This post is nearly a month overdue. I cannot believe that we've been camping out in America for nearly 4 weeks now. The good thing about that statement is that we only have two more weeks before Adam will be here with us!
How we got to America this time, was not without its ups and downs. Actually, nothing truly awful happened. We zipped through customs in Korea and Chicago, and our bags came out on the conveyor belt right away (seems like we're usually waiting an hour or more for our bags). Nothing was lost or stolen, and Willow was relatively well-behaved during the entire two day trip.
But, we did have a bit of a hiccup. The main reason I haven't written about our return trip up until now is because the beginning of the story frustrated me so much that I probably wouldn't be able to write about it in a civil way.
We left on a Tuesday morning. The school van was scheduled to pick us up at 8:00 am. Which meant that we had to be mostly packed and ready the night before. We spent Monday saying farewell to many friends, and it seemed that I wasn't actually packing my suitcases until quite late at night. Had to wake up early to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, making sure the house was ok to be left, and getting Willow ready and fed. When the clock struck 8:10, the van still wasn't around. So I walked out to the gate to see if it was waiting there instead of driving to our building. It wasn't there, so I walked back to our apartment building, only to find that the van was waiting there. We must have passed each other somehow. The driver was very unhelpful and made my mother in law do most of the carrying and lifting of heavy 50 pound suitcases and carry ons.
We drove to the airport and were doing great with time. When we got to the airport, the driver (who is employed by our school), was once again, not as helpful as I was hoping he would be. We got in line to check-in, and when it was our turn at the counter the ticket clerk said that we did NOT have tickets for the flight.
Since neither Adan nor I had bought the tickets (the school purchased them for us this summer), I had minimal information. I mostly just knew when our flight was leaving, but I didn't have any official receipts. I called the school, got transferred to the purchasing manager who had bought our tickets, and had him to talk to the Korean Air employees. Basically, the news was that our plane didn't leave until 4:30pm.
The purchasing manager told me on the phone that it was my fault that we had gone in too early. That he had sent me an email to tell me of the changed flight plans. He chastised me for not checking my email before I left that morning.
I was livid.
First of all, I had checked my email around 7am, but there had been nothing from him. Later he said that he must have sent it only to my husband. I told him he should have known that Adam was out of town in Beijing--all the secondary teachers were out of town on field trips and he should have realized that. Secondly, he had 2-3 months to tell me this information, and never had. Thirdly, when I finally got to check my email again, I saw that he hadn't sent Adam and I the email about the flight change until after 9am. And finally--why in the heck did they send the school van to pick us up and bring us to the airport at 8:00 if the flight didn't leave until 4:00?
All of this was frustrating, when you have a toddler who is antsy and growing more irritated by the minute. When you add the language barriers, it gets even more frustrating. At one point, the receptionist at school was acting as a translator--and I felt bad for her. I don't know why the purchasing manager felt the need to blame the whole situation on me, as if it were entirely my fault. But it most likely a major cultural difference (needing to save face), and it was not helping my frustration level. I was trying to ask that they send the school van back to pick us up and return us to our apartment. But they hung up on me. Had to call back, couldn't get through---finally they said they would send a driver to get us. During this waiting period, the doctor's office called me to give me my gestational diabetes test results. I thought to myself, "If they tell me that I have gestational diabetes, I am going to cry. I need some sugar right now!"
We had to load all the suitcases, plus the stroller and carry-ons again. Drive back to our complex. Unpack all the luggage, bring it all back into our apartment.....
The only good thing out of this situation was that Willow got to take a nap in her bed. Adam's mom went out and bought us some food for lunch, since we had nothing in the apartment, while I tried to change our hotel reservations. The transit hotel only keeps reservations for 3 hours--so if you're late, you lose your place and money.
I couldn't find the correct phone number. Plus skype wasn't letting me call. Skype wasn't letting me buy more minutes. Skype wasn't letting me sign into Adam's skype to use his minutes. Finally, had to ask a friend to call the hotel for me. At first, the number was wrong and so there was no reservation to delay at that place. Eventually, it was sorted out.
When 2:00 came around, we had to repack the school van with our luggage and go back to the airport. We were able to get our tickets--although it still took a while for the ticket counter to figure it all out. They didn't want to give Willow her own ticket, even though it had been purchased, because she was 22 months old and not 24 months old. They also didn't want me to fly, even though I was 29 weeks pregnant, and not even close to full term! Sheesh! Willow liked handing her passport and boarding pass to the customs official and of course said "xie xie" whenever she could. On the plane, they had us split up across an aisle--which was a little annoying. Willow had the window seat and enjoyed the short flight to Korea. I just wish there had been more helpful people aboard the plane to help us stow all the carry-ons we had. I couldn't have made this trip without Adam's mom, Karen. She was so helpful, and made the trip much easier for us.
When we arrived in Korea, we sped through customs (no line at all!), exchanged money, and ate dinner. We checked into the hotel and were able to get some rest that night before our long flight over the ocean. The next day we stopped at Starbucks for breakfast, and Willow played at a little play place. I love the Korean airport. It was a relief to be in an Air Conditioned terminal, after the frustrations of muggy Shenyang.
Okay...so I guess I'm still kind of upset about this ticket confusion. It's not really a big deal, and nothing terrible happened. We eventually did get to fly to America. I guess being too early for a flight is better than being too late. But still...I'm sensitive about people blaming me for problems that were not my fault. The van driver was not happy with me at all. I wouldn't be either---but I just wanted to tell him so badly that it wasn't my fault! My sense of justice was really in quandary since I couldn't communicate the situation to him. Oh well....I guess that's why he got less and less helpful with each trip.
|Nice transit hotel--don't even have to leave the terminal. Willow gets a crib, and the black out shades make it possible to sleep during the day. The bathroom and flat screen tv are also super nice. Free wi-fi too.|
|The little jet setter|
|The play place next to our gate|
During the long flight, Willow did not sleep very much. Even though she should have taken a 2-3 hour nap, and slept at least 4 or 5 hours during her "night", she only slept about an hour altogether. During the landing, there was quite a bit of turbulence, and as expected---Willow suffered from motion sickness. She gets car sick very easily, and the bumpy plane upset her stomach. I'm so over being thrown up on!
Willow accepted her fate---the car seat--better than anticipated. She watched Toy Story 3 on the mini van's tv while we drove through an intense rain storm. By the time we arrived in Lake Villa, both she and I were ready for a looooong nap.
Commence the week of weird sleeping patterns. Willow slept in 5-6 hour increments--never getting a whole night's rest for a week. What an exhausting, emotional, tantrum-filled week. Oof. Adam, you miss all the 'fun' times.
|Arrived in Lake Villa !|
|Dealing with jet lag---Sesame Street podcasts! She had set up the iPad against the pillow and was relaxing like a mini-adult. She cracks me up!|
|We've been shopping for lots of baby clothes.|
|How big I was when we first arrived.|
|Willow has discovered how to climb in and out of this little crib.|
She doesn't sleep in this crib anymore because she is much too tall, but she likes to sit and watch Sesame Street podcasts in the crib while I take showers.