Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hawaiian Vacation 2001 - A Flashback

The Surprise

Our departure was set for Sunday,January 21st. The secret had been kept from Carol for nearly nine months! In the week that led up to our Hawaiian getaway, there were so many fearful, nerve-wracking moments I could write an essay on that alone! Not really, but we went to dinner with my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend Friday night and spilled our guts. Earlier that day I had called my older sister to let her know that we wouldn’t be at their Superbowl party the following Sunday. By the time we got back to Bob and Carol’s to pick up the girls Rob and I were both giddy and deathly afraid we’d let something slip and ruin everything!

Once we got home, we put the girls to bed and then unloaded all the miscellaneous groceries Carol sent home with us. THEY were going to be gone for a week and a half – couldn’t let all that food spoil, now could we? I mixed up a breakfast casserole and got things lined up for Saturday morning’s breakfast. Yes, I invited Bob and Carol over for brunch Saturday morning before their flight. Christine was driving them to the airport, so she was coming too. And hey, why not invite Eric and his girlfriend Janet? Rob’s family knows a sucker when they see one, lol!

Saturday morning rolls around, and after nursing E2 and putting her back to bed, I got up to bake some breakfast and get some laundry going. It was early Flylady days, but my house was looking okay for the event. Of course, we hadn’t even begun to pack!

Breakfast went off without a hitch. Carol slipped me a bag of Oreo’s with the instructions to let E1 have one every day that they were gone. When the cookies were gone, that meant Grandma Carol and Grandpa Bob would be home soon. Grandpa Bob gave E2 strict instructions not to learn anything while they were gone. Then out the door they went.

E1 and I watched them climb into the car. “Bye Grandma and Grandpa! Have fun flying on an airplane to Hawaii!” E1 called. Before they had even left the driveway I asked her if WE should go to Hawaii too and play on the beach with Grandma and Grandpa. “OKAY!! That would be COOL!”

The rest of Saturday flew by in a somewhat controlled frenzy of laundry, packing, bringing the dog to be boarded, nursing, diaper changing, napping, and all other day to day events. By the time bath time rolled around, things were pretty much squared away. E1 kept asking if we were ready to fly on an airplane to Hawaii. Christine called to report that Bob and Carol’s flight had been delayed a bit, and that Christine had also almost let something slip about how many of us would be making the trip. EEK! She called again later to relay that Bob had called her as planned to let her know that he had ‘forgotten’ their island hopping tickets and could she please send them out on the Sunday flight?

Sunday morning had us loading up the car. We had three bags to be checked, and three carry-on bags. Not bad considering we’d also have two kids, the sling, and two car seats to tote also. The plan was to pack as though Rob and I had to handle things ourselves without help. Sure, Eric and Christine would be there, but it was to be their vacation also and we weren’t going to make any assumptions.

We made the trip to St. Louis in three cars. Christine drove separately because she thought she might go in to work after we returned the following Monday. She works for TWA and could park in her lot for free anyway. Eric and Janet were in Janet’s car. Janet was seeing him off at the airport. She’s still a young co-ed, almost 10 years his junior, and on a softball scholarship to St. Louis University. Her spring training started that morning – No Hawaii for her!

We arrived at Departing Flights just before 10:00a.m. All of the luggage, etc. was deposited inside the doors and E2, E1, and I left to guard it while the vehicles were parked. What a sight the girls and I must have been! I saw more than one hurried traveler raise their eyebrows and shake their head as they clipped past our sea of luggage, lol. Oops! E1’s car seat is nowhere to be seen!

Rob, Eric, Janet, and Christine returned about 20 minutes later. Rob headed back out to the car for the car seat while the rest of us loaded up some luggage carts and headed for check-in. Christine had all our flight information organized, so check-in was a snap. The ticket counter workers were all touched by our ‘surprise mission’. By 10:30a.m, we were all checked in and headed for our gate. Eric took a detour to say goodbye to Janet.

By 11:25a.m, we were in our seats, and I was holding E2. E2, perhaps sensing the excitement, was squirmy and fussy. I tried nursing her, tried burping her, but nothing was working. Then we remembered that we didn’t stop to change her diaper before boarding. Rob and I performed the quickest diaper change ever while E2 was seated on my lap. Still not right. We stripped her down to her onesie and socks and she burped. Still, not enough. I tried nursing again and she dozed off just as the plane left the ground.

E1 hardly noticed a thing. She held each of our hands, but was otherwise fine. She just wanted to read books, read books, read books. Before we knew it, we had been in the air for two hours!

If only the whole flight had gone that quickly. Eight and half-hours is a long time to fly in coach with an infant and a toddler. E1 amazed us with how well she entertained herself with all the books and things I had packed for her. She was happy having us read books to her over and over again. She listened to headphones for a while, she colored, she stamped, and she played with Colorforms. THE best thing I did was to hoard cheap and freebie stickers and split them into small packages. She had a ball just putting the stickers on paper! Her meal was supposed to be a PB&J. Thankfully, I didn’t tell her this because they gave her chicken nuggets and French-fries. She likes chicken nuggets and French fries, but we probably would have had a crisis on our hands if she had been expecting PB&J!

I was able to change her diaper by having her stand on the toilet. One of the restrooms did have a changing table, but this worked just as well….except for the time I had grabbed one of E2’s diapers by mistake! I was able to stick my head out the rest room and catch Christine’s eye and she saved us, lol.

E1 kept saying, “Mom, I LOVE flying on this airplane!” About six hours into the flight, we were changing her diaper when she said, “Mommy, I want to go home.” Hmmm….

The second movie was Toy Story 2, so E1 sat on Christine’s lap (better view) and watched a good portion of that. This allowed us to stretch out a little with E2 on the seat between us. We had had a tough time getting E1’s car seat buckled tight, and somewhere during the flight we un-buckled it and put it on the floor in front of her seat.

The atmosphere on this flight was great! Winging off to balmy 83-degree weather will do that to a person, I guess. Folks were standing in the aisles chatting about past visits, sharing their travel plans, talking about family they were going to visit. E2, who spent a lot of time being walked around the cabin, quickly flirted her way into several hearts. I think they were close to voting her flight mascot. Well, except for the guy in the seat in front of us who could clearly hear her periodic squawking and grumping.

As we began our descent, I started trying to gather our things – particularly E1’s books that were scattered on the floor at our feet. Rob and I chatted with Christine and decided it’d be best if we just waited until everyone else got off the plane before attempting to gather ourselves and all of our stuff. Christine pulled out a photo of Bob and Carol and hailed a flight attendant. She explained what we wanted to do, and the flight attendant agreed to go out and find Bob and Carol and let them know that there was a package for them on the flight, but it wouldn’t be brought off the plane until all the passengers were done deplaning. While talking with E1 and putting ponytails in her hair, she informed me that she didn’t want to say “Surprise!” to Grandma Carol.

Finally, the time had arrived. We gathered up our bags and the car seat. Christine was manning the video camera – Rob was to guide her while she filmed. We grabbed E2’s car seat, which had been gate-checked, and were surprised when Christine’s fellow TWA-staffer greeted us with fresh flower lei’s! There is no way to describe how wonderful the fragrance was and how the coolness was completely refreshing to weary travelers like us!!

The video footage of the surprise begins with me with a slung E2, holding hands with E1 as she puts her hand to her forehead in an effort to ‘scout’ Grandma and Grandpa. We walk up the rampway and into the gate area. I spot Bob and Carol. Bob was seated facing us, but he was looking in the other direction. Carol had her back to us. As we turn into the aisle where they’re sitting you hear Christine telling Rob to stop – we were almost on top of them, Bob had seen us but Carol hadn’t yet. Then Carol turns and sees E2 and me. As she says, “OH MY GOD!”, E1 squeals, “Grandma Carol!!”

Carol was stunned to say the least, lol! She said each of our names as she noticed us and gave us hugs and kisses. E2 was ‘rescued’ from the sling by Grandpa Bob. Over and over E1 is exclaiming, “Grandma! We flew UP in the air! UP in the air!” It was truly wonderful to be a part of such an amazing, well-kept surprise!


Lisa said...

That is a great story... I remember Bic telling me years ago... Awesome! I would have given anything to see Carol's face when she saw you all.

Please tell Carol "hi" from me. I really miss talking to her. And I always loved the way she'd talk about Robert. She'd call him "My Bobbie." It was like you were talking to a love drunk high school girl who was going steady with the hottest guy at school. (And I thought that was THE CUTEST, COOLEST thing EVER!)

Anonymous said...

You have such a good memory because there are a lot of these things that I don't remember.


Nancy said...

Christine, I saved this after I posted about it on a message board way back then. NO WAY would I have actually remembered all that!