Nov 27, 2007

A good read.

A good friend of mine gave me a delightful basket of her favorite books for my birthday. It was so thoughtful and creative and I really appreciated the gift . . . . initially.
These were four of her favorite books, I didn't have to worry if they were good, they were pre-screened and determined to be among the best. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy. I started my first book (a short one since I was going on vacation and not sure how much reading time I could get in). It was good except the main character died in the end and that is always unfortunate. The second one - a disaster. Now, I'm not saying the book was a disaster, MY LIFE became a disaster somewhere around chapter 5.
Let me explain. I don't read like normal people. There are quite a few people in my life who keep a book by the bed and read a few chapters every night. That is just not me. I'm an all or nothing reader. I start a book and initially give it a chapter or two a day but as soon as it gets good say goodbye to me because I'm lost in the pages and just can't draw myself out.
Today was one of those days. I've been chipping away at this book for the past three days and then last night my quick chapter turned into a dozen and I made it to bed sometime around 2am. I got up and got the kids ready for school, out the door and in the car when I remembered I left something in the house . . . MY BOOK! I raced back in, left my cell phone on the table and grabbed my book. I read between dropping Eli and Gabe off for school, I dropped Gabe off and read in the car in the parking lot for 20 minutes, grabbed coffee and read in the car some more, ran some errands, read a little, tried to read while driving, read while Gabriel napped, and then it got ugly. After I had both kids home from school I completely neglected them. They were hungry, needed their booty wiped after going potty, were asking for help with homework, fighting, running naked through the house, you name it they were doing it and I was reading my book. At one point Eli went upstairs to Matt and proclaimed "Dad, Mom is never going to fix us dinner . . . . never ever, she's down there reading a book and it is taking a long time". At that point Matt gave in and made us all dinner. I finished my last chapter. Took a deep breath and promised I wouldn't start a new book for a few days.
I have no self control when it comes to a good read. So I just wonder, how do you do it? How do you read a few chapters, get to a good part and then just tuck the book away for another day? The answers to all your questions are already written and all you have to do is keep turning the page to find out!
I promised I wouldn't get into another book yet, but I did take a peek at which titles remaining in my basket would be the next to make it to the nightstand! There is another short one in there that is looking pretty tasty!

Nov 14, 2007

We made it!

Our space-a journey has come to an end and I can't call it anything other than a complete success! Now, there were some snags along the way, but in the end we made it to and from our destination with minimal delay.
The trip in a nutshell:
October 30: celebrate Riss's birthday in Va, drive 1 hour north toward New Jersey and return home due to misplaced paperwork and canceled flight.
October 31: Matt back to work, kids in school, depart in the late afternoon with plans to overnight in Jersey and catch an early AM flight to McChord. One hour into the journey (very close to the same spot we were in the night before) we find out the am flight changed to a pm flight and proceed as planned. Upon arrival in Jersey, we find out the flight is canceled all together. We settle in at the hotel and pout for an hour or so.
November 1st: drive 30 minutes into Philly to see some sights and eat a real cheesesteak. We head home early to miss traffic and end up causing our own traffic jam when Gabriel has a seizure on I-95 (see posting below for details).
Nov 2: Arrive home from the ER at 3am, get some rest, and leave for Norfolk NAS where we were the only space-a passengers on a flight bound for Whidbey Island, WA. We made it! Tom and Mika picked us up and we headed to their house.
Nov 3: Mika impresses me with her crafting skills at the local Holiday Craft Fair, Matt surprises me with a delicious feast of Round Table for lunch, we hang out for the day and I pass out at 8pm.
Nov 4-6: We drive up to Blaine to visit family.
Nov 7: Stop in Seattle to walk through Pike's and grab some clam chowder and sourdough bread, then on to see April, Trevor and Morgan in Puyallup. We topped off the day with dinner a Mika's parents' house. We feel like we know them since we know Mika so well, but this was a great chance to actually sit down with her family and put faces to all those stories!
Nov 8: We spent the morning with Maureen and her boys William and Lucas in Issaquah. We also had the chance to have lunch with her mom and had a video conference call with her husband Stacey who is currently deployed to Kuwait.
Nov 9-10: We hung out with Mika, Tom, and Madison, and Tom's parents Ken and Cyndi also joined us for a bit too. Tom and Matt played NASCAR at a go cart track, Mika and I did what we do best - shopped, an then Mika's sisters watched all the kids so Tom, Mika, Matt, and I could go on a date. Wee!
Nov 11: Off to Port Orchard to visit Matt's cousin Gabriel (the original) and ended the night in Renton with Tom's parents, his sister and brother-in-law, and Tom and Mika for a lovely Mexican feast followed by a jam session at Jamie's house.
Nov 12: up and out the door around 9am for a noon departure to Dover. No competition at the terminal and we were comfortably seated and in the air without much ado. Upon our arrival to Dover a really nice guy "Mike" gave us a ride to the hotel, where we stayed the night because the car rental company was already closed.
Nov 13-14: We sleep in . . . a lot and then drive down to Va without anything exciting along the way. On Wednesday Matt drove the rental car down to Norfolk to pick up our car, had lunch with Tim, and then drove our car back home.
It was busy and not at all relaxing - but we had a really great time!! We were so blessed to be able to go visit family and friends and our friend's family. We had a great time, made memories to last, and look forward to our next adventure.

Fifteen Minutes

Below is somewhat of a journal entry I wrote on the flight from Norfolk to Whidbey.

Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds, one quarter of an hour, one-onehundreth of a day - not nearly enough time to accomplish much of anything, not even a good nap but when you find yourself in a moment of crisis fifteen minutes is hours, days, an eternity.
I recently experienced the worst fifteen minutes of my life. The date was November 1st, 2007 – my birthday. The place was Baltimore, Maryland – more specifically I-95 around mile marker 20. My family spent the first part of our day in Philadelphia, PA visiting some of our nation’s most treasured and historic sites and were heading back home with hopes of being just ahead of rush hour traffic. The event is etched in my memory forever, it keeps replaying over and over in my head. We were driving along just getting into Baltimore when I noticed Matt look back at Gabriel and then call his name. I immediately turned to see what was going on and caught my first glimpse of Gabriel convulsing. Being the calm, cool, collected person that I am . . . I started screaming hysterically. I think I was yelling at Matt to pull over (which he was already doing) to call 911 (which he would do as soon as we got to the side of the freeway) and yelling Gabriel’s name hoping that my sheer will would pull him out of his current state. Once we were on the side of the road I jumped out of the car and began trying to get Gabriel out of his carseat. As I was struggling with the buckles all I could do was watch as his eyes were rolled back in his head, his lips were turning blue, and his little body was jerking out of control. I pulled him out of the seat and out of the car and just held him as his seizure continued. He was breathing, and with that knowledge came slight relief, even in that moment. His body jerked one last time, his legs went really stiff, and then his whole body went limp. I started crying out to God “Please God, please make him be OK”. Gabriel was listless, unresponsive and unconscious for the next 7 minutes or so. I couldn’t get him to wake up. Matt was trying to direct the ambulance to our specific spot on the freeway, and I just held Gabe begging him to please just say “mommy”. Oh, just to hear his sweet little voice say my name! He never called my name, but he started to moan a little and by the time the ambulance arrived at the scene he was conscious and crying.
He and I traveled by ambulance to the closest hospital and Matt and Eli followed in the car. At the hospital he quickly received IV fluids, antibiotics, a chest x-ray and some blood tests. After a few hours at the hospital in Baltimore, his doctor transferred him to Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C. for further tests. Matt stayed with Gabriel while I took Eli to a good friend’s house so that he could sleep and later I caught up with Matt and Gabriel in D.C. After a short stay at Children’s, Gabriel was released to our care.
His seizure was determined to be caused by fever. As quickly as he went from being a feisty three year old playing in the leaves in Philadelphia to having a seizure he transformed from being a sick little boy to a hungry, playful three year old far too wide awake for it to be 3am.
Matt and I couldn’t stop looking at each other, reliving the incident, and realizing that yes, we did just make it through the most traumatic day of our lives as parents, if not in our entire life.
We wanted Gabriel to sleep with us so that we could check on him throughout the night. Gabriel took Matt’s spot in bed, Matt squeezed over to mine, and I was on the floor. There are other beds in our house that I could have used, but I really preferred to be near Gabe. I watched as Matt held him, looked into his face and said nothing. I don’t know exactly what he was thinking but I’m sure it was something like “I’m so glad you are here.”
It wasn’t the best birthday ever, but I did get a really great gift . . . more time with Gabriel. It could have all been much worse. Watching him in that seizure and the unconsciousness that followed was the longest fifteen minutes of my life.

Nov 4, 2007

Space-A Victory

Space-a means "space available" or "free". I like the free part but with most free things, there are some strings attached. When attempting to fly for free, compliments of the US Airforce or Navy, there are some pretty crazy strings attached.
We don't have any cash flow left for this year designated for travel or vacation but we want to go to Washington and see family and friends we haven't seen in quite awhile. What is one to do? We decided to attempt taking a space-a flight from some base within a 3-4 hour drive from our house to an airbase within the same distance of friends in Washington. Our first attempt date was set at Nov 1st with a plan of only trying until Nov 3rd before giving up the journey.
The challenge in space-a travel is not just whether or not there will be space for us on a particular flight, but finding a flight that is going where we want to go and that flight actually taking off.
Our first attempt ended up being on the 31st but that flight was cancelled when we were about an hour from the house. The second attempt was on Nov 1st and delayed to a later time that day, then cancelled upon our arrival and our final attempt was on Nov 2nd with a success!
We ended up arriving at a location much further than we hoped, about 4 hours from our friend's house BUT we made it. We kept tabs on our expenditures for fast food, gas, snacks, tolls, and hotels during the few days of trying to get a flight and the grand total for four passengers was . . . a whopping $200. Not bad for four one-way tickets.
We tried to stay positive and enjoy the excitement of the journey while we were trying to find our flights. Matt wasn't really confident and was ready to throw in the towel a few times, I was really having a good time - my own private "Amazing Race", and the boys were a little confused but seemed to buy into our "treasure hunt" explanation.
We made the best of our overnight trip to New Jersey and stopped off in Philly to see some sights and eat an original cheesteak sandwich. Yum.
Now that we are here, I am going to enjoy every moment we have with our friends and family and start the hunt for our return a few days before time to go home. If all goes well on the return you can bet we'll be taking our next space-a vacation to Spain!

The Small Group Halloween Party. We had our Halloween party the Monday prior to Halloween. I had every intention of getting pictures of the boys on Halloween, however we started the space-a journey earlier than planned and spent Halloween night passing out candy to people at toll booths along the Jersey Turnpike!