Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9, 2010 - Trot Trot to Boston (and back again)

One week ago we arrived back in Kenya after three wonderful weeks away (all of them in the US for me and Grace, two of them in France for Kristoffer before he joined us). It has been a very busy month for us so please pardon my longest absence from blogging! Sadly, I was also not the best picture-taker on this trip, missing out on catching Grace in some wonderful moments with our loved ones...but I've been realizing that sometimes it is more important to just live in and enjoy the moment than to worry too much about photographing it for the future. Apologies to anyone who was left out of our photos; please know that it is not a reflection of how much we love you...and trust me, family and friends, we love you a lot!

Grace changed a lot during this trip. She went from being a crawler who could walk, to a walker who occasionally still crawls. She began "performing" in front of other people: dancing in circles, screaming and "singing", playing hide-and-seek, and many other fun acts. She started using even more words AND she even started eating better towards the end of our trip! Now can she put two and occasionally three words together to say, for exampe, "More cheese" or "No more cheese". Usually she puts "bye bye" with names she can say or "no", so we are hearing a lot of "bye bye balls, bye bye Elmo, bye bye Tsavo" and "No, no Tsavo! No, no Mama! No, no door!" Finally, Grace met and I should say fell in love with ELMO when we were in the US. It is a sweet love affair that travelled all the way back to Kenya with us. But lets go back to the beginning of trip...

It was a long trip to get to Boston initially. Kristoffer travelled with us as far as Amsterdam (an 8 hour overnight flight from Nairobi) and was with us for 1/2 of our 9-hour layover before flying to France. Then Grace and I got caught up in a bit of volcanic ash drama and were stuck on our plane with the doors closed for an extra three hours before the flight was cleared to take off, which made 11.5 hours alone with her on the second plane. We both did as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but Grace did have some pretty fussy moments (who could blame her?!) and I did have a near meltdown when a nice woman said to me, "You're doing great, honey. Only 7 hours to go!" Door to door from our house to my parents house was 32 hours of travel. But we survived!

And when we arrived in Boston, Nene and Pops were there to very happily pick us up and we spent our first day at Auntie Meghan's house with Auntie Meghan, Uncle Tim, Michael, Sean, Molly and Baby Nora - who we were very excited to meet for the first time! They even had a little belated-birthday party for Grace and she was excited to get more legos and a baby doll among other gifts.

In our first week, Grace enjoyed some quality time with Auntie Meghan, Nene and Pops...
Grace's friend Brady and his daddy, Mark (my friend from college), came over one day to play at the beach. It was really nice to visit and we are hoping that next time the little ones will be even more interactive!

Then we travelled to New York City to visit with Bibi and Jen and Mrs. Duffy and for Grace to meet my friends! Grace walked around a bit of Central Park on her first visit to NYC.
Several of my former students, who are seniors in college or newly-post-grads, came to meet us in Central Park, along with an old friend from graduate school and a friend I used to teach with. It was a great way to enjoy the only good weather we had while in New York.
Grace also got to spend a lot of time at Bibi's apartment playing with her new puzzle and all of Bibi's beanie babies. Bibi threw a nice party for many of my friends to come and meet Grace for the first time. I have to say, Grace's new personality emerged during this visit. Suddenly she became a little star, standing in the middle of a circle of people and dancing and laughing and running around. It was so funny!
After our great (albeit quick) trip to NYC, we stopped in Connecticut to visit with Brooke and Dave and their new puppy Callie! Grace thought that the big new pillow in Brooke's living room was pretty awesome...
...but then realized that it was Callie's bed for napping! Have you ever seen such a cute puppy?!
It was nice to take a picture together with our two babies :)
Back in Boston, we got to spend time with Grace's Godfather (my cousin) Reid. And throughout our trip home Grace became pretty close to her nearly-life-sized Simba lion. Coincidence? I think not.
Grace visited Chuck E. Cheese for the first time for her cousin Sean's 7th birthday. She did pretty well considering it was the loudest, brightest place she has ever been in her life. No breakdowns until Chuck E. Cheese himself approached her to say hello at which point she yelled in his face, "No no!"
Another big part of our trip was to get Grace checked out at Children's Hospital and to get some more answers regarding her continued lack of weight gain. We met with a wonderful doctor who quickly gained my trust and assured me that while she is small Grace is healthy. She did want to do some more tests before we left for Kenya, so Grace underwent an endoscopy a few days before our departure. Kristoffer and I were nervous to put her under general anesthesia, but we also felt it was the best place to do it and that we really needed some answers. Grace was an amazing trooper and recovered well from the procedure with lots of balloons from Auntie Meghan and an Elmo balloon from her Far.
The good news is that Grace's endoscopy showed that she does not have celiac disease or any parasite or any other digestive disorder which is causing her to not gain weight. In the end, the doctor called Grace a "diva" and said we just have to keep trying to get her to take in more calories. She even prescribed a medication to make her REALLY hungry before meals. Finally, she said it was time to cut Grace off from breastfeeding because that might also have been holding her back from eating enough solid foods. We noticed before leaving the US that Grace was starting to eat better already and even now back in Kenya she is doing great without the medication. She is not nursing anymore (and that's the subject for another blog altogether) and is finally over her jet-lag so all seems to be pretty well in Grace's world. I am going to stop having her weighed for a few months to give us a little break from the stress. Now that we know she is perfectly healthy, albeit still underweight, we will just keep doing our best and know that she will be just fine.

But back to our trip...following Grace's hospital adventure, Kristoffer went to his first Red Sox game at Fenway Park with my Dad (bummer they lost!) and then we had a fabulous final weekend with all of my immediate family. We had not all been together since Grace, Kevin and Nora joined the Mueller gang so it was long overdue and really fun.

Grace and Nora enjoyed swinging together...
...Kristoffer enjoyed playing basketball with his brothers-in-law and my cousins... parents enjoyed all seven of their grandchildren...
...and we all had a wonderful weekend together. It is times like these that I am reminded of how wonderful it is to have a large, loving family. Even though we don't see each other that often, when we do it is sure to be a good time!

Thank you to everyone who went out of your way to see us in Plymouth or NYC, and there are quite a few of you I know, and thank you to my parents especially for making three wonderful weeks at home for us.


1 comment:

kristen said...

Amazing family. Great writing and photos! I particularly love the photo of Grace in Callie's bed and the one of her asleep on your dad ...? Such a sweet girl. See you soon. xoxo