Our eagerly anticipated trip to the States to see family and friends and participate in Jayson’s brother’s wedding has come and gone. It was a wonderful time in so many ways, but I am reminded of the challenges of traveling with three small children as I reflect back on those three weeks.
To write all the details would take more than a blog post, and likely bore most people, so I’ll try to offer some highlights.
Our 3am flight from Cairo to Amsterdam required us to wake the girls at midnight for the one-hour trip to the airport, checking in two hours before the flight. For some reason, these two girls who sleep from 8pm to 8am most every night of their life, are always wide awake once we get them up for this middle-of-the-night flight. Their energy and enthusiasm at the beginning of the trip is enjoyable, but we know that toward the end of this two-flight, fifteen-hour trip, their over-tiredness will overtake them. None of us slept during the first flight, but I was so thankful when both Emma and Hannah konked out upon take-off on the second flight. Unfortunately, something woke both of them up about 40 minutes into the flight, bringing tears to our sensitive, exhausted 2 year old and boredom to the other. All in all, the trip went pretty well with two adults and three girls under 4, but the leg of the journey from Amsterdam to New York was a bit long for us all!
Meeting the four grandparents at the airport washed away all the tiredness and frustration for awhile, as the girls ran up and gave squeezes to all. It was the first time the two grandfathers got to meet our newborn, so the cameras were busy capturing those moments.
And, it always helps to have eight more hands to carry the three girls and luggage we brought with us. Tayta (grandmother) packed some lunches for us to eat in the car which was much appreciated by most, but reminded us all of Emma and Hannah’s tendency to get carsick. Welcome to America … where’s the bucket? Little did we know that would be a theme throughout our trip! Glad we picked up extra “air-sickness” bags in the plane.
We can’t ask for better accommodations when we are staying in America for a short time. Most of the time we are with Jayson’s family who loves to spoil the only grandchildren on that side. We have three rooms upstairs to sleep in, plus the formal living room for me to pack/unpack in, the family room which houses the girls’ toys that Emma remembered so well, and the kitchen where we eat much more than is necessary. We are truly all spoiled. Another great benefit is the side trips the girls can take with their grandparents to the library for story time, or the park for some swinging. This gives Jayson some time to keep up with his work in Egypt, and me some time to run around and gather all the gear we want to take back with us. This time, we even got to spend a night away by ourselves, which is a rare treat, and is another story in itself.
All in all, we slept in four different locations, although Jayson took a side trip giving him five spots, and logged many miles on a graciously loaned minivan driving from Central New Jersey to Eastern PA to Central PA, back through Eastern PA on the way to Washington DC and finally ending our time in Central New Jersey. Our home in Eastern PA was new to us all as my parents moved in the last year. It was a beautiful spot for the girls to play in, both inside and outside.
The guest room upstairs, which was prepared at least partially with them in mind, was perfect, as was the whole second floor which we had all to ourselves. Our youngest got to sleep in a cradle handed down through generations which first held my great grandfather over 125 years ago.
Life is different in PA as our three girls are joined by 11 other cousins and we got to spend a little time with all of them. We went on a few outings with two of the closest-in-age cousins including McDonald’s Playland, Friendly’s ice cream, and a picnic in the park.
Almost all the cousins got together for a rousing game of bowling,
and the next day enjoyed each other’s company at a big family dinner at the new house. Emma and Hannah blended in with all the cousins as if they hadn’t been thousands of miles away for the last year. It was a wonderful time to watch them ride bikes and play together. One of the highlights too, was going out to dinner with all my siblings and parents … just the adults! Great for us, and fun for the girls as two of their cousins babysat!
Life got interesting as we took an overnight trip to central PA. The girls wore out two of their uncles tackling them and running them around for two hours at a local park.
They enjoyed being read to and playing games with M&M’s and attending soccer practice where their uncles coach. The excursion would have been perfect, if not for a broken down car two hours before we planned to leave for the other side of PA, and then about six episodes of car-sickness in our borrowed vehicle which got us to our destination by about 2am.
We were really having a great time with so many different people, and the girls were sleeping well wherever we went. Unfortunately, Emma was sick on her birthday, so she got to visit a doctor in America, and couldn’t eat cake on her special day, but she was a trooper and enjoyed her brand new Candy Land and Play-Do Spaghetti Factory despite not feeling well.
We were so busy going to and fro that it was almost hard to remember that the reason we came to America hadn’t even happened yet! Our last weekend there, we headed to DC for the big wedding. All the family gathered, but pity poor Uncle Michael, who got our car repaired and was rewarded with the smell of car-sickness all the way there.
Coming soon: The Wedding…