Category Archives: Travel

Not Superstitious, But…

They say that it’s bad luck to start a journey on a Friday. I can tell you that expanding that warning to Friday the 13th is even more true. Now, I’ve never been a superstitious person, but my most recent trip to California to visit Jeremy was a testament to keeping at least a couple of these old sayings in mind.

Most people who travel often will tell you that the best days to fly are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Airline tickets are almost always cheaper on those days because they are the least traveled. You’ll get your tickets a little cheaper (20 bucks isn’t much, but it’s still a meal in the airport) and the plane might not be as crowded. Now, on the other hand, the airlines discount tickets on those days, but it just means that more people will be snapping up those fares at the last minute or flying standby and hoping for an empty seat. For my California trips I usually fly out from Mobile on a Thursday morning and fly back on a Tuesday afternoon. That gives the boys and I a nice long weekend to catch up and see family.

This time, I had a MOPS meeting on Thursday morning. It was our last meeting for the season and I really didn’t want to miss it. I bought my tickets a couple of months ahead of time, got a good deal, and figured that leaving on a Friday would be okay. I should have known…

I was supposed to leave at 6:15 am Friday morning, getting to my preferred airport in California by 11 am. Awesome, right? We would get to our layover in Houston in time for breakfast, then Jesse would take his morning nap on the long flight from Houston to CA, and we’d get there in time for lunch with whomever was going to pick us up from the airport.

Normally I’m doing the last of the laundry the evening before I’m to leave and finish packing around midnight. This time, I was done packing on Thursday before lunch, with the exception of last minute things like my toothbrush and curling iron. Again, I should have known…

Around 10 pm I was checking my email one last time before heading to bed. Lo and behold, a cancellation notice! My 6:15 am flight was cancelled and they did not rebook me on the next available flight. The email didn’t even have a phone number to call. I had to go searching the website for a phone number, then my husband waited on hold for 50 minutes (yes, almost an hour on hold) while I looked up the available flight times to figure out my options. We were finally rudely greeted by someone calling themselves customer service, and after explaining our situation a couple of times I was rebooked on a flight at noon. I thought, “Okay, I guess that’ll work. At least we’ll still be getting to Houston in time for a late nap for the baby. It’ll be fine.” I should have known…

My plane from Mobile was 30 minutes late in taking off. I usually wait to nurse Jesse until we are leaving the ground because it helps keep his ears from having trouble with the changing cabin pressure. Jesse was begging so I fed him as soon as we got on the plane. He knocked out and slept the whole first flight. Awesome, but I knew that meant trouble for the long flight. Since we took off late, that shrank my time to get from one terminal to the next (across the airport, of course). There was no time to get lunch. I had to run with my carry-on bag and diaper bag trailing behind me and pushing an umbrella stroller with Jesse in it. We made it, but just barely. Since he had just taken a nice long morning nap there was absolutely no way he’d sleep on the next flight.

I was right, he was awake and wanting to play! We boarded the plane on time but then sat on the runway for almost an hour. The air conditioner was hardly working, on a completely packed airplane, in the middle of the day, in Texas, in the early summer. Are you kidding me? Everyone was hot and all the kids on the plane were crying. Even better. We finally took off, the air started working moderately well, and Jesse fell asleep 10 minutes before we landed in California – at the wrong airport. We landed in Santa Ana, not Ontario. I knew this when we were rebooked the night before, but many people were not aware so a ton of folks were upset and trying to call their people who were waiting for them in Ontario.

We maneuvered our way through the angry throng to get our checked bag and carseat. I waited and waited and waited, got the bag, no carseat. They sent it through the oversized baggage chute where they put things like animal crates and sports equipment. Other carseats came though the regular checked bags carousel, just not ours. So aggravating.

An hour late, we picked up Jeremy. He was in a good mood and so happy to see us. 🙂 We went to McDonald’s for dinner before getting on the freeway to Grandma’s house. Jesse had diarrhea, the restroom didn’t have a changing table, so a perfectly good outfit was ruined as I had to change a nasty nasty diaper in a restaurant booth. Yuck.

What a great way to start a trip, huh?! I’ll finish up this mis-adventure tomorrow.


Preparing to Travel Again

I’m so very behind. It seems I always am. Then I get caught up for a few glorious days and revel in my clean kitchen, mostly picked-up house, finished laundry, and everything running on schedule. Then I notice what happens when you take a few days off… The laundry piles up to crazy mountains overtaking your bathroom floor. The dishes stack up in the sinks and cover the countertops. Kids toys come creeping out from their hiding places with great stealth. My RSS reader is backlogged with 211 unread blog posts. Suddenly I’m back where I started and feeling quite defeated. I start running all over the house trying to play catch-up with everything again and get very little accomplished. Since I’m not optimizing my time, our schedule gets off track, we eat a lot of thrown-together meals and frozen pizza, and the family gets crabby (mostly me).

Well, this week I’m flying with the boys back to California for a quick 5-day trip. It’s Monday night now and we’re flying out Thursday at 6 am. I glanced at the calendar today, looked around the house, and nearly fainted when I realized how much I need to do in such little time. I feel bad leaving Jason with a disastrous house, no clean clothes, and nothing to eat. I am now close to caught up on laundry, the kitchen is very nearly clean, and the toys are tamed.

Tomorrow I might need to skip our usual playgroup in order to finish getting things together and start packing. Our schedule on Wednesday is totally packed, so tomorrow is my only real time to get anything done before we leave on Thursday. Thank goodness we live literally across the street from the airport we’re flying from, so we can pull out of our driveway at 4:55 am and get to the airport at 5:00.

All before bedtime on Wednesday I need to:

  • Complete at least some of the homework from last week’s bible study class.
  • Finish laundry.
  • Cook a few meals.
  • Pack for 2 boys and myself.
  • Try to squeeze in playgroup (so Jeremy can see his friends again before he’s gone til June).
  • Bible study.
  • Bake 3 or 4 batches of lemon bars for Jason’s cook-out at work on Friday.
  • Wednesday night service at church.

I was also hoping to bake some cookies to leave behind with the rest of the family (and take some with the boys and I for the flights), but I really don’t think that will be happening. I’ll be incredibly lucky to get all of my list completed and still go to bed at a decent hour on Wednesday.

All in all, I know that everything will come together just fine so that I won’t have to worry and the boys and I will have a nice mini-vacation at my mom’s house. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more family and perhaps a few friends if any of them are available (hint hint, nudge nudge). I’ll just have to light a fire under my behind and work really hard tomorrow. Jason’s really great about keeping the kids entertained during the time he’s here til he leaves for work after lunch, but it’s the afternoon time that I’m worried about. I wonder if anyone wants to watch Jeremy and Jesse for a couple of hours so I can work on my Must Do list?

Menu Plan: Week Before Traveling

Jason, Jesse and I are packing up the car and heading out of Mobile this Friday. I don’t want to buy any food this week before we close up the house for three weeks. So, we’re going to eat from our freezer and pantry til Friday, hopefully using up everything that is perishable so that we don’t have to waste it by throwing things out Friday afternoon.

Everything on my menu plan this week is already in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. We don’t have any chicken left, so it’ll be a week full of red meat (mostly ground) and meatless meals.

Monday, December 13:

Lunch — Leftover balsamic chicken, rice, and warm apples.

Dinner — Spaghetti with meat sauce.

Tuesday, December 14:

Lunch — Grilled Cheese sandwiches and apples.

Dinner — Lynn’s Crockpot Round Steak with mashed potatoes and carrots.

Wednesday, December 15:

Lunch — Fried potatoes with scrambled eggs, warm apples.

Dinner — Homemade Hamburger Helper.

Thursday, December 16:

Lunch — Grilled Cheese sandwiches and apples.

Dinner — Meatballs with mashed potatoes and carrots.

Friday, December 17:

Lunch — Veggie Fried Rice with Eggs.

Dinner — PB & J sandwiches for the road.

Speaking of that drive, I worked last week to put some baked goods in the freezer to have for the drive. Hopefully that’ll keep the cost of food down during our drive so that we can save most of our vacation food budget for our time in California.

This is what I’ve already put up for the drive:

These are a couple of things that I still want to make for the drive because some of the ingredients will spoil if I don’t use them this week:

  • Carrot Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
  • Shortbread sandwich cookies with blackberry jam. I made a triple batch of dough last week and only needed to bake off two batches. (I’ll share the recipe for these later in the week.)
  • Chex Muddy Buddies (so good for munching!)

I’m really looking forward to this trip. Jason and I have made the drive a few times back and forth and have perfected how we drive it. I dont’ like to drive at night because it’s hard for me to stay awake and since I had laser eye surgery eight years ago my eyes see really big halos around lights at night. Jason drives best at night and has no trouble sleeping during the day. This works great for us. I drive mostly during the day, he sleeps. He will usually do a short driving stint during the day so I can rest, then I go again until dinner when we switch for the night. Making the drive this way keeps us moving almost the whole time and we get to our destination in about 36 hours or so.

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

… Tomorrow. I’ve got a list of chores and packing to finish up before I hop on a plane with a three-year old and an infant to take a trip across the country. The one time I flew with Jeremy we had Jason with us, and it was a short flight from Southern to Northern California. This will be one adult with two little kids, three (possibly four) checked bags, a huge stroller, a carseat, a booster seat, one carry-on, and a big ol’ diaper bag trying to keep everyone content and quiet on a plane for an hour from New Orleans to Houston (at least we stay on the plane), another hour to San Antonio, hang out in the airport for an hour and then another three-hour flight to San Diego. It’s going to be an extra long day. We’re leaving amazingly early on Wednesday morning so we can arrive in California before noon and have at least half a day there on our traveling day. The problem is that with the time change we’ll be gaining our hours back as we head west. A four-hour trip on paper is actually a six-hour trip since California is two hours behind our starting point of New Orleans. Hopefully my boys will behave and sleep most of the flights.

Jeremy and I haven’t seen any of my family since Christmas. I’m really looking forward to introducing them to Jesse since all they’ve seen of him is photos. Additionally, my baby sister is graduating from college on Friday. The ceremony is outside and I don’t think it’s wise to subject a cranky 3-year old and a little baby (too young for sunscreen) to the blazing sun. We’ll be meeting up with the family at a restaurant afterward for a congratulatory dinner then we’ll be staying with my mom for the long weekend. I’ve got to leave Jeremy with his dad and then bring Jesse back home to Alabama. It’s always more difficult than words can express to leave a big chunk of my heart behind when Jeremy stays with his dad, but it’s the way it is and that’s really all that can be said about it.

When we were last out there at Christmas our schedule was so up-in-the-air and then we all got sick and were stuck in bed. I hope to make it up and see as much of my family and as many of our friends as possible while we’re there from Wednesday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon. My sister-in-law is picking us up at the airport and then generously loaning me her car for the week, so we will be independently mobile. We don’t have any plans yet aside from the family dinner on Friday – if you’d like to lay claim to some of our time, please leave a comment, email, or Facebook me. We’re flying in and out of San Diego airport, so that makes it extra convenient to make plans with those of you who live in that neck of the woods. (I won’t name names since this is a public blog, however little it is read).

Anyhow, say a little prayer for Jason as he wakes up at an obscene hour to drive his family to the airport two hours away and then has to manage for a week without us. Also please hold me in your thoughts as I wrangle two small children (and all of our necessary junk) in and out of three airports alone. The boys will be fine, they don’t need your prayers or thoughts, they’ll drive me out of my mind all on their own. 😉 No, really, please think sleepy thoughts for them if you don’t mind.

Hope too see you all very very soon!