Road-Tripping with Toddlers

Well, we made it to Florida and back….barely. The drive there wasn’t too bad, besides the fact that it was pouring down rain for about 70 percent of the drive. The girls were pretty well-behaved, and we had the assistance of my parents. That, coupled with free move downloads from Netflix and the excitement of warm weather made the trip there manageable and rather un-eventful (besides a small puke incident from Rowe and a brief 25 minute bout of being “lost”, and my mother cutting open her head in the van).

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The drive home, on the other hand, was pretty much a nightmare. We left my grandparents’ house in in N. Ft. Myers at around 7:15am. It usually takes 5ish hours to get to Georgia. We had our luggage carrier strapped on (this carrier is about 20+ years old, by the way), the girls in their seats with their morning milk, and some tunes on the radio. Our goal was to stop for breakfast just north of Tampa, so around 9am-ish.

Well, about an hour or so into our drive we hit some traffic. Our GPS gave us an alternate root so we thought maybe we would take it. No sooner had we pulled of the highway that we realized that Rowe had puked on herself! We pulled over on the side of a road, cleaned her up, changed her close and Nick checked on the luggage carrier. It was getting loose! And the car was beginning to smell. Ugh.

Rather than risk getting lost off the route, we decided to hop back on the highway. 9:00 came and went and we STILL hadn’t made it to Tampa, thanks to traffic. We finally passed Tampa at around 10:00, pulled off to get gas and breakfast. While we were getting gas we realized Lennon had thrown up! I stripped her down and took her into the gas station to clean her up. The women’s restroom was “occupied”. I waited a bit but I had a practically naked toddler covered in puke so I just went for it and took her into the men’s. I cleaned her up in the nasty sink and changed her clothes. There goes another half hour.

We actually had a rather enjoyable breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and then decided to find somewhere to buy more ratchet straps for the luggage carrier because we were convinced it was going to fly off the top of the car and cause a major accident. Luckily there was an auto store nearby, and Nick was able to re-secure the carrier in about a half an hour. We were now 4 hours into our trip and only about 1.5 hours from where we started.

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I forgot to mention, we bought a tiny can of Lysol for $5.00 at the gas station and doused the car in it. Best $5.00 I ever spent.

Throughout the rest of Florida we hit traffic jam after traffic jam after traffic jam. I think we FINALLY made it to Georgia around 4:30/5:00pm. It took us twice as long as it should have to get through Florida. At around 6:15pm we stopped at a McDonald’s with a PlayPlace so that the girls could move around and release some energy. Well guess what…there was a bus load of kids inside and in line! We didn’t even get to place our order for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting for the crowd to thin, we changed the girls. But I had left their night diapers in the car. Nick ran out to get them and THE KEYS WERE LOCKED IN THE CAR. Our van, a Town & Country, isn’t supposed to even allow that to happen.

Thankfully I have AAA. We called, and were told someone should be there after 8:00pm. That’s 1.5 hours to spend at a McDonald’s with two tired, cranky toddlers. Oh boy. We even tried calling the local police station to see if they could help….no dice. After we ate Nick decided to go and check the car doors one more time. By some miracle, the passenger door opened and we were able to get the keys! Hallelujah. Back on the road around 7:15.

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The rest of the trip included cranky babies who we refused to give milk again in fear of another puking episode, rain storms, snow, and a very tired mom and dad. We finally made it home at 7:30am. Our 18 hour road trip took 24 hours. But hey, we survived!

Will we do it again? Maybe. Will we be prepared should there be a next time…you know it! Here are some of my recommendations before you venture out on your next toddler-accompanied road trip.

TODDLER ROADTRIP ESSENTIALS

  1. Multiple changes of clothes
  2. A bag with wipes, diapers, snacks, Tylenol, diaper cream, etc. that is easily accessible. I recommend overnight diapers or to size up for the drive. Less leaks!
  3. Multiple bottles/sippys so you don’t have to wash them all the time
  4. LYSOL and disinfectant wipes
  5. A tablet with movies and tv shows pre-downloaded (and a charger)
  6. Dress your kids in layers and bring blankets
  7. First Aid kit
  8. Extra bags for trash, puke clothes, dirty wipes, etc.
  9. Busy bags! Below is what we had in ours. Each of the girls has their own backpack, and the contents below were in each pack. Except for the LeapPad and the driving simulator toy – we only packed one of those.

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Items in each busy bag: Blocks, memory cards, books, silly frog, bunny clapper, lightup bunny wand, toy phone, toy remote, stickers, stuffed rabbit, finger puppet, books, new McDonald’s toys (I didn’t open these until we were on the trip so they were “new”), snacks. Not pictured: sippy cup, princess tambourine, blanket, wubbanub.

  1. We did not have these for this trip, but will be a necessity next trip…the girls love them!
  2. Kids songs radio station and/or playlist
  3. Calming bottles – I attempted to make one of these and failed. I think I messed up the glitter glue/water ratio. Then I never found the time to try it again!
  4. Grandma & grandpa – I highly suggest multiple adult travel companions if you have the space. My parents were unbelievably helpful on our drive down.

Good luck to you on your next road trip, may your adventure be smooth and uneventful!

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Air Travel w/twins and infants

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Spring/Easter break is right around the corner, which means a lot of us are getting ready to go on a much needed vacation. As you are preparing for that week of rest and relaxation (oh wait, you have little kids, that’s NOT going to happen), you are probably stressing about the “getting there”. I know I would be!

As someone who has traveled with infant twins on multiple occasions, I would like to share with you how to prepare for flying with lap children (twins in specific, because we know that’s my jam). I know the idea is daunting, and you can never be completely prepared (who can predict when Baby A will have a meltdown or when Baby B will have a blowout?), but my list below should help ease the anxiety a bit. I promise!

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR FLYING WITH TWINS (OR LAP CHILDREN IN GENERAL)

  • Lap children are FREE when under the age of two (on the majority of airlines). This means one lap child per adult over the age of 18. So if traveling with twins, you need two adults. Otherwise, you will have to purchase an extra seat.
  • Call ahead to let the airline know you are traveling with lap children. When you do this, also see if you can pre-select your seats. Every airline we have flown only allows one lap child per row of seats (row meaning on either side of the aisle, the cluster of seats) because there is only one extra oxygen mask. We call ahead and ask for aisle seats in the SAME row, so we are as close as possible.
  • Aisle seats are where it is AT. Having the freedom to get up, walk up and down the aisle and go to the restroom anytime, without disturbing your neighbors, is so much easier.
  • You can check car seats and strollers for FREE (again, this is with most airlines I have seen). I suggest checking your car seats at the curb/ticketing, and then checking the stroller at the gate.
  • If you are flying with an infant, I suggest baby wearing during the flight. This allows you to be hands-free and is helpful with turbulence. They also feel snug and safe!

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  • If each parent/adult will be sitting with a lap child, prepare TWO diaper bags. Fill each with the following:
    • Diapers
    • Wipes
    • Extra set of clothes
    • Milk/formula
    • Sippies
    • Binkies
    • Lots of snacks
    • Small toys
    • Books
    • Blanket
    • Infant Tylenol/Motrin
    • Bag for dirty clothes
    • Sanitizing wipes to wipe down the seat and tray
  • To help with ear discomfort, I also recommend feeding the child during takeoff and landing. Or offering up a binky!
  • Night time/extra absorbent diapers. Hopefully you can make it through the entire flight without any leaks!
  • Pack enough in your carryon bag for an overnight stay – you never know when that flight may be delayed!
  • Pack double the amount of diapers you think you will need. Airport diapers are not cheap.
  • Use car seat/stroller bags. We bought these great car seat travel bags, I highly recommend them! And get this – they don’t weigh the car seats, so we stuffed our bases, and extra luggage into the bags with the seats so we didn’t have to worry about overweight luggage fees. SCORE!

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https://www.amazon.com/J-L-Childress-Standard-Double-Strollers/dp/B003554H9M/ref=sr_1_25_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1520444570&sr=8-25&keywords=car+seat+travel+bag

  • If you are a nursing mom, pack a nursing cover! I understand breastfeeding needs to be normalized, but your seatmates will thank you. They are already dreading the flight with a baby in their row, you can at least spare them a nip slip!
  • Binky clips – airplane floors are definitely not the cleanest
  • Bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate (just in case)
  • If bringing formula, buy a bottle of water in the airport, prior to boarding.
  • If bringing breastmilk, be sure to check out these guidelines!
  • Check in online! You will not want to be in the airport any longer than you have too.
  • A lot of parents I have talked to recommend boarding the plane early. I, on the other hand, recommend boarding late. From experience, the less time you are cooped up in a small space, the better.

I know this seems like A LOT to prepare and remember, but I promise you this will make your flight so much easier. Also, we have all heard those horror stories about babies on flights and passengers being rude. From my own personal experience, everyone has always been very kind and understanding toward us when traveling with the twins. In fact, I would be sad to travel without them based on the VIP treatment we have often received.

Good luck on your next flight, you can do it!!

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One More Shot – Documentary Review

I just finished watching the documentary, “One More Shot”, on Netflix.

Guess what?

I am still crying.

This film is so real. So truthful, so heart wrenching, so me. In 90 minutes this movie managed to completely transport me back in time and to accurately explain the roller coaster of emotions we went through just over two years ago.

ONE. MORE. SHOT.

A perfect title that can be interpreted in many ways. One more shot of medication. One more blow to your heart after another negative pregnancy test. One more attempt at conceiving. One more shot of tequila to numb the pain. Or, one more chance at a miracle.

The story follows a couple in their early thirties as they try to expand their family and navigate the uncharted waters that are infertility. They aren’t a glamorous Hollywood couple. They aren’t doctors or scientists who know all about infertility. They are the couple down the street that stop over on Thursday night for a glass of wine. The couple you pass in the grocery store while looking for a ripe watermelon (how DO you know if a watermelon is good??). And they are the couple that sits across from you at the fertility clinic, wondering how long you have been trying, if you were already pregnant, or if you had just suffered another loss. The ones whose eyes you meet before heading back for your consultation who can tell you with just one look that they understand.

There were several moments in the film that I could identify with, but there were also several that I could not. This couple suffered longer than we did, and more loses. But, some points that really hit home for me, were:

 

The fear of the unknown.

As an OCD, control freak, I spend every spare moment planning, making lists and setting goals. Infertility was something I knew nothing about, and treatment had no guarantees. Yes, there were dozens of options for starting a family, but nothing was guaranteed. I often thought to myself “I would go through this 10 times, spend $100k if someone, somewhere could promise me that it would all end with a baby in my arms.” But the truth of the matter is, they can’t. And the fact that I had no control over the outcome was debilitating.

 

Feeling broken.

Nick checked out OK. Borderline for sperm morphology but otherwise, good for baby making. This made me feel like it was all MY fault. That I was broken. I couldn’t do the thing women were SUPPOSED to do – make babies. I feared this would break our marriage, and I feared it would break me.

 

The shots hurt.

Those shot were NOT a walk in the park. They hurt like a b*tch! They left me sore, bruised and hormonal.

 

Punishment.

Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house in high school? Or for that time I swiped some beer mugs from a college bar? Or for all of the things I have taken for granted or selfishly just assumed would happen?

 

IVF is the ultimate “treatment”.

When we started at our clinic, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. So we jumped straight into IVF. And we were positive it would work. When it didn’t work the first time, it was an even bigger blow. The miracle treatment we had just shelled out $15k for was a bust. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after that.

 

Obsession.

The sheer obsession of all of it. I think infertility made me a hypochondriac/Google genius. I spent all of my free time Googling symptoms, or lack thereof, grants, adoption, embryo donation. I needed to constantly feel like I was being proactive.

 

The comfort of knowing I was not alone.

From the moment I made my blog public, it was like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. The out-pour of love and well wishes we received was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the number of women who messaged me and said, I understand. I too, am suffering from infertility. I too, find it hard to be happy for my friends having babies. I too, am scared.

 

This documentary was everything I never knew that I always needed. I think it is something that every struggling family should watch. And all of their friends and family. And everyone else. It is relatable, funny when it needed to be, and informative. I highly recommend that you check it out now on Netflix. You won’t regret it. The only thing you might regret is forgetting the tissues, or that you didn’t watch it sooner.

And for all of the women, men and couples out there trying to grow your families, find hope and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Infertility is hard. It will push you, it will test you, and it will break you. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel. There is always another option – maybe it’s another crack at IVF. Or maybe it’s a surrogate. Perhaps it is coming to terms with never being parents. Or maybe it’s adoption. Whatever it is, make sure it is YOUR decision. Not anyone else’s. And let that decision be the one that puts you back together again.

Thankfully waiting….

While trying so very hard to conceive, it is easy to get caught up in all of the pain, loss and hurt we have been put through. Between the ultrasounds, blood work and injections, the 3am Google searches, and the constant envy, I find that I often overlook all of the wonderful things I have in my life and that this journey has brought me.

There is more to life than babies (as hard as that may seem to believe!), and I am lucky to be blessed with many other gifts that have made my life, and this past year especially, fulfilling. So, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I would like to take some time to reflect on what I am thankful for:

  1. My husband Nick – Nick has been my rock throughout this entire process. He manages to make me smile and laugh every day and he never forgets to tell me what a strong and beautiful woman I am (even amidst full on temper tantrum). He appeases my every superstition and fertility trick an he assures me that all will be right in the world if we just continue to think positive. He is my everything and I am so thankful that he makes up the other half of my whole.
  2. My parents and in-laws – Their positivity is a force to be reckoned with and their support has been astounding. They have gone above and beyond their parental duties. As much as I know this process pains them too, they manage to wear a smile day in and day out and to help me through my darkest hours when I think nothing in the world will ever go my way. They make me want to be a parent even more with every day that they show me their love, and they help me to believe that I can do ANYTHING.
  3. My puppies –  The two furballs of cuteness make my everyday a blessing in so many ways. Their unconditional love and devotion melts my heart. They seem to know exactly what to do to cheer me up and their constant companionship keeps me sane. They have made me parents in a less traditional manner and I love them as though they were human babies. Together with my husband they have taught me the meaning of family.
  4. My friends & family – I could not do this with out their support! They put up with my constant complaining and crazy TTC methods, they understand and forgive me for saying things in the heat of the moment that I certainly don’t mean, and they continue to pray for us. They take me out when I need to let loose, stay in with me when I’m feeling extra emotional, and send me positive thoughts on a daily basis. Through all of the ups and downs they treat me the same as they did before my diagnosis. Which is just what I need to keep me grounded.
  5. That my close friends have not had to experience infertility to the extent that we have. I am thankful that they remain naive to the process and unscarred by the pain. I would not wish this upon anyone.
  6. Those who are going through this journey. On the flip side, I am thankful for the women I have met (and those who I already knew who have reached out) that are going through IVF and similar situations. They can relate to my emotions and help to provide a sense of normalcy in my life. These strong, courageous women are a blessing in my life and I cannot wait to watch all of them become the mothers they were meant to be.
  7. My beautiful home that provides a cozy (and exquisitely decorated, I might add) setting for spending time with family and friends, laughing until I cry and even crying until I can manage again. I always feel safe here.
  8. The doctors and nurses at IVF Michigan –  they are helping me to realize a dream. They are always reassuring and eager to answer my texts and calls at all hours of the day. I feel as though my future is in the best hands possible and I am thankful for the knowledge and skill that they bring to the table. Science is amazing and these experts know what they are doing. I trust them.
  9. My job –  I am lucky to have a job that I love that allows me to work flexible hours and offers another support system in my life. They are so understanding and are rooting for our success as much as anyone else.
  10. My health & the health of those around me. I may be suffering from infertility but my general health is fantastic (minus the anxiety, of course), as is that of most of my close family and friends. I am blessed to have my parents and both sets of grandparent still in my life, and Nick to have both of his parents as well. We have a bright and healthy future. A healthy life is a gift we often take for granted.
  11. My faith in God. I do not pride myself on being the most religious person on the planet, but throughout my journey I have found myself becoming closer to God. I am slowly building a relationship with Him and I know He has a plan for me and my family. I have faith that my life will turn out exactly as he planned it.

I could go on and on about all of the things I am thankful for, but my fingers are getting tired of typing. As I sit here and review the list I just compiled I realize just how lucky I am. This list is proof that if a child is not in our future that we CAN and WILL find happiness and purpose in all of the beautiful blessings that already surround us.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

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