Friday, September 30, 2011

Making the Rounds, Part Three: Abilene

Here's Aidan getting off the bus in Clyde. Yes, he is getting to be such a big boy--all of 8 years old now. Very hard to believe! He was a little miffed that he had to go to school while Ally got to stay with me. Wanted his mama to call him in sick. :) He's enjoying 2nd grade and says MATH is his favorite subject. In fact, he says he LOVES math. I'm sure Aunt Bonnie will be happy to hear this! He does not have a girlfriend right now. But he does have lots of friends. And his favorite thing is riding his dirt bike. Scares me to death.

I almost always end up getting the Courtyard Marriott by the mall in Abilene when I priceline a room. The kids love going there because they get to swim! The pool's heater was out and the hotel was waiting for a part but it didn't slow anyone down. The hot tub was still warm so they alternated between the "big pool"and the "little pool." Another girl came in with her dad and they were soon all playing together. Nice how kids just do that! Ally walked right up to her and asked, "Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to play with me?"

Aidan and I made a trip to Target so he could get a toy (after seeing Ally's paper doll book and wondering when I might buy HIM a present!) and so I could buy a few snacks and drinks for the room. We were gone so long that Susan was calling to see what happened to us. haha Aidan loves Lego stuff and you might recall the huge project he and Grandpa Rich undertook last time. At Target, Aidan gravitated right toward that same aisle again. I convinced him to get several smaller items instead of a big one and cautioned him that it was unlikely that Gigi would be any help. He assured me that he could put them together himself.

Corey got off work and met up with us and some friends for a nice dinner at the Beehive. He and Susan had so much fun in Jersey and NYC this past summer that they are already talking about what they want to do "next time." Maybe a stopover in DC to see some sights!

One of the hard parts about visiting Abilene is that I have several good friends there that I want to spend time with, but I also don't want to cut into family time when I won't be around very long! Our usual solution is to try to get people together for a meal and hang out for awhile. Luckily, Susan and Corey know most of my friends and like to see them too. Here's Jimmy, friend, former landlord, walking partner and all-round helper and supporter when Aidan was a baby. The grandkids were so excited to see him and ran down the sidewalk to give him a big hug!

And Sherri, who's the best at meeting us on the shortest notice, friend, travel partner and fellow adventurer. She's even been to Unalaska to see us!

I love these kids!

And Karen, one of my BFFs--we've been through more "stuff" together than anyone could imagine. Aidan loves her and I always say that Gigi takes second spot when Karen is around. :) She's another one who has been there since his birth and has always been very special to him.

We had a great time visting with everyone and then headed back to the hotel for the night. Susan decided to stay over with the kids and me since it was Friday night and no work the next day. Poor Corey is on a rotating schedule so had to work all weekend while we played. After talking, working on the Lego project (by himself!), watching a little TV and planning the next day, we all drifted off to dreamland.

To be continued....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making the Rounds, Part Two: Gigi and Ally Time

Off to Abilene, where Susan, Aidan and Ally met me at the airport. I was so happy to see them! We checked into my hotel and met Corey for dinner before they headed back to Clyde (Clyde, Texas, that is...for the uninitiated!) Since Mom and Dad had to work the next morning and Aidan had school, my adorable 4-year-old Ally got to spend the night with me all by herself for the first time. She is precious and such a sweet girl! She's also a chatterbox and kept me amused as we discussed anything and everything. Our first stop was the hotel pool, where she had a great time but I failed to take any photos.

I haven't really mastered the "hold the camera at a distance and take a picture of yourselves" thing but here's our attempt.

I had a huge king-sized bed in the room but she wanted to sleep on the couch. Go figure! We read books and she drew some pictures before bedtime.

After a good night's sleep, we went to Starbucks for a little breakfast treat of "happy birthday mini donuts" (and some iced tea for Gigi). We then went to Books a Million in the mall where we browsed for the longest time and finally settled on an awesome princess paper doll book with all kinds of clothes and accessories. :) From there, we were glad to meet our friend Karen for lunch, played with the paper dolls and talked and talked.

After lunch, back to the mall to check out the indoor play area and run off some energy.

And we ran into some old friends! Linda Connally and I were "dance moms" together for umpteen years when our kids were growing up. Her daughter Holly and my Susan are close to the same age, were in the same classes and on the same dance team. Now Linda and I are grandmothers and our girls are mommies--how did that happen? Here are two of Holly's three kids--Sadie and Beckett. She also has an older daughter, Kaylee. Of course, I remember her when she was Sadie's age.

Then it was time for Susan to get off work so we picked her up and the three of us went for pedicures. Susan had never had a pedicure before, since she doesn't like anyone touching her feet and she's very ticklish. But she decided to go for it. I thought Ally might like to get one, too, rather than just sit there patiently and wait for us. I know, it's probably a little indulgent to get a 4 year old a pedicure, but what the heck.

We were all enjoying ourselves and Ally was doing great till she squirmed a little bit and the nail technician called her a "bad girl." She had already kinda huffed and puffed and made a bit of an angry face a couple of times but honestly, Ally was not misbehaving at all and I've seen adults more squirmy than she was. Susan and I raised our eyebrows at each other and widened our eyes while we sat there in our chairs. Before I could stop myself (and why should I?), I said, "NOOOO, do NOT call her a bad girl. She is only 4 and she's never had a pedicure before and she's doing fine." (And lest you think that they felt put-upon having to give a child a pedicure, I had called in advance to ask about it and was told "SURE!") Besides, I firmly believe that no one should call names or say that anyone is BAD. Can't you think of 10 other ways she could have handled this?!

Oh, it was actually here, when she was painting Ally's nails, that she called her a BAD GIRL. I think she was surprised that I confronted her and she sorta backpedaled..."oh, it's her first time, oh, she's only four..." but did not really apologize.

But she did offer to paint flowers on the big toes and gave us a discount for the 4 year old, so I suppose she was appropriately contrite. Ally loved her nails, Susan is now a converted fan of the pedi. (*And she was not called a bad girl, even though her feet were ticklish and she squirmed a little. This just reminds me of the fact that there are many things we are willing to say to children that we would never say to an adult. Why is that?)

It was lovely getting to spend time with Ally for the day and I hope we get to do it again another time! She is so much fun! Even though Gigi and Ally time was done, we still had more going on, starting with a drive out to Clyde with Susan to pick Aidan up from the school bus.

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making the Rounds, Part One: Amarillo and Gigi Time with Emery

I'm having a whirlwind of a time and little energy to post but thought I would try to get caught up! After my conference in Anchorage ended, I spent a great deal of my last day hanging out in the Anchorage airport waiting for my 1 AM flight to Seattle. Not much fun, especially since I did not realize (or maybe I didn't remember, because I think it's happened once before) that no one is allowed to check bags more than four hours before departure. Ugh. So I had to sit out by the ticket counters for 7 hours. Yes, SEVEN hours. Finally, I was allowed to check my luggage, went through security, and purchased a day pass to the Alaska Air Board Room for my last four hours. I figured I might as well be comfortable in a quiet room with food after my earlier ordeal. :) Off to Seattle at 1 AM and, of course, the flight was full so I did not sleep much, if at all. Had a quick turnaround in Seattle and left for DFW at 7 AM, arriving at 1 PM Texas time. I am not crazy about that flight but it seems to be the only one AK Air flies. I am always really tired and jet lagged but definitely happy to see Sarah, Miles, Elle and Beck!

Because I am ending my trip with them, I only spent one night and flew to Amarillo early the next morning to spend a couple of days with Bonnie, David and Emery. David's mom Rosanne and Emery picked me up at the airport since the kids were working. We had a nice visit and Rosanne dropped us off at Bonnie and David's so I could keep Emery for the rest of the day. She has grown and changed a lot even since we saw her in NJ in July! She's doing great and we had SO much fun.

Here's a little bit of our time together:

Looking at books

Fun at the park--she is fearless and wants to go down the big slide by herself!

We walked all the way from her house to the park and back and she was very interested in everything along the way, from rocks to sticks to leaves and trees, airplanes in the sky and motorcycles whizzing by. She's saying more and more words and will repeat just about anything you say to her. "Tortellini" was a good one!

She's a good climber, too.


One night we were playing in Emery's room and she decided to put all of her little crocheted hats and headbands on her stuffed animals. They looked pretty darned funny.

Another day we were taking a walk and the neighbor's sprinkler was on. What else to do but run through it?? It's such a joy to see her running and playing and getting into everything after sitting helplessly with her in the hospital when she was a baby. Soon she will be 2!

We found some sidewalk chalk and wrote Mommy and Daddy a hello message. :) Emery was so good for me all three days and we had the best time together. She can say "Gigi" now and it's so sweet to hear her little voice. When she woke up from her naps, she would call "Gigi" till I came to get her out of her crib. So cute! She was a little upset about Mommy and Daddy not being there but quickly got over it and got back to having fun. Although I did not get to see Bonnie and David till after school every day, we had a good time over dinner and movies ("Win-Win" and "Bridesmaids"--I recommend both, for different reasons!), shopping, and staying up too late. They are still working on their kitchen but it's looking really nice and I know they will be happy to have it all done. Bless their hearts, I know it is not enjoyable living in a construction zone but it will be worth it when it's finished.

My flight from Amarillo back to Dallas was scheduled for 8:30 PM, but after I'd already checked in at the airport and gone through security (where I was the ONLY person!), I was told that there was a mechanical problem and they were bringing a plane in from Denver to depart Amarillo at 11. Ugh. I ALWAYS wear socks and shoes (if not boots!) on planes but it was so nice and warm in Amarillo and it's only a short flight to Dallas so I left on my sandals. Of course, now I was stuck with a long wait in an airport that felt like you could freeze icecubes. I even wandered over to the little gift shop to see if I could buy some socks! But no. We finally left after 11 and poor Sarah had to pick me up in Dallas after midnight.

David, Emery and Bonnie

Gigi, Emery and Bonnie

Back to Dallas for just one night and part of a day and then a quick flight to Abilene to see Susan, Corey, Aidan and Ally and a few of my friends. There's no direct flight from Amarillo to Abilene. As one of my friends reminded me, "If you're going to hell, you have to go through Dallas to get there."

To be continued....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Catching up from the Land of the Fast Internet

I've been MIA for a little while--lots going on! On the 3rd, it was my turn to host Bunco and, as always, a big night of fun. These gals are a blast!

Lou Anne and Andrea

Erin, Lori and Sonia

Alyssa, Juliette, Tammy and DJ

Lovely shortcake trios by Rich

Hilary and Melanie

I can't even remember everything that's been occupying our time. We did make some more jam--this time salmonberry-pomegranate and salmonberry-citrus-rose. So good! Remember those scones I made a few weeks ago? Well...there were some in the freezer, so guess what we've been doing? I think we've both gained a few pounds back. But it may be worth it. :)

We've both been really busy at work. I know I keep saying that lately! I worked feverishly all day on Wednesday and then flew out on the 7:30 PM plane to Anchorage. It was a little windy and I was very nervous about flying. I sure have had my flying issues lately. I started to think we would not go at all but we left about 8 PM with no problems whatsoever--guess I need to relax about the whole thing. I'm in Anchorage for a development conference with people from many of the other public radio stations in Alaska. It's been very informative, especially for someone who does not come from a sales and marketing background. I've enjoyed meeting my colleagues from around the state and networking with them. The conference ends tomorrow at noon and then I will be hanging around waiting for my 1 AM (Sunday) flight to Seattle and on to Dallas. Can't wait to see the kids and grandkids!

Friday, September 2, 2011

We top off the night with a tsunami evacuation

I'm not sure where my "Little House on the Prairie" attitude is coming from but I had a major urge to make scones last night. This is funny since I pretty much never cook or bake. If Rich is not home, I usually make a sandwich or warm up leftovers. Maybe scrambled eggs. He can probably count on one hand the number of times I have made anything on my own, so I think he was surprised when I said I wanted scones and YES, I would make them. :) I don't think this activity even occurred to me, nor did I get started, till after 9 PM. They were very plain, fairly quick and easy, and tasted great! At 10 PM, we were eating hot scones with peach preserves and salmonberry jam (from a previous year...we haven't made this year's yet). Yum, yum. And I did have some Earl Grey tea with mine.

Fast forward to 3:00 AM, when the "on call" phone from work began to ring. Many times, it's a wrong number or just someone with a question, and I almost never get a call at that time of night. This time it was a guy from a news outlet in Anchorage, wanting to get an update on what was happening out here. What? I was asleep and confused. He told me that we'd had an earthquake nearby (which, as usual, I slept through) and were under a tsunami warning. Uh-oh! Here we go again! I called my boss and the emergency notification system was put into place. Soon I could hear sirens and voices over loudspeakers saying "tsunami warning--evacuate! tsunami warning--evacuate!" as people from UniSea began climbing the road up to our house. We got dressed and ready to move, but we live on fairly high ground so were not going to leave home unless advised to do so. Still, it was a little freaky in the middle of the night. Fairly soon, the all clear was called and we went back to bed. Just another little Aleutian adventure! Click here for the story.