I would like to say first that, I will not be doing that again alone :-)!! There were some moments I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry so I did both. God kept reminding me the whole trip that his grace is sufficient and he never puts us through anything we can't handle with his help. I guess you would have to ask my kids to get their perspective but I feel I remained fairly calm and stable through out the trip. I cried a little but nothing out of control :-)! (My sister enjoys it when I cry because I am not a cryer).
Well, our trip started off Sunday afternoon. We had said goodbye to our church family that morning. We left for Budapest and met the Tyler's for KFC lunch in Timisoara. They had just returned from the states the week before so we wanted to see them again before takin off. We arrived in a town near the Budapest airport and attempted to go to bed early. It was difficult to sleep in the little twin beds and with the heat of the rooms, the rooms cooled off finally after the sun went down. I believe the kids got in about 8 hours of sleep that night so I was pleased with that.
Our day started Monday morning at 5:00 a.m. We were heading to the airport at 6:00 a.m. The adventure that seems like we have been waiting for forever was finally here! Baron got us to the airport got us checked in then we were on our own, through the first security check of many. I tried to organize us throuh this but it seemed through every security check I had to be delving out commands to the children, put your back pack in this box, go through the check one at a time, wait on the other side etc... We didn't have to take our shoes off though and we didn't wear belts or anything else that we had to take on and off. Our flight to London was uneventful.
We arrived in London and went through security again, they had a family line and were very helpful in calling the kids through one at a time, two of the kids "beeped" and had to be searched. Made it through to our flight to London and we were on what I thought would be the hardest part of the trip...little did I know! The flight was 8 hours and 30 minutes long. The kids were entertained almost the whole time with the movies and kids shows, they watched Kung Fu Panda 2, Rio, and some other cartoons and animal shows. Since my kids don't watch tv much they were enraptured for almost 6 hours of movie and tv watching!! Everything was great until the last hour of the flight when Spencer got motion sickness and started to vomit. He gave me warning though and we made it to the bathroom everytime. The trouble came when it was time to land...I moved Nate across the aisle next to Gina and sat next to Spencer and Joey. We were landing and not allowed to get up and Spencer started to violently throw up, we had a barf bag when all of the sudden with no warning, Joey vomits all over himself (and no I didn't not have a change of clothes with us!!) arms with barf bags were coming at me in all directions...at that point I think I almost chuckled because it was just to funny to be true! I don't think the people around us or the flight attendent will ever forget the family with 6 kids in their red shirts and all the vomiting!! So, now the fun begins, you would think that the vomiting would stop since we had landed but poor Spencer just kept on, by this point it became dry heaves though because he had nothing left in his stomach. We had about 8 barf bags on us. So, I'm trying to be excited about landing in America with the twins but poor Spencer was so miserable and Joey had puke all over him! He cleaned up as best he could with wet wipes (thanks Rebekah for telling me to bring wet wipes). In Chicago we had to go through customs and immigration. We had to get all our luggage which meant 3 carts and poor Spencer had to push one as he is literally vomiting ever 10 minutes as we are walking through the airport. We first went through the first agent and he stamped our passports and then sent us to the immigration agent. First we had to get our luggage. Big challenge, then we went to the agent and it only actually took about 10 minutes. He opened their big envelopes and told me, they are citizens, just go to the social security office to get their numbers issued and you can get them passports anytime! It was hard to be excited with little Spencer still vomiting. We then had to put all our luggage through a security check, it all had to go on the conveyer belt and through the xray, then we had to load it back up on the carts and go get rid of it again. We realized that at the security check we had swapped one bag with someone else, so we had to stand around and wait as Spencer continues to vomit for someone to find our bag and bring it to us...I almost just abandoned that bag (Kendra's car seat) but we waited and it came. Then we come out into the Chicago airport and there are people everywhere and reporters everywhere, I have no idea who was coming but it must have been someone important and they must have been a little bored waiting because one reporter hollered out to me, "hey, m'am, we would like to interview you on what it's like to travel with so many kids!" And then he started laughing! We transfer over to domestic flights and look on the screen and low and behold our flight to Charlotte says cancelled! I didn't panic yet, surely I thought there would be another flight out. We had to go wait in a very long line to talk to a ticketing agent, had to leave the line with the whole family as Spencer was just so violently ill. Came back and asked the people to let us back in line where we were. We get up to the agent and she tells me there are no more flights out tonight and that is when the tears started to flow, Spencer at this poing was laying on the floor sleeping, the other kids were sitting on the place where they weigh the bags. The agent tells me there is a flight out tomorrow but we have to go through New York and get to Charlotte at almost 4 the next afternoon and that she can get me a discount on a hotel and I started crying and told her I couldn't afford a hotel! Then she told me that maybe we could sleep in cots in the airport and I really started crying, and then Zach started crying. She then went to talk to her supervisor, and I decided I would use the cash I had changed into dollars that the boys had saved up and just re pay them later when the agent came back and said her supervisor authorized her to give us a hotel vouture and food vouture. It literally took over an hour with the ticket agent to get everything worked out. The hotel was the Renaissance Hotel and she told me my food vouture would go farther at the airport then at the hotel but I didn't want to go back into the airport and the vouture was for $84 and I knew my kids wouldn't eat that much food. The agent asked me to just wait a few moments more and she went to the vending machine with her own money and bought us some bags of big pretzals and gave us some granola bars she had. We walk again to find the hotel shuttle and wait for a while when we finally spot the shuttle for the hotel. Spencer is still vomiting. We got to the hotel and my kids are in awe..."wow, this is like a palace!" They put us in a room with 2 double beds and a pull out couch. I order some food we eat, and are in bed by 8p.m. and as soon as the kids heads hit the pillows, they are out like a light. I slept from 8 until midnight when Spencer got up to vomit again and then I couldn't go back to sleep due to the jet lag. I was so thankful though that all the kids slept through until about 4:30 a.m.
So, our day Tuesday started at 4:30. We split some breakfast from Starbucks and take the 7 a.m. airport shuttle. We arrived early enough that there wasn't a long line at the ticket agent and got our tickets and once again, went through security, taking off our shoes this time and putting all our back packs through the x ray. They also had a family line for us to go through. I forgot to mention a couple funny things. Zachary on the London flight told me, "mom, I like what they say when they ask to take my trash, 'may I collect your rubbish'" he thought that was so funny. He also at one point said, "mom, I get the feeling we are being watched." And sure enough we were watched and approached many times with the question, "are they all yours?" I was very thankful for their behavior and thankful for the comments on how well behaved my children were :-). Airport food is soo expensive, so I bought a few bananas and we split those. Made our flight to NY, and had a short lay over in NY where we only ate a box of Ritz crackers due to the prices again of airport food! We finally arrived in Charlotte where our bags were already waiting for us in the luggage office. We went out and found Papa Mac and breathed a sigh of relief!
There were several nice people along the way of our journey who stopped and just were so kind when we were in distress Monday late afternoon and evening. I can't tell you how kind God was to us along the way, I am just unable to put it into words. I did want to share this story as much as possible and thank those who were praying for us because your prayers are what kept me sane the whole trip!