All marriages are different. I know this.
I don't know if mine is different better or different worse.
If I was hard-pressed to say, I would say different better.
Here is a small look at some of the inter workings of our "division of labor"...
In 16 years of marriage, if we are going to go somewhere for more than a few hours, it is my job to pack the kids and myself. Troy breaks into cold sweats at the thought of picking clothing out for them for a day or two. If he were ever to be asked to pack for a 23 day trip, he would lie down on the floor, soil his pants, and proceed to lie there despondent in his own urine until help arrived.
Troy is in charge of passports, maps, (hello - that's way easier now - remember back in the RandMcNally map days) researching the area we are visiting, providing technology (this means having a sim card that will work outside of Haiti and having it activated). Troy is also in charge of encouraging me not to give up when our kids unpack the crap I have already packed. This last thing may be his most important role. There are days while packing for a trip like this when the kids undo/unpack what I have very meticulously packed multiple times, that I am the one despondent on the floor. He sighs loudly with me, he listens as I lament, he picks me up, over and over again; he is the wind beneath my packing wings.
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The end of December 2014 was spent doing all the normal weekly ministry/work tasks.
Besides the regular work and the kids being out of school for Christmas break, Becky Burton, the wife of Jimmy, (the kids' teacher) gave birth on December 26th at the Maternity Center. We also had our friends from Cali visiting that week and we needed to pack finish things for the wedding and the trip and we needed to clean our entire kitchen out because of an utterly gag-worthy sick and wrong infestation of termites.
Somehow it all happened and the quickly disappearing kitchen cabinet shelving was left to the landlord to deal with while we were away. For the past six months shelves have been turning into sawdust before our eyes and drawer after drawer rotted out of its track. That sounds like a place a person could really create culinary delights, does it not!?!? Spiders and cockroaches are nothing, if you really want to be grossed out, pay attention to those tiny little wood-eating-nastified-squirmy-white-devils.
Our friend KJ transported us to the airport early on the morning of January 1st. The kids wake up early on travel day without any complaining - they have made this mistake more than once, I now know that early wake ups with cheer are within the realm of possibility.
As we left our rooms I made a speech about not being responsible for anything they had removed without approval and said something Motherly and similar to - "If you don't have something you need on this trip, it is because you messed with my system and you probably deserve it."
That's true agape love, isn't it?
We had very few issues in the PAP airport. Jet Blue was our airline of choice this time around and they did a great job of getting us all checked in and ready to roll.
The lady at the desk told me that Isaac would be pulled aside for a TSA security check. She told me it was random and that it is no big deal. I happen to know Isaac, so I knew that while it might not be a big deal for some, it would shake Isaac up a bit. I attempted to prepare him. "Isaac, sometimes they have a random security check and they pull people aside and look more closely at their bag and their belongings and ask a few questions. They told me they would do that. It is nothing to worry about. It is not because we did anything wrong."
Fast forward ten minutes when the folks are pulling him aside, Isaac, bewildered and nervous asks, "Mom, why did they pick me?"
"Buddy, I just told you they were going to do this." I said. He replied, "Oh, I didn't know you meant it would be me or NOW."
Details and listening are not his specialty.
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Photos from January 1st, fly day.
Our kids always act like they remember nothing of previous flights. It seems like they have never seen an airplane seat or window. They touch everything and check out every button and device. There is a lot of discussion about who will sit next to whom and the window seats are negotiated with passion and tenacity.
Herding the luggage and the kids always feels very conspicuous to me. I prefer to be calm, quiet, unnoticed, head-down etc. etc. (The way a person traveling ALONE might act/be.)
Traveling with these guys is like picking your nose while screaming "WATCH US - WE ARE INTERESTING". Between the racial diversity, the spazziness, the sheer numbers, the big hair, and Lydia's gas, there is no such thing as inconspicuous.
"How many in your party?" the guy in the white asks. "Seven", Troy replies. "You are all together?" he asks. "Yes", Troy replies. "Same last name though?" "Yes" Troy replies.
Once we've messed with that paradigm they asked us to step to the machine to begin the work of scanning passports. It was some time during that process that Lydia made her first statement of 2015. It took no less than five seconds for the scent to make it to each of her siblings noses. Nobody had to ask, we all know who the gassy one is. The girl can't help it. The gap where the two front teeth are missing must be a natural inlet for too much air. What comes in, must go out.
We wanted out of the stench, but still had more passports to scan. Without fail we get an X on my clearance and have to stand in the next line. Hyphenated names are a beastly problem. The struggle is real. Hours and hours of my life have been wasted because of that one stupid little hyphen.
By the time we got to the luggage area our stuff was all there waiting for us and we camped out while Troy headed out sans circus to rent the mini-van. When Troy pulled up to get us, the kids marveled at the wonders of the Town and Country mini-van. Isaac thinks (and frequently states) that mini-vans are epic.
As we drove toward Naples where we planned to meet our friends, we talked about alligators, the Everglades, the upcoming wedding, and the smell of Target. We realized that one of five children had only one pair of underwear and we were given our chance to smell Target even sooner than we had anticipated.