Adventure Day in Vancouver, Part 2

~~~~~ Here’s the link to “Adventure Day in Vancouver, Part 1” ~~~~~~

After some good food and some well deserved rest, we left the restaurant in high spirit.  It was only 2:30PM, and our flight back to LA was 6:05PM.  We decided to head to the airport a little before 4PM, because I didn’t think Vancouver airport would be very busy.  That meant that we had an hour to sight see.  We packed the kids back into the car and drove around the neighborhood till we found a Toys-R-Us to play for a while.

Between drooling at interesting toys and pulling kids away from doing dangerous stunts, we  didn’t get back onto our way till nearly 4PM.  We weren’t too worried though, the airport was only 15 minutes away, and there can’t be long insane lines at the gate anyway.

Luck was not on our side.  I misused our GPS and ended up in some remote back alley without sight of a single soul!  The first sign that we were in trouble.  It took us another 15 minutes to finally returned our rental car and arrived at the Air Canada terminal (as indicated by our airline ticket), only to find out that our real airline carrier is United, which is not written anywhere on our itinerary!  The lady at the desk told us to “run as fast as we can!”, as United will be closed for boarding withing the next few minutes.  At this time, the clock has just strike 5PM, and I sensed that things are about to get really crazy.

The United Airline terminal is located on the other side of the airport.  With two kids and 2 large suit cases, I didn’t know how we were going to get there on time.  But failure was not an option; there was no way we could spend a night in the airport with 2 kids.  So I ran ahead carrying Maxie and a backpack, while Mario ran behind me rolling two suit cases and hurrying Ravi along.  It was a long way across the airport.  There were so many moments that I was out of breath and feeling desperately lost, but I couldn’t stop, I had to keep going.  Finally, I arrived to the check-in desk and got in line.  The couple before us are also in the same predicament.  The gentlemen at the desk was just making a call to obtain permission to allow us to check-in.  After some begging (my poor little boys, tired and sad…etc) and bending of regulation, we were let in.  As soon as we got tickets, we began running again!  Next stop, bag check-in.  We had to wait in line for nearly 10 minutes.  As soon as we handed over our suitcases, we ran again, this time toward the security line.  There were two couple with infants and strollers in front of us, chatting merrily blocking our path.  Forget about being polite!  I cut short their conversation to asked if we could go pass them, as we were about to miss our flight.  I could see that they faces froze over and were in shock, then they stepped aside to let us pass.  We waited 25 minutes to get through the security screening.  We picked up our speed to run again only to be stopped at the migration check point.  The gentleman asked: “Disney cruise?”  “Yes.  Did you see a lot of us coming through today?” “Yes…”  So the man has already seen much chaos.

We were finally let into the gating area.  A quick scan of the map showed that our gate is all the way at the far end!  I grabbed onto Maxie tight and began running again, this time for the finish line.  It was considerably harder for Mario and Ravi to follow closely behind, so our strategy was for me to get there first in order to secure our boarding privilege.  It was such a long way and I was already tired from running and worrying for the last hour.  It seemed we made dozen of turns and I had lost sight of Mario and Ravi, but I kept running and look forward to our terminal.  Finally it was in sight and at 6PM exactly I handed my tickets to the man at the gate.  All of us boarded, seated at separate locations, seat belt fastened at 6:05PM.  I breathed a long breath of relieve.  We are almost home.

But we haven’t arrived at our beloved yellow house yet.  Out of 4 seats, only 2 were together, so Ravi sat with Mario while I carried Maxie the whole way.  Though Ravi had no problem with the entire flight, the take-off and descend were extremely painful to Maxie and he cried with all his might.  I was extremely thankful that my neighbors looked over at us with sight of pity rather than animosity.  The flight was 3 hours long, while iPads were great to keep them entertained, it was very hard to keep the kids in their seat.  Ravi loved to crawl under the seats and ran through the passageway, much to the dismay of the flight attendant.

I must have checked my watch every other minute!  Finally we touched down and arrived in LA!  But my cell was out of battery despite being recently charged.  After a quick re-charge, I called my dad to correct our arrival information (United instead of Air Canada).  10 minutes later he arrived at the curb.  So close to home… but the drama is not yet over.  We couldn’t find our luggage check-in receipts, even though we had them in our hands just minutes ago.  Without them the TSA personnel would not let us out of the door.  At this point, it was almost too much for us to take and we were on the point of breaking down.  I decided to hand the kids to my dad so they could go home first while Mario and I stayed behind to sort out this disaster.   Just as I finished putting the kids into their seats, Mario came out with the suitcases beaming.  It turned out that they fell onto the floor so he was able to locate them when he looked around.  At the same time, the TSA personnel had moved on so it didn’t matter anyway.  I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or laugh.  But we loaded up the car and finally headed home.

We arrived home 9:40PM and felt instantly at ease.  The kids were so happy to finally see their toys again and disappeared to play on their own.  I gladly told our adventures to my mom who was preparing for us a late night dinner.  The scent of familiarity and sounds of laughter welcomed me home.  Home at last.  Home sweet home.  There is nowhere I would rather be but here.

-Flo.

Adventure Day in Vancouver, Part 1

~~  Please note that all the pictures showed in this blog post are borrowed from other sites.  Their credits and origins are listed under their caption. ~~

On the last day of our Disney Cruise vacation we arrived at our final destination — Vancouver, Canada.  When we woke up in the morning, we eagerly looked out onto the shore and couldn’t contain our excitement to be able to visit this picturesque city for the first time.  Little did we know that this day was going to turn into one of the most action packed days of our lives.

Our plan was to spend the afternoon in Vancouver and hop on a flight back to LA at 6PM that day. The ship’s communication pamphlet has informed us that our only breakfast option is scheduled at 7AM, so we began our day at 6AM.  By 8AM we have finished eating and packed up.  By 8:30AM, we had disembarked and began our day in Vancouver, much earlier than I anticipated.

We arrived at Hertz rental car in Downtown Vancouver at 9AM and surprised to find out that they have no cars standing by. We had arranged for a car to picked up around 12PM because we thought a) it would take a lot longer to disembark like it did last cruise, and b) they would have an alternate car standing by so the pickup time was just meant to be approximate like all of the other times we had rented a car. Unfortunately, the place we booked from was located in downtown Vancouver and was a satellite office for the larger airport office.  With no car available, we had no transportation available other than feet or a taxi ride to a different car rental spot. We still liked this place, since they were very very cheap. So we grudgingly put our suit cases into  storage and took the kids out to see the city on foot.  Couple of steps out of the door, I felt something fall onto my head. Only later did I find out that it was a huge chunk of bird poop.  I should have understood then that this day was not going my way.

Two blocks later, we came across the Emery Barnes Park,  a beautifully designed and landscaped park nestled amongst the high rises.  It has all the bells and whistles you can possibly expect from a neighborhood park: play ground for the kids, grass area to laze around on, beautiful flowers and trees adorned every corner, and a visually stunning water scape filled with fountains, streams, and waterfall.  We decided to play for a while before going further into the city.

Emery Barnes Park, Vancouver, Canada

Emery Barnes Park, Vancouver, Canada (Image by RickChung.com, originally appeared at http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/07/flickr-buzz-july-5-2012/)

While Max occupied himself with the swing, Ravi was fascinated with the water.  He happily ran across the bridges, threw leaves into the fountain, and went back and forth through the stepping stone path at edge of the pool.  I had warned him that we don’t have any spare shoes in case of an accident, but he didn’t listen.  sure enough, he missed a step and put his entire right leg into the pool!  The shoe became way too wet for a long day of walking in the city.  So the only choice we had was to buy him a new pair.  After talking to a couple of parents in the park, we decided on the Hudson Bay near Georgia and Granville.

Hudson Bay, Vancouver (Image borrowed from http://www.retail-insider.com/2012/11/more-spring-renos-for-vancouvers.html)

Hudson Bay, Vancouver (Image borrowed from http://www.retail-insider.com/2012/11/more-spring-renos-for-vancouvers.html)

It was supposed to be only 13 blocks away, but with each of us carrying a kid (Max at ~25lbs, Ravi at ~33lbs), it took over 30 minutes through the street of Vancouver to arrive at Hudson Bay.  Let me tell you, that was a very long 30 minute walk!  I never knew the streets of Vancouver could be so much longer than anything I knew.  We bought the only toddler size 10 shoes in store and were glad that the difficult part of our journey is over.  It was 10:30AM, so we decided to wander around the neighborhood till 12PM to pick up our rental car.

Lucky for us,  the Pacific Centre Mall is located right across the street and that’s where we spent the next hour.  The kids had fun running around while Mario and I nervously followed.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed some ice cream from Dairy Queen, some delicious chocolate from Purdy’s, and a nice cup of coffee from Starbucks.  When 11:45 rolled around, we began our journey back to the rental car office.

Pacific Centre Mall, Vancouver (Image from http://gaytravel.about.com/od/gaydestinationgalleries/ig/Vancouver-Photo-Gallery/Pacific-Centre-mall.htm)

Pacific Centre Mall, Vancouver (Image from http://gaytravel.about.com/od/gaydestinationgalleries/ig/Vancouver-Photo-Gallery/Pacific-Centre-mall.htm)

Maxie had fallen asleep on my shoulder, so I carried him the whole way.  Ravi was so brave but the long journey tired him out and Mario carried him the last 4 blocks.  We arrived 30 minutes later, got our car set up and loaded, and were ready to begin our adventure as the way we intended too.  At this point, I was so tired I was ready to just get through the day and never return to Vancouver again.

First stop, lunch.  We had pre-selected several interesting restaurants depending on what fancied our moods, but on that day we decided on going to Shanghai River, which  belongs to the Ding Tai Fung chain. They are famous for their thin crusted bao.  It might be because we hadn’t eaten Chinese food all week long so we were starting to miss it, but the food at Shanghai River tasted fantastic to both me and Mario.  We ordered a whole bunch of food and devoured all.  What stood out for Mario was a sugar baked cake, fresh and light.  Maxie and Ravi each finished a whole one!

Shanghai River, Vancouver.  Image from http://urbandiner.ca/2010/08/06/dine-around-richmond-northern-chinese-cuisine/.

Shanghai River, Vancouver. Image from http://urbandiner.ca/2010/08/06/dine-around-richmond-northern-chinese-cuisine/.

Sweet & Sour Rock Cod. Image from http://www.foodspotting.com/people/felixt.

Sweet & Sour Rock Cod. Image from http://www.foodspotting.com/people/felixt.

ose Liver with Sticky Rice.  Image from http://www.coffeefoodies.com/2012/03/25/shanghai-river-richmond/

Goose Liver with Sticky Rice. Image from http://www.coffeefoodies.com/2012/03/25/shanghai-river-richmond/

Shredded Chicken with Rice Noodles

Shredded Chicken with Rice Noodles. Image from http://www.coffeefoodies.com/2012/03/25/shanghai-river-richmond/

Thin Crusted Baos.  Image from http://www.coffeefoodies.com/2012/03/25/shanghai-river-richmond/

Thin Crusted Baos. Image from http://www.coffeefoodies.com/2012/03/25/shanghai-river-richmond/

With food in our stomach and some well deserved rest, our spirits were uplifted and we began to enjoy ourselves again.  We even joked about our adventure and were glad that we came after all.  Maybe someday we can come back for a culinary tour.  But the day was far from over and we had no idea what’s yet to come.

Flo.

~~~~~ Our adventure will continue in Part 2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Weekend Adventures of August 25th, 2012

We began this year with limited family activities, which is to say we didn’t go anywhere or do do anything fun on the weekends.  Why not, you may ask.  Well, the kids were too much for us to handle.  At times, it felt like our noses were barely above water.  Between nap times, meal times, crying times, request to be carried times, … there weren’t much time.  Thank heaven’s we have finally out grown those days.  Half a year later, we have two pairs of capable hands on deck (Mario graduated from school), Max only requires one nap a day, and Ravi no longer needed to be carried.  So we have cautiously experimented with various activities.  For the past few months, our family has been going out to restaurants and doing more activities out doors, like to the beach or local parks, and these trips became easier with each passing week.  The successes of these weekends must have boosted Mario’s confidence too much.  When I asked him last Friday what he wanted to do on the weekend, out of blue he said: “let’s go to the zoo!” 

So off we went last Saturday morning.  We left home at 10:45 AM thinking we would have an early lunch before heading out to the zoo.  When we got there, Max has already fallen asleep.  So we got take out and couple of drinks instead.  By the time we got to the zoo, Max woke up in good mood and we were ready to take on the world.  We had a fantastic day.  We were out for five hours and half of it were spent inside the zoo.  The kids didn’t die, or even cry.  We saw interesting animals, though the most fasinating object was the mist fan.  Mario and I had a great work out by pushing the stroller and keeping up with the kids.  Instead of the expensive and crappy food at the zoo, we had delicious dim sum which was finger licking good. 

Arriving at the zoo. Max and Ravi are slowly warming up to the place.

Max enjoyed walking with daddy.

Max still wants to be carried, but much less than earlier this year.

The brothers enjoyed the “lair” exhibition.

Some lizards inside the “lair” exhibition.

Brothers walking hand in hand. This moment made all my hard work worth it!

What wonderful weekend we had!  This certainly up the bar for future weekends.  But what do you know, the challenger is already at the corner.  Next up, the four day Labor Day weekend!

-Flo.

 

Ladybugs

Do you know there is a market for buying and selling ladybugs?  Even through mail orders?  I can’t believe I lived more than thirty some odd years and never know about this.

One day during my trip to Albany, my sister told me she was excited to get home because her ladybug order should be arriving that day.  I paused for a few seconds and felt slightly light headed, probably due to the intense sunlight shooting straight into my eyes.  I thought maybe I never really woke up that day, and this is part of my reoccurring wacky dream.  But we got home and there’s a small four inch cube box waiting for her.  Oh good, I was awake!  Wacky dream, I’ll experience you later.

We immediately took the box outside to the backyard.  I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck this thing really was.  Once we opened the box, we found a small cloth bag with the writing “2000” on it.  I guess it was an order of 2000 ladybugs.  Lei slowly opened it up.  Inside the bag there’s a ball of dry grass which helped maintain the volume of the bag, and around it were countless little dots moving around.  Lei gently moved the bag over to the planter and opened up bag even more to help invite the ladybugs to their new home.

I thought that was the coolest experience I had, ever!  Apparently, the vegetation in the planters have been bothered by some aphids this season.  Since ladybugs are natural enemies of the aphids, inviting some to live in the planter is the best way to maintain a healthy planter without using any chemicals.  How cool it is to use natural solutions!

-Flo.

Vegetable Garden


Every time I visit my sister in Albany I expect to find something new and cool.  This time is no exception.  I woke up on my first morning there and saw two gigantic planters in the backyard, full of things growing out of it.  I had to take a look immediately.


Each planter is about 5 feet by 10 feet.  The front one has radishes, basil, and lettuces, the back one has cucumbers and tomatos.  They are placed on a slope, with one leg longer than the other.  Later on I found out that these were built by my brother-in-law, who also plays the role of a carpenter every blue moon.  I guess he did a good job, as the structure is standing and functioning very well.  Appearantly, my sister has been working all summer long to get them in good shape.  Right now, there’s plenty of goodies to pick every day!


We often had salads with the goodies from the planters.  I am not a huge fan of the radish, but these tomatos were absolutely wonderful.  They look like jewels when ripen, and pop in my mouth like a candy.  I was so inspired, I even asked my sister how to go about putting these planters in place.  She then gave me all sorts of details and suggested that I go read a book on gardening.  What?  You have to read a book to figure out what space to plant what in what season and year?  I was so hoping we will follow the traditions of old farmers that just pass the knowledge down by word of mouth.  I was only planning to use my very few precious gray cells for work related activities.  Everything else in life should involve no thinking.  I guess getting planters will have to wait till I am braver and smarter.

Returning Home

We are home again!  After an eight-hour connection flight to Albany, two long weeks of lazy days hanging out with my sister and her family, and a tiresome eight-hour connection flight back to LA… Bamm! Our vacation is over.  We are tired and already miss waking up to play with Ravi’s cousins every morning.

I would say the trip back home was harder than the trip to Albany, even though the total flight time was the same.  The distinct difference was our return trip took place late in the day, from 6PM to 3AM Albany time, compared to previously trip of 12PM to 8PM LA time.  It felt like such a long and endless day.  Next time we will definitely opt to fly earlier.

We actually started the trip on the wrong foot.  First, our check-in luggage bags were overweight, again!  So I had to bust out a separate carry-on bag to carry some extra stuff.  Secondly, my driver license was expired but I didn’t catch that nor did the check in person at LAX.  So on the way home from Albany, I was tagged as a “high security risk” traveler and had to go through special security procedures.  A couple of the security officers there had my carry-on bags checked item by item to make sure I wasn’t going to blow up the plane where my husband and baby was going to be on.  This meant I had to be separated from Mario and Ravi, which made it especially tough for Mario as he had to handle Ravi and at the same time single-handedly send our large carry-on items such as the car seat and stroller through the x-ray scanner.  I watched him from a distance and was so sad that I couldn’t help.  I was also pissed off that nobody else offered to help either!  So everyone, next time you see a parent in need, stop and offer your assistance!

It took us more time than we expected to get through security. It’s a good thing they didn’t decide to retain me for carrying questionable items in my bags.  We were immediately boarded and got on our way.  Mario and I then spent the next three hours taking turns to entertain Ravi.  We presented him with toys one at a time till he threw them all away.  Then we dazzled him with array of snacks; some he liked and put into his mouth, some he generously shared with the floor.  Ravi also spent about twenty minutes playing with my ice water.  He swooshed his hand in it, took out the ice cubes, petted, and licked it.  Eventually he just got tired of it all and started disturbing the neighbors.  I took out the final piece of my arsenal, my laptop, and started to play his favorite videos.  I even let him bang on the keys without giving him a single dirty look.  Unfortunately that attempt only provided calmness for about 30 minutes.  I was out of ideas and glad to have daddy take over.

We finally touched down in Minneapolis and had two hours before the next flight to LA.  We made our way very slowly to the next terminal by letting Ravi run free.  He would often take off in a completely different direction and try to run into people or vehicles despite our objections.  Ravi particularly enjoyed the rides on the series of people movers and cried when we had to get off.  Anyway, the hour and a half was a very long time to run after Ravi and we were extremely thankful that he fell asleep when we finally boarded and remained asleep through out the flight.  When Mario and I finally sat down to enjoy a quiet moment, we talked about how it was like before Ravi and all our trip to far away places.

The plane touched down at LAX at 11:50PM.  We were thankful that the luggage bags were already out at the luggage claim when we got there.  We loaded up all our stuff and got a cab and finally got home at 1AM.  After some light unpacking for essentials, we headed to bed at 1:30AM.  A new day will begin again tomorrow, where Mario and I will go back to work with piles and piles of things waiting for us to do and Ravi will once again play with his friends at daycare.  We are home again!

If you ever plan to travel with your child, here are couple more travel tips that I would like to share with you.  You can read the other travel tips from my previous post.

1.  Travel light.  Eliminate as much stuff as possible, for both check-in and carry-on bags.  In my case, my diaper bag didn’t perform to my expectation. I would consider eliminating it and combining its function with another carry-on luggage.  I also brought too many clothes which took up valuable luggage space.

2.  For long flights, buy a seat for the baby and bring a car seat.  Ravi napped relatively comfortably thanks to the car seat.

3.  Have a spare bag handy for emergencies such as a luggage overweight situation. Fifty pounds can be easily exceeded in even modest luggage bags. In the good old days, I must have packed 60-70 lb luggage bags on a regular basis.

4.  Always check the weight of your check-in bag before you leave home.

5.  Consider the pros and cons of red eye travel, especially with small children. While they can sleep easier than you or I can, since they’re in their car seat, they are very grouchy before they finally knock out.  In my case it didn’t work as well as traveling earlier in the day.

6.  Check the expiration date of your driver license or ID. It’s not easy being a state terrorist!

We’ve Arrived!

So we are finally here in Albany NY!  I won’t lie, it was hard, not as hard as I thought it would be but hard nevertheless.

So let me tell you how we survived the day.  I started the day really early, at 5:30AM.  I was so nervous I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I got up and started cleaning and doing some last minute packing.  By this time, I had already played over and over in my head how we were going to execute every single step of the trip, and I was fairly confident that we were able to handle it.  We had one luggage to check in, four carry on bags, a car seat, and a stroller.

Our flight was 12:30PM.  By 10:30AM, my parents have dropped us off at LAX.  It took us about 45 minutes to check in our luggage and get our tickets.  Our luggage was over the check in weight limit by 12 lbs.  I immediately took out a spare bag and a bunch of heavier items. Once we handed off our luggage, we started running for the security gate.  Our plan was to mount every single carry on item onto the stroller.  By this time we had five carry on bags.  We loaded both lap tops bags (Mario insisted on his own for the trip) into the basket underneath the stroller.  The diaper bag was mounted onto the stroller’s handle bar.  The car seat was loaded right onto the stroller, on top of it we placed our two other carry on bags.  So far we were executing according to plan, and I was feeling good about myself.  I wanted to take a picture of the stroller but we needed to hurry.

That good feeling about myself ended in just a few minutes.  I made the mistake of taking out a box of Korean rasberry wine out of the luggage when it was over weight, and forgetting that there is restriction on items containing liquid greater than 4 oz.  It was not till we loaded all our items onto the x-ray conveyer bell did we realized.  At this point, we had no choice but to give up the box of wine.

TSA, 1; Flo and Mario, 0.

Shortly after that we realized we never considered how we were going to get all our things from the gate to our seats.  The furthest we could take our stroller is right outside of the plane.  It was not far from our seats, but we certainly under estimated how hard it would be to get there with five bags, a car seat, and a baby.  Finally, with some help from the flight attendant, we sat down as the flight took off.  Ravi must have sensed mommy and daddy’s frustration,  and took a nap for part of the flight.

Three and a half hours later, we touched down in Minneapolis.  We had less then an hour to get to our next terminal.  We picked up some fast food on the way, since we have not eaten since breakfast.  The walk to our next terminal seemed to take forever, and my arms were getting tired from carrying Ravi.  This is certainly not as cool as I pictured myself earlier.  Once we arrived at the terminal, we wolfed down our food.  At this time, the flight is already being boarded.  We then ran to the gate and checked in our stroller and headed down the jet way.  Unfortunately Mario and I were not able to seat together on this flight. He got us settled in and went back to his seat.  I tried unsucessfully to feed the baby, read to him, pulled out his toys, and played his favorite videos; he was not too happy and complained loudly.  I resisted the temptation to take him out of his carseat, because I knew once I do, I’ll be carrying him for the duration of the flight.  Finally he was getting tired and quitely watched Curious George video.  I must have checked my watch every five minutes and was so relieved when the pilot announced we were arriving soon.

We waited until everybody else on the plane got off and then made our way out of the plane.  Once we were off, we were told our stroller was already sent to luggage claim, so we had no choice but to carry everything on our backs.  I had the baby in my arms and a bag on my shoulder.  Mario carried the rest of the four bags and the car seat.  I don’t think I could have survived that walk if we weren’t nearing the end.

Finally we made our way out of the terminals!  I couldn’t express how happy I was to see the familiar faces of my sister and two nieces smiling at me.  We are here at last!

It was a long long day.  If I was to do it over again, I would have checked in an additional luggage with all the extra stuff we don’t need on the flight, and made sure the luggages weren’t over weight.  I would also considered buying a small video player for Ravi so I didn’t have to bring a laptop to the flight at all.  That way we could have eliminated our carry on bags to two small ones, and the trip would have been so much easier.  We’ll see how that would work out on the way home.

-Flo.

Preparing for Take Off

Tomorrow, we will be taking 17 months old Ravi on his first plane trip ever to Albany NY to visit my sister and her family.  For those of you don’t know, this involves two separate flights (no direct flight from LA to Albany), with a total trip time of eight plus hours. Also we will need to arrive to the airport two hours early to check in luggage and pass the security check point, and once we get there, pick up luggage and get a ride to our destination.  So I am counting this to be about a twelve hour trip!

From my tone here, you can tell I am a bit concerned.  It will be great fun once we get there, I am totally jazzed about posting all of our experiences there.  So in order to make sure we will survive the travel, I started to prepare for this trip weeks ago.

First, I made a list of things to bring.  I add things onto the list as I realized we will need them for the trip.  Some of the bulkier items include the stroller and carseat.  I contemplated if I should bring a stroller.  Certainly I wouldn’t want to check my stroller in with regular luggage items and risk getting damaged, but it would be really nice for all our outtings.

Secondly, I researched on-line to find out what I am allowed to bring on board.  I was concerned that I would not be able to bring any milk or water for Ravi.  I found out from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Traveling With Kids’ site that for kids, it is okay to exceed the 3.4 ounces maximum per container rule for carry on and bottles are not required to be presented in the zip-top bags.  That’s really good news. We have been giving Ravi cool boiled water to drink which I believe is safer than plain drinking water.

What about the carry on items?  Of course I would have to bring on board with us extra cloths, bottles, sippy cups, toys, food, laptops…etc.  The idea of dragging the kid, carry on bags, car seat though the airport terminals a couple of times scares me.  Ultimately it would be great to bundle everything onto something with wheels.  Initially we considered getting a wheeled carry on bag and somehow mount the car seat onto it with bungee cords, then carry the kid, diaper bag, and other carry on bags on our shoulders.  Let’s face it, Ravi is not going to be happy seating in the stroller while being cranky and tired. This idea still sounds too hard.  I found out from Delta Airlines Infant & Children’s Items page that ticketed infant/child is entitled to the standard baggage allowance, and stroller and car seats are counted as free additional baggage.  Aha!  That means we can check in the stroller at the gate (not buried under hundreds of luggages) and use it as work horse to carry all our carry on items.  Suddenly an image came into my head, of me carrying Ravi walking effortlessly through the gates while Mario pushing the stroller hauling all our carry ons steps behind us… Happiness, it brings tears to me eyes…

Lastly I solicited tips from anyone who was willing to talk to me about traveling with kids.  I cornered co-workers in the hallways, pinned friends on facebook, and what I got back are similar suggestions (double and triple confirmation!):

1.  Drink some liquid before take off, before landing, after landing to prevent headaches caused by experiencing different pressure levels.

2.  Snack, snack, and snack!  Stay away from high sugar content snacks as it would make the child more hyperactive.

3.  Bring a blanket to make him feel more comfortable.

4.  Buy a couple of new toys before the trip and introduce them to him on the flight.

5.  Bring some video entertainment.

6.  Buy your child a ticket for long flights.

7.  Travel red eye so the kid can sleep through the flight.

We have carefully planed for tips1 through 6.  We have decided against traveling red eye because I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and try to get on a different flight while being so tired.

How solid is our plan?  We’ll let you know in a couple of days.  In any case, if you hear from us again, then we would have survived the flights.  You will be the first to hear about it soon.

-Flo.