A few weeks ago, Les & I were trying to figure out how we could go to our niece’s confirmation in Wisconsin. I can’t drive that far with Gabriel by myself because he still does not tolerate his car seat & Les couldn’t take off the needed days at that time to drive up there & back with me.

An idea started brewing.

Les explained our situation to someone he knew, who owns several airplanes of varying sizes, and asked if we could use his second largest plane to go to Wisconsin for the day. The man generously & happily agreed and asked Les to do a little bit of work for him in return. Thus our first family trip, from one destination to the next with Les as our pilot, was a reality.

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I felt so incredibly spoiled on this trip. Les pulled up our van alongside of the airplane and we loaded up the kids and luggage.

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Gabriel slept for the first half of the flight and happily played for the last half. Les gave a headset to Niki & myself so the three of us could talk comfortably and also listen as Les talked to ATC (Air Traffic Control). All three of the older boys have sensory issues but Chris is especially sensitive. Les provided him with a set of ear muffs to turn down the volume on the noise in the airplane. Worked beautifully!

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Niki sat up front with Les – for a few reasons – while I sat in the back with the boys.

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Niki & I get motion sick easily. After watching an episode on Mythbusters several years ago, we gave ginger a try. It. Works. Fantastic! You need to take it about every three hours but it doesn’t have the side effect of falling asleep like Dramamine. I will say, though, that while we don’t get motion sick in the car anymore when we take ginger, it depends on the severity of the turbulence if it works or just takes the edge off.

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My sister-in-law dropped off her car at the airport before going to work that morning. An employee drove her car over to the airplane just after Les turned off the engine. We hopped in the car & were off to meet up with Les’ sister. A mom with kids could easily get used to this.

We had lunch with my sister-in-law, hung out at her house until the kids got out of school, & went to my niece’s confirmation. I’ve never been to a confirmation before.  The archbishop anointed each of the 100+ kids on the forehead & spent 1-2 minutes talking to EACH child & their sponsor. I thought that was sweet. Although…Gabriel & I spent the majority of the three hours in the narthex since he wanted to crawl and talk.

While I was thrilled we would be seeing my sister-in-law, niece, & nephew, I was still a bit apprehensive about going to Wisconsin. Why? Malaki & Justice live there. Would I get to see them? Would I break down & be a sobbing mess if I did? Do I want to see them & possibly re-open old wounds? All of this was going through my head.

Their adoptive mom showed up to my niece’s confirmation but they were no where in sight. I didn’t have the nerve to ask where they were or if I’d see them. My relationship with their adoptive mom is a long & somewhat painful story. When I saw her, all the hurt immediately washed away & I was soooo excited to see her. I won’t lie though, it was a bit hard to see her even if I was happy to see her – for a reason most would not understand. She & her husband tried for many, many years to have children and here I was after  years of infertility also…with a baby in my arms. I felt like I needed to apologize to her. I felt like I should say SOMETHING but there was really nothing I could say. She told me several times that night, “He’s a blessing” and I agreed with her whole-heartedly each time. It was in this exchange where the two of us fully understood & had empathy for one another. She felt, just as much as I did, that every single baby is a gift from God.

Time has a way of soothing wounds and that night, I’ve never felt closer to Malaki & Justice’s adoptive parents. It was a good night.

Did I see Malaki & Justice?

Well…this is what happened after we arrived at my sister-in-law’s home. I walked into their kitchen to see Malaki & Justice’s parents in the dining room. Dare I hope? Can I handle this if they are in there? With each step I took towards the living room, the more excited I became. There they were standing in the middle of the room wide-eyed & a bit bashful.

I scooped them both up & started kissing them and telling them how much I loved & missed them!

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Justice was two when he moved away & although I’ve know him since before he was born, he doesn’t remember any of his time with us. He thought we were all a bit crazy for loving on him so much.

Malaki, on the other hand, remembers much more than you’d expect a three year old to remember. Out of all five of the boys, Malaki was the only one to attach to me. He & I had a close relationship which made it all the more difficult for us as he moved away.

When I asked Malaki if he remembered me, he told me, “Yes! But you used to have longer hair & you look different now.” (I cut my hair a couple of years ago & I’ve lost almost 100 pounds since the last time he saw me.)

Malaki gave me a gift that night. He wanted to know if I remembered him. Can you imagine?! He started quizzing me & asking if I remembered making cookies with him, reading books with him, when he ate “onion flowers in the backyard with Chris” (I admitted I didn’t know about that one but thanked him for telling me about it), and the Thundercake I’d make when the thunderstorms scared him.

Then I asked him if he remembered teaching the other boys how to slide down the stairs head first (“Oh yeah…I forgot about that!”) or snuggling with me in the middle of the night on the couch because he wanted alone time with me.

I found that it was in being remembered by him that night that made the pain of separation endurable for me.

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Niki photobombed this picture & got up immediately afterwards but I love it! These were her five brothers. These were the boys who taught her so much about love and patience & ultimately influenced a comment she made to Gabriel the other night when he so desperately wanted her phone, “You’re my sixth brother. No matter how cute you are, you’re not getting my phone.” He started to cry & she told him, “That’s not going to work on me either. Sorry.”

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We weren’t able to leave that night, as planned, due to weather. The next morning we said our goodbyes before heading home.

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My sister-in-law took a picture of us taking off & sent it to me.

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Jake, my nephew, had five eager cousins playing video games with him the night before. This guy was probably the most excited & stayed up late with him.

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Les talking to me over the headset. I couldn’t help it, he was so cute I had to take a picture of him.

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Flying over Lake Michigan

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Geography lesson using the map on dad’s iPad

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Science lesson on clouds & turbulence

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imageLes’ landing as we arrived home