Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Missing Easter

A warning before you begin.  If you have a weak stomach you do not want to read this post.  My point of writing down all the details is that hopefully we will look back on this one day and laugh, right?  Right?

     It has been an eventful week around our house to say the least.  As I begin to blog this morning I am exhausted.  Looking over my shoulder, in Jeremy's office, is the mountain of clean laundry we have been filtering through the washer and dryer and dumping in the floor for lack of a better (or should I say more sanitary?) place to put it.  My entire house smells like clorox and lysol.  I have scrubbed down countertops, bathrooms, toys, floors, kids, etc.  You name it, it has been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected.  Everyone in our house, except for Jeremy, has had a nasty round of the stomach virus.  Of course the GermX King has almost made himself sick in anticipation of being the next victim. 
     It really began about a week ago when Parker climbed up in MY bed  in the middle of the night only to puke all over me, Jeremy, and every square inch of the bedspread.  We got everyone and everything cleaned up and Parker and I weathered the night together.  24 hours later he was feeling much better.  We thought we were in the clear, but a few days later it was Everett's turn.  If you have ever had a 14 month old with the stomach bug, then you know what a fun job I had for the day.  Jeremy came home from work and Everett and I spent the day holed up in my room.  Again, it didn't last long, but I hated these boys felt so puny.  We finally emerged from that round with our fingers crossed that it would pass over the rest of us. 
     We spent Saturday morning baking for Easter Sunday, dyeing eggs, playing outside, and basically just having a fabulous day of no sickness.  Jeremy and I dropped the kids off with Grandma that afternoon so they could dye eggs there and play a while.  We went out to dinner and talked about our game plan for Sunday morning.  We knew we didn't want to take Everett to class after just being sick, and really didn't want to put Parker back in so quickly either.  I teach Parker's class with mom and we were doing class pictures that morning, so I needed to be there for small group hour.  Jeremy's mom was meeting us for the service, so he wanted to be there then.  So, Jeremy would stay home with the little boys while I took Jackson and Mia to small group, then we would swap so Jeremy could go to the service with the big kids and Grandma.  That would also give me a jump start on getting lunch ready.  The perfect plan.  I mean, how naive can 2 adults really be?  We also talked about how we were glad that at least the "messy" part was out of the way.  At least if Jackson or Mia get it they can make it to the bathroom before they get sick, right? At least this was our positive thought on the situation.   

     After the kids got home Saturday, Mia lost a tooth.  Her third tooth, but the first one that she didn't lose at school.  It took about an hour of me trying to talk her into letting me pull it, her trying to pull it herself, and her crying (when she thought if would never come out) that she "was going to look weird on Easter", but it finally came out.  Then, of course, she was going to have the best Easter ever because the Tooth Fairy was also going to visit that night.
      A few hours after the kids had gone to bed that night we heard footsteps coming down the stairs and that feeling of dread once again took over.  It's Jackson,  He's sick.  He did not, in fact, make it to the bathroom.  We strip beds, start the washer (again) and monitor him the rest of the night.  Sometime, in the midst of all the chaos, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy both manage to make stops at our house.
     Sunday morning finally comes.  Easter.  I wake up around 6 and I already feel awful.  I break the news to Jeremy and he scrambles out of the room.  Before he leaves I tell him to call my mom and tell her we won't be there for class, and to take pictures of the kids getting their baskets.  Mia, Parker, and Everett sifted through their surprises while Jackson and I spent the day in bed.  Mia got new markers and stickers in her basket, so she made me a Happy Easter/Sorry You're Sick picture and slipped it under my door ☺.  And then there were 2.

     Mia got sick Sunday night.  She also did not make it to the bathroom.  I don't think everyone's sheets and comforters have ever been this clean.  I was just beginning to feel better when Jeremy brought her to my room.  I'm afraid she did get the worst of it.  She was sick all night long and into Monday morning.  We were both up all night (again). 
     I have never been more thankful for Confederate Memorial Day in my life!  This is one of the random holidays observed by the state, which means Jeremy was off on Monday.  Jackson felt better and had a good 24 puke-free hours under his belt, so he went to school on Monday.  I got up and spread the word to our car pool about what was going on and then Mia and I spent the morning in bed.  I finally got up around noon and began the cleaning regimen.  I actually looked up the definition of regimen.  It is a program to improve health.  Pretty fitting, huh?  Short of dunking the actual members of our family in clorox, everything else we can possibly do to sanitize this place has been done.
     So, here we are on Tuesday.  Mia is just beginning to feel better and is still out of school.  Everyone else is back to normal, with the exception of a very tired momma.  I know this post is a little in depth, but it is something our family will definitely always remember so I wanted to get it all down.  We "missed" Easter, but remember the fact that our Mighty Savior is risen for us.  I am thankful this morning that I can take care of my family in a home that sits in a country where we are free to express our love for Christ.  I am so very thankful that as bad as our struggles on this Earth may seem, it's not near what we deserve, and it's not just His death, but His resurrection that gives us hope and joy during these trials. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pop's Birthday Bash

     One good thing that came from our cancelled trip last week was that we were home to spend dad's birthday with him.  He is now known around our house as Pop.  Everyone came to our house to celebrate.  We almost always grill out for his birthday and that's what we did last Thursday. Pop is everybody's favorite.  We live just a few yards away from my parents and every time the kids are outside they always look to see is Pop's truck is home.  He is the one that will stay outside all day and night with them.  The one that invites them to help him plant flowers.  The one that lets them stay up all night long watching TV.  The one that waits out in the dark with them looking for armadillos and coyotes.  I'm sure he never dreamed that almost 10 years ago when he held his first grandson that now he would have 8 little monkeys hanging all over him.  Even Everett is starting to favor Pop over everyone else in the room.  My dad is one of the most humble and giving people I know and I thank God for that.  He has taught me a million things in this life, but most of all how to live a life devoted to Christ.  Happy birthday to the best Pop on the planet!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

♪ On the Road Again ♫

     Our second attempt at a Spring Break get away landed us in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had been there as a kid, but Jeremy and the kids were making their first trip there.  I had bought raincoats in anticipation of our Chicago trip, but it looked like we were going to need them here as well, so we packed an overnight bag and headed out for a weekend of adventure.  Mia declared earlier in the week that she would no longer go on any trips in fear of getting sick.  I can't say that I blame her.  Jeremy and I both get motion sickness, so she gets it honest.  I started dosing her on dramamine the day before we left and our pediatrician (who we love, love, LOVE) called in a prescription, so we loaded up the car and crossed our fingers. This was only a 3 hour drive, so no where near the car time that we would have had on the previous excursion. We said our goodbyes to Nana and Everett and left around 6 a.m. on Friday.
     I am very happy to report that we made it without any nausea, and only a tiny bit of drama from Mia.  She was not happy that we wouldn't let her play with the DS, the phone, or anything else that would keep her eyes down for very long in the car.  But we made it there just the same.  On the way we stopped for gas, and the kids could not believe their eyes.  They had never seen an archaic gas pump before.  Jackson said, "Is that the kind they had in the old days, when y'all were kids?".  Parker wanted to know if we had to crank it to get the gas out.  I don't know where he thought that up, but it was very funny.

     It did pour down rain the entire day on Friday, so I gave myself a little pat on the back for buying raincoats for the kids.  Our first stop was the Tennessee Aquarium.  One of Jeremy's passions in life is fish, so we are constantly on the lookout for aquariums and fish stores whenever we travel.  They have 2 huge buildings here, one is oceanic and the other is river animals.  This was Parker's first time to an aquarium, so he thought everything was cool.  "Oh My!" is his new favorite phrase and we heard a lot of it Friday.  Jeremy knows so much about it all that the kids really get an education.  They even had some fish that we have at home, so the kids thought that was really neat.  Mia loved the butterfly room, Jackson liked the penguins, and Parker was just nuts about everything.

     After the aquarium we were all starving, so we walked a few blocks to Lupi's.  It's a local pizza place that we actually heard about from our waiter at Rosie's one night.  Everything is made fresh and they use all local stuff. Another bonus is that they have an old table top Pac Man machine, so that made it even better!  By the time we finished it was really pouring down, so Jeremy got the car and picked us up and we headed to our hotel to check in.
     We stayed at the Chattanoogan downtown, which was very nice.  I immediately noticed we were dealing with 2 double beds in this room, which might be a problem with all of our wiggle worms, but we would worry about that later.  We unpacked, jumped on the beds, freshened up from the rain, and headed to Ruby Falls. 

     Ruby Falls is a cave inside of Lookout Mountain.  We rode the elevator, which was very fast in my opinion,  260 feet down to the opening of the cave.  Once we scraped our stomachs off the ceiling we stepped out into the cave.  The kids had never seen anything like it.  Jackson was immediately in love and was ready to take off by himself to explore.  I guess I failed to mention that this was a guided tour.  Mia thought it was neat as well, but Parker was a different story.  We started walking and about a quarter of the way through he says, "This place is scary.  I'm ready to leave."  Parker is our fearless child, so this surprised me, but I guess it is kind of daunting to a 3 year old.  I convinced him that he was a totally cool explorer in this cave and that he would love the waterfall at the end, so he ventured on with us.  We stopped at a few spots along the way so our guide could point out formations in the rock.  Then we finally got to a huge opening where the waterfall would be.  We could feel the spray as we walked into this room and the kids all got very excited.  There in front of us was a 145 foot waterfall.  It's the largest "indoor" falls in North America.  We took some (blurry) photos and headed back to the elevators.  By this time Jeremy was very ready to be back on the top of this mountain.  I think he is getting claustrophobic in his old age!  We made it back up and it was still raining, so Jeremy picked us up again.  We grabbed some dinner and went back to the room for the night.

     The following description of sleeping arrangements is exactly how I feared it would be: 
Arrangement # 1 - Me and Jeremy in 1 bed, all the kids in the other.  This did not work because the kids kept talking and giggling.
Arrangement #2 - Parker and Jeremy in 1 bed, Me and Mia in the other bed, Jackson between the beds in a pallet on the floor.  This lasted about 3 hours until I heard Parker fall off the bed.  Luckily we stacked pillows between the bed and the wall and he never even woke up.  This scared Jackson and he wanted to be back in a bed.
Arrangement #3 - Parker on the pallet in the floor, Jackson and Mia in 1 bed, Me and Jeremy in the other bed.
Needless to say we had a very sleepless night.  I told Jeremy the next morning that I thought our days of a single hotel room were over.  Especially when we have all 4 kids with us.  Too many bodies, not enough beds.
     Saturday morning we got ready and headed out for a quick bite to eat before our last tourist destination.  We were off to ride the Incline Railway to the top of the mountain.  These railcars go straight up the side of the mountian.  We started at the bottom and the seats are almost laying down, so by the time you reach the top you're almost standing up.  The roof (which turns into your front window) is made of glass, so we could see everything down below.  They let us out at the top and we climbed to 3 different observation decks.  I am not big on heights, so even with  fences and steel bars everywhere I watched the kids like a hawk.  I could just see one of them hopping the fence and tumbling down the side of the mountain.  It was still cloudy, but the rain had stopped, so we had pretty good views.  We took some photos and rode the train back down.  It was very unnerving having to sit on the train looking straight down at the tracks while we watied for it to fill up with people, but we made it to the bottom alive.

     We doped Mia up and headed toward home.  This was Parker's first vacation where we didn't stop moving.  He's been to the beach before, but that's not a typical vacation for our family.  We usually hit the ground running and don't stop.  He did very well with all the walking, so I think in the future it will be no problem for him.  Most everyone got a good nap in the car after our eventful night of muscial beds.  We were very glad to get home and see Everett.  Even if it was just 1 night away I missed him like crazy! 
     It has been a wild week with us, so I was happy we ended up getting away, even if it wasn't what we had planned. I was also equally as glad to be home with all my babies and start preparing for our more organized week coming up.  A few more weeks of school and we will be done for the summer.  I can't wait for those long days of having all the kids home and making spontaneous plans!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Long Drive Home

     Remember how I was complaining about our imminent inclement weather forecasted for our Spring Break trip?  Well, we are not overlooking the fine city of Chicago this week as planned.  Not that we didn't give it the old college try.  I have spent the last 2 days up to my eyeballs in laundry and suitcases, packing 5 people for the cold and rain and 1 baby to stay home with his Nana.  Our alarm went off at 5 a.m. this morning. Jeremy and I got ready, loaded the car, then got the kids buckled in.  Nana and Pop came to our house since Everett was still asleep and we said our goodbyes.  Mia and Parker quickly drifted off to sleep as we drove toward Chicago.  About 2 hours into our trip Mia woke up and said she felt sick.  This is no surprise since she has a tendency to get car sick.  Usually once she is out and walks around in the fresh air she feels better, but not this time.  We gave her some meds and a drink and continued on.  About 10 minutes later she was sick again.  I thought maybe if she ate something it would get better, but she was too nauseous.  She couldn't even sit at the table while her brothers ate, so she spent breakfast in the Burger King parking lot while I held her hair back, still desparately hoping the fresh air would cure her. After about an hour of nonstop sickness we knew we had to make a decision.  We contemplated meeting my mom and letting her stay the week with her and Everett, but if it was a virus we didn't want her to take it back with her, and we surely didn't want to continue on and the rest of us end up with it.  I took one look at Jackson's face and I knew he would be heartbroken.  And he was.  We decided it was best to just head back toward home.  Mia was sick the entire way.  She is now back in her pj's and resting.  I unpacked what took me 2 days to gather in about 20 minutes.  We still hope maybe it was just the motion sickness.  If it is then it has gotten incredibly worse since we last took a trip, which as far as I can recall was last August.  This is going to make travelling in the future extremely difficult unless we can figure out a combination of meds and seating arrangements which will allow her to not feel yucky most of the ride.  We may try to do a weekend trip if everyone is not puking by then.  But for now we are back at home. Luckily our citypasses don't expire until October, so at least we can go when the weather is nicer.  And hopefully by then we will have a better plan for the exteme motion sickness.  So, farewell Spring Break trip!  Maybe we will see you next year!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Flinging & Breaking

     Spring has officially been flung as of Thursday night at Mia's kindergarten.  This is an annual fundraiser for Howell Graves Preschool with games, prizes, auctions, concessions, general craziness from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m.  Think Fall Festival but Springy.  The kids had a blast running around the halls, winning all the games.  Jackson likes to go back and visit all of his teachers from when he went to school there.  He remarked on how small their school seemed now that he's in the big school for 3rd grade.  He, of course, headed straight to the cake walk, because as everyone knows, to get the best selection you have to be there at the beginning!  He actually won after a few rounds and picked out a Paula Deen chocolate pound cake since "anything with her picture on it has to be good".  Ok, so maybe we watch a little too much Food Network around here.
     Mia had fun running around talking to all of her friends.  She is Miss Social Butterfly at school and never meets a stranger.  She found a room that was putting on tattoos, so she quickly covered herself in hearts and peace signs.  Parker got wind of a room that had bowling, so he spent all of his time there.  He loves to play Wii sports, so he's got the form down and everything.  I had to work in the lunchroom for a while, so the next time I saw him he was shouting about how he won 4 gold medals.  If you know Parker, you know that his goal in life (at 3 years old) is to win.  It doesn't really matter what it is, he just wants to be first/win.  Even getting out of the car when we get home has become a race to see who makes it into the house first.

Jackson and Parker with Graham, our neighbor and carpool buddy

Pizza break!

Mia and Maudie

          We are a just a few more hours away from formally being on Spring Break.  A few days ago I looked at Jeremy and said, "Do you think we're really responsible enough to take 3 kids into Chicago by ourselves?"  Sometimes I still don't feel very much like an adult.  He just laughed at me.  I have been monitoring the weather situation in Chicago the past few weeks and it's looking very cold and rainy.  Our entire reason for going there for our break was to visit Jeremy's great grandmother, Helen.  She has never seen Everett so we thought it would be a good time to go, but she will be leaving the day before us for a vacation herself.  We are planning to stay with some other relatives for a night while we are there so we are grateful for that.  With Helen's absence and the nasty weather we have debated on scrapping the Chicago idea and just heading to the beach for the week.  Ahhh, the nice warm, sunny, carefree beach.  Sitting on a balcony with my feet up while the saltwater breeze blows past.  Eating fresh seafood while overlooking the crashing waves while the kids laugh and play.  That first step into the sand.  Sorry.  Daydreaming.  But for now, we are still booked in cold, rainy Illinois.  So, I am pushing my pessimism aside and making a pro list for our trip. 
It goes something like this:
1.  Seeing the kids faces when they see just how big the city really is 
2.  We get to visit family
3.  Museums, museums, museums!
4.  Chicago style pizza in Chicago
5.  The view from the skydeck
     I am praying that the forecast will improve over the next few days.  I really don't mind the cold, but the rain I can do without.  I am however thankful that our weekend here is supposed to be awesome.  Mid 80's and sunny the rest of the weekend!  Happy Spring Break everyone!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Adventure at Bear Creek

This blog has been brought to you by Jackson Graham Robison, age 9.

     Me, Max, Aliee, Maggie, Addison, and Graham all went to Bear Creek for a picnic.Then after lunch we discovered a creek which then Max discovered a rope swing over the creek and I fell into the water 2 times and I had to swim back and the water was freezing cold.  I brought two guns to play with and Max brought one too.  We did not see any fish, but that was probably because the water was so muddy and black.  All of us got our hands and feet really muddy and for some of us the back of our pants.  Aliee did not want to get dirty and Addison did not really mind but Aliee got more dirty than Addison. After that we went to Cave Spring. There we saw a real live bear cave, but there were no bears. Me and Max and Graham found dirt dobber nests. Then we all went home almost.  Aliee, Graham, and Addison went home. We went to Sonic and got blue coconut slushies. Well that's all there is to our adventure. Thank you for reading this and my mom's blog.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Birthdays, Weddings, & Spring Break Planning

     What's that?  Oh, that's the beginning of my Spring Break packing list.  Wait, what's that that's marked out?  Why, it's the entire list of baby stuff!  Nana has graciously offered to keep Everett while we are on our Griswoldesque trip to Illinois.  We would much rather Nana and Pop come with us, but it's not looking like they will be able to.  By keeping Everett, Nana has just saved us countless hours of pit stops, diaper changes and 1 year old melt downs.  Not that we won't miss him, but we always seem to take the kind of vacations that you need to take a vacation from after you're done.  It's non stop from sunup to sundown and beyond.  Not to mention the high in Chicago this week was 35 degrees.  That's right, we will spend Spring Break bundled in coats and scarves dashing from site to site trying to squeeze as much culture and excitement in as we possibly can.  We have booked our hotel and are in the final stages of planning our itinerary, which means I have painstakingly mapped out our destinations and times to the minute and Jeremy will look it over and totally try to rearrange it, only to see that my way is the best way and end up back where we started.  Sometimes we have to go through this process more than once, but he always concedes in the end.
      This weekend we celebrated our cousin Emma's birthday at the YMCA in Florence.  The kids got to swim for the first time since last summer, so they were very excited.  Everett was decked out in his swim duds, but wouldn't let go of his daddy, so he pretty much just looked cute all evening.  The others had a blast.  Jackson swims like a fish, and I expect Mia to be doing just as well soon enough.  Parker is very funny about the water.  He doesn't really like to "get in" as much as he likes to put his feet in and splash the passers by, but has a fit when they splash him back.  It doesn't really deter him though.  They had pizza and cake, then the older 3 got to go home with Grandma and spend the night.  The high school has a pancake breakfast fund raiser about this time every year, so they always spend the night and go the next morning.  Needless to say they were worn out when they got home!

     Our sunny weather is back for the weekend so we got to play outside.  One of my best friends from childhood got married at the beach last weekend, so they had a reception at Doublehead Resort in Town Creek, Alabama on Saturday afternoon.  Our families have always been very close.  In fact, we call her mom Aunt Leesa.  Sarah is the friend I always got in trouble with.  The friend that I would stay up late watching Freddy Krueger movies with.  We fell in love with New Kids on the Block together, cried over boys together, got dressed up for proms together.  This list could go on for miles.  The resort where the reception took place is on the water so the kids had a great time running around.  Avery (one of Mia's best friends from school) was there, so she was very excited.  Sarah looked beautiful in her dress. Her husband AJ graduated high school with me and Jeremy, so we got to see lots of familiar faces.  I love to go to weddings, and the rest of the family loves to go to the receptions, so we got the best of both worlds this weekend.  I got to see a sweet couple in their first weeks of marital bliss, and everyone else got cake!