Merry Christmas Adventures

As nice as it was to be with family for the holidays, I’m glad that we’ve returned to the calm of Austin. For one thing, it means that we’re coming down the home stretch of the pregnancy, and we can focus completely on preparations for Sunflower’s arrival. (We looked at lots of cribs online today, and have picked a favorite.) I apologize for the lack of posts; I’ve been sick since last Saturday. I’ve decided to organize my Christmas posts by topic, starting with tales from the road (and air).
We left Austin on Monday, December 22. All was calm at the Austin airport, but our flight to Baltimore connected through O’Hare in Chicago. All day Sunday we heard news about terrible weather across the north half of the country, culminating in myriad travel delays and flight cancellations, many in Chicago. Our flight to Chicago was delayed, but arrived not far behind schedule. We were glad that we didn’t have to venture into the zero degree temperatures outside. As we walked down the terminal from our arrival gate to the departure gate, we saw hundreds of people in line to get a chance to talk to the customer service desk. Our flight was one of the lucky ones, since it departed, albeit a bit late. Because of that we didn’t arrive at my parents’ house until 2:45 am. On Tuesday, more flights out of Chicago were cancelled, and our annoyance at the late arrival dissipated.

Leisa removes carpet at my parents home on the day we passed through.

Leisa removes carpet at my parents' home on the day we passed through.

Thanks to Priceline.com, we had a nice rental car at a good price. Even so, we had a less than enjoyable Tuesday drive from Maryland to Lynchburg, Virginia. For one thing, we hadn’t enjoyed a full night’s sleep. For another, we went through some weird traffic on the way to Lynchburg. It was heavy through Washington, D.C., and when we left the freeway, we had to navigate through what seemed like a hundred stoplights, all carefully calibrated to make our trip as slow as possible. Finally, when we got past Charlottesville and almost to our destination, we ran into a stretch where one of two lanes was closed so that emergency crews could deal with a tractor trailer that had rolled over several hours earlier. By the last half-hour of the drive, I had turned into a zombie.
Misty kitty checks to see if Sunflower is kicking.

Misty kitty checks to see if Sunflower is kicking.

Fast forward to Sunday and the beginning of the return trip, when we planned drove back to Baltimore. I had been up all night with a stomach virus, and didn’t even go to church, so that I could try to rest up before we embarked. We considered extending our stay with Jenny’s mother, but I wanted to recuperate in my parents’ home, where I thought I would be more comfortable. When Jenny got back from church, we headed out. This time, our trip was much smoother, and even with numerous rest breaks, our door-to-door time was at least an hour shorter. We feared dropping temperatures and possible icy precipitation, but didn’t run into either. Alas, none of our dreams of wintry weather came true, even though at various times we saw forecasts for a white Christmas or New Year’s Day in the locations of our visit.
After several days with my family, during which my virus passed and was followed by a gross cold, we had to take the last leg of our travels, the flight home. After our early morning start yesterday, Jenny didn’t feel well on the plane. Because of this a wonderful grandmotherly flight attendant took notice and looked after us until we got to Chicago. In Chicago, we experienced no delays. Our flight was full of families with children. One woman had been assigned to a seat far away from her children; she was far back in the plane, but her son was on our row up near the front, and her daughter was in the row behind us. A good-hearted grandmother, assigned to the last seat on our row, took care of the kids during the flight. The little boy just about talked her ear off. Nevertheless, this kind woman also tried to make Jenny’s flight easier; offering her both encouragement and magazines.
I experienced one last inconvenience. As I am still recovering from a cold, when we descended in Chicago I couldn’t get my ears to pop and equalize the pressure, and went through some severe pain. After we landed, the pain subsided, but I felt as if I was hearing everything underwater. At high altitude during the second flight I felt better, but experienced the same problem when we descended into Austin. I did a little research on the internet, and learned that I could have prepared better for this “airplane ear,” a condition that most often affects cold sufferers. After it hits, there aren’t as many treatment options aside from waiting it out. Things improved last night; Jenny recommended holding my head in a sideways position, and that seemed to drain the pressure, although it would return when I returned my head to an upright position. When I woke up this morning, I could tell that something was still not quite right, but it was much improved. I’m sure that in a day or two I’ll be fully recovered, from my ears to my nose and throat and everything else. It’s a small price to pay for good holidays and fun times with family. I’ll write about all that soon. (Although it can’t be soon enough: at one point I told my family that I was live-blogging our improvised Balderdash game. I think they were disappointed that I wasn’t!)

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