Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life in the Air

Just returned home from yet another eventful airplane trip back overseas to our home in Germany.  These flights are just like childbirth to me (well, similar to childbirth experiences other people go through. I had beautiful C-sections).  It's a horrible and traumatic event to get what needs to be done, mingled in with a few great and happy events, which I then seem to forget very soon afterward because for some reason I keep subjecting myself to it again and again.  Each time I vow will be the last time, but alas, I again find myself on a 14-hour journey (with an added 6 hours combined inside three different airports) towing 3 carts of luggage and a car seat, with three kids along for the ride, including a toddler, and usually sans another adult, and once with a puppy chihuahua (who is no longer with us).  These experiences cause me to never want to fly again.  I'm having a hard time talking myself into going home for the summer.

Without going into too long of a minute-by-minute description of the ride (since many of you think I'm windy on my blog), I'm just going to list the things that happened so you can get an idea of how the trip went.

The Highlights
1. Brian being there.  A completely different experience having someone else helping to figure out how to get too much stuff into not enough suitcases.

2. My mom choosing not to take a trip to Utah for the funeral of an old acquaintance so she could stay for our last two days.  Then spending our whole last day with us, helping us pack, gathering things and riding with us to take us to the airport.  Then helping us kill an extra hour at the Carl's Jr. close-by while we waited for the three hours to pass before we got on the plane.

3. The Snuggie my mom got me for Christmas.  Takes up little-to-no space, but is super warm on the plane. Airline blankets are a joke.

4. Earplugs

5. Only 20 people on our layover flight from England to Germany, which meant every person on that flight had a full row to themselves to sleep on (even though it was only one hour).

6. Spencer sleeping 7.5 hours of the first 10 hour flight, then falling asleep (after our 3 hour layover) in the second plane before we even left to taxi to the runway.  He slept that entire flight too and we had to wake him up to get off the plane.

7.  The car seat trick I barely new about until this most recent trip (thank you to my sister, Amber!).  Spencer slept so much better in the car seat.  I love our car seat bag that has wheels on it (that we already happened to have... another bonus) that made it easy to transport throughout the airports.

8.  The movie "Social Network" on the airline's video network that completely confused, scared, inspired and transformed me.  

9.  SPACE SAVER BAGS!!!  Who never told me about these?  I mean, I KNEW about them, but never made the connection to use them. My sisters use them.  My mom even used them when she traveled over here in October.  But how come "I" never used them?  I finally made the connection when I was trying to make space for the girls' pillows and blankets to take on the planes (we don't use the airline's crappy pillows either).  I thought, "I wish there was a way I could shrink them down into a Ziploc bag.  Bing!  The light went on.  My mom had like 7  bags.  We used them for their pillows and blankets to fit into a carry on bag, and fit all of Spencer's huge pile of shirts, pants, jackets, pajamas and blankets into two tiny wedges of material.  The girls' two coats, my two coats and one of spencer's coats also fit into one and was shrunk down to the size of a pillowcase.  (Yes, there is the weight thing, but at least we could fit everything into carryons, rather than be stressed about fitting everything into our check on bags.)  I even called my sisters who use them and asked them why they never MADE me use them.  Seriously, I'm transformed.  

10.  Xoe and Xanthe making the comment, "It feels so good to be home" after complaining a lot in the states that they didn't want to go home and why couldn't they live in California.  It really did feel good to be home, even though it was freezing and there was snow everywhere.  There's something about having your own bed, your own space, and your own life to get back to normal to.

The Downsides
1. Being sick with a croup cough and the beginning of a sinus cold, complete with killer sore throat and sinus headache for a 10 hour flight.

2. The rude man in front of Spencer's seat that leaned his seat all the way back the minute he got into the seat, which made the seat lean almost completely into Spencer's lap. It was workable until the man kept obnoxiously stretching his legs and made it squeeze Spencer's legs and frustrated poor Spencer.  We couldn't change the situation til we were up in the air and could unhook the car seat to move it to the middle. Once we did this, though, it also meant that I had to sit on the side with the window and would have to climb over Spencer and his seat in order to go to the bathroom, as well as deal with that same man in front of me and not  see the video screen or eat from my meal tray.  Obnoxious!  He could have moved one seat over to the empty seat in the middle.  I kind of secretly wished Spencer would have kept kicking his chair enough to make him mad enough to move.  That's not very PS (polite society) of me is it?  We all make mistakes. :)

3. An almost completely full flight for the long flight, except for the row right next to us where two snotty girls snickered right at us when we were switching Spencer's car seat to a different row because a teenage girl had the ticket for the seat he was sitting in (mix-up with the tickets), and laughed as I was climbing over Spencer's car seat to get to the window seat. I looked over at one of the girls and she quickly looked away then spread out her legs on the two seats next to her then laid down and acted like she was going to sleep. I don't know why I was bitter, I was just so bitter.  Probably cuz I was already mad about the man in front of us too.  People were just so rude.

4.  The very rude and obnoxious all-male flight attendants on the long flight (as an added benefit, the all-female crew on the short flight was so considerate and overly kind).  I guess it had nothing to do with their gender, we were just surprised to see an all male crew... and very rude.

5.  The 0 (zero) hours of sleep I got on the 10-hour flight.  Spencer kept waking up (but would fall back asleep) so I was stressed about him staying awake.  So, it was not only out of the fact that I needed to refill his juice, but also out of anticipation that he was gonna wake up.  So I could never completely fall asleep.  (The movie I talked about above "Social Network" also kept me awake because of it's thought-producing content).

6. The necessary, but completely overpriced water bottles in the LAX airport selling for $3.25 a pop.  It's ridiculous how little water they give you on the plane, so I have to buy these... just ridiculous how expensive they are.  And you can't bring your own cuz of the security rules. 

7.  Not being able to bring a stroller with me to the airport.  London Heathrow does not allow you to bring a stroller up from below the plane, so it's silly to even take it with you to the plane's jetway.  I hate that airport and will never be traveling through it again (also it was the reason for all of Brian's flight cancellations. Caused horrible flight traffic stuff because of how ill-equipped it is to handle the snow in a country that snows A LOT!)

8.  My allergic reaction to the blueberry muffin in the breakfast box on the long flight. I've never been allergic to anything, but this was scary.  I was in the layover airport when I decided to finally eat it and the minute the first bite hit my throat, it started swelling up and closing, and I was coughing uncontrollably (didn't help that I already had the croup cough) and my right eye start swelling shut.  Very scary and I'm so very thankful I don't have allergies on a regular basis.

So, that's our experience in a nutshell.  Not on to getting through jetlag. I'm armed with Melatonin pills, melt-in-your-mouth Melatonin pills, Benadryl pills, Tylenol Cold and Triaminic.  We've been downing Vitamin C drinks, Scooby Doo vitamins and trying to get out in the sun (what little there is at this time of year in Germany).  The girls both woke up at 4 a.m. for a few hours then slept through the day today.  Spencer has been doing pretty well (slept all night except for waking up for some juice).  Usually he wakes up for 4 hours like it's the middle of the day. I'm swearing off anything this week and just trying to get better.  

The next trip will have to have a lot of time in between when we book the tickets.  I'm burnt out.


Randi said...

One thing that stuck out to me while reading this is that I take bottled water on every flight I go on. I tell TSA that it is for my baby and they don't think twice. Try should work. I am glad that there seems to be more positives than negatives to your trip. I can't imagine being on a 14 hr flight! You are CRAZY, but I understand why you do it. Glad you made it home safe.

Alicia said...

Wow. This is the one time I'm glad I'm not you. :) I'm glad you had a relatively good experience though and that you are happy to be home. Hopefully, you decide to come this summer and can make it to UT. I'd love it.

amber buhrley said...

I bet your burnt out! I started getting anxiety just reading about the packing part, let alone the entire flight thing. Ugh! And I was going to write exactly what randi wrote. If you tell them its for a bottle, or better yet, put the water in a bottle or sippy, they will let you take it! Sorry, I guess I should have told you then when I should have told you about the space saver bags! HAHA!

Christy said...

Hey girls, Let me just say that I do know about the liquids thing, if I take it for the bottle. But I usually can't get away with water because I'm usually carrying a load of apple juice which is Spencer's choice of beverage anyway. And even then the flight attendants give me dirty looks when I ask for more than their tiny little 4 oz. cup. And that's even me watering it down. For the apple juice, this last time it was pretty ridiculous at LAX. I had 8 little individual bottles. They asked me how long my flight was and I said 14 hours (including the second flight). They said, you can take 5. What?! Where did you pull that number from? I'd have thought, "half" or "none" or 1 for every 2 hours. But 5? The lady looked like a beyotch anyway so I didn't want to fight her. I know she just pulled that number out of nowhere. I watched the guy pull 3 off of the plastic ring and toss them in a big bin. But like I said I didn't fight it. So there was no way water was coming too. Would it be gross to bring empty bottles in my suitcase and fill them up at the drinking fountain?