Saturday, May 30, 2009

I only have one project on the needles.

It's... well, it's incredible.

Holy Crap

I know this is supposed to be a "baby blog," but now that we have a baby, everything is pretty much related to him in some way, plus, it's my blog, so you have to put up with some other things. Like knitting.

When I say "Holy Crap," I mean "Holy Crap. It's done."

The project I have been working on since Finn was a blastocyst. The project I thought "Yeah, I'll have it ready for his high school graduation." Done. Off the needles, woven in, and blocked.

I don't know what I was thinking when I started it. I was seduced by yarn, which is usually the case with me. Find the yarn, then try to find the pattern it belongs to. It all works out in the end. Usually. And this is gorgeous. It's riddled with mistakes, and it's not quite as long as I had once imagined, but it'll do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Birthday

One Year. A Whole Year. We have been parents a year. I have not slept in a year. Though I did get some sleep over the summer, before he came home.

First birthdays are bizarre. He does not know what is going on, he can't sit down to a cake like most first years do. It's for the parents and posterity that first birthdays are celebrated. Really, it should be all about the mother. After all, those memories, whatever the situation, are probably still pretty fresh.

So we opted out of a big party and just had an evening at home. I bought him some new wooden blocks, made him a construction paper crown, and baked him a cake, all of which he enjoyed.

Let's reminisce, shall we?

May 29, 2008. 2 pounds, 1 ounce.
May 29, 2009. 16 pounds, 12 ounces.

And again:


He's the same baby, even as a fetus; he's just much busier now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Time, Last Year...

...I was prone, strapped to monitors, peeing through a catheter, looking at an uncertain future. Now, my baby boy is playing happily with blocks and drumming on his wooden drum. It's amazing how well he has done; it's incredible how fast the time has flown by.

It's a couple of days of mixed feelings, though. I remember the fear, but I also know how things turned out, and our experience throughout almost the whole summer was remarkably good.

There's a reunion at the NICU in June, and I am quite excited about it.

Oh, while we were gone, we bought Finn some teething biscuits. You know, the things that are basically Milk Bones. He loves them, but they are messy. You could build houses in the desert out of these things. Just moisten, stick together, and let dry.

It's worth it though, for stuff like this:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Travels with Baby

Cloth diapering and making your own baby food... on the road?

Sure. Why not?

We managed just fine. As long as you have access to a washing machine every few days, it's a snap. As far as making baby food goes, I had a bunch of stuff ready, we brought a cooler, and I made some while we were gone. Thing is, I thought, "Well, I might not have time to make his protein food, so I'll buy that."

We went to the co-op and picked up some Earth's Best organic chicken and rice and lentils and rice. Pete broke them out during the cook out on Sunday, and it was a no go. Neither Pete nor Finn cared much for it. I figure, if we can't stomach it, why should we expect Finn to? I threw out the remainders of the open jars, and made some for him, which he ate just fine. What amazes me is how they make all flavors of baby food smell like, well, baby food.

One thing is for certain: I brought way too much crap. I was expecting him to go through more clothes, but it just didn't happen. Plus, we did laundry. I could have forgone my hulking giant suitcase for a much more diminutive bag. By the next time we road trip, it will all be different again, but I hardly touched most of the clothes I brought for him.

Trip the Light

We're home, and we all survived.
In fact, after 3500 miles and it seems like 3500 new people, I think I can safely say that the boy's default state is Happiness, and other moods are short aberrations from that norm. He did remarkably well with long stretches in the car as well as the human bombardment. We'll see how he does now that we are home, and he is stuck with just me for 9 hours a day...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crap load of pictures post

Because the last time I was in this neck of the woods, I was leaking amniotic fluid unbeknownst to me. Now we have a lovely, strong, healthy baby boy.

Ice Cream? Yes please. I cringe a little because of the refined white sugar, but it was Jim Mack's, and I could not say no.

GAAAAH!! Ice Cream! Ice Cream! Now I am gonna climb this here pole!!

Finn's great grandparents on my side.

There are many more, but this is a jam-packed time. We are off to pick up the grandparents for lunch.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dear Illinois Tollway,

I paid my missed toll online today.

I hope you buy yourself something pretty with my one dollar.

Love, Karen


Relax. It's a Vacation.

Day 1: 356 miles
Day 2: 490 miles
Day 3: 454 miles

I don't have a plan, and it's making me crazy.

I'm sitting in the bedroom while Pete, Finn, Al, and Sue are downstairs. I'm poring over the map and the calendar, trying to fit everything in and get us home so Pete can be at work on the 27th. It's not a lot of time for a trip with wild ambitions. There are a lot of people to see and places to go. It's the kind of trip that is not very relaxing. You have to work at the relaxation. Yesterday, we visited here at Sue's, then visited at Oma and Opa's, then visited at Chris and Kara's. It was all very good, until the last bit, when Finn screamed in his car seat for 45 minutes, and I realized that we need to be in the house where we are going to be sleeping by, say, 7:00. Anything else is just not good for us if it involves more than a couple of miles of travel. He's sick of it, and I don't blame him.

So I am trying to figure it out. If it took us three days to go 1300 miles, do we need three days to go 1100? Probably, but I'd dearly love to pare it down to two.

Nope, I really should not risk it. I should plan for us to leave Pennsylvania on Sunday.

That kind of sucks.

Oh well. When the boy is not mad in his car seat at 9:00 at night (what was I thinking?), he's doing pretty well. It's a lot: new faces, new places, new routine, or lack of one. He seems to be handling it OK until he reaches evening time, which is normal.

He's all set here at Sue's with a crib and some of Pete's old things, as well as toys. He does not sleep in cribs, but they can be fun.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last Day, for now

We allowed for three days, and we did it in three days. We arrived in Easthampton, Massachusetts at 8:30 pm. We left Erie a little late because I had actual work to do. Something had been nagging at me for days, picking at my brain. Something was missing. I went over things in my head, looked at my list, but I could not figure it out. In the middle of the second day, it finally burst into my head in complete clarity: I had not finished the wiki site for the conference we were having on Wednesday. I felt horrible. I beat myself up. I cursed my inability to organize, multi-task, or remember things without writing them down. I wished for a wireless connection. The lunch stop did not have a connection. Or, it did not have a free connection; I could pay AT&T, but I have been avoiding paying AT&T for anything for fifteen years. It's why I don't have an iPhone. Grrrrr. I was not about to capitulate to their demands now, no matter how desperate.

So I had to begin the morning in the Erie Comfort Inn updating the site even as they were getting ready back in Minneapolis. Fortunately I got it all finished... I hope, but we got started a little later than I had planned.

The weather was lovely, and I got Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Florida, California, and Kentucky. I also worked on the lace shawl that I have been knitting since Christmas in Boston, two holidays ago. Sad. But I am making progress.

We packed food, so we can stop at rest areas and waysides to eat, play, and refresh. It saves us money and keeps us from eating crap, which is pretty much the only thing available on the Interstate. Had we more time, I would prefer to take smaller roads and actually experience life a little more; plus, then you get diners. Today, we did take one smaller road, across part of New York State. Highway 23, which borders the Catskills on the north. It was a nice break from 70 miles an hour. We got to see people mowing their lawns and sitting on their porches. It makes me feel a little more connected. Plus, when we do stop, we are spending our money in a small town that might not see as much travel money.

We had lunch at a nice little roadside park in Afton, New York, where I discovered that a damp hotel hand towel had gotten into the diaper bag. We are just breaking the law left and right.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreams of New York

This was just before we got pulled over:

The best state in which to reside is the state of no expectations. It's difficult to pull off, though. Yesterday, I could not help but have dreams of New York State. I thought it would be lovely to blaze through the top slivers of the midwestern states and come out in the great east.

But I'll take Erie, PA.

We traveled 356 miles on our first day, which I suppose is not so bad for mere mortals.

After two days I know a few things:

1. It takes three hours to get going. Up at 6, out at 9, approximately. There is no more Get Up And Go, though I have not been allowed a state of Get Up And Go for five years.

2. Finn's optimum travel time is 9-5, just like the Dolly Parton song.

3. After 7 p.m. you are really pushing it and perhaps consigning both mother and baby to tears.

4. I discovered that I can pay my 1 dollar missed toll on the Illinois Northwest Tollway online within seven days, which I will most certainly do.

5. People are not out traveling in great numbers right now. It could be the time of year. It would be a stretch to blame it on the economy. But I think I may start blaming everything on the economy.

My hair looked terrible today. Bloody economy.

Due to the small amount of out-of-state cars on the road, the license plate game sucked, though I must admit to not really trying. MN, WI, ND, IL. I could get those in my neighborhood. I did decide not to use trucks. It's not really fair. When you are heading east, it changes the game. Montana becomes the prize, not Rhode Island. Alaska is always golden. Hawaii is practically a miracle. Though I can't think of Hawaii license plates without conjuring up the old faithful incident. You know what I am talking about, Mom and Ruth (that's for later).

The speed limit on the northwest tollway is 55. Pete was driving at a pokey 64. Though at a certain point, all the cars will come to a stop. All that speeding for nothing. I am not being philosophical. This is Chicago.

My dad does not drive through Chicago, preferring to go way around it. My brother and I shoot straight through, in my case no matter the time. This time, we went through at 9:30 in the morning. Apparently these people go to work late. Or, it's road construction. Yup. Road construction.

We get around four straight hours out of the boy in the morning, during which he mostly sleeps. Then we stop for an hour and a half or so, and then we can usually only push on for two hour stretches. This is a good exercise in remembering that the trip there is part of the vacation, and it needs to be savored an enjoyed as such. I have read 108 pages of a cool library book on organic housekeeping, gotten one knitting project off the needles, and pored over maps for fun. That's not so bad for someone who takes weeks to get through one book nowadays.

One thing I realize is that I should have checked the public breast feeding laws for all these states before we left. We all have our things either that we keep to ourselves or that marginalize us in some way. Some people are more vocal about demanding rights; some causes are more acceptable. Some people just need to complain. It's strange to feel marginalized for something that is practically one of the most natural things I can think of: feeding your baby. To think that there need to be laws about it is odd and frustrating, but there you have it. American acceptance only goes so far, and it seems that in most of the country, it's still considered strange to breastfeed in public.

At about 8:30 in the evening, we tried to push on for a few more miles, inching closer to Pennsylvania. We tried plying him with a bottle and food, which only lasted for so long, after which he became very upset; he could not comprehend why I was sitting RIGHT THERE and doing nothing about his distress. He screamed and cried and reached for me, and I felt absolutely terrible. We had dreams of New York State, but Erie will have to do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Learn Spanish, kids! And subtle racial stereotypes!

A chihuahua and a cat were sitting down to dinner in a nice
restaurant. The chihuahua was saying words in English and Spanish, and
the words would appear on the screen. "They have it all wrong," I
quipped. "Their Mexican chihuahua should be in the kitchen, washing
dishes." And a minute later, he was, because he had no money to pay
the bill.

I was just joking because the chihuahua was already such a racial
parody. At least I can quite easily explain to Finn that dinosaurs did
not drag their tails on the ground when they walked. But these sorts
of things are cumulative and insidious. I asked Pete if I was being
overly sensitive or reasonable, and he said "Both."

Yeah. I don't want to be an overly pc freak job, but are we not more
sophisticated than this?

"Things do not change; we change."
-- Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hello, Land of Lincoln

I'm breastfeeding in the parking lot of a Super 8 in Hampshire, Illinois.

I'm not on the run, or anything. It's a road trip. The first long one with the baby.

We are headed back to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania so that Finn can meet his great-grandparents. We will be visiting with many extended family members as well as Pete's folks.

We left the driveway at 12:41 p.m. and zero miles. I had been thinking that if we left by noon, we would be doing pretty well. The only thing I did not do is vaccuum. A quick stop at the library and a friend's house to drop off a key, and we were off. It only took 4.3 miles before I realized I had forgotten something. The road atlas. Sure, I have a map to cover every inch of our trip, but I like to follow along and I like to flip ahead. But we did not go back. I have the breast pump, and I have the baby.

Packing for a trip with a baby is absurd. I feel like we are bound for the southern hemisphere with all the crap we have. Pete, who packed the car, says it's not that bad, but I wish we had less with us. Still, I think we have less than most people with a baby. I hope. It's amazing how much you can fit into a Corolla.

The boy fell asleep pretty quickly. I have no expectations as to how he will do on a half cross country road trip. We would normally do this trip in two days; I allowed for three.

This is Finn's first trip out of state. Hello,Wisconsin!

At 4:44, we stopped in Madison at a park for a diaper change and a boob snack. A side, but related note: few things can ruin a relatively lovely urban scene than foul mouths and cigarette smoke. Don't get me wrong, I can toss around a few profanities when necessary and interesting, but I think it's wildly crass in public.

Finn woke up a couple of times, but he played a little and then fell back asleep. After a picnic table diaper change and some swing and slide time, we boob snacked in the car because I am unsure of Wisconsin's public breast feeding laws. It's so bizarre that feeding a baby can be subject to such things, but there you have it.

I used to travel by the gas tank. When I needed gas, I stopped, filled up, peed, and hit the road. Those days are long gone, have been, actually, since I started traveling with Pete. Now, even more frequent, even longer stops are going to be my life. As the grown up, it's my job to adapt and, above all, chill out.

Like now. Normally, I drive until I drop, trying to get as far as I can, as quickly as I can without speeding. We had been hoping to get to the other side of Chicago, maybe as far as South Bend, Indiana. But just inside the border of Illinois, Finn started screaming. I don't think it's the fault of The Land of Lincoln. Maybe it's because of the department of highways, and our little man does not like toll roads. In any case, I am now living outside the law because we wound up in the pass lane on the first toll, and so did not pay. Now I am expecting to be pulled over and slapped into cuffs over one dollar.

You see, I am the person for whom deterrents work. I don't like to get into trouble, and I don't like to look foolish, so I usually obey laws and rules. This incident plus the screaming fit put me into a foul mood. Luckily, Pete was amenable to stopping, because I thought that the screaming would spiral out of control, and we would be stuck limping to Gary. We sat in the sunset, spooning pear sauce into Finn's mouth, and the red wing blackbird chirrup, and I could think of nothing better than a hotel room and a relatively normal schedule for the boy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A spider scuttling up your arm, its fluttery steps tracing your
fingers, appearing in sharp relief on the white screen of your iPod
while you are reading, unable to sleep, is one way to get out of bed

I am now sitting on top of the covers, in my bathrobe, with a glass of
Remy, watching the boy sleep away.