A 1.5 hour car ride, 3 flights (one international), 1 bus, and a taxi ride over the course of 26 hours is a little daunting alone with a toddler and an infant. But when Eric realized he needed to be in India for almost two weeks and then fly straight to Brasil for another two weeks, I saw no other option. Mama wasn't about to spend the entire month of September alone with the kids! Eric had all kinds of excuses as to why he couldn't take the children with him and leave me in peace for a month (some nonsense about needing to accomplish some work?)
So the girls and I drove up to Cedar Rapids on Thursday morning, hopped a plane to Dallas, killed 5 hours in the airport, boarded an overnight flight to Rio de Janeiro, made our way through customs and immigration, checked into another airline, and finally made it into Belo Horizonte's airport at 11:00 am on Friday morning. My Brasil BFF, Megan, met me at the airport and helped me lug the two girls, their two carseats, and all 146 pounds of luggage on board the airport shuttle bus to downtown BH and then transfer it all to a taxi and into her apartment. The president of Brasil happened to be making an appearance here at the moment we arrived and traffic was a nightmare. Our 10 minute taxi ride took 1 1/2 hours. I was rather delirious by the time we arrived. And very ready for a nap. The girls were exceptionally well rested and ready to party it up. Megan totally saved me.
The girls were AMAZING. No, really. I know they are my kids. And I know everyone thinks their own kids are awesome. But seriously. I was a bit anxious about the whole journey. I played out every imaginable scenario in my mind to try and figure out what I would do if my two year old darted off and snuck onto a plane to Abu Dhadi and simultaneously Lilian had a massive blow out while attached to me and we both were completely covered in poop. I think I was prepared to handle anything the kids, the FAA, or the airline might throw at me. But it was so easy. Despite that I probably gave myself an ulcer in the days leading up to our travels, the girls made me look like SuperMommy! You could see the not-at-all-pleased looks of airline employees, security checkers, flight attendants, and other passengers as they saw me coming with two little ones all by myself. But we had won them all over by the time we walked away and received so many compliments.
I talked to Gabriela a lot in the couple days leading up to our trip and told her all about what we were going to do and how she was really going to have to follow directions well. Our daily prayers included a request for easy flights, for Gabriela and Lilian to behave themselves, and for Mamãe to have lots and lots of patience and stamina. And oh how blessed we were!
Gabriela, who is basically a good kid, but is only two and doesn't always mind perfectly, did everything I asked her to do. The first time I asked. And never once complained. Never once whined. Never once cried (except for at the very end of our final flight when she really wanted to look out the window and I told her she had to sit down and buckle up, but it lasted less than 20 seconds).
Lilian was a total champ. She was so easy going and content. She is crawling and cruising like crazy and hates to be contained right now, so I was sure she'd have a hard time with having to sit in her carseat for such long stretches of time. She was lacking in the sleep department by the end of it all, but, same as Gabs, never whined or cried. At all!
There was one moment on the overnight flight at about 4:00 am when I looked over at my two sleeping beauties and got totally teary-eyed. Not really like me at all, but I was so overwhelmed with how well behaved they had both been despite missing naps and being rushed around and being confined to carseats and told they must be quiet. I think it was partially just the exhaustion setting in (as I hadn't had much sleep the night before either with all the last minute preparations for the trip), but I seriously had to stop looking over at the angelic children beside me for fear of starting the waterworks. Plus, I didn't want to get too attached to that idea of my children...I knew it wouldn't last forever and didn't want to be disappointed when they returned to their normal ornery selves later on. haha
I also decided that patience is a lot easier to come by when your kids are behaving. I try to be a calm, patient person on a daily basis, especially when it comes to dealing with the babes. And while I usually succeed and have a cool exterior, I am often boiling over on the inside. I was 100% calm and easy going throughout the whole adventure. That was kind of nice. :)
Eric arrived in Brasil about 13 hours after we did. He was a brave soul as he recounted how he hung out in the Admirals Lounge eating free sushi and drinking free wine and how lovely it was when got upgraded for free to First Class on two of his flights. (He has earned quite the status on American Airlines with all this traveling he's been doing the last year!) Luckily I had taken a nap before he arrived and was able to maintain that earlier calm and restrain myself from strangling him with the strap of one of the two carseats I hauled across a continent by myself with two children.
It's been nice to see my hubby and to not be out-numbered by my kids. After moving out of Megan's apartment and to our hotel on Saturday morning, we enjoyed a low key weekend with a couple different friends. It feels good to be here -even if it is unseasonably cool at the moment.
And after the great trip down here, I've decided to keep my kids. About Day 10 alone with them back home last week, I was considering selling them to the Gypsies.
Oh now, you know I'm only kidding.
I might have locked myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes of peace though. Okay, so it was 15 minutes. If it makes you feel better I did pay for it later. Do you know how big of a mess unsupervised children will make in 15 minutes?