I am going to have to write about our trip in parts...probably a lot of parts. I went walking with a friend the other day and it took me 2 hours to tell her the whole story. I will try to shorten it here, but really, to get the full affect, you've just got to hear most of it. Okay, this is going to be a novel. Sorry. I will post pictures too, so skip the story if you want...but I can almost guarantee it won't be boring. This trip was fun, but definitely the most stressful vacation I have ever been on.
I actually was so organized and prepared. We were flying out to California to spend time with Matt's mom's side of the family for a reunion. I looked forward to the trip, and the boys were even more excited. They couldn't wait to fly in a plane, go to the zoo, and see the ocean. At first Kaden was so excited to "meet all of the sharks!" then realized that maybe meeting sharks wouldn't turn out to be as friendly of an encounter as he was hoping. Good thing we didn't get to meet any.
I had everything packed a few days early. I knew I wanted to check 2 bags, because managing 2 boys, one hyper and one with unpredictable emotional outbursts, and a husband that sets off security alarms and tends to get distracted would probably be all I could manage. Matt and I each had a carry-on. He had his "man bag" and I had an oversized purse/duffel. It was messenger style so I could carry it with the strap. Good thing, I think it weighed 30 lbs. We got a steal on our tickets, flying right out of Durango with a very short layover in Denver, landing in San Diego. The only problem, which I slightly worried about in the back of my mind, was that we landed at 11:30, 12:30 am our time. I knew better than to think my kids would sleep on the plane. I hoped that because they had taken amazing naps that day and I had a whole bag of tricks that we would get in tired, but hopefully happy. My kids have both always been great little travelers. I felt prepared, excited, and ready to take on the challenge. I had high hopes it would all go just fine.
I worked all day Tuesday, rushed home to throw dinner together, and packed the final items. My mom picked us up and drove us to the airport. She helped entertain the kids while I checked bags and got tickets. Our tickets to Denver were fine, all of us in the same row. The lady at the counter could not find us anywhere on the flight from Denver to San Diego. She messed with her computer for 10 minutes while my kids were hyper and excited. She finally got us seats, all over the plane, none together. I glanced at her and then at my kids and she knew what I was thinking. "Just tell the people at the gate in Denver your situation and have someone volunteer to switch seats with you."
The first flight went pretty well. The kids were so excited to be up in the air, and much to my delight Beckham didn't get scared or seem to mind all of the people and noise. He loved playing with his seat belt, buckling and unbuckling. As we landed, I got him to keep it on, but once taxiing to the terminal there was no way I was going to keep that thing buckled without causing a big scene. He just sat on the floor and played with my bag, and once, when we were nearly to the terminal he peaked his head out into the aisle. I saw the stewardess (who had already managed to just rub me wrong...which pretty much never happens) look at him and give me a dirty look. She immediately grabbed her little microphone and in a snippy voice said, "ALL passengers, adults, AND CHILDREN included, MUST wear their seat belts at all times when the seat belt light is illuminated. This is for YOUR safety." I was so irritated. I put him in his seat and bear hugged him until the plane stopped. He shrieked and screamed until I let go. As we were exiting the plane the stewardess gave me the up and down look-over and said, "looks like he got away from you, huh?" I wanted to just snap her head off, but I said, "well, why don't you try to keep a toddler in a seat belt that is in no way childproof? Those things practically open themselves and there is no way to keep a two-year-old from playing with the buckle."
We got off the plane and thankfully the wheelchair was there waiting for us with a nice girl to push it. We had forty minutes to walk the entire length of Denver International. We started power walking, using every moving sidewalk. My bag strap managed to completely rip off and I was so sad about that. I carried it with the short straps and had Beckham in one arm and felt like my arms were going to completely fall off. We made it to our terminal as they were boarding. I went straight to the people at the desk who looked official and told them our predicament. Thinking things were straightened out as best as they could be, with Beckham and I together in the back and Kaden and Matt in the very front, we boarded.
Apparently we were not the only ones with seating issues. There were people double-seated all over the place. It's amazing to me how bent out of shape people get when there is a problem, or when they are asked to move. Things were eventually figured out, but it took forever. Then we waited on the runway for 20 minutes. It was already 10:30 our time and Beckham was completely exhausted. He was trying so hard to stay awake. When we finally took off and they turned the cabin lights off he started screaming. He calmed down and I tried to entertain him. Thankfully the lady sitting next to us was really sweet. I rocked Beckham, let him lay down, gave him a sippy cup, snacks, and everything I could think of. He screamed more than 5 times on our second flight. His screaming is loud. It's a shrieking, raging, embarrassing fiasco and I am still completely at a loss for how to control it. At home, I just walk him to his room and tell him he can come out when he is done. It works great. On a plane when people are trying to read and sleep and I can't do a thing to make him happy? It's awful. I just kept saying, "Please stop screaming; please be happy." He would calm down and be so sweet and cute and then something else would throw him off. I wanted to be upset with him, but I wasn't. He was just so tired and I know that he is very sensitive to a lot of people and different situations he doesn't really understand. I was upset with the situation and embarrassed. At one point the stewardess walked by and said to the lady sitting next to me, "well it really looks like SHE has her hands full." I just thought to myself, oh, you have no idea. By the last time he screamed I just kissed his head and tears streamed down my face. I'm glad the girl next to me didn't notice because she was the kind of girl that would have rubbed my back and felt sad for me and made me cry that much harder. Finally Beckham fell asleep, about 20 minutes before we landed.
I had told Matt and Kaden to meet us right at the gate when we got off, knowing they would be off first. Instead, here comes Kaden, pushing through everyone to get to me. I sent him back to Matt who had disappeared so Kaden came running back again. I was so grateful and really proud of how well Kaden had behaved on our flights. Beckham had woken up and was grumpy. I was trying to carry my massive bag and Beckham refused to walk. We got out of the terminal and Matt was nowhere in sight. I was just so exhausted. I called him and thankfully he answered. He said, "Oh hi Babe, I am at the baggage claim." After I asked him why on earth he would go there without us, leaving me to do everything he said, "I'm sorry, the lady was there with the wheelchair and said that is where we were supposed to go". I always feel bad when Matt is given too many different directions and he just tries to do what he thinks is best.
We went to get our bags--two giant suitcases and two big car seats. I was wondering how on earth we would ever get all of our stuff out to meet Dan. I felt so stressed and so tired. I am glad that I am normally pretty easy going and go-with-the-flow. I think if I were high strung I would have had a complete meltdown and ended up in a padded room. As I was standing there staring at all of our stuff and my extremely tired family, here comes Dan with a happy smile on his face, ready to help. I felt so grateful that he was there to get us so late at night. He helped us carry everything out and we got in the car. I breathed a sigh of relief that we all made it, with all of our stuff, and we were about to go to bed and rest up. I love knowing I can sleep and start the next day off with new perspective.