Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 6- Urgent Care

The baby wasn't getting any better so the kids and I spent the morning in our condo and while Liam was sleeping we did this...

And then Joe took Lily and Eli with him to the morning meeting at the conference.  I was so excited that the kids had this opportunity (it was one of the things I was looking forward to in having them come with us to the spring break conference).  What an incredible opportunity for a 6 year old and a 4 year old to be in a room with over 1,200 college students worshiping God and singing praise to Christ!  What an amazing opportunity for them to see so many young adults sincerely following the Lord!  They thought that the music was quite loud, but other than that I think they enjoyed it!:)
After the meeting Joe took them to the beach (his first time with them since arriving) and while he did that Liam and I headed to urgent care.  After many days and nights of extreme fussiness it was clear that Liam had more than the cold the rest of us had and even though I dreaded taking him in I knew that we had to see a doctor.
Thankfully the whole process wasn't the 3 hour long ordeal that every urgent care/emergency room visit with Eli in the last two years has been!  It actually went somewhat quickly and easily.  The doctor looked in one ear which was normal.  But then he looked in the second one, noticed it looked a bit pink, and then as he tried to get another look Liam totally lost it and even with the two of us we couldn't get him still enough for the doctor to get another look.  Given that it looked pink initially and Liam's reaction (not at all like the first ear) it seemed likely that he had an ear infection.  Which is really what I thought anyway and seemed to match up with everything going on.  I might have initially preferred to go the all natural route, but at that point I was pretty happy just to get him some antibiotics and begin to put it all behind us!
I have to say though that the saddest thing I encountered at urgent care was the three college girls sitting near me in the waiting room.  One of them had sliced their foot open on some glass on the beach.  That was a bummer, but what was worse was listening to them talk about their "adventures" the night before.  One of the girls had been in such bad shape that she was talking about how thankful she was that another friend had happened to find her passed out on the floor somewhere.  She didn't apparently remember where she was or how she got there.  And my mama instinct just wanted to grab her and shake her and tell her how dangerous what she was doing is.  Good gracious, anything could have (and may have) happened to that girl.  And she just laughed it off because either that's just what felt easiest at the time or because our culture tells her that this is the best "adventure" available to her.  It breaks my heart.  I didn't have the opportunity there in the waiting room to share with her that there is, indeed, a much better adventure available to her.  But the Lord broke my heart for those girls and I have been thinking of them often and praying for them and asking Him to reveal His truth to their hearts.
And the rest of our day was spent letting the baby rest and rescuing a turtle.  Yes, a turtle!  Upon returning from the beach we had the kids jump in the pool to get the sand off and as soon as they did they found a sweet, little baby turtle swimming in the pool.  We were pretty sure that he didn't belong in a swimming pool so we rescue him...

And later in the day Joe and the kids returned it to one of the ponds at the resort.  
And that was Day 6!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day Four- Sick Baby at the Beach

Day four of our trip found us finally settled into our condo with the conference up and running.  Joe and I were both able to go to meetings with the students (switching off) and Joe was able to go out sharing his faith with our students on the in that way things were going great.
So while Joe was with our students I decided to once again take all three kids to the beach.  This time I was much better prepared with how to manage the baby and try to play with the kids.  I brought the car seat down to the beach with us and Liam chilled out there while I dug a shallow hole in the sand, put our beach blanket over it, and then placed the baby in it (basically making a homemade beach baby bumbo seat)!:)  The baby seemed quite happy there for a while and I was even able to play in the sand a bit with the kids.

And that lasted for about 15-20 minutes before everything just came crashing down and the baby LOST it.  One second he was content and the next he was just screaming his head off.  And then he just screamed and screamed.  I was able to distract him here and there, but it just never lasted for long.  I managed to hold him out long enough to make it feel somewhat worthwhile for the Lily and Eli, but that was it.  The baby had been fussy for a couple of days and this day was certainly the peak with random screaming sessions throughout the day.  I knew that the baby wasn't feeling well before this, but I honestly thought that he would be so distracted at the beach (with the waves and the sand and all of the people) that he would be at least content.  That was not how it went however, and I finally had to acknowledge that there was more going on with our little guy than just a cold.
Honestly I don't remember many details from the rest of the day...I'm sure that Joe was with the students and I think he probably took the kids to the pool in the afternoon, but I just really remember spending much of the rest of the day trying to console a sick baby...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 3- What Were We Thinking

Let's just say that the 3rd day of our trip wasn't so good.  We woke up to a hotel room still saturated with smoke (that wasn't a dream) and children with red eyes from said smoke.  Eli still calls it our "stinky room."  We went out for breakfast and attempted to do some grocery shopping for ourselves and a lunch we were having for our students that day.  Looking back this probably wasn't a good idea...we were exhausted and stressed and the baby was fussy (this was not a good combination).  Upon returning to our stinky room Joe tried everything he could to get us a new room.  We KNEW that we couldn't stay wasn't a matter of having a good attitude or even of being unhappy with staying right by the very noisy street...we couldn't stay there for the health of our children (with a baby, a 6 year old with allergies, and a 4 year old who has had respiratory issues in the past we just knew this wasn't an option).  Honestly I was beginning to wonder if we would need to leave Joe there and head back to Orlando for the week.  The hotel was telling us that they didn't have any rooms available and that they might have to move us to a hotel a half mile down the road (which wouldn't have worked for us either for a number of reasons).
And as this point we were definitely asking the "what were we thinking bringing our children here" question.  Here we were in Florida (warm, sunny Florida on the beach) and all we wanted was to go home.  It was awful.
And then I did the best possible thing I could do for myself and the kids...while Joe dealt with the hotel and Liam napped I took Lily and Eli down to the beach.  The fresh air, water, sand, and sunshine did us a world of good!  And after returning to the beach we learned that Joe had solved our hotel problem (I love that man) and shortly after we moved to our new room!  I just can't even tell you how much better our new room was!  First of all (and most importantly) it wasn't saturated with smoke!  And just about as wonderful was that the hotel gave us a 3 bedroom place (while still charging us the price for a 2 bedroom)!  And the reason that this was so wonderful was that it meant that our friend Andy (who volunteers with Cru and leads the ministry at Husson University) could move in with us and stay in our extra bedroom (since we really only needed two).  And this meant that a space was freed up in the room he was staying in which meant that one of our students (Hassan) could stay there!  Hassan is a muslim international student studying at U-Maine who decided at the last minute to join us at the conference!  We were so excited to have him come with us, but by the time he registered for the conference they didn't have any spaces left at the hotel and Hassan's only option was to camp at a campsite that was close to the hotel.  He was willing and borrowed camping gear for us.  I'll admit that the housing situation made for a stressful and exhausting first day for us, but in the end it was really cool to see how God provided for Hassan through our difficult housing circumstances!  God is good all the time!
And God was good to us in this too because our second place was so much nicer (I actually felt comfortable putting the baby on the floor), it was away from the main road, it had a patio space that opened up to a lawn area where the kids could easily play (wonderful for when the baby was sleeping) and it was right next to a great, warm pool!
Day three found us taking another fun trip back to the beach (and later in the day even a trip to the pool for Lily and Eli) and the conference started that night too with some great worship and speakers! We still found ourselves wondering what we were thinking some of the time, but overall day three ended so much better than it started!

Eli watching some students playing ultimate frisbee right outside our condo (he was fascinated)!   
The beach!
Building a sandcastle with one of the students.  
My beach babe!
Heading back from the beach.

I think Eli had a little sand in his mouth (by the end of the week there was just sand everywhere and on 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 2- It Started Good

The second day of our trip started well.  The kids woke up at a reasonable hour and even stayed quiet long enough to not wake the baby (sometimes this doesn't even happen at home) and before we even got much further our friend, Beth, arrived!  Beth was a student involved in our ministry who graduated last year and got a job in the area and has been volunteering with Cru this year.  She lives just a couple of down from us and we love her.  I am pretty fond of her normally, but when she arrives at my hotel room where I have been staying alone with my three small children I love her even more.  We were doing okay really, but an extra set of hands felt wonderful.  The first thing she did was hold the baby so I could eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut (or two)!:)
And after doughnuts we loaded up the stroller and headed out for a walk around the resort, some Starbucks along the way (on the property), and a visit to the resort playground (where Eli, clearly still just so excited to be outside playing, was too excited to stop and used the bathroom and left a bit of a drippy mess over part of the playground).  Poor thing, but he got over it soon enough (and yes, I told the hotel so they could have housekeeping come clean it up since I did even have wipes on me at the time).
And then we headed back to the room to shower Eli and put Liam down for a nap.  And then, as if she hadn't already won me over by letting me eat my doughnut in peace, Beth took the kids out to feed bread to the ducks so that Liam could sleep peacefully and I could take a shower.  Have I mentioned that I love her?
Liam took a good nap, we packed up, checked out, and promptly headed to the resort pool!  By that time the sun was out and it was warm and wonderful.  And even better was that the pool was warm and had a wonderful little shallow splash area for the kids to play in!  And Liam had his first time in a pool and LOVED it!  Poor little man was showing signs of having a cold (which I had started feeling the night before) but even with a little runny nose he was loving life in the water, sitting in the shallow end with me, splashing, and laughing at his brother and sister running through the fountains!  Looks like we are 3 for 3 in the kids loving water department!
I passed Liam off to Beth for a bit so that I could grab a few pictures...
And so Day 2 started pretty good really.  And then we left to get Joe from the airport and it started going downhill a bit...his flight was just a little bit late, it took forever to get his luggage, and thus we got a bit of a late start heading to the beach.  It ended up taking us about 7 hours to drive from Orlando to Panama City Beach, but it felt like so much longer than that.  After just a couple of hours in the car Liam started to go downhill quickly and our normally very content and relaxed baby became a quite unhappy traveler.  It was not good (and was sadly a sign of things to come).
Looking back perhaps we were setting ourselves up for failure (or at least some doubt) when we arrived at the beach at 11p.m. on the first night of spring break with our 3 small children.  Let's just say that the place was a bit crazy.  But we checked in and moved our sleeping children into what I can now say was one of the worst hotel rooms I have ever been in.  This came as a surprise to us since I have been at this conference (and thus this very same resort) 4 times before and had wonderful experiences with the hotel.  Nope, not this time.  As soon as we opened the door to the condo we could tell that it was saturated with cigarette smoke (even though it's a non-smoking facility).  If that weren't enough (and really it was) our room happened to be right next to the main street where college students were cruising, yelling, honking horns, and blaring music until about 3 a.m. (all right outside our window).  And then Joe found a cockroach in the bathroom and ants in the kitchen and I laid in bed and just wanted to cry.
And as I contemplated my misery (and questioned my sanity in bringing my children here) God began to speak with me a little...gently reminding me of the reason that we came and whispering the truth that this week isn't about my comfort.  And so, as I prayed, I asked the Lord to give me strength for the week and a good attitude for the next day and I determined that I would have a good attitude...because our students were watching and our children were watching...and things might not get easier...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day One- Travel

So, I realize that "epic" is a slightly exaggerated term.  In no way do I think that anybody will ever be writing a book about our travels or making a movie about our Florida trip...but for this family it feels a little bit epic...two and half weeks in Florida with a 6 year old, a 4 year old, and a baby!  I'm going to try and share about our trip as often as possible (to try, somehow, to stay caught up)!  So here it one...

Our trip actually started yesterday since the kids and I drove down to Joe's parent's house for the night.  A few things are worth noting here.  First, it actually felt like this little adventure started many days ago first with wondering, after I got the flu, if we would all be healthy enough to travel (we were) and then with many days of packing (I hate packing).  The second thing worth noting is that Joe wasn't with us today.  Originally, of course, he was planning to be with us but something came up at home that he needed to be there for and we had to rearrange plans.  We considered changing flights for all of us, but it was crazy expensive so the kids and I flew out today as planned and Joe will join us tomorrow afternoon (prayers for his safe travel would be wonderful)!

So, this morning we left at 6:30 and Joe's parents drove us to the airport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Yes, there are closer airports, but we got an amazing deal on tickets there and our flight was nonstop (amazing)!  I always feel like a train wreck going through security (even when Joe is there to help).  I'm not complaining (because I really appreciate them doing all they can to keep us safe) but it's a bit of a wild ride trying to get all of us and our stuff through the scanners.

This is what we were dealing with today...Just me, a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a baby, 2 large suitcases, 2 backpacks, a diaper bag, a camera bag, 3 car seats, a sit and stand stroller, 3 blankets and 2 stuffed animals.  My children should rise up and call me blessed!:)

Anyway, we made it through the airport actually quite smoothly and the airline even took mercy on me and let us board before just about everybody else (because how could they deny me really?)!  And the kids did fantastic.  They were helpful and thoughtful and kind and excited and not was almost shocking how good they were.  And the whole flight went very smoothly...

My big girl right across the aisle from me...she was so helpful this day!

My two boys enjoying the ride!

This trip made me further declare him the best baby EVER!  He was so sweet and calm and mellow pretty much the whole day!  At almost 8 months of age he was the oldest of all our children on, this, his first flight and he sailed right through it!

And even this one was really good during our travels...listening really well and playing so well quietly on the plane!
But then we landed and it was like 6 hours of travel (and being so well behaved) was all they could handle and they went from being my sweet, sweet travel companions to wild, feral animal children in the blink of an eye!  Thankfully my incredible friend Jami, who lives in Orlando, came to the airport to meet us and good gracious I'm just not sure how I would have done it without her!  She watched the children while I got our luggage, while I got our rental car, and stayed with the baby while I took the kids to the bathroom.  I don't think we would have made it to the car with all of our things without her extra set of hands and she just smiled and laughed right along with me at lunch while Eli literally bounced off of the walls.  Oh Jami, you kept me sane that afternoon!

 And something else kind of funny happened when we landed in was as if my children had never seen grass or nature before.  In the parking lot at lunch they were picking up piles of leaves and throwing them in the air.  And the picture above is Lily literally rolling around and kissing the grass!  Never have children been more excited to see green grass!:)

 And after checking in to our hotel for the night (and a minor meltdown from me when I couldn't get the room key to work) we finally settled in and I was able to let the kids run wild outside and get the crazies out!  Here is Eli running around and picking up every form of leaf or nature he could find!

And right outside our hotel room was this lovely little pond with the friendliest ducks ever (who are clearly used to being fed by many, many tourists) and the children and the ducks had a lovely time chasing each other.
And after getting out the crazies and some dinner I tucked them all into bed and let out an enormous sigh of relief.  Traveling solo with three little ones is exhausting but at the end of the day I kind of felt like Superwoman (like if I could do this I could do anything)!  Little did I know what was coming...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Florida Bound!

We are Florida bound!!!!!!
We are headed to the Sunshine State for two and a half weeks!  The first week we are taking a group of students from U-Maine and Husson (around 24 of them) to a Cru evangelism conference called Big Break in Panama City Beach!  We took students to this conference back before we had kids, but this is our first time back with the little ones in tow!  Joe and I get to be at the conference and alternate times with our students and our kiddos get a week on the beach...awesome!
And then for the rest of the time we are heading down to Orlando where we will meet my parents...they are taking the whole family on a Disney vacation!  
To say that excitement is high would be an understatement!
The kids and I fly out Friday morning.  We had something come up at home that Joe needs to take care of (long story) so he will flying out Saturday early afternoon and joining us in Orlando!  We sure would appreciate your prayers for safe and smooth travel!  And I'm going to do my best to update as often as possible on this little blog (because otherwise I'll be so overloaded with pictures when I get back that I'll never catch up)!
Sunshine here we come!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

You're One in a Minion!

I know it's a little late posting this, but for Valentines Day this year we made these minion valentines...

I actually never got around to taking a picture before they were gone, but the looked just like this (except I drew overalls on his blue pants)- they were pretty awesome!  And I considered it a small parenting win that Lily had no idea what a Twinkie was before we made these!:)

P.S. I also wanted to post this as a test.  Turns out that my mom and some others have been have be unable to see the pictures on my blog lately.  So mom, can you see this minion picture?  What about this one?
Clearly this picture is mine and one that I've already posted...but it's just a little experiment,  Because I can't bear the thought of my family missing out on pictures of this cute little guy?  So let me know, can you see these?  Could you see the ones in my last post?  Thanks!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Flu

On Thursday night both Lily and I started feeling a little sick.  With just one day before spring break I just knew that we were headed for family-wide illness (this often happens to us during breaks).  So I was pleasantly surprised when we all woke up on Friday feeling fine.  That relief only lasted for Friday.  Friday night I started feeling sick again and went downhill quickly.  I think I had the stomach flu and Joe thinks I may have had the actual flu, but either way it wasn't a pretty picture.  I haven't been that sick in a long time.  I could not function at all yesterday and barely left my bed.  I was pretty miserable and since I'm nursing I was limited in what I could take to help. 

Well, it's the next day now and I'm still feeling sick, but not nearly as awful as yesterday.  The chills and full body aches are mostly gone and I am out of bed!  Even though I don't feel good, it's amazing how much better it feels from yesterday.  I am really hopeful that I'll be totally over it in a day or two.  Which is good because we leave for our Florida trip Thursday night (we drive to Joe's parent's house on Thursday night and fly out Friday morning).

If you are reading this would you pray that the rest of the family wouldn't get sick?  So far everybody else seems fine, but with our trip coming so soon I'm rather nervous. That's my biggest request.  And then I'm also praying that I would feel totally back to myself tomorrow so I can do some of the many things that need to get done before our trip!
Thanks for praying friends!