Monday and Tuesday were the last days of school. I started packing in earnest, while trying to keep the kids out of trouble. As soon as Megan and Gavin got home on the last day of school (at noon), they were gone. Gavin headed to a birthday party and Megan went out with her friends and was gone for hours. Wednesday I finished packing and double-checking everything. I wanted to be very, very prepared.
Thursday morning I woke up early, showered, and fed the kids a quick bite before we headed to the airport. Christopher had just enough time to get us through security before he needed to be at a work meeting. He later had to return to the airport for a business trip to Florida. I had no trouble getting to my gate, and as soon as I got there I boarded. I had the double jogger stroller, which I folded to go under the plane, my four kids, four backpacks and my diaper bags. We took a TON of snacks, games, and toys on that plane.
One thing I didn’t take was a car seat. I bought a CARES harness from the consignment shop for Ben, which was a good investment. Our flight from Seattle to Detroit left right on time, and was about four hours long. There were individual TV screens in the seats with on demand programming. Megan and Gavin were completely entertained. They could have sat there forever watching those movies and shows. Ben watched the one episode of Phineas and Ferb about three times, and then he was bored of TV. We did more snacks, we played Leapster, we did stickers and magnets and more snacks. I busted out my emergency candy way too early. It was the little candies that are stuck on the paper, so you have to pick them off one by one. That lasted another half hour. We took multiple bathroom breaks and walked the length of the plane a few times.
About halfway into the flight, Logan got fussy. I put Megan in charge of Ben and tried to get him to sleep in the Ergo. He calmed down but wouldn’t fall asleep. I sat back down in our fourth seat, across the aisle from my kids. I wondered how the couple next to me would do as he got progressively fussier. Christopher had prayed, before we left the house, that the people around me would help me. As I started chatting with the couple, I realized my prayers had been answered. They had five grown kids, their first grandbaby, and he called her “The Baby Whisperer.” She cooed at Logan, and in just a few minutes he closed his eyes.
Well, around that time Ben was done, and Megan couldn’t control him any more. I asked the husband, who was next to me, if he wouldn’t mind holding a sleeping baby. As I passed Logan to him, he said, “Don’t worry, I’m an OB-GYN.” Unfortunately, Logan didn’t transfer, and woke up when he realized someone else was holding him. However, Mr. OB-GYN (I didn’t get his name, his wife was Pam, though) said, “We’d love to hold him.” I took care of Ben. Pam and her husband held Logan for the remaining 90 minutes of the flight. They played with him, they fed him snacks, they held him tight during turbulence.
When I got off that plane, I was so thankful our prayers had been answered. We made our way through the Detroit airport, got some McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and headed through the cool lights and music tunnel. I was feeling pretty great knowing our trip would be over in about three hours. Easy as pie.
We got to our gate, B5. Not Charlotte. That’s weird, I thought, and we checked the monitor again. It now said C4. Huh, that’s weird. Maybe I looked at it wrong, I thought. As we moved to C4, a clap of thunder shook the terminal, and I saw multiple flashes of lightning.
That’s not good. I managed to catch a glimpse of a TV weather report. The entire country was crystal clear, with a small but severe thunderstorm moving through Michigan.
Our 5:55 flight was pushed to 6:40. That’s okay, I thought. We can do 45 minutes. We got to C4. Not Charlotte. “Charlotte got moved to Bravo-18, hon,” the agent said. Also, the flight was bumped to 7:00 p.m.
On our way to B18, we got Wendy’s Frosties. After we ate them, I let Megan and Gavin sit on the floor and play with Logan and a few toys while I walked up and back on the moving sidewalks about 50 times. Then we walked down to B18. NOT CHARLOTTE. Checked the monitor. C34.
We walked all the way from B18 to B1 and then to the very end of the C terminal. It was almost 6:30. Our plane, arriving from some small Midwest airport, had been grounded in the storm and was delayed. “It’ll land at 7:15,” they told us. Then 7:45.
When it landed, it sat on the tarmac. Apparently, there was no one available to direct it 50 feet to the gate and connect the breezeway. Our three-person crew (one pilot, one co-pilot, and one flight attendant) started looking at their watches. Around the time that plane was unloading, our crew got up and left. “Union rules,” they said. “Sixteen hours and we are done.”
So I, my four kids, and the 40 other passengers on Delta 4036, delayed three hours and on our fifth gate (we were at C36 by this time) sat there and looked at an empty plane and waited for a crew. Actually most people were standing. I was chasing Ben around. Logan took a brief nap in the Ergo while I chased Ben around and Megan and Gavin played DS.
The next announcement was, “Attention Delta 4036 to Charlotte, your gate is changing to C6.” Audible groan. I started getting a lot of nice comments from my fellow passengers. “You have the patience of Job,” said Lois, who brought me a few packs of peanut butter crackers. “I don’t know how you are doing this,” said many others.
We got back down to the C1-C7 section of the terminal and set up with some coloring books and crayons. Megan chatted it up with a random man, who looked mildly sympathetic. After half an hour, they changed our gate. Again. C26. Up the elevator. Again. Down the C terminal. Again. As we were almost to our gate, someone flagged me down. Mildly-sympathetic-random-man had followed me all the way, running probably, because I had dropped my Ergo back at C6. Prayer answered again.
We had a plane, but still no crew. People were getting irritated, and then irate. The counter agents had no clue what was going on. They said the supervisor was “attending to another issue,” which we took to meant he/she was home in bed. They said our crew was landing at 10:45 and would be there soon.
Fellow passengers continued to offer to help. I let a businessman push Logan and Ben up and down the terminal while I sat with our bags. A woman about my age offered to chase Ben around for awhile. When a family member later commented, “I can’t believe you let strangers take your children in an airport!” I said, “If someone had wanted to kidnap my child, that would have been a really elaborate plan. This group of people had been together for four hours now, and at SEVEN different gates.”
After 11, a three-person crew showed up to take us to Charlotte. We broke out in cheers. I was really worried I’d have to spend the night in Detroit, and I didn’t know what I’d do. Where would I get car seats? A Pack n Play? Thankfully, our plane left Detroit at midnight. Even better, it only felt like 9 p.m. to us.
Still, it was late for the kids. Megan and Gavin happily played DS and Ben and Logan crashed. They fussed until we got in the air and then the dark, droning plane lulled them right to sleep. They were still out cold when we landed in Charlotte at 1:45 a.m.
Of course, there was no one in Charlotte to connect a breezeway, so we had to walk down the stairs off the plane. I had the returning Mormon missionary sitting in the seat behind me take a backpack, along with another helpful man. I strapped Logan on my back (thankfully I didn’t lose my Ergo!) and had to carry a dead-weight Ben down the stairs. My parents had pitched a fit because there was no one working (Delta or TSA) to let them back to the gate to help me, so some poor baggage guy met me at the plane and led us through the underbelly of the airport (we got to see the baggage conveyor belts, very cool!) all the way to baggage claim, where we finally met up with Poppy, Grammy, and Allison.
Poppy and Allison drove the car with Megan and Gavin. They got the good deal. Grammy and I had Logan and Ben, who both cried (Logan screamed!) for the last hour of the flight. At 3 a.m. we got home and got the kids to bed. They slept straight until 10 a.m. I felt great when I woke up.
The whole experience is just a great story now. I really need to write a complaining letter to Delta. They owe me a free flight voucher for sure. At any rate, I got nothing but positive comments. It was exhausting, but I stayed calm and the kids were really great. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to do a lot of traveling in the future. I’m so thankful Christopher prayed that I’d have help. When we return, I’ll make sure we also pray for good weather and on-time flights!
As soon as we woke up and had breakfast Tim and Ethan took the kids to the children’s museum. Logan took a nap and we did stuff around the house. Mom and I ran to Target. When everyone got home, Ben took a nap with my mom, and I put Logan down for a second nap and fell asleep with him. By dinnertime, everyone seemed rested again. Caitlin had made vegetable lasagna. After we went swimming at the Titus’ pool. It was Logan’s first time swimming, and he loved it.
Saturday we cleaned and the boys did yard work. We stopped at the Farmer’s Market, which is nothing like other farmers markets, it’s all concrete and you can drive through! We did get some delicious produce, though: tomatoes, watermelon, squash, peaches, and cucumbers. After we went swimming in Gaston. We sent Megan, Gavin, Ben, and Atticus home with Grammy and Caitlin and I and the babies stayed with Great-Grandma and chatted. Maybe for longer than Mom wanted… when I got home Ben was in the neighbor’s pool, again, with Poppy.
Megan desperately needed some summer clothes so we went shopping. Caitlin, I, and Tallulah went, too. Shopping for Megan is getting progressively more difficult. Trying to find stylish, modest clothes that straddle the line between not-too-young and not-too-old is tough. I knew I needed Grammy’s help, and we found some cute things.
Today was a typical Sunday. Church, naps, roast for dinner. Grandma and Earl came over for a while. The kids played outside and got sweaty. I bathed Ben, and then he went back outside AND ate watermelon. Another bath. Eventually, everyone went to bed. Because it’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.