Happy New Year everyone! After two of the most intense weeks of our lives, it was time for my sister and I to say our goodbye's again. The weeks were intense for so many different reasons! Two major reasons are to be seen right here:
One afternoon when they were finally playing quietly upstairs I went to check my emails. The computer is in the same room my parents sleep in and keep all their things. Upon entering the room I found both Benson and Max happily chewing on numerous pills. Heart pills, blood sugar regulators, valiums, blood pressure pills, sleeping pills... the works. They had unpacked every. single. pill. that my parents had brought with them and spread them all over the bed, behind the bed and on the floor. They are fine, thank heavens, but you can imagine the scare and the ordeal of having to pick up and recount all that medicine. When we found the extremely allergic Ella sucking on a sugar coated peanut the next day we very nearly lost it. She's fine too.
Another reason was Marissa's talent for losing bags. The worst case of loss being her purse containing all of her vacation money, her new camera, her daughter's life-saving allergy medicine, credit cards and her driver's license. The poor thing had to spend a valuable holiday afternoon at the police station. Apparently whoever found it wasn't feeling the Christmas Spirit because nothing was ever returned or reported. We hope they were really poor and used the money to feed their family something warm instead of the usual bread crust for Xmas dinner.
Yet another cause for intensity was a constant worry over people falling down, and a couple of them actually doing so. I thought we had lost mom when I heard her scream, tumble and land with a thud by the front door. It took her a minute to become responsive, but she was able to get up and go to the open market... even though she suffered a constant migraine for 5 days to follow. She's recovered and has, once again, promised to be careful, go slow, and watch where she's going. We don't want to have to call Rob for assistance again! The second to make a tumble down the stairs was Marissa, she got off with a bruise. Then dad nearly went flat on his face when carrying a laundry basket down those lethal steps. Finally, let us take a moment to remember in grateful silence all the gajillion times one of us nearly kicked the bucket while trying to make our way across the icy roads but somehow, against all odds, reached our destination safely.
I can keep this intensity list going for a while, things keep springing to mind as I type. Like all the unfriendly (but actually really downright nasty) 'customer service' we received on our shopping expeditions, or the immobilating fear of waking someone up when you have to pee in the middle of the night. Or how about trying to keep the kids out of the Christmas presents until it was actually time to open them, or attempting over and over again, against better judgment, to get a picture of all of them looking cute and smiling at the same time. Who am I kidding, getting all of them to look sanitary and sane at the same time was nearly more than we could handle, forget 'I'm ready for my close-up now mr. Demille'.
The phone was a cause for anxiety as well. When it rang we quickly learned that stories of woe would be shared. Andrew calling to let us know he broke his ankle the day Marissa left and had to have a pin put in, his first ever sugery. Mom's best friend calling to let us know her home had been burgled three nights in a row over Christmas, with her in it. Dad calling to let us know he had run the Nissan into a parked car during, what should have been, a 5-minute drive....etc etc. We still hold our breath and suffer great blood pressure whenever it rings.
I can hear you thinking 'my goodness how did you even sleep?' and in hindsight I wonder the same! I think we were all so exhausted that nothing could keep us from passing out cold the moment we saw a pillow after 8pm, which can't have been much fun for our guests a couple of times.... (it really wasn't you!).
So when the time came to take Marissa, Benson and Ella to the airport it was a bittersweet feeling. Having to say goodbye to your only sister, but getting the calm back into your house.... having to wait who knows how long to kiss those little kiddo cheeks again, but getting the calm back into your house..... knowing you won't be right there anymore when you need a hand with the kids or would like some advice, but, well you get the idea. It's a good thing we managed to give these two weeks a fitting ending at Schiphol.
Imagine the following: You are tired and filled with anxiety over the trip you are about to make with your two small children. You are not feeling too well and trying to figure out ways to make this go as smoothly as possibly. You enter the airport, your big sister helps you load your bags onto a trolley and you head down to the departure hall. To get there you have to go down a really long escalator. It's the one that everyone pushing a luggage trolley has nearly gotten seriously injured on because everyone forgets to let go of the red handle-bar, enabling it to start rolling down the escalator in front of you, where you see everyone still on it turn into bowling pins. Luckily your sister is experienced and no longer makes this error. She lets go of that red handle-bar of reckoning with plenty of time to spare. Even so, you have let her get on first just in case. Your mother has kindly taken your two children off your hands and is guiding them onto the escalator and you follow lastly, with what I'm sure is the worst stress-induced headache ever. You are now all on the escalator and people continue to get on behind you. You enjoy standing still for a bit and look outside, perhaps trying to imprint the look of the Dutch sky onto your visual memory for future bouts of nostalgia. Everything will be fine. Everything will be fine. You see the grand airport hallway starting to appear.
Wait. Why is Karina suddenly frantically looking back and forth? Why on earth is mom trying to hurry back up the escalator with your children? Why are there people staring at your escalator with a look of horror etched on their faces??
Then you see what has happened. Somehow the suitcases on the trolley in front of your sister have managed to slide off the trolley, down the remaining meters of escalator and onto the off-ramp, landing themselves in such a manner that they're all piled up and squished together high enough that even an olympic gold medal hurdle runner couldn't jump over them. Not only could you not jump over them, the trolley is in between everone on the still moving escalator and the luggage barricade awaiting you all at the bottom. You have a vision of a huge dogpile at the bottom of the escalator, with your 3yo son and your 1yo daughter at the very bottom of it.
Yes, this happened, and yes it was the scariest thing ever. I was completely helpless! When some amazing onlookers reacted with the speed of light and swiftly came to our rescue by pulling the bags off the off-ramp before anyone fell down, I was more relieved (and grateful!) than I can express in cupcakes. In case you're having a hard time imagining this whole experience, I have made a visual aid, which should make things a bit clearer:
I know, I should do these for a living.
Marissa deserves a medal for not letting this final scare get to her and making it home safely with her lil'uns.
I should mention that even though there was much scary intensity, there was also intense happiness and love going on at the Koot home these last few weeks, more than making up for any of the bad things that happened. And let's not forget: it's not the love and happiness that still have you laughing so hard you're drooling a few Christmases later!