Wednesday, October 19, 2011

kid-friendly skies

Dear Em,
We're back! Well, we've been back since late Sunday night, but Monday I was so exhausted I wished I had a coffee IV permanently attached to my body. Tuesday was a catch-up day for both work & home. With me being such a travel-induced zombie, I was amazed to see you play so blissfully & quietly with your toys. As much as I hate to come back from vacation, it's always so nice to return home. I think you feel it too: appreciation. Isn't it funny how much more you appreciate home & life after you've left it for a while?

I remember the days when I went on trips solo. The travel portion of the trips were not quite as involved. Flying somewhere was almost nice. With just my IPod & a book packed in my carry-on, the flight was a quiet time for book reading, music listening, or sleeping. My biggest concern was the annoying kid kicking the back of my I fly with the annoying (but absolutely adorable) kid kicking the back of the chair. Quiet time to myself has become non-existent.

This was your 6th (or 7th) round trip flight. So, by now we're starting to feel like frequent fliers.

There are so many things I have learned along the way about flying with a baby/toddler:
- Children under the age of two are considered lap children & fly on their parent's laps for free. Some airlines require proof of age (i.e. shot records or birth certificate) & some merely ask your child's date of birth. If the flight is not full, many airlines will allow you to give your child his/her own seat next to yours.
- Most airlines allow parents to bring a stroller &/or carseat without any additional charge (strollers & carseats can be loaded as luggage or checked at the gate).
- Airport security allows baby food & drink. Since I pumped & you bottle fed, we typically brought 2-4 bottles with us in our carry-on. Now we bring a sippy of regular milk for you. We announce that we have milk in our carry-on before sending it through the x-ray machine. Different airports have different protocols for checking/testing liquids, but if it's for a child it's allowable.
- Most airlines have a special boarding time for families traveling with children under the age of 5.
- I read somewhere in a blog (I think DesignMom) that typically people are less likely to get annoyed by well-dressed children. I totally agree! I try to dress you in outfits that are both cute & comfortable for flights.
- You can look online or call to find the exact protocols of the airlines you're flying with (other resources: & TSA guidlines).

The first time I flew with you, you were 2 1/2 months old. I brought a stroller, a boppy, 5 changes of clothes & bibs (you had acid reflux & we used them all), your diaper bag, pacifiers, & 4 bottles. I fed you during take-off & landing to help your little ears adjust to the changing pressure. Otherwise, you mostly slept & the people sitting next to us commented on how amazing you were doing on your first flight.

The most difficult part about the trip (other than carrying everything but the kitchen sink through the airport & onto the plane) was changing your diaper. You were a poo-after-every-meal baby (I know, you are probably so annoyed that I just shared this with the world three people who actually read this blog...sorry). So, I changed you before each flight, in between flights, & (most difficult of all) during most flights. Have you ever checked for a baby changing table in an airplane bathroom? It's there, but there's not a whole lot of space to work with. There is barely enough space to stand up in those bathrooms. Now add a diaper bag, turbulence, & a squirmy's like living a horror movie. I'm proud to say I successfully changed your diaper in that scary space. However, the next time your diaper smelled a little sour, I almost got down on my hands & knees & thanked the woman sitting next to us who said it would be easier for me to change you on the seat in between us. She actually asked what she could do to help, & didn't mind me changing your stinky diaper right next to her seat (I believe that woman was an airplane angel, & it's the most amazing thing to sit next to an airplane angel...the grandparents who smile & say that they have grandchildren just about your age & "understand"...the twenty-something who is an uncle & just experienced a flight with his four nephews aged 7 to 1. These people should be awarded first class tickets on their next flights. They are such a blessing to parents. Fortunately, we've sat next to so many airplane angels & very few airplane meanies).

As you grew older, the acid reflux subsided & we didn't need to bring as many clothing options. However, sleeping on flights no longer became an option & we had to increase entertainment options. Having 5-10 items packed to the brim in our carry-on for your entertainment was ideal. Your attention span lasted from 5-10 minutes. So, we brought out each item for 5-10 minutes & then rotated. We had snacks, books, toys that lit up & made noises, snuggly stuffed animals, & colorful taggy blankets.

You can imagine how there has been very little "me" time for your daddy & I during trips since you were born.

Now you're almost two, & you've discovered digital mediums. I packed our portable DVD player, an IPad, your fav lamby & snuggle blanket, snacks, & your diaper pack in my backpack for the flight. You were mostly happy to watch Super Why & Tangled. I say mostly because you're never really happy to be sitting still. Your feet were constantly bouncing up & down (luckily after the 5,000th time I asked you to stop kicking the seat in front of you, the man sitting in it told us he could barely feel your pitter patter & asked me not to worry about it...yup, another angel).

In order to expend as much of your energy as possible outside of the flight, we enjoy a good run on the horizontal escalators during our layovers.

At 9:55 Sunday night, we boarded our last flight. I was carrying a heavy carseat while pushing a stroller. I had accidentally tried to walk onto the wrong flight & was so mortified with embarrassment I wanted to melt into the floor. I was exhausted & stressed & ready to cry. I couldn't wait to be home snuggling with your daddy while you slept soundly in your bed.

And then you turned it all around.

As we walked to the back of the plane, you said "hi" to every single person in an isle seat. You had the whole plane laughing. One woman said you were sure to someday be the president of the United States. We spent most of the plane ride singing Miss Mary Mac, 10 Little Monkeys, & the Itsy-Bitsy Spider. We didn't need our backpack at all.

When I feel like curling into a ball & sobbing, you always find a way to make me smile & remember everything I love about life.

Thanks for joining me for our fun adventure.

I love you so,

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