Thursday, August 9, 2012
– 6:00 a.m. wake up to travel to Barcelona’s airport
– 8-hour plane ride from Barcelona to New York LaGuardia
– 4.5-hour layover
– 4.5-hour flight delay
– Midnight arrival in Chicago (7:00 a.m. in Barcelona), met by two amazingly giving and forgiving parents – thanks mom and dad!
– 1:30 a.m. bed
Friday, August 10, 2012
12:45 p.m. departure for Atlanta to visit the Hotlanta Sairs.
Kara picked me up at the airport and we drove to get Jonathan and Lori from school. When Lori saw me in the doorway of her classroom she sprinted towards me and jumped up into my arms – I couldn’t have scripted the moment better myself. When we got to Jonathan’s classroom, Lori called to him and pointed at me with a grand gesture to say, “Look!”
For dinner, my special request was catered to and did not disappoint, Papa John’s Pizza! Political opinions aside, it’s the best fast-food pizza with its sweet sauce and chewy, pillowy-soft crust. In Barcelona there’s TelePizza, which I think tastes like cardboard, and there’s Domino’s that’s just okay. I have had Papa John’s while in London but I don’t think it tastes the same as in the U.S. – recipes are often distinct in different countries.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Saturday morning I took Arnie’s car (first time I had driven in 4+ months!) to the Kroger Supermarket. As I stepped in the door I stopped in my tracks to take in the site – I seemed to have forgotten how massive and overwhelming an American supermarket is. The average supermarket in Barcelona could fit into a corner of the Kroger store.
In the afternoon, Arnie, Kara, Jonathan, Lori and I climbed into the car and went to the water park down the street. I was so impressed that Lori can swim now – when I visited last August, she was just putting her face in the water and still holding on tightly to someone. For the first time, Jonathan was tall enough to go down the gargantuan waterslide; it’s a good thing I wasn’t alone with him, because there’s no way I would have gone down it! It was the perfect weather, not a touch of the heat that puts the “hot” in “Hotlanta.” We were having a great time when all of a sudden a lifeguard called to everyone to get out of the pool, that there was a “contamination;” a little boy had thrown up in the pool and thus concluded our outing.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
All weekend long we watched the last days of the Olympics and Arnie and Kara I’m sure thought I was nuts going on and on about how much I love Bob Costas and missed him – British and Spanish commentators aren’t even in the same hemisphere. It was a Spanish interviewer that Usain Bolt asked to wait when the U.S. anthem (not even his own) was playing for a medal ceremony. And a big part missing from the telecasts in London and Barcelona were the athletes’ personal stories that I love so much.
Sunday morning we watched the Olympic marathon event. Jonathan was devastated (briefly – he recovered soon after flopping to the ground) when two of the Americans in the race had to withdraw. It was so fun to cheer with Jonathan for the final American left in the event and it was a nice little lesson that coming in 4th place was something to be happy about even though the athlete wouldn’t get a medal.
After the marathon excitement, we all climbed into the car and drove to a nice, little trail that none of us had been to before. While Jonathan and Lori rode their bikes (with training wheels), Arnie, Kara and I walked along with them. For the first half of the ride, the kids rode cautiously and Lori needed someone right next to her while going downhill (more like a slight downward slope). On the way back to the car they were comfortably pedaling along and Lori was cheerfully yelling, “wheeee” while going down the “hills” while Arnie and I did our best to keep up with the brisk pace, Kara broke into a jog to stay with the kids.
We made it home in time to watch the last half of the Gold medal men’s basketball game featuring the USA’s new “Dream Team” vs. Spain. As we sat at the table eating lunch, Jonathan kept tabs on the score in tiny print on the TV. With his math skills as sharp as always, he kept calculating how many points Spain needed to catch up. I was the only one backing Spain; I really thought it would boost the country’s spirits to win this David vs. Goliath battle. But alas, with a roster full of the best professionals in the world, it was the big, bad USA with yet another victory.
Later on Sunday, August 12, 2012 – Back in Chicago
When I got back to Chicago on Sunday, I headed to the essence of America – Target. Like a deer in headlights, I stood in the entrance for a few minutes taking in the multitude of departments under one roof – office products, groceries, sporting goods, clothing, toiletries, household goods, oh my! I started grabbing things like I was on some kind of game show, The Grab Everything You Can Before You Leave the Country and Will Never See It Again Show. I piled the basket with bottles of Ranch dressing, peanut butter (you can find it in Barcelona but it costs more than 3 times what it does here), grape jelly (available only at one tiny store that has very select American grocery items), licorice – Twizzlers and another brand – and a bunch of other delicacies. I got stuck in the cereal aisle, mesmerized by the plethora of options; what is going on at Cheerios that they have so many new kinds – Dulce de Leche, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Fruity, Frosted and it goes on and on. In Barcelona, they have one kind of Cheerios and surprisingly, it’s not the original ones (although you can find those at the specialty American store for a pretty penny), it’s the Honey Nut variety.
I had to drag myself out of the store because the next morning would be an early one, a 7:15 a.m. departure for downtown Chicago where mom and I would spend the day taking care of Isaac. Faye and David were in town for the week working at their Chicago offices and I had the amazing fortune of getting to come home to help take care of Isaac.
And the week was far from over . . .