Not since the days of cheap charter flights booked by a travel agent eager to keep the business of our budget-oriented high school band have I had such a horrific airline experience. The fact that “SATA: The Atlantic and You” had a small, difficult-to-locate airline counter at the terminal should have been the first clue of things to come…
Over two hours after our scheduled departure time, we were still sitting in the old, crapped-out Airbus 310, on the ground, as there was a problem with the right engine that the ground crew was working on, and should have completed “in about twenty minutes”, according to the first captain’s announcement an hour and a half previously.
The random “pinging” that followed (you know, the kind that usually indicates some sort of subsequent announcement or lighting change, but that in this case was simply, well, a random and frequently recurring “ping”) made an only slightly more annoying impression than the burnt out ashtray in the armrest of the seat next to me – no, seriously, folks, it was completely melted away, burned crispy around the edges by a smoking flyer from days gone by, when it was still legal to stink up the cabin with cigarette fumes!
Since we had several hours to wait on the ground, trapped in our winged prison, several passengers – including myself – elected to visit the lavatory. Inside the tiny cubicle, we were greeted with a paper dispenser that had come unhinged, and which had to be held up by the arm of the peeing passenger whilst sitting on the toilet. I shudder to think of the unsanitary conditions in this worse-than-outhouse-like structure!
After my visit to the loo, I sent my girlfriend in search of something to eat. The effects of the skinny slivers of leftover pizza and three carrot sticks I had wolfed down with my kids and their dad back at home several hours before embarking on this adventure had long worn off, and – in addition to getting rather tired and cranky – hunger pains were beginning to gnaw at my innards, contributing to my growing irritation with this cheapo airline.
She came back, humbly, with an apple.
I couldn’t believe they had grounded us for 3 hours, and one had to go begging for apples – surely to goodness these people had a bag of peanuts or pretzels to offer??!!
We finally got off the ground after 11 p.m., and I began to harbour hopes of a half-decent airline meal in the not-too-distant future. Alas, dinner was not to be had until much, MUCH later, due to “turbulence” that forced us all to fasten our seatbelts and remain seated for the first hour or so off the ground. (I use the term “turbulence” loosely here; having flown a Cessna 150 for the past three years, I have felt more unrest during a flight lesson on the average, placidly windy day than the few mild bumps we were experiencing while my tummy screamed, “FOOD! NOW!”)
Eventually, “dinner” (an assortment of small portions of salad-like assemblage, a substance that loosely resembled pasta and some sort of chocolate slop) was served, but not without another hiccup: My seat tray would not unfold, and I had to request assistance from a flight attendant to help me pry it out of my armrest, where it seemed determined to stay tucked away for the duration of the flight. Eventually we managed to eject the tray table from its lodging, and some “food” soon on it, the latter of which I quickly devoured.
I decided to forgo the after-dinner tea in order to gain some shut eye – by now it was well after midnight, and anyone who knows me will not be surprised when I say I was TIRED!
I had come prepared for sleeping on aircraft: I pulled out my headphones, put my black-out eye patch over my eyes, plugged myself into Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and tried in vain to get comfortable in the too-small seat. Eventually, I drifted off.
Alas, a gentleman the next aisle over insisted on yelling at his relatives nearby about a variety of topics, from which number to press on the airplane radio to get Portuguese programming, to whether or not to drink brandy after dinner. Even my special earbuds could not block out this irritating and increasingly loud noise any longer, and combined with the “snoring airplane” (old aircraft just make that special sort of rumble as they are flying, which can be felt throughout one’s entire body), it was all just too much for me. I sat up grumpily in my chair and sulked for a bit.
After a while, the flight attendants turned out the cabin lights, and the yelling guy seemed to calm down and rest a bit himself.
With the noisy yeller soon sleeping peacefully, I managed to acclimatise to the snoring plane, and snoozed a bit more…
I’d like to say I got a few good hours of sleep before our arrival in Lisbon, however the truth is that within 20 minutes, the random “pinging” had returned, and whereas at first I was able to more or less tune it out, it was suddenly accompanied by bright lights in the cabin, and an announcement calling for a doctor or a nurse on board. Apparently someone was in need of medical attention. I looked at the flight progress map overhead, and noted that we were pretty much smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic at this point, not near any plausible diversion aerodrome. The yeller, meanwhile, had woken up, and like a parrot whose night cover-sheet is removed from its birdcage, he immediately began another loud and animated conversation, first with his wife beside him, and then with the relatives across the aisle.
Between the yelling parrot guy, the randomly pinging noises the aircraft was making, and the now several crying infants on board, I realised that I was unlikely to get much more sleep in the next 2 hours before our planned descent in Lisbon, so I decided to write this blog post instead.
I hope the reader had a more peaceful night than I did!
Every year for as long as I could remember, I spent my childhood New Years with my Omi. Together, we would create our own little New Year’s Eve celebrations while my mother went out to some party or dinner with friends. We’d put on silly hats, light sparklers (and the linoleum floor in the kitchen of my old house still has the burn marks to prove it!), and shake all sorts of noisemakers at midnight. Those were special memories we made each December 31, and I cherish said memories even now, many years after my grandmother’s death.
Last year we hosted our own little new year’s party, and one of the boys insisted on staying awake and ringing in 2012 with us, despite it being an “adults” party.
This year, Trevor and I decided the boys were old enough to officially stay up for new year’s if they wanted to (they do), and I looked forward to celebrating their first “real” New Year’s Eve together.
Alas, in an unexpected twist of fate, we’ll be apart. Trevor and the boys got invited to a New Year’s party that Tatsy and I did not get invited to. Not wanting to ruin this special opportunity for Alex and SImon by making them feel guilty about attending a “real” party which Mom had not been invited to and might be feeling sad about, we went ahead and made our own plans, involving a 7-hour airplane ride across the Atlantic!
So I won’t be able to share in the boys’ first New Year’s experience.
I was surprised, actually, to discover how much this reality affected me: At first, I kind of went with the flow, looked on the bright side (it’ll be nice to get away for a few days, to rest and relax without kids or dog, southern Europe is much warmer than Canada this time of year, who doesn’t love to explore a new city, etc., etc.) But as we sit in the airport waiting for our flight to board, I can’t help but be a little resentful of the adults who will get to ring in 2013 with my babies!!!
Ahhh, the curse of parenthood – rarely can such a circumstance be emulated where we love so much it hurts, where we are at times simultaneously desperate for a break from our children, and also overwhelmed by our desire to gather them into our arms for a hug, where we want at once to both strangle and kiss them!
Happily, we spent the preceding three days together as a family, in Niagara Falls at Great Wolf Lodge, where – as one very attuned reviewer wrote – there is on constant display an abundance of “fat people and poorly-thought-out tattoos”! Together, we played video games, frolicked in the water park, ate greasy, processed food, and watched silly movies. We visited wax museums and believed it or didn’t on Clifton Hill, and – after a long, snowy drive home – played one last board game together, and I read them a story.
Then, my babies and their dad drove me and my gal to the airport for our overseas winter adventure, and I wished them a good time at their New Year’s Party, with promises to Skype at midnight.
Maybe it’s not such a big deal, this specific date. In the grander scheme of things, what is more important, the day-to-day interactions with one’s children, or spending one specific night with them?
And yet, I made their Dad promise me that next year, we’d spend it together.
So, I’m looking forward to New Year’s 2013 in Lisbon, but I am also looking forward to ringing in 2014 with Alex and Simon. Wherever we are then, we'll be there together. I won't let anyone rob me of that.
Our annual pilgrimage to the twins/triplets family for Christmas Dinner was a success – Trevor, Tats and Vida more or less prepared the meal while I managed 7 boys in the living room. Mercifully, the weather was decent, so several kids went outside with Tats for a while to play. There were also oodles of donated gifts to open, so that took considerable time. And before you knew it, the turkey dinner was done and ready to devour.
One interesting twist this year was that Supperworks had accidentally packed two trays of profiteroles and no stuffing (the containers were the same size) – but no one seemed to mind the extra dessert!
And now, it's off to Grandma's (weather permitting), and then a few days of family fun, followed by a restful holiday without kids or dogs, to rest, relax, and rejuvinate for back to school Jan 7....
Although they had already opened several gifts the night before on Christmas Eve, as is our tradition, the boys still had a few things from Santa on Christmas morning.
In previous years we've been pretty lucky in terms of sleep – the boys have woken up at their usual 6 a.m. or so, which may seem early, but is not unlike what we are used to most mornings anyway.
Alas, this year, the mice first started stirring just before 4 a.m!!! Overexcited and unable to get back to sleep, they made such a commotion that Trevor finally told them they could get up and get their stockings, but that they had to stay in their rooms until a more reasonable hour before heading out to the living room to see what was under the tree.
The racket that ensued as two overtired and super-excited little boys played with the contents of their stockings was such that Trevor finally made them go back to "sleep" until 6 a.m. When he could hold them off no longer, he summoned us to come down, which we did (after taking the dog out for a quick pee).
By that time, poor Trevor was so tired and dysfunctional that Tats' help putting together one of Alex`s toys seemed to Trevor like the best gift ever! Other highlights of the morning included Simon's "Who Would Win" sticker book custom-designed by Tatian--, er, Santa himself, and of course the usual obligatory giant plastic toy for Alex. Even Jasper the bad little beagle got something in his stocking!
After tidying up the spoils, the adults set the boys up to play with their new toys, and went back to their respective beds in hope of getting a few more winks… Busy afternoon ahead, with the twiplets family to eat and make merry with later today!
(click on any image below to enlarge)
The usual family visit to Church to hear the Christmas story, and visit with neighbours, was preceded by our traditional Kartoffelsalat and Wursten dinner, followed by fruit salad with walnuts and waaaaay too many sweets for dessert! Blueberry Tea was also on the menu for the adults.
(Click any image above to enlarge.)
reblogged from releasedorothy.wordpress.com
I was appalled recently to read that a Baptist church in Texas had been picketing the funerals of some of the children who were gunned down in Connecticut last week… but not nearly as appalled as I was when I visited the church’s website: GodHatesFags.com comprises quite possibly the most frightening filth I have ever read, not even insomuch as it spreads messages of hatred against the LGBTQ community (I have confidence that my more intelligent LGBTQ brothers and sisters will know better than to be negatively influenced by that sort of all-to-familiar theme), but more because I worry about the many seekers who will be turned irrevocably away from God after experiencing this sort of ugly extremism.
Although I believe that the Great Organizing Principal of the universe makes Himself known to us in so many irresistible ways if only we’d open our eyes and ears, the truth is, many of us are looking for (or noticing) God in our fellow human beings. And when human beings picket the funeral of a 6-year-old shot to death at school, with a sign proclaiming that the massacre was God’s way of punishing a nation that is open to marriage equality, I fear that those who are looking for the God who loves them and made them will stop doing so.
Interestingly, the same day I read of this – what I would call – “crime of iniquity” by so-called “Christians”, I also noticed that someone had stumbled across my blog by typing in a “should Christians support pride week” search term. And so, I’ve decided to share a few websites and articles related to Christian and LGBTQ issues. I don’t usually comment overtly about that “stuff” on this blog, but perhaps the time has come to be more vocal about it here in my increasingly well-visited little corner of the Internet.
I hope that my Christian readers will read these links with an open mind as they consider that, if 6-10% of the world’s population is gay, then you’ve probably got at least a few LGBTQ folks sitting in your church pews, even if they aren’t "out" (their silent personal anguish and fear in the proverbial church closet doesn’t “cure” them of their homosexuality, people -- they're still gay, even if they didn't tell you they were!)
And I hope my LGBTQ readers who may not be believers will also explore these sites, and see that not all Christian folk are the hate-mongers the mainstream media would like you to believe we Bible-thumpers are!
Enjoy, and please submit a (respectful) comment, if you so wish.
Over the past year or so, my girlfriend, my kids' father and I have spent considerable time dialoguing about what sorts of leisure time activities are "appropriate" for Alex and Simon. Now 8, the boys are increasingly advocating for some "kid time", a few hours a week where they get to decide what's on the social agenda.
In addition to activities being cheap or free, the adults in the equation have had several chats with the boys about "intellectual junk food" and its place in the grander scheme of things. Whereas the three of us agree that we don't want to be those "mean" parents who don't let their kids do anything "cool", we also don't see the purpose of condoning gratuitous violence, stereotyping of women and minority people groups and general stupidity. We want to encourage Alex and Simon -- as much as possible or reasonable for two 8-year-olds living in North America -- to consider how best to feed their minds in ways that will generate a net positive benefit to them and the world they live in.
In movies and television aimed at school-aged children in particular, it seems that over-the-top disrespect masquerading as “humour” has become the marketing tool of choice. Potty humour and stereotypes abound, even in so called “PG” movies.
I recently came across this site while researching a movie my boys are begging to see.
I’m thankful that not all the stuff out there is complete crap, and I appreciate websites like this one that can help parents and teachers to navigate the volumes of stuff that is!
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera turned her written attention to prolific blogging for some years, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and SMARTbansho . Homeschooling 4 was her travel blog in Argentina. She now spends more time on her Instagram (@schalgzeug_usw) than her blog (pictures are worth a thousand words?!)
The views expressed on this blog are the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the perspectives of her family members or the position of her employer on the the issues she blogs about. These posts are intended to share resources, document family life, and encourage critical thought on a variety of subjects. They are not intended to cause harm to any individual or member of any group. By reading this blog and viewing this site, you agree to not hold Vera liable for any harm done by views expressed in this blog.