Things I’ve Learned...
1-Caroline does not like to take her shoes off to go through security. Not only were the shoes an issue, but letting go of Zoe was a problem as well. At this point we were about 3 minutes into our trip and I was already thinking I was crazy for even attempting this summer adventure.
2-Do not leave the bag of coats for the entire family in Virginia. This we realized as soon as we got to the airport.
3-Do not over pack your suitcase. Nine extra pounds costs $175.
4-Sitting together on the plane is a good thing. On the plane from Norfolk to Atlanta, Chad and Caroline sat in row 12 and Tucker and I sat in row 31. Tucker was great for me, and Caroline was great for Chad…then we traded. That didn’t work out so well for Caroline, as she wanted to see Tucker and Daddy. That brings me to the next thing I have learned…
5-Make sure you have a “Grandma Tish” sitting beside you, especially if she has the window seat. Our Grandma Tish (as she introduced herself) let Caroline sit in her lap and look out the windows at all the other airplanes. This was extremely helpful since we landed on the runway farthest away from the airport. The flight attendant told me that as we were sitting there for quite a while trying to taxi over to the gate.
6-Not all planes have changing tables. The floor works just as well. Oh, and diapers must go in the bathroom trashcan NOT the trashcan that they put the snack trash in.
7-Delta recycles…I was surprised and impressed by this.
8-Atlanta is a BIG airport. I knew this, as I have been in that airport many times. However, it is an entirely different story when you have two kids, a double stroller, several carry on bags, and not much time. (We were all hungry, too!)
9-Always put the brakes on the double stroller when on the tram in the airport. No good story to follow, but there could have been if Chad did not stick his foot in front of the wheel to keep it from rolling forward!
10-Airport workers are not always the nicest folks. We finally made it to our gate where we were to board the plane from Atlanta to Manchester. They were not boarding yet, but we still felt the rush to get there. We checked in at the gate to make sure we would all be sitting together on this long flight. The lady there informed us that we had to have a ticket for Tucker. (Children under 2 are considered lap babies and do not need an extra seat or ticket…so we thought!) After our hearts starting beating again, we understood what she was trying to tell us. Tucker did not need a ticket for a seat, but we had to pay the taxes and fees for him since we were leaving the country.
11-Tucker needs a “ticket!” We went to the ticket counter and much to our surprise there was no line…finally something was going right. I think Chad and the ticket lady worked on getting Tuck a “ticket” for about 30 minutes. I took the kids to get some dinner while Chad worked this out. One “ticket” and $75 later, we headed back to the gate where they had begun to board.
12-It is not a good idea for Chad to stand in line to board the plane, while I watch the kids run around until the last minute. They took off running in opposite directions. Caroline stood at the window and waved to our pilots while Tucker ran to the next gate and made friends with the long bearded, toothless janitor. I think everyone was laughing except for Chad and me. We were just ready to get on the plane and get to England.
13-Do not let your child (in this case, Tucker) pull the hair of the lady sitting in front of you before the plane even takes off. This just is never a good thing.
14-Maybe Benadryl does work. Chad gave each child a dose of Benadryl just in case. Tucker was asleep before we even reached 10,000 feet. This was shortly after takeoff. Caroline fell asleep about an hour into the flight.
15-There were a lot more movie/tv options this time around. The last time we flew on an international flight, we only had a few options. Granted it had been five years, but I was still excited about the choices. There were games to play, too!
16-Marley & Me is a cute, but sad movie. Probably a movie that makes you cry is not the best choice when on an airplane. Chad made fun of me.
17-Do not let your child (in this case, Caroline) put the earphones in her mouth. They are very cheap and crack very easily, leaving your child with small chunks of plastic in her mouth. This was before she fell asleep.
18-Chad only gets one mixed drink per plane trip. A gin & tonic costs $7. Chad drank one and spilled the other one on Tucker, the tray of the man sitting next to him, and in his computer bag. Don’t worry, the computer still works (obviously), Tucker was asleep and didn’t even know his pants were wet and the man was very nice. (Yes, I was trying extremely hard not to laugh.)
19-Dinner on the plane was not that bad. Again, it had been a while since I was served a meal on a plane. Both kids were asleep so we got to “enjoy” a peaceful meal. Those of you that have small children (or if you have attempted to sit down for dinner with our kids) will certainly understand what I mean by this! Now that I think about it, maybe it was the peace and quiet that was good, not so much the meal.
20-Mary needs more than 2 hours of sleep! I cannot remember the last time I only slept for 2 hours. I am guessing it was when Caroline was a newborn. (Yes, I mean Caroline, not Tucker…he has always been a sleeper.) Although I was functioning fairly well, I must have looked like I had not slept in days. I know I was looking pretty rough! My eyes were probably the worst, as they were red from the dry air, red from crying because of the movie, and red from not sleeping and not taking my contact out for who knows how long. I guess this was probably unavoidable. Oh well…there are no pictures of me in this state!
21-Tucker knows how to sleep! Chad and I passed him back and forth about every hour or so and he stayed asleep. Little Tucker-Toots was a real trooper!
22-Not even a changing table makes it easier to clean up a poopy diaper on the airplane. Thank you Caroline (yes, Caroline) for giving me multiple opportunities to find the most efficient way to change a poopy diaper in the teeny, tiny airplane bathroom. (and we thought she was potty trained!)
23-If you are slow to get off the plane, the flight attendants and any other available crewmember will ask you repeatedly if you need help. This will take place until you exit the plane. They will follow behind you to make sure you cannot turn around and go back. Chad had taken Caroline to the bathroom once we landed and Tucker and I waited in the aisle near our seats for them to come out. At this point everyone else had exited the plane. I looked up and realized that indeed, they were all waiting on us! About 4 or 5 crewmembers were looking at us and asking if we need help.
24-Just because you are off the plane does not mean that you are free to go get your bags and go on with your business. We stood in line at customs for about 50 minutes. We were at the very end of the line, so we let the kids run around in all the wide open space. Once the line was moving along and we finally reached the roped area, Chad and I took turns holding Tucker and keeping Caroline at bay. It was almost our turn and Caroline decided that Zoe had misbehaved and needed to sit in time-out. At one point I really thought that Zoe was going to live in the airport because we were not waiting for her to be finished with time-out so we could move ahead in line.
25-Paperwork is highly recommended if you are coming to the UK for “religious training.” We thought we were home free once we reached the lady for our “customs interview.” I thought (and Chad did, too) that we had to be the most innocent, non-suspicious looking people in the whole airport. Not to mention, we had increasingly irritable children that wanted to get down. I thought that certainly they would ask us the minimal amount of questions and send us through, as they had to have been tired of hearing the kids ask to get down. WRONG! The woman asked us about 800 questions and then Chad even had to pull out his laptop and show her the e-mail exchange he had with the priest at Mirfield. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to sneak behind the woman’s desk area and Tucker was trying to leap out of my arms onto her desk. Keep in mind, it was about 4 am our time. It was about 9 am in the UK. Once the lady had all the information we had, she asked us to sit down and she disappeared. About 15 minutes later, and 15 dinner mints later (that would be per child- it was the only thing that worked as a bribe for them to sit still while we waited) she returned. She let us enter the United Kingdom, but only after she lectured us about our lack of paperwork. Lesson learned. Next time we will say we are just on holiday.
Stay tuned for more blog updates and Things I’ve Learned.