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10 minutes late to be 2 hours early

We were off to Beijing for three days.

No big deal.

Until we woke up to… SNOW.

And not just a light dusting, but inches upon inches. The kind of snow where taxi’s really should put on snow chains, roads should be salted, and snow plows should be a frequent sighting.

(Hubs: My wife is a bit dramatic, but needless to say the locals are unaccustomed.)

But this is JiuJiang. There’s nothing like that to brave the winter’s white.

As soon as I saw it, I knew the highway to the airport would be closed. I laid in bed, nursed Selah and watched the puffy, round snowflakes fall. I assumed the airport was closed and we wouldn’t be going to Beijing until late Spring. Fine with me. Who travels north in the winter?

We do.

When we looked at our entire spring/summer calendar, the most logical, convenient time to apply for Selah’s passport, report of birth abroad and social security card was January 19th.

Actually, the most logical, convenient time would have been just after her birth, but all of these documents require an appointment with the embassy. And when you birth on Christmas Eve, January 19th is the earliest appointment available.

I’d like to say that the Christ child did not have to deal with such bureaucratic run around, but then again Caesar Augustus was taking a census.

So there I was lying in bed, watching wispy white snowflakes while enjoying Selah’s infant smell. (Hubs: Sounds like an air freshener that hangs on a rear view mirror.)

Hubs went into action. Our neighbor offered to take Hubs to the train station in his SUV. If we could get to the airport via Nanchang, then we could probably still make our flight. Hubs eventually called 114 to get the number for the airport. He learned that the airport was indeed open. In fact, the snow was pretty much centralized to JiuJiang.

Meanwhile, I was to pack all of our bags… nurse… and keep a curious 19-month-old out of trouble.

Hubs came home at 10 o’clock to find us half packed and me sitting on the bed nursing. (I can’t stand to let a baby cry.)

“Let’s go! Our train is at 10:20, they changed the schedule.”
“What time is it?”
“10 o’clock.”
“Good gravy! We’re not going to make it.”

I started throwing stuff in bags and frantically moving around the house.

We got to the train station at 10:20. The gate closed 10 minutes previous. We could change our train tickets at no penalty and take the 12:45 train to Nanchang where we would then catch a taxi to the airport.

There we were, three kids and I sitting in the train station while Hubs went to run a couple of last minute errands. After all, we were a generous 2 hours early!

Schäfer watched Thomas. Sianna wanted to roam around, but I got her to sit next to me and play. Selah slept. Sitting with the kids was fine until… Schäfer had to go to the bathroom.

I carried Selah in the sling, Sianna on my hip (she had on too many layers for her shoes to fit), and our computer bag on my shoulder to the restroom so that I could be of assistance to help Schäfer get his 249 layers off. As for our mini-roller suitcase and backpack, I left them with a stranger who had been eavesdropping on our English for the past couple of hours.

After we survived the bathroom excursion, Hubs returned with his tasks completed & noodles in hand.

2011-01-18@13-24-02
We got on the 12:45 train to arrive in Nanchang at 1:28PM. Thinking the train would not be full, Hubs only purchased two tickets. We all squeezed in. What a memory! Who knew a Monday afternoon 12:45 train would be so busy?

2011-01-18@13-26-47
Me & my sleeping beauties.

We found a passionate taxi driver who punched it to the airport.

We tried to check in for our 2:40 flight at 2:35, but the gate had closed 10 minutes earlier. We would now have to change our tickets and take the 6:40pm flight to Beijing.

In keeping things positive, we were actually more than 2 hours early for our flight!

2011-01-18@20-05-50
On airplanes, we’ve learned that since we have two lap babies, Hubs and I can not sit on the same row because there are not enough oxygen masks should we need them. After some strategic planning, we decided that Hubs and Sianna would sit on the row behind Schäfer, Selah and I.

After all, the most difficult part of the flight is managing our tots and the dinner trays. This seating arrangement would put us back at man-to-man defense during food service.

2011-01-18@20-07-16
Managing Schäfer on the plane was super easy thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine.

2011-01-18@21-11-35
Of course, wherever we go, Hubs must stop at the ATM. I really can’t complain. He completely spoils me by managing all of our finances. It just seems like he’s always stopping by the ATM.

2011-01-18@21-29-34
On the subway ride into Beijing, Schäfer asked me to take a photo of the watch he made this morning in preschool. He was so proud of his new accessory.

2011-01-18@21-22-04
We’re still traveling with Sianna in the Ergo. She at just over 20lbs she’s still comfortable to wear. Plus, she has moments where she flat out refuses to walk.

When traveling, the Ergo still trumps the stroller which is very inconvenient on the staircases in the train and subway stations.

2011-01-18@21-38-19
These days, I’m traveling with Selah in the sling and a backpack. I really like having 2 hands free.

2011-01-18@21-38-31
I try to keep one hand on Schäfer when we’re in crowds.

We arrived in Beijing at 8:40pm. By the time we took two subway lines, got checked in our hotel (Zhaolong Hotel next to the Tuanjiehu subway station. Great hotel!), bathed the kids and put them to bed it was 11pm. (It was impossible to skip the bath. We’d been skipping them for far too long.)

Through out the day, I was thinking about all the things I forgot to pack:
sippy cups – both kids managed a paper cup on the plane just fine
snacks – can be purchased anywhere
books – we told stories to each other
toys – anything can be turned into a toy
the tent (for toddler sleeping containment) – the hotel had a crib that worked just fine
floaty – the hotel pool had life saving rings

At the end of the day, I was quite thankful for this lesson in packing. I do need to pack the night before just in case something unexpected happens… like a snowstorm.

At the same time, I need to keep it simple and not bring so many “just in case” items.

Lesson learned: the more kids we have, the less stuff I can carry.

7 comments to 10 minutes late to be 2 hours early

  • jdavis2

    loved your “lesson learned” – what a simple, yet profound reality! so grateful you all made it!

  • Have y’all considered trying out to compete in The Amazing Race? I’m pretty sure you would win. You could probably even take all your kids on the race with you and still win.

  • Love you guys and love how you make it all work so well (even though I know it doesn’t always feel like it). Your kids are pretty cute for sure. Thanks for the fun post.

  • Kurt & Heather

    Just wanting you to know how darling your kids are. What a bunch of true cuties. We are praying for you. (especially for rest and sleep these days) 🙂

    And as for the Amazing Race…I’ll send Kurt along for token good luck. Prayerful/farm meet North I. backwoods. A winning match. This has always been a joke for us (The amazing race)…because I would be in tears in every camera frame …So if he’s going to do the Race…I could only trust his life internationally with Shorel.

    Thanks for the friendship.

    ~~~Heather

  • Kurt & Heather

    Etsy! I’m in. When is the next casting call?

    Crazy to get such a quick little response…what time is it there? Hopefully nap time. 🙂 I just shared this with Kurt as he came in the door and your reply really brought us both smiles tonight. Thanks for that…have a great day with the kiddos.

    ~~~Heather

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