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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Florida Trip Part 1: The Preparation

Well, as you already read in the post "Blah Blah Blah", it has been quite the endeavour preparing for a family with three under the age of four and two teenage girls (we brought my niece, Loreena, along as extra helping hands and companionship for Melina).

As you know, I have a highly active imagination and a tendency to imagine worst case scenarios to the point of asking myself "is this normal?"  Oh the plethora of haunting images in my mind of the plane crashing, losing one of the kids, anaphylactic reactions to peanuts served on the plane or from large fish splashing Ethan at Sea World, being stopped at the border, losing Ethan's food, getting sick before leaving or during the vacation, and any possible threats of keeping us from making the most of the small fortune we were spending to "get away".

And the irony that what we would enjoy "getting away" from was following us regardless!!  (Cue screaming child and someone pooping their pants...)

The one advantage of thinking the worst (really, there is a bright side to it) is the preparation one can do ahead of time to face such incidents with as much ease as possible.  So with that in mind, I printed every imaginable map to places we would see, hours or operation, emails consenting their permission to bring Ethan's food into the parks, packing lists, itinerary, meal plan, recipes, grocery list and of course all the legalities such as letters of permission from my sister to bring her daughter across the border, letter of permission from my ex for Melina to cross the border, copies of custody agreements, letters from the allergy specialist stating the severity of Ethan's allergies and the need for us to bring all of his own food, photocopies of blood work, list of specialists and contact info, etc...

I dubbed this "THE folder" which ended up requiring tabs!  The only thing missing was an index page and glossary!

I also registered Ethan with MedicAlert, ordered his "special bracelet", uploaded some Dora videos to the iPod and downloaded a few free kids' apps.

Next was "how can we enjoy this as cheaply as possible?"  Well, checking a piece of luggage with Delta costs $25 a piece!  Thankfully, huge 70% off sales at luggage stores beckoned me so I spent less than that on small carry-on suitcases and matching bags in various colours that would make identifying & allocating them (and lugging them around) much easier!  In the end, it would mean checking one massive suitcase (which contained the potentially questionable liquids) and two car seats and the rest would be lugged around by each and every one of us... yes, including my two year old son!

Ethan laid claim to the purple suitcase & bag, Anika dibbed the black ones.  Melina was ecstatic about the lime green ones, which left me with the turquoise and Duane with the navy blue ones.  This meant Duane would be responsible for "THE suitcase" also known as "the ETHAN suitcase" which contained his homemade foods, soups, broths, meds, lotions, epipens, supplements, etc... This piece of luggage was given the royal treatment and my internal honing device was kicked into high gear to sense when it was possibly in danger!  Woe to the one that would touch that suitcase without my permission!

Then came training camp... Ethan and Anika walked around the mall pulling their suitcases in preparation for connection flights in major airports.  You can imagine the smiles and giggles from those around us who delighted in the cuteness factor!

Then came time to pack.  Duane was leaving at five for his night shift so Melina's help with the little ones was critical.  Unfortunately, she came back from school with chills and high fevers and spent the first five hours home from school sleeping and buried in blankets... great.  Despite this setback, packing everyone was finished in several hours and in the end, all the suitcases were neatly lined up and ready for Duane to load as soon as he returned from working his night shift the next morning.

Next was organizing rides to and from the airport to avoid park & fly fees.  The plan was to have my dad drive all of us to the airport (Ethan, Anika & Loreena squished in the back; Melina, Sivana and I in the middle and Duane and my dad in the front).  Throw in all our luggage and a stroller, cue a little trapeze music and you would think we were on our way to a circus... as the main attraction!  Amazingly, we all fit in our suburban!!  But if you ask me, we would have been far more comfortable in a small bus!

Given that our flight back was scheduled to land at 11:35 p.m. the following week, we asked our young friend who would be caring for our home to pick us up to avoid such a late night for my dad.  Everything seemed organized and ready to go.

Planned home departure was 10:30 a.m. to arrive at the airport for 11:30 a.m. which would give us two hours prior to our scheduled flight.  Surely this would be more than enough time?

Off to the airport!
Mistake number one which I will delve into further in part 2.  So here were were... about to embark upon an adventure... surely I had thought of everything (mistake number two) and all would go as smoothly as it possibly could with a brood this size thanks to my overactive imagination & obsession with assuming the worst (a trait I am convinced is birthed along with your children!).  The promise of possibility was right there (both good and bad)!  Suffice it to say that by the time all of this planning and organizing was done, this phase of the preparation was now dibbed, Preparation H!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whew! I'm exhausted just reading about your preparations! :-)

Looking forward to more storytelling of your adventures!

Diane & family