Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday travel with three two year olds

Saturday was our first two of six flights we'll be taking with our three two year olds over the holidays.  We have flown with them before at 6 months, 9 months, and 18 months, but every time has been different because they change so much in such a short time.  And we knew that this time was going to be different too because now that they are two we had to buy five seats!  Talk about making traveling more expensive!  In March when we went to Seattle we took one car seat on board for the kiddo who wasn't in one of our laps. The car seat was nice to have for containment purposes and also napping.  But as we started planning for this trip we just couldn't wrap our brains around how we could realistically get three car seats on and off six airplanes, while also managing three toddlers.  We thought about just bringing one, knowing we could contain the other two if need be, but that just seemed like it would set us up for battles over who had to (or got to) sit in the car seat.  So in the end we opted to just check all three car seats and trust them to be big kids and sit in their own seats.  When we bought our tickets we got the Delta credit card which got us a free checked bag with each seat, which was perfect for this trip because we had to pack clothes for cold and warm weather, presents for two families, and hand-me-downs for baby Kyria!  This was our load to check when we checked in in State College!
checking everything meant a much lighter load through the airports
In the past they've always been in carriers through security,  but this time they said they wanted to walk
We insisted on the carriers for boarding though!

When we bought our tickets we had to strategize seating arrangements because each leg of our journey had different size planes, some with two and two, others with three and three, and a couple with three and two. In the past we haven't been able to be in a row of three because with lap babies there weren't enough oxygen masks, but now that they're in their own seats we can do that.  The trickiest to figure out are the tiny little two and two planes in and out of State College because we either had to have two kids sitting together with a mom across the aisle and one behind, or have a kiddo sit alone across the aisle and next to a stranger.  It was a last minute decision, but we ended up having Ellie sit by herself because Isaiah was cranky and in "mama mama mama" mode and Avery was a little anxious and wanted to sit with/next to me. Ellie was so brave and was 100% fine with sitting by herself next to a stranger.

the pretzels and juice were a big hit!
They were really good and for the most part stayed put in their seatbelts with only a handful of reminders. The snack helped and kept them occupied for a good chunk of time.  Sadly, on our second flight there was no snack/beverage service because it was such a short flight.  That and the fact that it was their bedtime when we took off meant the kiddos were much squirmier on the second flight.  Ellie and Isaiah were pretty content watching a video with headphones, but Avery wasn't digging the headphones and isn't as into movies anyway so I had to work more to keep her entertained!  But all in all they did very well and I am very happy with our decision to not bring the car seats on the plane. 

We had a layover in Detroit, which worked out great to burn off some extra energy. They loved the moving walkways and were nervous, but intrigued by the escalators. A big bonus in Detroit is that there is a little light rail in the airport so they got to ride two trains and two planes in one day! We found an empty gate near ours and just let them all run around.  Of course, then we almost missed our flight because just as we were packing up to head over two out of three suddenly had to poop!  Thankfully we made it on the plane!

look at those big kids carrying their own backpacks (this lasted for 5min!)
 I was pretty happy that I'd brought a little chico expandable bag to carry their backpacks in when they were over the novelty of carrying their own bags.
they enjoyed this lights and music tunnel
and the moving walkways!

or runways =)

Detroit had a little "letter to Santa" station  that occupied them for a bit

asking Santa for a baby doll

putting the letter in the mail

riding the airport train
run run run!


Santa Train

Months ago we bought tickets for the Santa train with a group of other families with multiples.  We had it in our heads that we flew to Chicago on the 19th so doing the train on the 18th seemed like a great idea.  Then we realized that our plane was actually the afternoon of the 18th!  Thankfully, the train ride was at 10am and our flight wasn't until later so we just had to be ready to go the night before.  Then our flight got pushed back a bit, which meant the kiddos got a nap after the Santa train, which I'm sure made our flights better!

Here are some highlight pics from the train ride...

enthralled with looking out the window (which lasted about 2 minutes)

sisters being silly

he was singing and dancing & playing the bells that our friend Eve brought

another winning train ride prop courtesy of Eve

Ellie & Santa (She has been randomly saying "I love Santa" for weeks

someone is a little more skeptical of the bearded guy

a big hug for Frosty!

a pic with all the characters from the Santa train

"I no want to sit on Santa's lap"
So, looking back on it a few days later, I think the kiddos had a good time on the Santa train.  In the moment, Michelle and I were not so sure.  Sometimes it feels like the saying "there's no such thing as fun for the WHOLE family" is so true. In the past when we've been on trains they've been a little more enthralled with the overall experience, but they were super antsy and wiggly for the whole train ride so it wasn't super fun for the moms.  Also, I'd love to give the organizers some feedback that they should have the characters just wandering around for the whole ride.  As it was they didn't start until halfway through and then just came one after another, rushing through to make it through the whole train before we returned.  Oh well, it was an experience and they've had fun talking about it for the past few days.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fun weekend with friends!

We had a fun weekend with friends this past weekend. The kiddos BFF Clodagh and her mom (their other BFF Deirdre) were back in town and stayed with us for the weekend. Friday afternoon we met up at the Nittany Inn on campus for happy hour to celebrate Michelle's classmate's dissertation defense.  We beat the party there so we ran around in an open area and the kiddos had a blast.  So much so that Avery asked to go back the next day!

all four crammed into one octagon on the floor


enjoying his apple from the lobby

Ellie loving on her buddy & eating popcorn

After the happy hour celebration Deirdre & I headed over to the arboretum with the kiddos for their winterfest.  Unfortunately it was not nearly as interesting/exciting as we'd imagined it would be...

Ellie was the only one willing to take a picture with me

Isaiah & Deirdre dancing in the lights

The next day we went to Talleyrand Park to take advantage of the beautiful and very unseasonably warm weather!
only two big kid swings so Avery was a nice sister and pushed Isaiah
(who of course complained because he wanted me to push him!)

upside down swinger

love this one!

Later on Saturday we hosted a cookie making party for 11 toddlers!!! Yes, that is right, 11 children four and under, 8 of them two and under! 

Isaiah was super into this part!

Love this shot!
(Photo credit for these goes to super MoM Heather!)

the little decorators

someone decided to dump ALL the sprinkles on one cookie

serious concentration by these little painters
the final can see that some of these went through product testing! =)