Monday, April 27, 2015

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I checked the exact dates on the bookcase photos. These photos were taken two weeks "apart". Hamish was 7 months, 3 weeks. The Manimal is 8 months, 1 week.

7 months, 3 weeks vs 8 months, 1 week

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guest blogger Kyle here to report on our recent trip to Boston for Alli's work. You may recall that we make the same trip every April and I reported extensively on the trip with Hamish last year.

Back in February, Alli took a trip to Orlando for 2.5 days.  She left me 43.5 oz of milk, and we (mostly Fauntleroy) barely made it through. First there was a bottle strike and much yelling and no sleeping.  Then there was still resentment but accepted need for nutrition. Ultimately we used every drop of milk, and then Alli returned to a nursing strike. This one holds a grudge it seems. It sorted itself out within 24 hrs, but it was a rough go all around.  Bottom line, that trip convinced us that for the foreseeable future, when Alli goes on a business trip, the whole family comes.

And Boston was this last week was that next trip. Now it's over; I've decompressed some. I can blog about it.

Alli's conference was Tuesday to Thursday, but she also needed a day in the office Friday for facetime and a meeting. I pressed for direct flights from Nashville on Southwest, and their timing meant we needed to extend a day both ways, leaving Monday and returning Saturday. We have plenty of friends in Boston and there is plenty to do, so an extra day didn't seem like a big deal, especially as it wasn't actually extending time for me alone with the kids.

Before we got started, Hamish spent a decent amount of time talking up the trip, and she even built her own airplane complete with everything in our living room on the daybed. There was some slight confusion as to whether we were going to Boston, Singapore, or Nashville, but we kept reminding her it was Boston for now.
So this was Fauntleroy's first flight, at 8 months of age. For comparison, Hamish took her first at 2 months of age and made it a trans-Pacific. She then followed that up with several more before she turned one. Flying is natural to her, she's definitely better at it than I am.
Well, F didn't do quite as well on his first-ever flight, but it could have been way worse. No blowouts and no outfit changes required. He wouldn't nap, he fussed a good bit, but he wasn't as loud as usual and I felt no concern that passengers near us were cursing our names. And he still had some pretty happy moments while mommy sang to him.
It probably helped a little bit that H had prepared him for the flight (answering the request to describe to Fauntleroy what his first flight would be like, "can I sing it?"):
One of the biggest obstacles we had to consider was just carrying all of our things. Alli and I each packed a large suitcase, hers topped up with a good helping of F's clothes. Hamish had a suitcase to herself, and we decided to check both of their car seats this time. Hamish also packed a ladybug backpack to overstuffed with about 12 books, toys for F, and other odds and ends. We packed one carry-on to include extra outfits, diapers and wipes, Alli's computer, chargers, and a couple snacks. And of course an umbrella double stroller that proved handy:
Good news was that we curb-checked everything and it went really smoothly. I pulled up, we unloaded and checked everything, I left and parked my car, and 10 minutes later I was meeting the crew to breeze through security.

On the Boston side it was a little harder, because we couldn't curb-pick-up our bags. So we all made the trip with all those bags and double stroller and car seats from pickup to the bus to the rental car place and walking through the rental car garage dragging things. It was a little painful, but we made it.  I got an SUV rental, which was pretty nice. It was like $5 more than a regular car for some reason when I made the reservation- wasn't looking for one, would usually take cheapest rate and economy car, but I thought an SUV might make everything go a little smoother, and it did.

We got in about 6 p.m. Monday. Were supposed to land at 5:30 but a little rain storm and holding pattern delayed us. Then a 30 minute ride to our rental car and a wait in line and a pickup later, we were on our way to our hotel to meet good friends and their two sons who brought us dinner. We had a short visit due to all our delays, but was great to catch up and let the kids run through a vacant ballroom.

After heading upstairs we were overjoyed to see our room. Top floor in the Seaport hotel in a suite. Crib for Fauntleroy, pull-out couch for Hamish, and a room with its own door for mommy and daddy.
Hooray! It was a lovely room that certainly made the stay more enjoyable. Unlike last year when we had to sneak out of our room and go to the lobby to grab a drink, this time we ordered them to go and had them in our room accompanied by television or reading by decent lighting.
Tuesday Alli didn't have anything until 10 a.m. so we had a reasonably leisurely morning. When she headed to work I took the kids in the stroller over to the Boston Children's Museum. They had a big time there. F and H played together with big foam building block things-
H played with a water display
Manimal crawled through tunnels:
and various other little things occupied them before we decided it was time for lunch and heading back for nap. Fauntleroy managed to fall asleep in the stroller while Hamish played in a pretend Arthur world, matching my intentions.
I'd hoped to try and get F a little snooze while out in stroller or in car, and come back so both get the midday nap. And that midday nap worked out fabulously Tuesday as well. I think all 3 of us got a little one in, and actually Hamish slept from about 1:30 to 5. After waking we walked around the seaport area for a few minutes and then hopped in our rental car to drive around in a warmer controlled environment. We got out and gasped at a container ship and pretty soon after headed back to mom. We all had dinner together at a sports bar with 360 degrees of sports on TVs. This worked out decently well as both children were sufficiently distracted to not be upset about anything.

Speaking of TV, we were a lot more lax about this than usual. Well, at the seaport our hotel room had 3 televisions. One in the bedroom, one in the "living room", and one *in the mirror* in the bathroom. It took me a full day (and Alli telling me) to figure out what the one in the mirror was. I assumed it was a heated square that wouldn't fog up when you shower. It was pretty cool.
On a few occasions, I let Hamish watch PBS kids cartoons while I fought Fauntleroy down for a nap or showered or tried to accomplish something.  On a couple of occasions, I let Fauntleroy join.  He was enamored, but I tried not to let him get hooked.
Meanwhile Hamish took to asking if she could sit on the potty a little longer and I could put on some TV. Sure I'll brush my teeth daddy, if you turn on the TV...
Wednesday I got up in the morning and drove across town to meet an old lab mate. He is also stay at home dad taking care of his two sons that fall in age between Hamish and Fauntleroy, so it was pretty awesome to catch up with him and compare stories and strategies. We let the kids play for a good bit, headed to a nearby playground to enjoy the gorgeous weather, and when everyone was good and worn out, went back and grabbed a quick snack before parting ways. I got no pics of the kids playing :-( Again Fauntleroy caught a good little nap in the stroller.
Fauntleroy did pretty amazing Wednesday actually. He had his last meal with mommy at 6 a.m., a banana at 7:30, a baby food fruit pouchy thing at 10:30, and didn't see mommy again until 12:30. And didn't show signs of emaciation, believe it or not.

After the mommy top up, we had a quick baby showing to some of Alli's colleagues and then back to hotel to sleep the babies. Again Fauntleroy had a great midday nap. Hamish's was a good bit shorter, but we got one in anyway. While Fauntleroy slept, I kept Hamish occupied with snacks, coloring with crayons, and reading a few books.

Once F woke up, we hopped in the car and drove a bit further down the shore to Castle Island (Fort Independence). It's pretty close to but opposite from the airport and out on a beach. There's a big fort there that I've never been inside (and it was closed when we were there, I think it may only be open on the weekends?), but green spaces and a playground and a little bit of beach. Not sure what was going on Wednesday but it was like hurricane winds out there. Waves were crashing and splashing up over cars in a parking lot near the beach. Yet it was a beautiful sunny day out.
We just played on the green space and watched planes for a while before heading to the playground to swing and climb.
Hamish noticed others with ice cream and suggested we get some. I indulged, and we got a frozen yogurt at Sully's that was pretty fabulous. Totally the right call despite that the wind had now made us cold.
Alli had a long day with dinner plans Wednesday. She met us at the hotel to help get babies to sleep, and then took off for dinner. Everything went quite smoothly, although perhaps it was the beginning of a bad trend for Fauntleroy. He woke up twice while Alli was out, and I took to reacting quickly and patting on him. This worked very well when you caught him early, before he'd decided to sit up and get worked up. However, I think over the course of the trip he came to expect that he would sleep  with limitless access to mother milk and constant butt pats. We disagreed, but he really had the upper hand in the hotel room-based negotiations. So he won, and we lost.

Notwithstanding that the nights didn't go super and progressively worsened, I felt like we had things under control at this point. The trip was going well, we were getting enough naps, I had not lost any children, and in fact, we were all having fun.

Thursday snuck up on us and I think it was getting in bed Wednesday night, or perhaps even Thursday morning, that we realized I'd need to get us checked out and on our way across town to another hotel on my own. I'd come up with morning ideas, but with checkout at noon, I put them all on hold. As it turned out, it pretty well took me the entire morning to noon to get us fed, washed, dressed, packed up, and on our way. Fauntleroy also had a decent morning nap, during which Hamish and I played some Uno and read some books. After getting things all sorted out and down to the car, we had some time before Alli was available for another feeding, so I decided to get a water taxi and go for a ride. Hamish and I did the harbor cruise last year, which is nice, but it only leaves from the new england aquarium area. However, water taxis come right up by the world trade center next to the seaport hotel. The concierge at our hotel got the water taxi company to agree to a rate to just give us a nice ride. It was chilly out, but the boat moved very slowly, so it was fine. One other passenger used the taxi to cross the harbor to the airport (what a great way to get to the airport!), and then we headed north through the harbor. We were going to try to go see Old Ironsides, but decided to turn around when Hamish got kinda clingy/whiny.  At least we got nice pictures.
On the 30 min drive to our new hotel in Needham, all the kids fell asleep. So that was a little tricky. I ended up carrying Hamish in one arm and Fauntleroy in car seat in the other up to our room, leaving bags and all for later. Fauntleroy did great and stayed asleep for the next hour and a half or so. Hamish woke up on the way in and decided she was done with naps for the day. Why won't children listen to wisdom? Well that day went downhill (and it didn't start off super with all the packing and attempting to pack while childrens competed for attention). Hamish became increasingly difficult and a threat to wake Fauntleroy. Yet we didn't have our devices set up for any monitoring, so we could leave the hotel room but not go far at all.  When F woke, he was very unhappy about it. After trying various tactics, I decided we would all give the hotel pool a try. We packed our swimsuits knowing both hotels had pools, but I'd decided along the way that it might be too much to try and deal with both of them alone. But when they were both crying at the same time, I decided I could probably keep them alive in a pool. And I did! Hamish isn't a risk-taker for the most part, so that helps. She is more than happy to just hang out on the pool steps. And then we decided that the pool water was kind of cold anyway, and the hot tub was just right (not actually very hot at all), so we hung out there for a while. We went back to the room and had a quick bath to wash off the chlorine, and then tried to maintain our sanity until Alli could finish up her conference and catch a taxi across town to be with us. I may have lost some of mine in the interim, but the kids seem to have no lasting effects.

Once Alli was back we just grabbed dinner at the hotel lobby/restaurant. Alli even left with Fauntleroy early to put him to sleep, and we watched him with our phone baby monitor apps while we ate.

Downside to this hotel room was it was a normal room, no special place for mommy and daddy. So no drink from the bar and TV watching after kids sleep. Though I did watch a little Netflix on my phone. Fauntleroy seemed to just get worse and worse about waking up more and more frequently and yelling so loudly. Patting worked sometimes, but at night he never went more than maybe 3 hrs without a meal. After a long night for 3 of us (thank God that Hamish is awesome and seems to not have noticed all of F's wakings) with F wide awake at 6, I took him and headed out to the car to let the ladies actually sleep for an hour or two. We went to Panera and got coffee and shared a blueberry bagel. Then we drove around for another hour. F fell asleep somewhere in there and probably napped for 45 minutes. We came back to the room with some breakfast and got everyone ready just in time to take Alli to work where she had a meeting at 9 a.m.  After dropping her off, the three of us drove straight back into Cambridge to the Museum of Science. I decided a planetarium show would be fun, starting at 10:30. We had a little extra time to kill, so we went ahead and got general admission, and Hamish had fun, so it was worth it. We saw a giant model of a grasshopper next to a miniature model of a train. We played with the plasma balls and the spark-generating devices in the electricity room. We played with some little puzzles to see how many of different shapes you could fit in a defined space. And then we headed to our show. It was "Big Bird's Adventure: One World, One Sky." It was pretty fun, and afterward Hamish informed me that Big Bird is now her friend (this was their first encounter). It was a fun simple show talking about the sun and moon and stars with another Chinese muppet and discussion of how they could all look at the same stars. I took a little video of some of Hamish's later reenactment description to mommy, but missed some of the best parts:

After that show, we headed quickly to the Van de Graaf generator lightning show. It started before our show ended, so we couldn't get in, but I knew it was too loud for Fauntleroy anyway. We stood at the door and watched what we could from outside. By far the part that made the greatest impression was the woman inside the "bird cage" that gets struck by lightning. Hamish gave no indication of any fear or concern (I think she missed all the buildup) but she talked many many times afterward about the girl who was okay when she was in the Faraday cage that got hit by lightning. We prayed about it at least twice. Thank you God for Faraday cages that can protect us from lightning strikes. It's a beautiful nerdy thing to see Hamish talk about Faraday cages like it's the most natural thing. We grabbed some lunch and then astronaut ice cream to go and headed back to our hotel. But this time it was a little further off. Again, poor timing and a long car trip means I got there with two sleeping children. Ugh. Neither nap was long though. We picked Alli up from work and had her come back to the hotel to try and get everyone to nap. She fed F and tried to put him down but now he was excited about life again. Hamish seemed to be participatory so I took F and showered with him, hoping it would make him sleepy again. However, when we got out, Hamish was playing with her bed friends in a pile in the floor. At this point I demanded that 3 people take naps. I told Hamish that I did not care whether she was tired she was gonna lay there and close her eyes. I wrestled and bounced and fought Fauntleroy until he gave up out of sheer exhaustion. Here's a glimpse of his initial response:
(yea he learned to stand in his crib on this trip and was proud of it), but he did give up eventually.
I refocused on Hamish and though laying with her might help, but she just fidgeted and kept me from getting any nap. F didn't take a very long one, and once again he was awake and unhappy. Anyway there was more of the same in terms of trying to keep a couple of overtired children and their overtired dad entertained/sane. And finally Alli was done with work for the week!

That evening we did a quick office tour to meet colleagues and then we headed back into Cambridge to meet more good friends for dinner. We went to a fun place called Blue Moon with really good food and beer, but tables lined with paper for drawing, a big chalkboard off to a side, and a large train table and books and other assorted kid entertainment. Great idea. Our friends have two boys both older then Hamish and one girl almost the exact same age as Fauntleroy.
Their boys were with grandparents, and with Hamish occupied by all the distractions, we had really good food and conversation before the youngest ones conspired and told us all it was bedtime. Right Now.

Friday night was more of the same with Fauntleroy's sleep. The only exception was at 5 a.m. when we decided to try him in our bed a little. He is not good at sleeping with us, but surprisingly, he fell back asleep easily where he'd been crying in his crib, and we slept well for the next two hours. Then it was time to pack up and head to the airport. Whew.

So, all in all, a hard trip. Not something I'd sign up for with regularity. But, despite the painful parts, I already remember mostly that we had fun and the kids were exposed to some neat things. I'm glad Fauntleroy has the first flights under his belt (he did fantastic on the flight home!)
and it seemed like he enjoyed all of the people in the airports and in the city. Hopefully we can remind him at home that we don't wake up every 2 hrs for feeding and there are not butt pats every time you roll over and have a tickle in your throat. To the extent he never remembers that time he had mommy and daddy rushing to quiet him before he could become the least bit uncomfortable. And then, maybe we can travel again.

And with that, we are worn out.








Friday, April 17, 2015

April 1:
The Manimal: [happy sounds... less happy sounds...THUMP. Crying.]
Hamish: Too much love. From me.

March 27:
Goodnight sun! Have fun in Singapore! ... The sun cannot talk to us back.

March 23:
[Pop and Honey are watching CBS This Morning; the 7 day forecast comes on.]
Look! Look! It's weather! I did not know there was weather on our TV!

March 16:
H: when cats wake up in the morning they always say good day, did you know that daddy?
K: no, where did you hear that?
H: Miss Nina.
K: oh. What do dogs say?
H: they also say good day. And lions.
...more discussion for a while, intermittent singing...
K: what about an elephant? What does an elephant say in the morning?
H: Miss Nina did not discuss that.

March 2:
Kyle to me:
You smell good... Well, there's a little spit up here on your shoulder, but other than that.

February 27:
[Hamish flipping through Kyle's Principles of Virology text.]
"Oh my! This has a lot of stories in it! This looks like a dangerous book."

February 5:
[cuddling in bed, Hamish, a stuffed cat, and me together, The Manimal a little removed to the side with Kyle]
Hamish: Mommy, you and I are the bread and Meowie is the jelly.
Me: We're making a jelly sandwich?
Hamish: We are! And The Manimal is the peanut butter.
Me: The Manimal's more a like a chip on the side of the plate.
Kyle: or a pickle
Hamish: Mommy! The Pickle just touched the Bread's eye!

January 28:
Hamish: Mommy, let's play a game about giving cards to each other.
Me: ok
H: I December-ed you two. And I December-ed me one.
Me: December?
H: Yes! December means to give each other gifts.