Monday, December 28, 2009


Before we even get started let me set the record straight. My daughter is wearing pants, she just has them rolled up under the dress. Why? No idea. But don't think I had her walking around with no pants or tights on in mid-December.

She had her last birthday walk at her school. Next year she'll be in kindergarten and I doubt they have birthday walks.

Later that week we had a birthday party at our house to celebrate her first five years. I wanted to keep it small but we failed at that attempt. I thought she would want another princess party this year but after some deliberating she decided that the boys she invited would not like princesses. She concluded that a Dora and Diego party would be perfect for both boys and girls.

Most birthday parties have pizza but I couldn't do that again. I thought quesadillas and nachos would be appropriate for Dora and Diego. Although I'm pretty sure they must live in Brazil since Diego is always in the Amazon. But whatever. I didn't want pizza and I was in the mood for Mexican. I guess I could have done a Brazilian steakhouse theme but I'm not sure if meat on skewers would be safe for five year olds.

My crowning achievement for the day-writing Lily's name in olives in the seven-layer taco dip.

The two leaves in our dining room table come in handy when there are 14 kids.

Even though she did not want a princess party it kind of turned into one. As each girl arrived she ushered them to her room and proceeded to throw a dress over their head. I had no idea she had that many princess dresses but apparently she does. This should explain why most of the girls are wearing dresses over their regular clothes.

Last year, for her princess party, she refused to wear a princess dress. This year, for the Dora and Diego party she was all about the princess dress. I didn't point this out to her but I will keep it in my memory for when she's older and I need to remind her of what she put me through.
"Lily, please bring me my wheel chair."
"Lily, remember your fourth and fifth birthday parties? Remember you threw a temper tantrum when you needed to get dressed as a princess for your party? Remember you dressed as Sleeping Beauty for your Dora and Diego party? Bring me the wheel chair."
Lily and Ella. They have been friends for two and a half years. They'll be going to different schools next year. I'm not sure how well that's going to go over.

Brian and I gave her an indestructible (until Jamison gets his hands on it) digital camera. Brian's iphone was running out of memory with all the pictures she would take.

And then, to make the day even more wonderful Ella's mom took Lily home with her! So while Jamison slept for 3 hours Brian and I did absolutely nothing. We didn't even clean. It was like I got a present on Lily's birthday!

Gingerbread House

Last week Lily made a gingerbread house with some of her friends at school. I was thankful that they did this at school after our failed attempt at home. I started taking pictures of our project but only got this one:

It went downhill after that. Jamison wouldn't stop eating the royal icing (disgusting!) and Lily was jealous that Jamison "got" to eat/steal the icing. Then, when Lily and I were washing our hands Jamie grabbed the gingerbread pieces and proceeded to eat them. They were really beyond repair. Lily was devastated and Jamison claimed to still be hungry, but I was done.

So I was happy when she came out of her classroom with this beauty.

It took her a while but I finally got it out of her that they each did a side and she was responsible for the front side. Just by looking at it I could have figured that out because the other sides did not look like something she would do. Can you see the face she created on the picture above? The yellow candy on top to represent blonde hair and the red candy for a mouth? Blue eyes and a pink nose finish it off. The other sides did not have as much...anal retentive behavior? No, no, I mean attention to detail of course.

As soon as Jamison saw this house he wanted to eat it. I convinced him that if he waited until Christmas Day I would let him eat it then. I figured it would be hard as a rock and there would be no way he could eat it. And then I would laugh maniacally from the other room.

And I was wrong.
I seriously underestimated the strength of his teeth. I knew I was being too strict with their teeth-brushing regimen! No more flouride for my kids!

He's gloating.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Lucky for us our kids have yet to wake up at 5am asking to open presents on Christmas morning. They still slept in until their normal times and Brian and I think that was a great present.

Our Christmas morning tradition starts with the kids looking to see what toys Santa brought them. Santa's gifts aren't wrapped and there are usually only 1 or 2 gifts per child. This year Jamison got a race track with the cars that you shake to get them to race. When they first walked into the room Lily thought it was for her. So odd since she never has asked for a race car.

She then turned around and saw her doll with lots of clothes. Don't ask what she is wearing. She got the skirt as a Christmas Eve gift from my parents and wanted to sleep in it. If it helps her go to bed at night it works for me.

I am sooooo glad the track came with two cars. Now we just have to make the track smaller so it actually fits in their playroom.

After we inspect Santa's gifts we move to the fireplace to look in our stockings.

Santa left Lily a flower ring from Avon. Who knew Santa shopped Avon?

Jamison got a bag o' dinosaurs...which he has done nothing with but left on the floor and we all step/trip over them.

Then we head back to the Christmas tree and everyone opens presents one at a time. Lily is very good at this, Jamison is not. It was torture for him to have to wait his turn.
Thank goodness she got the bathtub swimming mermaid. I was so tired of hearing about this mermaid. She better play with this doll each and every time her bum gets in that bath for all the talking she did about it.

And then came the gift that rocked Jamie's world. It started with the airport shuttle bus that he keeps calling a school bus. It looks nothing like a school bus.

Next followed the 737 Superfly airplane. I love how Lily was so excited for Jamison when he opened the plane. She said - "Jamison! That's just what you wanted!" Jamie: "I know yiwe!" (He pronounces Lily with a "y" and not a "l" for the first syllable and a "w" for the "l" in the second syllable. So cute.)

Notice Brian holding Lily back. He had to physically restrain her since she really wanted to play with the airplane too.

Lily got a fairy making design kit. She did not want to appear pleased with this gift.

Nana and Poppa gave Jamison a frog puppet that ribbit-ed. He decided to take a nap with it that day and I heard ribbits throughout his nap as he moved around in his sleep.

Brian and I exchanged a few gifts and I received a zoom lens for my camera!! I can't wait to use it! Overall it was a good day despite the kids being completely drained by 10am. We had my parents and grandparents over for a nice brunch and went to their place for a ham dinner. Good food and good memories!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oklahoma Part 6 - Return Flight

This post has very little to do with our Oklahoma trip except that it is about our return flight home. Normally, our flights run smoothly and despite a delay or two we arrive at our destination. And then there are experiences like the one we went through on the way home from Oklahoma.

We decided to choose a return flight on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving for two reasons:
1. Mid-week flights are cheaper.
2. Not many people would be traveling the week after Thanksgiving.

The morning of our departure we check online to see if we were on time. Our 10:30am flight to Atlanta was delayed until 11:30 due to weather in Atlanta. Anyone who flies often knows that Atlanta is delayed with a raindrop. Similar to Newark with a snowflake. No big deal. We wait a little more in the hotel room and then drag kids and suitcases to car.

After returning the rental car we arrive to check in to be told that our flight is now delayed until 1:00. Let's do a little math. Our two hour flight to ATL arrives the same minute that our flight to Albany departs. That's a bad sign. Another bad sign - while every other flight in and out of Atlanta is delayed our flight to Albany is still on time.

At this point Brian let's me take over since I love this stuff. He takes the kids very far away from me so I can get down to work. The following is the typical conversation that I go through with any airline (I'm not picking on Delta) but this agent seemed particularly dense.

Katie: Ok, we're going to miss our connection, is there another flight to Albany from Atlanta tonight?

Agent: No, it looks like the next flight to Albany we can get you on is tomorrow at 10:30am. Another option is you can fly to Atlanta today, spend the night, and we can get you on the first flight out to Albany tomorrow morning.

Katie: Well that's an option (ABSOLUTELY NOT! IN NO WAY AM I GOING TO ACCEPT THAT) but can you look for any flights to Albany tonight from Oklahoma City? We don't have to go through Atlanta.

Agent: Oh? You don't want Atlanta? Let me see...

Sidebar - This poor man is going to be destroyed by me. He obviously will need to have his hand held for this whole process since he didn't even bother to look for other airports. Yet - there is a delicate balance here. I cannot lose my temper or show irritation. This man has the power to get my family home.

Agent: Well, the flight through Cincinnati is booked so it looks like we'll have to put you on the flight for tomorrow.

Katie: Haven't you just merged with Northwest? Why don't you check their flights. Anything to Detroit, for example. (I love the Detroit airport. Yes, they also get delays due to snow but it's a nice airport)

Agent: ....blank stare....I might be able to do that.

Sidebar - He can so do that as they just did it for me in Dallas last month. No wonder they have this man working in the Oklahoma City airport. He would be torn to bits in one of the hubs.

Agent: Ok, this is what we have. The only flight to Detroit today leaves at 2:30. You would then have a 4 hour layover in Detroit with an Albany arrival of midnight.

Katie: As long as I get home tonight I'll take it.

We then waiting in the OKC airport for three hours, flew 3 1/2 hours to Detroit, and waited four hours for our 10:20pm departure. So what to do in Detroit with all that time? We road the train for about an hour, walked through the underground tunnel three times (maybe four, that tunnel makes me forget where I am and what I'm doing), watched a water fountain for 30 minutes, and walked the terminals for at least an hour, if not more. And of course, this is the time that I am tackled with morning sickness. All I want to do is curl in bed and I'm walking around an airport. All I can say is - thank goodness Brian was there to manage the kids.

By the time we were ready to board Jamison was so silly tired. He found a work station and made himself at home. Thankfully, we had blah blah (his blanket) with us so he was able to self-soothe.

We even arrived into Albany 20 minutes early! That was still 6 hours later than what we had planned but the point was that we made it home!
This post is dedicated to our friend Lisi who, after 5 days of flight cancellations and numerous hours on hold, was finally able to make it home to Austria for Christmas. Never have I experienced the drama she went through with Delta, USAirways, United, and Lufthansa. and I'm thankful I never will. Unless someone wants me to fly to Austria for Christmas. I'm open for invitations.
If you have any travel drama stories I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oklahoma Part 5 - Hollis

Another reason I was looking forward to our Oklahoma Adventure was that my two college roommates live in Oklahoma. Rachel is a native of Atlanta (Newnan), GA and Misty is a native of Maryland. So the fact that they live in a place like Hollis is a huge stretch for them. Each of them live with their families on separate farms and are house parents for teenage boys for Westview Boys Home.

This is Rachel's house. You think you've seen the middle of no where? You haven't been to Hollis. Their house is 6 miles north of Texas and 3 miles east of Texas (or something like that). Go take a look at a map of the US and put your finger on the most southwestern part of Oklahoma. Yes, that area with no names of towns. There aren't that many.

Barren. Very long shadows.

But there are a few trees. And telephone lines. So there is some breaks in all the flatness.

Since they live on working farms each of them have animals of some sort. I only met the horses. And they were very polite and well mannered.

This horse became my new BFF. I forget it's name. But it loved me.

And while the land around Rachel and Misty is lonely and empty their homes are full of so much love, fun, laughter, and activity. They each have three children of their own plus the teen boys that live with them.

Misty and I were roommates for a short time but we were friends for a while before that. In 1998 Misty, Rachel, and I went to Scotland for six weeks with Harding's International Campaigns. We have enough old jokes and stories to last us a while.
Remember how I said she already has three kids? She recently found out she was pregnant with her fourth!! Go Misty and Jason! But wait! Uh oh.....two days after I left Hollis I got a call from her. She just had her thirteen week appointment to find out that indeed, she would be having her fourth child. AND HER FIFTH. Surprise!

And then there is Rachel. Rachel and I have been friends since our freshman year of college and roommates since we were sophomores. We watched a million episodes of A Wedding Story on TLC together. As she got up at 5am (or earlier!) for her nursing rotations I turned over in my warm bed and went back to sleep.
Group shot! I love these girls so much and I am so glad I was able to see their kids and talk with them about their lives. We were in each other's weddings and have still been able to keep close after being apart for so long. It would have been so much fun to see all our kids playing together since they're all the same age but that's for another trip.
What's nice is that we all have blogs and are on facebook so it's easier to stay in touch. It would help if Rachel would get her rear in gear and make a post since her last post was in OCTOBER.
So after two short days I drove back to Okmulgee to pack up my family and head to Oklahoma City for our flight home. As I drove home I had my camera ready. Driving through Hollis, it looks like there is a dusting of snow on the side. Anyone want to guess what it is? (excuse the dashboard of the car in the picture)

It's cotton! I've never seen cotton collect on the side of the road. That's how much cotton is around that area. I am sure there is a technical name of the facility below but I'll call it - the Cotton Processing Plant. That's a huge pile of cotton!! Part of me wanted to jump in it and wallow around and then another part of me felt like suffocating.
Note to self: when taking pictures from inside a car ROLL THE WINDOW ALL THE WAY DOWN.

About 45 minutes east of Hollis you start to come upon these odd hills. After looking them up apparently they're the Wichita Mountains (sorry I called you hills).

They look like they are just rocks piled on top of each other. Wikipedia explains some geological mumbo jumbo if you want to know how they came to be.

Something I didn't get a chance to photograph were the many casinos I passed. There are Indian reservations all over Oklahoma but I'm not sure if the casinos are on their land or not. Something I am sure of is that there are more casinos in Oklahoma then there are in Las Vegas. (ok, I'm not so sure. It's just a guess).
It was interesting to pass through the Indian reservations. If it weren't for the signs I'd have no idea but some of the ones I drove through were: Comanche, Apache (weren't they warrior nations?), Kickapoo (I don't think they named themselves), Citizen Band of Potawatomi (that's a mouthful but I guess it works for them), Creek, Chickasaw, and Wichita. Demeree and I saw New Moon when we were in Okmulgee and we figured that most people in these areas are Team Jacob.
Rachel & Misty-Thank you so much for inviting me into your homes, feeding me, answering my stupid questions, and letting me sleep in. I miss you guys and there is always an open invite to upstate NY if you can pile your bagillion kids in a large vehicle and drive up here.