Christmas Vacation 2007

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I know this is a little late in writing but we’ve been busy getting settled back in to the routine after the holidays and keeping up with everything else.
It seems like so long ago but it was just over a month ago that we packed up and traveled back to the US, where we could read all street signs, buy food we know, and  drive on the right side of the road!  I took the 4 kids and left on Saturday December 15 (Joanie’s birthday) to fly to JFK. The flight itself was uneventful.  Another family we know was on the plane too so Michael and their 2 boys got to sit together.  We were  the first ones off, got through immigration, luggage, customs, met the drivers and to the car in literally 15 minutes. Unheard of at JFK.  We beat the snow so that was good but we got a call saying they were moving the Christmas Pageant at church up to that evening because a big storm was supposed to come in the next day.  So, we missed being able to be in the Pageant.  The kids were bummed, so was I (I love the Pageant ) but God has a way of working things outBy 3:00 in the morning I was sick to my stomach and Catherine ended up with a severe headache all day Sun.  Thankfully the Sheppards were able to come get the other 3 so they did not have to stay in a hotel room all day. Monday morning Sarah and Michael had to be at the Strassners at 7:00 to go to school with Haley and Riley.   I was then taking Emily (Catherine still too sick) to the Middle school to go to school with some of their friends.  The middle school principal turned us down. Oh well.  By the time I got home I received a phone call from Sarah that she had a fever and I needed to come get her at the High School. It was cold but she was shivering so badly from the fever that I really felt sorry for her. I ended up taking Sarah and Catherine to the doctor, Emily came with us.  He said Sarah had a sinus infection and Catherine probably a migraine.  When he left to check the strep test Emily threw up in the office. Could it get much worse?  By the time we got home from getting medicine and Gatorade Catherine actually felt better.  Emily had to just sleep it off. Thank goodness Michael spent the night with Ryan and went to school with him the next day again
The next morning Sarah woke up with cold sores all over her mouth and upset stomach due to the medicine. Emily was doing better and so was Catherine (short lived though)  I tried to get a little shopping done between sick kids. I had to still do Christmas shopping and shoes and pants for the girls.  Wed. Catherine was miserable again. She could not even lift her head with out being in pain, and more sickness details than I want to discuss on a blog. Finally Lyndon arrived that night!!!!  Thursday we were going to go to the Fitzpatrick’s for the Christmas Carol cast party and then to the show that night. I borrowed Robin’s crock pot and made a big batch of meatballs to take.  As I was driving to my hair appt at 1:00 (the party was at 2:00) I got a call from Kathy. They were in the emergency room with Kristen. She had possible appendicitis.  The party was cancelled.  Kristen did have an emergency appendectomy.  My kids were very disappointed, but concerned for Kristen. Our plans to get to the play were based on some drivers from the party. Lyndon needed the car for work. I must be getting bold because I borrowed a car from the Rices, another family in the play.  We did get to see the show and go backstage and visit with everyone. It was wonderful as usual. I took the big pot of meatballs.  I know how to make the actors happy!
  The next morning we drove to White Plains to fly to Atlanta.  We arrived in the afternoon. That night, to make me happy, we went to the mall to see Santa. I have pictures from every year since Sarah was 6 months old and I did not want to break the tradition.  Jason and Julie met up with us and we ran in to Kevin and Kathleen at the mall too.  It was great! Just like old times plus kids.  Joanie and Sandy were maybe going to come with their kids too but Sandy had a minor wreck on the way over so we did not think they were going to make it. As soon as we finished with Santa, they arrived at the mall. We stood in line with them too.  We finished up around 9:45 at the mall. It was long but fun for the kids to be with friends and cousins. 
     The next day Jason and Julie had a bunch of our friends over to their house.  It too was just like old times. So much fun to see how everyone has grown. Marlene and Jack drove over from Birmingham. We had not seen them for a long time too. We hung out there with friends and cousins.  Our old neighbors, the Carneys were there too. It was pretty cool to see that Sarah and Kendall could still be friends after not having lived near each other for almost 10 years. She was actually able to go spend the night over there one night too.
     The next day was church and Rebecca’s Baptism.  Oh yeah, that thing called Christmas shopping too.  I have never been so late shopping. It drove me crazy!
On Monday, I was still doing last minute shopping. Good thing for cell phones. We all were making calls to each other to help pick up things here and there.
We went to Christmas Eve mass.  It was very beautiful.
     On Christmas morning we woke up at Dad’s and had Christmas with just us and Dad and Karen. Then I had to get the turkey in the oven and all the other stuff. Everyone (32 in all) was coming over at 3:00 for dinner.  To make a long story short the power went out just before the turkey was finished. We left it in the oven and it finished cooking. But we could not reheat everything and we ate by candle light. Carving a turkey by flashlight was a new experience too. We had a table in the kitchen, the dining room and two in the foyer/hallway.  The kids say that was the most fun they had at a Christmas dinner though. There was a lot of laughter coming from the kitchen. Finally the lights came on and we did cousin gift exchange.  Some people played cards. My Grandmother would have been proud of the Shanghi Rummy that was being played!  We used to play cards with her and her friends when we visited in KY.
The rest of the trip in Atlanta was filled with cousin time and eating at all the places we wanted to get while home (Rhea’s, 3 $ cafe, Chick fil a).
     We left on Fri to go back to CT.  Our flight was delayed a bit in Atlanta so we got home late Fri night.   In CT I said yes to most any spend the night request so the kids had a great time seeing their friends. Sarah even got to sing in the church choir Sunday morning. Saturday the La Frances had us over for homemade pizza!  That is one thing missing in Japan. It is pretty sad when Dominoes (Japanese style) starts to be good pizza.  Sunday afternoon the Magrinis had some people over too. David is quite the cook. Sarah was thrilled with the toothpick meat (I can never remember the name, it is an Italian dish he makes). When we took a picture there were 40 kids and 28 adults! It was great to see such an amazing group of people there together.  Our small world story is that one of our neighbors here in Japan has a brother and sister in law who teach at Loomis. Suzanne Hard’s daughter, who goes to Loomis, has Mrs. Pond.
    For New Year’s Eve we spent the evening playing games at the Strassners.  If you have never played Apples to Apples with a 6 year old all the way up to adults, you have missed something.  When the hardest worker is a telemarketer (over a teacher) and something feminine is Regis Philbin you have to wonder.  Lyndon and Jon were quite the Rock Stars as well. 
 The rest our CT trip was food (wings at Bidwell Tavern) and friends and sledding in the freezing weather. What more could you ask for!  We left Thursday to go down to JFK. On the way down in the van we heard a popping sound. Lyndon and I looked at each other but the driver was not concerned. Then I noticed all the interior lights had come on. He decided to pull over and check.  By the time he stopped you could see daylight coming through the crack in the doors in the back. The trunk doors had come undone. I can just imagine our 9 pieces of luggage strewn over 684.  We were wondering how we were going to fit 9 pieces of luggage, the 6 of us and our dog in our van once back in Tokyo.  The flight was once again uneventful.  BUT… they were missing 2 of our pieces of luggage. They must have left an entire cart in New York. There were a lot of people who did not get their luggage.  It was mine and Michael’s.  I guess we found the answer to how to fit us all in the van. They delivered the 2 pieces Sunday afternoon.  Well we arrived Friday night, Jan 4 (Lyndon’s birthday), exhausted but happy to be home.  It was a great trip, seeing everyone, but short and very tight scheduled.  In the summer when we are back we hope to see everyone again but at a more relaxed pace.
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