Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The looooooong drive home

We started the LOOOONG drive home on Wednesday the 28th. When I say "we," I mean me- by myself- accompanied by 3 little ones strapped in car seats. There are 2 kiddos that are happy with snacks, Disney music, (obviously) DVDs, and an occasional potty and running around break. There is one little one in particular who is quite demanding of the two hands that should be steering the wheel: "me das (can I have) crackers? cheese? play with mommy's hair? mommy hold my hand? my tray fall down!!!! otra musica, 'nother book, 'nother book, 'nother book, my shoe, my sock, cargame! (carry me), po-po, Maya color, abajo (down) mommy, and the ubiquitous "no see my window To-to!!!!" (ie don't look out my window)... I think the 2.5 years of me working and commuting with Vivi was the vital car-survival-training that Maya missed out on.
Anyway, I drove all the way to south-eastern Missouri to stay with our friends Kim and Scott (and Drew- Tonito's buddy from Urumqi). It was awesome. Not the drive- the getting there and letting the kids run around and be crazy with their friend. We had so much fun playing and having a "sleepover" with Drew! We went to the same Chinese restaurant that we had visited on the way down. Fan, the gracious owner, is from China, is one of Kim's friends, and has kids around the same age. The kids were wild already, and then she blew up a bunch of balloons and the true mayhem began: balloon volleyball over the tables and around customers, the occasional balloon popping and subsequent crying until another balloon of the same color and size could be provided to the victim, and just plain running and jumping and expelling of energy. After dinner we went back to Drew's house and the kids all played until well past bedtime- we miss you so much Drew!
Day two was supposed to be the "easy" day, but fate had other ideas. We left around 11, and I had supposedly 6 hours to get to Little Rock to pick up Tonio at the airport at 5. The trip was supposed to only take 4 hours, so I could check into the hotel and relax before picking up Tonio. Ha. Relax. That's funny. The radar on the weather channel was right- the line of thunderstorms and tornado producing weather fronts started exactly at our location and ran all the way to Houston. Not only did I have to drive through rains so hard my fastest wiper speed couldn't keep up, but this same storm system ended up delaying Tonio until 9pm.
Most of the drive from rural Missouri to Little Rock was on two lane farms roads, flanked on both sides by flooded rice paddies, or even one lane bridges, where you should wait for the only other lone car on miles of highway to cross. (this I did not know until I saw their headlights on the same little bridge as I was breaking and hydroplaning to avoid a head-on collision). Back to the paddies- did you even know that Arkansas grew rice!?? I didn't. Side note: they also grow a lot of cotton, and I pulled over and picked a pod bursting with white, fuzzy cotton (on an emergency bathroom break). Vivi and Tonito saw it and said "a cotton ball!" On the way up to Chicago I had explained how people use this cotton to make tshirts, and the kids demanded that Tonio make them a tshirt right there to show them.
So we finally made it to Little Rock and randomly found the Children's Museum, which was open for one more hour! I first had to take the dogs out (oh, you forgot I also had two 50 pound dogs in the car?). This was a little difficult since 1) forgot the leashes at Kim's, 2) it was pouring and Boo is terrified of storms, and 3) we were parked on a in the busy museum district. I had the kids stand next to a dumpster under this mini-roof, and opened the back door of the van and begged the dogs to do their business in the tiny patch of grass littered with garbage I found (right next tot he kids, don't worry). I guess holding their bladders for 6 hours made them hurry. Dogs locked up, we ran down the street to the museum and played there from 4-5. Whew.
Tonio called by now, and told me he had good news and bad news. The bad news was the plane delay, but the good news was that he was sitting next to RICK BAYLESS!!! I gave him a list of comments and questions and raving reviews to relay to Rick, and told him to call me back when he knew more details about his flight. The kids and I found the nearest restaurant, which happened to be fish, and took some great pictures while trying to waste a couple of hours:

Maya's favorite activity, twirling mommy's hair.

We waited another 2 hours in the Little Rock Airport parking lot, watching more DVD's. My dad kept us updated on the flight patterns and the red massive storm on the radar directly over Little Rock. Somehow Tonio landed, we drove the 45 minutes to the hotel (that's why I didn't check in! The only hotel that had rooms and accepted dogs was way out of town)...
At least someone had fun:)---
Day 3, Tonio drove the whole way from Little Rock to Houston. Aaaah, just in time for Halloween!

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