Life is a Highway

So many great things have happened lately. I usually dislike this time of year in the Panhandle because a) ungodly wind, b) everything is still brown, c) lack of summer. But toward the end of April, we got some rain, went on a couple of fun trips, and Kate and I serendipitously met up with Kinsey in Amarillo and had dinner and hilarious conversation. A month of true miracles! We’ve also spent 9000 hours on the road – that’s what happens when you move off to New Mexico and your family stays in central Texas.  Let’s talk about some important lessons I’ve learned this month that you need to know, too. Sharing is caring.

The proper ratio for taking a baby on an airplane is 7 adults : 1 baby. Anything less equals stress. As you go through security with an infant, all of your carry-on luggage, and 6 other adults, here’s what happens: Tab breaks down the stroller, Sam puts the diaper bag and luggage on the conveyor belt, Matt throws all the liquids, shoes, and keys in a bin, Mom with the baby walks through the cavity search x-ray machine and has hands swiped with special radioactive bomb-detection paper, then hands the baby to Grammy, puts her shoes back on, uncles grab the luggage, aunts pop the stroller and car seat and everyone is rolling away to the gate in less than thirty seconds. It’s coordinated teamwork; we received several compliments from other travelers in the purgatorical line of TSA security. Moral of the story: take your entire extended family and every rolling piece of luggage you own when traveling with a baby.

planeWouldn’t it be cool if I was a real blogger and took clear photos?  Whatev.  Kate relaxing between her four dirty diapers on this flight.

Men don’t want to sit next to nursing moms on a plane. Checking in for the flight home, none of our party was seated together except Matt and I, on the very last row. We waited until everyone else was boarded before venturing to the terminal with our baby, party of 7, and 20 pieces of carry-on gear. It’s super important to board last when you have a baby. First, this decreases the amount of time you have to juggle them around in cramped seats. Second, this decreases the amount of time you have to sweat under those dinky air vents before takeoff. Third, you can gate-check your carry-ons because the bins are obviously already full, so you don’t have to drag your stuff down the crowded plane. Fourth, this decreases the amount of time Tab has to small talk with the drunk in the aisle seat who packed his pockets with 99-cent bottles of liquor. Just shut up, dude.  

Anyway, we entered the plane with our baby and diaper bag and made our way to the last row, where a 300-pound man was parked in the aisle seat, thoroughly enjoying [and relieved to have] all three seats to himself. Imagine his dismay when our family showed up. The flight attendants looked at us, looked at him, looked at us again. As he stood to let us in, I announced, “So sorry, but I’m gonna be nursing this baby back here. Sorry for the awkwardness.” The flight attendants looked back at him. We all settled in, me, Matt, Kate, and the giant man. And that’s when another miracle of the spring happened: a lovely beautiful flight attendant angel told our seatmate that there were two open spots in Row 16 and he disappeared in a flash. Kate slept soundly in the middle seat the entire three hours home. Moral of the story: God loves us and cares about us.

I am not a celebrity and you aren’t, either. Listen, wedding season is hard when you’re a stay at home mom with no sense of style or shopping budget. I lamented the fact that I didn’t have anything to wear (to the second wedding in two weeks, our social calendar is out of control) to Kinsey, and she suggested the same dress that I wore to my other cousin’s wedding in Austin. Who would do this?? Everyone knows you don’t wear the same dress to the same event for the same side of the family two weeks apart! Wardrobe foul. But I don’t have time to shop hate shopping, and I hate spending money on clothes that aren’t sweatshirts, and I hate fixing my hair just for the record. These facts present a problem when packing for four days in the Northeast.  A conversation with Kinsey that included all of the above complaints went like this:

K- What about that cute maxi dress you wore last weekend?

M- No! Can’t wear the same thing to two weddings in a row!

K- Well, you’re not a celebrity. Nobody cares if you do.

M- Oh.

So, in New Jersey, my mom and I put on the same clothes we wore to the Austin wedding and rocked them at the rehearsal dinner. Guess who noticed? One person. And she doesn’t work for US Weekly.  Moral of the story: Millions of people in Africa have just one outfit each, get over yourself.

Hudson and meMy cutest youngest nephew, Hudson, and the maxi dress that led to the revelation of my non-celeb status, at my cousin’s wedding reception in Austin.

 Lee family NJ weddingA fifteen dollar Old Navy dress and my awesome family at my cousin’s wedding in Smithville, NJ.  Somehow Matt has managed to miss every family photo opportunity of the year.  Also it was freeeeezing in this photo, really needed that extra leg covering that a maxi offers.

Kids love staying with their grandparents, but they have to come home sometime. Trevor and Claire have had some QUALITY Grandmom-and-Pop Time the past month. This includes picnics at the park, museum and zoo trips, playing with their cousins, and basking in way more attention than humanly necessary. I’m so glad they have such a good time down there, and so thankful that they have grandparents and great-grandparents who dote on them!  (Plus, after our big trip, Kate seems to be under the impression that she’s the only grandchild.) But we’re back in the real hermit-farm world now and the party’s over. Time to play independently, eat what’s on your plate, go outside alone, pick up the toys, and get in bed already!  Today, Trevor threw an hour-long fit because he wanted fruit snacks. I recently made a non-negotiable No Fruit Snacks Rule when I pulled out the couch to vacuum and found 140 wrappers in the corner. Moral of the Story: Fruit snacks rot your teeth, go cry in your room.

claire asleep on floorClaire had way too much fun at her grandparents and needs an extra long nap, obvi.

No need for snacks on road trips. The month of April, we took seven or eight road trips of at least four hours and up to seven hours each, with 3 kids. Previously, I would pack water bottles and sippies and Goldfish and animal crackers and granola bars and PBJs and books and games and electronic devices. Not anymore, people! I’m sick of handing snacks over the seats, filling and refilling water cups, moving toys out of the way of my floorboard diaper changing station. So, we just stopped bringing all that stuff. My iPad was recently shattered into smithereens and stopped connecting to Wifi, so that’s out, and I noticed that when we didn’t have a snack bag, no one requested anything from it. Now, we make a convenience store stop on the way and grab dinner, put a movie in, and pray for peace.  The kids have been great so far, I’m sure they’re back there reveling in the restraint of the car seat and using their imaginations or something.  Moral of the story: If you’re that one other family in the world who takes as many road trips as us, just stop it with the Teddy Grahams already.

That’s what I know these days. It’s May, I can’t believe it. Kate is twelve pounds, Claire is a total sassypants, and Trevor is a grown man who throws the occasional fit. Time, slow down!


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