April 27, 2014: The Longest Day Part II

Almost four years ago, Chris and I suffered through what we now somewhat fondly recall as “the Longest Day.” Theo was a toddler and had the stomach flu, and both Chris and I woke up with it, too. It was that debilitating “I can’t move an inch or I will vomit” sort of stomach bug, and we wondered how we would care for our two-year-old when we both felt awful. The only saving grace was that Theo was sick, too, and so he spent most of the day curled up on the couch with us, napping.

This week, we had the Longest Day Part Two. If you read last week’s post, you know that Theo spent Easter Sunday sleeping and puking most of the day. Chris and I felt okay. Until Monday morning. Then we both got sick—Chris in the middle of the night and me a few hours later. By the time Theo woke up (raring to go, because he was feeling quite a bit better!) and Sam awoke (also raring to go), both Chris and I were “I can’t move or I’ll puke” sick and wondering how we were going to take care of the boys.

We strategized and formed a goal: Keep the children alive. That was it; that was all we could do. And it worked. Theo watched 12 straight hours of television (don’t judge—I challenge you to do anything else with your child when both you and your spouse can’t move or even sip water without getting sick!), which resulted in a very hyper child at bedtime. But he survived. And Sam spent the day tackling us as we laid on the floor, which was somewhat overwhelming, but we managed.

We took turns with naps, too. I took a two-hour nap when I felt like I could barely even sit up, and when I emerged Chris was a lovely shade of grayish-green, handed me Sam, went and puked, and then collapsed for a three-hour nap.

Thankfully, by Tuesday we were somewhat better. My fever was gone, and Chris was feeling quite a lot better. I still couldn’t even keep liquids in, but I was at least sitting upright and able to do more than just plop the kids in front of the TV. And by Wednesday, Chris was well enough to go back to work, and I was well enough to take Theo on a “date,” though I can’t say it was overly ambitious, and I took some Immodium before we left the house, to ensure that our date didn’t consist of me getting sick in whatever public bathroom I could find while Theo stood outside the stall asking embarrassing questions. 😉

So this is the end of our season of illness, right? I mean, I started it off in September with influenza, which is undoubtedly the most unpleasant illness I’ve had in 20 years. Then a series of fevers and colds for the next six months. And now the stomach flu. I believe that’s it for the year. I’ve reached my quota. NO MORE! You hear me, Gods of Illness? No more. I’m through.

In case you’re wondering about Sam, by the way, he either got the least sick of all of us, or he didn’t get it at all. We think he may have been the one to originally get it, but if he did, he has the mildest case. He threw up once on the Thursday night before the rest of us got it (Theo Saturday night and Chris and I on Monday morning), but that was it. And he wasn’t particularly fussy, nor did he have a fever. Just one random vomiting episode that had no obvious cause. Still, in retrospect, he may have had the stomach bug. That may also be why he abruptly stopped nursing a few days before that—perhaps his tummy was upset. Which makes me feel rather bad about weaning him, but now that we’re almost two weeks into it, I’m not turning back.

One bummer about the stomach flu (other than, you know, the obvious puking and such!) is that Theo missed his Lego camp. He was really bummed, but he certainly couldn’t go Monday, and I didn’t feel well enough to take him Tuesday. So I was able to get a partial credit for the class, and we ended up spending his Spring Break at home. We had fun, though. On Wednesday Sam had Early Intervention in the morning, so I told Theo we were going to have a mother-son date. He was in heaven, although he wasn’t feeling 100% yet, so I don’t think he enjoyed it quite as much as he might’ve normally. Still, it was good to have one-on-one time with him, and I know he had fun. We went to a used sporting-goods store, where I got him a basketball that he is using to practice with the basketball hoop we got him for his birthday. Then we went to downtown Walnut Creek to browse the bookstore, where we picked out two new chapter books for Theo and a picture book for Sam. Then we had lunch “at the vegetable place, where I can have Brussels sprouts!” at Theo’s request. (Yes, no joke, he requests Brussels sprouts. That’s my boy!! Though I can’t be smug about it—my other boy ate BBQ chips for breakfast that day. No joke.) Then we rode a couple of elevators because…well, you know Theo and elevators. Then it was time to pick up Sam. So we had a lovely morning together!

And Chris did a father/son date with Theo on Friday (Chris took a vacation day so I could get some work done) while Sam was at Early Intervention, too. They went to breakfast, where Theo demolished two scrambled eggs, four pieces of bacon, a fruit cup, and three packets of jelly, which I’m told he ate with a spoon! 🙂 Then they went to Half-Price Books, where Chris told Theo he could pick out a book or a CD. Theo promptly picked out a CD of marching music, which he insisted that he needs to bring to my aunt and uncle’s house, so that they can march with us! (More on that later….) So we’ve been hearing a lot of “Stars & Stripes Forever” lately. Good thing I like that song—though not quite at the deafening volume that Theo likes!

On another Spring Break morning, I took the boys to a park in Walnut Creek for some playtime, which was fun. Theo, however, is a perfectionist who was very irritated that he couldn’t make a basket in the adult-sized basketball hoops at the park, despite me explaining that they are sized for adults, not six-year-olds. He was rather bent out of shape about it, but I finally distracted him enough to enjoy the playground for a while.

We also did lots of science experiments and some household tasks over Spring Break—Theo helped me make homemade laundry detergent and homemade dishwasher detergent! So all in all, we had a nice Spring Break despite it starting out with vomit and not really going as planned. I even finished the first draft of my third book (it’s a guide to help kids start up a blog), so woohoo for that! I have two more to hammer out in the next few weeks, along with all of my normal editing work. Going to be a very busy May! But you know what? That’s okay. I’ve made my peace with being insanely busy because…we’re going on vacation!!!!

So, I mentioned that we won a week-long stay at a resort of our choice through Theo’s school, right? Well, I’ve been doing some researching, and we discovered that our options were somewhat limited. The certificate can only be used to book travel 59 days ahead, and a lot of the resorts book up much more than 59 days out, especially in the summer. (One we were really interested in is already booked all the way into November!) We thought about waiting until winter, when things likely wouldn’t book up as fast, but then you have to deal with possible bad weather, flight delays, etc. Plus, there are a lot of places that we wouldn’t really want to travel in the winter, due to weather.

We thought about fall, too, but that would mean pulling Theo out of school. And while we’re not opposed to that, it seemed wiser to do it in kindergarten, which isn’t even mandatory in the state of California, than to do it in first grade, where the focus on academics is much greater. Plus, it’s been a long several months for all of us—Chris and I working a lot, Theo hating school, various members of the family being sick all the time—so we decided we could really use a vacation. Okay, let’s go in June, we decided!

Only one problem: Not much available in June. California was pretty much all booked except for Palm Springs, and I don’t happen to like Palm Springs much. (It’s really hot. I’m not a huge fan of heat unless there’s lovely scenery or lots of water to go along with it.) Everything else required a plane flight, and plane flights are very expensive. The most likely options for us were Hawaii and Florida.

I was interested in Hawaii, having never been there. We worried about the heat/sun with Sam (Theo at least will wear a hat), but we figured we could stay inside or in the shade during the hottest parts of the day and visit the beach in the morning or evening. And the idea of a relaxing little condo in a gorgeous setting sounded very appealing. Plus, when else would we have free lodging in Hawaii? Only one problem: Airfare was roughly $1,000/person. Okay, not going to happen.

How about Florida? Disney World!! Well, Disney World would be perfect for Theo at this age, but Sam wouldn’t get much out of it. Plus, June would be hot and crowded. And Disney is phenomenally expensive for entertainment. And plane tickets were about $600/person. Nope, not going to happen.

So then I got the idea to look in late May and see if anything else was available. And voila!! I found it! The perfect vacation for us! Ready to hear what it is?! Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia! It was totally booked in June (and later), but there was availability in the end of May. (I’m guessing because school isn’t yet out for the summer.) Plane tickets to DC weren’t cheap by any means, but the entertainment in Williamsburg will be a lot cheaper than at Disney World. Okay, let’s do it!

I used to book all of our travel stuff myself, but one of Chris’s good friends runs his own travel agency business now, and we like to send work his way, so I enlisted his help. And boy, am I glad I did! For the cost I found for airfare alone, he was able to get us airfare (better flight times than I found—and straight-through flights!) plus rental car (a small SUV, whereas I thought we were going to have to wedge into a compact car to save money) plus two nights of hotel in Washington DC before our timeshare stay starts. Wheeee!

So, we’ll actually be flying out, spending two nights in DC, then spending a week in a timeshare, then spending two nights in western Virginia, visiting my aunt and uncle, and then one final night in DC before our flight home. We are so excited! And we can’t wait to explore Williamsburg! Most of you have probably already heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it’s a colonial town in Virginia where they have all sorts of re-creations and activities based on colonial times. Kids can learn to do blacksmithing and all sorts of activities and games from the revolutionary period, there are family-friendly tours and re-creations of battles, people dressed in period costumes lead you through history about the war, the colonies, and daily life during that time—really, there’s no end to the number of things to do with a kid Theo’s age there. (Sam is too young to appreciate it, but he’s a pretty easygoing sort who will go along for the ride.) Kids can learn bricklaying, colonial gardening, carpentry, life on a plantation, military life, millinery, wig-making, and tailoring. You can even visit Jamestowne, the first permanent colony in North America.

Our timeshare is in a little complex that is kid-friendly, too, with a fun kids’ pool with an awesome-looking slide and water basketball (Theo’s going to love it!), as well as a game room and a playground. And two of the Rockin’ Moms from my Facebook group live in the general area, and we have tentative plans to see both of them. One lives in Virginia Beach, and her husband is a a fighter pilot for the military and can’t be more than 30 minutes from home in case he gets called for duty, so she’s invited us out to Virginia Beach (it’s just an hour drive for us) for a beach day with her kiddos, one of whom is Sam’s age (and has DS, not that he cares about that one way or the other—but that’s how I got to know her!). We’re hoping to also get to see Chris’s good college friend (who has three kids of her own) while we’re in DC, too. And we can’t wait to go see my aunt and uncle in Lexington—they haven’t yet met Sam, and Theo and my Uncle David are like two peas in a pod, despite not technically sharing any DNA. (It boggles the mind how an eighty-something and a six-year-old who share no genetic tie can be so similar, but somehow they are.)

So…yay!! Suddenly my burnout is gone, and I’m powering through the next four weeks in the knowledge that I’m earning money so we can go on this wonderful vacation! (Because even though the lodging is free, which is awesome, there’s still the matter of airfare, some hotel stuff, rental car, etc. So yeah…I definitely need to keep up the pace around here!)

When we told Theo that we’d be going to Virginia, his immediate response was, “In July?” I said, “No, we have to go in May, so you’ll have to miss a week and a half of school.” He immediately yelled in elation, “YES!!!! That is the BEST IDEA EVER!!!!!” Ha ha, I wonder if his teacher will be saying the same thing, seeing as he’s been giving her quite a run for her money lately. 😉

His second response was to start jabbering about his meeting with Barack Obama. When I broke the news that we wouldn’t actually be meeting the president, he was quite disappointed. He has a lot to say to the man, apparently. All good—Theo is a big fan of Obama. In case you’re wondering why—because yes, Chris and I voted for and support Obama, but we don’t discuss politics with our six-year-old!—it’s because Barack Obama is the only president who is smiling on Theo’s presidential placemat. Thus, he is a big fan. 🙂

Anyway, we are very excited and can’t wait to go! Flying with Sam at this age should be interesting, but we have good flight times and nonstop flights, so we’ll make it work.

In other exciting news, Sam’s walking has really taken off! He is regularly taking five or six steps at a time. Usually it’s when prompted, but on a couple of occasions I’ve seen him purposely take steps to something, rather than dropping to his knees and crawling over to it. Chris and I can’t help but wonder if this sudden development has anything to do with him starting thyroid medicine. We know several people whose kids with DS have experienced exciting developments shortly after starting thyroid treatment, so we can’t help but wonder! It could just be that he was finally ready to do it, or it could be that the thyroid help finally gave him that nudge he needed to take a step (literally!). Here’s a video of him walking for your viewing pleasure. The first half is mostly him refusing to walk, but the second half is pretty priceless. 🙂

He has also finally started drinking out of a sippy cup. (I know, I know…people are anti-sippy cups now. But if your kid isn’t willing to drink out of anything, you do what you gotta do.) Again, we wonder if the development has anything to do with the thyroid treatment. He’s still not drinking a lot, and he frequently chokes on the water, but he’s at least interested in doing it and capable of doing it now. Wheeeeee!

And speaking of developments, Theo is actually playing very, very simple songs on the piano now! Just little two-note songs, but he’s counting out the timing and very excited to be playing songs. He practices several times a day for short periods of time without me even reminding him, which is great to see! (I’m still taking lessons, too. Mostly working on simple classical pieces—it’s such a nice, relaxing pastime for me. I’m so glad we got the piano, even if it’s in rough shape!)

Our weekend was pretty low-key. We’re trying to save money before our trip, so we wanted to do mostly free things. Thus, Saturday was a trip to a local park, and so was Sunday. On Sunday, though, we met a bunch of Sam’s buddies through Down Syndrome Connection at the park for an informal playgroup. Many of the kids were a bit older than Sam, which is always fun to see. A little glimpse into the future! One of the moms of a nonverbal five-year-old gave me a tip on a great communication app for the iPad that she says is good for kids Sam’s age, so I’m definitely going to check that out. Sam is having a lot of tantrums lately, and easily 90% of them appear to stem from frustration that he can’t communicate with us very well yet. So I’m all about any sort of idea that will help him communicate more effectively with us!

Last bit of big news around here: I completed my Couch-to-5K running program! I actually ran five kilometers on Sunday morning! I was slow but steady, and I made it!! Now I’m going to work on speed and endurance (because I was nearly dying by the end of it!) for a while, and then I think I’m going to tackle the 10K program and see if I can do that. Even though running isn’t really easy for me (I’m just not built that way, I guess), I really enjoy the chance to be alone with some music for 40 minutes, three times a week. That alone is worth the effort—and the added health effects are a nice side bonus. 🙂

Happy week, all! Here’s a big farewell to cold and flu season, which I’m thinking positively about and saying is finally over!!! I leave you with a video of dancing Sam (who is apparently a Jim Croce fan) and the usual image gallery….

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