Monday, June 20, 2016

11 Months Old: Bobby Pants

Here we go getting all close to his one year birthday before Mommy is even ready for it.  He seems so young for 11 months since he isn't walking along furniture yet or really even pulling up regularly.  If he does pull up on something he is too scared to get down and does a terrible screechy cry.  He will try, but then he gets shaky and pops back up to call for help.  He is crawling very well on all fours more often than the scoot.

Anyway, he is moving along in some areas, but not as much as I had hoped.  He has learned to say a few new words.  Here are all his words to date.

All done (with sign!)

"All done" has been the biggest deal because he does the sign with it and has done it the most consistently of all the words.

He is playing peek-a-boo by holding something in front of his face and moving it away while I say, "Where is Bobby?"  "Peek-a-boo!  There he is."

This is a very special picture.  Ann helped bring Bobby into this world AND this is in front of our old house in Maryland!

Just a week ago, Bobby handed me something.  This was on his evaluation test, but he had not done it before and wouldn't do it for the evaluators.  He also will show me his tongue when I ask most of the time.  And he learned to clap today at exactly 11 months old!

His eating has been a little tiny bit better.  I have given him a meltable solid (i.e. Baby rice cracker that gets soft when gummed or chewed and breaks off.)  He did not throw it up, but neither did he swallow it.  He moved the pieces out of his mouth with his tongue.  I am still giving him the mesh baby feeder with a variety of foods in it that he can chew and suck until there is not much left inside.  A few times there have been banana strings or weensy pieces of food that are normally gag inducing sized things for him.  He has not thrown up those pieces, but has pushed them out with his tongue as well.  The times this month that he threw up were due to me feeding him a baby food that he can usually handle in possibly too big of bites or too quickly.  He did have some very smooth guacamole successfully.  He also learned to suck the food out of pouches which is great because that is much faster.  Another new thing that I am trying is to incorporate more spice and seasoning into his food since he has such a bland diet with baby food.  So, I am adding crushed pepper or hot sauce to his baby foods.  He has even pushed out of his mouth a piece of cracked pepper that was too big for his liking.

This little guy loves his brothers and sisters.  He lights up, squeals, and sometimes has a near conniption when his siblings walk into the room.

Bobby has perfected his "stink eye" look that he gives just about all adults and some older kids.  It's a pretty mean face, but somehow endearing and adorable at the same time.  If he doesn't do the stink eye, then he looks down so that it looks like his eyes are closed and frowns.  These looks are usually followed by burying his head in my shoulder and sometimes going so far as to hook his arm under my bra strap.  It's a crazy shy behavior.  I wonder if he'll grow out of it.  It seems to have mostly replaced his weird blinky thing that we thought was a seizure.  I much prefer this to the blinky thing.

He's been an excellent traveler.  He recovered from the jetlag remarkably fast, in four or five days he was back to sleeping through the night.  Although he's turned over a few dog water bowls and cannot seem to leave the robot vacuum alone, he is doing pretty well being away from home for so long.  Most of this month and last has been spent away from home.  This probably is affecting his development as well since Bobby seems to be a timid, shy, laid back little dude.

As laid back as he has been as an infant, in just the last week he's started this screeching and thrashing about randomly.  I imagine this is frustration with not being able to tell us what he wants yet, but suddenly very deeply wanting things.  He really hasn't cared much one way or another, but now he cares.  He is also biting me on the arm or shoulder when I am holding him.  I am putting him down if he does this if it is possible to take away attention and hopefully stop the behavior before it gets too habitual.  When I do that he usually screams for about 10 seconds and then crawls off to play.  No sure if it's working.

I didn't mean to end on a bad note.  Bobby is a precious angel most of the time and he LOVES to go outside, bubbles, and splashing in the tub or pool!  His smile is amazing even if his stink eye is more common.  And of course, his laugh is to die for.  Love you, Bobby!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Nevers, France

On our way back home from Lourdes, we stopped in Nevers.  We decided to stay in the convent where St. Bernadette lived out the rest of her life after becoming a nun and was buried to complete our pilgrimage.  We had to get two rooms.  Brian and the boys were in the room with bunk beds, and the girls, Bobby and I were in the room with three single beds.  They were across from each other at the end of a hallway with a table in between.  We arrived so late and had not had dinner yet.  At the table was a lady who spoke German.  She started a conversation with us and couldn't believe that we hadn't had anything for dinner.  She asked if the girls could go with her down to ask for some bread.  She took them, and Brian went to order a pizza with the man who checked us in.  The German lady came back with the bread and the girls.  Then she went and retrieved some jam and wine from her room to give us.  She was so very kind and helpful.  The pizza arrived and it was Dominoes!  How funny to have Dominoes pizza in France.  It was delicious and a welcomed taste of America after many months of only having European food.  Drew, however, didn't eat but a corner of his pizza before saying his stomach hurt and he didn't want anymore.  After we finished our pizza, we went to our separate rooms to go to bed.

The boys' room had the bunk bed, the trundle bed, and a full sized bed too.

This was Judah's first night ever in a real bed!  I just didn't want to lug in two pack-n-plays for just one night.  He did great!

The Girls' Room
The next morning when I went to get the boys up for breakfast, I found a very sick Drew and a very tired husband.  Drew had thrown up while Brian was brushing his teeth right after we had went our separate ways the night before.  He threw up for around 7 hours at least once an hour.  My amazing husband let me sleep through the whole thing!  Poor guys.  Alas, our plans to walk the grounds of the convent that morning after the complementary breakfast were foiled by the rain (pouring down rain!) and our plans to go to Mass there and visit St. Bernadette's incorrupt body now turned into a quick visit of her body after packing and loading the car.  We put Drew in Judah's stroller and stopped in the chapel on the way out.

St. Bernadette
After we all were in the van, Brian made a quick run around the grounds in the rain in search of this statue.  He took some pictures for us.  It really was raining, but you can't really tell in the pictures.  I think it must have slowed down a bit.  I just remember running to  the van in the rain and being really cold.

This is the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes that St. Bernadette thought better represented the woman that appeared to her.

And that was that.  We headed home with a quick grocery store trip to load us up with some lunch and snacks.  Drew didn't throw up anymore, but he wasn't too hungry and he slept a lot of the way home.  That sweet boy never complained.  We were so proud of him being so tough in a hard situation.  Our only other adventure was when the tape came loose from all the rain and the plastic on the window came loose.  We had to pull over and tape it back up again.  Hannah kind of panicked, but it was really no big deal.  We joke that we all have a bit of PTSD from the whole window shattering shenanigans, but Hannah has it the worst.

I lived in fear that someone else would get the stomach bug all week.  Hannah and I had a stomach ache and lost our appetites for a few days, but then just when I thought we were in the clear being a whole week out from Drew's bug Genevieve got it.  Same thing, puking for about seven hours.  The next afternoon Judah got it, but only threw up and felt bad for about two hours.  The last time he threw up it got in his hair.  When I put him in the bath tub he told me he was all better, and though he didn't have an appetite for a few days he was done with the bug.  As I write this no one else has come down with it.  That is a total miracle.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lourdes, France

"How was Lourdes?" everyone wants to know.  It was amazing and brought me closer to Our Lady on many levels.  Everything from the Grotto where St. Bernadette met Our Lady to the frigid, unwet water of Lourdes to the bells chiming the beginning of the Ave Maria on the half hour just pointed your soul toward Mary who in turn always points us toward her son, Our Lord.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception appears to rise out of the rocks of the Grotto.
First, we started with Mass in St. Joseph's chapel, followed by a tour of the Domain by the Knight's off Columbus.  I particularly like the Lourdes Medical Bureau where you can see the 69 proven miracles and all about the process in which they sift through all of the of cases submitted.  You can read more about it here.

You can see how the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was built on top of the Grotto.

The Grotto has Mass nonstop in rotating languages.

Inside the Underground Basilica, AKA Basilica of Pope Pius X, it can hold 25,000 worshipers, but it doesn't actually have that many seats.  I'm not sure if they bring in what they think they need at the time.  When we went to Mass there on Sunday morning, we had to sit on the ground or stand.

The next day we went to the baths first thing in the morning.  I was very on the fence about whether or not to do the baths after reading a couple of things about it on the internet.  I was mostly nervous about the whole being naked in public thing, but I was assured by many that it was done very modestly and tastefully.  Brian and I thought that we would have to switch off and take turns because of Bobby and Judah, but they insisted that the kids could go with us.  We split up the way we usually do.  The girls went with me and Bobby, and the other boys went with Brian in the men's line.  Turns out having the kids go with us was the best thing because you get to go in a separate line specifically for women and children or men and children.  We were the first ones in that line so it wasn't a long wait at all.

When it turned nine o'clock, they opened with a prayer.  Then we were taken into a small room with a curtain to pull and divide it off in the middle.  The curtain was open and we could see the baths, one was a small child sized stone bath and one was a long shallow stone bath that had steps going down into it.  There were at least six ladies (maybe more) in there waiting to help us.  The girls and I put our things down.  I undressed Bobby, and while a helper watched him on the changing table another helper helped me get undressed by holding a cape out as a curtain.  The girls each had separate helpers too.  Once we were undressed, they put the capes around us and one around Bobby.  We were led closer to the baths and they puled the curtains.  The lady helpers led us in a Hail Mary in front of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Genevieve was the very first person of the day into the bath.  One helper removed the cape as another helper immediately wrapped a small, white, DRY! sheet around her and securely rolled it.  Then the two helpers, on either side of the narrow stone bath, each took a hand and walked her down the steps, all the way to the end of the bath, sat her down quickly, pulled her back up, and helped her walk back out.  The helpers repeated the process in reverse to leave Genevieve covered in the cape again.  They do not give you a towel because the water is considered unwet.

Hannah went next.  There was some sucking in of breath when the now freezing white sheet was tightly wrapped around her and again when she sat down in the freezing unwet water.

Next up was the Bobster.  I just had them pour water on his hands and feet.  That was enough for my little guy.  He did great and only cried when one of the helpers took him to dress him for me when it was my turn.

The lines at the baths
My turn came and I never felt naked or embarrassed.  It was very well done.  It was very, very cold.  I've never experienced anything so cold.  It literally took my breath away when they sat me down in the water.  I was very glad for the ladies there to pull me back up because I would've had trouble getting back up because it was so oppressively cold.  When I got out, I thought I was going to be freezing for a while, but really by the time I got dressed I felt warm and dry.  It was quite the experience.  Such a peaceful feeling followed.  We had to wait on the boys to finish.  While we waited the Ave Maria bells tolled and it was so peaceful.  When the boys returned, I was informed that Drew and Judah went in the baths and neither of them cried about the freezing water.  The original plan was to have Isaac and Brian go, but they changed the plan and it all went fine.  Daddy makes them tougher.  If I'd had them they'd have cried for sure.

Fresh out of the healing waters
Then we went with the Knights of Columbus up the hill above the Grotto and Basilica to do the Stations of the Cross.  That was a perfect time to do the Stations and it was on of my favorite parts of the trip.  The whole process of walking up a hill while meditating and praying the Stations in front of such impressive statues was beautiful.  It was like we were walking up with Jesus, but instead of carrying a cross I was carrying just about the sweetest bundle of joy there ever was.

Another (less sunny) picture of the girls and Bobby after the baths

The Beginning of the Stations of the Cross

The First Station has Scala Santa, Holy steps that you can go up on your knees if you are able and wish to do so.

All the Stations were life size statues and very moving.

Here's a couple of kids that were not affected by the serious nature of the Stations.

Breathtaking view from the top of the hill that the Stations are on: The Pyrenees Mountains.

Our Family at the End of the Stations of the Cross

Later that day, we had an opening ceremony in the Underground Basilica.  I had to walk the kids home without Brian and stop to get them pizza at a place across the street from our apartment.  The lady spoke no English or German and I only know enough food words in French to know what to order.  I needed to convey to her that I wanted to came back at 8pm to pick up the pizza.  It wasn't going so well until I drew a picture of a clock to explain when I wanted to come back.  Nothing like traveling in foreign countries to hone your problem solving skills.

Opening Ceremony in the Underground Basilica

Watching the Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony
The next day we had an English Mass at the Grotto bright and early in the morning.  Brian served in the color guard during the Mass, so I was on my own with the kids and it was standing room only.  I had to walk with the kids by myself from the apartment which in theory wasn't far, but, due to a large number of steps, I had to go the long way since I was wearing Bobby and pushing Judah in the stroller.  During the Mass I switched the three little ones around between the stroller, the ground, and in the Ergo to keep them all happy.  I'm sure it was fun to watch.  At this point, all the traveling was really starting to get to them.  The entire month of May was nonstop, go go go.  But we made it through.

Saturday Morning English Mass in the Grotto

Brian served as part of the color guard for the USA during the Mass

After Mass, Brian was busy for a little bit longer so I had promised the children that I would let them fill up the jugs full of Lourdes water.  They had been begging me the whole trip, but the timing hadn't been good for it.  It's a heavy jug we'd have to lug back.  Brian met us in a while after a lovely chat with a French gentlemen and his wife who had 10 kids, all grown.  Then we went in search of  good Mary statue for our living room grotto.

Finally, the kids were able to fill their jugs with Lourdes water.
Brian was busy the rest of the day with ceremonies and such.  We went back to the apartment for naptime, and then I took the children for gelato.  That killed some time and got some energy out.  I made dinner in the apartment that night.

Sunny Shot
The next day was a Sunday Mass in the Underground Basilica with all the country's military and a million priests and bishops and an archbishop.  It was a very long Mass with all the processions.  They rotated through different languages, although Latin seems like the easy solution there.  There was plenty of floor space for everyone, but many had to stand or sit on the floor, including ourselves.

Bummed that Drew's shadow got cut off! The tip of his head is visible.  This keeps happening.  He was the one cut off of our family selfie too.

We packed up and left late-ish in the day and headed to Nevers, 6 hours away.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tours, France

Our visitors leave and the next morning bright and early we headed out on our pilgrimage to Lourdes.  We broke the 12.5 hour drive up into two days by stopping in Tours, France.  We found an apartment to rent overnight outside of the city.  It was extremely spacious, to say the least.

We dropped our stuff off at the cottage in the pouring rain and drove into Tours.  We parked at St. Gatien's Cathedral and went in there first.  They have a relic of St. Martin of Tours there.  This was a particularly stunning church, inside and out.  The stained glass windows were my favorite.  The church was burned and rebuilt several times, but the last time was built over three centuries (13th-16th) and, therefore, has Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles in it exterior.  

Amazing Stained Glass Windows

Weird altar, but amazing windows.

See what I  mean?  Stunning!

Tours Cathedral...wish we could have gotten Bobby in there.

Found a store named Genevieve LETHU
Then we walked a short way to the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, discovering a shop next to it that has my Genevieve's name.  Inside we found the tomb of St. Martin in a crypt.  There was a place to write prayers.  We all wrote prayers down and slipped them in.  We didn't do as much prep work for this part of our trip and we weren't sure going in what all these two churches had to offer.  We stopped at a information desk on the way out where you also buy prayer cards and rosaries.  Brian asked if the lady spoke English, but she said, "No, Deutsch?"  So we then told her we spoke a little German (a heck of a lot more than French anyway.  She had a thick French accent when speaking German so the first two things she said to us were hard to glean anything from.  Brian caught a few words and repeated them to me.  Once we were able to orient ourselves to her accent, we had a nice long conversation and she told us a lot about the church.  Brian asked if St. Martin's cloak was at this church and she said it wasn't anymore.  We asked for a restaurant recommendation for families, but she didn't have a specific one.  So we left with some free prayer cards that she gave to the children and walked back toward our van , finding a bakery on the way that had quiches, sandwiches, and pizzas.  Did I mention that it rained a lot?

This church was under some pretty heavy construction

In the crypt

Tomb of St Martin of Tours, in the bottom the prayers are slipped in
Where the prayers are collecting