Our trip home started on Monday afternoon. After final minute packing, which is always a lot longer than minutes when you have kids, we had 8 bags, 1 computer box, 2 car seats, 1 double stroller and 4 carry-ons ready to go! Our friend Scott came by to pick us up in their van and take us down to the ferry boat station. Because most of the international flights out of Istanbul leave in the morning, we had to leave on the ferry boat the night before. To get from Bandirma to Istanbul, the ferry is actually the quickest way. It is a 2 hour ride and usually pretty smooth sailing. The kids were all pretty excited, but did a good job on the trip. After about 75 minutes, Naomi was done sitting on my lap. This didn’t give me a whole lot of encouragement for the upcoming 12 hour flight the next day!
That night we stayed in a 4-star hotel in Istanbul. We got there in 2 taxis with me in one taxi with most of the luggage and Joe and all 3 kids in the other. Joe likes to bless me with those quiet times without the kids. Nothing like quiet times with just me and a chain-smoking Turkish taxi driver:) We got to the hotel, got the room set up so that Naomi’s Pea Pod was set-up in a little closet-inlet (no door), Abby had a single bed and Elijah decided he would sleep in the provided crib. That left Joe and I in the nice king-size. I had a feeling it wouldn’t stay like that all night though!
So we headed down to eat in the restaurant and managed to just break one plate. After Naomi threw most of her food on the ground, I decided to take her up and put her to bed. Joe had told the kids that this hotel had a pool, so dinner was really just a formality. We went back up and got their suits and headed down to check out the pool. When we entered, Joe suggested I go ahead and get a massage while he took the kids to the pool. He didn’t have to twist my arm too hard for me to accept.
So we signed me up for the Turkish bath and full massage. Do you know what a Turkish bath is? I sure didn’t, so I had no idea what I was in for, but thought it would be cool to experience it before leaving Turkey. The small Thai lady who was going to give me my massage took me back and showed me where to get undressed and put on a robe. She then had me sit in the sauna for 5 minutes and then the steam room for 5 minutes. Next she led me to a steamy room where she instructed me to lat down on some wet towels that were placed over a bed of hot marble. Again, I had no idea what was going to happen, so I had to be instructed to take my robe off and was laying there all but naked except for my underwear when she started pouring water all over me. So I figure this Turkish bath thing doesn’t mean I am going to sit in a bath tub! She then started to wash and scrub pretty much every inch of me. The problem was that my butt felt like it was on fire. After a few readjustments, she got the hint and dumped some more water over my mid-section. Then I flipped over and got the other side washed. After my Turkish bath, we headed over to the massage room where I got the best massage I had ever had. Unfortunately I could hear the kids screaming in the pool from where I was, but besides that I was completely out of mommy-mode!
After I got dressed, I met Joe and the kids to head upstairs. Abby and Elijah got dressed in the hall and Joe told one of his signature stories (aka, we had no book available for reading). We then tucked everyone in and Joe went downstairs to read a bit. We fell asleep relatively quickly, but a few hours later, Elijah decided he didn’t want to sleep in the crib (we tried telling him it was too small, but he had to see it to believe it, I guess). So by that time Joe was back upstairs and Elijah joined us in bed. I had never realized that he does not like to be touched when he sleeps or he screams. So by the end of the night, Joe was on the floor, I was hugging the side of the king-size bed and Elijah was sprawled sideways in the middle of the bed. So Joe and I weren’t as refreshed as we hoped we might be the next morning.
After a quick breakfast, we got all our things loaded onto the shuttle and took the ride to the airport. The hotel shuttle only ran at 8am and 10am, so for an 11:20am flight, we needed to go with the 8am shuttle. We got there and got checked in rather easily and had some time to kill. We sat down and got a few smoothies and I tried to walk with Naomi to have her fall asleep, but she was not interested in my plan at all. So we went back and sat down and she downed about 1/2 of my smoothie.
We then went to check-in at the gate. Naomi was pretty ready for a nap at this point, but not ready to sleep. Elijah then announced that he had to go to the bathroom. I tried to issue a “pee in a bottle in the corner” routine, but Joe overruled and took him to find somewhere to go. We got on the plane and were thankful to see it was not a full flight. Joe and I sat in the middle section with Naomi between us, while Abby and Elijah took two aisle seats together. Before the plane took off, I managed to sing/shush Noami to sleep in her car seat. She stayed asleep during the take-off, so I figured I had about 2 hours of peace and quiet. Joe got Abby and Elijah set up watching some movies (Turkish Airlines has on-demand movies, so we pretty much let the kids veg in front of the boob tube for the whole flight!) After 30 minutes of being in the air, Naomi woke-up. I thought maybe something had just startled her so I tried to “shush” her some more, but no amount of hot air from my mouth was working. All of the sudden I started to smell something. Then I looked down at her legs and noticed she had some staining down there. As I pulled her out of her car seat, I saw that there was poop all up her back and down her legs (and subsequently on the car seat as well!) I called Joe for a back-up and did a baby wipes bath on her in the bathroom (thinking all the while what may have caused this before it dawned on me that maybe a lot of smoothie with cow’s milk may not have been the best idea!), while changing her into the extra outfit I had (thankfully) packed. It wasn’t the greatest way to start the flight, but we were at least able to laugh through it.
The rest of the flight was actually very uneventful. Naomi fell asleep a bit later for 45 minutes or so, but stayed in her car seat for all but maybe 45 minutes of the flight. We had decided beforehand, that besides when I nursed her, we would just keep her in the seat. Abby and Elijah didn’t sleep, but were pretty well-behaved sitting in their seats the whole time. When we got to Chicago, we were thankful to get out and stretch out our legs a bit. It was especially nice to be in the United States with some good bagels to snack on!
Our flight was delayed a bit, so we were wondering if this was going to be a repeat of 4 years ago when our flight in Chicago kept getting delayed time after time. But after one delay we had a gate. The kids ran around and played with some other kids. I realized how I used to think kids should be so much more well-behaved in public places. It reminded me how I have no idea what a person or family’s background is or what they have been through. After having sat for 12 hours, I was happy to let our kids run a bit!
Once we got on the plane to Philadelphia, the meltdown started. Abby was screaming about wanting to watch more movies, while I suggested she just may want to lay down and sleep. She of course insisted she wasn’t tired. Naomi was also screaming in my face as well. Joe took the easy traveling child (Elijah) who just laid his head down on Joe’s lap and fell asleep. Eventually both Naomi and Abby fell asleep as well. My fear of man on the plane has certainly diminished over the years. Where before I would be stressed out if my children were crying, now if they are I just figure once I have done all I can do, everyone else will just have to grant us some grace!
We landed in Philadelphia and were met by Joe’s dad and sister. Elijah could not be roused for anything. Naomi and Abby both gave happy smiles. Naomi was not interested in going to anyone but me (and still isn’t too much after 2 weeks of being home), so we all loaded in two cars and headed back. That night Elijah woke up freaked out about where he was and Naomi was up early the next morning. But by 3 days in, all the kids were back sleeping to their normal times.
Another trip down by the grace of God!