We are just returning to our sense of normal after a week long trip to Colorado. And it was glorious and the trip deserves multiple blog posts for my own enjoyment if nothing else. At the end of each day I would dictate a bit to Siri on my phone to jot down the details I might have forgotten if I didn't write it down. Sure, I took a lot of pictures but I still want to blog about the trip in full like miniature Days in the Life posts. Combine the DiTL feel, plus the request to cover 'traveling with small kids' as a topic, and revealing a box I received from Savvy Sassy Moms (I'm a product scout for this group now, watch out!)....this post might cover a lot of topics. So perhaps I should pour a nice glass of wine (tired of beer after our trip, where the brew flowed like water) and settle in for this one. You should, too.
Final (pre) note: our family last traveled to Colorado almost two years ago, to visit my parents when they recently moved from Missouri. I vividly remember this trip in 2013 well because I was very newly pregnant with Porter and didn't find out until we returned home. So I like to say that he tasted all of the beer and coffee right along with me last time. And now? First time flying as a family of five and it is no joke, people. You'll see.
Tuesday | July 28
The night before our trip, Nate and I laid out most of the clothes we needed to pack and I started plowing through my lists. I'm in charge of myself and the three kids for packing and my goal was to underpack instead of my usual overpacking. I knew that we could do laundry at my mom's house and hello, there is a Target near their house so I'm not sure why I always feel the need to take everything we own. So anyway, after making appropriate piles of clothes the night before, Nate and I planned to spend Tuesday morning doing the last rounds of packing. Nate did his packing first and then he took the big kids to the pool for a bit while Porter napped, so that I could focus on packing things like the bathroom items, toiletries, carry on bags, etc. Last minute I decided to have Truman and Cecelia each take their own backpacks as carry ons, where they could keep their loveys, their headphones, empty water bottles to be filled after security, and individual snacks. This was also helpful to corral Cecelia's chapstick collection into her own bag, thus making it her own responsibility to keep track of all eighty of them. Ha.
All in all, we had three checked suitcases (one giant one for all three kids' clothes, then Nate and I each had our own suitcases that really could have been carry on sizes) and Nate's golf clubs, so we checked four bags. Then we opted to bring the Ergo and also the cheapie umbrella stroller for Porter---neither of these worked that well and ended up being super annoying, but oh well. And then we had four carry ons with the big kids and their backpacks, then Nate and I each had backpacks, too. If you are counting, that is a ridiculous amount of stuff for a family vacation which didn't even include bringing car seats or pack-n-plays or anything wild. But it turns out that five people flying means a lot of stuff, even when I focus on 'under packing.'
Once everyone came back from the pool I was mostly finished packing, and we decided to open some of the new snacks we received in our Back-To-School box from Savvy Sassy Moms. I wanted to try them out to see which would make the cut for the 'plane-ride-goodie-bag' and yes, since it's a 'back to school' theme I could certainly pack any of these for Truman's lunches this fall. Because my boy is going to full day Kindergarten in a matter of weeks and my mind is blown!!
Anyway, SSM sent a fantastic box and we had no problem digging in right away. Click here to enter a giveaway for this box on the Savvy Sassy Moms site!
I let them try the Plum Organics Mash Ups squeeze pouches and the Jammy Sammy bars. Both were big hits and Porter took down the PBJ bar like a champ, even better than the others. He was also my biggest fan of the Mash Ups and I ended up packing both of these plus the Annie's Cheddar Bunnies (a big hit around here always) for the plane ride. Mid-morning snack pre-flight, success!
Tony came to our house around noon and our flight was to take off at 1:50pm. We loaded up the car, I did one final check of my list, and we were off!
We got to the airport without issues about 1.5 hours before our flight took off. Tony came inside with us to assist with the motherlode of bags and we had to show Porter's birth certificate copy to verify he is under the age of two and therefore does not need a seat. I also had to call Southwest the day before our flight to have them add Porter onto my ticket, which I find odd---seems like you should be able to do that online, but whatever. We checked all four of our bags and headed off to security.
No real issues there, always kind of a pain when you have to wait in line with excited kids but it went quickly. Apparently kids under the age of 12 don't have to remove their shoes and if you are holding a baby, they will wipe your hands down with some unknown substance to make sure you aren't...carrying a bomb? I don't know, it was perplexing but both times through security meant I got my hands inspected. Once we arrived to our gate Porter was starting to tweak out and so I made him a bottle to take on the plane. He was over waiting around and wanted to get down and crawl (!!) on the germ-infested ground. He settled for looking out a window with his siblings as we discussed the baggage carrier trucks and airplanes. I also insisted on the selfie-stick use at this point, which made Nate very proud;)
Being a family with small kids means that Southwest lets you board after the A group, before any of the B groupers get on board. I was just hoping we could get Truman, Nate, and Cecelia together and then Porter and I would be okay wherever we sat because we'd be on survival mode anyway. My motto with the big kids: unlimited screen time and fun snacks with daddy. My motto with Porter: just keep him from attempting escape from my lap for the two hours and ten minutes of flight.
It ended up being alright with the kids, but I felt like having three small ones with two parents really highlighted the fact that Nate and I were outnumbered;) Actually, Truman and Cecelia both did great with their respective iPad/Kindle time. They would literally scream, 'Daddy! I need another Mamba!' because apparently they didn't realize their headphones only made their shows louder, no need to scream about it! Porter was a different story, and I think that age one is maybe one of the hardest for flying. He's mobile now, he doesn't sleep like a newborn, and yet he doesn't care about screen time or rules, so yeah. It is what it is. Luckily there were no less than ten other babies on this flight all under the age of two. It was awesome because Porter was not the loudest and most unruly baby, yay! Also, another mom who was sitting right across from me was the kindest and kept offering her dollar store finds to keep Porter occupied. She came PREPARED with sheets of stickers that kept him entertained for a bit, velcro hair curlers that could stack inside of each other (his favorite), and other little containers of tiny things that kept little hands busy. I totally should have done a Dollar Store trip this time around but I'm slacking as a third time mom, never quite as prepared as I should be. She was awesome and I noted her fifteen month old baby was still happily nursing throughout the flight, along with a lot of the other babies around us, and I still get a little sad that Porter isn't nursing/stopped at six months. I mean, just for the logistics of the flight itself, having a baby who will nurse is much better than one who sort of/kind of takes a bottle or a sippy cup. Sigh. I miss nursing.
But I digress. P-man did take a bottle during the flight, he loved playing with the seat tray and tried to consume many many airplane germs. Porter only cried for a few minutes here and there and was mostly interested in my snacks, the dude next to us, and my straw from my drink provided by the airline attendants. He did not nap despite needing one badly, but there was just too much awesomeness around him to lull him to sleep. I apologized to the single man next to us as Porter threw his lovey on his lap, sprayed my water everywhere, and was a regular old baby in a confined space for hours. We all survived somehow and I could tell Porter's ears did bother him on the descent, despite me trying to force more bottle and sippy cup and anything to help him with the pressure. The big kids chewed on their Mamba candies Nate brought and seemed alright with the pressure changes, and my own ears were popping constantly.We landed in Denver and prepared for our final leg of the journey: driving to Fort Collins.
We took the little train/shuttle in the Denver airport and met my parents near the baggage claim. We had a few good hugs as we were reunited and the kids all seemed beyond excited to see their grandparents. We got our four additional bags and went to my parents' two cars--Mom, me, Cecelia, and Porter in one and Dad, Nate, and Truman in the other. My parents don't have a big enough car for all three car seats to fit in a single vehicle so we have successfully sized ourselves out of a simple trip to the airport for them. Last time I could wedge myself between Truman and Cecelia's seat in the back of my dad's car no problem, but this time it meant two cars. We drove to Fort Collins (Windsor, actually, if you want to be specific) and Cecelia constantly asked us 'when we gonna be there?' Mom and I finally convinced her to take a snooze and both she and Porter did sleep for about 30 minutes of the hour long drive. Hallelujah.
Once we arrived at my parents' new house, we got the full house tour and hugged my brother who was staying with my parents at the time. Mom made us all dinner and it was a delicious spinach salad with quinoa, chicken, blueberries, strawberries, and feta cheese. YUM, Nate and I were personally starving at this point. Thank you, Pinterest for that one. With the one hour time change we had to hold off Porter's bedtime until the new 7:00pm, taking a bath before bed helped. The big kids were down at 7:30 after testing out the tub and having Uncle Mike read to them.
I somehow forgot their toothbrushes and toothpaste in my packing haste. Mom came through with extras and then once they were (sort of) down, Mom, Nate and I went for a walk to catch the sunset. It was very much worth it, see if you can spot the mountains. (And yes, beer!)
The three of us ended up going for a 45 minute walk somehow and while we were gone I was worried that CC was calling out for me/freaking out. Come to find out that Uncle Michael did have to go soothe her while I was gone, pushing a chair against her bed so she wouldn't fall out at night. Worked like a charm!
Michael, Dad, Nate and I all went out to the patio to have a beer and catch up on life. Dad and I retired to bed around 10:30 after one beer, the young guys stayed up for an additional brew. I read a bit of my book (Gone Girl, finally reading it!) and passed out cold after a long day of travel. Ahhhh, vacation! And extra helping hands with the kids *while on* vacation! The best.