There have been so many firsts this year, with the boys – we arrived at the very end of January, 2010, and our first Jewish holiday was Purim (a little bit overwhelming for two boys with limited/no English!), and have cycled through the year, with Passover, the 4th of July, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and all the various events and dates in between.
Silly Sal has had to cope with changing lengths of days (not so noticeable in locales that are close to the Equator, like Ethiopia) – so hard to get to sleep when it’s bright and sunny outside, but as the days get shorter, so challenging not to have time to play outdoors when Mom and Dad get home at 6pm or later.
Our first Thanksgiving with the boys was with my sister’s family in Portland, OR – they had come to visit us in July, and her two boys, aged 7 and 4, got along very well with Silly Sal and Jelly Belly. They were both looking forward to the visit – and very excited about the idea of going on a plane. We posted a calendar on the refrigerator at the beginning of November, and Silly Sal diligently crossed off days on the count-down (on one particular Sunday, a couple of weeks away from the departure day, he crossed off 4 days at once before we could stop him, and then explained that he wanted it to come sooner!! We taped over those days to get back on track.)
As it happened, we used frequent flyer miles to pay for the flights, and we ended up with two seats on one airline, and two seats on another. We figured that I should fly with Jelly Belly, and Ron should fly with Silly Sal – but he was very upset about that plan initially!! We have learned that he needs a lot of advance warning to cope with anything that is going to be difficult or challenging, so, reviewing the plan every day for the week or so before we left eventually brought him to a point of acceptance with the plan. Both flights had stops midway, which we knew was going to be challenging, and since this was the first time we would be flying since the epic flights home from Ethiopia, we were preparing ourselves for the worst!
A huge thank-you to our friends, LS and JS, who lent us two wonderful items for the trip – the CARES kids-fly-safe harness, to keep Jelly Belly in his seat during the flight, and a car seat carrier, with straps that allow one to carry it like a backpack, which was also hugely helpful in negotiating the airport-to-car and back.
Both kids did remarkably well on the flights, although midway through each leg, Jelly Belly decided that the flight had gotten boring, and marched back to the rear of the plane and announced to me “All done, airplane!” – apparently thinking that at the back, we could simply get off the plane!
We landed, and got the rental car, and drove to my sister’s and the kids had non-stop fun with their cousins for the next 5 days – such a successful trip. Thanks, Nalini and John, and we can’t wait for next year! Highlights of our visit, other than a luscious meal on the big day, were our visit to Cousin N’s school (and playing outside), hanging out at Powell’s bookstore, playing in the snow on Mt Hood, and going to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. As a direct result of the fun we had that day at OMSI, we just joined the Maryland Science Center, and next time we go to Portland, we will have our own membership card to gain entrance there!!
It was an amazing trip, and so much fun to share parenting with my sister – we were always so out of sync when I had done all my little-kid parenting so many years ago (with my now 29yo daughter!). And it was great to get good advice on handling boys, which I am still getting used to!! So different from boys.
A final bonus to the trip was sharing some time with our mom taping some of her memories, prompted by StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening – we had no idea how well mom would take to the idea, but she loved it, and we learned a lot – we still have more to discover from her, and I hope we can pick it up where we left off next year!