Hello, again. We're back. The laundry is almost folded. Jet lag has been reduced to afternoon naps. Our attitudes haven't quite caught up, but when you hear this story, I think you'll understand.
You know I try to keep it real around here. I'm about to post some pretty spectacular photos of our day in Helsinki, Finland. (Don't ask why on earth we flew through Finland to get to South Asia. Cheap tickets don't always make sense.) Let me pre-assuage any thoughts you might have of our perfect little life. Sometimes I write days like this just so I won't forget when I'm old and nostalgic.
To set the stage, we'd been in meetings for a week, after seriously jet lagging to get there. Jude threw up no less than 6x en route to the conference...because we travel really well. (Exhaustion + motion = vomit.) Our kids had been in classes from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon on most days, and we were all pretty tired.
We boarded a bus on Tuesday at mid-day for a three hour ride back to the airport. Our flight wasn't until the next morning, so we stayed at a $40-a-night hotel nearby that was actually surprisingly clean. Jude and I fell asleep holding one another, slouched down in the bed away from the wall. There was a gecko loose in the room. David was already asleep with the other boys in another room, and I was too chicken to catch that slimy thing.
We left on the 6am shuttle to the airport, only to find that our flight had been delayed an hour and a half. By the time we flew away, we'd been sitting in the plane for another thirty minutes while they fixed a mechanical problem. Hello, 10 hour flight.
Thanks to excellent parenting skills, i.e. "hey kids, watch all the movies you want...as long as they are in the kid's section," things went fairly smoothly for the first 8 hours. Until sleep deprivation and airplane delirium set in. It's hazy now, but the highlight was when Silas told me he felt nauseous. I gave him one of those handy bags, which he held for a while. Then he buried his head in my lap, presumably to go to sleep.
Friends. He did not go to sleep.
He threw up in my lap. On an airplane. (And you know I did not have spare clothing.)
This was the beginning of a steep decline. More vomit ensued. Delirium increased. We made it off the plane, after being informed that due to the delay, we'd missed our connecting flight. The next flight out to Barcelona was in 24 hours.
To give the airline credit, they were actually amazingly helpful. Dinner, breakfast and a nice hotel room followed. David almost lost a limb trying to get all of our luggage into the airport van. Seriously, we had to blockade the door to keep the driver from leaving him. The kids passed out as soon as we fed them. Actually, they really were laying on the floor every time we paused at this point.
The next morning, the kid's attitudes were a little tainted...but David and I were completely excited to see Finland. And so we did. We rolled those kids out of the hotel by 8:30am and began the exploration. It was stunning. If I had to trade all the vomit, attitudes and delays for those 5 hours, I wouldn't. It was totally worth it. What a gorgeous country!
By the time we got back to the airport that afternoon for our flight, it was around 1am in the country we'd just departed. We had another vomiting episode on the plane. Then another. Asher was completely undone and screamed uncontrollably during landing. I must say, in times like these, how glad I am that I married such a friend. At the worst moments, David and I would look at each other and burst into laughter. Laughter is such a friend in parenting, isn't it? It was completely ridiculous.
By the time we reached Barcelona, we were done.
And ya'll. We walked out with 150lbs of luggage to discover that every taxi in the city had gone on a 24 hour strike. It was 9:30pm at night and our options were to call friends to get us, and wait an hour while they drove out, or to jump on the city train with all those kids and bags.
I still am not sure how we made it on. David is like a pack mule in these scenarios. He literally carried us home.
We had to change trains half way through. And when we popped out it our stop, of course, there's no elevator. Hubs carried it all up. We traipsed across six lanes of traffic, and down two blocks to our apartment....with 3 large bags, 5 carry ons, and a stroller.
Asher slept so hard through it all that I kept checking his breathing. Silas laid down prostrate any time we halted motion. He was, by this point, wearing David's spare boxer shorts - held up by a pony tail holder - because he lost his shorts to a round of vomit. And by the time we reached our house, Jude was crying and telling me his chest hurt. I was beginning to wonder if it's possible for a 7-year-old to have a panic attack? It took us roughly three days to get home from the conference.
You know what I had prayed as we began our journey back? I remember asking that the Father would make Barcelona feel like home to me now. This has been a year of putting down little roots, but the sorrow of leaving South Asia has still been part of me.
I can confidently say, I can hardly remember a time when I felt so glad to be home. Distance (and trial:) make the heart grow fonder.
We're home again. And very glad to be here.