Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The stuff botched plans are made of.

Family vacations.
The stuff that botched plans are made of! ;)
Be ready for the unexpected, even for a change in plans if need be.

Let's backtrack so I can tell you how this Disney vacation came to be.
Sometime late last winter, perhaps January or so, I came across some info on the web about Disney giving out free park entry tickets in exchange for community service. Curious, I checked into it further and discovered that one of the options in my area was to remove invasive weeds (Garlic mustard, to be specific) from a prehistoric woods less than 5 minutes from our home. "Hmmm?"

Dh agreed it would be a great way to help our community and help our single income family enjoy our next vacation as well. Win, win.
So I signed us up for the first weekend in May.
It rained the night before and it was gray, chilly, and overcast the day of.
But it wasn't cancelled and we found ourselves wandering amid the mud and thick forest floor of weeds in search of the dreaded garlic mustard.
Three hours and 5 dirty family members later (Brandon was too young), we were on the official "free tickets" roster. Woohoo!

After many months of anticipation, our big travel day finally arrived. We had to awaken the children at just after 4am (ugh!), but they're seasoned stand-by travelers at this point so they know the routine.

  • Get up immediately.

  • Get dressed, brush teeth and hair.

  • Keep your crabbies in check.

A humongous black pullman suitcase, standard carry-on green pullman, requisite "Going to Grandma's" pink suitcase (even when not going to Grandma's), green toiletries carry-on, 6 carry-on jackets, carseat, booster seat, a purse, 2 bags of flight snacks, 4 children, 2 adults (and a partridge in a pair tree). Finally in the van, we were on our way.

We boarded the shuttle bus from the employee parking lot and that's when the "incidents" began. We all sat down on the available bus seats (after storing the ridiculous load mentioned above). The children sat on a 3 seat space, making room for the last child to try to sit down, who happened to be Reece. Okay, some of you newer readers don't know much about my Reece yet, but let me just say, he's the child blog entries are born of (the surface is merely scratched HERE.) ;)

"Heeey! Where am I supposed to sit?"
"Honey, they're making room for you. Sit down."
"But,...there isn't any room."
"Yes, they're making room. Sit down, please."
(Panic setting in) "But that's only a three seater and there's FOUR kids."
"It's fine, honey. Please sit down."
Overwhelmed and frustrated with Mom's clear lack of clue, Reece burst out into tears, plopped himself down on the floor right in the middle of the bus aisle, and pleaded tearfully, "I don't waaaant to sit on the floor."


Suffice it to say I dealt with the "incident", adding him to the other children on the seats and we were ready to move forward. The next bump came during boarding. We had our tickets scanned and were just through the boarding door, a family of six, bleary-eyed children staggering to and fro while dh and I struggled to keep them out of the way of other boarding passengers. I casually said, "Everyone's got their jackets, yes?"

Times two.

Now dh was a salmon, swimming upstream against the steady flow of passengers to retrieve our A.W.O.L jackets, which he believed had been left at security (gulp again!) Thankfully, they were abandoned in the boarding area so he quickly grabbed them and rejoined our somewhat disjointed party.

We arrived in Chicago with a two hour lay-over, plenty of time to use restrooms, grab a coffee, and to perhaps read a chapter of An Echo in the Darkness (book 2 of Francine River's Mark of the Lion series, which I cannot recommend enough. The historical setting of scripture will vividly come alive to you as Francine astounds you with the richness and depth of the characters she has written.) The dream was nice while it lasted.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have some news and it's not good news."
The aircraft's reverse thruster valve was not working. In any other airport, it wouldn't have been a deal breaker, but for John Wayne aiport (unique runway and noise reduction dynamics), it was a no-go item.
Praise God, though.
Another aircraft was being traded out.
No cancelled flight.
Just an additional 3 hour wait.
Yes, 2 hours (original layover) plus 3 hours (delay) equals a FIVE hour layover.
"Bet I'll get that chapter in now." ;)
Thankfully, dh tracked down the employee lounge, which was very large and spacious. We found a quiet area to sit down and read while the children played puzzles and read books that were provided.

Five hours and an expensive airport purchase of two bananas later, we were on our way again.
I sat with our two youngest, dh with our two oldest.
Cierah, our third child who (how to say this nicely?) is a bit absent-minded happy-go-lucky, needed to use the restroom during flight.
Being on an aisle seat, she hopped out and headed to the back of the aircraft.

I instantly knew it wouldn't go well as dh and I, on a previous trip, found even ourselves confused by the newer bathroom doors being installed on some aircraft. They are folding doors as opposed to hinged doors, and we've made complete fools of ourselves seen so many people struggle to figure the doors out. So sadly, I knew Cierah wouldn't succeed.
But then it got worse.
MUCH worse.

She didn't stop at the bathrooms, but rather staggered into the rear galley.
Oh no!
As fate would have it, no flight attendants were back there at thet time.
And, as fate would also have it, I was stuck in a seat belt in my center seat, my tray table down, with both my coffee and my 3 year old's apple juice can on my tray.
And Cierah's drink was left on her tray on the aisle seat next to me.

I looked back and saw Cierah happily staggering from the left side of the tail section to the right and back again.

And again.

And again!

Panic set in as I realized the only doors to attempt opening back there were the emergency exit doors.
"Folks, we've got ourselves an incident. Please place your mask over your own face before assisting your child."
How I feared what was going to happen next.

I'm stuck.
She's staggering.
The emergency exit doors.
The bathroom.
It's Cierah, mind you.

A bit of drama? Okay, sure.
But it freaked me out none-the-less.
I'm happy to say that no evacuation slides were launched at 35,000 feet at the time of this blog writing.

As the kids munched on bags of dry cereal and fruit snacks, I figured it was time dh and I ate the bananas we had purchased in Chicago for the flight.
"Honey, let's peel those bananas now."

"Sure thing.

Or not.

You've got to be kidding me.

I forgot to grab them when we bought lunch for the kids in Chicago."

"Huh? Did you pay for them?"
"Yep. And they're still sitting on the counter where I paid."

Nothing left to do but dream about a meal in Anaheim while I settled 3 year old Brandon in for some dreams of his own. And settle he did.
He slept the rest of the 3 hours, while I pretty much lost all circulation to my arms, thighs, and,....never mind. Suffice it to say I had phantom parts until the blood returned when he finally sat up in his seat again.

Safely on the ground in Orange County, we claimed bags and rental car without incident, then made our way to our hotel, where we quickly checked in and changed into shorts and tees for the wonderful California weather that awaited us.
A friend had given us a gift card for Fat Burger, which was so very generous of her. We purposed to use it for our first meal in CA. I quickly programmed Nellie the Scab and we were on our way.
"We don't accept that here. You have to use it at corporate."
I felt bad because we had already placed an order for a family of 6.
We apologized, the counter clerk was gracious, and we made our way to "corporate", where the gift card was readily accepted.
Thanks so much, Holly. YUM!

Had to laugh, after our day of faux paus, when we saw a business sign that read, "MAINLY POTTERY, PLANTS AND THINGS. AND MOOSE MUSEUM."

So, Family vacations.
The stuff that botched plans are made of.
But you know, I really think God uses that time to teach us lessons about ourselves.
About being open to change and and new direction.
About being in the moment.
About seeing our glass as half full (because it truly is).
About treasuring our time with our loved ones because the change that we must learn to be open to, will come along in our families sooner than our hearts feel ready for.
Isn't it soothing to know that we are loved,treasured, and saved by faith in Jesus Christ who never changes, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Live wise in Him!


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