Thursday, August 4, 2016

OKC Visit when Isaiah Turns ONE – Part 2 of 2

Sunday, July 17th - airport, church, and mall
Jeremy had to fly out early in the morning to Minnesota for a two-day training class for his job. Frank got up and was ready to take him to the airport at the butt crack of dawn per the previous night's agreement. But Robin came downstairs all dressed and ready to drive him herself. She claimed, "He just gave me those puppy dog eyes and said how much he was going to miss me. I decided I wanted to be with him as long as possible and kiss him good bye at the airport." Aaah. Romance after nearly six years of marriage. I am so glad to see that with my kids. Frank grumbled, "If I'd know you were going to do that, I'd have slept in!"

We got dressed and had a small, quick breakfast. Looks like Isaiah thought he should share his with Grandpa. It sorta looks like a donut...

We drove to church in two cars. It is kind of squooshy in one car with two child seats in the rear. From church we drove directly to the Penn Square Mall and had lunch at the Pepperoni Grill first thing. We were all hungry! Isaiah was asleep in his stroller while the rest of us ate. Then Frank walked Autumn a bit down the mall to see another kid riding in a Mall Racer. He asked her would she like to ride in one of those. Her eyes lit up and she gave an enthusiastic yes. It was money well spent. Robin and I got to shop while Frank zoomed her around. We traded off, but Grandpa was the main source of propulsion.

The Lego store was a huge hit. Autumn was absorbed for a good 30 minutes at their play table.

After all that time we did buy her a small set of Duplos to take home. I gave her a choice of three options. I guessed she that she would pick the one with the exotic animals as her first choice and the one with the farm animals as her second but I was very wrong.

Her first choice was the airplane - the one I would have pegged for last. Maybe she is headed to be an engineer like her mother and grandmother.

The shoe department seemed to hold a lot of allure. This is not quite the correct way to measure a shoe size but it can still bring a smile.

The clerk in the Macy's shoe department was grinning ear to ear just watching Isaiah and Autumn squealing with glee at each other.

Final rides of the day were Isaiah taking a spin in the Mall Racer...

... and Autumn making a round trip with Grandpa on the escalator in Macy's, just for the fun of it .

Monday, July 18th - shoes, quilting, glass
Monday morning, all were off to work and daycare. Frank and I decided to run some errands and minor outings. Oklahoma City has a SAS shoes store outlet near Robin and I often replace mine and Alex's worn out shoes when I am there there. SAS stands for San Antonia Shoemakers™and it is based in Texas. Historical, SAS shoes have been unavailable online and my local California mall shoe store carries the brand but has a six to eight week delivery wait. SAS takes care of their own stores first. Since Oklahoma City is near enough to the factory there are actually two SAS outlet stores in OKC. So I use the opportunity to get the sturdy shoes with a roomy toe box and well-supported insole construction, for Alex. Best of all they have Velcro closures so Alex can be independent. Frank and I had a rather comical exchange with Alex's home. We were not sure of his shoe size, so we called and had them trying to measure his foot and his shoe. Even when getting him to stand up in the correct position for sufficient window of time, the accuracy was not good enough over the phone – no surprise there. Once back in California, I located an old shoe box of his and was able to order a pair for Alex and have them shipped.

I use the women's version of Alex's shoe as a good walking shoe. I bought and paid for shoes for me at the south store closer to Robin, but the correct size had to be transferred down from the north store. It had not been transferred yet and so the store staff developed a convoluted plan where an employee from the north store would work at the south store on Tuesday and bring the correct shoes with her. After this was agreed, I changed my mind. The north store was relatively close to a quilt shop I wanted to visit, so Frank and I decided, what the heck, we'd swing by and pick up the shoes ourselves. The staff at the north store was joking what a nightmare for the accountant – shoes paid for at one store, scheduled to be transferred, picked up instead at a different store where there was no record of their purchase, and an employee whose work schedule had been modified and unmodified. It is enough to make an accountant surrender.

I can't go to Robin's without a trip to at least one of her local quilt shops. This trip I visited Quiltworks. I did fall in love with this display quilt and ordered the pattern to be mailed to me once home in California. For more about this quilt and about my purchases at the quilt store refer, to my DianeLoves2Quilt post for July 26th.

Lastly we happened to spot a glass shop we were driving by. Frank stopped and made a U-turn to go back and make inquiries about getting some fogged up windows at Robin and Jeremy's house replaced, wanting to learn the lead time for getting an appointment, measuring, giving an estimate, and doing the work. It is tasks like this that are so difficult to accomplish when working full-time and with little to no leave accrued. We try to help out where we can. We will put this on the "To-Do" list for our next visit.

Tuesday, July 19th – stamp store, projects, packing
Frank visited a stamp store in Oklahoma City that he got a real kick out of. It was like a philatelic coffee klatch of about eight guys sitting around jovially shooting the breeze about stamps and life in general. He made some new friends, bought some supplements and stamps he'd been looking for, and decided to be sure to return there his next visit to OKC. The store is simply called The Alexanders.

On his way home after the stamp store, Frank picked up a repaired window. The previous week Frank and Jeremy had been inspecting a window in Autumn's room that had fogged up due to loss of vacuum between the double panes. In trying see how to remove it, Frank and Jeremy had broken it and had to find place that did quick turnaround service. Frank called the shop and learned happily that it was ready to be picked up, so he did. That meant he and Jeremy could install it the next morning – before we left for the airport. These pre-airport projects are getting to be a tradition. Last visit I was pacing, suitcases packed and nervously looking at my watch, while they were installing a cat door!

Once back to home base, Frank worked on some mini-projects around the house. This outlet plate under the kitchen counter had been crooked since it had been mounted at a different level than the paneling. It was a minor cosmetic quirk but one that had been bothering Frank, Robin, and Jeremy for years. Frank chipped away at it and fixed it. I couldn't catch photo of him in action but Isaiah periodically crawled over to "help" Grandpa.

I busied myself about the house, washing the Gymboree clothes from Friday's purchase, and doing the bulk of our packing for our return the next day. I made a big batch of sloppy joe for dinner and to leave behind a few meals for them in the freezer. I also started reading the book I had been saving for our return flight.

We were lucky that the repairman for some air conditioning ductwork made his return visit on Tuesday while we were still here in the day time hours when Robin and Jeremy had to be at work. He had totally botched up the job the previous week when we had stayed in to accommodate the appointment time. He was supposed to reconnect a duct and, when he left, there was no airflow from the register and the duct was totally stuffed inside with insulation. Frank, furious, had called the company, leaving repeated messages and being called back, not by a knowledgable technician, but by some clueless administrative staff. At one point the clerk on the phone said, "Sir, there is no need to yell at me." Frank's retort was a classic. "Well, I am from California and we are not as nice as the people from Oklahoma." He further iterated his frustrations and demanded that the company address the issue immediately! Apparently being Californian not-so-nice works! It had taken two attempts but at least we were able to successfully check another item off their "To-Do" list before we left.

Wednesday, July 20th - home and SWA debacle
The morning we were leaving, I braided Autumn's hair for the final time this visit. This time she requested Anna (not Elsa) braids from Frozen. Here she is hamming it up saying  "Cheese," so I could take a photo.

Isn't this a priceless photo? Autumn asked to wear the flower so I do not know why the glum face. Maybe because Grandma and Grandpa were leaving?

Lots of people at Southwest Airlines' terminals all across the country had similarly glum faces that day. A power outage glitch in Dallas had caused all of Southwest Airlines' servers to shut down. All flights to all 90 cities they served were shut down. We were somewhat fortunate, or unfortunate, depending if you are a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person. We had completed the first leg of our journey, from Oklahoma City to Denver, and were just about to board the plane for our second leg, the Denver to Oakland flight, when the outrage occurred. Consequently when services resumed, we were one of the first SWA flights depart from Denver. We had a different plane leaving from a different gate but, all in all, we accumulated only a two hour delay. A lot of processes needed to be completed manually and so delays and missed connections accumulated. Some people's flights were cancelled entirely and they had 12 or so hour delays.

It is amazing how insidious the impact of that glitch was. Many of the features we take for granted, behind the scenes type operations, were affected. None of the terminal signage announcing what flight was leaving from which gate was correct. People had to listen to learn what gate was their new assignment. Paper boarding passes were golden. People who were relying on the boarding pass on their cell phone were instructed over the PA system to take a screen shot of the boarding pass if they had downloaded it to their phone. Once the servers were up again, records of all boarding passes for flights that were supposed to have left would be obliterated. Our plane had to be fueled to a corrected amount since it had been intended to go to a different destination. Our luggage had to be moved. All weights and measures and their corrections had to be made and entered in the proper paperwork manually. Our flight crew was within four minutes of being pulled from service because they were reaching their maximum allowed work time. We waited for paperwork for that variance otherwise we would have needed to wait for a different flight crew to arrive from another destination. See the Catch 22 here? How late would that new flight crew have been arriving from who knows where and how close to their work time limit?

All that, and we were only two hours late. We were lucky. This is what the scene looked like at the Oakland airport when we deplaned. It was pretty much solidly packed with travelers. With the SWA website down, people could not check their flight status and adjust the time they came to the airport. It was a true logjam of traveler bodies.

Frank and I went to collect our luggage. It had come intact and on our flight with us! Here is the SWA storage area for the unclaimed or misdirected baggage of the less fortunate travelers.

Frank and I had just come off a high from seeing Robin, Jeremy, Autumn, and Isaiah and I had a pretty decent book to read and so all was good. We found the car easily in the parking lot, its battery started, and we drove home with a sighs of both relief and contentment. The trip was an A+ for visiting, resting, and accomplishments.

Friday, July 29, 2016

OKC Visit when Isaiah Turns ONE – Part 1 of 2

Earlier this month Frank and I flew out to Oklahoma July 12th - July 20th to visit and help celebrate Isaiah's turning one year old on July 16th. We had less than a week from Dan and his family's departure back to SoCal until we set out to travel. Robin and Jeremy did not have leave from work and so Frank and I would be on our own during the day while at their house. Oh, darn. Maybe we would have to relax, read, and take naps. Boredom... surely a fate far more desirable than exhaustion...

Tuesday, July 12th – travel day
Frank and I left in the early morning to be at the airport a couple hours before our 9:30 am flight.

The sky still had a pinkish tinge to it that was kind of pretty. Along the way we passed this HUGE piece of equipment. I am not sure quite what it was but it was big and the crating was very creative.

We pulled alongside and I still didn't have a clue as to what it was but it was impressive that such a long hefty object was tooling along down the highway.

As we passed the truck that was hauling it, I took one last photo in the rear view mirror.

I was reminded of that scene from Jurassic park when the main characters are racing along in a jeep being pursued by a dinosaur.

We arrived at the airport with adequate time to spare – too early in Frank's opinion but just right for me. He humors me, otherwise I stress out. We are getting better at our traveling procedure since we have been doing more of it now that we are retired. We mare not making exotic trips to far off foreign lands, but rather mostly family visits. That is what we like and enjoy. I pack gifts and stuff for the kids so we do not travel light on the way out. For example Robin loves these Svenhard's buns and they are not available in Oklahoma, at least not near her. They can be ordered on Amazon at the bargain price of  $36.50 a tray of 30 or $124 for a carton of four trays; but, whoop-de-doo, shipping is free. I buy them at our local grocery store, can fit three trays in a suitcase with other stuff, and Southwest Airlines does not charge for the first two suitcases per person. Once there we can toss the buns in the freezer for them to enjoy even after we've returned home.

Once at the airport, Frank drops me off at the curb and I rent a Smarte Carte for all our paraphernalia. We load it and I get in the line to check our luggage while he parks the car. No more hauling baggage from the far out boonies of the parking lot. He just walks back unfettered and more quickly without me. By the time he gets to the counter I am already at the head of the line and have often let other travelers pass by me. The rental fee is well worth the convenience. At least this time we did not also bring a carseat in its specialized back pack like we did for our May visit to SoCal. We had a fourth suitcase instead for Oklahoma.

Our flight was uneventful and our transfer in Las Vegas went off without a hitch, even though it was Las Vegas with all its wedding chapels (groan ... two thirds of a pun... hitch ... P.U.) We arrived at Robin's house about a half hour before she and Jeremy got home from work. I heard the fornt door key and hid behind the couch. I leaped out and hollered "boo!" when Robin, Autumn, and Isaiah walked in the door. A huge grin spread across Autumn's face as she yelled "Grandma!" in return.  Isaiah was not so thrilled but within a half hour I was forgiven and allowed to hold and cuddle him. Dinner, some chit chat, and a bit of horseplay with the kids was about all we did before bedtime that first night.

Wednesday, July 13th - settling in
This was the trip of big equipment. We awoke the next morning to the Cox cable company upgrading its lines directly across the street from Robin and Jeremy. Their street is not very wide and when another of these rigs arrived it had to park on the other side of the road offset from the first. Drivers down their street had to slalom their way through. They were there about half the week.

Once Robin and Jeremy arrived home from work and Autumn and Isaiah were home from day care we opened up the extra suitcases we had brought. Never mind what was in them, Isaiah liked the suitcase itself. He parked himself amidst the Pottery Barn shark towels and alligator totes.

Thursday, July 14th - demos of prowess
The next morning Isaiah demonstrated what a climber he was. No part of this rocker fire engine was inaccessible for him and he was fearless in all his poses on this moving target o a ride-on vehicle.

Autumn was willing to let Grandma style her long hair into Elsa braids (from Frozen) and she modeled her flamingo outfit for the day.

That day Jeremy refreshed the batteries in Isaiah's pirate ship and he trolled around on it, more so with renewed interest since it kept spewing out the sound effects of a honking horn, a firing cannon, and voicing phrases such as "Ahoy, Maties."

We opened one of his birthday presents a toy called Spin Again by Fat Brain Toys. Gears in graduated sizes stacked on a spiral grooved central post. They spin as they descend. Autumn liked it. Isaiah did too except that his method of play was to bang and beat everything he could with the central white post. Boys are definitely different.

Later on Autumn was testing out if she could fill Grandpas's shoes. Isaiah's growth progress had been monitored earlier in the week by more traditional means when Jeremy took him to his one year check up at the pediatrician. The pediatrician's motto is "Food before one is just for fun". He wanted the mainstay of the child's nutrition to come from milk.  Isaiah was now cleared for solid foods of any type at all.

Friday, July 15th - casual day
Like mother, like daughter are dressed alike for casual Friday. Jeremy chose Autumn's outfit after he noticed what Robin was wearing. Bummer. Robin was unable to locate her sunglasses until after this photo was taken. She'd just had them in her hand, too! They were found later on the floor of course - where else?

Robin was able to take a couple hours off work at the end of the day and we went to Gymboree. I had $150 worth of Gymbucks burning a hole in my pocket. They had to be spent by the following Sunday or they would become void. For those uninitiated to the grandma apparel shopping world, Gymbucks are accrued on purchases made at a Gymboree store, outlet or mainstream, during a certain time frame. Then several times a year they can be redeemed. They are worth 50% off ALL merchandise – sale, clearance, and new – so savings can be compounded. I have to spend $300 to capitalize on $150 worth of Gymbucks but that is easy to do with four grandkids. And just think, by buying while in Oklahoma I also saved the mailing costs on Autumn's and Isaiah's clothes. It was just Robin and me without the kiddos on a weekday during work hours so we were efficient and fast in our shopping!

That evening, on the eve of his first birthday, Isaiah reminded us that he could have any food type at all.  Corn chips... hmm certainly sounds like a good option.

Saturday, July 16th - Isaiah's birthday
Isaiah's birthday party was not until the early evening that day. Just over a dozen guest were invited over for pizza and cupcakes. In the morning Frank and Jeremy began to assemble Isaiah's gift from Frank and me, a Little Tikes Cozy Truck ride on toy. It was not a simple assembly operation.

The partial assembly shows the truck still needing its front axle with wheels and some of its decals.

It reminded of Mater from the Disney Pixar movie Cars

It is all together now but there is one part leftover! Looks like big sister has to check it out to be sure it is safe for little brother.

Isaiah looks pleased when he is introduced to his truck. Every man has got to have a truck! In his right hand he is clutching his favorite sleep aid dubbed The Precious by Robin and Jeremy.

Turns out that leftover part is a floorboard so younger drivers with short legs can have a place to rest their feet while they are being pushed around.

Or that plate can be used to climb out the front window. It appears to be very versatile component.

Isaiah took a nap through about two-thirds of his party. When he awoke it was time for his "smash" cake. He was tentative and did not really get into mooshing it up like some kids do.

Most of the attendees at Isaiah's party were little girls close in age to Autumn. They enjoyed the truck and pushing Isaiah around in it. Note Isaiah is hanging on to that ubiquitous white spiral pounding post from the Spin Again toy.

Playing hard at parties can be exhausting. It is the end of the day and Autumn collapses against Grandpa. Frank looks trapped but I think he secretly loves it.