Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Last Thanksgiving Post

Here are the photos from Thanksgiving morning – before the balcony fiasco.  No more words for this post.  I think I used enough on the last one. . . .

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Day ~ A Balcony Photo

I really went back and forth a lot on whether I wanted to post this story, but eventually I decided to share.  So, going in reverse chronological order from my last post, here is more of our Thanksgiving holiday.

We left for Pensacola on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  We got there in time to have chili at Gary’s mom and dad’s house, then we headed to our hotel.  We got there pretty late, so we quickly put the kids in bed then started to settle in.  We had brought a bottle of red wine with us, and sat down to have a glass of wine, but the wine was not good.  So, we just put it back in the kitchen and decided to just skip it.  We left most all of our bags on the dining room table and barely unpacked, and eventually decided to just head to bed. 

Thanksgiving morning, I was up bright and early to make sure we got out to the beach early when the light was as good as possible so that I could get some good photos of the kids.   We got the kids up and dressed and quickly left.  We ate at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, then headed out to the beach for some photos.  It didn’t go as well as I had hoped, and I was particularly disappointed that I didn’t really get any photos of Penelope.  We tried – but it just didn’t work out so well for us.  Plus Henry decided that he hated sand, and Rosemary decided that she preferred to throw sand, and so on and so forth.  After the beach, we went back up to the hotel room and were going to clean up before heading to Gary’s parent’s house for our Thanksgiving meal.  Once we got to the hotel room, I told Gary that we should go out on the balcony (which was huge – really long and even had a dining table and chairs on it!) and take a photo of Gary holding Penelope with the beach in the background.  We were on the 11th floor, but I thought that it could still be a decent photo.

Of course we didn’t want to have the kids running around on the balcony, so we left them inside and went out on the balcony to take some photos.  That also didn’t go very well.  So, I said let’s just go on in and we’ll try again later.  I grabbed on to the handle of the sliding glass door and pulled.  It didn’t move.  I pulled again.  It still didn’t move.

Okay, before I get into this story any more, I want to give a bit of a statement.  A lot of you will get a kick out of this and laugh – I’ve talked to many people who have.  Some of you will feel my pain and be horrified – and again I’ve talked to a few people who felt that way as well.  I keep hearing that one day we’ll look back on this and laugh, but honestly, I can’t imagine ever laughing at this.  I can understand why other people can laugh, but having lived through it, I cannot laugh about this now or at any time in the conceivable future.  That being said, I will harbor no ill will if you choose to laugh.  Back to the story. . . .

Gary was still holding Penelope.  I took her from Gary and moved out of the way for him to open the door.  It didn’t open.  I immediately went to the sliding glass door off of our bedroom – it was locked.  Then I checked all the windows, but none of them were the kind that even opened.  Our phones were inside.  When I got back to the door, Gary was on his knees trying to talk Henry, and later Piper, into unlocking the door.  They seemed to try, but didn’t really understand what Gary was asking them to do. 

We are on the 11th floor of our hotel building.  Our 3 two-year-olds were inside a hotel room that we’d done almost nothing in other than sleep – and we had no idea what all was in there that was not childproofed.  All we could see from the balcony door was the living area and kitchen – we couldn’t see either of the bathrooms or either of the bedrooms.  And we couldn’t get to our kids.  And they couldn’t let us in.

As all of this was hitting me, I told Gary that we could either bust out a window or yell down at the folks at the pool and beach for help.  Unfortunately for us, since Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola, the hotels on the beach were required to use special hurricane glass.  As Gary said, “They could shoot a 2x4 100 mph at this window and it would bounce off.”  No way he could break the window, even if he used the furniture on the balcony.  So, the only option was to yell down for help.

Honestly, I’m still shocked at how little help the beachgoers were.  You’d think that two adults yelling for “help” off a balcony while holding a baby would get some attention, but no.  Some people would ask what we needed and then just ignore us.  FINALLY, someone listened for long enough to get our room number and then went inside for help.  But, he never came back out to let us know the status of things.  At some point, we thought that there may be someone at the door because of how Henry was acting, but they still weren’t getting in.

Then Gary reminded me that I’d deadbolted everything on the door!!  The door just had one of those lever handles, and when you just flip the main deadbolt, it releases when you pull down on the door handle.  Knowing that my kids would probably be trying to open the door at some point, I also used the latch that only allows the door to open a couple of inches. 

After what seemed like way too much time passed, we started yelling down at the pool  and beach again.  And again, we were mostly ignored.  Then I told Gary to start telling people to dial 911.  That finally got the attention of two men – one who dialed 911 from the pool and another that ran in to call. 

During all of this, we’re also watching the kids with complete free reign of an unfamiliar place.  One of the first things they did was pull the dining room chair over to the kitchen counter and start playing with all the things they usually can’t touch.  They played with our phones.  They were putting on my rings and watch, and playing with the nebulizer and breast pump.  Then they saw that bottle of red wine we’d left out, uncorked, and mostly full.  Gary was literally banging on the door screaming “NO!” and begging them not to drink it.  At some point, all three of them had some of the wine.  Thank God they didn’t like it any better than we did.  Then they found one of packets of medicine to use with the nebulizer, which is intended to be inhaled.  They managed to get one open and drank it (according to Poison Control, ingesting one packet is not a problem).  They found my gallon-sized ziploc bag that contained all the medicine we may ever need for them – Motrin, Tylenol, vitamins, Mylicon, Claritin, Singulair, etc., etc.  Thankfully, they never got any of those things opened since they were in childproof containers.

They ate two tubes of Gary’s chapstick.  Then they got Gary’s wallet and brought it over to the window to show us.  We watched them pull every card, picture, and dollar bill out of his wallet.  And we watched them start tearing everything (to be clear, at this point we were thrilled that they may tear up some money).  At one point, we couldn’t see Piper, so we asked Henry where she was.  He walked up to a closet next to the kitchen and opened it up, and Piper walked out screaming.  Apparently she had gotten in there somehow and couldn’t get out.   

All in all, we were stuck on the balcony for about an hour.  The things that were going through my mind during all this is just insane.  First and foremost, I was terrified for the safety of my kids and thought of a lot of dark things that I don’t want to ever think about again.  We are the super-safety parents who childproof everything and follow all the rules to the extreme, and yet somehow we found ourselves in this position.   

Gary stayed at the door almost the entire time (unless he was yelling down for help).  I couldn’t watch.  I’d hear someone cry or yell and I’d run over and then not be able to do anything and just walk off, leaving Gary there to watch alone.  I couldn’t bear it.  Penelope was hungry, so finally I just sat down on the outdoor dining set to nurse her.  She was oblivious that anything was going on other than her meal.  I remember sitting there thinking about how absolutely surreal it was to be doing something so normal while I was in the middle of possibly the biggest family emergency I’ve ever been in.  Then, at some point, Gary screamed, “They’re here!” and I heard the door open.  I ran in, still nursing Penelope (I didn’t think about how odd that must have been until later).  I made sure the kids were okay, then we immediately began assessing damage (exactly how many packets of the nebulizer medicine did they eat, what did they find that we didn’t see, etc.). 

I can only imagine what the folks who got in the door thought when they saw us.  Apparently, it took the building engineer to get us out because I’d deadbolted everything.  The hotel manager was also there, as well as the concierge.  They walked in and there were 3 wild two-year-olds with wine on their faces and clothes, medicine everywhere, cash everywhere, then Gary and I run in like crazy people and I was in the middle of nursing a baby.  I never even thought about crying until that point, and I started bawling.  I’m sure everyone thought we were insane, but then after all that we’d been through I imagine they’d understand. 

They left us alone pretty quickly, and Gary called Poison Control about the nebulizer medicine.  Then Gary checked the wine to see how much was missing, and it couldn’t have been much more than was on their clothes.  We all took baths, then I unpacked and cleaned everything up.  Partly because I needed some order, and partly because I wanted things to look nice when the police or social workers showed up (but for the record, no one ever showed up to interview us, which surprises me).  Finally, we were all ready and left to have our Thanksgiving meal, and it was like nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all that day, other than the fact that I kept shaking and feeling my heart race all day.

Before we left on Friday, Gary finally went over to the door to check it out.  We had assumed that the kids had somehow locked us out, but it turns out that the door latch would lock on its own when the door shook the slightest bit.  We very well could have managed to lock ourselves out when we slammed the door shut when we walked out onto the balcony.  Of course we’ll probably never know what really happened.

Thankfully, we are all okay, except that Gary and I lost a few years off of our lives.

And here’s the photo of Penelope from the balcony, which I couldn’t even bring myself to edit, right before we found out we were locked out:


Despite the beautiful baby, not worth it at all.

The next (and probably last) Thanksgiving post will be of the photos from the beach that morning, before everything went crazy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving ~ Going Backwards

I want to post about our Thanksgiving in Pensacola with Gary’s family, but have had a hard time deciding how to go about it.  I have probably 3 (perhaps 4) posts of material and photos, and way more to say than I think I can capture, but I want to try.  After a lot of thought, I decided to tell our story in reverse chronological order.  I will start with Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and work my way back.   

Friday morning we all woke up, showered, and headed to our hotel’s buffet breakfast.  We all ate, then headed out to the beach to let the kids play (and me take photos).  It was a little late when we got out there, so the sun was pretty bright.  Last year I took beach photos with my 55-200 zoom lens.  I though they were great last year, but when I looked back at them this year in preparation for this trip, I didn’t think they were as great as I remembered (I’m told it’s normal to become less satisfied with photos as time goes on and skills progress, so either that is happening or I am getting worse).  I had used my 55-200 zoom lens on Thanksgiving Day for some photos on the beach (which I will post later), so on Friday I decided to switch it up and try my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens.  Next time I’m on the beach I will only use my zoom.  The photos are fine, and I love my prime lens, especially indoors, but it just doesn’t work for me for these photos as much as my zoom lens.  Oh well, live and learn.  Here are some photos from Friday:

DSC_0287 edited cropped DSC_0285 edited croppedDSC_0290 edited cropped DSC_0292 edited cropped DSC_0303 edited cropped DSC_0307 edited DSC_0323 edited DSC_0333 edited cropped DSC_0357 edited rotated cropped

DSC_0369 croppedDSC_0373 cropped DSC_0389 rotated cropped DSC_0403 cropped DSC_0413 edited croppped DSC_0430 edited DSC_0432 edited DSC_0439 edited cropped DSC_0501 editedI hate that Penelope just cannot be in many of the photos.  She can’t sit up on her own and the kids aren’t great at holding her.  Add to that she spends a lot of time sleeping, and I just don’t take as many photos of her as I’d like.  I will definitely be making up for that some day!

After our time on the beach, we packed up and headed to Gary’s parent’s house for one last visit before we made our way home.

DSC_0521 cropped with vignette Thanks to Gary’s purchase of a couple Dora the Explorer DVDs, the drive home was as pleasant as could be expected.  That didn’t work out so well for Gary, though.  He really wanted to listen to the Alabama-Auburn game on the radio, but we can’t listen to the radio and play a DVD at the same time.  Every once in a while Gary would think that it was a good time to catch up with the game and would turn on the radio, but Rosemary and Piper would yell at Gary for “Doree” until he finally gave in and turned the DVD back on. 

More later. . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rosemary’s New Smile

I’ve recently discovered that I can ask the kids to smile and they will!!  But I wouldn’t say that the smiles I get on demand are very natural-looking.  Especially for Rosemary. . . .

DSC_0961 Baby Powder Room cropped She seriously looks like she’s in pain.

In other news, Henry is talking in sentences now!!  When I got home from work on Tuesday night, he took my keys and announced, “I go car!”  That was followed by “I got keys,” “what was that?” and “I want more!”  Rosemary is also talking in what sounds like sentences, but we just can’t make out enough of what she is saying to be sure.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Raccoons and Sentences

Our lives have been pretty "normal" lately, which is awesome. The kids are doing really well and Penelope is still a sweet, easy baby. About the most excitement lately is that, this week, the raccoon from earlier this year made another appearance, this time to the front of the house where we now keep the cat food. Our nanny told us that the other day Piper was standing at the front door, looking outside, and knocking on the door trying to get the racoon's attention. Piper was pretty excited about the raccoon. Henry and Rosemary, however, refused to even walk into the foyer. Apparently they were a little scared of the raccoon.

The kids have been in speech therapy for a while, and for the last couple of months have been in Children's Hospital's Early Intervention program for speech therapy. The kids are doing so much better with their speech -- especially the last few weeks. They also started playschool in early September, and I'm sure that helps with the kids' speech as well. Finally, just in the last month, they call Gary "Daddy" (or more accurately "Dadeeeeeee") and I'm "Mommy" (or for Henry, "Ma"). They have tons of words and try to imitate all sorts of words, so now our goal is to get them speaking two-word phrases and sentences. We've seen a little progress on that front, but we saw more progress than I ever expected this past weekend.

On Saturday, Gary was taking the kids upstairs for their baths, and Piper came up to me and said, "Bye." I told her bye, then asked her where she was going. Her response: "I going bath."

I don't think that I've ever heard any other sentence that affected me quite the way that sentence did. After so long, and so much worry, finally a SENTENCE! Forget the grammatical problems, it was a sentence. Then the next morning, on Sunday, she said all sorts of things. "They went back there." "There's a ride out there." "I like it. Pretty." Then in the following days, she said things like: "Blue is my favorite color." "I fell down." "Daddy's back!" And that is only about 5% of what she said -- we have a hard time understanding the rest -- but she is talking in sentences and we understand more and more every day. As our nanny says, Piper has a LOT to say. What is amazing to me is that Piper went from saying just one word at a time to talking in full sentences -- and mostly using pronouns and other words appropriately. Rosemary and Henry seem to be right behind Piper, and I really think we'll be hearing sentences from them very, very soon.

Last night Piper really cracked me up. She was trying to squeeze into a tight spot where Rosemary was sitting, and Rosemary didn't want her there. I don't know whether she meant to pull her hair, or whether it just happened, but Rosemary pulled Piper's hair. Piper immediately started saying, "Oh! Oh! She pulled my hair!" Now, one thing that we don't allow is for the kids to hurt each other, and they know that is a big no-no. I asked Piper who pulled her hair, and she looked down at Rosemary. Rosemary was sitting there with a little pout on her face, knowing that she was probably about to get in trouble. Piper looked at Rosemary, and looked at me, and you could tell that she was really thinking. You could almost tell that she didn't want to get Rosemary in trouble (that one time, anyway). Finally, I asked Piper again who pulled her hair. She seemed to finally come up with the right answer in her head, pointed to the front door, and said, "Raccoon!"

The kid's been talking for less than a week and we have our first fib! Too bad I was laughing too hard to explain the whole telling the truth thing to Piper. Maybe next time. . . .

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Penelope ~ Almost 3 Months

The other day, my friend Jenny told me that she enjoyed seeing our blog and the photos, but she really wanted to see more photos of Penelope.  I admit I haven’t done a great job of posting photos of Penelope.  I have taken them regularly, of course, but the kids always seem to be doing more “fun things” when Penelope mostly, well, just lays there.  And I keep meaning to put Penelope in some cute outfits and fix up a nice background then take a lot of photos of her – but it just never happens.  So, this past weekend when Penelope was smiling and talking to me, I just laid her on the rug in the living room and started snapping photos.  Here they are. . . .

DSC_0607 Baby Powder Room croppedDSC_0625 Baby Powder Room DSC_0633 Baby Powder Room cropped DSC_0638 Baby Powder Room cropped DSC_0656 Baby Powder Room DSC_0668 Baby Powder Room cropped DSC_0674 Baby Powder Room cropped Penelope is really a great baby.  She is usually happy.  She nurses when I’m around, and takes bottles of breastmilk (usually 4-6 ounces) when I’m at work or occasionally at night when Gary wants to feed her.  She appears to be gaining weight just fine.  She sleeps well, too.  October 1 was the first night of great sleeping – since then she has regularly slept 10-11 hours at night, except for maybe 3 or 4 nights when she woke up hungry.  Penelope coos to us a lot, and has started getting louder and louder with her “talking.”  I’m amazed at what a sweet, happy, and easy baby Penelope is.  I’m sure that we will pay for this easy stage at some point later, but for now we’re just enjoying it!