Monday, April 25, 2011


Dear This Week,
I hate you.

Dear Weather,
I hate you.

Dear Mouth,
I hate you.

Most sincerely,

Monday, April 11, 2011


I try to have the boys in bed as close to 7 p.m. as possible. I like them better this way. Lately it is still light at 7 p.m. and apparently it hasn't gone unnoticed.

Last night Sawyer woke up at 2 and was demanding my attention. I was trying to sleep on the couch downstairs so I ignored him for 10 minutes in hopes that someone else might attend to him. It became clear that wasn't going to happen so I went up to see what his problem was. He demanded that I open his blinds so that he could see out his window. Then upon looking outside he declared angrily "It is dark! It was light and now it is dark! It is supposed to be dark and then light and then you wake up! It wasn't time to go to bed!" Can't put one over on that kid.

And in other news, if you want to keep your pregnancy weight gain in check I recommend the following:

11 weeks of constant nausea to be followed by lactose intolerance + heartburn to be followed by 1 week or more of Hand Foot and Mouth disease with oral bacterial infection.

If it worked for me, it can work for you!

At some point I really will post all of the old posts that should be on here. Luckily there aren't any major holidays in the last quarter of the year or anything so it isn't like I am that behind.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I can fly twice as high

Edit: to include tips from a Delta traveler at the bottom! New and improved!

A friend was recently talking to me about flying with children. And while I haven't done much in the last 5.5 years, I have flown with children over a dozen times or so. And I'm not talking Utah to California type plane rides. These are Utah to the East Coast plane rides = 6+ hours of flight time and 8-10 or 11 hours of travel time. That is what happens when home is 2,000 miles away. Granted, I had another adult with me on all those trips except for two I think.

So here are my semi-pro tips for flying with children (and by semi-pro I mean no one has died yet):

Purchasing tickets:
- Fly Southwest. Then you don't have to select seats when you purchase tickets. Of course, the recent hole-blasting-open-in-the-ceiling incident is cause for some concern.

- At least for my usual destinations Southwest is almost always the cheapest. For a while Delta was cheaper. But they were also horrible. They changed our flight times/schedules/connections almost every single time we flew. Once in a while this worked to our advantage. Like the time my family + Megan + Chad were flying to Connecticut for Christmas, but it was cheaper to fly into New York so we were planning to fly to JFK, take a shuttle to the train station, and take a train to CT. Doesn't that sound fun? As per their usual, Delta began notifying me that my flight had been changed the day before we left. They kept pushing our departure/arrival time back later and later in the day. Finally they pushed it back to so late that we wouldn't be able to get a shuttle/train to CT upon our arrival. I called and complained (I'm good at that) and eventually they agreed to put my whole family + Megan + Chad on a flight straight to CT instead of NY (what we would have preferred all along of course). The flight to JFK would have been direct whereas the new flight to CT wasn't so I also had them arrange for a cart to meet us at the gate to take us to our connecting flight. So when we arrived at our layover there was a golf cart guy waiting for us and we piled on all our luggage and got driven to our next gate. It was like being a celebrity. For about 30 seconds...because our connecting gate was only about 150 feet from our arrival gate. Anyways, what was I saying?

- Oh yes, Southwest is usually cheapest. You get 2 free bags per ticketed passenger so if you plan on bringing, you know, clothes or anything they are always the cheapest these days.

- If you fly Southwest MAKE SURE you check in online 24 hours before your departure time. If you don't and you have kids you can board in the "family group" which is after the A group. But it is still better to be in the A group. Isn't it always?

- If you fly Southwest you can cancel your tickets and still keep the credit or change your plans and just pay the difference without any change or cancellation fees. Which can be handy when you have a baby 3 weeks early and Mom isn't scheduled to arrive for another 2 weeks.


- Most airlines allow you to check car seats without counting it towards your baggage limit. They will also provide you with a large clear plastic bag to put them in. If your child has his/her own seat on the plane you can bring their car seat on the plane. Keep in mind their feet will probably be against the back of the chair in front of them while they are sitting in the seat on the plane. And they will kick it. However, if you don't have a car seat then the only thing keeping the wee one in his/her seat is the little seat belt...i.e. they won't be sitting down ever...and especially not when the flight attendants are demanding that they be belted in their own seat for take-off and landing. When Sawyer was 2 we brought the car seat and he couldn't get out and it was great. When Sawyer was 3 there was no way he would have had room for his legs while sitting in a car seat on the plane so we checked it and he also did fine over all. It is your call. When the boys were under 2 they were on my lap which is obviously horrid, but cheaper, so we did it as long as possible.

- Clean out your car seats before going to the airport. If you are bringing them on the plane they will have to go through the x ray machine. And when you flip it upside down on the conveyor belt so that it will fit into the machine you might be embarrassed if 10 pounds of cheerios, fruit snacks, french fries, coins, crayons, etc come tumbling out of it. Not that I'd know.

- Bring a copy of a birth certificate for each of your children. Technically they are supposed to have identification too. If you are wanting them to fly for free you may have to provide one to prove they are under the age of 2. Most of the time they won't ask for them.

- There is usually a "family line" for going through airport security. At the Salt Lake airport there is a sign with a picture of a family on it. This is a shortcut. They take you up to the front and you cut all the suckers, I mean, fellow passengers in line. Of course, they are not traveling with children so we know that they will have the last laugh, but we take what we can get.

- Your children will have to take off their shoes and coats/sweatshirts. If you have a stroller you will have to collapse it to send it through the xray machine. This is challenging if you are holding an infant...and the airport security people WILL NOT hold your infant for 2 seconds so you can collapse your stroller, remove your shoes, and take off your sweatshirt. They are "not allowed."

- If you have a laptop you will have to remove it from your carry on and from its case. You may have to do this with dvd players too depending on who is working that day. You may have to do this with small children's gaming units. If you are lucky you will have to do this with your laptop, your dvd player, and your Leapster.

- Everyone knows the NO LIQUIDS rule, but there is also a YES! LIQUIDS! rule. You CAN bring breast milk or formula. You have to declare it - which just means take it out and show it to them and don't just try to send it through the x ray machine in your carry on. It has to be a "reasonable amount" which means nothing besides whatever they feel like letting you have that day. You can also bring baby food and baby juices. I once brought an 8 pack of juice boxes through along with a bunch of packs of baby food. The employee wasn't happy about it, but she called over the supervisor and when I told her I was going to be traveling for the next 10 hours she said it was fine. Then the first lady gave me nasty looks.

- You can gate check a stroller. This means you can bring a stroller with you through security and when you get to your gate you go to the counter and tell them you need to gate check your stroller. They will put a tag on it for you. You can either gate check it all the way to your final destination or if you have a layover they can bring it up to you and then you can gate check it again for your second flight. I think it is very useful to have a stroller because even if your kids don't ride in it you have something to help haul all your stuff to your gate or to your next flight or down to baggage claim. Once you get your gate check tag you will just fold up your stroller and leave it at the bottom of the ramp right before you get on the plane. And that is where it will be when you get off the plane. Try not to leave your purse hanging from the stroller when you leave it at the bottom of the ramp. It is very hard to get back out to the ramp when everyone is trying to get on the plane. Not that I'd know.

- If you are flying alone with children you can get an escort pass when you check in so that another adult can accompany you to the gate. It is like the old days. They show their pass and go through security and then they can stay with you right up until you get on the plane. This would have been helpful information when I was trying to get through security while holding an infant while employees that were apparently prohibited from being helpful in any way looked on.


- Always pack at least 1 bag under your allowed bag limit. If you can bring 4 bags for free then pack 3 + 1 empty bag. If you are like me you will be bringing home more stuff than you left with.

- Do not bother looking at a weather forecast. They are usually wrong and then you will be stuck with shorts and tank tops in 40 degree weather. Pack underwear, socks, a bathing suit, a couple pairs of pants, a couple pairs of shorts, several t-shirts, at least 1 sweatshirt, and a medium weight jacket. Now you can go anywhere! If you are going to have access to a washer/drier then pack 4-5 outfits per person regardless of the length of your stay. If you won't then I usually pack 2 outfits per day per child and 1 per day for me because who wants to try to find a laundromat on vacation? (My mom does...she likes it when kids throw up on the sheets in rental houses in New Hampshire.)

Carry-ons/packing for the plane:

- Keep in mind that a carry-on is the only thing standing between you and utter despair and misery when flying with children.

- Here is an actual useful tip (unlike all of the above): Pack a change of clothes for you and each of the children in your carry-on bag. I usually pack a pair of pajamas + underwear for the kids and yoga pants and a t-shirt + underwear for me. They take up the least amount of room and provide you something to change into should your child happen to deposit any type of bodily secretions on you. You might not be the most fashionable flier if you end up in your t-shirt and yoga pants but people probably won't give you a second glance either.

- If you are flying into the evening change your kids into their pajamas. I usually have them change at a layover, but I have also had them change on the plane. I think it makes them comfy and more likely to calm down and maybe, if you are really lucky, they might even fall asleep. Then you put the clothes they had on in the carry-on so you still have an extra pair of clothes in case of emergency.

- Dress your kids in cute clothes / pajamas for the plane. My kids dress like dirty homeless children 99% of the time, but I find that how they are dressed makes an enormous difference in how other passengers react to them when flying. Sad? maybe...but very, very true. Will has Batman pajamas complete with cape and Sawyer has Superman pajamas with cape and for some reason when they are running around the airport in their caped pajamas people smile and compliment them vs. when they are wearing fruit-snack-drool covered non-matching clothes and doing the same thing people give me dirty looks.

- Planes have 2 temperatures: very hot or very cold. There does not appear to be any in between. I always wear a sweatshirt and the kids always bring a blanket. In fact, they each have an "airplane blanket" that I made for them which includes a cinch-able strap and buckle on one end so that they can cinch it up and wear it like a cape. This means I can just strap it on them and I don't have to pick it up off the floor of the airplane a million times and they can carry it during layovers or to the baggage claim or whatever. You probably aren't really picturing what I'm talking about. That's ok. I'm sure a regular blanket will also work just fine.

- You can't bring bottled water through airport security but you can bring empty water bottles. Therefore I bring a water bottle with a sport-type lid for each of my kids. Once I am through security I fill them up at the drinking fountain. Then I bring an assortment of single-serving (and light-colored) beverage powders such as crystal light, lemonade, and apple juice. Then they can have whatever they want and I don't have to pay airport prices.

- Bring enough food for the entire plane. Your kids will probably eat most of it. If they don't then you will at least have bribing materials for your fellow passengers. Have you ever been stuck on the runway for hours? People become willing to pay good money for a pack of fruit snacks real fast.

- Speaking of food, bring an assortment of snacks. I buy all the snacks I wouldn't usually pay for. Individually wrapped. Such as: granola bars, goldfish, animal crackers, teddy grahams, fruit snacks, candy. Then I add in non-crunchy snacks such as: mini-muffins, snack cakes, peanut/butter jelly sandwiches. Sometimes I add something like little boxes of raisins just so I can claim to have something non-processed. No, it isn't healthy, but my goal isn't to have a well-balanced meal - it is to have something enticing enough that my kids will stop screaming.

- GUM. Chewing gum can help make the kids' ears pop. I have had to hand out gum to children around me whose parents did not bring gum - and the whole plane was glad I did.

- If your child starts screaming on take-off or especially on landing the odds are that his/her ears hurt. Try having them take a drink, or chew and swallow something, or chew gum, or see how wide they can open their mouth. (I know that "their" should be "his/her" but that just gets awkward after a while...or once.) If none of this works then have them bury their head in your lap and put a blanket over them...because they are going to scream until you land.

- Activities: dvd player with headphones. The headphones are a must even though your kid won't want to wear them. Also your dvd player will probably only have 1 headphone jack. Two kids can use it if they each get 1 of the earphones. The earbud type earphones are easier for 2 kids to share, but the old school headband style ear phones stay on better.

- MP3 player. Sawyer doesn't care about listening to music, but even as a 2 year-old Will would listen to his happily for at least an hour.

- EXTRA BATTERIES. You will go through a lot. If you have a layover longer than an hour find somewhere to sit where you can plug in and recharge your laptop/dvd player.

- Coloring books/crayons. My kids aren't really into coloring, but they sometimes like the activity workbook type things.

- Aquadoodle. We have a travel aquadoodle that both of the kids enjoy.

- Any toy that they have never seen before. I usually check out the dollar store/dollar section of Target or Walmart. If you can, pack some things separately so that you can swap out the carry- on items and they will have new stuff on the return trip too. More likely they will get into everything days before you leave and you will threaten them and say you took it all back to the store and then they will be happy to see it again when you fly.

- Be prepared to spend your entire flight taking things out and putting them away. You will do this every 20 seconds. It will go like this: Snack, dropped snack, new toy, dropped toy, different toy, temper tantrum, snack, repeat. Do not bother putting anything in the overhead bin. Put everything under the seat in front of you - you will be accessing it constantly.

- Put baby wipes somewhere where you can reach them at all times.

- If you have kid/s in diapers buy some of those diaper disposal bags. There is not anywhere to change a baby on a plane. As in No. Where. As in when you ask the flight attendant where you could possibly change your 2 year old that is rather too big and rather too smelly to change in your seat on your lap they will look at you like you are disgusting and then say "I guess you could do it on the floor back by the bathroom." Then you will discover that there is no garbage to throw a diaper in. There is not a garbage you can use in the plane bathroom. And the flight attendant will pretend that they can't see you trying to find somewhere to put a diaper. So just bring a disposal bag and double bag it and tie it in a knot and bury it somewhere in the recesses of your carry-on. It is the best you can do.

- Do plan on your child having to use the bathroom as soon as they announce that you are prepared for take-off / the seat belt light goes on / you begin to land. If your child is old enough to be overruled, make him/her wear a pull-up. Better safe than sorry. Sometimes the fasten seat belt light will be on the entire ride and at some point you just have to say "Sorry, but we'll take our chances" and take them to the bathroom anyways even though they will immediately come on the intercom and remind "all passengers" that you have to stay in your seat.

- Children's Dramamine. I'm not suggesting you drug your children. I am suggesting that it is available for purchase at Walmart. Even if it is chewable your child won't chew it. If you slip it into a spoonful of yogurt they won't realize it at all, or not until it is too late. I get motion sickness. It is awful. I don't fly without taking Dramamine. My children don't appear to get motion sickness. But better safe than sorry. And if they happen to be slightly more inclined to fall asleep then I think I speak for the entire plane when I say that it isn't a bad thing.

- Do not bring things that roll or things with small pieces. Toy cars are useless on a plane. There is no where to drive them and they will fall on the floor and roll away to where you can't get them. It is a challenge to pick up anything that falls on the floor since you have to do the awkward shove your cheek against the seat in front of you and grope around blindly on the floor with one hand routine.

- Sticker books, pipe cleaners, band-aids, notebook/pen, calculator, Colorforms, cheap handheld games, Magic pen books, baby wipes = things we have gotten mileage out of on the plane (Sawyer likes to clean things).

- Honestly, it is the best when you can get them to watch a movie. If they watch an entire movie that might be almost 90 minutes of calm! That is unbeatable.

- Do not let them walk up and down the aisle. Some people seem to think this is cute and good for them to use up energy. Really it just annoys everyone.

- I don't let them get a drink from the beverage cart. If they have a drink then you end up with a cup of soda that they don't drink and which you have to try to keep from spilling for the next half hour. And they will already have their water bottles which you filled at the drinking fountains right?

- Letting kids bring their own backpack? This is a toss-up. More than likely you are going to end up carrying it all. And the more bags you have the more likely something will get left on the airplane or in the airport. And if they have their own bag of stuff they will have emptied it all out within the first 30 seconds on the plane and then will say they are bored. If you just have one bag with all the stuff in it you will be constantly giving out and retrieving items. But really you will end up doing that anyways. I tend to favor being the keeper of the bag. Especially if there are no other adults with you to help keep track of bags and such.

That is all I can think of for now. I'm sure you have found this very informative. I should write a book. A long, boring book with no pictures.


As another frequent flyer with kids, I can relate!!! A couple extra comments:
1 - Make your carry-on a backpack (not a diaper bag) if at all possible.
2- We usually fly Delta instead of SW because we like the security of knowing where our seats are & that they are together...I had to scramble on SW once to get people to switch seats so we could be together. We have the Delta credit card that allows one free bag per traveler in your party up to 9 people. Usually Delta has been cheaper for us plus they have non-stop flights, which I love. Also, many of them have CHANGING TABLES in the bathrooms!!!
3 - If you have an infant that you will be holding, call the airline ahead of time & make sure they mark your ticket as having a lap infant. If there are seats open, sometimes they will alert the passenger(s) sitting next to you that there will be an infant next to them & give them the option of changing seats before they get on board...this has happened to me a few times.
4 - (Also for an infant) If there are 2 of you & you choose the aisle & window seats, sometimes you'll get lucky & no one will choose the middle seat & you will have the extra space to put your infant car seat (just check at the gate to see if you need to check it or if the seat will be available). If not, I haven't met a person in a middle seat that isn't happy to switch! This has also happened to me a few times.
Thanks Jenny! I completely agree with the backpack comment. It didn't even occur to me to mention it because I always, always use a backpack. Lots of room and 1000% easier to cart around.

Jenny has had much better luck with Delta than I! The diaper-changing incident I mentioned was on a Delta flight. And having them change our flight itinerary up to 5 times before each trip was kind of a big pain. Especially when it means the seats I chose in advance or time I wanted to leave/arrive or airport I wanted to go through for a layover now mean nothing. I am sure a lot of it depends on which destinations/airports you are traveling to/through. By all means fly with whatever airline works out the cheapest for you - goodness knows I do!

In the last 3-4 years I have not flown on a single flight that had empty seats.

( In fact, on at least 80% of my flights they are overbooked and asking people to change their plans. If you don't have to be anywhere at a certain time this can be a good deal. When we went to Florida last year they were asking if anyone was willing to change flights. We had 6 people traveling so I went and asked what the deal was. They said we would be on the next flight out (30 mins later) and would actually get in to Florida 10 minutes earlier. And we would have each received a $200 credit. I signed up but unfortunately they ended up not needing us. Darn.)

If there are empty seats and you are flying with a lap child you can put your lap child in a car seat on an empty seat for free. Jenny mentioned this for Delta but it is true for Southwest as well. But if it turns out that someone needs the seat you will have to gate check the car seat. I was never lucky enough to be on a flight with empty seats when I had a lap child...but maybe you will be! Once again, it probably depends a lot on the routes you fly.

If you are flying Southwest and you are worried about getting seats together give the gate employee a heads up. When I go to get the gate check ticket for my stroller I usually say something like "Will this plane already be pretty full when it arrives? I am traveling with x number of small children and I am wondering if I will have trouble getting seats for us." As a result, I have had the boarding employees board me and my kids very first. Goodness knows the employees don't want to have to try to convince people to move so that you can sit next to your 2 year-old. And goodness knows the other passengers would all prefer to know where the little monsters, I mean children, are going to be before they choose their own seats. PS: This tactic gets a lot better response at any airport besides the Salt Lake airport (and possibly the Orlando airport). In Salt Lake they will look at you like "Lady, flying with 2 (or 3 or 4) small children does not qualify you as unusual in any way."

Usually when you buy tickets you will indicate that you have an infant even though you won't buy a ticket for him/her. Even if you don't you do need to tell the counter that you have an infant because they need to be on the passenger manifest. (Interestingly enough, when Will was 18 months old we had to wait for about 20 minutes until a supervisor could clear us to get on a plane - turns out he was on the terror watch list. Our security forces at work.)

And this should be obvious, but if you have a child that is flying on your lap for free...they have to be on your lap. I can't tell you how many times the last few passengers are trying to find seats and the attendants come over the PA system announcing "We have passengers who need seats, if you have a lap child THEY MUST be on your lap." And then they walk past giving you dirty looks and then after a few more minutes they come and accuse you of having a lap child in a seat and I have to pull out my tickets and assure them that Sawyer is a ticketed passenger and, therefore, gets his own seat. He just looks small ok people? And if I could get away with not buying him a ticket I would! But I am always amazed by the people that think if they just keep ignoring the announcement they will get away with having their free child fly in his/her own seat. So don't be those people.

Phew. I think I will start a travel blog. Then airlines will give me free tickets and I can have sponsors and quit my day job. Oh wait, I don't have a day job...or not one that I can quit. Dang.