Home!

We got back from our month-long trip last night. About a week ago, Hunter and I took the longest, most painful six hour flight of our lives when we flew Toddler and Little Hunter home from Florida. It was a flight that tested our mettle as parents and, I dare say, the mettle of our marriage.

See, when Toddler gets tired she doesn't wind down, she winds up. We tried so hard to get her to have a nap on the day we left Orlando. She categorically refused. Desperate not to tire her out, we put PBS kids on TV and let her have a bit of a marathon while we packed up.

Our flight left around 6pm. Toddler was a mess by then. She'd wiggle and twist, turn and and roll, sing and chant, yell and cry, poke her sleeping brother, kick the seat back in front of her (to our horror). We tried hooking her into a movie but no dice, she wasn't interested. We tried games, books, toys and nothing worked. The motion and noise continued.

I've heard tell of parents who dose their kids to make them sleepy on a plane. It hadn't occurred to me to do this mostly because I think it would rev Toddler up, not down. But let me tell you, if someone handed me a child tranquilizer that night, I would have seriously considered it. Better yet, a straight jacket (I actually think a straight jacket would have helped her sleep.) The kid didn't fall asleep until the last hour of the flight, leaving Hunter and I feeling exhausted and, I'll be honest, angry.

We arrived in Seattle, bid adieu to Hunter, and the kids and I started our week-long visit to Vancouver. That was an heroic feat. I figured I'd land in Seattle, hire the nice folks at Sky Cap to help me with my giant load of luggage (I was carting Little Hunter's co-sleeper to give to a cousin of mine who had a baby that week), check myself into a hotel for the night and deal with rental cars and border line-ups the next day. I was a woman with a plan!

My plan went sideways when I realized the nice folks at Sky Cap were gone for the night. A kindly Alaska Airlines employee felt badly for me and tried to find someone to help me with my mountain of luggage and wiggly people but after a half-hour of waiting, I gave up and got me one of those garden variety luggage carts.

The sight of me pushing both a stroller and a tippy luggage cart while trying to hold a Toddler's hand must have been painful to watch. I clipped more than my fair share of heels and elbows as I slowly inched my way to an elevator, over the Skybridge, down an elevator, across the street and into a hotel shuttle. I actually got to my hotel room WITH the two children I started with. I was impressed with myself.

The next morning we made our way up to Canada for a few days with my mother and brother. Then it was back down to Seattle for a couple of nights with my brother- and sister-in-law before making our way home.

You know, if I find myself once again as a hiring manager, I'm going to hire mothers who have taken their kids on multi-city trips by themselves without losing their minds. You need to be a master of planning, logistics, negotiation and serious patience to do this. These are transferable skills!

Our flight to Seattle was just as crazy as the trip from Orlando. Toddler worked herself up to keep herself from winding herself down. Nothing interested her except pitching and rolling in her seat and running through her entire vocabulary. The man sitting next to us was a saint. A saint I tell you! He put up with her asking him to leave because she didn't want to share her row and the constant movement and chatter. I swore I saw him praying. It must have been for patience and tolerance. I hope he gets a special place in heaven for putting up with us with such grace.

We waited four hours in Anchorage before boarding our flight to Homer. That last half-hour flight was the worst. Little Hunter was hungry and tired and Toddler was throwing herself against the back of her seat and talking Dora gibberish to keep herself awake. Yay for the wonderful wonderful woman in the row beside us who shared snacks that kept Toddler entertained for a few minutes.

When we finally landed, I spotted Hunter waiting for us in the airport. Never have I been so happy to see the man.