(Finally, I am able to dedicate some time to finishing the chronicles of our family vacation back in February...)
Well, after quite the travelling adventures, our Florida trip came to a close Thursday February 17th. We spent the morning cleaning the villa, doing laundry, vacuuming, etc.. and trying not to think of the impending potential grueling process of travelling back home! (Ah, if only I had taken a pill of optimism that day…)
The day was packed (pardon the pun) as I repacked everything: one massive suitcase of Duane’s and my stuff, the kids’ four small suitcases, six carry-ons, and finally… (sound of trumpets)…the Ethan Suitcase containing his precious, precious food). We still had lots of leftover frozen Ethan-Meals and I debated whether to opt for convenience and ease of travel (chuck the soups) or ere on the side of caution (over-stuff the suitcase and risk potential border issues). Being the queen of “worst case scenarios” and apparently having taken the pill of pessimism that day instead, you can imagine what I decided on.
While the memory of our, ahem… “adventure” getting here was fading with each day, the desire to make the trip back a little less “adventurous” was at the forefront of my mind. Hence the humming and hawing about the potential “price” of convenience.
My logic was: do we swallow the $75 charge to check three carry-on suitcases and spare ourselves from dragging all this luggage between flights (especially given the flight is for late evening… will we really need the suitcases?) or do we indulge my pessimism and make overly tired kids drag these things again? Short of turning to a coin toss for assistance, I finally opted to spare ourselves some heartache and to check three of the little suitcases: Ethan’s suitcase of clothes, Anika’s suitcase of clothes, and the Ethan Suitcase of food. Let’s hope that doesn’t bite me in the butt!!! (Sigh… if only I had taken a let’s-think-about-this pill that morning).
The day was long as we wrapped things up around 2:30 p.m., woke kids up from naps (always a bad idea) and made our way to the car rental place before being shuttled to the airport to catch our flight for 6:00 p.m. Timing-wise, this had the potential of being really good… Ethan would be fed his last meal before boarding and the rest of us could grab a quick bite to eat (did NOT want a repeat of starvation for eight hours as we experienced getting TO Florida!). I would quickly nurse Sivana, change diapers & do potty breaks. The potential was there for flawlessness!! (Oh where is that reality-check pill again?).
Self-check-in was our first roadblock quickly resolved after flagging someone down who puzzled through our six boarding passes for seven passengers with three different last names. Next was security check... (hold my breath)…surprisingly (and thankfully) no alarms and/or meltdowns there.
After parking ourselves like a travelling circus at our gate, we scrambled to eat in shifts. But poor Duane was the last to get food. Amidst our feeding-frenzy scatterings, our flight gate was changed. Precious time was spent shuffling our travelling circus over to the next gate, which cut into Duane’s “meal” run. Boarding was imminent so a quick stop at a nearby newsstand with a cooler full of sandwiches was his only option. To my surprise, he walked back empty handed… “Duane, where’s your food??”
“The bread was stale and I bit into half-frozen chicken meat… I have rarely had issues eating anything put in front of me but I was NOT going to stomach that $7 sandwich!”
In the meantime, our dear Sivana had decided to poop again. Once boarded and thirty minutes away from take-off, she filled her pants yet again (keep in mind that this lovely little girl usually only has BMs every other day… but apparently airports scare the “crap” out of her as much as they do me!). Once in the air, would you believe the little “stinker” pooped AGAIN? Sheesh… thankfully none required a change of clothes.
The pilot happily announced we were thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Well look at that… things really CAN go well when the Vaags crew travels! Thank the good Lord! (Could someone throw ANY pill bottle at me at this point, please?).
Sivana, fussed and cried for quite a few bouts of the three hour flight but it was manageable. I just always feel bad for the people around us whom undoubtedly made note of our crew before boarding and thought to themselves “please don’t let me sit by them… please don’t let me sit by them…”
Anika was happily looking out her window with Loreena next to her and Melina next to Loreena while Duane sat across the aisle from them with Ethan between us and Sivana on my lap. As the plane started its descent, I sighed with relief thinking “one flight down… one more to go.” Before I could get too relieved, the plane started bouncing around like an amusement park ride! I heard Melina and Loreena shouting for the stewardess (who was restricted to her seat for descent). I looked over to see Melina’s face and recognized that look of “I’m about to vomit”. I looked beyond her to Loreena who was calmly cupping something in her hand and finally to my poor Anika who was throwing up all over the plane window which ricochet onto the poor gentleman behind her (who was now covering his nose with his shirt).
Hmmm, I KNEW things were going too smoothly!
Melina’s familiar gagging sound filled my ears as I calmly reached past the baby on my lap for the diaper bag between my feet while a sea of puke bags got tossed at the girls from surrounding passengers. I grabbed a handful of wipes as I unsympathetically started chuckling and tossed them at the poor girls who were being bombarded from every direction.
Given that Anika had peed her pants at Sea World, we learned the hard way to pack a spare pair of panties and pants for her. Thankfully I had these in the diaper bag, but because my more-than-capable imagination did NOT anticipate this one, her shirts were stupidly “checked in” for our supposed “convenience”. ARGH!
Once the plane finally landed, Loreena worked diligently to sponge-bath Anika with wipes while passengers rushed passed us off the plane holding their breath! Melina changed Anika’s vomit-drenched clothes, while I tried stuffing them in my plastic bag without getting it all over myself. Between Anika’s dirty clothes and Sivana’s plethora of poopy diapers, this would NOT be a fun diaper bag to open when we got home!
Surprisingly, I was able to chuckle at this. Afterall, one unfortunate event is NOTHING (and I was not the one who got puked on). This was more than manageable especially given we were now just a small stretch away from home!
After purchasing an expensive T-shirt for Anika from the Minneapolis gift shop, we made our way to our next gate to catch our last swift ninety-minute flight back home… so close I can almost taste it! (the good Lord knows, I could practically SMELL it!)