Jon’s alarm went off at 3:15am and it hurt! I roused the kids one by one and got them dressed, saving Jack for last since he’s my deepest sleeper. Joci never even woke up while I changed her and Jude fell right back to sleep before I could put his shoes on. Once we finally got Jack fully awake his excitement was enough to stir the others and within a few minutes everyone was up and at ‘em—oozing with the excitement of their first flight!
Packing was a bit of a challenge for this leg of our journey. We were actually allowed two checked bags per person at no-charge, since we were military traveling on orders. But we didn’t think we could handle all that luggage plus kids in the airport. So although it would have been nice to bring along some extras, we narrowed it down to one checked bag and one carry-on per person, and one extra bag for Jon with all his uniforms since he’d be starting work right away.
|This was obviously within the first two minutes because I don't think she carried her suitcase ever again that day!|
|So tired, so chill.|
That ended up being more than enough since the girls especially struggled with pulling their suitcases and the rest of us shouldered their load. We had to drop the rental car off by 4am and then wait for a shuttle to take us to the airport. The shuttle was jam-packed and the lines at the airport were long as well—surprising for so early a weekday morning! It was right around this time that the lack of sleep started to hit Joci. When Joci is overtired she gets in one of her angry moods (something we’ve seen a lot of these past few weeks) where she fights being held, but makes a run for it the second her feet hit the ground. So while Jon was checking in our family, I was alternately chasing a toddler throughout the airport or securing her to my lap with the straightjacket hold.
|The toddler tries to make a run for it!|
|That moment when you DON'T enjoy being held by your mom!|
The TSA line was long too. Phase 2 of an overtired Joci is when she finally settles down and just wants to be held. So that’s what I did the entire time we waited in line. Thankfully, we got in the fast check line and didn’t have to take off and put on the kids’ shoes!
Then began the long trek to our gate where the girls and I parked ourselves while waiting for the boys to purchase coffee and breakfast. We had arrived just in time to view our final Maryland sunrise. Between that and all the airport traffic, the kids were constantly entertained!
|Last Maryland sunrise!|
Jon had reserved us 3 seats in a row/one row in front of the other (conveniently located near the restrooms), so we could all stick together. He sat with the boys and I sat with the girls. Taking off and the flight itself were pretty anti-climactic. Nobody screamed or cried … or were ovely excited for that matter. I think the trip to Knoebels earlier in the week helped. Apparently taking off in an airplane is no big deal compared to rollercoaster rides!
|She was highly entertained by the seat remote.|
The kids did pretty well and our backpack “fun bags” kept them entertained for the whole flight. The biggest challenge was sleep. Julia slept over half the flight (Jack got a decent nap in at the end as well), but Jude and Joci were wide-awake the entire time. And since my toddler’s attention was held by each item for approximately 5 minutes, I literally spent the whole flight taking new things out of her backpack and putting old things away … every 5 minutes.
|Alphabet cookies from the Dollar Store.|
|Sticky letters from the Target Dollar Spot.|
|Stupid plastic tea set from the Dollar Store that she picked out and (surprise, surprise) it was her favorite toy on the trip!|
|Lots of movie watching going on in the seat behind us.|
|Paw Patrol AquaDoodle mat from Target Clearance endocarp!|
|Frozen puzzle--4/$1 at the Dollar Store!|
|Coming in for a landing!|
We were supposed to have a one-hour layover in San Francisco before our second flight to Honolulu. Joci fell asleep almost at the same moment the wheels hit the runway. And then we sat on the tarmac for almost an hour. We had a small delay leaving Baltimore and now an even longer delay waiting to pull into our gate. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on our second flight.
The captain asked that those who did not have a tight connection allow those that did to exit the plane first. But after the long wait, nobody let anyone off first. Which did not bode well for those of us at the back of the plane.
Joci continued to nap while the other kids started whining that they had to go potty. But they weren’t letting anyone out of their seats. When we finally disembarked (me carrying a sleeping toddler plus carry-ons) we made a run for our next gate promising the kids we could take a potty-break once we arrived. We reached our gate 4 minutes after the slated departure time and the plane was nowhere in sight. We had officially missed our flight.
By now, all the running and jostling had roused Joci, who was not happy. The kids were all weary of carrying luggage. And we still desperately needed a potty break. As we started seeking out the customer service desk to try and change our flight, I couldn’t carry Joci another step. Naturally, she threw herself onto the floor screaming that she couldn’t walk. So I started following the rest of the group, hoping that the fact that the rest of the family was moving on would encourage her to get to her feet. It did, but not in the way that I hoped. Our little runner jumped up and made a dash in the opposite direction with her little ladybug backpack bouncing behind her. Clearly, all my worst fears about traveling with small children were going to come true at the same time.
In the end, I chased down my tiny escapee, Jon booked tickets for the next flight to Honolulu (which was departing only 1.5 hours later), everyone got a potty break, and we even had a chance to sit down and eat lunch after 9 hours of traveling. What was initially a disaster turned out to be a much-needed rest before embarking on yet another 6 hour flight.
|Not a happy traveler!|
|Waiting for our second flight.|
The downside to being squeezed on the next flight out was that we couldn’t all sit together. This was a much bigger plane with 5 seats in the middle and 2 on each side. Jon and the boys sat near the front and the girls and I were towards the back, meshed between a kindly, older gentlemen from our previous flight and a young, former Coastguardsman. In other words, neither were accustomed to children. But both were very kind and gracious.
(Random sidenote about the older gentlemen sitting next to Julia crocheting a washcloth for the son he was visiting in Kailua. Today (3 weeks later), a yard crew showed up to do some work on our plants. I was telling the one guy our story--how we're Coast Guard, just arrived, are camping out in the house--he stopped me and asked where we had flown in from. When I told him BWI, he said that his dad was the sweet man that sat next to us. Apparently, he had told his son about the Coastie family he flew in with and their move to Hawaii!)
We were in the front of the section, which meant lots of leg room but no small space to sequester wriggly children. And Joci was getting very wriggly at this point. Unfortunately, this was also the point where we started to experience a lot of turbulence and girlfriend here just WOULD NOT let me buckle her seat belt. So I put her in my own death grip and hoped the flight attendants would let it slide. Then the good Lord had mercy on my weary mama soul because within minutes she grew tired and limp and soon was out completely. I held her for a while, enjoying those rare moments when a toddler is actually still, until Lia had to use the restroom. Then I nestled Joci in a chair and she slept there for around 3 hours soooo … hallelujah!
Lia spent most of the flight enjoying her free snacks and beverages and playing with her Kindle and backpack toys. I tried to take a nap a few times, but was unsuccessful since my 4YO required my assistance or attention at least every 5 minutes. But with Joci sleeping, the flight was already 75% easier! And I finished my book, so yay!
The only other thing I remember about this flight was the potty breaks. My girls found the teeny, tiny toilets so fascinating that, once they had made one visit, they suddenly had to go potty much more frequently than usual. I don’t even know how to describe trying to squeeze into an airplane restroom with a kid (and helping them put on and take off their pants with no room to bend.) So I’ll just let your imagination take over with this one.
Joci woke up with about 2.5 hours remaining in the flight, so the rest of the trip was spent with me simply trying to keep my two girls from annoying the people next to us. I think I was mildly successful. My one disappointment was we didn’t have a window seat. My first views of our new home were craning my neck over several fellow passengers and glimpsing a few peaks of the mountains that would very soon capture my heart!
We arrived. We disembarked. We garnered lots of stares ushering our 4 small children through the airport and towards the baggage claim. (Is it just me or are tiny children weighed down by big backpacks the cutest thing ever?!?) In Honolulu, the trek from the gate to baggage claim is all outdoors. So we got our first taste of Hawaii warmth meandering through a maze of travelers and walkways.
We arrived at the baggage claim and saw our first familiar sight—a Coast Guard uniform. But even better, this one was worn by a co-worker bearing leis for the whole family. Aloha kids, welcome to Hawaii. Welcome home!