God and Seat 9B by Lisa Frisbie

inside of plane
source: raffik

Boarding a cross-country flight, we were disappointed to learn that exit row seats and bulkhead seats were not available. This meant that my husband, 6’6″ in his socks, would be cramped and uncomfortable as we flew across the country to speak at a marriage conference. We chatted with a friendly gate agent, looking for options. Noticing my husband’s height, the agent offered a solution.

“I’ll book you an aisle and a window, and mark off the seat in between,” she told us. “Other agents won’t fill that seat; nobody will sit there unless the flight sells out.”

We thanked the agent, boarded on schedule, and took our seats in 9A and 9C. With the seat between us open, my husband could angle his long legs a bit, gaining much needed space.

Imagine our dismay when, just before the exit doors closed, a flight attendant marched down the aisle to our row. “Here it is,” the attendant said clearly, “Seat 9B. This is where you’ll sit during the flight.”

Walking behind the flight attendant was a slender, dark-haired little girl wearing jeans and carrying a stuffed bear. My husband and I exchanged quick glances, both of us with the same unspoken thought: “Oh no, there goes our extra space!”

We should have realized—God was up to something.

I offered the girl my window seat, hoping she’d accept so my husband and I could sit side-by-side. “No thank you,” the girl replied, smiling. “My name is Taylor. What’s your name?” With that, our conversation began.

Would you believe that Taylor, age 7, had just experienced the divorce of her parents, and was about to make her first-ever solo flight between Mom’s house and Dad’s house? And God, in His ever-creative way, decided to put Taylor in Seat 9B, directly between two marriage counselors who specialize in the post-divorce family!

For the next three hours, my husband and I answered Taylor’s intelligent, non-stop questions about what divorce would mean for her. Did her parents still love her? Would she grow up to be normal? Would she end up getting divorced too, if she ever got married? Taylor’s questions were wise beyond her age. We answered honestly, positively, and talked matter-of-factly about God in our conversation. We always do!

On landing we needed to hurry to our speaking appointment. We made sure the flight attendant had full custody of Taylor and that Taylor was well protected before we left the gate and dashed toward the car-rental counter.

One of the last things we did was give Taylor a brochure and our business card, telling her that she and her parents were welcome to e-mail us any time. But we were a little surprised when Taylor’s father e-mailed us less than 24 hours later, thanking us for the positive way we answered Taylor’s questions. “I am so thankful that my little girl was seated between two people like you!” the father wrote.

A week or so later we got an e-mail message from Taylor’s mom also. “Taylor just told me about her flight down to see her dad,” said the mother’s note. “And I wanted you to know that I prayed and asked God to put the right people around Taylor as she flew, people who would protect her and care about her. God is so good!”

Never underestimate God’s ability to answer your prayers, and protect your child, if your son or daughter has to travel solo. Take the time to pray—and watch as God answers your prayers in creative and meaningful ways.

Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie serve as Executive Directors of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies in Del Mar, California. They are family counselors and authors, specializing in the post-divorce family. Frequent speakers at conferences and seminars, they have traveled to all 50 US states, 9 provinces and 2 territories of Canada, and more than 40 world nations to teach, speak, and train family counselors. Lisa and David are the authors of 19 books and dozens of articles about marriage and family life; their articles are frequently featured in ParentLife and BabyLife magazines.

Summer Traveling with Infants and Toddlers

Traveling with an infant or toddler can quickly become a bad experience (both for you and for the travelers around you) if you are not prepared. Take it from me! My family (including my almost 2-year-old) just returned from a trip to Texas to visit extended family — an 18-hour drive! Thankfully, our trip was a very positive experience.

If you are traveling this summer with your an infant or toddler, keep the following pointers in mind.

  • Remember to build in plenty of extra time, especially if you are driving. We did our best to stop about every two hours to let Jack run and wiggle. That kept him happier in the car. It took us longer to get do our destination, but keeping him comfortable and happy was well worth the time.
  • Stock up on small, inexpensive toys to entertain your child when you most need it. We borrowed some "new" toys from friends and family and bought a few of our own. When Jack got bored and started to fuss, we simply gave him a new toy and that made him happy. One of his favorite travel toys was a Magna-Doodle, which is great because we didn’t have to worry about crayons melting or ink getting all over him or the car. Check your local dollar store or clearance shelves for some fun travel toys.
  • Remember to only pack toys that you can live with. If a toy is  annoying to you at home, it will more than likely annoy you even more when you travel.
  • Be sure not to be too quick to pull out a new toy. Pace yourself so that you have plenty of options for the whole trip.
  • Stick to a familiar routine as much as possible but be flexible too. Routines help your child know what to expect and create a sense of peace and calm. Even though we were sleeping in unfamiliar places, sticking to our bedtime routine helped Jack know it was time for bed. At the same time, being flexible was important. At home, we lay Jack down awake and let him fall asleep on his own. However, in a hotel room with us present that would have taken him hours, so I rocked him to sleep each night. We created a new routine for the trip. By the third night, Jack was familiar with the new routine and fell asleep much faster! Be willing to adapt your routine as necessary. 
  • Don’t forget your child’s favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or comfort object. I don’t know what we would have done if we had forgotten Jack’s favorite blanket.
  • Be sure to pack extra everything if possible. We actually only brought one package of baby wipes for the trip and ran out. We had to make a stop on the first leg of our trip home just to buy baby wipes. We used more than normal because we were in unfamiliar (often unclean) places.

If you are lucky … maybe your child will do a whole lot of this while you travel:

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For more trips for traveling with your baby (especially a newborn), don’t miss our Birth to 12 Months Growth Spurt article "Baby on Board" this month. It provides many more travel tips as well as some fun travel toys!

Kid-Friendly Flying

Summer vacation is here, which means traveling for many families. Are you flying with your young child anytime soon? If so, be sure to keep the following kid-friendly flying tips in mind.

  • 131_airport.jpgAsk yourself what supplies you will need to have on hand to take care of any normal or special needs for your child.
  • Use a child restraint system for children under 40 pounds. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommends that children weighing less than 40 pounds be put into a child restraint system appropriate for their weight. Children under the age of 2 may legally be carried on the lap of an adult without a safety seat, but a restraint system is recommended.
  • Be aware of emergency equipment or procedures that apply to your child: Pay attention to the standard preflight emergency briefing and ask a flight attendant if that particular aircraft has emergency equipment (such as life preservers) specifically designed for small children. If emergency oxygen masks deploy, put your mask on first so that you will be able to help your child.
  • Take all essential items for the children in carry-on luggage. Take enough food, diapers, medicine, and other items to last through possible flight delays and lost luggage.
  • Small children enjoy reaching out and exploring, but if your child is on the aisle, she could get hurt if her little arm gets bumped by a person or serving cart passing down the aisle. Ideally, two responsible adults should sit on either side of the child or seat the child on a row with a window on one side and a responsible adult on the other.
  • Avoid bringing along toys that are sharp, heavy, or that break easily.

For more great flying tips, be sure to visit www.airsafe.com. Also check out Emily Carter’s article "Growth Spurts: Birth to 1 Year — Baby on Board" in the June 2010 issue of ParentLife.

Babymoon Ideas by Suzanne Arguello

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Do you have a little one on the way? Maybe it’s time to rejuvenate your marriage and enjoy some much-needed relaxation on a babymoon!

Across the country, bed-and-breakfast inns offer delightful babymoon lodgings.  Discover your ideal destination with this sampler:

Begin your parenting adventure where Lewis and Clark ended their trek to the Pacific — Washington’s  Long Beach Peninsula. Wander the oceanfront boardwalk, breathe salt air, watch ocean mammals, and dine on fresh seafood. For attractions and accommodations, visit www.funbeach.com.

Or prepare for the arrival of your little prince or princess with a babymoon at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Savor time roaming the lush grounds or enhance your visit with a Navigator’s marriage or parenting conference offered on-site. Visit www.gleneyrie.org for details.

For a last urban outing sans baby gear, think San Antonio, Texas. The King William Historic District and nearby Riverwalk boast galleries, boutiques, museums, and charming B&Bs. Just for fun, attend a professional sporting event, or visit Sea World®. Find lodging, attractions, even day spas, at www.sanantonio.com.

If nature soothes your soul, consider an Ozark babymoon. Stay in a cottage, cabin, or a tree house!  Walk the woods, relax by the lake, or pause to pray at the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Branson, Missouri is the place for family-friendly entertainment.  Learn more at www.eurekasprings.org and www.explorebranson.com.

Visit Virginia for a romantic babymoon. Balance pampering with local sightseeing. Explore Crabtree Falls along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stroll Colonial Williamsburg gardens. Tour an antebellum home.  Make a splash at Virginia Beach.

To locate bed and breakfast babymoons in your area, visit www.bnbfinder.com/babymoon.

There are several options for keeping babymoon costs down.

  • Consider off-season or midweek B&B specials.
  • Many state and national parks rent cozy cabins for very reasonable rates.
  • House-sit for vacationing friends; then splurge on day spa treatments. 

Future grandparents: A babymoon makes a much-appreciated gift for expectant parents.

Save more on your babymoon. Check out special bed and breakfast offers at www.stashtea.com and www.iloveinns.com.

For great tips on planning a babymoon, be sure read Suzanne’s article "Babymoon" in the May 2009 issue of ParentLife.

Do you have a babymoon planned? Or have you been on a babymoon in the past? Tell us about your babymoon!