I just got back from an almost-week long jaunt to Minnesota. We had two memorial services and one anniversary boat trip to attend. One memorial was for my Grandpa Jack who died at the age of 90, and one for my Nana who died at the age of 100. The services were perfect....we sent some of Grandpa Jack's ashes down the river in a small canoe and had simple graveside service followed by a party at the VFW, complete with a whiskey toast, which I MISSED. (See also: travelling with kids who had to go to bed, dammit). And we had a nice church service and luncheon for Nana's. The paddle boat trip down the Mississippi was to celebrate my Uncle Phil and Aunt Linda's 25th Anniversary. It was great!
I've declared the 2010-2011 school year to be a year of travel. And we started it off in April and have been going nonstop ever since. With free (standby) airline travel and two kids who aren't yet in school it is the time to do it. Starting about 1 year from now it will be all she wrote as Becca will start kindergarten and we'll be tied down forever--unable to travel during school vacations (See also: standby only travel).
We've been to Texas, Florida, (I've been to NY), South Carolina and Minnesota in the last couple months. I still have another trip to NY, another to Minnesota and a trip to Texas coming up in the next two months. After that, we have a potential Hawaii trip (See also: Travelling with Kids to Hawaii, is it worth it?), another to NY, and another to Texas, followed by another to God Knows Where. I'm becoming a pro at airline travel with kids. It does get easier with each trip. But DAMN am I ready to stop hauling that giant ass carseat with us everywhere we go (See also: Britax Marathon, World's Heaviest Carseat). I have figured out exactly how to pack. And I still manage to overpack on the wrong things and underpack on the wrong things every time. (See also: toys and diapers, respectively.)
I started the tradition of Airplane Surprises with Becca, when she was around the age of 2. It was the only way I could survive travelling with her. She was high maintenance and fussy (See also: The Winter of her Discontent). And unfortunately, I can't seem to stop this practice. I buy a bunch of cheap toys, books, new crayons, stickers, coloring books, little amusements, snacks. I quit the lollipops though (See also: child who needs root canal.) I do think it helps with staving off breakdowns. This is about my only tip for those who need tips on travelling with kids. Just buy a bunch of new shit and fling it at the children at will.
Becca has become rather easy to travel with. She doesn't have to take naps anymore. She can stay up late without problem. She just goes along with what everyone does. Andrew? Not really the best travelling companion at this point. He gets way behind on sleep and then just whines. He has to have a nap, he has to get to bed. He still requires diapers and pack-n-plays and giant car seats. Sippy cups, wipes, butt paste, bibs. He gets frustrated about things he can't do. But, he is easier than Becca was at his age. He copies her and stays in his seat on the airplane. The second kid is just EASIER. It is amazing. It is almost universally true. They just sort of fall into line. Even if they whine the entire time.
So, we are back home. The pile of mail is there, beckoning. My to-do list is giant. I almost couldn't sleep last night thinking of everything I've abandoned this summer, and everything I need to do (See also: watering tomato plants).
I'll leave you with my final travelling with kids tip: Do not, I repeat DO NOT clean the house before you leave. It is the biggest and most pointless waste of time. Pick up the shit on the floor and do the dishes, pile everything else in piles and WALK OUT THE DOOR. Do not clean a thing. Because you KNOW the minute you walk in from your trip, the house is immediately TRASHED. You then spend the next week trying to unpack and deal with the monumental mess. So, the hassle involved in cleaning isn't worth it just for that 2 seconds when you first get home. Take it from me.
Some Update-y Odds & Ends
17 hours ago