Thoughts on Traveling With Kids.

June 11, 2012

{been here, done this}
A post I have been thinking about and writing in my head for years now is the Master How to Travel With Kids one.  But I have come to accept I am no expert and there are certainly lots of other people out there who have compiled great lists and suggestions.  But since I am in the middle of packing for 5 (five!) people, I will give a brief list of things that I have found to work for our family on long-haul flights (I think there are special issues with overnight flights lasting 10+ hours....don't you?).  We have done this four times now with small kids, so I have learned a thing or two.

1.  Don't overpack.  This is the cardinal rule for travelers of any age, but it is even more important when you have small bodies that will likely need to be carried through an airport at some point.  We try to bring just what we think we will need and then cut that in half (ha).

2.  You have to pack a lot in your carry-on bags, so accept it and just be super smart about it.  We each bring one carry-on.  The kids have small backpacks that have a special toy (ONE), a new drawing pad and crayons (buy these....they won't roll off the tray and sending you crawling on the disgusting airplane floor for "GREEN!  I need GREEN!!") and a snack.  B and I carry big carry-on bags that zip or snap closed (very important as you don't want your crap falling out).  I wish I had a good, roomy backpack so that I could be hands-free, but I haven't found the perfect one.  Suggestions?

3.  In the big carry-ons, I use separate ziplock bags for everything  (juju's jammies and change of clothes in one, toiletries in another, snacks in another, you get the picture).  This helps prevent the stuff from falling out everywhere when you are looking for something.  Plus you can never have too many ziplocks on a trip.  They come in very handy to use later for wet clothes, food, all sorts of stuff.

4.  I bring little presents for the kids to entertain and delight (my mom has been nice enough to help me with this in the past).  Smaller and lighter the better, obviously.  I usually give them things I might not normally buy, so they think it's a real treat.  I also bring stuff like post-its, band-aids, tape and string.....they will provide hours (hopefully!) of entertainment.  For C-Man, the Where's Waldo Travel Book has been a lifesaver.  For Juju, she'll play contentedly for a long time with little tiny animal figurines and a playsilk.  Not totally sure about Little E yet....she was just a year and a half last summer when we went on our last big trip so she didn't really play much.  I am still nursing her, so there's always that.  ;-)

5.  For food, I am always trying to think of good food that doesn't need to be refrigerated (and that isn't purely carbs....carbs are easy).  Someone once told me to bring pancakes, which I always do now.  Nuts, string cheese, peanut butter sandwiches....but I need more ideas.  Help?

6.  I use Rescue Remedy.  I think it helps them relax (me too) and fall asleep more easily.

7.  Take a red-eye flight.  We have done both.  Leaving the West Coast at 8 p.m. and arriving in Europe the next day (without having to change planes) makes it a whole lot easier for everyone to sleep.   I highly recommend this.

8.  Dress them in cute clothes (or even matching clothes).  I really think it softens up the flight attendants and passengers around you (for reals!).  Last year, the kids wore matching navy and white striped shirts (nothing fancy) but everyone was ooh-ing and ahhh-ing about the shirts.  We have always had good luck with the people we sit by on planes.  Let's hope it continues.  :)

9.  The obvious: bring movies and books on your computer or iPad.  This is a treat for our kids so it works like a charm.  However, the kids entertain themselves really well and usually they watch just a movie or two.  (We once flew from Pisa to San Diego and they didn't watch anything!)  They also like to mess around with the screens on the plane.

What I really need help with is what to pack for myself.....I am thinking dresses that can work as a beach cover up, sandals, striped t-shirts, a hat, linen pants.....  What are you tips and ideas (for what clothes to pack or how to survive long flights with little kids)??


June 9, 2012

As I was driving home the other day (no kids, alone with my thoughts, such a treat), I listened to part of an album I hadn't in a very long time.  I'm not quite sure what possessed me to do it.  It was one of those Life's Turning Point Albums.   Then I started to think of other albums like that...ones that told the story of some period of my life that was shifting in big ways.  I'm sure we all have these.  The summer of a move, a fantastic trip, falling in love, starting college, bringing a baby home....  I am weird and won't go back and listen to them very often because I want to preserve their meaning.  I feel it would somehow water down the intensity to keep playing it once my life has settled in a different place.  I want to be able to tap back into it, in case I need that.  Am I the only one who does this?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure India Arie's Acoustic Soul was the soundtrack of a certain summer of mine many years back.  And this song was my anthem.


June 7, 2012

You guys!  We leave for Italy in five days.  B "surprised" me with a trip by cashing in about a billion miles and a couple companion passes we've had with British Airways for awhile.  He did this less than 3 weeks before we were to leave.  I like surprises and all, but I was kind of like "Honey, next time we take a trip let's do the talking thing first."  Anyway, now that all the uncertainties of where we are going to go and stay and all that have been taken care of, I am super, duper excited!  And this after I just told everyone I know how happy I was we were to have a low-key summer in town and available for any and all last-minute barbecues, pool parties, beach trips, etc.  Ah well.  Our lives are pretty boring in every other regard, so this last minute trip is just what our family needs I think.

So... we are flying into Rome and staying for a few nights.  B and I LOVE Rome (he taught me to love it actually...before him I was sorta on the fence).  But with kids?  Not so sure.  So we are staying just long enough to (hopefully) get over our jet lag, get a few photos of the kids on the Spanish Steps and take them to eat pizza at our favorite place.  Then, we are headed down to the Amalfi Coast for 12 nights.  This is a dream come true for me because we have never been together and I love it but B is always like I'm-above-that-place-the-menus-are-all-in-German-and-the-place-is-filled-to-the-brim-with-ugly-Americans.  Whatever!!  It is popular because it is awesome, am I right?  Luckily it didn't take too much convincing on my part because we knew we wanted to be somewhere coastal with the kids and we found a great place with a pool.  He'll get over it, I'm sure.  After that, we are taking a night train (with three kids yikes!) to Venice.  We are pretty certain it will be the most exciting thing to happen to them ever, and that the adults will not asleep.  That's what Italian coffee is for, I suppose.

Even though the trip is last minute and we are going in high season,  I am pretty stoked about the places we are staying in. Herewith, our place in Positano:

I am obviously excited, but I also get some anxiety before we leave on a trip.....something about being away from the comfort and security of our home.  Anyway, it isn't that big of a deal, just part of the whole being a mom makes everything more complicated I suppose.  ;-)

Magnolia (a Post by B).

June 2, 2012

(This is something B emailed me after he read my last last post.  The title he chose refers to the movie Magnolia, which is a story of many strangers whose lives converge, and is a movie he and I love beyond reason.  Hope you enjoy!!)

Jora’s last post (about our return to St. Francis Winery and Chris Silva) was typically pleasing, but left out the real story. So here it is:   

In the Summer of 2002, there were two people trying to set Jora up with supposedly eligible bachelors.  One was her boss.  The other was her aunt Rinda, who never had kids of her own, but treated Jora as the next best thing.  She always took a special interest in Jora and, accordingly, no one was “good enough” for Jora.  But there was one guy she was grooming for the role: it was the son of her best friends, a nice young man, who was

·         Born in Northern Cal
·         Was part Portuguese
·         Was raised religious
·         Was a grocery store clerk growing up
·         Lived in Italy
·         Worked in the US Senate
·         Became a lawyer
·         Blah, blah, blah.

Aunt Rinda made a strong case for the guy of her choice: Chirs Silva, who is pictured below in Jora’s post.  Chris was in far away Sonoma and Jora did not meet him.  Yet. 

For, as luck would have it, Jora’s boss won out.  He set her up with a guy who was

·         Born in Northern Cal
·         Was part Portuguese
·         Was raised religious
·         Was a grocery store clerk growing up
·         Lived in Italy
·         Worked in the US Senate
·         Became a lawyer
·         Blah, blah, blah.

That guy did not run a winery however.  He was lowly me.

So, here’s where the story goes P.T. Anderson.  On one of our first dates, I was telling Jora about a friend of mine from 15 years before.  One that I met in Washington D.C.  He was like a brother to me.  Runs a winery.  You know where this is going: Jora stopped me.  His name?  Yes, indeed.  Chris Silva.

Chris and Jora would later become fast friends.  He would later preside over our wedding at his winery.  He continues to remind Jora time and again of what might have been:  If only she had followed Aunt Rinda’s advice, she could have been “First Lady of the Winery.”  Jora sighs.

Here’s a picture of Chris and me with our sons. 

It has been 28 years (where does the time go?) since Chris and I met.  We did not see sons in our future.  Girls were the main topic then.  Fortunately, I found Jora first.

So, now you have the rest of the story.
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