Friday, July 25, 2008

X25 and cooties

Yesterday, we packed up our suitcases and intended to move from my in-laws home, over to my sister-in-law's house, to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday and for us to spend a couple nights over there - to let the cousins build forts and sleep-over, etc. We've been a bit hesitant to invade too much, even though we were invited and felt welcome, because Dennis is so new to their family. Brian and Honor have had plenty of time to play, and have sleepovers, with a changing selection of cousins, at their grandparents house ever since we've arrived. Well, we thought Dennis had a fair amount of good bonding time, and decided to go over to their place and visit the whole bunch at once for a couple days. It didn't work out.
btw - Here are some pictures from the last few days:

We arrived and the kids dispersed to play in all directions. I love how easily they just pick up and go with each other. I had a bit of time to visit with some of my nieces and nephews too. Even Dennis chattered with me and spent some quality time interacting. I am very new to him, but he is such a bright and active boy. We found a box that had a container with markers in it, and he and I played drums and put things in and out of the box. He listened and responded when I told him 'no' (no markers in his mouth). He also responded positively to encouraging words when he put things in the box nicely. He's definitely made himself right at home with his new family and it is a joy to see the interactions!

Christine made an amazing meal - shredded pork tacos, homemade salsa, and rice, followed by a yummy cake (Happy Birthday Dad!). Unfortunately, some evil cootie chose this moment to attack Brian. The only problem with dumping a whole bunch of kids from different environments together - full immersion - is cooties. Someone is bound to have something that the others have not been exposed to yet. Ah well. Maybe it was that evil stomach bug that attacked Julia earlier this year, who knows, but Brian didn't have much appetite, and after dinner, the poor kid was throwing up, pale-faced and chilled. Sigh. We got him cleaned up and calmed down, but he was not a happy camper. I am pretty sure that this is something that Brian would have picked up from one of his cousins because they are the only ones he's played with and we've been here a week or so now... it makes sense and is only to be expected since they have different sets of immunities... so I assume Dennis has already been exposed to everything, I was still worried about keeping an actively sick child near him. We packed up and I took the kids back to my in-laws... disappointing the healthy kids who wanted to play. (Sorry!) At least we could leave Brad there for a bit more pinocle with his brother and family. I brought the kids home on my own.

There's a new Rite Aid pharmacy near the house and we stopped there on the way home for gatorade and motrin. Brian thought he felt better, but he threw-up there too. Thanks to the guys by the freezer who ran over with a bit of cardboard to catch the mess, and the employees. Poor Brian. We finally got home. Got Brian a bit of fluid and Motrin and hopped in bed. I put Honor in my bed, trying to keep her away from the evil cooties, and I slept in Brian's room to keep an eye on him.

I generally prefer a firm mattress, but I guess I've gotten used to the softer ones we've been using on vacation. Sometime in the night I had a dream that we were visiting a friend on a river. When we arrived, we found it to be some decrepit apartment on a crowded oil rig thingy. I am sure there was some good reason for this, in my dream, because we didn't turn around and leave. We went aboard and asked for our friend. We were informed that she lived in section X25, and was expecting us. We found section X. Open bays with concrete walls and mats on the floor. Civilians and military people side by side. I dunno - it made sense then. I asked a Marine how to find section X25, and he answered, one level up, where the air mattresses were. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. I didn't find out though. That's when I woke up. My neck was stiff, and Brian was throwing up again.

We survived the night, and Brian seems better this morning, although he's running a slight fever. Hopefully we will be back playing with cousins again soon (and I'll avoid visiting the oil rig again) :-)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Skip to California

(Although I may skip back to Oklahoma :-) !) We arrived in California a few days ago and have been hanging out with some of the cousins at Grandpa and Grandma's house. We were lucky enough to catch some of my husband's cousins and family as they made their separate ways through town too - GREAT TIMING! We've been doing a bit of school shopping and casual visiting since we've been here. We got out to see Christine and the rest of the kids yesterday for dinner and play. Today they had appointments and shopping to do too, and more importantly, they had to prepare for the big homecoming! Head on over to the Ukraine Train to catch up!

I have definitely missed everyone since our last visit, and you can tell the kids have missed each other too.


Brian and Honor have not been bowling before, so before we left Oklahoma, we headed out to the local bowling alley. Brad, my nephew, and my sister enjoy bowling more seriously, so I let them be on one 'team', and the kids and I had the other lane. Great place with computer scoring and automatic (pop-up) bumpers for the kids.

Ready to go!
Nick, hanging out, waiting his turn. Very patient with wild, young cousins.
Brad SHOULD smile. He got TWO turkeys (3 strikes in a row) in one game.
Honor had a hard time swinging that heavy ball, but she never gave up... even when I wished she would. She got tired and frustrated and had a short melt-down. I have to say I've never had to comfort a angry, crying 5yo on a bowling lane, while trying to accurately help aim a 6lb bowl. We worked it out.
Brian did quite well. Some throws definitely benefited from the bumpers, but he threw some very accurately too.
2 Strikes in a row accurate!
Look at that score! (not mine.. don't look at that, look at Brian's)
After bowling, Nick took the kids to the arcade and helped them play a few games. I don't think the kids had been to an arcade before. Thanks Nick!
Cousins at air hockey.


The kids were invited by their cousin, Kira, to attend her Karate class. What a great way to spend some time together!! Both kids were excited to go, although a bit shy about the new people and new techniques. The instructors were awesome though, and made the kids feel very welcome. The interactions, of student to instructor, were different, and the Karate techniques were different from Taekwondo, but similar. Although both are young students (and nervous), they were able to keep up enough to enjoy the experience. Thanks Kira!!

Here are the three cousins during the beginner's class. Kira is a brown belt, but she assisted this class. Brian is supposed to be a blue belt, not green, but, while I managed to get their uniforms in the suitcases, I forgot to pack their belts! I always forget something important - when we traveled to the US with a first stop at Disney one year, we found that I had forgot to pack pants for Honor. We also found that while Disney World sells many many T-shirts, they do not sell pants. Nor does any place in downtown Disney, Orlando. We made do with the pair she wore, the spare in her backpack, and the Minnie Mouse dress we bought her! Comparatively, forgetting the belts this year was minor... Kira loaned the kids her old belts.
After the beginner's class, was an intermediate class. Brian participated, but Honor decided to sit it out and goof off with Aunt Nancy.
Brian works on his blocks and his 'angry face' with the intermediate instructor.
You want me to spar with who?? The instructor paired the cousins up for some practice and Brian wasn't sure what to do!
He tried! and we think he held his own pretty well.
Hope you are enjoying karate camp Kira! We miss you guys already. Thanks (to you and your coaches!) for including your little cousins in class.

It's been awhile...

We landed in Tulsa, and it RAINED. Thunder, lightning, and RAIN! We enjoyed getting rained on. We had several days of cloudy wet days and we enjoyed it. The rest of Oklahoma was probably glad to see the sunny days we shared on the last bit of our visit, but we thought the dampness was refreshing. The cat thought it made for good 'tv' too.
Something else we haven't seen in awhile.. good ol' southern fried food, in the form of Cracker Barrel food. I haven't had Chicken fried chicken in awhile. Haven't had fried okra, turnip greens (with hot sauce of course), or baked apples, corn bread on the side, in awhile either. And SWEET ice tea. Mmm! I couldn't eat this all the time, but it was great to taste it again! The kids enjoyed the store part of the restaurant too.

Ein Sukhna (part 2)

No griping about how slow I am with keeping up on my blog during vacation... this ***IS*** vacation! :-) So slow down and enjoy a couple of videos from our Ein Sukhna trip. I'll catch up with our adventures in a bit.

Videos from the Oriental Show at the Sea Club:

This dancer was very good (sorry about the poor lighting! It was an outdoor show). She also seemed to be having fun, and later, she led the children in the audience in dancing... very sweet.

Who knew that watching a guy spin in circles for 20+ minutes could be so interesting. The Egyptian Tanoura dance is a form of entertainment based on a religious ritual. It's actually very impressive and although I've seen several performances now, I always find it impossible to not be inspired.

Honor got to meet the dancer and try a bit of oriental dancing too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ein Sukhna on July4th

Ok, I am a little slow, but I've been busy being on vacation and enjoying time with family. Finally though, here is a slideshow of pictures from our Ein Sukhna beach trip. We had about an hour or so ride out of Cairo to the coast, and we stayed at a lovely resort, family friendly resort called Stella di Mare for 2 nights over the 4th of July weekend. Except for a couple of jellyfish stings and sunburns, we had a great time with our friends.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Off we go!

Brad had to work on my birthday, and I spent the day packing, cleaning house, and handling all the last minute preparation for our departure (thanks Dave and Vicky for your help!). We tried to have the kids nap during the day, and then have a few hours sleep at night. We had to leave the house late at night (early the next morning) for the airport. We had the fastest ride to the airport ever - I do not know the distance exactly, but it can often take awhile. I think this guy got us there in 20 minutes!

We checked into the Cairo airport very quickly, and made our way to the waiting area. We are constantly impressed how much the airport is changing because everytime we show up, things are different - there's a lot of construction. The children's play area stays the same though and the kids head right over. We had a quiet flight to Frankfurt, and the waiting began...
I think we had about 4 hours to waste. As typical, there was absolutely NO place to sit and wait. Even the restaurants are incredibly sparse, and seating is far below what is needed for the amount of travelers. Frankfurt is otherwise a very nice airport to transit. It functions. Meaning, you fly in, don't get lost/abandoned upon reaching the terminal. Security is efficient. It is clean (for such a busy place). It is modern looking, with nice shops. Our luggage goes through well every time, and everyone on staff there is efficient and friendly. BUT, you'd think such a nice airport could afford some CHAIRS!! There is even plenty of room for them along the multitude of corridors between gates and terminals. Can we take up a collection for chair donations??
We were lucky... we eventually found 2 chairs to sit on. Fortunately, the kids were happy to sit on the floor and color. We eventually got on our next flight, and 9 hours later, made it to Chicago. The kids managed to sleep through most of this flight.

Here's a photo of Brian and Honor next to the plane of a Medal of Honor recipient. We had about 3-4 hours to wait in Chicago as well. Better than too little time and missing our connection, but wow... I was tired!
We finally made it to Tulsa around 1030pm. We deplaned by stairs, and it was RAINING!! We were the only ones who dawdled on the tarmac and got wet! :-)

Found our rental car - a Ford Edge, which is a very comfy car/minivan/whatever. I like it! - and managed to escape from the airport. It wasn't easy. Once we got on the interstate though, we made it to my sister's house - through pouring rain, thunder and lightning. It was great to see the weather. It's storming again today. My sister says they've been having quite enough rain, but I like it anyway.

The kids were happy to see their 'big' cousins again. And the 'big' cousins have been great with the kids. Very patient!! Nick was tackled and tortured - but seems to have survived the ordeal.
Kira attempted to teach Honor to pogo, but Honor is simply not heavy enough to make the spring go!
Later we visited Kira at her new job. Excellent burgers, and even better service :-) How often to you get an enjoyable meal, with lots of hugs and personal attention - outside of home?? Notice the storm clouds in the background? Later there was a rainbow. Probably the first that Honor has ever seen.
A new hat for Brian, not sure if he approves.
Honor likes hers!
My sister has a little statue that our Dad made. Actually, he made the guy, the motorcycle was a model that Brad and I tracked down in the most awesome flea market in South Carolina, possibly the world (The Jockey Lot) - it's the funnest I've ever been too at any rate. The guy is a charicature of our dad was he was a young sailor in California. The bike is an Indian model, the kind of bike he used to have and ride.
We've only just started our visit, but it sure feels good to be here with family again!

Monday, July 7, 2008


... oh, and to me too! Yay! See you really soon! Travel starts in 3 and 1/2 hours... whoooooo!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Who's the baby??

Ramses loves to be carried around. A chance to ride in Honor's baby crib was worth being treated like a babydoll. He tolerated being dragged around the house in the crib, covered in blankets, given a pillow, etc.
Honor talked to Ramses, Ramses talked to Honor.... Mama?
Ramses hopped out when Honor got distracted and ran off to do something else for a bit. I guess he gave up on more rides and went off for a nap some where. Honor demonstrated that she can still, barely, fit in the toy crib. Amazing that this cheap little toy has held up to this kind of abuse for so long - over a year now.

Silly kids

Today was a day filled with silliness and giggles. I don't know what the stimulus was, but the kids had a lot of fun together .. game after game, all day long.