Monday, May 11, 2009

Time "flies" when you're having fun!

Wow, I thought I was taking a two week hiatus from the blog and it's been a month. But I must say it has all been in the vein of the fun that comes from converting from winter "go"ing to spring "go"ing.

The end of April had us enjoying some major spring time skiing and the Easter holiday on the slopes. Nearly all ski resorts in Tahoe host some Easter festivities...from your standard egg hunts to Alpine Meadow's beacon hunt. After reviewing several resorts' activities we decided to stay at our home resort, Alpine Meadows, and participate in their activities. In addition to the beacon egg hunt, there was an all-mountain hunt, 2 hunts at the children's ski zone for the little munchkins, and then another on Hot Wheels for the slightly older kids. Two bunnies provided lots of hugs and traditional cute furry one and your rail jamming shred head bunny. All of this happened before the nap-time...aka melt-down time of early afternoon.

With Easter behind us and the snow starting to melt away with the warm spring temps our last weekend of our ski lease had us itching for one last round of fun in the snow. We joined several snowmobile-owning friends up SR431 .We parked alongside the road and placed several lawn chairs at what would be the end of the kids' sledding run. We parked the cars tight enough on the roadside the kids were well protected from the traffic and easily supervised while waiting their turn by 1 adult. And the adults had easy access to the snowmobiles. Everyone had a blast and I enjoyed putting off the packing and cleaning required to move out of our ski lease.

Alas that evening over a few margaritas our ski lease was clean and we were ready to roll out. Until next season. The nice thing about most owners/agents if you were a good tenant you get first dibs at the same place next season if you meet an early deadline, June 1, and a small deposit, generally a couple of hundred bucks. After the June 1 deadline you still have some preferred customer status by having that agency's properties only available to you and their other existing tenants, but generally if you haven't made a decision by July 1...everything still available becomes fair game for the general public. So even though the season just ended you have to start thinking about next season.

With our decision made it was now time to fly!...literally. We headed out early one AM for the heartland of Kentuckiana and our purpose, The Kentucky Derby. We prefer early AM flights because getting the munchkins up early, say 3 hours before their normal waking hour, forces them on to the new time zone. With every flight we are constantly making notes about what worked and what didn't. Here's this trip's list:
Sony's Children Headphones (Model#MDR-222KD): At $15 were a great buy. After several flights of our children struggling with ear bugs or adult-size headphones we ordered these. Comes in Black and Pink for your princesses. Perfect!
Crayola Beginnings Washable Triangular Crayons 16ct (SKU#52-016T): OK, at nearly $5.50 for a pack you may think forget it. BUT, the fact that I still have the entire pack after a flight and they are not scattered in the 20rows behind me after they rolled off my child's tray is worth every penny. Oh yeah...the triangular shape is also good for their hand-writing instrument coordination.
United Airlines On-line Baggage Check: You should not check your bags in on-line if you plan to check a car seat. Car seats are free, but must be checked in at the airport. So when I thought I was doing a good things by paying for and checking or non-car seat bag from caused a delay at the airport by having to add the car seat after the fact. Next time, still check-in on-line, but do the bag/car seat portion at the airport kiosk
United Airlines Car Seat Policy: Car seats are free when it comes to checked baggage. Unfortunately Unites does charge...even for the first "other" checked bag at $15. So...our family of 4 crammed into one large duffel bag (see article), but to ensure we were not overweight...we crammed our extra shoes and jackets into the car seat bag. So $30 round trip for our checked bags and easily 60+lbs plus car seat.
- United Airlines Gate Check: Double and triple check what the gate agent puts on your gate check tag where you want to pick up your destination or perhaps a connection. I remember remarking to the agent we would need to stroller in O'Hare our connection. We waited and waited at O'Hare...the stroller never showed. The first class steward apologized profusely and I jokingly said he could make it up by helping us with 3 backpacks, 1 2year old, 1 4 year old, and a car seat who had 30min to switch terminals and make our next flight. In the end after some running we made it on our next flight with 5min to spare and the stroller made it to our final destination...about 6 hours after us.
+ United Airlines 1st Class Stewards: Remember the steward above did actually take the time to wait with my husband, check with baggage personnel, and apologized. On our return flight we thought we were in trouble when a first class stewardess came walking through the plane with a ship's manifest, but we failed to see in her other hand was fresh baked cookies for all the kids' on board, whether in first class or us in our cheap seats in coach. Score round 2 for the first class personnel.

So with these tips and tricks from our latest flight to add to our others:
Packing to Avoid Fees
> Lap Child, Car Seat, Seat Belt...Oh My
> Check the Seat Pocket in Front of You....AUGHH!
> I hated the back of planes...Before Kids
...we were ready for a fun filled trip to Kentuckiana, including parades, fishing, KY Derby, and a massive indoor waterpark...and next week's article.

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