October 14, 2021

June: not-quite-spa week long getaway

During a team meeting in early June, Jo casually mentioned that Debbie was going on vacation the end of June. The boys would go to respite care for the week. They said these things as if Coach and I were not their soon-to-be parents. We were like, WAIT WHY CAN'T THEY JUST COME HERE?

Jo:  No, the paperwork isn't complete. The boys can't cross state lines.


This was the kitchen. I had to keep
 filling up the cooler with ice.
 No space in the tiny fridge. 

No exception would be made and Coach and I started to consider staying with them in a hotel just over the border of Indiana in Merrillville. So that's what we did. It makes me tired right now to think about how we pulled that off. I made a butt load of meals. Packed a cooler and a couple of boxes full of other food. Some meals were for this house and some were for the hotel. I brought books and journals and beach stuff and scooters so they could come on walks/runs with me. 

OMG how they loved the beach
and playing in the waves.

We took them to the beach twice that week. On our first visit, the water was off limits because of rip tides. Coach handed them the bag of buckets and was like JUST PLAY IN THE SAND AND NEXT TIME WE CAN PLAY IN THE WATER. Larry looked at him blankly:  I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

They'd never been to the beach. 

Coach took a few days off that week and he drove back and forth to work from Merrillville and I stayed the entire time. Curly came back with Coach for the 4th of July weekend. Remember the hotel fire alarm getting pulled? Well, we had two boys to corral while Curly tried to escape, gripping her air mattress. 

Mini helping Larry
watch fireworks

At least by now I was smart, whenever I called a hotel to make a reservation, I asked IS IT TWO SEPEARTE ROOMS? It was. The mini kitchen was a joke. It was a microwave and a tiny fridge. I'd pictured more of a full size fridge and a stove top, etc. Like an actual mini kitchen - not a college dorm room. The hotel had an outdoor pool. That was the selling feature for me. At least we had something to do on the days when Coach was gone with the car. I'm shuddering trying to recall how I survived. 

I made them read a ton every day. Plus they wrote journal entries. Then we did fun stuff. Pool most days. When Coach was there with the car, we drove to parks and played basketball. I went for walks with them on scooters. At night I read Misty of Chincoteague to them. Great classic book about siblings catching a pony and entering it in a race. 

Lego central.

When we did our learning stuff, I took on a squeaky voice and called myself Mrs. Peabody. Mrs. Peabody's motto:  PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. They found it hysterical. I tried to keep things fun. Oh, and we brought buckets of Legos and some other toys and coloring books. 

I guess this is as close to a summer house as I will ever get. Not close. It was a crap hotel with a crap excuse for a kitchen and a bathroom with a door that was tough to open and close all the way. The place had a weight room and each morning we would go downstairs and eat the complimentary breakfast and haul some weights up to our room. I carved out space in the bedroom to do my FB videos while they played in the other room. Then we'd venture back down to the workout room to return the weights. 

Curly practicing
 for Nationals.

The boys wanted waffles for breakfast. The waffle machine was all set up but there was no batter. Our second morning, I asked the head kitchen lady if they'd have the waffle maker up and running at some point. People, this woman was a saint. She went to a neighboring hotel - like I said, she was the kitchen boss lady but little did I know that she was in charge of more than one hotel kitchen. She brought the boys back waffles and then she got the waffle maker going for the next morning and every morning after. How great is a kind person who goes that extra mile?

Screenshot of our
 makeup lesson on duo

One night I sat in the lobby while the boys were in bed and Coach was in our room. I did a duo call with the girls as our family friend came and gave them a tutorial on how to do Curly's makeup at National Championships. The girls recorded the lesson on an iPad and Mini took notes. The day after I returned from Merrillville, Curly and I flew to Arizona. 

Yep, definitely tired just thinking back on it. 


Jenny in WV said...

"The System" is ridiculously frustrating!

On the bright side, it sounds like this is the boys first ever beach vacation and will give them something typical to talk about in a "What I did this summer" essay.

Kudos to you and Coach for making a workaround to such a goofy roadblock.

Also, the height on Curly's jump looks amazing!

Ernie said...

Jenny - This was just another frustration. When Coach and I talked about it and about how we wouldn't be reimbursed for the hotel or the gas for Coach's back and forth - we decided that since we were ultimately planning for these to be our kids we would go that extra mile. We liked it to what if Curly and Reg were stuck somewhere and needed us. Sigh. It was a big upheaval and the amount of planning was staggering, but we made it work. I have yet to touch on the state of our home when I returned. Holy Hell.

Love this pic of Curly. She relied on siblings to get her to class when I was out of town because Nationals was just around the corner.

Maddie said...

This post made me so happy. I mean, it sounds exhausting for you *but* all those happy memories of the beach & Mrs. Peabody & lego time & making room for learning & kind waffle lady & etc etc etc. Those memories are so important and special and I’m so glad you guys got to share a lovely vacation… that was lovely bc *you* made it lovely Ernie! You’re an amazing person! You can make vacationing in a hotel in Somewhere, IN entertaining!

Also I read Misty by Marguerite Henry when I was a kid and loved basically every book by that author. What a hoot to picture you reading it in 2020. It was old when I read it (but I still loved it!). Glad to know that book still holds up!

Ernie said...

Maddie - You are too kind. Thanks for your generous compliments. As I say to the moms I sit for, I tend to just do the things I did when my kids were younger. Not recreating the wheel. I love all that stuff. Makes me feel young, I guess. Doing it out of town, while my children were being slobs in our home was a tad unique and far from glamorous. OMG if those boys argued ONE.MORE.TIME. about who was going to hit the button in the elevator, I was going to lose my mind.

That book is so sweet. I re-read the part where he wins the wishbone and therefore gets to ride the pony in the race. Because while he's excited for himself, he's all choked up because his sister Maureen doesn't get to ride the pony. These boys needed that example of selfless love for one another. I didn't even remember it was in that book, but of course it was - because it was written FOREVER ago. I was like BOYS, YOU GETTA THIS? TEARS FOR THE SISTER WHO LOST. HMM. IMAGINE. ;)

Jenny in WV said...

Yep, I think that is the right way to think about it. "These boys are going to be our kids so lets do for them what we would do for the kids we already have". You stayed in a hotel in Indiana because the boys needed to be there, just like the next week you (I'm assuming) stayed in a hotel in Arizona because Curly needed to be there.

But still, you saved Indiana the hassle of finding and paying a respite provider for the week, so it seems they could have kicked in a little toward hotel, gas, and food.

Kari said...

Like Maddie said, the memories are the ones being made in the hotel. Despite the fact that it was exhausting, it sounds like the boys were having fun. This was very likely more than they would have expected. The kindness of the waffle lady alone was so amazing. It's the little things that are big things. :)

Ernie said...

Jenny- this is true. And we asked if they could cover SOMETHING but no. Funny but the Arizona trip would typically be super stressful . . . it felt SO RELAXING.

Ernie said...

Kari- Oh that waffle lady. So sweet. She also stopped by the pool and chatted with them. Told them they were great swimmers. We had some good laughs and managed to only put the TV on once for part of a movie.

Suzanne said...

So much of this sounds SO frustrating, and so exhausting, but oh my goodness what wonderful quality time spent with the kids!

Ernie said...

Suzanne - It was very frustrating and exhausting - although sharing a hotel room with young kids while Coach was not there meant I usually went to bed early. Still, living with a non-kitchen is not my favorite thing to do. I sent a bag of laundry home with Coach and he brought clean clothes back. A hell of a way to wiggle out of doing the laundry. ;)

Pat Birnie said...

Oh my this journey continues to be incredible, frustrating & exhausting (not to mention costly!) You are such incredible people. I'm sure the house was a horror when you got home, but the fact that you can trust the kids at home on their own is big. And those boys being on a beach for the first time...made me a little teary.

Ernie said...

Pat - It was getting to be pricey but we figured we'd just write off the expenses once the adoption was finalized. The only reason we trusted kids at home was that Ed was home from college. Coach brought Curly with him early Saturday morning and then she was there till we met the boys' foster mom half way to where they lived. Then time to switch gears to Irish dancing championships. Harry and Larry fell in love with the beach. So much fun.

Beth Cotell said...

I know this was hard on many levels for you and Coach and your kids but what wonderful memories for these two precious little boys. ❤

Ernie said...

Beth - I knew they were enjoying themselves when they started counting down how many more days they got to stay there, even though we were making them practice reading and writing in a journal.

Debbie J said...

Thank you for sharing this Ernie, I'm so invested, it's riveting. What a system though! Gahh. This is giving me flashbacks to our adoption of our kid in Philly 5 years ago. We spent 10 weeks in a hotel "mini suite" while the paperwork was done and we were allowed to take him he to Ireland. The best and worst of times, the longest shortest, strangest time - I'll never forget it.

Ernie said...

Debbie - It is a broken system and I sure don't have the answers, but it saddens me to see how hard it is when there are kids involved. Did you come to the States from Ireland to adopt? You did a good summary - longest and shortest of times, etc. It was like a practice at living with them. Parts were easier than expected and parts were harder.

Busy Bee Suz said...

You and your family are so awesome; such rockstars for doing all of this.
Really though, I'm exhausted just reading it and I didn't live it. At least you had Mrs. Peabody around when you needed to rest. :)

Ernie said...

Suz - Thanks. You're too kind. As hard as the circumstances were, we started to try to treat them like our own. Yes, exhausting. I'm laughing at your Mrs. Peabody reference. The boys thought that was such a riot, but I had to occasionally clear my throat and tell the boys that Mrs. Peabody couldn't ALWAYS use that scratchy, irritating voice. It would've been nice to say a few times during that week: MRS. PEABODY, I'M TIRED. TAKE THE WHEEL.