There are no words to describe the shear fear of taking our 16 month old on his first flight. We recently took our son to Alaska to visit my in-laws. That's 5-1/2 hours direct or in our case a 2 hour 45 minute flight followed by a 2 hour layover followed by a 3 hour 45 minute flight. Join me and my chaotic mind through our journey over 3, 100 miles!
When he was an itty bitty little baby, I thought how much easier it would be to travel if he was at least a year old. Man, was I wrong. The thing I did not think about was babies are so content just being held. In fact, they don't even know how to get around yet (depending on their age) and all they really want to do is be snuggled, sleep, and have a boob or bottle close by. A toddler on the other hand, is a scientific phenomenon for the unreasonable amount of energy they seem to generate. They are like the energizer bunny; they just keeping going and going and going.
Our travels began way before we even stepped foot on the plane. It started with the prep. I annoyed just about every other parent I know with about a million questions on what exactly did they do on their trip(s) with their toddlers. It was almost to the point of obsession. I googled tricks all night long and made a game plan. After all of my planning I knew first, I needed a massive amount of entertainment. Toys, books, the iPad, games, and coloring books. Better if they were new. Well I dumped around $50 on buying him new things for not just the flight out there, but the return flight as well.
I made him a busy box (you can check out how I put that together here). I hand made him a whole felt play mat that I just happened to forgot all about when it came time to pack. There was also a coloring book for each way, new toys in the busy box for each way, a backpack full of books (that i made my husband carry), felt activity books I found at Target for $3 each, the iPad packed full of new apps, and I downloaded several movies and TV shows (thank you Netflix for your download option!). We were fully packed, loaded and ready!
Fast forward to the morning we were leaving. We had a 7:00 AM flight. We always get to the airport 2 hours early. However, this time we hired a car service to take us since we had to be picked up so early in the morning. They had said that 90 minutes was plenty of time. When you are traveling with kids, the more time you have, the better. He arrived at 4:45 AM. My husband and I had set our alarm at 4:15. Plenty of time to get our stuff together and out the door. What we did not plan, was tip money. We are card people and very rarely keep cash on us. Total mistake while your traveling. I set out at 4:30 AM in search of an open ATM to withdraw money to tip our driver. I had to try 2 different locations before I made it home. The driver was already outside.
The plan was to load everything into the car and lastly, carefully move my son into his car seat in hopes that he would sleep on the drive to the airport. When does anything ever go as planed? My husband had everything but one suitcase (that we needed to pack some of my sons nighttime stuff in) in the car and ready to go. I went and picked up my son who rested so nicely on my shoulder UNTIL we went outside. He had this "where the hell am I going" face. I put him in his car seat in a strange car, in the dark, with a strange man, and my son lost it! He screamed, cried, made sure to wake the entire neighborhood. I quickly got in the back with him and began to comfort him. My husband was still inside. we were all waiting. After a few minutes, I realized I still had my car keys in my pocket and my husband was no where to be seen. I knew I had to run in. The second I left the car, my son cranked the volume up to a level I did not know was possible. I dropped the keys on the couch, grabbed the last suitcase and ran back to the car. My husband followed a couple of seconds later. He had checked the rest of the house and stopped in the bathroom. It took us almost 20 minutes to load up and go.
As we were driving to the airport, my son calmed down but was fully awake. In our quiet conversation, we realized that we left the car seat carrier (lent from a dear fellow mom blogger) sitting on our couch. It was one of those, well planned, poorly executed situations. We had it sitting inside the car seat, however, when we went to install said seat in the car, we moved it to the couch. We now realized that we had no way to move our car seat around the airport, except to carry it. This would fall to my husband. And carrying my 25 pound toddler, would fall to me.
Once we arrived, we quickly printed our boarding passes and stood in line to drop off our luggage. We are not light packers. Expecailly this trip where I packed every possible thing my son could need. We made our way to the security line. For being 5 in the morning, it was massive. I knew we would not make t to our gate in time and decided to try another area. Luckily the other side was a fraction of the length and it took us only about 15 minutes to get through. We boarded the train and off we went to the concourse. By the time we got to our gate, we were slightly out of breath from hauling all of our junk and in desperate need of caffeine. We looked at the clock and realized that they were about to begin boarding. Talk about cutting it close. We had thought we would have plenty of time to get coffee and breakfast at the airport. Not even remotely. My husband ran to the nearest store and picked up some water and he boarded the plane with the car seat to install it. I kept my little one busy until the end of boarding to minimize the amount of sitting for him.
I pulled out his busy box. This entertained him for all of 5 minutes. (I found out that it worked great in long car rides, not so much for him in the airplane on the way out.) I moved to a coloring book, he pushed it away. Pulled out the good old iPad. He actually threw it up against the wall! This is when the panic set in. We took turns holding him as he jumped up and down on us and he grabbed at all of the seats around us. I reached into my bag of tricks once again and finally found the winner. We had a reusable sticker pad that he decided he absolutely loved. He peeled each one off and put it on the other side. We finally took a small breath of relief.
After a quick diaper change, we went back to our gate and had my husband board the next flight. We made sure he was rear facing the rest of our trip. The unfortunate thing we discovered about our seating row on this flight was that we had NO window. This was such a bummer as we used that to entertain our son to some extent on the first flight. The only window you could see out of was behind his car seat. Luckily he passed out before we even left the gate and slept a whole hour! We were both happy to get a little shut eye ourselves.
After the first flight, we were a bit more prepared. As I said, my son fell asleep while we were still at the gate and slept for just over an hour. Now we just needed to keep him entertained for the remaining 2 hours and 45 minutes. We tried a few tricks again, but for my son, books and stickers were the ONLY things that he was willing to sit for. The rest of the time, he bounced back and forth between my husband and myself. There were 6 other babies on our flight. I think there was this unspoken understanding between us as we all knew what the others were going through. One parent was walking his son up and down the aisle. I asked my husband if we should give that a try and he said that if we did that, it would be the ONLY thing our son would be willing to do the rest of the flight and would fight tooth and nail to do it. We quickly decided against it and even diverted his attention away from the other youngling.
We landed and got off as quick as we could. I had to shoulder some room so my husband could get the car seat out. We made our way to the exit to find the welcome sight of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law waiting with a stuffed animal wolf for their grandson/nephew. While we waited for our luggage, I stripped my son bare butt naked right next to the carousel and changed his diaper (standing up) and put him in fresh clothes. He had worn his pajamas all the way up. We loaded up the car and set off for our week long adventure in the beautiful state of Alaska.
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My first "rambling" post is going to be all about the hell we returned to this week. We took our first family vacation last week to visit my in-laws in Alaska. I will tell you all about those travels in another post, but first, I must complain about the s*** storm we came home to.
If you are from Colorado, you know of the disastrous hail storm we were struck by last week. This happened WHILE we were in Alaska. We received phone calls from our family and friends back home who all (love every single one of them!) went to our house after the storm to check on it. We were told the news that both of our cars looked as if someone decided to throw a ball at it over and over again until both windshields were shattered and the bodies of our cars resembled the surface on the moon! We took this in stride. No need to let it ruin our vacation. We called our insurance company and filed a claim from up north and continued on our trip.
The next universal middle finger came to us the morning we were leaving. My husband fell down the stairs at his mother's house (did I tell you that was in Alaska?)! He was carrying our son down the stairs when we got up and just slid right down the stairs on his foot. Luckily, he pulled a major ninja move and our son was perfectly fine besides a quick cry to let us know he was freaked out. My husband sat down and it was obvious that things were not looking so good. His big toe was a little crooked and already swelling up. We knew that there was not much we could do with it at that moment so we buddy taped that sucker to the toe next to it and he rested as much as possible before we headed off to the airport. The next morning, we rolled out of bed and realized we slept in too late (I have honestly never had that happen since I've had a child) and rushed out the door to the clinic at our physicians office since it was Saturday. We found out my husband shattered his big toe. He endured 3 airports, 2 airplanes, almost 2 hours of drive time with 2 large suitcases, 4 backpacks, a stroller, a car seat and a 16 month old who loved jumping on his hurt foot. And he did it all without taking a single pain med or complaining! (Yes my husband is my knight in a Godzilla shirt).
I was lucky that my mom came and picked up my kiddo from the doctor's office so we could address my husband's foot. After finishing with the doctor, we went home and turned our attention to the rest of the house. Our luggage was strewn across our living room floor as we didn't get home until 12:30 AM that morning and had to find all of my son's bedtime goodies. We began to fold the clothes and pick up the mess. About half way through, I decided to take a break and told my husband to come look around the outside of our house for damages with me. In the process of him standing up, he stepped on an infamous Lego (technically a Duplo), tripped forward and, not wanting to slam down on his broken toe, swung his arms out hitting the chandelier in the living room which proceeded to hit the ceiling, shattering a light bulb all over the area. Remember when I said my living room floor was covered in all of our luggage? Yeah, that's right, little tiny pieces of glass landed in every place possible. All of our clothes were covered, inside our suitcases, in the open package of diapers, all over my son's toy box, in his crayon box, etc. It was one of those, well f***, moments. We went straight to it and deep cleaned our ENTIRE living room.
When we were done we headed outside to get a breath of fresh air and to finally check out our house. The Christmas lights that we had procrastinated taking down over the last 4-1/2 months (cough cough) were half hanging down from the house. We got up on the roof to discover that it now looked like a polka dotted piece of street art. Yay, I need to call the insurance company again to file another claim. Upon further inspection, we found that the hail had broken several of the bricks on our chimney, dented all of our gutters, smashed in our back porch light, put a hold in the roof of my son's BRAND SPANKING NEW playhouse we just spent 7 hours building, destroyed his play table, cracked his wood bench, and basically left round divets in just about everything in our yard.
Trying to cleanse the day away, I took a shower. Now before we left, our drain had been backing up. I am assuming that a week of dryness in our pipes let all the gunk stuck in there solidify. When I checked the tub 6 hours later so I could give my son a bath, the water was still there. All 6 inches had remained stale, glossy and gross. Bath time was not going to happen. I found our drain snake and started going crazy. Nothing! My husband came in and maneuvered himself so that he could pull the whole thing apart to clean out the drain. After some time he was able to succeed in clearing the blockage. Now all that was left was cleaning the tub that had been caked with who knows what!
On Sunday morning, my son woke up and I shuffled my tired bum into his room and began to feed him. All of the sudden there was this ear wrenching screech from our glider. We have had that happen a few times before. Usually you just have to adjust where you are sitting and it will get better. Not this time. Its as if the chair cried out in anguish and refused to be used anymore. Every single movement seemed to get a little bit louder. Every time it screeched, my sons eye shot open. I carried him into our bed hoping that he might go back to sleep. No luck. I informed my husband in my "its too early for this s*** and it is now YOUR responsibility" voice and told him we need a new chair. We had been talking about it for a month or so since the front of the arm fell off. My husband knew just what to do and immediately sat up, opened his iPad, went to Amazon, found and purchased a new chair. (Love this man!) It will be here Friday. Just a week of nails on a chalkboard chair left and I will have my new butt throne.
During the first couple days home, my son started to realize that he no longer had 5 people at the ready to give him their undivided attention and decided to let us know how displeased he was about this with his "fits." They really began the day after we got home, but it seems that everyday is just a little worse. In my massive amount of questioning other parents before we left, the majority said that the return was what was hard. Well my kiddo has definitely lived up to that expectation. His new favorite ways to communicate ANYTHING to me is to continually and simultaneously hit, scratch, bite, and pull every last strand of my hair out. It took 3 of us to get, what I can only describe as a face huger from the movie Alien, off of my head. I love him dearly, but there has been lots of deep breaths here at my house.
Monday was the first day my husband gimped his way back to work. Leaving me and my sweet boy home without a car, as only one of our cars is driveable thanks to spider webbed cracks in the glass. I had spent all weekend trying to set up a rental car through my insurance company, but the weekend hours made that near impossible and I tried my hand again Monday morning. It took me only around 10 minutes on the phone the get my reservation number. I called the rental car company. I was on hold for 45 MINUTES! All while I have a moody kid tugging at my pants wanting to do anything else but sit in the house, only to be told that there are no more rental cars in the entire state of Colorado and that they are shipping in more and I "might" have a rental car the following Monday. I can not survive a whole week stuck in my house without a car! We have just returned from vacation and are making due with the few scraps of food left in our fridge from before we left. I need my freedom to get out and about! I called my mom in frustration, and here comes my mom to the rescue, again. She told me I could borrow her car until I can get my rental car. Aren't moms the best?!
Next I had to call the Orthopedist for my husbands toe. I must have called them over 20 times, either receiving a busy signal or the "your call can not go through" message. I called my physicians office numerous times and they also could not get through. When that lucky call did break the busy peep barrier, they told me that their whole system was down and that they would have to call me when it was back up. I had been on the phone a total of 2 hours at this point between the rental car company and doctors offices. My son was at his breaking point and my hair had frayed to its peak. I decided to go play outside with my little guy and step back from it all. I was finally able to call and get an appointment later that afternoon for first thing in the morning. Cue another phone call to my savior, my mom, to babysit, again, while we take my husband to the doctor in the morning.
Did you know that they are saying the allergies are 4 times worse this year than average? Well both my son and I get to experience this first hand as my already cranky ball of cuteness now can not stop rubbing his eyes and blowing snot bubbles. I am still nursing him as well, so I can not take any allergy medicine myself. Every few hours I get to use our lovely nasal aspirator to suck all of that gooey snot right out of my kids nose. Now usually this is a fight of epic proportions, however, I can tell how annoyed he is with his runny nose as he is forcibly putting it up to his nose in search of some relief. We have taken several baths to help combat these symptoms which have been continuous since our return, and even a few days before while we were still up north, albeit not to this extent.
Monday night, I was on my computer and realized that I still needed to set up the inspection for our new windows we had put in at the end of December. The building permit is good for 180 days and that had to be coming up. I called the automated line but was unable to get through. The following day, just after returning from my husband's appointment, I received a call from our window company saying our permit had expired and that they had to file an extension that morning. I needed to set up the inspection immediately. I asked if she would be willing to help set it up for the following day, as I seem to be completely inept at the city's automated line. I already had my home adjuster coming the next day, might as well make a day of it and get as much done as possible. Now, the only way to know the time they show up is to call first thing in the morning and ask the building department. I called and was told sometime before noon. Perfect, or so I thought. My son and I were sitting on our living room floor (a mere 10 feet away from my front door) watching Sesame Street and enjoying some delicious freeze dried yogurt snacks. We have a large front window directly next to the front door that you can easily see our television through if you are standing on the front porch (This will be important). I got up to get my little one some more snacks and checked my phone. I have an app that tells me when someone has rang my doorbell. When I look at my phone, there is a notification that my doorbell had been rung. I go over to the door, open it, and find the "we missed you" notice from 2 MINUTES AGO!
I immediately called the building department. I explain to the woman on the phone that my door bell never rang. She radios the inspector and tells me that he is too far away to return. Now, there is always that breaking point. Mine happened to be this woman telling me that the inspector who was at my house a mere 2 minutes ago could not return and I have to make ANOTHER appointment and commit ANOTHER day sitting right by my front door. She went on to say that they always knock. I have a security camera and he did NOT knock. Then she goes on to argue with me about how she doesn't know how I didn't hear him on my front porch. I have a freaking brick house with brand new windows, of course I didn't hear him! Ergh! The steam was blowing from my ears. I know that it is always better to be nice to whoever you are talking to on the phone as it is not their fault, but having this woman try and state every single way that this was my fault (not having a note on my working doorbell to tell people to knock, not having super hearing, not sitting at my window like a dog waiting for his owner to return) really pushed every last button I had. I hung up and called my window company in hopes that they could help me set up a new appointment.
Do you ever get so worked up that when you finally release it, all that can happen is you cry? That happens to me too often. Well, I cried to the very nice lady from the window company. As soon as she asked me what day I would like to try and set up my next appointment, it all came out like a waterfall. I was full on blubbering my eyes out to a complete stranger who probably thought she just boarded the crazy train. All I could keep saying was "its been a rough week." She helped me get everything set for tomorrow. Hopefully, things will work out this time. I owe this woman a huge thank you for being so sympathetic to the insane lady who cried through trying to set up a home inspection.
Now here I am. It is Wednesday afternoon and I still have 2 more days to make it before the weekend. I hopefully will have a successful inspection tomorrow and Friday I get to bury my grandparents ashes in what is suppose to be another winter storm. My mom was gracious enough to watch my son this afternoon so I could get a break. She even took us out to lunch first where my son decided to throw a ketchup bottle across the table at her. She brought down tarps and buckets to cover my plants for tonight's storm. And it just makes me think. In one of the hardest weeks I have had in a looong time, and just days after Mother's Day, I am shown how wonderful moms are and how much I myself can handle. Even though I am at times my son's lightning rod, at night he snuggles in and falls asleep as we rock in our screeching rocking chair. He desperately clings to my shirt as if he never wants to let go. Me giving my self one more minute to hold him and watch every single breath and brush his hair from his eyes. Life can take you for a ride. It is about remembering what is important and hanging on tight through the rough turns. We will get through this. We will persevere and we will be stronger for it. That is what we moms do.
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