I think I've been forgetting to mention this but Fire is crawling now and pulls himself up to stand on everything. We're going to have another toddler on our hands soon.
Fire with his Mommy Elizabeth and sister Suzann
Fire and Mommy Elizabeth
Fire and Sky with Fire's birth family: Daddy Job, Leni, Lomorro, Mommy Elizabeth, and Suzann
Sky with her Aunt Agnes
We flew to Majuro from Honolulu and arrived on a Saturday. We had hoped to spend time each day with the kid's birth families but it didn't work out that way. I write letters every few months to both families and I'd been telling them when we'd be in Majuro since I bought the tickets in August but in true island fashion, no one came by until Monday.
I was sad about not seeing the families for the first few days but in retrospect, it was a really nice way to come down from the rest of our trip. We got to spend two days just being a family, in some place that's familiar to us and to Sky. We were able to work through our jet lag, eat good food, and just spend time with the kids. I think that helped the last, most stressful day of our vacation go better that it would have otherwise.
Also, Sky struggled with being on Majuro. I'm sure that part of it was just her being a travel-stressed three-year-old, but there was another, deeper edge to it. She had some problems with acting out when we were there last time (see here, here, and here) and to me, this felt the same. She still has associations, and maybe not good ones, with this place. She ran pretty wild, and we let her because we thought she needed it, for the morning on Saturday and then calmed down after her afternoon nap. That night we had dinner with another couple that was in Majuro for an adoption (Hi Abby and Micheal!) and Sky did good until she just kind of melted down but since she passed out as soon as we got home, part of that was probably her being overtired. Sunday was a good day, with time spent playing on the beach, going for walks, and having KLG for dinner.
By Monday morning, we were feeling a little down that we hadn't seen the kid's birth families and we structured our day around ourselves, rather than waiting around the hotel for the families. D took Sky to the playground at the College of the Marshall Islands and Fire came with me to WAM. When I got back to the room 2 hours later, D met me on the stairs to tell me the Fire's family was there. Job, Fire's birth father, had seen D and Sky at the playground and checked the dates on the letters we sent. When he realized that we really were in town he got Elizabeth and Suzann, their youngest daughter, and came over. We gave them the book that we'd made for them and some Christmas presents that we'd brought from the states and talked for a while, and then as it was getting on to lunch time, they asked if Fire could come home with them until dinner time.
I was on a high from seeing them and having it go so well and we had no reason to say no, so we said yes. I packed a diaper bag (they were amazed at the size of the bag I sent with them for him!) and they left with him. A few minutes after they left, it hit me that my baby had gone away with someone else. I'd packed up things for him to be clean, well-fed, and happy and sent him away with a kiss. My heart started breaking and I realized I was getting just a tiny taste of what Sky and Fire's families had gone through. We've never done that before, not really, and it was hard. We took Sky to lunch and she kept asking where her Fire was.
We all napped most of the afternoon and then around 5 we set out to go meet Fire's family at their house. Bubu is a landowner on Majuro and she and Jimma built a new house about five years ago and they invited us to see it while we in town. Job and Elizabeth told us where it was and we found it pretty easily. It was clean and airy, and had more bedrooms than our house. Sky was delighted to have a pack of children to play with and of course, Fire was fine. After talking with them for a little while, we decided that I should go back to the hotel to pack and to be therejust in case Sky's aunt Agnes came by and that D would bring the kids back when it started getting dark.
Of course, that's not what happened. Sky stepped on a fire ant nest and got bit all over her foot even though the big kids pulled her out right away. D brought her back to the hotel and the rest of the family came with. I wasn't done packing yet so the rooms were a mess and all of a suddern the place was full of people we wanted to impress and I started stressing. It was fine but I was pretty wound up by everything. We got Sky's foot taken care of as best we could and then the kids played in the room while we talked. I know that Marshallese kids are just kids but a lot of the time, they seem much better behaved than American kids so it did my heart good to see Job and Elizabeth's kids not sharing, not listening, and pouting when they were told no. Elizabeth and I even laughed about it.
In the middle of all that, Agnes came by. We had been prepping Sky as much as possible that she would see Agnes but I don't know how much it helped. Sky was very shy and quiet around her, so D and I did most of the talking. Overall, Sky did much better with Agnes this time than she did when we were her in May. She didn't act out against her physically in any way, just said "no" when she didn't want Agnes to hold her. Job and Elizabeth and their kids said their goodbyes around bedtime and Agnes stayed to see Sky off to bed. Sky fought all through her bedtime routine, but D and I were able to laugh through it because that's something pretty normal for her, and it felt good for something to be normal.
Agnes and her sister-in-law Dora (wait, Sky has uncles? We learn something new about Sky's family every time.) came to the hotel the next morning and rode to the airport with us. Sky sat on Agnes's lap for the whole ride and she and Dora watched the kids while we got checked in. Sky actually fell asleep on Agnes's lap for a little while- I'm glad she felt that comfortable with her because she doesn't always.
We got our tickets and said our goodbyes and then headed through security. The wait in the airport lounge was probably longer than the flight to Kwaj but we were glad to be there, waiting to go home. This was a long trip, probably too long, but it was almost over. We'd made it through the physically hard parts, and the emotionally hard parts and we were hitting the homestretch. D says the best kind of vacation is one that your glad to go on and one to come home from, and this one definitely qualified.