Monday, September 10, 2007

Austin: Final thoughts

The last few days have been a bit of a blur since I've been home, so much so that (you may have noticed) I've barely spent any time here but I have a few posts that I really need to get out: my last day in Austin and things I want to remember from the 10 days there, the weekend at the cottage with the Walsh family just before I left for Texas, Hope's first year and Emily's 3rd year. Three of those posts are getting long in the tooth but I'll get them up anyway, hopefully this week. For now, I'll just reflect on the last day in Austin, my atrocious trip home (actually worse than the trip there) and things I'll remember from my time with Beth, Graeme and Kate.

I did manage to do a good amount of cooking on Wednesday. At the end of the afternoon we met Graeme at the Austin Farmer's Market at The Triangle, very close to Beth and Graeme's house. It was a very cool mix of vendors, decidedly part of the Keep Austin Weird movement. We had some amazing hibiscus iced tea, I bought a few gifts and had a chicken taco - supper was on its way but it was my last chance for a proper taco before returning to The Land That Cannot Produce a Taco to Save Its Life.

That night Beth's friends, Marlene and Will, joined us for our meatball and linguine supper. Hope was in bed early again - she was routinely going to bed between 7 and 7:30.

The next day, after Westley's walk, I started packing and cleaning. Hope had a nap and then it was time to get to the airport with a quick stop at HEB for fresh tortillas to take home with me. I put 60 tortillas in my suitcase. We made pretty good work of one pack already. Can someone please explain to me why no store makes fresh tortillas here? There just isn't a sufficient explanation.

Everything started off well for my trip home. The flight leaving Austin was on time and to top it off I had a Salt Lick brisket sandwich while I was waiting to get on the plane. Everything was going according to plan. Then we approached Chicago and due to bad weather were in a holding pattern for almost an hour before the pilot felt it was dangerous to continue to do so and flew us to Peoria, Illinois to refuel. I have a feeling the Peroira airport doesn't get a lot of action (aside from some military flights). We were the only plane there. The pilot lightened the mood by announcing "we were first for take off." At least it got him a few laughs. We were back in the air and were supposed to have a landing slot. Turns out O'Hare changed its mind again so we circled Peoria for another 40 minutes. Beautiful area, very agricultural, got to know it well.

Finally we started back to Chicago. When we got in landing vicinity we were again put in another holding patter, for another 40 minutes. It was at this point that Hope started to get agitated. She started her intermittent screaming that is her way of entertaining herself when she is annoyed or bored. By this point in the never-ending flight from hell, I had fed her twice, read her every book I had brought - twice, breastfed her, sang her every song she liked - twice, and taken her to the bathroom - twice. So, when the woman in front of me turned around and asked me if there was anything I could do to keep Hope quiet, I was pretty damn close to committing air rage and in fact would have been happy to have been escorted from the aircraft at that point had I not been 20,000 feet or so in the air. My response was controlled but I told the woman with the horrendous hair squishy to shove it in pretty polite terms.

I later heard her ask the attendant for a Tylenol. I stewed and steamed about Hair Squishy the rest of the flight. I couldn't believe she had the nerve to tell me that Hope was screaming in her ear and that it was annoying when she was completely oblivious to the fact that I'd been keeping her from screaming for the previous two hours. Hope did extremely well considering we were in the air a full two and a half hours longer than we should have been, pointed out by a really friendly, non-hair squishy group of Texans deboarding after the whole debacle was over.

When we did finally land at O'Hare it was 7:15. My flight for Ottawa left at 6:00. I got on the next flight for Ottawa which was supposed to leave at 8:55. It was delayed as was everything leaving or coming into The Airport Which Shall Not Be Named. Hope climbed up and down her carseat while I ate really brutal pizza and chatted with a group of Canadians who had flown down to be on The Oprah Show. My flight finally left at 9:55. We landed at 1:00. Again I got flack for not having a letter saying I was allowed to leave the country with Hope on my own. The Canadian Customs Guy was really nice about it, a much different approach than his American counterpart, but he had to go out into the arrivals area and ask John if he had permitted me to leave Canada with Hope. John said Customs Guy seemed embarrassed that he had to do it, like he thought the whole system was ridiculous. You know what? It is. Why would I need a letter to bring Hope back home? Completely fubar.

From now on I'm going to have a letter saying I can accompany Hope just when I leave the house, just in case I run into someone who asks.

I was in bed at 2:00. Emily was in our room around 7:00 and it was an awesome reunion. I snuck up behind her. I'd been feeding Hope. Hope was crying and I heard Emily saying to John: What's that noise? I tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped into my arms. We snuggled in bed and have pretty much replayed that every morning since.

It was a great 10 days in Texas. There are lots of things I'll want to remember when I think back to my time there, in absolutely nonsensical order:
  • walking through Beth's humid neighbourhood every morning while Westley explored everyone's yards
  • picking up groceries at FreshPlus almost everyday
  • jumping off the bed to catch the on-off switch on the ceiling fan/light in my room
  • the morning wake-up: Hope would come into bed with me to breastfeed then she would explore the bedroom while I tried to sleep a little longer
  • iChatting with Emily and John every night while Hope ate her supper
  • Hope beelining it to anyone using a laptop and banging the keyboard
  • Hope putting all the laptop cables over her head like clothes and being so proud of herself while she did it
  • helping to get Kate to sleep using the Chinese Bum Pat
  • Kate swaddled and asleep on the Boppie
  • Hope always stealing Kate's blanket
  • Hope constantly poking, kissing or touching Kate if Kate was in the vicinity
  • how Hope and Westley got really comfortable with each other as the week went on
  • Westley finally kissing Hope's nose every time he walked by her
  • Losing my wallet off the top of the car at REI and the very nice woman, Laura, who returned it
  • Hanging out at the Austin Farmers Market, drinking ice tea and watching Hope pour the ice on Kate's head.
  • Beth and Hope dancing together at the Austin Farmers Market
  • getting really good dark chocolate almost every day
  • tea with Beth
  • helping Kate have her first bath at home
  • Hope's jealousy while I would hold Kate
  • watching the Up Series with Graeme at night
  • being a mummy with Beth. That's just very cool.
  • buying a suit with Graeme at Neiman-Marcus that cost more than my first car
  • eating granola and yogurt for breakfast every morning
  • getting wicked blisters from my new shoes
  • Hope emptying Beth's Tupperware drawer daily, sometimes a few times daily
  • cleaning out Beth's fridge
  • Graeme yelling "HELP" while Kate's poop sprayed all over the diaper change pad
  • the possum. Enough said.
  • Hope turning Westley into a dog who looked for people food after she fed him yogurt off her spoon
  • watching the turtles swim behind The County Line BBQ
  • the rain and rain and more rain.
It was a great 10 days. I'll think about it often for a very long time.

Having said all that, it's good to be home.


Anonymous said...

Boo to yucky hair wench! I'm surprised you didn't give her more of a reason for Tylenol!

O'Hare is crazy, I'll admit. They always get this wicked air too -- hot and humid thunderstorms, turbulence, etc. Nasty holding pen too -- perpetually under construction and always a delay.

Glad you are back safe and sound!

juls said...

Sounds like you had an incredible time. Question: what is the Chinese Bum Pat and a Boppie? Very curious.

Karen said...

Chinese bum pat: a method of getting babies to sleep (young babies) that my friend Marnie taught me. I have no idea why it's called the Chinese bum pat but essentially you just kind of thump the bum while they are in your arms at regular intervals and it almost always puts them to sleep. It' like a back pat - as a hearbeat, but on the bum instead. A Boppie is a brand name for a style of breastfeeding pillow.

Shan said...

Welcome home Karen!

Lady on the plane... she just sucked.

Love the Chinese bum pat. I didn't know that's what it was called, but I've been doing it since way back in my babysitting days.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare, O'Hare -- yes, Dad got stuck too, trying to come visit me for what ended up being just over one day (far too short). You bring back good memories of my last Salt Lick sandwhich, which (since I was running late) I ate on the plane. I had to ask the stewardess for a spoon so I could eat my "Amy's" hot fudge chocolate sundae, and she refused b/c my sandwich smelled so good and I didn't share! In fact, I think four or five rows of passengers complained because the whole plane smelled like BBQ (c; That's a great pic of Graeme... look at the contrast... Beth's dancing with Hope looking cool as a cucumber, and Graeme looks just plain awkward -- like he was heading to the lab and suddenly found this baby strapped to him! We'll have to work on that. Maybe the fancy suit will help. (as opposed to "HELP" with poop going everywhere). I love it. Can't wait to visit. Wish we could overlap sometime.