Monday, January 25, 2010

Travel: South Carolina

My whirlwind trip to South Carolina began at 5am Tuesday, January 19th, when I woke to prepare for the 13 hours of travel that were ahead of me. My kids were still asleep when I left the house that morning, we had said our goodbyes the night before so there wasn't much delay in getting out the front door.

I picked up my parents, sister and her four kids. Between people, carseats and luggage my suburban was filled to capacity. The trip to and through the Seattle-Tacoma airport was easier than expected, the kids were happy and cooperative and excited for their departure to their new life in South Carolina. Grandma and Grandpa Call waved their goodbyes and sadly returned home. Going through security with so many kids was an adventure with four extra sets of pockets, coats, belts, shoes and backpacks to strip off, screen and replace. Onlookers complimented us on our strategy, organization and courage.
Usually the airlines allow families traveling with small children to board before the masses. We were a bit miffed when we found this wasn't the case with our Delta flight. We were worried about getting the luggage situated in the cabins and keeping the carseats from bonking elbows as we drug them through the aisles. Fortunately Ella, Dacia's 2 1/2 year old, was too excited to keep herself in line and darted through the checkpoint and down the ramp towards the airplane. The attendants quickly moved us to the front of the line and, after checking our tickets, let us follow her into the airplane ahead of the crowd--I promise we did not plan this, just a happy coincidence!

Ella buckling up, again.

Tanner taking a rest.

Anson playing with and holding baby Joseph.

The kids were very good on the plane. They spent their time eating snacks, trading seats, coloring, playing with cars, trading seats, eating snacks, watching movies, trading seats, eating snacks, writing notes and napping. Did I say trading seats and eating snacks?

The flight took off at 8am so when we got up above the clouds we got to see a beautiful sunrise. I love to see the deep blue of the sky in contrast to the puffy white, whipped cream clouds but with the kids I didn't get much time to look. The 5 1/2 hour flight followed by a 1 hour lay over in Cincinatti followed by a 2 hour flight to Charlotte, North Carolina went so quickly that the next time I looked out the window it was sunset.

And what a beautiful one it was! Somewhere, out there under that golden orb is my family. The kids are just getting home from school greeted by a big warm hug from Grandma Peg. She will help them with homework, drive them to activities, cheer on Kirkham at his last wrestling match of the year (he won!), make them dinner and get them ready for bed. All before their dad, her son, gets home from work at 7:30 pm. What a great grandma she is!

We arrived in North Carolina after dark, rented a minivan, met up with Dacia's husband Devin, stopped in at a Wendy's for burgers and received some bad news: The appraisal came in too low on the new house and some new negotiations were in order. Dacia and Devin drove Devin's small commuter car conducting negotiations and conference calls in an effort to straighten out the mess in time to close the house before their motel money ran out while I caravaned behind them in the minivan with the sleeping kids and luggage.

The next two days were crazy full of motel rooms and rental cars. We checked out the new house, made visits to banks and The Walmart (in the south it is not called Walmart, it is called The Walmart by everyone) and the kids new school.

Ella's getting tired of being in the car.

The entrance to the new school.

Finally on Thursday we got the all clear on the house. Papers are signed when Devin gets off work. While they are gone signing papers I am moving them into their new house with the help of 20-30 men, women and children from their new church. I actually didn't do much moving, they came in and took over and before I knew it there was a mother in the sunroom playing duck duck goose with all the kids, a woman stirring chicken soup on the stove and an assembly line of men stretching from the garage, through the family room and up the stairs tossing boxes and lugging in furniture. When Dacia and Devin got home their moving truck was 2/3rds empty and their house was full of new friends and southern hospitality. What a blessing!

A few new friends gave us our first lessons in speaking Southern. We learned to say "Ya'll come back now" instead of see you later or "Be Good" instead of Goodbye. Ella was the only one to nail it. The rest of us will be practicing that for a while.

After the moving crew went home we got the kids to bed and stayed up late unpacking and organizing. Friday morning the boys went to their first day of school. Dacia spent most of her day on the phone making arrangements with utility companies and the like. I spent my day unpacking and organizing her kitchen (my favorite part of the whole trip) and helping her create some semblance of home by arranging furniture and assembling beds. By Friday night we were tired and hitting the bottom of our adrenaline rush but the house was looking mostly livable and there was still time to make a couple loaves of bread. We slept well that night.

Saturday morning I slept in trying to get back a little closer to Washington time again. I woke to the smell of Dacia's famous and super delicious from scratch Buttermilk pancakes and warm maple syrup. We ate, unpacked another couple of boxes, cleaned out the rental car and said our "be good"s. Before setting out on the 2 hour drive back to Charlotte I took a few pictures of their beautiful new community.

Dacia, Tanner, Anson and Ella waving goodbye.

The swimming pool, cabana and playground across the street

The Lake that is behind the pool and playground

The dam and creek at the end of Lake, behind the pool and playground

The drive back to Charlotte was quiet and peaceful. I checked in the rental car and made my way uneventfully through security and to the appropriate gate. I exchanged texts with Dacia and Dave while waiting to board the plane and spent most of the plane rides reading or sleeping. Dave and the kids met me at the airport; the kids jumped out of the car to load my bags and smother me in hugs and kisses while Dave watched from the drivers seat with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. On the way home I entertained the kids with funny stories about my week with their cousins, they wanted all the details.

We picked up some Taco Bell on the way home and 13 hours after my departure from Dacia's front door I sat down at my dining room table for a late dinner with my very happy family. They had cleaned the house till it shone earlier that day as a surprise for me. The floors were mopped, the counters were cleared, the laundry was done and the beds all had fresh sheets. There was nothing left for me to do except read them a bedtime story and tuck them all in to bed. A perfect ending to a very busy week!

3 comments:

  1. very beautiful! a job well done!! :) xoxo

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  2. Wow Dani.....what a great family you have. I am happy that everything went well with all of your travels. Traveling with kids is so much fun when properly planned. You are a great sister and I know that even though you will miss seeing yours, you will continue to be close to her.

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  3. Dacia is very blessed to have you for a sister! I'm sure it brought her great comfort to have you there during such a major transition period in their lives.

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