Matthew was nicknamed "Peanut" by his mother shortly after birth. How shortly, we're not really sure anymore; within the first few sleep-deprived days is all we remember.
Matthew never did go through that period of sleeping all the time that baby books tell you newborns are supposed to have. Since his first abnormally alert days he's just become more and more active, and at some point his uncle Grant conferred upon him the moniker Savage.
We rented a minivan because our Buick is in the shop with serious engine problems, but we weren't going to let that stop our road trip. (The dealer loaned us a pickup that seats five comfortably and six if you're desperate, but either way that wouldn't fit our entire family.)
We left Thursday night about 7. Stopped for barbecue in Elgin before everything closed at 8. Hoped the kids would all fall asleep while driving, but only Tommy had the good sense to do so, and even he woke up before we arrived. So everyone was tired and cranky when we got to the hotel.
Rachel found a site that lets you search for hotel rooms that sleep up to 8, and ours had two bedrooms and a living area. We stuck the kids in the room with two queens, Tommy in the living room, and us in the other bedroom with one king. It worked all right, but I think the earliest Corinna fell asleep all three nights was 10. Saturday night she was still going until 11. No doubt this accounts for some of her ludicrously unpleasant mood.
On the positive side, everyone slept longer in a room that almost shuts out light entirely with the shades drawn.
Friday we visited the NASA Space Center. It wasn't as fun as it was four years ago. Mostly because three year old Corinna was a much worse guest than three year old Isaac was. But also because the main thing that amused Isaac, the enormous ball pit, was gone.
Also, the White Tour is lame. Stopped at one building, saw the SAIL shuttle simulator and the "rocket park," and that was it. No wonder the line was short compared to the other tours.
Rachel generously took the three youngest after lunch while I saw some of the exhibits with Matthew and Melissa. The IMAX Journey to Space film was fantastic. The smoke billowing out of the shuttle launches almost made me claustrophobic.
We drove until Corinna and Isaac fell asleep, then we found a park and the older three ran around with some other kids until it was time to head to Paula's. We had a great dinner with Paula and Scott, with only mild hysterics when their tiny dog approached Corinna.
Saturday we visited the Children's Museum. It was huge. We could have easily spent the day and still had things left over to do Sunday, but Corinna was out of patience by 2. We pushed her to 3 to let Isaac and Melissa get some time in the construction zone, but then Rachel and I were both done with her. We went back to the hotel for naps all around. After an hour of fighting, Corinna fell asleep. Two hours later, she peed the bed and woke up.
By then it was time for dinner (written about below), and dessert with Ryan and Rita at the Chocolate Bar. Paula recommended the Chocolate Bar and it was pretty epic. We shared five kinds of cake and two kinds of ice cream among the lot of us. Then we got in a couple rounds of Dominion at the hotel, cut short by me fat-fingering my ipad when I went to take a drink and dropping out of the game. It was for the best, those cards were terrible anyway and Ryan was clobbering us.
Sunday morning I took Corinna to the hotel pool. She was looking forward to swimming the whole trip and she wasn't even fazed by the chilly water. She sat on the edge and kicked her feet in the water for twenty minutes, then declared she was done. But she was happy about it and her good mood persisted until brunch, where she got a waffle as she requested instead of the pancake she requested slightly later. Also slightly earlier. She changed her mind more than once. Ultimately she ate the waffle and decided she was full. Crisis averted.
Then we drove home and Tommy puked (also written about below).
This probably comes off as pretty negative. We went into it knowing that family vacations are no picnic. We are not newbie parents and we have the scars to prove it. But wow, this was way more stressful than we expected. Coming home Rachel turned to me and said, "I guess we're done with family trips until Corinna is ten." And honestly that doesn't sound like a bad plan right now.
I posted a few pictures from our trip to Houston, but not many. I think I was too traumatized to be cameraman, most of the time.
The predominant feature of our little vacation was how hellish it is to travel with Corinna. Rachel and I have not bred pliant, easy-going children, but she is really something else. She must have complained eight thousand times that she wanted to go home -- not just in the car, but during activities at the Space Center and the Childrens' Museum. She was a little ball of vinegar the entire weekend. If it wouldn't destroy our relationship, we'd leave her with Grandma and Grandpa for our next trip.
On the bright side, Tommy was a much better traveler than expected. He was pretty content in his seat the entire ride, possibly distracted by the novelty of being in a front-facing seat for the first time.
Unfortunately, on the way back we plied him a little too hard with cookies and chips, and less than ten minutes from home he started puking. And puking. And he just kept puking, not projectile vomiting but just feeding it slowly out of his mouth like a kid slurping up oatmeal in reverse. Every time he wiggled it smeared a little more over him and his seat.
We pulled over to wipe everything down to limit the damage, but when I was done I still had little puke molecules clinging to my arm hair. Once home, Tommy and I took a shower together.
It has been a long time since we had fancy Italian, and there was a highly rated restaurant near where we were meeting Ryan and Rita for dessert. Rachel and Matthew and I had tasty dishes that we'd never tried before. Melissa and Isaac opted for safe spaghetti and pizza, respectively. Tommy happily tried a little bit of everything.
Corinna? Corinna did not want pizza. She did not want spaghetti. She did not want lasagna or chicken or beef. She wanted noodles. Plain noodles. No sauce. No cheese. Plain noodles.
So that is what we ordered, and for once, she didn't change her mind and demand something else.
I think that was the only meal the whole trip where she didn't complain once.