It's 11:17 PM local time, but my body is two hours behind, so I'm still feeling awake. That's pretty remarkable, though, given the short and choppy nature of my sleep last night. I don't sleep easily before big events. Poor Allen is at home in Oregon: being a working man, he doesn't have the chance to take a lot of time off, so it is just Ruby and me vacationing out east.
I promised him that I'd write about it every day, so here it goes.
Ruby woke up wayyyy too early this morning (5:30) and was getting tired by the time that Andy and Alishia dropped us off at the airport...not auspicious. I had decided against bringing a stroller, but if I ever travel with this age/size baby again I will go ahead and bring one! She's too big to wear in a Baby Bjorn, but she can't be trusted to stick by my side and walk the whole way either. Carrying her and trying to manage purse, tickets, and rolling carryon was a bit of a handful, to say the least. Still, we made it through all of the usual hurdles just fine. We were flying Southwest, which lets you choose your own seating. We went during family boarding time. I got aisle seats every time. On the first leg of our trip (PDX to SAC) there was no one in the seat next to her, so this facilitated her falling asleep in my arms. She slept through the end of the flight and the time when the Sacramento passengers deboarded and the new passengers got on--AKA a good time to use the bathroom on the plane and stretch--and awoke as we were taking off. Thankfully, air pressure changes didn't seem to bother her ears too much. On some of the take-offs and landings she was drinking from a bottle, but not all.
On the second leg (SAC to LAX) there was a woman in the seat next to her, so stretching out didn't work well. Thankfully that was the shortest leg of the trip. The woman didn't have much to say positive or negative about being next to a baby, so it was okay. We were supposed to stay on the same plane for the whole trip, and at the end of the second leg, I was just preparing to use the bathroom, change Ruby's diaper, and get her lunch out, only to hear the pilot announce that they needed to do a plane swap and we all had to rush to Gate 2. So I did, not without some chaos (and almost forgetting my purse on the plane! Thank you God for the alert flight attendant who stopped me). Mercifully there was a bathroom right next to Gate 2. But Ruby did pull one of her old tricks and peed while I was changing her, so she got part of her clothes wet...and I had NOT (as I thought) put in a fresh outfit in the carry-on. Oops. Luckily she only got herself a little bit wet.
I made it onto the new plane for the last--and longest--leg from LAX to STL. Having a baby in your lap is a great way to keep people from sitting by you, by the way. The people who ended up being near us were a really lovely mom and teen daughter who were fabulously kind and patient. Ruby took a liking to the lady right away and kept touching her arm and definitely getting into her personal space, but the mom didn't mind. Over the course of the flight she ignored Ruby's flailings, shared some Apple Jacks cereal with Ruby, and let Ruby play on a coloring book app on her iPhone. Pretty awesome. It would not have been as good a flight without her!
The most frustrating part was that my carryon had to be stowed overhead, where it was a big pain to get at. The ride was bumpy for much of the time, so we were supposed to stay buckled a lot. All of Ruby's food, toys, and diapering things were hard to get at, so it was harder to keep her entertained. But all in all, I think she did really well. She didn't have any major meltdowns; just a bit of fussing when she was tired. She practiced waving at other passengers, and the flight attendants said she was very well behaved. Perhaps they are just flattering me, but they've probably also lived through worse.
Mom and Sarah were waiting for me at the airport. It was great to see them! I hadn't been to St. Louis since Allen and I drove out in June 2009. When last hear, the house was still under major renovation and didn't have a functional kitchen. Now it's been beautified for quite a while, and it is very pretty. It is SO different from what it was like when we were all growing up! No nasty carpet, 3 full bathrooms instead of one (although one less bedroom because of that), new furniture, totally different layout of one side of the house. A lot of the old foliage in the yard is gone too, which makes the house a lot more visible than it was. It looks really good. Dinner was great. Everyone was thrilled to see Ruby. I wonder if she thought it was odd to see her Uncle Toby here (he flew out earlier in the week) when she's used to seeing him at home. Ruby and I accompanied Dad and Ozzie (the huge doofy yellow lab) on the evening walk. Ozzie was very intrigued by Ruby, and the feeling was mutual, although Ruby was more guarded than Ozzie! Then again, he probably weighs four or five times as much as her, so being guarded is a good thing. Ruby was quite tired out and ready for bed, and the rest of us played a fun board game called Telestrations. I called Allen and chatted with him. I miss him already!
There you have it: day one of the epic adventures. Thanks to all who gave advice and prayers for our flight. We arrived safe and sound and not too frazzled.