Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Longest Day

Travel day started normally enough, we got dressed and went to breakfast like we did last week when Terry left. Got home early enough to hit the playground for about 45 minutes before having to get ready to go.

Fewer than 10 minutes before we were to leave, Alex starts crying she got a mosquito bite and it hurts a lot. I had seen a bee buzzing around near where she had been playing and when I looked at her arm, yep bee sting. At least the stinger wasn't still there. We run home, get ice while I Google what to do (deciding grandma's home remedies didn't cut it when we were supposed to fly in a couple of hours). Drama. In the end she's quite swollen at the bite spot but apparently not allergic so we get ice in a Ziplock and a paper towel and get ready for the car, which came early. Turns out we needed every extra minute and then some, as the 2 car seats we'd rented were a disaster. The first one was a brand I didn't know and the car itself was much newer and nicer than any I'd ever put a car seat into so figuring it out was awful. And as I am panicking and ranting about how unsafe the kids would be, the driver kept trying to console me with how careful he is on the road. Um, sir, you can't control the crazies on the road so you're just pissing me off right now. We finally figured out that there was a LATCH thingie on 2 of the seats in the car - not the seats I'd planned to put the kids in, but whatever. Seat #1 get LATCHed and no longer flies about at every breeze.

The 2nd car seat is one we have, and I figured it would be easy. Except that I LATCHed it before checking to see that it was configured for the tiniest baby and Zoltan would never get his arms into the straps, much less be able to get the straps buckled. Un-LATCH and go to change the straps to a different level and realize an important part of the seat is missing. I cobble something together that I believe is better than him sitting on my lap and we're finally ready to go.

Nothing too eventful on the ride down or at the airport itself. For some reason the only movie either kid will watch right now is Alvin and the Chipmunks, which I am happy to say is still showing on the USAir 700/701 flights. They kept flipping between that and the 3 - yep, all of 3 - cartoon shows for kids on the monitor (for comparison, there were about a dozen children's movies). I way overpacked as they stuck with that mostly and a bit of their coloring. I even overpacked on snacks, although in my defense I had no way to know the kids' meal would include fresh grapes, soft rolls and chicken nuggets made with something that approximated real chicken.

As expected, the kids didn't sleep even though I really encouraged them. Oh, wait, they DID sleep. AFTER the plane touched down on the ground, I saw eyelids droop. Oh, no, this is not happening, I thought. Except it was. They got about 15 minutes in between the landing and getting to the gate. I packed us all up and we were the last people off the plane. One very kind flight attendant even carried an awake but groggy Zoltan halfway up the aisle.

Frankfurt was frustrating. Here's a suggestion - if you are going to make everyone with a stroller use a different security screening area, maybe you could put up a sign saying so, rather than let us walk all the way across the terminal only to be turned away and sent exactly where we came from, but about 10 feet over. I got to gripe about this with another woman going through the exact same thing, except she only had one kid and a stroller (we had the Trunki and the Uppababy so someone had to walk as it was an incredibly crowded part of the terminal).

The kids started to get really silly, crazy and antsy in the airport - as expected for kids at their bedtime who hadn't slept all day, which is what their bodies thought was going on. The good news is that airports have a lot of airplanes coming and going, and the kids are obsessed with airplanes, so once we got to our gate they were glued to the window.

Here's where I rave about USAir. When I went to get a gate check tag for the stroller, the guy offered to just take it then. During the flight, 2 or 3 of the flight attendants checked in on me several times, one of them asking if I needed coffee or a glass of wine :)

I had a sadly belated epiphany and decided to tell the kids they would get no more toys or screens (Leapster Explorer or either tablet) until they gave a legitimate attempt at sleeping, mommy is final arbiter of what's legitimate.  Too bad the whole flight was only 2.5 hours. We all slept for an hour, then the "we're landing" process began and I woke up. I pretended to sleep until a flight attendant touched my arm to tell me the kids (laying down) had to be belted and the armrest put down. Done, and done, while they continued to sleep. We landed, I packed us all up and put their shoes on them, while they continued sleep. They handled the awakening amazingly well and dutifully stayed with me as we headed to immigration.

Here's when I I rant about ... I don't even know who. Russia didn't give immigration cards to the airline so we could fill them in on the plane, so I had to do all 3 in the arrivals hall. While the 2 of them tried to go back to sleep. The most adorable moment was when Alex went flat on the bench-style seating (face down) and Zoltan, finding nowhere else to go, climbed on top of her and lay down too. I would have captured it on film but I was writing as quickly as humanly possible. Sadly, it must not have been comfortable for Alex because she started crying. This was our nadir. One or the other was crying the entire time I had to fill out those damn cards, because there wasn't space for them to both get comfortable and they were at their end. When I finally did finish they didn't want to get up, didn't want to walk (Petersburg returns strollers at baggage claim, not planeside). We got through it, had our fastest time in the immigration booth, and because of all the previous delays our bags were ready for us when we got into the baggage claim.

Alex had sat on the Trunki and Zoltan had to take the floor while we waited our turn in the immigration line, so I had to give first dibbs on the stroller to Z. Alex had a massive meltdown, I ended up having her ride on the suitcase (glad we got the hardback spinner type!) and we all practically threw ourselves into Terry's arms when we crossed those 50 yards and that doorway to where he was.

Unsurprisingly, the kids were asleep before we left the parking lot.

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