Friday, March 28, 2008

The adventure is in the journey NOT the destination!

My trip to China was definitely eventful! Upon arriving I puked in the plane, missed my connecting flight, experienced 12 hour jet-lag and Sam had his passport stolen! This trip could only get better!
It’s pathetic to admit but I enjoyed being strapped to my seat for 13 hours-knowing I wouldn’t be beckoned to the bathroom to wipe a toddler, or hear the words: “Mom, I’m hungry.” As far as I was concerned this 13 hour flight was 13 hours of bliss. Every so often a drink, snack and 3 corse meal were brought to me on a TRAY! I had an air conditioner, light, remote and stewartest button at my fingertips, and my seat transformed into my bed when I was ready to sleep! The last time I experienced treatment like this was at the Hospital after giving birth! I soaked it all up! When the final hour to my destination arrived my luck changed. I was hit with motion sickness! I no longer wanted to be alone. It was a humbling experience utilizing the “paper bag” and not have anyone to deflect the awkwardness. I was then burdened by carrying the evidence throughout the airport in search of the trash bin! That obscure little paper bag felt like it had neon lights and bells attached announcing my unfortunate luck to the population of Beijing. I had just enough time to find the “water closet” rid myself of the encumbrance then move on to customs and make a connecting flight to Xian where I was to meet up with Sam.
Once again my good fortune came through and I found myself at my next flight in no time. I checked the gate and saw passengers loading but the destination was not Xian, so I sat down to wait. After the airplane at this gate pulled away I checked to see when my flight was scheduled to leave. At this very moment fear struck me. The long and the short of it is I had to reclaim my luggage, reschedule my flight, recheck my luggage and go through security again. (Which apparently means; Chinese men get to cut in front of American woman! I surprised myself at my courage- considering my misfortune as of late.)
Now, I enjoyed another 2 hours of airport bliss before my journey continued. I’m a quick learner so I made sure to take Dramamine before boarding, as to not repeat the first adventure that started all this. I boarded the plane and fell asleep, for the first time in 20 hours.
I stumbled into Sam’s Hotel room, noticed the bed was pink and crashed.
The next morning I woke up 7am China time (7pm US) and was ready to go. That was the end of my jet lag!
I joined our friends at breakfast while Sam went to the Hotel Safe (located at the front desk) to secure my passport and money. My good fortune didn’t waste any time to sleep and jumped right in to pay homage to Sam. His safe was empty! His Passport, wallet & cash gone! Once again our agenda for the day was interrupted. The reality of this was Sam couldn’t fly in or out of the country now. He didn’t have an identity. While the Chinese police were called, and the US Embassy contacted I called home and disturbed 4 separate families at an odd time of night in search of a copy of Sam’s birth certificate and a fax machine ASAP! By noon, Sam had been questioned and did his fare share of questioning before we had a faxed birth certificate and Hotel management back in the safe looking in each box. After being assured it would be impossible for his key to open a different box, Sam insisted they take him inside the safe and prove him wrong. To our relief the 3rd box they tried revealed Sam’s misplaced property! It turned out the worker assigned Sam key #241 and put his belongings in box #214! Now, our vacation would begin.
The following 5 days were full of sites, chopsticks, and now memories!

My pictures tell the rest of our journey.

Pictures from China

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Not-So-Mary Poppins on Broadway

Sometime in January we took a mini-trip into New York City. Sam was there for a few days for work so we tagged along. I’m just now writing about it because I needed time to recover. It’s still a bit painful to remember but I think there is a lesson to be learned in every trial (nightmare). So, here I go:
We stayed in the Park Plaza Hotel, located across the street from Central Park. It was a very nice Hotel, the kids loved it. Because of the rain we didn’t get out too much, but I did splurge and treat myself (and the kids) with tickets to the broadway show Mary Poppins! We’ve watched our fair share of Mary Poppins so I thought for sure the kids would enjoy it. The show started at 8pm and it was an adventure in itself getting there. My night started in the taxi line outside our hotel. If you’ve seen Fantasia’s Rhapsody in Blue you might have an idea of what I went through. First of all it was raining. The kids found some pleasure in standing in the rain- right in the path to the doors. I was getting the “looks!” are all three yours? I stood in line behind the lady with the fur coat, she was very disturbed by any person that walked passed with an umbrella. Because we were under a pavilion we were dry but passerby's would cross our path holding their umbrellas that leaked rain.
She seemed completely baffled at her misfortune. I was very aware of my humble circumstances compared to hers. I was wearing my “comfy” clothes with my sons bright red Power Rangers backpack holding a polka-dot umbrella. My biggest concern was if it was legal to load all my kids into a Taxi without car seats and what am I going to do if they fall asleep! She couldn’t keep her eyes off us. I think she was waiting for the father to appear. Her eyes would bounce from them to me. After waiting about 15 min. it was our turn for the Taxi. Let the drama begin!!!

"Where’s my seat? I want to sit by the window! That’s my side! Why is Jace on your lap? Are we speeding? Why are they honking?"

Isn’t it possible to break the rules just once without the kids calling you on it? I just want to get to Mary Poppins!

We got there unscathed, but the kids didn’t want to get out of the Taxi because of all the rain. It was a site to see. It could have passed as a kidnapping. I basically had to throw them to the curb and then make sure they were with me as we ran for cover.
At last we were in our seats! The theatre was beautiful! We were on the balcony which seemed a little nerve racking at first. We were the second row from the rail over looking the stage. Walking to your seats you actually felt like you could fall. We spent the following 10 mins. playing I spy with the intricate detail of the ceiling artifact. Once I noticed the naked sculptures I tried to change games but it was too late. Jarom and Jennica had spotted them and all laughter broke out.
Mr. Potato head’s quote from Toy Story “uncultured swine” came to mind as I noticed the audience was not going to be patient with me. That’s when I realized I was in over my head! Mommy magic was all I could hope for. The lights were off and I went into a panic! I made the mistake of sitting Jarom and Jennica together. I knew better than that! I learned that lesson very early in our weekly trips to church. It was too late though, if you’ve ever been to a broadway show you know they don’t leave ANY room for movement. Once you are in your chair you are stuck! If you aren’t careful you can easily find your knees bumping the head of the person in front of you. If I were to make any change I would have no room to do it unless we backed out of the aisle and started all over again. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The very first scene was awesome. Right on stage was the Banks family house! (Try explaining that to a 5 & 6 year old)
They were transfixed but at the same time wouldn’t stop asking questions. Jarom has a great imagination and can get carried away sometimes. It’s not uncommon to see him jumping up and down with arms flapping in excitement when he is completely engrossed in a movie. I spent the entire show reaching over to sit him back in the seat, breaking up their lingering laughter, or loud remarks. This was a rude awakening to me (and everyone else on the balcony) that my kids don’t have public etiquette.
I experienced a very humiliating moment as a mother while at Mary Poppins. Shortly after the show began I noticed the seats in-front of me and to the left all the way to the aisle were still empty. I thought the kids could get a better view on the front row and they would be less disturbing because they wouldn’t be surrounded by people. I set Jennica first on my lap and slid her into the empty seats and then Jarom. Just as I did this I heard a comment from the people sitting next to me: “Well, that really helped us a lot!” Because jarom and Jen are smaller they had to lean forward to see over the railing which blocked their view. I didn’t realize that would happen! Now I made a bigger mess of things! Getting them down there was defiantly easier and more discrete than it would be getting them back up! I felt like the biggest idiot. We were such a distraction! after a few more huffing and puffing from my neighbors I assured them i would move them back. I reached for jennica to pull her back up to her original seat and my sweet little princess could have just as well yelled “FIRE!” she threw the biggest fit and in my mind I pictured myself picking her up and throwing her off the balcony and begging the police to lock me up. That option looked better than what I was going to have to do to get her back in her seat without a big scene. But at that VERY moment a mother angel sent me a miracle. On the stage a scene in the kitchen took place where all the pots and pans fell off the wall and the dishes came crashing down. The noise was terrible and caught everyones attention.....except mine. I grabbed Jen and Jarom and had them back in their seats before they or anyone else noticed. That’s what I call a blessing from Heaven! Jennica didn’t even know what to think of it. We were all in shock as to what just took place but nonetheless, we were back into our proper seats now. My legs were numb, my heart racing and I was in a complete sweat. I wanted to leave but had NO way of going! I couldn’t possibly do it alone, I needed help! I sat there in this theatre full of people and felt so completely alone and humiliated! I cried a silent prayer as i missed Sam like I’ve never missed him before. I have done a lot of things with the kids alone and feel I have been blessed with a great tolerance for my children but this day I was a fish out of water!
The show went on with more distractions by kids being kids but by this time Jace had fallen asleep in my arms and i was completely restricted. Every once in awhile I dare sneak a glance to my neighbors and find them laughing at Jarom flapping away in excitement or Jennica expressing audibly her reactions to Mary Poppins and her charm. In fact, I found myself lost in the magic of Mary Poppins myself. The show really was amazing! (Despite all the extra drama on my row)
We returned to the Hotel at 11pm where I fell onto the bed in complete exhaustion while the kids bounced endlessly on their bed. Lesson learned: “it is not good for man [woman] to be alone. Oh how happy I was to see Sam!
I recommend Mary Poppins to anyone- I’ll even watch your kids for free!