Phase 1: The Reunion

“We would like to welcome those flying on Delta Flight 3108, non-stop service to Washington DC; those needing special assistance may now board at this time.”

Guess that means us.  After all, we did have three babies, three car seats, two large double-strollers, two carry-on sized suitcases, two backpacks, and one diaper bag.  We’ll take as much assistance as they were willing to give us.

My mind was running wild. I just knew the babies would scream the entire flight and people would stare at us, making comments under their collective breath about how much of an inconvenience we were to them.  Airport security had already given us the royal shake-down; even with no line, it literally took the entourage (Missy, Shannon, Sienna, Jovie, Rowan, and I) 30 minutes to get from one side to the other.  On top of screening our coats, blankets, bags, shoes, and backpacks, the TSA had us run the car seats and strollers individually through the x-ray machine, which meant that we had to take them apart and reconstruct them on the other side.  And then there was our 30 oz. bottle of ready-made liquid formula which required a special agent to inspect, re-inspect, and re-re­-inspect the diaper bag.

Each adult went through the metal detector with a baby in hand, sans car seat, which (of course) got them all in a huff.  Luckily for us we were in the Des Moines (International!) Airport at 6:30 on a Friday morning, so the line of people stacking up behind us (which in my mind was at least 500 strong) was, in all reality, minimal.  Even so, by the time we were arrived at our gate, we were so disheveled that I was ready to cancel the trip, turn around, and go back to bed.

(Left to Right:  Sienna, Rowan, and Jovie ready for takeoff.  Click to Enlarge)

Despite all my immense fears, the flight itself turned out to be relatively uneventful.  Mama Missy prepared three travel kits for us containing bottles, diapers, wipes, and pacifiers.  With the cabin barely half full, we each managed sit beside an empty seat, which allowed us to carry our car seats on for the girls to use when they slept.  And while there were some big-time screams, the engine noise managed to drown out most of the intermittent fuss.  My only major complaint would be that we de-planed onto the tarmac because the jet way wouldn’t reach our small(ish) plane.  C’mon, Delta!

My mom was waiting for us upon arrival with the Suburban packed to the gills, filled with most everything we’d need for the weekend.  We were heading to Lexington, Virginia, for my VMI five-year reunion.  Two nights in a hotel room with seven people, plus plans for tailgating on Saturday required a lot of stuff, which I even had to re-pack before making the three-hour trip.

We arrived in Lexington mid-afternoon and, after a brief stop at Walmart for diapers and bottled water, the seven of us checked into the hotel and unpacked.  The suite was soon transformed into Baby-HQ with a bottle station, changing area, two Pack-n-Play’s, a crib, a play mat, and a bouncy seat; what little room left was taken up by the rest of our suitcases, two beds, and a sleeper/sofa.  It was a tight fit, but we made due.

The reunion welcome dinner was held that evening, and I met up with my ex-room mate Sam and and his wife Lyndsay.  With them was Conner, their first child, who was born in June, just a month after the girls were.  My mom and Shannon graciously offered their sitter-services to watch him (and they just as graciously accepted), as well as the girls for a couple hours, while the four of us went to the dinner together, worry free.  This was the first time we had a chance to catch up with other old friends and classmates, many of whom I had not seen or heard from since graduation.  A few drinks and many laughs were had that night reliving old stories, inside jokes, and memories shared from our four years at “The Mother I”.

Sam, Lyndsay, Missy, and I dolled up for the class dinner.

We had a full slate of activities scheduled for Saturday, like attending the Alumni Parade

Alumni Parade

Old Yells in the Courtyard of Old Barracks

tailgating with family, friends, and classmates…

Uncle Addie getting to know Jovie.

Uncle Handsome & Aunt Shannon

Miss and Whit

Jimmy grilling up some...beans?

…and VMI football (which we didn’t actually attend…it got too hot for the babies).

Pre-game march down.

Kickoff. It's no Kinnick or Big House, but it's still special to Missy and I!

For the first time, Shannon got to see the “unique” college experience I had at VMI.  Uncle Addie (who had yet to meet his nieces) and Uncle Handsome made the trip up from VA Tech to hang out with us for the day as well (good thing it was an away game for the Hokies, or else we might not have seen them).  Throughout the day, friends came by our tent in shock not just to find out that we had triplets, but that we made all the way from Iowa with them.  We were shocked to find out that we didn’t even have the longest trip in, as there were classmates who traveled from Dubai and Taiwan to attend the weekend.

We ended up packing it in before the game ended and made our way back to the hotel to hang out and let the girls nap.  There was a class cookout that night, which Missy, Sam, Lyndsay, and I attended together to see everyone one last time, but in essence, the weekend was over just as fast as it began.  Missy and I have a lot of fond memories from VMI, so even though we were in Lexington for less than 48 hours, it was worth the extra effort to see the school and catch up with so many old friends, repeating over and over to them “we wish we lived closer!”

Early Sunday morning we repacked the ‘burb and hit the road early so that we could get Shannon back to the airport, but not before stopping by Post one last time.  It was unexpectedly sad saying goodbye, knowing that we most likely wouldn’t be back for at least five more years.  It really is a beautiful place; one which I didn’t fully appreciate during my tenure there.  However, we didn’t have long to dwell; five hours of road time were ahead of us, and we were moving on to the next part of our journey.

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

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