Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cross-Country Kid

NJ's first cross-country trip was a rousing success. I've put this off for a couple of days because I was laid low by a nasty cold (thanks, mother-in-law!) that I brought back to Seattle (you're welcome, Alaska Flight 15!). I've tried to keep out of NJ's face since then, but that's been pretty hard to do. On the other hand, she's been a regular Super Baby when it comes to ailments, so maybe this illness will bounce dully off of her like a bullet hitting Superman in the chest. Anyway, on to the trip:

Flight to Boston: The worst moment. After checking three bags, we headed to the plane with two carry-ons, the lightweight stroller and the car seat. The car seat is the most ridiculously shaped thing in the world to have to carry around for long periods of time. We checked the stroller at the gate and put the car seat in NJ's seat, where it listed forward slightly. She didn't seem to experience any of the take-off (and landing) ear pressure problems I've seen spark screaming jags in other kids. NJ was restless, though, and The Wife spent some time walking in the aisle with her. Finally NJ fell asleep in her mother's lap and we put her in the car seat, where she continued to sleep (dangling at a precarious angle). After a half-hour, though, the woman behind us yelled at her kid and startled NJ awake -- and she never went back to sleep. So: More whiny crying. The Wife and I each walked her around some, and finally NJ settled down for the last 30 minutes or so of the flight. And she wasn't even the worst-behaved baby on the flight, there was no need to invoke the It's My Turn rule. After landing, rounding up luggage and getting our rental car, we finally hit the hotel before 7 p.m.

Boston: We stayed in a nice place downtown and had a spectacular view of the Statehouse's golden dome, the Charles River, Cambridge and the Back Bay. NJ fussed mightily for about ten minutes after we put her down, then slept like a log -- a very, very tired log that had a big, long day. The next morning we spent at the Common and the Public Garden, where Norah charmed passers-by with a big smile and her adeptness at sitting on bronze ducks. Even though it's been almost 15 years since I left Boston and political reporting, when the Park Street Church bells tolled 9 a.m. I instinctively took a couple of steps toward the Statehouse, figuring I'd better grab a coffee and get to work in the Press Gallery. Instead, though, we returned to the hotel to have breakfast with old friends Mark and Mer before driving off to The Wife's parents' house in Connecticut.

A sad NJ turns away after being informed that the duck would not start moving.
Drive to Connecticut: Uneventful.

Connecticut: Eventful. The Wife's parents are a delight and love their newest granddaughter. Their spread in Northwest Connecticut is nice, too -- NJ loved looking at the goldfish in their backyard pond, and her Grandpa bought her a wading pool that was probably NJ's favorite part of the week. To wit:

O ...

... M ...

... G!
She also visited a nearby house to look at a couple of steers, hit a nearby park for some swing time, and played a lot in her grandparents' living room with all the new toys she collected from family.

Family: NJ met lots of new folks. My brother, his wife and their son and daughter came up from D.C. The Wife's sister and her five-year-old daughter drove over from New Jersey. The Wife's other sister lives about ten minutes away in Connecticut, and we hung out a lot with her, her husband and their two boys. Also, The Wife's best friend drove over for dinner one night with her son. All these folks were properly impressed and quite taken with NJ. (Well, maybe not the grade school- and middle school-aged boys, but who can blame them? After all, there was a hot tub.) NJ slept really well, except for one nap when her five-year-old cousin just couldn't wait to play with her and crept into her room.

Look, guys, I'm crawling. Quick, laugh and smile and clap and shower me with gifts! That how this works, right?
Mystic: One day we drove to Mystic, Conn., to see the aquarium. NJ loves the aquarium in Seattle, and Mystic didn't disappoint, either. Her favorite exhibit was the jellyfish tank. I was partial to the trained seals and sea lions. Then we ate at a restaurant where I consumed fresh lobster (a sandwich) for the first time in years, and the waitress didn't keep the water glasses filled to my nephew's liking.

Back to the jellyfish, Aunt D. Let's go!
Food: The Wife's parents spoiled us with big, delicious meals. A big hot dog/hamburger blowout, lobsters and a delicious fish chowder were the highlights. NJ ate the fish chowder and all the vegetables put in front of her, to the delight and amusement of her relatives. She, The Wife and I also stopped in a Willington, Conn., restaurant where NJ feasted on bits of turkey sandwich and some of my pepperoni-and-anchovies calzone (no anchovies for her, though). We also made a stop at the UConn Dairy Bar, where The Wife and I ate ice cream while a smiling NJ charmed a couple of bikers who were waiting in line. It was semi-surreal.

Animals: NJ met her grandparents' dogs, Winston and Jake (seen here crashing a photo op). They're getting up there in years, and one of them is deaf now, but they were incredibly tolerant of the crawling little minx and her tiny, curious hands. I think she still prefers The Two Idiots, though. There was also a cat that peaked NJ's curiosity greatly (and she wasn't even aware of the cat's most outstanding feature: 25 toes). She doesn't remember Elmore -- a.k.a. the Magnificent Bastard, who was 15 years old when she was born and had to be laid to rest just a couple of weeks after she came home from the hospital -- so the idea of a sleek, aloof, not-at-all-clumsy-and-loud animal prowling the house intrigued her.

Drive to Boston: Uneventful. Although, after listening to Beantown sports talk radio all week, let me say this: Red Sox fans, get over yourselves. Seriously.

Flight home: Much, much, much smoother than the trip out. Now a seasoned air travel veteran, NJ was an angel in the Boston airport. The car seat fit better this time around, and NJ slept for three solid hours on the flight. I would have enjoyed that a lot more if I wasn't sitting there feeling my cold coming on. We got home at almost 11 p.m. and NJ went right back to sleep.

Overall: The Wife and I were extremely glad and grateful that NJ got to spend a week with her New England grandparents (they came out to Seattle last fall, too), and that her extended family members flocked to Connecticut for an audience with her. It wasn't easy for everyone -- my brother's family had to juggle four jobs and his daughter's fast-approaching college debut, for example, to make a week-long trip to southern New England. We appreciate it very much. NJ in particular.

Thanks, guys! Right back atcha!