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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Slow versus Quick Death

As I have mentioned earlier, I recently returned from visiting my parents in North Carolina.  My family has a yearly tradition of going to the North Carolina coast for a week each summer, a tradition that we have held since I was born.  As my mother has requested that if we can only come home once, we come for the beach, I arranged to go to the beach.

Initially, Brandon was to come, but plans changed (as they often do), and he had to stay home and work (as he often does).  Not only did that leave me a single parent for two weeks, more importantly, it left me a single parent for two flights.  Which is much more daunting, all things considered.

Everything went a smoothly as can be expected, with minor hitch of having to hand my 3 month old to a complete stranger so I could take off my 2 year-old's shoes lest she be hiding a bomb in her pink sandals.  She is a devious one, that Kathleen.

Everything went smoothly, that is, until we boarded the plane and Sophia began wailing.  That, initially was a blessing, as our seat neighbor quickly moved himself to another seat as far away as possible and left us with the whole row to ourselves.  By the time we were over Nebraska, however, the whole plane wished that they could move themselves as far away as possible, preferably to another plane and leave us to our screaming, wailing, shrieking baby.  

And I reflected, would I rather spend 20 hours in a car with an intermittently crying baby in the back seat, or would I rather spend 2 hours with a child shrieking non-stop in my arms?  I still can't decide.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Recently, I offered to pick someone up from the airport.  Unlike my mother, who lives a reasonable 20 minutes from the airport, I live a solid hour from the Salt Lake airport, a $10 round trip with the current price of gas.

However, as many a person has picked me up from the airport, I wanted to begin paying back my debt to society.  Or at least my acquaintances.  And my mother's acquaintances.  

I should have suspected that all would not go as planned when, upon talking to my pickee, they were unaware of any of their flight numbers and provided me only with the time of their arrival, and upon prompting, the connecting airport.

So, after a very, very busy and tiring day arranging affairs for my husband and previous to taking someone else to the airport early the next morning, I set off for Salt Lake.  Not wanting to arrive earlier than expected, especially in view of the FAA computer crash in Atlanta, I checked the Delta website.  There were no 8:20 flights from LA, but the 8:15 flight was on time, so off I went.

Which might have worked another day (Delta has a reasonable on-time rate), but the day of the computer crash.  With fifteen minutes to go, my phone rang (thank heavens for cell phones).  My husband informed my that our charge had just called and was not in the air, about to approach Salt Lake.  They were still at their connecting airport.

So while gnashing my teeth and seething for not having been given the flight number, I turned around.  If they hadn't left from LA by now, they weren't going to be in Salt Lake any time soon.  I didn't relish spending several hours waiting for a flight that may or may not come in that evening.

Twenty minutes later, more bad news came: they were coming, and their flight was landing at 10:15.  Confused about how an airplane could make such good time from Southern California to Salt Lake, my husband cleared up by confusion by relating his conversation with the traveler.

Brandon: So you're coming from LA?
House guest: Oh, did I say Los Angeles?  I meant Las Vegas.

By this point, I was close enough to home to enjoy a solid 30 minutes with my husband before turning around and going back to the airport.  So I made good use of my time and ate an entire pint of watermelon frozen custard, kissed my husband, watched a movie trailer and headed up to Salt Lake.  Again.

After 3 1/2 hours in the car, I came home at midnight, went to bed, and woke up at six to go to the airport.  Again.  Following my airport run, I dropped my house guest off at their destination in Provo, another 40 minutes of driving.  

So when I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror, it was a fitting end to the previous 36 hours.  

If any one of you gentle readers would like to have my shuttle services at your disposal, I only have one request: Please give me your flight numbers.

Pesto Presto (or rather Lento)

With thoughts of pesto pizza, pesto pasta, tomato and pesto soup, and perhaps even pesto ice cream, this spring I planted eight basil plants.  I watered the plants, I nourished the plants, I loved the plants.  But unfortunately for my own basil plants (or perhaps fortunately), I discovered my mother's basil plants.  

Back in North Carolina, my mother grows a garden.  As gardens go, it's not enormous, as she has to utilize a sunny patch near the road to grow anything.  However, what it makes up for in size, it wins in sheer growing power.  The first time I saw her basil plants, I asked her why she planted so many plants.  'I only planted three,' she protested, 'they just grew that big on their own.'

As my plants would never grow near the size of her plants, she offered her plants for pesto.  I love pesto and Brandon loves pesto.  Kathleen won't eat hot dogs, but she loves pesto, too.  I didn't want to curtail my parents' pesto crop, so I only gave the basil a medium haircut.

Quite a few hours later after picking the leaves, washing, drying, chopping, and adding the other ingredients, we had pesto.  A lot of pesto.  I personally took home a gallon of pesto (in addition to the pesto my mother brought out in May), and my mother had the same amount if not more.  Pesto ice cream anyone?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Triumph of Draconian Measures

Kathleen turned two recently, and that signaled the true start of battles of will. Anyone who knew me as a child can testify that I generally gave my parents a hard time about being forced. And my parents are now enjoying the benefit of seeing me getting my own back - with interest.

Last Wednesday while at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Kathleen decided that, after asking for them, she was no longer interested in bread and cheese for lunch. Every parent has a breaking point, and I had reached mine that day. Never mind that we were on vacation. Never mind that we were going over to a friend's house for dinner that night. Never mind that I wanted to take a nap. Kathleen was going to eat her lunch. After 1 1/2 hours of crying, we called it a draw. She ate a piece of toast and I took a nap.

So this morning when Kathleen decided that she didn't want her egg anymore and dumped her milk all over the egg to prove it, there was no way I was backing down. I told her that if she didn't eat her egg, Sophia and I would take a walk while she would stay home - in her room (I confess I considered the idea longer than Child Protection Services would be comfortable with). So Kathleen went into her room, screaming, and I got myself and Sophia ready for a walk, turned on the sprinklers, and let Kathleen stew for awhile.

After enough crying, I let her out of her room and told her that if she would like to take a walk, she'd better eat her eggs. She didn't believe me until I threatened a return to her room. She knew I was serious, and after a little banana chaser to ease her pain, the milk-soaked eggs were gone. And we went on a walk.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grandma and Grandpa Have a Pond

After a week of pure bliss at the beach, we're back in Raleigh at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Kathleen has several favorite activities here: pushing chairs around, swinging on the swing, climbing the stairs, dropping pinecones into the gutters, and the pond.

Kathleen has had limited experience with bodies of water larger than her bath; the pool, the duckpond, the ocean, and now, my parents' pond. At the duckpond, we threw bread to the ducks, at the ocean we threw seashells and sand into the water, and so logic would follow that grandma and grandpa's ponds is also meant to have items thrown into it.

We got our first inkling of her tendencies when my father handed her a pine cone yesterday evening, so that she could go throw it in the gutter, the place where all pine cones belong. However, as we were in the backyard, no where near to the gutters, the pine cone went into the pond. That was banned, followed by pine straw, small rocks, her bread, and pieces of spiderwort she pulled off and threw into the pond. When we went to set the table outside, I handed her a fistful of forks, and had to stop her in the middle of a wind-up to send those into the pond, too.

After enough reprimands about the pond, I assumed that Kathleen had understood the interdict, as no more objects joined the fish. So this morning when she asked for some juice, I assumed she was thirsty and wanted to enjoy a morning refreshment on the terrace. When she came back for seconds, I thought that she must really like orange juice, a treat not available at home. But when the third request for juice came, close on the heels of the second, I followed her.

She carefully walked outside, placed the juice on a step, climbed down the step, placed the juice on the slate, climbed down to that, and then headed for the pond. My suspicions were heightened as I found suspicious splashes on the stones next to the pond, and the goldfish gathered near the splashes. And then they were confirmed as Kathleen neatly upended her cup into the pond. I never realized that goldfish like orange juice so much.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the Road (Airplane) Again

After a week (for me) of recovering from my last trip illness, and five days of Kathleen maintaining a fever (from a UTI), the girls and I are off for more partying while Brandon stays home to work. As I child I thought it manifestly unfair that my father had to go to work while everyone else got to party. Now that I'm an adult, I realize that it is still manifestly unfair. However, we're still leaving Brandon.

Right now the girls are asleep, and I'm finishing up odds and ends before we head off to the airport. At least this time we're flying. However, in exchange for not driving, I get to take care to two children under the age of two by myself. All of the way to the east coast. The hardest part of the trip will be simply getting on the plane. Brandon is at work, so we're getting dropped off at the airport. When I am dropped off, I will have 1. Kathleen 2. Sophia 3. the diaper bag 4. a double stroller 5. Kathleen's car seat 6. Sophia's car seat 7. my bag, and 8. the girls' bag. Bear in mind that I only have 2 hands - and 8 items to take care of. And that's why Skycaps are worth every dollar.