Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yeah, I didn't miss Thursday... just late

Here we have a couple of photos from Carrie's wedding reception. I love this picture of Cindy and Lilly. Violet is dancing with the lead singer of Midnight Oil in the top photo (I don't know who the guy is, I think it's one of Jim's friends).

Speaking of Midnight Oil, sorry for those of you who thought I didn't update the blog Thursday, I worked today and didn't get to it before I went to bed.

Actually went to bed, couldn't sleep, and got up and updated this bad boy. Because, hey, I have no other hobby.

I have been playing with this sitemeter website, that you put some code in your blog, and then you can not only track how many views you get, but where the people are who are checking out your page.

I have to say, I am getting more page views than I thought. I figured about two people a day looked at this thing. Cindy's aunt Jan and my mom -- other than that, I thought it might spike every now and then as friends and coworkers check it out. Boy was I surprised when I saw I am averaging a monster 11 hits a day. Yes, 11 -- look out I am coming for YOU! (Notice I link to a Midnight Oil video on You Tube but don't to CNN -- I don't know if that is my competitive nature or just me being lazy).

Most of those are from people with the blog bookmarked -- although I do get a random person who finds this thing every now and then and they quickly leave.

Just thought it would be polite to let you know I am spying on all 11 of you. I especially like the little map I can zoom in on and see that I am reigning Internet hits from Canby, Beaverton and Colton. Yes, I am a Internet phenom.

Anyway, I suppose I should try to get some sleep. Maybe some milk will do the trick.

UPDATE 12:19 A.M.: OK, OK, I should be asleep, but I found a friend's blog, and saw that with some new Blogger templates I could customize some things. You will notice a blog list on the left side of the blog -- those are blogs I read. This weekend I am going to work on how to handle photos better and also create a custom header for the blog with pictures of the girls (maybe the entire family if you are lucky). Now I really am off to bed. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A walk and a request

I have had a request to put more wedding pictures online, and while I took these for Jim and Carrie, I am resistant because I know they are private people.

So I am going to post wedding photos of my girls and when the two love birds get back, I will find out if they mind me posting more of their wedding shots. I don't want to violate their privacy. That said, here is a picture of Carrie and Violet. :) Yes, I am evil. I like this photo but the chairs behind them really bug me.

As far as the mirror picture is concerned, do you have any idea how hard it is to hang off of a staircase, take pictures of people in a mirror, get all of them in the picture and NOT be in the picture? Plus the lighting in that place was like a closet. It's crooked, but I like the expression. I think it's OK for someone who normally just points his camera at the fire and snaps away...

Walk-about Wednesday
Today was my second full days with the girls, I did a little work -- I wrote four e-mails to get some appointments set -- and then we were off. I decided that since Cow Grandma and Zoo Grandma go walking all the time, I was going to show them how it is done.

I laced up my walking shoes, strapped Lilly in the front of our HOT PINK stroller and took off, with Violet following on foot. My goal was to go from my house on the southwest side of Canby, to the Logging Road Walking Path and follow that to the bridge that goes over highway 99E. I have no clue how far it is, but Cindy thinks it's about a six mile round trip.

And I did it. Barely.

Oh, I am in shape -- the shape of a small planetoid. In fact, my favorite quote from Star Wars is when Obi Wan says as they approach an exploded Alderan, "That's no moon. It's Pat!" Anyway, Violet made it one mile, and then wanted to ride. So we did a fire drill and got everyone situated and then I pushed them the rest of the way.

Yes, I have lived in Canby for nearly a decade and still found a way to make a wrong turn on the way back. You know you have walked too far when the bottom of your feet start hurting. I got laughed at a couple of times with guys in pickup trucks driving by seeing a grown man in a Oakland Raiders hat pushing a hot pink stroller. I wanted the black one. But noooo.

"We have girls!" is what Cindy always says.
"Oh, then let me just flush my manhood down the toilet when I push this thing," is what I am thinking.

Sure, I might have staggered home, and I am really stiff now, but next time, the pink stroller is staying home. I will take the single-seat blue one and have Violet ride on my shoulders when she gets tired.


Because, I'm stupid. :)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home with the girls

I love this picture of Lilly, it almost seems like she is saying, "Yeah, yeah, Dad and his camera again. Jeez buddy, get a new hobby."

So today I am home with the girls and it's great. I made breakfast for everyone, including Cindy, and even ran a load of dishes.

I was going to go for a walk today, but there has been some drizzle and frankly, I'm still kinda tired. I am sure that when Cindy gets home tonight we will take a walk. So I think I will save it for then.

Talked with my editor and she said I could come in on Thursday and we have enough stories in reserve so I don't need to kill myself this week. Shaping up to be a pretty mellow week -- unless something major happens in Wilsonville I think I am off the hook for anything too stressful.

Violet wants me to play dress shop, which I try to resist as much as possible, because it involves dressing up tiny plastic action figure princesses in different dresses. Lilly is almost crawling, still moving backward, so I put her facing the opposite direction I want her to go.

For example, right now I am writing this, I want her to stay off our ceramic tile floor. I point her at the edge of the tile, and she scoots backward until she hits the couch with her feet. Slide her up and let her go again. :) I am evil.

I should start a load of laundry and make some work calls. Oh, and Sleeping Beauty needs a new dress.

I could get used to this.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Back to work

Well, Cindy left this morning for work and officially ended our vacation.

Makes me a little sad -- you always want vacations to last forever. However, this morning I am having a blast with Violet eating yogurt. She is growing up so fast!

Here is a video of the girls on a swan boat. I was on a bridge over their route and took this video with our small camera.

I wish I would have taken my big camera to Boston -- but we opted to go with the little one, as we weren't spending the day. We only had a couple of hours before we headed back to our room to pack. Anyway, good memories!

Today I am doing a story around noon, and I might catch a meeting tonight if I can determine if it's worth my time. One of my co-workers is on vacation I think this week, so I will probably have to put in some extra hours.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ahh, sleep is nice

Today is Saturday and it's about 4 p.m. and for the first time since our trip home I don't feel like I am going to pass out at any given moment.

One thing this trip did was teach me that I am not 24 years old anymore -- I can't stay up for a full day straight and then expect to get eight hours of sleep and be back on my feet. Jeez.

There were quite a few little details of our trip that I left out of my last entry, and I also wanted to post another picture, so I figured I would make a bigger post when my brain wasn't shut down.

Before I get too far into this, we were the lucky ones. There were people who got on board airplanes and sat on the runway at Newark for almost six hours before they even took off. That would have been crazy with the young 'uns.

As it was, this time around we didn't have as much luggage going back as we did traveling to Boston. One of the carry-ons we emptied into a big checked suitcase. So we only had five bags and the stroller. Easy!

The little plane we caught out of Providence, Rhode Island to Newark flew around a number of thunderstorms, and Violet called it a "baby plane." She at one point said the plane was throwing a tantrum. It was at that point she was holding my arm with her arms and legs, because she was scared. It was the bumpiest commercial flight I have been on, but it wasn't too bad. The landing was horrible.

Then came the big wait, we arrived at 1:30 p.m. and our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:05 p.m.

The first sign of trouble was when we arrived at the gate and it said our flight was delayed until 6:45 p.m. No biggie, Cindy said, because Newark is like a big mall. And it was. A very big, expensive mall.

We ran into some people I know from Silverton who were also travelling back to Oregon after spending time in New York, and ate pizza, burgers and just waited around. I bought a couple of hats and sent Carrie a few pictures of Violet wearing a Yankee hat to drive her crazy.

When the board changed to our flight coming in at 9 p.m., is when I started to get worried. I was watching the weather monitor and saw thunderstorms from Texas all the way along the coast to Maine.

When the plane finally arrived, 12 hours later at 1:20 a.m., at a different gate, the kids had taken small naps and Cindy and I were run pretty ragged trying to keep them from annoying people. At one point Cindy went to the bathroom and left me with Violet sleeping and Lilly. Lilly immediately started screaming, and some guy behind me said, "Shut that kid up."

I turned, exhausted and frankly sick of the airport, and said back, "Oh, you are really helping. Want to give this a try?"

He shrugged and I let it go. And Lilly screamed until Cindy came back about 20 minutes later.

When we finally got to our new gate, we learned that while I had gotten our seats together, the airlines moved them at the last minute. Instead of being row 6A-C, we were now row 29D-F. The last row on the plane. Having never really flown that much, I didn't think it was that big of a deal.

I was on the aisle, Cindy had the window and Violet was in the middle. Our seats didn't go all the way back, and Bigfoot was sitting in front of me with his seat back. Still more room that I had on the flight out. Not a problem. Then, the flight started and the bathroom breaks started.

I think I have had about 30 stranger's butts in my face during the 5 1/2 hour flight. Over the course of the early morning hours, we would nod off, then...


(God I hoped they rinsed) and repeat.

Violet at about 3 a.m. started crying and saying, "I want to sleep but I can't!"

So I held her for two hours.

We got back to Portland at around 4 a.m. and were home by 6ish.

My boss was kind enough to give me Friday off, if I work on Monday, so I am going back to work the same day Cindy does. Which is very nice if for no other reason I get some sleep. Heck, I even caught "The Dark Knight" today -- and it's very good. Even if you don't like comic book movies, I thought it was excellent.

Well, time to get back to our lives. Bills, groceries (there is no food in this house) and laundry are calling. We are unpacked, kinda, and Monday is going to be here too fast.

After spending all this time with Violet, Lilly and Cindy, it's going to be hard going back to work.

I love my girls!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day Eight: The long road home

We are home, everyone is safe, if not tired.

Thanks to weather delays our trip from Rhode Island (we used the airport there because it was closer to the wedding than Boston's Logan Airport) to Portland took around 25 hours. We were delayed in Newark, New Jersey for more than 9 hours due to bad weather.

At one point the airport was shut down due to a pretty major thunderstorm that passed over. Impressive, if not annoying. :)

We left the hotel in Milford, MA at around 8 a.m. (Eastern) Wednesday and rolled into the driveway at home at 6:22 a.m. Pacific (9:22 a.m. Eastern) today. Ouch.

If you ever get a chance to travel that long with two small children. Break a law and get sent to jail, I think it would be more enjoyable.

We all made it home with all of our fingers and toes, so no harm, no foul. We are all extremely tired and trying to come up with a way to get back on our sleep schedule.

I would like to work tomorrow, if I feel human, we will see how much sleep I get tonight. I am trying to stay awake until I go to bed for the evening.

OK, well, Cindy is sleeping and Violet is running wild.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day Seven: Part II Packing

So we are packing things up and weighing our bags with a little travel scale we bought at home.

Since we purchased our tickets before April 5, we can have two checked bags each, that weigh 50 pounds each. We brought one bag each for a total of three. When we checked in at Portland, our bags were all around 48 pounds. Not leaving much room for purchases in Boston.

Tonight as we are packing and weighing, my bag again, weighs about 48 pounds -- mostly clothes and shoes and whatnot. But the two bags Cindy packed are considerably lighter. Anywhere from five to 10 pounds lighter, total.

She is scratching her head trying to figure out why we are lighter going back. When it hits me.

Cindy packed diapers and baby food (like we couldn't buy that stuff in Massachusetts). Obviously that stuff isn't coming back with us. :)

I also had her parents take my camera tripod and some gifts we bought back in their luggage. So no wonder we are lighter. This time around we are putting one of Violet's ladybug bags inside Cindy's big carry-on, to replace the extra set of clothes we had in there on the way out (in case our bags got lost).

I am sure this is all exciting stuff, but the food and diaper thing makes me laugh. I lugged around groceries with our luggage. Perfect. :)

I also called the airlines and our seats are together tomorrow. It should make the trip a little easier. Now all I have to do is get some sleep tonight and fight off the post-vacation blues.

Well, Cindy is talking about our strategy tomorrow, suppose I should pay attention.

The next update will be from home -- ah, my own bed and not having a tossing and turning 3-year-old kicking me in the ribs every hour.


Day Seven: Boston

I will admit that last night, I tried to talk Cindy out of going to Boston. I kept hearing horror stories about how hard it was to drive in, how parking was a nightmare, and I was concerned that I was going to ding up the rental.

After talking a bit about it, we opted to drive in instead of take the train, and it was really quite easy with my GPS and some basic directions Cindy got online. I reminded me of driving into Portland, only with way ruder drivers. One guy just wouldn't let us change lanes, it could have been the New York plates on the cah, um, sorry car. (Little Boston accent humor there).

We went to the Boston Commons and Boston Public Garden -- a big area kind of like Central Park in New York. It was cool, there were swan boats that people could ride on, so the girls jumped on and I took their picture as they went under a bridge.

That was the only thing on our to do list that Cindy had cooked up, so we walked around, the weather was great, and just kind of looked around. We didn't do the Freedom Trail because when the girls are in school we want to do it with them. We searched for a place to have lunch, survived two Violet meltdowns (someone hasn't been getting naps) and decided to just eat fast food. So we had bagel sandwiches at this Bagel Fanegal place. It was OK.

The parking was under the park, so we went back to the park and ate lunch in the grass -- ok, the plants that Boston calls grass -- and Violet fed the birds. Very fun. I have a video down below of Violet feeding the birds, very cute.

We jumped back in the car and headed out, getting out of Boston (we had no clue where we were going to get out) was a pretty simple task, and had I known it was this easy we probably would have spent two days in the city. But at least this trip we got to see a bunch of Massachusetts.

Tomorrow will be a travel day, so I doubt there will be any photos or blog entries until after 10 p.m. if at all. Tonight we are going to dinner with Carrie, Jim, Larry and Karen. Our flight leaves at 1 p.m. tomorrow and we won't get to Portland until after 9 p.m. -- then it will be after 10 before we get home.

Overall it's been a very fun trip, I think tonight we are going to swim in the hotel pool and mess around. Probably keep the girls up late to get them back on Oregon time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day Six: Plymouth Rock -- Closed

Today we visited our good friends The Kennedys! They are great, and Edward sends all his best.

Ok, Ok, Ok, we don't know the Kennedys, and in fact we almost got sued by one of their neighbors for running over there unleashed little rabid dog. After the close call we decided that Cape Cod wasn't for us.

Before we left, we did take a boat ride around Hyannis Harbor, saw all the sites and got sprayed with water. The photo of Cindy and Lilly is on the boat -- as Cindy put it, "It was a good day to not have hair."

After the boat ride, which everyone enjoyed, we ate at this little dockside restaurant and had seafood -- we are convinced it was out of a can. Then again, it could just be the Pacific Ocean's seafood kicks the Atlantic's butt. We left there, investigated where to go next, and found the JFK Memorial, tried to make a little dog road kill and finally settled on swinging in a park -- something we NEVER do at home. :) Enough of "The Cape."

One thing I have noticed is that my inner geek keeps saying "This isn't THE cape, it's just a cape." Mostly because to me, "THE CAPE" will always be Cape Canaveral -- where the space program is launched. So all these rich snobs can have their little cape with canned seafood, I will keep MY cape. Nerd 4 Life.

At that point it was time to jump in the car to look for Zooquarium, but after reading some online reviews -- I love my new Blackberry -- we opted to save the $40 and see some more of the cape. The kids were pretty fussy, and the driving was stop-and-go, so we made it as far as Orleans (right before the peninsula turns North) and turned around and headed for home.

Turns out that there have been some changes to the way people get to "The Cape," and the GPS was totally wrong. So we ended up near Plymouth, MA. We decided to see Plymouth rock and it was under construction. Really, it was, we have photos to prove it. Plymouth Rock is a hard hat area.

We saw the Mayflower II: The Wrath of Khan (little Star Trek humor there, sorry) but opted not to go aboard. We did, however, find ice cream. As we were sitting there, and cars were cruising down the street with stereos blasting, I was reminded of Cannon Beach. My God, they have taken the birthplace of our country and turned it into a place where teenagers are annoying. Sigh.

I didn't even get to see a Pilgrim -- I would have used my best John Wayne impression and said, "Hello there, Pilgrim." Because I am SURE they have never heard that one before.

Anyway, here are some photos of our adventures. Tomorrow we are trekking to Boston on the train, and then giving Cindy's parents all of our excess luggage to take home. Our last day here should be fun, and we will post pictures tomorrow night too.

OK, well I am off for the night, our activity director (Cindy) has some Boston research to do.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

"I've never had one lesson" -- Ferris Bueller

So the big joke with the Loscocco family (Carrie's new in-laws) was that I wasn't going to know what to do with the photos because I didn't have any caution tape to follow.

I don't know who started it, but it was something that was repeated more than once, and it made me glad they realized I had no flipping clue about what I was doing. :) When we were taking family shots after the wedding, they kept the candles burning, because, as Jim said, "You know what to do around fire."

Here is one of my favorite shots during the wedding. I just like the look of the picture. I think I shot this at 3200 ISO and I can't see any grain. I even zoomed in Photoshop to see if it was grainy. I am sure professional wedding photographers would tear my stuff apart, but I liked this one. The whole experience made me think of this scene from Ferris Bueller. Watch until the end...

Anyway, just going through photos tonight and listening to the new "The Dark Knight" soundtrack. My plan was to see the movie while I was out here, but we have been so busy I can't see spending time in Boston in a movie theater. Hopefully when I get back I will be able to catch it on IMAX. Being a huge Batman fan, it's killing me that I can't see it on opening weekend (the only one I haven't seen), but Carrie, Cindy, Violet and Lilly are way, way, way more important than "The Dark Knight."

Well, I think I will finish up the ceremony shots and then go to bed. Tomorrow (Monday) is going to be a boat ride around Cape Cod. Should be fun if we don't get stuck in traffic.


Day Five: Driving around the North Shore

Today we did our first try at doing the tourist thing. I am exhausted, but I want to make sure we don't spend our entire vacation sleeping -- so I am pushing on.

We drove up to Salem, Massachusetts, a little over an hour away from Milford, and I went through my first toll road ever. What a racket! $.70 one way for about a five mile trip. The highways wasn't even that much better than the other highways we traveled.

Anyway, Violet was convinced that witches were "princesses" and that all the mean stuff tickled. We took a small tour that gave a history lesson, and I hope we aren't going to pay with nightmares tonight. We walked around Salem, looking at old churches and exploring. We ate at a place called Rockafellas, which was excellent.

We then drove to Gloucester, where the Fisherman's Memorial is and it's also America's oldest seaport. Cindy stayed in the car with Lilly during my quick walk out to the sea wall and memorial -- I read "The Perfect Storm" and wanted to see it. Mission accomplished.

We then drove around the area, just exploring until the kids fell asleep, then Cindy came up front and we had a conversation that didn't include the words, "princess," "flower," "bunny," or "tarantula." (don't ask) for the first time since the trip started -- it was nice!

Another first was driving in a downpour and having the air conditioning on at the same time. For some reason, being from Oregon, when it rains, it's cool outside. Not 90 degrees. Jeez the weather here is nuts.

We got back to the hotel and did some swimming in the indoor pool -- no one was there so I even jumped in (I think we are far enough inland where I don't have to worry about whalers). The hot tub (without the jets on) was joyous for the girls and I, the big pool was pretty cold in the air conditioned room. Great memories were made of Violet jumping on me and Cindy wading around with Lilly in a blow-up raft thing.

Anyway, after showers and whatnot, room service it is. Overall a good day. A lot of driving, but it wasn't too bad. Tomorrow we are going to Cape Cod, might take a boat ride and explore again. I am feeling a little stressed because I want to finish up going through the wedding shots for Carrie, so I might talk Cindy into cutting the day short so I can finish up before we leave. You know that if I wait until we get home, it won't get done. :)

Here are a couple of photos from today.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 4: Wedding bells ringing! Congrats Jim and Carrie!

OK, so I survived the wedding. It was 94 degrees and the humidity was so high it felt like, well, an armpit.

UPDATE: 10:58 p.m. Eastern (I am off to bed after this)
Tomorrow we are going to Salem and Gloucester (I want to see the town where "A Perfect Storm" took place), I was looking at the weather for tomorrow. Today it was 91 degrees with98 % humidity -- the exact temperature of my armpits! Told you! Tomorrow is supposed to be a cool 85 degrees with 64 percent humidity in Salem, MA. We considered going to Portland just so we could say we went to Salem and Portland, but the trip would have been too long. Dang kids! :)

I was the wedding photographer because I have a camera and take pictures for a living. Of course everything is of car wrecks, politicians or fires, so that makes me qualified to shoot a wedding I guess.

I got some good shots, I have quickly gone through the 9.5 gigs of photos I took over the last couple of days. There are some keepers.

I missed them putting rings on, because I was a one man show and out of position when it happened. Yes, I should stick to my crime and fire photos. Anyway, I got the smooch and the cake cutting and a bunch of reception and family shots that I think are going to work out. Whew.

I came home and literally peeled my suit off. It was soaked. We were going to visit Boston tomorrow, but I think our plans are going to change. The kids didn't get a nap, my feet are killing me (I stood almost the entire time and it ran from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m.), and frankly, we want to sleep in. :)

Plus we keep hearing horror stories about driving in downtown Boston, and taking the train in this heat, with two kids, doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Tonight Cindy is doing some research on some things we can do outside of Boston. We may still visit the big city, but who knows.

As I get photos done, I will post them here, with a little commentary.

Tomorrow afternoon I am hoping to have some of Carrie and Jim, as well as Cindy, Violet and the family.

Right now is trying to trim 9.5 gigs to fit on an 8 gig jump drive -- by taking out the dark, out of focus and plain bad (back of people's heads) out.

Getting pretty pie eyed, long day. I don't think sleeping is going to be a problem tonight.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 3, Open House

We did errands today, picked up water, diapers, bibs, you know, stuff like that. I also got a monopod that doesn't suck. So that's nice. Also picked up the new "The Dark Knight" soundtrack and loaded it into my phone. Can you say Batman ringtones. Oh yeah.

I am hoping to see the movie (which opened Friday) either tomorrow night (depending on how I am feeling) or sometime Sunday. Probably in the morning when everyone is at church... muhahahaha.

My God the humidity sucks here. There was an open house at Jimmy's place this afternoon and I felt like Frosty the Snowman trapped in the greenhouse.

I took some shots, and basically hydrated and talked with relatives today.

We didn't do much else.

I set up a slide show of the rehearsal and people seemed to like it. If I don't get too cocky, this might just be OK.

Well, I have about a zillion things to get done tonight -- charging more batteries, clearing off memory cards and whatnot. Still nervous, but going to try to get more than four hours of sleep tonight and that will probably help.

I have yet to eat dinner, so I think I am going to forage for food.

Oh, the picture above is Violet at the open house eating chocolate cake.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 2, part 2: Rehearsal dinner

Tonight was Jim and Carrie's wedding rehearsal in this great Catholic church. I think Jim's family is Catholic and Italian.

I took the opportunity to shoot inside the church and scope things out. You see I am used to taking crime, fire and crash photos, not weddings. I have done one wedding before, and it turned out OK, but nothing I would charge money for.

This time I have better equipment and more experience, and I got to check out the church before the service so I at least know what my challenges are. The rehearsal was late in the afternoon, and the wedding is Saturday morning, so the sun problems I had in this photo shouldn't be an issue (as the sun will be on the other side of the building -- where there are limited number of windows).

I was happy with what I shot tonight. Out of 359 shots, I got about 25 really good pictures that I wouldn't mind framing. For being a writer and not a photographer, I'm not going to complain about that.

I am debating on whether to get a monopod tomorrow, or to just flash the whole wedding. I will not rapid fire, but just take single shots with the flash. I think that's my best option. I tried shooting at 1600 ISO in the church, and it works without a flash, but the photos are dark and my shutter speed is just too low.

Anyway, enough photography geek-speak that I barely understand.

Today we had a really good day. Moved into our new hotel -- which is nice -- and got some groceries. Tomorrow is an open house at Jim's house, so we will attend that. I am letting Cindy dictate what we do, because she works so hard, and really I get to play with the girls all the time. I figured I would let her tell me what she was interested in doing. If she wants to see some sights tomorrow, we will probably do that.

My biggest challenge is getting used to the time change, right now it's 11 p.m. here and I am wide awake. Cindy and Lilly are snoring, and Violet is pretending to sleep while watching me write this. I have been pushing myself during the day to try to get tired (I only had one Coke today) and the rest of the time I was drinking water. It's hot and humid here so water is better anyway.

Well, off to try to sleep.


P.S. Pat, take a deep breath. You are going to do fine. If they wanted professional photos, they would have hired a professional photographer. Love, Pat's calm voice.

Nomads, Day one and Day two

Well, who knew that traveling with two small kids could be so much fun!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure that when we get home this will all seem very funny, but today I was seriously ready to make a bomb joke at the security checkpoint just to end this folly of a trip.

It all started with the luggage. Now sitting at home, in the living room, looking at two large suitcases, a large duffle, a stroller, and three carry on and three personal items (e.g. diaper bag, laptop bag, and Violet toys bag) didn’t seem like that much. Heck even putting it in the back of the van was a breeze. All said and done, it took me ten minutes.

Then we got to the airport.

Suddenly what was so easy to handle at home, became something akin to carrying all our belongings along the Trail of Tears. I pulled up and started taking bags out of the van, and realized, “oh no, this is not going to work. I don’t have 15 arms.”

Two carts later (which you have to rent for $2 or $3 depending on the airport) we had everything loaded. Cindy was watching the kids, I parked the van, and took the shuttle back to the airport. I found her still standing at the arrival curb, because no amount of Super Human Cindy Willpower ™ is going to move to carts with 150 pounds of luggage and two small kids.

We get to the ticket line. There we are informed that our seats, Violet, Cindy and mine, won’t be together. We all get the experience of sitting in the middle of three-seat rows. Cindy and my jaw drop. Violet, 3, sitting by herself, the crying, screaming filling in an airborne sandwich, that isn’t going to work. The lady informs us that if we get to the gate in time, they MIGHT be able to fix this. Note to self – don’t buy tickets off those travel websites, you might get to pick your seats online, but the airlines just ignore that and put you where they want. If you purchase tickets through the specific airline, you can pick your seat.

All the bags were OK and weren’t over. Here is where things got even more interesting. Cindy decided that we needed to check the stroller (which folds up and has a nice cover so you can’t even tell it’s a stroller except for the two wheels it rolls on) at the gate. So it would be part of our carry on experience.

I have my camera bag, laptop bag, Cindy has a full-sized carry-on bag, a diaper bag, and Violet has two butterfly carry on bags, plus the stroller. None of these things really stack. So I am lugging everything but the stroller to and from the different gates.

We make it through security, with a mild meltdown from Violet who is convinced the metal detector is evil magiks (honestly I don’t know what her problem was with it, but it was “scary”). We get her through there, get the stroller through the scanner thing – it JUST fit – and walk to the gate. There we are told that once we get on the plane, they might be able to fix the seating SNAFU. Boarding we go.

Keep in mind at this point, I have had part of a Coke. That’s it. I figured I would eat at the airport or on the plane, because we ran out of the house in a hurry. No biggie right?

We get seated on the plan, each in a middle seat, acting like the filling of an Oreo – and Cindy finds a very nice lady to trade with Violet. Cindy now has both kids. She also is seven rows behind me, with my book, laptop, video games, and, as it turned out, sanity.

For four and a half hours I read… our ticket stubs. Being in the middle, and a bigger guy, sleeping was out of the option, heck, breathing was out of the option. The lady next to me horded the window, pulling the shade down and then only opening it enough so SHE could see out of it. She caught me trying to catch a glimpse and said, “I paid for this seat, it’s my window.” Wow.

Dude sitting next to me was pounding down screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice) and was watching the in flight movie, “Definitely, Maybe.” He had headphones. I had jack. So the flight attendants announce that lunch is coming up. Woo hoo! Food!

Lunch was $7 for a sandwich. Guess who: A. couldn’t get to his wallet because he was stuffed in a middle seat like those foam earplugs crammed into your ear canal and B. Didn’t bring any cash, and couldn’t get to Cindy because the cart was in the way.

We land in Philadelphia which I am convinced has the busiest airport on the face of the planet. I have never seen so many people, moving all at once, in different directions. That was amazing. Oh, and I got a hot dog. Yes, I flew to Philadelphia and didn’t have time for a cheese steak. I had a hot dog that looked like it had been cooked since January. Best. Hot dog. EVER.

Smaller plane to Providence, Rhode Island, two-seat rows, and Violet and I are sitting together, and Cindy is in front of us with Lilly. Nice flight, great flight attendant that took the time to talk with Violet. She even got to meet the pilot after the flight, Jennifer, and she showed her the cockpit while Daddy unloaded the 13,000 items of carry-on we had. Good memories for the kiddo.

Go to get the rental car – I wanted a Dodge Magnum because of the space in the back, but instead out rolls a Chrysler 300, with a truck that is about the size of middle seat I was sitting in from Portland to Philly. They also handed us two car seats and said, “Good luck.” We had to put them in.

Cindy and I got the car seats in – she fixed my carseat work – while I played Tetris with the trunk and our luggage. At one point I was convinced that it wouldn’t fit, then Cindy showed me again how I would be lost without her, and figured it out. Let me put it this way, we won’t be bringing much back from Boston, as I don’t think it would fit in the rental when we return to the airport.

Hookup my GPS and get rolling. No problem. Oh, except that Lilly has sat with Mommy all day and now is in the back of a strange car in the dark. I didn’t know she could scream that loud. My ears are still kinda ringing. After two stops at a parking area and rest area (where the bathrooms close at 8 p.m. – what people in Rhode Island don’t pee after 8?) we reconfigured our packing job, and had Cindy sit in the back. There was a small dust up between me and the missus, simply because at this point my blood sugar was a negative number and Lilly was challenging our patience. All was forgiven.

When Cindy booked our hotel, she credit card held the room, which from what I gather means you are getting a room. Not tonight. Our room at the Marriot Courtyard broke. We don’t know how, it just broke. So they told us that we could stay at the Sheridan about three miles away. They would pay for the night. The lady then gave me the directions that I blanked. I just didn’t understand where she wanted me to go. So I get in the car and drive around Milford for about five minutes. We tried the GPS. We tried 4-1-1 on our cell. We couldn’t find the Sheridan.

Back to Marriot we went, Cindy got directions and an address, and we drove right to it. Our room is on the fifth floor, and of course all of our stuff is scattered throughout the luggage, so guess who lugged everything up the room, to have to lug it down again tomorrow and then lug it to a new room Thursday? Hey, maybe the flight back in the middle seat will actually be comfortable – with this workout regiment I should lose the pounds like crazy.

So I am supposed to share a queen sized bed with Violet, while Cindy does the same with Lilly (in the same room). Which is why, at 2:30 a.m. EDT, I am writing this and not sleeping. Either Bunny or Laylula keep tickling me – I think they are jealous that I get to snuggle with Violet tonight.

Well, back to bed and hopefully to a better day that yesterday. It wasn’t that bad, really, just stressful and out of our comfort zone. I will tell you this, next time I travel with my girls I am bringing a Sherpa.

P.S. Twizzlers make an excellent dinner. All total I had a hot dog, two plastic cups of coke, a Pepsi and four Twizzlers. Tomorrow I am foraging for food.

Day Two

Woke up to room service we ordered on Marriot’s dime. Woo hoo. Was great free food and I will not complain about it.

The discussion this morning was if we should go to the Marriot, or stay at the Sheridan. Two things jumped out at us. First off, Internet connections are $10 a day. Yes, that's right, no free Internet at the Sheridan. Secondly, while playing with Violet I found three bottle caps, two hair scrunchies and some M&Ms that weren't ours. That sealed the deal for us.

We drove around the Milford area, it reminded me a lot of Wilsonville’s Stafford area, big houses and large lots and nice green trees and bushes. I can breathe here! I even had pizza today with Cindy’s family and could smell the pizza. Mmmmm.

We got booked into the hotel and this place is nice. We have a refrigerator and a nice bathroom. We are even on the first floor close the lobby. This is perfect.

Anyway, girls and everyone are sleeping, and I am trying to get the internet to work. If you see this message… I got on.

Pictures will come when I get settled. Finally unpacked today and now I am charging camera batteries, laptops and cell phones.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And.... We're off!

So, here we have Lilly, who is trying to launch herself into a low-Earth orbit. Much like Sputnik.
I moved the camera lower so you could see the wicked vertical leap this young 6-month old has. WNBA anyone?

We are almost ready to head out to Carrie's wedding. Got the luggage mostly packed, kids sorta on East Coast Time (who are we kidding, they never sleep anyway), my work is done now and Cindy is finishing up tomorrow.

I am picking a suit up tomorrow that is being fitted, then we are pretty much done with the pre-trip packing.

Not bad.

Now all we have to do is get the kids to the airport by 6 a.m. on Wednesday, that should be easy, right? :)

I am on my own with the girls tomorrow, should be interesting.

Well, off to bed.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I hate vacations

So, the rule in newspaper work is if you go on vacation, you have to have enough stories done, to cover the time you are gone. You can't exactly hire a temp to cover a beat.

This week, to get ready for our Boston trip, I have been screaming around Wilsonville and Salem digging up stories to fill my section of the paper while I am gone. I am going to miss only one issue, but I figure the more I get done this week, the better off I will be.

Normally I am responsible for about three stories, and this week I am shooting for six to eight. The tricky part is that I am also juggling getting Violet from summer camp in the middle of the day.

Probably from here until we get to Boston (sometime next week) the blog won't get updated because I am going to be too busy.

I apologize ahead of time. :)

Hopefully while we are in Boston I will post some videos of our adventures and maybe even some photos.

Well off to bed -- I have a heck of a day tomorrow.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Guess who is watching the girls tonight

We are raising two insomniacs.

Violet wants snuggles, and won't be denied having preferably Mommy (but Daddy will do) snuggle with her until she falls asleep. This entails laying on her bed, not touching momma bunny and giving her a hug.

Lilly, on the other hand, I am convinced is on Meth. Maybe Cindy is taking Meth. Something is going on, because at this point the child should be sleeping through the night, right? Six months old, solid food, eating a good dinner well before night, she should be sleeping.

I have finally gotten them all to sleep -- the best is when Lilly cries, wakes up Violet and then you hear a SHHHHH! coming from Violet's room. Took me a couple days to figure out that my head didn't have a leak.

Anyway, the above video is of all girls doing stupid things, ala America's Funniest Crotch Hitting. Yes, I'm not above the lowest common denominator either.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

What? No work on the holiday? Egads!

This is the first time during a holiday weekend I haven't had to work, which having a position at a newspaper.

And what a nice weekend it was! I went to a parade without the stress of chasing people to get names -- I did take my camera because it felt weird not taking it. What if something happened? I was ready (truth be told I even had a reporter's notebook and pens in my cargo shorts).

This is Lilly pre-parade being held by Cindy pre-parade. I shot this photo with my new 200 mm F2.8 lens that I love. I wanted the one with image stabilization, but it was $700 more, and I don't do that much low light stuff. It's nice for shooting portraits and sneaking up on the kids.

Well I shot General Canby Day Parade (here are some of the photos) out of habit, and got some decent photos. Nothing spectacular.

EDIT: Now you all see why I am a reporter at the Wilsonville Spokesman, and NOT a computer programmer. These photos are hosed on here. :) I tried to get tricky and mess with the code, thinking my experience 13 years ago in PASCAL class would help me. HA! Anyway, I have edited this entry to hopefully let you view the photos and have my explanation make some sense. Note to self: Leave computer stuff to Cindy, she has a bigger CPU.

I think the lady in red throwing candy is Paul Carlson's wife, he went to George Fox with Cindy and I and played in the band for chapel. Nice guy who now does investment banking. Normally I would submit this for the paper just because I love her expression -- and it's funny to put people with weird faces in the paper. :)

Buzz Weigand (spelling?) on his tractor. He is a farmer here in town who has been involved with the industrial park. He and I butted heads on occasion back when I was playing politician, but he pointed and waved at me at the parade, so I guess all is forgiven.

The industrial park is really growing and the connectivity from South Canby to Highway 99E is getting better with two other routes besides Ivy. This won't make sense to most of you, but needless to say, there are several new ways to get to our house that don't require driving all over a subdivision. Which is nice.

I have no idea who this lady (in the truck) is, and if I was working the parade, I would have run after the truck, then, while walking next to her, asked her name and how to spell it. I probably would have gotten it wrong, in which case on Monday I would have contacted the General Canby Day chairman, given them the number showing on the windshield and then called the owner of the truck and gotten the name. I hate covering parades -- mostly because of running with 25-pounds of camera gear just isn't fun.

I like the wheelie shot, if it was in focus.

Cindy and I questioned the decision to zoom up and down the parade route before the parade started pulling wheelies -- remember this parade is the one that hurt some folks when a horse got away. All it would have taken is one kid or family trying to cross the street before the parade started and it could have been bad. But nothing happened, so in my world, no harm, no foul. :)

Plus is was cool to try to get a shot. I was trying to shoot manual, so had I jacked up the shutter speed I think the motorcyle would have been in focus.