Monday, December 31, 2012

Over the River and through the Woods

Before we ever talked about moving to Norway my family started planning a Maine Christmas for this year.  My Mom was born and raised in Maine and a lot of her family still lives there.  I was born in Maine, and I lived there off and on until the end of middle school.  I have taken Jon and the kids a couple of times, but never in the winter.
When I talk about going to Maine, it is not the popular tourist destination that we are headed to, but several hours north in Aroostook County.  The hardest part of going home is actually getting there, it is a long expensive process when you are coming from another state.  This year we had the added challenge of crossing the Atlantic.  The logistics of traveling with 3 kids and all our bags took a lot more planning than usual.  Thankfully we have a some great friends that were willing to help us in Oslo.  The morning we left town our friend met us at the train station and took our car, they were able to use it for the time that we were gone and we didn't have to worry about paying long term parking, it was a win-win.  We took the Flytoget express train from Oslo S to Gardermoen airport.  It is so convenient and quick!  We planned extra time into our trip so the kids could play on the airplane play area.

It doesn't hurt that the only Starbucks in Norway is located right next to this play area.  We let the kids work out some energy and then we headed upstairs to check in.
This was our first time flying Iceland Air and I wasn't sure what to expect.  We had a good review from a friend who flew this same route not long ago, but adding kids into the equation can change things.  I am so happy to say we were very pleased with our experience.   The airline seems to go out of their way to make the flight easier for families.  They give headphones to all the children on the plane, each seat has their own entertainment system with a good selection of Kids' movies and shows.  The kids all received a postcard they could color and mail, an activity book and colored pencils.  They do a drink for adults during the flight, but the kids each got a snack box with a warm entree, a juice box and several other snacks.  It was great for the kids and Jon and I may have tried out some of their snacks too.  At the end of both flights on the way there each of the kids received a bag of treats with 4 different kinds of candy.  The kids absolutely loved this!  The other nice thing about flying Iceland Air is the route they take up to Iceland means a quick trip to Boston.  The first flight was 2 1/2 hours and the second flight was only 5 hours.  Our flight left Oslo about an hour late, but they held the plane for us in Reykjavik so we walked directly from our first flight and got on our second.   Iceland Air also includes 2 suitcases in the price of your ticket, even in economy.  There prices were very competitive and when you look at the alternative flights that were 20+ hours of travel with layovers we were very lucky to have found these flights.  I would definitely use Iceland Air again!

The kids did pretty well, both boys slept quite a bit and Addie was good.
Showing off the iPad.

 Bringing sippy cups for the boys helps keep messes to a minimum.
 All ready to go!
 Addie finally fell asleep in the last 45 minutes of flying.
 Garrett slept really well, I love having his car seat to buckle him in.  It is a pain to get it on and off the plane,but worth it.  

In Boston we got to our rental car, loaded everyone up and headed to Chick Fil A.  I had looked up a location on our way and it worked out perfectly.  There are no CFA's in Maine so this was our one chance to have it and it was delicious.  We kept on driving and eventually we made it to Freeport, Maine.  This is where we met up with Nannie, GeeGee, Aunt Laura, Nana, Uncle Bim, Aunt Wendy, Uncle Joe and Mike.  We were all the family that had to travel home to be in Maine for the holidays.   The kids were beyond excited when we got to the hotel.  They have missed all of our family so much.

The next day in Freeport I shopped.  I had lists and I found almost everything I was looking for.  I did enough shopping that USAA called to confirm all the charges.  We did a lot of shopping at L.L. Bean, Jon and I got new parkas, hats, gloves and other warm weather gear.  After a day of shopping for me and fun with grand parents for the kiddos we loaded up all the vehicles and headed our caravan north.

If you haven't noticed I love taking sleeping pictures of my kids.  My mom loves sleeping pictures too and still takes them when she can.  

 A northern treat, Dunkin Donuts!

We stopped in Bangor to shop for groceries at Sam's and we made one more stop on our way north.

There is an Amish store just outside of Houlton, Maine.  This store only uses gas lights and sky lights to see.  They have an antique hand crank cash register.  And they have a collection of knives that are very reasonable and are some of my favorite knives of all time.  We have good friends that live in Houlton that introduced us to this store and we make a point of stopping whenever we can.

This is where you get off of I-95 and continue heading north to get to my home town.  I love this sign, I have driven by it so many times over the years.

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