Thursday, November 5, 2015

Leaving on an airplane?

We pulled away from our house Monday evening after playing a game of Tetrus (probably an exaggeration, we had enough room) with fitting our bags into the 12 passenger rental van.  (We sold our minivan on the Friday before.)  We had said our last minute good-byes to some neighbors and as we drove out of the driveway for the last time, Bobby started screaming and Genna and Isaac burst into tears.  They had made it through the good byes even with our neighbors in tears.  As we drove/sat in traffic (at 6:30pm!) tears turned into excitement and everyone was doing okay.

Here's where the tricky part came.  Brian had to drop all 7 of us and our 2 strollers, 2 boosters, 2 car seats, 1 car seat base, 8 carry on bags, 11 checked bags, and one cat in a bag off at the airport.  We had to wait in one spot since, really, how could we move with all that?  Then he drove to just outside of the airport to the rental place where he returned the van and caught the shuttle back to the airport.  We sat on the ground and played card games.  The little people ate snacks.  At one point some other kid (who does not belong to me) walked up next to me and held out his hands for crackers.  I almost handed him some thinking he was my own child.  Funny how you can sneak one in and I might not notice.  It would be a fun trick to play on us, huh?  Anyway, Bobby slept from the time he fell asleep at the beginning of the drive all through this.  The part of the whole thing I had been dreading turned into a lovely time.  A lady even came up and complimented our family while Brian was still gone, showing us a picture of her good friend with a large family.

Before we knew it, Brian was back and we narrowly missed the main thing I was worried about happening which was children needing to go to the bathroom.  Two of the kids had just asked before Brian returned.  We got in line right after a quick trip to the bathroom.

Here's where the question mark from my subject line comes into the story.  As one lady is checking all our paperwork and passports, another man is checking Trinity's (the three legged cat's) paperwork.  Apparently the form Brian had filled out as her veterinarian was not the most updated form and was missing a stamp.  Brian resolves this part of the problem by calling another vet friend of his to get the stamp number.  However, then it was noticed that she has an old microchip that only has 10 digits.  Germany only has scanners now for the new 15 digit microchips.  Sooo, unless we own a 10 digit scanner we can't fly out with her, he tells us.  By this time, the little ones are getting restless, Genna and Isaac were sitting down out of ear shot.  Bobby is still fast asleep.  Hannah's standing right by us and is starting to cry.  I hadn't noticed yet when I asked the lady checking our passports and tickets if she wanted a sweet three-legged cat.  Of course, I was joking...mostly.  But really, is a cat worth all this?

Evidently this cat is because we sure didn't fly out that night.  They moved us to the next night's flight to give us time to resolve the issue.  We called a shuttle and a hotel (an expensive one so that it would accept our cat) and booked two rooms for our "large" family.  Then we played a real game of Tetrus with getting all 8 of us and our 2 strollers, 2 boosters, 2 car seats, 1 car seat base, 8 carry on bags, 11 checked bags, and one cat in a bag into a 12 passenger minibus that already had 2 passengers, their luggage, and a driver in it.  Whew, not fun!  There were more tears.  Bobby was still asleep; he'd literally not moved.

We all got settled into the two rooms.  (I so got the good end of that deal, by the way.  Bobby and the girls in one room and all the rest of the boys and the cat in the other room.)  They didn't have any extra cribs for Judah so he spent his first night ever in a real bed with Brian.  Once the girls and I were all ready for bed, I got Bobby out of the car seat asleep, changed his diaper, nursed him and put him to bed on the Moses basket's mattress that I had packed for him in the tub.  More on that in another post.  Let's just say, this baby is an angel and I really and truly mean it.

The next morning, we hung out in the hotel rooms while Brian had to take a shuttle back to the airport and then another one from the airport to the car rental place to rent a small car for the day.  He took the cat to get her another microchip with 15 digits to make those Germans happy.  He also filled out a massive amount of paperwork to make sure there would be no problems that night.  This was the last flight all week.  We were homeless and would not be waiting anymore.  If there was still a problem, I had a dear friend all lined up to come and get Trinity so that she could be shipped alone later once she was allowed to.  Thankfully, this was not necessary.  We took the same tiny shuttle to the airport and waited in a crazy long line where we tried to not to worry about the fate of our cat.  We successfully checked in our 11 bags, 1 of the car seats, and the car seat base.

Then we had some time to kill.  We tried to go to the USO lounge, but we couldn't because after we got all signed in they told us that the cat, yes THE CAT AGAIN!, wasn't allowed in even in a bag as well as our 2 strollers and the car seat.  So we headed back to go through security and wait at the gate.  Security was a little more frustrating than usual.  The TSP agents were particularly unhelpful.  For example, when I couldn't get the car seat to fit through the x-ray machine and I asked for help, the lady directed me to ask the other guy.  I don't know, but in the past I've had a lot more help from the TSP agents than this.  I mean I was wearing a baby and answering a thousand questions from Drew (His thing is to say, "Mom, I have two questions," and then ask me six hundred questions.) while trying to make sure Judah listened to his big sisters and didn't take off running.  Come to think of it, I really didn't need any help at all.  Brian had his hands full with, oh yes, THE CAT, because they make you take her out of the bag and walk through the body x-ray with her while her bag goes through the belt.  Well, as sweet as she is, when she is scared and freaked out she turns into a tiger.  She was hissing and trying to bite him the whole time while he had her by the scruff of the neck.  It was awesome.  I know you're jealous.

Our flight left at 2am ish, and the minute the plane took off, my whole row was asleep.  Judah slept the whole flight waking only at the last thirty minutes to eat.  Bobby slept most of the time.  He was awake maybe 2 hours.  I dozed on and off.  We had two of the middle rows in the front of the plane.  Genna, Judah, Bobby, and I were on the front bulk head row.  Brian was with the rest of the kids.  They all started watching movies soon after take off and stayed awake awhile.  Isaac made it the longest watching two full movies before we finally said he needed to sleep.  He was basically holding his eyes open with his fingers when I looked back at him to stay awake and watch the movie.  That was 5am or so Eastern Time.  Once that row of children fell asleep, they stayed asleep the rest of the flight and missed all the meals.

Getting off and out of the airport was equally insane, perhaps more so.  They took our gate checked strollers to the baggage claim which made things more difficult since we had to carry everything and two of the youngest kids and THE CAT in the bag.  We went through customs where the line wrapped around and up a huge staircase where we figured out why they took the strollers ahead.  Standing with all that stuff and holding my big baby in the car seat after little sleep was trying. Then the insanity of gathering our 2 strollers, 1 car seat, 1 car seat base, and 11 checked bags while shuttling kids to the bathroom began.  Then our three rides arrived to take us to our pet friendly hotel, that is more like a small four bedroom apartment than a hotel, thank the Lord!

And here we are.

Game on.


The Pilot's Wife said...

Oh, my gosh!! What an ordeal!! I am so glad you made it safely and the fact that everyone slept on the plane was awesome. Our kids do not sleep while traveling...even toddlers on 12 hour car trips for some reason. I'm glad your temporary place is manageable. God bless you on this next leg of the journey! Can't wait to follow along. :)

Kristen said...

Wow. I would have totally ditched the cat! Glad you made it ok in the end. You are surely supermom! ;)