It’s been seven years. Seven very long years since I’ve seen my sister. Eight years for my nieces, and well, a couple of months since my brother-in-law. But dude. Seven years. Its just crazy to think about, right? So I don’t. I instead just focus on when I’m going to see her again. (Which is what I’m currently doing actually!) One would think the time and distance may put a hindrance on our relationship- but it never has. Like, ever. And there’s something to be said about that. Those invisible bonds that have been woven in years gone by. She and her fam also just happen to be super awesome people, which I suppose makes it stupid-easy to miss them. But honest to goodness, there is something about family.
And it’s something that kids especially can just pick up on. No need to explain it, they just know when they’re with family. Like they can smell it. I’m sure of it. Like, never mind the fact that I’ve never met you before, I am at ease with you. That sense of belonging is truly undeniable and is actually pretty much palpable when we’re together. Just ask the waitress who was brought to tears whilst waiting on us one night. Kid you not! (More on that later.)
So needless to say, this trip was bound to be epic – no matter what was on our itinerary, because firstly, it would the very first time that I ever travelled with my mom since our last family trip to Canada, when I was but a little babe – dude, props to my mom and dad, they did that trip with SIX kids in tow. SIX. And they apparently breezed through it all. Props, I tell you. Massive, gold-lined props.
Secondly, its epicness would also be owed to the fact that this would be the first time that my sister would ever meet our children. Let that just sink in a bit. First time, ever. Also the first time her two girls would meet my two girls.
Getting to that point of boarding the plane of epicness however, was pretty epic too, but in a far less “it’s awesome” way. Because, as you may have read, we spent the week before in hospital with Parker-Grace and her sucker punch case of pneumonia. Which, just for dramatic effect, ended with her picking up sister’s hand foot and mouth disease too. Anyhoo, there’s us, wondering if we’d ever leave the country given that our priorities layed with the children’s health. So we said our prayers, sorted out our tickets two days before flight – yes, just two days before, cause that’s our style – and went in for yet another doctor’s opinion. You know, ‘cause we didn’t bleed enough money yet, and also need to just be sure about our girl’s health on the flight. And also to get my very-well meaning mom to stop making me like the worst mom ever for wanting to take my kids on a flight after just being discharged from hospital. (As if I hadn’t already thought things through, applied myself fully to the situation and done all I possibly could have. But mothers never stop being mothers I suppose, and I know she does it all with love.)
Needless to say we were given the greenest light ever from doctor and were sent off with a proper, “drop your worries and go enjoy” from the doc. And so we did, except we were as tired all blue blazers! Some were suggesting that we wait for a later time when we were better rested, but there’s only so much time in this world that we have. And based on recent history, we’ve been exhausted pretty much all year, if not longer…and seemingly exceedingly worse as the year progresses. So we pushed on, nothing was going to stop us from this vacation. We needed it.
In fact, I don’t know about you, but when I fly off to far off places that is the only time that not a single care is carried in my bones. And up until that point, my bone’s carrying capacity was saturated! Like if there were any more cares then these bones were going to snap. So care-free bones is what it was. It’s what my soul craved for, and what my gut felt strongly about – so I wanted to leave ‘yesterday’ already!
By pure serendipity, we found the most awesome travel agent about three days before flew, who did all our bookings and confirmations once we gave him the go. (Things that I would have done myself, but those bones, remember? So I gladly handed over the logistics-reigns to him and never looked back.)
Boarding that plane was where our holiday truly began. I mean sure we often come flying through those airport doors tripping over odds and ends that are straggling out of our bags, making a poor attempt at a mad dash as we try to drag our short-legged kids along. Mike even joked, huffing and puffing as we made it into the queue, “This is so Griswold-esque.” I looked at him, half giggling, because he’s always made fun of me saying that I am the real life Clark Griswold come Christmas time…and then I realised this Griswold-ness may be infiltrating all our other holiday times too. Both funny and worrisome, I suppose. But let’s go with funny mostly.
To give you an idea that it’s not just in our heads, my friend asked me with a half confused half laughing expression, as she came to see me in the car on the way to the airport, “are you still getting dressed back here?” For the record, I wasn’t, I just probably didn’t look all pulled together that’s all.) But crazy rushing, and some ill-fated luck at times, the travelling bit still really is part of the experience for me. And as I’ve discovered (and now completely confirmed) it’s the same for Morgan-Lee. She gets the same kind of buzz I do from take-off (remember how I told she whooped and applauded after her first take off as a 1 and half year old? See here.). In fact she’s now someone I have to fight for the window seat but also someone I’d gladly give it up for – just to see that look on her face again. (I find I’m more watching her reaction now, instead of the view in any case.)
The girls are pretty easy flyers, and I think we can count ourselves fortunate in that respect. No issues with ears, sleep pretty easily on the plane, and are game for any decent entertainment you provide.
Also, they find the endless on board movies an absolute treat. Even during long airport layovers, they entertain themselves….and apparently fellow passengers too! Danced for them, somehow smoothly involved them in their games ( “quick, hide me under your legs before my sister comes! Tell her I’m not here”), had some flight staff swinging with them on poles, rolling on the floor, and were even invited to come facetime with their friends. Before these seriously lovely people ran off for their next flight, the girls taught them our little goodbye ritual and made them do it before they ran off hollering back well wishes.
Ahh, I hope they never lose their innate ability to connect with others. It’s a joy to watch.
But yeah, Mikey and I shouldn’t complain about them as travellers – like shut us up if we ever were to. Not to say we didn’t have our moments- especially on our trip back home. There was a particularly classic moment which will be forever filed away under the “my life just flashed before my eyes, but I can laugh at it now” kind of stories.
Yes, we laugh about it now, even if it’s still a bit tainted with some wtf shudders..But nonetheless we laugh very heartily about these memories. Memories that certainly share space with some more graceful and awesome ones for sure!
Before we knew it, the 33 hour flight landed aand the rest of our adventure was about to unfold. Months of hemming and haa’ing, dramatic hurdle after dramatic hurdle, we finally made it…Houston, we have landed!!!
So after piling kiddies and luggage onto trollies at IAH (airport) we made the much anticipated walk through those sacred airport doors…Sacred? A bit dramatic you ask? But those doors signify the portal to many a long awaited reunion between loved ones…and our’s was no different. So not overly dramatic at all, you see.
I remembered to do a quick orientation-check with my girls as we walked to that portal to get them ready. And just before those doors opened I did the last bit of mental prep for girls, “here we Morgy and Parky, aunty Shona is right behind that door…Are you ready?!” And with Morgy’s uncontrollable smile and nodding head, along with Pax’s typical “shying away but I’m ready” body language, BOOM, the doors opened and there they were….family!!!!!
The happiness and relief to see them again came streaming in, just as it does every time we see each other. So with that familiar feeling I figured I could keep my emotions in check…which I did…until I got to my sister…Then it was like the switch was flipped and the flood gates opened…my eyes were leaking all over the place. Which was probably better that I left her for last, as the first time I came to visit them, I dove into her first up, and then proceeded to leak all over every subsequent person thereafter. Poor folks. Poor,poor, wet folks.
We made it. And we couldn’t have been happier. Chatting already as if there never was this seven year pause of not seeing each other, as we all piled into the massive van. And jet lag? Not even a thought.(yet) It’s just the effect these people have on us -all four of them. They make me happy with just their presence alone.
As for that sense of family? It’s an odd and beautiful thing, one would think that there would be a lot more pomp and ceremony about my sister finally meeting our babies, right? And vice versa of our babies being faced with this new strange face(s). But it seems that when you’re with family, none of that is required. It was all just so natural to see my sister wrap her love around my girls as if they had been doing it all the time. Even she echoed the very same sentiment to me after we arrived back home in S.A. – it was just a natural and normal to have them close by. And the kids? Well, I believe they felt it too, as was evident in the way they took over their home in five minutes flat! 🙂
More on Houston soon. X (See here.)