While Brian and I thought our first trip went well, we definitely agreed that there were things we'd do differently next time. We identified a few minor things right away, and didn't change other things until days before our most recent trip.
Carry-on luggage looked pretty much the same, with the addition of toys and snacks for the twins - both of which they were too small for during our previous trip. We also got to leave out diapers for Brennan as we can officially declare him potty-trained. Again we had Brennan's "pack pack" filled with his entertainment, a diaper bag for my carry-on, my small purse, Brian's back pack, and his carry-on suitcase that he insisted he didn't want to check. It was more to carry on, but we managed and it saved us $40 so I guess I can't complain too much.
The 2 biggest changes were the way we transported our stuff to the airport and the way we transported the boys through the airport. This time, instead of all 5 of us parking the car and loading onto the shuttle, we decided that one of us would do it while the other entertained the boys in the airport. While my anxiety is much better these days, we agreed that Brian was better able (both mentally and physically) to juggle the boys and carry-ons while I went to park the car. We also needed to check all 3 car seats this time as we were picking up a rental car once we got to Detroit, so there was more crap to haul. After we found prime location near the curb check, we tag-teamed unloading the car.
Instead of carrying the boys in the Boba and Baby Bjorn, we decided to use the double stroller. The boys are heavier now, and they really enjoy being in the stroller. Plus, it was good for hauling our carry-ons. And we decided to just let Brennan walk, which was a plus because he burned off lots of energy while getting to the gate. We loaded the boys into the stroller, carried the car seats (wrapped in giant plastic bags) and our luggage up to curb check, and Brian checked everything in while I went to park the car. The whole process was so much quicker and less cumbersome than all of us riding the shuttle.
When I got back to the airport, the boys were exploring the Disney Store. We quickly headed for the family lane in security and began the undressing process. I took my shoes off, took Brennan's shoes off, and unbuckled the boys from the stroller while Brian took care of everything else. Then I carried the twins through the metal detector while Brian folded up the stroller to send it through the x-ray and held Brennan's hand while they went through the metal detector. Hectic, but much easier than taking them out of the carriers like last time. (I will say that when carrying them in carriers, the Detroit TSA agents gave us the option of leaving them in and waiting for a special wand/pat-down, but warned us that it might be a wait. The Orlando agents didn't even offer it as an option. We decided that it was quicker to just take them out.)
The pre-flight routine was the same -- diaper changes for the boys and a potty break for Brennan 45 minutes before take off. I was grateful for the stoller when it came time for Brennan's potty breaks. You haven't lived til you've tried to get a toddler to pee in a public toilet with a big chubby baby strapped to your chest. Let me tell you, it's an experience.
The flight was fairly empty, so we ended up with a whole row to ourselves. It was nice to be able to spread out across the aisle, and I'll be honest, I'm not sure how we would have managed had we not had that extra space. Brennan had to pee literally 8 times during the flight, so one of us was left to wrestle the other 2 and try not to let them hit anyone's head, kick the back of the seat, or punch us in the face. My solution was move into the middle seat, sit Beckett in the aisle seat, and hold Kiernan because there's no way he would sit still on his own like Beckett will. This seemed like the most manageable situation.
Once we got to Detroit, changed diapers, and got our luggage, Brian camped out in bagged claim with the boys while I picked up the rental minivan. I had to wait few minutes to get a spot next to the curb so that I could park, run in, and help him bring things out. But my dear patient husband was not patient enough to wait. So instead he tried to bring 3 car seats, 2 suitcases, 3 carry ons, a double stroller and a crazy toddler outside by himself. Luckily, some sweet stranger took pity on him and helped him carry a few things while I ran after Brennan who decided to run after a little girl his size, who just so happened to be going in the opposite direction. Jesus Mary and Joseph. Can you say panic attack?? We managed to get the car seats installed, kids in them, luggage loaded, and on the road.
The trip back was fairly similar. Brian handled curb check while I returned the minivan. Same pre-flight routine and we again managed to get a row to ourselves. The flight started out fine. It didn't leave until 7:00pm, so I was nervous, but all 3 boys started out happy. I had fun watching the crabby old lady in front of Brian literally PLUGGING HER EARS like a 4 year old every time Kiernan started happily chatting with himself. I really wanted to say "Lady, if that bugs you, this is going to be a long flight. So do yourself a favor and move to one of the 20 empty seats on the plane because the 5 of us are not moving to please you" but instead I just enjoyed giggling every time I saw her do it.
Then the flight got worse. The twins got tired and Brennan had to go #2. But he couldn't get comfortable on the seat so he'd get in there and chicken out and say that he didn't have to go. He did this at least 10 times, but I certainly wasn't going to call his bluff on an airplane. So I handled potty breaks while Brian tried to handle the 2 cranky infants. You can imagine how happy sister-friend in front of him was about this. I decided that instead of getting anxious, I'd just laugh at her. It worked. Kinda.
Brian eventually got Beckett to sleep for a bit and I managed to keep Kiernan and Brennan calm-ish. By the time we got off the plane, all 3 boys were exhausted. I don't think Brian wanted to be stuck in the airport with them alone while I went to get the car, and he knew that if he couldn't do it, I couldn't either. So he suggested we just bite the bullet and all go together. So we hooked the car seats onto the suitcases and managed to get all 3 boys and our luggage out to the shuttle. Once back at the car, we loaded everyone into their seats and they were all asleep in minutes.
While the flight back to Orlando could have been worse, it certainly wasn't pleasant. The only way it could have been avoided was to take an earlier flight. But when booking, it was that one or a few that had layovers ... and let's be honest, we're not suicidal. So we just made the best of it, and it really wasn't all that bad.