On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Monday, October 27, 2008

Traveling with Children - The Original Adventure

Tom doesn't have much memory of his early childhood. I don't think his parents have talked about it much either. However, our plane trip to Hawaii with two small children must have started his mom reminiscing because she recently relayed the story of their immigration trip to the US. We thought you might enjoy hearing it as it was more of an adventure than any of us will probably ever have...

When Tom's parents married, his mom had no idea where her future would lead her. After a few years of marriage, his dad informed his mom that it was his belated grandfather's wish that the family would immigrate to the US. (Most of Tom's dad's family had already immigrated to the US.) She had always thought her life would be in Taiwan with her family. (All of her family was in Taiwan.) So his dad moved by himself a year earlier to prepare the way to bring the rest of the family. Next, came his grandma. This left Tom's mom to make the venture herself with 3 children under the age of 5. It was December of 1972, Tom would be turning 5 in a few weeks and his siblings were about 2 1/2 (almost the same age as C-boy is now). Tom's mom shared that she had never flown on an airplane and really had no idea what to expect...not even fully acknowledging how long the flights would be. She was on her own to take the kids through all of the initial preparations - going to the US consulate for VISA interviews, packing, etc. At the time, there was no international airport in the southern part of Taiwan, where they lived, so they had to travel north to Taipei before beginning their journey around the world. His mom's family accompanied them to Taipei. Grandma, aunts, and uncle were all there to say goodbye. I asked what kind of emotions they were all experiencing and she told us that there were lots of tears and sadness that she was taking the grandchildren so far away. She said her family was very concerned (having never been on an airplane) that she would dare to have the boldness to take her children internationally by herself. She said that she made cardboard name tags for each child and hung hem around each of their necks in case they got lost. I cannot even imagine the feelings that she must have been experiencing. She had 3 children, luggage, and no stroller, a huge communication gap... and no help. Almost 36 years ago, what type of fancy children's traveling gear was there to help a parent? Would any of us even think of attempting such a trip? She said that Tom and his brother were very well behaved for the flight but his sister had a hard time. She was very blessed by an Asian couple who sat behind them on the plane and helped with her by walking her up and down the aisles of the airplane throughout the long flight. We are guessing that they must have had to travel at a minimum 24 + hours. They flew from Taipei to Seattle to Chicago and finally to New York City. In Seattle, Tom's mom attempted to take the children to the bathroom. She didn't realize how soon the connecting flight to Chicago was leaving, but fortunately, one of the flight attendants came searching for them. She found them just in time and snatched his sister up, while mom carried his brother and dragged Tom by the hand running to catch the flight for the next leg of their journey. Eventually she made it through her ordeal and reached her new life in New York City.

We asked her if in retrospect she thought it was worth it and if she had any regrets. We asked her if she had the chance to choose again, would she have done it. She said, "Yes". What she then said was what we feel to be the ultimate love story of a parent's love for their children. In her words she did not express a single thought of any benefit for herself in this new life she had flown to. She said that while Tom's dad had reasons for immigrating to the US, the one overriding thought that allowed her to give up the security of being near her entire family and gave her the courage to leave her homeland with 3 kids in tow was the hope that her children would have the opportunity for better lives in America. She said she kept reminding herself throughout the trip, no matter what was happening, that it was all for the children. We watched her gaze back deep into her memories as she relayed this story. We caught a glimpse of her inner strength in the look of her eyes as she pictured herself young once again, flying alone in the prime of her life with her 3 little children on a fantastic voyage from Taiwan to the United States. In her mind's eye, she saw that indeed her dream for her children had been realized. The bright future she hoped for them was secured, as she nodded approvingly of who they had become.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cold & Flu Season Strikes

Unfortunately, one of the souvenirs Libby & I brought home from Hawaii was some kind of icky cold. Actually, Caedmon was sick with something similar a week or so before we left and then, Tom came down with it a few days prior to boarding the plane. His mom seemed to share in the wealth although our only clue to that is her cough. A few days before leaving Kauai, the virus seemed to think it was my turn and I started coughing and running a low grade fever. Then, Libby joined in the coughing. No fun! However, we have been blessed with kids that handle sickness really well. Caedmon has always been a trooper. Even when he had a bad case of the flu last winter, he was just a more subdued version of his sweet self. This past illness turned into an ear infection. I almost had to beg the pediatrician to see us because she was convinced that he sounded too happy to have an ear infection. I got in based on the fact that we were getting on a plane in less than a week...and sure enough, an ear infection it was. Libby, too, has been a very mellow sick baby. She has been sleepier than usual and she's coughing and has icky stuff coming from her eyes, but other than that, she's a happy little girl - smiling, cooing and practicing her newly mastered skill of rolling from back to belly. How is it that kids can be so unfazed by sickness? The adults in the family do not do as well. Tom calls his response to illness "cocoon mode." He retreats from the world, puts on every piece of clothing known to man, and tucks deeply under the covers not to reemerge until he feels well again. I, on the other hand, prefer to be pampered. My mode of recovery would be to get into my comfiest clothes, sit on the couch watching movies or mindless TV, napping as the mood strikes, while someone brings me hot tea and other get well goodies. Of course, as a mommy, this is not reality so instead I catch a nap when I can and pretend to feel okay while griping in my mind about how lousy I really feel. I guess Tom & I could take lessons from our children. I am sure that how they handle illness is only one of the many things we will learn from them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Flying with Children

Tom and I always hoped that our children would add to the experience and adventure of travel rather than detract from it. We both get antsy if we haven't been on a trip for a while. We held out for 10.5 months this year before beginning our journeys. We love to explore new places and sometimes even visit our favorite haunts again. Our travels are modeled in some fashion after our friends Tom and Maureen and their willingness and skill in traveling with their two girls. They are amazing adventurers. Imagine long bike trips with an infant in tow, camping in the snow with a baby...You get the picture. They are also extremely adept packers. The four of them come to visit us for a week with just one suitcase and a small backpack each. That's just 5 pieces of luggage for 7 days (if you include the backpacks)! I am almost positive that they traveled to Japan with about the same amount of luggage, too.

Before Caedmon and Libby came along, we watched in awe and aspired to have such brave and adventurous spirits when we had kids. Tom started coaxing me to pack lighter and lighter (I just got back from a vacation in which I packed NO makeup! It was to the beach, though.) We broke Caedmon into traveling at a very early age (8 weeks) with a trip to Pittsburgh. Fortunately, he has proven to be an excellent traveler and we have since dragged him around the world (Hawaii several times, Peru, and Taiwan, as well as several states). Not to be deterred by baby #2, we recently embarked on our first adventure as a family of 4 (actually, 5 since we took Tom's mom with us - there is much to be said for an extra pair of hands). We just returned from a wonderful, relaxing (that's somewhat relative) week away in Kauai, one of our favorite vacation destinations. We plan to share all about our adventures, but I thought I'd start out with a quick post on the airplane segment of our trip.

As I already said, packing light was our intention and I think we succeeded. For the 4 of us, we had just one suitcase plus a backpack each for Tom, Caedmon & me. We also brought the Mountain Buggy all-terrain stroller (invaluable for the rugged terrain and sandy beaches of Kauai) and 2 car seats (we learned from previous experience that renting car seats from a car rental company is a poor sacrifice of a child's safety just for our convenience). We checked the car seats and the lone suitcase (I knew there was a reason we strive to reach American Airlines Gold status every year - free luggage check-in is definitely a perk). This left Tom with a backpack and pushing Caedmon in the stroller and me with a backpack and carrying Libby in the Ergo. Tom's mom had her own luggage to contend with. When we boarded the plane, Tom had the fun job of gate checking the stroller, which left me boarding with both kids. Since Libby was in the carrier, it was easy. As we walked through first class to get to our cabin, a lady loudly and emphatically expressed her wariness about me traveling with two little ones. I politely smiled and commented that they are good travelers. I was hoping that Libby would prove this true and secretly glad that she wouldn't be witness if it weren't the case. While we have had nothing but positive travel experiences with Caedmon, I was a little worried about traveling with both kids. Libby can be as sweet as pie but she can be equally as feisty and I wasn't sure how she'd handle an airplane. I was hoping that it wouldn't be anything that nursing couldn't quiet. As we settled into our seats, the lady across the aisle made a comment about the days when she could drug her kids on long plane rides. That didn't help to settle my concerns about the impending 8 hour flight.

This is only our third flight with Caedmon in his own seat. We decided to try the CARES child restraint instead of a car seat. It's an adapter for the airplane seat belt to make it a 5 point harness. As always, Caedmon proved to be an amazing traveler. He was so excited to fly on an airplane. It had been almost a year since our last flight and he's been itching to fly on a plane, talking about it every time we go to pick someone up at the airport. He was so ramped up that it took him a long time to settle down and take a nap. On the other hand, Tom and I had spent a lot of time (and money) stocking up on in-flight entertainment for him and we didn't really need to use any of it. (We have not yet succumbed to the use of DVDs for inflight entertainment/control of Caedmon. We know we will someday, but right now we want him to learn that there are rules and expectations in the grown-up world that even an almost 2.5 year old needs to follow.) Overall, he was just happy to talk with us and look at his surroundings.

I am relieved to report that Libby is also a great traveler! She was mostly content and easily distracted by nursing. She slept a good bit and spent a little time with Nai Nai (Tom's mom), too. She also loved trying to get other people on the plane to smile at her.

Both kids performed like pros. I am going to attribute this to the many prayers that I know were being sent up by us and for us. On our trip home there were at least two very unhappy babies on board and I was VERY relieved that neither one shared our last name.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Name Game

Caedmon has a new game. It goes like this:

Caedmon: "What's her name?"
Me:           "Minnie Mouse?"
Caedmon: "No! (lots of laughter) It's [Elizabeth Malise]!"
Me:           "Oh...you're right. She is [Elizabeth Malise]."
Caedmon: "What's her name?"
Me:           "Snow White?"
Caedmon: "No! (lots of laughter) It's [Elizabeth Malise]!"

...You get the picture. Currently this is his very favorite game and he can play for a long time. The longer we play, the louder the laughter and the more slurred Libby's name becomes.

3.5 Months

I've been posting a lot about Caedmon lately so I thought I should do an update on Libby. She is now 3 1/2 months old. Where has the time gone? For me it has been both fast and slow. It seems really fast when I look at her and see her fitting into 3-6 month clothes, holding her head high, and interacting with us. However, it seems slow when I register my lack of sleep and the struggles of understanding her needs and wants. Overall, she is a definite blessing to our family. I look forward to the months and years to come as we see even more how she fits with us. Her personality is just starting to emerge. When I look at Caedmon, I stand in wonder thinking of all he's learned over the past 2 + years and I can't even fathom what Libby will be like when she is the same age.

She is VERY different from Caedmon. Although I don't claim to have a full grasp of her personality yet, I'm starting to pick up on more and more hints of who she is. She is full of personality and definitely a people person. She does not like to be alone. If we leave her somewhere (i.e. her swing or playmat) and walk away, she will only be happy for a few seconds, but as long as someone is nearby she will play contentedly for much longer and is even happier if that person is interacting with her. When we are out and about, she will not sleep. I remember Caedmon sleeping through full shopping trips or dinners out. Not Libby. If she senses that there are people who may interact with her, she's awake and flashing her smiles. She, especially, loves her brother. When Caedmon is around, she is watching him and often smiling and cooing to get his attention. He knows he's her audience. Yesterday, out of the blue, he announced, "She loves me."

Her sleep routine is beginning to fall into place. She is not the best napper yet, but we can count on bedtime at 7:30. She tends to start getting fussy at dinner time and by 7 pm we better be heading toward bath time. She LOVES her baths. She can be in full out melt down mode and once we put her in the water it is all smiles and splashing good fun.

The good thing is she can be fairly flexible with sleep when we are out. I had a meeting on Tuesday night and had to bring her with me to feed her (another issue I'll discuss further on) but it would mean that she was up past her bedtime. I was prepared for the worst, but once she fussed for a while, she was perfectly happy to make herself the center of attention, charming everyone with her smiles and tricks. She was definitely ready for bed by the time we got home at 9:30 and was willing to skip her bath to head straight to her crib. She's starting to make longer stretches at night, too. Most of the time she can make it to the middle of the night 2:30 or 3 and then not wake again til almost morning. I'm still holding out for better days ahead but the early bedtime makes it all a bit better.

She has a strong will. Daytime napping is a struggle because she does not go down quietly. She cries long and loud and then finally gives in to her need for sleep. It is not fun to listen to her cry but we've found that it is the only way she will sleep. If we try to coax her to sleep, she stays awake for the interaction. She often tries to trick us into thinking that she's really not that tired. However, I have learned that 1 1/2 to 2 hours of awake time is about her limit. At least, we're learning. Another illustration of her strong will is our eating dilemma. This week she is refusing to take a bottle. I breastfeed but we have always tried to give her bottles as well. A month or so ago, she started getting a little funny about the bottle and I was having trouble pumping enough milk so we slacked off. However, I need a break so we decided to make bottle feeding a daily part of her routine. On Saturday I used formula for a trip to the zoo. Libby drank all of it. However, on Sunday, Tom tried the bottle again. This time with breast milk. Well, Miss Libby refused the bottle and went on a 6 hour hunger strike. Any time she even sees the bottle coming near her she screams. I'm a more than a bit frustrated by this experience and my Internet research does not offer me much hope. However, I am praying (and appreciate any other prayers) that she will come around and be willing to take just one bottle a day.

Caedmon has always been Mr. Easy Going. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was even demonstrated in his physical development. He was so content to just hang out that he didn't even roll over until he was over 6 months old. Libby, on the other hand, has already mastered rolling over from front to back and is really close to rolling back to front. I have a feeling that even Caedmon's monkey climbing, jumping and running have not prepared me for what our little angel is gearing up to do!

I'm sure there's much more I could say but I think I've presented a pretty good picture of our baby girl. She keeps us on our toes but we love her more than words can say.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Talking to Jesus

Tom is working a 24 hour shift today. I don't really mind when he has one of these long days since it almost always means he has the next day off. However, weekends always seem longer than weekdays...especially since everyone else's husband/daddy is home on the weekend so I have to figure out creative friendless ways to entertain my kiddos. Fortunately, my friend's husband was working today, too, so she and her two kids were able to join us on a zoo outing today.

Caedmon LOVES the zoo! He loves the animals and the train! On the way there this morning, he was telling me all of the animals he would like to see. For some reason, he got stuck on the penguins. We rarely make it all the way to see the penguins. We have a yearly membership so we try to get to the zoo often but most of the time we only stay an hour or so and focus on the monkeys, elephants, hippos and other big animals near the zoo entrance. Today, I had decided we would do as much as we could so penguins were added to the list.

After discussing the zoo animals, Caedmon got quiet for a while. Out of the blue, he said, "I love Jesus." Of course, I want to encourage this so I told him that I, too, love Jesus. The dialogue progressed and Caedmon asked if Jesus was with us. I told him that, yes, Jesus is always with us. "Is He in the backseat, mommy?" Not quite sure how to answer that, I affirmed again that Jesus is always with us and began to pray that God will give me wisdom in teaching my 2 year old about Himself and His Son. Thinking the conversation was likely over, I was surprised to hear C-aedmon's small voice chirp again, "I want to talk to Jesus now, mama." Of course, I encouraged him, telling him that Jesus is always listening. Here is a paraphrase of what followed:

"Jesus, we're going to the zoo to see penguins. Pappy was here. We fixed the broken light bulb. I saw the fire trucks last week."

I pray that my boy always feels so comfortable talking to Jesus. I, also, pray that I will be a wise mama in teaching him about our Savior and Lord...and that he will choose to put Jesus in the "front seat" of his life.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Forever Friends

"That's my friend."

Since before Libby was born, we have talked to Caedmon about the blessing of having a sibling. Neither Tom nor I are very close to our own siblings (although my relationship with my sisters has become closer as we've become adults). We really want Caedmon & Libby to have a positive relationship and value each other. I know they will have fights and sibling rivalries but I pray that overall they will love and appreciate each other. One of the things I tell Caedmon is that God has blessed him with Libby and she will be his friend for life. (I used to say his friend forever, but recently he has become very interested in what people are named and he saw a picture of Milla Jovavich's baby, Ever. Now, if I say the word "FOREVER", he says "There's a baby named Ever.") Several times over the past week, Caedmon has expressed his feelings about Libby. Once, he was watching her play and he said, "I love her." Today, we were hanging out on my bed and he put his arm around her and said, "That's my friend."
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