Sunday, April 29, 2007

Travel tips

In the last 2 years, we've taken several long (5+ hour) plane rides with the kids. For anyone who's done this, you know it can be very taxing on all involved: Getting packed, delivered to the airport, passed through security, and onto the plane is stressing for adults, and more so for kids. Add on top of that the excitement of doing something different. Then top it off with the changes to the ability to stand up in a plane and stretch your legs in post-911 plane rides with less food/drink service and you're in for it.

We got a tip from somewhere to take presents on the plane, then slowly dole them out through out the trip. The presents need to be small for portability and usable in cramped airline seats, but still able to hold a child's attention for an extended period. We found that a large collection of toys from your local dollar store works well. We also peruse garage sales for months ahead of time looking for small trinkets. We sometime also get hand-me-down bags of "miscellaneous" toys, especially for little boys. Rather them pass them onto our kids, we hoard them for use on the plane ride.

Course, you need to make sure you wrap them in non-foil wrapping to get past security. You should also wrap in such a way that an adult could open and re-seal in case you get closer inspection at the airport. I suppose you could skip the wrapping, but that's part of the fun!

Depending on your child, this tip might also come in handy during the conference. If you're at a session you really want to make sure you can stay/pay full attention to but you have your child with you, pop out the gift for some instant sanity. Course, at every conference we've been to, there was something in the exhibitor hall that our children coveted, so you can use that as well.

This reads to me like we have very material children, but that's not the case. They just really get into "new" stuff, even when it's not. For younger children, you can use the same trick by stashing away toys they already have and reproducing them at key times, though some might call that cheating :)


Why are we going?!!?

Way back in 2003 when we attended the International Conference in San Francisco, I went to it basically as a baby sitter. The twins where not quite ready to separate from mom for long periods of time, and it just seemed easier to attend then commit to the 4 hour round trip to SF each day driving would require. I figured we'd leisurely get up each day, go find something in the city to do, wonder back, do dinner and go to bed. I saw my role as keeping the kids busy so Cheri could do her thing.

Well, there are only so many things a 2 year old will enjoy (Zoo...hmm, that's about all I could find), and it was interesting hearing what Cheri was learning. So by day two, I was thinking mayyyyybeeee I ought to go to the sessions I'd signed up for (read Cheri told me to go since she couldn't attend 2 sessions at once). Turns out there where things here for people who weren't lactating (a feat I'm unlikely to accomplish). I learned more about this attachment parenting Cheri was always going on about, and saw how great all the kids where doing at the conference. I met a couple of other dads who where in the same boat as I was. We played in the various rooms set-up for kids and their caregivers. We had some lunches and dinners with the chance to meet some really great people.

Turns out this conference thing was a blast, which I was not expecting. Cheri is normally an extreme introvert, though if you meet her in July, you'd never know it. She just walks up to strangers and start talking away. I'm normally an extrovert, though in a large setting with lots of strangers, I clam up (something my coworkers find hard to believe!). But for whatever reason, I get along well with the LLLI crowd. At other conferences, I don't look forward to the meals; sitting around a table with a bunch of people that I don't know and don't share anything in common. That doesn't happen to me at LLL.

So, when Cheri mentioned the upcoming conference (back in 2005!!!!!), I was all for it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hello from Cheri

Well, James beat me to it! I'm very excited about this conference. We've been planning for this since 2005 and it's almost here! This is my first blog, so be patient with me! I'm already in trouble with my husband for commenting on his spelling.

As James already mentioned, I've been a Leader for 3 years. In addition to my "regular" Leader activities, I also help out the area by tabulating the Leader Activity reports and working on our Area Conference Events Team ("Nurture a Child Heart, Mind, and Body: Breastfeed!" October 12-14 2007 at the Sacramento Radisson. . . you're all invited). Can you tell I'm a conference junkie?

We have 5-year old twins who are also excited about the conference, although their excitement stems from the promise of an airplane ride (which will last until about 30 minutes after the plane takes off, with 4 1/2 hours to go) and getting to visit their great-Grandma. James' grandmother lives in Wisconsin, so our plan is to fly to Chicago a few days early, spend some time with Grandma, then back to Chicago for the Conference.

Bedtime here, so I'd better go stop the escalating wildness before it gets out of control.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Hello all and welcome to Cheri and James' LLLI Conference blog.

I thought I'd start with some intros. Cheri and James will both be posting from time to time. This first post is from James. I'm a computer programmer with the University of California. I volunteer with the NorCal/HI chapter and am currently trying to build a conference registration database and website for our upcoming conference in October 2007.

Cheri is a LLL Leader since 2004, though it feels longer then that at times! She works part time at a local vet clinic and full time at home raising our 5 year old twins, Kieran and Fiona.

This will be James and the twins' second international conference (we attending 2003 San Francisco) and Cheri's third (she also attended the 2005 D.C. conference). It was at the 2003 conference that I finally "got" the full spectrum of how great my wife's parenting style was. It was really neat to see so many kids in a very strange place with lots of strange people and they just went with it. After that, I stopped fighting the attachment parenting style and haven't looked back since.