Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Month 56, Connor

Dear Connor,

A couple of weeks ago, you flipped another month on the ol' timeline of life. Somehow, the update never happened. But now, your grandparents are in town and both of them have already asked me if time stood still this past month or if you aged. So, while you're away at school, and Helen is busy running Grandma Carlene and Grandpa Rodney or Grandpa Rod (she told me she was still trying to decide what she would call him this visit) ragged, I figured I would take the time to remind myself what a fantastic person you are.

I attended the movie Babies (FREE! A perk of blogging over at DCMetroMoms) on Wednesday night and do you know who sat in front of me? Erin. The fabulous woman who caught you, reassured me during your birth that things were moving along fine, and most of all, never let on that having a placenta take over an hour to come out is a bit out of the ordinary. As your dad and I sat marveling at this new human in our life, she and our birth assistant Audrey sat upstairs and started going over the procedures for manual extraction, and the whole time your dad and I had no idea anything might be wrong. Your dad even offered to cook breakfast but Erin very calmly told him perhaps we should get this placenta out first. It came out. On it's own. No manual extraction necessary. And only then did Erin tell us what she and Audrey had been talking about and worrying about a bit. I'm really grateful for the way she handled the whole thing. In any case, Erin asked me how you were and I smiled and told her "I love four".

I love the way you embrace everything in life. You were a trooper when it came to flying to Key West with your dad. At first you were a little bent that we weren't flying together, but you and dad had a grand time. You modeled beeswax, read books, ate snacks, and played lots of games. I don't think you ever slept you were having so much fun. When Helen and I arrived at Key West, you and Daddy were sharing lunch at a restaurant by the beach. You had already been swimming a bit and played in the sand.

You even enjoyed seeing Mike and Sima get married, sitting between Grandpa Dick and Grandma Lynn. You did, however, wonder how Grandma Lynn got to Key West, since previously I had told you she didn't fly. You extracted a promise from her that she might come visit us this summer in Arlington.

You were delighted to cruise around Key West on the back of Daddy's bike. You asked to ride on my bike but I do not think I could pedal far with you in tow. It was hard enough biking around with Helen back there.

You had a ton of fun at our annual egg hunt. You enjoyed hiding the eggs, finding the eggs, and eating the goods out of the eggs. You also enjoyed letting all the children know they could leave their plastic eggs behind if they didn't want them, and we would use them next year. You had them fill up a wheelbarrow with them so you could tote them around a bit.

You love our new rain barrel. And I love it too, because now when you want to play with water, you turn that spigot on instead of the regular one, and know that you need only hold the hose up high to get the water to stop. It's a good system.

You pretend to take an interest in Connor Baby, but that's only because Helen has decided she loves him/her.

You somehow managed to pick up a skink and drop it in your wheelbarrow. When I discovered this, you happily wheeled him around the yard looking for a new home for it. Once you released it, though, you kept right on playing with it. Ugh.

You love to climb and rarely find yourself intimidated by playground equipment. You also love to run, jump, paint, argue, point out "I already knew that because...", and cook.

Busy, busy we are these days.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The reason manufacturers might consider anatomically correct dolls

Helen clearly knows the difference between a boy and girl. She's a girl, I'm a girl, Daddy and Connor are boys. She extends this knowledge to anyone I've ever asked her about. Except her dolls. Every one of them is a girl. This includes a doll that Grandma Lynn gave to Connor when I was pregnant with Helen, or right after Helen's birth. The doll has a baseball cap and is dressed in blue, the typical outward signs of maleness in children's toys. It is named Connor Baby, a name that originates from us calling it "Connor's Baby" and Helen shortening it slightly when she claimed the baby as her own.

Connor "Helen, Connor Baby is not a girl. He is a boy."
Helen "No she's not. She's a girl."
Connor "It's my doll that Grandma gave to me. It is a boy."
Helen looked right at Connor, removed Connor Baby's clothes, pointed to the downtown parts and said confidently. "No penis. Connor Baby is a girl."


Monday, April 26, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Month 30, Helen

Dear Helen,

Here it is, the official 2.5 mark. Just in time for you to be able to hold your first two fingers up in a "V" to announce your age. It takes more dexterity than I ever realized to keep those two smaller fingers down while the pointer and middle-man shoot upwards. After working on it for a few days though, you've got it pretty much mastered. Peace out, my little girl.

We've had glimpses of summer around here, and it just makes me excited about all the fun we're going to have. You love being outside, and if you can do it without wearing mittens, it's even better. Your favorite places on Earth are parks, and I suspect we'll be visiting a lot of them in the coming months.

It's difficult to discern whether you like cats or babies more. Luckily, we seem to be surrounded by babies these days, thanks to many friends giving birth in the past few months. You've been working hard on figuring out how to teach Baby Evelyn to crawl (she's 4 months after all, so it's about time, right?). You've been teaching Baby Grace at gymnastics how to stand up on her own, and you were quite pleased the day she actually did it after you showed her how. Whenever Juliet's mom shows up at playgroup without Baby James, you inquire about him, and you were thrilled the day he showed up at our house for our annual egg hunt. What a thrill!

You like to pretend you are a baby, and one day, when I got tired of the pretend crying that goes with the game, and I told you that you were not a baby you looked at me indignantly and said "I am a baby kangaroo!". Do you know what I love about baby kangaroos? They're quiet. Most assuredly, you are not a baby kangaroo.

While on our recent trip to Florida, you insisted on having me point out your letter "H" and then spent all of our travels pointing them out on your own. Yesterday, I had a "Chiefs" sweatshirt on and there you were, pointing out your letter. This impresses many people, though I tend to think it's not a very useful skill. But it excites you, and I love observing things that make you happy.

You discovered the joy of the life vest, and paddled the entire length of the pool - and back. You were so excited to be "swimming" on your own. At one point, I looked at you and said "two year olds can't swim" and you replied "Oh yes they can!". Now that's a good attitude. And we have decided to institute Friday swim night because after you big adventure you slept over 12 hours. I had to wake you up to go to gymnastics the next morning. That's a good night's sleep!

Don't ever let anyone tell you you're two, my friend, because then you might not be able to do all the things your brother does. This month, you climbed to the top of this bizarre spider-web thing at a playground. This was difficult for your dad to watch. He kept trying to position himself so that you wouldn't realize he was helping you, but that he'd catch you if you fell. I'm happy to report, you made it to the top, and down. You didn't fall until your second trip down, when I think you got a little cocky about your new found climbing skills. Lesson learned. That's what the mulch is for.

You also participated in a drama class for 4-6 year olds. Your dad was busy with a home energy auditor, so you tagged along with me and Connor. Luckily, the teacher was super nice, and she let you participate in the class. You played along so well, performing your lines just like the other (older) children that at the end of class, Miss Hannah said you could be in her class if you wanted, even though you were only two. I have a feeling you would love this, but my heart tells me it's better to wait to do these things, so we won't be taking the class.

You love it whenever you get to hang with Connor's friends. One day, we called one of his friends to play and she couldn't come over. You burst into tears and announced you were very sad.

You have a special place in your heart for Grandpa Dick, and you were very excited to see him in Key West. Yesterday, you announced you had gone skiing and were ready to go with Dick next year. I'm sure he'll be excited to hear this.

You are indignant; you are stubborn; you are cute. But most of all, you are my baby.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Summer fun

Hey - guess what? I'm writing over at DCMetroMoms now. Read about what's going on at my house this summer there today.

But never fear, this will remain my main writing venue. I swear I realize they got a month older, I just haven't been able to get those darn monthly posts up.


DCMM: Shouldn’t Summer Be for Taking a Break?

Recent high temperatures in the area make me all too aware that soon, summer will be here for good. Most area parents awoke from their winter’s slumber when the announcements for camp started arriving daily in their mailboxes around January.

At my own home, I received notice of a camp at Monkey Business – a Falls Church business where my daughter has attended classes; the zoo – we’re long-time members but have yet to take a class there since sibling interlopers were discouraged from attending the class that made the most sense for my older child; Arlington County – oh the choices!; Adventure Theatre – where my son, daughter, and I have a partial season ticket; Classika Theatre – where my son and I see shows occasionally; and a few others that I’m not recalling right now. Each ad promised an enriching experience for my children. That, and a day packed full of fun – and learning! I read each ad, thought about it, generally thought about how cool it sounded, and then thought about my own childhood memories of summer.

I don’t know if we didn’t have summer camp when I was young, or if my parents just didn’t think it was important. As far as I can recall, I spent one week each summer at Kansas State University Family Camp with my family and one week each summer at Camp Daisy Hindman with other area girl scouts. I remember the archery range, the snack bar, making ice cream sundaes, and complaining about the outdoor toilets. I also remember hiking, wading through creeks (my sister’s troop is still legendary for going so far upstream that State Troopers had to bring them back), and feeling so free. But beyond these two places, I have no memory of camp. Instead, my million memories of summer all center around one location: the neighborhood swim club.

Thinking about it now though, I can name only one of my son’s friends who won’t attend several weeks of camp this summer. And I wonder if that’s what’s best for our children? Sure, we live in a place with fabulous summer offerings. But shouldn’t there be one time a year when kids can just be kids? Are we shortchanging our children by giving them so few choices over how to spend their time that their creativity ends up being stifled? Sometimes, as working parents, we don’t have the luxury of giving our children nothing to do. We go to our jobs, our children need to be in the hands of an adult. It’s a convenient relationship, for sure.

But even as I ponder how wonderful each summer program could be, I am reminded of Richard Louv’s book "Last Child in the Woods". He points out that rather than computer camps and space camps, and every other kind of camp, children need unstructured time in the woods. And the woods needs the children too. For how else can we expect our children to protect this Earth when they don’t even see it as part of their lives?

But don’t think I’m totally immune to the idea of camp. In this rather comprehensive list of summer camps compiled by a local mom, one stands out for me. It’s the summer camp being offered at Potomac Crescent Waldorf School (where my son attends school). Two weeks, that's it. There will be lots of unstructured outdoor time, and I already know from last year, he’ll come home exhausted and dirty (things I look for in children’s activities). I checked with the administrator there this morning, and a few spots remain.

The summer I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I walked to our local swim club and signed up to be members. And not a moment too soon, given the wait list. Thankfully, we’ve secured our spot at the pool, but if we hadn’t, we’d go to the slightly less convenient Upton Hills public pool. We'll spend our summer hiking through Lacey Woods Park, splashing in the creeks at Long Branch or Gulf Branch Nature Centers, and playing at the pool. You might even see my four year old jumping off the board— a feat he perfected last year!

With all that going on, who has time for camp?

When Elaine is not cleaning dirt off her kids' clothes, she writes about them getting dirty on her personal blog. Special thank to her friend Thrift Store Mama, for the photo.

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Posted by ElaineMM on April 22, 2010 at 02:00 AM in Elaine | Permalink

Jenn said...
I think camps are so popular because parents work. I went to camp as a kid because my parents had to have somewhere to put me during the day. If you don't work, then, yeah, let your kids be kids. But most families have two working parents and so if you have to put them somewhere, you might as well put them somewhere that sounds really fun.

Reply April 22, 2010 at 05:49 AM ElaineMM said...
I agree, Jenn, we're always choosing the best possible settings for our children. But I wonder if there couldn't be more free-form, non-themed, just general play "camps" set up for kids to explore in, rather than camp coordinators thinking they need an educational hook into the programs they run.

Reply April 22, 2010 at 07:05 AM Jessica C. said...
If I had family around or a reliable and inexpensive babysitter, I'd love to just take a break from activities and do fun stuff. But I can't go for two months without childcare or my son would end up sitting in front of the TV while I tried to keep up on work and volunteer responsibilities. I suck at providing rhythm when there is absolutely no imposed structure, so I'd rather we have some stuff to hang our hat on. He's a social kid who doesn't yet have a sibling, so a day without playing with other kids is incomplete in his book. He's constantly asking me about the camps we did last summer and when he gets to go back.

I hope that when we are a family of four we can create more meaningful stuff to do on our own. But this summer, while mama is gonna be big with child, little boy is signed up for 4 weeks of programs.

Reply April 22, 2010 at 07:36 AM ElaineMM said in reply to Jessica C....
That's such an important point! When my mom left my sister and I at home, we had close neighbors and in many cases, extended family around. What a difference that must have made!

And, don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning whether kids have fun in the various camps they attend. I'm questioning whether it's the best use of their time.

I suspect you already create lots of meaningful stuff with your family.

Reply April 26, 2010 at 07:18 AM Gunfighter said...
My youngest will be going to soccer camp, Amusement park camp, two weeks of Girl Scout camp, a week-long trip (with mommy) to visit the grandparents, and Vacation Bible Camp. She is going to have a great summer full of activities that she can only have because mommy and daddy spend their week days busting their humps for uncle sam.

The last two weeks of summer, we will all be together for two weeks with Mickey Mouse in Florida.

Big fun!

I remember the free-form summers of my youth... my mom went to work, and the three of us basically took care of ourselves. I sort of wish I had the kind of summer that my kids have had

Reply April 23, 2010 at 07:57 AM Helen said...
I'm betting I'm the friend with the kid not attending a summer camp. :)

Reply April 26, 2010 at 07:14 AM ElaineMM said...
Yes, that is the distinction I give you. Although now that I think about it, I think you recently emailed about some music company? Maybe I'm wrong?

Reply April 26, 2010 at 07:16 AM Helen said in reply to ElaineMM...
Hmmm. I don't remember sending any emails about camps. And neither of them is going to any camp this summer.

But if you hear about any camps for toddlers that teach the under-three-feet set to STOP SCREAMING, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, well, please do tell me, because my toddler could use such a camp.

Reply April 26, 2010 at 10:13 AM ElaineMM said in reply to Helen...
Ha! That would be the useful camp eery. And it would be fully subscribed before I even knew it existed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The questions

I wish I was organized enough to carry a pad of paper with me wherever I went, because if I was, I would have about three million questions to list here that I have been asked in the last few days. Among them?

Connor: "If my head were cut off, do you think it would sink or float?"
Me: "That's a good question. I think Daddy will have a better guess."
Helen: "It will sink."
Connor: "No, I think it would float."

Connor: "How do babies get in your tummy."
Me: "They start out very small - just like all of the seeds we plant in the garden."
Helen: "There is a baby named Helen in my tummy. She is going to be born tonight at 5:30 o'clock."

Helen: "Why do you ask why so much?"
Me: "Oh, I guess I'm just curious. You?"
Helen: "I don't ask why too much."
Me: "I guess this is one of those things we'll have to agree to disagree on."

And then, of course, there would be the constant chorus from Connor of "How do you know?".


PS: The number of lizards found in my backyard now numbers two. Ed and I moved the sandbox on Sunday and a critter - originally identified as a tiny snake by Ed - skittered away. It was in that skittering that we realized it was a lizard, which is a lot less gross than a snake, in my book.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

DCMM: Rules of the Road

I commuted by bike from Arlington to DC almost daily for work through my 8th month of pregnancy with my older son. And I only stopped biking then because it was mid-July and the temps were busting 100, requiring me to stop and drink what felt like gallons of water and take breaks to the point that it no longer seemed an efficient way to travel. As a daily commuter, I learned the rules of the bike trail well--especially those in effect during rush hour, and even now, when I only recently began commuting via bike again (almost 5 years later!), I remember them. In case you're new to our extensive network of local trails, or wondering why some biker is cursing you with your stroller, I thought I'd fill you in.

Stay to the right, unless you are passing.

Signal that you are passing to whomever you are passing (and I assure you, adding 25 pounds of pregnant belly weight can make for a very fast downhill ride, as your husband trails you wondering why the heck you are all of a sudden a much faster morning rider than he is).

If you are being passed, a courtesy wave to the person trying to pass is a nice gesture of recognition, as is a further scootch to the right of the path.

Never, under any circumstances, be confused that your ride/walk includes a leisurely chat with your riding/walking partner. You have exactly one goal - to get to work in one piece. And if that's not your goal, know that it is the goal of others.

A recent trip to Key West reminded me that old habits die hard. My husband and I opted to leave the car seats at home, and instead rent bikes with child seats as our primary means of transportation. Key West is perfect for this, because a nice, wide bike trail circles the island and the cars drive carefully, watching out for erratic tourists on bikes. The downside is (and we run into this whenever we bring our bikes to Chincoteague or any other tourist destination as well) is that the trail is loaded with tourists, rather than commuters. This means that people often ride in pairs, side-by-side. As my husband and I close in on an unsuspecting cyclist, needing to pass, we shout the customary DC bike signal "on your left", and usually get either no response, or the person already crossing the center line veers even further to the left trying to hear what we said. At best, it's annoying. At worst, it's dangerous.

As summer approaches, I can't help but be reminded that the occasional mom will take advantage of the mid-morning break from the heat and find herself pushing a jogging stroller on the bike trail, often with Ipod in ears. At some point, she might reach around the stroller to insert a dislodged paci or offer a sippy cup. And when she does, I'll have the same feeling as I do in Key West.

Move to the right. It works best for everyone. I'll be sure to extend my thanks, when I pass you.

When not running people off the road as she rushes into work on her bike, Elaine blogs about her two children at Connor and Helen Grow Up!

This is an original DCMetroMoms blog post.

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Posted by ElaineMM on April 14, 2010 at 05:00 AM in Elaine | Permalink

Biking in DC, Comments

Thrift Store Mama said...
Very funny post ! Although I'm not a frequent bike rider now, I used to be a weekend bike rider, and loved calling out "on your left !"
Reply April 14, 2010 at 05:34 AM The Lowe said...

Sad to say I hear 'on yer left' more than I say it.
(Great to see you posting here)

Reply April 14, 2010 at 05:54 AM Helen said...
Great post!

Reply April 14, 2010 at 06:05 AM Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
Great post - I am in awe of your biking skilz! My husband rides to work in the summer but it makes me nervous because I have two former co-workers who were nearly killed commuting on bikes. Both were riding in the street which is what he has to do too for part of the ride. Car commuters totally don't look out for bikes.

Your rules remind me of something I wish was also posted on Metro for the inevitable tourist vs. commuter conflicts... blocking the doors, standing on the left side of the escalator... I feel a post coming on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank Goodness We Have that Extra Seat

It was just a normal day, driving around town. Me, Connor, Helen, and a monkey. For all concerned, the monkey was buckled in just in case a curious passer-by became startled and ran into us. Thankfully, that did not happen.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Carousel Ride of the Season

Spring arrived a few weeks ago here, and with that came the first trip down to the mall to hit the Air and Space Museum (because Connor and I cannot debate enough about which objects hanging from the ceiling are airplanes, and which are rockets). I forgot the stroller (error) and as it turned out, could've parked A LOT closer than I did (also an error), but I am a firm believer in taking the first legal spot available within a few blocks of the desired goal, lest I find myself in some sort of DC parking vortex and miss out on the event we wanted to attend.

Connor and Helen had a ball on the carousel. I decided that Helen couldn't quite manage on the carousel with only Connor as her guide, so I rode along as well (that would be the third error). Now I remember that I prefer to meet Ed at the carousel so he can ride the rather speedy carousel and I can avoid getting dizzy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sock Monkeys

My mom knit two giant sock monkeys for Connor and Helen. At first, I don't think they quite knew what to do with them. But lately, Connor insists that he cannot sleep without his sock monkey next to him and he regularly dances with it. For the record, they both have hats, but Helen decided they were hers a long time ago.

Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Better Late Than Never - I Hope - Team WhyMommy's Virtual Science Fair

I have a friend who always wishes he had a pocket physicist. You know, someone you could turn to when a bizarre question about the physical world comes up. But sadly, not a person in our peer group is a physicist.

But recently, I learned that there's a mom in town who is an ASTROPHYSICIST which is surely the title given to really badass physicists. And she's a blogger, and I will forever be jealous that she came up with the pseudonym of WhyMommy, because I wish I were clever enough to come up with any funny pen name, let alone the perfect one.

In any case, about a week ago I got the chance to be a regular contributor to DCMetroMoms. Although I have yet to post, it seems like a fun creative writing challenge. As part of that, I got an email from Stimey who told her story of a friend who has kicked cancer's ass once, and now has to kick it again. That friend, WhyMommy, is the aforementioned astrophysicist and in her honor, a virtual science fair was held.

I'm all about anyone on Earth kicking cancer's butt, but I fell flat on what my science project could be. But yesterday, the day I was supposed to write a post in honor of WhyMommy and science, my science project walked right into Connor's wheelbarrow. Or was mysteriously transported there by Connor or Helen.

As Ed was enjoying the Nats game with friends, Connor, Helen, and I were playing in the backyard. I was continuing my battle with English Ivy -- and might I just boast here that thanks to the bulldozer last year and lots and lots of ripping the crap out, I plan to declare victory sometime in the next six months. Helen was pushing her wheelbarrow around, and Connor was finding trash in the yard and carrying it in his wheelbarrow.

Apparently some item he picked up was home to the lizard featured above.

OK. Stop. Do the math. Three people are home. None of them are Ed. One of them has to deal with the lizard. I do not like surprises, and coupled with the wasps nest Connor and I discovered when he asked me to dislodge an old board from our now defunct pond, and the harmless but still annoying carpenter bees that were buzzing around, I decided I was in over my head.

I called my dad. Why did I choose him? Because he told me lots of stories about a woodpile behind his boyhood home, catching lizards, and watching their tails pop off. Clearly he is the closest think I know to a lizard expert.

I know this particular virtual science fair participant is thinking, holy crap! They're going to disect an animal.

But no, no, no, no, no. There will be no disections. I just needed advice on how to unload the critter without risking injury. I needed to confirm that lizards are not dangerous. I wanted to make sure that if I attempted to move it to a lizard-friendly habitat that I wouldn't get attacked in the process.

My dad's advice? Just dump the wheelbarrow out. It'll be happy to run right out of it.


So here is our science fair entry.

Connor carted the lizard all over the backyard while Helen and I followed, and we talked about where it might like to live. In this sunny spot? Under the wooden boardwalk, in the garden? How about the pile of old wood? After finding a suitable spot (we chose beneath the wooden boardwalk), Connor dumped it out in it's new home.

Of course, by now Connor and Helen practically thought this lizard was a member of the family, so we skipped bath (in honor of science!) and Connor and Helen took turns holding the lizard, driving it around the yard in their battery-powered car, and finally bidding it good night.

And all the while I was thinking, "hey Susan/WhyMommy, I haven't bumped into you at the thrift store like my friend Ellen, but I still hope you kick this cancer's butt! And not just because I hope to send you some of those physics questions that I cannot answer."


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I believe in karma. Send positive energy out into the world and feel it returned. If negative energy comes your way, do everything you can to absorb it rather than choosing to radiate it outward. But sometimes, I now know, life doesn't work this smoothly. It becomes necessary to hogtie karma, kick it in the gut, and then stare it in the eye and remind it that you are owed and "no" is not an acceptable answer.

On Wednesday, when we left for Key West, Connor and Ed departed a couple of hours before Helen and I. These screw-ball flights were necessary because the price of the tickets was steep, and we wanted to use at least one frequent flier ticket to help offset costs. And our available frequent flier ticket was on US Air, which was substantially more expensive than whatever airline Ed and Connor took. Ed and I were clearly feeling lucky about our recent travel experiences with Helen and Connor that had gone quite well - so lucky, in fact, that we decided to take connecting flights, rather than flying direct to Fort Lauderdale or Miami and driving 4+ hours. Connor and Helen both like airplanes and airports a lot more than they like cars, and there are no direct flights into Key West. It seemed like the better option at the time.

When we arrived at Dulles - at the ridiculous hour of 5:00 AM - Connor and Ed trotted off to their plane, while Helen and I dawdled along, knowing we had lots of time. When Helen and I got to the final security checkpoint, there was a young man (mid-twenties?) asking everyone walking by (which is not a lot of people, given the time of day) if they were heading to Continental. He clearly was looking for an escort for his parents who did not speak English. No one seemed near, and the older couple was looking a little nervous, so I told the son that Helen and I would be happy to walk his parents directly to the gate and make sure the gate agent knew they would need assistance. He thanked me profusely, bid his parents farewell, and presumably told them to tail Helen and me.

Helen and I are not the fastest companions, but we are reliable - and at least Helen is quite cute. We managed to guide our companions to the correct gate with lots of smiles, pointing, and some bowing at the end. It was a LOOOONG walk, and of course, we had to backtrack to get to our gate. I was lugging a fair amount of luggage since I had decided not to check a bag--thrifty! On our walk back, several airport workers asked me if I forgot something since they'd already seen Helen and I and our entourage walk past them. "No, no I did not forget something. TSA needs to figure out what to do when people need an escort, instead of counting on people like me to escort non-English speaking passengers through this maze of an airport." At which point, they would uniformly look embarrassed because that man pointing to the train? He could've offered to help me out. And that woman who appeared to just be walking around making sure everything was OK? She could've asked if we needed help...when we actually needed help!

But, whatever, we made it. They made it. Good deed performed, a seemingly excellent way to start a vacation.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I received a call from USAir telling me my flight had been delayed by 1.5 hours. Some quick math on my part proved that this would cause Helen and me to miss our connection. So I called USAir. And do you know what they offered me? They told me I could get out of Key West the following day at 4:40. Or, I could take my chances and get to Charlotte and hope that something was delayed there, and if not, they could get me out the following day.

In my most composed voice, I started in by saying "Sandy" (the person with whom I was speaking) "this is a USAir problem, and you are making it my problem, and that is not fair. Are you seriously suggesting that I should risk spending the night in an airport with my two year old daughter? You have got to be kidding me."

And this is when Ed announced to Connor and Helen that it was time to go get juice and have breakfast by the pool, because he has seen this conversation before, and it never goes well. Never.

Why yes, indeed, that is exactly what Sandy was suggesting. She would neither guarantee me a hotel room, or even reasonable transportation out Monday morning. She kept repeating that there was nothing available.

"Oh yes, Sandy, yes there is. You can solve this problem for me. Please help me. I cannot miss work tomorrow and I cannot spend an extra day in Key West with only one of my children while the other one flies home with his dad. Put me on another airline."

After being put on hold, Sandy told me that there appeared to be no other flights available, at which point, I decided to remind karma that I was owed, and the bill was due right now. The best thing Sandy could do was get me to Richmond. Unfortunately, I am not geographically inclined, so I had no idea how far that was from Arlington. I pulled out my laptop, and decided to see if I could get a car from Richmond to Arlington. But before I did that, I checked kayak one last time and lo and behold, USAir was selling flights later in the day, and Delta had a flight that was a bit more than half of what I paid for my current flight. I informed Sandy exactly what flights were acceptable, giving her many alternate itineraries. And voila, Helen and I were booked on a perfectly reasonable Delta itinerary.

To get from point A to point B was far from pretty. I cried, I begged, I pleaded. Ed would've given up long before me had he been in an identical situation. But I knew karma would come through, even if I did have to punch her in the gut and remind her I was owed!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Being Sweet Points

I don't know what it is about my family and gifts from Ed's family and leaving them in the airport, but it happened again. This time, Ed was hoping to get lucky on his flight back from Key West with Connor. The second leg of their three leg flight was nearly sold out, so Ed volunteered to be put on an alternate flight, which conveniently would've made their 3 leg trip a 2 leg trip. In the process, Connor's blue bunny that he received from Grandma Lynn a few days earlier got left at the desk. And, naturally, Ed and Connor didn't end up getting bumped, and just as the plane pulled away from the gate, Connor remembered the bunny.

When they arrived at their next location, Connor purchased a new item and after doing that, called me. He told me his story, and then he wanted to talk to Helen. He repeated his story to her and she responded with the following two sentences:

"That's OK if you lost your blue bunny, Connor. You can share my pink bunny with me!"

And that is why Helen is quite possibly the sweetest child on earth some days.