Wow, you’re so golden brown — how was? Oh, it was great! The weather was great, the kids couldn’t get enough of the water and it was a nice change of scenery! No, but really, how was? Ah, I see what you’re asking. You want to know how it was traveling with our four kids. First, you ask about the plane ride. Maybe you’re wondering if one of them sent the flight attendants running out the emergency exit? Or if one of us just decided to lock ourselves in the bathroom for the duration of the flight? You think I may have lost one in the airport, right? Well, I’m pleased to report that none of those scenarios occurred, and — aside from Lisi force-feeding me a Coke and tomato juice cocktail (tastes worse than it sounds) and then pouring the whole cup, ice cubes included, down my shirt — the kids were rockstars.
Honestly, the plane was probably the easiest leg of our trip. You see, our kids are real city kids. I can probably count on one hand the number of times the six of us have been in a car together. For starters, Annie gets car sick. In nine out of ten car rides, she throws up. And I should really adjust those odds because she often throws up more than once per ride. So it was no shock when at around fifteen minutes into our journey to JFK, Annie announced that she needed a bag. I passed one to her, she puked and then handed it back. What we didn’t expect was for Lisi to belch out a cough, one that easily could have been mistaken as having come from a middle aged man, and projectile all of the contents of her breakfast onto Craig’s lap. We didn’t really see it coming and the two of them stunk like rotten chocolate milk for the duration of our trip . Guess you learn something new every day.
But even that was totally manageable. The hardest part of travel for me starts way earlier. You see, Craig and I have very different travel styles. While I wouldn’t call myself an anal, anxious, uptight person in general, I don’t do “pre-travel” well. I think it’s a trait that was passed down through my genes from Granny, because she was always a little tense before I traveled anywhere. It would drive me crazy and I’d always call her out on it but now I can totally relate. I started packing a few days before we were scheduled to leave. I always seem to forget something and I figured that, by packing everything over the course of a few days, I could just throw things in the suitcase as I remembered them. Hey Craig, can you start packing? Yeah, sure, tomorrow night. But we’re leaving early the following morning, you might forget something. Nope. He stuck to his word, procrastinated and didn’t pack until 11:00 the night before we left. My stress level was pretty high.
One difference this trip as opposed to most of the other trips we’ve taken is that he’s finally accepted the fact that we can’t travel with just carry-on luggage (five seats means five carry-ons!) and didn’t even suggest it. It used to always be a fight as we’d stand by the luggage carousel, you know we could have been out of here by now. Now that he willingly lets us check in luggage, he complains that I overpack. Here’s the thing: I don’t. Let’s start with the kids: six days of vacation equals 20 bathing suits (they never dry well in hotel rooms and they have so many cute ones!), 9 sets of pajamas, 16 outfits, 3 pairs of shoes, 16 pairs of underwear, 12 cover-ups, around 40 diapers and a pack of wipes. Those are the basics. That’s one suitcase. Now let’s add our stuff and some food. Note that I said some food. They actually did have kosher food available so I only packed some deli, cheese, bread and candy. Plus various cooking appliances. Judah needs a grilled cheese sandwich these days and being that he’s barely charting in the first percentile, a grilled cheese sandwich he will get. (Did he eat any on vacation? Not a one.) Not to brag, but we only had three suitcases — two on the way back. I made a point of asking every single airline employee if they found it impressive. They did. One lady even said that when she heard I only had three bags, she for sure thought it would be overweight.
Was our luggage overweight? Nope. It’s probably because, as Craig always reminds me, I’m really a terrible packer. I definitely don’t utilize all of the available space, while he used to stand there stuffing underwear into the tiniest crevices and rolling up socks to be shoved into the strangest places. And then guess what would happen? It would be overweight. Fact: overweight luggage costs more than just bringing another suitcase. So often we’d be those people standing at the ticket counter with panties flying everywhere, trying to transfer some weight to a different suitcase. You’d think the agent would just be like whatever, you’re good. That’s never happened. Then you’ll see a very annoyed Craig holding up the can of garbanzo beans I tried to smuggle. He’d be shaking his head, seriously? I unpacked the beans last night! “I like the beans!” I’d shout back. The last few times we traveled, I thought of packing an extra duffel bag, the kind that folds up tiny, so that if this does happen and we are overweight I could just stick the facockta beans in my extra piece of luggage — which, by the way, was totally free because it used to be included in the price of the ticket.
Of course, there’s always the debate about what time to leave. We had a 9:59am flight. I begrudgingly agreed to call the car for seven. It was an international flight, you know. The lines at the airport and traffic are just as unpredictable as the kids. I woke up extra early, as did Annie, who couldn’t sleep the night before on account of being too excited. The two of us brought everything to the lobby before everyone else woke up so there would be one less thing to worry about. We arrived at the gate at 9:07am, but not without Lisi totally losing it when we had to put her backpack twice through the x-ray, me getting frisked by security in a way that had me asking well why don’t you buy me dinner first, and Craig getting into a fight with the TSA about how all this security is giving the terrorists exactly what they want. This left us with seventeen minutes to shop around the terminal, use the restroom, change diapers, make a bottle and give the kids a chance to let out some energy before the flight.
The only tip I can actually offer is bring Omi. That’s Craig’s mom. Not only is she awesome to be around, but she let all of our kids sleep in her room (well, Baby slept in our bathroom). Craig and I got to go out at night and I think my kids like her better than me. They also seem to like Craig more than me, but I’ll get into that a different time. She’s another set of hands which is a little priceless.
On the plane ride there we sat in front of another family, which immediately alleviated any pressure of keeping my gang quiet. Get this: they had seven kids. 7! If that wasn’t an inspiration I don’t know what is. We probably bumped into them every day we were on vacation, and they were literally all sorts of awesome. And they were everywhere! We became friends, and they were an inspiration that big families actually do travel (and still have fun!). And I’m not just saying that because they brought us a homemade pizza poolside.