So today was the absolute worst.
Aside from the awful goodbyes that generally ended with me running away to ugly cry in private, away from the all-seeing eyes of my children. That’s another post.
Today was the worst because everything that could possibly go wrong, actually did. It started out with overweight luggage. This one wasn’t really a surprise, just annoying. We had 4 pieces of luggage that were packed to the brim not just with everything we planned to take with us for instant access on our arrival but also with all of the “can’t live without them” knick knacks and extras that we failed to pack in either our air freight or sea freight. So, open up your luggage and have airport strangers watch as you rearrange your delicates and whatnot? Don’t mind if I do. What were Mia and Brooks doing during our first debacle? Brooks was rolling around on the floor pleading for the iPad we told him he could have as soon as we were through security. Mia was trying everything she could to break away from the constraints of her stroller and was extremely vocal about her displeasure in the situation. Ultimately we figured it out and only paid for one extra weight fee.
On to security! We can do this! Mia stopped crying once her stroller was moving again and was pleased as could be that she was able to get out of it to walk through the metal detector. We were the epitome of the people that you do not want to be behind in the security line: two kids, a ton of electronics: computers, iPads, tablets, multiple liquids bags, etc. Naturally we didn’t end up removing everything we’re supposed to and I continued to set off the metal detectors even though I had nothing on me to make it go off. While Brett was shoving everything back into our no-longer-carefully packed bags and I was making continuous round trips through the metal detector, Mia decides to bust through the clear security partition and run like she’d just robbed a bank while laughing like she just got away with it. The whole operation stopped until I could apprehend her and put her back into the custody of the stroller while everyone in line behind us murmured to each other that we were the exact reason you don’t get behind families in the security line. I am mad at myself for ever having judged parents for putting a leash on their children. I will be looking into that for our next airport adventure.
Onward! We knew that Brooks either wouldn’t eat anything on the plane or wouldn’t be able to eat anything on the plane so we stopped at a burger place in the airport for lunch. Did he eat anything? No. Did Mia? Yes. Shocking, I know. Her new favorite food is ketchup – or as they say here in Scotland – tomato ketchup. Guess who now has new tomato ketchup all over her new travel Athleta shirt. That’s right, me. Guess who packed a Tide to-go pen in a stroke of genius! Also me! (I gave myself a mom high five for that one!) Guess who now has child finger tip size dots of ketchup surrounded by wet Tide to-go rings that never seemed to totally dry. Me again! While I’m frantically trying to clean my shirt, Mia leans over me and grabs my adult beverage and takes a pretty good sized swig before I could stop her. She wasn’t a fan.
It is time for a(nother) drink.
Thankfully, there was a bar right by our gate. Awesome! Mia entertained everyone in viewing distance by dancing with her tablet playing Little Baby Bum at full volume. Please note the ketchup stains on her own shirt.
The ONLY benefit to flying with young children is early boarding. We sort of felt like rock stars being escorted to the airplane early and alone. That feeling would soon disappear as it inevitably does when your entourage is two small children.
God bless those KLM flight attendants. Since Mia is under 2, she was a lap rider. The four of us were consolidated into 3 seats. A flight attendant noticed our situation and rearranged some passengers so that we had two rows of three between the four of us. You know, so our kids could stretch out and sleep during the 10+ hour flight. HA! I did everything the travel blogs said to do: I recreated our bedtime routine, I changed Mia into her pajamas, I read books, I made sure Mia was full, I drugged them both. She maybe slept an hour on the plane. Brooks didn’t close his eyes for even a second.
It was a LONG flight. And not just for us. Our section of the plane was overrun with children who liked to scream. I don’t think anyone got any rest on the flight. Additionally, the idea of AC is kind of lost on the Europeans. It wasn’t hot per say but it wasn’t cool enough to snuggle with the thin airline provided blanket and drift comfortably off to sleep.
We arrived in Amsterdam exhausted but thrilled to be through with the majority of the trip. Again, those lovely flight attendants came to our aid and had everyone stand to the side while we hit each one with our massive amount of carryon luggage so we could deplane first and make it to our connecting flight.
We were pumped. We were going to make it!
We exited the plane to gather the stroller but it wasn’t waiting for us as promised. It finally appeared 15 minutes later and we were now in a mad dash across the GIGANTIC Schipol airport (this is pronounced Skip-pol I find out rather than Ship-ol). This is Amsterdam. There really isn’t AC there. We were nearly running and were definitely all sweating by the time we arrived to board the bus that would take us to the little puddle jumper that would take us to Aberdeen. Again, we got to jump to the head of the line thanks to Mia’s VIP under 2 status. We cut in front of a huge group of kids from Wisconsin traveling to Scotland to participate in a boys choir thing.
Mia was PISSED about having to sit on my lap for take off and she let everyone know about it. She wanted to be with her daddy and her Bubba. After take off things were finally going well. Mia shoved fruit snacks in her mouth and passes out with Brett. I was no longer sweating because this little propeller plane at least knew how to do AC! This was definitely the high point of our travels thus far.
We land in Aberdeen. It’s 80 and humid. We started sweating again as we collected Mia’s stroller and tried to set it up. Notice I said tried there. I wouldn’t open. It was either broken during the flight or when the flight crew tried to collapse it for storage during the flight. Either way, this means that Mia is exhausted and on the loose and we have to carry our massive amount of carryons instead of resting them on Mia’s stroller plus hold on to her.
We walk into the airport – again, no AC – and find ourselves behind the entire group of choir boys. Enter Mia’s VIP status! We moved to a line on the side that looks to be for families. It didn’t end up mattering because nearly the entire line of choir boys had moved through before it was our turn. The kids were literally running in circles around customs while the children of other families waited patiently beside their parents. While Brett and I were trying to decide between collecting our wayward children or pretending like they weren’t ours, a representative from baggage services approaches us. The only piece of baggage that was currently in Aberdeen was Mia’s car seat. Not one of our four pieces of actually luggage made the trip.
Onward. We trekked uphill carrying all of our carryon luggage, plus Mia, to the car rental place. We loaded what we had and climbed in. About 5 minutes down the road it’s clear that there is something wrong with the AC in the car. It’s not blowing cold air. We were dying of heat at this point. I looked back and could see the sweat beads forming on Mia and Brooks’ noses. We were 5 minutes from the corporate apartment we are renting for the week. I heard a noise. I turned around and Mia was vomiting all over herself, her one clean outfit from her carryon, her “babies” (a bear, a dog and a babydoll) and her carseat. I had NOTHING to clean her up with except the clothes she had on.
We made it to the apartment complex. Brett jumped out to grab the keys. I jumped out to strip Mia. She had vomit in her hair and dried on her skin. I had her vomit on my shirt. Brett came out with the news that the apartment was not ready AND he’s not sure when it will be ready.
Please note our pleasure. He actually took this picture before he told us the news. Oh and the complex told us that they would be happy to store our luggage for us until it was ready. Insult to injury.
Onward to a restaurant because where else could we go?! My only clothing option was my vomit shirt but Mia had a combo of joggers and her ketchup ridden shirt from the day prior. We arrived at the restaurant. It was 1O:50. They said that they could serve us breakfast in the next 10 minutes or we could wait 20 minutes for lunch to start. We picked lunch even though we were ravenous. There was a kid area we knew from previous experience so we thought everything would be fine. Brooks wanted to play on the arcade games. Great. Fine. Let’s get some cash. Slight problem. Brett can’t remember the pin number to our new Scotland bank account card. He’d written it down in his Notes on his phone but it somehow disappeared when he connected his account to Brooks’ new iPad. And the ATM won’t recognize our American card. Brooks collapses into a crying, exhausted mess on the floor.
It is at this point that Mia decided to have her first poop of the trip. It was epic. And everywhere. She managed to get a little on her pants. Nothing I could do about it but clean it up with my trusty tide pin because my only other choice was her vomit pants!
We finally ordered and food eventually arrives. Does Brooks eat anything? No. Does Mia? Nothing of what we ordered. She would only eat the the cut up hot dogs that I’d packed her for the trip 24 hours prior. Yum.
We were beyond exhausted. All of us had been up for over 24 hours. We had to get some sleep. We decided that it was cool enough in the shade to sleep in car with the windows down. The ASDA (which is exactly like Wal-Mart – same parent company in fact) has covered parking. We decided we would drive there and take a nap. Mia fell asleep on the way, Brooks and I shortly after. Brett went inside to locate fans (remember heat wave and no AC), a pack n play, diapers, etc. That might have been the best nap of my life. This is what Brett returned to:
There was no pack n play and no fans. He got diapers and a high chair though!
We got the call. The apartment was finally ready. We walked in and passed out. Vomit crusted and all.
Later that night we finally got our luggage – in two separate deliveries – from a guy of questionable motives who left voicemails telling us all about what he was going to do if we didn’t text him back in the next 5 minutes. It included drinking a beer at his flat and practicing with his band…or maybe going out. He hadn’t decided. Luggage was definitely riffled through and one piece was pretty damaged and missing a wheel. But it arrived! I got to brush my teeth and shower and put on clean clothes. Amazing.
Moral of the story:
- Make sure you have an extra set of clothes, including underwear, for everyone on your trip.
- Invest in child leashes if traveling with “spirited” children.
- Find better drugs for children to induce sleep.
- Purchase fans in the US before you come to the UK because the ones you can find here are PRICEY!
Edit: Shout out the travel pants from Athleta. They are pretty pricey but they were wrinkle free and cool for the duration of our travels.