24 June 2006

First day in Oxford for Summer 2006! Matthew, Katie, and Jenny are here with me, but without Barbara (whom we sorely miss already!) for the first three weeks.

The trip out was more, um, eventful than the one in 2004. In June 2004, Faithful Readers may recall that Jenny didn't handle the lack of sleep and little breakfast well, and threw up all over herself and Barb. She got off the plane, sopping wet (from cleaning up in the airplane restroom) and smelly. We were alert to that possibility this time.

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(A name has been changed below at the child's request.)

Before we got on the plane at 5:50 for our 6:25 departure on British Airways, I had everyone use the restroom. But even that wasn't good enough for over an hour on the tarmac. (We were told that there were twenty planes ahead of us in line.) GenericChild was bouncing like crazy, trying to keep from voiding. I called to the attendant, who flatly said, "No," our child may not use the restroom. I kept asking our child to wait until take-off, then wait until we reached 10,000 feet. When we got to 20,000 feet, our child couldn't wait any longer – I guess recognition dawned that I didn't really know what I was talking about.

GenericChild was a wonderful trooper. Without complaining, without crying, our child cleaned up. Our child said that the wet spot was embarassing, so our child washed the entire outfit (in the restroom! drying with paper towels!) so that it wasn't so visible. The flight attendant did give us a new cushion for the seat, which helped alot. Still, our child was wet and cold all night. I handed over my blanket so that there were two to cover up with, but our child still slept badly. (I asked the flight attendant for an extra blanket, and he refused.)

The next morning, when they called for 20 minutes before the seat belts sign would come on for landing, I told Jenny that she had to get up and use the restroom. She ate dinner well, and I got her to eat a little breakfast. But when she got up to use the bathroom, she lost it. I grabbed the air sickness bag and caught most of it, but lots went on the floor, on Jenny, and on my seat. We cleaned her up as best we could in the restroom, then sat down. Then, as we're landing, she lost it again. We caught most of it again, but there was no opportunity to clean up the rest of the way until we landed.

Once we landed, we got clean clothes. Then we took the shuttle over to the South Terminal to get coach (bus) tickets. (Turned out that we didn't need to – I was confused.) But the shuttle ride was too much for Jenny – she lost it again. No airsickness bag available, I caught it best I could – in my hands. Bleah. We couldn't find a restroom, so Matt bought us some bottled water and we cleaned up over a potted plant. After buying the bus tickets, I finally found SOMETHING Jenny would eat: Milk and a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks. We got on the two hour bus ride and everyone fell asleep. When we woke up in Oxford, we were all feeling much better.

We got our rooms in Worcester, then went grocery shopping and bought a soccer ball. Thank goodness for Matt – helping to guide Jenny, helping to carry bags (as he had with the suitcases.) I recommend him as a travel companion!

Everyone, Everywhere is World Cup crazy. Every store has England's Team merchandise, every pub has some kind of game special. It's really intense. But other than that, Oxford has changed very little since we left. The garden is more overgrown, and the furniture is moved around in the house, and some stores are closed. But an amazing amount is identical.

We had dinner with the students: Chicken Kiev. When the girls cut into their seemingly harmless chicken, only to see green gunk spit out, they were both seriously put off. But brave troopers that they were, both ate quite a bit of it, and Katie decided that she liked it.

Orientation was hard to follow – we all four kept drifting off.

Katie's been complaining of a sore throat. I suspect that it's just lack of sleep, but I gave her some ibuprofen and prescribed an ice cream for medicinal purposes. We then came back and the girls went to bed. I stopped by the Worcester College pub to watch some of Mexico-Argentina, but the pub was too unpleasant. It was totally packed with GT undergrads speaking English in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. (I'm such a fuddy-duddy. Somewhere I missed the memo that every third adjective must start with an 'F.' For both men and women!) So, I watched 20 minutes and came home to write this and blissfully sleep.