Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taking the kids to Tokyo

Ok, so I had experienced the trains and visited Tokyo already, so I am ready to take the kids, right?
I was really pumped about taking the kids to see Tokyo. While in Harajuku, I saw a toy store called Kiddyland. I looked up places to take kids in Tokyo and that was a suggestion. I also saw there was a Pokemon Center, but that looked it involved taking taking the Subway, not that brave!
So we walk to the front gate, at this point I do not have a driver's license yet. We could take a bus to the train station, but then I would need exact change and I am not altogether sure of that so we walk. It is hot and humid, and the walk seems very long with a little girl who is already complaining. I really should have just turned around and went back right there.
We get to the train station- and we are already hot and sweaty. At the trains you can either buy individual tickets or you can buy what is called a PASMO card. On the PASMO card you deposit money on it and then the train terminals deduct your fare. The children's fares are 1/2 price, so I have to get someone to help me with the PASMO machine so I can set them up with children's PASMO cards. There are several machines next to each other and not a lot of room to goof around. I wish the children understood that. Sister wants to see what I am doing, which would be fine but I can't reach the machine with her standing in my way and the poor Train Station employee is waiting on me. So that is the first argument and fit she throws.
When you are the only Americans around you really feel the pressure to represent your country. Plus you know they are all looking at you, no kidding.
We get the cards, find something to drink at the vending machine. Sister again holds up the line trying to make up her mind. Some poor lady gave up and had to leave to catch her train. Oh dear.
The train is crowded and Sister has to stand, she does not like that. And she has already started to fight with her brother. It is way too crowded to be fighting on the train. Once again we have made a spectacle of ourselves. Maybe the locals understand as their children can be unruly as well, but I am embarrassed nevertheless.
We finally are able to sit down and I am straining my ears to listen for our stop- Shinjuku Station. I know how it is spelled in Kanji so I am watching the sign in the train as well that announces the next stop. All of the trains are different. If there is a conductor on the train that speaks English, then they will announce the train station in English in addition to Japanese. And sometimes the sign will be in English too, but a lot of times they are not- like on this train. I hear Shinjuku somewhere in the announcement and get the kids up so we can get off. When we get off it does not look familiar- and I see no sign for the train line we need to switch too. The kids are both talking to me a mile a minute and not paying attention to all of the people coming from every direction. So not only am I trying to figure out where the heck I am- as I realized that I got off at the wrong stop, but I am trying to not lose my children and to keep them from getting run over and/or from blocking traffic.


I find a vacant spot to the side and stop to look at my train map. A nice Japanese sees me and asks me in English if he can help me. I ask him where are we, which station? It turns out we weren't even half way there! So back to the platform we just left. Sister freaks out and says we are at the wrong train platform. Seriously she won't believe me when I tell her we are ok. Ugg
We make it to Shinjuku and decide to look around the train station. It is attached to a big shopping mall of sorts, and the air conditioning is on at full blast. I tell you air conditioning is nectar from the gods. I want to go see Times Square, but Brother gets bent out of shape since that wasn't the original plan. I should know better- he doesn't like to deviate. So we find the line to take us to Harajuku. We head straight for Kiddyland. It is a very cool store. There are several floors, each being a different store. The first has Pokemon, Lego's and all kinds of cool girl toys. There are these really cute dolls- kind of like Barbies that I want to get Sister (I told them they could each spend 2500 Yen- roughly about $25). For a little doll that is smaller than a Barbie, it cost about 4200 Yen. Yikes! Sister picked out instead a little chihuahua that barks and walks. That is so Sister. My favorite floor was the Hello Kitty floor- they had other things besides Hello Kitty, but that is what you see when you first walk in. It is all so very cute, I am want to buy everything. I do find a very cute mug and cell phone charm for my Hello Kitty enthusiast friend back in the States.

Outside the store we find Monchichi! The kids do not know who the Monchichis are but I remember them from my childhood. So Sister gets her picture taken with Monchichi, the store employees actually take the picture for you with your camera. I suppose that is more efficient then having the parents stand there for days taking several poses.

Posing with Monchichi outside of Kiddyland in Harajuku

I really want to find some food, so we turn down a side street to see what we can find. I was told that the food on the side streets is good and usually less expensive than on the main drag. Well we didn't find any food but we did see some interesting stores and interesting signs. One sign hanging down from what looked like a club said "Home honey, I'm Hi!". My favorite store was called "Freak's Store".

So we head back towards the train station, still have not eaten anything. We find someone selling ice cream so we sit down to eat some. Here is it not customary to see people walking around with food or drink. Normally we would have gone walking with our ice cream cones, but not here.

Back on the train, we are heading home. When we get off in Shinjuku I cannot find the train line we need. By this time the kids are hot, tired and still hungry. Looking back I realize I should have just bought food at the first place we saw. I don't know what I was looking for? We find our train line and finally catch the correct train home. The kids are still fighting, I am so tired and frustrated at this point. I tell them I will never take them on the train by myself again, and I mean it. I know I was being childish, but it was seriously a very difficult task taking them on the train when they refused to behave.
Three trains later and we are at our final stop. Huh, problem is we got off on the wrong side of the train station. I cannot find a way around, so we go back through the gate to try and retrace our steps. We can see where we need to go, but how the heck do we get there?? We finally see the exit, but our PASMO cards will not let us through. Well it is because we went through without taking a train. So we have to go through the office next to the exit and I explain that we went through without taking a train.
We are out, on the right side! I think about getting some food now, but I want to go home more. I find a taxi and I know enough Japanese to tell him where we need to go. The Japanese taxis are cool that they have automatic doors, you don't have to open or close them. So we are off, we are not walking and the taxi feels nice and cool. It is the kids' first taxi ride too. I think they enjoyed the taxi more than anything else (except maybe the toys). 700 yen later we are at the front gate. I tell you, that is the best $7 I have ever spent!
I am now traumatized and am not sure if I will ever go anywhere with my children again. I am sure I will get over and the kids will be become more adjusted. But for now I will just wait until their dad gets back...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Trip to Tokyo

There seems to be so much to write about and the same time so little. I have been trying to think of what to write next the last couple of days since I posted the last bit about our arrival here in Japan. I will try to recap I suppose...
Our second week here I took a week long class title "Area Orientation Brief/Intercultural Relations Class", or AOB/ICR for short. The first day was the AOB class. Basically someone from every department on base came to talk to us about various things we need to know, or at least some of us need to know. I believe the class was originally only offered to service members. But a commander decided that the spouses also should participate in the class as well. It is also a requirement before you can get a driver's license. :) So some of the material applied to service members- such as what uniforms are authorized- blah blah blah. We did have one very lively fellow talk to us that is from hazardous materials. He reminded me of Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color- just without the burns.
the rest of the week we had the ICR class. This was taught by Japanese locals. It was very interesting. We learned how to pronounce Japanese words, how to read the writing and the different kind of writing used. I even learned how to write my name in Kanji, very cool. Part of the class is a required field trip- an unaccompanied field trip. Basically they take you to the train station, explain how to buy tickets and how the train stations work. Then you go off on your own to whatever destination you choose. Of course we went in groups. In my group was the new dentist on base and a civilian DOD employee. We chose to go to Harajuku and Shibuya. We took three different trains to get to Harajuku, it took about 45 minutes I believe. The train stations are crazy! There is not just one rail line, there are several different companies that run their own trains. So when you change trains, you have to find the new rail line. At the bigger trains stations that can be very confusing! Sometimes you will come out of one rail line- see the sign for the rail line you need, but will go right past it because you literally needed to go around the corner, a full 360.
So we arrived at Harajuku. Let me say that it was hot, and very humid. The merchants are out on the sidewalk handing out fans with advertising printed on them. I must say that is a very clever idea because everyone uses them. I always thought that fans were something only the Geishas used, but they are actually a necessity! I thought maybe only us Americans were sweating in this heat. I felt better when I saw several Japanese with sweat soaked shirts.
So my group mates were famished so we stopped at the first restaurant that looked appetizing. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to go to a sushi-go-round. The restaurant we stopped at was very nice. The waiter that greeted us spoke English and was very friendly. the best part of course is that the AC was on and it was nice and cool. I ordered chicken and potatoes, thinking that it would be chicken stir fried with potatoes. What I received was a chicken breast on top of french fries. It was garnished with a roasted cherry tomato on top and arugula leaves on the side. I was a little disappointed at the french fries, but it was surprisingly good! There was a sort of Worcestershire sauce that went great with the fries. All of us ordered beer as well. Cheers! My first beer in Japan!
After eating we walked down the street and looked at the sights. We saw two guys, one with a giraffe head and the other with a zebra head- being filmed for what I don't know. I am bummed I couldn't find my camera in time for that one.
I did get my camera out to take pictures of the stores and signs. Th best one was for The French Connection- I'll post the picture. Condomania made me do a double take. It is condo-mania or condom-mania? It is the latter when I realize that that little smiling guy is a condom. And then there's the picture of the elephant... enough of that.

ummm- excuse me?

Crazy about condoms

The Mejii Shrine is on the other side of the train station and it is hard to believe that it is the same town. The shrine is a huge park lined with trees, very beautiful and serene. It is the perfect place to get away from the sounds of the streets and city- and one doesn't have to go far. At the gift shop I picked up a handkerchief and a fan. The handkerchief is a must have. As much as the weather makes you sweat, it is handy to have something thicker than a Kleenex to mop your brown. Also, a lot of the restaurants do not supply napkins- so it is handy to carry your own.

A Torii Gate at the entrance to the Mejii Shrine

lots and lots of Sake! Sake was considered a sacred drink, you will see sake drums like these at the different shrines.

We originally planned to go to Shibuya as well, but walking the grounds of the Mejii Shrine took more time than we thought it would. So we headed back. We got off at the wrong train station and ended up taking a very long walk back to base. I was quite hot by the time we got back.
So the trains were not as scary as I thought they would be. I had heard they shove you onto trains and imagined myself falling under the tracks. They do shove you onto the trains during rush hour on the more crowded trains, but that wasn't the case where I was at. It was actually a nice little adventure despite the heat and the walking.
So the class was a success overall. I learned a lot about the culture here as well as well as the etiquette used. Learning how to read Kanji is also quite helpful. In now way can I read anything, but I can recognize certain signs and such. I am excited to do more exploring.

Ok well I guess I do have more to write about. Next I will describe taking the kids on the train for the first time, it is a scary tale...

Monday, August 24, 2009

We're here! So now what?

(Brother and Sister on our new front steps)

Anyone that has been around me this year or communicated with me by email or read my blog will know that this has been a hell of a year. Husband leaving in February set it off. Actually, before he even left I was consumed with stress over his leaving and also my hectic work schedule. Everything seemed to boil down to one thing- get to Japan. My mantra was- "get to Japan, and then you can rest." After all, all the work has been done, all I would need to do is arrange our furniture and find a home for all of our belongings, it would be a snap!

So now we are here and I can now relax and wait for Husband to come home.

Of course you know I was wrong.

There are a million and one things to do, good grief. Our sponsor picks us up the Monday after we get here to take us to a million places. We sign up for the orientation class and I check out a hospitality kit which has silverware, plates, pots and pans- etc. We go to the Child Development Center to sign the kids up for summer camp while I am taking my week long orientation class. We stop by the cable office to reconnect the Internet and move it to our new house (Husband had it hooked up in his barracks room where he was staying.) We go to medical so I can sign up for Overseas Tricare (health insurance plan), sign up for dental, request my medical records from the States, and have the kids' immunization cards filled out for the CDC. We go to the Post Office so I can get a mail box so we can receive mail. We stop by the barracks and get some of husband's belongings out of his room- including his stash of food. It is funny to see what he cooks when he is on his own. Lots of boxed easy to prepare foods like Noodles-A-Roni, mac n cheese and Hamburger Helper.

I felt bad that our sponsor had to wait around while I did all of this. It doesn't help that I am still pretty disoriented from jet lag.

Of course I can't finish everything in one day- so every day it seems the kids and I are walking somewhere to take care of something. We have a car, but I have to take several classes before I can get a license. So walking it is. Let me tell you it is hot and humid, and often raining. we all bought new umbrellas.

Husband keeps emailing me to ask if I have taken the trains yet. No, I am not going to take the train with the children until I can go by myself and figure it out beforehand. Although I really do want to eat some real Japanese food! You would think I could find it on base- but the food court is comprised of Popeye's Chicken, Taco Bell, Subway, Anthony's Pizza, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins and Seattle's Best Coffee. There is a Japanese exchange on base that has some restaurants, but I am not brave enough to venture there without someone showing me the ropes first.

The kids and I go to the park often, there is not much else to do. Our neighbor loans us a TV, thank goodness. But watching the Armed Forces Network (AFN) gets old quickly. I never thought I would miss real commercials, ironic. We have loaner furniture. There is a small couch, a chair, a coffee table and a small side table. The kids find that they are light enough to move all around the highly polished linoleum floor. We are going nuts!! Brother wants to go bike riding, of course our bikes aren't here yet.

At first we were so exhausted we didn't notice how uncomfortable the beds are. Once I have caught up on sleep I find myself waking up in the middle of the night. I can feel the springs in the mattress, I double check to see if I am sleeping on box springs. No, just a really hard mattress that feels like box springs.

At this point I can't wait for my class that is coming next week so I can have some space from the children. Brother is especially anxious. Our first day he went out rolling around on his Heeleys and was crushed he didn't find a new best friend right away. He is so bored at home, always wanting to go swimming and just get out. I can't blame him. Of course it totally sucks that I have to drag them around to all of my errands. And when there's a chance for things to go awry and be more difficult then they should be- they do. For example- I really need to make some phone calls to the states. I get an iPhone and want to sign up for the plan that Husband has that gives him unlimited calling to the states. No, they discontinued that plan. But I can download Skype and use that to call! So I download Skype. only guess what? I have to use Wi-Fi to use Skype- the 3G network does not allow it. I finally get the Internet at home- now my iTunes decided to quit working. It literally takes me all day to fix it (still not working right though.) Its just one thing after another. At least that is what it feels like. It could be that I have been over processed and have lost all coping skills?

It makes me think of a line from the Simpsons Movie. When Bart takes Homer up on a dare and goes skateboarding naked- he is caught by the police who handcuff him to a telephone poll while still in the buff. Homer shows up, denies that the he dared Bart to go nude and only brings him a shirt and socks- no pants. To this Bart exclaims- "This is the worst day of my life!" Homer wisely responds- "The worst day of your life- so far!"

So things can always get worse- it is all relative I know. But things do get better eventually. There are good times in my future (and the children's')- I just know it! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flying and arriving- Our Journey Part II

The plane is finally starting the process of taking off. Our feet have left American soil, we are on our way- finally. The kids are asleep almost immediately. I look around the plane, most of the children have gone straight to sleep, and a good number of adults have as well. I want to sleep, but at the same don't want to miss anything. So I close my eyes and steal bits of sleep in between the announcements the aircraft crew make. The serve breakfast, it is only a little after 3 AM Pacific time, but its 8 AM somewhere, right? The kids don't stir when I try to wake them up for breakfast- I didn't think they would. I request an extra meal just in case. I have the pancakes. They would have been good with syrup- but the syrup container is sealed shut- I try the one from the extra meal I have for the kid- its the same situation. Oh well, I save the granola bars and sneak some more Zs. I wake up when they announce our arrival- to Alaska. I wake Brother- "Hey! We are in Alaska!" He is mighty confused for a minute- and then goes back to sleep. Apparently we have to stop for gas. We can't get off the plane so I stare at what looks like nothing much (it is overcast and there is little scenery to look at)- but I guess I can say I have seen Alaska now huh?

We take off again. The kids eventually wake up and we eat lunch- which is not much better than the breakfast they served. The kids are getting antsy. It has probably been the longest 24 hour period we have ever experienced if you count from the time we arrived at the airport for our departure. They can't wait to get to Japan, to get off the plane. I can't help but agree. I am doing my best to keep them occupied. Brother is the worst- he is getting bored. His PSP battery is dead. He is expecting me to fix things somehow. I am Mom after all, can't I just make the plane fly faster??

(brother fast asleep on the plane)


(sister is looking pretty tired- I think she is looking out the window.)

I get up with Sister to use the bathroom. I look down and realize my feet and ankles and shins are very swollen. Great, now I will probably die from a blood clot going to my heart. So I jump up and down and pace around to get the blood flow. Speaking to a lady sitting in front of us I learn it is a good idea to take aspirin before a long flight. A little late now, but I will definitely remember that for next time. I can say though- it will be a long time before I get on another flight like this!!
4PM Pacific Time- 8AM Tokyo time- and one day ahead
We are finally making our descent!! Brother is now sitting by the window- much to Sister's loud protests. We are flying over land I believe, but the cloud cover is thick so I see nothing. Brother gets a few glimpses of buildings. We are landing on a military base. Once the plane stops, we are told to wait in our seats.
Wait- that is the theme of our trip. Wait.
We are waiting for one of the airport security/MPs or whatever they are called- to come on board. So they come on board, they are armed, and walk up and down the aisles to look everything over. This is much different than landing at a commercial airport! I am sure Husband is used to this, but it is all new to me.
Apparently everything looks great, so they are starting to deplane. Of course now we have to wait our turn to get off the plane and board a bus that will take us to the air terminal. It is raining cats and dogs- I am glad to not have to walk. But the kids don't understand. We are here! Why can't we just get OFF already!!
We get off the plane, and board the bus. Something about the bus seems weird to me. I am completely jet lagged at this point, so it takes me a few minutes as we drive to the air terminal. Of course! We boarded the bus on the left side! The driver is on the right. So strange, it just looked empty up front.
We get to the air terminal. Can't leave yet! We get to take a seat in the humid sticky air terminal and do some more waiting. The kids are really acting up now. Did I mention how tired and stressed out I am?? Sister has left her stuffed animal on board. Luckily I was able to get one of the military guys in charge to go back and look for it. Yes, they find it and the crisis is averted.
We get in line, show our passports and walk into another room. Here we get our luggage. 6 pieces of luggage and a car seat. Find a cart, load up our stuff and head out. Our sponsor is waiting outside the baggage area with a sign with our name on it. We load up our stuff on the shuttle bus. So we should be on our way, right? No.
We are not the only people going to our base. One of the guys is missing luggage. So we wait. We are hungry, thirsty, tired and now hot as well. It is raining, but it is a tropical humid sort of rain. We are wearing jeans and feeling nasty and sweaty. At least I do!
I go to the ATM to withdraw some Yen for the vending machine. It is a 5000 Yen note- about $50. Of course I can't use it in the machine. We go around the corner and find a small snack bar so we can get something to drink at least.
We get back on the shuttle bus. The driver is concerned that my name is not on the list. My sponsor explains in what sounds like a very condescending tone- "I already talk to office- they have names." Huh? The driver is Japanese of course- but not deaf!
We are off! It is explained to me that it only took 30 minutes to get to the air terminal from base- but the way back will be about 90 minutes. Crap.
The kids are interested for the first 20 minutes in the new scenery. We see a Thomas the Tank Engine bus carrying preschoolers. They are totally adorable in the their little straw hats and white shirts. Think Madeleine with a Japanese cast.
Brother gets very antsy again. He is bored, needs to expend some energy and is probably hungry. His behavior is starting to embarrass me, frankly.
Wait and wait and wait.
We finally arrive to the base where we will be living. Of course we sit around in the bus more as people are being dropped off and such. We get off and load all six pieces of luggage and a cart seat in our sponsors little tiny Honda. The kids have to share a seat it is so packed. I think our sponsor is going to open the door for me. No, he is getting into the driver's side- on the right. Very strange. As we drive and he makes a left turn I suck in my breath because it feels like he is turning into the wrong lane. This will take some getting used to!
Home. Yes. Home.
I am handed a key that looks like a dog tag. Huh? I am shown how to use it, very strange. In our house at last. The kids are excited to see their new home. They go upstairs and immediately pick their bedrooms. Our stuff is not here yet of course- but at least we have loner furniture. Normally, we would have stayed in temporary lodging while we waited for a house. But since Hubby left before us we already have a house.
Our sponsor leaves and says he will be back in a bit to take us to get some food. Shower. It is the best thing I have experienced all day.
Our first meal will be McDonald's- much to my dismay. We go through the drive through and have some trouble ordering. I ended up not getting my food. Oh, oh well. When we get back I call my good friend-Jaime that lives here. On the sponsor's cell phone of course- as I have no phone to use of my own. They came over for a bit and then head back to their house. Our sponsor leaves again and says he will come back to take us to the commissary for food. He never shows up.
So I got upset as the kids were antsy once again. We head over to Jaime's house. It is so nice to sit on her couch and let the kids go play with her daughter. Friends are gold.
I am upset that I have been stood up by our sponsor. Truly at this time I have little coping skills left. I decide that I will walk to the commissary myself. It is a small base- can't be hard to find- right? Jaime's husband would drive me, but as he has been drinking he can't The base has a 0 tolerance for drinking and driving- even one beer could end it all.
So I walk down the road to find the commissary. I find the Navy Exchange- no commissary. At this point I feel stupid and won't ask for help. God forbid anyone know that I am NEW. Did I mention it has started raining again? I do have my umbrella, but I am getting soaked nonetheless. I end up buying sheets and pillows- which we do need. I head back to my house. I am completely soaked as it is raining sideways. My hair is the only thing that is dry somehow.
So... where is my house again? I walk in circles and realize that I cannot find my house. It doesn't help that I haven't eaten or slept in I don't know how many hours. I have Jaime's cell phone she lent me. I take it out to call her. It is a Japanese cell phone and I cannot figure it out for the life of me. I ask a couple of people for help, they have no idea where I need to go. It is getting dark, it is raining harder and harder. it seems like this would be when I should start crying.
I don't cry- but Lord I want to. It is getting darker and darker- it is imperative to find my way back. I try the cell phone again, and figure it out this time. Lee comes to find me, I am saved.
When I get back to Jaime's house- I find Sister is fast asleep. It is way past her bed time in the States after all.
7 PM
Jaime helps me carry her back to our house, while Brother and I carry the blankets she lent us as well as the essential pack of toilet paper.
I get the kids to bed and we are all out like a light- until 3:30AM the next morning that is....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

getting on the plane- our journey to Japan part I

July 23rd, 12:36AM
A Long Hard Journey
I am waiting out the last hour before we board our plane, freezing under the air conditioning they really need to turn down. Sister is curled up somehow on the airport chair, it makes my body ache to look at her- I would never be able to get that kink of my neck if I were to contort myself that way. Brother is actually laying down under the chairs, his backpack is serving as a pillow. I wish I had blankets right now and am wondering if the Hudson News store carries any. Of course the little ones are asleep so I can’t walk away to check.
My day started at 6 AM, yesterday. We ate breakfast, loaded up the truck with 6 suitcases, and several boxes of miscellaneous crap. My mother in law took all the of the stuff I was leaving behind- the vacuum cleaner, mouthwash, a garden hose, a bottle of Jose Cuervo pre-mixed margarita- I could go on. We took brother to get his retainer- the day before he went in to get his braces removed. Of course the mold didn't set right the day before so they make another and we wait another 20 minutes- thankfully it works this time. After his orthodontist appointment we started for the airport- the same one we had been to the day before when I drove down to pick them up, as they flew in from Colorado with their grandparents. We arrived at the airport at 11:00 AM, our flight is scheduled to depart at 2:50AM, the NEXT morning. My in-laws are driving the truck to their home in Colorado and have to be on the road.
Saying it is going to be a long day is an understatement.
Our first stop is the USO, were they promptly tell us we can’t bring our luggage in- but we can go downstairs and use the luggage storage service (but the limit is two hours). As it turns out, there is no limit, but it is going to cost us $59 to stow away 6 suitcases, a make-up case and a booster seat. We say goodbye to grandma and grandpa and head to Seattle’s Best Coffee for a snack. After that we hang out at the USO where I enjoy the free WiFi service. After checking email, and making a few calls to the utility companies, I find a comfy seat to sit down and read. By 5PM we are all antsy and decide to go for a walk around the airport. We buy brother a sandwich, go check to see what time we are supposed to check in for our flight. Brother drops his hot pastrami sandwich before he even takes a bite of it and so we head back and I buy him a new one.
The kids are starting to get testy.
It is now 8:20PM. The sign we read earlier regarding our flight said that they would begin checking us in at 20:30. My tired mind forgets how to tell military time and is thinking 10:30 instead of 8:30. We see people lining up, so I ask a gentleman in line where he is flying to. He refers to me as “m’am”- which tells me he is a Marine, and says he is flying to Okinawa. We are going to Yokota so I think this is a different flight.
But now I am getting nervous, are we supposed to be in line? Did they cancel our flight? After checking with the actual people in charge, we find out yes we can get in line now to check in. So we go down and get our bags. The kids are even more grouchy- it is getting close to bed time. Every time I ask brother to be quiet or to stop playing with line ropes- he gets all bent out of shape. It wouldn’t matter what I said to him- he is getting ticked.
We get in line behind a woman who is bitching up a storm about the whole process. I so want to tell her to shut up- we are all tired and stressed out- she is NOT helping! I look around and everyone is in the same boat. We are all tired and the kids are whiny. I feel like a ring master in charge of unruly monkeys. I think the circus would be a breeze after this. I talk to one woman and find out they had already flown from Philadelphia to Seattle, and now she is getting on another flight to Japan. That beat our measly 45 minutes drive to the airport! There are kids crying, there are dogs in kennels. Everyone has a Smartcarte piled mountain high with luggage and car seats and strollers. I made the comment that without the Smartcartes we would all be a bunch of really angry people- everyone agreed. I can’t imagine having to try to maneuver the children with our carry on and the 6 pieces of luggage! Thinking of this I hear a big "crash"! One of the kids of the lady who I mentioned before had knocked over their luggage- they actually had two carts. I look over and I see a pile of luggage that has fallen on his younger sister- thankfully she is ok. Mom and dad were NOT pleased.
We finally make it to the main line- they had us roped off across the lobby (or whatever you call it)- there are too many of us and too much luggage for us to stand in the standard ticket counter lines. For the second time I hand over our port call (serves as our ticket) and also our passports. The gentleman that is checking me in cannot find my name. OH MY GOD. As I am preparing to have the biggest hissy fit of my life- the guy working next to him takes the list and find my name right away. When we get to the ticket counter we have to weigh our bags. My biggest one comes in at 61 pounds- 7 pounds short of the limit- one more worry checked off my list. Then we each have to step up on the scale with our carry-ons. With my bag and laptop I weighed 180 pounds- I would like to think that my bag and laptop weighed in at 50.
Now we head for the security check in line. The kids are actually not doing too bad at taking their shoes and jackets off and sticking everything in the bins. Then we head for our gate- which involves taking a train to the concourse. By this time the kids are feeling hungry- everything is closing down. Burger King is still open so I get a VERY long line. I have to confess I am not a patient person when it comes to lines I don't have to wait in. Sister was acting up so I just got out of line.
The kids are exhausted, as I am, and in a very foul mood. Why can't we just get on the plane already?
So we head to Hudson news and grab soda and candy- I am trying to keep the kids awake long enough to get on the plane. Lord knows I can't carry them on! Sister only has a little bit of soda and promptly falls asleep. Brother is bored so I give him $20 to find some cards or something to entertain himself with. He comes back with three Seattle mugs. It is not what I wanted him to buy- but he is so proud of his purchase so I tell him I love the mugs.
We are getting ready to board the plane. I woke up the kids and found a spot to camp out that is closer to the gate. I am trying to keep sister awake but she is very drowsy. She starts to complain about her stomach hurting. I try to get her up to take her to the bathroom, and then she tells me she is going to throw up. I just know we aren't going to make it so I find a plastic bag- she promptly throws up in the bag. Oh dear Lord. When I think she is done we get up to walk to the bathroom- I tell brother to watch our stuff and stay there. There are other families around so I feel fairly safe leaving him there- but guilty too. Sister throws up again in the bathroom. Remember the lady that was putting up a fuss in the check in line? She shows up and asks what she can do to help. She wanted to give sister something to settle her stomach- turns out she is a nurse. Sister refuses and I tell her I think if she just goes back to sleep she will be ok.
Thank God I was right! We got on the plane- I took advantage of the pre-boarding for those with small children. My children aren't exactly "small" as in toddlers- but damn it I am by myself with two kids- I am getting on! No one said a thing to me either. *smile*
Finally we are on the plane! Yippee! I never thought I would get there... the kids are happy and promptly fall asleep. I just sit back and relax- I am hoping we can just sleep the whole 12 hours...