We have survived our travels, but barely. By the skin of our teeth we managed not to leave any horrendous headlines in our wake. (But only just barely. There were moments when MSNBC might have lead the 8 o'clock news with "Parents leave a toddler and infant on plane, claim they 'thought they were right behind them'.") But we made it back, in one piece, all children we started with still present when we got to the house.
Some things I have learned through this experience:
-Do not wear white jeans on plane with the baby in your lap. You will get off 5 hours later looking like a stripped graham cracker.
-Do not let the kindly stewardess top off your eldest daughter's frist apple juice of the trip unless you would like her to wear it for the remainder of the 12 hour day.
-Also remember to pack outfits for BOTH your children in your carry-on. 6 outfits for the infant will not help when the apple juice crisis hits. (Men's undershirts will work for toddler clothes in a pinch.)
-Have a camera on hand to take photos of your toddler looking like a biblical character coming off the plane: long white shirt-dress, black blanket tied around neck cape style, brown sandals on. So cute, sadly no evidence except in my memory!
-Bring a pack mule to help you get from baggage claim to the curb to load the car as 2 car seats, stroller, port-a-crib, 1 large bag, carry on, laptop case, backpack and kids are hard to manage alone.
The moral of this story? Vacation is (and was) fun, but hauling 2 kids across America and back on a plane? Is a fight I may not be willing to undertake again. Or, at least not until the momory of my eldest hollering "I don't want to go on a plane!" (while sitting on the runway) stops ringing in my ears.
Give me a year. I'll be ready to try again. Maybe.