Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Longest Weekend Of My Life

Well, we made it to South Korea! What a trip! This was truly the longest weekend of my life. Now that it's all done I can say that I'm just glad God gave me a sense of humor to be able to endure all that went on. Many of you have asked for details, so here you go...
We went to the airport Friday morning, waited FOREVER in line... then finally got to the counter to check in, only to have the ticket/baggage check guy tell me that we didn't have tickets....????? What!? (insert panic attack)
Apparently, the Army had refunded the original tickets we were assigned to when we were suppose to leave with Peter and then when they assigned us new tickets, they did so under the same ticket number. But our ticket number came up "refunded" so the guy told me, you have tickets but the Army hasn't paid for them yet. We had to then, find the number for Ft. Lee and talk to the travel people who booked our flights. The first two numbers were no longer numbers of the travel office and one belonged to a woman who was very upset that she keeps getting calls for the military on her home number...
The ticket/baggage guy warned me..."If you don't have new tickets issued in the next 20 min. you are not going to make this plane." Peter's Dad, Brad finally got ahold of Ft. Lee travel and we got our new tickets 10 minutes later. (thanks Brad!) During all of this Peter's Mom, Debi, and Amber and Cassie were entertaining the kids and watching the 10 pieces of luggage that we had. We were finally able to check our bags and head down to security. The nice ticket/baggage man gave Mom and Dad Adams, Amber and Cassie gate passes so that they could help me get through security and down to the plane. (Thank you for all your help! It sure was nice having extra hands during it all!) We said quick goodbyes and immediately get on the plane...yes it took THAT long to get all the tickets/baggage stuff worked out.
We get on the plane and find that our seats are 2 together and 2 more 4 ROWS BACK and ONE all alone, across the isle and down somewhere! I told the flight attendant in my nicest voice, "This is not going to work for me." Thankfully, she smiled and told me to pick which set of two I wanted and we will ask the people in the other seats to move. So the first guy came and told me I was in his seat and then realized I was with the kids and moved on to where I was suppose to sit. The second guy did the same and I just kept thanking God that they were nice enough to not cause a fuss or care where they sat. Then I realized that Samuel wasn't going to sit in a seat all by himself anyway, I was going to end up holding him, it was a short flight to Detroit. So I told the flight attendant that we were fine with the 4 seats that we had and if there was someone assigned the the last seat that they could have it, we didn't have to ask them to move. It turns out there was someone there and he happened to be Army too, his wife is expecting their first baby in a few months and he was excited to sit next to Samuel and talk 'babies' most of the time. Another "THANK YOU LORD!"
So this is how we were set up....
The three big kids were together and then Samuel and I were across the isle from them. This first flight was short and great, the kids were excited about the trip and it was all still new and fun for them. After we landed we got lots of compliments from everyone around us about how well they did and the guy sitting next to me told me that he hopes his kids are as well behaved as mine someday. Yay! Praise God for the encouragement and helping us through this first to get to the next plane. 
We got off the plane and made our way down to the next gate as fast as we could. My thinking being that we could check in, make sure we could have all of our seats together, then I could take everyone to the bathroom before we get on the next flight. The ticket lady for our flight to Korea said, "We don't do that", when I asked her to make sure the kids and I could all sit together. The tickets the army gave to us were a random 5, all spread out. I proceeded to tell her that the oldest child was only 5 and there was NO WAY any of them will be spending the entire 14 hour flight by themselves. She handed me my tickets and said, "Then you ask people to move." I'm pretty fuming by this point and thinking that this is part of their job right? Is it wrong for me to ask her to help me do this???

It would have been wonderful if he had moved, then Faith, Samuel and I could have had three seats to spread out in, and we should have had that since Samuel did have his own ticket. But the flight attendant told me if someone did not want to move then we couldn't make them. He did not get up once during the entire flight until the very last hour! And the window shade was closed the entire time. He would occasionally lift it up and peek out but never opened it. :[ ...Just to make things more difficult for me??...
We were pretty much the last ones on the plane and had to walk all the way to almost the back for our seats so by the time we got settled it was time to take off. I started praying!
Joy and Joshua did amazing! They sat in the row with a nice Korean man who spoke pretty good English and he was kind enough to move to the other end since he was originally sitting where Joshua was and then I would have been even further from the kids. There was seriously not a single complaint from these two. I was/am so proud of them! They took naps when they were sleepy and stayed very entertained with their backpacks full of fun. We were really disappointed though because there were no, in my opinion, kid friendly movies being shown during the flight. The 'kid friendly' labeled movies were,  the new Alice in Wonderland....hello? I saw that, totally scary for a kid! The other choices were Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Tooth Fairy....none of those would be very entertaining for a 4 and 5 year old. I thought that was going to ruin it for us since I was counting on have a movie to help pass some of the time.
But we didn't need it. They kept themselves very entertained! God sure took care of them....because of course he knew that the other two would be very needy. :)
Faith did sleep for a little while, but certainly not as much as I'd hoped she would. The flight was really hard for her, and with my hands full holding Samuel the entire flight it was extra challenging to comfort her. She did well I think for a two year old but needed lots of entertainment. I read several books over and over again....then I looked at our 'time remaining' that I could look up on the screen in the headrest in front of me.....11 hours 46 minutes to go..... And then I prayed harder!
After several trips to the bathroom with the other kids I decided to change Samuel's diaper again and this time change his clothes since somehow his diaper was leaking and now his pants and my skirt were wet where he was sitting....Lovely, now I'm going to smell like pee. I'm so glad I brought an extra outfit for him in my bag....So Samuel gets changed. We now have 10 hours 57 minutes to go. :[
10 hours, 43 minutes to go....I feel the rumble on my lap and then warm...wet....Oh no! Please Lord!...Ugh, I can smell it now too... Samuel has just had an explosion in and out of his diaper not more than 15 minutes after I changed him AND his clothes....I only brought one change of clothes for him. He doesn't usually have problems like this and the diapers never leak. So why today? Did they keep moving around because he was squirming around on my lap for hours on end? I don't know the reason, all I know is it is now, pouring out onto his legs...and my skirt and I am trying to catch it and wrap his blanket strategically around him so that it stays in one place. Now most diapers I can change on my lap, so the fact that there are NO baby changing tables in and airplane normally doesn't bother me. But THIS bothered me. Faith is sleeping at this point so I decided it was okay to leave her there while I ran down the isle to the bathroom to try and figure this out. I told Joy I was heading down to change him and I'd be right back. I got into the ridiculously tiny bathroom holding Samuel who is now fussy and tried to figure out how to do this. There is not even a counter to lay him on. I prayed Lord help me! and proceeded to lay his now already filthy blanket over the lid of the toilet and lay him down on it. I peeled his clothes off and after about a 1/2 pack of wipes had him cleaned up enough until I could get him in the bath....SEVERAL hours later. I have no extra clothes for him! So I put back on the previously leaked through clothes that were a bit damp, but better than these....
I know, gross, but I had to take a picture to help you with the visual of the situation I was in. And don't skirt is now nicely smeared, but I didn't take a picture of that one. You're welcome. ;) I cleaned myself up as best I could, one handed with a baby wipe then headed back to our seat. I rolled up the offending articles of clothing, stuffed them into my bag and prayed that they wouldn't stink for the next 10+ hours we had left!
The remainder of the time s-l-o-w-l-y passed and my body ached more with each passing minute because I was holding Samuel the whole time with little room to move around or switch positions. Faith was laying on me most of the time and the Korean man next to me never moved. And then I had to go to the bathroom.....
I decided I'd walk all the way to the bathroom with Samuel and 'figure it out' when I got there. Well, I got there and couldn't figure it out! So I asked a sweet Korean lady sitting right outside the bathroom door with her own child in a seat next to her if she would please hold Samuel for me for a minute while I used the bathroom....she said something to me in Korean, I assume it was something like, "I don't know what you just said, but I'd be happy to hold the baby." Because she smiled and reached out for Samuel and motioned for me to go back into the bathroom. (Thank you God!)
The next several hours were uneventful and I tried so hard to sleep when the kids did, but it was impossible. So then there was tons of bumpy turbulence the last 1/2 hr of the flight. We land. Joy says, "That wasn't so long Mom." :) Sweet girl, I'm glad you didn't think so.
They turn off the seat belt sign. Joshua stands up in the isle and says, "Mom, my tummy hurts." Before I can answer he throws up all over Faith who begins to scream, "Joshua threw up in my ear!" Everyone around us makes the 'Oh no, I'm so glad I'm not you noises' and I quickly get Joshua out of the isle so that everyone can pass us. I again use another 1/2 pack of wipes to clean up Joshua and Faith as best I can so we can get off the plane. Her hair is wet and matted on one side and both of their clothes are soiled bad. She was right too, he did throw up in her ear!...Please God, no more gross stuff today, I don't think I can handle it! (Oh but I won't give you more than you can handle....) Yeah, yeah, I get that, but really?
We got off the plane and tried to make our way to the baggage claim after using the bathroom. The airport was surprisingly very empty. Several times we were the only ones in the hall. It was kind of strange. The people we did run into were very nice though and tried their best to speak English and point us in the right direction...I must have looked like a lost American...a crazy one at that with a bunch of kids. Everyone would 'oooh' over the kids and pet their heads and make goo-goo faces at them to which my kids giggled and questioned, thankfully after we had walked away. We took an elevator, then a fast tram and finally found Customs, made it through, then baggage. Peter wasn't allowed to go to that point so I was on my own. A nice airport employee that Peter had talked to came to help me with a cart and our 10 bags. Then he handed me his phone and said he called Peter for me. So I tried to talk to Peter for a minute while I pointed out our bags to the Korean man who was helping me. We had music note ribbons tied on all of our bags that made them easy to spot. I had told him we had 10 bags and he was moving really fast. Before I knew it he was done and moving and I hung up the phone and followed him. One of Peter's friend's 'Bright' met me at the next door and took our luggage cart and pushed it the rest of the way till we met up with Peter at the USO. We had to wait then for the bus to get us to the hotel. As Peter was arranging all of that I was looking at our cart of luggage and realized that two of the bags were not ours! They did have ribbons on them, but not the same kind of ribbons as mine. So Peter and Bright ran back the two bags that were not ours and tried to find my missing 2. But just before this Peter told me that we left a bag at Mom and Dad Adams house. "One with some clothes and diapers", he said.  I tried my best to remember a bag that I had packed that had some clothes and diapers in it and I thought, maybe it was extra stuff that I had thrown together after I finished packing other things??? He didn't know what size, etc. at that point. So he was gone looking for my bags and I stared at my pile of luggage going over in my head everything that was in each. Then it hit me....the two bags that were not on the cart were MY BIG suitcase full of ALL of my clothes, the suitcase of bathroom stuff and the suitcase that was all diapers and wipes....Wait, that means I actually had 11 bags! But I KNOW we only checked 10. Two per person. That means the bag with "some clothes and diapers" in it was MY BIG SUITCASE WITH ALL MY CLOTHES IN IT!! It was the last bag zipped up and was still sitting in the bedroom at Mom and Dad Adams house. Diapers I could buy more of, but ALL of my clothes?! What am I going to do? 
Peter and Bright return with one bag. The bathroom bag. We talk to the airlines to try and track down the other. They find it and tell us that it's still in Detroit, never made it on the flight to Korea but they'll get it to us tomorrow.  We finally we able to get on the bus and head over to the hotel at Yongsan (the base close to the airport but not where we are stationed). We eat and crash for the night.
Today we got up and had breakfast, walked around outside the hotel and visited the PX in hopes of finding me something to wear. Thankfully the night before we left I had done a small load of laundry of the clothes that the kids and I had worn that day because I didn't want to pack anything dirty. Those clothes I threw in the pocket of another suitcase right before we left for the airport Friday morning. So I did have one other outfit to wear. But I can't wear my clothes I traveled in again until I wash them...Remember all the messy stuff from the plane? Yeah, not pretty. Unfortunately there was little to choose from amongst the clothes there and nothing in my size. I grabbed one shirt and we headed out.
We did get to enjoy the beautiful grounds of the hotel for awhile though. :)

Here is the view from our room.
It's very green and beautiful here!

Outside of the Dragon Hill Lodge.

So happy to be with Daddy again!

This is the roof of the gazebo. So colorful!

I love all the pretty landscaping and plants.
They are gorgeous!

Samuel enjoyed his ride on Daddy's shoulders.

We had some time still before we had to check out and catch the bus to go to Camp Humphreys. (the base we are stationed at). So we took the kids out on the playground at the hotel. They ran around and loved it!

Then it was time to check out and catch the bus. Only, the bus station was a couple of blocks away from the hotel and we had 9 bags, a stroller, 3 big kids, 5 backpacks and a baby in a carrier....(can you sing that one?) So we had to get 2 cabs to take all of us and our bags a couple of blocks to the bus station. They did, but when we got there the driver told us they were not allowed to drive all the way up to the bus station and they had to drop us off at the back of the parking lot. So here the kids and I sat in the hot sun while Peter ran to buy the bus tickets and make sure we could go before we drug all the luggage across the parking lot. 

We then took turns waking all the luggage across the lot, then waited a long time for our bus. It finally arrived and we loaded up and settled in for the 2 hour ride.

           Everyone was so tired!

We finally made it to Camp Humphreys 
and had a chance to relax,,,,

We'll have a chance to go see our home tomorrow but we won't move in until the furniture gets delivered later this week. Its finally over. We survived this huge transition. Lots of crazy, stressful things happened, I'm in a foreign country without all of my clothes and I'm more tired than I've ever been in my life... but I handled it all and didn't cry a tear until I looked down and saw this...

At some point during this crazy trip, the big diamond on my wedding ring was broken off. The whole thing! Prongs and all. Its not like the diamond just fell out, its completely gone. :(  It was such a hectic time, I have no idea when it would have happened but I guess probably sometime when I was throwing all the luggage around from one place to the next. It had to have been something really heavy and strong to break off though. So I am really sad about that, but at least our family is all back together and finally getting to begin this new adventure God has called us to.  :)


  1. Oh Bre! I am so sorry about your ring....but you are all safe and the ring can be replaced....none of you can! I love you so much and I am so proud of you! You are an amazing woman and so strong! Thanks for sharing your beautiful journal writing with all of us. I look forward to the next chapter! Good Moma

  2. Wow, what an adventure! So glad you made it safely. So sorry about your ring. :(