Saturday, October 31, 2009

Home, Home on the Range

This week I made yet another cross-country flight with both kids; I feel a lot older and a little wiser. About two days before our trip, I realized that a big part of my dread was the prospect of holding ChuckRoast on my lap for the duration. A quick phone-call and courtesy call-back after my wait time at 800-IFLYSWA resulted in the purchase of an infant fare ticket, and a large dose of relief.

I somehow managed not to spend a single penny at the airport, but I did have to endure the annoyance of the baggage swab which was far more unpleasant than the full body pat-down. Something in my small soft-sided Coleman cooler, in which I'd packed a plethora of flight and kid-friendly foods still in their factory seal, was showing as being toxic per their swabs.

Well, that's not good.

So, in Chicago on our layover, after we ate the majority of the contents and I was able to condense down to my one backpack, I ditched the cooler. Not only was it extra baggage, something about it made them think I was a terrorist. With Horizon Organic milk boxes. And cereal bars. And string cheese.

Plane boarded and day of travel begun, I busted out the portable DVD player that Alex had gently, and multiple times, suggested I may want to borrow. I'd survived a number of cross-country flights without an extra piece of baggage, so I'd be fine on one more, right? Once again, my faithful friend was correct and the day before I left I called to ask if the offer was still on the table.

A viewing of The Wild between Providence and Chicago, and H was ready for leg #2, as mama played the game of Sally the Sherpa to get from one gate to the next with H's back-pack, my back-pack and a small bag of diapers slung across the handles of the stroller in which both kids were blissfully secured, a car seat over one arm and a smile on my face.

I did the dance down the aisle with a car seat held as high as I could, Charlie in the sling, and Henry trailing faithfully behind under penalty of death if he touched the controls that make the jetway separate from the plane; yet another hazard in having a child whose hero is Curious would be less give-you-a-captain's-hat-and-let-you-sit-in-the-cockpit and more mommy-gets-arrested-for-suspicion-of-terrorist-activity. Especially in light of the cooler debacle.

I smiled wryly at one passenger as he was holding his head as far to the side as possible so as not the be concussed by the car seat and I quipped 'As if him crying won't be enough to make you hate me, I could give you a skull fracture as well!' Luckily he laughed.

Each time one of my snotty kids coughed or sniffled, I could see passengers giving me sideways glances...I should have put snouts on them.

I love flying Southwest, but wish they would have a direct flight. Alas, part of the lot of flying on the airline that has heart, is a lot of up and down. Being a master planner, I changed Charlie's diaper in my lap just prior to the last trash collection as we were getting ready to descend in Salt Lake, where we'd have to sit on the plane and wait for the connecting passengers to board.

Just as we were given the fasten seat belts warning due to turbulence, the most foul smell filled the air. Awesome. So glad you didn't do that before I changed your diaper. Not quite brave enough to delve into that with him on my lap, I had to wait...and wait....and wait until we landed.

Back in the air again for our one-hour romp to Boise, we were almost home-free. H had fallen asleep for almost three hours on the prior flight, dosing off during take-off while reading the brochure for the 737. Charlie had yet to sleep a wink.

After arriving safely we walked to my sister's car and I noticed a large box strapped to the top of her Explorer. What. Is. That?! Oh, just a tub surround for a friend...because Sherpas run in the family.

Kids fed and car gassed we were in the home stretch; a three-hour car ride to my parent's house in rural Eastern Oregon. As I took in the slush and the grey, the sage and the open space surrounded by mountains, it came to me again how much I love my home.

About half-way there, we realized there was a slight thumping noise from the top of the car and glanced to see if the other had heard it too. After a van passed us motioning to the top of the car, we decided to pull over and investigate. Sure enough, the slush and wind had ripped off the front corner of the box.

Small pieces that could fly out should the whole box become compromised were removed and the security of the tie-downs double-checked and we were back on the road.

As we pulled up to my parents' house, Charlie was still wide-eyed and promptly handed me separation papers announcing his intent to divorce his car-seat. It was only as I sat him down on the plush carpet and he stumbled his first few steps that I realized...he had not taken a single step since 4am EST...and it was 5 at my parents'. A full 16 hours in which he hadn't been out of a seated position, other than to bounce on my lap in the plane. Ahh...a shining example of motherhood am I. In my defense, we had just enough time in Chicago to eat, change a diaper, go potty and head to the gate as they were able to leave ahead of schedule.

Go ahead Char, you are now free to roam about the country.


Alex Elliot said...

Glad you made it there in one piece! So will you pack the cooler with food for the trip back then?

Sally HP said...

Nope, ditched it in Chicago.