As you might have guessed, the kids and I made it home just fine on Friday. We’ve been having some quiet family time over the weekend, and then we plan to get back into our normal routines tomorrow.
Both kids had been very fussy the day or two before we left Iowa, so I was quite nervous. But we played our way through the first flight, Katherine valiantly walked nearly all the way to our connecting gate in Minneapolis (which is a looooong way), insisting on carrying her heavy backpack, and we settled in for the three-hour wait until our second flight, which was to leave a bit before 10pm. The kids played happily for quite awhile, but, of course, there was some crying as he tried to go down to sleep for the night (despite the unhelpful environment) and she, ahem, flipped over the back of the chairs in the waiting area while playing. So I got to be “that” mom with the screaming kids for awhile as I tried to console both little ones at once. The airline claimed not to have any record of my having purchased a ticket for Nathaniel, so they made me buy another before boarding (I’ll be seeking a refund, pronto!), but that was the only real incident in our travel.
I was at the mercy of the airline for seating, but I did manage to get bulkhead seating, with a baby cot. Katherine tried to sleep on the plane, but she just couldn’t get comfortable. Nathaniel enjoyed sleeping in the little cot, and I am not sure how we would have done it without that little bed for him. He doesn’t sleep unless he’s able to lie down, and my lap just isn’t big enough for him. It was a very full flight, but the lady sitting next to our clan happened to be a wonderful, generous-minded grandmother, and she genuinely seemed to take the kids (smiles, cries, and all) in stride. I hope to be such a tolerant seatmate someday. Overall, the night flight was less difficult than the day-long one on our way over, since at least one kid was able to get in quite a bit of sleep. But I know that it was hard on Katherine, and she has been sleeping long nights and long naps since we got back. When we got to the border control, we were welcomed home by the guard (in his English accent), which was interesting!
Sydney had the house in perfect order when I arrived: everything tidy and clean. It was a wonderful welcome-home present! Katherine and I walked to the grocery store yesterday morning to pick up a few more things, and we took a long family walk to the meadow last night. It is really nice to go striding down the streets again, knowing that I don’t have to park a car or latch one more carseat buckle. But my arms are clearly feeling the additional exercise that life around here entails: lots of stairs up which to haul Nathaniel, and much pushing of a stroller that has a good 55 pounds of kid weight in it. Sydney and I have both been making food again for the first time in a long while (he ate in college while I was away), and last night Katherine at a big slice of my zucchini-lime-hot-pepper pizza.
I had had plans for a rather idyllic life for a few days while we adjusted to life as a family again, but unfortunately Nathaniel has knocked that one down. He’s been quite fussy, and his nighttime has been a nightmare for all of us. Last night he was awake and inconsolable for a few hours (11:30-2:30), and all four Penners (and maybe our neighbors!) were up for it. From the way he’s grabbing at his mouth we think it might be teething-related, but it certainly seems to have cost Sydney and me all of the well-restedness that our long time apart earned us. And that’s only two nights! We all slept in this morning and will hope for improvement on the Nathaniel sleep front soon.