Friday, August 31, 2007

Mainely about vacation

We did it -- our first four-member family vacation is complete! We rented a house on a quiet cove in Surry, Maine, near Acadia National Park. Loaded up the mini-van (again, just an amazing modern invention) and headed up I-95 and down some smaller roads. The landscape was serene and reminded us in many places of Finland.

My favorite sightings were the items for sale along the way. Usually just a handpainted sign (Firewood $3, Cucumbers $2.50, Bathouses $10.00, or just stuff "FREE") marked the opportunity.
My only wishes for the week were:
  • lots of time for Peanut to play outside in the yard and on the beaches

  • time for the four of us just to hang out without moving boxes (to be packed or unpacked) in the background

  • visits to Acadia National Park (notice I didn't actually say 'hike', 'tour' or otherwise deeply engage ourselves -- just visit enough to see it)

  • lobster and blueberries

So, all in all, an excellent week! Well, I suppose I had also imagined quiet days of relaxation,but that was just silly. With two little ones, vacation is just home life, but away from home. So, there are tantrums, cooking, shopping and little voices crying out in the middle of the night.

Maine moves at a leisurely pace and it was a relief to melt into it. Our cove home was off the main drive, down a dirt road and secluded. Ahhhhh...To me, any vacation home that you have to take a dirt road to is just fantastic! We had the cove to ourselves and could wonder how the tides never seemed to rest. As soon as it had risen to the top of the beach, you could almost perceive it starting to go out again until 15 feet of stones, mussel shells, seaweed and granite rocks would be exposed.

Acadia National Park is pretty 'la-de-da' as far as parks go. Rockefeller (The Rockefeller) invested much time and money into it, designing a driving route with stops at the key sights. Perfect for us! We also enjoyed the near mandatory Popovers and Strawberry Jam at the Jordan Pond Lake House, arriving just at opening time to be seated with a view of the mountains.

Our vacation ended abruptly the eve Peanut put on Tex's socks, raced around on the wooden floors and slipped, busting open her lip and injuring her teeth. Calls to the local clinic and seemingly only dentist in town who was booked for the next 4 weeks, left us with an hour drive to Bangor to go to the Penobscot Health Center. There the dentist told us all four top teeth were loose and mentioned such terrible solutions as their removal.

Luckily, a follow up visit here in the area found the teeth more stable. We won't know more until the months pass as Peanut was terrified of the X-ray machine and would not allow it to get close enough to get an image. This made me think, I need to find a good local pediodontist and take Peanut in for check-ups just so she's familiar and we have a doctor who will see us in an emergency because they don't all do that unless you are already a patient! It made me miss Dr. Rozas in Coppell.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Butterfly Place

Peanut being a girl, loves butterflies.

So, earlier this week we went to walk among the fluttering creatures at the Butterfly Place with a friend back from our playgroup in Texas who had moved up here more than a year ago!

The Butterfly Place is a privately owned indoor atrium where hundreds of butterflies float freely through (or sometimes just sleep in the middle of the walkways) their mini tropical forest.

What I didn't count on was how unnerving it could be to have a butterfly with an 8-inch wingspan come diving at you (Ok, it wasn't really diving, just fluttering) so you could really see the legs and fuzzy body. Maybe I hadn't had enough sleep the night before and maybe I'd had one too many cups of coffee that morning, but I was almost ducking and diving my way through the atrium.

Peanut's been talking about the butterflies all week and evidently the man who told us about the caterpillars also made an impression since she often mentions him, too.

Tex also had a good time, gazing up at the skylights on the ceiling and certainly seeing some of the butterflies (they were so big!) especially the one that landed right next to his toes in the stroller.

Did you know that each butterfly species caterpillars can only eat certain types of leaves? I did not! I thought was the flowers that attracted butterflies, but as the Caterpillar Man told us, its the trees.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Alaska Greetings

Earlier this week, Peanut & Tex received an Alaska care package from their Grandy & Nana, who are on their nearly annual adventure to the wilds of Alaska.

From the pictures we've seen, they are enjoying themselves as never before. Grandy is hauling in halibut (see picture) of sea-monster proportions with struggles that sound as if they could be the basis for a good fairy tale.

Whales, sea otters and other wildlife glide past their boat as they explore the coast. Grandy has made connections with one of the only other Finns in the area and his eagle eye spotted the local sauna one evening. They've been offered a turn "whenever they don't see smoke coming out of the chimney".

Even Nana gets a turn at the helm of their craft.

Inside the care packages were three unique tales from that great state. Peanut's already been enjoying the Alaska ABC's book from last summer. She'll often tell us that "D is for dall sheep going down" and "V is for vegetables in the valley".

This time, the little ones received The Alaska Mother Goose, Count Alaska's Colors, and Alaska's Three Pigs.

In the package were 6 cans of fresh caught salmon and two jars of hand-picked and lightly prepared blueberries. Yum! The blueberries tasted like blueberries which is not always the case when you buy a jar of jam from the store.

And for dinner tonight --- Salmon Burgers! Peanut's papa reminded me I couldn't just post the Salmon Burger recipe Nana had sent since she copied from the Alaskan Cooking cookbook, but certainly I can link to an Alaskan Salmon Burger recipe.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dreaming of Rice Cream

Little Tex has a sensitive belly.

Around two weeks of age, we noticed he was very unhappy after milk and if put down on his back the milk would come gurgling back up. He was wriggly, fussy, crying and fighting with large gulps to keep the milk down. I heard the milk as it gurgled and bubbled in his belly. One morning, a large handful of milk came flying out of him. I know babies are different and we couldn't expect him to be as calm as Peanut was, but something off.

I took him in to the see the pediatrician, who after listening to my quick concerns said I had just run down the the checklist for infant reflux without missing a beat. Its a common condition caused by the upper digestive tract not being fully developed. Essentially the valve that should keep stomach contents down, doesn't fully function allowing food back up along with painful stomach acid.

Tex was prescribed Zantac to help reduce the acid production so the reflux wouldn't be so painful. We still had to keep him upright for 30 - 40 minutes after feedings and also tilted his crib so the head end was at around a 30 degree angle. The change in him was phenomenal. We finally had a baby who was happy after meals and much more peaceful.

Around two months, Tex started suffering painful bouts of gas that caused him to cry, again generally be unhappy and produce pure liquid poop (sorry for the image, but this is a mom's blog!). I started evaluating what I was eating and hit the internet for some ideas on what might be causing the discomfort.

I went for an elimination diet to cut out the common offenders: diary, peanut, egg and
soy. Wheat is another big one, but I started with the others. It seemed that diary products were his issue. Nothing scientific, just my own testing. Usually at this age, its not lactose intolerence, but rather the whey protein.

Out went the milk in the morning coffee, in came in Rice Milk. No more chocolate, cheese, butter or ice cream! And careful reading of labels helps me spot whey in many more products from bread and crackers to meats and meals.

Now after several months, its OK. I take a calcium supplement to make up for what I'm not getting. Dropping diary also resulted in a rapid drop of several pounds. I just miss the ice cream during summer -- and there is supposed to be Rice Dream Ice Cream out there, I just can't seem to fine it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rocking Guns and Roses on the Dark Side

After Tex arrived, it quickly became very crowded in my car, a silver mommy-wagon from Subaru. With two car seats in the back, there was no more space to drop bags, toys or all the what-not that I tend tote with me. Once the "baby truck" (aka Graco Duo-Glider) was placed in the trunk, even groceries required stuffing and scrunching to get home. Peanut's papa was virtually claustrophobic jammed into the front seat.

So, he brought it up, "we need a minivan".

"No way".
"No freakin' way", said I.
The reaction was first just pure emotion. NO, NO, NO. After mulling it over for several days, I came to understand why I was so opposed to minivans. They simply represent the antithesis of what I imagined my life to be. I was raised to believe anything boys can do, girls can do better. Through high school and college, that thought matured into professional ambitions and a life defined by what I did outside of the home.

A minivan. Well, that meant full-time mama, baby-totting, toddler-taming, strollers, diaper bags, visits to the zoo/park/Chuck E Cheese, a woman who has lost her independence and ability to support herself. Really, all those things I never wanted for myself. Until Peanut and Tex came along (except for the independence part which isn't true. Mamas know that child-rearing requires much more independent thought and decision making than most careers!).

I finally came to terms with the fact that what I drove did not change who I am or what I'm schlepping around town. Its our two wonderful babes and all the accouterments. It helped when Peanut's Papa framed it like this: being wise enough to choose the best tools for the job at hand is what makes anyone successful in whatever they do.

It took about two hours of life with the minivan to make me a true believer.
Minivans rock.
Where else can I get the doors that slide open as I'm coming across the parking lot, child seats at a level I can reach without straining, and space enough for our stroller collection AND grandparents/food/beach gear/etc. And, its actually very driveable - I much preferred it to a large truck or SUV. Today's minivans are loaded with all sorts of other goodies from DVD screens to special convex mirrors to better see what's happening in the backseats to third row seats that disappear making for a trunk you could literally sleep in.

The other night I was driving home from my pedicure, shining toenails pushing on my minivan accelerator. I was alone for once. I didn't have to listen to Raffi sing about wheels on a bus, monkeys on a bed or spiders on a water spout. I was having a great time with Axl, Slash and co. singing about Sweet Child O Mine right before grooving along with the Beastie Boys. In high school, these guys were part of our weekend party soundtrack. Now, they're part of my minivan crew -- next thing you know, we'll be sitting in our rocking chairs at the Ye Olde Folkes Home listening to a group of students perform Paradise City for us on Bingo Night.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Prettiest in Pink

I don't know how it has happened, but Peanut has turned into a pink princess fanatic.

The other day, she was pretending to play golf (papa's newest love). When papa asked her if she would like a set of clubs and balls too, she replied "How about pink ones? Pink princess ones?"

On our trip to pick out curtains for Tex's room, Peanut chimes in "I need pink curtains". She already has some cutesy curtains for her room. Granted, they are not just pink.

As we strolled through the toddler clothing department, "How about a dress? A pink one?"

And, it was with the motivation of princess stickers and underwear that Peanut was encouraged to start using the potty (even though its only white!).

Her favorite Disney princess? "The pink one" = Sleeping Beauty.

I had really hoped to keep the princesses out of our lives for another year or more, but somehow their allure is irresistible. In trying to figure out how they slipped in, I think it all started with
Ms. Christie's Dancing DVD where a ballerina dressed as a butterfly first caught Peanut's eye. This then lead to her picking out what she called a "dancing dress" with butterfly wings for her 2nd birthday present. Perhaps princesses just looked like little girls who always got to wear pretty ("plilly") dancing dresses!

But, the PINK!!! Its all Peanut.