Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Travelogue I

Those who venture to cross the world with small children in tow are
a rare breed. Some have large expense accounts and can afford fun
gadgets and goodies like you find at - I mean how
cool is a carry-on suitcase that converts to a scooter?! Then
there's the rest of us. We have a couple tricks up our sleeves, but
our most crucial 'tool' was prayer.

We checked in and booked seats online beforehand. We arrived at the
airport Tues. morning a good 2 1/2 hours ahead of time. When we
hauled our bags up to the ticket counter the woman there must have
been due for a break. She said, "You're going where?!" "This is
one-way?!" "With 13 bags?!!" with ever-increasing pitch, and seemed
determined to make our lives miserable. She found a box that wasn't
taped tight enough, a bag that was 2 lbs. overweight, and didn't
want to check us in if we couldn't verify our visas for Africa
(which are traditionally purchased at the airport and is totally out
of her 'jurisdiction' anyway!). So as we frantically tried to get
our leadership on the phone for her, we were praying hard... asking
God to remove obstacles like he had so many times before.

Within a few minutes she was laughing, joking with Joel. She said,
"Are you guys Christians? I could tell, because I am too." And it
was smooth sailing from there on.

We got each kid their own carry-on backpack with wheels. The boys'
booster seats flipped upside down and fit perfectly on top for them
to wheel around. I prepped them for security. Labelled baggie of
liquids out. Coats off. Shoes off. They each had shoes that remove
easily (crocs and rainboots are great for this!). We also got to use
the new 'family' aisle (which sounds much more elaborate than it
should - it boiled down to not having upset businessmen right behind
our three kids trying to get coats and shoes on and off). We got a
$19 umbrella stroller so Anna could keep up during our midnight
layover. We stopped for coffee/hot chocolate and picture-taking, so
we didn't make it to the gate for 'pre-boarding with young
children'. Everyone always smiles when little pig-tailed 2-yr-old
Anna strolls by wheeling her own carry-on bag behind her!

The boys acted so grown-up sitting across the aisle from us watching
movies and eating airline food! They had a wonderful time for the
first 10 hrs. Some of their favorite things in life are found in
airports: trains (okay subway? to the satellites at SeaTac),
airplanes, escalators or moving sidewalks, X-ray machines, large
open spaces, other kids, movies, and I have to admit even I am
impressed with all those little vehicles buzzing different things in
and out of the planes.

I had planned to give Anna some benedryl to help her drift off to
sleep. She does not sleep well on the road. I gave her some halfway
through our first flight and it seemed to have absolutely NO effect!
She was still bouncing around like a ping-pong ball between us, not
even willing to wear earphones. I always bring a few new toys in
their carry-ons, and a few books or games stashed unseen in my own
bag. With the boys I didn't need any of them. With Anna I ran out. I
think she slept maybe 90 minutes of that first 10 hrs.

To add to the excitement, right about the time we were over
Greenland or so (i.e. in the middle of NOWHERE!), we hear an urgent
request for a doctor about 8 rows in front of us. From what I gather
a young man went into diabetic shock and fainted. This would be the
one flight where there is NO doctor on board! There was, however, a
nurse practitioner who stepped up and they stabilized him quickly
with an IV stuck to the overhead compartment and everything. As God
would have it, a short-term mission team from the Portland area was
headed to Uganda to work on building an orphanage I think and they
were in the same row as this very sick young man. So they really
mobilized and had the row cleared and helped everyone out. One of
them was even gathering trash while a flight attendant was busy.

At 10pm our time (7am Amsterdam time) we touched down with 3
exhausted children in the last row of the plane. Everyone made their
mad dash for the front of the plane and had to sit back down for the
paramedics to reach row 30. It all took a really long time. Anna
started singing her version of the ABCs at the top of her lungs. It
was probably 20-30 min. but felt three times longer! I felt bad for
those around us enduring off-key ABCs after a 10hr flight... what
can you do?

Amsterdam and beyond will have to come later. I have to save
something for a sequel, right? =)


Michelle said...

Ah, I can see it now! I LOVE your family! :) Auntie Shell

Janine the Bean said...

It was great to read up on your travels.