Sunday, December 09, 2012

THREE Years Old!

It's hard to believe that three years ago today I was wondering if these little pains were signs of early labor.  I'd already decided to work from home that day, but couldn't focus. Should I cancel the girls' night I had planned to host that night? Should I send the construction worker finishing a room in our house home (we had planned a homebirth, didn't fancy him being around during labor)? Nah, it was too early. Just under 38 weeks pregnant. Surely this baby wouldn't come now? I'm too busy!  Well, one little boy had other things in mind, and over the next 12 hours or so, we brought him into this world.

And what an amazing kid he has become. Lenaïc is so full of laughter and love. He has a light that shines in his eyes when he smiles. He has a spirit that's irresistible.  He has a sense of empathy that warms my heart.  Often he reminds me of his Uncle Albert, sometimes his Uncle Chris, sometimes Papa, sometimes me. But mostly, he is Lenaïc. The unique, fascinating, wonderful Lenaïc. So full of life.

Our world is a better place because he is in it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ready to Rock N Roll 13.1 Miles

There is something very special about your first time.

I always walk.  My aim is to walk or cycle if I can avoid using the car. That’s one of the advantages of living where we live. Not fully urban, but I can do a lot of errands on foot, including taking the kids to their respective schools.

Every November for the past 4 years, we’ve watched the participants in the San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon and Half Marathon run, walk, or stagger past our street, cheering them on. Every year I think “That would be fun to do.” Except, I’m no runner. I can’t run. I can barely make it a mile when I try. But walking? I can do that. I walk 2-3 miles without even thinking about it. I’ve hiked with a backpack 10+ miles (admittedly, in my younger days).  In May, while walking the kids around, I decided I’d set a goal of walking the San Antonio Half Marathon (13.1miles). I wasn’t entirely convinced I could do it.

I started walking more and more. With the new Museum Reach  of the San Antonio Riverwalk and then the Mission Reach opening, walking in San Antonio was easy. Well, except when it was 90F+ at 8:00am. But, that was useful too….one never knows how warm it’ll be on a November Morning in San Antonio.

Waiting to start
A friend pointed me to a training website.  Though my schedule, Frédéric’s travel and Lenaïc’s  unwillingness to sit in a stroller for more than 45 minutes, I couldn’t stick rigidly to the training schedule. A week before the race I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. My normal pace at 4 miles is about 15:30 per mile (walking!), but I assumed it’d be much slower when I was walking 13.1 miles. I was hoping for close to 3:30, would be ok with 3:45, and was just praying it’d be under the 4 hour limit.

Well, I did it! 13.1 miles walking, 3hours, 19 minutes, 52 seconds.
Just finished and got my medal!

Calling Erin at mile 9.5 to tell her when to bring the kids out 

Walking faster than ever
Looking up at the only "hill", just before mile 13

Breaking into a run
By my GPS watch, I walked 13.32 miles in 3:20:00,
thanks to lots of zig zagging

After crossing the finish line I wanted to jump up and down and cheer. This was way more fun than I expected.  Three days later I’m still on a high. And now I understand why people do it.  It’s an addiction. I’m already planning my next one.

For you runners, I’m a slow poke, but for walking, and my first, I’m pretty proud!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Teaching kids about the Elections

Angelina, in first grade, has spent a lot of time lately learning about the electoral process. The school set up voting booths, discussed the candidates, the kids voted. I think just for President, they didn't go into various other elections, which might have been funny as one of her classmate's dads is up for re-election to the state legislature.

She's been coming home every day talking about the election, asking who we're voting for and why, and just overall very excited. I'm excited for her. It's been fun to see this little person with a big mind learn about the democratic process.

Our school is on a busy street near downtown. Lots of (slowish) traffic. Today, as kids entered school, there were kids with signs saying "Get out the vote!" and similar. All non-partisan, no reference to one campaign or another, just encouraging people to vote.

And even the candidates made a little visit..... that's Angelina with the pink headband, looking down, just to the left of "Mitt."

Whatever happens tonight, we have exercised our right and responsibility to make educated choices for leaders for our country. Many people in many countries don't have such a right.

(And lucky us in Texas, we have early voting so we voted last week)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kids in Motion

If I haven't posted in forever, here is why:

Two kids, constantly in motion, almost always airborne.

I'll catch up soon... 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

World Wanderings....With Kids

In my various world wanderings, I dealt with travel glitches, delays, and the like by telling myself “It’s just all part of the adventure.”

Travelling with two kids, that becomes a little harder. Amazingly, though, the kids dealt with it all better than I. And what did they deal with? A simple 15ish hour trip (including time to the airport, actual flights and layovers) became a 45 hour ordeal.

Day 1
10:00AM – leave home for our 11:55AM flight
11:00AM – attendant announces flight is delayed “but not to worry, no one will miss connections.” (our connection in DC is ~1hr 40 minutes

12:00PM – airplane arrives. Phew. If we board now, we’ll make it. In all my years of travelling, usually when there’s been a delay, the attendants work like crazy to board and move the plane fast to make up lost time.  Nope.  12:30PM and still no sign of movement.

12:40PM – FINALLY we board. Only, the attendant hadn’t a care in the world, as she took FOREVER to board. At least 1 minute for each passenger just scanning the boarding pass. Lucky there weren’t that many passengers or we’d have still been there when the bomb threat was called in and the airport closed. Lucky us, we missed that.

1:00PM – we take off. As Lenaic says “woo-hah!!!”

5:40PM (DC time) – we arrive, gate D10. Phew, our plane leaves at 5:55PM, and it’s at D5. We can make it.  In all my years of international flying, there have been many many times when they’ve held the flight – last flight out for the night, know they have a handful of passengers who will arrive with only minutes to transfer, it’s generally in everyone’s best interest to hold the plane 5-10 minutes to allow them to board.

5:42PM – arrive at gate D5 for our Geneva bound flight. Plane is still there. They’re loading luggage. Passenger doors are closed, no gate agent in sight. Finally find someone who says “Too bad. You missed your flight. You have to go to gate C20 to find another.” We try to argue that the plane is still there. They are still loading luggage!!!! Nope.

So we trudge down to C20, stand in line with about 100 other people in the same boat (multiple missed flights, not all Geneva-bound).  Lenaic  finds a kiosk to run under, playing “keep away” from me.  Thankfully, I was not travelling alone with these two.   Finally talk to someone, after 10 more minutes of searching [by now, it’s about 6:30PM) she says “oh, maybe the plane is still there and I can get them to open the doors.” Too little, too late. Of course it’s gone.  All remaining flights to Europe are full, except a 10PM flight to Manchester, England, which would require 2 stops on the continent and an arrival at 6PM the next day. Or we can wait 24 hours and take our same flight the next day. Kids are tired and grouchy – parents are tired and grouchy.  I tried to tell Angelina about my “adventure” theory. She wasn’t buying it, but to be fair, she didn’t complain much.

After much debate – and a promise from United of hotel and food vouchers, we decide to stay overnight.

On the plus side, our friends Neil and Jen live in DC, we haven’t seen them in awhile, and maybe they’re home.  Hooray, they’re free! So we trudge to our hotel, drink some wine (well, I drink some wine), get some food, and try to enjoy a nice comfy bed. 

Day 2

Met Jen and Neil the next day for lunch and spent some time at the Air and Space Museum. See, we can make lemons out of lemonade.

 3:15PM – make our way back to Dulles Airport for our 5:55PM flight. We had already been there in the morning to check in. Now, the problem with getting moved around on flights: seats. We weren’t seated together. Yes, like anyone is really going to want to sit next to my toddler… Agents could do nothing. So, we head to our gate.

To find that our 5:55PM flight is now delayed until 8pm. Why could it not be delayed the day before?
For a couple of hours, Lenaic runs wild in the airport. Fortunately the terminal is relatively empty.  Not sure if anyone was too bothered, many many people laughed and commented on how cute/funny he was, so we let him. … Of course Angelina has not been sitting still either, but she wasn’t squealing with loud laughter like he was.  I see all the other kids waiting patiently and wonder if they will rub off on Lenaic. Nope. Other way around, soon the other kids waiting join the fray.  (No pictures of this, since we were more focused on chasing them down)
For a short time, we tried to distract them with a movie
Movie didn't last for long before he was ready to run again

7PM – “our” plane arrives. Phew. That means we’ll leave. Nope. Announcement: “All on flight to Geneva, this is not your plane. Your gate has been changed to C4. We do not know when it will leave. We’ll know more at 7:30 or 8:00PM.”  (Interestingly, the Munich bound flight that was at gate C4 was moved to our gate – D7, and it DID leave. For whatever reason, United decided the Munich flight was more important – maybe it had more connecting passengers).

Oh, and our seat assignments were still screwy – we managed to get 2 sets of seats together, so no kid would be left alone, but still far apart. They claimed the  plane was full.

8:00PM – no word.
8:30PM – Announcement: “Still not sure when we’re leaving, they will tell us in 40 minutes.” At this point, it was looking doubtful if we’d fly at all. Problem was, there were other flights to Europe, last one leaving at 10PM. If they don’t tell us until 9:15PM that our flight is cancelled, we ALL (300+passengers) have to walk over to one customer service counter in a different area to get help with reassignments. Yeah, not making any 10pm flight…. At this point, we’re already a day delayed, are we going to be 2 days? Do we spend another day in DC? I had about 24 hours supply of diapers, fortunately a change of clothes for kids and I and my toothbrush. I’d been frugal on diaper changes and thankfully no diaper blowouts. 

Meanwhile, about 20 kids (ages 2 up to about 8) were running wild. Ours were not even the wildest. In my childfree days, I’d have sat in the wine bar with my book and just ordered another glass. Not an option with the kiddos (and Lenaic never had a nap that day…).  Fortunately, most people were understanding – happy laughing kids running wild was much preferred to tired, cranky, screaming kids forced to sit still (after a 4+ hour wait).

9:10PM – We can board. The cheer rocked the airport. We board quickly – tons of free seats (I presume some passengers who would have missed connections had already been rebooked elsewhere). Lucky us, we manage to find 4 seats together without much effort.  People happy to oblige.

10:00PM – plane doors closed. Eventually we taxi. Plane starts its rumbling as we speed up….for 2 seconds, then stop. Yup. Stop. Now, since I’d rather not die in  a plane crash, I won’t begrudge them holding back for maintenance issues. But really, the number of maintenance issues on United flights lately has been more than I’d ever seen. We weren’t the only ones delayed – at least 25% of the flights out of DC that night were delayed due to “maintenance issues.” (We were never told why our original San Antonio flight was delayed).  The pilot does a U-turn. We’re convinced we’re going back to the terminal to de-plane.

10:15PM, pilot lets us know it’s a minor issue. It’ll be fixed. “5 more minutes.”

10:55PM – we take off. All is well, and since I’m writing this the maintenance issues were resolved and we didn’t crash.

Day 3 - 12:30PM – we arrive (our scheduled arrival had been 7:40AM the day before)
 Just 45 hours after we started.

I understand flights get delayed, glitches happen. But UA, an airline with which we travel frequently and have never had any significant problems, was a mess. We have flown all major US carriers and many foreign ones. All have their issues, but overall, UA had been pretty good. Not so since their merger.

 *Staff was rude, with the exception of one person. I know they work hard and deal with a lot of stressed out passengers, but it’s their job.

 *Multiple delayed flights, some with explanation, others not.

 *Poor planning – while I know there’s often a narrow window for flights to depart, holding a plane for 5 minutes for passengers they KNOW will be late due to a late connecting flight makes more sense than rerouting people. At least, that’s what they all used to do.

 *And just general suckiness All in all, though, thanks in large part to the kindness of other passengers and the friendliness of their kids while waiting, Angelina and Lenaic managed it all very well. And we made it to Geneva safely, if late and tired.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lenaïc doesn't like it when Papa leaves for the day

Papa has had to work a lot lately. This happens every day, but today, Sunday, it was particularly traumatic.

It's heartwrenching, but sweet. Since he's fine a few minutes later, I tend to smile more than cry. His excitement when Papa comes home, well, is beyond imagination. Jumping for joy.

That's ok. I'm chopped liver. I'm used to it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

And She's SIX

It often still amazes me. This life we brought into the world, six years ago, shortly before 10pm on July 3.

From her first moments she made her mark on us, and on everyone around us. Every year I relive the joy and excitement and trauma and fear that was her birth. The excitement as I finally realized I was in labor.  The peace and calm throughout labor, until, she decided to stall  (knowing her now, she was probably distracted on her way out of the birth canal...). Then finally, when she made her way out - the relief and joy. And then those hours after, when the NICU team weren't sure she'd survive (even though we never entertained such thoughts). 

In the six years since, our strong and determined baby has blossomed into a strong and determined and beautiful and funny and clever and crazy little girl.

She has this amazing sensitivity that allows her to feel so intensely, so passionately, for all those around her.

She's said before that she couldn't have just one best friend, because that would make her other friends feel bad.

A friend described her, saying, "you feel so full of love when you're with her." And it's true.

You get this sense of a big heart full of love flowing out to fill the space when she's near (except when she's cranky....she is a kid, after all).

Happy 6th Birthday Angelina! The world is a better place because you are in it.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Wild Birthdays!

It's that time of year again. Time to throw a wild party in honor of Angelina's Birthday. Since we have so many parties regularly, I thought we needed to do something to make this party different, more special, that the usual weekly parties.

All week Angelina walked around with her notepad saying "We have so much to do before the party! Where's my list?!" Angelina is a party girl (wonder where she gets that from?). But not only that, she has a big heart and generous soul. A party isn't a party unless she invites EVERYONE. She wants to celebrate with everyone she knows. And so she did.

Angelina was SO excited when friends started arriving. She eventually got into the pool, but then realized she wouldn't be able to appropriately greet all her guests, so she got out to play hostess. Her hostess skills are impressive! In the end, we had 49 kids, ages about 7 months to 13 years. I didn't count the adults, but am guessing about 30. So that's about 80 people in our house. Well, mostly outside our house, even though it was in the high 90sF (lovely a cool compared to how it's been...). 

Don't let this picture fool you, this was taken during the After Party at 7pm
We have a 15ft above ground pool, which at its peak had at least 17 kids.  We also had a couple of kiddie pools set up. A trampoline. A playscape. A playhouse. A sandbox. A kid paradise.

 But to add to the fun, we had a special surprise. Animals. And not just any animals, but exotic animals:

Ball python


and cake......

Lenaïc was sure to join in the fun

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