Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A friendly stop

Casey's baby shower in Turkey: Me, Casey, Logan, and "Stebbs"
So I have to admit, it is really fun to "run into" friends all over the USA (and the world.) While I have grown weary of moving and saying good bye and hello so much, it is really nice to fly into a city and realize "Oh, I have a friend here!"
In the case of our trip into Norfolk this past Friday, Logan living only 30 minutes was a complete and amazing Godsend. After a very long travel day, she was able to pick us up from the airport, let us spend the night at her house, and then deliver us to the commercial airport across town the next airport.
Logan and her husband Brandon willingly put up with our family. She also took me to a grocery store to buy a few things. Strawberries! Red, beautiful strawberries! I climbed back into the car announcing my find and Logan remarked that after only a year out of Turkey, she forgot how different it used to be in Turkey. "You'll forget someday too," she told me. "You'll forget that you lived on two tiny Bases and how much you miss America right now."
I know she is right. It's good to know that someday I will be home for good.
I think anyone can see how wonderful Logan's help would be but add three tiny children and my big belly, and the blessing was even more immense. They have a beautiful quintessential American home in a dreamy American neighborhood. Back porch. Carpets. 110 volt outlets. Ohhhh America how I have missed you!
Logan's little Jackson with my "big kids". Someone mentioned this will look a lot like my family in a few months. Woah!

Jackson with the big boys.
So, two days of travelling solo with three children five and under while very pregnant. It was not as long as the Turkey trip I took back in 2012, but it was still a lofty undertaking. What did I learn this time?

Here were the things I took away from this adventure.
  1. Choose your children (and the strangers they sit by) wisely. Sidge is not able to sit by strangers. He is so sweet and good-natured, but he talks so much. The right people can handle it, but an eighteen year old girl flirting with the older boy next to her? She didn't find his intense discussion of superheroes and places we have lived too exciting. However, I have to have one child sit across the aisle from me. Isaac will have to be the child of choice for awhile.
  2. Poop needs will occur at the most inopportune times. It's just a fact. While standing in line. While preparing to board the flight. I actually had to pull a crying Sidge off the potty telling him, "I'm sorry. You'll have to finish on the plane. We have to board now!"
  3. If they like to eat it, it is good food. Throw the diet out the window. Skittles (which are much better than M&Ms due to their non-melting capabilities) are a food group. Lollipops are too. Just feed them food that makes them happy.
  4. Expect people to be very nice and patient. A lot of people will offer help. They will compliment you and encourage you. (I had a nun tell me, "Thank you for what you do.") Allow people to be nice and to help you.
  5. Expect people to be not very nice and not very patient. On the Southwest flight (which has "open" seating) a family in front of me decided to get up and move when I sat down behind them. I made a joke and tried to lighten the mood, but the fact is, I have three little kids and someone will probably be crying. I'm sorry if this offends you. I can't make it any better. To the guy who said, "Oh good God," when we sat down next to him, my only hope is that I can prove to him that (a) yes, God is good and (b) it won't be as bad as you think.
  6. Minimal is a must. You have to be able to easily carry what you need to carry. This means you cannot bring everything you would like to have. Choose wisely.
  7. Take the advice of people "in the know." Wonder markers were a huge hit for Abigail! (Thanks Lajes moms). I covet ideas from people who have had good success on their own trips. 
  8. Benadryl. When all three children (and myself) awoke at 3am at Logan's house (7am our time), I used it. There I said it. Don't judge. We all went back to sleep until 7.
  9. Expect delays. Most likely, something will not go according to plan. Our three car seats did not arrive on the luggage belt. This stunk. It took about 90 minutes to get cleared up. It was not ideal. But it happened. You'll get through it. Try to remain calm.
  10. You have a real family. You can't pretend your children are perfect. They aren't. Compliments from strangers on their good behavior feel good. But accept them cautiously. Five minutes later your four-year-old will start sobbing because you are requiring him to wake up and then find yourself in a customs line with no bathroom and an urgent request to find a bathroom. You are humans. Your kids will cry, drop food, and kick the back of seats. Just do your best.


jenicini said...

I want to give you a hug after reading this. I only have one kiddo, but we've taken a bunch of 5+ hour trips. People can be so unexpectedly nice and also kinda of cranky. My fave is that you admitted using B though. :D

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you all did wonderful on the flight and trip to Florida! As much as I wish I didn't have to admit it, I have to admit that I would be one of those people rolling their eyes when or if a family such as your came and sat down next to me on a plane. I don't think I would actually say anything out loud, but inside I know I would hate it! I only fly somewhere every 6 months or so, and I like to enjoy it, and usually with a family with small kids near me, that is impossible. Then again, not too many years ago I was in similiar situations, and realize that you are doing the best you can at the time.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...


I think secretly being frustrated that you have to sit by a family is totally okay. I actually did it while travelling with my kids. We were sitting by a crying baby and I was like, "Bummer!"

I think the big difference is what you portray not what you feel. You can wish for something different (and even see if there is another seat you can move to) but you can still encourage the mom and tell her she's doing a good job, you understand, etc.

Thanks for the honesty!

betsy trogden said...

LOVE IT! It's so nice to read your posts and know that I am reading something real. Kids aren't perfect. We aren't perfect. We do the best we can with what we have. And that's OK. Some people never get that.

Annemieke said...

Thank you for this post! I just flew back from Europe with my two daughters by myself (the are 3 and 1) and I couldn't have written this post better myself. I tried and did my best, I think people around us saw that and were trying to help (even if the flight attendants were pretty useless!)Next time I am going to try the Benadryl, I have been afraid to use it, but I think I am going to have to! Thank you! Annemieke