family life

My blog posts for Pine Village re. last week’s events:

April 18, 2013:

April 23, 2013:

As hard as it is to believe, James is 1 today. And although I had intended to remember Every. Single. Minute, I have of course neglected to write things down/organize the pictures/imprint everything on my brain. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to write down some of the things he’s doing now in hopes that I can at least capture a little bit of a picture:

Words: His first word was “uh-oh,” although some people have questioned whether that counts. Since he used it in the appropriate context, I decided that, yes, it did. (I will not mention that he moved from “correct context” to throwing things off the edge of things and saying “uh-oh,” which, yes, disputes the whole statement, but still…) “Buh-buh,” whispered almost under his breath, and a wave represented “bye-bye.” It was said on the same day as “uh-oh,” but not used again for about a week. He now waves quite easily, but the actual “buh-buh” is saved for special occasions. “Ma-ma” came next, but I’m still not sure if that means me; sometimes it means a bottle, sometimes he just keeps saying ma-ma-ma-ma-ma as he putters along. The newest one is “moe,” meaning “more.” This most definitely means bottle, although he also uses it occasionally when he just wants something.

So, at one year old, his vocabulary consists of these four words. At the same time, he makes it extremely clear  when he wants something and is not being attended to.

Walking: He is now at the point where he is taking 2-3 steps at a time and then collapsing into whatever (hopefully soft) thing he can find. He thinks this is all quite exciting, and often laughs hysterically while doing it. (Or perhaps is laughing hysterically at us as we lunge towards him, trying to prevent him from knocking his head on the ground.) Whenever possible, he is on his feet — whether that’s finding a toy or stool he can push around to use as a walker, something to hold on while he makes his way around the room, or someone’s hands as they walk with him. Even crawling involves being on his feet, as he never got down the hands and knees part, but rather just sticks his butt in the air and walks around on hands and feet. Surprisingly (or, I supposed, unsurprisingly to anyone who has been through this stage before) he is incredibly fast. I was trying to make spaghetti sauce tonight before Kelley and Lucy and Will got home and found that I could do one thing (turn on the oil, throw in the garlic, dump in a can of tomato sauce, etc.) in the time that it took for him to get from the sink to the bottom step of the back stairs. I have to say, it made making dinner a much more active process than I am used to. Then again, I’m not exactly what you’d call used to making dinner, so it certainly wasn’t the worst of things.

Food: James wants to eat whatever it is that you’re eating.  Sometimes, as with his birthday spaghetti dinner, this is fine. When you are munching on an apple, however, not so much. (Actually, we tried with an apple — paper thin slices, then diced — but it was still too hard for him to eat. For now we’ll stick to much softer things.) He has complete disdain for baby food and only allows you to feed him from a spoon if it’s something that requires his adult companion to eat with a spoon as well — like yogurt. (And forget that whole Yo Baby thing. He sees the baby on the container and laughs. He wants the grown-up thing.) We have taken advantage of  all the Gerber toddler snacks and finger foods, which do seem to work. Puffs and yogurt melts are particular favorites. This is indicated by the way he suddenly leans as forward as possible when he sees them, sticks a fist up in the air, kind of like a “Charge!” gesture, and starts yelling, “Moe! Moe! Moe!”

Teeth: Four at the moment, two bottom front, two top front, but if his drooling and fussiness over the past few days means anything, more are imminent.

Demeanor: I have to say, James is generally a pretty easy-going, smiley baby. Although he does cry when he’s unhappy, he doesn’t really have a tantrummy alter-ego  the way Will did. (Um, does.) Although he does seem to be having a little bit more stranger and separation anxiety these days, he’s generally quite friendly and open with anyone he comes into contact with, and absolutely loves his big sister and brother. (The way he lights up when they come into a room is wonderful. And to see all three of them when they’re cooperating together? Priceless.) He’s rarely fussy for a prolonged amount of time, so far the only major exceptions being when he’s about a week away from teeth coming in. This week is actually almost the fussiest I’ve seen him, which I think is a combination between teeth and walking — that whole thing where major milestones also create enough upheaval in a baby’s life for them to show unhappiness about it.

Sleep: For the most part, he goes down without much fuss between 7:30 and 8. He does wake up occasionally, so it’s not like he’s a perfect sleeper (and I’ve of course guaranteed a bad night tonight), but he generally sleeps through until the next morning. By next morning, however, I mean 5:30/5:45 a.m. And according to the sleep “experts,” that’s the equivalent of sleeping through the night. We’re waiting for the day where James is old enough to keep Will company downstairs so that our two early risers can do their thing, while the rest of us sleep in.

What else? He bleats like a lamb when he’s excited. And then he squeezes his fists together, holds them in the air, and tightens up completely. Once I got past worrying that it was some kind of seizure, I thought it was great. (The daycare people love it. The daughter of the woman who runs the daycare tries to think of things that will attract his attention just so that he’ll be excited enough to do it.) … He likes to put his feet up and relax. Whatever he can find to rest his feet on, the trays of his high chair and stroller are particular favorites, he will. When we take him for a walk in the stroller, he grabs on to the stroller above him, puts his feet up, and is ready to roll. … Unlike Lucy and Will, he’s not a particular fan of being in the car. In fact, that’s one of the few times he just cries and cries. It’s gotten better as he’s gotten older, but until we’re actually moving, he’s not entirely happy.

The hair: Two haircuts before age 1, but the mohawk is still there. (see above)

Well, I’m sure there’s a lot more I could post, but I’ve been up since quarter to six this morning and I’m pretty damn tired. (Plus I’ve probably jinxed myself out of any decent night’s sleep tonight.) So, happy birthday, James. We love you!

Kelley’s at a session right now (we started the trip in Portland because of a conference Kelley had to attend), my parents are enjoying a few child-free moments (they had Will as a sleepover guest in their room last night), and Lucy is sleeping in in the room she shared with Jess. I thought I’d take this opportunity to post a few pictures from yesterday.

Pit stop for diaper change (not quite out of MA yet):


Surprisingly, Mom, Dad, and Jess beat us to Portland. Here they are, having a nice, relaxing drink before chaos descends:


Chaos descends:



Ms. World Traveler, the mist organized of the bunch of us:


Holy good lord (aka what happens when there isn’t time for a reckoning of the bags before leaving the house:


James’ first hotel stay:


Ready for anything:


Day Two, here we come:


Well, it wasn’t quite as smooth a departure as we would have liked, and it was certainly a lot later than planned (11 a.m.? It was a nice thought, I suppose.) but we are off.

Of course, we’re not exactly on the road yet. Library books needed to be returned and gas needed to be gotten. We also have to get a sim card for the mifi/hotspot/whatever-you-want-to-call-it (a.k.a. the device that was responsible for taking up an hour of this morning’s precious time), as it apparently did not come with it. Kelley is now about to do battle with the Verizon folks in Coolidge Corner with the end result hopefully being that we will have a functioning hotspot for the rest of this journey.

So here we are sitting in the car, Lucy with her book, Will with his DS, James babbling away, and me posting from my phone. We have gone a whole blissful minute without any arguments or complaints, something that will mo doubt change soon.


Happily, our first leg is only to Portland, ME, so the fact that we never did our can-we-carry-the-bags-we-need-to-carry assessment can be addressed there. We also are making a brief stop at Wendy’s Cow House — also the penultimate stop of our trip (where, incidentally, the car will be for the next three weeks), which means that any superfluous crap (as opposed to your regular run-of-the-mill crap) can be dropped off there.

Alas, our moment of content has passed. Time to calm the natives…

I am sitting outside of South Station writing this post — not posting it, mind you, as there is no wireless connection at the moI am sitting outside of South Station writing this post — not posting it, mind you, as there is no wireless connection at the moment (oh please, mifi, work when we hook you up!), but writing it nevertheless.

We had planned to do a dry run of packing last night. I’m not entirely sure why, as once you’re packed you’re packed, but still, it would have been a good way to get a sense of how many bags we have, how much each person has to carry, etc. It didn’t happen, of course — way too many other more urgent things to do — the thought was there, however.

What we should have planned was do just do a dry run overall; that way, we might not have been quite so surprised when our ‘short’ trip to pick up our train tickets (the first stop on today’s errand train, so to speak) might not have come as such a surprise. Under the guise of making lemonade out of lemons, though, I am choosing to see the (not-yet-completed) task as an excellent way of preparing for the trip in oh, so many ways.

Just a few things I have picked up so far:

* We’re all excited about different things. (Although, I must say, I’m sure Kelley will share my excitement in realizing that I put the quarters in the meter exactly 10 minutes away from being too late! If he takes too much longer at the ticket window, I might need to put another couple quarters in.) For example, I am quite excited by the little things — like going in to pick up our tickets, coming up onto the train platform, heading into South Station… That doesn’t appear to be high on anyone else’s list. (And it’s a lot lower, now that it’s taken 75 minutes and counting.)

* Everything is going to take A LOT of time. (Did you read that part about picking up the tickets taking 75 minutes and counting? Yeah.)

* And, as a follow up to that, it is never a waste to bring every possible devise/time-waster/etc. there is. Two iPhones and a laptop aren’t enough when you are hanging around waiting for the apparently billion tickets to print. Nor is a cute baby quite as cute when he decides it’s way past his naptime and he doesn’t really feel like sleeping at the Amtrak station. And those TVs all around the station? This mom’s determination is that playing Angry Birds is a lot less detrimental to one’s health than learning to spot a suicide bomber. Well, o.k., granted — not spotting a suicide bomber isn’t good for anyone’s health. However, I will pray/hope/wish desperately that that doesn’t become an issue for us at any point in the near or distant future and instead focus on keeping the kids nightmare-free for at least the train part of the trip.

* It takes approximately 7 minutes before everyone who was well fed leading up until that point is “so hungry I might actually die right! here!” And train station food is ridiculously expensive. ($2 for the same fountain drink that costs half of that in the building next store?)

* That said, it takes about 2 additional minutes for the whining to drive any adult in the vicinity out of their skull. A $3 grilled-cheese-sandwich-to-go starts to look pretty damn good. (One that comes from a place called Cheeseboy? Sold.)

* Having that library book that never got returned to the school library (sorry to all my favorite school librarians out there — the good news is that we found it in the first place) still in the back seat of the car for while we’re waiting? Priceless.

So, the first agenda item when we get back home: pack the “stuff” bag — to do stuff, to snack stuff, and, possibly, to-medicate-mommy stuff. Then we can go from there.

It’s waaaayyyy too late, even for me, but I realized I hadn’t had a chance yet to post our itinerary and wanted to make sure to do so. Before I do, however, a quick note for anyone who might have what my doctor calls “sinister” purposes: our house will be occupied for the whole time we’re away so don’t go getting any ideas!

With that out of the way, here goes:

Beginning point: Boston, MA
To Portland, ME by car
To Albany, NY by car [thanks to ‘track work’; oh, Amtrak, please don’t let this be a sign of how the trip is going to go!]
To Chicago by train
To Grand Junction, CO by train
To Four Corners (Shiprock, NM?) by car
To Kayenta, AZ by car
To Grand Canyon by car
To Williams, AZ by car
To Las Vegas by car
To Kingman, AZ by car
To Glendale, CA by train
To Carlsbad, CA by car
To Anaheim, CA by car
To Ojai, CA by car
To Los Angeles by car
To Kansas City, MO by train
To Chicago by train
To Albany by train
To Saratoga by car
To Boston by car

And then can I have another vacation?

Wish us luck!

Wait! It’s actually T-6! We leave a week from yesterday! Holy good lord… So, yeah, 5 weeks away beginning next Sunday. Luckily, we have someone in the house for that whole time so we don’t have to worry about mail, papers, watering plants, etc. However, I don’t think I’ve ever in my adult life taken a trip so there are still a lot of things to consider. Like, say, cleaning out the fridge, activities for the kids and how to manage the DVR for that whole time. (And, yes, that last one is a big deal to me!)

I’m also trying to make sure the computers are backed up, various devices are linked and vegetables in garden are properly spoken for. The frightening thing is that today is the last full day to get all the errands done–but I know I’m missing things. (And it didn’t help that we had a full family trip to the pediatrician’s office in the middle of it all due to a stiff neck and sudden headache. Thank all the various deities that it was a muscle strain and not, God forbid, meningitis. Double yay for wonderful on-call physicians who pick up the phone at 11:40 on a holiday and say, come on in.) We are majorly crossing out fingers that that is the only medical issue that arises between now and our return home, James’s rash and Will’s (newly returned) tics, notwithstanding. (I’m trying not to stress that the head shakes and throat-clearing thing are back. Given the end of the school year, the impending big vacation and all-around craziness, I know we’re due.)

So, still left to do:

  • one more Target trip
  • ship dresses, dress-up stuff and shoes
  • set up mifi (that hopefully arrived on Friday)
  • hope new new camera arrives on time (as opposed to old new camera that I didn’t love)
  • find all my shorts and capris that have somehow disappeared
  • organize all the bathing suits and things
  • set up the journals

There’s other stuff around the house and for work, but I think that’s the big stuff. And, of course, we still have some trip things to finalize. Like figuring out some of the things we’ll actually hit once we get to our various destinations. So, first stop: Portland, ME. I’ve already sussed out that there’s a Pirate’s Cove not too far away. We’ll also have to figure out the baby backpack thing (mini-golf with a baby is always interesting, albeit a little less so than with a toddler, thank goodness), but I’m letting Kelley handle that one.

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