Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nicaragua Day 1

Ugh.  Today was looong.  But I'm here, safe and sound.  Not that it was easy getting this way.  I will go ahead and admit that today was the most difficult trip I've made to Nicaragua yet.  That's saying a lot because I've had some crappy flights and such.  But today took the cake.  By far. 

We started off at 3:00 am which really wasn't bad.  I slept for a solid five hours so I actually felt pretty good.  Being excited, I got out of bed after one snooze-amazing!  We ran around trying to get ready and getting the last minute stuff together, really it wasn't bad.  We were out the door before four am.  The boys were up by 3:45 so I was confident they would sleep well on the plane.  Big mistake. 

We got to the airport at 4:30ish and went straight through check in.  I dreaded saying goodbye to LT Wonderful, but tried to keep it together for the kids.  They have no idea how long he'll be gone and it's not like I want to traumatize them anymore than they already are, you know, being up at that hour and all.  I did shed some tears though.  I'll admit that.  Mostly watching Tate hug Mark.  It's going to be hard for him once the time really sets in.  I made it through security OK, it took a while because I've got two kids and such, but we made it through unscathed.  When we got to the gate we heard that they were offering $200 vouchers to change flights.  We offered to change since we had a 6 hour lay over in Houston (which I had apparently blocked because I forgot all about it.  Or I never realized it.  Either way, I dropped the ball).  It was looking promising (as in everyone else had boarded the plane and we had signed the voucher and were being transferred to a plane that left at 10:45 instead) when they realized that they weren't oversold and I could go.  So we ended up in the middle and aisle seat on a completely packed airplane.  We were the last ones on and they had to move people around for us.  I tried to ignore the glares people were sending my way, incorrectly assuming that I was holding up the show when in fact I had been willing to sacrifice for the greater good (or some crap like that).  The especially negative people I made sure to smack with my bag "accidentally" as I walked by.  I'm sure you can picture that.  I got to my seat and was immediately nervous, and for good reason.  The seats they had for us were next to a young guy, early twenties.  He had the look of a total partier and his look when he saw me was enough to make me want to scream.  I could tell he was, ahem, less than thrilled to be sitting next to kids.  

And, let me tell you, my kids rose (or sank) to meet his expectations. 

Theo fell asleep about 30 minutes into the 3 hour and 45 minute flight.  Not bad.  He SCREAMED before falling asleep, but it was only for about 5 minutes.  Not to shabby.  I was actually feeling a bit prideful about my kids and how my seat partner would go home maybe with a better opinion of kids.  

Well, a mere 20 minutes after Theo fell asleep, Tate decided to pinch his cheeks and say, "Oh Mom, I have the cutest baby!"  Which is true, but the cheek pinching was enough to wake Theo up.  For good.  And my normally happy riser was anything but happy.  We tried toys, books, walking, singing, sleeping more, singing, FOOD, drinks…nothing pacified him.  He screamed nearly the rest of the flight.  And my beloved Tate fell asleep promptly after waking up Theo, and was sprawling out all over the happy partier.   I've mentioned before how Tate's not a great bed partner…well, that's only magnified when we're on a plane and he's sleeping next to strangers.  So I have Tate practically molesting this guy in his sleep, Theo screaming and me wanting to melt into the floor.   Then in the middle of a Theo tantrum Tate wakes up suddenly and announces loudly, (accompanied by tears) that he's peed in his pants and needs new underwear.  I swear the guy next to me burned 3000 calories between his facial expression and quick attempt to snuggle up to the window.  Since this happens often and Tate didn't actually wet his pants, (he thinks he did so he believes he needs new underwear and it's nearly impossible to convince him he doesn't, even though his chonies are always dry) I tried to reason with him.  "let's just go to the bathroom, you didn't actually pee your pants buddy."

To which Tate pulls down his pants and underwear, sobbing, saying, "Yes I did!  I'll show you."  

So now my kids are both sobbing and one is mooning the entire plane.  If there had been a parachute handy we would have jumped out.  Since the seat belt sign is on because we're descending, I have to ring for a flight attendant to OK us going to the bathroom.  Awkward.  She looks at me disapprovingly but allows it.  

So we all three went to the airplane bathroom.  I don't think I need to explain any more about that situation.  I'm sure you can imagine how cramped it was with two screaming kids. 

For almost three hours. 

At the end of the flight I apologized profusely to those around me.  My happy partier?  He looked up at me and said, "Whatever.  I need a drink."  Ummm…me too buddy. 

We get off the plane, walk to the "clear other end of the airport" to our terminal, and eat.  The food court is crowded beyond belief and as I'm ordering I turn around to see Tate rolling around on the floor.  


We wash hands, eat.  And walk to our gate.  I let Theo out of the stroller to stretch his legs.  He runs to the outside of the moving walkway and proceeds to fall down.  Several times.  I remove him, set him somewhere else and he still runs back and falls.  So I take him to his stroller and he throws another major tantrum.  At this point I grab Tate and our stuff and walk away.   Theo's back in the stroller.  We walk to a quiet area and I set up a movie for Tate while I walk Theo around in the stroller.  After 30 minutes of walking/crying/screaming he finally falls asleep.  At this point we still have 4 hours till our flight leaves.  I sit down to relax with Tate.  

Then the loudspeaker comes on and tells us that the gate has changed for our plane, back to the other end of the Houston airport from which we just came.  We pack up and head down there.  I probably walked 5 miles in that airport today.   As soon as we get to the new gate, Theo wakes up.  Only 40 minutes down.  Bummer. 

I release him from his prison and he runs around for 40 minutes or so.  He has fun and I get to burn more calories.  Every time I try and redirect him, though, he throws himself on the floor and screams.  It's awesome.  Luckily two Nicaraguan boys notice Theo and Tate and start to play with them (Cheve (Jose) and Cesar Agusto Morales who work for in Granada).  Bless their hearts they play with the boys for the next several hours.  Between them and the payphones the boys are thrilled!  I even got to chat with them in Spanish and I can tell that my skills are getting better.   It was encouraging. 

Finally the waiting is over and we are on the plane.  The last plane of the day.  We've had several more tantrums but I'm just past caring.  Tate's being a rock star, though.  He was fine after we changed his underwear.  We sit next to a nice lady on the plane and soon after take off Tate is asleep again.  Theo, not so much.  After another 15 minutes of a huge tantrum he finally falls asleep mid cry.  He sleeps for about an hour and a half.  It's a God send.  The last hour on the plane was long and took every ounce of my determination to stay positive, but we made it.  

As we go to get off the plane the lady behind us says that Theo screams too much and he's too young to be on an airplane.  I ignore it because I'm tired of fighting.  All of my fight is gone. 

I got through customs quickly and our bags were there.  Praise God.  I could not have handled losing a bag.  I had to get a cart and Tate had to push Theo.  I'm sure it was quite a sight.  The stroller had my purse (HUGE), two blankets, and Tate's backpack attached.  It easily weighed more than Tate.  He didn't complain though!

Once we got outside, no one was there.  That's the first time this has happened.  After a quick prayer (OK, several) I see Don Jorge walking up.  Surrounded by little boys!!!  We went up to greet them and it was wonderful.  The boys were so happy to see friends and I was so happy to not have to do all the work.  

We happily chatted all the way home.  The Vargas' commented that my Spanish is sounding really good.  I was pleased.  Maybe Spanish church really is helping!

It was so cute to see Tate and the little boys looking out the window and pointing out cars and airplanes.  Little boys are little boys all the world round.  Theo warmed up, too, and before long he was laughing and screaming out the window.  So cute and funny.  Jaciel (the director's 4 y o son) was talking to me in English.  It was really fun.  And when Don Jorge asked me a question in Spanish, and I responded in Spanish, Tate responded in English.  I was surprised that he understood what was being said!  For many of the little boys, this was their first trip to the airport.  What fun!

When we go to the Posada it was a happy reunion, as usual.  I miss Louis, one of the boys that used to be here.  He was kicked out, as well as Jalmar, another one of our favorites.  I understand and support the leadership, though.  I'm just glad I got to know them while they were here. 

Tate ran up and started playing with his friends right away.  They now have a ping pong table and Tate is surprisingly good!  Theo also got in on the action and they were playing each other (with help from their hermanos, of course). 

Now I'm in bed, happily, realizing that 6 am devotions come awfully early.  Although I was given a free pass for tomorrow…we'll see how things go tonight.  The boys are already asleep, so here's hoping for a good night!

Dios ha sido bueno conmigo. 


Britney said...

boy oh boy!
I did just hear that survivor will be filming in Nica this fall! You and the kiddos should find some way to make a cameo!

NanaStearns said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! what a story. I'm looking forward to reading it again in what ever publication is smart enough to print it! I could hardly read it I was laughing so much.

It would be so interesting to read the counterpoint to all those complaints of kids on planes one reads about.

Love you and give all the grandkids a hug for us!

Kara said...

You are a woman of stouter constitution than I, Sis! All I ever managed was flying alone with one screaming munchkin to be entertained and placated.

Well done!!

Hugs to all 5 Stearns kids!!

Greg Silsby said...

Can't believe you had the strength to create a blog entry after all that. Glad you finally made it there, and safely.

Christine said...

Oh my dear Jenni! I am sure you are not finding any humor in your trip down there at this point, but I do have to admit I giggled the entire time I was reading this post....perhaps in the future=) Bless your bones for having the strength to stay positive through all of that. You are one awesome mama and woman. I'm sure I would have had plenty to say to that rude so and so who offered her opinion to you about are super strong! I'm glad you guys are there safe and sound. I am so happy for you guys that you are getting to spend time with your girls and all of the kids and people who I'm sure love you guys beyond words (it's pretty much impossible not to!). Can't wait to hear more about your trip! Kiss those babies for me! xoxo!