickly!
We returned the rental car, checked our bags and went through security. William decided to take the opportunity to run when Robert was trying to put his own sneakers back on, which had a few of the security personnel chase after William as he ran, laughing, in between the screeners. After Robert retrieved him, the rest of us gathered our things, we headed to our gate, only to find out that our flight was going to be delayed. Oh joy.
Waiting
Luckily, we were right next to the kid zone, where there were plenty of interactive things to keep the kids occupied. William was totally fascinated with the tornado machine. Tornado
When we were finally able to board, we knew the window of time to make our connecting flight was going to be really tight. William didn't care... he was happy to be flying again
Flight home
Flight home
After landing, we hurried out of the plane, found the departures board and saw that our next flight was boarding. We ran as quickly as we could, with Sarah and William laughing, the 10-12 gates to get to our gate. I am out of shape. The kids think it's great fun. Doug is not ready to fly anywhere anytime soon, and Robert probably doesn't want to fly on United again.
But we made it. And on our way home
Flight home
We got home just before 1am, and it's true... There's no place like home. Our house was clean, thanks to our son Jim & his wife Steph, who came to housesit for us. And they put clean sheets on our bed, which felt wonderful after a nice hot shower.

Next year, we're having Christmas at home. I think I'll go overboard with decorations and food. Who knows? Without the adventure we had this year, next year's might not be so memorable. This one's gonna make me shake my head and chuckle for years and years to come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in California~
We are at the hotel here in CA... finally. Our flight to Boston yesterday was delayed over 2 hours because of mechanical issues, so they had to bring us another plane. We were originally due to arrive in Boston by 4:30pm and our connecting flight to San francisco was slated to depart at 6pm. We touched down in Boston at 6:18. Luckily, since there were 19 of us going on to San Fran because of cancelled flights, they held the plane... and we were only 6 gates away from where we arrived. Yay!

Our baggage had arrived hours (and hours) before we did, so was neatly set aside when we finally arrived in San Francisco. Another Yay!

Picked up our rental car which turned out to be a brand new toyota sienna (7 miles on the odometer) so has the nice new car smell. A private yay for me, since I am soooo weird about driving cars that: a) I don't already own, and b) brand new cars I am unfamiliar with.

Got to the hotel only to find out that there had been a water line break so we were going to be without water for a couple hours while they repaired it. But they offered to put us up tonight at a different property but to come back for the rest of our stay... yeah, right. So we came in the room only to realize this annoying humming, mechanical droning sound which was part of the repair. and my head was already ringing before from having been up for over 24 hours straight with little sleep the night before because a certain little boy named William was being so disagreeable about sleeping so I got 15 minute catnaps all night. I had 5 minute powernaps on the plane so I've had maybe 3 hours of total sleep since waking up Sunday morning.

Oh, and to make matters worse, I'm perimenopausal ~ let's just say I am SO ready for menopause.

On a good note, Robert & I did get to extend our anniversary by 3 hours because of the time change.

And that blasted noise only lasted a couple of hours... so I was able to wash up before bed.

And I got pretty close to 5 hours of sleep.

And we got to see Mariko. She looks great and I can't wait to see her today.

It doesn't really feel like Christmas; we didn't get much for presents... well, we didn't bring presents except for what we got Mariko. And I think Santa was very confused about where to leave stockings, because of the cancellations and flight delays. Plus I didn't set out the stockings at home before we left. We never even put our tree up this year.

Our gifts came in other ways. Safe travels for all who were going somewhere... Steve, Brittany and her sis arrived safely at Brittany's family's home. Despite the inconviences of the travel day, we are safe and snug here in this nice 2 bedroom suite at a Marriott Residence Inn, staying free for our visit per Robert's Marriott Rewards points. Jim & Steph will be house sitting for us while we are away, which they were looking forward to.. kind of a little get-away for them this week.

Merry Christmas all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary Baby

Today is Robert & my anniversary. We are currently sitting in an airport, waiting for our flight. Despite the few little things forgotten before we got here (William's Leapster, Robert's watch... and something else that I can't remember now), all was well. We got to our airport early this morning, having stayed at a hotel near by. Although William was fussy & wriggly all night & we didn't get much sleep last night, all was well. The flight this morning was smooth and quick, and William loved it, although he thought we were going to Scooby Doo's Spooky Island. We arrived in DC to change planes for the rest of our journey to San Francisco, only to discover that our flight was cancelled. After more than 20 minutes on the phone with an agent, she had us booked on the next open flight... for tomorrow morning. Robert then got in the customer service line to get a hotel voucher for tonight. When the counter agent asked if we could split our group up to get of here tonight, he said no because we have children traveling with us, one of whom has special needs. She sent him to another desk where it was discovered they could indeed get us out today, by sending us to Boston first. So we will arrive in San Francisco 9 hours later than originally planned, but we will be there, and will see Mariko shortly after.

11 years of happily married life, loads of adventures, and this one starts off with yet another tale to tell. Wouldn't have it any other way. I love you Robert. You are my best friend, my love, my confidant, and my husband. I've got the best of everything.

Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sisters

Annette left her body this morning. I will remember her beautiful and compassionate spirit, her twinkling eyes, her joyful laugh, and her wonderful smile. I see her in her children; the way Ryan's face lights up when he smiles. I see her in the way Kurtis looked at Sarah when we were in Indiana in October together.

I remember when she and another friend from our Down syndrome board came to visit us over 3 years ago, and we shared stories of our kids, our lives, our hopes and dreams, over glasses of wine. She was my sister, not sisters raised, but sisters of the heart, bonded through being blessed by having a child with Down syndrome. Her Ryan, my William, they gave us a connection. I have many of these sisters (and brothers) on this journey, and we've lost some along the way. There are some that are different, so much deeper, having been nurtured over time and meetings in real life, and through phone calls and emails.

My heart goes out to her family~ my prayers are with them. And for many of my online sisters, who were closer to Annette than me, I send you love, prayers and cyber-hugs.

Annette, you will be greatly missed. I am thankful to have known you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Perspective

Forget all my bitching yesterday. Sadly, things like yesterday seem petty.

My dear friend Annette can use your prayers. Her husband informed our friend Jan that Annette is home with Hospice care, with just a few days left on earth.

My heart is breaking for her family... her wonderful husband Tom, and their sons, Kurtis and Ryan.... and all of us who love her.
Please keep Annette and her family in your prayers.
Thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I am finally home. I've had a nice hot shower and Robert made us some sandwiches and hot tea.
My hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel all the way home; it's been a long time since I had a white knuckle drive, even though I have an all-wheel drive. It took me about an hour to get to the dealership this morning, cruising along the highway (we live in the boonies, remember.. and I don't like the local dealership or service department that is closer); it took over 3 hours to get home once they put a new clip on to connect the fuel line to the fuel filter. I had to stop a few times to get the ice build up off my wipers. I went slow and steady, and scoffed at the signs that warned about ice and snow ahead and that the maximum speed limit for the time was 45mph. I never even got above 35 on the way home... half the speed I was going on the way down this morning. I think those that were going the 45mph maximum were the cars I saw going off the road down into the medians.

I'm home. Safe. Warm. Still pissed about the clip. Hey, they fixed it, and then gave me certificate for a free oil change next time. And they apologized profusely. While I was in the waiting room, the tow truck guy came back ~ he brought back the bag I accidently left in his tow truck. That was nice. I wonder if he would have if I hadn't have given him a tip when he dropped me off at the service office? Probably.. he was a nice kid.

Oh, and the last time I stopped to wipe the ice off the wipers, a couple guys across the street from the gas station wolf-whistled at me. I told Robert when I got home. He said, "Why not? You're hot". okay.... except at the time I had a scowl going that was as deep as the Grand Canyon. He laughed and said my scowls are never that deep. And he was tickled that a couple young guys whistled at me. Men!

And finally, William was thrilled when I came home. He was soooo happy I was finally home.





Because he had left his Woody doll in my car and he missed him.

I'm home.

It could be worse

I'm standing here, watching the snow fall. Just waiting. Watching and waiting, for the tow truck. Watching the snow add up; over 4 inches since I stopped at the mall almost 3 hours ago. 3 inches of it since I talked to the dealership 2 hours ago. I could wait inside the mall, where it's warm, but then I'd have to listen to the cheery holiday music and I am in no mood for that.

And now I'm in the tow truck where this nice young man is bringing my car and me to the dealer. The clip holding the connector for the fuel filter broke. Did I mention I was at the dealership just before I went to the mall? I was getting the seasonal service done on it; oil change, tire rotation, fuel filter, etc. Did I mention the connector clip broke? The one that had to do with the fuel filter?
There's a winter storm going on too. My plan this morning was to get to the dealership, get the work done, make a quick stop at the mall, and be home before the snow, before the kids because they were getting out early. Because of the storm. It was barely flurry-ing when I went into the mall.I would have made it. Except my car did not start. Because the fuel connector hose came off. Because the clip broke. Did I mention I had just come from getting it serviced? Can you tell how pissed I am?
Luckily, I have older kids at home. They're taking care of the younger ones right now. Because I'm in the tow truck heading back to the dealership. It's taking forever because the roads are crappy.long enough for me to type a post on my blackberry.
This is not a 'oh, someday I'll look back and laugh about this.' Post. This is a 'I'm going to look back and get pissed all over again post'
It could have been worse. I could have been on the highway when it broke. But it shouldn't have happened at all.
It's bad enough- I have to pee.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tagged with a Christmas Meme

by my good friend at Mauzy's Musings. Thanks Jan... and I do not say that in a sarcastic way. This will be fun to do.
What is your favorite thing about the Holiday Season?
Reminiscing over the past years, and knowing that it is getting close to my anniversary! Taking time while decorating the tree to remember when, where and who made the special ornaments.

What is your favorite Holiday Memory?
In my childhood, the thrill and excitement of getting gifts, the noise of our family, and one year, having to explain Christmas to my Japanese cousins.

What is the best gift you ever gave?
So many! I try to pay attention during the year to find that special gift for each person, and from the looks of joy on their faces, I think I hit the mark pretty well. I think I did well a couple years ago when we gave Mariko a sky-diving trip for when she was in Australia.

What is the best gift you ever received?
A Christmas Eve wedding eleven years ago. I was so busy making my wedding gown and veil, decorating the tree was the furthest thing from my mind. So one night while I was busy in one room sewing, Robert and Mariko came up with the idea of decorating the living room with Christmas lights instead of getting a tree. With all the colorful twinkling lights strewn along the walls and diagonally across the ceiling, it was easy to forget there wasn't a tree in there! When they had me come look, I was so choked up!

A close second is the Christmas I was pregnant with my first child. Unmarried, living at home, not sure just how my parents felt (were they just accepting the idea because they loved me, or were they genuinely supportive of my situation?), and they let me know in the most subtle way. I unwrapped an empty photo album~ Baby's First Photo Album.

What is your secret Holiday Wish for this year?
If it's a secret, why should I tell? Hee hee hee...

My wish is that those of us who are traveling over the Holidays arrive safely at our destinations, have a grand Holiday, and then arrive home safe and sound.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now I'm going to tag.... Big Dawg, Cathy, and Snuggle Puppy's mom.

What is your favorite thing about the Holiday Season?
What is your favorite Holiday Memory?
What is the best gift you ever gave?
What is the best gift you ever received?
What is your secret Holiday Wish for this year?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Days Go By

They go by so quickly now. I've been sitting here, working on getting a digital scrapbook ready to upload for printing. I've been trying to do this the past couple of years, as a keepsake to sit and look at and just reminisce from time to time. I marvel at how the kids have grown, the funny things they do, the changes made.... and just how quickly time flies by. I wonder what the new year will bring besides the anticipated~ another college graduation, a high school graduation, birthdays, etc.

All I know is~

I love the life I am living and the people I am living it with. Bring it on.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Speaking of Signing Time!

Rachel, Leah and Aaron Coleman will be going to Ghana Africa at the end of January to teach the deaf. You can read her post here. If you can contribute to the Signing Time Foundation to help offset the cost, that would be wonderful! If you can contribute $1000 or more, you can help sponsor the trip.

Why are they going? Read Rachel's post to find out. Let me just say... Leah Coleman is an amazing young lady. And why not? She is part of an amazing family.

Daughter inspires mother to create Sign Language videos

I love this article about the Coleman's story and Signing Time! My friend Kitty shared the link to the Deseret News on our Down syndrome board.

Another friend shared the digg link with me. Go and let them know you digg it.

Leah Coleman was born deaf and her mother, Rachel became frustrated that others couldn't communicate with Leah. In an effort to help others be able to communicate with Leah, Rachel and her sister created a video series called Signing Time which anyone can learn from. This now airs on Public Television across the country.

read more digg story

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's Monday

Due to this New England winter storm, it's a snow day for the kids.

William is happily riding his trike through the house, saying, "Okay pedals, it's time to pedal."

Sarah is crafting a gift for a friend.

Me? I am sitting here, sipping coffee, balancing the checkbook, and surfing the 'net.

The new Signing Time! Series 2 that I ordered should be shipping today so I am anxiously awaiting their arrival this week! Until then, I have been enjoying sneak peeks from the Signing Time! YouTube site.



Signing Time! has a holiday special going on right now:
20% off with the code: holiday20
valid on:
Signing Time Series One: Volumes 1-13
Signing Time Series Two: Volumes 1-3 only (not valid on Vols. 4-7)
Practice Time: ABCs & 123s
Baby Signing Time: Volumes 1 & 2

The sale ends December 31st.

What are you waiting for? Order yours today!

An important message....

Do not strike out - News
Gabe Kapler, best known as a 2004 Boston Red Sox outfielder, is now using his name to champion his own cause: preventing domestic violence.
The Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, welcomed Kapler and his wife, Lisa, to the Curry Student Center Wednesday night to speak about The Gabe Kapler Foundation and to sign autographs.
Janet Actis, a member of the sorority's programming committee, said the Kaplers would grab the attention of students because of their ties to the Red Sox.
"Now, people will know that there are things that can be done about this kind of violence," Actis said.
Since 2004, the Kaplers have been lecturing on domestic violence because, at age 14, Lisa was abused by her high school boyfriend. She is now committed to spreading awareness through the foundation with her husband, she said.

Gabe began the evening by recounting the events of July 24, 2004. Jason Varitek had shoved his catcher's mitt into the face of Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees' third baseman.
However, this kind of behavior shouldn't translate to the real world, he said.
"On the field, in the heat of battle, sometimes violence is unavoidable," he said. "When you're with someone you care about, violence is always avoidable."
Kapler then began to conceptualize the meaning of being a strong man. Gabe, who stands at 6 feet 2 inches and weighs 210 pounds, wasn't talking about physical strength, but rather the bravery of inaction.
"My ability to not … react physically is what makes me strong," he said.
Gabe said he has learned from his wife that one act of violence can quickly escalate into something more terrifying.
The first time Lisa's boyfriend abused her was after an argument at school, Gabe said. He took her by the throat and shoved her up against a locker."All the kids [who] saw it were walking past … nobody said anything to me," Lisa said while starting to choke up. "It's 18 years later and it's still affecting me."
She said her boyfriend promised it would never happen again, but things continued to spiral out of control. At one point, Lisa's boyfriend held a gun to her head and asked her if she was ready to die.But he would always apologize and she would go back to him, she said.
"I learned to be a victim. … There's a very big piece of addiction that goes along with abuse," Lisa said.
She said she was abused for almost three years.
However, the hardest part didn't come until six years later. Lisa was at a stoplight when she looked to the car next to her and saw her former boyfriend in the driver's seat with a baby car seat in the back.
She said she felt by not turning him into the police or getting him the help he needed, she allowed the cycle to continue. Now Lisa said she fears he could be hurting his children.
"I passed the baton for someone else to be abused," she said.
The Kaplers agreed the best way to prevent violence and promote a healthy relationship is through communication, which is something they said they still work on constantly. The trick is just finding the best way to communicate, they said.

Although they spent the majority of the evening talking about violence prevention, Northeastern students addressed the rumor that Gabe wants to return to the Red Sox outfield next season."I think there's a little crack in the Red Sox door, and I'm going to try to bang it down," Gabe said with a smile.