The Best Food Allergy Thanksgiving Tips

The Best Food Allergy Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving is upon us again, and I honestly have nothing new to share this year. At least Jed and I have picked up a small dose of the cooties Darrel has now, so it’s very possible Thanksgiving for our family won’t happen this Thursday.

My parents would rather we not bring cooties with the turkey and pumpkin pies, for obvious reasons.

If we do pull off a Thanksgiving this  year, it will pretty much be a repeat of last year for us. We have a slightly larger menu to choose from now, but we actually did a pretty good job of putting together an allergy/FPIES friendly dinner last year so why reinvent the wheel?

However, I’ve shared some great food allergy Thanksgiving tips in the past, so I put them all together in one convenient place to make searching for help easier for you!

I hope this helps with any last minute Thanksgiving plans you may be trying to make.

For starters, there’s this little gem about how to survive Thanksgiving with food allergies and intolerances. It breaks down the options available to every food allergic family at this celebratory, stress-filled, guilt-laden time of year:

Surviving Thanksgiving With Food Allergies-Intolerances

Here is last year’s Thanksgiving Menu for our house, broken down into who is preparing what and when (just in case you need a few suggestions):

Thanksgiving Menu And Salmon Trial

If you’re traveling this Thanksgiving (or later for Christmas), you’ll want to check out this post on traveling with toddlers and preschoolers with food allergies:

Tips on Traveling with Toddlers With Food Allergies Updated

And some recipes you might find useful:

This pumpkin pie is DIVINE. And completely allergy friendly!

Pumpkin Pie & Crust Gluten-Dairy-Egg-Soy Free

Don’t let the foaminess of the photo fool you: this cranberry sauce is perfection. Just don’t use an immersion blender if you don’t want the foam!

 Homemade Cranberry Sauce cradlerockingmama

Sadly, we’ve discovered Jed cannot handle sorghum flour, almond flour, or maple syrup, so this bread is no longer safe for us. It’s more than sad, actually…it’s devastating! This bread is hands down the BEST gluten free bread I’ve ever encountered. It makes lovely dinner rolls, too.

 Gluten & Gum Free Vegan Perfect Sandwich Bread cradlerockingmama

Since we now have goat milk as a safe food, I can assure you the addition of some dairy does make mashed potatos better…but these dairy-free ones are still absolutely delicious, and very simple.

One tip? Add some fat to them. We dump some olive oil in ours now, and they’re TONS better!

 Dairy Free Creamy Mashed Potatos CradleRockingMama

It’s a somewhat unique preparation for asparagus, but it’s delicious. Try it as a novel side this year!

 Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

If you’d like a great “snack” food to put out before dinner on Thursday, these “nuts” are a surefire winner. Hint: they aren’t nuts at all…they’re beans. But you’d never know it!

Allergy-Free Cinnamon Seasoned "Nuts"

For after Thanksgiving, when you’re up to your eyeballs in leftover turkey, here’s a suggestion: make this with turkey instead of chicken, freeze it, and drag it out in a few months when you aren’t sick to death of turkey anymore!

Dairy Egg and Gluten Free Chicken and Rice Casserole cradlerockingmama

Here’s another interesting appetizer for Turkey day, AND you could surely make this with leftover turkey for turkey stuffed mushrooms after the fact!

  Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms

My son LOVES this salmon pate, so don’t think it will be strange to toss this out as an appetizer on Thanksgiving.

However, I think this would make a delicious turkey pate after Thanksgiving to use up some of those thousands of pounds of leftover turkey!
Salmon Pâté Dairy Free

Feel free to peruse my recipes to look for non-traditional menu items if you’re unable to have or modify any of the ones I shared in this post. After all, nothing says you HAVE to eat turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving! Remember that with food allergies/intolerances, creativity is often the only way we can eat.

Besides, Thanksgiving isn’t about the turkey. It’s about being grateful for the blessings of life. 

Even with our many issues, I’m surrounded by some very amazing people that fill me with gratitude every day of my life. No matter what we eat this week, I’ll be saying some serious prayers of thanks that I have the family I have.

I hope you do the same.

Happy Reaction-Free Thanksgiving, Y’all!!



The terrible spinach reaction was Sunday night, and on Wednesday I was scheduled to return to work for a really difficult 3 day assignment. I still felt sore and achy and NOT my best, but I wasn’t bad enough I felt calling in sick was an option.

Besides, thanks to vacation in November, that was my last work assignment for the whole month! It was good money, too.

So two Wednesday mornings ago, sore and achy, I went back to work.

Amazingly enough, by Thursday night I felt 100% again, even with flying 11-14 hour days on Wednesday and Thursday.

One more day of work and I could go home for a well deserved break.

And then…Friday morning.

I was in Orlando, Florida, scheduled to be on the plane at 6:22 a.m. Our van was scheduled at 6:00 a.m.

We arrived curbside at the airport at 6:08 a.m., and as I went to get off the van (which was one of those hotel vans that has three large steps to climb up), I fell.

I fell HARD.

From the top step.

At 3 feet in the air, I suddenly went from vertical to horizontal in a moment.

I landed directly on my left kneecap and the tip of my left elbow on the concrete below.

I lay on the ground, stunned, and couldn’t move for about a minute.

Finally I felt I could move, so my crew helped me up and, with one person on my right side and another on my left, they helped me hobble/wobble over to a bench.

Then I saw that the fall had ripped through my pants and heavy winter tights and my knee looked terrible.


The pain in my elbow was quite intense, and within a few minutes had decided to radiate all the way from my elbow up to my shoulder and down to my fingers. I couldn’t move my hand or arm very much at all without extreme pain.

Paramedics were called. A nifty ride to the hospital followed.

In the ambulance, they checked my blood sugar and it was 49. Apparently that is low enough they didn’t believe it and instantly took it again. The second time it was 65.

Apparently still low. So they said they were going to give me something to suck on to raise my blood sugar.

Oh, hell, no!!

That meant some kind of hard candy or lollipop, and after 5 years of dealing with Jed, I knew that meant something loaded with high fructose corn syrup. After my reaction on Sunday night, the LAST thing I wanted was anything that even hinted  at fructose in my body!

So I got an IV glucose push instead.

About a minute after he finished pushing the glucose? My blood sugar tested at 253, and I was WOOZY.

I’ve been sugar free for over 3 years, y’all! My body didn’t know what to do with all that sugar!

It took a few hours to feel normal again, and in that time I was x-rayed and left to sit in a hospital bed alone for hours.

Fun times.

Turns out, nothing was broken or dislocated, so they released me with instructions to follow up with my primary care doctor at home.

Suddenly I was back in my ripped up uniform, escorted with my luggage (still limping and unable to use my left arm or hand) out of the hospital into the warm Orlando air, and left wondering “What now?”

Fortunately, I have to give my airline a gigantic “Bravo” in the way they handled my injury. I’d been receiving frequent phone calls from myriad company people while in the hospital, and when I called our crew coordination desk to arrange transport home, they knew who I was and my situation before I said more than my name!

A shuttle van was sent for me and positive space seats were arranged for me to get home right away.

In Houston, a supervisor met the plane to meet me and see if I needed anything at all.

Truly impressive.

Even more impressive is the fact that the flight I was supposed to work on Friday morning was only delayed by about ten minutes. Without me, there weren’t enough Flight Attendants to work the flight, so a cancellation was not out of the question.

Somehow, the operations people in Orlando managed to swap around crew members and find someone else to take my place in that brief amount of time.

Bravo, airline. Bravo.

Anyway, when I arrived home, my Dad and Darrel came to rescue me. Since my whole left side was basically out of operation, I couldn’t drive my manual transmission car home.

My parents kindly kept the boys another day at their house, and I slept 12 hours Friday night.

Obviously that weekend was not my most fun weekend ever. I’ve slowly improved, but even today (12 days after falling, in case you’ve lost track) my knee still hurts to bend and my elbow is still painful to touch.

Thankfully, the radiating pain and neck pain are gone, and I can use my arm and leg…I just don’t want to tap my elbow on anything or bend my knee because that hurts.

Oh, and to cap it all off? While I was in the hospital in Orlando, I got a photo text from my mom.

Jed had decided to do something acrobatic, and managed to cut the back of his head open on their coffee table.

The cut did not look good when I got home. Sunday we had to shave part of his hair in order to be able to doctor and band aid the wound.


Thankfully, it’s healing nicely now.

Still, I kind of want to look at reality and say “Reality? I’m going to sleep now. Don’t wake me up until things are easier and I don’t feel beat up and conflicted, okay?”

And I have a far better appreciation for what my kids go through.

I already had a great  understanding and sympathy for their food issues, knowing that I have been affected by food my whole life, but this spinach reaction?


I was a little scared to trial another food. I can’t imagine what our precious food intolerant/allergic children must feel.

Poor babies.

In fact, I bought green bell peppers to trial next, and it took me 2 days to work up the nerve to trial them!

Good news, though: green bell peppers are safe for me!

That emboldened me to trial sweet peas last Saturday, and they seem safe, too!

I must admit, the speed of these food trials is a little unnerving. Having spent 2-4 weeks trialing every new food for Zac for 3.5 years has me habituated to long trials. This is almost dizzying!

Speaking of Zac, we were able to trial black pepper on him to great success!

We’re holding off on starting a new trial because we want him to eat turkey at Thanksgiving this week.

Oh, and he’s – finally – basically potty trained…as long as he’s naked. As soon as you put anything on his heinie, he stops using the toilet completely. Sigh.

Further making me suspect my family is on Candid Camera, Darrel is sick right now. He cocooned himself all day Sunday and yesterday visited the doctor to learn he has both a viral AND bacterial infection. Fortunately, he can get the “good”, cheap drugs. They said he should feel better in about 3 days.

Just in time to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Not in time to help make any of it. Of course.

Truly, y’all. I HATE Fall. This is just beyond ridiculous. 

Anyway, sorry I’ve been so silent lately, but, as you can tell, it’s been rather INSANE for quite a while.

With Thanksgiving this week, I’m going to be re-sharing some of my best Thanksgiving-themed posts on Facebook and in a compilation post tomorrow.

I sure hope things are going more smoothly at your house than they have been at mine!

Weaning, Post-TED Food Trials & MCAD

Weaning, Post-TED Food Trials & MCAD

It’s been a rough few weeks. In fact, there’s been so much happening that I can’t fit it all in one post, so this will be a nifty “ongoing storyline”.

To begin, we do have some exciting news! October 30th, I arrived home from work in the early afternoon. As soon as I got home, Zac asked to nurse and I complied.

Little did I know that would be the last time I ever nursed my second son. 

That night, Darrel pointed out that we had agreed Zac needed to wean almost two months before, but here he was, still nursing. Darrel was frustrated.

He’s been worried about my health on such a restricted diet, and since Zac doesn’t seem to need the breastmilk any longer, he’s been growing convinced that the continued nursing is now holding Zac back in terms of emotional development.

I wasn’t so concerned with Zac’s emotional development, but if he really wasn’t getting any breastmilk, then I really  needed to start eating more foods.

Since Zac had stopped having any active “sick” symptoms from our myriad illnesses the last two months, I told Darrel I’d go ahead and tell Zac we were done nursing.

That night, as we got the kids into bed, Zac asked to nurse. I asked him “Zac, baby, do you get any milk when you nurse now?”

He said “No.”

“Sweetie, if you aren’t getting any milk you don’t need to nurse any more. Nursing is so babies can get milk. We aren’t going to nurse any more.”

He looked sad, but just snuggled in and accepted it. He went to sleep with no problems – and no boobie.

The next day he asked to nurse, and I reminded him that we aren’t going to nurse any more. He started to cry, so I asked him, “Baby, do you just miss spending time snuggling with me?”

He nodded yes, so I told him that I love snuggling with him, too, and that any time he wants to snuggle, all he has to do is tell me he wants to snuggle and I will drop what I’m doing to go snuggle on the couch with him. I told him we don’t need boobie to snuggle.

He smiled and ran to the couch, and we snuggled for about ten minutes.

Over the next couple of days he snuggled with me frequently, but never again asked for boobie.

I went to work a few days later, and when I returned home three Saturday’s ago the first thing he asked was for boobie. I reminded him that we don’t nurse any more, and he immediately said “I want to snuggle, Mommy”.

So we snuggled, and that is that.

Zac has weaned. 

1,228 days of nursing. 

1,166 days of nursing on a Total Elimination Diet. 

I thought I would feel sad, and I think if I had done it any earlier I would  have been sad. Instead, I was relieved. As much as I loved loved LOVED nursing my boys, the truth is, I had finally reached the point where I’d had enough.

Weaning made me feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders! 

That’s why the very next day, three Sunday’s ago, I excitedly insisted we make a run to our health food co-op so I could pick up the first food I would trial off  my FPIES TED: spinach.

Darrel suggested it because he knows I always loved spinach and I have no leafy greens in my diet.

Even though I already knew spinach is high in histamine and salicylates, I thought trialing spinach sounded good. After all, I’m all grown up. Surely that means I can tolerate a pretty good amount of any triggers, right? Besides, I never used to have any kind of acute reaction symptoms from my food before. Only chronic. I figured it was worth it because spinach is so nutritious.

We came home with the spinach and I quickly made dinner for the family: hamburgers and sweet potato fries for the boys, and salads for me and Darrel.

It was a simple salad, just iceberg lettuce (which I haven’t trialed, but which has none of the things that are potential problems for me so I considered it safe without trialing), spinach leaves, cucumber, hard boiled egg, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

Delicious Poison

It. Was. Delicious!!!

I’d forgotten how good salads taste!

We ate dinner at 6:00 p.m.

By 6:30 p.m. I started having a headache.

By 8:00 p.m. I wanted to get unconscious as fast as possible because of the discomfort I felt all over my body, but especially my head.

At 9:00 p.m., laying in bed, I spent 20 minutes crying and whimpering in pain.

Oh, dear God, the pain!

I’m not exaggerating when I say it was almost on par with the pain of childbirth. Not exactly, but dang close.

I could not think.

The overwhelming pain became my entire world.

Eventually the thought oozed through the abyss of yawing pain in my head that hydrotherapy is effective; I should take a bath.

I laid in a warm bath with magnesium chromate for about 20 minutes, which was long enough for the pain to ease back enough that I could think a little.

I hurt everywhere, but the biggest source of pain was my head, so I searched online for natural headache remedies.

If I could just make the headache better, I hoped I could tolerate the rest of the pain

Eventually I got out of the bath and oozed to the kitchen where I made some lavender and peppermint essential oil blend in tallow to rub on my temples.

Then I got an ice bag put together. (And yes, I whimpered like a wounded animal through all of these lovely activites.)

I smeared the EO blend on my temples and sat with the ice bag on my head. That offered some relief from the pain, but only if I sat perfectly still. Even a slight movement made the pain come roaring through like a freight train.

I took the opportunity of perfect stillness to text a “food trial update” to my friend (a fellow FPIES mom).

Immediately after commiserating, she asked “do you have any Benadryl?”

I said I did, and she told me to take one. “If you have MCAD (Mast Cell Activation Disorder) it will help.”

A quick look through my kitchen proved I could not find the bottle of compounded dipenhydramine I got for myself the last time we had the boys bottle refilled. Moving=pain, so I decided to take 4 of the boys dipenhydramine, since 4 of theirs equals 1 dose for adults. (Remember, each compounded pill costs 50 cents!).

I asked my friend how long it would take to make a difference, and she said as fast as a food reaction is. Since my food reaction took about half an hour to kick in, I noted the time on the clock and sat perfectly still with an ice bag on my head and waited for 30 minutes to pass.

I didn’t have to wait that long.

Within 10 minutes, I felt 80% better. 

By 15 minutes, I was 90% better. 

That was as good as it got; apparently, the indescribable physical pain has a “hangover effect”. Though my pain was 100% gone, I spent the next 3 days feeling as sore and achy as if I had worked out far too hard or survived a car accident (both of which I have done and can say the soreness was comparable to).

I have NEVER felt anything like that reaction in my life. It was absolute agony. I’ve had surgeries  that didn’t make me feel as awful as that.

I’m not joking when I say the only time in my life that I felt more physical pain than that Sunday night was during childbirth.

Consequently, Monday morning found me calling to make an appointment with a MCAD specialist for myself and the boys.

It’s quite clear I have MCAD, now. No more pretending I don’t or hoping it isn’t severe. I have it, and it’s not good. I need help. 

And MCAD would explain a lot of what goes on with the boys, too. They need help, too.

Unfortunately, the pediatric MCAD specialist is no longer taking new patients, so I was unsuccessful in getting an appointment for the boys. I’ll keep searching for someone to help them.

Oh, and my appointment? Not until September of 2016.

Thank God I have my friend (fellow FPIES mom who also deals with MCAD) to help guide me through food trials this year!

That’s more than enough for today. I’ll finish the rest tomorrow. 

So what’s new with you? Have you ever had a food reaction like this? How did you deal? Did it make you scared to try new foods, too?

Baseline? What’s That?

Baseline What's That

This. Is getting. Ridiculous.

Last month, we all got sick after our Chicago trip. Jed and Darrel bounced back quickly, but Zac and I had a harder time recovering.

We had barely begun feeling better when, about three weeks ago, we all got the stomach bug.


Apparently, every Fall our family will get hit with a stomach bug. It happened last year (forcing us to re-trial almost all of Zac’s previously safe foods), the year before that, and the year before that.

At least this year Zac hasn’t appeared to lose any safe foods, but he is far from baseline. His diapers are a mess (yes, potty training reverted completely; in fact, he is now SCARED to poop in the potty…advice?), his sleep is poor, he’s napping more frequently, and instead of weaning by the end of September, as I suspected he would, he comfort nursed through mid-October.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

We’ve given up entirely on any food trials, but since it has now been two full months of “food trial hiatus”, we’ve gotten sort of…weird. Despite being so incredibly strict about every morsel of food he’s eaten his entire life, lately, when he asks to try something untrialed that we are eating, we just shrug and say “Sure!”

I’d be more worried about this if he actually ATE any of the things he requests.

He doesn’t, though, so our “hands thrown in the air in surrender” insanity hasn’t caused any further problems with his tummy. Thank God.

Further proving the last two months have driven me insane, I broke a cardinal rule of FPIES: attempting to purposefully trial a food when he had not returned to baseline.

For a Halloween party a couple weeks ago, I made him some gummy treats made with blueberry, beef gelatin, and maple syrup, figuring that we might as well trial maple syrup…even with his stomach out of whack.

He helped me make the treats and was so excited! “Mommy? You making these for me?”

“Yes, baby. These are for you.”

Big eyes, big smile, and “Thank you, Mommy!”

And guess what? When they were ready, he picked up a piece of gummy treat, scrunched up his face, dropped it, and insisted on washing his hands.

He never ate a bite.

We didn’t get a chance to reintroduce them the next day, either, because Jed snuck into the fridge and ate ALL of them when I wasn’t looking.

Since I also made Jed some safe candies, and he chowed down on those at the party, I’m left unsure which item caused his complete Meanie attack that day. The blueberries? The maple syrup? The food coloring in the candies?

I don’t know. I’m leaning towards maple syrup, but whatever the cause, two Monday’s ago Jed was in full-blown meltdown mode.

It’s been so long since we’ve had a Meanie episode, I didn’t recognize it for what it was at first. I was scared.

Finally, I figured out it was the Meanies, and, true to form, once Jed realized he had the Meanies, he calmed down considerably.

I’m still somewhat amazed that my 5 year old son can control himself so well once he knows he’s being affected by his food.


It’s been a long two months.

Not only were the kids sick in September (colds) and October (stomach bugs), I was sick with those things, too. Between the kids sicknesses, my sicknesses, work, and the other ‘stuff’ of life, I’m just tired, y’all.

Even better, last week Jed came down with another  cold. My cough still hadn’t completely gone away from the cold I had back in September. Thanks to the lack of sleep I experienced last week (due to work and sick kiddos), my cough has come back with a vengeance.

I have no other symptoms, which means I can’t justify calling out sick from work, but don’t ya know it makes my passengers feel so good to have a Flight Attendant serving them while sounding as though she has the plague??

For Jed, we had no medicine to safely give him and no time to go search out anything at a store, so I resorted to homemade therapies. Unfortunately, almost every homemade cough/cold remedy requires very fructose-y ingredients.

Eventually I settled on garlic chopped and simmered in water, then strained of all garlic cloves. To that, I added some raw honey, had him drink it three times a day, and prayed his fructose reaction wouldn’t be too terribly bad.

He DID react, but far less than I predicted to the (fructose bad boy) honey.

On the plus side? It worked! He’s almost completely over his cough. I’m hopeful that with some good sleep, I’ll bounce back again, too.

Just so you don’t think I’ve forgotten about him, Darrel has also been under the weather frequently the last two months. Fortunately, he never quite devolved as badly as the rest of us. Mostly he just suffers from feeling tired and worn out.

I’m sure taking care of all of us has helped him feel so unenergetic.

I don’t know when we’ll all be back to baseline, but we’ll just plod along until we get there.

One thing I do know for sure?

I have grown to hate Fall and Winter. 

Anyone else get sick every year in the cold weather? 

Global FPIES Day 2015: Be the Voice

Global FPIES Day: Be the Voice

Today, October 14, 2015, is Global FPIES Day, with the theme of “Be the Voice”.

Our family was lucky (if you can call it that). Zac’s second FPIES reaction at 7 weeks old was so severe, the hospital took us seriously and didn’t just try to tell us it was a stomach bug.

Then we were fortunate enough to encounter a pediatric GI who had gone to a conference earlier in the year (2012) and had heard enough about FPIES to recognize – and diagnose – it in Zac.

While he didn’t know enough about FPIES to help us manage Zac’s care, the diagnosis alone was invaluable and set us on the right path for Zac’s continued health.

As I said, that was very lucky.

It is not uncommon for children – even now, in 2015 – to have repeated acute FPIES reactions requiring hospitalization and still wait 1 month, 5 months, even a YEAR before receiving that invaluable FPIES diagnosis.

This year’s Global FPIES Day theme of “Be the Voice” is meant to remove that diagnostic ridiculousness from the medical world. 

Be the voice of FPIES. 

Be the one who educates others about FPIES. 

Tell your doctors. Tell your teachers. Tell your friends. 

Tell everyone. 

Today, share links on Facebook and Twitter. Email stories. Use your voice to shout the stories of these amazing children who are sickened by food.

And while you’re sharing about FPIES, let’s spread the word about the Dark Act. It’s being presented to the Senate. Since it has already passed the House, if the Senate votes ‘yes’, our world will be forever changed.

We will have no idea what we are eating.

That’s not good for any of us, but it is especially bad for some  children with complicated medical issues, such as FPIES.

Not all kiddos are sensitive to chemicals, but for the ones who are, knowing how to avoid GMO’s and pesticide-laden foods is a life-saver. Passing the Dark Act will be a serious threat to these children’s health.

Spread the word today. 

Use your voice to BE the voice of the voiceless. 

Thank you. 

Here are some links you are more than welcome to share today…and always!

Global FPIES Day

I Still Have FPIES Eyes

FPIES Awareness (Still) Matters

Blog: Bullfrogs and Butterflies

The FPIES Foundation: Inspiring Family Stories

What Every New FPIES Parent Needs to Know


10 Things Other Parents Needs to Know About FPIES

Blog: FPIES & MudPies

Blog: Our Mack Attack

Blog: Our Lives and FPIES

Blog: Trials and Triumphs of Nicole

Blog: My Little Pie with FPIES


Our Superhero: Cohen’s Story (Super Cohen’s Crusade for FPIES)

Zac Walking in a Play Area

Jack’s Soy Reaction

Zac Having an FPIES Reaction

FPIES: Now I Know

Holding Pattern

Holding Pattern

We’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern the last month. Sickness ALWAYS throws our plans to the wind.

After our trip to Chicago, the boys caught whatever cooties I came down with. It took almost two weeks for the sneezing and heavy mucous production to abate for all of us, and now poor Zac and I are stuck with the Cough That Will Not Leave.

It’s really  fun at night, when we go horizontal and suddenly can’t seem to breathe without coughing.

My horrible cough has finally relented to only appearing at night and if I get a little too physically active. Zac, though, doesn’t seem to be improving much at all.

Since FPIES food trials are never a good idea when sick, we’ve been stuck in a holding pattern in that respect. We eventually even gave up on tomatos. Again.


Well, it won’t last forever; hopefully soon he will be back to 100% and we can return to food trials.

Even being sick, though, he’s still an incredibly active little boy. Zac loves to pretend he’s a kitty cat. For a few months now, he’s crawled around the house, rubbing on our legs, meowing, and when we pick him up for hugs, he instead rubs his cheek against our faces as he tells us “I’m a kitty cat, Mommy!”

It is absolutely adorable.

Well, except for when he tries to EAT like a kitty cat. Then we have to tell him that kitty cats aren’t allowed at the table, so if he wants to eat, he has to be a little boy again and use his utensils. He always complies, but he always tries to be a kitty cat at the table first!

He’s talking up a storm, too. Honestly, you’d never know he had ever been delayed with his speech at this point! The other day, as we looked for a parking space, he started telling us all about “a red helicopter”. Eventually we saw the red helicopter flying overhead that had sparked his story-telling, and were amazed that he not only learned but could say a 4 syllable word!

Miss K, his speech therapist, is an absolute jewel. I have got to think of a suitable gift for her when Zac is finally released from speech therapy! (Any suggestions?)

Jed is doing well. We’re in a bit of a homeschooling holding pattern, too (more on that soon), but he’s still learning and doing well.

After Chicago, we took a Saturday to drive the kids to Springfield, Missouri for a train show. Since my Dad is a huge model train fan, too, this became a three generation family outing.

Dad, Jed, and Zac had a fabulous time at the train show, and after we left we toured several outdoor train layouts in the area, swung by a Christian bookstore that has a huge array of homeschool books and supplies (fell in love, must return when I have more time), and on our way home swung by Branson to visit a hobby shop and ended up going for a hot air balloon ride!

It was one super busy, super fun, super educational day for us all.

Jed’s evaluation with the occupational therapists came back; they’re recommending 2 sessions per week. Now we just have to figure out how to afford it!

Based on the OT’s suggestion, since we already have TEFRA for Zac, we took him to the doctor for a referral for a SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) evaluation. Any signs he may have it are minimal in comparison to Jed, but since I’m positive I have it, and Jed appears to have it, she thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see if Zac has it as well.

Our pediatrician agreed he ought to be evaluated, so now I’m simply waiting to set that appointment up for Zac. I guess we’ll graduate from speech therapy into occupational therapy. I’m hoping and praying the new therapists will be as awesome as Miss K!

The weekend before last, Darrel and I took the kids to my parents house for the night so we could go on a date.

Not just any date.  We went to our first concert together. A Christian music concert.

I used to dislike contemporary Christian music. It always seemed so sappy and just…poor quality music to me. Being a musician, I didn’t find it musically very interesting or moving. I never could understand why Christian music was so universally…cheesy.

Thanks to Veggie Tales, I was introduced to TobyMac and Owl City. Intrigued, I started listening to modern Christian music stations again, and I was pleasantly surprised! In the ten years since I’d last attempted to listen to that genre, the quality has changed enormously for the better.

Christian music, for the record, is no longer lame or cheesy in the slightest. 

It kind of ROCKS!

TobyMac’s “This Is Not A Test” tour conveniently had a show in our area, and when I heard about it a few months ago I told Darrel we were going. The day they went on sale, we bought tickets.

Am I ever glad we did! It was the most glorious, fun, uplifting, emotionally stirring, powerful night I’ve had in absolutely years! Darrel and I had the best time, and I don’t think I’m hallucinating when I say that that concert somehow “re-booted” our relationship. The last week has been so much more like the way we were in the early, pre-children days of our marriage.

We’ve been more enthusiastic about our marriage, our children, and our faith since spending an evening saturated with TobyMac, Britt Nicole, and Colton Dixon.

TobyMac has a song called “Steal My Show”, where he is basically telling God to Steal his Show and work through his music to minister to the audience.

God Stole TobyMac’s Show.

I left feeling hopeful for the future for the first time in who-knows-how-long, connected to God again, and spiritually uplifted. I’ve prayed more, and more earnestly, this week than I have in the year prior.

Plus, as I already said, it did something amazing for my marriage, so, icing on the cake!!

Thank God for that concert!

Between being sick, trying to actually spend quality time having fun with my family, and being on the road for work, I’ve been pretty tapped out for anything else. I’m hoping that will change soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d give a little update on what we’ve been doing and ask…how are you?

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 4

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first!

Having spent $50 on the cab to get to the museum, we just didn’t have the funds available to take a cab back. Public transportation time!

It really wasn’t that long of a walk to the train station, but after such a long, sensory-overloading day, it was a REALLY long walk back to the train station.

The kids, though, got lots of real-world practice at watching the “walk”/”don’t walk” signs, and crossing busy intersections. We’ve now reached the point where, even at home, whenever we reach a crossing of any sort, the boys will stop and actually say (as they do it) “look both ways – then go!”

When we finally got to the train station, we had no idea what ticket we needed to buy. The nice lady working in the booth came out to help us. Turns out? Both kids are young enough to ride for free, and the ticket back to the airport for both the adults was a mere $10.

Yep. The airport information lady was incredibly UNhelpful and downright cruel in the morning. 

Even better, the transfer we have to take is only a few stops from the museum, and after that it’s just sit on the train and wait til the end of the line.

The kids were pretty subdued on the ride back, though. Waiting for our transfer train, Jed asked to be held. He rarely does that, but he was just so tired!

Plum Tuckered Out

On the train, he held on to his dinosaur excavation kit for dear life (he’d also insisted on carrying it the entire way from the museum to the train).

Riding the Train

He did enjoy counting the stops until our destination, and sang his ABC song several times.

Zac just snuggled next to me…and eventually fell asleep!

Back at the airport, we grabbed the shuttle back to the hotel, ate some dinner, and Jed journaled some more about his exciting museum day.

Then it was bath and bed time, as we had an early morning on Sunday.

In the morning, I was up before everyone else. After getting dressed for my day and making breakfast for everyone, I woke the fellas up. They were surprisingly cooperative, considering it was 4:30 a.m.!

After eating, getting the kids dressed and the bags repacked, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to the airport. The kids got a little more practice at escalators and moving walkways as I escorted them to the kids play area at Terminal 2 in O’Hare.

They had a chance to play there for a while before their flight left, and while I had to leave to go to work, Darrel reported that the kids had a blast and made a new friend.

They had a pleasant flight home, a long 2 hour drive over to my parents house, and then Darrel headed back to our house without the kiddos to rest up for work the next morning.


It may not really seem like this was much of a homeschooling trip, but it actually was a highly educational outing. 

We covered the following subjects:

  • Math: counting stops on the train, talking about flight times and flight numbers, talking about money (buying tickets for the museum, buying the toys at the end of the day, train vs. cab), trying to get the kids to imagine being 1 inch tall and showing them how little that is
  • Language Arts: having Jed dictate stories to me to write, Jed pointing to letters and saying the letter name, AND Jed pointing to letters, saying their name, and then saying a dinosaur word that started with that letter! (he did that completely on his own a few times!)
  • Arts & Crafts: drawing the pictures to accompany the stories, plus the time he spent coloring in his special “travel coloring book” (These would also count as motor skill lessons)
  • Science: hello…dinosaurs! They already knew a lot of what the museum covered because of things we’ve read and TV shows we’ve watched, but seeing the fossils in person really activated Jed’s imagination! Plus Zac got to play with a microscope.
  • History: Jed learned about how people once lived in adobe houses and survived on maize, they both saw the timeline of earths development, and saw how Vikings lived and when (even though they weren’t really paying attention, they were exposed to it). Though much of it is undoubtedly beyond their understanding at this point, the idea of history has now been more firmly planted in Jed’s mind.
  • Safety: learning how to safely walk on city streets, learning how to watch traffic signs at intersections and “walk/don’t walk” signs, learning how and where to cross streets, learning how far away from the edge of the platform you should stand for safety at a train station, holding on to something or sitting down on a moving train, how to navigate escalators and moving walkways
  • Life Skills: all of the safety lessons, plus how to navigate places you’ve never been (the kids witnessed and we discussed our seeking help from the information lady and the train booth lady), how to behave at an airport, and how to read signs to learn where you’re going at an airport or train station

And probably some more things I’m forgetting to mention!

Not to mention the very cool Dinosaur Unit Study we did the three days prior to heading off on our trip.

Now that we know how to take the train (and that it’s so cheap!), Darrel and I have discussed doing simple “day trips” to the Museum. If we can catch the first morning flight and take the last flight of the day home, we can head up to Chicago more frequently to see some of the amazing things there.

Plus, a fellow Flight Attendant reminded me about Uber; I’ve never used it before, but Flight Attendants are huge fans of that service and say it’s much less expensive than a cab. When we do day trips to Chicago from now on, if the kids get overwhelmed, we can look in to taking an Uber back to the airport.

Was it worth it to take this trip?

Well, the kids loved it! They’ve commented frequently in the weeks since that they want to go back to the airport, that they want to go see the dinosaurs again, that they want to go ride the train again.

Jed’s desire to read increased greatly after the trip; I think seeing us use reading so frequently to navigate the city and discover the museum made reading a Bigger and Better Skill to Have in his mind. (We read books to him all the time, but, in perfect child logic, why bother to read it yourself when Mommy will read it for you?)

Darrel enjoyed the trip, too, though he returned home ever more grateful for our very nice, good quality mattress.

For me?

This trip was exhausting. It was a LOT of work. I made myself physically sick trying to get everything ready to go. 

But it was so. worth. it. 

It’s a taste of what I imagine homeschooling will look like in the future for us. At the age and stage the boys are now, our travel homeschool trips will be kept short and sweet.

But one day, oh, one day, they’ll be in the double digits age group and we can truly begin Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style. 

I can’t wait!

What would your dream Homeschooling trip be?

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 3

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 3

Read part one and part two first. 

After we left the kids science exploration area, we decided to go to the Viking exhibition.

The kids and I read the Magic Tree House series as bedtime stories, and one of the books covered Vikings. I thought this would be a great exhibit for the kids to see: real, live Viking stuff!

No dice.

Jed HATED it.

He didn’t like the music. It was too loud. He didn’t like that it was so dark in there. He didn’t want to stand in line. It was boring.

But mostly, he didn’t want to leave the corn fields.


When it became quite clear that his displeasure was going to completely ruin any chances of ME being able to see the exhibit (because I was interested in it!), we left.

And we took a break, explaining to Jed that he needed to behave himself in the museum, or we would have to leave.

After our break, and after Jed promised to behave, we went back inside for the Grand Finale of the Field Museum experience: THE DINOSAURS.

The Field Museum has a fabulous exhibit covering the history of our planet, and in that exhibit is a gigantic collection of dinosaur fossils! We have no pictures from that exhibit because Darrel and I were doing the best we could to keep up with two enthusiastic little boys running for every new display as fast as they could, and attempting to climb the barricades as often as possible to touch the bones!

We managed to keep the little monsters on solid ground, and even managed to get their running knocked down to brisk jogs. They were simply so excited they could hardly stand themselves.

I was impressed with some of the questions Jed asked as we made our way through the display; he’s obviously learned quite a lot about dinosaurs from our reading…and from watching “Dinosaur Train”!

We had tickets for the 3D “Waking the Dinosaur: the Story of SUE” movie, so at the appropriate time we  started to head that direction.

Who is Sue, by the way? Oh, she’s this little lovely:

Sue the Dinosaur

The most complete T-rex fossil ever discovered. Jed was about to explode with excitement when we first saw her in the main museum entry hall! He LOVES T-rex’s!

The movie is an awesome 3D film discussing how they discovered Sue’s bones, using CG technology to create ‘film’ of what Sue’s life might have been like before she died.

We all put on our 3D glasses…

Getting Ready to Watch the 3D Movie II CradleRockingMama.comGetting Ready to Watch the 3D Movie

and sat back to watch the show.

Jed, of course, made friends with the kids sitting next to us. If it had been left up to the kids, the two families would have spent the rest of the day exploring the museum together!

The movie started, and Jed was entranced! Zac, on the other hand, cried out when the movie dinosaur roared and attacked another dinosaur, leaped into Darrel’s lap, and buried his head in Darrel’s chest. “Daddy! Me scared!”

Oops. We had no idea it was going to be THAT scary. (Don’t worry; no permanent damage done!)

When the movie was over, we went downstairs for one last photo op with the Sue skeleton, but that didn’t go very well.

Jed just refused to smile.

After much entreating, he finally revealed to me that “I can’t smile, Mommy, because I’m just so sad.”

“Why are you so sad, honey?” I asked.

“Because Sue DIED and she was the bestest dinosaur EVER and I LOVE her!” (sobbing ensues)

Sue Died

Well. Huh. THAT’S not a situation I ever thought I’d face in motherhood! How do you comfort a child who is crying because a dinosaur died??

While Jed sobbed in my arms, Zac decided to show us how he was feeling:

Sue Died But I'm Cute

Yep. Happy to smile for the cameras! Still, a meltdown over a dead dinosaur?

It was time to leave.

On our way out, we stopped at the museum gift shop to find one small gift per kiddo that they could take home. The kind lady working near the entrance noticed Jed’s tears and asked what was wrong.

We told her he was sad that Sue died, and she looked as flabbergasted as we felt! She recovered empathy quickly, though, and attempted to bring a smile to Jed’s face…by offering a free candy treat from the store!


We had to quickly tell her he couldn’t have it because of food allergies, and she looked horrified. She couldn’t apologize fast enough, even though we assured her she was a sweetheart and had done nothing to apologize for.

Darrel and I were NOT upset with her for offering candy, to be perfectly clear; however, it was somewhat of a “wet blanket” thrown on our day. Somehow, even with bringing our own food to the museum for lunch and knowing this was the first time we’ve really done anything like this, we’d managed to feel relatively “normal” throughout the day.

The sweet gift shop lady’s kindness served as a reminder that, even when we try to engage in the world, we are NOT normal and will never  be able to engage the way normal people do…and that we can never let down our guard.


By the time we left the gift shop, though, Jed was in slightly better spirits. He’d picked out a T-rex dinosaur excavation kit and was itching to open it up and dig out those dinosaur bones!

We sat on the museum steps for one of the few photos taken of me and both the boys together, which was only slightly marred by Jed’s refusal to smile and Zac’s funny face making:

Sitting on the Field Museum Steps

Then we headed off for the train.

I’ll wrap up our trip in one last post, and then I’ll share the Dinosaur Unit Study we did. 

Have your kids ever had a meltdown over a dinosaur, or some other inexplicable thing? How did you handle it? (Now Zac is occasionally putting on a sad face and telling me he’s sad because “Sue dead, Mommy”!)

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 2

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 2

Read the first part here

Saturday morning dawned bright and early. Thanks to our late arrival, we were all sluggish and running late that morning. By the time we had dressed, cooked and eaten breakfast, gathered our lunch/beverages/school supplies, and ridden the shuttle van back to the airport, it was 11:00 a.m.

The Field Museum closes at 5:00 p.m. Ack!

The last time I took the train from O’Hare to downtown was over a decade ago, and I wasn’t sure how much it cost or how long it would take. We stopped at the information booth in Terminal 5 to ask for assistance.

The woman there was very unhelpful. She told us it would cost $40 to ride the train, and would take two hours. She didn’t know what transfer we would need to take, and told us to “just ask on the train”.

I doubted that would be possible. This isn’t Amtrak or even New Jersey transit, where there are conductors on the trains!

Still, two hours and $40…a cab would only cost $50 and would get us there in 30 minutes!

So the whole family piled in to a cab.

The kids were THRILLED to not be in carseats. I was less thrilled at the thought. However, we arrived unscathed at the museum just before noon.

Excited to Be At the Museum

The plan had been to pay for the boys and Darrel’s admittance, since I would get in for free as an employee perk, but when we first arrived we managed to go to the Membership desk by mistake. We soon realized our error, but by then we also had realized that some of the things we’d hoped to do at the museum were not covered by the regular admission fee.

To buy general admission tickets for the 3 fellas, plus 4 tickets for each of the special exhibits we wanted to see would cost just over $100.

Becoming members would cost $150, would give us entrance to all the special exhibits we wanted to see (and reduce the ticket price for the 3D dinosaur movie we wanted to see) and also would give us free admission in to a new museum that recently opened about an hour from our house!

Easy choice. If we come back to the Field Museum even once more this year, we’ll have saved money; if we go to the local museum at all, we’ll have saved money. We became Members of the Field Museum.

(Though, the old traveling adage of “take half as much stuff and twice as much money” is undeniably true! This trip cost more than we’d planned!)

Once inside the Museum, the kids immediately began whining for food. They’d been so excited at breakfast they hardly ate, so this was understandable.

We detoured to one of the “bring your own food” areas provided at the Museum and had a quick lunch.

While we ate, I set Jed up with his Field Museum Notebook to do some of his homeschooling work for the trip. He had been instructed before we left that anything on his trip that he really enjoyed, really disliked, found interesting, or even noticed, he was to journal.

Doing School at the Museum

He would draw the picture at the top of the page and was to dictate to me what he wanted written underneath.

It was fabulous fun to see what he decided to record! Oh, and I just have to point out Jed’s awesome “go finger” usage:

Showing Off His Go Fingers

Our speech therapy center offered a free handwriting workshop led by an occupational therapist last month. We signed up, and the therapist instructed the kids on proper pencil holding: the thumb and first two fingers of your hand are the “go” fingers that you use to hold the pencil, and the ring and pinky fingers are “stop” fingers that you tuck away and do not use. Jed’s got it down!

For his part, Zac simply wanted to scribble in the book. We let him.

Lunch eaten, it was off for fun!

We started with the Underground Adventure zone; a special exhibit that fit right in with what we’ve been studying in school: soil.

I had high hopes for this exhibit; it’s designed to replicate what the soil looks like from underneath the ground, but in huge proportions! Tiny microbes were the size of your head; earthworms were the size of elephants! Very cool, right?

My hopes were dashed just as we entered the exhibit. 

The Museum has cleverly set up the entrance as a “shrinking machine” to show the scale of the exhibit by pretending you have been shrunk down to 1 inch size. I thought the boys would have a great time pretending they were shrinking!

They didn’t. They freaked out.

The rest of our time in the exhibit was spent with the boys being terrified of every worm, microbe, and “soil critter” shown, and begging to go back outside “so we can be normal size again!”

Of course, as soon as we left, they begged to go back inside. Typical kids.

Oh, and on our way out I had to stare in horror at this sign:

This Is A Joke Right

Yes, Monsanto, the most evil, soil-destroying, poisoning the earth and our bodies corporation on the planet, is the lead sponsor of the Underground Adventure exhibit. Disgust and vomit, anyone? Ugh.

We had more ground to cover, so across the way we went to the kids science area.

This is a great place for kids! Just as you enter, there is a woodland scene set up to investigate, complete with easy on-and-off costumes for the kids. They can pretend to be turtles, bats, birds, or any other number of critters as they play in the woods. Very fun! Zac pretended to be a turtle for a while, but Jed didn’t want to play there.

He even bypassed the cool animal hand puppets they have at two puppet booths for the kids to put on plays.

No, he was drawn to the model Adobe House on display. The one with all the CORN.

It had fake corn fields “growing” outside, a storage bin with fake corn, and showed how people of the desert built their houses and survived on so much corn.

Playing With Corn

Because, corn. Jed loves it. It kills Zac. Of course!

Fortunately, Zac wasn’t as interested in the Adobe House. After a quick run through, he wanted to go elsewhere. So I left with Zac and Darrel stayed with Jed for the rest of our kids science adventure.

While Zac and I explored other areas, Jed, our social butterfly, apparently did his level best to make friends with all the other kids playing in the house, and figured out how to “harvest” corn from the stalks outside.

Playing With Corn II

Meanwhile, Zac and I went into the music room, where he had a blast playing with all the bells, drums, and other percussion instruments.

Playing the Bells

Apparently, Darrel convinced Jed to at least try the music room, but Jed opened the door, heard the noise, and closed the door immediately reporting “it’s too loud, Daddy!” before running back to the corn fields.

Yes, thank you, Sensory Processing Disorder.

Playing the Drums

Zac spent a good 20 minutes banging away, though, before he wanted to see other things.

We left and went to another section, where Zac was drawn to an unbelievably cool microscope. It was designed to be very simple for kids to use, and you saw what was magnified on a TV screen mounted next to the scope.

There were lots of pre-made slides for the kids to look at, with butterflies, bugs, and other things flattened and laminated, plus many different kinds of rocks to examine.

Little Scientist II

At first, Zac didn’t know what to do. After showing him how the two different levers worked, though, he quickly caught on and refused help the rest of the time. “Me do it!”

Little Scientist

He could have stayed at the microscope all day if we had let him! My little Scientist in the making.

This is getting long, so I’ll share the rest of our Field Museum day in the next post.

Have you ever gone to the Field Museum? Did your kids freak over the Underground Exhibit?

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 1

Homeschooling Flight Attendant Style Part 1

On Monday, September 7th, I was wasting time between flights at work one day and decided to take a peek at what I would be facing for my commute to work the next weekend.

My next assignment was to begin Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m., so obviously I needed to fly up the day before.

The only flight available on Saturday left at 8:00 a.m.

I groaned. No WAY was I going to go twiddle my thumbs in Chicago for almost a full day before starting work! I knew I’d have to either take another airline or drive to an alternate airport for my commute on Saturday, and I dreaded either option.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany! Why not  go up early for work? In fact, why not go up WAY early for work?

Why not fly the whole family up on FRIDAY, do something awesomely fun in Chicago on Saturday, and on Sunday escort the family to their gate, kiss them good-bye, and each of us fly off in opposite directions?

My heart with pitter-patter with excitement at the thought.

We have never been on a vacation as a whole family.

Darrel and I have only managed time alone a handful of times over the last 5 years, and most of those were simply sending the kids to my parents for the night and getting some time to watch TV alone – at home.

Not only could we manage to go somewhere for fun as a whole family, but I had it in my head to go to the Field Museum. The kids are HUGE into dinosaurs; what better opportunity to give them than to go to the Field Museum, which has a gigantic dinosaur collection?

This could be a homeschooling trip, too!

But…could we do it? Could we afford it? Could I make the food situation manageable?

I immediately called Darrel with my idea. It was full-on sales pitch time, folks!

“Well, here’s the deal. (Explain the situation and my idea.) I already have to get a hotel room for Saturday night, so it would really only cost us one extra hotel room night, plus museum admission. And as an (airline) employee, I get in free, so really it would only cost to get the three of you inside. And we can take the train straight downtown from the airport, so that’s really cheap, too. What do you think?”

After a few minutes of offering up arguments, Darrel suddenly stopped mid-sentence and said “You know what? Let’s do it. We’ve never gone anywhere fun, and this could be a good test run for us. Sure, honey. Book the room!”


My mind instantly started running at full throttle.

For starters, food. What were we going to eat? How were we going to eat it? How would I carry enough food for my entire family for two full days, plus the food I would need for work for two more days after that?

Then, water. Oh, I hate water. Zac is incredibly sensitive to corn derivatives in water. We have a safe brand of bottled water we drink at home, but I know from experience it is VERY hard to find in airports and hotels. In fact, it’s impossible to find outside a few select stores. How would we get water?

Third, homeschool. I’ve been going through some transitions with my perspective on homeschooling the last few weeks. I’ll go into more of this in another post, but knowing we were heading off into DINOSAUR LAND made me really  want to attempt a Unit Study before we left. One problem: I was supposed to be home from work that very night, and we would only have three days of official homeschool before heading off for the airport. Could I pull together a homemade Dinosaur Unit Study so quickly? Would it be any good?

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the solutions I found, but I DID find solutions! It involved lots of late nights, lots of cooking and freezing, and lots of anxiety, but I managed to pull all the pieces together to allow us to go!

Traveling with kids is always…interesting…but it’s more  interesting when you travel stand by. That means we fly space available; we only get a seat if there are unsold seats on the flight or paying passengers don’t show up for some reason.

The only way we could get to and from Chicago as a family was to drive to Springfield and fly out of there. Halfway through the 2.5 hour drive, I checked the flight and discovered it had filled completely up with passengers. No way would we get on the plane now!

The next flight was over 6 hours later. Sitting around the airport, unable to cook any food or feed the kids for 6 hours did not sound like fun. So we turned around and went home for a couple of hours before heading back to the airport. Oy. Such fun.

Back at the airport for the evening flight, the kids were overjoyed with excitement.

In the parking lot, they tried to find shade while we unloaded the car. (Thanks, Sensory Processing Disorder!)

Finding Shade

It was dinner time, and I was prepared! We sat at tables outside of security and scarfed down our food. It occurs to me that this is one of the very few times Zac has ever eaten a meal in public; the other times were at family reunions held at our church. So sad.

Eating at the Airport

Once we got to the gate, they immediately set about making friends with the people in the waiting area.

Entertaining His People

Traveling that day was a group of graphic design students from a local college, heading to a conference in Chicago. They loved the boys! Long conversations ensued, much laughter occurred, and I just stood back with Mama pride watching my boys engage so easily with complete strangers.

Zac eventually decided he was tired of talking, and decided to run in circles and play. He didn’t realize he was providing such great entertainment for everyone, but there were lots of smiles and laughs from the boarding area as he fell, spun, tripped, ran, and giggled through it all!

Playing at the Gate

Just before boarding the plane, one of the graphic design students (who hadn’t even been talking to the kids) came over and handed me this:

Awesome Sketch of the Boys


It was a very inspiring start to our trip.

Our aircraft arrived, and the boys ditched everyone to watch the plane taxi and park at our gate. Strange as it is to say, these children of a Flight Attendant have never really spent any time around airplanes, so they were thrilled!

Watching the Plane Pull Up

The boys loved the airplane ride, of course.

First Fun Flight

I’d prepared by bringing potato chips and activity books, but when we first got on the plane, Jed wanted none of that. He got out the inflight magazine and proceeded to “read” it to Zac! Honestly, I couldn’t hear most of what he was saying, but I know he was telling very creative stories about whatever photos he saw.

Reading the Inlfight Magazine

I worried about the beverage cart. I knew Darrel would get a drink, and Jed could have the water on the cart, but poor Zac would be able to have nothing off the cart. I lucked out at the store, though, and found a paint with water book!

Painting on the Plane

Zac got to have a glass of water served to him, just like everyone else.

He only got to paint with it, instead of drinking it, but he didn’t care. God bless paint with water books!

As all flights do, ours eventually landed. As we headed to the shuttle van to take us to the hotel, all I could think about was how excited the boys would be to ride the airport train!

Soon, though, I realized we had quite a way to go before arriving at the train…and my children have never encountered escalators or moving walkways before! (Well, Jed has used escalators, but rarely and it’s been a LONG time since he’s seen one.)

It made for some harrowing moments getting on and off at first, but the boys caught on quickly. Whew!

And yes, they did love the airport train.

Riding the Airport Train

We arrived at the hotel around 10:30 p.m.; far, FAR later than we’d hoped to be there. We were all exhausted, so we simply unpacked as much as we could, threw our food in the freezer and fridge, and tucked ourselves in to bed.

The kids have never stayed in a hotel that they remember, so they were a little scared of sleeping there at first. After we showed them where we would be sleeping and how the room would look when we turned on the bathroom light, though, they relaxed and were able to rest. Whew!

For such a short flight, that was a very long day.

I’ll finish up our trip in the next post, and then I’ll share the awesome Unit Study I threw together for the kids! 

What’s your best traveling with kids story?