Monday, January 18, 2010

Get Packing

Geekygirl and I are going on our very first mother-daughter trip. The two of us are jet-setting over to England for the weekend. Well, we leave on Wednesday and return on Monday, a ridiculously short trip, but with only 15 days of vacation  a year, you do what you can. The occasion is our very first audience with the latest member of the extended Geekyfamily, my brother's brand new baby son.

So, I'm packing. I've packed the important documents;
Passport (UK) and green card (actually a beigey pink color) for me.
Passport (US) for Geekygirl (some day I will get around to getting British ones for the kids too).
Notarized letter from Geekydaddy giving me permission to take our daughter out of the country (to prove I am not kidnapping her from the US to a life of deprivation in the UK).
Copy of Geekygirl's birth certificate, proving that I am indeed her mother despite the fact that we have different last names (oh, the inconveniences of feminism).

I'm working on the hand luggage:
Optimistically, books for me (Kate Atkinson's "when will there be good news", and "Raising Girls" by Gisela Preuschoff). Who wants to bet that they will return home untouched?!
Books for Geekygirl - yet to be selected but will try to avoid hardbacks and board books, since I'm not bringing my pack mule (aka Geekydaddy).
Electronics; Leapster hand held game, mini DVD player, iphone with new "Diego" episodes freshly downloaded, and my toy, the Macbook.
Snacks, sippy cups, wipes, pull ups, colouring supplies, changes of clothing (at least 2, past experience tells me).
Small tacky toys with too many pieces, purchased to be doled out at intervals, scrabbled for underneath airplane seats every ten minutes, eventually lost for good - inducing hysteria and whose purchase will likely be regretted.

That sounds heavy, just writing it down, so may have to be rethought! My tendency to over pack the carry on bags for every eventuality (a pound of dried apricots, anyone?) once caused Geekydaddy to physically crumble, like Black Beauty under the whip, on the gangway while disembarking from a flight to Seattle. Ideas for other (light) things to amuse children on 10 hour flights are always appreciated!

The actual luggage is proving difficult. You see Geekygirl loves her clothes. When at home, she changes constantly. She can have 5 outfits on in the space of an hour. When listening to music she will pause it between songs for a costume change. She likes to mix and match her pajama bottoms with her swimsuit and a pair of wellies, or her ballet leotard with her snow boots, mittens and an old baby bonnet. She has quite a selection of dress up costumes too, but seems to take the most pleasure in "dressing up" in her regular clothes. The result of this is that the contents of her closet are permanently all over the floor, and it drives me nuts. I never know what is clean or dirty, so I vacillate between washing her entire wardrobe every week, or sweeping things from the floor back into the closet only to send her off to preschool in an oatmeal (or worse) encrusted T shirt. While I have been writing this post she has changed four six times already.

If she had her way I would pack everything she owns. I made the mistake once, when packing her bag for a Tahoe weekend, of only putting in the actual number of outfits a normal person would wear in two days. Oh, the horror of a weekend with a three year old girl with "nothing to wear"! Over Christmas, when were were again up in Tahoe in frigid snowy weather I had packed  a large selection, including her summer dresses and ballet gear, but was admonished for forgetting her swimsuit! I think my little fashionista and I have a bit of negotiating to do regarding what we pack.

Me, I only have a couple of outfits appropriate for January in Buckinghamshire, so don't need to put much thought into my packing.

I am very excited about this trip, it has been almost a year since I last saw my parents, siblings and friends. My mum and dad still live in the house we grew up in and there is something so satisfying and circular about seeing my kids asleep in my old room, now a gallery of my teenage pony art, and watching them play with our old toys, especially the fisher price A frame house and its little bobble headed occupants, which enchant our kids just as they did us. As well as the new nephew to meet, my sister and her brood of three gorgeous girls will come over. It sounds corny, but nothing makes us happier than to have the whole family back together in our childhood home. I predict that we may drink a little too much, break out the LP records and find ourselves dancing to Wham, Barry Manilow and Shaking Stevens into the small hours.  My dearest friend from childhood grew up on our street, and her family also still lives there, so we will get to spend some precious time together with her family too.

I'm sad, though, that I'm leaving Geekyboy and his dad at home, I'm going to miss them. Geekyboy is at an age where he will miss me, but not really understand that I'm coming back. He is also completely adorable, affectionate, and grappling with language in such a hilarious way (latest gem "Boobillies" for blueberries), and I want to show him off to everyone. I toyed with the idea of taking them both, but it would have been brutal for all concerned to drag an almost two year old from San Francisco to London and back again to meet a cousin he won't remember the next time he sees anyway.

I'm also apprehensive about traveling as the lone responsible adult in our party, and rather worried about the enhanced security procedures. Still, one advantage of traveling with an almost four year old who potty trained rather late and wears a pull up at night is that she has no qualms about peeing in a diaper, so the "no getting up for the last hour or two of the flight" shouldn't bother her (I, with my post two baby bladder, am another story. Better pack extra pull ups!) I'm worried that the rigid security requirements will cause my sensitive child to get scared and upset, that they will take her blanky away for the last part of the flight, or even worse, the iphone. Better brush up on my "I spy" skills.

I'm sure it will be fine, it really is quite an easy trip and I have done it many times, but I'll be glad when we get there. England, here we come!


followthatdog said...

It is going to go more smoothly than you expect. Have a fantastic trip.

TheMadHouse said...

Woohoo, I very cold England, I had ice on the inside and outside of my car window, but then I am in the frozen North.

I am sure all will go well, enjoy

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Oh, have a lovely time. I enjoyed my last mum-daughter trip with Rosemary, though it was only trains up to Lincolnshire. She was remarkably well-behaved. Enjoy your time with your family!

septembermom said...

Sounds like a lovely time together. I hope you have a very nice time :)

mothership said...

don't give her much dried fruit. That will backfire (literally!). Pack lots of small snacks in individual snack-size baggies and dole those out (goldfish, pretzels, teddy grahams etc.). That will keep her entertained much longer and will stop her getting upset when you put them away trying to save some for later. She will be absolutely fine and good as gold. I took a 27 hour trip with a 4 year old and a 17 month old on my own about a year ago and survived it - they were much better behaved than I thought they would be and the 4 year old was a breeze! You may even get to read your book while she watches the in-flight movie. If she's anythign like mine she'll watch the same one over and over again (it was Mama Mia when we flew). One good tip is to buy some child-sized headphones before you go if you don't already have some. You don't want the leapster blaring out and annoying everyone and the ones that fit in the ears are not good for little ones.
Also: playdoh, crayons, colour wonder paper/pens all good for flights. Let her carry her own little backpack. Don't overpack the clothes, she'll be fine with whatever.
PS Get them their own UK passports sooner rather than later. They are not officially citizens of the UK until they own their own British passports (did you know that?). Once you get one you can let it lapse and they're set for life anyway, but if you don't get it before they're 18 the right expires. Just FYI

geekymummy said...

MS thanks for so much detail, and thanks for the FYI, I did not know that. Wow, flying alone with both kids for 27 hours? That is extreme parenting!

A Modern Mother said...

Have a great trip. Safe flight and all that. Weather is supposed to be (relatively) warm.

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Iota said...

Don't think you can get them in the US, but in the UK, those kids' magazines are great for journeys. You know the kind of thing. Like a puzzle book, but with the attraction of it being like a proper grown-up magazine, and with a rubbishy cheap plastic toy on the front.

Iota said...

Wonder where you are headed in Bucks. I also grew up in Bucks, and my mother still lives in the same house.

geekymummy said...

Iota, I'm from Olney, in North Bucks near Milton Keynes.

Iota said...

Ah, I grew up in Chesham (as did Brit Gal in the USA - we've done a joint posting about it this week). But I also lived in Bletchley for 2 years, so I know North Bucks a little as well.

geekymummy said...

Iota, I was born in Bletchley! We lived in Woburun Sands at the time. My ex boyfriend lived in Chesham, lovely place.

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