The thousands of miles home

**I'm waiting to see how this afternoon goes before I explain my several day silence ~ short to say that yesterday was a dreadful day... Let me go back a few days to set up the scenario.**

At the airport with Maggie ~ she ROCKS!

Friday, November 7 at 1:00 am EST we left our hotel room in Beijing for the journey home. After Caleb's performance on his first two flights, I was dreading the final leg of our trip. Don't get me wrong, he's a sweet boy, but he REALLY doesn't like being restrained when he's not in the mood, and it's pretty hard to explain to a child that doesn't speak your language that he has to be held for just a few minutes until the plane is up in the air...

If you want the short version of the flight from Beijing to Newark, there was much screaming (no, not crying, SCREAMING) involved, but mercifully about 4 1/2 hours into the ride both children were sound asleep. (if that's what you wanted, go ahead and skip down to pictures below). However I suspect that some of my dear friends find humor in my utter embarrassment (actually I kinda do too) and want to know the longer version...

As I mentioned before, a VERY kind woman at Continental check-in was able to somehow score us bulkhead seats again (for anyone getting ready to fly with a toddler, BEG for those seats ~ you will be glad you did!) Caleb was quite the happy little guy to stand at our feet in the vast amount of space while we waited for all the other passengers to board and Kylie was contentedly sitting on her daddy's lap. We were just beginning to push back from the gate when our male steward that I'll call Mr. Happy (if you can't hear my sarcasm right now, know that if I were speaking that my voice would be dripping with it!) approaches us. I could tell by the look in his eye that we were in trouble. He informs us that we are getting ready for take-off and that both children had to be strapped into their own seats. I very kindly (seriously, I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt) informed him that our son had already figured out how to unbuckle a seat belt and that he didn't speak English for me to explain that he had to wear it for a few minutes, and that I thought he would be safer on my lap during take off. He wasn't too happy about that bit of info, so I guess he decided to take his frustration out on us by instructing Ian to make Kylie sit in her own seat because she was too big to be held during take off. Ian very politely (and you all know that Ian can be so diplomatic in the face of adversity) tried to explain that Kylie was terrified of takeoff and that he'd prefer to hold her to alieve her fears. Mr. Happy would have no part of it and stood there starting up an argument with Ian until Ian pried a screaming Kylie out of his arms and tried to buckle her in her seat belt. (Something that was going through my mind at this point was that if the plane crashed during takeoff it wouldn't matter if Kylie were in her own seat belt or not...) Then Mr. Happy insisted that I go ahead and pick Caleb up. I knew what that was going to do, but if one kid is screaming, why not make it two? At this point the safety information hasn't even started yet. Then we get out and sit on the runway for over ten minutes and neither one of my kids has lessened the volume yet. In fact, Caleb was screaming so loudly and violently that a kind stewardess got up out of her seat (after the captain had told them to buckle in) to bring Caleb a cool washcloth because she thought he was going to throw up from the effort of screaming so. Eventually we decided that one crying kid was better than two and Ian put Kylie back in his lap. She still cried, but it wasn't as loud.

When we finally get up to cruising altitude and the seat belt sign has gone off, I released Caleb (who was still screaming) and immediately he got quiet. Sure wish you had seen some of the hateful stares we got from surrounding passengers. Both kids were quiet for a long while but when they started getting tired the noise started up again. A stewardess from Business Class came back and suggested (thankfully kindly) that I take Caleb back to the very back of the plane to the galley area where there was room for me to hold him easily and less people would be disturbed. This would have been a great idea except for the fact that Mr. Happy was back there giving me daggers the entire time Caleb was crying ~ which was about five more minutes until he literally passed out. In the meantime Kylie had fallen asleep and I helped Ian make a little bed for her once I laid Caleb down on his pallate of airline blankets and pillows.
Airline angels
From then on he (and for the most part Kylie too ~ thankfully she doesn't make as much noise when she's awakened by something) was out cold and slept soundly until we began the initial descent into Newark. Oh, except for the time we hit a bit of turbulence and Mr. Happy comes by and shines a flashlight on my sleeping child and rather rudely denounces my choice to bend down and keep a hand securely on Caleb until the seat belt sign goes back off. The rest of the airline staff on that flight was so kind, but Mr. Happy was just about enough to ruin my flight!

When we finally arrived in Newark I was thrilled to be back in the US as that marked Caleb becoming a citizen! We stopped to get a picture even though we only had about an hour to make it through immigration, customs and to get to the next gate to catch our flight to Charlotte.
America's newest citizen (at that moment) and his proud sister waving the stars and stripes!

We flew through immigration and were treated so much nicer than we were in Chicago when we came home with Kylie! All the folks we talked to were so kind and actually stopped what they were doing to give us hearty congratulations. Then we hit the logjam that was customs. They were holding all folks from our flight and letting people from other flights go right by. We tried to ask if we could move along as we had only about 25 minutes to catch our flight, but after trying three different officers, we resigned to waiting in line (and I broke down and cried at the thought of missing our flight and spending one more night in a hotel room). We waited so long that we had a potty accident (I'll spare my children the details, but I almost had some sort of satisfaction informing the rudest of the guards that they'd need to get a mop) and finally we got through. We took our time getting our bags back to the recheck area figuring that we'd missed our flight already, but the kind man there told us with a smile on his face to get moving because the flight had been delayed by at least 30 minutes. Man, never so glad to see a delay before!

Caleb did better on his last flight (he was with me and Ian and Kylie were two rows in front of us), but I think that we've decided that we won't be flying again until the kids are about 10. (No, not really Ohio relatives ~ but at least not until Caleb understands some English...) When we finally walked out of the secure area in Charlotte we expected to see our moms, Traci and Adam, and my college roommate Beth. Of course they were all there, but so was my cousin Tricia (mom of the triple A's), her parents who stayed in NC an extra day to see us home, Beth's husband and two girls, Adam's dad, and a whole slew of folks from our church home! What a welcome! I'll post a few random pictures that others took for us, but there's no way that I'll be able to catch everyone. If you were there to welcome us back, thank you so much for coming ~ you have no idea how much it meant!
Most of the church group ~ they rode in the church van and caravaned to come to the airport (about 50 minutes away...) We LOVE you guys!

Camera war...
Aargh, my frustration! Tricia sent me some GREAT photos that capture more of the folks that were there to greet us, but in my computer ignorance, I can't figure out how to take them from Shutterfly. Just trust me that the crowd was HUGE and that we felt more welcome than you can imagine. It almost made up for the trauma of the flights.

And my favorite picture that was has been taken of my two kids yet...

Here's praying that we have more moments like this soon!


C.C. said...

Isn't it great to be home?! I love that pic of Kylie and Caleb too!

Stephen and I vowed while in the Newark airport that we will NEVER travel with kids again;-) Good grief, what drama!

Jordan Carl said...

O my! It sounds like a terrific time! I am glad to hear you made it alright. I love the pic at the end, a happy ending to a "fun" trip.

Laurie said...

Boy it's been tough waiting for this final travel post. I've missed you the past couple of days. I'm so sorry the flights were bad. I'm sooo nervous!! At least I'll only have one child to handle- whew! LOVED the final picture- kind of says that it was all worth it. They are precious!! Now, get to bed! :)

Nicole said...

Whew, what a post, I am exhausted just reading it. We missed our final leg home too and I lost it, CRIED all through the airport trying to figure out what was next! I know just how you felt!
When we went through customs we got the officer who didn't know what the heck he was doing and told us to go to interrogation to get our green card..... WHAT?? Finally after that mess was over and we missed our final flight, I know just how long that trip can be with one, let alone two!!! But you made it!! Welcome home!!!

Nancy said...

I am totally scared now of flying home! Sounds horrible but I am glad that your flight got delayed. Thank God for little blessings! Glad you are all home safely and can now settle into your life of a family of 4.

Traci said...

Glad you guys are home! Sorry Mr. Happy wasn't so happy!
Love ya

Anonymous said...

What a homecoming! So many people there at the airport to welcome you. Could feel the love of God surrounding all of us. Caleb did so well. Watching him running and playing with the children made my heart joyful. To heart Kylie say "dahma" was music to my ears!
Welcome home family of four.
Love you, LaoLao