Warning, long-winded post ahead. Read at your own risk. Post is for personal purposes only and is not intended to bore friends or family. ;)
The morning of the ominous Travel Day, my alarm was set to wake me at 3:30am, but I woke up at 3. Usually I can't sleep on nights before important days or big events, but I had slept soundly "all night" and had actually gotten a good amount of sleep, all things considered! All three of us had gotten completely ready to go the night before, since we needed to be at the airport by 4:20 AM at the latest in order to drop off the rental car and make it to our 6:30 AM flight to Atlanta, GA. The boys slept in their clean clothes and before I went to bed I did all of the things I would normally take care of in the morning, even blow drying my hair and putting fresh make-up on. It felt so weird waking up in the morning fully dressed and ready for the day, and some people might say I am weird and/or crazy to do that, but I am the sort of person that needs to get completely ready in the morning in order to have a happy and productive day.
With the help of my sister in law S, (whose house we were staying at, and who, as I mentioned in my last post, I wouldn't have survived the morning without) the car was loaded with our bags and ourselves, the address to the rental car return facility was typed into the rented GPS, and we were off! It was so cold out that the grass was crunchy and I had to scrape the windows of the car in order to see out of them. It was CHILLY but maybe that just helped to wake me up even more than the adrenaline did! ;) I went and filled the car up with gas, yes at 3:30 in the morning. Thankfully there was a well lit and well staffed gas station on a busy corner that I was easily able to find and make use of. I had forgotten to fill it up the day before and knew that it would not be a good idea to drop of the rental car with half a tank of gas missing. According to Google, they would have charged around $8 a gallon! Yikeroonies!
The GPS took us exactly where we needed to go. It took us via a totally different route than both my family and the rental company explained I could go, but thankfully it didn't lead us astray. I have to admit I had a little trepidation about that! Neither of the boys fell asleep in the car on the way there, which was actually great because then I didn't have to wake them up again. The car was returned with no hassle at all, and the Budget employee was extremely helpful. He helped uninstall the car seats, put them in their travel bags, load everything up onto a cart, push it to an elevator and all the way to the shuttle bus, and then load some of the bags onto the bus. The most incredible thing of all is that he refused the $10 tip I tried to shove his way. I insisted he take it, and he insisted more that I keep it and that it was his pleasure to help us. Wow. What a gentleman.
Here we are on the shuttle! Little Mr. was so excited. The last time he was on a bus, I'm pretty sure he was too young to remember it.
Earlier in the week I had called important people who confirmed for me the very important fact that when the shuttle dropped me off, I would immediately be able to curbside check my luggage, and if that option was not available, that there would be lots of airline employees around to help me transport my luggage to the check in area. However, that was not the case. When I got off the shuttle, my bags were unloaded beside me and I was basically left standing there with a toddler on a leash, a 20 lb baby in a baby wrap, and a pile which consisted of a suitcase, a folded double stroller, two backpacks and two car seats.
I caught the eye of one of the employees on the bus who loads and unloads luggage and begged her to help me. She was eager to help and called back to the bus driver that she was staying behind to help me out. I was so thankful! I gave her $5 and she went and got a rental cart for us, as they cost $5. They should be free if you ask me. Anyways, that is beside the point. She helped me load everything onto the cart and then we took an elevator and walked probably 6 or 7 minutes to where the so called curb-side check in area was. It wasn't at a curb, and it looked to me just like a regular ol' check in area... but oh well, at least I was finally there. I tried to tip her for her help, and she refused it, saying that I had already tipped her when she unloaded my bags off of the shuttle. At this point I was tired of the money burning a hole in my pocket and just pushed the money into her hand, smiled and started walking away while saying thank you. It looked like I had made her day, but really, she had made mine.
There was a little bit of hassle around self-printed tickets and checking in, but once that was sorted out we made our way to the security check area. Again, there was a little hassle while in the line up and I had to step out of line and re-organize some things as well as get rid of the cart. I stepped back in line, probably making 50 or so people feel like I cut in line, but I wasn't about to let that bother me. I was a mom on a mission and I wasn't going to let a few grimaces get in my way. I smiled and said "Thank you so much for letting me back in line!" to the few people within hearing distance, and then turned around and worked my way towards the front. The line of people, under instruction of people in authority, had two separate forward moving lines in it, and neither of them were the size of a double side by side stroller. So every time my line moved forward I had to say "excuse me please, can I get past you?" and boy was that a struggle lol. Everyone was in a rush and in the middle of their own version of an emergency, so I think every time I passed someone, even though I wasn't in their line they felt like I was cutting in front of them.
Our stuff went through security without a hitch, even though I had enough purees and liquids to feed five Little Brothers. ;) Tons of people around us were being sent back and told to do certain things to make their luggage passable and I was instantly thankful that I had spent time reading tips about security checks on the internet. I had probably overcompensated by using tons of Ziplocs and 5 security bins to separate all of our electronics, perishables, liquids, medicines and my shoes, but in my opinion it really paid off. Our stuff went straight through without a hitch but when it came back on the other side it was mixed up with other peoples items, including some medicines and personal items, which was a little worrisome. I wouldn't want anyone to lose their medications! Thankfully we didn't leave anything behind, and the owners of the rest quickly claimed their misplaced items. We did have to wait several minutes while our stroller was stuck back on the other side of security, but once they had checked it for explosive residue, and it passed with flying colors, we were good to go!
We walked a bit more and then jumped onto the train. What a cool experience for Little Mr. to ride in a car, a bus, a train and an airplane all in one day! After another ride in an elevator (our third of what would probably be 8 or so elevator rides in one day) and a bit of walking, we reached our gate and basically walked right onto the plane. When we walked up, they were pre-boarding! Once we were sitting on the plane, I texted The Mr. and my sister in law S to tell them we had made it!
That poor man sitting in the window seat! We had the aisle and center seats, but that only made sense since I would possibly need to leave my seat more.
Little Brother fell asleep right away, he was so tired! He never made a fuss the whole morning, it was such an answer to prayer. Also, the lady in pink across the aisle from me turned out to be a nice help and I wish I would have exchanged personal info with her. She helped me with Little Brother several times and looked after Little Mr. when I was away from my seat.
Little Mr. studying the safety pamphlet. It was very interesting to him.
The first thing we played with out of all the toys, was the stickers. They were just normal stickers, but could easily be removed from the tray table, so Little Mr. was able to make rows and play with the same stickers over and over again. Stickers are definitely on the packing list for the flight home!
Aside from the stickers, other things that will be on the packing list for the trip home will be the DVD player and kid headphones, as well as little Mr.'s stuffed dog (Woof) and stuffed monkey (Oo-Ee-Ee) if he is still into playing with those. I don't think we played with anything other than those items. I had definitely over packed. Little Mr. never had a nap but the DVD player was key in keeping him entertained and happy!
As for the snacks, next time I want to pack most of what I packed this time. We actually ate the majority of it. (Also: The best tip ever is to buy bottled water once you are past security. It is awesome to have your own water on the airplane, handy at any moment.) There are a few items I won't be taking next time, but overall it was a good amount of food. I couldn't have made it through the day without these gluten-free (but regular tasting) granola bars and this jerky for sure. Finally some yummy gluten-free, shelf stable options to power my day! None of the food available on the planes was gluten free, and there would be no time to stop in the Atlanta airport for food that's for sure!
Good morning Little Brother! (He was just recovering from a sickness, so you can still see a bit of rash in these photos. It definitely was less noticeable in person.) He was such a doll the whole day and never really fussed at all!
When our airplane landed in Atlanta, it was in the system that we had requested a cart to take us to the departure gate. I had called the airline and they told me that I would have the much needed help from point A to point B, since my layover was only 48 minutes and Atlanta is the busiest airport there is. When I got off of the plane, there was no cart and no one to help me. Lovely. I figured out that my departure gate was D44 and I'm fairly sure that is about as far away as you could possibly get from my arrival gate. I wish I new what my arrival gate was so that I could go back and look at a map!
I walked, and walked and walked and walked (you get the point) and took lots of elevators and several moving walkways. About 45 minutes and a million calories later (burned off, not consumed) we arrived at our departure gate just in time for pre-boarding. This is the smallest paragraph in this post, for what was definitely the most difficult leg of the trip. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done! Little Mr. was in one side of the stroller and our carry on luggage was in the other. Little Brother was on my front in the Moby wrap, but it had stretched out during the morning and he was flopping from side to side as I hurried through the airport. I'm sure we were a sight to see! I literally walked this way, as fast as I could, for 45 minutes. The Lord made my way clear, as no wrong turns were taken and the information about the gate was true. I was so relieved to arrive at the gate and walk right on to the airplane.
The flight from Atlanta to Brunswick was short, and our airplane was small so we got a window seat that time! It was a ton of fun to be able to show Little Mr. how high in the air we were!
You gotta do what you gotta do right? This entire bag of Swedish Fish was a reward for him staying happy while imperfectly balanced on a tiny airplane toilet seat lid during a very awkward diaper change. It was close to the worst diaper changing situation I have ever found myself in, but we powered through it and couldn't have done it without the promise of "the REST of the candy!" Candy will definitely be not cut from the packing list next time! Apparently smaller older airplanes do not have those flip down baby changing areas.
Just above Atlanta
When we landed in Brunswick, I was so relieved that the busy part of the day was over and couldn't actually believe we were finally there. All of our luggage made it, everyone was healthy, no connections were missed and nothing was lost as far as we know. We had pulled it off! It was SO good to see The Mr. after being apart for a week. It was especially neat to see Little Mr. greet his Dada, they really missed each other!
Driving towards Saint Simons Island I was met with the most incredible views. Marshes and bridges, the ocean and open skies. Once we were on the island it was winding streets and huge oak trees draped with moss.
Both boys fell asleep during the short drive. We weren't surprised!
Little Brother stayed asleep during the transfer from the car to the condo, and even in the bright lights he did not want to wake up. Poor tired buddy! He eventually got woken up so we could feed him and put him to bed at a more normal time.
It was so nice to be together again as a family. (There was lots of unpacking to do, but that could come later.) Being at the condo for the first time was really cool.
Little Mr. checking out the boys' new room! I thought it was pretty fun that it was decorated like a little boys room. :) That night we all slept soundly and peacefully. They boys slept through the night, which I thought was amazing after their huge day, jet lag etc. I definitely did not expect it. Maybe waking up at 3:30 am (three 1/2 hours before they normally wake up) was a good way to combat jet lag.
We're pretty much settled in here and it really does feel like home. I made granola just now and the house finally smells like home too! :)