Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why My Brain is Often a Hostile and Alien Environment

Okay. So, I need to clarify with the packing thing. It isn't that I stress about it. I am not about to blow a gasket or anything. Rather, I think about it a lot. Even while sleeping, I dream that I'm SUCKS. I hate those dreams.

Anyway, it is easier (for now) than it used to be when travelling with a mobile toddler who couldn't sit still on the plane. I know it is the easiest it is going to be for a while. Becca can entertain herself without repeatedly kicking the seat in front of her and Andrew still is happy to sit in my lap and gum a teething toy. Also, his food source is still mobile and readily available.

But, I still have to have everything in my carry-on in JUST the right place. Let's take a trip into my neurotic pre-travel brain, shall we? You may never be the same. Carry on (pun intended).

The Carry-On
I need to be able to grab the gallon size ziplock with the diaper changing materials in it at a moment's notice. And that ziplock only has one diaper in it, so it isn't too bulky. The other diapers are stashed at the bottom of the carry-on and get refilled into the ziplock after every change. I need to have all the new toys and treats hidden well enough that Becca doesn't spy them too early. So, the "new surprise" food treats cannot be packed in the same baggie as the regular snack foods. I need to have enough food/snacks/entertainment for everyone and extra clothing for some. I need to have the temporal artery thermometer and Motrin and Tylenol and dosing syringes just in case we have a freak fever outbreak on the plane--has happened before. Oh yea. Of course. You know it.) I need to be sure I can get the quart size baggie of liquids out easily at the security check. Same with the DVD player. I need to have instant access to wipes and to antibacterial wipes (with which I wipe down the armrests and tray tables on the plane) before anyone touches them (see also: freak fever outbreaks when I don't do this). I need to be able to grab Kleenex every 4 seconds. Also, I don't want to carry a purse AND a carry-on backpack, so I have to get everything necessary out of my purse and into the backpack where it can be found. And I need to find a purse that will go with everything I'm packing and can also work as a diaper bag (the purse gets packed in the regular suitcase). I also need to leave room in the carry-on to stuff the Ergo baby carrier in when not in use. But it pays off. I have one backpack, that goes on my back. No purse, nothing else to lose. And I can find anything in that bag at any given second.So, it takes me forever to get my carry-on organized. Seriously. Like two days.

The Suitcase
Then, I have to pack the regular suitcase(s). Now, this also takes lots of preplanning in order to pack the very least amount possible. I could just throw stuff in willy-nilly (as I used to) and end up with giant bags to drag everywhere. But not when travelling solo with kids. Efficiency is key. the first step is to choose whether I'm doing black or brown. If I pick black, then I bring one pair of dressy black shoes, and one pair of casual. Of course, I spend about 20 minutes deciding whether to bring tennis shoes and flip flops as well. Then, everything I pack clothes-wise has to go with black and the one pair of jeans I bring needs to be the right length to wear all shoes. This involves trying on every pair of jeans with every combo of shoes that I own. One hour for that little exercise.

Then, I have to find shirts. And they need to be layer-able. So, I need two or three short sleeved shirts that are long/short enough in the waist to go with said jeans and that go with black shoes. Try on every short-sleeved shirt with selected jeans. Try to find one of them that could be dressy enough to wear with a skirt in case we go somewhere nice. But, oh crap. Now I have to be sure the skirt goes with the dressy black shoes. It doesn't? It goes with brown? Well, now we have to start over and try on jeans with every brown pair of shoes. I also have to select a different purse. Then, I have to find long-sleeved shirts and a cardigan that can go over the short-sleeved shirts for added warmth--and the cardigan needs to match every shirt.

Are you getting the picture here? Looking good is a giant pain in the ass.

Layers are really a pain in the ass. So is matching my clothing, now that you mention it. But I am way too OCD to mix blacks and browns. God. I can't even type that without gagging a little.

Then, I move on to my jewellry. That need to be pared down the basics and packed in the carry-on...but safely, so it doesn't fall out in the security line or something and get lost. Then, the camera (do I trust it in my suitcase? Or pack in my carry-on? I have to obsess about that for about 30 minutes), phone, chargers, batteries, inhalers (in the carry-on? Ugh.), medications, toiletries. Oh God. Toiletries take me another hour to pack...just because I want the smallest sized everything I can get away with and the least amount of makeup necessary. So, I spend lots of time squeezing tiny amounts of baby lotion into tiny bottles and having it spill everywhere. When I'm going to Texas, I don't have to work too hard at this, because I just buy what I use and leave it there most of the time. But, I can never remember what I left there and I can't always be sure I'll arrive in the same city where that stuff is. Some stuff was left in San Antonio, some stuff in Austin.

The Stroller
I always hem and haw about this one. Do I need one? Both grandparents' houses in Texas already have one, so it just comes down the airport. If I'm on a direct flight, do I really need one? It helps for the 10 minutes directly following the security screening. And it does give my arms a break from carrying a child the entire day. But again...nonstop flight means only about 2 hours in an airport. I could just keep the Ergo and the baby strapped to my front and my backpack on my back. But it is nice to have somewhere to put both carry-on bags (mine and Becca's) when eating or running around the airport. Spend 5 hours trying to decide.

The Carseat
Becca already has a carseat in Texas. So I don't bring one for her. But do I check Andrew's? Or bring it on the plane? Think about that for about 4 hours. Usually at 3 in the morning when I should be sleeping not thinking about CARSEATS. Geezus.

Next come the kids' clothes. But I cannot continue. Andrew is screaming his head off and I am pretty sure no one is even reading this anymore because my neuroses have blown up the Internet. The end.


Grammy Bonnie said...

But you do have the most ENTERTAINING neuroses on the internet. . . :-)
PS: Why is my word verification "recha"?

Anonymous said...

Seriously, you are the most hilarious thing ev-ah. But this post did make me want to eat about a bajillion reeses eggs once I was done reading.

Ann said...

I don't know what kind of carry on but I got a rolling suitcase to use and it was fantastic. I could still pull it while pushing the stroller and it was easy to organize, held a lot of stuff, and most everything was easily available. I got Jonathan, my 3-year-old, a rolling backpack suitcase that held his stuff. He pulled it through the airport like a champ. His has Lightening McQueen on it but I've seen them with Princesses on them too.

I'd only bring Andrew's carseat on if you think there will be a seat available on the plane for him. Otherwise its just one more big bulky think to haul through security and keep track of.

My big problem is Alaska Air that only allows one suitcase for each passenger. Its difficult to pack for winter in Alaska in one suitcase that has to be under 50 pounds!

molly said...

You're a hoot. Love you and your neuroses.

Katie said...

Ann, I plan to have a seat for Andrew, unless the flight is totally full! Since we travel standby, I try to get on flights that have more than enough seats for us all! That SUCKS about only allowing one bag!

Justine said...

Not to add to your worries, but... When Sarah was 8 months we flew to PA for Christmas. Her car seat, extra diapers, and all our toiletries (all in a No. 4 Duluth Pack) WENT TO GERMANY!!! Got it all back on Christmas Eve with a big sticker that said "Bundesgrundenscheit" or something like that. I'm sure German security was all over that bag!

Tracy said...

BRING THE STROLLER! Cait hardly EVER sits in it, but I just can't give it up. I am afraid my back would give out from traveling with all the carry ons.
Your brain makes me tired! You need some (bottles) of wine! GO and buy everything there! Youre a hard working (and working out) mom. Take the suitcase empty and buy a new one! Oh hi John, you think so too right? :)

susan said...

I don't understand why you can't wear the same shoes with different pairs of jeans and vice-versa. Are there rules about that I don't know about? Can you FEEL the difference?

Bevo said...

Hey all you guys out there... I didn't train Katie to be like this!!

This is what I taught her: One pair blue jeans - wear them, one pair black pants, one pair black jeans, three tops that go with all, a sweatshirt, one pair black walking shoes - wear them. OK, flip flops if you must. That's it. Honestly, I don't know what happened...

Katie said...

Susan, I can't STAND having my jeans under my shoes. So if I have long-ish jeans at the bottom, I wear them with heeled shoes. But if I am wearing flip flops with jeans, they need to be shorter in length so I am not walking on the hems of my pants. HATE THAT!

The Quinn Report said...

I agree with Tracy... BRING THE STROLLER!!! It's so nice to have something to throw all the shit in! I don't know about you, but I show up at the airport ready and organized; however, within 10 minutes of being there (or less), all hell breaks loose and I can't find a damn thing! THAT is how everything ends up in a freakish mess/pile in the stroller!

lisa said...

Soul mates? I think yes. If I (we) opt to move back to the DC area after living here just so you and I can become friends-does that freak you out too much?

Since you are losing sleep already- can you solve my problems too? They involve traveling alone with two kids on my own, 24 hours of travel time, 3 plane changes, immigration lines, custom lines (where you have to drag your own shit through the airport and check it back in again) and a 14 hour time difference. I also realize that there is no way I can keep Mackenzie in her infant carseat until July so I'll be schlepping the monster convertible carseat and wanting to gouge my own eyes out every time I have to pack and unpack that be-yotch in the rolling bag I have for it which is sort of convenient in that I dont have to CARRY the carseat but still a mild pain in the ass to drag. The Japanese don't let you keep your stroller, and Im guessing my 9 month old wont be able to walk so I'll be shlepping carseat, carrying baby, loaded down with backpack, and probably have a 3 year old whining about "why cant you carrrrrrrrry meeeee?" Hmmm what if I kept baby in carseat, put carseat in rolling bag and just didn't zip up the bag the entire way, or is that frowned upon?

You have exactly 9 weeks to lose sleep over my problems. Activate. :)

Tracy said...

lisa, one time when I came back from AK, I bought one of those luggage carts (you know the ones with two wheels, but folds up compactly?) and I bungeed the big monster carseat to that. I then put her in it and strapped her in...INSTANT STROLLER.. Oh and you do have one of those back packs or front packs to carry the little one in right? I L.O.V.E.D. my kelty front carrier!
I personally love the traveling challenge. Make sure for your older one you get a rolling carry on(but also has a backpack straps) so she doesn't get tired of carrying it. My girls never asked me to carry their suitcases when I gave them small rolling ones..SCORE!

Bevo said...

OK, yes - I DO know what happened - it IS quite obvious... children.

Dad said...

Remember that jack knives and corkscrews go in the checked baggage!

Do't gorget your field notebook and camera.

Katie said...

Lisa, look up Go Go Baby Z. It is this attachment thing that goes on the convertible carseat that turns it into a wheelie/stroller thing! It is AWESOME. You can just wheel the baby through the airport in the car seat. Then, maybe you can also do a bjorn carrier and if all hell breaks lose, put the baby in the carrier and the three year old in the rolling car seat! The only trouble with the rolling car seat is that you can't wheel it down the aisle of the plane, so you either have to lift it over your head, or get a flight attendant to do that. Or you could gate check it and just hold the baby, or let the baby "sit" in her own seat (or will she be an infant in arms, god help you!?) I did that hellacious trip with a dog and I thought that was bad. With kids. Oh lordy. Can you take some valium?

Angie said...

It's possible that you need to be locked up. for your own good. I cannot imagine spending an hour trying on pant and shoe combinations. Don't bring the stroller, unless you have a bag or something to protect it. Or don't care if it is broken forever. I've arrived at two airports with broken/unusable strollers this year. And I've only flown twice.