Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This is for Angela, who is about to bring her two year old, on a plane, from Chicago to Kona... for Ironman...

I actually meant to write this post a while back... right after we got home from our trip to Ohio... but that week after we got home was just crazy busy... then the week again was crazy busy... but when I got a message from Angela about how terrified she is of having to fly Zach such a long long long way, well, it prompted me to write up our experience flying Moana from Honolulu, overnight to Houston, then on to Cleveland... adjusting to a 6 hour time change... then flying her from Cleveland to Newark before boarding the mother of all flights... Newark to Honolulu. 12 hours in the air. Trapped in a small confined place. With a toddler who eventually was screaming at the top of her lungs, "I WANT OFF!!! I WANT OFF!!!"

Yes, Angela, this is for you. ;)

Ok, first I should say, Don't fret. I know I know. That thing about Moana yelling at the top of her lungs I WANT OFF, though true, wasn't as bad as it sounds when I write it. Or maybe (I was drunk) my memory is just bad. I think, really, what it was, was that after 11 hours on that plane, well, we ALL wanted off. We were just so over it by then, delirious really, that we didn't even care anymore if toddlers were screaming. Maybe I should modify that statement. I didn't care.

Wanna know what my secret was? Wine.

Let me go back to the beginning. The first flight, overnight to Houston, was quite empty. Nice. We could all spread out. Give Moana some space. I made the ASSumption that she would just sleep the whole time. I think that flight was like 8 hours. She typically sleeps at least 10 hours at night so I really thought this would be a no brainer leg.

It was not.

Moana slept for maybe 2 hours of that flight. Then she was AWAKE. And spent the other 6 hours using the plane as her personal jungle gym. It was all very exciting (for her). For us? Notsomuch. Nothing like pulling an all nighter on an airplane.

Next flight Houston to Cleveland. Could we be any more tired? Full flight. I'm squashed in the back of the plane near the window and Moana just completely crashed out on my lap the whole time. She was asleep before we took off and I had to wake her up after we landed. This sounds like a dream come true, except for 3 hours I could not move because I was trapped under the toddler. See, it would have been so nice and convenient if she would have slept on the leg where we all had adequate space... Wouldda, couldda, shouldda...

In good news, the adjustment to the 6 hour time change actually went pretty smoothly. Since Moana slept so little while we were traveling, and it was about 2PM when we landed (Ohio time), we just kept her awake and occupied (which was NOT hard, given the newness of grammy's house and those pink and purple tutus in the closet) until normal bedtime and she conked out at 7:00 and slept much of the night.

Moana is typically a good sleeper and sleeps like 10 hours at night and then 2-3 mid day... She pretty much got robbed of most of her mid day naps while we were in Ohio... I mean, she always got a chance to sleep a little but not as much as normal. She handled it well though and was a total trooper.

On to the flight home... I was REALLY hoping she would sleep on that first flight to Newark. It was right around noon I think so it was close to nap time. She was a complete squirmy worm though, on my lap again on a full flight... The last thing I wanted was for her to fall asleep in the last 15 minutes of the flight because I figured a nap that short would rob us of a longer nap later on the loooooooong flight ahead of us... but wouldn't you know it? Just as the pilot started his descent into Newark, she conked out on my lap.

And then the oddest thing happened... the plane landed, but she did not wake up. We pulled into the gate and everyone stood up around us. She did not wake up. Scott grabbed all our carry on bags (we were pushing our limit with these) and I stood up with a sleeping toddler in my arms. It was a miracle! She did not wake up. We did not have much time in the Newark airport between flights so we pretty much just got off one plane and got onto another one... and she did not wake up. We got settled into our new seats (a whole row of 3 this time!). She did not wake up. The plane took off. She did not wake up. We got served lunch. She did not wake up. Oh my. Is she dead? Nope. Still breathing. Just wiped out cold.

Not since she was a little baby have I been able to pull off a transfer like that with Moana. She *always* wakes up. So this was odd. But indeed, she managed to get her 3 hour nap in on 2 different planes and an airport transfer. That, my friends, is what they mean when they say, "Sleep like a baby."

So we were probably an hour and a half into our flight to Honolulu before she even opened her eyes. Nice, no?!? The problem here was that we still had TEN AND A HALF MORE HOURS TO FLY.

Angela will probably complete her Ironman in the remaining time we had on that plane.

In all honesty, I can't remember all that we did to entertain her during those hours, but I do remember one thing... accepting the juice the flight attendant gave us for her and putting it in her sippy cup. Big mistake. Big. HUGE.

Warning: Rant.

WHY DO THESE FREAKING COMPANIES PUT HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN ALL THEIR JUICES MEANT FOR KIDS?????? I normally steer completely clear of that stuff, especially when it comes to feeding Moana, but on this flight I didn't pack enough of our own food so we were reliant on what was served to us. I think that whoever is in charge of the decision to put that shit in juices and food for kids should have had to sit next to my squirmy worm child for 10 more hours on that flight while she wiggled and squirmed and screamed uncontrollably. I swear to you, when the flight attendant came by again and offered more juice I just about stood up and whacked her. Not that it was her fault. But I promise you, I have NEVER seen behavior like this from Moana and I just know it was all that HFCS she had.

I almost felt sorry for Moana because it seemed so clear to me that she couldn't even control her own squirminess. It was like she was possessed and just HAD to move. I was just beyond tired though by this point so instead of feeling sorry for her I just wanted to give her away to the highest bidder. Nah. Not even. I wanted to PAY someone to take her by that point.

Anyway, time for mommy and daddy to start drinking so we could relax. Amazing how much less you care that your kid is making a big scene when you're a little tipsy. I completely recommend this strategy.

So Moana FINALLY fell back asleep, after maybe like 8 hours of hell on a plane. I just kept telling her, "It's sleepy time..." and then we did everything we could to ignore her. (Which is hard when we're all so confined in such a little space.) Scott and I did not sleep though so we were both pretty freaking tired. But at least the squirmy worm was asleep. But now it's time for another RANT.


We weren't so lucky with Moana sleeping through that. Lights on = baby awake. But she wasn't ready to be awake. It was going on midnight Ohio time by now so even though the sun had not yet set in Hawaii, it was the middle of the night for all of us. This is when the most major of the whining fits happened.

"I WANT OFF!! I WANT OFF!!!!!!!"

Toddlers can yell REALLY LOUDLY when they want to.

Well guess what? We all wanted off. And guess what? If the flight attendants had not turned the lights on and pretended we were going to land when we still had close to an hour left, we all would have endured less of the screaming.

My brain must have blocked most of this out of my memory (for protection of the species??) because I honestly don't remember much about the end of that flight. Just that eventually it did end. And at some point we all stumbled off that plane and into the Land of Aloha, where we will remain for the foreseeable future.

So I just went back to re-read this post and I admit it doesn't sound all that uplifting or encouraging thing for Angela and Zach (and those other lucky folks who happen to be sitting near them on their flight to Hawaii). However, keep in mind the happy ending, which was that 1) Nobody died, and 2) Eventually the plane actually did land in paradise.

Finally, I will leave you with these tips:

~Drink wine early and often.
~Do NOT feed your child anything that contains HFCS (or now they're calling it 'Corn Sugar'- same thing).
~Bring a portable DVD player and a favorite blankie or stuffed animal.
~Drink more wine.

See you next week in Kona!


Rebecca DeWire said...

When I was in college I flew from Newark to Honolulu and there is no way I would do that now with a toddler. You and your husband deserve an award. And here I thought Philly to Seattle was long. The toy that bought us the most time on the plane was temporary tattoos. My husband bought them for her; I never would have thought Elena would have loved them so much. We all looked ridiculous at the end of the flight, but I was beyond caring. And I think you are onto something with the wine!

Kay said...

AH HAH! I was wondering why I never heard how your return flight was! Now I know...oh boy, let's hope the bad memories fade by next summer so that you'll come back to visit again. But I agree - it is a horrendous flight, even for adults! For what's it's worth..we REALLY APPRECIATE that you were willing to come! :)

Ange said...

I TOOK THAT FLIGHt from Newark to Honolulu!!!!!!!!!!!! I nearly died and it was just me and my husband. Seriously, I threw up. I NEVER get sick on planes or in cars... that flight shouldn't be allowed. I can NOT imagine how how did that wwith a toddler. hats off to you and I'm glad you survived. Seriously. Yikes.
I'm laughing that you told this story for Angela... not all that encouraging! :) Just as long as she doesn't have that 12 hr leg. I would HIGHLY recommend splitting that trip into two (or does it become 3 ) days. Next time, I would stop in Cali for a little rest. Good job surviving!!
Angela--- you will get there and it'll be fine. :)

Jennifer Harrison said...

Ok, I read this and then had to run off and pick up Graham from soccer and then it dawned on me.

I traveled to Kona in 2004 to race and the twins were 2 as well.

I was (for some reason) either smart or too tired to think but we left the twins at home with grandma and grandpa....NO way I was (and Jerome) traveling with 2 yo twins! Gasp.

Angela will be fine! :) (giggle)

Angela and David said...


I AM SO SCARED! SERIOUSLY. SO SCARED. Moana is a sweet little girl and the flight was that painful. Zach thrives on destruction and loud noises and making a mess.

We are breaking the flight up with a layover in LA. I hope that helps a little.

I should just start drinking now.

Beach Mom said...

Dude, I would have warned you. We did that flight with 2 girls two and half years ago and haven't been back to the mainland since. Awful! We had newlyweds next to us that were all, "they're so cute, we can't wait to have kids" by the end of the flight they were so over that! We even used Benadryl which usually knocks them out. To make matters worse it was our second flight of the the day Halifax -Newark was something like 2 hours. I'm glad you all survived!

cherelli said...

Oh between you and Angela you are coming up with awfully good verbal contraceptives!! I don't have kids but it drives me absolutely nuts when I see HFCS (or "glucose-fructose" as they call it in Canada) on all the cereals and foods here...and they wonder why there are behavioural problems out there.....

Charisa said...

This was awesome - I love the drink wine early and often :) Have fun in Kona!

Andrew Thomas said...

And just think...Linh does that flight (hnl to ewr) twice a month just to get to and from work. Talk about a commute!

And to answer your question. The flight attendants probably turn on the lights because they need to see to prep for departure. Just saying.

Katie A. said...

ROFL! I'm sorry, but I did laugh at your recount of the flight from hell. I'm amazed how well you did and remembered the wine ;)

I don't know how you did it, but you did! And I'm sure Angela will survive.

Maybe this is out of line - but is children's tylenol a bad thing? Drinking wine for yourself and a few magic drops of sanity for the kid? LOL! I would never dream of suggesting that ;)

DR said...

well told Michele.

Well here is my travel toddler story (I feel like a little boasting NOW that it is so long ago): This past summer we MOVED from Melbourne to Boston. Our flight was a 15 hrs direct from Melbourne ->LA, then a 5 hr layover in LA followed by a 7+ hr flight from LA->Boston.

Our melbourne flight left at 10 AM, my almost (at the time two year old) woke up at 3 AM with projectile vomit x2 hrs. Just as she settled at 0600 we had to wake her to get ready and drive to the airport. By the time we had checked in Julia had peearrhea. Liquid poo folks, and I mean liquid! After the early vomit I had packed extra diapers (20 for a 25 hr journey -- I thought it was generous) + 3 outfits. We had not even left the tarmac and I only had 12 diapers left and had to throw out one outfit completely. It was the most awful experience, it was soaked. I remember waiting at one bathroom (only a select few had a chage table) and the man came out looking apologetic, telling me that someone must have been sick in that bathroom. I am like, "YEAH, MY KID!"

Luckily (for us) she refused to eat and so her little bowels were empty and settled with 6 diapers left. And then she didn't poo for the rest of the journey...poor kid.

Funnily enough she was on a normal time schedule withing 4 days -- took me much onger to get over the 19 hr time difference.

I will have to try the tatoos. I know for our long trip we had stickers -- also a big hit..and yes I was covered in stickers by the end.

I just flew over the weekend (sans toddler) and there was a mother with a 7 month old boy who did not even make a PEEP! I was watching him and thinking, he must be getting tired, sure enough one eye rub, his mom pulled out her smart phone and propped it on the tray table while playing video games and he passed out peacefully, no fussing while she held him in her other arm. Just proves kids are as different as snowflakes.

N.D. said...


Lizzie said...

Oh Michelle - I am going to have to send this to my mum. She probably went through the same thing 30 years ago with my brother and I, only it was a 27 hour flight. I've never asked her about it, as I', not ready to fully abandon the dream that I was the perfect travelling child :) I think you all deserve gold medals!

Lizzie said...

I totally forgot to add this link to my post - sorry! I couldn't agree more with your rant on the HCF stuff. I read this great article from the NY Times:


and in the reader's comments section was this woman's experience which reminded me of Moana and the juice. Sorry for posting this here!

"Just before Christmas, my three year old daughter and I attended a Holiday party where an alarming cornucopia of sugary snacks was on display from the moment we walked in the door. My daughter bellied right up to the bar to partake of the endless trays of cookie and candy, undistracted by toys or other partygoers. She only peeled herself away when the pizza (accompanied by apple juice) came out and was served in a different part of the room. Following that up was the candy-filled pinata. Little did I know that these days, the kids don't even get to whack the thing to get at what's inside. The just pull little strings and the candy rains down on their little heads. No calories burnt off there. The party concluded with each girl decorating no fewer than four (4) cupcakes to take home with her, unless she'd eaten them all first. When it was time to leave, I braced myself for the Chernobyl that would ensue when I asked her to put on her boots. It was probably her worst meltdown to date. She cried in the taxi, she cried when she got home, over dinner she cried in her soup, then cried when I wouldn't let her wear her party dress to bed. She was unrecognizable; she was basically an overwrought, recalcitrant drunk."

Hmmmm . . .