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Saturday, January 5, 2013


Where do I even begin?! First off in times past I have loathed flying. On a flight my body tenses up, I practice deep breathing, squeeze my husband's hand, and drink a little to take the edge off. Since deciding to travel to Japan once again we have prayed (and had others pray) a lot about the flight when knowing that on top of my fears and anxieties, I would be taking care of a baby... A baby who is very in tuned to how mommy is doing.

The night before the flight Chris and I got maybe four hours of sleep, but Gabriel got around 11! When it was time to leave home he was well rested and in good spirits! On the way to the airport he slept and while in line to check our baggage he flirted with the other woman in line. This of course was our first time traveling with a child and learned quickly that that makes it a little bit different. We went to where we always did to go through security and were immediately sent to a different checkpoint for 'families.' This was the first big task. Between a computer, liquids, shoes, diaper bag, jackets, and backpacks we had at least eight trays to go through security in addition to our carry on luggage and stroller! This is were the grace with each other, for others, and for us that we prayed for came into play; the nicest security people we have encountered... and by 'nicest' I mean not cold and grumpy. One of our bags seemed to be concerning and/or confusing the man watching the x-ray machine. I was juggling a baby under one arm while sliding around on the tile trying to get our trays out of the way as to not be that person taking up all the space! The security guy sternly asked me, "Is this your bag?" As he pointed to the screen. When I said yes in a chipper tone told me ‘okay’ and continued on.

The rest of the SeaTac experience up until boarding was uneventful, fortunately. When we got to the gate I nursed a hungry baby. Chris stood in line for 20 minutes to get a tag for our stroller because another passenger was disgruntled about not being able to upgrade to business or first.

No matter how smoothly travel goes over all, there are bound to be a few hiccups. Our first came during boarding. There is a piece of luggage we always use as carry on and have never had an issue, last time we had it filled with 70lbs of books! This time around all we had in it was our camera bag, a blanket, pillows, a change of clothes, stuffed animal and some diapers. The ladies at the gate through a huge stink about the size when visually we saw other carry on luggage bigger than ours. We eventually took the camera bag out and then they were okay with the size (no difference) but still wanted us to check it due to number of bags (taking out the camera bag made us have one bag over the limit for carry on)... What we figured this was all about was that since our flight was over booked, they were nervous for space in the overhead compartments and wanted some people to check some of their carry on and we were targeted. We eventually just got on the plane with all our items. 

On the plane Chris and I had one passenger between us who immediately changed places with Chris so we could sit together! Gabriel was wonderful during take off, flight, and landing. The 10.5 hours seemed to fly by too! Little man basically nursed and napped the entire time! He was taking complete advantage of nursing to sleep and getting to sleep in mama's arms! If he wasn't doing one of those two things he was being dotted on by the flight attendants who called him 'Romeo' and showered him with cuddles and 'I love yous' at the back of the plane after diaper changes! 

We decided at the beginning of the flight that we weren't going to try and rush off the plane with everyone else, instead we waited until most were off the plane to gather our things and leave. This worked out nicely since we needed to still wait a bit for our stroller. The Narita airport was my first introduction to how baby friendly Japan is! I needed to change his diaper after the flight so I went into the women's room and waited for the stall that had the diaper changing table symbol next to the door. When I got inside I wasn't met with an eyesore of a gross hard and cold cream-plastic-pull-down-from-the-wall changing table but rather a built in, leather covered, soft, cushioned table! In the bathroom was also a mini sink and a garbage can specifically for diapers! As we walked to customs we passed a room specifically for diaper changes, nursing, and making bottles! Events after the plane went rather quickly; we were rushed to the front of customs because we were a family, Gabriel fell asleep during customs, Chris grabbed a cart then we piled on our luggage and headed to huddle with the rest of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard people. 

Two years ago we rode the train to Sakura (our apartment complex) but this year we decided to take the bus to base because this time around we were going to be driven up to Sakura (before we would have had to catch a taxi) and supplied with groceries we asked for ahead of time! Last trip I remember being so exhausted and hungry when we got to our place and not having food... It was kind of miserable having to walk up the road to the Family Mart (convenience store) to pick out food to eat when we didn't know what anything was... The bus wasn't as comfortable as the train would have been, however the bus wound up being much more convenient and Gabriel napped in my arms the entire time. The only time during the trip G cried was as we were getting off the bus on base. When we entered base Gabriel woke up and was hungry. I began nursing him but had to stop to exit the bus and he did not like that! Understandable, it was midnight in the States, he was cold, hungry, and tired. Fortunately Chris got me in a car pretty fast so I was able to nurse Gabriel a little more and after that he was full of smiles! 

Entering our apartment gave me a small feeling of arriving back at home; the familiarity was comforting. Not sure if it was hunger, exhaustion, or past association (or all three) but as soon as I entered the apartment I felt like I was swaying... This feeling continued until I managed to fall asleep. Two years ago we were up for quite a bit before finally going to sleep which really made the transition hard. This time we wanted to go to sleep as soon as we could. We decided we would only unpack enough to get Gabriel and us set up and ready for bed. Gabriel went to sleep fast and easy and we went to bed soon after. The little man's first sleep stretch was 6-7 hours long! Followed by another 3-4 and woke up smiling and happy. It was great getting such a nice night of sleep after a long day of travel.

A special thanks to Chris’s mom Sharon and my sweet friend Wendy for getting us to the airport Thursday morning! Also, thank you to Tim and Caroline for getting us up to Sakura with groceries and thank you to Hallie for the car seat! So thankful for all the help and support we have received to make this transition as smooth as possible. 


  1. Wonderful story! So happy everything went ok! It is really cool to be able to travel along with you and experience your time there. I look forward to more adventures with the Voth's in Japan!!

  2. I'm so happy to hear how smoothly it went. Rest up and I enjoy hearing about all of your wonderful adventures.
    Love and Prayers,
    Megan Sexton


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