Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jet Lag

Getting home was a bit of an adventure. We got up at 4:30 Eastern time (1:30 PST) and headed to the airport. Our kids were pretty good. We just kept telling them that we were going home and we'd be able to see our dog. They all missed the dog a lot! That sustained us a bit but they, understandably, were exhausted.

Our flights were on time, lay overs fairly easy and that all went well. On the first flight they couldn't get us together but they could do 4 and then a single. The single was in the middle seat and I volunteered to take it. Or rather, let Bob sit with the kids. That being said, I was squished between two HUGE people. I don't think Bob's shoulders would have fit. The woman to my left slept the whole time and the guy to my right tried to stay in his "space" but it didn't work very well. At least they weren't talkers. I tried to read my book, I slept a bit, it was fine.

Bob was back there juggling, switching out videos, feeding the kids any crap they wanted to keep them quiet, and being a good daddy. Poor daddy. We landed in Phoenix.

Our next plane was only 3 gates down from our previous one. Awesome! Aero, the god of flying, must have been on our side this time. What was the deal on the way out? I digress.... We had some snacks. This flight they put us 3 and 2. I volunteered to take the boys so Bob could sit with Sophia. She is much easier to reason with.

Once on the plane the boys started asking for a movie. I said, "No. Close your eyes." After my insistence for 10 minutes both of them were OUT. Anytime they'd wake up I'd just tell them to put their head back down and they would. I got to read my book some more. AND I had room to breath this time. That was nice.

We arrived home at 12:45 pm so we had the whole rest of the day to unwind. Rebecca came to pick us up. Thanks Rebecca! We loaded all 10 bags into the car and went home. As we were pulling into the drive way the kids were already planning, "Can we go see ________ (fill in a friend's name). Can we go swimming? Can we______, Can we _______, Can we________" Are you freaking kidding me? You have been ___________ for 3 weeks now. Mommy wants to get the dog and sit still. "We're bored." Puh Leezzzzzzzeeeeee!

I went and picked up Iva. She barked at us at first and then she wagged her tail and ran up to us. We were really happy to get our dog back. Adam did a great job with her and that makes me glad. I would have hated to put her in a kennel.

We saw our friends the Bogdanskis. They didn't know we were home and just happened to pull up in front. The kids played and then Bob and Nolee took the kids to the pool. By 7 pm the kids were fed and in bed. Nice. Quiet. No, "Can we____"

Bob and I sat up until 12:30. I was thinking....????? "Let's get back on West Coast time." That was dumb. We went upstairs and Kees was coughing really hard. He had sounded sick earlier but not like he was dying. Now he was coughing so hard he could hardly breathe. I gave him cough medicine, rubbed Vicks on him, gave him Albuterol, did anything I could think of. He was really struggling. Sophia was terrified and starting to panic. I was sorry for her but trying to keep her calm too. She wasn't helping. I had Bob put Kees' head in the freezer. Still no relief.

At 12:45 I scooped him up and took him to the emergency room at Providence. I set him in my lap and drove as quickly and carefully as I could. He was throwing up from coughing and he was really struggling to breathe. I pulled in and stopped right in front of the entrance. I ran in and they knew immediately what the problem was. To their credit they didn't ask for insurance or anything before they helped Kees. They took us straight back and started with the nebulizer. He laid on my chest and was so sweet. It took about 15 minutes but it started to work. He was a champ and did everything they told him to do. I was really proud of that. Coulter would have had to be strapped down. They took chest ex-rays. In all it took about two hours and we were home by about 3. I gave the brief to Bob and mostly to Sophia. I let Kees sleep with us so I could know he was safe.

Coulter was up at 5:45 and they were all up by 7. Including Kees! I tried to sleep but I was up by 8. So much for getting a full night's sleep. I am whacked today.

We have mostly unpacked. Bob mowed the lawn. It was 2 feet tall no joke. We're going to Costco in a bit. There's hardly a thing to eat here. We're still tired but we're home and all breathing a bit easier today. Let's keep it that way.

More Georgia Pix






Here are the family shots.

Pictures from Georgia






We spent our day doing laundry, having breakfast at Bas' house (thanks Bas!!!), then later at the pool, packing and then ended the day with BBQ with family and pictures of the whole clan.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still On The Run

Tuesday we went to dinner with friends and, as usual, had a blast! Our friends Dima and Shadi were back in town. They had been out of town the whole time we were in Atlantis but finally arrived in the middle of that big storm. Yikes! It was so great to see them. Our dinner was fabulous and the conversation bubbling as always. It was short and they were tired but for us it was totally great to spend even a little time together.

We went back to the hotel and walked through the casino. We were tempted to do a little gambling but I lost the taste while watching a woman loose about $5000 in 2 minutes. She looked depressed and I think it wasn't the first money she had lost. We went and had a drink and after a bit I decided it was time to dance. Problem was I was the only one in our group that had made this decision. I dragged some poor guy out onto the dance floor and I had a great time.

Up to the room and good nights.

The sitters left at 8:00 so we all said good bye. I found out later that they had a limo. I was glad since they weren't with us on the limo ride there. They were thrilled. Good for them. Honestly the best thing about having a car is that they escort you through the check in process all the way to customs. No lines! It's totally worth the big tip.

We mostly packed and picked up a few really expensive sweat shirts and such. And then we were off to the airport. We had a limo because it's the best way to get 9 people and their luggage around. We had the same service up to customs. Hooray! VIPs to the end.

Our flights were on time. The transfer in Charlotte easy and we were in a rental car in no time. This is how it's supposed to work.

We arrived at Bob's parent's place after 10 but we were glad to be at the days end in a familiar place. The kids were beat and after a bit of coaxing they went to bed.

Today started at Waffle House. Bob would pass out if we didn't to that. And the rest of the day was spent on Lake Lanier on the pontoon boat. It was great. A day of unstructured fun. Every one had fun even though there were no water slides. Actually Brian brought out his boat too and some of us did inner tube rides. Not me for sure. Then out for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Yum.

Tomorrow family pictures, a bit of swimming and a lot of packing. I'll post more pictures when I down load them. It's coming to a close but we're looking forward to being home and seeing our dog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Water Pictures





My New Hair Cut


I love it.

This is How Steep the Leap of Faith is!!!!


Scary for sure. This is to give you perspective. That flat part on the right is where the slide is.

Tuesday Our Last Full Day






Today started out a lot like yesterday. Breakfast in the main room with everyone gathered around the big table. AND everyone is healthy for the most part. Hooray!

Next a bit 'o pool time. Being a Tuesday you'd think that it would be a bit quieter. Nope. It was packed and by listening to people you could tell this was their first day here. First dayers say, "Sorry" or "Excuse me" every time they bump into your floatie. There are lots of people on a not so lazy river. You are going to bump rafts for sure. After the first day you just know it happens. Being here for a week you hardly notice when you bump someone.

The goal today was to get pictures of everyone swimming. You know how it is. At the beginning of the trip you have a whole week to take pictures and you are sure that you will. At the end of the trip you realize that you had so much fun that you forgot to take pictures of the basic stuff. So I grabbed the camera and started getting pictures. One of everyone underwater, a few of Ingrid and I on the lazy river, the kids swimming, a few of the pools etc. I got a few good shots.

I had to be on the drive at 2 for a ride to the hair dresser. I got my hair cut by a guy here last time and LOVED it so that was a small goal for me. Yesterday I was going to cancel but after my hair cut I am glad I didn't. The car took me to the salon and waited for me....VIP you know. Dieter remembered me and was glad to see that I was back. He also said I shouldn't go so long between visits. I agree with my whole heart. I love my hair cut and hope that I can get it replicated at home.

Tonight out with friends again and tomorrow we leave...;-( This has been a great trip. The hotel staff have all been wonderful, courteous and helpful and not just because we were George's guests. All the staff who were just walking down the hall, taking payment at the little store or a person at the pool. The property is beautiful and if you are thinking of a family vacation this it a great place for the whole crew. I am not just saying that because of my buddies here I SWEAR!

Well I am sure I will have more to say later but for now I am signing off. I have to get ready for dinner with more friends!

Monday Monday, So Good To Me....






Monday was a slower day. Thank goodness! How does anyone keep this pace? George? Sarah? Anna? Anyone? We are all having a blast though so don't get me wrong.... No complaints here. This has been one good time after another.

I can't believe we have been here for 8 days. It has all blurred into one really good time and will be wonderful memories for every one of us. So we all got up on Monday and had some breakfast. Bob ordered a pile of food and we all just took what we wanted. Yum! After wishing Uncle Brown (Uncle Brian) a happy birthday we all were going to the straw market.

I told Brian my birthday gift was given on Saturday. That's when I celebrated. It wasn't a thing and it wasn't mine to give but still. It seemed like a good celebration for a birthday. What could a guy want after the weekend we just had?

As I posted about Sunday night, Coulter had been sick. He said he was better and he had a bunch of breakfast so he appeared better. Great. We all walked through the hotel. Coulter said he felt sick so we stopped so he could go #2. He did and said he was all better. Fab...bullet dodged. We walked for about 4 blocks inside and then went outside. The humidity was oppressive. It was about 95 and 100% humidity. It was like swimming in a hot tub. Coulter immediately looked at me and pointed to his face. He was going to throw up. I grabbed him and held him over a trash can where he threw up everything he had for breakfast and then some.

Bob turned around with Couter and went back to our room. The rest of us proceeded. I was so hot it was like I was melting, or as if someone had poured a bucket of water over my head. We walked through the market got a few trinkets and then stopped at the little island market for water and sodas. Next I got some Gravol for Coulter to help his tummy. We walked back to the room....ahhhh, air conditioning. Much better. I will tell you that this was the first time that I felt this hot. It's been hot and humid but nothing like today.

When we got back to the room Coulter was doing much better and watching a show. Clara had been feeling under the weather with nasal congestion so she stayed behind to watch him while the rest of us went to the pool. Kees, seeing that Coulter was watching a video decided to stay behind. Hey, fine with me. This meant that Bob and I could float and not have to watch kids. Cool.

Mackenzie took Sophia to a pool so that they could chase dive sticks and Bob and I indeed did float. And I flipped over.....twice on the wave part. No big deal except that I ruined my glasses. Oh well...I just bought a new pair the moment we stepped inside the hotel. Problem solved.

We went back to the room at 5:30 or so because we told the sitters if they wanted to do a night thing tonight was the night. They had reservations at 9:00. We all just hung out, I blogged, the kids snacked, watched TV and we decompressed. A little down time. Lovely...

At about 6:30 we noticed a storm in the distance. It was amazing. There was flashing every second. I tried to take video and photos but they didn't show the magnitude of this storm. It was like something you'd see in a movie.

More hanging out... more relaxing. At 9:00 the sitters we off to dinner and it was time to put our own kids to bed. We hadn't done this in a while since the girls were here and we had been out, have I mentioned...every night. Of course the kids had to check out the storm first. WOW! It was really close now and headed directly at us. Cool. More video and pictures, yes these were cool. It was strange because the whole sky would light up but there was no noise. It was a silent flashing. The kids go to bed and pass out in seconds.

The sitters came back at about 10:30 and by this time the storm is in full swing. It is just off shore and flashing almost continuously. I have NEVER seen any thing like this before. The clouds are fully lit and still hardly any noise. When I take a "Night" shot with my camera it looks like it's day time out. The video is just flashing and occasionally I get a lightening streak in there. We are all oohing and awing. All of a sudden the wind starts. Ladies and gentlemen, the storm is here! It blows hard and from past experience I know patio furniture flies. We flip the tables over so they don't catch a breeze and start flying around. We hear glass smashing. I think someone must have had glasses on their balcony. I shoot more video. It looks like aliens are landing, or at least that is what it looks like in the movies. The clouds are flying by, impressive. Really impressive. We're all still out there because no-one can believe it.

Ingrid and Brian come back at about 11:00 and join us out on the deck. It's hard to open the door to our room because the air pressure is blowing it closed. It rains, wind blows, clouds fly by and still, we're out there. None of us can believe what we're seeing. But then Ingrid announces that Brian's birthday dessert is coming up. We all respond to the lure of sweets. We sing Happy Birthday and dive in. Yum.

I later email our local meteorologist in Portland with video. He responds! He is also amazed by the video. That was funny.

We all go to bed at midnight. At 2 am when I wake up the storm is still going but dying down. So it was a good day today. Other then the obvious illness the rest was great. More later...

video

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dinner!!!!!

I neglected to mention that we had the most fabulous food with George and Sarah. We sat down at 9 to steaks (12 of them at 10 oz. per) and they were 2 inches thick, hamburgers, and 3 salads. Sarah was beside her self trying to time everything because the boys were chatting it up and food was secondary to the conversation. I finished my blog and then realized....I forgot one of the main ingredients to a dinner and conversation....THE DINNER! Thanks again guys, it was wonderful and one of the best we've had.

And Still More Pictures





More Pictures....





Sunday in Paradise (Read the previous day first see below)






Sunday was a bit quieter during the day. We slept in….go figure. After a wild night of rock star partying we wanted to sleep in. I don’t think most of the rock stars have small children though….big difference. We were up and at ‘em at 10ish but still that only gave us 7 hours of sleep. We wished the daddies a happy Father’s Day but really what could we give them? The kids made cards and couldn’t find them. Dang it. Anyway, I gave Bob a kiss. That’s what I had.

After cold pizza for breakfast (from the night before) we decided to plant ourselves at the lagoon. You can snorkel there and there are big round floatie things out in the middle for the kids to climb on and jump off. We dragged some chairs down close to the water and set up. The small people immediately went to the big round floatie. Bob and I snorkeled. We saw all kinds of fish, anemone, a lobster, a ray of some sort, a baby barracuda (Don’t tell Sophia. She’s terrified of them for some reason. I think William has filled her head with horror stories.), tons of yellow and white stripped fish, some blue fish and so on. I tried to get good pictures but it was hard.

After about an hour I came out of the water and Ingrid said that Coulter was melting down. He hadn’t napped all week so that seemed about right. After fighting with him he came along pleasantly as my buddy. He showered and then lay down. He informed me that he was not going to be able to sleep and then promptly did.

The reason that it was important for him to be rested and pleasant was that George and Sarah were due to pick us up at 4:00 for a dinner at their house. I was not going to be dealing with grouchy kids and I knew it was going to be a late night. A couple minutes after Coulter fell asleep the rest of the crew came back. Everyone was tired and needed a break. Kees took a nap, some of us shopped, some read, some just sat on the balcony and watched the action. There is plenty to see from up here. Rays, GIANT rays, fish feeding, sharks, water slides, screaming people on the water slides, para-sailers (sp?), walkers, diners, ships passing and so on. It’s amazing just to sit and watch.

At 3:45 we all had a pow wow in our living space. All the kids sat down and I put out some rules. I told everyone (the kids) that they were to be on their best behavior. Anything else would not be tolerated. They all agreed to the rules. I really wasn’t too worried but there have been a few moments. Heck, they have been together for almost 2 weeks.

We go to the drive and George and Sarah pick us up. Right as Sarah pulls up William pokes Coulter in the eye. They have been doing this thing where they put their fingers by a person’s eye and basically dare them to walk into it. I don’t know if Coulter wasn’t paying attention or if William just poked. None the less it wasn’t the show I wanted the first moment we all get together and I was concerned that this was going to be the tone for the evening. I said, “What were you doing William?” He felt really bad and did NOT want to talk to me. On the plus side it was the only negative interaction the whole evening.

Upon arrival we all piled out and all the kids wanted to do was swim. They put on their suits and off they went. Michael and Minas, George and Sarah’s kids were gracious and terrific young hosts. They showed the kids around, played in the pool and helped my small boys when they could. AND they have a 7 month old Pug named Mug. So cute and Sophia was smitten. She has been missing our dog a lot.

William got along very well with Minas and Michael and was THRILLED that they had video games. He had been having with drawls. The rest of the kids took the golf cart down to the new beach club in their community, the grown ups chatted and caught up some more, we cooked and had a fine time. George told some stories about high roller guests that are almost unreal. I know they’re true because you can’t make this stuff up. He’s a great story teller so it’s always fun to hear what the latest and greatest stories are. I’ll tell you that one was about a man that comes often and between him and his 2 nephews and a few other family members they lost between 5 and 6 million dollars in less than a week. Can you imagine? And this family was Italian and perhaps members of, shall we say, a tight knit gang that no-one would admit to being part of….if you get my drift. He should write all this down because there is a book in it sometime.

We heard all about the dolphins and when some came here from New Orleans. Apparently there are lots of animal activist here and they were NOT happy. The thing that doesn’t make sense is that the dolphins couldn’t survive in the wild they were born under human care and that is what they know. We heard about some of the celebrity guest that come here, weddings of the rich and famous, new development and so on. It’s always interesting and sometimes it makes me miss the business. I know I could be doing something “bigger” then I did before but I really love being at home with the kids. But still….sometimes. George always tells me I was good at what I did and that I could have done bigger things. That makes me feel good too. A bit conflicted but we all make sacrifices and choices and Bob and I feel good about the choices we’ve made. Anyway….it still has a bit of allure for me. I am glad my friends are all doing so well.

Oh, and Sarah told us all about a 50th birthday party she was invited to last fall. They were both invited but George couldn’t take the time off. Sarah took her sister. The “Save the Date” came in the form of a box like a crate. In the box were 2 bottles of fancy wine from Austria and the save the date. The party was in Vienna for a week for 150 people. There were balls every night. For one they hired the Vienna Symphony for a private affair. They had a private showing of the Lipizzaner Stallions. And a period ball where everyone was dressed in real period clothing. They were all fitted in Vienna for the clothing and had hair and makeup people available for anyone who wanted or needed help. During the days there were private tours that they could take around the city if they wanted. There was a lot more but that is what I remember. AND THEN when Sarah came home the people had a 150 page beautiful book published for everyone to remember their time in Vienna. Can you imagine that? I can’t. Bob turns 40 next year, ahhh, we WON’T be doing that.

So as you can tell the conversation was great all night. While we were talking the kids were all watching a movie in the movie room. Again, amazing. A giant movie screen with surround sound. The kids all laying around in big chairs…sleeping. Coulter came out at 11:00 and said, “Everyone is sleeping.” I said, “Who?” And then he listed all 6 of the other kids and the babysitters. It was time to go. We loaded up and went “home.”

Everyone got in bed and this is where I would have ended my blog usually but at 2:45 am Coulter got sick and threw up all over the place. We think the milk he drank in the morning made him sick. He was up for 2 hours throwing up and taking showers. I was really tired but mostly I felt really sorry for him. It was rough. Finally at 4:30 he fell asleep and stayed asleep until the morning. I’ll fill you in on Monday soon.

More Pictures....





What a Nimiety of Riches Have We Here!






Holy cow. What a night! What a day! I don’t know if I can fit this all in one blog entry but I am going to try. Saturday was an amazing day where we crammed ten days worth of activity into one.

We all woke up fairly early. For the parents this wasn’t as easy as we had been out late the night before and partied like rock stars. But we made it. The girls were all scheduled to be Dolphin Trainers for the day. They woke up ebullient in anticipation. Ingrid and I went and made sure they were safely in the hands of the staff at the Dolphin Cay. They could hardly contain them selves.

Next we screened up and went to the beach. On the way Coulter and William went rock climbing. William is 10 and went straight up 3 times. Coulter I was a little worried about but he climbed 2 walls and made it with in a foot or so of the top. He was so cute and is amazingly strong. Poor Kees, he was too little. While watching the rest of us almost melted because it was so hot and humid.

We spent a little time at the beach floating, reading and generally relaxing. Kees became buddies with a girl about 12 years old. She was helping him surf on floatie that she had. Nice kid. He, like the little prince he is, kept telling her, “Push me, push me.” And she did. Coulter and I went around the lazy river, that isn’t really very lazy. Coulter was terrified when he flipped off his raft in the middle of the wave section. I was afraid of that. I jumped out and grabbed him and assured him he would be fine. When I had suggested that we get a double raft the first time he didn’t want one, he did now for sure. We did it one more time and he was fine.

Brian left to go SCUBA diving. He said it was great! Definitely better then the previous day when it stormed and terrified William. There is a ship wreck right off the island and they went to investigate that.

Next Coulter, Bob, William and Kees left to go to the Atlantis Speedway. There you can build and race your own remote control race car or monster truck. The boys thought that was awesome. Of course they wanted to build their own but even we have some limits. Not many right now but some.

While the boys raced Ingrid and I went to the Dolphin Cay to watch the girls swim with the dolphins. They were so excited. Apparently everything up to this point was training for the girls and feeding for the sea lions and dolphins. So the girls got on a boogie board and then a dolphin would push them on their feet. They went FLYING across the water. And each one of them giggled as if they were babies. You know that honest, total and complete joy laugh. That in and of itself made that experience complete from my point of view. I can’t explain how much joy that gave me to see them in total bliss. They all got their pictures with the dolphins and were grinning from ear to ear the whole time. They were in the water for about an hour with the dolphins. There were quite a few dolphins there with the girls.
Apparently there are 31 dolphins, 4 of which are babies in the Cay. Some of them were the dolphins that were from New Orleans. That is an amazing story. Their habitat was destroyed and the dolphins were forced into the gulf. They were later recovered and responded to their calls. All were recovered but some of them had sustained serious injuries from the storm. There was a lot of coordination and work that brought them here to the Atlantis but they are happy and healthy now.

Ingrid and I took a ton of pictures but we still ended up buying the $149 picture package. It’s amazing what you’ll pay for here. They pictures are great and I really want them to remember it. I think they will.

The girls got back to the room about 5:30. We all milled about and had pizza for dinner in our room. We put the kids to bed and then it was time for the grown ups to start our evening. I can’t remember the last time my night started at 9:30. I am too old for this. We met George (between Brian and Bob) and Sarah at a bar and started our night. Anna was there and we saw another friend Michelle. She is a hoot and we make eachother laugh…a lot….it’s kind of silly.

First, Carmen Electra showed up and we all got our picture with her. Then the real party started at 10:00. Being the VIPs we are Anna took us in an elevator up to the party and were thrown into the middle of the action. When we got up there the Girly Show girls were there already in the VIP section. They all started waving and saying, “Hi Heather! Hi Heather” Hooray, my friends are here! We all chatted and got the party started. We planted ourselves in the VIP section. Then Miss USA (in red)and Miss Universe (in purple)came up. I have to tell you, Miss Universe is the MOST BEAUTIFUL woman I have ever seen in my life. It’s like she’s from another planet, like a different species of woman. It’s a whole day later and I still can’t get over her. AND she’s nice to boot. That girl is the whole package. We met Caitlin Moe. You probably haven’t heard of her yet but I think you will someday. She plays rock violin and the crowd went wild. Also a really nice girl. The DJ from the previous night was there. Her name is Sophia Lin but she goes by DJ Hustle-Lin. Bob thinks she should DJ his 40th birthday party.

So all these cool people are partying with us in this little VIP section. You couldn’t help but talk to everyone. We didn’t get individual drinks they just brought big pitchers and bottles of anything we wanted. Luckily we had them bring some Perrier too. That was a life saver. I know I alternated a glass of wine, a Perrier. There were 2 big guards at the entry to keep the riff raff out and protect us VIPs. You should have seen the guys hanging on the glass wall watching what was going on in our area. There was one guy there that I thought was going to pee his pants. He couldn’t take his eyes off the women. They were all really funny to watch from our side of the wall. We partied like ROCK STARS. Seriously, it was crazy fun. Out of all these people I still liked the Girly Show girls the best. Laura, their leader is fantastic but really they all were. We all had a blast and I got some great pictures. Brian and Bob were like little boys in a candy shop. Ingrid and I didn’t care. Go for it boys.

We stayed out until 3:00 in the morning. I don’t think I have done that in the past few years. Hummmm, maybe it’s been since the last time I was here. Yes, that sounds about right. We laughed a lot, had a great time and we so thrilled to be included in the big party.

Next blog….Sunday.