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Our family recently had an amazing weekend at the Disneyland/California Adventure resorts.  It was wonderful to be there as a parent and watch my 4.5-year old son, The Littlest E, be blown away by all the rides, characters come to life, and visuals.  It brought back memories of when I was a child visiting Disneyland for the first time.  I don’t remember how old I was, but if you want to know what Disneyland was like in the 60’s, all you have to do is watch the recently released “Saving Mr. Banks” with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson to get an idea of Disneyland’s early days.

Disneyland 2007

It must have been in the late 60’s or early 70’s when my family went on the big adventure in our VW Bus and drove from the Bay Area to Southern California.  Disneyland truly is a magical place, especially for children and especially if you have any inkling of an imagination.  If you have a limited imagination , I can almost guarantee one trip to this magical place will send your imagination to a new level.

Disneyland was different in that era.  There were no Fast Passes and I don’t believe there was a Magic Hour, where hotel guests got to enter the park and ride rides an hour before the general park attendees.  Everyone had to wait in lines with their old-fashioned tickets marked A, B, C, D and E for the various rides, E tickets for the best rides.  There was no Space Mountain or Star Tours, but the Haunted Mansion was there, as was Pirates of the Caribbean sans Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.  Autopia was around back then and still is, as well as the submarine ride, but we didn’t have Nemo and the other characters joining us on the underwater voyage back then.  There was one ride in particular I loved, Adventure Through Inner Space presented by Monsanto.

It was located where Star Tours now runs and riders sat in “Atomobile,” compartments like in the Haunted Mansion ride, and the ride took you through a microscope as if you were shrinking to the size of an atom.  Gigantic snowflakes appeared floating in space and everything seemed to be massive in scope, like we really did shrink.  We went through the ride witnessing molecules and atoms you could almost touch.  Then, magically, by the end of the ride, we all got bigger.  Even outside while waiting in line, you could see tiny people in a microscope on these Atomobiles and it looked like they were real.  As a child riding this ride, I believed absolutely that I shrank.  I remember even getting into a tiff with my older brother when he doubted me.  I knew.  I just knew it was real.  That magic, that willingness to believe is alive and well in 2014 at Disneyland and California Adventure, not just in the little ones, but I think in us grown ups, too.

Mousewait

Prior to making the 45-minute drive for our Disney weekend, my husband, Tom, and I strategized a bit so we had a game plan for each day.  Residents of Southern California get park discounts during certain times of year.  We chose the 2-day one park per day option for this first time.  I checked with a couple of friends who have kids The Littlest E’s age on what we should do and see and ride.  Those friends provided me with a wealth of information.  Tom also did some research and looked at various apps to help in our strategizing.  He looked at rides that had Fast Passes and we figured out the age appropriate ones we wanted to ride, and what to go for first.  He also found a restaurant app with info on the restaurants at the parks and Downtown Disney.  I found free app called Mousewait that had wait times for rides and restaurants.  Whether the times were exact or not didn’t matter as the app served as a reference when figuring out what to do once inside.  We were ready!!  Disneyland in the digital age is great with all the technology assisting in the planning.  I look back fondly at the days of old and those little paper E Tickets, but it’s wonderful to have all this digitized info at our fingertips.

Waiting for Autopia

Disneyland is still a classic.  We chose Autopia for our first ride since the wait wasn’t too long.  The Littlest E rode with Tom and I took several pictures to commemorate this first.  It was so awesome to watch my son’s face light up in the car.  We thought choosing Super Bowl Sunday would be a smart move since millions of people watch the game, but we weren’t the only ones with that idea.  The park was surprisingly crowded.  We steered clear of the Pirates ride as we previously showed our son a video of what the ride was, and he told us a definitive “No.”  When in doubt about a ride, it’s always good to find a YouTube video if you can.

Our next ride was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  The Littlest E was effusive in not wanting to go.  We told him to trust us, and sure enough, when the ride was over he said, “I want to go again!”  Oh, the magic of Disney!  So much to do and so little time, because Tom is from Seattle and we definitely had to watch the game.  We visited a number of the characters’ houses, including Mickey’s and waited in line to meet the famous mouse.  It was well worth the wait, as we got our picture taken with him.  The Littlest E doesn’t usually like grown up characters, but loved meeting Mickey!  We went on Roger Rabbit’s ride as well as Peter Pan’s Flight.  He sat fully engrossed in this ride watching everything as we flew over Neverland.  He had a blast.  We did much more, but I don’t need to do a full recap.

Meeting Mickey

The next day, we went to California Adventure and I’ve got to say this park is AMAZING!!!  If you’re a fan of the movie “Cars” or “Monster’s Inc.,” or “The Little Mermaid,” there’s a lot here for you to see.  We knew we wanted a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers, and it was Monday so we got to take part in the Magic Hour.  We made a beeline to the Toy Story Midway Mania ride, and even in the Magic Hour the line was 20 minutes long.  That was an awesome ride, shooting at all different targets in 3D with all the “Toy Story” characters.  Such fun!  From there I rushed to the Fast Pass line for the Cars ride while Tom and our lively, excited son went on the carousel.  By the time I got to the front of the line for the Fast Pass, our time slot was between 12:50 and 1:50.

Miki's New Friend

Some memorable highlights our day.  Hanging out in Cars Land was the best.  If you’ve seen the movie, Radiator Springs comes to life.  Everywhere you go, you feel like you’re there, and there are ample rides featuring many of the “Cars” characters.  Tom and I loved the Radiator Springs Racers ride and The Littlest E loved the first part, but when we went fast, not so much.  Our son loves “Toy Story” and when he saw Buzz Lightyear, he was so excited, except Buzz took a break.  Woody then appeared right after him.  Our usually outgoing son got bashful, but I waited in line to meet Woody anyway.  Once I met him he came over and sat with The Littlest E who was sitting on a bench eating some String Cheese.  Woody indicated he’d like some, too, to which our son responded.  It was quite the photo-op.  Tom and the Disney photographer were busily taking photos while our now engaged son interacted with his new friend.  The two of them walked back to the photo area and we all took a picture together, and Woody gave us his autograph.  Later that day, we went to Turtle Talk with Crush, an interactive live chat with the surfer turtle from “Finding Nemo.”  We all sat mesmerized when Crush appeared on the movie screen and started talking with us and had real (not pre-recorded) conversations with audience members.  I still don’t know how they did that, but it was incredible, and the look on The Littlest E’s face was priceless.

Tow Mater Ride

We had a fun-filled, exhausting, exhilarating, fantastic couple of days at the Disney parks. There’s nothing  like experiencing Disney through your child’s eyes, worth every dollar we spent.  I wonder though, did The Littlest E think we really flew while on the Peter Pan ride, or did he think we really went under water during The Little Mermaid ride?  I don’t want to ask him, don’t want break the spell.  If you’ve never been to either of these parks and want to go, I highly recommend it.  We definitely need to go back since there’s so much more to see.  This truly is a magical place.

©2014 Melanie Elliott

Images: Glenn Gutierrez, Melanie Elliott, Tom Elliott

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I’m back after taking a little blogging break while The Littlest E was on vacation from preschool.  He’s in school four days a week so, during the break, we spent lots of time together.  I’m sure every parent loves and adores their child.  Over the 2+ weeks The Littlest E was home, I couldn’t help but marvel at the young boy he’s becoming, so independent, full of ideas, making plans (which sometimes didn’t go off the way he wanted), and full of feistiness with a drop or two of stubbornness.  I, too, love and adore my son, and I also think because coming to him was the end of a very long journey, there’s an added layer of gratitude and deep appreciation for the mere fact that he is in our lives.  I know other adoptive parents who feel the same way, as well as parents who struggled with infertility and conception.  Even if my son and I were getting on each other’s nerves, and that happened during the break, I’m head over heels in love with him and think he’s the cutest kid on the planet.

My Beautiful Boy

We had a number of high points while on break.  For our first weekend, he and I road tripped up to the Bay Area, where my family lives, while The Littlest E’s daddy stayed home (and got a little break from us).  He got on well during the 6+ hour drive.  The portable DVD player helped things go smoothly.  It was fun listening to the movie “Brave,” knowing he was watching it intently.  We also passed the time listening to his station on Pandora, lots of songs from Disney and Pixar movies as well as songs from the 50s surprisingly like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

I wish all of my son’s grandparents lived closer because he has so much fun with them, and, when we visit, they get to see him in all his glory, splendor and various moods.  There’s an unshakeable, special connection between grandparents and grandchildren, and it’s not just that they have a common enemy.  The Littlest E’s grandparents give out a love that only they can give and my son soaked it up.  My Dad and his girlfriend hadn’t seen him in a while and he and Bubba (my son’s fond name for my Dad) had a blast together; it was awesome watching them play.

Bubba & TLE

If you’re traveling to the Bay Area with young children, I highly recommend spending time at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito.  Everything about it sparks a child’s imagination.  The museum is at the old Fort Baker and has a number of buildings dedicated to it.  There’s a building for boats and trains with a part of a life-sized fishing boat inside where kids and parents can climb, pretend to fish, reel in the catch, or crank up a net with lifelike crabs, all to reenact fishing life in San Francisco, and the boat can actually rock back and forth.  There’s even a place where you can act as a fish seller.

Care for a Crab?

There’s an art room and a room where the kids learn about waves and underwater life, complete with green screen background and camera where it appears like you’re underwater.  My adventurous son wasn’t into that as much as he was into the wave maker.  The Bay Area Discovery Museum was amazing.  Outside was a large play area complete with a miniature Golden Gate Bridge that the children could climb and walk on, and we didn’t even get to that because there was another life-sized fishing boat nearby.  The Littlest E explored that and ran around it for at least ½ hour going on make-believe adventures with other children who were just as excited to be on the boat as he.  We could have spent the entire day at the museum, but had to leave to get lunch.  That was a highlight of our long weekend.

Unfortunately, my energetic son came down with a fever that knocked him out of commission the first half of his first full week on break.  We drove home with him still sick, but he was a trooper.  Watching the DVD player on the way again really helped him, that and lots of sleep.  By mid-week he was his old, lively self and went to gymnastics camp one of the days.  That’s something I could write many blogs about, camp!  For the most part, camps are great, but one definitely needs to check them out before committing.  I’ve heard horror stories of camps where the counselors were just awful.  This gymnastics camp, at Fun & Fit Gymnastics in Burbank, was wonderful.  It went from 9-2, and some of my son’s friends went, too.  After being there less than five minutes he said to me, “Mom, you can go now.”  Isn’t that what every mom wants to hear?  I left smiling, knowing he was going to be just fine without me.

The following week, my husband, Tom, took the week off so we had a nice family staycation.  He had never been to the movies with The Littlest E and we had an opportunity to see a couple of movies together as a family.  The first movie was “Monsters University,” which we all loved.  A few times during the movie I looked over to see Tom watching our son watch the movie.  That put a big smile on my face.  We have “Monsters, Inc.” at home and The Littlest E loves Mike Wazowski and Sulley.  The Dean and Librarian were a little scary for him, but it wasn’t anything that caused Tom or I to worry.  All in all it was a terrific first family movie outing.

One Eyed Minion

The second movie we saw was “Despicable Me 2.”  I don’t know what it is about the Minions that crack me up so much, but I had the most fun watching them.  They’re hysterical, and I can’t wait for their own movie to come out (Minions) slated for December 2014.  [SPOILER ALERT] The Littlest E liked the movie, but found the purple minions scary, especially when one of them tried to break into Gru’s home and appeared suddenly in the window.  He also got scared when El Macho turned into a big, purple monster.  Toward the end of the movie, he was sitting in my lap, clutching me.

We talked a lot about the movie and characters afterward.  Tom showed our son pictures of the actors who played the roles and we’ve even watched some Youtube videos with Steve Carell and Kristin Wiig talking about the movie.  He’s not as scared anymore and likes to us to tell him the stories of El Macho, when Gru and Lucy are in the mall, and when Gru is on a date.  The movie also led to a conversation The Littlest E and I had about adoption (the three girls, Edith, Margo and Agnes are all adopted), which will be the topic of a future blog.

The last adventure we took on our staycation was a day trip to Escondido to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  We drove down early in the morning and spent the day at the park, and it was one hot and muggy day.  I’m so glad we brought our stroller because The Littlest E was not into walking everywhere and there was a lot of ground to cover.  We saw gorillas, lorikeets that sat on your arms as you fed them nectar from little cups, and there was a lemur exhibit, among other animals and things to see.  We took the tram tour to view all the animals in the massive open areas that included a herd of elephants (adults and young ones), different kinds of antelope, giraffes, rhinos, vultures and many more animals.  The best part of the day was watching our son’s Amharic and dance teacher, Bruke.  He is one-sixth of a troupe of acrobats from Ethiopia, who are under contact with the park until mid-August.  Their specialty is tumbling and doing acrobatics on and between two tall poles.  They were very impressive.  The Littlest E sat on Tom’s shoulders mesmerized by their moves.  He didn’t take his eyes off them once and got a little shy when all six of the acrobats came up to us to meet him after their show.  I loved that he was able to see their show.  Now he wants to climb poles and be like them, which is just wonderful.

Acrobats

What I treasured most about our little staycation was how much time we spent together as a family, the movies, the day trip, Tom not having to go to work before The Littlest E gets up in the morning.  It was nice just being with each other.  Yes, there were highs and lows (Tom came down with a fever the last weekend), and I reached a saturation point where I needed to take a break, but overall, it was truly wonderful.  I love my husband, son, and the family we have created.  August 2nd marks our 3-year familyversary, the day The Littlest E became our son.  I cherish our family moments together, however short or long, and I hope that in the years to come, the gratitude and deep appreciation I feel never ceases.

Images: Jamie Johnson, Melanie Elliott, Richard McLean, Sonny Abesamis, Melanie Elliott

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One of my best friends in Los Angeles, Peggy Sweeney-McDonald, recently published this amazing coffee table book called “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde. . .”  She held a book launch party in New Orleans in October.  When I found out about the launch party several months ago, I knew we had to go.  It’s not everyday you know someone who’s published a book, especially one of your best friends.  I really wanted to show up for her at this event, celebrating this once in a lifetime opportunity.

We turned the trip into a mini family vacation.  There’s a lot of logistics to consider when traveling with a small child.  There’s the excess baggage of car seat and stroller.  We needed to find a babysitter for the times my husband, Tom, and I would be out.  We needed to find activities for our son while we were in New Orleans.  Peggy grew up in Baton Rouge and lived in New Orleans so she gave us a list of places to go where The Littlest E would enjoy himself, the Audubon Aquarium, the Audubon Zoo, the Louisiana Children’s Museum.  She also told us restaurants to eat at when we were not with her and her husband, and she found us a sitter who was a family friend with lots of experience.  All of this made planning the trip a lot easier, with less to worry about once we arrived.  We even Skyped with the babysitter before we left on so our son would recognize her when the time came for her to sit.

Riding in the cab on our way to the hotel, we drove past the Superdome and I had visions of what it must have been like during Katrina.  I shuddered thinking about all the people stranded and the ones who died.  Those images are imbedded in my mind.  It was an eerie feeling driving by, but the city has come a long way since Katrina.

New Orleans is amazing with its blend of modern and colonial buildings in the French Quarter, American and European ambiance, wild Bourbon Street at night, the restaurants, the amount of green everywhere and the warm October weather.  We were only there for a few days and didn’t see nearly as much as we would have liked given that we traveled with our 3-year old son, but Tom and I both fell in love with the city.  We can’t wait to return.

For our first night, we went to the Red Fish Grill and ate a delicious dinner.  The dessert was to die for, a double chocolate bread pudding.  OMG!!  Now I’m a pretty good chocoholic and this dessert made my top 10 all time dessert list.  It was mouth-watering yumminess, warm, chocolaty and oh, so, good.  The next day, we found ourselves at the world-renowned Café Du Monde, which served as inspiration for Peggy’s book, and we indulged in the sumptuous, powdered sugary beignets while drinking café au laits.  The Littlest E was in sugar heaven and proceeded to cover himself in the white dust.  You don’t just eat in New Orleans you savor, enjoy and experience food.  It’s a whole different game on a whole other level.

On Monday, we ate at Commander’s Palace with Peggy and her friends and family for a pre book launch luncheon.  In order to attend this 3-hour extravaganza, we hired the babysitter to sit for us.  Before we left the room, we stayed with the two of them for a few minutes to make sure they got on well.  This was our first time leaving our son with a stranger, but we trusted our son with the sitter.  Since we had Skyped with her, The Littlest E was more familiar with her.  We knew if something went wrong, she would call, so I wasn’t checking in every five minutes while we were gone.

The luncheon at Commander’s Palace was wonderful.  Peggy knows the owners so we got VIP treatment.  The Snapping Turtle Soup was out of this world good, the Candied Apple Lacquered Quail melted in my mouth, and the wait staff was incredible.  I now understand Southern hospitality.  We felt special and the food was, again, amazing.  It was nice being out somewhere in a new city knowing our son was in good hands.  When we returned  to the hotel, the sitter told us they both had a good time and had fun.  Yay!

The trip wasn’t all about food, though a visit to New Orleans can be just that.  We went to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and spent time seeing the native marine life.  We also went to the Louisiana Children’s Museum.  The Littlest E enjoyed it, but we are spoiled in Los Angeles with so many indoor play spaces and the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.  One of our regrets was we didn’t have time to go the Audubon Zoo.  Hopefully, we’ll do that on our next visit to Nola.

Traveling with our son involved a balancing act between time for him and time for us.  In the evenings after dinner, Tom and I took turns going out with our friends, while one of us stayed to watch our son.  I’m very grateful we used the sitter so we could attend Peggy’s book launch party.  Experiencing nightlife in a city while on vacation without your child is a pretty cool thing.

All in all, we had an amazing experience.  The party capped what was already a wonderful trip.  We had family time, visits with our friends, ate fantastic food, devoured our share of beignets, saw some sites, and took home with us a little flavor of New Orleans.  I see why people love it so much, how special the city is, and why everyone loves the New Orleans Saints.  I get it.

We will return, but next time, we’ll go without our son.  As much fun as it was to travel with him, vacations with little ones are not really vacations at least they aren’t restful vacations.  I think one of my family members asked me if I got any rest on our trip.  I replied, “Are you kidding?”  That doesn’t happen with a 3-year old.

Headed to New Orleans?  I recommend you go to a couple of the places I mentioned and you’ll probably fall in love with the city, too.  If you’re looking for a coffee table book featuring “life stories about food that will warm your heart and feed your soul” and Southern recipes, please check out “Meanwhile, Back At Café Du Monde…”  Yeah, you right!

Images: Troy Kleinpeter, Melanie Elliott

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This past weekend I went to a reunion in San Francisco and it was my first time away from my husband and 2-year old son, The Littlest E.  I was excited about visiting friends I hadn’t seen in many years and seeing my sister and nephew, as I was staying with them.  I was also nervous about leaving my son for the weekend.  I’ve traveled without my husband, but this time it was different.  I’d be leaving both of them.  Would The Littlest E be okay in my absence?  I had confidence my husband would be fine taking care of our son for two days; I just didn’t know how our son would do.

Friday night they dropped me off at the airport.  Saying goodbye was emotional.  I was going to miss them so much.  I got my son out of his car seat and gave him lots of kisses and hugs, did the same with my hubby, and they got in the car and drove off with me waving.  Wiping my eyes as I walked toward the airport entrance, an elderly woman asked how long I was going to be gone.  Perhaps I was a tad dramatic in my farewells.  I said laughing, “Only two days, but it’s my first time away.”  She smiled and told me it would be okay.  And, it was!

One thing about flying solo is it’s a lot less cumbersome.  All I had was a light carry on and my purse – no car seat, stroller, children’s toys, snacks, or extra luggage, plus there was no screaming or kicking toddler sitting next to me.  That was for the other parents on the plane.  The flight was smooth.

Prior to my trip, I had a phone conversation with my mom.  She asked me how many times I would check in with my husband and son while away.  She seemed surprised when I replied, “Two.  Once to say ‘good morning’ and once to say ‘good night.'”  Maybe she thought I would hover more, it being my first time away and all.  I resolved to only call them twice a day for that very reason.  I wanted to give my husband space to enjoy his one-on-one time with our son without me micromanaging from afar.  I figured if there were a problem, he would call me.  He’s a wonderful father and I trusted he’d do great on his own.  I did have a panicky moment my first night away, but opted not to call and bother him with my needless fears.

Over the weekend, I missed my two boys like crazy.  I love them both tremendously, yet I had a FANTASTIC time.  The reunion itself was a blast, plus it was so much fun only being responsible for myself.  I wouldn’t have done the trip any justice if I sat around not having a good time.  Missing them was a given, and enjoying myself was also a given.  Another little thing worth mentioning, I got to wear loop earrings!  I know it’s a tiny thing, but I haven’t done that since I became a mom.  I value my ear lobes too much to subject them to the strong hands of my curious toddler.

I stuck to my resolve and called twice a day.  It was the best hearing my son tell me he loved me.  Warmed my heart, made me miss him, and made me look forward to seeing both of them upon my return.  My husband told me The Littlest E asked for me and he told him I would be home soon.  By the second day, he was too busy to really talk, so he just said, “goodbye, Mommy.”  All was good at home, and with me.

Saturday night at the reunion, I danced with my sister and friends until 1:00 a.m., which is unheard of, and I slept in – 6:30 a.m. one day, 7:30 a.m. the next – quite a luxury in my normal everyday life.  Got in some great visits and, beaming with pride, showed everyone pictures of my family.

My entire trip was a highpoint.  It’s comforting to know that I can go away, have a great time and come home to life with my husband and son.  The only drawback about being gone was the multitude of chores I had to do when I got home.  To all the parents out there who have not yet taken a solo trip, I highly recommend it.  If you do go, please enjoy yourself while you’re away!

Image: http2007 (Thierry)

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We recently took a family trip to the East Coast, involving a 5½-hour airplane ride both ways.  The outgoing and return trips were often bumpy, and I don’t mean air turbulence.  It’s difficult traveling with a toddler, particularly one who is exceedingly mobile.  My husband and I were prepared for both legs of the journey in terms of supplies for our son, The Littlest E.  I was also prepared emotionally for whatever happened in dealing with our active, vocal son.   If you’re planning a trip with your toddler, this blog is for you!  The following are some travel tips that may assist you with your flying adventure:

  • When to Fly: When booking our cross-country flight, we asked friends with toddlers who had flown distances if it was better to take a red eye or fly during the day.  The consensus was to fly during the day.  If The Littlest E didn’t sleep on the plane, at least my husband and I would be rested.  Our plan was to keep The Littlest E awake (with or without a nap) until his bedtime to avoid potential jet lag.  So, we booked a 7AM flight and got him up at 5AM.  This strategy worked!  He slept only an hour on the plane and we kept him awake until 7PM, his bedtime.  He slept through the night no problem and there was no jet lag.
  • Car Seat on the Plane?: We brought The Littlest E’s car seat on the plane with us for his comfort and we knew he would sleep in it.  A friend lent us a lifesaving accessory that I recommend to anyone bringing a car seat on a plane.  It’s called the gogo Kidz Travelmate and it’s basically a car seat stroller to wheel your child around the airport.  It was awesome and so easy!  The Littlest E had a blast as we wheeled him through the airports.  The Travelmate was also small enough to fit in the overhead bin.
  • Supplies: Forget meal schedules if you have one.  We brought favorite foods and snacks for The Littlest E and gave him what he wanted when he wanted it.  We also came loaded with books and toys, especially his doodler, which he loves.  He drew with his doodler on and off for a good portion of the flight.  The bottom line was we did anything to distract him from being uncomfortable.
  • Dealing with Kicking – A Pre-Emptive Apology Helps:  If your toddler is a kicker, the best thing to do to diffuse a potential situation is give the person sitting directly in front of your child a pre-emptive apology stating you will do your best to keep him/her from kicking and hope it’s not too much of a bother.  I did this for our outgoing flight and it worked!  At the end of the flight the woman commented as she walked by, “He did kick a lot, but if he wasn’t so cute, I’d be more upset.”  Backhanded compliment?  We took it.
  • Vocal Expression is a Completely Different Animal:  The Littlest E screamed a bit on our way to the East Coast.  However, the way home was another story.  I should have done a pre-emptive apology to all of the women in the row in front of us, not just to the woman directly in front of The Littlest E.  Our bubbly son decided to express himself vocally in the form of a screech numerous times, not from fear or nerves, but because he could.  He didn’t quite get “use the inside voice” tack.  We redirected him many times from toys to books to singing with him.  Finally, my husband and I switched seats, and he got The Littlest E to go to sleep, but the damage was already done.  A young woman in the row ahead kept shooting me dirty looks all throughout the flight.  Granted she was trying to sleep, but it wasn’t like we were doing nothing to dissuade him from using his vocal chords.  What did she want us to do, put a muzzle on him?  At one point after a screech, I heard an “OH MY GAWD!!” and knew it came from her.  All I can say is expect the worst and hope for the best and don’t let anyone else’s stuff get you down.
  • Cabin Pressure:  During take offs and landings, we made sure The Littlest E was either eating or drinking, doing something to make his ears pop.  We explained to him that this would help his ears.  Not sure if he understood, but he followed our direction and there were no tears!
  • Coming Home:  This worked for us, so you may want to try it.  We took another early morning flight coming home.  As I mentioned, our son slept on the plane, and we, again, kept him up until his bedtime at 7PM (10PM eastern time).  He was loopy and tired throughout the day, but this strategy also worked.  He went to be at 7 and slept until 6ish the next day.
  • Final Thoughts:  Each child is different and each plane ride is different.  It is best to go into the trip with an open mind and expect the unexpected.  It may turn out just fine, or it may be a complete disaster.  And seriously, if it is horrible, please don’t pay attention to the kid in the classroom that doesn’t like you.  Just ignore them.  There will always be sympathetic people on board an airplane.  Lastly, what is certain is that time will pass, and you will eventually get to your destination.

I hope these tips are useful.  Good luck and safe journey!

Image: Tobyotter (Tony Alter)

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