Ithaca – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Before I get into the semi-regularly-scheduled post, I just want to say SQUEEEEEAAAAL and best wishes to my sister, Mary, and her family on the birth of their second little one today! I’m so happy that we’ll get to be there to meet him or her. 🙂 Lots of joy in this family right now!

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I’ve been around the block enough times to know that E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G is unpredictable when a toddler/preschooler is involved. As a family, we have learned to plan excessively, adapt accordingly, and remain flexible at all times. Also, as with all things in life, it’s important to take the good with the bad (and be grateful for it all).

So, when we planned our recent day trip to Ithaca, NY (a little over two hours away), I went into it with the usual well-planned day with a hint of “this could change at any moment” thrown in.

Dave was there for a day-long comic book convention to chat with folks and sell issues of his hilarious comic book series, Holidaze. So, after we dropped him off at the college, Hadman and I were on our own. I was totally ready for the day.

Only, I wasn’t. After the long-ish drive, a coffee and tons of water, I was in dire need of a bathroom. Like, crying in the parking lot, not knowing where I even was, with a toddler insisting that we go some place (ANY place!). Finally, as my teeth floated and my eyes watered, I looked up the closest grocery store – less than 5 minutes away. Whew. Upon pulling into the parking lot, I spotted a nearby Barnes and Noble. Even better! Hadley’s favorite place on Earth.

After the potty break, we hit up the Thomas train set and grabbed a book for Hadley’s soon-to-be-born cousin with only two very loud meltdowns before leaving. Score.

Finally! Off to the main event for the day. The Sciencenter was everything we had hoped for and more. We spent the entire morning exploring animals, shadows, lights, mirrors, our senses, sand (one of the sand tables actually displayed a contour map on top, which took me right back to Mr. Buckley’s Earth Science class), and an awesome toddler toy area with a water table. Outside was a discovery jungle gym-type thing with more sand and water tables, a music center…seriously, the list goes on and on.

He was a VERY good boy and got a rubber snake for his troubles. I wonder where we put that thing…

For lunch, we fought the traffic outside and sat together at Ithaca Bakery. I had brought a PBJ sandwich and snacks for him but grabbed a turkey wrap for myself. This marked the first time he has sat in a restaurant without a high chair (or booster, which we don’t normally use anyway) with no wiggling or walking around. We talked and enjoyed our meals, and it was one of the best lunch dates ever.

Here’s where things get a little ugh. I had planned to take the little guy over to a parking garage then push him around the Commons in his stroller in hopes of getting a nap out of him and getting some writing done, myself. Welp, construction. The whole thing was torn up. We visited a couple of stores, but the whole point of the thing was killed. Back to the car we went.

I decided to drive back up to the college to find a spot to park (and hopefully let the little guy sleep). I was able to get a little writing done, but he kept waking (noisy college kids, of course), so while he did nap a bit, it made for a grouchy afternoon.

Yeah. That’s my finger. Oops. Added dose of embarrassment? He drooled SO MUCH. Hee hee.

Before picking up Dave, I took the little guy back down the hill a bit to a playground I had spotted, which worked wonderfully…until it was time to head back up to campus. Meltdown #3 (or 4 or 5…I’ve lost count).

This is where the “ugly” comes in. Back at Ithaca College, I knew the parking lot we were supposed to use as “visitors” to the convention (I had dropped Dave in a closer lot used just by vendors and probably should’ve tried to park there again). Instead, I followed the rules and buckled Had back into a stroller. After trying to cross through the inside of a building (as advised by Ithacon’s website), I discovered just how stroller (and handicapped) inaccessible the campus is. Oh. My. God. After exiting the building and meandering around the sidewalks, I reached our destination completely beat, looking like a mess, and feeling like a raging bull.

When Dave asked if I wanted to walk around (and, namely, meet one of our favorite authors, Bruce Coville), he knew immediately that I wasn’t moving from the chair I had claimed. I was a wreck, but after some water and time to cool down, we were able to retrieve the car, pack up, and head out.

Given my state, we decided to break our “take-out” rule (kind of…this wasn’t REALLY fast food) with a trip to A&W. We got to order, wait, and eat in our car just like the 1950s, which was pretty darn cool. And better control over the little guy is always a plus.

So, there we have it. Ultimately, the trip was actually a really fun, memorable one. I’m already able to laugh at the ridiculous things that threw the plans out the window, and am kind of relieved that most of the issues weren’t caused by a raucous little guy, but by the unknown situations that were thrown at us.

It already has my brain darting around planning our summertime getaway(s). 

Spring Cleaning Week #2

I mentioned last week that I’m doing my spring cleaning less in a “this room, then that room, then another room” way and more of a piecemeal concerted attack. If you’re coming along for the ride (ie joining in on my suggested “to do” lists), stay tuned for this week’s “homework.” Hey, literally!

Since last week we did anything ceiling/wall-related (+ some) on our first floor (or the main living area of your one-floor digs), this week it’s time to do some heavy-duty floor and woodwork/baseboard cleaning. Top to bottom, see? Also, it’s time to turn to storage — which, in our house means our DVD/”extemporaneous what the what?” built-ins, our main “coats ‘n crap” closet, and *dun dun dun* the kitchen. Since, think about it: what’s a kitchen beyond some landing pads, a couple of “specialty” areas (sink, oven, spot for cats to eat), and a buttload of storage? Am I right?

Here’s my little “to-do” list to keep up for Week #2; do with it what you will:

– Scrub woodwork with Old English (or whatevs…if you want to be all eco, use olive oil and essential oils or somethin’); if it’s painted, clean it with a rag and soap OR if it’s really in rough shape, attack it with a Magic Eraser. Poof. As my mom would say, “You can do this with the TV on in the background!” (Easier said than done, but she says it, anyway. Do I really need to see what’s happened on “Little Women” or “My Girl” for the 200th time? Beth and Thomas J. still die. *sad face*)

– Do organizational bursts. See how quickly you can get your main closet and kitchen cabinets emptied, sorted into piles (KEEP IN CLOSET/CABINET, KEEP ELSEWHERE, THROW OUT, DONATE), then (sometimes the hardest part) neatly put it all back in. If you need a new storage system or don’t think what you’re doing is working, jot down if you think you need baskets or to peruse the organization solutions in your favorite store to see if anything pops out at you. *So far, I’ve done the dining room built-ins and sidebar, as well as the front room trunks. Doesn’t sound like much, but just looking at the minimally-decorated sidebar and knowing how neat and tidy it is on the inside gets me jonesin’ to do more.*

– Sweep and mop the kitchen floor — move EVERYTHING out and give this the real once-over. Wipe down all kitchen surfaces (including the grease + dust + cat fur combo that has cemented itself to the tops of the fridge and microwave, open shelving, cookbooks, etc).

– Anything you didn’t complete last week…like, admittedly, my downstairs ceiling fans. There’s only two, but they’re beasts, and I’m one tired mama. This isn’t a “look what I can do!” run to the finish line, people. 

– Positive affirmation time! You can do this… “Because you’re good enough…you’re smart enough…and, doggone it, people like you!” Go one at a time. Listen to music while you unload. Make a game out of it (see how much crap you can find that you hardly/don’t use!). Do whatever you have to do to empty/best use your spaces.    

Next week? Upstairs! (And any downstairs bathrooms or offices you may have. :-D) How’s that sound??

Spring Cleaning Projects

Okay, so although our weather argues otherwise, it’s time to finally start spring cleaning. I allowed myself a weekend of “not muchness” after the show ended (plus I had a battle with a cold/bug and some scary migraine incidents last week, so it took a lot to make dinner let alone consider cleaning), so ’tis time to get motivated.


See, cleaning (kinda like exercise) isn’t the hard part. It’s the motivation and mental capacity to tackle the huge projects. Heck, I don’t know the last time the whole house was really, fully clean.

I was originally going to “chunk” the projects in a more manageable weekly list (like “bedrooms this week, living room and dining room the next week, etc.”), but since I started to attack different things in different areas, that may be tough. Sometimes we throw our own plans outta whack, huh?

So, instead, it’s kind of an overlap. The only way I can see myself staying motivated and engaged with the process is by checking in with (at least) weekly lists of what I’ve already done. It may give me a better idea of what I still have to do but it might be a little pat on the back to keep going. I’m just a bit bummed because it may not be super helpful to anyone reading to give them an idea of how to attack their OWN spaces, so I think I’ll give a little “assignment” to help motivate each of you weekly. (It’s not mandatory by any means…just use it if you’re having a hard time knowing where to start.)

Sunday was the first day that I was able to undertake anything, and this is an idea of what I worked on:

– vacuumed, swept and mopped front room; wiped down walls; dusted; went through chest and purged some fabric and blankets; took some stuff (including hardly-used sewing machine) to basement
– vacuumed living room and started wiping walls; (always kept generally picked up; need to go through closet, shoes, coats, etc.)
– washes bed and crib sheets and blankets; switched to slightly lighter comforter (still have one heavy blanket to launder)
– wiped down bathroom sink, etc. (normal maintenance; still need to go gung ho here)

Lots more to do, but I won’t bore you with a list of THAT (far longer!). 

So, so you make an effort to clean anything and everything around you for spring? Or are you waiting for me to dole out my assignment for the week? Well, how sweet of you to wait for lil’ ol’ me! Here’s this week’s “duty” (hee hee…):

WALLS AND CEILINGS — Use a Swiffer, a duster, or even just a rag with mild soap to wipe down your walls and ceilings in your main living area. (If you have a “downstairs,” your downstairs. If you have only one level, as much as you can — maybe everything but your bedrooms, or more if you’re feeling adventurous.) If you have ceiling fans, wipe them down. If they’re REALLY bad, take attack them with hot water and detergent and take out the glass parts to clean in your sink. As Shirley Temple’s mother once said, “sparkle!”

(Next week, the floors and storage — closets, cupboards, etc. Just in case you want to get a head start. ;-))
And for some inspiration, your Clean Quote of the Week: “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” – Goethe

When Things Get Tough, Make a List

freedigitalphotos.net
(This isn’t our kitchen…)

With nearly every weeknight being taken over by theater rehearsals (not that I’m complaining! It’s been a blast) and twice weekly physical therapy sessions (okay, that I kind of AM complaining about), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Super duper stressed. It’s nice to have something fun to focus on, but the rest of this crazy life can get pretty nuts.

But, I’ve done pretty well. How? By chunking. Then listing.

Chunking means a million things (one of which involves child literacy, but that’s not what I’m talkin’ about here). In this case, I just use it as a coping mechanism; a way to handle things in smaller amounts. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

Since the things I look forward to most are at the end of the day (ie rehearsal and seeing Hadley and Dave at the end of it all), I look at each day in sections: morning, work, dinner/physical therapy/shower (those are one thing because they happen quickly in the span of about an hour +/- post-work), then “fun.” (Yes, sometimes the “fun” part is stressful, but it’s the almost-guaranteed positive in my day.)

Sure, sometimes there are positives in the rest of the day. Like, the morning rush almost always gives way to my daily phone chat with my mom. That’s generally a happy, high point of the day, done while eating breakfast or folding laundry or what not. If I can fit little tasks like this in while getting other stuff done, I feel a) more productive, b) less overwhelmed later on (no one likes that “I’ve got NO clean underwear!?!?” feeling), and c) happier (see “a”; laziness makes one beat oneself up, whereas productivity gives a boost of adrenaline…it’s a thing).

And, most days I can find SOME bit of happiness in the “work” side of things. Despite being a librarian, I despise putting books away. (My stack of books can attribute to that.) But if I chunk it into sections — putting away chapter books on one day, or half of the “easy” books, or all of the pet and sport books, it’s more manageable, even with a constantly full schedule. Plus, there’s almost always a happy moment with the kids that makes the rest of the stress easier to take. Even just being in a good mood and laughing along with them (ie not letting their annoying habits break me down…and remembering they’re only kids) helps.

As for P/T…well, that’s a post for another day, but let’s just call it a necessary evil. I go. I do. I feel awkward. I then become frustrated realizing that the exercises I have to do at home just doubled and I’ll be getting up at frickin’ 5:30 to get fit them in. I get grouchy. Then I move on. It’s a cycle, and I’m used to it now. (Well, not the getting up early thing. It’s not in my blood. I was meant to be my grandmother — Grandpa got coffee and breakfast ready for HER.)

When I don’t have P/T, I run around getting a “nicer” dinner ready and grabbing a shower (I shower at night out of convenience and time constraints…don’t say “ew”). The time still flies, and I find myself running out the door to rehearsal.

*SKREEEEECH* (Not the dude from “Saved by the Bell”; let’s not go there.) This is where my listing comes in.

I’m not great at to-do lists. Sometimes, it’s a must. Like anytime I go shopping for example. Groceries or otherwise, I will inevitably forget something if I don’t make a DETAILED list. Like…if I don’t put down the COLOR of the shoes I was going to get, I will immediately walk into Target and go into a Target-coma; must look at EVERYTHING in the store. Inevitably walk out without the shoes I came for. Beat myself up later. (Same works with food of all sorts. Or toilet paper. Hate that.)

However, making a list of the food I have in the house or, better yet, the meal possibilities (some savvy bloggers refer to them as “meal plans”, but I’m hardly a “planner”…so, I guess it’s a “meal list”) on my fridge’s white board helps in this regard.

Of course, the first week I dared use this method (the craziest week yet…until this week, during which the show opens), things got thrown around…but, it was still nice to have the list and use a couple of the “suggested” dinners. Like, Dave and the munchkin stayed with his parents for dinner a couple of nights. Still fine since I could make the omelet I had listed as a possibility. And, saving grace, I had chicken in the slow cooker the night of my incredibly longer-than-usual P/T session last Thursday — which meant I had time to scarf down half of my dinner before heading to the theater vs. not having ANYTHING to eat. Wasn’t great, but was better than takeout (which…ahem…we don’t really do these days).

So, what about your house? How do you handle the stress when you know it’s gonna be a week from Hades? And are you a lister? What kind do you make? Are you like my mom — whom we buy blank paper pads in bulk for, she makes so many lists?

Wordless Wednesday – A Tale of Two Toasts

Why…oh, why? We got a new toaster for Christmas, and while I LOVE it (the other one would often not toast AT ALL, or thoroughly burn…not a safe thing to have around), I find it strange that ONE setting can produce TWO very different results…

#firstworldproblems #peanutbuttermakesitallbetter

Bursts

Happy Presidents’ Day, guys!! Home with the munchkin today.

For whatever reason – winter doldrums, lack of exercise, the “the less you do, the less you can do” syndrome (I just made up) – I’ve got wicked low energy lately. And, of course you know what that means, right? One thing has to fall to the wayside. The same thing, all the time.


Cleaning.

At least, that’s what gets neglected around here. Don’t tell my mom (sorry, Mom!!); she’s got very high cleanliness standards. She called my sis and I “Cinderella” (and maybe our brothers from time to time).

At least I suppose the standards are there to some extent. I know and cringe when something’s filthy or dusty or precariously piled. But finding the energy to get it checked off the to-do list is another story.

I’ve seen something interesting about cleaning on no less than 20 other blogs (and probably 20 magazines before I was a blog reader), which tells us to use a 15 minute period throughout the day (as we find them) to accomplish something.

It could be spending 15 minutes doing the prep work for some freezer meals. It could be 15 minutes working on a small project you’ve had on your list for years. But, more likely than not, since cleaning is dreaded by so many people, it’ll be performing a chore around the house. And I’m calling them “bursts” (get it? A “burst” of energy?)…’cuz I’ve gotta categorize everything. Weirdo.

I decided to use my kitchen dry erase board to make a continual list of chores that can be accomplished in about 15 minutes. Y’know — while on the phone or just to achieve that “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” philosophy before heading to bed or for that moment that I sigh after putting the baby down for a nap when my brain goes blank.

While I was at it, I decided to start in the kitchen with one (yes, one) cabinet shelf. But, it’s the dreaded baby shelf, which I’ve been planning on organizing for awhile since Hadman only uses a particular type of sip-cup. So, in under 15 minutes, it went from this…

to this…

with this left to lug into the basement (which I did…but it all needs to be re-organized, of course)…


It’s funny how kids only use ONE particular “style” of beverage receptacle, huh? And it’s sad to be packing away the last of the bottles, but it’s all good.

Oh, and by the way, the cabinet is completely clean (I scrubbed it), but it’s in dire need of painting — along with the rest of the kitchen cabinets. Needless to say, that’ll be a burst of more than 15 minutes worth of energy. 😉

I’ll be sharing a handful more “bursts” I’ve already used to get myself off my hibernating hiney. Otherwise, it’s so darn easy to wile away a snow day! 

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Almost every year, we haul our heinies out to Cooperstown to the Candlelight Evening the Farmers’ Museum puts on (we skipped last year since the bambino was, like, crazy little…I use “little” loosely). The Farmers’ Museum is seriously one of my favorite places ON EARTH. It’s a living history site where houses and buildings from the mid-19th century have been transplanted to create a small village-like atmosphere. 


There’s a building with an exhibit, but the rest is like a step back in time. The print shop creates mailers and flyers for events; the blacksmith makes shoes for the horses (it is the Farmers’ Museum, after all), old flat, square-headed nails, and products for the store; the “house” has a front AND back garden (GAH! LOVE IT!) and, depending on the time of year, shows how folks were putting things up or weaving and dying their own clothes or baking up a storm; the broom-maker (I’m sure that’s not the real name) shows how they were made; the “hotel” (which has an awesome balcony) is opened serving food and showing just how different it was to stay in an inn back then…and so on. I wish I could live there.

So, this year, we literally braved a brutal storm to have a family visit. There was only one goal for the day — to see Santa. The REAL Santa. We actually know the fellow who portrays him, so the fact that he says “hello!” to us by name is beyond cool. He dresses more like St. Nick, with short pants (freeeezing!), a real beard, a long hat, and a big sack flung over his shoulder.

But, thanks to the storm (we’re freaking crazy — we always plan for the coldest possible weather — I wore 2 pairs of pants, wool socks, 3+ shirts, a hat, two pairs of gloves…still cold), there were hardly any lines. So, that being said, we got to have our first ride on a horse-pulled wagon (where Hadley viewed Santa, or “Ho Ho”, from a mile away), chat up the printer on our own (I have a secret: This is the warmest spot in the place, thanks to their TWO stoves. I learned it on my 4th grade field trip, when I was assigned to the print shop and got to create my own “business cards” and “greeting cards”. You’re welcome.), and down some wassail.

We caught up with Santa before he started his story time at the school building, and Hadley was enamored with him. Oh, he also handed over an old-fashioned (albeit red dye-laden) chunky peppermint stick which he sucked on for a half hour. (I grabbed chunks out of his mouth and ate them so he didn’t choke. He still doesn’t have enough top teeth to help in this respect.)

Then, we finally headed indoors to hear some more caroling and buy two HUGE turkey dinners (which came with cocoa and HUGE pieces of gingerbread, which Hadley enjoyed) before trekking back home at half the speed in low visibility. But, we don’t care. It. Was. So. Worth. It.

So, if you’d like to experience some of the old fashioned Christmas, try some mulled cider. Wassail. Whatever you call it, it’s a lovely way to cozy up on a chilly winter’s night. And what makes it even better? It’s super simple to make. You don’t even need cauldrons over huge bonfires (which is how they do it at the museum).


Here’s another one of my “wing it” recipes, but it’s only because you really can’t mess it up. Want to sweeten it? Use maple syrup or sugar or whatever you like to use to sweeten stuff. Or don’t; it’s still delicious!) Don’t have cloves? That’s okay, leave it out this time (although use it when you have it on hand again…I respectfully advise. ;-)).

WASSAIL

2 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 – 1/2 c. orange juice
1 -2 tbsp. maple syrup or sugar (or not)
1 tsp. (or less) cinnamon; or 2-3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. (or less) nutmeg
1/4 tsp. (or less) clove

Bring all the ingredients to a boil on the stove and stir; reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for as long as you can wait. (Five minutes…ten…or thirty. Whatever floats your boat.) If you don’t like “things” in your beverages, strain into mug and enjoy. Serve with a cinnamon stick if you’re a fancypants.

* Grown-ups who REALLY need a warm-up, throw a shot or two of rum in and say “good night.” Or, at least, that’s what would happen to me. I really can’t hold my booze anymore.

First Family Trip

Over the Columbus Day weekend (yes, I’m that behind on things), we finally tested the waters and took our first overnight family trip with Mr. Hadley, now 15 months old. We took a trip to Massachusetts over the summer, but this was the first just-the-three-of-us “let’s see if we can have fun far away from home” trip. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it was an 8…to 9…depending on how optimistic I’m feeling. 😉

The best part (and what made it, I thought, easier) was that we returned to Vermont — where we had our honeymoon and first anniversary trips. We stayed at the familiar Middlebury Inn. We walked around familiar Middlebury and drove the familiar roads that took us to familiar antiques shops. We stopped for a familiar romp around the Bennington Monument (although we’d never ran circles around the green before…thank you, toddler energy!).

But, it wasn’t a boring trip, by any means. Everything is so new through the eyes of a toddler, and the surreality of being places that we once casually spent hours eating at or were able to peruse without tiny, jutting hands grabbing things from shelves…it was kinda neat. And a little nerve-wracking. But, we accepted that this was how the trip would be, and we admittedly loved every minute of it.


Since it was Parents’ Weekend at Middlebury College, we could only book the Sunday into Monday (fine by us). We arrived in VT early after a pretty uneventful trip (hooray for naptime!), let the folks at the Inn know that we were early, then sauntered over to one of our favorite places on Earth: the Middlebury Co-Op. We’ve been there a few times and love it more each time. There’s cast-off (perfectly fine) soap from a local natural soap company that we stock up on (literally purchase pounds of the stuff in varying scents). Dave ogles the grind-it-yourself coffee. I love finding a vast selection of items I’ve only heard about online, often shouting with unabashed excitement to Dave two rows over. And, for it being one of his least favorite activities, Hadley did pretty well being carted through the aisles. (Key here: Constant motion.)

We purchased a lunch from the place (they have prepared food, too…woohoo!) at which time the antsy-pants took command, so we pretty much took turns watching him. Dave also walked the half-block to the car to store our treasures; Hadley made his acquaintance with several strangers sitting at the picnic tables outside the store, which made me realize that his social streak causes Dave and I to be far friendlier and more outgoing than we normally might be. Y’know, comparable to a puppy.

We then checked in for realsies, rode a “real live OLD SCHOOL elevator” with a teen to operate it, dropped off our stuff, (had the Pack ‘n Play delivered and set up since it had been forgotten; the only small glitch), and headed to the lobby for Dave’s favorite — afternoon tea.

They also have yummy pastries and cookies, so we loaded up a plate and brought our tea (and Hadley’s sippy cup o’ juice) to the “veranda” to watch the quaint traffic and enjoy a moment. Dave was in his glory, as my mother would say, and Hadley was a very good boy…since he was getting tastes of chocolate or lemon cookies, a huge treat.

Dave’s look during tea? Pensive. Pensive. And pensive. (He DOES enjoy it VERY much…believe me!)

We then went for a stroll around town. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday and heading for after 4, most of the stores were closed, but we still enjoyed our walk. I had hoped that Hadley would sleep for a little while in the stroller, to no avail. We then headed back to the Inn to get ready for our 5:30 reservation. Dave was already talking about the cheese plate, which we always order (for whatever reason). I was preparing myself mentally for a hadn’t-napped-sized meltdown from the munchkin.

I was pleased that our timing seemed to avoid any big rush (you never know when people will eat dinner, do you?) so that we’d be disturbing minimal guests with our noisy boy. He ate pouches, and tastes of my pork and the most delicious braised cabbage and whipped sweet potatoes I’d ever tasted. He ate cheese of his own while we feasted on our cheese plate (all goat this time, strangely; usually there’s at least one Cabot since the factory is on the outskirts of town). He played and hammered his hands and utensils on the table and caused a general ruckus, much to our disappointment, but the other guests seemed very forgiving and our hostess kept assuring us that he was very well-behaved and sweet and “nobody minds a bit, he’s so cute!”

We finally decided that, while dinner had been nice, it was time for Hadman to have a bath and get ready for bed (even if it was a bit earlier than usual), so Dave stayed to pay the bill (and get a couple of creme brulees to bring up to our room — I married a keeper, ladies!).

(Looked horrific dumped into a to-go container, but tasted lovely!)

We usually bathe Hadley in the kitchen sink, so this was his second tub experience. I let him play to his heart’s content, then run around the connected rooms (we had our own separate bedroom attached to a kind of living room, where his Pack ‘n Play was set up) before finally calming down, reading a book, and settling down for the night. Dave and I watched crappy cable and read magazines and books, and talked about how much we missed the cats. It was awesome.

The baby awoke far too early the next morning, but we weren’t ready to get up yet, so I brought him in the fluffy bed with us — where he immediately conked out. He has a weakness for comfy pillows, I suppose.

I got ready early and played with the munchkin (and got him ready) while Dave took a shower. We packed up and Dave loaded up the car while Hadley and I tore through the large lobby. (Okay, I didn’t tear through it, but he did…and I came tumbling after.) I finally realized there were a butt load of Morgan horse pictures (they were first bred here! And my niece’s name is Morgan, so what’s better than that?) adorning the walls, so we went from one to the next, pointing and “oofing.” (All animals say “oof”…or is that just what the cool kids are doing?) Daddy came back and we found a short line waiting for the Inn’s delicious breakfast — which made our nerves immediately spike.

With just two or three other tables of folks the night before, we were confident. With an entire dining room full this morning, we felt dead in the water. “Will. He. BEHAVE?!” we both silently wondered. Luckily, they were gracious enough to seat us at a HUGE table in the corner (near windows, though — we didn’t feel relegated to the dungeon) so Hadley could discover his table manners in relative privacy. The huge room, however, was eerily silent (what, were people whispering or just not talking to their spouses?! C’mon, can’t SOMEONE have a public spat??), so every little noise he made echoed. Eh, ya win some, ya lose some.

I had been dreaming of the couldn’t-be-more-perfect waffles for years (they’re the reason I bought a Belgian waffle maker…and still haven’t been able to find the “taste,” so quit trying), so I made a plate with extras for the munchkin of waffles, bacon (just a bit), eggs (which he loves), and some yogurt. Man, those waffles were as awesome as I remembered. We filled our stomachs and the baby let us know that he was ready to go. Off into the perfectly drizzly autumn day for some driving and antique stops.

We only stopped at two antique shops along the way — one run by a kind older man with a friendly pup who follows you around the store, and the other (Branford House Antiques) where we had befriended the owners and purchased a sidebar on our honeymoon. BOTH had “For Sale” signs plopped unapologetically on their front lawns. *pout* I suppose this is the end of an era.

Purchases were kept at a minimum: I grabbed a $10 wooden crate (wicked price, whether it’s an antique or not) and Dave bought an Art Deco lighter to adorn his office at work. Relatively cheap, and no regrets of over-purchasing. Win-win!

We DID over-buy at The Chocolate Barn in Shaftsbury. Maple candy, people! And handmade chocolates!! Great for gifts, and for a lil’ treat. Needless to say, ours were gone in under a week. I think that’s a new record.

And, finally, we stopped in Bennington. It was past our usual lunch by this point (we gave the baby an organic pouch at one stop, but he’s a ravenous lunatic when he hasn’t eaten…like his mama), so we were incredibly lucky to find a little cafe with awesome local food and drinks still open. A sandwich that was killed by how much spicy mustard it contained and more butternut squash soup for me (I’d had some at the Inn the night before that tasted like the best soup I’d ever had…ever), a grilled cheese sandwich for the monkey, and I can’t for the life of me remember what Dave got…maybe panini. Or something. Definitely coffee.
After our late lunch, we went to the Bennington Monument that we’ve been visiting since well before we got engaged and took some new pictures next to our buddies — a statue and a random plywood militia man. Hadley also socialized with anyone he could get close enough to and ran around like a fool. It was awesome.

Yeah. I know. Too awesome for words.


Here we have the last leg of our trip: a stop by Camelot Village (just outside Bennington). This is where things went a tad South. Hadley could’ve easily taken more outside energy-using activity, but instead we brought him into a huge venue full of breakable antiques. Stupid grown-ups. He wanted to touch EVERYTHING and started (predictably) whining and screaming when we picked him up. The stroller wouldn’t have fit through the aisles, either, so he was “on the loose” (I wish I had brought my Ergo, but I’m not sure he would’ve been contained). So, we went to the surrounding areas only to discover that things had changed (for the worse), finally deciding that I’d stay in the car with the monkey while Dave perused the antiques quickly. When he was done (and the baby was asleep), I took a quick walk through. Neither of us found anything worthwhile (or priced well enough to want), so we left empty-handed and happy to be heading home.

The rest of the trip took a couple of hours, so we got home in time to feed the annoyed, ravenous, yet strangely happy cats — it was clear that they had missed their boy, and it warms my heart to think of how affectionate they were when they saw us. They’re usually quite friendly little creatures, but the love that poured out for Hadley was just so darn evident.

While we headed back to work and normalcy the next day, I remain very glad that we took the leap into travel with our little man. We once made a list, while heading home from our honeymoon, of goals to maintain in our relationship and life. One that has stuck out stronger than any others was this: “When we one day have children, we will accept them into our lives, not completely change to suit the children.”

Of course, we knew that LIFE would change with a child (and we expected that when we wrote it), but what we meant — that we still wanted to have adventures, that we wanted to keep searching local, organic and healthier eating options, that we still wanted to go antiquing and history-hunting and the dozens of other things that we like to do — was ultimately that we want to share all those things with our young ones. We also want to acclimate them to a change in routine, the idea that the world does not revolve around their beautiful little noggins (well, the one noggin, for now – ha!), that certain behavior is expected in certain places, and, mostly, that there’s a great big world out there for them to discover, enjoy, and take advantage of.

And I think we’re on our way.

Now It’s My Turn to Take a Quiz

To take a break from the plethora of recipe posts I’ve been piling on you folks, I happened upon Honeybee in the City (almost wrote “Honey-Boo-Boo”…which I blame on Sir Paul, not actual viewing of the ridiculousness) and her fun little quiz. So, of course, I thought I’d take it! Nice change of pace.

If you’re a blogger, feel free to copy-and-paste. Oh, and write in the comments that ya did it! I’d love to see your answers…

1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

That depends upon which time you’re talking about. The baby wakes up anytime from 3:30am to 5:15am for his first “feeding” of the day (he actually goes back to sleep afterwards). Most of the time, I’m able to get back to sleep at this point, but since I have to grab my phone at that point to set the alarm (I charge it the rest of the night…then Dave’s goes off at 5:30…and mine goes off at 6…then the snooze button ensues), I will *once in a blue moon* check FB. But, most of the time I ogle the comfort that is QVC (or PBS, if something good’s on) until I fall back asleep.

Oh, and I use the bathroom at some point there, if ya must know. 😉


2. What is the 3rd picture on your phone? Share it! 

Flooring. Sexy.

3. What TV show are you most excited about returning this Fall?

Eh, maybe just Parks and Rec. Otherwise, I’m excited for some new ones; we can’t believe it! Namely, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Goldbergs (I know! I’m surprised, too!), and a handful more. Oh, and I’m into the  new “Genealogy Roadshow” idea on PBS, although I’m not sure it’ll last.


4. What is something really popular that you secretly (or not so secretly) loathe?

Probably a lot of things. I’m not really into “current” music (it’s a miracle I could choose any current TV shows, honestly). Maybe just the general infectious entitlement that seems to have society in its clutches…that, I loathe.

I’m sure I’ll come up with something way better in the middle of a deep sleep….


5. Do you have any pets? Tell us about them! Bonus points for pictures.


Jasper


and, last but not least, Winston (aka WeeWee)


All together now…



6. If you could put together one outfit that represents you perfectly, what would it be?

Favorite Outfit



Thar she blows! I’d actually love to find coral flats like that (it’s by far my favorite color right now), but my favorite outfit *that I actually own* is a pair of skinny jeans (I know. I can’t believe I said that, either), a t-shirt or cami, a blazer (this time of year, a corduroy one or a more “professional” suit jacket will do…sleeves pushed up a la Don Johnson…again, can’t believe I just said that), my favorite super-high-but-not-super-tall brown riding boots, and a “statement necklace” of some sort. (Here, I’d do the coral shoes with the navy necklace, brown boots with the coral). Sometimes a scarf (neutral with texture or a not-too-crazy pattern) thrown in on chilly/need a shot in the arm days.

As if I’m into fashion! Psht.

7. What is your favorite adult beverage?

I so infrequently partake these days!!! So…any wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously (sweeter side, please!) or an amaretto sour. Beer, anything off the Ommegang list. But anything, as long as the baby’s down for the night.


8. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Dave says I should mention the occasional “19 Kids and Counting” viewing, but that’s like my QVC-watching; it’s really just there to have something “calming” on in the background. Generally, I’d say a handful of classic films that I watch again and again, and magazines that don’t make me think too awful much.


9. What are 3 positive words to describe you?

Intelligent, silly (I also take that as meaning “funny”), creative. Again, thanks for the help, Dave!


10. What is your favorite Friday afternoon/evening activity?

Not showering. Seriously, I usually shower every afternoon/evening when I get home only to find myself on a dead run to get dinner and everything else underway before the boys get home. Fridays, I tend to say, “Screw it, I’ll shower tomorrow morning like everyone else” and get a few extra moments to breathe, reflect on the past week, and do some cleaning so that I REALLY look forward to getting up (eventually) in the morning.


11. A day in the life: What does you typical day look like?

After the whole BFing wicked early thing, I finally get up a little after 6 to help get lunches together, the baby ready, and the boys out the door. I then get myself ready, grab breakfast, and eat it while doing my daily phone call with Mom. I head into work shortly after 8 (we’re technically supposed to be there at 8:30), then the day’s schedule depends on what day on our 6-day cycle it happens to be. Some are crazy busy and I have a hard time sitting down for a lunch while others allow me a “break” here and there to eat and shelve books and catch up on inter-library loans.

School’s over at 3:30, but like most of my colleagues, I stay until after 4. I generally get home between 4 and 4:45, feed the cats their snack, pump, shower, work on laundry, and get dinner underway.

The boys get home anytime after 5:30, at which time we play, have dinner (while a) listening to an old radio show or Pandora station, b) watching Wheel and Jeopardy, or c) just talking). Then, it’s Hadley’s kitchen sink bath time (still), followed by crawling up the stairs to hear our stories at 8 or so. He’s usually down by 8:30 or so, at which time Dave and I work on our own projects or catch up on stuff. We hit the sack around…eh, 10:30 if we’re lucky. Needless to say, it’s getting to feel later and later, LOL.


12. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

England…or Canada…or Ireland. Y’know. England or some place that has been under its rule. (Although France and the Netherlands are up my alley, philosophically.) Stateside, some place like VT or western Mass.


13. You’ve got a whole day to yourself…what will you do?

Depends on what work I have to do!!! If nothing, there will be a constant stream of old movies on in the background (unless I decide to actually GO do something…ha, no) while I work on several writing projects. Wow, that sounds so boring.


14. Dream job?

Writing. Or acting. Or singing. Or puppy hugging. But something that Hadley could tag along for would be sweet.


15. Least favorite chore?

Hmm…I don’t LOVE many chores, but I guess there’s nothing so bad I won’t do it. Maybe…oh, yes, garbage. Dave’s my garbage man, and I love him for it.


16. When do you most feel like a rock star?

When all the books on the library cart are re-shelved. Or when Hadley sleeps the whole night through. Or when I wake up thinking, “Aw, crap, it’s Sunday” only to realize…yep…it’s totally Saturday.


17. What is something you are currently trying to improve within yourself?

Finishing what I start, allowing myself more time for creative projects (tough one) and not beating myself up quite as much.

Friday the Thirteenth

Dave posted his version of this story (in a wonderfully succinct yet emotional way), so I can luckily edit mine back a bit…ha, right. There are parts that I just don’t want to forget; there are others I forgot the moment they happened that he probably included. Here’s my version, mostly so that I can look back in a week, a month, years, and remind myself of our luck and happiness.

I completely jinxed myself. In a major way. First, I was mentally celebrating Hadley’s 14-month “birthday” (even posting it on Facebook, which is big for me lately), joking that Friday the 13th isn’t unlucky since he was born on the superstitious day — and what a joy he’s been since. Plus, the prior Wednesday, I wrote that I’d try to write some lighter blog posts, and Friday I followed through. Then, in a very real way, all hell broke loose.

We awoke on Friday to find that Hadley had a low-grade temperature. He was relatively normal, but still tired (since I often get him up at 6:45 to rush off with Daddy by 7am), but a) it was too late for me to call in to work (and my schedule this year has yet to be re-printed, so it would’ve been tough to provide sub plans, even emergency ones), b) he was going to have a day alone with his grandma, so he was going to have one-on-one care, and c) it could’ve been teething for all we knew, although his little cousin had had what seemed to be a virus earlier in the week which consisted of about a day or two of sluggishness and fever that safely ran its course. All signs pointed to being safe to head to work.

Since Dave was going to be promoting his online comic series at a local convention all weekend, I headed off to Utica to pick the little man up after work. I had received a few updates throughout the day, and was asked if he should have some more Tylenol before I picked him up. I wish I had answered sooner rather than finally getting to the text and saying he could wait until I got there. We can’t say that would’ve helped the situation or not, though, but regardless…hindsight is painful.

Something felt wrong as I drove. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it the high-stress workweek I had just completed? Was it a change in the weather? My nerves were up, and I must admit they haven’t totally let up yet.

When I arrived, I found a concerned grandmother holding the little man, clearly sluggish and seemingly watching TV. She mentioned that he had been shivering, but had recently had a strange shake, and that we might want to take him to urgent care that evening. Then things took a sudden downward spiral.

We gave him some children’s Tylenol (a natural version) but I noticed that he wasn’t sucking on the syringe the way he usually does. In fact, he was hardly moving, and he hadn’t responded to me once (very, very rare for suddenly having a parent arrive). We both agreed I should call his pediatrician. After running to the car to get my phone and finally calling, they agreed that we should take him to the hospital. During that time, he grew worse, clearly in the middle of a seizure.

Donna drove my car while my tremoring voice constantly assured my now vomiting little baby that everything would be alright. I was breathless. He wasn’t acting violently in his carseat; the Tylenol and what appeared to be drool and bile oozed from his mouth, his eyes glassed over and almost closed, his body both stiff and limp simultaneously. The hospital, only a handful of blocks from my mother-in-law’s home, showed itself before us and I ran in what felt like slow motion into the ER (nearly knocking over a man pushing a walker), hardly stopping to talk to the staff. Thinking back, I felt he was already brain dead in the car. I felt we were losing him. That fear still hasn’t left my gut, although he’s with us, able to eat, to play, to move again.

The ER staff was absolutely incredible, the best medical technicians I have ever seen in my life. They insisted that things would be fine, and while I trusted them, I didn’t believe them. Normally, I trust medical personnel (whether I should or not) and put my faith in their hands, but their actions and tones of voice indicated that they were highly concerned. I didn’t leave his side, feeling as if I had absolutely zero control over what was happening…and I didn’t. None of us did.

His fever hadn’t gotten that high, maybe 103 at the most. Babies can hit 105 or so commonly (although it’s not a good thing), but I was later reminded that we have a few family members who naturally run a low temp, so there’s a chance that the 102-point-whatever that he reached might have been his “high”.

About 45 minutes to an hour after arriving, which felt more like 10 minutes, he started seizing again, his eyes rolling and his body shaking, which concerned the (AWESOME!!!!!) doctor since his temperature at that point was below 100. We later figured that he had simply spiked too much, but he was honest with us that it was rare for a child with “no fever” (practically no fever, at least) to seize, so this was the point that his father and I had to decide how much testing we needed to do. (Dave had come straight to the hospital, as did his father.) His brain might have damage. It could be meningitis. It could be something else we were completely unaware of. 

I wanted to sing to him more than anything on Earth, to talk to him with a calm demeanor but my body wouldn’t allow me to. I whispered in his ear and kissed his face, but I’m not sure anything I said made sense. I was in shock. I was starving, I wanted to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t move from Trauma 2. At times, I held him, my limp little doll, receiving no indication that he knew I had him. For the first time, there was nothing my mother’s love could do to fix the situation. I ached from the numbness. I would have rather died in that moment than to see him lost.

We made a fast decision to do a spinal tap to determine if it was meningitis. I looked into the doctor’s eyes, which were anxious but kind, and I nervously told him that I trusted him. We shared an unspoken awareness and respect in that moment. Hadley was stable (albeit still unresponsive), so we were taken to a quiet room while they did the procedure, picking my sister up at the door along the way. She later told me that she wanted to throw up or pass out when she saw the looks on our faces; we all looked like we had already lost him, apparently. I think we all were in serious shock.

After 15 years…minutes…we were led back and I held him, his pale body in nothing but a diaper with oxygen and IV tubes wrapping us up together. I rocked him subconsciously as the doctor said that it seemed we were clear for meningitis. It was discussed that if the seizures continued or they couldn’t determine cause that we would be heading to Syracuse (the best place in the area for a sick child, but dauntingly terrifying for us to be an hour from home…there are worse things, though, and I was glad they were willing to hand his case over if need be), during which a family tiff arose over whether we’d use an ambulance or helicopter. The doctor, Dave and I agreed that an ambulance would be safest and simplest (not to mention cheapest) and I had to silently but stalwartly put my foot down; we’re the parents, we make the decisions. Luckily, everyone understood; besides, I said, it might not even come to that. Part of me wished we could be alone with our son; another part of me was happy to be surrounded by support.

The next decision was whether or not to expose the little guy’s brain to the radiation of a CAT scan to determine whether there was any brain damage. The irony of all the little choices we make to make our little boy as healthy as we can, every organic cheese stick or homemade whole wheat muffin, hit me hard. One in 5,000 chance of developing a tumor; not a huge risk, but not a small one. After some conversation amongst the family (my mother had also arrived, thank God, looking just as hopeless as I felt), though, and lots of mental flip-flops, I had already decided. For the most part, I had been quiet. Shock, fear, and hopelessness will do that. But, I needed to know for the future if every twitch or strange behavior (which may or may not be a normal reaction of a young child) was actually due to a seizure he had when he was 14 months. I had to know.

I held him on a gurney as Dave and I were ushered to radiation. Along the way, we passed a sweet family with an infant and a child just older than Hadley. I couldn’t help but look at them with tear-filled eyes and a half-smile, silently telling them to hug their kids a little tighter at bedtime, then hang my head. Watching his little body lie in that huge machine as his perfect little brain appeared piece-by-piece in a blue image on a screen, I immediately knew he was okay. I was starting to feel more hopeful, but still couldn’t breathe.

The anti-seizure medication wore off as time went on, and while he wasn’t smiling or normal in the slightest, seeing his droopy eyes start to work again was encouraging. Still, I couldn’t breathe fully, or think much, or allow myself to let my guard down. I figure it’s probably how a mama out in the wilderness feels after a close-call attack from a predator; it’s a relief, but they must still be on high-alert…constantly.

Dave’s parents arrived with mountains of food for us, my mother had arrived at some point, and the nurses said that we could try some apple juice with the baby since he needed fluids (although he also had the IV); we later found out that the small pouch of food and fluids he downed was a no-no since there was a higher chance of asphyxiation during the night if he had another seizure or anymore vomiting. Dave decided to take his car home with his dad (to have a ride back) and to grab necessities for us and feed the cats. As my sister, and later my mother left, I could see that they were still concerned. We clearly weren’t out of the woods and the night ahead was sure to be difficult.

Still on a gurney, the baby and I, along with Donna (my partner in tragedy, at this point) were brought to Room 357, which housed a cage-like bed for Hadley and a smaller-than-a-twin hospital bed which Dave and I ended up sharing for the night. I don’t remember whether I held the baby after settling in or if he went into his “cage” (exhausted and still under the effects of medication), but I chatted with Donna until Dave came, starting to feel as if everything might just be okay. My heart was still in my throat that the night could prove terrifying.

The baby received a regimen of painkillers/fever reducers throughout the night. The rest is a blur — about 2 hours of sleep for each parent, some fussiness but general exhaustion from the baby, a rebellious breastfeeding at 3am (I know his hungry cries (obviously), and I also knew I wasn’t going to be sleeping the rest of the night so if there were issues with seizing and choking, I’d catch it immediately), lots of IV bag changing, chest listening and hiney temp checks (which was getting sorer and sorer since a bout with diarrhea had started). The more aware he became, the more pulling-out of his nasal oxygen tube he did, clearly frustrated, himself. His temperature was still fluctuating, but not higher than 102 (generally between upper 99s and 101s.

When morning broke, his oxygen was checked and deemed fine; only the IV left to go. It was also decided to try some food, of which he ate an entire pancake, yogurt (ugh, with corn syrup), at least 1/2 a banana, some juice and milk. Kinda usual for him. He still didn’t look at all like himself, but his energy grew and he became fidgety without being able to toddle around or play much.

A doctor finally came and Hadley’s mood was pretty cheery by this point. His fever had yet to break (still fluctuating between upper 90s and lower 100s) but the doctor thought that his condition was good enough to go home. At this point, we were confident that we could handle it since he was acting more like his old self.

Over the few hours that it took to write up our release papers, however, he started to show signs of sluggishness like the day before, and his fever hit the 102 area. Again, this doesn’t seem very high for a baby, but with a usually low resting temp this was discouraging. (I also wish the doctors took this into account more, but it is what it is.) We let the head nurse know of our concerns about heading home and found out that, because the doctor had already signed off, we could stay but our insurance probably wouldn’t cover it. Eep.

We called our doctor’s office (since they doctor through another hospital). We called my mother. We called a friend who just happens to be a patient advocate. Anxiously, we finally decided just to bring him home and see what we could do for him, sure to ask exactly what to do if he had another seizure.

Within 45 minutes of returning home, the baby was still “sick looking” but acting a lot better and had a much lower fever. We slept on his floor that night, a sleeping bag unzipped, blankets and pillows piled, a cool mist humidifier flowing. The cats slept closely, clearly concerned about our little family.

Things improved, although his temp still fluctuated, and we both decided to stay home Monday with him. We cuddled and hit him with the BRAT(TY) diet (for his diarrhea), and slept alongside his crib again Sunday night. Monday, we visited his doctor to determine if we were doing what we should be.

Still giving pain/fever reducing medications on an alternating schedule, he has since maintained a lower temperature but developed the sniffles and a croup-like cough. And, of course, Mommy has, too. The lack of sleep, general worry over him and what not left me open for that, I figure. I ended up taking an entire week off from work, between taking care of him early in the week and coming down with the nasties myself the rest of the week.

It was the epitome of a roller coaster weekend, and we both left it with a very changed life perspective. After experiencing some scary local events earlier this year, I can still say that this was the most terrifying moment either of us have endured to this point in our lives.

That being said, we’re no fools. We know that febrile seizures are common — like, one in every 25 kids common (and 1/3 of those that experience them will have more). We’ve heard from friends (um, and even strangers) whose kids or grandkids or niece’s child or (you get the point) have had them. In some ways, it’s encouraging and humbling to know we’re not the only people on Earth (or even on our block) to go through this. We’re not special, of course, and we know it. I’d like to call it the Febrile Seizure Club if it comes to that.

But that doesn’t diminish how frightening the experience was for us or anyone else present, or what it taught us about life, its preciousness, and even the importance of embracing the moment. So, thanks for indulging me in getting our story out there. We’re grateful for the opportunity.