05 December 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vacation Edition

Somehow, between lingering first trimester awfulness and trying to catch up from being gone for two weeks and it suddenly being December and Advent (how did that happen??), I completely ran out of time/energy to post this week. Again. Seven Quick Takes to the rescue! Let's see if I can manage to break down our trip into seven parts, and knock SQT and the vacation recap out together.

A friend from Matt's work picked us up at 11:30 pm to drive us to the airport on November 15. As we stepped outside, the sky was covered in the biggest, brightest, most colorful display of the Aurora borealis that I can remember ever seeing. All the way to the airport, the lights danced and changed overhead, and even as our plane was ascending we could see the ribbons of light covering the sky on both sides of the plane. It was incredible.

Photos from newsminer.com.

Between the flights and drive (and trying to navigate Philadelphia traffic in the dark during rush hour—we are never living in a big city again!) we'd been traveling for about 16 hours by the time we reached Matt's parents' house. Little Bear did a great job of sleeping on both flights, so he was happy when we arrived. Because we Skype with them every week, he was comfortable with Matt's parents right away—and very excited to follow their cat around everywhere! It was so nice to spend time with his family again; it'd been two years since we last saw them. And as my morning/all day sickness got substantially worse shortly after we arrived, I was very grateful for Little Bear's desire to play with his grandparents and their happiness to spend time with him. I'm afraid I wasn't a wonderful guest, often winding up needing to go lay down.

We made the roughly five hour trip out to Ohio on Wednesday to see the three of my siblings currently at Franciscan. They were all very busy, but schedules worked out just right that apart from Little Bear's nap we were able to spend time with at least one of them at almost any given time. On Thursday morning, the sister who is in grad school had us over along with the sister who's a freshman. After morning classes got out, my brother was also able to meet the rest of us for lunch at the lower campus coffee shop/cafĂ©. Little Bear was excited to see them all, and has since started adding the three of them to his list of "please bless"s at prayer time without prompting from us. We also had a chance to stop by and visit my boss in public relations, which was great, and when he found out that Matt works in video conferencing he arranged for him to meet Franciscan's head of video conferencing; Matt spent about a half hour talking with him that afternoon while Little Bear napped. And I was so glad that we were able to visit one of my household sisters who still lives in town, along with her sons! Little Bear had trouble sharing with the other boys, but when we were ready to go decided all on his own to give them hugs. As we were heading out Friday morning, we ran up to campus one last time so I could catch my Latin professor during her office hours. We weren't in town for even 48 hours, but it was so nice to be able to visit.

I have to say, for being a pro-life school and all of the talk about openness to life that goes on there, it was frustrating that I could only find one changing table on the entire campus, in the chapel... I do realize it's a university, but a lot of the professors have big families, and alumni come visit with their families frequently, and they make many of their events open to the public. Would it be so hard to put one changing table in the bathroom of the student center or the coffee shop?

Following the cat around everywhere remained a favorite activity of Little Bear's the entire trip. It took us a while to teach him her name, but once he got it, we frequently heard "Molly! Molly!" and an occasional "Molly, come here right now!" as he learned that cats just don't listen when you call them. She was surprisingly patient with all of his attention, though, and he did a pretty good job of being gentle when he petted her. Wherever Molly was, Little Bear was pretty sure he needed to be there too.

We made a whirlwind trip to Baltimore and back the Monday-Tuesday before Thanksgiving. On Monday morning we walked around by the water and visited the national aquarium with Matt's good friend from college, my matron-of-honor, and their two sons. We spent the day/night with them, enjoying the warm weather and the chance to catch up after so long; we hadn't seen each other since I was pregnant with Little Bear! 

The next day we met my other best friend and her family at an indoor playground just north of Baltimore. We'd last seen each other shortly after Matt and I became engaged, I think, but it might have been slightly before... It'd been way too long! Little Bear and her daughter had a lot of fun playing in a kid-sized village and on the play equipment and bouncy slide/ball pit, but not together... They each happily played with their fathers and pretty much ignored each other while us moms sat and talked.

Matt, his dad, and I took Little Bear to the zoo one afternoon. I think the adults enjoyed looking at most of the animals more than he did, but he loved the ducks: there was a little observation deck built next to a creek, and dispensers with corn and seeds that you could feed the ducks. Matt got a handful of corn, and Little Bear quickly learned that if he threw a bunch of pieces at once the whole crowd of ducks would swarm after them. We did so many other fun things with his family... An early Christmas gift exchange, so that we could actually be present to open gifts; talking and reading and cooking together; spending time with his brother's family. Matt's mother hosted Thanksgiving dinner, and I helped with part of the food prep; baby was being particularly uncooperative on "Thanksgiving Eve" and Thanksgiving, so unfortunately I wasn't as much help in the kitchen as I'd have liked. Our last night in town, Matt went over to his brother's house for a few hours while I watched the movie Moms Night Out with Matt's mom, my sister-in-law, and Matt's grandmothers. And Little Bear loved all of the story-reading, picture-coloring, train-watching, puzzle-assembling, and running around that he got to do with Grandmom and Grandpop!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, our last day with Matt's family, was our niece's baptism. Matt and I were honored to be her godparents, and we were so glad that we could be there for her baptism! 

My baby unfortunately doesn't seem to like the smell of chrism... usually I love smelling it on newly-baptized babies, but it (like pretty much every other sweet scent these days) wound up making me feel sick. Baby had better get over that by this summer!

(Eight takes today, just because :-)
We drove back to Philadelphia right after the reception, going to an evening Mass, returning our rental car, and checking into a hotel with a shuttle to the airport. After making plans to get up at 3:30 to catch the 4am shuttle, we went to sleep. Well, Matt and Little Bear did. I lay awake, dozing occasionally, unable to sleep, worrying about flights, until I finally got up at 1:30 to check my phone in the hopes of finding a confirmation email that our first flight would be on time. Instead, I found a message that our flight had been bumped from 6:30 to 9. Our second flight was supposed to leave Chicago at 9:30. I spent the next hour and a half on the phone with the airlines, and got us all moved onto a 6am flight on a different airline. Woke Matt and Little Bear, threw everything together, ran downstairs to check out, and barely caught the 3:30 shuttle.

We made all of our connections fine after that, despite spending eight hours on the plane from Chicago to Anchorage (supposed-to-be-6.5 hour flight + technical difficulties + strong headwinds). Little Bear was as well-behaved as you could expect a two year old to be, trapped on a plane for so long. Matt had thankfully taken this past Monday off work as well; I don't know how he would have functioned at the office after that trip, or how I would have managed to unpack and go shopping and survive that first day at home with Little Bear by myself. I'm so glad we went! But now I'm so glad to be home.

Linking up with everyone else at This Ain't The Lyceum, the new home of the Seven Quick Takes party!

1 comment:

  1. Crazy comment...was that picture from your niece's Baptism taken at St. Joan of Arc in Hershey? That is my brothers's parish! Glad you had safe travels!