The Things We Carried

I carried two small boys, their carseats on wheels, their faces excited about grandma, grandpa, and airplanes despite the 3 am wakeup.

I carried a 60 pound bag stuffed full of kids clothes and toys, but none for momma.

I carried their favorite duplo, carefully packed by Daddy to fit as much as possible in the bin.

I carried a backpack stuffed with my jewelry, camera equipment, laptop, our back-up drives.

I carried two diaper bags, filled to the brim with diapers, snacks, a few toys, and too few clean outfits.

The little guy carried his Elmo pack, filled with Elmo and some curious George books.

I carried fear for my husband’s safety.

I carried worries about getting the pup home.

I carried gratitude for all the incredible people on Evac Team Cairo who ensured our evacuation went smoothly.

I carried longing for my friends, our life, the home we have made in Egypt.

I carried pride in my husband.  His willingness to answer the call, despite the cost.

A few days later, my husband carried what I forgot: sunglasses, the charger for my camera.

He carried pictures of our Cairo apartment, of our artwork, of the belongings we had to leave behind.

He carried the bread pan my great grandmother made out of a parafin tin.

He carried the handwritten cookbook my grandmother gave me when I moved out of my parents’ home.

He carried his work clothes to get back to the job he loves as soon as possible.

I don’t know what he carried in his heart, but I wish I was there to help him bear the burden.

We carry relief at being home safely.

We carry intense joy at every American flag we see flying high this Fourth.

We carry our love for Egypt.

We carry a deep sense of displacement.

We carry our hope for the future.

Escapist

I spent this week in London for my very last work assignment. The week was filled with incredibly smart people trying to make the almost impossible happen seamlessly. These are the days when I love my job deeply, and know just how much I will miss it next week when I am no longer working. I’m feeling a bit lost without that very long to-do list.

In my free moments I walked through Tescos – drooling over fresh beautiful pork products and aisles and aisles of wine, beer and liquor. I ate ridiculous amounts of back bacon, smoked ham, breakfast sausages. I went to some superb restaurants. I wandered the streets gawking at the clean, even sidewalks, the gleaming buildings, the short skirts women wear.

I considered short skirts, but it was too cold. Low cut shirts? After nursing two boys well over a year each, that ship has sailed. Missed opportunities I’m sure.

I met a friend, and we talked late into the night about work-life balance, budgeting when you no longer have a dual income family, and a sense of identity lost while you find your new place in the world.

It is a week full of impressions, conversations, experiences. I know it all means something.

Today, I spent an hour in the British Museum. There is a Tennyson quote in the floor of the museum “and let thy feet millenniums hence be set in midst of knowledge”.

I can’t wait a millennium, but wisdom will not be rushed.

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I’m not good at good-byes

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This week is all about keeping it real. I’m trying to feel the grief as it comes, instead of saving it all for later, because later I will need to be very strong.

I have cried for what seems like hours this week over a friend of a friend who lost her battle with cancer much too young. I met her when my oldest was just a month old baby. “My ovaries ache” she said when she held him. We all laughed and I just assumed the usual momentary urge all moms feel when they hold a newborn. I found out about her cancer later, and was so inspired by her courage and love of life.

What makes me so very sad is that she has a son, and I cannot imagine leaving my husband and my boys. They need me. I need them.

I’m standing in the empty house we bought on our very first wedding anniversary. I’m looking around the room where I brought home my newborn boys, nursed them through those hazy first days. I’m walking through the living room where Jack Jr. took his first toddling steps.

The card says “I’m not good at good-byes, so let’s just pretend we’re playing hide and seek… and you are going to be real hard to find. ”

Touché Hallmark. Touché. It’s going to take a while to find me.

Traveling with Toddlers and Babies – Part 2 Gear

Again, I’m no expert but here’s my plan.  If you have experience with this, please weigh in!

::Carseats::

We have a Britax Boulevard and a Graco Snugride – both are FAA approved.

The labeling must say “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards” and “This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft,” in red lettering.  (http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC%20120-87B.pdf)

For more info on travel safety see the FAA brochure here.

How to get these through airports?  The boys will be in the carseats as much as we can possibly keep them. We have a GoGo Babiez Kidz Travelmate for Jack Jr’s seat, and a stroller frame for the Graco seat.

::Other Gear::

We are checking our beloved Bob Duallie, and saying our prayers that it survives okay. We are also checking our ancient hand-me-down pack-n-play for the little to use until our shipment arrives with his crib.  Not very comfy, but what can you do.

My ergo baby carrier.  I like that thing…  If baby gets restless I can always parade him around in the carrier – he seems to find that soothing.

Next time, I’ll show you my diaper bags.

Traveling with Toddlers and Babies – Part 1 Entertainment

Pretty soon, we’ll be getting on a 14 hour flight with a two year old and a six month old.  I’m no expert (yet!) but I have been doing a LOT of reading and research.  I’ll share my plan in three parts – entertainment, feeding, and gear.

If you have experience with this, please weigh in!

::Entertainment::

In dire circumstances, Jack Jr. will be able to watch movies on Captain Jack’s iPad.  I got him some kid earphones.  In addition he’ll have:

  • Finger puppets*
  • A crayon wallet like this one I found on Etsy.  I replaced the crayons with these pencils.
  • Stickers and a sticker album
  • A few books (2-3 favorites and 2-3 new)
  • Two or three little cars
  • Stacking cups*
  • A few animal toys* (actually bath toys, but they are some of his favorites)
  • Links*
  • Small Fisher Price Doodle

Items with an asterisk can also be used to entertain the baby.  In addition, Baby Hulk will have:

  • Sophie (all babies love this one.)
  • A little blanket toy
  • Monkey
  • Grasping toys (frog and triangles) by Haba

I have drawstring bags to hold all the toys – hopefully that will help us keep track of everything.

We also play rousing games of peekaboo around here.  That is infinitely portable!