>So I pick up where I left off… Animal Kingdom. I could go back to Disney World and never enter the gates of Animal Kingdom again. Matt and I had been there years ago and we told ourselves that the main reason we didn’t like it then was because it was so new and very few attractions were open. Nope, just don’t like it. Hayden enjoyed Expedition Everest, but his favorite ride of the week was the Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios. We all enjoyed the Nemo show, but not enough to make us spend a day there just to see it. So, when we take Parker in 5-6 years, we’ll do 2 Magic Kingdom Days, 2 Hollywood Studios Days, and 1 Epcot day.
We had half a day left on our tickets after Animal Kingdom and had planned on going back to Magic Kingdom for a few hours, but we decided we’d rather go back to our hotel and prepare for our flight the next day. We stopped by Target and got a few odds and ends before returning to the hotel. Matt took the car to be cleaned and the boys got settled in with their Legos while I began the serious task of packing our stuff. It looked like we were going to need to purchase another duffle bag to fit the expansion of our belongings. I had done this before we left Colorado and ended up with a couple too many, so I gave those extras to my mom. I was determined that I was not going to have to re-purchase bags… it was the principle of the matter! The next day as I was able to get serious and pack things for real (meaning I could pack everything since we had already showered and put on new clothes) I was able to get all our things in the suitcases we had.
When Tuesday came we were given a measly 2 hour extended check out. We would have appreciated being allowed to stay in the hotel until 3-4 but the manager was not very giving. I was quite nervous about what to do with the boys for 7 hours in the airport so we drove the three miles to check it out. Matt dropped me off at the correct departing airline gate and I walked in and looked around. I found this airport to be MUCH more conducive to waiting with children than the one in Charlotte. In Charlotte, as soon as you walk in the door, you’re faced with the baggage check desks. There is nowhere to go other than the desks, then through security. This would be fine if we were within 3 hours prior to our departing flight, but since we were getting there 7 hours early we couldn’t check our baggage yet. BUT PRAISE THE LORD, the Orlando Airport is mostly open to all visitors and you don’t have to check your bags or go through security to get to the restaurants and stores. While I was scoping it out I saw there were many groupings of chairs and tables which gave me so much relief! I left the airport knowing that while the specific prayers I had prayed were not answered the way I had asked them to be (for there to be someplace to store our luggage, etc) the prayers were answered in a different way.
After we went back to our room Matt left to drop off our van. It will arrive in Germany no later than 8 Jan. Oh, I do hope it’s before then! While he was gone I inventoried our luggage. This was for my own peace of mind in case we arrived in Germany missing something. I wanted to easily know which piece was missing and a general idea of what was inside. As I rearranged stuff to fit and to hopefully be under the 50 lb mark, I wrote a number on the luggage tag with a Sharpie. After I numbered each bag and listed the contents, I put neon green curling ribbon on the top. Down in lobby I took a picture of the boys in front of the mountain of luggage. Quite funny!
After being dropped off at the airport, we rented 3 of those carts and filled them as full as we could. Here’s our breakdown: 10 checked bags, 7 carry-0n bags, 3 car seats, 3 kids, 1 stroller, 1 dad, and 1 pregnant lady. HA! It was a sight! But we found a great place to turn into our mini home for a few hours.
We took turns running for food while the other parent stayed with the luggage and kids and ate lunch pretty late, around 2. (During the day I splurged and had 3 of my favorite Fast Foods: Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, and Krispy Kreme! YES, they had KK in the airport!!) The boys played with Legos, they colored, they played UNO, and for the most part, they did just fine. During our time waiting Matt took a few of the heavier pieces of luggage to the scales and found that only one was over weight, and by only 5 lbs. So he rearranged it and all the bags were within our limit. At around 5 pm we went to get in the massively long line of people flying to Germany and it only took about 20 minutes to get through the line to the desk where we checked our bags. Then it took about another 15 minutes to get our stuff handed over. We returned our carts, receiving $0.25 back for each of them out of the $4.00 per cart we had spent. Oh well. They were a necessity.
Then we were off to security. The nice lady saw our posse coming and sent us through a new line and with relative ease we were cleared to go through the gate. After picking up some Burger King for the boys we sat and waited for our flight. I got to speak with my brother, my mom, and Anna before we boarded the plane.
Our flight was long, 9 hours, but pretty painless, I guess. The food was gross so I’m really glad someone suggested we feed the boys something before we boarded. Our first taste of Germany was the water… one of the boys wanted water with their dinner and they got “bubble water.” Plain soda water, which is gross! I tried several times during the flight to just get plain water, which I knew they had because I had seen it when the flight attendant walked by. I ended up slightly dehydrated since I hadn’t eaten since 2 pm and was only able to get about 3 small glasses of plain water all evening. I felt parched and worried that the dehydration sickness I had experienced before was going to kick in. I think it was starting to toward the end because I started feeling queasy, which is rare for me. I found my Seabands and that helped me make it through the rest of the flight.
I watched 2 movies and 2 TV shows, thankful to have the ability to pause, rewind, and select what I wanted to watch. I didn’t sleep at all because I was afraid my boys would to do the stranger next to them what the toddler next to me was doing to me. She was completely asleep and sprawled on her mom with her feet facing me. Every now and then she’d try to stretch out (who wouldn’t?!?) and her feet would land on my stomach or arm. At one point she kicked so hard I grunted and it actually made the mom pay attention. I’m not sure which I disliked more… the kicking or when she’d lay her head on my arm rest, getting all in my personal space. I eventually stuck a pillow between us so at least there was some layer of distance between us. I was terrified my boys would do this to some poor stranger that I stayed up watching. Bailey slept upright the entire time, and Carson and Hayden, who were seated next to each other, slept with their heads sharing pillows on the same arm rest. For the most part they weren’t a bother. Around 2 am (east coast time) Hayden yelled out, “WE’RE HERE!!” I was so glad he didn’t wake anyone and that he went right back to sleep.
I enjoyed watching the flight on the map. I tracked us all the way across the ocean and into Frankfurt. It was a lot like watching a pot of water boil so I tried to focus mainly on the movies. I had packed a lot of stuff for the boys to do and had planned on getting my pictures from Disney edited while on the flight, but the space was so limited and the bags were stored in overhead compartments, so we just made do with the TVs. No one complained and we arrived at 5:15 am (east coast time) after eating a breakfast around 3:30 am…that was strange. Local time was 11:15 am and we made it through the passport guy with ease. All our luggage arrived and our Sponsor was waiting for us as soon as we walked out the door.
Our ride from the airport to the hotel was uneventful and we were able learn from Matt’s Chaplain assistant, who has lived here for much of his life. (Dad was Army, mom is German.) We’re fortunate to have someone who is so familiar with Germany to work with! Matt had to ride on a charter bus to do some serious in-processing so the assistant and our Sponsor brought the boys and me to the hotel. While checking in the hotel clerk said someone had dropped off some stuff for us. The hotel gives a bag to each guest that has paper towels and a few snacks. Our bag was stuffed to the brim with juice boxes, poptarts, popcorn, oatmeal cookies, nutrigrain bars, and more. There was a card on it and it was signed by another Chaplain and his wife! How thoughtful! It was such a treat to have someone think of us and have something ready for us the moment we arrived! Our Sponsor has been super and has gotten us well set up. AND, on top of all that, we received in invitation from Matt’s Brigade Chaplain to spend Thanksgiving with them. As it turns out, we had met this family at Jackson several years ago so they aren’t strangers! And our Sponsor and his wife will be there as well as the Chaplain and wife who gave us the treats at the hotel! We are amazed and blessed and we have only been here 24 hours.
Last night we ate dinner in the hotel downstairs which was pricy but it turned out to be a really good meal. Plus, we have a fridge and microwave so our leftovers will be consumed sometime soon! After dinner we walked to the PX. It’s probably about a mile and a half away, and after a week at Disney, seems like nothing. We purchased a few things that will make hotel-living easier: adapters so we can charge our computers, laundry detergent (since I accidentally left mine at the Disney hotel), and a huge rubbermaid box with lid for the massive quantities of Legos the boys got from the grandparents for Christmas.
(Oh, cool, I’m hearing a police car outside and it’s so “European.” I’ve only heard that sound on TV before!).
Between our hotel and the PX is the hospital I’ve been told that I’ll have Parker at so it was neat to see.
When we got home we got the boys settled in “their room” and that is a beautiful thing! The last time we had 2 rooms was the 8th of NOV in Colorado. It didn’t make much sense to spend double the money for suites or two rooms when we were traveling, but now that we’re parked for a while, it becomes worth it. We set them up with popcorn, juice boxes, and headed to bed. I think I was asleep before 10 and our entire family slept until 8:30. We had to get up then and rush downstairs for breakfast. I’ll laugh at that 6 months from now because I’ll know of so many pastry places that will blow this place out of the water, but for now, I just want something close and free. Breakfast ended at 9 so we got moving.
Now the boys are in their room watching a movie with Matt while I update this journal. If I don’t do it every few days, I’ll forget and will regret not taking the time.
As today is Thanksgiving I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. I’m extremely thankful that even though we’re not with our family on this day we are still part of amazing families who will think of us and are praying for us as we start this new adventure. I’m thankful that God has ordained our steps and that this Thanksgiving was planned years before I was even born and he set in place the very people we are to be with today, some of whom I’ve never met. I’m thankful for a Country worth defending and for the chance to see other parts of the world as a result of my husband’s obedience to the Lord. I’m thankful for Benedryl that clears itchy hives even though it makes me want to take a nap. And I’m thankful that it’s Thanksgiving, a day made just for napping!