Sunday, May 21, 2017

Destination: Europe

After many, many years of hoarding mileage points with our Delta American Express and MasterCard American Advantage credit cards, we learned last summer that we would finally have enough points to buy round trip tickets for the five of us to Madrid.

We also learned that children under the age of 12 can get free Eurail passes when traveling with adults.

The summer of 2017 is the last that Emilio will be under 12.

We bought our plane tickets in August: Delta on the way out and American on the way back. In December, we bought our thirty-day Eurail passes.

Much travel planning ensued. It turns out that many of the trains we hoped to take required reservations that had to be booked via email through the cumbersome Eurail booking service. But some of the trains that required reservations--such as those in Spain--would not allow us to book them in advance online. Most of these reservations also required booking fees that cost more than we expected.

Then there were the hotels. We hoped to use hotel points for reservations as well but were ultimately disappointed with the results of that process.  In short, it was a mess. When friends asked about my expectations for the trip, I truthfully responded that I expected to feel happiest after we'd managed to make our last train connection.

But it is also true that I expected this to be the trip of a lifetime.

And it was.

Wednesday the 18th was the last day of school. Saturday, we battened down the hatches at 131, turned off the AC, suspended our Dish subscription, and drove to Mom and Dad's. On Sunday, we got up around 7 a.m. so Dad could get us to DFW three hours before our 11 a.m. departure time. 

We travel light: one backpack for each kid and for Mari, a canvas shoulder bag and a small rolling suitcase for me and an additional rolling suitcase for Mari. This is what we'll take with us on our month-long train trek around Europe. We check two more bags that we will leave in Madrid.

Emilio flew from Chicago to DFW with Mari and me at Christmas when he was less than two months old. Other than that, none of our kids had flown. Mari sat between Pablo and Nina on the flight to Atlanta; I sat by Emilio.  He, like Nina, had a window seat and was excited by the liftoff experience.  Pablo, who was a little more leery of the whole flying enterprise, was happy to focus on his Kindle.

We had plenty of time to eat in the Atlanta airport during our layover. We found our way to the food court and sat by a piano player who took requests.
On the 5:50 p.m. overnight flight to Madrid, Emilio sat between Mari and Nina, and I sat by Pablo. There was not much enthusiasm for the vegetarian ravioli I arranged for the kids to eat, nor was there much sleeping en route. Pablo watched Pete's Dragon, Storks, Trolls, and Ice Age: Collision Course before I compelled him to get a few hours of sleep. Nina watched Storks, Trolls, The Beatles Experience, and Wreck-It-Ralph. There wasn't any air sickness until we landed in Madrid, where Pablo succumbed.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

That's a Wrap

The last game of the season was a close one.

In the end, we came up short.

But the shaved ice was still sweet.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tourney Nina

Mari and Nina rode with Bridget and Audrey to a season-ending tournament in OK City, while Pablo and I stayed in Ada with Emilio, who had a double header. We got to OK City in time for the second half of Nina's second game.

After the game, we spent the night in the team hotel, where the players enjoyed pool play and pizza.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

U12 Super Sub

The U12 girls plays an all-boys team from Sulphur that Emilio's U12 team scrimmaged earlier in the season--a game that I missed because of Scissortail duties. Nina and some of her U-10 teammates start the game on the bench. Nina comes in at forward late in the first half, and she starts the second half at right forward.

With a little more than 3 minutes to play, we are losing 0-4, when Nina handles a great crossing feed from Angie and sends it just inside the far goal post for Nina's 8th goal of the season. Pandemonium ensues. Angie and Bell grab Nina's hands. Players rush the field. Nina's name is cheered. Celebratory hugs abound. A passing train blows its horn.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Game last?

Playing without Oscar, the Panthers go into halftime with a 1-0 lead, which they extend to 2-0 lead in the 2nd half. But the Blues score 2 late to tie the game, and that ends up being the final score. So after losing the first game of the season, we win six straight and remain undefeated the rest of the way.

In the post-game huddle, Pablo tells his teammates that as long as Oscar and Joey are on the team, he's not that worried.

At home, later, Pablo tells me there's a 40/60 chance he'll want to play again in the Fall.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Shining Emeralds, Game Six

This day begins for me at 5:30 a.m., when I wake up from dreams about things that can go wrong at the Honors Graduation Ceremony, which starts at 8:00 a.m. I get to school by 7:00 and my printer doesn't work.

While I'm attending graduation ceremonies, the Wells family is transporting Pablo to Ardmore, where he has a double header. They win the first, 7-2, and the second, 5-2, running their win streak to six games, following a season-opening loss.

After the Honors Graduation Ceremony and the Traditional Commencement are over, I head to Emilio's noon game, still in my formal graduation clothes. The game starts late.

When the Wells family gets Pablo back to Ada from Ardmore, we get in the van and head back to Ardmore, for Nina's 4 o'clock game.

Nice one-touch with the left from the top of the box to give us a 2-1 lead. That's Nina's 7th goal of the season (including one for the Co-Ed team).

In the second half, Nina escapes and delivers an effective strike to the corner. The ref called this one offsides, but it's a bad call.

After the game, we drive to north OKC to deliver Nina and Mari to an overnight birthday party for Anneliese. We then head back to Ada, stopping at Wendy's along the way for a Frosty (as Emi and I often did when he was attending FCBEscola Soccer Camp in OKC last summer).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

On a Country Road

A Blustery Day

Have cleats, will travel

Earlier today, we got a message from Coach Wes, asking if Nina and Pablo could join his co-ed U10 team for a game in Atoka.

Although we had a long Saturday of soccer and travel, we said "yes," because:

a) It's good exercise;

b) Nina was enthusiastic, and Pablo was willing;

c) We like Coach Wes.

Pablo puts pressure on the defense.

Pablo applies more pressure. Nina follows up. The result: a goal for a teammate--our only score in the game.