We have about 1 1/2 hours left in our flight to London. After not much sleep and a rumbly tummy, I figured I’d begin the first official blog entry of our trip.
We left Reno yesterday around 8:30am. We needed to run a few errands before heading out officially and ended up picking up Harmony by 9:30. Then we were off to LA.
The ride was pretty much uneventful, which is always a welcome thing since the drive is almost exactly 8 hours (give or take a few depending on how many stops you make along the way). Our car had no DVD player, which after the drive, my husband’s comment was, “Well, I guess we can survive without the DVD player in the car after all!” We have grown so accustomed to that movie player, I was dreading the drive, unsure as to how the kids would do—and they were great! And, it felt like “old times” with the kids playing games together and talking and laughing—maybe that prized DVD player isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe by getting our kids to shut up in the car and zone out into brain-deadness so we can have peace and quiet during a drive has taken away some of the benefits and sibling bonding that road trips bring.
We arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house by 6:30 for the night. You know? I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a family you know you can always pop in on—and they actually LIKE it! My Aunt and Uncle hold a very special place in our hearts and we were so thankful to be able to spend our last night in the States with them. Thank you, Aunt Paula and Uncle Jim, for your endless hospitality and friendship. We love you!
Much of Tuesday was spent rearranging our luggage, getting snacks for the plane and getting the kids really tired from swimming in my Aunt and Uncle’s swimming pool. My husband gave me an early birthday present, so now I have a sweet camera! I’ve always wanted to take up photography—so I guess there’s no better time than now! Now I just have to figure out how to use it :).
We left for the LAX airport around 2:30—and I’m so glad we did. As a last minute decision, my husband asked me if I’d look up a Ross so we could get a couple of bigger backpacks for our kids. I found one—it was in downtown LA. So, we took our short detour and miraculously found a parking spot right in front of the store. My husband ran in to get the two backpacks and came back to the car and asked my oldest daughter a question—let me share a background story.
About 3 weeks ago, my younger three kiddos asked if they could put a lemonade stand together in our neighborhood. It was a Sunday, and not many people were out, but they still wanted to do it. So, we made some lemonade and the kids decided they wanted to say the money was to help the homeless. My oldest daughter asked how much they should charge for the lemonade—I said, “Maybe you should say that you’re accepting donations to help the homeless and see what happens?”
She loved that idea—so the three of them made the sign and sat out on the corner of our street. After about an hour and 2 gallons of lemonade, they were pretty much done sitting out there. We cleaned up and counted up the money. Do you know what they raised? They raised $57! Once word got out around the neighborhood that they were accepting donations to help the homeless, people responded! It was incredible!
So, my husband asked our kids what they wanted to do with the money. They decided that they would pray that God would show them the right person to give it to. My daughter made a beautiful card explaining what they had done and that the money they raised was especially for this person and that they were special and loved. We carried this bag of money around with us for 3 weeks—not once seeing someone they felt they should give it to.
Now to the present time—we’re in downtown LA and my husband asks my oldest daughter if she wants to find someone to give the money and card to and she says yes. As they’re walking away I’m praying that God leads them to just the right person. They come back a few minutes later and my husband says, “wow, that was really awesome.”
He goes on to tell me that as they were walking away, he prayed that God would lead them to the right person. They found a man sitting on the sidewalk surrounded my flies. My husband introduced themselves to him and explained what our kids had done and the man looked at them gratefully. He thanked them for taking the time to stop and talk to him. He said he had pancreatic cancer and needed new shoes and pants and a shower—so he was going to use the money for those things. He prayed for my husband and my daughter and blessed them. It was then that my husband realized that it was no coincidence that we didn’t see anyone to give that gift to in the three weeks leading up to that. It was also no coincidence that we found that parking spot, nor was that last minute trip to Ross. That man was supposed to receive that gift—for that I’m grateful.
We arrived at the airport and entered through security only to have one of our bags taken aside to get rechecked. This was the longest recheck I’ve ever seen! They took out all of the contents of the bag mentioning how much toiletries we had, to which my husband explained we are a family of 7, so the toiletries are for all of us. The machine kept setting off, so they took everything out of my husband’s laptop bag as well after giving him the most thorough pat-down I’ve ever seen. Poor guy, he was a trooper. I’m sure TSA gets a lot of grief for doing their job, and I was proud of my husband as he just stood there during the intense manhandling. He even smiled and joked a bit!
Finally, we were let through. We made it to our plane, which was starting to board. We were pleasantly surprised, though, to see that we had enough time to grab some sandwiches before getting on the plane. Once we were on and found our seats, I realized how nice Norwegian Air airplanes are! I have never flown this airline before—I was just super excited at how cheap the tickets were compared to other flights. There were movie/game consoles in the seats, the staff was really friendly, the windows had a dimming mechanism to them where you could sleep even though it was daylight outside. It was great! The kids slept most of the way, of which I’m most grateful for.
We arrived in London with no issues, but we were late. We had about 45 minutes to catch our next flight. I don’t recommend this. We rushed through the airport, onto the bus shuttle, and into the next terminal. We sped through the entrance of security but were halted because we couldn’t find Harmony’s boarding ticket. Ah! After about 10 minutes we were finally able to pull it up onto my phone using the “bought by someone else” button on EasyJet. Then we hit security again. Ugh. This actually went really well until they found another set of toiletries in my husband’s bag that we had missed. By this point we just said, fine, throw it away—we have to catch this flight.
Then we made a dash for the boarding gate hoping that even though it said “closed” they’d still let us in. They did :). Apparently, that flight was delayed too—so yay! Unfortunately, though, EasyJet only allows one carryon bag, and that includes a purse. They took a look at all of our bags (we each have 2 carry-on sized bags) and said we had to check 6 of them. Harmony was somehow able to stuff her bags together. And you know what? They didn’t charge us to check them after all! What a small and wonderful blessing even though we thought for sure they were going to charge us the extra $50-$75 per bag. Thank you, EasyJet for having mercy on our, by this time, extremely weary travel group!
We arrived in Amsterdam with no problems either. It took a little while to figure out what bus to get on and then realized you actually have to buy a bus pass before you get on the bus. So, my husband left us with our bags to find where he could purchase the bus tickets. Then we made the next bus to Harlem, where our Airbnb is for the week.
This ended up being a much longer post than I intended, so I’ll end there! I’m looking forward to catching you all up on the rest later.