We Only Do Things the Hard Way

Ready to roll!

Whoever said that “getting there is half the fun” was definitely not attempting international travel with an infant. Before the flight even took off, Gwennie was already beginning to fuss.

Gwendolin’s stock flying attitude.

Our flight was delayed by more than 2 hours, and we made the unfortunate decision to fly the “friendly skies” despite our better judgement. We did not purchase a seat for the baby because we were told we could use the bassinet located near our seats for “free”. “Free” always has a cost associated with it. We opted for the “free” with the hopes there would be at least one empty seat on the plane, and anyone in their right mind, we thought, would switch to the empty seat rather than be near a screaming baby. All the seats around us were full, but we managed to get a few people to move so that Corin and Chaela could sit near us (they were ticketed for 4 rows behind us), and we kept the baby’s car seat with us so that we could snag any empty seat near us or ask someone next to us to move, which we thought was a no-brainer. Several United employees came and tried to take the car seat to stow it with the luggage, to which we argued, pleading our cause about our difficult baby, and nearly karate chopped their hand when they reached for the seat. We were definitely not making friends starting off the trip. “She’ll be fine”, they told us, “she can sleep in the bed”, they told us. “She doesn’t sleep”, we told them. They didn’t believe us, and rather than risk getting dragged off the plane in current United fashion, we let the big, burly steward finally remove the seat and gave up the fight, for which we muttered about under our breaths the entire flight when there were at least a half dozen seats all around us. We also wouldn’t have chosen United had we of known that the entertainment systems did not get checked before takeoff and the movie options would be broken the whole flight. Yes, you get what you pay for! You’d also think that with the backlash United has gotten after their recent fiasco that they would be kissing up to their customers and going out of their way to keep some business, but no. I wish I had pictures of the eye roll and dramatic sigh one steward gave me when he had to bend down to pick up my trash off the floor because I had the baby on my lap with the tray down and had to set the empty food tray in front of me on the floor so the baby wouldn’t grab it. For real!

The weeks leading up to travel this adoption have been extremely stressful. We’ve been planning both a move across the country, and simultaneously a trip across the world to bring Chad home. Throw in there a house we’re trying to sell, a birthday bonanza for 5 of our immediate family members during this transition time when we get back, along with potty training our 3 year old, and it makes for a chaotic and crazy time that we will look back and and realize it was only by the grace of God that we were able to make it through. I am guilty at times of having very little faith seeing God’s hand in the daily and mundane tasks of life and of trying to do things on my own strength, but I love how the Lord gently reminds me that He’s got this. I complained to Joey recently that I know God is helping me day to day, but I just wish He could actually physically and practically help me with some laundry, cooking, bottom wiping, house selling, and paperwork chasing tasks. Just a few days before leaving when we were pulling our hair out trying to wrap up last minute to-do lists, I said to him, “I need a personal chef for this last week before we go, because meal planning and cooking are the last things I want to have to do!”. Literally, the very next day a sweet lady, Tamara (who was also my doula at Gwennie’s birth), messaged me with: “I’m going to bring a meal by your house later tonight. What time is good?” She had no idea my desperate half-joke to Joey the night before! She proceeded to bring over a meal that night and the next, and another friend showed up the night before we left with two pans of pasta so we wouldn’t have to worry about food as we’re heading out the door. Oh, me of little faith! I love to see God’s hand in the details.

The past couple of months I met a new friend who has been like an angel in my life, as well. I met her when she came over to pick up something I was selling in the local “West Point Garage Sale” group, and I invited her in. Starved for some adult conversation, I ended up probably talking her ear off, and we quickly hit it off. She said that she believed she met me for a reason, she was inspired by our adoption story, and she wanted to bless our family. She has showed up at my door regularly, always with a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee in hand, sometimes with a delicious dinner for our family (no small task!), and even with bottles of roll-on Essentials “Sleep-Ease” Oils for me to try on our colicky baby who seems to also be an insomniac. She has never expected anything in return. Speaking of those oils, she gave me “Stress Away”, too, which I’ve often thought of bathing in and by the end of this flight I’ll likely be drinking or inhaling, and that bottle of Sleep-Ease will be gone, too! In typical Gwennie fashion, she has been awake almost the entire flight so far (we’re 5 hours in), the entire time at the airport (about 4 hours) and most of the morning at home while we were preparing to leave. She is unreal.

Hope this goes better than Griffin’s introduction to fine French baguettes! (we kept it in the plastic this time to avoid the puke-a-thon)

June 15th
It’s hard to believe that here we are doing this all over again. It’s also had to believe that on June 14th we left for China, and on July 14th we have our sign-in deadline at Leavenworth Kansas. That is the day the movers are supposed to deliver our household goods and we are moving in to our new home there. What a month it’s going to be!

But, for today, we are now safe and sound in Hong Kong after a flight that really could have been much worse than it was, even though it was miserable at times. The baby did sleep for a good portion of the flight, even though the rest of us found sleep hard to come by. We had a terrifying few minutes on the plane when we went to go fill out our customs forms before landing. Joey reached around for his trusty fanny pack filled with all of our Passports and found that it was not on him. He couldn’t remember where he put it when he went in to use the bathroom. We quickly panicked realizing that not only were our Passports in there, but there was also an envelope with $2,000 in cash, what we will need to visit the orphanage, buy food and pay cab fares. Joey frantically searched all the restrooms and it was nowhere to be found. We were again upsetting all the stewardesses who repeatedly told us to remain seated with our seatbelts fastened for a moderately turbulent descent (thanks, Nicole- you know what I mean!) in bad weather, but we had to search the overhead compartments to find this most critical item. It was like the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but trust me, it would not have been a wonderful life if we had to turn around and return home without our Passports, visas or money…and file for divorce! An attendant finally answered our repeated call button attempts and said, “Oh, yes, it was found it in the bathroom and we have it up front”. They then called on the loudspeaker to find Joey and another attendant brought it to him. We held our breaths when we opened the fanny pack, expecting that it was quite possible that that cash envelope would be gone. Thankfully, it was not, and our marriage was saved. If that’s the most stressful panic moment we have on this trip, we are doing great!

I think some of you must have prayed for our flight because it really went relatively fast considering the kids couldn’t watch any movies with the system broken, and 16 hours doing almost nothing can drag on and on. We landed at 9:30PM HK time, which was 9:30AM back home. After going through customs and waiting on baggage, we found our “limo” (minivan) to the hotel. We are staying at a different Marriott in Hong Kong on the non-touristy outskirts of the city this time because we didn’t have enough points this time to stay at our favorite Sky City location for free. We knew even though it was a Courtyard, which at home is on the lower end of Marriott’s, it would be way nicer than any Courtyard we’ve ever been to, and our assumption was correct. We arrived just after 11:00PM, then headed next door to McDonald’s for a midnight “lunch”. We love the high class McDonald’s in China, even if the food can be a bit quirky. My “crispy fried onion Angus burger” which ended up having a couple of chopped up Funyuns on top, along with a fried egg, cabbage instead of lettuce and cream cheese sauce left something to be desired, but the included Oreo fudge cookie parfait and hot chocolate more than made up for it. Joey had the classic “Jalepeño Chicken Sandwich” with pineapple ring on the sandwich…  We finally were able to all wind down and get some sleep about 1AM, but in typical jet lag fashion, that only lasted a few hours and we were all up and ready to go well before 5AM, first ones at breakfast.

Breakfast – we own this place!

Disney doesn’t even open until 10:30 so we just have to sit around and wait. The weather is stormy and rainy and hot- so 100% humidity. Definitely not like our previous trips in February-April. Even the windows in all the shops are “sweating”. We also got a notice that the internet is down from 3-7AM just during the two nights we are here, a time that is great for most guests and won’t cause any inconvenience…except for those of us up with jet lag. On to Disney! I’m sure we’ll be crashing hard by mid-afternoon…