Traveling Comforts

I’m learning how to give myself permission to want what I want. That means I’m teaching my son how to want what he wants too. I think often of a line from one of my favorite poems, “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver, in regards to this: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body/love what it loves.”

Last January, when we took a road trip to New Mexico, I acknowledged that taking a trip without my espresso machine made me kind of miserable. Every day at home, I have a latte. If I go on a trip without the machine, I have a caffeine headache, count the minutes (or hours) until I can get to a coffee shop to buy one, then spend $5 for a latte, another $2 for chocolate milk for Cavanaugh, and another $2 or so on a muffin, bagel, or pastry. By the time the trip is over, I could have paid for an extra bag or three with the money I’ve spent at coffee shops because I didn’t pack my espresso machine. Bad deal.

We usually fly on Southwest Airlines. Cavanaugh’s old enough that I’ve been buying him his own ticket for over three years. That means we get two bags each, plus SWA allows you to take the carseat for free. Why, exactly, have I been trying to pack so light?

So I don’t get teased about bringing everything but the kitchen sink? So I don’t inconvenience folks by asking them to come all the way into the airport to meet us at the baggage area rather than wait outside so they can drive up to the street? The people we’re going to visit aren’t likely to give me a hard time about what I packed. And so what if they do? Plus, they almost always come in to meet us even if I tell them we’ll make our own way outside.

As we were gathering things to pack for the trip, I remembered that last year I started taking my espresso machine on trips and felt such relief at the thought of packing it that I wondered what else would be really great to have with us.

  • My favorite pillow, a Tempur-Pedic, which gives me a great night’s sleep and means I don’t get the crick in my neck or other pain that sleeping in a strange bed often supplies.
  • My robe. Why hadn’t this ever occurred to me? It’s when I’m staying in other people’s houses that I feel uncomfortable going to breakfast in my pajamas without a bra on. Rather than needing to get dressed first thing, what if I just packed a robe?
  • A can of my favorite coffee to go with my espresso machine, plus Splenda packets (I know they’re probably carcinogens, but I like them, okay?) so I could make a latte without having to make a trip to the store our first day there.

And for Cavanaugh:

  • My favorite pillow happens to be his favorite too. I packed into into his carseat bag so it didn’t take up valuable suitcase space.
  • The stuffed animals he sleeps with. Okay, the three-foot long dolphin didn’t make the trip, but Pigeon, Shutterbug, and Courage are all world travelers now.
  • Enough LEGOs to build the way he would at home (his Atlantis book set so he can follow directions for a bunch of models and have enough pieces to build out of his imagination too), and Star Wars LEGOs, and his LEGO Club magazine to read on the plane.

You know what? One of our hosts came to meet us in baggage claim, helped to carry everything out, commented on how handy our carseat bag was, and everything fit into the car just fine. We’ve been here almost a week and we’re not missing home so much because we brought some of our favorite things with us.

What do you miss when you travel? What do give yourself permission to pack?

Where Our Toys Come From

My son and I visited my mom for six weeks this summer. One of the most unlikely adventures Cavanaugh and I had is #81 on the list of 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12!: “A Place Where They Make Cool Stuff.”

We went to North Star Toys, which is our friend Tim and Connie Long’s toy workshop. It’s not a store or a place generally open to the public, which made it even cooler. Then they helped Cavanaugh and his buddy Nico make their own toy cars.

Tim cut out the bug car shape so the kids could see a jigsaw work. Then he smoothed the car down and ran it over a huge belt sander. (Can you tell Cavanaugh doesn’t like loud noises?) After that, Tim helped the boys put the wheels on their cars. Finally, the boys dipped their cars in food grad mineral oil to seal the wood.

One of my favorite parts of being a parent is getting to watch as Cavanaugh learns something new. Cavanaugh realized that the toys he plays with are put together somehow, and that not only are there components of the toys themselves but people who make them. We recently bought him from a list of razor powered scooters on TreeHousePuppies, and he asked me who makes the wheels and other parts.
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