Back from the eastern lands
We left on the 19th on the red-eye to Newark. The kids enjoy flying a lot, so we didn't think it would be that big a problem. We hadn't flown with Mia in a long time, so we weren't sure what we were going to do with her wheelchair. We also had two car seats to put on the plane. I wasn't sure if they needed them, but Krys insisted that Norah, at least, would. They let us on the plane first to set up the car seats, which was nice of them. Krys got Norah into her seat okay, but Mia didn't fit. She's kind of long, and her legs just weren't getting there. So we checked the car seat and let her sit on her own. Krys sat in between them and helped Mia sit up until Demon Child #1 decided to rest her head on Krys's lap and fall asleep. Norah, meanwhile, loves flying, so it was good that she was sitting next to the window. She liked taking off and landing and looking at all the "pretty lights" on the ground. She also slept a little, so that was nice.
We landed at Newark at about 6 in the morning, meaning it was about 3 a.m. for us. My parents drove up to meet us, and we decided to split up to get back to their house. My mom and dad have a very nice house with a huge backyard, and Norah ran out into the yard soon after we got there. We weren't sure if she would ever want to leave! They took a nice long nap on Friday and got to bed somewhat early (it stays light much later in Pennsylvania than Arizona, so it was tough getting them to bed at their usual time), and on Saturday we woke up ready to go!
On Saturday a friend of mine put together an informal high school reunion at Valley Forge, so we drove out there and I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in years, which was quite nice. Norah went nuts over all the wide open spaces and the grass - she loved it! There were lots of toys for her to play with, and lots of kids for her to play with, and she had a grand time. It took her a little time to get comfortable, but then she was fine. Almost all of the kids there were boys, but even though Norah thinks boys are "silly and loud," she sucked it up and played with them. We let her run all over the place, and occasionally we saw her getting into some trouble (she poured soap from a bubble-making toy on her legs, which was kind of annoying), but for the most part she was fine. Mia had a very nice day, too, even though she obviously couldn't run around. A friend of mine brought a blanket for her baby, and Mia sat on it for a while and played with the toys there. Later she sat with Krys on a different blanket and hung out. She was also very enthusiastic about saying hello to everyone, as she usually is. It was a very good day.
Sunday was Norah's third birthday, and my mom had planned a huge party for her. My sister and her family drove up from Virginia, and a bunch of friends and relatives came by, many with kids of their own. I found it interesting that my and Krys's friends are all around the same age, but they all have kids the same age. None of them have teenagers, which, conceivably, they could. Everyone waited until they were in their thirties to spawn, which I thought was ... well, it wasn't weird, but it was something. Once again, most of the kids at the party were boys, but Norah, again, didn't care. There were more girls there, and one of my sister's kids is a girl, so Norah was a bit more comfortable, I think. Mia loved sitting with various people and chatting with them, while Norah and the other kids tore around the back yard having a grand old time. Both of them got a bit tired later in the afternoon and took brief naps, and Norah's sleepiness made the candle-lighting on the cake a bit traumatic. I wasn't around to see it (I think I was getting Mia up from her brief nap), but apparently Norah was upset that the cake was "hot." Once we took the candles out and it "cooled" down, she was happy to eat it, but the candles didn't make her happy.
I was kind of hoping she wouldn't get a lot of presents, because she doesn't need more stuff. I also didn't want people who had never met her or hadn't seen her in years to feel forced to get her something. It wasn't like this was a typical birthday party; many people had never met Mia, either, and it had been a long time since both me and my sister had been at my parents' house together. But people brought presents anyway, and many of them brought things for Mia, too, so that was very nice. Norah got a lot of cool stuff - a bunch of clothing, a lot of books, and some nifty toys. She seemed very happy with a lot of it, and we managed to pack it all up and get it all home, which also worried me a bit. We were all very happy the way the day turned out - even my mom, who was worried because the forecast was for rain. It didn't rain (although it was kind of muggy), so all was well!
Most of the rest of the time we spent in PA was quiet. On Wednesday we drove up to New Hope, which is a nifty little town on the Delaware River, and took a ride on the New Hope Railroad, which is an olde-tyme train that cruises around the countryside. It was a bit tough getting Mia's wheelchair onto the train, but luckily it folds up, so once we got Mia out and onto a seat, it was easy to store. Mia sat by the window for a while, and she did a very good job. The train has no seatbelts and no individual seats (they're benches), so Mia had a tough time sitting up, but she never fell over. I only had to help her a little bit, so that was neat. She liked looking out of the window at the scenery, which is very nice. Lots of trees and streams and nifty houses and such. Norah, meanwhile, sat next to me for a while, but then decided she wanted to hang out with Grandma. So she went across the aisle and sat next to my mother. It was a very nice day, because it wasn't too hot, so the fact that the train is not air-conditioned wasn't a big deal. The breezes were very refreshing and I think the kids, especially Mia, really enjoyed themselves.
My sister stayed up for the week after the party, so Norah and Mia got to know their cousins better. They hadn't seen them in a few years, and I doubt if they remembered them very well. My nephew turned 6 in January, and my niece is turning 4 in a few weeks, so they're contemporaries. They're a bit more rambunctious than our kids, mainly because my nephew sets the example for my niece, whereas Norah is, in many ways, an only child. Mia doesn't do anything particularly bad, so Norah doesn't have a model. My sister's kids are pretty good kids, but they're a bit more wild than ours. My sister tells me that when Norah goes to school she'll pick up some bad habits, and that's one of the reasons why I dread her going to school. Oh well - I'll take my chances. My nephew and niece were very jazzed to play with Norah (they liked talking to Mia, but she's a bit difficult to deal with, even for adults, so they had some issues), and Norah dug some of the toys they had. We're seeing them again at Christmas, which will be nice because Norah will probably remember them.
The kids had a good week, and two things were rather strange. They slept in quite late in the morning, occasionally until after 8 a.m. We could attribute some of this to the fact that Pennsylvania is three hours ahead of Arizona, so they were really waking up at 5, but after a day or so, that shouldn't apply, should it? They weren't going to bed too much later than usual, either. The minute they got home, last Friday (the 27th), Norah was up at 6, despite sleeping fitfully on the plane and not getting into her own bed until after 1. So it wasn't that they were more tired. They slept together in the same room, which I thought might be problematic, but wasn't. The room had a less opaque shade on the window, so early in the morning, it got really light in there. Yet they slept on. At home here they have those blinds that don't allow any light in. Maybe it's too dark in there! The other thing that was strange was how well Mia ate. As long-time readers (the blog does have a few, I swear!) will recall that our battle with Mia over eating is ongoing and nerve-shredding to all! But at my parents' house she ate with gusto! She scarfed down pasta salad, London broil, macaroni and cheese, and anything else we felt like putting in front of her. The salad and mac 'n' cheese wasn't too surprising, as she had eaten that in the past (not with such alacrity, but still), but the fact that she sucked down the meat was strange. I guess we'll have to get her some soon! Knowing Mia, of course, she won't eat it. And so the battle will continue! But we were happy with her eating, at least for a week.
On Thursday we flew out of Newark. Our flight was scheduled for 8.15, but the last time a plane left Newark at its scheduled time was probably back in the 1930s, when it had one runway and there was one plane in all of New Jersey. When we arrived, it had already been pushed back to 8.50. The kids were perfectly fine as we waited - I'm never surprised by how patient Mia is, but I'm still a bit stunned by how patient Norah is - and we finally boarded. We were first on again, but they were trying to get everyone seated, so we didn't have as much time to set up Norah's car seat. But we got everything squared away, and then we sat. And sat. And sat some more! We were in line to take off, so we waited. Finally, about 10 p.m., we took off. Mia fell asleep soon after takeoff and slept pretty much the whole way home. It was great for her, but considering that her head was on my lap, it was kind of a pain for me, as I couldn't really move too much. Norah fidgeted in her seat for a while, but then slept as well. She woke up soon before landing, which was nice because she got to look out the window as we touched down. And so ended our vacation!
We had a really nice time, and it made me pine even more to move closer to the family. My parents love spending time with the grandchildren, and it was great for them to play with their cousins. Of course, given the housing and job market, it's probably not going to happen any time soon, and given the cost of flying, we're probably not going back there in the near future, but we can dream, can't we? I'm just glad we went, and I hope it won't be too long before we can wrangle up some dough to fly back for another visit.