I'm sure you've all been waiting with baited breath, but I think it's taken this long for me to think about the second half of the flight to Aruba as anything bordering on amusing. Because we lived across the country from our friends and family for so long, my kids have flown a lot. I feel like I'm a fairly seasoned mama flyer to date, so I've got a pretty good system in place. I knew what to pack, what wasn't necessary, and kind of what to expect from my kiddos.
Since we planned to stay at the hotel for the duration of the trip, we decided to forego lugging the carseats around the airport and just see how wonderful our little cherub could perform in only the confines of the seatbelt. Could they make those things any easier to unlatch? Sure, it's great if you're in a plane crash, but when you're trying to contain a three year-old? Not so much.
After driving four hours to Portland, we had dinner with the fam, bathed the kids there and put them in jammies in preparation for our first leg, which was a red eye to JFK. The check-in process could seriously have not gone any more smoothly, and before I knew it we were settled on the plan and both kids had fallen asleep-a state in which they remained for the duration of the flight. I'm not a stupid person, but it honestly hadn't dawned on me that when we landed at JFK at 6am, it would really only be 3am. I gathered a sleeping C in the sling and started to carry him through the airport. Of course he didn't stay asleep. We had a very tight connection and had just enough time to squirt some Stonyfield yogurt tubes down their throats and take a quick trip to the potty before they were boarding our second flight. And that's where it all went downhill.
Being awoken in the middle of the night isn't much fun for anyone, but it's aparrently really not fun for Charlie, and he wasn't afraid to let us know. For the next five hours, J and I alternated between sitting next to H, who was strangely and almost concerningly content for the entire 5.5 hour flight, and sitting next to a child who I was sure at any moment would spin his head around and vomit all over everyone. If you've met Charlie in real life, you'd know he is not a quiet child. Between trying to physically retrain him from climbing all over the seats, quiet him as he screamed in proportion to my growing frustration, and nursing my split lip that was the result of him head butting me-I finally just had to let some tears roll down the ole cheeks and pray for this part of the trip to be over.
Crazily, we didn't get the stink eye from anyone and when we landed, Charlie magically turned into Sir Charming, and had the couples in front and behind of us laughing. I was not joining them. I am a grudge holder, and he wasn't my favorite person just then.
We made it down the concourse in one piece and proceeded to customs. Trying to keep the kids still after sitting for almost 12 hours was super fun, and my shining moment was when I looked over at the adjacent (empty) cubicle to see Charlie standing in a customs officer's chair, getting ready to tap on the computer keys. They were not amused. Luckily, we were still allowed in the country.
We exited into the humid air and glorious sunshine just as a taxi pulled up to the curb, and I could feel my tension lift. As we pulled up to the hotel, our bags were collected and held to the side while we went inside to see if, please God yes, our room was ready for early check-in.
We were arriving several hours before my sister and her family, and she'd told us that they should have the room ready for early check-in, but if not it wouldn't be long...she lied.
As my feral children ran circles around me on the slick marble tile, I waited patiently while they explained that our room wasn't ready, but it should be in about an hour. We decided to sit and have some lunch, where J and I sucked down frozen concoctions laced with alcohol and the kids enjoyed a virgin version of the same. When we walked back to the lobby, we were notified that our room wasn't quite ready yet and we had to go through several people in order to access our bags, because we figured we could at least spend the extra time in the pool, instead of crying a river of self-pitying and pathetic tears. Being tired is not pretty on me.
J is usually a very practical person, but he stood rifling through his bags in his flannel shirt which was by now soaked with sweat. Flannel is very practicaly for the Pacific Northwest, but not so much when you know when you're flying to the Carribbean.
Blissfully ensconsed in the pool, we immediately forgot that we'd been sticking to our clothing just moments before, and almost forgot that our kids had been acting like total jerks. I kept trying to remind myself; You're in paradise. Stop being a baby. But really, all I wanted to do was lay down in a bed and sleep. I checked back at the front desk an hour later and was told that our room would now not be ready until after the actual check-in time. Seriously? Did Metallica stay in our room and trash it?
Not happening. This is when it came in handy that someone had witnessed my stellar parenting, because another hotel employee came over and asked if I hadn't been in there with the two little boys. Yes, yes that was me. We've come from the west coast, we're exhausted and I'm trying to be nice, but I'm really tired.
With a couple clicks of the keyboard, we were moved one room over to a clean room with everything else the same and I went to collect my children...I really just wanted to go up to the room by myself, but I'm pretty sure J would have divorced me.
Showered and changed into island appropriate attire, we settled the kiddos down for a nap, and I promptly fell into a coma next to them. I awoke a few hours later to the sounds of my sister and her family arriving, along with delivered pizza. It wasn't even good pizza, but I didn't realize how hungry I'd been until I started eating. Sherrific and I then caught a cab and went grocery shopping for our week. The next morning, it was as if the flight had never happened. We were all extremely well-rested and ready to face the biggest decision of our trip; beach or pool, pool or beach? Don't worry, we did both.
It was blissful. Perfect temperatures, wonderful water, and spending time with my sister which is a rarity now that she's decided that she's a mid-westerner at heart for seven whole days. Henry loved being in the water and Charlie had a ball with his cousin, who was equally as wary of that liquid stuff that kept encroaching on their personal space. Yep, they were the edge clingers.
The only blip came when Charlie threw the biggest tantrum of his life on our next to last day. Sheer exhaustion caused him to bust out his only curse word, buttface, which he used approximately 700 times in a three minute period, mimicing a fantastic tourrettes episode. He was spitting, screaming, yelling, kicking and biting me for almost thirty minutes before I finally 'swaddled' him in a beach towel and rocked him to sleep. It was a tantrum of epic proportions and I couldn't help being a little impressed by his stick to-it attitude. The kid is nothing if not willful. I kept waiting for the knock on the door from a security guard saying they'd heard a child being abuse in the next room, but it never came, I stayed calm and all's well that ends well. He awoke three hours later with no memory of his terrible behavior. Which I guess is good?
Too soon, we were pakcing our bags again and I was terrified that we'd have an encore performance of the previous flight, but alas-they were exhaused in the best way. Seven days of sand, sun and water had created the zen they needed to be angels. I'm not being sarcastic. Henry was in heaven since the only kid show playing on the TV was Sponge Bob, so he finally got to partake in the wonder of the little creature who lives in a pineapple under the sea-and Charlie was content to play with stickers. We arrived in Portland tanned and happy, settled into our hotel and drove home the next day just in time for H to attend his class Christmas party.
Both J and I agreed that, beautiful as it was, it'd be a long time before we fly that far for a beach again. Hawaii's just a short flight away, and we've yet to explore Mexico...lots of beautiful beach vacations await!