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Travel With Kids

I love travel. I even love to PCS. I suppose that makes me some sort of freak. But really, the chance to see new things and take in everything the world has to offer appeals to me very much. That's probably one of the biggest perks of being a military family for us - the moving around.

Even the fact that when we travel, it is with four children of varying ages from teen to toddler and a Shar Pei mix of a dog doesn't make it an unbearable misery. It does take a little more planning, though.

I think that part of the reason travel is so coveted for me, whatever it's difficulties, is that in the 13 years since I've been connected to the military, I've changed very much. I've lived all over the CONUS and driven through the rest. Well, I haven't been to Minnesota or the Dakotas yet. But pretty much everywhere else.

And when you spend so much time running around all over, home looks a great deal different than it did when you lived there. I cringe at the family politics I think I used to participate in eagerly.

So, this weekend I had to head "home" for a family emergency. As an aside, I really have to reference the fact that these things only happen during deployments - right now my husband is in Afghanistan - and it takes a Herculean Effort and an act of God on par with the turning back of the sun to take care of the problem at all.

In this case, it involved shipping myself and my four children and my shar-pei mix across country and spending three weeks helping my Mother-In-Law transition from being a somewhat independent person to living in an assisted living facility that specializes in Alzheimer's care.

Now, when traveling with four children, you have to buy the tickets that fit your budget, not the tickets that sound fun. That is why we staggered out of our house at 3 am like a bunch of hungry brain seeking zombies. My minivan was stuffed full of things I didn't even know I owned, and can't for the life of me figure out why I needed it for three weeks at "home".

I packed towels! HONESTLY! Like no one else on earth owns towels. Like you can't buy towels at Wal Mart if necessary. But I like to be prepared. What if the plane crashes and we are stranded on a desert island? Oh yeah, you'll all thank me then. And if you're nice I'll share my towels with you.

I brought snacks, too. Make fun of me and you'll be the last person on the desert island who gets a taste of Oreo. I hope you enjoy eating fish.

Now my children are definitely rambunctious, but they know my limits I'm not too sure they have any limits of their own, but knowing mine when we are out in public is enough. The airport is one of the places they are most well-behaved. The omnipresent threat of a "trip to the bathroom" strikes fear into even the fourteen year old. I think it might have a great deal to do with the fact that I spend every waking moment at the airport talking through gritted teeth.

The biggest problem we usually run into at the airport is the price of food. And the fact that the food is generally disgusting. My kids may not be picky eaters, but even they won't settle for that tripe. And I have fundamental problems paying ten dollars per person for food I wouldn't feed the detainees at Gitmo. I used to bring food and sodas with me for the trip, but not now. I know that technically it is just liquids that are banned, but the thought of my mercury ridden tuna sandwich being subjected to Xrays reminds me just a little too uncomfortably of something in a Marble Comic.

And I'm okay with that, but I do wish we could get some Red Lobster on the Concourse or something. I would settle for decent bacon and eggs, too. Or something made with a cheese that is not a "processed cheese product."

Because if you have to put "product" after the word "cheese", that means it isn't really cheese.

Yuck.

And I really have to qualify all this by saying that we have not yet had the pleasure of international travel with our children and my dog. Yet.

But our day is coming, don't you worry. Well, maybe you should worry. But only if you are planning a flight on the same plane.

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