"Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Break Part II - And the Sun Rose

Before I get into the vacation part of our spring break, I feel the need to explain our resources for going on this trip.  We are not wealthy in financial ways at all.  We are both school teachers for crying out loud!  However, we bought this time share when we first got married with money that was left to my husband by his grandma.  So, to be honest, like it or not, we are stuck with it for the next 94 years.  So, we take this one vacation a year.  We skipped last year because I was pregnant with Ryder and also skipped the year that I was preggo with the twins, but other than that we do go.  All year long we charge everything we buy (even regular monthly bills) on our credit card so that we can use air miles for travel.  We also can get a companion pass ticket for $100 with each credit card we own.  We own two so that two of us can travel for $200.  I just felt like I needed to explain because we get a lot of financial support from other people in helping with Parker's medical needs.  I would never want anyone to think that we squander money or are using their money to live it up in Mexico.  Before our resort turned into an all-inclusive, we used to go buy a case of Cup of Noodles and a case of Pacifico beers at the local Sam's Club and that is what we ate and drank on vacation.  However, luckily our resort now has an all-inclusive deal and food and drinks are unlimited!

Ok, on to the fun stuff...

As you might remember from Spring Break Part I,  we left off with our night from hell.  And let me say one more time, that seriously, I think that is the worst night I have ever had since any baby has been born.  There was crying, sweating (couldn't get up to turn the AC on), wrestling around, baby swapping, and all the while still in my airplane clothes from the previous day.  We have never co-slept - and now I see why.  There was nothing peaceful and cozy about it for us OR the kids. 

But then the sun rose and it was morning!  It was a beautiful warm sunny morning and I couldn't wait to get our day started.  And yes, it started with all 3 boys crying at 6:00 AM.  That is ok - anything to get up and get out of that room! 

We got up and went out to the front room of our hotel room (we had a one bedroom, so that was separate from the living space).  We looked at the crazy mess and sighed.   As I mentioned, I like organization (although you wouldn't be able to tell that by looking in my closet).  I especially like organization on trips -  hence the many many lists.  When I arrive somewhere I like to get things in order, unpack the necessary things - put them in the kitchen or bathroom, etc.  But I had had no time for that the previous night.  There were suitcases open, clothes strung across chairs, things had been tossed about trying to find
bottles or formula the night before...I am not stressing...I am not stressing. 

We got showered and cleaned up.  Aaahh, to brush my teeth!   We got the kids cleaned up, bottles made and headed out the door to breakfast.  We have stayed at the place for many years and the breakfast is hands down my favorite time of the day.  They have an open air restaurant right on the beach.  You can sip your coffiee and watch the waves roll in while the sun shines on you.  I love it!  The boys were enamoured with the sunshine!  Coming from Oregon where the sun only shines about 4 months a year, they looked at the sun like it was a long lost friend.  (so did I) 
Ryder and Parker checking out the sunshine and blue sky!

Brady enjoying his breakfast

We enjoyed coffee, mimosas, and the most amazing breakfast ever all while listening to the ocean.  It was heaven!  And every morning after that was the same.  Good food, good coffee and amazing atmosphere.

Everyday we had the same routine (I know, shocker).  After breakfast, we went back to our room, put Ryder down for his morning nap and got Parker and Brady in their swim suits and lathered up with sunscreen.  Jimmy would take them to the pool while I cleaned up our room and read on the patio while little man slept.  This was the one time of day when I could read and I took advantage of it by getting through the second Hunger Games book. 

When Ryder woke up I quickly got him ready and we joined the other boys at the pool.  This was a great time of the day.  All 3 boys (4 including Jimmy) LOVED the water.  They also were all fearless in the water which makes mommy fearful.  So they all had floatation devices of some sort at any given time.  Brady wanted to be "free" so he chose water wings most of the time and he did really well with them.  Ryder and Parker stayed in their floaters most of the time and couldn't be happier. 

Jimmy with all 3 boys. 

We would spend about another hour in the pool before we all had to head in for lunch.  We would order our food and then had to methodically one-by-one get the boys out of the pool and dry them off.  There were always tears from all 3 when we took them out of the water, but especially Brady.   He was heart broken that he had to leave the pool every single time.  We walked back to our room and then our amazing waiter, Gerardo, would bring the food to us on the patio which I think I mentioned was like 10 yards from the pool side..  (he was our server most of the week and he took good care of us!) 

Now I should mention how we came up with a solution for the sleeping arrangement.  I am so sad that I didn't take a picture of it.  It just didn't dawn on me.  We moved furniture around in the bedroom that included moving a huge desk out into the living room along with the big heavy TV (circa 2003).  Then we separated the beds that we had previously pushed together.  And we put the 2 portable cribs on one side of one of the beds to act as a barrier so that Parker couldn't fall out.  Then I padded up the head board and other side (which was against the wall) and then built a pillow barrier at the end of the bed.   Parker had his own deluxe queen size bed - and he loved it!  Ryder and Brady slept in the cribs, which was also quite a sight because  poor Brady couldn't even stretch out.  He had to curl up to fit.  But he is a snuggler, so it was ok.  Then, Jimmy and I slept out on the pull out coach in the living room/kitchen, which was little more than a 3 inch pad on a couch.   But at least the boys could sleep peacefully and so could we...sort of.

Anyway, back to lunch time.  We would have a great lunch and then put the boys down for their nap.  They went down without a peep every day!  (even Parker who usually always puts up a fight)    I would usually hang out on the patio at this time and tell Jimmy to go enjoy some adult time at the pool with our friends and family or go down to the beach.  I am very content sitting in the sun reading, he needs a little more action than that, that is why I would send him off.  But sometimes we would just sit on the patio together.

Nap time always started out good, but it usually wasn't very long.  So often after an hour or so, Parker was already crying to get up.  Well, same routine.  When the boys woke up, we got them back in their swim suits and got another layer of sunscreen on them and headed back out to the pool and floated in the sun, played with mermaids, filled buckets with water, drank margaritas and snacked on sushi. 


And we wouldn't head in to our room again until dinner time.  Then it was almost a repeat of lunch time - dry them off - get them showered - get jammies on - eat dinner - have bottles - read books - and down to sleep!  Whew!  Yes, we normally do all of this stuff at home too, but when you are in a place without the comforts of home and have 2 kids who are not independently mobile, that is hard work!

Then Jimmy and I would look at each other like, now what are we going to do?  Not gonna lie here, we usually went to bed ourselves.  (and we are talking 7:30 PM)  Yep, that's right - we were so exhausted that we were not able to stay up to enjoy the quiet for very long.  One night we did order room service, but basically that meant that Jimmy went to meet them for the food because we didn't want them knocking on our door and waking up the boys.  And one night, I sent Jimmy out for a couple glasses of wine that we enjoyed together as we talked about our day.   But the other nights...asleep by 8:00. 

Ryder didn't even want his feet to touch the sand.
There were some exceptions in our daily routines.  For example, one day we decided that we need to go down to the beach so the boys could see what the sand and ocean were like.  Now, I already knew this had disaster written all over it.  We have one child (Brady) who is fearless and would run straight into the ocean, one child (Parker) who is sensitive about new things and cannot sit up on his own, and one child (Ryder) who is putting everything in his mouth (sand included).   But that is ok, I am going with the flow, right?  Not being a stressor.  Well, Parker was ok with the sand for a few minutes then wanted nothing to do with it.  Ryder immediately had a distaste for it and Brady loved it!  So after a whopping 10 minutes of obligatory pictures and sand play we took 2 of the 3 boys back to the pool and let Jimmy and Brady romp in the waves alone. 
There was also one exception in our night routine.  One night my mom came over to watch the boys while Jimmy and I went out with friends.  That was a great night!  We went to the 5 course restaurant at the resort and enjoyed lots of wine, good food, great service, good music and great friends!  At one point, there was no one else in the restaurant so we asked them if our friend could play on the piano (he is an amazing musician.)  So he played some tunes, we all sang along...and closed the place down! 

We were lucky enough to have my amazing parents, sister-in-law, her mom, and my nephew there also to help with the boys.  So even though our days were busy, at any given time at least 1 of the boys was taken care of by family or friends which made it much more manageable.  We are truly blessed to have such amazing friends and family.  I love them!  There is no way we could have done this trip without them.

There were also lots of little tidbits of fun/funny happenings all week long like...
  • Having the "do not disturb" sign out on our door the ENTIRE time we were there because we didn't want a maid to either wake up a sleeping kid OR mess up our amazing display of beds.
  •  Brady picking up rocks wherever we went.
  • Brady shooting the water sprayer right in the face of little girls (we really need to work on his flirting techniques)
  • Meeting some other amazing mamas of kids with special needs at the pool
  • Seeing a family that I have taught/counseled at work on the one day when I maybe had a few too many margaritas.  Nothing like seeing your school counselor (past health teacher) drunk.  Seriously, we were there for 7 days and I was never even tipsy.  But the one time when my parents have the boys I went a little crazy with margaritas and THAT is when I see some past students! 
  • Getting up earlier (5 AM) and earlier (4 AM) every day to reserve our spots by the pool.
  • Feeding Parker his bottles while he was floating in the pool
  • Ryder having 4 new teeth pop through over night!

Believe it or not, I am going to have to do a Part III for the travel home because it was the most adventurous (and humorous) of all!  I can laugh at it now, but at the time I wanted to cry.  Please check back to hear all about:
  • airports in Mexico
  • barely making it onto the flight
  • sweet new friends
  • 5 hour layovers
  • diaper blow-outs
  • projectile vomiting
  • hitching rides with random people at the airport
  • and getting  home and in bed by 1:45 AM... oh yahhhh baby!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring Break Part 1

Well, we just got back last Sunday from our week off in Mexico.  That's right.  We took two 2 1/2 year-olds (one with cerebral palsy) and one 10-month-old on a vacation to another country.  I was actually very anxious about this whole vacation.  But  one of my friends said, "it is not going to be a vacation - it will be a trip.  You will make memories."  This helped me put things in perspective.  Yes, it was not a vacation where I layed around by the pool as Gerardo brought me tropical drinks with fruit in them.  I did not walk in the moonlight with my husband on the sandy beach while the waves rolled in.  I did not get a tan, I barely read a book - but I did have fun!  This may be a long post but I really want to document this trip.  I think I may turn this blog into a way that I can keep track of our lives since I have done a HORRIBLE job at baby books or journals. 
Let me start by saying that I made a concerted effort and decision before we left that on this trip  that I was going to be relaxed and go with the flow without stressing.  I have always been a very serious (my husband might say stressful) traveler.  I want everything to  go as planned, because I have taken a lot of time to plan them correctly.  I want to be places early (not on time), and I don't want to be rushed!  Even before we had kids, I tended to get very stressed (I mean serious) about vacations.  So you can imagine how I might be with 3 babies.  I am on the phone with my sister as I am driving to work to print off my boarding passes and I tell her that this trip is going to be different.  I am going to be so chill and laid back, no one will even recognize me! 

Then, BAM!  I spend 5 hours on the  phone with United Airlines trying to figure out why I can't check in and print my boarding passes.  You think that I am joking or exaggerating, but I am not.  I got to work (it was a day off) and spent 5 hours dealing with the airlines.  As you may guess, being the planner that I am, I bought these tickets almost a year ago.  I made sure we had 4 seat assignments and that we were across the aisle from each other and I paid my 10% which is now required for lap infants.  I know the airlines well enough by now to know that if you don't have a seat assignment, you are basically flying stand-by.  I still don't see how they can get away with over selling flights.  Regardless, we have seats and we are good!  However, I can't check in.  At one point, I have 2 phones going (both on hold) in my office just to increase my chances of speaking to someone.  It was a little comical.  After 5 hours of being on hold and talking to some people who clearly were clueless I FINALLY reached a supervisor (which I had been asking for for hours) and he put me on hold.   Really?  When he came back he explained to me that we couldn't check in online because we were flying with an infant.  That is it?  No one could have told me this earlier? No one else knew this simple little fact?  I guess that is why he gets paid the big bucks. 

 And so it begins....I am not stressing.  I am not stressing.  I am not stressing.

I am a list lady.  I have lists upon lists upon lists.  So I started a packing list about 2 months ago.  I revised it often throughout the weeks as I saw things that I used that hadn't been on the "list".  I should preface by saying that traveling with kids, especially babies who need bottles and formula, and especially a child with special needs, is not easy.  There are MANY things to pack.   With Parker, there are things that if I forget them could be detrimental to  his health, including his main source of nutrition which is his very expensive formula that can only be purchased through a medical supply company.  It is not in the stores and you need a prescription for it.  It comes in a can and he needs 4 cans a day.  Sooooo...we had a suitcase that just carried 32 cans of his formula.  So there is that and his meds, feeding supplies, bottles, and food.  He eats blended food.  My mom makes him amazing meals (he eats better than all of us), blends them up and freezes them.  So we always have a great supply of food for him.  Packaged baby food is not only bland, but it is mostly water and therefore not nutritious enough for a toddler.  Soooo...that means we needed to take frozen meals (enough for 8 days) to Mexico as well.  Then there are the other basic necessities like clothes, some toys, books, music, borrowed DVD player, blow-up toys for pool, sheets and blankets for the portable cribs from the hotel, some diapers (we bought most of them when we got there), wipes, Parker's high chair (he has to be well supported while eating), a car seat for Parker on the airplane, snacks/food for travel day, Ryder's formula and bottles, really the list goes on and on.

So, back to my list.  I was like Santa.  I had a list and I was checking it twice.  (and three times and four times)  In fact, the night before we left I made a separate list from the master list that showed the last minute things I needed to pack the next morning (frozen food, etc) even though they were circled and highlighted on the original list.  I wonder if there is a mental disorder about list making.  If so, I would be in the medical journal describing it. 

Well, we get to the airport, get checked in at a kiosk, and my mom is even able to get a gate pass so she can help us through security.  It was a little funny/sad/awkward because the ticket agent at first looked at us when we asked and said, "We don't allow people to come to the gate just because you have babies.  Can you imagine how many people would be going through security if every mom wanted help with her kids?  We only allow it if there are special  needs or a handicap."   Ok, do I really have to pull the disability card?  So I said, "My son has cerebral palsy and we will need help."  She actually looked at us like she didn't believe us, but we did get the pass. 

TSA security was amazing!  They let us go in the employee/first class line which was much faster.  However, we slowed it down for sure!  (sorry employees)  The 32 cans of formula were worrisome to them.  Apparently, they only wanted us to  take what we would need for the day on our carry on.  We quickly explained that it is a prescription and if it was checked baggage and lost we would have no way of replacing it.  They understood, but we had to be screened more seriously.  No problem.  I wasn't stressing.  (really I wasn't)  I stood there and let them pat me down.  I let them take out every single item from all 3 of our carry-ons that I had so painstakenly packed and mess up my organization.  I let them take apart our stroller and even quickly pat down my baby, all with a smile on my face.

I am not stressing.  I am not stressing.

Here is where some of the comedy starts.  We get all settled at the gate.  My mom is feeding Parker his bottle, Jimmy is trying to get Brady to eat some fruit and drink his milk, and I sit down to feed Ryder his bottle.  I quickly take the cap off of it and go to tip it into his mouth and BOOOSH!  His little face and body gets flooded with formula.  Somehow I forgot to put the nipple in the bottle and didn't even notice until it was too late.  Good job, mom.  Sigh...I am not stressing.  I am not stressing.  So I quickly take off his coat which luckily took the majority of the formula and wipe him down. 

Now, all the  people at the gate who gave each other the "oh crap" looks as we walked up to join them with our 3 babies are saying to themselves "not only does she have 3 babies, but she is not so bright either."    I know they are dreading getting on a flight with us.  That is ok.

We actually had a great first flight to San Fransisco.  No one cried, and I wanted to say to all of the people, "See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"  But I didn't.  We landed in San Fransisco, did quick diaper changes and bottle feedings, and we departed from the exact same gate an hour later - very easy!  This flight however was longer and a little more challenging.  But with books and the DVD player, we pulled it off pretty well!

Brady watching Cars with "B"

We finally got to the hotel (Cabo is about a 45 minute drive from the airport) and the boys were just starting to have a little meltdown.  Keep in mind that they were up at 4 AM and only Ryder has had any sleep.  But we get to the resort and get checked in.  We finally settled on a room on the ground floor approximately 20 steps from the pool.  (after making Jimmy and our friend carry out luggage back and forth between 2 rooms) 

Our dear friends, Scott and Jenn, had already been there for a day and they scooped up the boys, got swim diapers on them and said "let's go to the pool!"  Thank God for them (for many reasons) but at that moment the last thing I was going to do was go to the pool.  I was thinking we should feed the kids or possibly put them down for a cat nap...but, hey - we are in Mexico.  It is sunny and warm.  So, we followed suit and joined everyone at the pool.  And the boys loved it!  We hung out, had a drink or two and sat in the warm pool soaking up the much needed sun and Vitamin D. 

Parker loving the water!

Our good friend Jenn with Ryder
Brady getting water on his face for the first time.

I have to also tell you why we are so lucky to have Scott and Jenn.  They took our 2 huge checked bags with them for the trip so we didn't have to deal with it.  They have 2 kids themselves, so this is not a simple task.  Luckily, though, their kids are a bit older and they were amazing!  Our luggage was waiting for us when we got there and they also took it back on the return trip.  We love them!

I will tell you that the first night was a night from hell.  No lie.  To say our boys were over-tired is such an understatement.  We had 3 full-fledged, crazy, non-stop melt downs.  We tried to put Parker in one of the portable cribs, but he was having non of that.  He doesn't exactly curl up and they weren't full sized, so he was not happy.  So we pushed the two full sized beds together and I held him in bed to try to get him to stop crying.  Ryder did fine in the crib, and Brady would have to but he saw Parker in bed with mommy and wanted in there too.  So, I am holding/rocking Parker trying to get him to fall asleep and Brady is crying because he is tired.  Finally Parker falls asleep.  I gently try to roll him off of me and onto the bed...and he wakes up - more furious then he was before.  I am not stressing.  I am not stressing.  Ok, I resign to the fact that he will be sleeping on me and I am not going to  have dinner or get out of my dirty travel clothes.  Jimmy also comes in because Brady is needing some attention himself.  Finally Ryder has fallen asleep.  And there we are co-sleeping to the best of our ability.  It is all a blur and to say that we were co-sleeping is really not accurate.  There wasn't much sleeping going on.  At one point Parker got switched to Jimmy and Brady came snuggling up to me with his sweaty little body.  All I really know is that I have never been so happy to see morning!

The first day of travel was a little wild, but the rest of the vacation was amazing! 

To be continued...