In summary, our trip was full to the brim with fun, sun, laughter, sunshine, family, and Christmas. I left New Zealand feeling like I did everything and had the time that we had hoped for. There was a bit of family drama, all three of us succumbed to a terrible flu, the sun wasn't always as warm as I'd liked, and we endured many hiccups in the world of airports. All in all, we fulfilled our New Zealand sickness and both agreed that we were ready to come back to our home.
The plane ride back was not as smooth as we had assumed it would be. Remember on the way over how Fiji Airways let us use a bassinet? Remember how we were seated in the bulkhead-aka dream seats on an international flight? We figured the same seats would be assigned to us for the way back to LAX. As a matter of fact, I asked the counter agent in Auckland if we were seated in the bulkhead...the answer was yes. I smiled and said thanks for the great service! Contrary to her response, we were stunned to board the plane and find that seats 28 E and F were actually the middle two seats in the row of 4 in the middle of the plane! In other words, we were seated in the absolute worst seats possible for an international flight (WITH A LAP TODDLER). After begging the flight attendants and being told there was nothing they could do, we gave up and took our seats. I had visions of Callum squirming non-stop and me being unable to get out of my seat because we were trapped on both sides with random dudes.
Well, it was a bit of that. From Auckland to Fiji Callum was super wiggly. We were seated in the bulkhead for this flight, so there was no harm done. We had a long layover in Fiji, so we decided to get out of the airport and see some things. It was extremely HOT and humid-big surprise. We didn't venture far for fear of sweating through our clothes and not having any thing to change into. We all bought popsicles and laid on the grass and stared up at the palm trees for a good while. Eventually, we wandered around the airport and managed to get dinner. We met this super annoying American that did nothing but say rude things about everything we would say. It made me less excited to come home.
As we boarded our flight to Los Angeles from Nadi, that is when we discovered the seats of death. Like I said, we took our seats and had to figure out how to entertain Callum and keep him happy all within a very small personal space. When they served dinner we had to balance tray tables and food with Callum kicking. That was fun.
At some point after the in-flight meal, he finally just fell asleep on me. I knew it was a good sleep because he had a bit of a snore going. His body was on me and his legs hung out onto Jason's legs. The flight from Fiji to California is only 9hr 45min as compared to the usual 12 hours that it is for a direct flight from New Zealand. I kid you not. From the time he fell asleep until they turned on the cabin lights for breakfast somewhere close to California, Callum slept! I am so proud of him. There was one little moment where we cried in the night, but it was inconsequential.
The big problem was that Jason and I could not get out of our seats without being the annoying people that wake people up on international flights or at the expense of waking Callum up. I did not get up even once. Do you know how bad this is for your health? Again, I was extremely disappointed that we were told it was a bulkhead seating assignment only to find that it wasn't. Not cool at all Fiji Airways. We are disappointed.
We landed in LAX to find a chaos of Americans taking domestic flights. How annoying is LAX for domestic flights? After enduring a line that snaked outside of the terminal and far outside, we checked in to find that it was too early. Uhhhh.
After finally finally getting through the check-in process we got crappy airport food and found a quiet corner in the terminal. Our only goal was to get Callum a sizable nap, so we could clock out until the next flight. It worked. He slept like a charm. Jason watched movies, and I read my new book.
The flight to Phoenix was great. It was practically empty, and Callum got to stretch out on his own seat. For the first time in my life, I was extremely excited to get home to my own house. Is it because I'm a mom now or just old? Either way, both Jason and I took comfort in pulling up to our snow covered driveway even though we had just been in summer paradise.
For the record, being in New Zealand reminded us how much that country means to us. We intend to move back because I cannot accept our kids not understanding what it means to be Kiwi. That whole thing is a chapter for another time in our story.
For now, we soak up and enjoy every little precious minute we get here with Kiwi family or there in the motherland.