The family and I are currently near Cincinnati, Ohio on a trip to celebrate my wife’s grandmother on her 90th birthday. This is our first time taking a plane with 2 kids and boy, what an experience. First off, let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to fly out of Santa Barbara airport instead of LAX, I strongly suggest it. It took about 15 minutes to get checked in and through security, which is a major plus when flying with kids. Secondly, it is much easier to keep track of mobile little ones in the smaller, more relaxed environment of that airport. Thirdly, much better than driving 4 hours to LAX from Templeton.
This is the first trip my daughter had to have her own seat on the plane which makes it easier physically, but not so much financially. Once on the plane, everyone settled in nicely and had a pretty good trip into Denver. 2 hours on a plane with a diaper, and all my daughter’s potty training went right out the hatch. First thing I got to do in Denver was change a big poopie diaper… followed by a second 30 minutes later that my wife got to be in charge of. Keeping a child entertained on a lay over, no matter how long, is always a challenge as airports usually don’t have playgrounds or arcades (do those even exist anymore?) but do have escalators and moving walkways that can zip your kid out of eye sight pretty quickly. Luckily, I thought ahead and brought my old iPod with Monsters Inc. on it which I think, at this point, has been our saving grace on more than one occasion. We sat in the airport for over an hour over the original wait time because our flight crew was nowhere to be found, so off to the gift shop to find a coloring book to help keep her entertained. Thankfully, my wife was smart enough to pack a bag full of snacks and books that kept my daughter from driving us batty. After the airport commandeered another flight for us, we loaded onto a barely stocked plane for our flight to Cincin. This time, my wife and the kids were separated from me by 4 rows and I was placed next to my brother in law. The whole flight I could hear my wife struggling to control my daughter but I was unable to help since we were in turbulence practically the whole trip and the seat belt sign never went dark. But all of this was trivial since this ill prepared flight hadn’t stocked up on copies of SKY MALL and I was left reading the emergency instructions…the horror, the horror.
Once in Cincin, I was stoked to get off of our turbulent tin can of a plane and onto solid ground. I am not a huge fan of flying… well, flying I don’t have a problem with, it’s crashing I don’t like. Off to the car rental place and then to grandma’s house. The first thing I noticed about this area of Ohio was the humidity, there was a lot of it. Everyone here already thought I was odd thinking it was so humid. They don’t realize that in North County SLO, the humidity tends to be measured in decimal points and I have completely assimilated to that wonderful dry heat that fuels Templeton; so yeah, Ohio is humid.
The next few days consisted of a big birthday celebration for my wife’s grandma where almost all of the relatives got to meet my son and daughter for the first time. To say they were a hit would be an understatement. My kids were like friggin’ rockstars coming home to their home town. The Ohio folks’ generosity and grace were immeasurable, making us feel at home right from the start. Saturday brought us to the Cincinnati Zoo which was beautiful, crowded, hot, amazing, and great fun for my daughter. Thanks to Dora and Diego, she already knew most of the animals we came across, causing me to stare in disbelief at how much she has grown even in the last 3 months. Sunday continued with the celebrations out at the old farm that has been in the family for decades and, unfortunately, looks like will be sold off in the very near future. I got to take my daughter out on the Quad through the fields and forests while my son was passed around all the relatives who just couldn’t help but melt to his Force Cute powers. I was quite surprised at how much my daughter enjoyed riding on the quad with me. She kept telling me to go faster and loved the fast, drifting turns we could do in the fields, as well as the tight and quick paths through the forest. If she takes after me, I will have a little daredevil of a daughter, as well as many hospital visits in the future. We had no mishaps other than my wife misjudging a gap and going nose first into a irrigation water way, which needed to be towed out with a tractor. She will be mad I mentioned this but I am really happy she came out with only minor scrapes and bruises because it could have been much much worse (I Love You). The rest of the time my daughter spent exploring with the other kids at the party and I have never seen her have so much fun without us parents. It was sweet and sad at the same time, knowing that she is growing up and slowly away from us. As night crept in (and I do mean crept in around 9:30), the fireflies came out. At first, my daughter was freaked out by the random bits of light that would appear right in front of her, but when I compared them to Tinkerbell and pixies, she was more interested than scared. We finished off the night with a firework show that would have scared the crud out of me at a young age, but thrilled my daughter to shrieking joy. We all slept well that night.
That brings us to today. We all went to see a Dinosaur Omnimax film at the Natural History Museum which was a little graphic for young ones before hitting up Skyline Chili, Grater’s ice-cream and off to a park for family photos. Then to end the night, we went to Vincenzos Ristorante for a final gathering of the extended family before everyone departs to their respected part of the country. Sadly, this will probably be the last time that everyone will all be together like this since 90 is a grand but old age. I will say, without the help of my sister in law, this trip probably would have been too much for us to do with the kids. She and I tend to annoy each other but I really do appreciate all the help she has been throughout my kids’ lives. This whole trip will have left a lasting effect on my kids, especially my daughter for the better. The fun she had in Ohio is far greater than any expectations I could have imagined for this trip. If you ever have reservations about traveling with little ones, forget them (the reservations) and just go. They won’t remember how stressful it was to us the parents, or the flight problems, or the humidity. What they will keep is the absolute joy and great experiences with mom and dad when they were kids and hopefully pass the memories on to their kids about the great times they had. Remember, it’s their memories, but our actions and events form them.
…and with that, a huge thunder crash hits outside and I wonder if I will even be able to fly out tomorrow. Eh, I can think of worse places and people to be stuck with.