Sunday, July 20, 2014

Diary of an International Transition: Countdown Day 1--Departure Day and Traveling

I woke up at four yesterday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.  Darn it.  I was hoping to make it till 6. 
I always have trouble eating on Departure Day.  I forced down some breakfast. 

I bathed all the kids and slathered them—literally—with lotion.  The dry air on the plane makes their skin look like the Sahara Desert. 

Did one last load of laundry and stuffed the rest into our already bulging luggage.  Sealed all the tubs with zip ties. 

Forced down a little lunch and packed up our van and my brother’s SUV.  Off to San Francisco.

Miraculously, the guy checking us in didn’t even look at the scale.  Whew.  Huge sigh of relief. 

We said good-bye to my family and pushed our weeping children through the security entrance.  It never gets easier, but I knew we would be okay once we went through the door.  We were, though I still am trying not to think about all we have left behind.

Once we got through security, I was all at once exhausted and ravenously hungry as the adrenaline leaked out of me.  We had made it, and only had the plane trip ahead of us.

As we were boarding the plane, there was a table full of complimentary newspapers for the taking.  Almost all of them had their full page cover story on the Malaysian airline crash.  Um, yeah, I think I’ll skip a newspaper today.  You would think those would be good times for the complimentary newspapers to be removed.  Or maybe, it just boosts their alcohol sales on-board.

A couple of months ago, we were at Disneyland and Josiah asked me, “Is Disneyland really the happiest place on earth?”

I told him that I thought there were lots of happy places, and gave him some examples.

He thought about this a moment, and then said, “I think the plane is the happiest place.”

I just about doubled over.  “Really?” I said.  “Why?”

He smiled, “Because I get to watch so many movies.”

Ah ha.
He is right.  The plane is the only time the kids are allowed to watch 5 movies in a row.  The only time. 

The plane is one of my least favorite places on earth.  Especially with children.  It’s hard enough not to get claustrophobic in a steel tube 30,000 feet above the earth for 20 hours, let alone trying to sleep sitting up and in between, keeping the kids from spilling their meal onto their lap (or mine).

I definitely would not win any Pinterest awards for “creative activities for kids on the plane.”  While packing last week, I came across Grace’s math flash cards and contemplated putting them in her carry-on.  That lasted about five seconds until I came to my senses and remembered that we don’t have any cool little parent/child learning moments on the plane in our family.  It’s not about “using our time well.”  It’s about survival, and that means 5 movies in a row. 

I also am not above using children’s Benadryl.  Hey, until you’ve had a non-stop, 16 hour flight with your kids, don’t judge.

Obviously, it worked.  Look at Lily’s sleeping position of choice.  Notice where her head is (on the right) and where her bum is (on the left).  Comfy, eh?

We flew over the North Pole (which is pretty cool from 30,000 feet up) and down across Europe (thankfully avoiding Ukraine) and into the Middle East city of Dubai, which is one of the richest cities in the world.

I am writing this from Dubai.  We are near the end of a fifteen hour layover.  Thankfully, our airline gave us complimentary hotel room and even food vouchers.  It’s amazing what a real bed and a shower does for the soul after spending 16 hours in a metal tube. 

Soon, we’ll leave for a five-hour trip (which seems positively short right now) to Dar es Salaam.  On our way back to the airport from the hotel, Grace reunited with one of her classmates (and family) from HOPAC, also heading back to Dar.  Cool!

The adventure continues.

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