Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tiger visits Gumpa and GumBum!

Tea in the mornings with Gumpa - you know, it's what real men do.

Playing with Gumpa's trucks from when he was a kid... totally awesome.

 Working on the "hitch". Daddy and Gumpa hitched up the trailer to the Jeep and took the Tiger for rides around the neighborhood. Tiger has not stopped talking about it!  Every time he sees a Jeep, he says, "Gumpa's Jeep!".

Going for walk/runs with GumBum! Good way to tire out two people with way too much energy!

Long chats with the "bebe" (Auntie Jessica's doll). Tiger cared for that baby with devotion and affection... so cute!

Swimming in the saline pool... one of the best parts of the whole trip!

Little Brown Bear, how I love you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Cook in our Midst

The Tiger is abound(c)ing with talent and yesterday he really outdid us all by making a DELICIOUS cheesecake! He did all the measuring, mixing, sampling, and pouring himself (with a teeny bit of help from Mommy). He waited anxiously for it to cook, periodically checking on it. And today he had it for breakfast and lunch! His recipe is below.

Crust: 1 cup oats ground into flour, 1.5 cups almonds ground into flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 6 Tablespoons butter melted. Mix thoroughly and place in bottom of cheesecake pan (Madigan highly suggests patting with your palm, then licking your palm, then patting again). Make sure to sample all the ingredients before mixing because it's just better that way.

Filling: 4 packages of cream cheese, softened. 3 eggs. 1 teaspoon vanilla. 3/4 cup honey. 2 Tablespoons flour. 1 cup sour cream. Mix ingredients thoroughly (sampling periodically) until fluffy and creamy. Sample again. Pour onto crust. Sample again. Maybe a few times. Have Mommy put into oven to bake at 350 degrees for70 minutes. Then, place in fridge until cool and eat for every possible meal.

If you don't believe in hell...

then you should consider flying with infants.

Nashville to Atlanta (for 1.5 hour layover): 
7:00am flight. Security a breeze. Both babies pretty well behaved for 1 hour flight. Parents feeling (falsely) confident about the remainder of the journey.

Atlanta to Phoenix: (4 hour flight)
Manage to fold down the double stroller, get Madigan on his feet, Declan into my arms while Daddy's hands remain completely tied up with carseat, carry-on suitcase and diaper bag (yeah, he's a super-Dad). Daddy had been thoughtful enough to get me a milkshake before boarding the plane. So, with Declan and bottle of milk in one hand, milkshake in the other, I prepare to enter the plane, requesting for Madigan to follow behind me. When he panics about crossing the "opening" between the plane and the gate, I quickly re-maneuver the milkshake to the Declan/bottle hand so that I can hold Madigan's hand with the other. Upon entering the plane, Declan dramatically removes the straw from milkshake and showers the front row of first class seating. As we make our way SLOWLY down the aisle to the very back row, a kind gentleman starts talking to Declan, playing with his toes and fingers. Declan unabashedly reaches for the man's glasses and removes them from his face. I wrangle the milkshake-smudged glasses from Declan's grasp and return them apologetically and we make our way successfully to our seats. Declan immediately starts wailing and throwing himself about like a wild man, hitting his head on the seat in front of us, the window next to us, or his brother's carseat - planes aren't known for their roomy quarters. Once in the air, Daddy stands up in the back of the plane and rocks D for 1 hour until he finally falls asleep, much to our relief. The sweet respite lasts 15 minutes, when the captain comes on with an announcement, forever breaking the reverie. Daddy, again, stands up and rocks D for another 2 hours. The wee tike never manages to fall back to sleep, but he certainly succeeds in giving Daddy a thorough workout.

The following day, Declan came down with a severe case of Roseola and was sick for 5+ days with a high fever and rash.

Return To Nashville (1 week later)
Phoenix to Minneapolis (4 hour flight. 3.5 hour layover)
Daddy can't find his wallet so we race to the airport to "reason" with the TSA agents to let us through. We are providentially assigned a very kind agent who accepts various forms of ID I have in my wallet for Kris, like insurance cards. We prepare to board our plane and are again assigned to the very back row (family seating). The obvious advantage is that the screaming from our row only affects the 10 rows directly in front of us, rather than the entire plane. The disadvantage is that there are no windows on our row, making it unsuitable for the claustrophobic. Declan fusses for the first 1.5 hours, but then finally lays his head on my shoulder and through various bouts of screaming, falls asleep. The Tiger gets unleashed... we're not sure how it happened, but somebody definitely didn't tame that Tiger before starting this journey. He tries every naughty behavior he can conjure up, knowing that there is really nothing we can do. He uses his loudest voice to make demands, smacks at Declan, kicks the seat in front of him, opens, shuts and re-opens the tray attached to the seatback, claws at Daddy to get him out of the carseat, cries about every missed opportunity to get his way, tosses his milk bottle, and manipulates his weary parents into exhaustion. I briefly think to myself, "how sad that someone would allow their child to be that ill-behaved." Somehow, it makes my own reality less personally aggravating. We finally land and almost relish the thought of a 3.5 hour break before our next flight.

Minneapolis to Nashville (2 hour flight)
It is now 8:00pm - bedtime. We board the commuter plane which is so small that I cannot even stand up straight in it. There are 2 seats on each side which means that Daddy and I have to sit separately; Daddy with the Tiger, Mommy with the Brown Bear. The plane is, of course, completely full and I realize with despair as we enter, that we are in the very middle row, meaning that our wailing will affect every tired passenger aboard. Declan's screaming begins before we even enter the runway. The best part is that we are assigned the seat directly behind the man with Turrets Syndrome (no, he didn't actually have TS, but you get the picture) who says many encouraging things throughout the flight, including: "I cannot believe this." "Oh my gosh, make it stop." "Somebody shoot that baby." "Is this for real?" "I need to get drunk." "This is intolerable." I'm not sure if I was more frustrated with him or the howling tyrant in my arms. A massive poop happens upon takeoff, so I hop up to change D's diaper in the miniature bathroom as soon as possible. Sitting on the miniature toilet seat, baby in lap, I desperately try to keep the little cherub from falling onto the floor or turning on the faucet with his foot. The Brown Bear lets loose and throws his head forward, hitting me square in the nose, creating an immediate gush of blood. I manage to place a clean diaper on him, dry up my nose and squeeze out of the bathroom and back into my seat where Declan resumes throwing himself around, alternating between 2 seconds leaning against my shoulder with thumb in mouth, to 10 seconds flailing about with blood-curdling cries of absolute frustration and exhaustion. Sleeping is not an option. Period. Upon our arrival into Nashville at 10pm, I canter off the plane with both boys in tow and wait for Daddy who is picking up the stroller which we had checked on at the gate. Once out of the sight of others, in the empty terminal, I sob for several minutes. Somehow, it makes me feel much better. One very kind elderly couple approaches me (not realizing that I'm crying) and tells me that they think we did a wonderful job and assure me that their own children have horror stories to top mine and that Declan is "perfectly normal" for a baby weary from travel and exhausted from lack of sleep. This might be the first smile for me this day.

Before you think I'm banning all future travel for this family, I am pleased to report that the trip was a success despite the travel drama, however. Being able to spend time with Gum-bum (Grandma) and Gumpa (Grandpa), Buni (Auntie Jessica) and Ankie Tae (Auntie K) was wonderful and healing. Having the opportunity to be present for Grandpa's memorial service was worth it all.

We have, however, dedicated Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week solely to recovery (of our stamina, wits, courage, sleep). We've been sipping on hot tea, baking cheesecakes, spending lots of time at the barn and taking naps around here. :-)

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Life to be Treasured

As I sit here reflecting upon the man that was my Grandfather, there are so many things that I remember which deserve to be noted. I will resign myself to list just a few for now. To put it simply, he was one of the greatest men I have ever known. 

Grandma and Grandpa would come visit us often when we lived in the mountains of Arizona. In the mornings, over coffee/tea, they would sit down and tell me stories of their lives, for hours. All I had to do was ask a question and one of them would give an answer, with the other one clarifying and adding to the story with their own details. Their accounts of the WWII era were unique from one another, since they spent so much of their married life apart, with Grandpa overseas fighting for the America we know and love, and Grandma putting her life into the war effort here on the home front. They remembered incredible details of places, people, events, objects of their time period, feelings they had. Grandpa had an acute memory for detail and he could paint pictures with words. Their combined recollections of life were more significant, consistent and complete than any other history I learned from books. I will be forever grateful for their willingness to talk about their lives so openly. It changed my life forever.

Grandpa was convinced that he was married to the most lovely woman in all the world and I think few would have argued with him. She was absolutely the love of his life. He would tell her how wonderful she looked, sometimes even to her irritation. I loved to watch him love her.

Grandpa was incredibly observant. He loved the outdoors and things in nature and he would notice details in the things that God created. He had one of the sharpest minds I have ever known and it instilled in him a passion for so many things.

When Dad adopted us as his own children (we were approximately 5 years old when Mom and Dad married), Grandpa and Grandma adopted us as their own grandchildren. There was never a doubt in our minds about how much they loved us or cherished us as their own. I marvel at their ability to love other people so completely.

Grandpa, you are greatly missed... thank you for leaving behind the legacy of your life and your faith.