Monday, June 30, 2008

Home Again!

Here's a little rundown of our weekend adventure.

We left here about 11:30 a.m. Friday -heading south to Virginia, just below Alexandria, to visit a cousin and her mother. Made a brief stop in Hagerstown, MD at a McDonald's to "fuel up" the kids and then headed back towards D.C. Although we had hoped to avoid as much as possible of the D.C. rush hour -a task that between 3 p.m. and probably 7:30 p.m. is virtually impossible to skip -we arrived at our cousin's house around 5:30 p.m.

Friday evening was mainly a time to relax over a great meal Bea had prepared and then, just reminisce about family and things from back home here. Kurtis, being who he is -not always adapting, definitely not a compromising little soul -was not into showing much of his sociable side although Maya immediately made up and became fast friends with Bea and her Mom, Ruthie (or Aunt Ruthie or Grandma Ruthie as Maya began to call her.)

Mandy came into the room where Maya and I were sleeping and woke me up about 7:15 a.m. with the announcement that she was not going to spend another night there! Seems Kurtis had not been on his best behavior during the night and had awakened twice during the night and then at 7:00 a.m., was wide awake and not in the least interested in more sleep. Plus, he was still a lot on the crabby side too -probably from a combination of not resting very much and also, being in strange surroundings too. So, Mandy had already decided then that we would return home Saturday evening.

Saturday morning, Bea had prepared a delicious casserole dish of panakaka which, the way she and her sister both make it, is a very custardy version of rice pudding. (Panakaka to me and my kids is just a baked egg custard dish. Both are reflections of our Swedish ancestry though.) In Bea's case, we could chow on the panakaka with a topping of fresh strawberries or lingonberries -either one being very scrumptious!

After breakfast, we sat out on the deck -so pretty, so relaxing -or it should have been anyway. Here's Mandy and Kurtis in one of his nicer moods that morning.

Here's a shot of the lower part of Bea's backyard -taken from the deck. You can see a portion of the sunroom on the back of her house which is a lovely spot to sit and look at the flowers and trees that abound in her back yard. However, from about 11 a.m. till around 2 p.m., the sunroom can be very, very warm as it gets the direct rays then from the hot sun, plus the day was also quite humid too -making the sunroom a bit like a sauna at that time.
Here's Maya, sitting on a small chaise lounge at the upper part of the deck. The area where the picnic table, chairs and grill are located there -behind Maya -is on a lower deck level, down about three steps right behind where Maya is seated.
I don't know if you can read the writing on Maya's tee shirt -it says "How fabulous am I?" but Bea just loved this shirt on her and Maya, of course, has no conceit. That's a laugh! She is one very conceited little girl at times!
Here's Kurtis, partaking of his "after breakfast bottle" and reclining on his "bear pillow" which is his main security blanket type thing. Darned good thing we did bring it with us or he would have really been totally unbearable!
Here's Maya, at the kitchen table, which overlooks the deck and a good portion of the backyard. She was relaxing, playing with some of her coloring books. At least, a little bit of quiet time for her that way.
Early in the afternoon, the heat and humidity factors collided and brought a nice, warm shower of rain. Although Bea and I had been outside too when the rainfall began and we went into the house, Maya refused to come in out of the rain. When I asked her if she was coming in, her response to me was, "NO! I gonna get soaking wet!" And boy, as you can see here, she did, indeed, do just that too. But hey, it wasn't an electrical storm -just a soft, warm, very gentle rain and she thoroughly enjoyed prancing about on the lower deck -darting under an eave occasionally, then back out to let the shower cool her off. As long as she was happy, it sure didn't hurt anything to let her play like that.
Here's a picture of the lower part of the deck and the sunroom which I took to try to show the differences in the area where the rain had fallen and where it didn't even touch the deck. If you can make out the color differentiations between the upper part of the deck you can see that part is a slightly different color than the part right by the sliding door. The entire area in front of the door and down to the sunroom, was drenched and the upper part was dry as a bone! And back behind where I was standing -in another part of the deck that is three steps lower, the table and chairs were completely drenched. Just this one portion, in the middle section didn't get a drop!
Later on Saturday afternoon, we were joined by Bea's sister, Rita, as well as by another cousin and his niece for dinner. Here's cousin Rita, cousin David's niece, and Ruthie -mother of Rita and Bea (whose home we were visiting) seated out in the sunroom, visiting. It was so great to have an opportunity to see David and Tanya (his niece) and Rita while there and we decided this would qualify as a mini-family reunion since we had three branches of our family represented there -Rita and Bea's grandfather, David's grandfather and my grandfather -were brothers, the three oldest children of our great-grandparents.

After dinner, and a little more time to visit, Mandy began to load up the car leaving Bea and I out on the deck with Kurtis and Maya -trying to keep him occupied enough that he wouldn't start fussing because Mandy wasn't right there beside him.

This went ok for most of the time while Mandy loaded up the car until at one point, Kurtis was standing on the deck directly in front of the kitchen door and was poised to take a step down when Maya either moved or made a noise that caught his attention to her and he turned quickly in her direction. This had dire consequences to him then as he lost his balance on the step and tumbled down the two steps below that, landing on a little patch of bricks at the foot of the steps. Poor kid got his first "shiner" and it was a doozie too! Bea rushed over to pick him up and as she was handing him to me, she was really frightened because he was in "mid-scream/wail" and holding his breath. Not an unusual thing for any kid to do when they take a tumble and get a hard bump. As she was handing him to me, she was talking to him telling him 'BREATHE, BREATHE!" I took him from her, and he put his head on my shoulder and then he let out the rest of his wail -ear-piercing, right into my left ear! The shiner purpled up almost immediately -still shows today but not as much and he's none the worse for wear from it, overall.

About 8:30 p.m. -everything loaded into the car and we headed north, back to the Pennsylvania Hills. About ten minutes after we pulled away from the house and were on I-495 (the D.C. Beltway) Kurtis crashed and was sound asleep for the next 4 -4 1/2 hours of our trip home.

We made a stopover in Hagerstown at the Skating Rink that my Uncle Ralph had operated for many, many years and his daughter and grandchildren still own and operate it now. Got there shortly before they were due to close up for the night's skating session so we got to see my cousin, Barb, her husband, Bill, her daughter, Lori, her son, Brett and Lori's two boys -Tyler and Seyth. Just a long enough stop to have a cold drink -coke for Mandy and ice water for me -chat a little bit and then, hit the road again by about 11 p.m.

All along, on our trip, Mandy had been watching the gas gauge and it had barely dropped at all until we were about a little over an hour from home and all of a sudden, the old gauge started to go closer and closer and then, way too close for comfort to that big old E for Empty. We'd just come past Huntington, PA and hadn't stopped at a convenience store/gas station there because the gauge was registering a quarter of a tank then and as soon as we had Huntington in our rearview mirror, don't you know that old gauge dropped down, almost to the empty mark! Set Mandy into a bit of a panic mode there, that did until about three miles before we got to Water Street, there was another convenience store open all night and we stopped to refill the gas tank there then.

We got back home about 2 a.m. then, Sunday morning.

As I was getting Kurtis out of his carseat and started to carry him down the sidewalk to the house, he sat straight up in my arms, had sort of confused look on his face at first as he began to look all around him and then, it was as if it suddenly dawned on him that this was a very familiar sight to him, he broke into this big, ear-to-ear grin, and once inside, snuggled right down in his playpen bed and lay there, quietly drinking some more milk, watching the tv and touching the furs on his "Mr. Bear" pillow -not a peep out of him as he drifted back to sleep again!

Yep, he knew he was home again - and apparently "home" is also his big comfort zone too -ranking right up there with his "Mr. Bear" and his own playpen to sleep in.

Although we'd still like to find time during the summer to make a couple of other quick trips to visit family, I think we'll make them as just "day trippers" and not overnighters to avoid more issues of not enough rest for Kurtis or for his mother too!

Still, aside from his being a bit on the crabby side much of the time, it was so nice to get away and have a chance to visit with some family members we rarely get to see these days. And, thanks to the great hospitality of my cousin Bea, we had a wonderful run away from home!


Suldog said...

First shiner, eh? Did you get a photo? It will amuse him later in life, I bet.

Singing Owl said...

Ah, poor K., and all of you, but I'm glad that, all in all, it was good. D.C. humidity is what makes all the beautiful flowers.

Travis said...

Now that's a right full couple of days.

terri said...

Somehow those little trips are always worth it, even when little ones have trouble adapting to the strange surroundings. I remember those days all too well! I'm glad you had a chance to visit with family, even if it was only a short while.

Mary said...


Traveling with children isn't easy and especially with those with autism. I think that Kurtis did very well. Being out of his secure enviornment would be difficult for him and uncomfortable for you and Mandy, but the more you socialize him, the better it will be as he gets older.

I have always taken Brandon everywhere. He used to be very uncomfortable but now he is okay as long as he is with a family member. He does have nerves if he has to do something unfamiliar on his own.

I'm glad you were able to visit with your family. It was a great experience for the kids and it looks like Maya had a blast out in the rain. I remember doing this when I was a kid and it was fun. She will remember it for a long time.

Take care, my friend. Have a great 4th of July.


Sandi McBride said...

I always found the children to be crabby on trips especially when we weren't doing things that the time of the "TV" in the van they were grown and our trips then became just lonely...glad you enjoyed your trip!

Dianne said...

I love the "I'm fabulous" shirt!! and all the photos, what a lovely home they have.

Sorry Kurtis wasn't enjoying the trip.

Made me smile to read your description of how happy he was to be home.

TechnoBabe said...

I am exhausted just reading about your weekend. I am too old to try to do all that with little ones. My grandkids live 1500 miles from me.
Sounds like you thrive on family though and it was fun to relive it in your post.

Linda said...

Woman, I am tired again all over just from reading about your trip! Still, it sounds like a wonderful time even with the black eye!

fermicat said...

Road trips can be refreshing. Except for all that driving.