Thursday, April 28, 2011

Space A Part 2 - Flying with Dick Cheney's RV

 I last left off my last post with us being delayed 43 hours for our next flight.  Yeah.  I said 43 hours.  Like almost two full days.  It stunk.

But don't stress out because it all works out in the end.  I knew you were stressing out....especially after that whole "almost ran out of gas" thing on the autobahn.  I just wanted to make sure you knew it was all fine.

We arrived back at the terminal around 5PM the next day and signed in.  They have a kid's play area and the girls made some new friends in particular, Madison, is a year older than Maddie and they were trying to get to the same place as us.

The two Maddie's became instant friends...although Madison-Maddie eventually asked to be called Brianna.  Ok.....she just "likes" that name.  She was a bit of a weird duck.

So, at around 6:45 they call our name.  WHAT!!!!!!!!  I go up to the desk and they tell me that I'm on the list and can leave for Andrews Air Force Base in the next hour if I want...or I can wait until around 11PM and fly into Baltimore. 

I jumped at the chance!  All I could think of  was that if we went to Andrews...  Its closer!  We'll leave sooner!  We'll get there faster!  We're closer to Jenna and Jason's house!  We leave in an HOUR!

Here's what I didn't think about...

The type of  plane we'd be flying on...

The hard backed jump seats with parachutes that we'd sit in... (let me tell you how different the safety briefing is when they explain how to open your parachute...instead of how to buckle your seatbelt.)

The incredible amount of noise made from the lack of any insulation from plane mechanical parts at all...

The earplugs we'd have to wear to make sure we weren't deaf by the time we arrived in Andrews.  (Have you ever tried to get a 2-year old to keep in earplugs?)

That the blankets had to be moth-proofed...! (PS...I'm not least they HAD blankets.)

What it would be like for my girls to sleep on the floor of a cargo plane... (thats Maddie and Madison-Maddie-Brianna snuggled up together on the floor of the plane.)

How cold a plane with no insulation is.  Thank goodness I brought my own warm blanket that kept Bella snuggled all night.

And last, but not least...Dick Cheney's silver bullet RV.

Thats right.  I flew from Germany to the USA with Dick Cheney's RV about 4 feet in front of me.  Apparently our *esteemed* Ex-Vice President refused to sleep in a tent while visiting soldiers in Afghanistan.  He required more comfort like one might find in a silver bullet RV.  Lucky me that I got to travel with it.

I must say its a claim to fame that only about 50 other people in the WHOLE WORLD can make.

I wish I could have gotten a good picture of it.  It took up most of the space.  It was chained to the floor with massive chains.  And left just enough room for two 9-year old girls to fit on the floor between the seats and the RV.  And it really was precious when I found Bella snuggling with the massive chains...just curled up hugging them...I thought I'd taken a photo of it, but alas...its disappeared into that place where lost photos disappear to...

And if you can't tell I'm being a little sarcastic about the RV.  It just makes me shake my head that he required the transportation of an RV to Afghanistan...

But...I won't digress into any kind of political spiel or overspendingbudget in such wasteful ways/fist shaking soapbox.  I'll just let you make your own judgement call on that one...

I'll bet you think you've heard it all from me by now...but just wait.  Tomorrow's installment of "Space A Part 3 - Walking two miles at 3AM" finishes off our adventures in getting to Washington DC.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Space A Part 1 - The mad dash to Ramstein...

And so begins the Space A adventures of the Larson girls...  Space A stands for space available...meaning we can take a military aircraft flight for relatively very cheap or free to fly to the United States.  In our case we were flying into Washington DC to visit family.

I had been planning this adventure for a few months.  I had agreed to meet Maddie's mom, grandma and brother in Washington DC so she could spend a week with them.  Bella and I would be staying with my sister, Jenna's family.  However, the thing about Space A is that you aren't ever guaranteed a spot until the last minute.

And in order to fly Space A we had to drive 3.5 hours to Ramstein Air Base.  Oh...and did I mention you only have 48-72 hours notice that there *might* be a flight?

So, I call on Thursday and discover that Friday there is a flight to Baltimore.  EEEEEEEEK!  You know those Fred Flinstone cartoons where his feet would be running super fast, but he never went anywhere and then all of a sudden he would zoom away in his car?  Yeah...thats what I felt like that in run run run....and GO!

I managed to get all the packing done and the house cleaned and the anti-spider spray down (tis the season...) and set my alarm for 3:30AM. 

Wake up...shower...get ready to get the girls up and I thought to myself...hmmm...I should call to make sure that we have to be there still at 10AM.

Sure enough...times had changed since the night before.  New "roll call" is now at 12 noon!  Woohoo!  I leave the girls sleeping, reset my alarm and crawl into bed for another hour.  Its now around 6:40AM and both girls are up...dragging...tired...whiny...hungry....

I decide to call again.  And it was a good thing I did because roll call had been moved to 10:40AM!  EEEEEEEEEEEEK!  If we didn't leave by 7:00 we weren't going to make it...and if you don't make don't fly.

For those that know me would have been in awe at the speed I managed to pack, dress the girls, feed the girls, close down the house and get in the car...we were pulling out at 7:10AM. 

The drive went pretty fast.  It *might* have been due to the fact that the speedometer did not go below 80 MPH the entire way there.  It also did not go above 100 MPH.  The poor little "American car not built for the autobahn" shakes too bad.  Just sayin.

And then...right near the end of our drive it got really exciting.  Why? 

Because I almost ran out of gas on the autobahn. 

In my defense...I was only 7 kilometers from my exit.  (7 km = 4.4 miles) when the car started to lurch.  I'd been eyeing the red flashing light on the gas guage and was determined we would make it.  ( I like to live life on the wild side...) 

Lurching...almost stalling...lurching some more and I gunned it the last 2 km onto the exit just praying if the car stalled it wouldn't be on the autobahn.  And as we careened around the corner there in bright lights with angels shining around it was a SHELL station!

I literally wheezed into the shell station on fumes.  Yelled 10 Euro at the attendent and ran inside to pay.  Thats like saying - "Put in 3 dollars."  I'm sure he was pretty irritated with me...but we were only a mile from base and guess what the time was?  10:32AM.  We had one mile and 8 minutes to drive it, find the terminal parking, park the car and race to the check in.

We didn't make it. 

What a let down...right?  Here you are thinking we'd slide in just in the nick of time.  But, we didn't.

That was the bad news...the good news was this...

The flight had been delayed until 4AM the next morning.

My reaction in my head, "&^%$^*&^%*&" 

My reaction out of my mouth, "Oh cool, girls!  We get to hang out in Ramstein all day long!  I'm so glad I just drove like a crazy lady to get here by 10:40AM! (insert manic laughter)  Yay!  We get to do this again in the morning!"

We got a hotel room then went to the Mall.  Yes, they have a MALL at Ramstein.  Granted its like the smallest little mall you've ever seen, but it was the most "Americanized" mall I'd seen in over a year.  Then we found a park.  This is also where I finally got out my camera.  I *wish* I had photographic memories of the speed demon drive and nearly running out of gas and if only there were video of the guy telling us the flight was delayed 24 hours.  *sigh...*  Maybe next time.


Back to the park.  Best park we'd ever seen.  Spent the entire day there.  It was glorious.

We all went to our hotel room and went to bed at 7PM that night.  I wanted to make sure we were well rested for our 4AM flight the next day.

Its now 2AM and I get up and shower.  Wake up the girls at 3AM.  Get the car loaded and packed.  Check out of our hotel room and go back to the air terminal.

"I'm sorry ma'am.  We just cancelled the flight.  It will be leaving at 10PM TOMORROW NIGHT. 

I got myself and my girls up at THREE AM just to be told I had 43 hours to wait until the flight was actually going to leave.

Let me expand my reaction in my head, "*(*&^$@!#^&**^&*$&!@##$%^(&)^%#$%^$#"

We turned around and went BACK to the hotel reception where begged my key off them, checked back in the room and reserved it for another night.

And then I made the announcement to Maddie..."If the flight is delayed ONE MORE TIME we are going home."

Tune in tomorrow for what happened 43 hours later in  "Space A Part 2 - Flying with Dick Cheney's RV"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I've got piles of blogs to write in the next few days...all about our adventures in flying Space A to Washington DC, but just to get us started here is my favorite 2-year old argument EVER...

The two year olds in question playing with playdoh...

It all started innocently enough on our way out to Chantilly, Virginia to drop off a cello for my brother-in-law, Jason.  The two year olds, Savannah and Bella, were in the back seat getting increasingly fussy because they were starving.

Heck...I admit it...I was starving and probably getting increasingly fussy as well.

To passify them my sister said, "Lets go get some yummy lunch...we can even have french fries!"  I think I followed it up with, "Oh perfect - french fries and chicken fingers for the little ones!" 

Because, when one is very hungry and increasingly fussy, the greasier and quicker the food comes...the better.

Then from the backseat:

Savannah:  I want french fries!

Bella:  NO!  I want french fries!

Savannah:  NOOO!  I want french fries!

Bella:  NO!  You want chicken and I want french fries!

Savannah:  NO!  I want french fries!

Bella!  NO!  You want chicken and I want french fries!

I'll refrain from repeating the fight they had for the next FIFTEEN minutes because I think you get the idea...

Funny enough...they both got french fries and Savannah did get chicken and Bella got macaroni so I guess in the end...

ANYWHO...this trend of "I want/you want" fighting continued the entire 2 weeks we were there.  But I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks when they had this argument...

Savannah:  Mama! I want Gaga!  (meaning I want to listen to Lady Gaga.)

Me:  Oh, Savannah!  I like Lady Gaga!

Savannah:  I like Gaga!

Bella: (ever the contrarian...) NO!  You like goo goo and gaga!

Savannah:  (near hysterics)  I LIKE GAGA!

Bella:  NO!  You like goo goo and gaga!

Savannah:  I LIKE GAGA!!!!

Bella: NO! You like goo goo and gaga!

...and on it went. 

I wonder if they'll miss each other?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

43 years ago...

Fourty three years ago a little boy was born...

He had a mommy who loved him...

And a daddy who adored him...

And before too long he had a brother he liked to cart around in a cage...

He loved the beach...

And fishing...

And bagpipes (which he still loves to this day...)

And he was as blond as blond gets with big blue eyes...

And then he grew up into a hottie patootie...and even modeled for a little bit...

But he loved boy scouts and all that goes with it more...

And so one day he joined the army...

And a lot of years went by and he had three beautiful kids and then we met...and a few more years went by...and then we got married...

and he became the father of my child...

And today, April 8, 2011 on his 43rd birthday he's donning his uniform...strapping on his weapon...heading to work in the unforgiving Afghan desert...where he plays with turtles...  :) to machine gun thingies and razor wire and porta potties...

But on his birthday I can't help but wish I had a better glimpse of what the man (who plays with turtles) dreamed when he looked like this...

Now his little girls are wishing him a happy birthday...

And singing for him...

And we just hope he knows how much we love him and miss him and how proud we are of him.

Happy Birthday John!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Kid's Day!

Maddie is quite the little writer.  I plan on taking full credit for it because I require her to write essays when she gets in trouble (for those of you who know my mother...and I her daughter or WHAT?!)  So, yeah...Maddie is a good writer.  And creative.  She writes in her journal daily...she makes up songs...she's really quite a storyteller.

A couple of months ago her teacher asked all the kids to invent a holiday.  They had to write a persuasive paper about the holiday and read it in front of the class.  The kids were then allowed to vote on whose holiday was the "best holiday" based on the persuasive paper. 

Maddie chose a holiday and named it Kid's Day.  She read it to her class and WON!  Woohoo! 

I won't spoil it before you get to read Maddie's persuasive paper...

By Madeline Larson

Hey! There's a holiday that I'm dying to tell you about! It's called Kids' Day! Its August 1st because celebrating on a warm summer day sounds so fun, and we can celebrate on the beach. We kids hardly get noticed with all that homework so we much get a time to get noticed!

Our colors should be purple, pink, red and blue. We should have these colors because a lot of girls like purple and pink a lot of boys like blue and red! Don't you think? Also boys are like all cool and hip so I choose a skull and cross bone for a symbol. Oh, wear your pajamas.Who wantst o get dressed in the morning? I don't like it! That's why I chose the comfortable source of clothes, pajamas!

When we see each other the girls should say "Hi!" and the boys should say "What's up?" Most kids say that so, those are the greetings. Raise your hand if you like sweets. People who are raising your hand get ready to feel the thunder! We'll eat candy, cupcakes, chocolate and fruit. We'Il drink Sprite, Fanta, and all sorts of soda. Even better, the smells are cookies, brownies, and cakes baking! We'll eat the cakes, cookies, and brownies when their done baking. I chose those becauseI only know one person who doesn't like sweets.

Well, the traditions are popular kid doings. We'll draw, talk, dance, read, play, and, EAT! We'll tell stories of our life and family. You should hear the story of "The Grape Flavored Ice Cream." It is so funny! Now who wants to start baking?

So, on April 1st her entire class went to school in their pajamas and played games and ate junk food pretty much the entire day.  No schoolwork, no homework.  It was play all day.

Bella and I took in some "ants on a log" and frosted brownies right before lunch/recess so the kids wouldn't have a lack of suger to keep their energy going all day long.  We got there just as the kids were eating...Here is what Maddie looked like..

Can you see the crazed sugar look?  The pouch of her belly from all the food she'd eaten?  She told me, " didn't tell me I couldn't have as much as I wanted so I pretty much ate treats all day long."  Her little friend pipes up...."Yeah...we were amazed at how many brownies Maddie can eat!"

So, I had to put up the stop sign...allotted her 2 more treats in the afternoon, but as many "ants on a log" that she wanted.

Crazy kid...when she got home she said she ate about 15 "ants on a log."

Not surprising...she had a bellyache that night...

But isn't that what kid's day is all about?!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday Maddie!

Oh what a day!  And now its officially over since I'm posting this blog at 12:07AM!

Maddie turned 9 today!  She has been sosososososososososo excited for this birthday.  She has decided that at 9 she is finally a "grown up lady."  My oh my...I've got a grown up lady on my hands now.

We started the day out much like we normally do...getting up late...eating breakfast late and then rushing Maddie out the door to make it to school before the second bell rings...

Of course on one's birthday you must stop to pose for a "rainy birthday" photo...  Please note the awesome "Today is my birthday" sign I made for her and she was so excited to wear... (I love those ages where kids WANT that kind of attention.)  Also please note the rockin' outfit.  Maddie's art teacher told me once that Maddie dresses the way she creates...I totally see that.

Now that the birthday girl was off to school I donned my working clothes and got straight to work on one of her presents.  I painted and decorated her room... FINALLY.

The finished product turned out simply adorable.  She wants to paint a sunshine and some bumblebees as the finishing touches.

Now that the room is done it was time to bake the cake.  I nearly had to call FEMA considering the disaster that I ended up with.  Maddie wanted strawberry cake with strawberry frosting and strawberries and sprinkles on top.  Is your mouth watering?  (yeah...mine's not either...UGH.) 

So...I cook the dang cake and it literally falls apart on me.  So I glued it back together with frosting.  Then the strawberry fell apart and I glued it back together with frosting then I just covered the whole lumpy mess with strawberries and sprinkles. 

It was a hit.  (Again...thank goodness for nine year old simplistic desires...)

We had a party for our "extended family" that we have come to love and adore while being here in Vilseck while our soldiers have been deployed.  They all came over and helped us devour the entire cake...yes, I'm serious.  The entire cake was G.O.N.E.  And then Maddie opened some presents...

Now for the really fun part of the party...  We'll call him "A" for short.  He's the little boy that Maddie has had a crush on since the first day she met him in September at soccer practice.  She's liked him the entire year.  And if there is any boy a mother would LOVE for her daughter to crush on...this kid is it.  He's so incredibly sweet and funny and he adores both Maddie and Bella...  Do you see that grin on Maddie's face...thats the face of 3rd grade true love.

And he plays dressup.  In fact...this kid will be an actor someday.  He was so funny.  Maddie can't even do her poses she was laughing so hard at him...

And the best thing of all...  He spent the entire weekend working on a present for Maddie.  It was this giant card...

Some candy, some blank poster paper for art projects and two dollars...  Yep...two dollars...the greatest two dollars ever.

Does it get ANY cuter?


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Its so hard to be two....

Its her favorite thing to say these days...when something just doesn't quite go her way.  Does that still work at 37?

Got a speeding ticket?  It's so hard to be 37...

Gained a few pounds?  It's so hard to be 37...

Don't want to make dinner?  It's so hard to be 37...

Not in the mood to fold the laundry?  It's so hard to be 37...

I do believe she may be onto something...It's so hard to be 37!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Junie B. Jones

Red Hot...



Its Red Hot Reader's month at the elementary school here.  Basically all the kids have to read a certain amount and if they do then the principal does something crazy.

Maddie's been reading up a storm.

And to keep the momentum going they have all these different "spirit days..."  Like crazy sock day and wear a hat day, etc...

Well, the best one so far was dress like a character day. 

Maddie wanted to be Junie B. Jones...Captain Field Day. 

She marched downstairs in this outfit for breakfast and I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing.  She was by far the best dressed up character in her school. 

Seriously funny....

May I present...Miss Junie B. Jones Captain Field Day....