Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back from Vacation

Greetings to all! Long time, no typing. I didn't figure that summer would be this hectic with two small children, neither of whom are in any type of sports or other extra-curriculars (save A's therapies). Alas, I was sadly mistaken. We've been busy, busy, busy!

Between church activities, potty training adventures, keeping my daughter off the dining room table and counters, and going on vacation, I haven't had time to check my own e-mail more than a couple of times in the last month. (As a side note, it is disgusting the amount of pure junk mail that accumulates during that time, and you have to fight the urge to just delete the whole mess instead of weeding through and sifting out the important missives from the detritus).

We went to Florida to see Z's family, then up to Georgia where my parents are currently stationed, spending about a week at each location. It was exhausting, great to see family, and wonderful to be back at our home when it was all over. Driving nearly a thousand miles one way ~ and all at once ~ can really try one's mental state, especially when you have a teething 16-month old in the back seat. We left at 3 a.m. with the intention of stopping after we went through Atlanta. A friend of ours graciously let us borrow her portable DVD player for the trip. We saved it for the afternoon, after lunch and naps and after the books, singing Itsy Bitsy Spider ad nauseum, and playing with toys had all lost their appeal; however, at 2:30 in the afternoon when we switched it on it DIDN'T WORK. We fiddled with it for a half hour; still nothing. I called the owner to see if there was something special you had to do to it to get it to work, but apparently not. The thing was just old. Apparently the last person who tried to use it had had some problems, too. (Hindsight is 20/20; we should have checked it out BEFORE we left...). It was at this point that Z decided to just press on and drive the last five hours instead of stopping. There was no way we were going to get the kids in the car again for another long day of driving, not with K already screaming her head off. So we grimly pressed on. A was superb; he was an angel, not one fit the entire trip. In contrast, K's voice was pretty much gone the next day.

The kids enjoyed running around like maniacs with their 6 others cousins. I loved that my kids could play with all their cousins from the H-- side (in contrast, they're the only grand kids on my side). Six of the eight cousins are A's age and younger. Ad-- is two years older, and S-- is Z's brother's wife's daughter from a previous relationship (say that ten times fast!); she's eight. The kids had the best time, and literally fell into bed every night after a day of very hard play. A actually did very well with all the mayhem, he only sought a quiet place a couple of times the entire week. His cousin Ad-- (who is five) didn't understand why A did some of the things he did and why he still needed to be in diapers when her own younger brother who was two was already potty trained. We explained that he needed some help with some things and that he didn't talk much, but he could understand you (her). That was all she needed; the rest of the time, she was grabbing his hand to go play somewhere, or trying to help him go potty (we did stop the last activity early in the game).

K had such a huge grin most of the Florida week, Z and I thought her little head would just split in half if it got any bigger. She is such a social creature; the more people around, the better. She's also a fast learner. Two of her cousins have the art of the temper tantrum and getting their way down pat. K has since tried to do the same with us and has been disappointed with the results. Tantrums are not tolerated at our house, and they most certainly don't get what they want if they throw one. She has stopped throwing them after a week or so. Did I mention she was a fast learner? :)

They had a great time at my parents' too, even though there weren't any other kids running around. My parents got one of those big inflatable pools that's 6x10 feet for the kids to splash in, and that was a blessing. The temperatures were over 100 degrees the entire two weeks we were down in the South, and the heat index hovered between 112 and 117. Yuck. We'd been having temps right at 100 degrees most of the summer here with some humidity, but we lack the intensity of the humidity rising off the Gulf. It's amazing what a difference that makes! A is a little fish, he was swooping down in the water and pushing himself along. The only thing he won't do is put his face in the water, though. He freaks. We still have to be careful when we wash his hair so we don't get water in his face.

Oh, and I have to tell the fire ant story.

We were in my parents' back yard, and the house they're renting has this nice, plush Bermuda grass. It's tall, even after the lawn service cuts it. This is bad, because it makes it harder to see the fire ant hills unless they are really tall. We don't have such things in Maryland, so K had no idea they weren't normal ants, and I haven't lived down there in so long I didn't even think about fire ants. All of a sudden K comes tearing across the yard, screaming, and we thought it was because A took her ball away. Until we saw the ant on her face. And the ones on her arm. And her legs. She had apparently stepped right on a mound, and the ants were mad. We stripped her right there in the yard, diaper and all, and turned the hose on her (which she absolutely hated). She had bites on her face, back, chest, arms, and legs, and they all blistered up. For those unacquainted with the joys of getting a fire ant bite, I will tell you quite frankly that they suck. Fire ants have some sort of acid (sulphuric, I believe) in their saliva that causes their bites to feel like, well, you're on fire. I actually had to drain some of K's bites, because they were getting infected. She also ran a fever for a couple of days, but we couldn't tell if that was from teething (which it very well could have been) or from the sheer number of ant bites she had received. The bites all healed up once we got the acid out, but I think she may have a couple of scars on her arms where they were the worst. I bear a few scars on my feet from my own childhood encounters with these pests, and they're not super obvious unless you look for them, so I don't think she's going to be horribly disfigured or anything like that. They'll be little.

All in all, we had a great time, and we're also really glad to be home. A got excited when we got into our town because he knew where he was and that we were almost back to our house. Our parents blessed us with a car DVD player to take with us on the return trip, so that helped tremendously as a distraction once the kids were done with books and toys (and that Itsy Bitsy Spider) again. What a great invention; I remember car trips when I was a kid, and we were all crammed (and I mean crammed) into a Pontiac station wagon with that nasty plastic "leatherette" seating your legs got sweat-glued to. We played the alphabet game, read books, and sang songs, too, but I think my parents would have killed for a portable movie player on more than one occasion. A total frivolity, but man ain't they great for the driver's sanity.

We're home, we're home, and we've already hit the ground running. Z and I did a four hour concert on Saturday, but we were gone all day (left at 9 a.m. and returned twelve hours later). Then of course Sunday is busy with church, although our small group Bible study was cancelled for the evening. And Z left this morning for a few days; he'll be back at the end of the week. He gets to go crawl around in the mud and shoot at things; oh, goody. We've had steady rain here since Sunday, and it's not supposed to let up until Thursday. Heh. He's going to look like the Swamp Thing when he gets home. He hates this stuff; 18 months and he's out!!! He is NOT re-enlisting.

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