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October 03, 2007

up, Up, UP & Away!


(that's Gwen's sweet little adorable hand holding that toy plane, above)

Ever since our trip back from China (after Maddy's adoption), we've noticed that the girls do pretty well on airplanes.  Maybe it's because we use our familiar car seats?  Maybe it's because our kids are relatively easy going?  Or maybe we're just lucky.

The girls do seem to like to travel.  A few things make the trip(s) easier:

  1. We always use our car seats.  The kids seem to know that being strapped into a car seat means that they're in for the duration.  No unbuckling and running up and down the aisle pretending to be flight attendants!  Nope, they accept their confinement without any complaints when they're in their car seat.
  2. We bring new toys for the trip.  There's almost nothing more exciting that a new toy.  We always bring something new for the plane (and something else new for the hotel room).  For flights longer than two hours, we plan to play a video on our laptop computer.  Since headphones don't work well for small kids (much less TWO small kids), we use a headphone splitter and two pillow speakers (one for each child) and stitch them into a small pillow - or semi-flat stuffed animal.  It's easy for kids to lay their ear against the pillow (or animal) to hear the audio of the video.  These tiny speakers can be found at Radio Shack and they're quite inexpensive.  We also use them with our mini-van DVD player:  We put one speaker into a toddler sock and pin it INSIDE the car seat cover at ear level.  The kids lean against the speaker to hear their movie and Mommy and Daddy get to save some of their sanity by not having to listen to Elmo in Grouch-land for the 2753rd time.
  3. Food, food and more food.  There's a good reason why disaster relief officials always spend 90%of the time trying to feed the frantic masses:  Food reduces stress.  We bring lots of yummy snacks for the plane and we're not stingy about it either.  If the kids want m&m's or Cheesy Pringles, they get 'em! 
  4. Potty supplies:  Where there's snacks, there's sure to be potty needs.  Unfortunately, airlines don't really cater to the toilet needs of their smallest passengers.  We bring a small, foldable, potty seat for when the kids can "make it" and a large changing pad for when they "don't".  Also, lots of ziploc bags for the most toxic diapers so the airline isn't forced to drop oxygen masks.   Also, we don't try to change diapers in the pitiful confines of the airplane bathroom.  A year ago, Andrew tried to change Gwen's diaper in that horrible little tiny bathroom and got poop everywhere and everyone cry for 40 minutes!  Now, we use the aisle just outside the toilet doorway and don't make any apologies about it.  Our kids are over age 2 and are paying, ticket holding, customers so they deserve to have their needs met in a civilized way.  Since most airlines don't provide diaper changing facilities, we just do the best we can and don't worry about offending anyone other than our children.
  5. Fortunately, we can usually board first since we have small kids.  But Southwest Airlines is going to discontinue that "perk" after the first of next month.   I'm not a fan of SW Airlines but I'm forced to use them because they fly directly to places that other airlines don't.  Even so, I'm almost looking forward to the first time I'm required to put my small child next to a total stranger for a long flight: I'll be sure to hand them a few antibacterial wipes, some diapers, a ziploc baggie full of Cheerios,two or three barf bags and let them know I'll be at the back of plane reading a good book and enjoying a plastic glass of the airlines finest Chardonnay.



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