Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Adventures 2009

What a Christmas this was. After a week in Panama, we were home for 4 days before getting in the car to head up to Ohio to see my brother Mark, and then on to Michigan to visit Josh's family. The day we were scheduled to leave my parents (Zibah and Deeda) came over early in the morning, clad in their Christmas PJs to celebrate an early Christmas morning together. We had a wonderful time making sweet rolls, opening presents, and laying around. Zibah and Deeda stayed to watch the Grinch Stole Christmas with Dean and I before heading home.

Our plan was to leave the Friday before Christmas by 4pm and drive to Columbus, OH where Mark and his girlfriend Veronica live. We were going to spend the weekend with them before going up to Michigan for the week. We left right at 4pm, about an hour after the snow began to fall in Raleigh. Being the confident northerners that we were, we tsk-tsked the warnings of others and headed on our way. After an hour the traffic slowed and then thinned. While this normally would have been welcome (the thinning, not the slowing), we quickly discovered why all the hype about snow in the Carolinas. North Carolina has exactly 2 snow plows and both were obviously on vacation in Florida or somewhere equally far away...or at least that's what one would believe if they lived here during a snow storm. The roads went from dusted to impassable by the time we reached Winston-Salem, approximately 2 hours from our front door. We were forced to retreat to a Best Western for the night. Luckily we found a KFC nearby that had made few sandwiches several days before and offered it to us at a bargain price. We hunkered down in our room with our 14 month old son, and enjoyed the sounds of cable TV and a heater. Actually we had a nice night together. Dean was in an amiable mood and had fun flooding the bathroom then snuggling up with us on the bed. After a nice night's rest, we packed up our items and headed back out the the car only to discover that the plows had cleared the roads, but plowed us into the parking lot. Josh's superior skill and my amazing little mazda forced their way through the 6 foot high snow pile and out onto the road as the other lodgers looked on with envy. We were on our way again!

Since the 2 plows made it to NC, but obviously got tired and went back home, only part of the roads were clear, making driving quite slow. The weather was beautiful and we had had plenty of sleep so we trudged on anyway. After 5 hours, we had gone somewhere around 90 miles. Josh decided it must be my driving and took his turn behind the wheel. After a short doze, I awoke to Josh laughing and weaving in the man-made lanes around the pile-ups of cars and ice from the night before. It was like taking a boat around small islands. 2 hours later we were stopped dead in our tracks on I-77. After an hour or so we heard from another driver that the highway (a turnpike at that point) had been closed down and would remain so for the rest of the night. The National guard was said to be coming around with food, water, and gas. Stranded on the highway, in 20 degree weather, with a 1 year old. Oh Boy!

Lucky for us, this Mama was prepared for anything. I had managed to pack just about everything we owned into our station wagon for our trip to MI. We had blankets, pillows, 5 years worth of clothes, bags of food, and a jug of water. Not to mention a full tank of gas (since we hadn't traveled very far that day) and a laptop with car charger. After a lovely dinner of cereal bars, cheese sticks, and crackers we pulled out the bedding and set up our little 2x2 beds for the night. Dean did quite amazingly through all of this. He loves to play in the car and we gave him free reign. He emptied every container and refilled it, crawled from the tailgate to the steering wheel about 500 times, and went on 2 walks with Josh down the highway to watch the dogs and other kids playing in the snow. Right at 7pm though he seemed to know it was time for bed and began his nightly routine. After some struggle and some milk (thank goodness we had that too), he snuggled in the backseat with me to watch Baby Einstein on the laptop.

Around 10:30pm the brakelights suddenly started coming on and cars began to roar to life. After 7 hours of no movement we began to move! Around 2:00am we found a hotel with a room and all fell into bed together. I don't know how some parents do it, but I can not sleep with my son in the bed. Maybe it's that he is a particularly noisy and active sleeper, or maybe it's the fear of crushing him, I don't know. I slept around 1 hour or so when Dean woke right up, ready to start the day. To his defense, he had just gotten a full night's sleep. We gathered our few belongings again and crammed ourselves back into our car, which was beginning to look like a bag lady's cart. My nice order and planning had turned into a trash head and chaos.

At 11am Sunday we pulled into Mark's apartment complex, just in time to have a short lunch with veronica before she headed to her parent's house for Christmas break. So much for our nice long weekend with them. After 3 days in the car, we were ready to be at our end destination and didn't stay long ourselves. We saw the bright light at the end of the tunnel (a.k.a. the babysitters at Grammy's house that would take Dean in the morning and let us sleep in) and made our way to Onsted, MI that night. Our journey was over!

We spent the next week lounging and visiting, playing cards and eating, opening presents and laughing. What an adventure to tell. One for the books! I hope everyone had a memorable Christmas, but maybe not quite as memorable as ours! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Dean's most popular saying right now is "Dis" (This). He uses it as a question ("what is dis"), a statement (when he wants something), and an exclamation (when he's mad). I think I hear it about 500 times a day. He's very into sorting things and emptying containers. He takes each item, one-by-one, and hands them to me saying "dis" with each one.

While we were on our way home from Panama we had a few hours to kill in the Miami airport and the only place to eat with tables was a cuban cafeteria. After standing in line for 20 minutes getting yelled at in Spanish, Josh returned to our table defeated and pissed off with a tray full of god knows what. The receipt said fried liver was one of the items. We proceeded to attempt to swallow some of the food and get Dean to do the same. With each bite he'd take the food out of his mouth, saying "Guck!" (yuck) with disgust. After 5 or 6 bites he leaned across the table, pointed at the tray of "food" and yelled, "Dis Guck!" A GREAT first phrase, if I do say so. Needless to say, don't eat at La Cateretta in the Miami airport. Dean's review was very negative.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gringo in Panama

We went to Panama a week ago to visit my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and 4-week old nephew, Noah. Dean's first international travel and he was the hit of the country - no exaggeration. Every Panamian that we saw was completely taken by him. I think it was his bright white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes...and maybe the fact that he is like half their size already. Every where we went he had a crowd around him.

We had a great trip. It began with our first flight being a 2-hour wrestling match with a one-year old. We were on one of those planes where there are 3 seats in a row, and we had 2 of them, with 3 of us. While it's "free" for a kid under 2 to fly (they sit on their parents laps) we are realizing that we are about at the end of the time where we can take advantage of this -- he is too big and too strong. By the time we got to Miami we were exhausted, bruised, and bleeding...ok, maybe not bleeding. Luckily, he passed out for the majority of the second flight.

We arrived in Panama to find out that 2 of our pieces of luggage were lost, but spent 2 hours waiting in line to report it. We finally got to Zach and Lauren's house at 11:30pm. Noah was kind enough to offer up his bed since our pack-n-play was one of the pieces of luggage lost. He slept in his bouncey seat for 2 nights - what a guy.

Poor Dean got a cold the first day and had ropes of boogers hanging down his face for the first half of the week and then a nasty cough, but through it all he was in a great mood. He seemed so interested in his new cousin, especially his feet. He was fascinated by those tiny little toes. We did get a glimpse into what it will be like when our second comes along. Dean seemed to have a little jealousy. He wanted all the toys, he didn't want Noah to sit in the bouncy seat he wanted to sit in it, he wanted to be held whenever Noah was held...but all in all he was great with him.

Lucky for me, it was Mother's Day while we were there. Zach, Josh, Noah, and Dean took Lauren and I out for a walk in the rainforest and out to lunch on the canal. We tried to get Dean to ride in the backpack so we could go on a real hike, but he was having nothing of it, so we were quite a sight in our skirts with our big Graco strollers hiking through the rain forest. After our hike we went to this great outdoor place on the canal and had a WONDERFUL lunch watching the boats go by. Noah did what he does best...he slept. We called it the Noah Coma while we were there. That kid can sleep!

Josh turned 33 while we were there. We had a day of fun for him. He and Zach went in to Zach's office to meet everyone. Then we all went bowling. Josh was too good so we made him hold Dean the whole time which Dean thought was hilarious. Good fun. That night we got a babysitter and went out for dinner and drinks. We brought Noah with us, but he was almost like a carry-on. He fell asleep before we left and didn't wake up until the way home!

The week seemed to fly by. Noah had some big milestones while we were there. He gained what seemed like 2 pounds, started tracking things with his eyes, smiling even when he didn't have gas, took his first real bath, and took his first bottle. It was fun to relive some of those moments from Dean and think forward to what it will be like with our next kids (not quite yet).