Twenty-One Days in America (part two)

For Part One, click here.

Emma and Hannah had been excited and preparing for this wedding for months.  They were to be the flower girls, later deemed, “wedding princesses.”  They were excited about wearing white dresses and pink bows and dancing.  Granted, they had never been to an American wedding before, so didn’t know what to expect, but they love their Uncle Aaron, and were eager to participate in his big day.

All went well for the beginning of the trip, in fact, we may have gotten to DC without incident, if I remember correctly!  We didn’t even stop once on the three-hour trip.  That’s not bad with three little ones, but it helps that they are willing to wear diapers, just in case.  We met up with everyone in Old Town Alexandria, VA on the banks of the Potomac River for the rehearsal.

It was a lovely night, and all were ready to do their part … except the two flower girls.  Now they realized what was in store and weren’t excited about all eyes being on them.  Oh well, they enjoyed playing with their glowsticks that Tayta brought and still had a night to prepare their role.  We enjoyed a nice time and good dinner after rehearsal and the girls enjoyed playing with one of the bridesmaids who gave them special princess crowns.

The day of the wedding dawned beautiful and sunny … a perfect one for an outdoor event.  I, unfortunately, didn’t sleep well the night before and got sick during the night.  Maybe Emma’s bug had finally gotten to me.  I spent the day in the hotel room while grandparents entertained the girls for awhile.  They took a good afternoon nap which we thought necessary for success later in the evening.  I was feeling decent in time to go down to the water to grab dinner, but since we needed another adventure, Hannah got sick in the car on the way to the wedding.

Of course I wasn’t going to let them wear their white dresses very long before the wedding, so thankfully, that wasn’t involved in the clean-up process.  We returned to the hotel, and I washed up Hannah while Tayta cleaned up the car as best she could.  Sorry again, Michael.  Then we headed out and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with family before reporting for duty on the green.  The whole ceremony was flawless.  Aaron looked great and very happy.  Megan was beautiful and beaming.

Even Emma and Hannah rose to the occasion as they both carefully dropped flower petals along the path, and slightly off the path, before sitting in their assigned seats.

The weather was perfect and the service was enjoyable as two lives joined together.  Emma was a little antsy as she was waiting for the dancing, and Hannah just wanted to play with the seat decorations, but even Layla stayed quiet for most of the ceremony.  When it was over, we had a short jaunt over the cobblestones on the way to the reception.

I had been looking forward to this reception since I heard about it.  It was a “dessert reception.”  I would take dessert over dinner any day so I couldn’t wait to sample everything.  However, the way my stomach was feeling, I barely wanted to eat anything!  Oh well, I’m glad I was well enough to attend.  The girls enjoyed some dancing, and sampled most of the desserts.  Everyone appeared to be having a good time dancing, laughing, talking, and getting to know one another.  But since we have young children, we had to leave before it was quite over, so we headed back to the hotel around 10pm, and poor Hannah, once again, graced Uncle Michael’s car and her white dress with the “dessert reception.”  It seems she may have picked up the bug.

We mostly slept well that evening, although Jayson was starting to feel the sickness creeping over to him, so in the morning both he and Hannah were down for the count.  This was the day we planned to spend alone as his parents took the three girls home to New Jersey where we would join them tomorrow.  We decided to stick with the plan … even if we weren’t feeling well – it would still be time together.  The girls and I joined all four grandparents at IHOP for some breakfast before everyone headed back North.  We packed the girls into the van to be driven home by grandparents. They had a bucket and some bags along with some snacks, drinks and diapers, for what I hoped could be an uneventful trip.  From the sounds of it, though, it was anything but that.  Hannah threw up before they stopped at the McDonalds across the street from the hotel!  A four-hour trip took about nine hours as they made numerous stops for food and bathroom for two preschoolers, an infant, and a dog, not to mention two adults who drank their share of coffee.  We’re grateful for their perseverance, but sorry it had to be such an experience!

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon as Jayson was still not feeling too great.  We sat at one of the parks on the waterfront for awhile, met up one last time with Jayson’s brothers, and finally, around 8pm, headed over to the Lincoln Memorial with some bagels from Dunkin Donuts.  This is the spot where we got engaged over eight years ago.  The view was quite different then as our memories took place at sunrise and we were just about the only ones present.  On this night, the steps were full with tourists, not a huge number, but a steady crowd coming in and out.  We sat and talked and enjoyed our bagels, which was about the only things our stomach wanted at that point.  It may not have been the day we originally planned, but it was special just the same, with no thought of children.  Okay, well, almost no thought of them.  We knew they were in good hands.

The next morning we got to actually sleep in without waking for three active girls! We grabbed some food to eat at the Teddy Roosevelt Island memorial and were happy tohave the energy to loop that trail which we also walked the day of our engagement.

Our trip home included a stop for Rita’s Water Ice which was on our wish list before returning to Egypt.  We returned to the Casper’s house and found two sick adults and three active children.  Fortunately, there were also two healthy adults as some relatives were staying for a few days.  We were doing a pretty good job at sharing our sickness with the whole crew.  We found out soon after that at least four others were hit with the bug as well.  Our one hope was that the bride and groom did not catch it!

Well, our time was just about up.  The last couple days for me meant packing everything we had accumulated, from clothes for the girls to peanut butter to new toys to the toiletries we brought with us … everything had to fit in our eight 50-pound suitcases.  It took a solid day to pack everything we had gathered, and this was with the gracious help of grandparents taking the girls out for an outing.  Fortunately most everyone had recovered and could enjoy a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for a morning.  The day of our travel arrived and we packed up the suitcases right to the last minute and boarded the big van with the four grandparents for the return to Cairo.  By that point, I was tired and ready to be back in Egypt, but we still had two days of travel ahead of us.

I’d have to say that the return trip went very smoothly.  Although we arrived at the airport with plenty of time, we somehow managed to be one of the last people on the plane.  The flight attendants were able to rearrange people to give me an empty seat next to me to put Layla for most of the flight.  The girls enjoyed the in-seat entertainment systems and some of their dinner before the lights went out.  And amazingly, they went to sleep for the duration of the flight at that point!  Of course, with the time it takes to get airborne and serve food, there was only about four hours left of the flight when they went to sleep, but we were glad for any hours they could catch.  Our layover in Amsterdam was nine hours … longer than either flight … so we checked into a hotel room for that time.  It was wonderful to have a bed to lay down on if needed, a place to keep our stuff, a shower to clean up in, and internet to stay in touch with the world!  The girls enjoyed the extensive play areas in the wonderfully designed airport and we stayed entertained all day, until they crashed on the bed about one hour before checkout.  This means we took two crying girls out of the hotel room and down to the gate as they struggled to wake up.  We were glad their crying was not in the enclosed space of the airplane.

Almost on our final leg of the three-week journey, the flight to Cairo was short and sweet.  Again, the movies entertained the girls and us, Layla ate and slept, and by the time dinner was served, it was too late to turn out the lights before landing.  We got off the plane, through customs, and to our luggage around 3am local time (which was only 8pm body-time) and were in our own beds by 5am that morning.  Twenty-one days in America.  The to and fro was rough at times, but would we do it again?  Most certainly.


Anniversary Stats Abroad

Aug. 10, 2010 marks eight years of wedded bliss for Jayson and me.  We’ve always liked to say that we’re still on our honeymoon, and like both sets of my grandparents, we are aiming for about 65 years of marriage.  One set lived almost their entire life in the same town; the other has lived everywhere and traveled the world. The other day as we were talking about our eight years together, we started to think of some interesting (to us, at least) stats for that relatively short period of time. It appears we follow one particular application of the grandparent model…

Years of Marriage:  8

Years without children:  4

Years with children:  4

Countries we’ve lived in:  4

States we’ve visited and stayed in for extended periods of time:  4

Countries we’ve visited:  8, 9 depending on how you count Palestine

Number of trans-Atlantic flights: 13

Countries children have been born in: 3

Number of times we’ve bought furniture to furnish an apartment:  3

Number of apartments/houses we have lived in together…for at least 3 months:  8

We’ve had a fairly active eight years, and are actually hoping to be a bit more settled in the next eight.  It will be interesting to see the stats at year sixteen!