We made it in 7 complete pieces. After 15 or so hours of traveling, Edric, our five children and I found ourselves standing outside the San Francisco airport, enjoying the chilly air while waiting to be picked up by my sister, Candy. The kids should have been physically tired but adrenaline was pumping through their veins, their faces lit with wonderment as they fathomed the reality of being half-way around the world from home.
Contrary to expectation, our journey was a smashing success. Of course I am saying this relative to what I imagined would happen. My nightmarish vision of traveling with five children involved loud, extended periods of wailing from Catalina, a lot of requests for assisted trips to the lavatory, clogged sinuses accompanied by complaints about ear pressure, an asthma attack for Catalina, possible vomiting, and losing one of our kids to curious wanderings.
There was some vomit at the Hong Kong airport when Catalina had a bout of coughing, and Titus did spill apple juice on Edan and orange juice on Elijah during the flight to the U.S. (I had to launder Catalina’s jacket in the restroom.) Otherwise, we managed just fine.
I am thankful that Catalina is still breastfed. Everytime she fussed I offered to nurse her and she would comply. This made the 12 hour stretch from Hong Kong to San Francisco a lot easier. We didn’t need to give her cough syrup or an antihistamine to calm her down. (I have never had to do this with any of my kids yet. Whew. God is good.) She slept 70% of the time, too.
Edric and I also tried to keep it practical and efficient when it came to luggage. Even though we were allowed 14 suitcases and 7 carry-ons, we fit all our clothes and shoes into 5. As for hand-carry luggage, we took two — one for the kids with some toys, extra clothes, and activities in them, and another for Edric and I with our laptops and gadgets. I also brought a backpack/purse that doubled as a diaper bag.
To keep track of all the bodies, Edric assigned a buddy-system. The pairs were Elijah and Tiana, and Edan and Titus.
We traveled Cathay Pacific and I was quite pleased with their service. They were proactive and concerned about our kids. It probably made a difference that we were the only family traveling with that many young children. Go homeschooling! When I was feeding Catalina, one of the attendants thoughtfully asked if I needed extra pillows to prop up my arm. Another one volunteered to take our photo. They also asked a lady who was sitting in between Edric and I to move elsewhere so our family could sit together.
There were other pluses. Cathay has yummy airplane food and that’s saying a lot because I never like airplane food. In fact most of the flights I have taken in my life involve me skipping the food parts. The other highlight was an uncrowded plane. For the kids, their favorite aspect was the touch screens in front of their seats. Those kept them preoccupied and entertained. Even Catalina was gleefully banging on one.
“This is the best plane ever!” They cried out with excitement.
Our first order of business when we arrived was to drive through In-N-Out Burger. Candy treated us to five animal style cheeseburgers which the kids and Edric feasted on at 9 PM. Not a good idea for overcoming jetlag! Those meat patties kept everyone up until about 2 AM. Catalina struggled until 4 AM which wiped me out the next day.
But so far, I am loving this vacation. It’s exactly what I was looking forward to this Christmas. Nothing touristy. A slice of suburbia without the stress of homeschooling. The kids finished two quarters worth of work with the exception of World History, so I am totally relaxed. We left the books at home, as well as our harried pace of life. Okay got to go…I have to put my infant to sleep but more to come on this “American Dream” Vacation.