So Saturday we flew out from Washington, DC to Utah for a couple of weeks to see various grandparents--and the Spiral Jetty, of course, but that won't be until next week. No matter how many times we do it, flying with kids and without major embarrassment always feels like a major accomplishment. Some takeaways from yesterday's trip: Waking the kids up to go to the airport = we left too early. We've done it before, with the kid wearing her pajamas to the airport, but this time, we woke both the kid and K2 up at 6AM, 1.5-2 hours early for them, and they never seemed to recover. Between the travel, the time change, and the over-excitement on arrival, they were both exhausted, over-stimulated wrecks. If a kid has a sleep schedule, you tamper with it at your own peril.
The Bugaboo with car seat is still a winner. It's been four years now, and I still can't get over how convenient the Bugaboo+Maxi-Cosi car seat combo is for plane travel. It's just an easy way to carry a car seat, and if you fly with a lap baby, having the car seat up until the last minute lets you take advantage of any open seats. It was pouring rain in Chicago, and, all the other gatechecked strollers were soaked; ours, I just plopped our dry car seat on the wet aluminum base, no sweat. But even if we're not using it, we just wrap the seat in one of those giant plastic bags from the baggage check-in counter. Pick one up on your way.
Despite the verbena-scented handtowels, first class was a waste. Through a combination of purchases, status, and upgrades, we decided to to this trip first class with K2 on our lap rather than deal with a crowded summer trip in coach. What a bust. K2 loved the warm handtowel. It was really cute; she'd bring it repeatedly to her nose. But on one leg, we had literally the worst first class service I've ever had in my million-plus miles of flying. [And not just because United gave away the empty adjacent seat at the last minute to some beancounting schmo from SkyWest, forcing us to scramble and gatecheck the car seat. Even though there were plenty of empty seats in coach. The food was atrocious; they didn't bring the kid's special meal, which is right there in her Premier profile; and they took their sweet time serving it, even when we asked for it sooner because the kid was starving, they waited until coach got all their drinks.] On the other leg, we actually did better by taking four coach seats instead of three first class. K2 took a good nap--the only one of the entire day that lasted longer than 30 minutes--in her own seat.
The element of surprise never fails. One of my wife's most genius travel strategies is to produce some kind of surprise for the kid on the plane: sometimes it's a new book, a new box of crayons and some stickers. Once it was a little thing of modeling clay [which ended up leaving greasy dye streaks on the tray table. Oops.] This trip, it was some kind of dipping stick snack, somewhere between a Lik-m-Aid and a Pocky. When the kid got a little antsy, out it came to change the mood.
Another surprise: reading the prefab architecture book was a hit. The kid's always asking why this and how'd they do that. all. the. time. So I broke out my new copy of the awesome prefab house project catalogue I'd just gotten Friday and read it to her. She ate it up. It's Loblolly House, a getaway on Chesapeake Bay by KieranTimberlake which is made out of off-the-shelf industrial aluminum scaffolding. We'd watched the architects working on their house next to MoMA the last few weeks, but the added familiarity was less important than the detailed story of a house being built. We read it three times for an hour. On the other hand, my idea of drawing pictures of things we read about in Henry David Thoreau's Walden was rejected. I swear, kids these days.