Georgia Beaches

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The beach on Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island is a  small island in Georgia, that is a little touristy but not overcrowded or pretentious. Since we were traveling from Friday through Wednesday, we saved money by finding a place that was rented out for a partial week and needed to fill the rest of their week. Our rental house was one block from the ocean, close a park, a couple of souvenir shops and an IGA- what more could you ask for? We had beautiful weather and spent our days soaking up the sun, collecting sea shells, cooking out on our patio and eating ice cream. Since we were traveling over Easter we had the chance to attend a sunrise service on the peer that was by far the best Easter mass I have ever been too. All in all, the trip was a relaxing break from work, school, and snow- just what we all needed. We loved the welcoming, laid back atmosphere of Tybee Island so much we are considering heading back next year.

Traveling with kids can be challenging, so check out my 7 Tips for Taking a Trip with Kids.

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Sunrise Easter Service on the Atlantic Ocean

Chicago, Hamilton, and A Green River

IMG_2941 Over Christmas break, my two best girlfriends from high school and I met up for drinks and planned out this adventure. We were all turning 40 soon, so we wanted a fun way to celebrate together.  We also wanted to see each other more often- it had been four months since our last get-together. And we were all dying to see Hamilton. So, over the course of the night we planned the whole thing. Now, since we picked Chicago and I already had my February trip planned, I convinced them we had to go on March 17 date, but only because seeing the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day was on my bucket list.

We had tickets to a matinee show, so beforehand we had time to walk around downtown. The weather was beautiful so our walk down to the river was festive and fun. Seeing the river turned green was so cool. Then the show- oh the show. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Seriously. I cannot possibly put into words how good it really was. I can tell you that at intermission we were already talking about coming back to see it again. Since the show we have all been listening to it nonstop and are still trying to figure out a way to get back there, or somewhere else (another trip maybe?), to see the show again. Of course, like a good Irish girl, I topped my holiday weekend off with a corned beef sandwich and a Harp at a local pub.

The weekend was full of laughs, catching up, talking about old times, and just enjoying being together- I can’t wait to do it again.

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I did say in an earlier post, in planning for my 12in12 trips that instead of just simply sharing the fun, I would also try to share tips and tricks on how I am managing to afford these trips. Well, I paid for this entire trip using my earning from my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Cassandra’s Corner. When we planned the trip, I was still holding onto my November earnings and I hadn’t yet received my December statement. So, I knew I had those two months, plus January and February to add to it. Chicago is not cheap and Hamilton tickets can come at a hefty price too, so I knew I had to step up my TpT game. I vowed to create two new products a week for the month of January and to up my promoting game on Instagram and Pinterest. It worked and I funded the whole trip, hotel, tickets, gas, food, and a little extra for shopping from my TpT earnings. To learn more on how I make TpT work for me check out my post called Making TpT a Side Hustle that Works For You.

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Connect with Marco Polo

Since I moved I have been looking for a better way to connect with friends and family. We can call or facetime each other, but then both parties need to be available and have the time to talk. You can text, but it really isn’t the same. What I missed most was seeing my family and their kids and talking to my friends face to face. But, now I don’t have too! About a month ago my friend introduced me to an app called Marco Polo and I am officially addicted.

The company that created Marco Polo, Joya Communications,  calls the app a “video chat walkie talkie,” and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Their goal in creating it was “to help people feel close no matter the distance, enabling people to remain connected in convenient and meaningful ways,” and for me that has been the best part.  I can send a video to my sister and she watches it when she has time and responds. I can send a group of friends a video message and they can all react in their own time. I get to see all their faces and share all the ups and downs in our lives at our own convenience.

Now at first, I had some naysayers in my contacts who were leery of the hows and whys. I got questions like, “why don’t you just call/text/facetime instead?” Here’s the answer: quite simply this is waaaayyyyy easier and a lot more fun. We don’t need to be in the same time zone and have the same availability. I can send you a long video about everything that happened at work or I can share a quick joke. And the second my video is over the camera flips to you to respond. If I texted you a video you’d probably send me an emoji back. If I had the times and wrote everything in a text, you’d think I was crazy and still respond with an emoji. Now, it’s like we are together again, talking, sharing, and mostly laughing.

Once you download Marco Polo, you can connect with anyone in your contact list. You can create groups, save videos and add colors and text. The app also has features, like filters and voice changers. Once you have used the app enough you can unlock even more features.  If you need some assistant using the app, you can join my Marco Polo Group: A Little Bit of MP and check out some of my videos on how to use the app!

So, go download it and get connecting!

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The Snapchat Scare

As a parent you know that you have to tell your child not to talk to or take anything from strangers. You go through all the scenarios and practice yelling “NO” and running away, finding you and telling you everything. As there seems to be more dangers these days, we also know that even when they are with us we have to be more guarded and prepare ourselves for some unwanted scenario. I try not to live in fear, I try to stay aware, and I do my best to keep my kids safe, or at least I thought I was.

The incident I’ll describe actually happened two months ago, but it took me awhile to process it, to get over the emotions to be able to write about it. I actually only started to write this post because I read about another incident that occurred in my hometown, at my former place of employment, at another place where I thought my kids were safe. I realized how much more vigilant and aware we all need to be. In light of what happened, I thought I’d share my story.

My boys are on the local swim team and I have to drive about 20 minutes to get them to practice. When it’s just me, I usually go in with them and workout or grade papers while I wait. However, sometimes I have my two younger daughters with me and so we will go run errands or I try to find something to entertain them like stopping at the library, the park, or  the pet store. This particular Sunday night, none of those were an option, so I pulled into Burger King. It has a play area, so my husband and I ordered two pops and let them loose. We had done this before, we thought nothing of it. They run around and we sit and talk- literally five feet from them. We can see them 90 percent of the time and we can hear them all the time. So that’s what we did, then and other times before then, but not since.

My three-year-old is very friendly and we have had the talk about strangers, read books about strangers (I love the Berenstain Bears version) and thus she is cautious of adults. But what we learned that day, is she’s not when it comes to older kids. She has two older brothers who she adores and wants to hang out with all the time. She talks about having friends all the time. So when she was climbing through the play area and sliding back down saying she made some friends, I assumed it was just talk. There were a few other kids running around with parents doing the same thing we were- sitting at their table close by, talking, eating, checking their phones, or reading. We saw the other kids running around- we thought nothing of it. Then, I noticed that my daughter kept climbing to a specific part of the play are and talking to someone I couldn’t see. I told her to come down and again she yelled to me that she had friends up there. It seemed weird, but not too weird, so I told her to keep moving. When she came down I asked her about it and she told me there were to girls up there who were her new friends. When the girls climbed out of the play area- they were middle school aged. They had coffees and phones and had been sitting up in a secluded area of the play structure. I thought it was odd that they were there by themselves and just sitting up there but I still didn’t think much of it. We packed the girls up, picked up the boys from practice and started to head home, when my phone rang.

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Now, I live in a small town and we were at the Burger King two towns over, but it’s still a small area and it seems as though everyone knows everyone. The call was from a relative who saw my three year-old daughter on her daughter’s Snapchat. It turns out, those girls were up in the play structure recording my three year-old and posting it! Now it was nothing lewd or inappropriate but still, they were asking her questions, recording her answers and posting it online. Like I said, she loves the idea of friends and they picked up on that right away, asking her “Are we friends?” and recording her saying yes and telling them her name. I was outraged to say the least. We whipped the car around and headed right back to Burger King. I was shaking. I don’t know what else they said to her, I don’t know how many times they posted, I had a had a million questions. How could they? What were they thinking? Why hadn’t I noticed and done something? Why would they even think it was OK? But, what worried me the most was that they took advantage of her innocence, of her wanting to have friends, to get her to talk to them and it felt predatory, even if that’s not how they meant it.

Let’s pause here. Yes, I post pictures of my kids to my social media, sometimes videos too, but that is my choice. With my older kids, I ask them if its OK, and it’s usually some type of accomplishment or a simple smiling face. But, these are my kids and I get to make that choice, not someone else. She didn’t know she was being recorded and even if she did, she is nowhere near old enough to give permission. What they posted- I didn’t get to see it or approve it (not that I could have) I had no choice, no voice. I was livid.

We turned the car around immediately and headed back to Burger King to confront the girls. They weren’t there when we went back, but my husband alerted the other parents who were there and then he told the manager. We figured out who the girls were and reported them to the police. Although the police couldn’t actually do anything, they did go to their houses and talk with them. And that was basically the end of it. There was nothing else I could do. I was grateful for what the police did, but I was still left feeling uneasy about the whole thing.

I teach middle school, so I know that at this age kids’ brains are still developing, they are impulsive and they don’t always think through the consequences of their actions. I know that kids don’t always understand how far reaching, permanent, and how scary social media and the internet can be. I think from my reaction that night in the car and the days that followed, my older kids got a glimpse into those effects and will think twice themselves. But, what now? I had to have a long talk with all of my kids about what to do when someone points a camera or a phone at you. I even went back to Burger King to speak with the manager. I thought they should have a sign about the age appropriateness of the play structure or no cell phone use in the area, or something. The manager, while concerned, said it ultimately wasn’t his decision, but that incidents like these are the reason many restaurants are removing their play areas. I know a sign won’t completely stop people, but  it might deter some, or it might make a parent like me think twice and monitor their kids more closely.I called corporate and they basically wrote down my concerns to send up the ladder, but I still haven’t heard back. It’s shame that something worse might have to happen before we see any changes, but it seems like that’s the way it is these days. For now, I continue to talk to my kids about strangers, cameras, and safety, off and online. I’m not sure what else I can do.

Caribbean Cruise: Fun, Sun and Lessons Learned

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Toes in the sand on South Beach

For my 40th birthday I went on a five day cruise, with my husband. We sailed out of Miami, visited Key West and Cozumel and then stayed another night in Miami before heading heading home. The weather was gorgeous and we spent most of our time just relaxing. We ate, drank, and soaked up the sun, which was just what both of us needed. When we stopped in Key West we spent our time walking around and stopping in the little shops and restaurants. I especially enjoyed the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick. The island is beautiful and we decided this was definitely a place we would come back to visit again. In Cozumel, we did a little bit of walking and shopping, but spent most of the day enjoying the ship without all the crowds. Our last night of vacation we spent in Miami. We walked around South Beach and enjoyed a fabulous dinner outside in the fresh, sea air. Miami, we decided too was a place we could see ourselves visiting again. It was an absolutely wonderful time spent with just my husband and a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday.

When I decided on the 12in12 idea I wanted the vacation aspect of the trips, but I wanted them to be meaningful as well. I want to see and experience new things to relax and to learn, and this first one did all of that. My biggest take away from the trip was that I use my phone all together too much.  I love what technology has done for us in terms of availability of information and sharing- obviously I’m writing a blog, I get it.  But, I constantly worry what it is doing to our kids and while I monitor their usage, I have to wonder if I am being a good role model. My husband has always made little comments about the time I spend on my phone and I have always kind of blown it off, or I will set it down for a few minutes to appease him, only to pick it up later. I justified by saying I was multitasking or I was looking at my phone to relax, just like someone else might watch TV, what was the difference? But being without it on the cruise has really made me see how much I used it- and for what? I didn’t need to multitask or work and and I was certainly relaxing without. I actually blew through three magazines and read two books in one week! And I have to admit that there seemed to be some type of weight off my shoulders from that break from social media. When we were back on land and I had service, I did pick my phone back up, but I have resolved to make some minor changes so that I can break the habit of constantly picking it up.

Five Simple Ways to Break the Phone Habit

  1. Turn Off Push Notifications. Every time your phone lights up or makes a noise it acts as a trigger. Like Pavlov’s dogs your brain has been trained to pick up the phone when it produces the trigger- so remove the trigger and you’ll pick it less.
  2. Put Your Charger in an Inconvenient / Out Of The Way Place. I  kept chargers everywhere- the kitchen counter, the bathroom, nightstands, the car- everywhere. That way I could have my phone close by and charging, which in turn meant I could pick it up at every chance. So, I have limited my options and placed my chargers out of the way, like the laundry room and the spare room. I have my ringer on in case someone needs me, but now the phone isn’t staring me down begging me to pick it up anymore.
  3. Buy a Real Alarm Clock. Most people use their phones as their alarm clock, but that means that your phone is in your hands before you go to bed and as soon as you get up. You can find a simple alarm clock at the dollar store and that simple investment will keep you from staying up late and/or getting sucked into the your phone first thing in the morning.
  4. Keep a Small Notebook Handy. We all use our phones to create lists, take notes and set reminders, but the old school pen and paper might actually be more effective. When we write things down, instead of asking Siri to do it for us, we remember them better. When we pick up the phone to take that note, we are more tempted to quickly check emails, texts or social media for just a second, which usually turns into more wasted time.
  5. Set a Sleep Timer. A regular timer will just go off and you can keep scrolling or hit the snooze, but a sleep timer will shut your phone down so that you have to put it down.

Turning 40!

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Well, I recently turned 40! Exclamation point- right? Yes! I had a wonderful birthday, spent with my family, and like most birthdays, the fun lasted a little longer than just one day. You see, I like to celebrate my birthday week, ya know extend the festivities just a bit, but this year is different, I’m shooting for a little longer than a week.

Forty is definitely a milestone birthday and in the months leading up to it, I felt like I should either be dreading it or setting some type of goal that I would accomplish by the actual date. But, I wasn’t really dreading it and none of the goals I considered seemed right. I’ve never been someone who is ashamed to admit my age and I wasn’t (and still haven’t) been “feeling old.”  Sure, people had plenty of suggestions as to what I could do to mark the occasion, from parties, to workouts, to workout parties, the list was endless. I had seen what others around me were doing, like running marathons or going on trips and I knew I wanted to do something, but what?

Ultimately I decided to make the whole year a celebration! Over the top? Maybe. But, I figured who cares? After all, it is my birthday, I should celebrate it however I want. I didn’t need to make other people happy, although I think some of my plans have so far. It all started when my husband earned a free cruise last summer (he is a teacher who is also a Farmers Insurance agent on the side). When we saw the dates we (really more me) were so excited that it fell on the week after my birthday! As the cruise date got closer, so did my big birthday and in my quest to find some way to mark the day I found a hashtag that inspired me: #12in12. This, my friends, represent the idea of taking 12 trips in 12 months. And once I found it, I was hooked. The only issue I had was how I could make it more meaningful. I knew I could write about my experiences, but I wanted each trip to mean something to me, my family, my friends, my career, really anything that didn’t really make it just all about me. But, yes I still wanted to have fun and see and do things I had never done before.  Since the first trip was the free cruise, I figured maybe I could try to keep the idea of an “earned” or discounted trip -some type of deal I could share with you, along with all the fun- going for the next 11 months.

So the week after my birthday I set off on my first trip- a Caribbean Cruise! It was perfect. The weather was beautiful, the atmosphere was relaxing and fun and we really enjoyed ourselves (more on that later). The next trip I have planned is to meet with some friends who are also turning 40 this year for the weekend in Chicago and we are going to see Hamilton! This trip I funded completely with my earnings from my Teachers Pay Teachers store Cassandra’s Corner. Knowing I was going to do this motivated me to create more products and work on promoting them, which will hopefully also fund another trip later this year. The plans for trip number three and four are still in the works. The third is a spring break trip with the kids that we are planning on using our SkyMiles for and staying at a timeshare where, yes, we will have to go to a presentation, but we also get to stay cheap (more on this later).  And the fourth, well that one is a under wraps for now as we work out the deals and the details.

As this fabulous fortieth year continues I hope my thoughts and feelings on this milestone stay positive as I travel and keep you posted on how and where. Happy Birthday Day to Me!

Books, Books and More Books Please!

I love to read and I love a neatly organized, colorful bookshelf. I have multiple books on my nightstand, laying in waiting for me to pick them up, another stack on my desk at work and a running list on Good Reads. As an English teacher (and one that recently changed grade levels) I am constantly devouring new books to find texts that will engage my students and encourage more reading. My 6th grade son is an avid reader too and he often recommends titles and authors as well. I will read just about anything and everything, I do not discriminate.  And when I walk into a book store I have a hard time walking out without something, even though I own plenty of books that haven’t been read yet. So, I admit it- I have a problem, albeit a trivial problem, it can be a pricey problem nonetheless.

In an effort to curb my book spending I have been trying to visit the library more than the bookstore and I am always looking for deals on books. I’ve tried some audio book memberships for long trips, and when I find free ebooks I’ll download for later. But, there really is nothing like the feel of an actual book in your hands, with nothing else to distract you.  I know I won’t break this bad habit of wanting new books on my shelf, so I will continue to look for discounts and used book sales and I’ll post cheap deals, freebies and anything else I find here.

The Little Free Library

The Little Free Library is a worldwide network of cute, little, dollhouse sized libraries that individuals place in their community- the park, a school, even their front yard. The idea is that you can take a book when you leave a book, so the selection is always in rotation. I first starting see these pop-up in my hometown about two years ago. The local paper wrote a story about it and it grew. My kids and I would ride our bikes around the neighborhood looking for a new one and trade in books we no longer needed for different used books and then trade those when we were done. I’ve already spotted a couple in my new neighborhood and so the fun and the reading continues. You can get info on how to find one near you or how to start your own here.

Resolve to Read in 2018 Contest

The Resolve to Read in 2018 Contest over at Penguin Random House is a great way to get some FREE books and find some new reading material. You just need to enter your email and you could win two free books a month for a year! Once you have entered you can take a quick quiz and you’ll get a list of books you might like along with some preview chapters to sink your teeth into. I have already entered everyone in my family this morning!

Amazon Book Buyback

Take a long, hard look round your house for some old books that may be worth some extra cash. Amazon will buy back used textbooks as well as other books and other items. First, I went through all my old college texts and then I went through old (and extra- my husband and I both teach so we often get multiple copies) professional development books and even some popular fiction. You go here and enter the bar code on the back of the book. You receive an immediate offer, in the form of an Amazon.com Gift Card, and free shipping for your trade-in. Pack them up and once received, your Amazon account is credited. Then feel free to buy more books- or anything really. So far I have earned over $200 just sending in books I don’t need anymore!

8 Ways to Repurpose Your Ipsy Makeup Bags

If, like me, you subscribe to Ipsy- the beauty subscription that comes with a makeup bag each month- you may find yourself overwhelmed with cute, little makeup bags and not enough uses for them. Sue, I can use them for carrying makeup, and for toiletries for overnight trips, but there are still more lingering and more piling up each month. So here are eight ways to put these bags to use and feel good about it. So grab some labels and prepare to repurpose those bags and perhaps even get a little organized while you’re at it.

1. First Aid Kit

What a cute way to carry around extra bandages, gauze, wipes, antiseptic sprays and lotions. Keep it in your car, your purse, or anywhere you might need it around the house. Slap a label on it so everyone knows what’s inside and you are good to go.

 

2. Pencil Cases

If you have kids these are great for pencils, pens, markers, crayons, really any type of school supplies. The kids need them for school anyway and now you have them ready and backups for when your kids wear them out. I use them to organize all the different writing tools I use and keep them in my backpack. If you don’t have kids, consider donating them to your local school, where kids in need can use them for the same purpose.

3. Chargers and Earbuds

My entire family is notorious for losing chargers and earbuds, especially when we are traveling. These little bags make it easier for everyone to keep track of their own accessories. I keep one in the car and one in my backpack just for myself. Label each family members’ case so that everyone can be responsible for their own accessories.

4. Toys

If you like your toys organized, or your kids do, these make-up bags are perfect for game board pieces, trading cards, Barbie shoes and accessories, pretty much any little toy that can get lost in the shuffle.

5. Gift Bags

Some of the bags I get from Ipsy are so pretty they are better than gift wrap or a store bought, paper bag. Fill the bag with small gifts or stuff it with cash or gift cards, either way it’s an original and functional way to present a gift.

6. Loose Change

Let’s face it that loose change in the car never really makes it into those little individual coin holders. Instead, it usually ends up all over the center console and then stuck to the bottom of a cup holder. One little make-up bag can help with all that. Putting all that extra change in the same spot makes it easier so you can actually grab it when you need that change on the go.

7. Clean out that Junk Drawer

Everyone has one of the these drawers somewhere in their house, maybe even more than one. Use these bags to organize all that junk. Playing cards can go in one, extra batteries in another and screws, clips and tools in one more. You’ll get organized and all your “junk” will now be in cute little bags.

8. Extra Scraps

If you are into crafts like scrapbooking or sewing, chances are you have little bits and pieces of materials and tools that you don’t want to throw away. Use these little bags to organize your scraps so that they can be right at your fingertips the next time you need them.

Give Back Box

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In my closet, filling up my first box.

Ok so it’s the new year and whether you make resolutions or not, what I am about to offer you is really something you could do anytime of year. I am just pushing it now partly because I just discovered it and partly because I am a New Years Purger. I like to get out the old junk and start the year fresh and reorganized. Couple that with the fact that I just moved and I have a tiny bit of an online shopping addiction. What that means is, I have a lot of empty boxes laying around. Enter Give Back Box! Their mission is to help you recycle your old boxes by providing “an effortless and convenient method of donating your used household items.” You fill an old box with your old stuff and ship it to them for free!

Here is how it works: Open your package and empty out all your new goodies. Dump in all the old stuff you don’t want anymore. Tape it up, print a shipping label, slap it on, and drop it at the Post Office. You can even schedule a pick-up from your house if want! How easy is that?

For me, I use New Years to set goals and one of them this year is to organize the closets and storage areas in my house. Give Back Box is perfect for this, because now I can dump all that stuff I want to get rid of right into one box and ship it off. My closets can be clean and I can I do some good!

You would think that since I just moved I am totally organized. In my dream world, I carefully packed my house up, getting rid of stuff I didn’t need, donating and organizing as I went. My boxes were perfectly labeled and placed in the correct rooms when we arrived at our new house and I carefully put our belongings away in an organized and timely manner. Yeah right! In reality, I was offered my new job on a Thursday and moved a family of six on Saturday so I could start work on Monday. Yes, we had a ton of help from friends and family on both sides of the move and I am grateful for all of their help. But it was, and still is, a huge mess. There were boxes full of random toys, towels, food, and toilet paper. Boxes that were labeled and boxes with labels I couldn’t read. Just last week, I opened a box that had dirty laundry from August in it!

As we moved box after box and as we slowly unpacked (and continue to) my husband and I keep asking “why did we pack this?” and in some cases we didn’t actually pack it. But we have it now and so it goes to the donation pile and sometimes, rightfully so, the trash. Thus, I am far from organized or even unpacked, but I do have a lot of boxes that I need to get rid of. Add to that, the boxes of Christmas deliveries and  I need Give Back Box in my life!

Side story: Last Christmas we were given a beautifully hand-carved nativity that’s also a music box. I forgot to put it away with the other Christmas decorations and so I wrapped it up and put it in a box in my closet where I knew it would be safe. Fast forward to the end of the summer, and while frantically packing up my house, my friend Stephanie stopped by for a few hours to help. I showed her the way to my closet and told her to throw everything in boxes and mark them as my clothes and shoes, so at least I knew I could get dressed for work once we moved. I left her to work and went to pack up another room. When she finished, she whispered to me, “I got everything packed, except your naughty box.” What!?! I looked at her like she was crazy and said, “You are our of your mind! I don’t have a naughty box!” She simply said, “don’t worry, I didn’t look in it.” I followed her up to my room and she pointed out the box. A box that I had hastily written, in my horrible handwriting “nativity” and she thought it said, “naughty.” We laughed about that one as we packed the rest of the day and I giggled again as I unpacked that box this Christmas.

 

 

Flying and sweating- seriously sweating!

This year, instead of the long drive to visit family for the holidays we bought some cheap tickets and used some sky miles to shorten that trip and make the most of our time. The airport here is tiny- seriously tiny (picture the old TV show Wings and then shrink it). And as soon as we get there, I’m thinking the ten hour drive might have been a better option.

Let’s start with the fact that we are traveling with four children- so I’m already sweating from packing and hauling all these bags and picking up dropped blankets, dolls, and earbuds every five seconds. Add to that, I have a baby siting on my lap for the flight, so at check-in I find out my seat options are very limited. Apparently on these tiny planes you can only sit on an aisle (fine by me) and you can only sit on the right side of the plane….whatever. However, my 12 year old is having a melt down, saying he is too scared to fly and needs to sit next to me. The guy at the counter tries to put this puzzle together and basically my husband ends up with the three year old near the front of the plane and I have have everyone else in the back- now I’m sweating just a tad bit more.

We get through security fine, but now we are trapped in an enclosed portion of the airport with no bathrooms, one broken vending machine and not nearly enough seats for all the passengers. Just as everyone is crammed in there, that’s when the plane we are flying on lands and the departing passengers need to trample through our area to get out. Now we have to smash up against a wall, to make room, holding all of our stuff and keeping a toddler and baby out of the way. Did I mention that it’s -15 degrees outside so I am also holding everyone’s winter coats, hats and gloves? So, even though a gust of cold air comes flying through (because yes, the doors open right to the outside runway) I’m seriously sweating now.

When they call for boarding we hang back a bit, to avoid spending any extra time in our seats. And while I’m a little excited to board a plane like I’m the President, I can’t really enjoy it because my 12 year old is now really worked up, saying he will just stay- because he can not get on the plane. He’s walking backwards and so I have to practically shove him out the door and onto the plane while carrying the baby- I’m dripping sweat at this point. There is no way I’m taking my coat off, because I am completely pitted out.

I’m essentially the last person to board this tiny aircraft and I can see the look on everyone’s face. The flight has already been delayed. It’s the day after Christmas and people just want to get wherever it is they are going. The plane is almost full and those few who have an open seat next to them are silently praying I don’t sit next to them all because of what I carry in my arms- my daughter. (I’m not here to debate if people should travel or not with babies- I just wish we could forgo the looks). Here’s the thing, I don’t want to sit next to you just as much as you don’t want to sit next to me! I sit down and the fist thing my daughter asks for is dad. I say, “oh sorry baby dad has to sit up front” and immediately the guy next to me pipes up- “do you want me to switch seats with him?” Yeah sure buddy, lIke I didn’t think of that before. I have to crush his dreams by telling him, I have a three year old that my husband needs to sit with and he sighs and looks back at his phone.

Here’s how the flight goes: 12 year old asks 5000 questions before take-off and I hold his hand until we are in the air at which point he turns and says “hmm, this isn’t so bad”. Baby sits like an angel until 12 year old calms down and then she figures it’s her turn. She squirms, kicks, throws things and yells for dad. I am doing everything in my power to calm her, including sweating buckets. I am desperately waiting for the snacks and some water because at this point I think I’m dehydrated. But, when we get served, she grabs the water bottle and all the food. So I don’t get anything, but she’s at least sitting still for a few minutes and I have some peace. I’m thinking that it’s only a 45 minute flight right? How bad could it be? I’m drenched in sweat trying to hold a baby who wants to run around, yelling for her dad, praying we land soon, but praying more that I don’t have a sweaty butt when I finally stand up.

When it’s over, I’m exhausted and I still have to get all these kids and all their bags across an airport and to a car. I am hungry, thirsty, and sore. I feel like I just finished a marathon and at that moment my 12 year old turns to me and says “that flight was so relaxing- didn’t you think so Mom?”

Side note: My 9 year old was with us-we did not forget him Home Alone style. He took care of his own carry-on, found his seat, popped in his headphones, and never made a peep! He is the real hero of the story, because if he had any issues I might have lost my mind!