A week ago, Julia and I were flying through Boston and I found myself saying, “Julia, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.” I stepped off of that Charlotte flight and got a really quick dose of New England. Well, this week, we stepped off of our Atlanta flight and Kansas is exactly where we found ourselves.
Little Miss Traveler has gone from zero flights in her lifetime to ten in the span of just over a week. Yes, TEN. It wasn’t exactly a planned trip. We found ourselves booking last minute flights on little-to-no sleep with barely enough time to finish laundry from the last trip in time for this one. We’re at a bit of a stressful time in our life, even without the Kansas trip thrown in the mix. But when it rains, it pours… right? Luckily, the kids were great on the plane and Mitchell thought it was the greatest thing watching the airplanes take off from the runway. He jumped and clapped every time and then waved goodbye.
Steve and I caught up on our lack of sleep anywhere we could.
Let’s talk about airport diaper changes for a minute. Who actually wants to use the germ-infested airplane bathrooms? Let alone, change a child in there? I am all about the empty-gate in-stroller diaper change. We went from pajamas and bedhead to play clothes and bows all in these two little seats without anyone even noticing. I love that double BOB more than I probably should. We gate checked that beautiful throne of a stroller and it was waiting for its royal babies as we stepped off the plane every time. It also accommodated two car seats stacked on the handle bars, so tall my 5’8” self could barely see over them. Did I say I love that stroller?
We were traveling back for my grandfather’s funeral, and though we had a little time to prepare ourselves in regards to logistics, coordinating the trip was still a bit tricky. It blew me away how many people were willing to drop everything to help us. My elementary school teacher offering to watch the kids “whenever we needed.” My dad’s coworker of 20+ years offering up her baby gear. A classmate I haven’t talked to since 9th grade [with an adorable little girl Julia’s age!] offering even more baby gear. The little girl I babysat for years when SHE was a little thing with braided pigtails babysitting my babies. And all of my mom’s fellow elementary school teachers with little ones of their own taking time out of their day to drop off pack and plays for the kids to sleep in. I know how much of a chore it is to even run a five minute errand when you have little ones, so the generosity did not go unnoticed. What a heartwarming feeling it is to come back to your hometown and know you still have a place there. Western Shawnee is the best, y’all. I feel grateful to have grown up there.
Not to mention our amazing support system out here in North Carolina. Imagine living in a place with no family around. We only planted our roots out here five years ago, when it was two newlyweds and little puppy Zoe. Since then we’ve met some amazing people willing to treat us like family, and even though a lot of them have moved away, we still have a few friends around 🙂 Like my friend Katie, who after watching the dogs during our trip to Martha’s Vineyard last weekend, was willing to stay and watch them a whole additional week! Luckily, we snagged a spot in doggy daycare, but just the comfort of her generosity goes such a long way. Or my friend Danika, who knew I was stressed to the max and hadn’t made time to eat, only to invite me over, feed me, and tell me to fix another plate after I already ate two. And send me home with leftovers for the next day. It’s nice to have people to rely on when you’re away from family, especially at times like this. Our Kansas trip wasn’t all bad. Funerals aren’t fun. But this was our third trip back for a funeral in three years, and each time we’ve been able to designate time to spend with family and friends that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Make the best of a bad situation, right? More on my grandfather later, but for now, a little on our time in Kansas. Which ALWAYS consists of garage sitting.
A few selfies with my favorite people.
We checked into our hotel and set up camp for the week. Traveling with two littles requires a lot of gear. We couldn’t have done without the Pack-and-Play’s for the week. If we tried Steve and I would have probably looked like zombies because Mitchell just can’t grasp the sleeping in bed with Mommy and Daddy, and seems to think anyone “extra” in bed with him is there to play.
It’s not Kansas unless you have Quick Trip doughnuts for breakfast at least once.
Mitchell played on his swingset at Grandma and Grandpa Brim’s house.
And Grandpa carried on traditions.
Steve and I snuck out one night to go on a date to the drive-in. How I wish we had something like this in North Carolina. We borrowed my mom’s SUV and piled pillows and blankets in the back, stopped at Quick Trip for some movie snacks, and had a fun little date watching The Minion Movie. Being the boring grown-ups we are, we opted to head out after the children’s movie and head back to the hotel to get some sleep.
Speaking of food, we took a trip to the T-Rex Cafe and had a family dinner. The last time we made it to the T-Rex Cafe was back here, in Disney. Mitchell was a little bit older this time, and was entertained by all of the dinosaurs to look at while we waited for the food.
My mom, Melanie (my brother’s girlfriend), Julia and I snuck in some shopping. I needed some new sandals [thanks, Loki], and new shorts. I’ve grown out of my jean shorts… I think I stretched them out wearing them into month nine in these last two pregnancies. Grandpa Brim seems to think another grandbaby would solve the problem of my too-big shorts. I think a new pair of shorts is a much cheaper option 😉
By our last day we were all ready to wrap up nearly three weeks of travel and be home. Everyone was thrilled to see the beautiful state of North Carolina that we like to call home. Mitchell was ready to have his parks and swing set and playroom and big boy bed back. I was ready to have our baby gates back. Can you blame us though? He ate enough lunchables for a classroom of kindergarteners this week. He’s been his usual get-into-everything, run-in-the-opposite-direction self. But other than a few mad dash attempts to freedom at the airport, he was (almost) perfectly behaved and easy-peasy on the airplanes. I credit this not to our parenting, but instead, car seat restraints, fruit snacks, and the Cars movie we downloaded on the iPad in anticipation of our long weeks of travel.
Traveling with a baby and toddler is not an easy task. Especially when one child, who will remain anonymous, Mitchell, refuses to hold hands or walk in the same general direction as any parent figure. Grab his hand and guide him in the right direction, you say? Sit down and peacefully protest at the top of my lungs until I have a chance to make a break for it, says Mitchell.
I keep telling myself it’s a phase, and I know it is. But no amount of sympathetic onlookers and, “you’re so brave” encouragements from generous airport passerby’s quell my temptation to buy a backpack leash for my red-headed free spirit. You know the ones I’m talking about. And if you knew this toddler, the though would cross your mind too. I say this in the most lovingly way possible, dear son.
On a different note, Mitchell is seeming more and more grown-up, minus the constant prison breaks. It took him until his second birthday to say, “Mama,” but he hasn’t stopped since. In fact, I am convinced he tried to make up for our Mama-less year by saying it non-stop at a crowded gate for no less than an hour at the top of his lungs. Either the people around us truly love children, or they flashed some really convincing, “that’s so cute” looks. No “shh-ing” could get my mama-loving boy to stop, so he just belted out those Mama’s while he chowed down on [yet another] lunchable. Mommy couldn’t resist this big boy backpack this week, which I am convinced will help my child, who does not need help feeling independent, feel independent by carrying his own things. nothing was cuter than watching him march around the airport in his pajamas, sandals, and backpack.
We’ve added lots of new words lately: please (“pease”), help (“hup”), bottle (“baba”), bye (“bye”), football (“fuh-buh”), hockey (“ha-ey”), more (“moh”), car (“car”), baby (“day-dee”), fish (“ish”), shoes (“shoooesh”), start (“tars”), moon (“oon”), potty (“aw-ey”), ewy (referring to any dirty diapers and dog poop). We’re finally adding some words with practical application around here.
That wraps up our traveling, hopefully for awhile. All things considered, we had a good trip. Now for a weekend of relaxation [if you count 287 loads of laundry and endless bottle washing]. Happy-it’s-almost-the-weekend, y’all. I wish you less stress and excitement than we are currently experiencing, and a clean house. I’ll be over here envying you for the next two weeks.