Friday, April 26, 2013

One Mom, Three Kids, and an Airplane

Let me begin with a confession.  I am going to come right out and confess that I took Alaina on her first airplane trip and I have not one picture to prove it.  I didn't even save her boarding pass from the outbound leg, only the return!  I know, I am a terrible mom and that's part of why I have taken so long to write this.  I was embarrassed that I failed to memorialize such an important event in my child's life.
I feel better now that I got that off my chest.
Now, from the beginning...
I started planning how I would travel with three kids while I was still pregnant with Alaina.  I considered the supplies I would need and how I would transport them all.  It was rather daunting I have to say.  Fortunately, my mother was also planning and she was prepared to delay my first solo trip by offering to accompany me.  That was a relief.  We talked over the phone about how this all would work, considering she would be starting her journey in another state and then coming to join me before traveling to a completely different state.  Specifically, Washington.  Our plan was her traveling from Wisconsin, through Chicago to Houston, meeting me and then all of us going to Seattle.  Unfortunately, the most difficult part about the way we travel (stand by) is the changing nature of flight availability.  And of course, things changed and we quickly moved on to plan B: Me traveling alone on a four hour flight with three children.
I honestly wasn't worried.  Not about the children anyway.  I was more concerned with my stamina.  Picture this (since I don't have a real picture):  I carried Alaina in the front pack; I had a backpack on my back weighing easily more than Alaina; and I pushed Justin's car seat on a handtruck with Alaina's infant carrier hanging off the back and Justin's CPAP slung off the side.  I think I carried more weight than a Marine going into combat!  It was crazy but we made it.  (I also checked Travis' car seat and one very large suitcase with all the clothes for 4 of us for 4 days.)  We got our seat assignments and the agent was quite taken aback with my declaration that I was the lone adult for the three kids.  It's difficult to find seats together at the very end of boarding.  I felt for her; she did great!  We started down the jetway and Justin started getting nervous.  I debated long and hard about whether to put Justin in a diaper for the trip.  I decided to go with underwear and I brought one spare outfit.  Only one.  He started crying going onto the airplane and when he cries and gets upset, he pees.  I implored him to hold it and when we got to our seats I dropped our stuff and raced for the bathrooms.  We made it!  Then it was back to our seats for take off.  Justin cried the whole time so I couldn't even get Alaina's car seat strapped in.  (I always get my babies seats because the extra space helps so much and then I don't have to hold them when they fall asleep.)  Justin and I did a lot of talking about how God was with us even on the airplane and how much fun we were going to have with his cousin and he finally calmed down.  Then I could get Alaina's car seat set up so she could take a nap.  Whew, good timing!
I had planned to let the boys watch Direct TV on the airplane, but our change of plans also brought a change of airplane, and no Direct TV.  Since I cannot guarantee we will sit together, one DVD player/computer is not enough.  And I simply could not carry 2 entertainment devices.  The ipad is my weight limit.  I downloaded movies and they switched off watching them.  That worked really well.  Why does my family have to live at the limits of our country's boarders from where we live?  Four and a half hours is a long time to fill!  But we were trucking right along:  Alaina slept, we ate some lunch, we watched movies, and then Justin said he had to go to the bathroom.  I looked down to pick him up to take him and I noticed the lake in between his legs.  Fortunately we were sitting on leather seats so it didn't soak through and the flight attendants were SO nice about the clean up, but there went my back up outfit.  And we still had an hour to go.  Fortunately we were incident-free the last hour and we landed in Seattle dry and happy.
Then we had to get our luggage.  With all I was carrying I then had to add the suitcase and another car seat.  I did a little switcheroo and put Alaina's car seat on the suitcase and the CPAP on top of Justin's car seat and I pulled them both through the terminal.  Some sweet women offered to help and they took Alaina's car seat off the suitcase and the CPAP off the car seat and left me to pull the rest.  Not much help, but the thought was there!  By the time I got outside I realized that I had forgotten Travis' car seat and the fact that everyone needed to potty before the hour and a half trip back to where we were staying.  So we trekked back inside and I got to the bathroom and stared at the door wondering how I was going to get through it with all my stuff when a wonderful woman offered to watch our luggage while I went inside with the kids.  She was my hero!  I breathed a huge sigh and we did our business before heading back out to the curb for our ride.  Taking Alaina out of the front pack was the biggest relief.  I was so sweaty!  It wasn't even all that warm but I was ready for a icy bath after all my hauling.  I could have settled in for a long nap on the way home but alas, it was not meant to be.
All in all, it was an awesome first trip with all three by myself.  I know lots of people were praying, including my mom who felt bad she couldn't be with us.  She ended up flying in a few minutes after we arrived so we could all go home together.  I had everything I needed and the kids behaved so well.  I really want to brag on how great they did.  Travis was such a big help and he didn't complain a bit about having to sit across the row and back from us.  Once Justin settled down he was a doll.  And Alaina didn't cry one bit.  She took her nap and woke up happy.  She ate and played and giggled.  (And it turns out she even cut another tooth that day!)  The person who sat directly across from us was watching us the whole time and she even talked with Justin a little bit and helped pick up things he dropped.  When we were deplaning she even stopped to say, "You are a really great mom."  I thought I was going to cry!  God really was with us on that plane and he was helping me say the right words to calm Justin.  Flying with any number of kids is work, no doubt, but those words were straight from God.  Words every mom needs to hear every day, but I especially did that day.  We made it through the first trip, and I think we might even do it again.  :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bammel Night Live

Our church does a variety show/fundraiser for the youth group's summer mission trips.  This year, Travis was in the show.  He spent the weeks before the show practicing and serenading us.  I love that he is learning Bible verses through music.  Travis did a great job but the microphone prohibited good picture-taking.  Travis really liked being in the show so I hope he can do it next year too.

Justin will never be in the show.  It is way too loud for him.  He got scared and Randy had to leave with him so they didn't even get to see Travis sing.  When Justin gets scared, he goes to the bathroom.  At least Randy managed to get him outside so he only messed up the parking lot.  I had to go find them to get Justin some clothes to wear home.  Now that Justin is on his fourth car seat I know that after safety, ease of removing the cover to wash is out number one priority.  I certainly love our car seat!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

10 Months

Alaina keeps growing up.  She is already ten months old!

Her hair has suddenly started growing really fast and she has quite the little swoop of hair across the front.  She is wearing 6-9 month clothes and mostly size 2 shoes.  When she wears shoes!  She is about 17 pounds.  She is small like Justin!  (Given all the doctors and weigh-ins she had to endure for her surgery, I have no idea what she weighs anymore!  The hospital uses kgs and I have no ability to convert instantaneously to lbs.)  She eats most everything I make.  She even likes green vegetables, unlike her brothers!  She is starting to make sounds that a mother can make out to be the beginnings of "mama".  I have been doing a lot of coaching.  She is my last chance for "mama" to be her first word!  She is pulling up and cruising but she won't let go and try to take a step. 

Her greatest skill is clearing everything off any horizontal surface she can reach.  She loves the table with books at Justin's therapy.  It's just her height.  She reaches out and with one swipe she clears half the table.  A moment to reposition and she takes the other half.  The other kids at therapy see all the books on the floor and they are quick to pick them up and put them back on the table.  Ready for another pass!

Alaina's other great skill is vacuuming.  She can pick every tiny little speck off the floor, making it spotless.  I know kids are supposed to eat their pound of dirt without any terribly ill effects.  I think she is well on her way.  When Travis was little he went through a book-eating phase and I had to take away all his board books.  Alaina is definitely his sister.  She ate the paper off these spice bottles and whatever else she can find.

Like library books. She got about 2 or 3 before we caught her. Then she went after Justin's Veggie Tales books. He wasn't pleased. She had this whole part of the page wadded up in her mouth.  She has a big mouth!  We definitely have to keep an eye on her.  She is pretty sneaky!