Make Poverty History

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meeting Madelyn

The plan was to be in Alabama in plenty of time for the birth. Madelyn had other ideas, after I booked the flights she was born 3 weeks earlier than expected. So she is a 2016 baby, not a 2017 baby.
The journey to Alabama is never quick. From the taxi to the airport at 9:45 to leaving Hartsfield Jackson airport sometime around 2am the following mornig, it is a tiring trip.  The 'returning ESTA' automated entry certainly cuts the queues, and got us through without too much delay.   After more than a 100 mile drive,  with a break at a Wendy's for refreshments, we arrived in Auburn and finally met Madelyn.  A while later,  around 5am we checked in to our hotel.  After about an hour of sleep, I began to wake up.
In the American morning we had a good breakfast and were picked up by Karen and taken to their house. That set the pattern for the next few days, until Robert's mum left for a while and we moved into her room.
Our time has mainly been spent playing with Robbie, in the house or in the play area (where there are swings  and a sand pit) and feeding and comforting Mady. I have a reputation for being good at getting her to sleep. Our presence has allowed Karen to get some much needed rest too.
Studying the information board
in the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve
We have had a walk in the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve where there are climbing frames in the playground and at the top of one of them a 'bring and swap library' that I was very impressed with. We saw a turtle in the lake which moved too fast for me to get a picture and a lizard of some sort running between the planks that make up the back of the seat.
An unknown lizard.
We have also visited a park called Hickory Dickory,  where there are larger climbing frames.  Robbie enjoyed running around and climbing up the steps, but the park is really built for older children, many of the activities require longer legs.
We watched Finding Dory on the TV,  I'm not sure whether this was for Robbie or us, as a sequel it is a good film.  We also watched Jurassic World, which was much better than I expected - and definitely not for Robbie.
We did have occasional breaks from the children.  We visited the Red Clay Brewing Company to try their beers.  They are a small craft beer brewery,  the site is tiny and the tour is hardly a walk.  We tried five beers each, all were good, but one was not to my taste - that's why I try things - to find out what I like. The beers are on a chalk board because they change regularly. Their distribution is very local, but they have plans to increase production by 500%. I wish them well,  it is good to see craft beer flourishing outside the UK.  
We visited a new local cinema to see 'Rogue One',  a Star Wars film.  It was surprisingly good, so was the cinema.
We had a day out at the Georgia Aquarium -  all of us, an amazing experience.  The sea lion show and the dolphin show were both great, but the 4D experience, a shortened version of 'Happy Feet', was really a waste of time - the movements, the wind and snow were poor and there was way too much waiting around for things to get started and then to get going. The food at the aquarium was ridiculously expensive - but as Karen said they have to support the aquarium some how. Nevertheless, it was a really good day and Robbie talked of the 'quarium every day after our visit.
When in America do as the Americans do - eat out. We have been to lots of restaurants and had some really good food.  Perhaps my favourite was Ted's where I once again had Bison (listed as an American super food as it is red meat and low in cholesterol). Karen has also fed us well with some American breakfasts - biscuits and sausage gravy,  for example and many dinners - she is a good cook. 
The other American experience we had was less special.  A tornado alert put us in the bathroom, in the middle of breakfast. The bathroom is the most 'inner' room in the apartment, so provides the most protection.  The tornado touched down about 2.5 miles from us and moved away, this one did not cause much damage - just a few trees uprooted and it did not last long, but in other places people died as tornados in the same weather system caused serious deverstation.
The flight back should have been via Detroit, but when I tried to check-in there were two flights both ending in London.  A long call later we found that we were transferred to the direct flight for ATL to LHR, which left 2 hours later.  That made for a much easier departure day as there was no need to get up early and leave for the airport by 9am.  It took only 10 minutes to get through security at ATL and that included time to go from one desk to the other and back again because the printed boarding card and the computer system it had just been printed from disagreed on our status.  The flight was OK, and comparing Virgin (back) to Delta (out) both Jo and I thought Virgin was slightly better.
Can't wait to see them again, unfortunately that will be at least months away.

This is my first picture of Mady awake, she was about to have a bath, an experience that she really did not like.
During our stay her eyes changed from black to dark blue, and I expect they will get lighter in the next few weeks.  The other noticable change was in her face.  Her cheeks filled out quite noticabley, a good sign that she is growing.
She is a lovely wriggley baby, but don't argue with her - she will always get her own way.

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