Welcome Home

 January 10, 2009

Jet lag, colds and new baby have gotten the best of us. We are all pretty beat. The trip home was excruciating and none of us is sleeping through the night yet. I feel like we are some sort of weirdo suburban vampire family up all hours of the night. Our body clocks are so messed up right now, we need to find and hit the reset button.

Our trip home was tough but not for the reason I expected. I was all set to deal with a screaming baby on a plane but Nina was much better than I could have hoped. In about 30 hours of travel, she difficult for only 3 hours total. Mercifully, she slept most of the time. What was difficult was the airlines. It started with a 2.5 hours delay getting out of Almaty. We ended up waiting in the International Departure Lounge for nearly 5 hours. Don’t let the word “international” fool you, this is just one big room with a few duty free shops (inexplicably closed an hour after we arrived), a bar and a smoking lounge. We tried to find something for Nina and the kids to eat but were told the yogurt was “not fresh”, there was no milk, no juice, no food. They did have beer, vodka and candy. Breakfast of champions. So we raided our supply of cheerios, chewy bars and juices. By the time we boarded we were already 7 hours into our trip home.
On board things didn’t get much better. Let me just say here I will never, EVER fly with KLM or Northwest again. We were not offered a bulkhead/bassinet seat, which was my first disappointment, but I could deal with that. We bought Nina her own seat so she would have some space to sleep. The real problem was that although we purchased a child seat, provide her age (24 months) and requested a child’s meal we did not get it. Even worse when I told the flight attendant that I would just take a regular meal I was told she had to make sure all the adults on the plane had a meal first and IF she had extra Nina could have one. Yup that’s right but hang on it gets even more obnoxious.

Eventually KLM was able to spare an extra adult meal for Nina and we did the best we could feeding her a yogurt and some fruit and supplementing with yet more cheerios. By the time we arrived in Amsterdam we were 3 hours behind schedule. Luckily, we did not miss our flight but our plans to buy food for Nina at the airport were shot. By this time I am out of juice, milk and she has eaten about a pound of cheerios. I hope for the best. No such luck. Our next flight was KLM’s partner Northwest. The plane, a 757, was shockingly small for a transatlantic flight. Again, we started poorly; our seats were all over the plane. Nina and Nolan whose tickets were booked as children aged 2 and 9 were each seated by themselves about 10 and 12 rows behind us. Since we were so late to board, there was no way to change so we moved the bigger kids to the rear seats. Once we got going I asked again for a child’s meal. There was none. OK been there done that. Then I asked for a cup of milk and this was the piece de resistance, I was informed that the milk brought on board was for coffee and there was none to spare for our baby. I must have just stared at the flight attendant; I mean are you kidding me? Another passenger heard the whole thing and started insisting that they find milk. One half hour later I was, begrudgingly, issued my one cup and told that was it. Add to this the fact that the lavatories on the plane were all out of order by the time we landed, and the entertainment system stopped working about an hour into the flight and you get the idea-Northwest sucks.
I could have kissed the ground when we arrived in Detroit, not only because we were freed by Northwest or that I was close enough to smell the McDonald's fries but my baby was finally in the US and about to become our nation’s newest (and cutest) citizen. The Immigration process was very simple and completely lacking in ceremony, except of course for Kiefer crooning in his best Borat impression, “Velcome to Amerrrrica”! The rest of the trip home was uneventful. We had one more weather related delay and finally walked thru our front door a little after 10pm. The whole trip door to door was 28 hours.

Now the good, albeit mundane, stuff….

Nina is doing great. She slept in her crib the first night we were home; she is great about naps and bedtime. Also she is eating more varied food every day. (At the baby house when I asked what she ate, I was told “everything”, but apparently, “everything” means soup.) We have tried to introduce new foods each day. If she doesn’t like it at first, it very possible she will devourer it the next day. She is a kid that does not like new or change. I am chalking it up to institutional life, but I am pleased that we can see progress almost by the hour. Today she ate, scrambled eggs, turkey, Munster cheese, bread with cherry preserves, cantaloupe, grapes and a strawberry.

The day after we got home, we scrambled to baby proof the house. We have put up gates and outlet covers, cabinet and toilet locks. Nina took the ride to Babies R Us to get all the gear and absolutely loved riding in her car seat. The cashier at the store said my baby looked just like me…well yes of course she does:)

Our first night Dart’s parents had cakes for Kiefer’s birthday and Nina’s arrival, the next night they made us a prime rib dinner and today they brought a great pot of beef stew. God bless these wonderful Grandparents.

So far Nina likes to; play the piano, pretend to be chased by the dog, cook in her kitchen and run laps around the house. I am stunned at what a happy, healthy, curious and completely normal baby she is. Her vocabulary has exploded; she repeats everything and even has 2-3 word sentences. She understands even more. Just now she was dancing to the theme song from Drake and Josh.

We now gladly leave behind the angst and drama of “adopting” and move into the gloriously mundane days of parenting.

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