Friday, January 8, 2010

Adventures in flying

Who wants to do a little holiday travel with three young children? No one. No one actually WANTS to do that but sometimes you just have to. Holiday travel is more special than regular travel for a variety of reasons. Airports are more crowded, you are carrying gifts, the kids are off schedule and usually tired. They are overwhelmed by expectations and excitement. Plus, if you are like us, you leave all your new Santa loot at home the day after you get it all. I'm mean, I know.
Inspecting the loot
This Christmas posed a particular challenge of packing in the least number of suitcases (they charge $20 a bag each way) and we left the day after Christmas. Normally I pack the day before we leave. Set out clothes of each person and have toiletries, save a toothbrush, packed and ready to go. The next morning we get up, have breakfast, put on our set out clothing and brush our teeth. Easy. When on Christmas DAY was I supposed to do this? We got up and opened presents, played, I cooked food for dinner, went to the in-law's house and came home late.

This Christmas Eve I started to pack as best I could. Oh and we have another problem. Raph wears a uniform to school so he really doesn't have many winter clothes that fit. We just packed some dirty clothes b/c I just can't do laundry and Christmas all at the same time. Kind of a buzz kill don't you think?

The boys when we got home from Grandma and Poppy's house on Christmas

Anyway, I managed to pack fairly well and only forgot 2 presents (that I have yet to mail. Ugh). We were off to the airport at a reasonable time. Not too early where the boys will be bored and not so late that we are rushing through security. The TSA guy must of taken pity on us and let us go through the First Class security line. The lady in front of me in her full length fur coat was none too pleased that she was mingling with the hoi palloi, and complained to the TSA agent. ::rolls eyes:: We had to take shoes off of 4 people, 4 backpacks (yes Colin INSISTED on bringing his own backpack that he in turn refused to wear), a stroller, a car seat and our jackets. Plus you have to put a breast milk filled bottle in its own tray for extra testing and our DVD player had to be taken out for extra viewing. We shuffled through the screening and the breast milk bottle testing was nice b/c we weren't going anywhere and it gave us a chance to get dressed again and stuff shoved back into our bags. Oh and it tested negative for whatever they were testing it for.

We get to our gate and our flight is overbooked. They were offering $300 a seat. Hmmmm, $1200, tempting, very tempting. I think we would be angering the travel gods if we took a bump so we got in line and got on our plane. While in the squeeze shoot to get on the plane a guy looks at us and laughs, "You guys have your hands full." Really? Ya think? Then there was mention of us being crazy as well. Nice. We got on the plane, got everyone situated and took off. Heidi ate and went to sleep for almost the duration of the flight. When she did wake up she flirted with the people around us and tried to eat their fingers. The boys were enjoying their snack bags and a movie. Pshhh-ah I say to that guy who questioned us!

We had a great week in Texas with my family. The boys rarely slept but that's what you do when you are visiting family right? They enjoyed their cousins and the cousins enjoyed meeting their new baby GIRL cousin. Heidi hasn't really started the stranger anxiety yet so it was perfect timing. She flirted and played with everyone. Mike came home after a few days and I stayed the rest of the week. He had offered to fly back and help me bring everyone home but really that seemed excessive. I deal with 3 kids on a daily basis. An airport is just a change of venue. I packed everything up again and we were off to the airport. Me and my three kids. No big deal.

All the cousins with their new Christmas blankies from Nana

In the security line a couple was behind me with a boy about Colin's age. They commented on me being a super mom b/c I was flying with three kids alone. I said "nonsense" and we all laughed. Colin chose that moment to bolt. He is short enough that he can run full speed ahead under the security ropes. I duck under them and catch up with his maniacally laughing self and drag him back to our spot in line. Raph was standing with Heidi at the TSA booth and the lady working just rolled her eyes and checked our boarding passes. Yeah, that family didn't talk to me again. I take every one's shoes off, line up all our back packs and gear. Take out the DVD player and the breast milk bottle for testing. Again the extra testing gives us time to get our selves situated again.

We check our gate number and stop at a few stores on the way. One to pick up an activity book for the boys for when the DVD player is off, a candy store for bulk gummy goodness, and Dunkin' Donuts. Yum! We eat our donuts and wait. Then I realised I looked at the boarding time not the departure time so we are extra early. Then our flight is delayed. Groan. We watch planes. Raph asks about 900 times if we missed our boarding call and how he wants to be on the plane now and why were all those people wearing the same outfit? Those people in matching outfits were the men and women of the Army returning to Ft Leonard Wood. Then we had to have a whole discussion about soldiers, uniforms, war and that there really are women in the military. Meanwhile Colin had hit his limit. The poor kid had taken about 2 naps in the previous week and a half and was beyond tired, whiny and temperamental. I know he looked like that kid but I had made a promise to myself before going to the airport. I would not be embarrassed by my children. I don't care one bit if some random person in an airport thinks I'm a bad mom or my kids are brats. I will do what I need to do to get through the day and not look back. I placated Colin in every way I knew how. Its not his fault he's so tired and irrational, just help him get through it.

After all that waiting we finally got on the plane and headed home. It was fine really. They had snacks, movies, new activity books, etc etc etc. It all went fairly well until the descent. I don't know what it is but that's when Colin always reaches his outer most limits and can't take any more. It started with Heidi getting fussy b/c her ears hurt and she wouldn't nurse. Raph then got a massive bloody nose and Colin refused to sit down and get buckled. I tried to forcibly put him in his seat (while reaching over Raph, holding a crying Heidi and replenishing Raph's tissues). That went over oh so well and he ended up standing in his seat, screaming and threw his new activity book. I just gave up and he sat down and half buckled himself then got out of the buckles again. We landed and he fell on the floor. Serves him right. HA! We got our stuff in our backpacks and Colin fell on the floor. He was stuck like a turtle on his back and screaming. Good times. Then as I was waiting for Heidi's stroller and put her car seat in Colin kept on walking down the jetway. Some nice lady brought him back to me and I had to walk with his shirt bunched up in my hand and drag him.

On the car ride home Colin fell asleep. Then when we got home he went down for a nap without fuss and slept for 4 hrs. He got up, ate dinner and was back in bed within 2 and a half hours. He slept until 10am the next morning and was a much happier child. A good time was had by all. Not. But honestly, it wasn't that bad. I've had WAY worse trips with only one child so you just never know. Travel, especially air travel, is always a crap shoot with kids. I think deciding before hand that you will not be embarrassed is the key.

Next summer I plan on making it a road trip! That should be better right!?

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