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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We made it. Whew.

I am happy to announce that we made it from point A to point B with all of our stuff, in a timely manner, and without any incidents. It's all about the preparation! We made it to the airport this morning with plenty of time to spare and managed to get through the very long ticketing line without losing anyone or anything. The kids helped carry things and the line moved fast.
I know they don't look too excited to be there but they were. :) Before we even got through the line to check our bags, they were whining about how heavy their backpacks were. I gently reminded them about the 2 duffel bags and giant heavy backpack I was carrying (you know, the ones I stuffed all their extra things into so they wouldn't have to carry them?) and offered to trade them. They declined my offer. :)

We got to the monitors where you check in and I told the ticketing agent that I had a bag of medical supplies and had read that I would be able to check it for free. She said that was correct and that I should check in as usual but not count that bag when I entered how many we were checking into the computer. They took a very small & quick peek into the bag to verify that it was really medical supplies and then printed out another baggage tag for it and that was it. I think it was a good call putting the syringes on top. :) They were very quick and nice about it and I didn't even have to pull out the baggage policy I had printed. (Thank you, US Airways!)

After that, headed up to security. HUGE thank you to the genius that invented the "Family and Medical Liquids" line at security!! It was by far the shortest line (even shorter than the employee line) and it made that part of the traveling process SO much smoother. Once we got up to the line, I was instantly SO grateful for how meticulously I had planned everything that went into every bag. Between all of us, we had 4 regular sized backpacks, an insulated lunch bag (with 2 bottles of liquid meds, 4 cartons of formula, 2 ice packs, sterile water, and an Epi-Pen), Raya's pump backpack, the stroller, and Raya's carseat. Thankfully, children under the age of 12 don't have to take their shoes off at airport security anymore so that helped. While we were waiting to put our stuff on the x-ray belt, I told the kids exactly how we were going to do everything. In the first bin, I put my shoes and Raya's backpack & bag of liquids and then told the TSA screener that we had a bunch of medical liquids. After that, we put everybody's backpacks through, followed by the stroller and the carseat. I had Ashtyn hold Raya's hand while I folded up the stroller and set it on the belt and then sent the kids through the metal detector one at a time. We all met up on the other side and I put my shoes on while the kids grabbed their backpacks and Raya got back in the stroller. The screener took us over to another table to inspect the liquids.

He was really nice right off the bat and told me exactly what he'd be doing and said, "I'm just going to take everything out of this bag (the one with the meds) and perform some tests on it. All I ask is that you not reach out and grab anything." I asked him if he'd be taking lids off the medication bottles but he said he didn't need to. I had hoped that having the cardboard cartons of formula instead of the metal cans would eliminate the need for them to do anything to the formula but he said they still had to. He said that either they would have to open the formula (which would mean it would have to be used in 24 hours so some of it would have gone to waste) or I could get a thorough pat-down. Then he looked at me, looked at the kids, and looked back at me and said, "Well, it looks like you're busy enough, I'm not going to do it." To which I replied, "THANK YOU!" and then he let me repack everything how I had it before. He picked up my ziploc baggie with all the TSA liquids policies in it to hand it to me and laughed when I told him what it was. Then he told me it was really smart of me to do that. :) He unzipped Raya's backpack to look inside and swab the zippers for explosives and then handed it back to me and sent us on our way. It couldn't possibly have gone any more smoothly!

After we had everything situated and ready to go again, we set off on a very, very long trek to the absolute farthest possible gate from the security checkpoint. We even passed another security checkpoint on our way. It was pretty ridiculous and I heard a lot of, "Mommy, my backpack is SO heavy!" on the way. A lot of people gave us looks that ranged from amusement to sympathy as they watched my little ducklings following behind me. I'm sure we were quite the sight. :) Finally we made it though, and everybody sat down to rest.
By then, Raya was mad that she had been strapped back into the stroller and was already very close to needing a nap, Cole was crabby about something, and everybody was hungry and thirsty. Good thing Mommy packed snacks and entertainment. :) While the big kids took turns on the DS, I wrote my contact info on about a dozen luggage tags and put them on everything, including Kaida and Raya. Turns out they make great ID bracelets:
They thought that was pretty cool. Kaida's kitty Theodore the Girl Kitty (yes, that's her full name) got one too:
We were the first ones to board the plane. I had good timing and happened to go to the counter to ask for a gate check tag for the stroller right when they were about to start pre-boarding. I had chosen seats in the second to last row so that hopefully any noise that we made would be drowned out by the engines and we wouldn't be in anybody's way getting on or off the plane. We got on the plane and I pulled out the baggie of Clorox wipes that I'd put in the top of my backpack. Everybody got a wipe to scrub down the armrests, seatbelt buckles, and tray table before they sat down. They're such good little helpers! When I saw how filthy & disgusting the wipes were afterward, I was even more glad I'd brought them. Airplanes are gross. As soon as we sat down, I let the kids get out a snack and the stewardess was kind enough to bring us 2 big bottles of water so the kids wouldn't have to wait until we were in the air to get a drink.

Raya was SO tired and I kept thinking she'd go to sleep but I think the strange new environment made it too difficult for her. She occupied herself for a while playing with her boarding pass

As soon as the plane started moving, Raya got a little nervous. Then when the engines kicked into high gear and we started going down the runway, she was not a happy girl. She didn't scream or cry or anything, she was just kind of paralyzed with fear.
She did well during the flight considering that she was SO tired and couldn't go to sleep. She kicked her shoes off and then got upset that her shoes were off, played with the magazines with her toes, ate a package of Phineas and Ferb fruit snacks (one tiny nibble at a time, minus the 3 I ate), threw things on the floor, drew pictures, and whined. A lot. The ride got pretty rough when we were descending to land and Raya asked for a barf bag. She and I both thought she was going to throw up and I think she actually wanted to throw up, but she spit in the bag and then we were on the ground and she was fine.

When we landed, we waited for the people in the row behind us to get off. One of the ladies was standing next to us while she waited to get off and said, "You know, when I got on here and saw all you guys, I was a little worried. I thought, 'Oh, great, this will be fun.' But you guys did great!" I smiled and said, "Thank you." and chose to take it as a compliment. :) The kids did do really well.

My mom met us at the airport and by the time we got to the baggage carousel, it had already stopped so everything was sitting there waiting. I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I located the bag of Raya's supplies for the week!

We had a FABULOUS evening visiting with family, including Raya's great-grandparents from California and my dear friend Irene from Spain who happened to be visiting at the same time. It was WAY past bedtime when the kids finally got to sleep. Raya slept long and hard and the dresser drawer handle next to the pack & play made a great place to clip her backpack:
We are happy to be at Grandma's house and SO happy that we made it through the airports & flight unscathed and with everything we brought with us! :)

1 comment:

  1. Our last flight from Kansas, the Kansas to Denver leg, we had a mother in the row behind us that was 'mother of the year' material. She hissed, loudly, through her teeth to "stop, sit, be quiet," and so on. Everyone was giving everyone one else the eye and raised eyebrow. When we landed in Denver, Noah stood up with Henry and the woman infront of him say and said she didn't even know there was a baby right behind her, but she knew there were kids a few rows back. Henry's a great flier, and we've gotten that, 'I was worried, but he was so good!' a lot. We take it as a compliment too. I think if you've got engaged parents (who give some concern to those around them), snacks, quiet toys and books, you're probably going to be fine. Glad the trip was as uneventful as it could have gone.

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