Murphy takes vacations...with us!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. Our Thanksgiving was fun and pretty mellow which is not normally the case. Although, my husband, of course, had to play football at our church's Turkey Bowl flag football game that they hold every Thanksgiving morning, and he, of course, had to pull a calf muscle. I say "of course" because Thanksgiving Day was only 7 days away from our next vacation and it's not a Wain Manor vacation unless someone is hurt leading up to or during like 90% of our vacations. Seriously. I now insure every vacation we take with FULL medical coverage. I won't name names, but I have only been the injured one on a vacation once. The rest of Wain Manor, well, they are all accident prone or something. I don't know, but what I do know is that I have become a pro at handling vacation fiascos. Vacation mishaps are pretty much second nature to me and I'm almost ready to start adding a day into our itinerary for medical "emergencies" ahead of time because Murphy's law takes vacations from you guys and goes on vacation with us!
This will be the first time I have flown alone with the kids. A lot of people would at least pause at the idea of taking their three year old and five year old on a flight by themselves, however after the fiascos we're survived while traveling, this will be a cake-walk for me. This isn't arrogance speaking, this is experience speaking. I know I've faced some crazy situations in the past so I know if something is going to happen, I know we'll survive that one too.
My best example of the many would be our Disney World trip in October 2017. That year we went to Disney World for nearly two weeks. For that trip we had a lot of family coming and going joining us in some Disney fun, but the final few days it was just our family. At that time, Vivian was 17 months old and Benjamin had just turned three years old while on the trip. (Pro tip: kids under three are totally free at Disney World. You also don't age while at Disney World, so you can check in with a two year old that's turning three literally the next day, and they will still be considered two years old and still free that whole trip.) We got to celebrate Benjamin's 3rd birthday with a bunch of family at Disney World and had a wonderful trip, but after two weeks it was finally time to head home.
On our departure day we had a late flight which is the norm for us. We like to feed the kids dinner at the airport and then put the them in their pajamas before getting on the plane so that way we can enjoy them sleeping through the flight and car ride home before just plopping them in bed once home. Matt and I have flown so much with the kids, even at that point, that we have our routine down. Matt gets on the flight when our seats are called with all our stuff and gets the stuff all situated and then I keep the kids running around the gate area waiting to be literally the last people to board. That trick saves us about forty minutes that you don't even account for when planning to fly with kids. (So...Pro Tip #2: DON'T board first when they call families with small children! Board last!)
We stayed on Disney property so we were able to take advantage of their free shuttle service to the airport, Magical Express. Magical Express is a nice little coach bus ride with tons of other families complete with overstimulated kids and exhausted parents all totally depressed that they're leaving the Happiest Place on Earth. What could go wrong with that plan? They should probably change the name to the "not-so-magical express". Just saying. (Pro Tip #3: BRING EAR PLUGS on Magical Express) Well, this time it was my own daughter that was taking away everyone's magic. I should have known right then and there what kind of travesty lies ahead of me. Oh, naive, Lisa. You poor, poor mom. At that point Vivian was still titled "the easiest baby in the world". She was not yet the... um..."lively" little lady that we've all come to know by now. No, she was still just pure joy to deal with. Well, my little angel baby had a meltdown pretty much immediately once we were on board the bus. This is so out of character for her, at this point in her little life, that Matt and I were seriously concerned that there was something seriously wrong. My little angel (at the time!) screamed and thrashed uncontrollably the entire forty-five minutes we were on that bus. That "tragical express" bus that of course, for the first time in the history of Disney World, was almost exclusively filled with adults without children. There were no sympathetic glances, no offers of help from parents who have been there. No. It was all eye rolls and disapproving glances that made me want to yell "That's not helping!" coupled with explanations like "We discipline!! We're strict parents!" It was the most uncomfortable ride ever. I wanted to just crawl in a hole and die, but I'm a mom, so I pulled myself together while trying to shove a lollipop in my daughter's mouth to muffle the sound. (Pro Tip #4: Lollipops and thrashing 17 month olds are not a good mix. You will be sticky.)
Finally, we arrived to the airport and wouldn't you know it, the second we got off that bus Vivian was back to her happy little self. We were mixed with relief that there wasn't something seriously wrong and total frustration that something that sweet and little could be so annoying. Yup, I said it. My kids can be annoying at times. You should say it some time. It's very freeing. Was that pro tip #5? I think it was. Once at the airport we slipped right into our routine. We go through security immediately to get past that hurdle. You will not ever hear me complain about the TSA since I so appreciate them keeping us safe, but MY GOD was it a day at the TSA. First off, they sent us to the family line. (Pro Tip #6: if you are a regular flier that carries common sense along with a general knowledge of how the TSA operates their security lines, don't ever go on the family line!) This family line was loaded with elderly people in wheelchairs and families with giant strollers who waited until they were next on line to start even thinking about if they had liquids, removing tablets, shoes, etc. Oh, my. I can't. I pack our carry-ons the night before soley thinking of my TSA strategy. All electronics are in the same bag, at the top, alongside the electronics is my ziplock of liquids IF I even bother carrying any liquids on board with me. I even pick outfits for travel day specifically with the TSA in mind. Seriously, I get through TSA faster than the average traveler even with kids in tow. So if you ever see me at a TSA line, jump behind me and I'll have you flying through that line! This was not one of those days however. Between the elderly in wheelchairs, the families with small children, and the new, at the time, Orlando airport rule, suddenly thrown in just to keep things interesting, that all snacks had to be taken out of your carry-ons, there was no hope with this TSA line. We stood on that line for about fifteen minutes only to be turned away at the first checkpoint since the airline agent printed doubles of Matt's tickets and didn't print Benjamin's ticket at all. We didn't even notice so off we went running for the ticket counter. I was worried about our time, especially knowing what a zoo the TSA was, so I thought fast and bypassed the long lines at the Jetblue desk and headed for the kiosk to print Benjamin's ticket there with no lines. Back to the TSA we went and spent another forty minutes trying to get through the TSA line. It's was brutal. We were definitely on edge, to say the least. After the TSA fiasco we got the kids a quick dinner and had them eat it at the gate. Thankfully, "not-so-magical express" gets you to the airport two hours early so we were okay with time. After Vivian was done eating she ended up with a dirty diaper so off I went to change it and change her into her pajamas since I was there anyway. I only noticed once I was changing her that it was a blowout diaper! Thankfully, I had her pajamas ready to go so I changed her clothes, threw the dirty clothes in the trash since I was not about to carry that stink with me the rest of the day, especially since by next summer she wouldn't be wearing that size anymore, and headed back to Matt and Benjamin at the gate. As I walked back to the gate I was still smelling her stank! I couldn't understand it. I had washed my hands, I used nearly an entire package of wipes to clean her up, and the dirty clothes were left lovingly in the trash can, so why am I still smelling it? I got to Matt and I kept commenting to Matt about how I still could smell it and kept sniffing my hands trying to figure it out. Then I looked down. Yup. I was covered in baby diarrhea. I, of course, did not have any spare clothes for myself so I headed back to the bathroom to try and wash out my shirt the best I could.
As I got back to the gate it was finally time to board the plane. I was so relieved because this had been the craziest travel day I had ever had and I was shot. The next day was my birthday so I remember looking to Matt and telling him that I wanted to sit in my room alone in silence for my entire birthday. I was borderline in tears from the stress of what had transpired already. I knew once we got on that plane though that I'd have some relief since the kids would quietly watch the TVs (God bless you, Jetblue) as they fell asleep.
Finally, they start calling the boarding groups, so we're starting to get our things together. Benjamin was happily playing with his new toy train right next to us when he suddenly tripped and, of course, catches his head on the corner of the gate area chair. I wasn't concerned too much since the corner of the gate chair was the soft, cushion you sit on, but it was still the last thing I wanted to deal with. I picked Benjamin up to console him and kiss his booboo when I see a large, gaping hole square in the middle his forehead and tons of blood. Being the daughter of an old-school nurse, I did not panic and just went into crisis management mode. (Pro Tip #7: Don't let the kids see your panic! Send the panicker of the family for supplies and get them out of sight quick before the kid sees their panic and catch on!) So I pick Benjamin up and immediately put pressure on it and I sent Matt for ice. *wink* I start quickly running through my mind my options. I realize we're going to need a rental car...and car seats...oh and this is the last flight, so I need a hotel...oh, gosh it's Sunday, Matt has to work in the morning so do I send him and Vivian home...I'm on it! I'm consoling him, keeping my 17 month old corralled in with my spare leg that Benjamin is not presently sitting on, and planning in mere moments our next moves while I'm hearing the boarding calls louder and louder in my head. Just then an awesome woman comes over and offers us some Mickey Mouse tissues in the sweetest way and tells me how she's a mom away without her kids and missing them terribly so seeing Benjamin crying broke her heart. It was a really nice moment and tissues is exactly what I needed. Then a Grandma walks up and hands us a bunch of bandaids, again, it was exactly what I needed. I was so touched by the kindness from the people around us. I was also grateful none of them were our fellow passengers from our earlier bus ride since I doubted they would be very helpful after what Vivian put them through!
Next Matt returns with a giant bag of ice that the restaurant gave him... and a face full of panic. Really sweet, but trying to get a garbage bag full of ice on a three year old's forehead was not ideal, but I appreciated the restaurant staff's effort. At this point I know I have to decide on a plan and break it to Matt because the plane is nearly done boarding. Just then, an angel sent from heaven walks up. It's another mom. She introduces herself to me. She's a passenger from our flight and a pediatrician! She asks permission to take a look and I'm like "Uh! Please!". So she starts looking at it and tells me he definitely needs stitches. She then says that they may be able to get away with the glue type of stitches so I, out of desperation, ask her if the EMS here at the airport can do that. Unfortunately, she tells me that they do not so I am again crushed. She takes some tylenol out of her purse and offers it to us with the correct dosage since it was children's chewable for older kids. She takes one last look and then tells me that she feels he'd be okay to fly home if we head straight to get it looked it when we land. (Pro Tip #8: Always travel with a pediatrician!) And with that just as quickly as she appeared she was gone to board our flight. So we gather up our things and go board the flight. As we get up to the gate personnel, who were not very helpful to Matt's requests for help when Benjamin first got hurt, they inform us that we don't have a boarding pass for Vivian. I'm now totally confused and point out that we got through security fine, after going back for Benjamin's ticket, without one for her and that on my last flight with another airline that lap children didn't have their own boarding pass it was just marked on the parents' ticket. She then informs me that I need to have a boarding pass for Vivian and that we shouldn't have been able to have gotten through security without it. She was not very nice about it. She made me get off the line, I'm still holding Benjamin at this point, and go to the desk to get one printed for Vivian even though she confirmed that she could see on my boarding pass that I was traveling with a "lap child". I was so beyond frustrated at this point. There was no one behind us on the line, she could have easily just printed it for us right there, but no, we had to start over at the gate desk and guess who ended up coming over to print it for us. Yup! The same woman. You win some and you lose some, I guess. We had three awesome women help us so I guess I shouldn't have expected the gate attendant to be thoughtful to our situation. Finally, we get on the plane. As we boarded the plane I informed the flight attendant of our situation and he couldn't have been any sweeter. He gave us a bunch a bandaids, the really good medical-grade kind, which was helpful since Benjamin's current bandaid was already bleeding through. He also gave us some ice and told us to let him know if he could help in any way. Once in our seat I called my dad who was picking us up to let him know what was going on. My mom was heading out to lead a Bible study at church so I told him not to tell her. I didn't want her distracted. My mom was always the tough, never panicking, nurse who never believed we were sick. Since becoming a Grandma and getting out of the nursing field though she has become a complete mush and freaks out completely any time anything happens to the grandkids. I don't know who this woman is but she is not the same tough woman I grew up with who would send you to school anyway if you flushed your vomit after getting sick since she didn't see it so she didn't believe you. Now, she's the basketcase Grandma, that when the newborn grandbaby breathes at the slightest higher or lower sound level than she feels appropriate, will lose her mind and send you to the ER. Needless to say, I didn't want her involved in this as she'd be a mess. So my dad waited until after her Bible study to tell her. By that point we were in the air but we had wifi so I spent our three hour flight looking up pediatric urgent cares near the airport and answering my mom's million panicked messages about the situation.
By the time we landed I had devised our plan First, my mom was to stay home- no one needed that kind of nervous energy around them at this point. Sorry, mom. My dad came and got us and we drove to the hospital. My dad and Matt stayed in the car circling the hospital the entire time to keep Vivian asleep while I took Benjamin inside. It was about 11pm at this point. The wait wasn't terrible and thankfully it was Benjamin who is the most mellow, easy going kid. They put us in a room right away so he was able to lay down and watch cartoons while I answered three million more texts from my panicked mom and nervous husband. I was so grateful when they finally came to deal with him and even more thankful they ended up only using the "glue" to close it up. My poor little guy was a trooper throughout it all. There were definitely some tears but my mom survived the whole ordeal...and Benjamin survived as well. ;)
We finally got home around 1:30am. It was the most exhausted and stressed I think I have ever felt. I remember at one point on the plane Matt looked at me and said, "It's okay to cry. This is a lot." That was exactly what I needed to hear so I gave myself a moment on the plane to just let out the frustration. The next day I did not get the day at home alone for my birthday like I had hoped. No, I'm a mom after all and a mom's work never ends so I spent my birthday with both kids, unpacking and doing laundry. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my day but so grateful to have another year with my little traveling, accident prone family. So on Thursday as the kids and I confidently board that plane, you better believe I'll have my kids wrapped in bubble wrap from head to toe. Another thing I'll also be doing that day and the rest of my vacation is keeping an eye out for a mom in desperation that I can help because there's nothing more touching than a helping hand in a stressful situation, rather than an eyeroll or snickers... unless of course those snickers is actually a "Snickers" and to that I would say "King size, please!" Momma needs her energy. I am planning to blog our trip. In the past, before kids, I would actually live blog each day but I don't know how that will go with these two knuckleheads hanging around keeping me busy but keep an eye out. I may surprise us all! I definitely will be on Instagram throughout it though so if you don't already, follow me over there @wainmanor.