Over the next three weeks, we'll spend more than 28 hours on an airplane with two squirmy five year old girls. We've done long flights like this several times before and survived pretty well but it's never something we look forward to. It's stressful and uncomfortable and exhausting (I never sleep on planes). Sometimes the only thing that knocks the sharp edges off of my misery is 2 or 3 plastic cups of delightful airline brand Chardonnay.
The girls are veteran air travelers but a lot of thought goes into keeping them happy during a flight this long. I always make sure they have plenty of snacks and art supplies or games to get them through the flight but it seems like I'm constantly called on to retrieve dropped or stowed items. Just when I get comfortable, someone's iPod falls off the tray table or someone wants some Cheetos... or their 'lovey' or their purple crayon or some gum or a tissue. Or I need my computer or my reading glasses or something that is always more than an arms length away from me. And these search-and-find missions are made more frustrating by the extra challenge of reaching around and under kids legs and dealing with tray tables and the reclined seats of the people in the row in front of us.
By the end of the flight, I feel like I've flapped my arms all the way across the Atlantic.
I can't tell you how many times I wished there was something I could attach to the upright tray table. Something that would organize all of our stuff and keep everything at our fingertips. I really needed to solve this problem - even if I had to invent something myself - so I was thrilled when I found this:
It's the Nirvana Travel Organizer by Zen Class. It's designed to fit over the upright tray table on the airplane. You just slip it on and lock the table in place. I couldn't wait to test drive it so I hung it over the back of my kitchen chair and started filling it up. Man, it holds a TON of stuff! Including a bunch of things you can't see in the photo. It even holds a large laptop computer!
When the flight is over, the whole thing folds in half (minus the laptop, of course) and zips closed to make it easy to tote.
There are so many extras on this that I'm sure we'll use it for every flight. Even (gasp!) when we travel without kids. So far, the only downside I can see is that you can't really use it when the tray table is in use (down) but we plan to figure out a work-around to solve that.
I bought two. One in black and one in brown.
Gwen and Maddy seem to have a very different relationship lately. They've started playing together more cooperatively and even though they sometimes get into serious mischief, they do it without the usual squabbles and shrieks and complaints.
Recently, I investigated a rather long stretch of quiet and found both of them in the playroom with a roll of masking tape and about 100 shredded pieces of paper that were colored and fashioned into "jewelry". They were each almost totally covered from head to toe and when I asked how on earth they managed to do that, they gleefully exclaimed "We helped eachother!"
A little bit later, I looked in on them again and found them both up on the hill in the backyard constructing a "nest" out of whatever they could get their hands on. It was such a mess but they were talking through the construction of it and working together to assemble their monstrosity. I stood there, unnoticed, and watched them for a long time and loved what I saw. When they finally saw me, their faces lit up and they couldn't wait to show me what they made. They were so very proud of it!
A month ago, this type of thing wouldn't have happened because they just weren't able to spend 5 minutes together without some kind of power struggle. I didn't dare hope that it would last but then, right out of the blue, they came to us and said they want to sleep together!
They became sisters when they were both barely two years old and we assumed they'd share a room but they just didn't like it. We moved Maddy out of the nursery and they were both happier alone in their rooms. We fully expected to wake up and discover that Gwen was back in her own bed but she slept in Maddy's room all night!
And it's been that way for more than a week! She doesn't want to sleep in her own bed anymore. She wants to sleep with Maddy.
It's fun to have daughters who are so incredibly different in almost every way. It makes me love them for all of the wonderful reasons that they are completely unique!
They just finished their first week of summer camp and they had such a fun time! Next week, we'll go on our annual summer family vacation. This year, it's a cruise and the kids have been exuberantly counting down the days for several months. They're itching to start packing for their "boat vacation". Michael and Kelsey are coming too.
I'm excited about going on a cruise because I've never been on one. And even though I was stationed in Germany while I was in the Army, I've never been to Italy or any of the other places we're visiting. It's going to be quite the photo opportunity! Hopefully, I'll be able to blog from the ship.
First of all, it's not their birthday. But their Kindergarten class celebrates birthdays for all of the kids -- even those who were born in the summer months. Nice, huh!
Maddy and Gwen were excited about their "not my birthday" celebration and picked out some fun animal print clothes for the special occasion. Just before jumping into the car and heading to school, I asked them to pose for some quick photos.
Aren't they cute!
I'm trying to become a better photographer so I'm paying attention to the background of my photos as well as the composition. Black and white photos actually require a bit more attention because you really need to be mindful of background clutter since you don't have the benefit of color to help you identify the subject of the photo. I usually pick calm (boring?) patterns and backgrounds so faces stand out more. But today I specifically decided to use this photo for my black and white conversion because of the crazy patterns on the girls' clothing.
I'm also trying to be more interesting when it comes to rotating and cropping. Not in my comfort zone at all because I'm really very mechanical about "art" and tilting a perfectly straight photo is almost painful for me! But I LOVE it when other people do it so I decided to give it a try.
So much to learn but I'm loving the journey!
Here's the color version:
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