Thursday, August 13, 2009

our SC vacation: random shots part 1 (getting there)

Two weeks ago, yesterday, we flew from the west coast to the east coast, for a two week vacation.

While we were away, we celebrated my 20-year high school reunion, our 15-year wedding anniversary, we spent a magnificent week at the beach and we visited with many friends and family. Over the course of the next few days, I hope to post some of the pictures that were snapped off during our vacation, along with a few of my words.


Here we are at the San Diego airport. Tuesday morning. July 28. Charlie is holding three of the four children's bags that we opted to carry on the plane because we are too cheap to pay $15.00 per bag to check them. I am holding the fourth child's bag. Each child had their own back pack that they carried on the plane. I wore Henry's. Along with my own. (FYI >> the children's backpacks, for the person who inquired, are from LL Bean.)

William and Elizabeth wanted to pull mine and Charlie's rolling suitcases and they did a phenomenal job for at least 10 feet. Then they got too heavy. So the children dropped them on the ground before running off in opposite directions.

We arrived just in time to see our plane roll up to the gate.

While I fed Henry a muffin, Charlie procured a gate check for our stroller and asked if we could pre-board, seeing as we had four children, under the age of five.

Then, we sat and waited.

And waited.

I'm getting quite old, because I couldn't stop jabbering that in the good old days of flying, people were allowed to check two pieces of luggage free of charge. And, you were complimentarily served something more substantial than a small bag of peanuts and a 4-ounce drink on a cross-country flight.

AND: People with small children were given a few extra minutes and allowed to board the plane FIRST.

Alas, while holding four small children by their hands, we balanced 12 pieces of luggage - a bag stuffed with food - and a carseat on our heads - while we stampeded down the jet way with 200 of our fellow passengers. We then bumped in to all of those people who were already seated, while searching high and low for space to cram our bags in to overhead bins. Because in this day and age, on this particular airline, our request to pre-board was met with a resounding NO.

Still, the smiles never left our faces because I was certain that we would prevail. We would carry on our luggage - we would be bumped and nudged and have to say excuse me, sorry, sorry, sorry, we would eat our own snacks - we would drink our own water. We would not allow the new airline procedures and policies to nickel and dime us to death. We would be self-sufficient and not fall prey to the money machine.

We took our seats and everyone reviewed the safety card in the seat pocket. After William scrutinized the bulletin for a few minutes, he pointed out that if the plane flipped over and fell from the sky, he would have FUN! going down the big yellow slides.

Charlie saw the look of panic cross my face at the thought of falling from the sky, and he suggested that once the plane took off, I should order a large cocktail. And I would have, if that hadn't meant feeding the money machine.

While the children entertained themselves with the television sets that were built in to the back of every seat ... I tried to focus on anything but dropping out of the sky and tried to convince myself that the creaks and groans the plane was making as we ascended in to the air - were all perfectly normal - and didn't signal that the landing gear was falling off or the wings were pulling apart from the fuselage.

Within approximately five minutes, the children grew tired of playing - or rather, watching and thinking that they were playing - the free demo games. And they wanted to get up. And move around. And look at the people behind them and laugh some crazy hysterical laugh, because they were unable to contain their excitement.

So, I dug in to my bag of food and served everyone a banana and pretzels.

Bananas and pretzels kept everyone positively engaged for approximately seven minutes.

Then, while Henry mashed the remnants of his banana in to his carseat - William befriended the little boy who was sitting one row, ahead. Together, they played with their Batman figurines, while the little boy's three-year-old brother continuously shook the tray on the passenger's seat directly in front of him.

Which ultimately caused the passenger to turn around and say some things that weren't very nice. Which in turn, made us angry because clearly some people have NO IDEA how difficult it can be to travel with small children.

But just then!! A show which our children have never, ever watched - in their entire lives - came on to the personalized televisions. And it was free!! And it kept everyone quiet!! And I don't care if it is rated Y-7!!


"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?!"

But then, way too quickly, the show was over. And people were getting fidgety. And the coloring books and activity books and various toys that I had brought on board were no longer appealing. So I dug in to my bag of food once again and I produced what the children excitedly thought were red peanut M&Ms.

The looks of disgust that flashed across their faces when I told them, "No, these are actually organic pear tomatoes that I salvaged from our refrigerator because I couldn't bear the thought of throwing them away!" were rivaled in hilarity by the look of shock that passed across my husband's face. You brought PEAR TOMATOES on the plane as a SNACK?!

And ... for some reason you think this will make the children HAPPY?!

That's when I forked out $40.00 to the money machine for airline supplied box snacks.

And we had a picnic.

And everyone was happy.

For a few more minutes.

Except Henry.

Because he wasn't nuts over white cheddar cheese.

So I nursed him. While eating pear tomatoes. And white cheddar cheese. And every last bite of the leftover airline fare. Because $40.00 for snacks is more absurd than $15.00 to check a single bag and not a crumb could go to waste.

Instead of falling asleep, after Henry nursed, he was recharged and wanted to run around the plane. That's when I caught a glimpse of the interactive map and was a tad bit dismayed that we weren't even half way there.

Why, it certainly felt like at that point, we had flown around the entire world.


So I caved to the money machine - once again - and forked out the money necessary to procure every child their very own pair of headsets so they could actually listen to the little bitty television sets. (Thank you, whomever designed those little bitty television sets. For without them, we might still be stuck over Texas.)

More stuff happened. More money was paid to the machine. More food was consumed. And we landed in Atlanta. Children helped by carrying their own bags off the plane. Or at least, 20 feet down the aisle before they dropped them and kept walking.

I had forgotten just how massive the Atlanta airport is. We arrived at Concourse C and were told that we needed to take a train two stops and then take the elevator up one level, go left, then right and we'll be at Ground Transportation, which is where we would find the rental car counters.

We followed the directions. And got lost. So we rode the train three times. And moving sidewalks twice. More elevators than I can recall - and an escalator, once. All the while carrying 12 bags and pushing a stroller laden down with a carseat.

After at least one hour of wandering though the airport - stopping every 15 minutes to use the restroom - we were clinging to each other for support. When before us - like a cool pool of water in a hot desert - the rental car counter appeared.

Which was a good thing - because my sight was beginning to blur...

It took 15 minutes to fill out paper work. And then we had to load the shuttle bus. And drive another 15 minutes to find our car.

Through it all, our children were so good. They were so patient. So calm. So comatose with exhaustion. They sat quietly - with their hands and legs crossed - and asked why the sky was full of big black clouds?

Once we arrived at our van, the big black clouds opened up and dumped out the most fierce rain our children have ever experienced. There was thunder. And lightening. And much fear that we would be struck dead - or blown away by the gale force winds - while Charlie and I set about loading all of our luggage in to the van, strapping our one carseat down and securing three of our children in to their rented carseats. Only to realize that one of the rented carseats was broken and would need to be replaced and thank you, that will add another 30 minutes to your travel time. But not before one of us had to trek through the sideways rain to the rental counter.



Everyone and everything was secured, with plenty of room to spare.

And we were off.

But before we exited the state of Georgia, we stopped for dinner.

If you can consider french fries and a milkshake "dinner."

Thankfully, the children had eaten a banana earlier in the day and in my travel book of parenting, the consumption of one fresh fruit balances out any junk food that might be consumed. Especially if they drink a glass of water, somewhere along the way. be continued...


  1. Oh my , you and your hubby are my heroes!! I can not even imagine. I would have had to bring my bottle of red wine.

    I did laugh at the thought of you all stopping every 15m to use the bathroom while walking through the airport : )

    Welcome Back -- missed your blogging . . .

  2. Oh My... now that is a trek! I can't wait to see more pictures... I really missed your posts!

    We are traveling next week to CA... I think I will stop worrying so much ;~)

  3. I love traveling with you guys! Can't wait til we get to SC!

  4. It's never easy to travel with small children but the memories and photos will stay with you forever. And of course, never underestimate the POWER of MOM! You go Jen! Love to hear about your adventures.

  5. I love the last bit about the banana and glass of water counter acting the fries and milkshake! This applies for me too. As long as I drink my smoothie in the morning, I can have as many miniature chocolate bars and glasses of wine as I want!

  6. You are reminding me of why I hate to fly! I'm so glad you all got to take a trip to visit family.

    That rental van? That's what I drive everyday.

  7. I am old. I am childless. I am so tired after reading this AND I wasn't even there!

    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  8. I've soooooo been there! You documented it so well.

    How on earth did you get that food through security????

  9. Thank you for your getting there post. I'm just now planning a flight to CA with my two (3 &1 year olds) and I was leaning towards saving a bit of money by having two layovers...but your comments carrying all the stuff, and the kids dropping stuff and running off in opposite directions reminded me that it's worth the money to get to the vacation ASAP.

    Our vacation will include a lot of pool swimming. Since I know you do your homework, do you have a recommended swimsuit?