Not cool, people, not cool. Let's think outside the box a little, shall we?)
My handsome husband is from Panama, and ever since I met him, I've wanted to visit his country and see where he was raised. Due to work and finances and the Baby Boom of '09-'10, we've never been able to go. But this year, we were determined NOTHING would stop us. (I almost ordered us t-shirts that said "Panama or Bust." True story.) Since Fernando's dad's birthday is on May 13th, and Fernando's birthday is on May 15th, we decided May 12th through the 27th would be a brilliant time to go. Fernando's nieces were also planning to visit us through May 12th, so we would be returning to Panama with them.
We had everything planned out, but as the day approached for our departure, I started feeling just a teeny, tad bit PANICKED about getting to Panama. Google and I became good buddies as I searched for tips and tricks for travelling in an airplane with toddlers. (Apparently checking children in with the luggage is frowned upon by most airlines.... ha!) We heard from friends that Nabis (tablets for kids) were wonderful tools that would keep even the most hyper of children entertained for hours, so of course we had to have two of those. (eBay!) Terrified that the kids' ears would pop, I bought enough Bubblicious gum to keep every passenger on our flight smacking all the way to Panama. By the time our departure date arrived, I had collected candy, coloring books, stickers, crayons, small toys, and -though it pains me to admit this to the world- PACIFIERS! That's right, folks, I stocked up on two packs of my boys' favorite pacis. Enzo had pretty much stopped asking for his paci, but I wanted to be prepared for anything. If my kids were gonna be screaming banshees on the plane, I needed to have a plan of action. If a paci wouldn't calm 'em down, nothing would.
Fernando's nieces, Karla and Stephy, arrived on May 8th. Fernando was working, so the boys and I went to the airport to pick them up. I figured it would be a stellar opportunity to point out the airplanes and prepare the boys for our journey. When we pulled up in front of the pick-up area, Enzo started freaking out. "Where are we going, Mom? What is this place? I don't want to get on the plane. I don't want to get on the plane. I. DON'T. WANT. TO. GET. ON. THE. PLANE!" I patiently answered each question and assured him that the airport is a super cool place! And we were going to have so much fun on the plane! And Papa was waiting for him in Panama! He wasn't too convinced and was still white-knuckling his car seat by the time Stephy and Karla got in the car. Luckily, seeing the girls made him forget his fears, and he turned on his full-blown Enzo charm. I, however, knew that I had less than five days to get Enzo on board with the Panama trip. Emotionally AND physically.
We really enjoyed our time together with Stephy and Karla. Enzo and Gabriel HAD to introduce their cousins to one of their favorite places- Marbles Kids Museum. I'm not sure if the girls were quite as impressed....
The boys fell in love with their cousins....
And I LOVED taking them to all the hot spots in Goldsboro (i.e.: Walmart & Chick-Fil-A & my favorite pedicure place).
Their time with us flew by, and before we knew it, D-Day (Departure Day) had arrived.
Our flight was scheduled to leave at noon on Mother's Day, so at least we didn't have to wake up two toddlers before the crack of dawn. Fernando crammed everything into our SUV, then we squeezed ourselves in between the suitcases, and we were off! I am fully aware that we looked like the Clampetts all the way to RDU airport. The ride to Raleigh was uneventful, probably because we barely had room to breathe. Or maybe God in His infinite wisdom and mercy was just giving me a few moments of peace and quiet before the debacle that was to come.
The calm before the storm........