it seems that every time we move out of the u.s. we need to make a stop in NY first. its a tradition. NY is like our reverse ellis island.
the day after christmas we flew through philly to arrive in albany. we had a nice holiday visit with daves family (his parents came to his sisters house as well). megan did lots of yummy cooking, and megan and courtney chose some wonderful (yet small, thankfully) X-perfect gifts (cars themed). X got lots of time with her aunt, uncle, and grandparents. we took care of final vet visits for the cat, and we prepared to pack everyone and every thing up and complete the final days in the u.s. before heading on to our new home. it was hard to fully enjoy the visit because by now we were just very, very done being guests in others homes, no matter how accommodating they were. X wasnt eating or sleeping as much as she seriously needed to be so she needed to be corralled and managed often. we were just tired and looking for some real relaxation. not that we didnt appreciate the visit, or the company, or all that everyone did for us. we were just "done".
but, we still had one stop left. 4 days before our flight to finland, we drove from albany (in a snowstorm the whole way) down to nyack to visit my friend amy and her family. she is pregnant with her second babe and when we finally arrived we were spent. luckily, they have a very kid-friendly house, so X was able to chill out, play, eat, and do her own thing...which meant we were able to relax a little bit ourselves. we went to a kids museum one day with them but otherwise just relaxed and played. the kids got along well and the adults each got some kid-free time. while we didnt have energy for much, it was nice that we could still enjoy ourselves while we geared up for departure.
Dec 26 (Wed): had a morning flight from detroit through philadelphia to albany. we had decent flights, and we got out just before an east coast snowstorm (thank goodness!). everyone was at the airport to greet us and help drive our baggage home (4 large bags, 4 carry-ons). that night, megan made an awesome dinner, complete with tasty pies.
Dec 27 (Thurs): the snow was still piling up from the day before (it didnt stop until late in the afternoon). nutmeg had an early morning vet visit to fill out EU import forms and whatnot (the visit took 2 hours). later, after lunch, dave had to take those vet forms to the USDA office in albany for additional certification. meanwhile, X and i played in the fresh snow with megan and courtney and their dog yogi. it was beautiful fluffy snow.
(X feelin the love from her aunt and uncle and even mister yogi was a gentlemen. i love this pic)
Dec 28 (Fri): all the ladies went to the nearby childrens museum of science and technology. they had a few neat aquariums, some live reptiles, an animal show (we pet a snake and turtle), and some other interesting, touchable exhibits. later that afternoon, X and dave went swimming at his parents hotel pool. it was cold but X was in heaven, finally getting some pool time. we also all watched cars 2 (a christmas present from megan and courtney) together.
Dec 29 (Sat): megan made homemade cardomom bread french toast. yum! then, X played with family while the car got packed. we drove during a snowstorm (thinking we would eventually drive out of it...nope!), so what should have been a 2.5 hour drive took 4+ hours. we made it to the celinis (amy and tonys) pink house and X instantly relaxed in the kid-friendly environment having another wee one (their son sam is 1.5 years old) to play with. she then ate the biggest meal id seen her eat in weeks. we also got to retire to our own space that night, a hotel/apartment in nanuet that allowed animals.
Dec 30 (Sun): we played at the pink house today. amy and i got out to lunch alone at nyack favorite, strawberry place. that night, the men went off to a phish concert at madison square garden. rewarding us for staying behind to be the babysitters, the children gave amy and i crappy night sleeps. :(
Dec 31 (Mon): we all met up at the new jersey childrens museum. the place was a little rundown, but there were lots of fun play areas and it was a great space for the kids to roam. afterward, we went to the amazing fairway grocery store. we did lunch at the pink house but then separated for nap time and laundry. after sharing a yummy dinner together, X scraped her hand and proceeded to screech about it for the rest of the evening.
Jan 1 (Tues): in the morning dave packed up our hotel and we spent most of the day at the pink house. then, we headed out to the airport to begin the journey. at 4p, the (JFK) airport was CROWDED, however, it was less so when we made it through security at 6p. we had to get to the airport 3 hours in advance to deal with nutmeg, but it was a good thing we did. before nutmeg was taken away, she had to been taken out of her carrier so the security people could check it out. nutmeg had peed in her carrier already so when we took her out, i had to hold her urine-soaked self on my lap. yay, animal pee on my pants for a long international flight! fun. then, X was terrible about falling asleep on the first flight (she couldnt get comfortable, and neither could i), so she intermittenly screeched. it was not at all irritating to myself or nearby passengers.
Jan 2 (Wed): we had a layover in iceland, which went smoothly. the second flight was more comfortable but shorter so while we did get some sleep it wasnt much. we arrived in helsinki at 1p local time. did they ask us for any of the personal documents we had painstakingly acquired over the past few months? (no) did they do anything more than glance at all the paperwork we had amassed about nutmeg? (no) did they ask for our residence permit cards or search our bags? (no)...in a way, im glad because i was so tired and not in the mood, but i was just a little disappointed that they didnt really want to see anything we had to show them. its better to be safe than sorry i realize, but it was a bit frustrating.