Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flying The Friendly Skies!

Traveling with 4 kids is no easy feat. We checked in fine, and it was nice to unload the giant bags, and only have our 4 rolling carry-on bags, backpacks, stroller, car seat, and children to deal with. My biggest fears were security, and boarding. Well, also the actual flight and getting everybody off the plane and to the car. Going through security, at one point, Tiffany was showing her ID behind me, and a TSA agent asked me with great concern if I was alone with the kids because that's what it looked like at the moment. She was very relieved for me when I told her that I did indeed had help. The kids were not required to take off their shoes through security-SCORE! I was able to quickly collapse the stroller and place it on the belt, the girls were very good listeners and they put their own bags on the belt, then held the babies hands for us on the side while we finished loading the belt with bags, car seat, shoes, etc. Nobody wanted to line up behind us, of course, but I must say, we were very efficient! We got through as quickly as possible, with no hang ups, and the security personnel were extremely cheerful and helpful, and the other passengers were very kind and friendly. Once we were through, we even got a big round of applause! It was awesome.

Once we got settled at the gate, I took the girls, and Atticus, with me to get some Starbucks. The line was a good 20 minutes long, but we made it through with coffee for me, and juice, yogurt, donuts, and muffins, as requested by the girls... so I thought. Apparently, Aurora wanted a chocolate muffin, but i got her a banana nut muffin, and I couldn't hear her because it was so loud, but she didn't make it really known until we were done with our transaction and walking out of Starbucks. Aurora is our middle child, and while she is a bright, wonderful, sweet, loving, happy child most of the time, she has a dark side that reared its ugly head once the twins were born and she had to compete for the attention that she once had in abundance... for which i have a lot of guilt mixed with frustration. So, sometimes, when she doesn't get her way, she has a complete "possessed-by-Satan" meltdown that nothing can stop once it's started. Nothing. So, there I was, halfway out of Starbucks, baby strapped to me, Ariel by my side, hands full of coffee and baked goods, and Aurora begins to scream "I HATE BANANA MUFFINS!!! I WANT A CHOCOLATE MUFFIN!!!!!" Shit. I was essentially trapped because my hands were full, Tiffany was at our seats in the terminal with Bea and couldn't hear us, everybody's staring at the lady with all the kids and Starbucks coffee and bags, Aurora is crying, and screaming "NO! I WANT A CHOCOLATE MUFFIN NOW!!" across the terminal. I asked Ariel to hold the bags of food while I tried grabbing Aurora's arm and coaxing her out of Starbucks but she wasn't having it, it looked really bad, I could feel everybody's eyes burning into me. I finally had no choice but to leave Aurora, run over to our seats and toss all the crap down next to Tiffany, leave Ariel with her with no time to remove Atticus from the Ergo because Aurora was now alone, screaming her tushie off in front of Starbucks, and I'm sure people were concerned and security wasn't far from intervening. All I could think about was the family who was kicked off of a Jet Blue flight just the week before because their 2 year old was having a tantrum. I had been mostly worried about the twins, but they were being perfect, even Atticus, as I raced across the terminal, he happily bounced along with me, a little confused, but just enjoying the ride. I finally got back to Aurora and picked her screaming little body up, and carried her into a bathroom stall. She was still screaming about the chocolate muffin, and at this point, I definitely couldn't give in because I would be rewarding her naughty behavior. So... I lied and told her that She could no longer go to New York, and that I was calling grandma to come pick her up. I felt kind of bad about it even as I was saying it, but I was desperate... and at first it didn't even work, and then I got worried because I really believe in following through with threats so they know I mean business, but then again, it never even really works with Aurora, no matter how good my track record is with following through. It took about 10 minutes of fake calls to grandma to get her to stop crying, and once she was calmed down, we entered the terminal, and joined the rest of our group.

Once it was time to board, we were of course struggling to carry all of our bags, babies, and car seat onto the plane, so some flight attendants and a passenger were nice enough to help us out. A nice passenger carried my rolling carry-on bag for us, a flight attendant carried Beatrix to our seat because I was holding both the twins, plus a car seat and a backpack, and another flight attendant offered to take the car seat from me, and she kindly carried it to our seats, and the passenger lifted my bag into the overhead compartment and everything. How unexpected and wonderful that was! Once at our seats, the babies were in need of their naps, although, Atticus was enjoying the view out the window, so I nursed Bea to sleep before takeoff, and she quietly slumbered in my lap. Atticus, strapped into his car seat, was so fascinated by the airplanes and trucks outside his window, the most noise he made was the sounds that trucks make, "Vrooom vroom!", "Wow!" and "Ooooh!". The girls were sitting quietly in their seats, and we were all settled and ready to go. A 30-something British couple found their seats behind us, and they immediately launched into a very loud hissy fit about being "surrounded by children", and spend the last 10 minutes before takeoff trying desperately to change seats so they didn't have to be near kids, and they eventually got their wish, and were moved 3 rows up- thank goodness, because I don't think I could have handled their glares and complaints for a whole flight. Atticus was jumping for joy at takeoff, and before we knew it, he was passed out in his seat. The babies took a 2 hour nap, and woke up refreshed and happy. The girls played with their iPods, colored and read books. Overall, it was an easy flight, considering, although a few of the flight attendants called me "crazy" for traveling with all these kids, despite having Tiffany for help. Once the plane landed and we were waiting for the plane to empty out, we got several compliments from passengers and flight attendants about how well behaved the kids were- score!

Fortunately we had a VAN service to pick us up because they got our bags to the car so we didn't have to deal with all that fun stuff. Also, thank goodness we brought our own car seats because, due to a miscommunication, there were 2 of them in the van and I think they had been manufactured in 1982, overhead shield and all. No bueno. We got in late, so there was no traffic into the city, and the kids were in daddy's arms in no time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New York, New York!

Tomorrow we leave for New York to visit Monte while he works. He's already been out there for a month, and we're going to be visiting him for 2 months! We're all really excited to see him, and to have a change of scenery for a while. I can't wait to show the kids the museums, Central Park, the zoo, and the Statue Of Liberty. Although the older girls have been there before, they were so young at the time, I'm not sure they really remember any of it. It's sure to be a grand adventure, but I'm pretty nervous about the airport and flight. Fortunately, I have the help of my friend and neighbor, Tiffany, she will be joining us for the whole trip to help with the kids. Thankfully, because I couldn't do it without help. I don't even think I can legally fly alone with this many kids... could I? I'm mostly worried about getting through airport security with 4 kids. Getting everybody's shoes off, the stroller collapsed and loaded onto the belt, the two giant car seats for the twins, the carry-on bags, and then of course, getting the actual twins through before they run off while we're busy doing all of the above, and then chasing them through the airport... which is what Ariel did to me years ago as a toddler when I flew to Europe with her, and nobody helped me, rather, they rolled their eyes. It was probably because they were thinking "Wow, that lady is a moron, she can't even get ONE kid through security without holding up the line. What. an. asshole."

Okay, I guess security isn't the only thing I'm worried about, I am also quite a bit worried about boarding the plane. Gate checking the stroller (and maybe one of the car seats) , dragging the car seat(s) onto the plane, pulling our carry-on bags and backpacks... and oh, yeah, somehow carrying the babies along as well. This might be where the Ergos come in handy so we can go hands-free. I'm assuming the girls will be pretty easy. I imagine that Atticus will be running up and down the aisles the entire flight, saying hello to all of the other passengers and trying to take their electronics, and Beatrix will hopefully sit peacefully in her seat, munching on snacks, and the girls can play with their iPods or watch a movie on the iPad.

Then there will be our arrival at JFK, and getting everybody off the plane, getting our luggage, loading up the car, and driving into the city. I don't know why I ever bought black luggage in the past, because as nice looking and basic as it is, it's almost impossible to find your luggage on the carousel at the airport amongst all of the other black pieces! So, this time, I got the loudest, most obnoxious suitcase colors I could find. Fortunately for me, TJ Maxx is full of all that luggage that (for some mysterious reason) don't sell as well in the real stores. I'm pretty sure that I got some suitcases from Austin Powers' personal collection, so there will be no mistaking it!

Here's to a smooth journey to the other coast!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lisa, It's Your Birthday, Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Today was my birthday. I had a great night out with Monte last night, just the two of us went to a nice dinner, and did a bit of bar hopping in Santa Monica. I think the kids were in cahoots today, and that their main goal was to present as many obstacles to us as humanly possible. First of all, getting out of the house was a feat in and of itself. The babies decided to take late naps, they resisted any and all attempts to feed them, and we didn't even get out of the house until 4pm. It was much later than planned, so we decided to eat an early dinner at a kid-friendly restaurant, then go to Target to redeem some gift cards that the kids all got for Christmas from their aunt Vikki. I know, very exciting, not only for a Saturday, but for my birthday as well... but I felt like keeping it simple. Anyways, while walking to the restaurant from the parking lot, Monte was holding Atticus, and the girls were fighting over who knows what, when one of them suddenly elbows Monte in the balls- he immediately drops to his knees, several passerby's stare, the girls are completely confused, and he can hardly move, nor talk. After a seemingly very painful minute, he slowly gets up and we somehow make it into the restaurant. Whew! We're in, now we can relax, right? Er... no.

Dinner was ridiculous, the older two girls were just fine coloring their menus, but I wonder what in the hell we were thinking when we decided to go out to a restaurant with all four kids. Every time, we say that we're never going to do it again, but then we do it again- seriously, WHAT THE HELL were we thinking?? If the babies weren't on top of the table, they were under it and if they weren't trying to dump out the salt and pepper shakers, they were jumping on the seats, screaming in their horrible shrieking pay-attention-to-me voices. It was chaos. Monte finally shuffled the kids out of the restaurant, into the mall, while I paid and finished my (much needed) glass of wine. When I met them by a fountain inside, they all seemed happy to be out and about, although Monte was still walking with a bit of a limp.

We went into Pottery Barn Kids, to let them explore for a bit, and I wanted the girls to pick out some new sheets. We spent a few minutes following them all around, picking up toys that the babies were relocating around the store, and of course, the one moment both of us had our noses in our phones, Beatrix decides to climb onto a table to check out the tea party that two baby dolls were enjoying on top of it. A woman (who I witnessed not 3 minutes earlier knocking several boxed of frames off of a shelf, by the way) sneered at us and commented loudly "Is anybody watching her??" while shooting me a dirty look. Okay, first of all, we so were watching our children, if we had not been watching them then Pottery Barn Kids would have nothing left on the shelves because all of their merchandise would be on the floor. Covered in Cheerios. Secondly, Beatrix was in the process of climbing from the chair onto the table, she wasn't technically even on the table yet, so Frame-Knocking-Over-Lady was just an old meanie who could have at least waited until Beatrix was standing on the table, teetering on the brink of death before freaking out on us. Thirdly... yeah... we were sooooo those assholes messing around on our cellphones rather than watching our kids... er.. not that we weren't watching our kids... Suffice to say, we left pretty quickly after that, sheetless, and on a mission to get some bad-ass toys from Target. Woohoo, Saturday night!

We get to Target and tell the kids that they can each pick out one gift within a certain price range, and they spend the next 20 minutes perusing the aisles, eventually settling on some goodies. I had to get tinfoil, and Monte needed something in the opposite direction, so I took the kids my way and we were to meet up in a few minutes by the tinfoil. Who would've thunk that walking 10 aisles with four INSANE children would be such an ordeal? Beatrix wanted to stay in the toy aisle, she would not stay seated in the cart, so I placed and buckled Atticus into the cart, carried Bea, and instructed the girls to walk close to me. The girls start fighting over who gets to push the cart, I start tell them that only I get to push the cart, and of course, as I'm speaking and trying to pry the girls' hands off the cart, Bea squirms out of my arms and runs the opposite direction, I chase her down. Just then, the girls take hold of the cart again, still fighting like maniacs, and begin pushing it full speed ahead towards some shelves full of household cleaners and before I could get to them- BAM!! They ram it right into the shelves, products go flying, Atticus is crying because he was thrown around in his seat, Ariel is crying loudly and holding her face because it was slammed into the cart's handle, and while I'm trying to see what the damage is to everybody, Beatrix takes the opportunity to make another escape, and I chase her down... once again.

Damn you, tinfoil.

So, I imagine at this point that we were quite the sight to see; Baby crying in the cart, 6 year old crying very loudly while holding her now BLOODY mouth, 4 year old trying to explain away- in the whiniest of all possible voices- how absolutely none of this was of her doing, and the other baby still squirming like a maniac in my arms, squealing, screaming, and completely focused on getting back to the toys aisle. I very hastily pick up the items that fell off the shelves and put them back, and rush the kids over to the foil aisle so I could get away from the staring people (because the last thing I needed to hear tonight was more commentary on my awesome parenting skills), and assess the situation. Just then, Monte walks up to us looking completely confused, "What happened?" I've decided never to leave the house again, that's what's happened. So, we went straight home, and opened a bottle of wine. It was very good.

I know this may sound crazy, but it was a great birthday, and I love my nutty family.