When people have asked me to name the best thing about our trip to China, I've struggled to not give Seconda's typical answer to any "best thing" question: everything.
But it was really hard to decide if it was the food, or the Great Wall, or the Forbidden City, or just driving around. So a friend asked what I didn't like, and when some answers to that question came easily (haggling at the Pearl Market, the language barrier, the toilets), I knew my "best thing" answer.
The best thing about our trip to China is that we were totally prepared for it.
Not prepared in the sense of perfection, of having every minute planned, of remembering to pack everything, of having our days go as intended. No, instead we were prepared with just enough stuff, plenty of patience, a healthy sense of humor and a measure of flexibility to make it seem like a flawless trip.
First, we had to get there. We've flown with the kids several times now, mostly to Florida to visit grandparents, but also to California and Oregon. So we know who gets airsick (me, Terza), who likes window seats (me, Seconda), and who gets bored easily (everyone).
(Let me just tell you this quick funny story about Seconda and window seats. On one of our trips to Florida, she had her face pressed to the glass for much of the trip. She also had her headphones on and plugged into her Leapster, so she had no idea how loud she was when she excitedly told all of us on the plane that "Whoa! That's the WORLD down there! It's amazing!" That's pretty much how I feel on every flight, every chance I get to look out the window. I have to work hard not to inform the whole plane about the awesomeness of the situation, too.)
Ok, back to flying. So we know all that about ourselves, so we pack accordingly. Each kid gets a bag of amusements for the flight and they're each responsible for their own stuff and entertainment. Terza and I take dramamine and put our sick bags in easy reach. Everyone gets gum to help with their ears, and this time we tried those special ear plugs that help with pressure changes (which totally worked for me, by the way).
But the flight to China was not without some oopsies. First, before we even took off, The Man of the House spilled a drink all over his pants and seat. Then, we forgot to have Terza go potty one last time before falling asleep, and discovered our mistake hours later when she woke up wet. Finally, as we were landing, we realized the dramamine had worn off and the sick bag is of no use when you don't know you need it. Terza had barely said her stomach hurt when she popped all over me, herself, and her seat. Oops. This is where wet wipes, patience, a sense of humor and apologies to the flight crew come in.
Once we arrived and throughout our stay, there were hiccups. Things can and do go differently than expected on vacation, just like in life at home. The kids handled them all with patience, and dare I say it, grace. (Those squat toilets were their biggest challenge, for sure.) I'm so proud of my kids for how they handled this trip, and I'm eager to take another with them.