Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our family vacation

AD will have been at his job as a First Officer (FO) at his regional airline for a year as of August 1st. Sometime around the end of the first year, pilots at his airline have a comprehensive oral knowledge and flight proficiency exam. AD will have these exams annually, but the one at the end of the first year is considered to be especially important because it's the last point that the airline can easily get rid of a pilot without having to deal with the union and other hassles. The exam is hard, and if you don't pass, you can ultimately lose your job; after which, the probability of being hired by another airline is unlikely. Quite understandably, AD was quite concerned (and stressed and crabby) about this exam, and he (and I) spent months preparing for it. The good news is, AD took and passed his exam at the end of June, gets to keep his job, and will get a raise when his first year officially ends (yay!). The airline congratulated him on his accomplishment by putting him on reserve for the month of July (boo!).
For those not familiar with how airline pilots work, their schedules go by each calendar month. Each pilot bids on "a line" (a schedule) for the next month and are either given a line or are placed "on reserve" (on call) based on seniority. Luckily for us, AD was only on reserve for the first two months after he completed training; he has heard stories of pilots who hired in just before a hiring freeze and were on reserve for years. Pilots on reserve will basically be on call for anywhere from four to eight days at a time (usually with two or three days off in between), and each of those days your shift may either be in the form of "a wrap" (the airline gives you a minimum two hour notice to get to the airport for an assignment) or "ready reserve" (you sit at the airport and have 10-15 minutes to be ready for an assignment). And you can't find out until 6pm the day before what times and what type of shift you will be working the next day. For pilots who live near the city in which they're based, being placed on reserve isn't so bad. However, for pilots like AD (and there are many) who commute to work from another city, this means that you have to commute the night before you actually have to work, and you have to put yourself up somewhere in that city. For AD, this means less time at home and taking public transportation to sleep on college kid's couch (my little brother's friend) while he's on reserve. The only upside to AD's being on reserve this month is that he somehow got most of the weekends off, which should allow us to finally take our first camping trip with LG. We are praying that AD is not on reserve again in August (or anytime soon, for that matter).

With all the variables that affect AD’s work schedule changing by the month, week, day, it’s really difficult to plan a family vacation. This year, my parents happened to be invited to a wedding in Maryland--where AD grew up and his family still lives--right after the fourth of July, so we planned for LG and I to visit AD's family and show my parents around AD's stomping grounds, and AD would fly in for his days off, whenever they should fall during the trip.

So, my dad, mom, LG and I started our drive—I know, I know, as the child and wife of a pilot, you would think that LG and I would fly, but with us not living in one of his airline's hubs and not being able to get passes for non-immediate family members (yet), it would mean having a layover and handling LG by myself, as my parents would take another airline that would offer both a direct and cheaper flight from Detroit to Baltimore. Since I am very nervous about flying with LG by myself and also because my parents were going to need some wheels to get them around Maryland, they decided to just rent a van. And can I say that if it weren't for the limited model selection (especially from American manufacturers) and not-so-great gas mileage, I would totally rock a van?--from Michigan very early on a Wednesday [the fourth] and started back from Maryland on a Tuesday [the tenth].

LG has driven to Maryland twice before when he was five and ten months old, and with him being relatively reserved and a little on the slow side developing his large motor skills, these trips weren't too bad in terms of fussiness or restlessness. However, for this trip, I was a little concerned about how my now full-fledged toddler was going to handle a 10-12 hour car ride, so I did some mad food and activity preparations for the road trip. I brought books, a DVD player (a gift from my parents to LG for the occasion), special coloring book/markers/stickers, a play wallet, and made him a magnetic activity board (which didn't turn out how I had planned, but kept him occupied for a while anyway). Overall, I’d say the car rides went pretty well; LG slept, ate, played, and looked out the window (he liked sitting up high in the van) and kept the fuss down until the last 1-1½ hours of the ride both ways, which is to be expected.

We learned at the end of June that AD would have the Saturday and Sunday of our vacation week off. We also learned at the end of June that AD’s sister and her family would officially be adopting a long-awaited baby on the Friday of our week in Maryland[!] Can we pause for a moment to praise the Lord, and how we can always trust Him to come through for us? For one, that God created and delivered this baby boy out of a not-so-ideal situation to the family who had been praying and waiting for a child, and two, that He did so with excellent timing so that AD, LG and I could be there for Baby C’s homecoming. If they had gotten Baby C one week later, we may not have seen him until November! Not only were we there to celebrate at Baby C’s homecoming party on Sunday, but AD ended up getting Friday off, so we were able to actually go to the adoption agency with AD’s sister, brother-in-law, nephew, niece, and the rest of his family to receive Baby C. (Another testament to trusting the Lord to come through for us, especially regarding timing? The fact that in the nine months AD's been working for the airline, he's gotten two overnights in Detroit. One happened to fall on Christmas. the other fell on Easter. Coincidence? I think not).

AD with Baby C

 Big sister AB & big brother ON meeting Baby C

Artwork in Baby C's room made by ON & AB; this is one creative family!
Meanwhile, my parents went down to the DC area and explored the National Mall and Georgetown before the wedding they attended, which was in a bumper car pavilion at Glen Echo Park. AD and I had planned on taking my parents down to Baltimore to do some more sightseeing when they were finished with all of their wedding festivities on Saturday; however, seeing as it was 104 degrees and 87% humidity that day, their sightseeing was limited to the view from the van and the windows at the Rusty Scupper (which has beautiful views of the inner harbor, but to LG's dismay, no ranch dressing).

We were also able to meet up with my fabulous cousin JB, who lives in Virginia. I say and truly mean fabulous because this girl moved from Michigan to DC--where she knew very few people and did not yet have a job--right after college to pursue her dream job. Four years later, she's got the job (or maybe the precursor to the job--you'd have to ask her--but she's definitely on track) in a very male-dominated field, where she regularly outsmarts (and out-muscles) the boys. Girl is on top of her game, and we are so proud of her.

Other than that, we did a lot of

(visiting family)
(hanging outside)

As with any true summer vacation, we each brought home a souvenir.

AD brought home:

and you better believe he would have brought more home if we had the $ and the room

I brought home:

which I've been looking for all season

And LG brought home:

which he is afraid of, which is okay with me. After all, I grew up in the '80s and was brainwashed by my parents that these things were dangerous when little girls were running their Barbie Jeep Pow-Pow-Power Wheels into brick walls and such.

LG also brought home the new nickname Do-Dah; his favorite phrase on the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you had a good time. Come back soon. Dan


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