The rules of air travel with a small child.

Thanksgiving week is hands down the craziest week of air travel. Lots of people will be flying home to see family and that means there are going to be lots of small children flying as well.

We have flown with our kids (4.5, 2.5, 1) a lot. Our 4.5 year old has been on easily 25+ flights. It’s not a walk in the park but you can do this. Just because you have a child doesn’t mean you have to sit at home for the rest of your life. There is a whole wide world out there so here are my tips for flying with young kids.

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  1. Pick flight times based on your kid’s schedule. I’ve found that mid-morning flights are the best for our kids. (Please note, the longest flight we’ve taken with them is 4 hours so if you are flying on long international flights I got nothing for you.)
  2. Pack well. Your bag has to be organized because if someone spits up or poops there is no time for searching for a wipe. I usually have one backpack that has entertainment items in it, iPad, leap pad, stickers, and coloring books. The other backpack has snacks, diapers, wipes. Bring more than you need because delays happen, poop happens, etc. You will also need 4x the amount of pacifiers because they will disappear in droves when on a plane.
  3. Be prepared for dirty looks in the airport. People think our kids are cute everywhere except the airport. They are all thinking “please don’t be on my flight” and there’s nothing you can do to prevent this so just let it roll off.
  4. Be the last ones on board. I know they will call for family pre-boarding but that isn’t a privilege, it’s a punishment. Our kids are pretty active, so the less time they are confined to an airplane seat, the better. Before you board you need to wear them out. Let them ride the walkways, dance, walk around, whatever. If you have a walker you should have them out of the stroller as much as possible in the airport.
  5. Set up shop once you get on the airplane. Wipes, a diaper or two, and nursing cover if needed go in the seat back pocket in front of you. In front of the kids you put their water and the first few things they will want such as an iPad or snack. You want to avoid digging in your bag as much as possible.
  6. Don’t make those lame goodie bags for people around you because you have children with you. You paid for a ticket just like everyone else and you paid for your child’s ticket. You don’t have to apologize for having children on an airplane. Let’s be real, you have a much higher chance of being pooped on than anyone else on that airplane so you are the one that needs the candy bar, not business traveler Sam.
  7. All kids need to be eating or drinking something on the way up and the way down. So save a snack or hold off a nursing baby until takeoff because their ears will hurt otherwise.
  8. Once you are in the air the only rule I have for my kids is no screaming or whining allowed. There are no screen time limits at 30,000 feet. If your child watches two hours of movies on the iPad while flying somewhere they will still be an intelligent human-being. I assure you that their SAT score isn’t going to drop because they watched movies all morning that one time you flew to Florida. 30,000 feet is not the place to be a tiger parent. The same goes with snacks. If your child will be quiet if you give them cookies or M&M’s or fruit loops then you do it. They are not going to become an obese adult or get type 2 diabetes from a morning of unhealthy snacks.
  9. Accept help from strangers on the airplane. If you have a 4-year-old that needs to go to the bathroom, a 2-year-0ld that needs a diaper change, and someone offers to hold the baby while you take them to the lavatory you say YES every time. It may seem odd to hand your baby off to a stranger but guess what, there is NO WAY they can steal your child because you are all at 30,000 feet. Add the amount of witnesses they are surrounded by and you can confidently hand off baby to Grandma Sally in the row behind you for 3 minutes.
  10. Only order water for yourself from the flight attendant when they come around. My husband has had to learn this the hard way too many times. He LOVES getting the entire can of cranapple juice when he is on a flight. You know what color that is? Red. You know who it gets spilled on EVERYTIME when the toddler or baby hits it? Mom. He has also attempted to order coffee before as well. You know who can order hot drinks or red drinks on an airplane? Not you, parent of small children.

So get out there and explore the world and remember, you can do anything for 2 hours.

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I want some allergies.

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My husband hates glitter. He can’t handle the herpes of art supplies in any context. He has done something genius to combat having to use glitter with our 4-year-old, Kate.

He has convinced her that he is allergic to glitter. 

She believes it. (Toddlers will believe a lot of things if you say it with authority)

When she wants to use glitter to make a craft she asks me when Dad is gone because “Dad is allergic so we can’t do it when he is home.” I go along with this because less glitter use is good for everybody.

I’ve decided that I want to be allergic to some things too.

  1. Picking up pieces of banana off the floor. If you’ve never had to do this then just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s the worst. The texture, the squish, and the fact that if you leave it for 25 minutes it hardens and sticks to any surface like an enormous booger make this my least favorite food my children eat.
  2. Meetings that could have been accomplished with an e-mail. These are 90% of meetings, especially as a teacher. You’ve been in these meetings, they usually involve someone reading you a powerpoint presentation or telling you maybe a paragraph worth of information in a time-span of 45 minutes. Just stop with these. You better be funny or at least provide some hella’ good snacks if you are going to make people come to those.
  3. Being the only parent that can lactate. We’ve put a man on the moon, cured polio, have self-driving vehicles, and can fly across the country in 4 hours yet something is too tricky about milk coming out of a man. They have the equipment and most men are only using them to have moobs (man boobs) or spending too much time at the gym to have enormous pecs. This way everybody is a winner! I don’t need him to do it all the time. Just once every day, preferably at 4:30am. That way I don’t have to watch because let’s be real, it’d be weird.
  4. People that only say negative things. These people are truly the worst. I had a co-worker like this once that I unfortunately shared a break room with. I gave up using the microwave at lunch because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Don’t be the person that deprives others of joy (or hot food).
  5. When someone is talking about something difficult/time-consuming/intricate and guilt trips you that “it’s so easy.” Examples of this: making homemade baby food, cooking 30 meals at once, cloth-diapering, making homemade wreaths, running, knitting, the Whole 30, you name it. It’s not true. Some things are easier for some people and more difficult for others. It’s ok. We don’t have to be the same. If you find great joy washing poop out of clothing that has been intentionally pooped in over and over, you do you. I’m going to keep throwing diapers away so my trash men can play paper, rock, scissors to see who is getting the trash cans from the house that smells like complete and utter death. We can be friends, but if I don’t do everything your way don’t push it on me.
  6. Being puked on by another human. I don’t think I need to expound on this besides saying that the day Kate learned to say “I need the bucket” is a parenting milestone that people don’t celebrate near enough.

So if you want to throw bananas on the ground, be a Debbie-downer, puke on me, hold a meeting that shouldn’t happen, or try to get me to cloth-diaper just be aware that I am allergic from now on.

 

 

The non-sewing Mom.

I can’t sew.

My Mother kind of tried to teach me. FACS class in middle school tried to teach me. I actually broke every machine in the sewing classroom at one point or another so I just kept rotating around acting like I didn’t know what happened. I ended the semester with a B- and a really ugly gym bag.

It just does not mesh with me. I have terrible fine motor skills and no patience for tedious tasks.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that if a button falls off then that garment is done.

This presents a few problems when you are a Mom. Kids get super attached to clothing items, stuffed animals, etc. They want it fixed. Thankfully my husband has come to the rescue for minor fixes in our family. That’s right, Clint is our family seamstress. He sews on buttons and fixes holes in items. Whenever we stay in a hotel he even gets an extra sewing kit from the front desk! Husband lottery, won.

Halloween has a way of really throwing my lack of sewing prowess back in my face. Thankfully there is amazon prime and pretty much every children’s costume you can imagine is readily available to be shipped to your house within 2 days.

But sometimes your child wants to be something that doesn’t exist on the internet.

Ursula.

That’s right, the sea witch from the Little Mermaid. Kate was insistent on being her when she was 2 years old. (Totally normal, right?)

It turns out that not many toddler girls desire to be Disney villains for Halloween. As a result, there are no pre-made costumes for Ursula the Sea Witch.

After multiple attempts of trying to convince her to be something else, she wasn’t budging. So I set about figuring out how to make a Ursula costume without using a needle and thread.

Kate had a light purple dress at the time and Ursula’s skin is light purple so we had a base of a costume. Win! Next we needed some tentacles. I had the brilliant idea of stuffing black dress socks with newspaper and safety pinning them to her dress. Super classy. Ursula also had a shell necklace, conveniently I also had a shell necklace that Kate could wear. Costume made. Here was the final product.

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Obviously being a make-up artist for a squirmy two-year-old is not my next career either.

If you can’t sew, don’t sweat it, just pray that your child chooses to be something that has already been made by a professional. If not, they will have even more potential pictures for a senior slide show someday. Or to explain to their future husband why they are the way they are.

 

The cons of being a former athlete.

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Sports are fantastic. They shape who you are a person, help you build character, teach you how to work as a team, and pay for college in some instances (gracias, title IX). But there are some serious downsides to once being a competitive athlete.

  1. Your body is used to working out crazy hard. So in order to stay fit you have to keep working out hard. This means that “going on a walk” will never be a workout for you. For people who have never exercised, walk it up! But not for you former athlete, it can be a social activity but if you really think you are going to lose weight/maintain weight by just going for a stroll you are seriously deceived. I understand that it is hard to justify doing a sprint workout when the only time you sprint is if a child is running into a parking lot or you are an avid black Friday shopper.
  2. You are never going to be as fast or as good as you once were. It’s a harsh reality. But it’s just not going to happen. You need to purge your memory of your old PR’s or times. I ran a 6:02 mile one time (freshman year of high school+no hips+no body fat=fantasy world). There’s no chance I could do that now. I could maybe do a 6:57 mile if I had just slept for a week straight, there was no thinking/physical exertion required for at least a day afterwards, and a man was chasing after me with a machete.
  3. Unless you were a runner there are very few competitive outlets post-college. Sure there are adult leagues for some sports but when you start yelling at your teammates, getting in fights, taking out people (I got LAID OUT by a guy in over 30 coed soccer a few weeks ago), cussing out refs, and throwing bats around; people are going to seriously start questioning your life choices. Runners have the best gig because there are about a million races every weekend. I run some of these races but I’m not truly competitive in these. I’m only competing against myself and people who don’t look athletic at all. I was never trained in distance running, I was punished by distance running. There’s no way I’ll ever win a race or even my age group (unless it’s a super small race in an area where no one cares about physical fitness). But you better believe that I will beat you if you are wearing anything I deem unacceptable active wear. i.e. Denim, khaki shorts, polo shirts.
  4. Injuries post-college don’t play. If you do happen to find an adult league for the sport you once played you have the distinct possibility of a major injury every time you play. You know who doesn’t have time for an ACL tear? People that have to carry small humans. There’s no trainers forcing you to rehab, there’s no timeline for getting back on the field, it’s just rehabbing so you can play tag effectively with your kids.
  5. Rolling over in bed when you are 9 months pregnant will make you embarrassed that you were ever an athlete. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort. There’s no way such a simple task should require that much grunting, heaving breathing, and the use of all of your extremities.
  6. Your metabolism dies at 30. This is the worst part. There was once a time you could eat whatever you wanted; warm bread, warm cookies, or a whole box of cheez-its with little to no repercussions. Now if you eat these things you will gain 2 pounds overnight. You will have to make hard life decisions between fitting in skinny jeans and eating unlimited bread sticks at the Olive Garden. Sorry friend.
  7. The reasons you keep working out will change drastically. No longer are you trying to earn a starting spot, you are just trying to wear a two-piece without someone calling the police on you. Or just fitting in your jeans post-baby. You may work out for sanity, to relieve stress, or just to have no one touching you for an hour.
  8. You’ll find yourself being competitive with completely inconsequential things. Think board games, cards, etc. I didn’t talk to my husband for an hour once because of a game of Monopoly deal. Not my best moment.

If you are currently an athlete, live it up! You’ll never be this fit again. I’ll tell you right now, YOU ARE NOT FAT AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS YET.

For the rest of us, don’t re-watch your game film and embrace the new normal because no one is ever telling you to “get on the line” again.

Annoying your readers

There are a lot of people and people groups in the bible that drive me nuts. Seriously. The Israelites, the tribe of Judah, Jesus’ own disciples, the list could go on and on.

I just don’t understand how you get bread from the sky, water from a rock, or literally SEE God on a mountaintop, and then you turn away. There is such a prevalent pattern throughout the bible of God’s people turning away, God reveals himself or does something big, these people repent and come back to the Lord and then 15 minutes later they are building another golden cow.

Sometimes I just want to be yell ” JUST FIND NEW PEOPLE GOD!” These people are the worst and obviously can’t get it together.

But he sticks with them. He continues to pursue their hearts. He loves them, even when it doesn’t make sense.

He does the same thing with us.

I mess up all the time. I’ve seen God work in HUGE ways in my life yet I still keep trying to do things with my own strength.

One of my favorite verses in the bible (purely because of the image it evokes) is Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” The people of Judah ate a lot of vomit. The people of Israel ate a lot of vomit. We eat a lot of vomit. How often do we walk away from the feast that God provides at his table and instead say, “No thanks, I don’t want that prime rib. I’d rather eat this pile of regurgitated Alpo and grass.”

If someone wrote a book of the bible over your life, would the people reading it be annoyed?

I know mine would. I am just like the Israelites in that I continually see God answer prayers and work in extraordinary ways then I keep going back to the pile of dog vomit.

Our flesh will never be enough. I can’t problem solve or plan my way through life without eventually reaching the end of myself and realizing that I need him.

So let’s try to stop annoying our readers and seek strength from Him alone.

 

 

Not a baby person.

 

 

I’m not a baby person.

This is possible, even if you have kids. I have three. Still not a baby person. I just wish they came out walking, talking, and eating chicken nuggets.

Babies are boring. It’s ok if you feel this way too. They don’t do much. They can’t walk, talk, or even laugh for a long time. I remember being on maternity leave with Kate and feeling like I was losing my mind. I just needed to talk to someone about something other than sleeping, eating, pooping, etc. At the time I was coaching soccer and I was SO excited when the head coach I was working for called me because we could talk about starting lineup possibilities, how practice went that day, or just something other than babies.

Everyone does not feel this way about babies. I have a couple of friends that LOVE babies. Like a serious, if your baby cries at bible study I’ll just take them from you love. If you aren’t a baby person, you need some of these people in your life. Whenever I have a newborn and I am going somewhere where these friends are I just walk in and hand the baby over. We don’t even talk about this exchange, it just happens.

I feel like I hit my parenting stride around two. You can talk with them (pretty incoherently for a while), play, and you don’t have to carry them everywhere at this point. I’ll take an extra toddler on in a heartbeat, but an infant….you have to be super desperate or we are REALLY good friends.

I figured this would change after I had kids of my own, but turns out it hasn’t. If you have a new baby I am more than happy to bring dinner for you but I really don’t want to hold your baby. I don’t know what to do with your baby. Once they can talk and interact, let’s hang out.

Breastfeeding my own kids has really put a damper on my ability to care for someone else’s infant. This is the only way I know how to make a baby happy. Seriously. This was brought to my attention when I was watching a friend’s 8-week-old for a few hours. I could NOT get this child to stop crying. Definitely one of the most stressful times I’ve had as a parent. I felt like a first time Mom even though I had two kids of my own at the time. I have ZERO arsenal in baby comforting that doesn’t involve boobs.

If you have these same feelings it is ok. You aren’t a bad parent if you think your baby is boring. There will be an age that is your forte as a parent. I haven’t made it past a 4-year-old yet but toddlers are way more fun than a baby so it seems things can only get better. (Except I hear 13-18 is rough)

 

 

 

 

The “M” word.

Minivan.

I said it. I have one. I tried REALLY hard to avoid this.

There comes a time in every large (ish) family’s life when you are faced with this dilemma. It usually happens with child #3 because a normal vehicle just stops being practical. You need a third row, there’s no denying it.

So you start looking at the options out there. There are plenty of vehicles that have a third row, but they all have their flaws.

1. Some vehicles have a third row that makes it so you have no leg room, trunk space or the ability to put a carseat in the third row. i.e. Kia Sorento. Not helpful when you have three kids in carseats or if you have friends that are over 5’0″.

2. The vehicle you would like (Suburban, Denali XL) would cost over half of what you bought a house for. Not justifiable to me. If I have to choose between going on vacation or driving something cool, I choose vacation every time. I would look so much cooler in an SUV but let’s be real, being cool is pretty much over after age 23. You know what’s cool at 31? Going to sleep at 9:30.

If you’ve already taken the plunge or are toying with taking the minivan plunge, this is how you deal with it.

  1. Don’t look back after you park. This is some serious denial of having a minivan. But it’s what I do. The less you look at it, the better it is.
  2. Be driving something else in your mind. In my head I’m rolling in a Land Rover, not a Honda Odyssey. Mind over matter people.

Next, let’s look at the advantages of having a minivan.

  1. You can haul around a LOT of people. I’m always good with being a toddler uber for friends because heck, I’ve got the space so I might as well put it to good use.
  2. You can bring 2 different drinks for everybody in the car. There’s something like 20 cupholders in my van so everybody can be double fisting.
  3. Your threat of car theft is minimal/non-existent. Nobody steals a van. I once accidentally left the side door open for over an hour in a busy parking lot and no one touched a thing. Probably because no one has any use for goldfish crumbs in their life.
  4. Tight parking spot? No problem! Because your doors slide open at the press of a button.
  5. There’s no car show to prep your vehicle for. You will never have to worry about getting an extensive detail package because Car & Driver isn’t going to seek you out for a photo shoot.

It’ll be ok if you get a van. If your friends drop you because of your vehicle then they are the ones with SERIOUS issues. Just remember, you can drive whatever car you want in your mind.

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