14 July 2006

All we could talk about today was Barbara's arrival Saturday morning!

Matt got up in time to go to breakfast with me, which was fun. The wait staff asked, "Where are the girls?" and hadn't seen him at breakfast before. We got there late, so we sat with the students (sat near Kipp and Rachel) instead of with Carolyn and Jim (GT faculty). Matt talked with them about Italy, and what's to see around Oxford, and about Michigan (Rachel is from Northville).

Matt told me that, on most mornings, they would decide to do the challenges after lunch and to mostly hang out and read in the morning. He said that Jenny has been getting into her book so much that she refuses to have lunch, because if she ate lunch, she'd then have to leave to do the challenges! So, I just let them read in the morning and I caught up on work (e.g., had to get the midterm written!).

Jenny, demonstrating her early morning routine
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At lunchtime, we saw Mommy! I was there for the regular 7amEDT/12noonBST Skype call. Now they were ready to start their day, but I had a 1 pm conference call with folks back at Tech. By 1:30 we were ready.

We went ice-skating! (I don't have any pictures – I was afraid of bringing the camera, then falling on it and smashing it.) Oxford has an ice skating rink about a 10-15 minute walk from our house. Traffic was really bad (foot and car), so we didn't get there until about 2:15. It was about 18 pounds for the four of us, including skates.

Rachel had told Matt and me that she'd gone skating, and it was awful. The ice was all chopped up, and there was water over the whole thing. When you fell, she said, there was a wave. (That's how Michigan came up in conversation.) The girls heard this story and were really worried.

The ice was great! Yeah, a little marred up already, and a couple of splotches of wet, but it was hard and fun to skate on.

Until the kids arrived. The man at the ticket window warned us, "There are about 100 kids coming in, so enjoy it while you can!" From their looks and the sounds of their language, I'm going to guess that they were Russian or maybe Kryzygstanese (sp?). They kinda knew how to skate, some of them, but the rules (like direction to skate and no food on the ice) were in English, and they didn't quite get that.

Even before the kids arrived, Jenny was mostly hanging on to me going around the rink. Matt was doing fine as soon as we got there, and he just sailed around. Katie fell a couple times and then she stuck by me, too. They hung on a bit more tightly when the kids arrived, trying to avoid the falling bodies, but by the end, both of them were going around a few times on their own.

At about an hour, Matt started mentioning (he doesn't "complain" much) that his legs were really tired. By then, the ice was getting yucky – much more chopped up, and broader water patches. We kept going for another few minuts, and around 3:45 (session ended at 4), we left. All of us walked funny coming off the ice. Jenny and Katie both started saying that the ice skating rink is someplace that they that have to take Mommy to, so I think that they really did have fun.

Then it was time to get the house ready for Mommy: going grocery shopping, doing some straightening up, making up "Welcome, Mommy!" banners, buying flowers, finding vases for flowers. (There were two weddings here at Worcester yesterday, so I asked for some empty champagne bottles.)

I made a big dinner – we were in such a celebratory mood. I made zucchini fried up with onions, a roast chicken (pre-cooked – I just warmed it up), mashed potatoes (ditto), Kraft macaroni and cheese (we'd brought three boxes with us), and the kids made salad.

After dinner, what else? I owed them their last ice cream from the challenges, so off to G&D. I even had some. (We couldn't play soccer – one of the wedding receptions was on the fields, so we were asked not to play in the fields on Friday night.)

Neither girl could get to sleep. Even Katie woke up to tell me how she was worried about Mommy's flight. Finally they did. Rather than work at night, I treated myself to a movie: The Passion of the Christ. I stayed up until the flight tracking services said that Barb's flight was in the air.