our girls


We got up at 4:30 this morning to be sure to get to the airport in plenty of time for our 8:20 direct flight to Chicago. We cleared out, zoomed down to the airport, parked in long-term parking, caught the shuttle, and ran inside to face a scatter-brained AA attendant handing out 1-800 numbers. Our flight had been cancelled. We had to rebook ourselves. Apparently.

My mom was straight off the starting line and got me and the girls booked onto a flight through Dallas. Then she tried to add her own booking to the flight and the guy HUNG UP ON HER. Not cool. So, I tried to check in whilst Mom tried to get another human being to put us together on a flight. As we did this, Suzi from the AA desk in Albuquerque tried to help me along. She then started tapping away at her computer and told my mom to hang up. She had something for us!

Seconds later her face fell. It turns out the three seats that had just opened up were ours. No point in putting my mom in one of those, then. Stellar Suzi was not discouraged, however, and kept tapping away furiously at her computer. Without another word she printed out some boarding passes and handed us the tickets. We'd have to go via Dallas, and we'd have a four-hour stopover, but we'd get to Chicago only a few hours late. And we were flying first class to Dallas! We love Suzi!

The flight to DFW was comfortable except for the nasty piece of work in 4A who shouted, "Stop screaming!" to Buffy. To MY BUFFY! My sweet, angelic, spirited Buffy. In the middle of the day. It's not like she was screaming out of annoyance. Just a few effusive bursts of joy at finding a new sticker to put in her book or seeing a picture of an airplane in the in-flight magazine. Stop screaming indeed. Harumph.

So, we settled in to our long wait in Dallas. We paced it beautifully. The girls played for 45 minutes at the children's play area. They were no trouble at all and really wore themselves out. Then we went to Taco Bell for some disgusting/delicious food and headed out for a very long walk and very long train ride around the airport twice to get Buffy worn out and napped. It worked a charm and she slept for nearly two hours. We were very proud of ourselves.

Throughout the afternoon we checked the boards. It was frustrating to see our flight delayed a further half hour every time we looked. Finally at 6:00pm I looked to see how much longer we'd have to wait for our scheduled 4:15pm flight, but it had completely dropped off the screens. Oh no.

We ran to the gate where the flight had been meant to leave and they confirmed the flight had been cancelled due to terrible weather including tornado in Chicago. We perkily asked the attendant what the plan was, and she offered a series of increasingly ludicrous options. Once she got to our spending the night in Shreveport or Boston on our own dime and still not arriving in Chicago before Friday evening, we got a bit fed up. Gramma asked if we couldn't just go back to Albuquerque and try again for one of the Friday non-stops. She seemed to think this manageable, because without any further discussion we had boarding passes in hand and were being told to RUN!

Panting, we made it on to our ABQ flight with four seats scattered across the plane. I was exhausted and out of ideas, so I just begged Katie to sit between the two absolute strangers while I disappeared rows behind her. Naturally she dissolved into tears and refused to budge. A kindly gentlemen next to me offered his seat. It was a generous offer, but it didn't solve any of our problems. I would be seating somewhat nearer Katie, but this girl has stranger issues at the best of times. The man's kindness did seem to spark something within the hearts of the people on either side of Katie's seat and they offered to sit in the other seats so we three could be together. Hooray! By the time Gramma caught up with us (having had to run back up the jetway to get her boarding pass), we were settling in nicely in our own row. Then the lovely gentleman again offered his seat, so my mom was at least near us.

The flight was absolutely uneventful after that. No one complained about Buffy's effusions (thank goodness, as they were louder than before), and the girls behaved beautifully. Remember they'd already been up both earlier and later than a normal day. Katie drew pictures for the three nice people who had given us their seats.

Back in Albuquerque and thoroughly weirded out about being right back where we started right down to the same gate (A3), we got the car out of long term parking and decided to head through town instead of stopping to eat first. The threatening storm clouds looked too intimidating. Well, any thoughts we may have had of outrunning the storm were beyond absurd. The storm caught us just a mile on the freeway. The rain pelted the windshield into total blindness. Gramma pulled off on to a small residential road. We went through the most torrential downpour I've seen in many years. We just tried to get to higher ground, but every crossroads was a lake.

We finally made it home. The girls are asleep. I have confirmed our flights for tomorrow. All is well. My husband doesn't know where I am right now, but we are safe and well. He'll wake up in an hour on the other side of the world and read about our adventures. Good morning, Honey!

The forecast for both Albuquerque and Chicago is dismal until Saturday. We will bravely venture out again tomorrow, fully aware we may be beaten back here. Oh well. At least it's nice here. We are safe, we are all together, and we have our toothbrushes.

A Day of Holiday

Today was a pretty typical day of holiday/vacation, so I'll blog it to give you insight into our trip.

The girls woke up at 6:54. I know this exactly because Katie came in and whispered the time to me and asked if she could get up. I said she could as long as she went to Gramma and let me sleep. Gramma-the-star got the girls breakfast and settled while I snored on. I finally roused myself from bed at 7:50 - the latest I've slept all holiday. Such luxury!

My lie-in destroyed our plan to leave the house at 8:00, so I watched the girls while Gramma did everything she couldn't do whilst babysitting. The girls coloured a bit and I tried to be helpful wherever possible to Gramma and her dog, Rye.

We finally left the house at 9:15 headed for Starbucks. When I drove out to Clovis, I was jonesing hard for a latte, but there weren't any to be found outside of Allsup's. No thank you. We went to the new Starbucks at the new "Outdoor Lifestyle" shopping centre called Uptown. It was very new, very crisp, and very Disney. It felt like Main St. USA. Blech. I like my shopping with a few cracks in the veneer.

We ordered our drinks and schooled the barista on Babyccinos. They gave us HUGE ones in coffee cups. I told them they were much bigger than we were used to, but not to worry because the girls would be thrilled. They were. Until Buffy spilled hers all down the counter, over Gramma's lap, and down the floor. I tried to clean it up as fast as possible while Gramma looked paralysed with embarrassment. Thank goodness I can always count on Buffy to crack the veneer of even the sturdiest establishment.

After frolicking in the fountain (I LOVE these things!) and perusing Gymboree (finding nothing at all), we headed out to pursue our real objective of the day: Fabric. I did some research and decided to hit JoAnn's and Hancocks as they are huge stores and practically right across the street from each other. My mom dropped me off at JoAnn's and took the girls to the park. I found a few staple items, including tulle for the girls' Halloween costumes for $1 a yard! Then my mom came back and drove me over to Hancocks. Hey, it's a really busy street!

Hancocks was a real disappointment. It was exactly the same as JoAnn's, a bit worse if anything. They didn't have anything I wanted at all. Don't ever fall into the trap of thinking Hancocks is the same as Hancock's of Paducah. BIG difference. The girls weren't expected back from the library for another half hour, so I decided to walk/jog to catch up. Man, that is not fun to do in the midday desert sun. I blame my inspiration on my awesome running sister.

Reunited, and now with new books to read, we all headed over to Baskin Robbins. This isn't my normal lunch, but I wanted my girls to experience the awesomeness of overwhelming ice cream options. Katie surprised us by choosing quickly. She got a scoop of Rainbow Sherbet, which wasn't that surprising as it was mostly pink. I had my favourite, Praline's N' Cream, which I haven't had for years. My mom got a low-fat chocolate yoghurt scoop, which the girls devoured instead of their own.

Gramma felt sorry for me that I hadn't found any decent fabric. One of my big goals for this trip was to buy some cheap fabric. She offered to take me by a quilting store I'd pooh-poohed last week. I figured it was sort of on the way home, and it couldn't hurt.

Over an hour later I emerged with a giant bag of fabric and a huge smile on my face. I spent $80, or £40. I have never made it out of Liberty for less than £80 ($160), and I got so much great fabric! I am thrilled. Tonight I will dream of paisleys and lotus flowers as imagined by Heather Bailey and Amy Butler.

Once home I tried to get the girls to nap, but only Katie would comply. I let Gramma take charge of Buffy, and I rested after my strenuous day of looking at pretty things and eating delicacies. After naptime and dinner, I got the girls ready for their bath. Katie brushed her teeth like the good big girl she is, and Buffy ran around the house naked like the little monster she is. I was quickly checking my email when I felt something hit my stockinged foot. The pressure didn't stop. Then it felt very warm. And wet. I looked up and saw Buffy next to me looking at my foot as we shared the awful realisation that SHE PEED ON ME!

It just serves as such a poignant reminder that parents are really not allowed to have self-centred days. We can try, but there is a price to be paid.

I went to a family reunion and a wedding broke out

I have only been to two of these annual family reunions, but apparently it is not unusual for a fight or two to break out. I didn't see any of that, but we did have a wedding break out! My Auntie Rosie and Uncle Ray have two boys, Angelo and Alex. A while back Angelo married Allison and took on her lovely little girl, Jackie. This was the day Jackie decided to marry (Brandon? Brian? Some guy...) My aunt and uncle were so proud they looked like they were going to burst. It was great.

Best part was, they didn't have a flower girl. Hm. What do you do when you don't know any little girls to be flower girl at your wedding? Hm. If only there were some little girls around. Hey! This is a family reunion. Someone's bound to have a suitably-aged child. Ooh, there's the four-year-old son of a cousin. Perfect for a ring bearer. Oh, if only we had a five-year-old girl to be flower girl...

My cousin Michelle, mom to the ring bearer, ran straight over to Katie and handed her a basket full of petals. It was perfect! Katie was so proud to be the flower girl. She didn't think it at all weird that we were dressed for a barbecue and half the people were still playing horseshoes. She didn't bat an eyelash over never having met the bride. Heck, I've only met the bride once when she was four. She didn't remember me at all, but I felt it was appropriate to introduce her to her flower girl.

I don't know how spontaneous the wedding was. Some parts felt very spur of the moment (flower girl, etc.) and some felt thoroughly planned (sunflower theme). The bride and groom were obviously very happy to be together and both cried throughout the vows. It was sweet and most of the women got misty-eyed as well. I couldn't have been prouder of my little flower girl who took her duties very seriously. Now she has that memory forever. And if she tries to forget, I've got the photographic evidence.

The no-sleep cry solution

Last night we bit the bullet.

We decided it was time to turf Buffy out of our bed and into her own bed to sleep by herself for the very first time. At two years, one week and one day old.

Gramma had bought her a fantastic Dora the Explorer flip open sofa bed, that was just the right size for Buffy. Equipped with Regan's very own cabbage-patch doll from childhood, Gracie, it looked comfy and welcoming. But could we convince Buffy to sleep in it?

We started preparing early - cheering and clapping whenever Buffy went towards her bed. And rather sneakily, we interrupted her afternoon nap so that she would be more tired at bedtime. [Of course, we then paid the price for it later, as we had two grumpy girls to deal with!]

At bedtime, we let Katie stay up later so that Buffy could try to get to sleep without distractions. Amazingly, it all worked - she fell asleep within about 20 minutes! In her very own bed, with no tears at all! Incredible, really, considering how long she had been used to sleeping with us. We finished reading to Katie and she went to bed at about 8pm.

Then the fun started. There was an almighty thunderstorm, with howling winds, tremendous rain, lightning, loud thunder - the works. But the girls stayed asleep. We had won. Then the thunderstorm passed overhead and Katie woke up, frightened. At a particularly loud clap of thunder, she screamed at the top of her lungs and woke up Buffy.

Regan summoned every ounce of good parenting in her body to control herself. That said, the best she could come up with was "Get-to-bed-now-or-I'll-make-you-stand-outside". Clearly, such an idle threat was never going to work and Katie just stood there wailing. So then she decided that Katie must forfeit one of her 'good behaviour' flowers. That sobered Katie up, enough so she could go back to bed.

Buffy got back to sleep eventually, and was up perhaps three or four times in the night. But that's quite a result, and we know it'll only get easier from here. By the end of the night, I was even able to get her back to sleep.

An added bonus - Regan was able to get her back to sleep without nursing. So we can both look forward to uninterrupted sleep before too long... hooray!

We're here on holiday...

...and frankly having too much fun to write very much right now. There's also that thing about jetlag that makes the process of stringing words together into coherent sentences a task of epic proportions. It's all we can do to cobble this pathetic attempt now. Do look at the photos of the girls in my old dresses, though. Two of those dresses were worn to family weddings. Sorry to say the dresses have out lasted the marriages, but what do you expect from industrial grade polyester? The girls like them, though, and that is all that matters.

Except for sleep. Sleep matters too.

Tour de Greenwich

This morning we woke up, ate a leisurely breakfast, drank some coffee, then headed out with the girls for a stroll... to see the Tour de France pass by the end of our road!

It was awesome. There was a fantastic build-up, including two hours of floats and swag that we missed. We did get to hang out with some of our lovely neighbours, some of whom brought Thermoses full of tea and trays to help pass it out. How civilised is that? Honestly, I just love living here. It doesn't hurt that the long-missing sun has popped out for a visit. We may even get to eat outside this evening. The rain returns tomorrow, so we'd better enjoy it while we can.

So, after all that fantastic build-up, the helicopters approached, so we knew the cyclists were close. Then in a flurry of action lead cars, police cars, motorbikes and helicopters zoomed past. Then the riders zipped by. Then they were gone. It took all of twenty seconds. Katie and I kissed Daddy and Buffy goodbye and headed up to party two of four for the week. It was a good party, full of outdoor fun. Now we're home and the girls are resting. I'm following the Tour de France on a BBC blog. Only 6km to go.

Never in its long history has the Tour de France started in London. It may never do so again. Today was amazing and I am so happy to live in this wonderful place.

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