A Post-Christmas Road Trip

This Christmas we enjoyed being closer to family, just as we did over Thanksgiving weekend.  I enjoyed having all of my kids together for the holiday. We had fun.

Our two college-aged daughters came to stay for Christmas here in Georgia, and then we planned to all go to visit my parents and in-laws in Alabama over New Year’s weekend.

My husband and I disagreed about the post-Christmas road trip. I wanted to leave on Friday afternoon after he’d gotten off work, so we could arrive at my mother’s house late that evening. He wanted to get up early Saturday morning and make the trip in daylight.

(I do not care for any plan that involves the words “get up early.”)

Since we had to take two cars anyways, as our daughter had driven her car from college and we’d need the minivan for ourselves. we decided to split the trip.

I left Friday afternoon with the three older girls, and he planned to leave Saturday morning with the twins.

This seemed like a win-win situation to me. I would get to take a road trip with the teens listening to fun music and having girl talk. I’d be The Late-Night Cool Mom.

He’d rather go in the morning? Fine. He’d have to do the getting up early and forcing the kids into the car thing. He’d have to listen to the twins complain and/or fight the whole trip.

But it turned out my husband had a plan to avoid all that….

On Saturday morning I was still in bed at my mother’s house when my husband arrived with the twins. I couldn’t believe he’d gotten there so quickly!

I woke up to see Little Boy’s face inches from mine. He looked quite pleased with himself.

“Oh, hi,” I said. “You must have gotten up early this morning!”

Grinning, he shook his head.

“What?” I said, confused. “You didn’t get up early this morning?”

He grinned even more widely. “Nope!”

“What?” I said again.

His grin was getting maniacal. “I didn’t get up this morning at all!” he crowed.

I groaned. It was too early for riddles. “You mean you’re still asleep?”

He howled with laughter. “Nope!” he said again.

I pulled the covers over my head, finished with the conversation. Little Boy chortled to himself and went to unpack his stuff.

When my husband came in, he was looking quite pleased with himself as well. I was out of bed by then, and I commented on what great time he had made on the road trip.

“You must have gotten up early!” I said. “Did you have any trouble on the drive?”

“Nope!” he said. “I had a plan.”

Grinning in much the same manner as his son, my husband revealed all.

DAD’S ROAD TRIP PLAN:

  1. Take the twins to the movies.
  2. Give them all the sugary snacks they want.
  3. Tell them they can stay up all night.
  4. Go to bed and let them roam free in the house.
  5. Wake up early and load them into the van.
  6. Have a peaceful drive while they sleep the whole time.

I was so shocked by this plan, I think my jaw hit the floor. I can certainly see why this  was not revealed to me in advance. I would NOT have approved it.

The twins, apparently quite refreshed by their road-trip naps, danced in and out of the room, wearing, “Dad let us stay up all night!!” expressions of glee.

I guess there’s a new cool parent in town.

We Don’t Belong Here

This summer I went shopping in an upscale area while we were on vacation. It didn’t take me too long to realize everything was way too nice for us to be able to afford it.

For one thing, the public bathroom was nicer than the one at my house!

Yep. That’s a real photo of the potty at the Pottery Barn.

I was like, “Let’s get out of here, kids! And don’t touch ANYTHING!!!”

Oversharing in the Airport

We were going through the airport security checkpoint on our way back from visiting relatives for the summer when my bag was picked for extra inspection.

I suppose it looked suspicious because it was crammed so full of stuff.

The TSA agents dug through my backpack, randomly swabbing various items to test for bomb residue (including some paperback novels, my half- finished quilt squares, and a bunch of Laffy Taffy candy). I wondered which of the Laffy Taffies looked the most likely to be a bomb, since he was only checking some of them.

My nine-year-old daughter took the opportunity to ask me: “Mom, what’s a trophy wife?”

I tried to think of an explanation. “Well,” I said, “I guess it’s a wife that’s way better than the other wives so she costs a lot of money.”

All the TSA agents around us burst out laughing.

I shrugged. “Sorry guys,” I said. “Looks like she’s been listening to people trash-talk each other on family vacation.”

Do we still look suspicious?

The Many Indignities of Air Travel

airplane
Image from abcnews.go.com

So I’m coming down the aisle of a crowded plane with a backpack on my back.

The guy in front of me was putting up his suitcase in the overhead bin, but the only open one was apparently past his assigned seat. Therefore he had to go back up the aisle after stowing his luggage.

But of course when he turned around I was right there behind him.

I could not turn around in that narrow aisle with a backpack on, so I had to simply back up.

And my giant butt was hitting people from behind as I backed up.

So I started beeping like a truck in reverse until I got the right spot.

People were cracking up. I’m like, Wide load, people!! Coming through!!

You know, it’s amazing how air travel can humiliate you in ways you never thought possible.

 

 

 

We’re S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G

I went shopping with my teenage daughters and ended up in the clearance section. My favorite!

I love looking through clearance items. You find some great stuff for cheap sometimes, and you find some things that are obviously marked down for a good reason.

To amuse myself and embarrass my daughters, I pretended  to try on a leather bustier, a pair of ugly striped palazzo pants, a dress with an odd useless flap hanging from the back of it, a neon tube top, and a Justin Beiber shirt.

That last one of course required some in-store singing.

But my favorite item was probably this “unhoodie.”

It was just a hood and a zipper. Weird.

I’ll bet you wish you could shop with me, huh?

Well, I have an opening; my daughters aren’t going with me again anytime soon…

An Alaskan Holiday Weekend

We just spent our first Thanksgiving weekend in Alaska. It was different.

For one thing, it’s getting darker and darker here. I have seen the sun rise more times in the last few months than I have in my whole life I think. Here’s a lovely sunrise I photographed on Friday. AT TEN-FIFTEEN A.M.!

IMG_3696

Also it was snowing like crazy on Thanksgiving. In the week leading up to the holiday, the temperatures had warmed and hovered around 20-30 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, above zero). You might have thought this would be a good thing, after several weeks of consistently negative temperatures from about -10 to -20. It turns out, however, that the “warmer” weather –closer to but still below freezing– makes for more snow and much slipperier driving conditions. Who knew? In just that seven days or so before Thanksgiving we had a couple of feet of snowfall. (It’s sort of a record; you can read a news article about here if you want.) 

And then on Friday the temperatures slipped slightly above 32 degrees, and rain threatened to fall. This is of course, was a very bad thing. I didn’t have to be from here to know that having rain fall on several accumulated feet of snow and then refreeze a few hours later is no good. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

We were able to get to a lovely dinner with friends on Thanksgiving Day, and then eat more traditional Thanksgiving dishes on Friday.

IMG_3700

On Saturday I went to a bridal shower lunch. The party started breaking up as people noticed that the sun was beginning to set. This was at TWO O’CLOCK, by the way.

But there was a little problem when we started to leave: One of the ladies backed her car into a ditch, which she couldn’t see because of the the snow, of course. Most of the women went out with shovels and gravel to help.

IMG_3706

This was interesting to watch. (You didn’t think I was going to try to help, did you? I was all for waiting to be rescued.) A group of about ten women was able to dig out the trapped wheel and then pull the car out of the ditch. Girl power!

All in all, the weekend was definitely interesting!

Alaskan Activities

Everyone has been telling us that Alaska is great… as long as you can survive the winter.

Which is kind of most of the year. But I digress.

Photo by Angela Croll Bergeron

Supposedly the best way to “get through” Alaskan winters is to find something to do outside.  

I’m skeptical about doing anything outside in negative-forty-degree weather, but that’s what they all seem to recommend.

(Can I just insert here that most places you live there is not so much emphasis on literally SURVIVING any particular season? But Alaska is a different sort of place.)

So when I was at a party and a woman was telling me about outdoor activities that can make Alaska winters fun, I paid attention.

image from http://www.alaskasnow.org

“I love snowmobiling,” she said. “It’s great for the whole family.”

“Oh really?” I said.

“And it’s perfect for dates with the husband,” she went on.

My husband was standing next to us and he looked interested.  

“Yeah,” she said. “We drive all over on the snowmobile and it’s great. We both have so much fun and don’t even have to talk to each other. Best date ever!”

I laughed. My husband looked slightly offended. I stopped laughing.

She kept it up. “Yeah! I mean, when can you ever spend quality time with your husband and not even have to make conversation with the man? It’s great.”

I said, “Ummmm,” and changed the subject. 

Honey, I wanted to tell her, you forgot that we’re supposed to talk about them like that ONLY behind their backs.

snarkecard

We made it to Alaska!

map

So we finally arrived in Fairbanks just after midnight last Friday night.

I mean last Saturday morning.

Oh, whatever! It’s light most of the time here and it’s difficult to tell what time of day it is.

Even at 12:45 am, the sky was not really dark. It seemed to be more of an extended twilight time for a few hours, waiting for sunrise.

The airport was quite busy at that time, oddly enough, filled with excited people going on once-in-a-lifetime Alaska cruise vacations.

We were less excited, with our tired kids and our twelve suitcases, not counting carry-on baggage.

img 1

Little Girl commented as we stepped outside into the not-really dark of summer late-night in Alaska: “Why is the air conditioner on outside?”

Oh, child. They’re about to turn that A/C waaaay up…

The ABC’s of My Trip

I just flew across the ocean with my kids. Twice.

This is not the first time I’ve made this trip. Nor will it be the last, unfortunately. But this is the first time I’ve decided to make an illustrated alphabetical list about the trip.

ENJOY.

applejuice

Little Girl was highly suspicious of the apple juice on the airplane. “Why is it in a CAN?! It’s supposed to be in a box.”

bellybutton

One of the highlights of the trip was the display of (and discussion about) what Little Girl found in her her belly button.

  • LG: What is this?
  • Me: It’s just dirt.
  • LG: EW! Dirt?
  • Me: It’s no big deal. Everyone has dirt in their belly button.
  • LG: Everyone does?
  • Me: Yes, everyone.
  • LG: Even brand-new BABIES?!
  • Me: Okay. Maybe not everyone…

complain

This picture speaks for itself, I think.

dietcoke

Diet Coke was about the only thing keeping me going on these marathon flights. Well, and M-n-M’s…

earbuds

The problem with airline earbuds is that they are made for grown-up-sized ears. They simply refuse to stay in the ears of small children! I thought I had solved this problem this year by packing headbands to wrap around the twins’ heads and hold the earbuds in, but they still fell out. Over and over and over.

Perhaps I should have considered duct tape…

famished

It still amazes me that they refuse to feed you ANYTHING while you are trapped on an airplane for ten hours. Unless you pay extra…

growth

Boo (age 11) discovered there was a downside to having grown about a foot taller since our last overnight flight. She couldn’t get comfortable in her seat at all.

So she got enjoy my usual overnight flight pastime: Watching all the people who can sleep on airplanes snooze away… and HATING THEM ALL.

howmuchlonger

Truthfully I like it when the screens on the airplane show you how much longer you have to go until landing. 

But I like it less when I have to keep reading it out loud to little kids, and translating the time into the number of minutes.

ihavetogopotty

This problem wasn’t helped much by all the apple juice consumed on the flight.

justgotosleep

There’s a point in the middle of  a REALLY long flight when you think you’re not going to survive to see land again. EVER.

I have been there.

killmenow

 

atleast

I just put in a little flashback here to last year’s trip to remind me that things could always be worse.

Because they can.

manbutton

The twins were obsessed with the call-flight-attendant button once they’d discovered it, which was fortunately not until the last flight.

  • Me: Don’t press the man button.
  • Them: But what happens if we press it?
  • Me: Just DON’T.
  • Them: But what happens?
  • Me: Please. Just DON’T.
  • Them: Hey! I saw one in the bathroom too!
  • Me: Don’t press it.

noteven

 

only20

So to take our minds off the torture of overseas air travel with children, let’s go back and visit the torture of navigating giant airports with children.

panic

Yep. Little Girl had a full-on panic attack at the top of the escalator and refused to go down. Meanwhile the rest of us, and her travel pillow, sailed down the escalator alone.  

Good times.

Another thing taking my mind off travel was the quilt I’ve been working on. I’m hand-sewing a quilt made of several thousand identically-sized triangles.

As of the middle of the trip I’d finished a center panel consisting of 36 squares, each containing 36 triangles. That’s 1,298 triangles all together, if you didn’t realize. And that’s not even the whole quilt yet.

quilt

Yes, that would be be the aforementioned apple juice spilling on my needlework.

Sigh.

 reallyhate

 

stuck

 

tranquilizer

 

Unfortunately, no tranquilizers were available.

Despite the apple-juice mishap, I continued sewing as much as I could. Although it is a problem to keep up with things in those tiny airplane seats.

undertheseat

It is REALLY hard to reach things when they fall under there.

But like I said, remember it could always be worse.

vomit

 

Once that crisis was safely averted, we settled back into mid-flight boredom.

 

 

 

whoseidea

 

There was some trouble when Little Girl caught sight of the safety information card.

xplain

 

  • Her: Why does it show the airplane going in the water?
  • Me: No, it’s just telling you what to do in case it goes in the water.
  • Her: Why would it go in the water? It’s not a boat. It’s a plane.
  • Me: Well, it wouldn’t. You’re right. We’re flying OVER the ocean.
  • Her: So why does it show the people floating in the water?
  • Me: Well, you know, just in case.
  • Her: In case what?
  • Me: In case the plane…goes down…in the water….
  • Her: It might go down in the WATER?!
  • Me: It won’t.
  • Her: But what if it does?!
  • Me; It won’t.
  • Her: But the PICTURE?!
  • Me: Let’s just put that away, shall we?

And now we are coming to the end of the alphabet, finally. Just as we EVENTUALLY came to the end of the airplane trip.

youvegottabekidding

 

zero

Cheez-its on the Airplane

Cheez-It-Box-Small.jpg
wikipedia.org

I just got back from a month-long trip that involved approximately twenty-four hours of airplane travel.

More about that later.

But here’s a quick story for now:

We were on a (relatively short) two-hour early-morning leg of our trip and I was passing out snacks to my kids. I listed the possibilities that were in my bag aloud, including Fritos, Cheez-its, mini cookies, and plain potato chips.

Apparently a nearby passenger was listening, and she started getting hungry. After about fifteen minutes, this lady turned towards me and said, “Excuse me, but I heard you have Cheez-its. Can I buy some off you for a dollar?”

I told her I didn’t mind sharing my squared-off imitation-cheese snack crackers, and declined the dollar. She ate them slowly and told me, “Ma’am, those Cheez-its sure blessed my soul.” I was pleased that she had enjoyed them so much.

When I related this story to my husband (much) later, his response was unexpected.

He said, “I’ll bet you could have gotten two or three dollars off that lady.”

Wow. It warms your heart, doesn’t it?