Thursday, March 2, 2017

Travel Champions

I've been getting ready to post some pics from our vacation with my Mom to Egypt.  As I did so, I kept seeing these faces.

I spend pretty much all day every day with my kids.  They are the source of some of my biggest joys, hardest belly laughs, deepest sobs, and ugliest tantrums.  Sometimes it wears me out being with them all the time.  Sometimes I wish I had a Grandma or Aunt to drop them off with or a school to send them to or a nanny who would handle bath time.  When we're holed up in one room for most of the winter, it doesn't help my attitude toward them.  They mirror my whines, my frustrations, my weariness, and my lack of patience and we can get hard on each other.
So, it was an extreme blessings to get away from the house, climate, culture, and classroom for a few weeks and spend time in Delhi and Egypt.  We had planned this trip for about a year with my Mom.  We were supposed to go in September, but when she was diagnosed with cancer and having surgeries for hernias, we knew we'd have to postpone our trip.  So, in February, with my Mom all healed and my family all stir-crazy, we hopped a plane.

I've continued to be overjoyed with the fact that my kids are growing older.  There is something sweet and wonderful about newborns and toddlers, but traveling with them isn't it.  Traveling with 1-3 newborn-toddlers will rank in the hardest things I've ever done list.  And I live over here.  So, you can imagine or empathize.

We took off for Egypt with three kids who have spent their whole lives traveling.  They now know how many lines we need to get through in each airport.  We often have conversations "Is this the airport with the playground?"  "No, this is the one without a Pizza Hut."  "Can I run right here?"  "Yes, but just until the elephant statue."  When they heard that their cousin who is almost 8 just flew in a plane for the first time, they couldn't believe it.  They fly multiple times a year.

Here they are, getting ready to get on another flight.  We took 10 flights total in the month of February.

On the plane, they get their own bag with activities or books they can look through and they did wonderfully well -- even when our 4 hour flights had no movies to watch!  Again, it's been exciting and fun to have bigger kids.  They want to help with the luggage, rarely throw a fit, and even play games that I sometimes enjoy!  I can remember pacing the isle of our long plane rides trying to calm down my 1 1/2 year old and maneuver my pregnant belly so I didn't hit sleeping passengers in the head.  I also remember how the first time we ever were in an airport and didn't have to spank a misbehaving child in the bathroom was a big deal.  How times have changed!

Our kids are also very comfortable in hotels.  We have a lot of conversations like, "Is that the one with the pool on the roof?"  "No, it was the one with muffins for breakfast."    "Is this one close to the park?"  "No, but it's close to the paratha stand."  We've stayed in so many hotels, I wouldn't even venture a guess and the kids have gotten pretty good at sleeping wherever we lay them -- 3 across, all of us in one bed, 3 in a single bed, laid out on 2 chairs, laid out on the floor with blankets, 2 on a sofa, etc.

No trip would be complete without glow sticks.  Our kids love that when we're sleeping in a new place, they each get a glow stick at bedtime.  Here's Abe at one of our hotels with his mini light saber.

Whenever we go anywhere, I don't feel quite complete if my hands are empty and this is why:

Wherever we go, I've pretty much always got a kid or two holding my hands.  Jed is getting older and sometimes doesn't want to hold anyone's hand anymore.  He feels like he can do it himself.  I'm sure he can.  At this point, he could probably get on a plane and fly to the States on his own, he's so used to things.  But, It's strange to see him getting this independence.

Since they've traveled a lot, my kids have seen a lot of things that other kids haven't gotten to see.  The Taj Mahal, the Himalayas in Nepal, the beaches of Thailand, much of the central U.S.  But this trip, we really got to see so much!  Here are just a few pictures of some of the things they got to experience.

Here they are in front of a statue of Ramses the Great.  They were supposed to pose like a Pharaoh.
And here they are in front of a sphinx.  We were told that the sphinx wore a stern expression to scare enemies, so I told them to make a mean face.  Gotta love Lucy!

And now for some pyramid shots!  Here they are at the Step Pyramid in Saqqara.

And here they are at the Great Pyramids at Giza.  Notice how Abe was already trying to figure out how to climb it!

And what trip to Giza wouldn't be complete without giving the Great Sphinx a swift uppercut?

Here they are walking out of a tomb at the Valley of the Kings.

And Lucy sitting on the High Dam in Aswan before we started our Nile Cruise.

My kids are each so different, and yet, each such adventurers.  They're also great at making friends.  If it's their uncles in Delhi,

Our tour guide in Cairo,

Our taxi-driver's wife in Giza,

Nubian musicians on a felucca ride,

Alabaster carvers in Luxor,

A boat captain in Aswan,

Or even imaginary friends at the mall in Delhi.

Now, I'd like to show you a series of pictures that perfectly illustrates my kids.  I was sitting in the sand on the beach by the Red Sea.  There is a beautiful coral reef there and also, gorgeous granite mountains behind us.  It made for a wonderful array of shells, rocks, and coral in the sand at our feet.  I was collecting rocks and shells and coral that I liked so I could take a picture (since it's illegal to take the coral and shellfish from the Sinai Peninsula.)  Jed decided he wanted to have a picture of what he found, too.  He spent quite a while, scouring the sand, digging up the very best things he could find, running back and forth to show me the treasures he saw.  Here was the picture of what he found that he meticulously set out on his hand:
Abe saw what we were doing and had to jump in.  He wants to be a part of everything.  But, there were too many other things to do for him to stay at it very long.  He found 1 coral, 1 rock, and 1 shell.  Then he went back to burying his feet in the sand.
Lucy wasn't about to be outdone by her brothers.  She scooped up some interesting specimens, ran over to me, shoved them in my face, and said, "Here, Mama!"  She just barrels into life!

Now, for some more gratuitous, cute beach pictures.

And here they are on the glass-bottom boat ride we took out to the coral reef.

And here are some photos of our hike up Mt. Sinai.  This was the most magical part of the trip for me.  Jed was so excited to be on the mountain.  He ran ahead and kept having to double back to us.  Abe walked the whole way up on his almost 6-year-old legs.  Lucy walked almost the whole way up and half the way down.  We ascended 700 feet and hiked a total of about 10 miles. 5 up and 5 down.  They just kept going!  We were on the mountain for about 8 hours and they went from too hot to too cold but all were glad to be there.  Here we are all at the very top.  Bundled up because it was CHILLY!

And here's Jed's best Bedouin look!
Abe taking a short rest.  Mom was walking with us and was taking it easy.  She's a sprightly 63 years old and just got over cancer and hernias.  Abe never wanted to get very far ahead of Grandma.  He wanted to do it WITH her.  Such a soft-hearted boy.
And then there's the other side of him . . .
Lucy was thrilled to be on the mountain, "We're the adventure girls, right Mama?"  Forever, Lucy.
 And my crazy, Bedouin girl!

When we were almost to the top, I told them to all give me their best adventure poses.  They speak for themselves.

Now for a few photos with food.  We had lots of great food experiences while in Egypt, but I haven't ever been one to take a picture of my plate.  Our kids were great travelers, eating lots of new things, and complaining very little.  If you ask Abe what his favorite parts of the trip were, one of them was the food on the cruise boat (because we let him have dessert at lunch AND dinner!)

Here they are enjoying some hot chocolate after a long day of playing at the beach in the cold wind.

And here's Jed enjoying some ice cream after a walk in the hot sun by the Nile.

And our favorite place the whole trip.  A German Bakery on the Red Sea coast.  Don't judge me for eating Western Food in the Middle East.  I haven't had a decent croissant or pretzel in 2 years!

And now for a few more random pics of "The Crazies" as they are often called.

Lucy being a princess in a horse-drawn carriage.

And the boys being knights in helmets we found at a bazaar in Delhi.

Just Abe . . .
Jed with a weapon.  This kid can make a weapon out of anything.  Literally anything.

And now the kids beings sweet and silly:


These pictures really show how I relate to all my kids.  All taken by Chris.  He knows perfectly!


Jed had hurt himself and came for a hug -- even though he's a tough guy!

And here are the kids with their Daddy!
Now for a picture that shows my hope for our kids.  We were sitting in the cathedral at one of the churches in old Cairo near where Jesus and his family stayed when they fled from Bethlehem.  My prayer is that they will understand more about our faith, be thankful for the wonderful legacy of faith in their past, and forge a new legacy of faith in their future.

Now a few family pics from our dress-up night on the cruise.  Just so you can see that we're not always nuts.

And now for one last picture.  Here's the last photo we got of the kids with Grandma.  One thing, sadly, that our kids have learned all too well is how to say goodbye to the people we love.  Here we were about to get on our last flight with Grandma before she left for America.  We never enjoy this part.  The kids are much more aware of what goodbyes mean.  At least this time it was only for a few months.  We'll be hugging you soon, Grandma!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment