Friday, January 14, 2011

Flying to the Homestead

When people would hear we were flying home for Christmas, they would either give me a funny "bummer" face or say, "You've done that before, right?" I'm saying it here and now: a 3-hour flight on Christmas day is outstanding. We wake up, open presents, play, eat, have fun, pick a few new toys to bring, drive to the airport, ride a shuttle bus, ride the train, ride an airplane, then a quick drive and MORE PEOPLEPRESENTSFUN!!!! It's like the longest, most joyful, Christmas ever.

Unless your toddler is a sad panda.

Gemma in happier times. She likes a good hat.

Then it's just a long joyful Christmas. When it came time to leave our home, she was still lethargic and sad. I was at a loss as to what we should do. Clearly, she was in no mood to travel. More clearly (is that even possible?), we had to. Now, I have to admit that while I consider myself a religious person, I very rarely feel compelled to fall to my knees and offer up a spontaneous prayer. This was one of those rare moments. With Ainsleigh and Donovan singing the world's longest medley of Christmas carols in the car, Joel and I took a moment to plead for a reprieve.

And then we left.

I'm going to call it a Christmas miracle like just about everything good that happens that day, but being in the car and moving while clutching both Weirdo the Robot and Ducky seemed to really brighten her mood. We got to the airport in plenty of time (driving around on Christmas is so fast - miracle!) and as we got off the shuttle, the curb check guys said they'd take our bags. I was a little embarrassed to tell them we had just handed our last cash to the shuttle driver so we'd just go inside. "No, no - we don't need that. It's Christmas!" And they whisked our bags away. While their desk was empty when we arrived, we had about five families in back of us when we were finished. CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

We got to security and walked right up to where you have to take off everything and leave a blood sample (no?) and once through the mind-reader, saw that there were now several switchbacks of people lined up. CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

The flight was largely uneventful. Gemma played Angry Birds or Monkey Lunchbox on the iPod Touch for most of the time. Donovan was a bit social with the flight attendants in back and soon one of them came out and said, "Have you really got total destruction on all levels?!" Uh...yeah. Nice embarrassed/proud moment there.

As we were coming in to land, I warned my kids that it might look a little scary but that everything would be ok. The runway at Oakland starts within a few yards of the edge of the Bay, so it always appears like you're going to land on the water until land comes into view and a second later you're down. But as I warned them, Gemma looked out into the Bay and through the near-dark saw the barges floating there. "Aaaaack!" she cried. "Crocodiles!"

Uh...ok. Except, no.

Poor baby waffled between happy and sad for the next couple days, but she perked up the next night when Jeff's fiancee's parents (can I just call her my sister-in-law already?) came over and her mom made the most delicious Thai feast. When the idea that she wanted to cook for us was first shared with me, my immediate response was, "ALL of us?!" Because let's face it: we are a lot. And we love to eat.

Mrs. B, me and Moomsy-daisy

But boy did Mrs. B pull out all the stops. First, we wrapped a billion (estimate) wontons. I'll be the first to admit that wrapping wontons is not my forte. Laura seems to think she ruled. It must be because she thought she was Chinese while growing up (understandable, no?). Anyway, the wontons (aka most delicious bundles of joy) were served with a spicy dipping sauce. And it was pretty spicy! But have you MET Gemma? She loves my stuffed jalapenos. So every time my dad would give her a wonton, he'd ask, "Yes sauce, or no sauce?" YES SAUCE! And don't even dream of handing her a plain one - she'll make you take it back.

Chowing down on wontons

And then there was satay and a pork thing and green curry (with pregnant mushrooms - hilariously aptly named, and delicious if I didn't think too much about them) and rice and the BEST peanut sauce I've ever tasted. I would like to eat that on chicken every day for the rest of my life. We had a TON of leftovers, so if not for the rest of my life, for the rest of the week.

the sibs and me

Jess further proved to hold her own in the food-loving arena when, later on that week, she and Jeff hosted (all of) us for lunch and prepared the most delicious Reuben sandwiches. Do I use "most delicious" a lot? I don't care. The world is full of a lot of crappy food, and a whole heck of a lot of scrumptious, mouth-watering, DELICIOUS food - it deserves some RESPECT. Anyway, these sandwiches were outstanding. Did she know that was my favorite sandwich? As my kids said, "This meat is so good - it's like bacon-beef." Throw in some Swiss cheese and sauerkraut and a zap of 1,000 Island Dressing and you've got yourself a party. Add to that the amazing views from their apartment and it was a wonderful San Francisco experience.

inside the apartment

"Yes, Grandpapa, the crisps are superb."

Shelley, who nearly died last Fall, from a scary cycling accident,
is making remarkable recovery. Her lap is still perfect.

Breathtaking view

Rooftop view - note part of the "Ghiradelli" sign down there

all the kids. what is Donovan doing?

But I'm jumping ahead - that didn't happen until Thursday. And we've got beach pictures to get to...


Lisa said...

I just wanted to say that I love hearing your recounting. You always make me laugh.

Is recounting a word? I don't think so. But my brain hurts, so deal with it.

Margo said...

Love the family pictures. I love the one of you and all your siblings. You guys are one gorgeous group. I am so glad you got to spend the time with your family and you had amazing food to top it off. I really need you to come give me some cooking lessons. You have a true love of great food.