Once we got there, we immediately picked up the rest of our luggage from the baggage storage place we dropped it off at the night before. We were quickly reminded of our appreciation for this service, because we were again faced with having to juggle all this luggage AND a double stroller with two toddlers.
Unfortunately the international departures area was on a floor different from the baggage storage place, and we knew we'd have to fit these luggage carts and everything else we had to manage on an elevator. At first, we thought we were going to have to split up and take rides alone with a cart each and a kid each. Then, we finagled the bags and managed to get it all situated along with the folded stroller, nearly as high as the ceiling in the elevator. I had Parker on one hip while I used my other arm to man handle that luggage cart. Whatever though, at least we all fit on one elevator ride together. I'm sure the people waiting for the elevator thought we were crazy stuffing all that in there and not leaving any room for anyone else, but that's just the way the cookie crumbled in that situation. Plus, I'm sure they thought I was even crazier when they saw me plop Parker up on top of the luggage on my tippy toes and suck it all in as I squeezed my body through the tiny spot available between the luggage cart and the elevator doors....all while holding Parker above my head on top of the luggage. Sorry there's not a picture of that. I too would've liked to see what that craziness looked like.
We squeezed and rolled our way off the elevator at the appropriate international departures floor of the airport and set off to find the Japan Airlines counter. When we found it, the line was a mile long. No joke. All I could think was how in the world are we going to keep two toddlers under control for the long wait in this zig zagging waiting line of people, all the while pushing these two packed luggage carts as well.
Well lucky for us we didn't have to worry about that. A JAL employee saw us and I'm sure felt bad for us (not really...well, maybe) and not only directed us to the "JAL Family Service Support Counter", but she also pushed one of our luggage carts for us up to the check in counter without us asking for her assistance. So considerate! I'll love her forever for rescuing us from that mile long line.
Now let's talk about how genius this "Family Service" check in counter is. Every airline should have this for families with young children. It was amazing, not to mention much faster, which is great when you have antsy toddlers who just want to run from you the first moment they see an opening.
They even had this little sitting area for kids with books and some toys while they waited on their parents to check in. Again, genius. Thank you, JAL, for having the brains to come up with such an idea.
After checking all of our luggage for the last time, we set off to find Mickey D's for breakfast. At least I knew my kids would eat the hashbrowns there, at the very least. They actually surprised me and ate much more, including my muffin with sausage and cheese. I'll give my food to my kids any day. There's something about my kids' tummies being full that makes me a happy momma. Plus, a hungry kid on an airplane = a cranky kid on an airplane. We were thrilled they both gobbled it up before hopping on our last plane of our journey back to Korea.
Oh, and remember how I told you about the airplane safety book Connar might've "accidentally" brought home with him from the first plane the day before? Well here is another book he acquired on our journey. He spotted this book (entirely in Japanese, by the way) as we strolled past a newsstand and insisted that we go back to look at it. This is bribery in its finest, people. There's nothing like a little motivation to keep a kid content when you're putting him on his third plane in two days.
|They are so precious.|
|They both look so grown here, or is that just my momma brain playing tricks on me?|
|"Sure, we can climb these stairs if it'll keep you quiet and occupied while we wait to board the plane."|
|How thirsty would you have to be to gulp down this drink with the name "sweat" in it? Apparently it's a very popular sport drink in Japan and has been for like 30 years. It totally looks like water, though.|
And here we go, on our third flight in two days. Our LAST flight of our journey back home to Korea. Thank goodness! It was only 2 hours from Narita to Busan, and I have to say that we got soooooo lucky on this flight. Someone was watching over us going, "Kristi and Talton have rocked on this looooong trip, and Connar and Parker have been such good boys, so we're going to cut them a break and leave the third seat in both of their rows empty!" That's right people, the plane was nearly half empty. It was crazy! I've never seen anything like it, and we were so happy about it. I was holding my breath for someone to come claim that seat next to Parker until I realized we were taxiing away from the gate. Woo hoo! It was fantastic to have some space for Parker to stretch out and for Connar to scoot over to have a window seat.
To pay it forward, I offered the lady sitting behind Talton & Connar some suckers for the two small toddlers she was traveling alone with. It felt good to do something nice for someone, even if we didn't speak the same language. Or maybe we did....mom language. ;)
Here's a couple neat things about JAL. The stewardesses come by with a tray of goodies to offer a "gift" for each child (things like sticker sheets, origami paper, and baby bibs monogrammed with "JAL"). They also wear these cute little aprons as they serve you. :)
Watching this flight map seemed like it was just a hop, skip, and jump over the Sea of Japan to get to Busan compared to the tremendously long flight we'd endured the day before.
When we finally got back to our condo after driving home from the airport in Busan, we were welcomed back with this sign on our door. :)
Remembering that Santa brought big gifts to Korea, I ran ahead of the boys so I could catch their reactions to seeing these.....
We won't be taking these bikes for a spin outside much for a while, but once the cold lets up, it's gonna be on!
After checking our their new wheels, they went straight for their toys. They missed their stuff so much. Talton and I literally stood back and made note of how quiet they were and how well they were sitting over there playing with their toys. :)
It wasn't long before we laid down for naps. And when we tried to wake the boys up a little while later, they were not having it so much that we put them back to bed for another nearly two hours. There was our reminder that although we were home in our own space with our stuff, we still had to battle it out with that monster called jet lag.
I'm so proud of us for surviving that long journey. My hope is that it will get even easier as the boys continue to get older. Kudos to my hubby for not only surviving the trip but for rocking his Patience Hat those two days. I was so proud of all my boys. :)