We just returned from a quick trip to Chicago for Phil to do a wedding for a lovely couple. I attended the rehearsal, dinner, wedding, and reception. It was one of the loveliest events I have ever attended and the outdoor settings in Chicago were amazing. I can only imagine what wonderful pictures they are going to have. Just as the trip to Alaska taught me a few things, this trip also brought new epiphanies. So, here are a few of my lessons from Chicago:
1) If you are in a different locale where one of you has to be somewhere at a certain time, don't do anything stupid that might require a trip to the ER. This leads me to #2.
2) Always use a high chair. No matter how good your 18-month-old is at sitting in a chair, she will inevitably fall out. This is not necessarily a horrible thing, but if she falls off and hits her head on a radiator sitting roughly 3 inches off the floor, it's a problem. (When the people at the next table who work in sports medicine say you might want to get your kid checked out for a concussion, it's probably not a good sign).
3) When you need a trip to the ER in a strange city, make certain the cabbie knows that the children's hospital has moved. There's nothing like an hour long cab ride through the city, as the cabbie discovers the road to the children's hospital is closed and, upon finally arriving, being told that they are CLOSING FOR GOOD that day (indeed, within the hour) because they have moved to a new location. [Ironically, the new location was CLOSER to the hotel! But, I digress.] Fortunately, they were kind enough to admit us and we were likely their last patient. First, and hopefully last, time closing down an ER.
4) Lil' Bit has a hard head--just like me. As hard as she cracked that thing on the radiator and floor, she must have a skull of steel. She did not have a concussion and we all got back to the hotel in plenty of time to get ready for the wedding. Yay! Still, not something we ever want to repeat.
5) Given the right setting, I can be social with people I don't know. Usually, I am an extreme introvert with those I don't know, and an extrovert with those I know well. With these families, I felt instantly comfortable, even though I only knew the bride and her brother. Part of it was the presence of lots of other young children, at least 6 of whom were aged 9 months to 3 years. But more than that, I didn't feel like I was the the pastor's wife along for the ride, as I often do when I only know the bride or groom. I felt welcome. And with that feeling, came one of comfort that allowed me to converse with people and feel more comfortable than I might otherwise. I was certainly no extrovert, but I was much less introverted.
6) Given the right environment, Lil' Bit can stay up waaaay past her bedtime with few repercussions--although med times in the morning are slightly more difficult. Being in Chicago meant we were in a different time zone, so keeping her up until 8:30 p.m. Friday night was like 9:30 our time--3 hours past her bedtime! It was even later last night with the wedding reception, but she did great. We got her up at 5 (Chicago time) for her first med and then let her go back to bed for another hour before her second med. It worked out pretty well.
7) There is no logic to what children want. After a four-hour car ride, Lil' Bit was tired of being strapped into the car seat and she was not afraid to let us know about it. Upon arriving at home, I got her out of the car first thing and set her down in the kitchen while I tried to unpack the car. Ha! She was not in the house a whole 30 seconds before she was banging on the backdoor crying and begging to be strapped into the swing in the backyard. In all fairness, if I have to be strapped in, I'd rather be outside in the shade with the breeze in my hair, too. Still, not exactly what I figured her first move would be.
8) We are playing at a much higher level. Even with the ER visit and the cab rides and the staying up late and various other difficulties, we did not feel like the trip was "ruined." We had a great time at the wedding events, enjoyed our walk along the river, and made the most of our time. It was our first non-family out-of-town trip since Lil' Bit began her meds and it went surprisingly well.
9) There is always some adjustment. After sleeping in the same room with us for two nights and being rocked to sleep both of those nights, it was understandably difficult for Lil' Bit to be placed in her crib in her room by herself at regular time this evening. So, I went back in and held her until she fell asleep. That way, we still implemented the regularly scheduled bedtime and sleeping in her own space, but she still got snuggles. And, who am I kidding, I loved getting snuggled right back.
It's great to be home and to get back into the routine. But it was equally nice to discover that we are capable of taking trips even though Lil' Bit has special needs.