For as much as the retirement party (our reason for traveling back to Kansas) was a success, the trip itself was every bit of a failure. I say that now that I am caught up on sleep and on the other side of it. Going into the whole thing, I knew it was going to be crazy to fly all the way to Kansas (no direct flights from here to there). We had three seats on the plane (thankfully together), but multiplying a flight fare by three is not a small expense. So when the flights are $150 cheaper each out of an airport just over an hour away, you drive. I would lie and say I planned this party for a year, but besides sending invitations, booking the venue and catering, I didn’t do a whole lot until the week before. Between homecoming and Phoenix and wedding parties and surgery and DC and the EOD Memorial and the EOD Ball in Florida, I just didn’t have time. (Sorry if you’re reading this, Mom). So the week before we were up party planning until the wee hours of the night. After a full work week plus about 10 hours of overtime, we were up on Saturday bright (actually, dark) and early at 03:00 to head to the airport. We swung through McDonald’s breakfast for a quick hotcake platter for the kids – lifesaver – and we were off.
Everything seemed smooth sailing when we left. Three seats in a row. Flying with my husband for once so I wasn’t outnumbered by toddlers.
My parents picked us up from the airport and let us borrow their new truck! Such a generous gesture, and saved us the headache of the shuttle to the rent-a-car, and returning three cars that smell like smoke before they stick us in a compact that only fits the carseats if my 6’3” husband’s legs are jammed into the dashboard (yes, we’ve done that). Plus the rental car bill and the worry of jamming the doublewide stroller into a tiny little trunk. So all-in-all, a huge help. My parents’ schedule seemed to fall into place like mine does – all the big events at once. They MOVED out of my childhood house the week before we got there! I am so happy for them and their beautiful new home, and it was so fun to be one of the first ones to see it! After she gave us the tour, I’ll admit to thinking about moving back in with my parents for a half second. Amazingly, they had the place totally put together in one week and ready for company!
The biggest snafu of the whole trip was this guy losing his beloved brown blankie. Anyone who knows him knows just what this means. A coworker gave him this blanket before he was born, and among the 487 he had to choose from, this was it. Since he could grab, this is the one that he carries around everywhere he goes. I couldn’t think of all the places this blanket has gone, but I’d be willing to bet it’s been in more states and moved more times than the average adult. I took the loss of this blankie harder than he did, but I knew eventually he would realize it’s gone. Plus, I felt responsible for losing his very favorite thing in the world. At just two years old, this blanket has been there through two deployments for him and about 1,234 episodes of Little Einstein’s. After everyone spent about twelve hours of searching, we finally gave up thinking he threw it out of the car window on the way home from the party. Y’all, I was climbing in dumpsters in the pouring rain at 11:00 at night after we realized this thing was missing. We were desperate. So we turned to Ebay. The place for desperate people looking for discontinued baby blankets. And those sellers knew it – $60 for a cheap Walmart baby blanket?! But did we pay it? Duh. My heart sunk knowing it wasn’t quite the same, but as close as we were going to get. It may have the same polka dots and a few less holes, but it wasn’t the one we snuggled with as we waited for daddy to come home from Afghanistan to meet him. Y’all, I’m not sentimental about a lot (except pictures), but this was his ONE thing.
Once I sufficiently mourned the loss of the baby blanket, we headed home. Now, the blanket wasn’t only an emotional loss for Mommy, but we were on the late flight and it was bedtime, aka blankie time. Julia had her pink one, but Mitchell was asking for his and we didn’t quite have a good answer for him. (As I’m typing this I realize I should go ahead and look for a replacement blankie for Julia). So we get on our first flight – Kansas City to Atlanta. And we sat there. For two hours on the runway, knowing we had a one hour layover. You do the math. Knowing we were going to miss our connection, I just wanted to get off the plane so we could go back to my parents house for my mom’s Monday night Bachelorette premier party. But we would have no such luck. After two hours of runway wait time, with about 40 glaring eyes not-so-subtly pleading us to quiet our crying children, they determined the mechanical issue was not actually a mechanical issue and the plane was fine. So off we went to Atlanta, knowing we would be staying there for the night. So we ended up on that plane for four hours, completely unprepared and only with one bag of goldfish. Which lasted through the first half hour, and after that, all toddler bets were off. We FINALLY landed in Atlanta, and watched our entire plane deboard as we sat in the very. last. row. knowing they were all getting in line at the customer service counter. And wouldn’t you know it, but the time we made it to the customer service counter with our doublewide, two exhausted toddlers, two carseats, and no luggage, there was a line winding through the terminal. Eventually they rebooked us with two seats for Mitchell and one for me – three tickets. Y’all, check you tickets. We were out of the terminal and downstairs before we realized we had to drag every back upstairs because they gave Mitchell two tickets and Steve none. So downstairs to the Burger King line we went, because at this point it was 11:30 pm and we had two very hungry and cranky children and two very, very hungry and cranky parents. We waited 15 minutes at the back of the line to see they hadn’t even served one person, and finally gave up on eating, crossing our fingers for a decent continental breakfast at the hotel. To the hotel shuttle we went, to wait another 40 minutes because the regular half hour shuttles weren’t very regular. Only to FINALLY get to our hotel and see what looked like OUR ENTIRE PLANE in line at the check-in counter. With one employee. This line wrapped around the lobby. I’m not one to play the screaming children card, but we were literally the only ones with children and they were both crying. Common sense says – hey, they have a one and two year old who need to go to sleep – but I guess that was lost on some people. Because again, more glaring eyes telling us to keep our kids quiet. The only good things about that lobby were the nice guy Steve waited next to in line and the fact that the milk machine stays on overnight and I could fill up their bottles. And so we waited. Another hour to check in to our room. Without a crib because they already handed all available cribs out. If it was the Amazing Race, we would have lost miserably because we were the very last people from our plane to get to that hotel check-in counter. And because the travel wasn’t smooth enough, the Atlanta airport only had 50% of its security points operable at that time. So they recommended a 3-4 hour arrival prior to the time of your departure for all flights. And since we had the 30 minute shuttle wait, estimated insane security wait, we set our alarms for a mere three hours of sleep and were out. Julia will NOT sleep with us under any circumstances, and she needs confined spaces to sleep (i.e. crib). We bottle fed and crib slept from day one with both kids, and they’ve been awesome sleepers. 99.9% of the time it’s great for our parenting sanity, but that night I was dreading letting her sleep in a bed. We made a pillow barrier, and went to sleep hoping she wouldn’t roll off the bed, and she didn’t! And she actually slept, I think because she was so exhausted at this point. Delta was kind enough to give us toothbrushes and deodorant, the only things we had to look forward to in the morning besides our 03:30 alarm.
If you can’t imagine how we felt at this point, see Steve below. There’s not enough coffee in the world to fix that problem. Off we went to the airport, as I sent my boss a text (above picture included) asking if I could work a late shift. It was more of a courtesy notification than requesting permission, because even if the answer was no, it’s not like we could have made it back to North Carolina any faster. Trust me, we tried.
After we landed in Wilmington, we collected our luggage (miraculously all there), and headed home.
We had never been happier to find “Mitchell’s car” (as he refers to it) in the parking lot. Two carseats installed, stroller and bags loaded, and only an hour drive and a Smithfield’s sweet tea stood in the way of our arrival home.
You’d think that’d be the end of our trip, but Julia managed to cut her knee pretty good hours before we left for the airport the day before. It seemed to be healing okay, but her weapon of choice was a rusty old dog kennel, so our first stop was the pediatrician to have it checked on. I think the nurse at the counter sensed my desperation at this point, because she pulled us right back to the office. Or it could have been the fact that I was carrying a pants-less toddler in her brother’s pull-up because somewhere between the airport and the pediatrician we had major diaper leakage and no backup diapers or pants. Thankfully it healed right up and she was already immunized for tetanus, so we got the all clear and headed home!
So home we went. I ironed my clothes and headed to work until midnight, to continue the day that never ended. And Steve took the kids to daycare so he could go pick up the pups from the kennel. We all slept like babies that night – that’s for sure. So if you’re feeling bad about a nightmare travel experience – we sympathize. And to my bible study girls, I promise I cancelled for a legitimate reason, ha! But wouldn’t you know it, we got a text a few days later from my mom with a picture of Mitchell’s blankie. Crazy boy stashed it in the landscaping. We scoured the house inside but not out. Everyday is a new parenting lesson. This time the lesson was to look in the flowers. At least we now have a (very expensive) back up in case of any future blankie emergencies. Needless to say, we were happy to be spending Memorial Day weekend at home (after four weeks of traveling)!