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in flight

we came back from camping, then back from DC, and are now on our summer trip to oregon. the rugged coastline, redwoods and family called our names and so we came. the last three mornings before leaving, ruthie woke up asking if it was (finally) "oregon day". "no, but it will be soon, rufie" eve would quickly answer. "super duper soon?" "yes, super duper soon" "super duper malooper soon?" "yes, super duper malooper quadooper soon."

our annual trip to oregon usually involves me flying by myself with the kids, chip joining for the last week and then the five of us shuttling home together. this time we switched it up. chip is with us for the first two weeks, so our family of five all boarded and landed together. a big relief for all involved. especially me. nothing like trying to get yourself and all three of your children into an airplane bathroom before your (then) two-year-old actually does wet herself, as she has been announcing to/ threatening her fellow passengers with at the top of her lungs for three minutes while we wait for the "occupied" light to dim..  

but even with chip there to wrangle and distract, traveling across the country with these three takes a little planning. not my strong suit, but we made it here and did so without our neighbors cursing our names. charlie, being magical and in love with his thumb, was easy. and, with the help of their very own back packs bags full of a few simple treats and ways to pass our nine hours of travel, the girls were pretty great too. 

the goods inside the bags:

+ new coloring book and new crayons. heaven for my little girls. brand new pages waiting to be filled and sharp new crayons means fresh, intricate designs for the girls. a dolphin? no, no. a rainbow, diamond, snowflake dolphin with pink eyelashes. takes at least 40 minutes to get just right.

+random activity books from the pharmacy because we couldn't find any decent coloring books on our own (chip's sister saved the day and showed up at our place with the real goods).

+ stickers. with thousands of foam stickers floating through our apartment (and torturing me) years ago, i began taking them on flights with eve and i. we would stick them all over the tray table and seat back, we'd make scenes of dancing animals or designs with our shapes. i'd put two pair of each (animal, shape, whatever we had) up and eve would find the matches. we'd draw faces on them and find the sad horse or the happy lion. and after an hour or so of playing we'd we'd take them off the seat and tray and be done. i don't have the foam stickers anymore and don't ever want them in my house again, so we go for regular stickers. they don't entertain nearly as long but they are a special treat. and apparently ruth loves to put them in her hair (which works out really well..)

+ snacks. of their very own in their very own back pack. no sharing, no bargaining, no waiting their turn for a bite. preferably wrapped up in colorful paper. because unwrapping takes time too, and it makes everyone happy.

+ a book. i can't take my kids anywhere without a book. i used to bring several, but we've streamlined. one for each girl and a couple for charlie. old favorites are the best, because i know they will be hits and the girls can "read" them to each other when i'm finished.

+ woodkins. i may need to devote a post to this toy. all i can say is that they, a gift to the girls from chip's parents, are so much better than i thought they'd be.  

+ home videos. pulled out when all else has failed, these are always the answer. the girls love watching themselves, so the dvd with an hour's worth of footage sampling their entire lives is devoured happily. they stare and laugh and pretend to be embarassed by themselves while i try to take a nap.

all carried on their own little backs from plane to plane, these items weren't anything new or groundbreaking, but they did the trick.  

in four and a half weeks i'll be flying across the country to get home. a mom alone with her three very young kids, i'll be every other passenger's worst nightmare. but hopefully the treats, and crayons and home videos will, once again, charm the littles. and maybe the people who watched me with big eyes and thought to themselves "please don't be sitting next to me. please don't be next to me" will watch me leave thinking that it wasn't so bad afterall..


backpacks are a shrunken version of the backpack pattern in lotta jansdotter's simple sewing. easy and fast.

i have a lot to post, but being on vacation with family in paradise is distracting and too much fun. i'll try to get back to at least once a week. but if i don't, take it as a good sign. summer!



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Reader Comments (55)

Great skirts! Can you talk about the stripey one? T-shirts on bias? SOoooo cute!!

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I refuse to believe you're bad at planning for a SECOND! I love the plane outfits, the backpacks, the whole lot. Have a wonderful holiday - I'm selfishly sad not to see you post a lot, but will hold that in until you're back :)

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Is it just by accident that Chip's shirt, Ruthie's skirt, the tights and shoes, and the stripes on the plane all match? I'm impressed Katie.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrooke

those stripey leggings, oh my.
hints at where you got them?
clever mummy.

kari jo in nyc

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkari jo

I love travelling with my kids (15 months and 4 1/2,) but granted, we only usually have to do a 2 hour flight. I, too, created kid-size version of Lotta's backpack! One time I saw a flight attendant, who had jumped on a flight with her little 1-year-old boy, grab about 10 of those tiny sealed cups of cream...you know, for coffee. She poked a hole in one with a fork and the little boy proceeded to suck, suck, suck with all his might to get every last drop...repeat, repeat, repeat. Now, I would never want my child to down THAT much cream in one sitting, but let me tell you, that trick is stored in a very special place in my mind for the one time I just might need it... Sorry this was long, but thought some folks would like one more for the kids-on-a-plane trick bank. It's always an adventure...thanks for sharing yours with your cute girls, and of course, cute clothes. :)

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

my girls are older than yours (7 and 9) and they still play with their woodkins! it is a fantastic toy and, with a few fabric scraps, you can make it brand new again and again! enjoy your vacation! and good luck on the return flights.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentererin

I traveled with my 3 year old back in May from California to Brazil. I also packed some activities. His favorite was cutting. I took a pair of toddler scissors and he cut up his entire coloring book. He seriously was entertained for 2 hours, at least. It was pretty awesome.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamaris

happy summer! looks like it's off to a great start!

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlyn

Love your blog...don't know if I've commented before, but I love you blog. You make me laugh, and have such great ideas too! Also, I LOVE your photos in this post! What lens did you use (the first photo)?

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkath

Wow, you are so organized! I feel tired just thinking about packing:) Thank you so much for sharing the ideas!

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkaty

darling! something as horrid as air travel with children just became cute and funny. have an incredible time on your trip! i know this is one of your favorite parts of the year... what fun!
i finally posted some before and after shots of our place.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatria

I'm going to assume it was because we were gone traveling out west, but if Ruth and Eve make it to DC again without paying us a visit, there's going to be trouble! Have a super dooper malooper great time on your trip, it always sounds so wonderful!

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdc riches

I flew to Australia by myself with the 3 younger one's when they were 5, 2 & 10 months old. The flight is 23 hours. After that, any other flight I've ever taken with them has seemed like nothing! It really wasn't so bad and as other passengers disembarked so many of them complimented me on how great they were - and it made me adore them so much more.

I pack much the same in their backpacks as you, but we also love to take those little party bag sized packs of play-doh - they entertain for ages. I think I'll check into woodkins for our trip to CA this summer.

Have a great break!

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTania

no way are you a bad planner! 3 kids, a set of matching leggings, AND matching homemade backpacks?!?! please, sis, you're a phenomenon. your girls are just gorgeous.

and thanks for the heads up on the woodkins. totally going to check them out for my daughter.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercate

"because unwrapping takes time too.." You're so funny. And clever, clearly!

So glad the trip was fairly painless. I used to travel with my parents a lot when I was a wee munchkin, and some of my first memories of happiness and excitement involve airports. And the Hello Kitty coloring books and colored pencils you could only get in international airports in those days. Oh, and Toblerone chocolate. No doubt your girls will remember their special travel treats when they are older, too.

Happy and safe travels on your return journey! <3

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhadley

Everything turned out so cute. And I love the ideas for a travel bag and what to put in it. I'll have to keep that in mind when we travel with my two girls this summer.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Oooh...woodkins...great tip. We're moving to Seattle from Portland and I'm looking to fill the girls' "stuff to do in the car" bags.

I hope you have a lovely time in Portland-- you've come at the perfect time!

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhayley l.

I travel alone with my three little ones cross country as well. It is always an adventure! The home movies is a great idea. My kids could watch them over and over and over. I think I'll have to try that next time we fly.

I wrote a post a little while back about how I travel alone with the kids. Not about what to pack but more how to get my mind set for the trip. It is such a challenge (for me) to stay relaxed and not get overwhelmed.


say hi to aunt meggie for me. have fun in oregon.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnalisa

Hello Katie,
i love your blog and you pictures and how you tell about your family. It makes me smile and it is very funny to read your commentary.
But I have one question: Which camera do use to make your pictures?
Greetings from Germany and have a nice summer.


July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

LOVE the bags and I LOVE LOVE LOVE those leggings the girls are wearing! Great job on all the goodies and treats. I;m hoping to pick up a few pointers for when I have little ones and we want to travel!

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWandering Lili

Would it be possible for your to give measurements for the bags you made, particularly how long you made the straps? I have Lotta's book (great book!) but I'd like to make a couple of bags for friends' daughters who are three and four years old, ideally without having to measure them!

Thanks, for another inspirational post.

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterflossie

Your girls are soo adorable! I love the backpacks and thier little skirts cute! Good to hear u'r enjoying your vacation!

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

I'm the kind of person who wishes 'Please BE sitting next to me!' I like playing with kiddos and am more than happy to entertain someone else's on the plane. But that's just me...

July 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermargot

Have a wonderful trip! You sound very prepared.

July 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKara

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