How to travel with three kids and keep your sanity

After surviving our fourth flight with three kids, I thought I would pass on a few tips.

First of all, when travelling with three small children it is imperative that you not try to be a superhero and go it alone. Such foolishness will most likely result in casualties and as you would be grossly outnumbered, you would be the first to suffer. If you absolutely have to travel alone, however, make sure you are well medicated ahead of time. I hear Xanax works well, or a Bloody Mary an hour before flight (thanks for the tip Carol).

Second, think ahead of time and have all your bases covered. Have shoes untied, put the children in Crocs if you can, have the stroller unbuckled and the computer and video camera out. While still in line, place all shoes and electronics into the empty car seat and carry it up to the table, then quickly toss all contents into the rubber bins – one bin for shoes, one for electronics and small one for keys and change.

This is where things can get hairy if you’re not careful. Lee and I have this down to a science – we don’t even need to speak, we communicate through glances and nearly indetectable hand movements. If someone were to videotape us and play it back in slow motion, it would be a ballet worthy of the infamous Moscow Bolshoy Theater.

Yes. We’re that good.

What you do is place the above mentioned items on the winding belt, along with the kids rolling back packs, your own carry on, your husband’s carry on, the stroller, the car seat and the car seat base and shove them all through as quickly as possible. If you can time it to do this as the baby is starting to melt down from extreme hunger that’s ideal – anything to garner the sympothy of the security guards and get them to usher you through.

Once you give each child a light but firm shove through the metal detector, you hustle them to the end of the line and motion for them to sit and wait, something they will likely not do. Then, you and your husband in perfect synchronization grab the computer and zip it back into it’s bag, place the camcorder in a second bag.

At this point your husband should know to duck as you begin tossing shoes over his head into a neat pile where the children are supposed to be sitting. With a swift sweep of your eyes make sure they are at least within your sightline and aren’t about to board some random flight to Pheonix. Still holding the fussy baby in your left arm, grab two bags and spin out of line, gracefully coming to a stop at said pile of shoes.

Arabesque and freeze.

Once all children are dressed again and you have your unlaced shoes back on your feet, drag everything to your gate and plunk yourself down for a breather. You’ll need it. The flight is to come.

The final recommendation is this: If at all possible, try to get your husband to sit in the aisle with the two older kids and you take the baby. Again, if you’ve timed this correctly, the baby should eat as you take off then fall asleep shortly thereafter giving you ample time to relax.

Try not to laugh at your husband when he gets up to take the kids to the bathroom after only 20 minutes in the air. But when he makes his fifth trip to the bathroom you can go ahead and let out a good chuckle, because it’s really kind of funny. Oh and if you sit directly in front of him and the kids, you can get a few more laughs as he tries to juggle drinks, snacks, toys and meltdowns and you will benefit from the cover of the seat so he will not see your laughter.

When you follow these simple tips, you are sure to enjoy even the most hectic of trips.  Happy Travels!

Talkless Tuesday: Her smile was worth every penny…

I have a post rolling around in my head, but I’m too tired today to be creative, so I will celebrate Wordless Wednesday a day early. Lovey Bear was in the mailbox waiting for us last night. Yes, Rachel, I do believe I would have paid $100 for him because the look on her face was priceless…


Headed Home

We’ve had a wonderful month here. It is sad to have to leave, but we are excited to get back to our own house. Last night Lee and I took the older kids to the beach to watch the sunset. It was a perfect way to end the trip. The weather was beautiful, the sunset was spectacular and the kids had a blast. We gave the glow sticks and you would have thought we gave them a pot of gold – they thought that was the greatest. Tia, of course, bit into one of hers almost immediately, filling her mouth with the glowing liquid. Awesome. Today we are going to play a little more, maybe go to the beach one more time if it stops raining, then head to the airport for an evening flight. Here are a few pictures from our last days. Daddy giving Tia a ride on the wave runner. She wasn’t too sure about it.
Sloan learned to use a mask and snorkel and spent hours looking at the floor of the pool, catching barracuda, moray eel and clown fish.
Sweet Landon loves the water. He’s such a doll.
Sloan got to pet a Dolphin at the Clearwater Marina. He thought that was cool.
Mama and Tia playing at the beach.
My two blondies playing at the beach. There’s an awesome little outdoor restaurant right in the sand where the kids can play while mom and dad relax.
I really wish Landon could have been in this picture to complete it, but here we are at sunset.
It was beautiful.
Glowstick fun.

Only 3 days left

I can’t believe how quickly this month has gone by. We have only three days left until we have to pack up and head home. This brings on mixed emotions. I am excited to get back home and get back into a routine. I am excited to see friends again and be in my own house. But, I really love it down here and really love being here – and so do the kids. It’s going to be hard for them to leave. Lee got here Thursday night and we’ll all go home together on Monday night. So the next few days will be spent packing in the things that we want to do just one more time. Beach, pool, beach, pool, park, pool, beach, wave runner, pool, etc… Good times.

I Can’t Believe It

It’s 12:30 and I couldn’t sleep. I started thinking about lovey bear again so I decided to get up and search ebay again. Guess what? I FOUND ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just paid $30.00 for it, which I know is ridiculous, but my baby girl is still asking for her lovey and doggonit, I found one so I just bought it. I can’t believe it. Now, I think I’ll get some rest.

Eight Years

(forgive the picture of a picture – my resources are limited)

When Lee and I were engaged, I went on a service project to a run down nursing home in the heart of Waco. While there, I sat down and talked with a fascinating man named Abe. Abe’s wife had passed away just a few weeks earlier and for an hour he told me stories about their life together. Wonderful stories of a time when love seemed so real and tangible – of leaving for the war and kissing his bride one last time before departing; of summer days filled with reading out on their front lawn and driving around Lake Waco. His stories were endless and laced with longing to return to those carefree days, yet not filled with an ounce of regret over a life well lived and loved. Over the course of that hour, Abe told me countless times that he and his precious wife had been married for 60 years, 4 months and 22 days before she died. What a sweet time that was for me.

Later that day, I told Lee all about Abe. This was early on in our engagment and I was filled all sorts of romantic notions as I excitedly planned our wedding. About a week later, I went on a trip with my dad to Los Angelos and while there, I found the wedding band that I wanted to give Lee. My mind and heart soaring with giddy infatuation over my husband to be, I had the jeweler engrave on the inside of the ring, 60 yrs, 4 mths, 22 dys +…
Well, my husband and I are 8 years into that goal. And it’s been a wonderful eight years. Even though I laugh a little now at the cheesy-ness of that phrase, it’s still my hope that we are granted a long, blessed life together. Lee is my best friend, my confidant, the man that I truly look forward to spending the rest of my days with and I pray that for the next 52 years, 4 months and 22 days + we will enjoy one another’s company. He makes me laugh on a daily basis, he’s the most spectacular father and he’s more than I could have ever hoped for in a mate. I love you babe. Happy Anniversary.

(Here are the kids and I, the three greatest achievements of our marriage, with the flowers that Lee sent me for our anniversary today)

Out of the Mouths of Babes…and Mommies

Sloan recently learned the rhyming song – you know, “Beach, Beach bo Beach, Banana Fanana Fo Feach, Me Mi Mo Meach, Beach.” Well, he sang truck the other day and with perfect enunciation belted out, “Truck, Truck bo Buck, Banana Fanana Fo F*&k…” And, for some reason, he really liked the sound of that one and kept singing it over and over. I was trying to play it cool because I knew if I made a big deal out of it, he would really catch on. He didn’t know he was saying a bad word and if I laughed or freaked out, he would, then I would always be telling him not to say it. Well, ignoring him was not going to work because he kept singing Banana Fanana for F*&k over and over. Finally we suggested he try singing Van.

“Why, Mom?” he asked.

“Well, you’ve sung truck enough, let’s move on.”

“Is it a bad word?”

“Well, sometimes things just don’t sound right when you say them.”

“Is F*&k a bad word? Can I not say F*&k? What’s wrong with F*&k?”

“Okay, that’s enough. That’s just not a word we say so let’s not say it anymore.”

“What does F*&k mean?”

“Sloan, seriously, time for a new word.”

Sooooo…now I’ve got this word to deal with. Quite possibly one of the crassest words in the English language and my five year loves it. Lovely. I can’t wait for his teachers to call me about this one. Unbelievable.

And then there’s me…Sloan can ask an overwhelming amount of questions sometimes and really wants explanations for things. This can be daunting and at times, I come up with the most random things to tell him. For example, about a year ago, Sloan woke up crying in the middle of the night because he’d had a bad dream about a bear. I was in a sleep deprived stupor so I made little sense as I stumbled him back to bed. After he asked me for the 15th time if there were any bears where we lived I told him no, that bears only live in Oregon. That satisfied him and he fell back asleep. I went back to bed and after a few minutes thought, Did I just tell him that bears live in Oregon? To this day he still says that bears live in Oregon. God help the poor child if we’re ever transferred to Oregon. Then, the other day, Tia convinced herself and Sloan that there was a monster in the back of the condo and they were both all in a tizzy. A reasonable explanation would have been to tell the kids that there are no such things as monsters, but I knew that would go nowhere because in their little mind monsters are very real. So before I could stop and think, I heard myself tell them that monsters only live in Canada. Seriously? Canada? I don’t know where this stuff comes from.

Here are a couple more pictures per my mother in law’s request! We went to the beach today and buried ourselves in the sand. Good times. Happy Monday!

Pictures

We’ve had a fun filled few days. We enjoyed SeaWorld a lot. We saw Shamoo, and sat in the splah zone where we got reeeaaalllyy wet! Sloan thought it was the coolest, Tia not so much. I think we did everything we wanted to while we were there. It was a great time. We’ve played at the beach, swam countless hours in the pool and yesterday visited the Tampa Aquarium – a super fun place with an awesome water area. I sat Landon in front of the littler sprinklers and he had a blast! This morning I took him to the beach, stripped him naked and took a bunch of pictures. Only a few turned out, but they are pretty cute. I’ve taken like 325 pictures so far this trip – here a just a few! There’s nothing cuter than a naked baby bottom.

Landon playing in the sprinkler.
Daddy throwing Sloan.
Landon dodging a splash.


Visiting the dolphins at SeaWorld.

Sometimes a kiss and a bandaid won’t do

I’ve pretty much given up hope on finding Tia’s lovey. I know I’ve been talking about this a lot, but it really has been an upsetting thing for her and for me. I spent a little time thinking about it last night because I have honestly fluctuated between crying over that silly bear and laughing at myself for getting so upset. It’s more than just the fact that we lost a little piece of Tia. That, of course, does make me so sad, but it goes beyond those emotions.

As parents, we work hard to fix our children’s problems – especially when they’re little and the problems are so easy to fix. You got a scrape? Let mommy kiss it – all better! You’re scared? Here, come snuggle with mommy.  And so it goes… 

The problems, in general, are just easier to fix during these young years. But now, suddenly, my daughter has a problem that I cannot fix for her. It’s relatively minor, of course, compared to the real tragedies that could happen. But in her little two year old mind, she is missing her best friend and I am unable to fix that for her. I can’t turn back the clock and look for lovey before we left the hotel. I can’t will him to appear. I can’t find another one on the internet. It’s the first time I’ve watched one of my kids face disappointment and it stinks!

My mom wisely told me the other day that this will not be the last time I have to sit back and watch my child hurt and know there’s nothing I can do to fix it. We are approaching the school days when the sharp, pointed barbs of another child’s words could potentially devastate one of my kids. That is a wound I cannot prevent and it will equally cut through my heart to see them suffer such disappointment. There will likely be some snot nosed little boy that will one day come along and break my daughter’s heart and I will have to sit back and let her be refined through that experience.

There are so many disappointments to come, so many heartaches that mommy will not be able to kiss away. For now I will relish the thought that for the most part, I am their hero. I can fix their problems, but I am praying the Lord will give me the strength to handle the bigger disappointments to come because if I get this upset over a little bear, what will I do when something worse happens?

With time, Tia will slowly forget that little purple bear. Before long, his memory will exist to her only through pictures and the stories we tell. I, however, will probably always long to find her lovey bear. I imagine that for years to come, every time I pass a children’s section of a store, my eyes will automatically glance through the stuffed animals hanging up disply, looking and hoping to see lovey bear. Long after her affections have moved on to something else, my heart will still long to ease the pain of the few weeks when she longed for her friend, her comfort.

Am I obssesive, or is this just natural? I haven’t figured that one out yet.

A Piece of My Daughter – Gone

*update: I have literally searched the internet until my eyes hurt and haven’t even found anything similar to lovey. Tia is doing alright, bless her heart, but she doesn’t understand. She keeps asking for lovey and can’t seem to understand that he’s lost. When we took LEe to the airport tonight, I asked Tia and Sloan if they wanted to go. Tia ran and got her shoes and came up to me grinning and asked (in Tia speech) if we were going to get lovey. Her little face was so expectant. I think she thought we were going to retrieve him and it broke my heart all over again. I have some women named Rosemary looking for me. She actually makes a living searching for lost loveys! Crazy. I called the hotel again about 20 minutes ago and got someone else who put me on hold to go check and see if anything had been found. Right afterward my phone disconnected and I haven’t been able to get through since. AAAAAGGHH! So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get through soon and she’ll magincally say she found him! No such luck – they do not have him but there is still the possibility that he got tangled up in the bedding. It will be a couple more days before they get all the linenes sorted out and washed so a tiny flicker of hope is alive. Hope with me, will you?

We went to SeaWorld this weekend. I’ll share more pictures later, but right now I’m so heartbroken I have to post this as a way to grieve. Tia got a little purple and white lovey bear when she was born and fell in love with it and since she was a little, little baby has carried it everywhere she goes. Lovey bear was a part of her and part of our life as I was CONSTANTLY looking for him. When she got hurt, she wanted lovey bear. When she was tired, she needed lovey bear. Lovey bear was her comfort. And as much as it annoyed me to have to search for him ten times a day, I loved lovey bear as much as her. But today, we lost our beloved lovey bear. And guess who’s struggling with it the most? MOMMY! I am just so sad, I’ve cried all afternoon. Every time I think about it or someone mentions it, my eyes well up with tears. I’m a mess! We think we left him in the hotel room in Orlando and we’ve called the hotel twice to talk with them about it. They’ve assured us that housekeeping will be on the lookout for the beloved bear but it could be a day or two, especially if he got stuck in the linens. She actually just came out of her bedroom asking for her lovey and she’s now laying in bed crying, and I’m bawling as I type this. I know that in the grand scheme of life this is not a big deal, but that little bear was a piece of her. It was a part of her babyhood and a part of who she was and I’m just so sad. I keep praying that the hotel will just call and say they found it, but I’m afraid that they won’t. I’ve spent a good hour scouring the internet for another one, but it’s been so long and it’s such a random little thing that I can’t imagine ever finding another one. But, if any of you are internet savvy, it was a purple and white Animal Alley panda lovey. And if you find one, I will literally be indebted to you for life. So, there it is. Today’s trauma. Here are a couple pictures of Tia and lovey that I took last week.