Thursday, December 30, 2010

I like this train!

Or, Brynna travels to Chicago...

We made the trek to Chicago a few weeks back to see our good friends Lucy and Steve, and also to travel up to Milwaukee to meet our close friend from med school Beth, who is now in residency in Appleton, WI.

Unlike the last time Brynna traveled by air, there would be two adults for this little one. Plus, there was a decent chance that neither would be feverishly sick. Lastly, we managed to hit a direct flight from MHT to MDW via southwest - one three hour hop and we're there.

That is not to say that traveling with Brynna is care-free. She's a great sport, and a good traveler generally, but she is still a two-year old who doesn't always follow directions, and whose patience is sometimes shorter than our own.

First hurdle: our 6:30 am departure from Manchester necessitated a 4 am wake up call for the B. In an extreme case like this, we thought nothing of keeping her in her jammies with her Nuk. She tottered along behind Mama through security while I wrestled the luggage and car seat. She charmed we way past through the TSA:

Brynna did well through the takeoff - all she needed was a little hand-holding and closing of the window shade. We expected Brynna to sleep on the flight over there, but she gabbed the whole way over. Probably the highlight was the handing out of the in-flight snacks!

At Midway airport, while Hil went in search of chai, Brynna and I flopped down for a late breakfast of cheerios and raisins.

The next hurdle was the 1-hour trip on the EL from Midway (to the SW of downtown) up to the northern lake shore where our friends live. But, as it turns out, Brynna really liked the subway. Here and there along the way she would say "I like dis twain!"

This was particularly true once we got north of the Loop, and popped back above ground: we could see most of downtown here and there, and passed just outside the right field fence of Wrigley Field.

We arrived at our friends' home right around Brynna's usual nap time. They had made wonderful accommodations for us and the B, and she went right down. We spent the rest of the day catching up and hanging out.

On Saturday we piled ourselves into a Zipcar minivan and started driving north through some snowy slop to Milwaukee. It was a convenient midway point for us and Beth, but also has a lot of charm in its own right. How wonderful to see old and distant friends! We hadn't seen Beth since leaving Minnesota. She is also a family medicine resident, whose schedule is at least as insane as Hilary's. She was kind enough to shlep down even after working the night before. We met for lunch at the (indoor) public market, admiring the impressive gingerbread houses on display - our favorite was the one done up like The Burrow. We lingered at the market for a few hours while Brynna napped out in the car (supervised and heated, of course). After Brynna awoke, we all went to the local children's museum right down by the lakeshore: five adults playing with one toddler seems about the right ratio. We hardly even saw 1/3 of the place, but B had a great time.

We capped it off with dinner at a local hipster restaurant. Brynna started becoming less than polite towards the end, but thankfully there's a small market attached to the restaurant, through whose aisles she could run up and down.

B was definitely finished when the adults were done with dinner, so we said our goodbyes to Beth and piled back into the van for a quiet drive back to Chicago.

Sunday morning we had a late breakfast at our favorite Chicago place: Tweets. They were very accommodating of Brynna: bringing out crayons and a fruit cup before we'd even gotten our coats off. Brynna heartily enjoyed Hilary's chai and pumpkin pancakes.

When we returned to Lucy and Steve's place, we decided to fire up the Wii and see what Brynna could make of it. I'm not sure she quite got it, but she was very enthusiastic about waving things around. (If we had one, I'm sure she'd already be a natural).

Then naptime while the grown-ups got to play.

Alas, it was not long after Brynna awoke that we needed to pack up and make the trek back to Midway for our flight home. After standing and waiting in the cold Chicago wind some minutes waiting for our first train, we had good vantage of the city at sunset all the way to the airport. Brynna still liked trains, which made the trip easy for us. Upon arrival, alas, we found our flight was delayed at least two hours. Damn! Two hours more we could have spent with Lucy and Steve! Plus, we now had the prospect of keeping B civilized and entertained for an additional two hours in the terminal. At least on the airplane you can reasonably strap her down! She was approaching peak active time, and ready to run up and down the whole length of the concourse (the moving walkways are particularly fun).

But there were two able-bodied parents to corral her. Unfortunately, however, just as we were exiting security, I started feeling queasy. During the subsequent wait for our plane, I visited the bathroom to vomit a few times. The last time was with Brynna in tow, because Hilary had gone off to forage some dinner. All the bathroom stalls were occupied when the moment arrived, so I had the unenviable experience of blowing chunks into a bathroom trashcan with a few dozen travelers looking on, trying to keep Brynna from freaking out at arms length. Did I mention that Brynna is a good sport while traveling?

But then we boarded the plane, and everything was good. By this point it was near Brynna's bedtime, so we expected (hoped) that she'd sleep the flight back. Somehow or other that kid managed to stay awake and bubbly the whole way. Whatever was happening in my gut had thankfully abated, but I was left both terribly exhausted and restless. Brynna, of course, konked out about five seconds after we started our car back home. Jasper greeted us enthusiastically at the door, and curled up at the foot of our bed when we finally crawled in to sleep well after midnight.

All in all, an excellent tour of the upper midwest to catch up with our good friends!


Allyson Wendt said...

LOVE Tweet! Sounds like you were in our old neighborhood....

Beth said...

it was SO great to see you guys...if only it could be more often! Miss you!