It was a weird feeling when we were getting packed up and ready to fly back to Saudi....I was ready and actually excited about going back....home!
Yes...I now call Saudi my home or at least my temporary home. It has taken a long, and mostly difficult year of transition but I was excited and ready to come back. Mostly because I wasn't the new person. I knew what to expect, I did the whole year of figuring out who my friends were and who I connected with. I knew what works for me and what doesn't. I learned that the more I venture out shopping and dealing with errands, the more frustrated I get living here and that I don't mind staying on camp for weeks at a time....never thought that day would come. And mostly I have found a good routine and practice of focusing on the blessings and positives of my life here while acknowledging the negative and bad parts and not giving it power over my outlook. So, with all the many lessons I learned over my first year, I was ready to head back and jump into life in Saudi and make this year the best it could be for me, my family and my marriage!
But to get back to Saudi we had another long and very dreaded flight with my two travel companions. Although this one did not have the vomiting episodes of the flight over to the States....we had a cranky and tired Graham who refused to sleep for the first flight. I was one of those people! I finally had my first experience with a screaming and crying kid who wouldn't stop. Not fun! But I will say that people were a lot more sympathetic to me than I thought they would as I really do think...one, I probably thought it was worse than it was and two, I was trying everything and I think they could see it and three, after a little bit I really didn't care what people thought....I just wanted him to go to sleep!
I have figured out several things that set us up to fail on the flight and will for sure consider them when booking future flights. First, the flight didn't leave until 8:30 PM which is not a good time. When we leave at 1:40 AM...the kids already have a good bunch of sleep under them and so are not miserable and it is still too early to awake so they will fall asleep easily. Or if you leave early evening around 5:00 PM, the flight's meal service and routine coincides with bed time easily. This flight didn't get done with meal service/dark time until way too late so Graham was over tired and not having sleep time. Second, I booked the bulk head seats in the middle so we could have three together and not have anyone in front of me and have him kick the seats. But the disadvantage of that was the amount of distractions being in a major passageway and not have the corner of the window with not much to look at...there was never enough quiet to settle him down. Things learned for sure...
After much work, some tears on my part, lots of praying and trying everything....he finally fell asleep in my arms and then I put him on a makeshift bed on the floor. Graham managed to sleep the last two hours of the seven hour flight. I did have to inform a well meaning flight attendant that under no circumstances would I be moving him off the floor even if it was a turbulence issue. I did however agree to move him if she asked all of the people around me who had to listen to him for the past two hours if I should move him and that if they all agreed I would. The flight attendant got some looks from the nearby passengers and left me alone.
I then realized I had completely neglected Peyton, which she was fine and had been watching movies and asking flight attendants for stuff when they walked by all on her own...she is pretty awesome when it comes to traveling. I tried to get her to try and go to sleep but she refused and since she was being content with watching movies and totally fine so I decided not to mess with it and leave her alone. Peyton was awesome during the flight as always but did decide during descent that she was tired and tried to go to sleep and I bribed her with a teddy bear from the London airport if she stayed awake until we landed and fell asleep in the stroller as there was no way I would be able to carry them both off the plane. She slept immediately in the stroller during my layover/transit in London so I ended up having to put Graham in the carrier the whole time and run to my next connection via trains and buses and making sure to buy the promised teddy bear from Duty Free on my way, which made me a little sweaty and gross but we made it, got on the second flight where Peyton continued to sleep the entire time and Graham slept for all but the last 90 minutes but the pipe cleaners, shoe laces and binder rings from the Dollar Store entertained him until we landed.
Then we had to go through passport and baggage collection which was a nightmare because two of our bags didn't make it through. I had to to all the paperwork while all we all wanted to do was go see Daddy was which was my bribe for the second flight and this baggage delay was not going well....mostly for Graham. Peyton was incredibly helpful in trying to describe our bags to the people and being really patient....until....she found out that one of the bags was her car seat. Then she melted down and at that point I just sat on the floor, put my head in my hands and prayed for this to end soon. Meanwhile the porter I tried to handle to help me was being useless and missing the bags I did have so I decided to do it myself and told the baggage people I would be there tomorrow night for my bags and I was leaving. I pushed the baggage cart in front of me, Peyton was sobbing walking beside me and pulled the stroller with Graham behind me and went to find John. Whew....it was finally over....until December!
The kids both talked non stop the whole way home and were overjoyed to see John. We went back to Bahrain the next night (a two hour drive each way) and successfully claimed both the missing car seat and the other missing bag which ended up being an important bag that held most of the treasured items of Peyton's which is why I didn't start unpacking until we had all bags to avoid the questions of where things were. After finally getting home we worked on getting over jet lag which thankfully was easy since John had several days off and he wasn't haven't to get over it as well and then we were back into the swing of swimming lessons, ballet, friends and Peyton's Fourth Birthday and subsequent party.....and preparing for our first visitor, Grandma Martha!
Overall, the whole travel with two kids solo was hard this time...both ways. Graham is just at that bad traveling age and it was no fun. Peyton was awesome which makes me have hope as I would honestly travel anywhere and on any flight with her if I only had her. She is easy! Graham is a nightmare and requires too much stuff, and at the same time is not entertained by much. My hope is that in December since I will have John both ways it will easier and by the time I have to fly solo again Graham will be much easier....he will actually be around the age Peyton was when we moved here which wasn't too bad. I do want to rave about a car seat adapter/strap thing I used which was a lifesaver!
It attaches your car seat to your rolling carry on which was a huge help getting on and off the plane and through the airport. I also had the rule that everything must fit in the rolling bag....Peyton's backpack, blankets etc so all I had was that to worry about and I would just load and unload while onboard instead of carrying stuff everywhere. A must have for traveling moms with toddlers who need car seats!