Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What We've Been Doing - Part Two

If you are joining us late and missed part one, scroll down and read that first. If you've already read it or just don't care, then let's get on with the stories.

Hanging Out In The US

This part of our trip was not so fun. Mostly we went through mail, paid bills and wondered what else we could do to help those in the hospital. We did get to see most of our family which was great. We both come from wonderful families, so seeing them is a treat. The kids were in cousin heaven.

Another bright spot came in the form of a check. We received a tax refund that we had been waiting for. It was deposited right away, but because they are mad with power, the bank put a hold on it. On the very day that the funds were released I had a small but painful accident. I was walking on a completely smooth sidewalk with no obstacles whatsoever in my way, yet this small task proved to be too much for me and I tripped myself. Sadly I happened to be a few feet in front of our parked rental car at the time. After a face plant into the grill of the car I fell onto the asphalt and laid there trying to breath, or speak, or something. Well, I thought I was trying to speak, but Mr. Smith informs me that as I laid there in the parking lot I was swearing like a sailor. This is strange for two reasons. First, I have no memory of that at all and second, I do not swear. Mr. Smith helped me to my feet and started making arrangements to take me to the emergency room. Trust me, I hurt bad enough that I probably should have gone, but instead I grabbed his arm and whispered, "I am not going to the ER! They are not getting that refund check!" Ahhh. Priorities.

A few hours later, when I was fully medicated and had ice on all of the swelling spots, I compared notes with Mr. Smith. Both of us had the same first thought when I fell, "Oh no! Three people for Mr. Smith to visit in the hospital!" I am happy to report, however, that although my face was lopsided and a strange color for the next two weeks, ibuprofen saw me through and no medical attention was needed.

Seeing London

After two weeks in Arizona it was time to head back. Mom and Dad Smith were still in the hospital, but they were both on the mend. Since we always fly through London, we decided to stop there for a few days and see the sights. Our days in London were a lot of fun. The first day was a little rough, though. We made the mistake of thinking we could navigate the underground with all of our luggage and our kids. So dumb. So very, very, dumb.

We made it onto the first train alright and rode for about twenty minutes without killing Dennis The Menace or loosing any bags. Then we went to transfer to our second train. We didn't realize that at this station, the stops were very fast. Our second train pulled in and half of us got on with our bags when the doors started to close. I put my leg through, thinking that the door would just bounce back open, but it just kept trying to close! I wedged my whole body into the door and started to yell for our daughters, Skater Girl and Star On Stage, to get in before the train pulled away. You should have seen the panicked chaos. Luckily, two men were on the platform and saw our struggle. They pulled the doors open and practically tossed the girls and their carry-ons onto the train! Relieved, we all settled in for another leg of our journey. Of course Dennis was a little more bold on this trip and was very excited about the fact that you could stand up and hold a pole while the train was moving. After another 20 minutes our stop was coming up. I grabbed all the kids and threw them off the train while Mr. Smith tossed all of the luggage out. As we were looking at the map to see which train was next, (we had two more to go) I was paged to the office. When you have only been in a country for two hours and they are already paging you, it can't be a good thing.

It turned out that I had left my purse on the last train. We had to take an extra train to go pick up my purse, at which point my kind and brilliant husband walked out of the tube station and hired two taxi's to take us the rest of the way to our hotel. Secure in the knowledge that all of my children were strapped into locked vehicles I leaned back, closed my eyes, and listened to the familiar sounds of Hindi being spoken as our taxi driver in London communicated over the radio with the cab company. What a small world.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What We've Been Doing - Part One

It's been a while. Sorry about that. Here is what we have been doing (hence, the first half of the title).

Making Friends

One Sunday, close to the beginning of June, we went to church and I noticed another American couple attending. Now, you would think that since there are only about 30 people each week in our little congregation I could have made my way over to introduce myself. Nope. Not me. I'm kind of a loser that way. Luckily for me Mr. Smith had fewer kids circling him and has better manners. He met the very nice, very young couple on the left and invited them to lunch...and to stay in our guest room for the next for the next 2 months. This is the part of the story where I started to panic. I silently listed all the things we would have to stop doing, and all of the things we would have to pretend we always did, while we had company. It was an embarrassingly long list. But I got over my hermit ways and created a guest room for Mr. and Mrs. Jones. (Smith and Jones, get it?) Boy am I ever glad I did! What a blessing they turned out to be. Mrs. Jones works everyday with the World Health Organization and in the mornings Mr. Jones is teaching English to children at a local village school.

Mr. Jones and Number One Son got along so well that they were soon roaming the city together during the week. On the weekends the Jones' invited him to roam around the country with them as well. I was so relieved that he finally got to see many of the things he has wanted to see and I didn't have to drag all the rest of the kids around the country. More than the travel services they provide, it has been a lot of fun having Mr. and Mrs. Jones around. Now we are nearing the end of their stay and we are all going to miss them.


Towards the middle of June, Mr. Smith's father back in the US became ill and had to go into the hospital. While he was in the hospital, Mr. Smith's mother had a bad fall (thankfully she has been put back together again) and also went to the hospital. As the Indians would say, "What to do?" Mr. Smith caught the first flight out. Over the next 10 days, while Mr. Smith and his brother were running back and forth between hospital rooms, I rescheduled our trip that was planned for September and encouraged Number One Son to pack his things as he was moving back the the states for good. Panic attack number 2 hit when I realized I was going to have to fly to the other side of the world with 7 kids. Breathe in...breathe out...in...out.

Armed with a well traveled 17 year old and lots of snack food in our carry-ons we set out. The first flight went well, mostly because we slept the whole way. Then came the real test, a seven hour lay over in Heathrow Airport. That's right. Seven hours, seven kids, and seven thousand witnesses to ensure that my kids would choose to do humiliating things that I would be powerless to stop. But what is this? Some beautifully ingenious person (I say person, but I feel certain it was a woman) decided to put play areas in the airport! I don't mean some lame mats thrown around with germ covered broken toys either, this was an actual play area. Dennis The Menace was in his element. He played hard for seven hours straight. At one point a Norwegian family joined us. As fate would have it they had a young boy that was equally as active. Dennis and his Norwegian counterpart had tons of fun with only one small hick-up. Our new young friend brought out a small, squishy, soccer ball and threw it into the ring the two of them were playing in. "Want to play football?" he asked, dreaming of David Beckham. "Yah!" Dennis answered, promptly picking up the ball and firing off a beautiful spiral way over the boys head. Then they just stared at each other. One wondering why his friend would throw the ball, the other wondering why his friend didn't try to catch it. That was the end of the "football" game.

This is running longer than I intended, so I think I will post the rest in a couple of days (hence, the second half of the title).