Well, at this point I can say that I am 85% recovered from our whirlwind trip and 30% recovered from the missionary conference. My apartment is 15% recovered (Antônia is on her month-long holiday and I'm feeling a little burnout from having to unpack twice in two weeks.)
I'm starting to realize that I may never get the two hours it would take to sit down and blog about our adventures in one nice cohesive narrative (or even a coherent one) so you'll get it in bits and pieces.
1. The advice that guided me through the whole trip was this: "...I called my mom, who in the 1970s loaded me, my three siblings, and our reluctant father into a van for a yearlong road trip behind the Iron Curtain. “In my travels,” she said, “I’ve found there are three things you can find anywhere: Snickers, Fanta, and Johnny Walker Red. It wouldn’t kill them to live on Snickers and Fanta for a few days. If that doesn’t work, try the Johnny Walker and let them sleep.”" (from the National Geographic Travel Blog)
Jackson is a pretty picky eater and airplane travel isn't well-thought out for toddlers ("Why yes! My child would love beef tips with mushrooms and salad. Except can I sub the beef tips with chicken nuggets and the salad with french fries? And could I get a gallon of ketchup while you're at it?") I read that advice a couple of months ago and it popped into my head while we were traveling. While I never gave Jackson Snickers or Fanta (or Johnny Walker), it helped me remember that the meal choices we were making on the trip were short-term and that he would survive. So for a couple of weeks, there were several meals of cashews and raisins, washed down chocolate milk. Maybe not totally balanced, certainly not organic (gave up on that ambition ages ago!) but it was stuff we could find almost anywhere we went. Later in the trip I started carrying a pouch of Easy Mac "just in case".
I have to say it made me miss Brazil, where I can always find one of Jackson's favorite meals: beans and rice. Especially the rice.
2. Thinking of how unfriendly air travel can be with little ones, on our return trip, Jackson got an upset tummy on the flight from Dallas to Miami. We went through most of what was supposed to be our overnight supply of diapers and were stuck trying to find diapers in the Miami airport. Have you ever tried to find diapers in an airport? Every kiosk sells the same little pack with one diaper and two wipes for FIVE DOLLARS! (And no one seemed to have anything but a size 4!) We were facing having to spend at least $30 on diapers when we looked in one last store. They had 12-packs of diapers and I was so excited. When I went to pay for them, we discovered they didn't have a price tag and they were not going to sell them to me without a price. The clerk suggested I go with the "Little Swimmers" instead. At that point, I was on the verge of tears and ready to offer $50 for them (still a better deal than the other diapers). The Lord heard our desperate prayers and finally their manager authorized them (over the phone) to sell them to us for $10. We bought two bags.
Then we looked for some sort of food choice that wouldn't aggravate his upset tummy even further. Au Bom Pain wasn't going to cut it that day! Tucked away in a remote corner of the airport we found a Cuban cafeteria that had chicken soup and Jello. I have never been so happy. Jackson gobbled up the chicken soup and I (who had been fighting my own stomach ails) went for the Jello.
And of course, as is often the case with toddlers, after our frantic search for diapers, Jackson's stomach was fine on the overnight flight.
3. I don't know how people traveled with toddlers before the invention of the iPod Touch. Yes, I realize the ridiculousness of that statement. We would have survived without it.
But it sure was nice!