I have not yet had the guts to try a road trip with the little people and flying with them seems daunting, too. But ever since traveling to Ethiopia last June, which while lovely was not exactly a vacation, I have felt trapped. It might be all in my head, but it's just so dang hard to pick up and go anywhere, be it church, the store, trips have seemed forever away from possible.
To break up the normalcy we decided on a little stay cation we found a nearby hotel --which would be free for us using hotel points from an oft-traveling Daddy, and the number one selling point of the place was a warm pool.
It's too bad two things happened. The first being Hubs decided twenty-four hours into our stay to share with me tidbits he learned when he sat next to a hotel inspector on his last business trip. Things about how filthy hotel rooms are, how poorly the roomsare cleaned. How everything my kids had been touching and licking contains every disgusting germ and bodily fluid in the known universe. I had the heebie jeebies the rest of our stay despite being armed with Clorox wipes.
Public Service Announcement: Don't use the comforter on hotel beds. Ever. Rip them off, throw them on the ground, put on Hazmat suit to touch them. Don't rest on them, put babies on them, sit on them.They are cleaned less than once a year, if ever. Also, don't touch the remote for the TV unless you wash it with something first. They are never cleaned ever. They are the filthiest part of a hotel room.
Look at the cute girl, eating near a hotel bed comforter. I might as well have fed her giardia or chlamydia. Eek!
Oh and look, what you thought was a sweet baby napping after a good swim is now proof of child abuse, as he is burying his nose in, drum roll....a filthy comforter!
The second unfortunate happenstance was that Cookie Monster contracted a stomach bug. We learned that he has amazing control of his body, and no matter what wanted to come out from what orifice he can wait until he's in a safe, authorized place to let it all out. Sorry, I know that was a bit much info but man, this boy amazes me. Despite his talents in the flu-arena, it was unfortunate that he was not himself, a bit out of sorts, and just wanted to sleep most of the time.
It got worse when he kept waking up Tsega at night needing to run to the toilet. So, since the hotel was a measly 15 minutes from our house, Hubs took him home so the rest of us could sleep in relative peace.
Things didn't work out perfectly with our getaway, but it was still fun. Couldn't have done it without Grandma Jane to help us. Bedtime is always more fun with Grandma to read stories, make up games, and keep Mommy sane.
We will see if I can ever stay in hotel again without weeping over the hidden filth.
This Easter we opted for zero reference to or about the Easter Bunny. The week leading up to Easter we spent a lot of time reading about the last week of Jesus' life. I think most folks, even lukewarm Christians have a hard time with Easter Talk with kids, especially compared to Christmas. A baby being born and angels and gifts is pretty fun, even if based on miraculous premises. That is not a hard tale to tell. But a man being betrayed by one of his closest friends for money, and followers turning on him when days before they'd loved him, and then him being, mocked, tortured and killed after he suffers immeasurable pain for all the people who have ever been born and who would ever be born? It's violent, and horrible. But oh, the messages.
I love wiping tears from my eyes telling my kids about how Jesus, while suffering, prayed for God to forgive the people who were hurting him. Whether you believe in God, or Jesus or not, that is the kind of person we ALL can learn from. Samantha surprised me by piping in "Mom! Ruby Bridges prayed for the people that were yelling at her when she walked to school, just like Jesus!" I can't believe she remembered that from this book:
And the message of the Resurrection, that we all will live again, be returned to bodies made whole, because Jesus was first to do so. That this life is only part of our eternal souls' journey, well, the beauty of this message of hope was what we focused on this Easter, and it felt good. Inspired by a friend, we used Resurrection Eggs and the book Benjamin's Box and they worked beautifully. The kids loved it. No one was scared or traumatized. Messages received loud and clear. And then thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, they got a good ol' fashioned egg hunt with cousins.
I love the baby feet in this picture
Is this not a highly attractive man?
In case you weren't sure, here he is again, with our monstrous preemie
Pooling the loot
Cousin S got a gooey spider in one of her eggs
Happy (late) Easter, or in Amharic Melkam Fasika!
*update: upon reexamining this post I wanted to mention that I don't think the Easter Bunny is bad. I think one can have a lovely Easter devoid of religion and more about family if that is how you celebrate. I think dying eggs and candy is awesome. We just did it differently this year. In later years we might bring back more of the frills. Dear Internets, please don't think I am an Easter Snob. I couldn't bear it.
When are you going to stop calling Brady a preemie? After all, he's ten months old, shouldn't you be careful about assigning labels to him? To answer your first question: when he stops acting like one. To the second, yeah well, I mean it affectionately. Leave me alone.
Brady recently began eating solids.
It's a HUGE step in getting him enough nutrition and boy does he love food. Veggies, fruit, cereal are nirvana to him. No one is saying he's especially good at it what with his protruding tongue an' all, but he starts this full body bucking bronco thing when he sees a jar and a spoon. This is all very promising and lovely when one wonders if one's kid is going to have a g-tube forever, but this new world of solids is problematic for several reasons.
The most tricky is that after a two weeks of living la vida Big Boy, he is giving up on sucking. He is shutting down to the idea almost completely. As soon as a bottle comes near his face he turns his head and won't drink. At all. He will nurse a few times a day, which makes my ten months and counting of pumping purgatory all worth it, but we are in a complete crisis here. I gave him pumped, fortified milk five times today through his g-tube. He is on strike.
He would rather not eat and be hungry. In fact, he doesn't act hungry very often. When he actually fusses for food it's a miracle. In so many ways he is growing, progressing, and is fabulous. Size is one them. Holy Jabba the Hut he's huge. He was 17.5 lbs at last weight in, and on the normal 10 month old baby chart, not corrected for this 28 weeks prematurity, he is in the 30th percetile for height. He made it onto the regular charts! Can I get an AMEN?
But his feeding/lack of hunger thing is still an issue and now it is surprisingly highlighted by introducing solids. To all the doctors who thought their MD and wall of certificates meant they knew my child better than I did and wanted to send him home from the NICU because "I am just being impatient, it will all click in a week or two." Just know, that it's been more than a week or two. It's been exactly seven months and I'd like you to come watch a baby sit happily all day long and never give hunger cues and reject bottles when offered. Tell me he doesn't need a g-tube.
The good news is he does like food. I am hanging onto that. Because at some point he will be on all solids. Like, by the time he is two years old, his milk needs will be almost nothing. He won't be required to suck at all! The other good news is that his feeding/nutrition therapist is coming this week and she better have some good ideas to turn this boy around because he was doing so well until we started solids. Before I only supplemented through his tube once or twice a day, he was almost completely orally feeding.
This regression is a little stressful. It's a pain in the booty. And makes me grateful once again that we have the tube.
Visualize a flag being lowered. Or, more appropriately, a cloth diaper or barfed on t-shirt. We are at half mast, baby.
We come to the end of an Era in the Scooping it Up family: I can no longer say we have four kids four and under. I should be relieved. I find myself feeling sad. The oldest progeny, with utter disregard for my feelings on the matter of aging, gracefully celebrated her fifth birthday this weekend.
She requested a magical sparkle princess rainbow unicorn cake. I think I delivered, messy and unappetizing as it all may appear to the untrained (read: grown up) eye.
Understandably, Cookie struggled off and on that it wasn't his day. We repeatedly reminded him his is coming in two weeks, and then we are gonna have a big party just for him. In fact, Sis' was just a little tiny party. With just cake. And a few extended family members. But it was perfect.
Telling a birthday secret?
ready to blow...
But then something happened. Cookie Monster blew her candles out. There was momentary pouting on Samantha's part. Laughter from everyone else. But we re-lit the candles and had a second go. This time, Samantha was ready for any shenanigans.
it worked this time!
Daddy and his girl on her special day
Oh Samantha, I am so lucky lucky to have my silly, funny, helpful, smart, singing, laughing, dancing, wonderful YOU. The day you were born was one of the best days of my life. Now, please be obedient and stop growing.
Thank you Minute Man Library network, for having day passes to the New England Aquarium for a third the cost of normal tickets. Also, thank you letting children under age three in for free, as that describes three of my kids. We had a lovely time.
Hubs snuck away from work for an hour to come join us. The kids were delighted at the surprise and his extra set of hands were welcome.
I caught this little man
mesmerized by this big man
In a Finding Nemo reference, Tsega and Cookie call this a Dude.
My personal favorites are the jellies
Oh, let's not kid ourselves. These are my real favorites. Tsega sports in this picture a fat bloody upper lip and a bruised forehead. Typical...
Petting a sting ray. Her face shows her fear, but her hands belie her spunk and bravery
Samantha dressed herself this day, in case you were wondering. Pink leggings, blue dress, green Celtics shirt. Yeah baby. Towards the end of the day Tsega was getting silly. Which always means wrestling.
Sis doesn't often engage the ankle biter, but Cookie is all over pile driving in public.
Time to go. Can you tell T is about to fall over? Having Grandma in town means adventures. And I love escaping the house with the littles.
Cookie Monster won the gold star of the day for wearing undies and using the restroom at the Aquarium three times. No accidents. Dare I whisper that we are down to only a diaper at night? Yes, yes I shall.