Preparing for our trip to Kentucky, I admit to being nervous about traveling with a seven month old. I wasn’t as worried about going to Kentucky with Kamden because my Mom was with us, but I would be alone with Kamden on the return flight back to Texas. How would I get through security? Would TSA pour out my breast milk? Where would I pump? How would I maneuver Kamden in the car seat in his stroller with a duffel bag and carry-on luggage? Would Kamden cry, fuss, scream, or be an angel and sleep on the flight? Would his ears pop due to cabin pressure? How many ‘mean looks’ would I get from fellow passengers because I’m traveling with an infant? All of these questions, plus a million more, clouded my mind. But, Husband and I are blessed beyond measure with the most awesome of awesome child who is happy, content, and social and now we can add PERFECT TRAVELER to his resume because Kamden was a rock star on the airplane! In all seriousness, and bias aside, Kamden really is an amazing traveler. Going to Kentucky, with my mom on board, he slept from Dallas to New Orleans, fussed about three minutes while we were at the gate loading and unloading new passengers, and played or chewed on Sophie the Giraffe from New Orleans to Nashville. On the return flights, when I was by myself, he was sound asleep from Nashville to Houston, woke up during the crew change in Houston, and snoozed another half-hour from Houston to Dallas. Once we landed in Dallas, we had to wait 15 minutes for a gate to open but Kamden was content looking out the window. He began to fuss when everyone around us stood up to retrieve their luggage and exit the plane. Overall, I could not have had a more wonderful first experience traveling with an infant … I don’t know what everyone else is complaining about, this was easy-peasy!
I tried to pack anything and everything Kamden and I would need for a week in as little space as possible. We could have done the trip with one bag if I had not packed as many toys or two blankets for Kamden and my breast pump.
1. Diaper bag
2. Cooler bag with bottles of breast milk
3. Duffel bag with toys, clothes, blankets and misc. items (CHECKED)
4. Small suitcase with breast pump, camera, a change of clothes (CARRY ON)
Initially, I chose Southwest Airlines because it was the cheapest, but I now realize they are the best in customer service and convenience for families traveling with children. In addition to free checked bags, passengers with small children can “gate check” their stroller, car seat, and car seat base. In other words, I pushed the stroller (with Kamden in the car seat and the base on the bottom) right to the door of the airplane where it was waiting for me at our destination. The convenience and ease of this worth driving 13 more miles to Dallas Love Field and flying Southwest than any other airline at DFW International. Take note, other airlines, you could treat your customers so much better!
Mom, Kamden, and I sat in the back of the plane and were the last three passengers to exit in Nashville. The pilot was waiting for us with a set of wings for Kamden. Because I’m a blogger, of course we took a picture!
Whomever thought to install FAMILY RESTROOMS is my hero. They are especially convenient for this exclusive pumping mama collecting breast milk while traveling! Once we got through security in Dallas, but before boarding, I pumped while Mom pushed Kamden and the stroller through the terminal. The only hiccup of the entire trip was my lack of putting the lid on tight and 15 ounces of milk leaking in my bag. Thanks to free wi-fi available in both airports, I surfed the Inter-webs while pumping!
Speaking of pumping and collecting breast milk, I am officially a milk sharing mama! This is Morgan (four months) and she is pictured with six bags (36 ounces) of my milk, she and I are third cousins and we’re both allergic to cow’s milk. Weeks before this trip, I had several families contact me about my excess milk. I didn’t want to hassle with shipping 100 ounces or less back to the milk bank in Fort Worth, so I gave the bags away to babies dear to my heart.
While visiting with friends in my hometown, I got to meet two of the most adorable baby girls in the whole wide world. I’m convinced one of them will be my future daughter-in-law! Raney is four weeks and a coal miner’s daughter. Hanna is two weeks and a farmer’s daughter. Kamden has been approved as date-worthy by their dads, so it’s just a matter of time before bells start ringing for a Kentucky wedding. I should probably tell Husband to start saving for the rehearsal dinner.
Going to Kentucky in August means Dad’s garden is in full swing and sweet corn is readily available. This trip, though, I escaped hard labor by using Kamden as a pawn. We start’em young and raise’em right in Kentucky, I wonder what Kamden thinks of Grandaddy’s garden and sweet corn patch?! I’m hear to tell you this year’s corn is the best my Dad has raised in a LONG time. Let’s not talk about the number of BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwiches or ears of corn dripping with butter I ate. I am NOT looking forward to returning to the gym and stepping on that scale.
Every day of this trip was a highlight and special moment, for sure, but it was incredible to watch Kamden interact with people he had never met but warmed up to immediately. He has so many people who love him and couldn’t wait to see him in person. His second cousins, Brian (24) and Noah (13) were especially smitten with the Chunky Monkey. I was glad to see both of them too, especially since Brian returned home in April from a deployment with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan!
The main reason Kamden and I traveled to Kentucky was to attend the Thompson Family Reunion. My maternal grandmother, Nana (Rose), is one of 13 and we’ve had reunions for as long as I can remember. There are eight surviving siblings, five of them attended this year’s event, and a host of cousins. Over the years, it’s amazing to watch my extended family grow and the generations expand. There were very few children at the last two reunions but this year there were several, including Kamden! To me, one of the funniest things about our reunion is family pictures. When I sat down for our family’s photo, I counted 11 cameras staring back at us. But we’re not looking at the same one! It’s a shame, with all of the photography talent in our family, that someone doesn’t bring their tripod and become the OFFICIAL photographer!
Back Row: Eddie (uncle), Noah (cousin), Belinda (aunt), Brian (cousin), Kathy (aunt), Cris (uncle) and Georgia (aunt). Front Row: Me holding Kamden, Charlotte (mom), Nana/Rose (grandmother)
Whomever took this picture cut out Grandma and Grandpa Thompson in the framed portrait!!!!
I feel like a mom-daughter-granddaughter FAILURE because I realized about three minutes after landing back in Dallas that I forgot to take a picture with my dad, his mother (Neenie), and Kamden to show the four generations on the Edwards side of the family. We took a four-generation picture at the family reunion in Louisville though.
Another great thing about family reunions is reconnecting with this cutie-patootie, Chloe, my third cousin. She was a tiny little thing at my baby shower in Louisville last September and next week she turns one. She’s got the prettiest smile and loves to show off her two teeth. Miss Chloe is going to be a big sister soon too, the Thompson family tree keeps growing!
Kamden and I had such a wonderful trip to Kentucky, but it sure was nice to get home and sleep in our own beds. We both need a vacation to rest! Thank you, Grandaddy and Nana C, for letting us crash your house with all of our stuff … and the BLTs and corn on the cob!