Monday, November 28, 2016

Moving to the Land of Ufos and Cacti

Whew. What a month. And a half. I haven't written in forever. So I thought I'd jump back in with a post about our most recent crazy move across the continent. The last one for a while. I'm serious this time. Last one. I'm going to have to change the blog name though, there's no moose in Nevada; just UFOS, aliens, and the like. I'm accepting ideas currently. Of Scorpions and Saucers? The M-files? Hmmmm. I need to think on this big decision some more...(I haven't actually seen any scorpions or cacti, it's more foothill terrain here, really).

A move to or from Alaska is a big under taking for anyone. Then add two neurotic dogs (one of which is human sized) and a rowdy tiny human and you've got a logistical nightmare. Don't forget, add in holiday chaos for an extra treat. Travis took care of booking most of the travel arrangements while I dramatically moaned and lamented out fate. Mama llama stomps and pouts, jumps and shouts. Mama llama, please stop all this llama drama. I've read Llama Llama Red Pajama one time too many. Seriously though,  I was NOT happy. We've made the best of things though and this is how it has all shaken out travel wise, vaguely broken down by family member and general timeline.

First, Roxi left the 26th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She was headed to my parents in Colorado. Travis flew with her to Anchorage, checking her like a piece of (very overpriced) luggage. He couldn't simply ship her from Fairbanks without paying an absurd charge for a 2 hour potty break for her in Seattle. The only flight she could take would be a red eye where she'd need a kennel to pick her up and take her back again in Seattle so we didn't go with that option. From, Anchorage, Travis cargo shipped Roxi solo to Denver and my family who are stuck with her for the duration of our house selling and house buying process. Then Travis flew back home from Anchorage to Fairbanks.  Thanks to frequent flying and vouchers from the disastrous first flights with Lyra, this only cost us 20 bucks for Travis' flight plus the normal pet flying fees and a rental car for a couple hours. Now Roxi is contentedly getting fat and napping on furniture at my parent's house. My family is surprisingly not the biggest group of suckers in this story, you'd be interested to know. That honor belongs to my in laws who are stuck with the big moose of a dog.

Now my mother in law is a known softie for animals. Its why she owns an absurd amount of alpacas and a couple dogs. So Travis gave her a call when he knew his dad wouldn't be around to stop her.  He explained the situation. She agreed to keep Dinger. Someday we will break it to her that we meant forever. Trying to fly with Dinger is much worse than flying with Roxi. No airlines in Fairbanks will fly our massive dog. He's on the no fly lists. Which is kind of b*llsh*t because he is not a snub nose breed like they claim. But whatever. United will fly him but they only fly out of Anchorage. Oh, but they don't fly planes big enough from Anchorage to take him. Seriously. And he's a 130 pound runt of an English Mastiff, for goodness sakes.

So Travis left Monday the 28th with Dinger. They drove by car, through Canada in the winter, solo, to Portland, Oregon. Travis' drive was a five day journey in total.  Twelve hour days of solid driving with no extra driver, just for some perspective. Yaaaay audiobooks. And then also carting in a suitcase of cloth diapers (so the extreme cold won't crack the plastic material), two boxes of wine (so the cold won't explode them) plus the big guy and all the day to day essentials to a potentially sketchy hotel every night. Travis said poor Dinger was kind of depressed and only had three or four meals the whole trip, one of which Travis had to hand feed to him. Travis also said he woke up one night to find that Dinger had decided to sleep in the spare queen bed in their hotel room. I think he's lucky that Dinger had the courtesy to get in the other bed rather than share with Travis.

Dinger's kennel and kennel extension (I wish I was joking) were too large to take in the jeep from Fairbanks. So Travis shipped them to his sister who lives in Portland. From there, Dinger was shipped out (by extra large United plane) to Travis' family in Michigan for the duration. Sidenote here, I DETEST United with the fiery passion of 1000 burning suns. I could write a whole post on that. But I have achieved revenge by sending Dinger on their flights and through there kenneling facilities. I pity them. He was supposed to be semi sedated with doggie xanax for the first flight or so, but Travis abandoned that plan when Dinger seemed a little too woozy on the xanax test drive. Travis' dad said when he went to pick up Dinger, the United people were telling him all about this massive dog that had just been shipped that he had to see. And he had to explain that that was the dog he was there to picm up... 😂 Anyway,  that's how we sent Dinger to the farm. Travis continued onward to Reno, the Jeep's cargo hull (hold?) significantly lightened. He made it just in time to pick myself, Lyra, and my mother up from the Reno airport. Which brings us to that mess of logistics.

So while Travis and Dinger ran off on their adventure through the Canadian wilderness, Lyra and I were left solo to wrap up things in Fairbanks.  Now, I was not looking forward to dealing with 2 days of movers followed by a full day of plane travel while wrangling my tiny climbing/running scream demon (that's the scientific name for "toddler" in case you were wondering). So we arranged to have my mother fly out and help me with all of that.

Tiny detour here...at the beginning of the month I arranged to be on call for my birth photographer friend (the same one who took freaking awesome photos of Lyra being all alert and not newborny right after birth) to watch her littlest baby, Olin, during a birth she was attending. She assured me the mom would likely go early and we wouldn't run into my end of the month deadline. Naturally, all the babies worked their hardest to crush our plans. First, Lyra became horrendously ill about a week before the due date and took us off call. After 5 trips to the first care doctor, several days of 103+ fevers, too many force fed doses of ibuprofen/tylenol, an ear infection (Lyra's), a sinus infection (mine), posssible hand foot and mouth disease, and a round of antibiotics for everyone, we recovered enough to go back on call for watching little Olin. The pregnant client finally went into labor 2 days shy of 42 weeks, at 1 in the morning, the same day my mom was due to arrive, 2 days after Travis had gone, and 1 day before the movers showed up. Poor little Olin was not happy to be left with me. So we stayed up for the rest of the night and watched cartoons, much to Lyra's delight. Luckily the birthing mother had a short 4 hour labor and as soon as Olin's mom was back, he was all smiles and so perfectly thrilled to be around me. What a stinker! But after we took a short nap and had people over to measure for new carpet, we picked up my mom from the airport and had an otherwise uneventful day.

Thursday the 1st arrived and so did the movers. As well as snow and general crappy weather. Thanks, Alaska, if we could just pile on some more complications while moving that would be great. I stopped being able to make it up my driveway in the rental car and got stuck a couple times on our road. Luckily, I managed to get free on my own without a tow. The movers managed to get their truck up the drive most of the way by some miracle. It was a feat to watch. I ditched my mom and Lyra at a hotel to keep them out of the way and off the roads while I made various phone calls and supervised the movers and made emergency runs for things like bolt cutters. Because that's what happens when you have a locked shotgun case that needs to be shipped and you haven't got a clue where the keys may be packed. I seriously was wandering around the grocery store at 7:30 in the morning on 2 hours of sleep cradling a pair of bolt cutters. The movers part of the move actually went quite smoothly, though, all things considered.

Finally we arrived at the actual day ir travel for Lyra, my mom, and I. Our day of flying started off rough with several hours of delay but we salvaged it. I wish we hadn't gotten up so early and I'd had time for a real lunch instead of snacks but those are minor complaint as far as travel with a toddler goes. Plus we got free snack packs and an entertainment tablet (Lyra loved that) because of the delay. When our first plane touched down in Seattle we had 16 minutes until our plane to Reno boarded but we still managed to get off the last row of seats, do a diaper change, have a bathroom break, buy a water bottle, and change terminals to make it to our next gate just in time. My mom even had time to chase down a "lucky penny" that was weaving it's way along the ground for a long while between travelers and luggage along a busy stretch of terminal.

We are staying in a furnished apartment in Sparks (basically Reno) for the time being while we wait for our things and sell our house and find a new one. We will likely be getting an unfurnished apartment in the new year once our things arrive in Fernley, the town closer to the mine where we will be living permanently. So phase 1 of the move is complete but we are still very much in the process of moving for the foreseeable future. Wish us luck!

This is Lyra, getting ready to travel, she may incur me an excess baggage fee.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Holiest Of Feminine Care Products

Since I do considerably less adventurous things on a daily basis but still miss writing, I thought I'd branch out from tales of our day to day life and tell a story from my childhood. This is tale of Tampon Jesus.

Disclaimer; I mean no offense to anyone with my story of Tampon Jesus. Our family is actually fairly religious.  My dad is a pastor and my mom was as well, back in the day. Travis and I go to church with Lyra if everyone has had some sleep and no one is vomiting. We're not complete sinners. There's just a minor harmless streak of mischievous heathen running through the family. We still celebrate Christmas with candlelit services, but we had to get rid of the stocking hangers that spell out "Santa." They always mysteriously rearranged and spelled "Satan." Usually my mother would only discover the modification while giving company a tour of the house.  It made her rather furious, but my brother and I generally found it hysterical. But I digress.

Here's a little background for those of you who don't know my mother. She likes craft projects, creativity, and making a bold statement. And she does not do something halfway. These are great qualities, but sometimes she goes a little overboard and we must give her crap for all eternity about it.  Anyone in our family could attest to this. Like how we won't let her forget the time my brother and I had to drink 50 bottles of Snapples in a week for a summer camp project.

We'd be like, "Mom, I'm thirsty. Can I have some water?"

And she'd say, "No, honey, not until you've finished your 50 oz of daily Snapple."

This was back in the era of fruit smoothie flavored Snapples. I'm thrilled they discontinued those flavors.

Or another example is the time she decided to make 3D canvas pictures using fake flower petals. She scoured the thrift stores, bought about 20 cubic feet of fake flowers, ripped them apart, and sorted thousands of petals by color before gluing them back on canvas in elaborate patterns.

And it was recently I asked her for "a few" cloth wipes to try cloth diapering "if she had the time." I received no less than 200 wipes (probably more) plus burp cloths enough for quadruplets. She still talks about how I was such a slave driver when I was pregnant. Sheesh.

But anyway, let's talk about Jesus.

It started when my mom brought up a valid point one day. She'd seen different representations of Jesus as different races to depict that he suffered for people of all walks of life. But she never saw one where he was depicted as a woman. She set out to remedy this. And that's where the project began to veer from serious to semi satirical. How would my mom depict Jesus suffering as a woman, you ask? Let's not go with a boring old painting or drawing...let's make a life size model out of maxi pads. And thus, Tampon Jesus was born. More accurately he (I mean...she) should be called Always Stay Dry Jesus or Kotex Heavy Flow Jesus but his beard was made from tampons and that was good enough for us.

The glory of tampon Jesus was that the closer you looked, the the more glorious he became. He was nailed to his cross with stilettos. He was garbbed in an uncomfortable underwire bra and thong panty lingerie set. His face was done with makeup and nail polish. He even had a sassy hairdo, courtesy of a thrift store wig. He had a sparkly tiara.

I have made peace with Tampon Jesus as I have grown and matured, but as teenagers both my brother and I were vaguely horrified by him. It didn't help that we were pretty sure he was haunted or possessed. Or one of my parents liked to mess with us. Because wherever you went, Tampon Jesus was there. Turn on the light in the storage room while you're grabbing a can of peas for dinner; there he was, lurking in the dark corner. Walk into the office to print off something for school; there was Jesus, always watching over you. Spot a creepy looking object under a white sheet in the garage...Jesus. We dubbed that sheet the shroud of Turin, by the way. The phrase "finding Jesus" means something entirely different to my brother and me. Years later we even found Jesus (minus a beard tampon or 2 but more or less intact) under several boxes of fake flower petals in the back of the closet under the stairs while searching for Christmas decorations. But by far the most terrifying encounter with Tampon Jesus occurred the time I borrowed the van one evening, glanced in the rear view mirror, and saw Jesus' vacant eyes staring me down from the backseat.

I'm kind of sad to say that I don't know where Tampon Jesus got to in the end. I'm a bit concerned that one day in the far off future, after my parents are long gone,  my brother and I will find him lurking in an attic somewhere. If we do, we're locking him in a tomb with more than just a stone.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Musings During Naptime (Alternately: I'm Pretty Sure I'm Loosing My Marbles)

I've decided being a mother is akin to being a victim of Stockholm syndrome. I can honestly say it is the best time of my life so far. But then I begin to question my sanity. Currently, I'm spending the most quality time I've had with Travis is weeks. I'm freshly showered and watching him on the baby monitor...because Lyra does not nap alone. We often spend time like this when Travis is off work, usually he is watching us on the monitor (he doesn't lactate, that lucky duck) and we text back and forth. Often I'm begging for food and drink to nourish my poor body.

So someone once said babies this age should only be awake for 2 hours maximum at one time. Pffffft. Lately we get 2 hours of naptime during the day on a good day. And usually not all at once. I swear she has a 6th sense. No matter how gently I lay her down, instant open eyes. So we try and nurse to sleep with her already laying down so I can perform a sneaky ninja roll away. She's figured that out too. Now if I stay there, I can kind of move around, make some noises, set my hand on her, etc. She'll occasionally flail around and once shes patted me on the boob,  punched my eyeball with surprising force, stuck a few fingers up my nose or tugged on my lip...she's content again that my presence has been verified.  If I try to move away....she'll kick her legs and flail her arms and upon finding my spot empty...instant wake up call. Luckily we still get sleep at night at the moment. Granted,  it's hard to sleep when you have tiny fingers tickling your armpits and baby feet kicking your stomach. It was adorable when she was a fetus,  it's lost its novelty now. Sometimes as Travis snores and I feed a grunting, grumbling, 11 pound bedhog while fending off windmilling, taloned hands and bicycling feet, I consider smothering him in his sleep. Then I remember he feeds me and I let him live. It isn't his fault he isn't a dairy cow.

Here's another thing. I was going to say I'm pleasantly surprised by how non messy this vocation of motherhood is. Then I looked at my last post and I said the opposite. I am a bit frightened that I've been beaten down so quickly. Now that I've been thinking on it, it isn't messier than any of my other jobs. When I worked at Dairy Queen (ha, I just realized I'm still a Dairy Queen, how punny) I was regularly coated in a layer of ice cream and candy toppings. As a mud engineer I was nearly always coated in a layer of mud and general filth. My job as a babysitter was probably the least messy. Though I recall once being soaked on hose water and locked out of the house. Nowadays I am rarely clean. The first few weeks after birth,  I'd wake up and face the horrible question is this milk, sweat, or drool? And then the inevitable, is this my sweat and my drool? At least I can blame it on Lyra while she's defenseless. And postpartum hot flashes. We've had several projectile vomit episodes. And motherly instinct immediately kicks in, baby gets tossed over my shoulder or onto my chest to make sure she doesn't choke. If it were summer, I'd consider just having Travis hose us down after those. And of course the inevitable poo-splosion. Lucky for me, I have mom friends. It's a nice feeling of solidarity to send a picture of your poop covered baby captioned, "we were laying in my bed...." and receive one back "just finished washing up one of those." Lyra is starting to get drooly now. Luckily Dinger was here to prepare me. His drool strings are much much worse.

Lucky for tiny tyrant, she's pretty darn cute. And lucky for the dogs, she's saving their lives on a daily basis. She's in a "can't sleep with noise" stage and those dogs are loud. Shaking collars, barking, whining, etc. But when I'm trapped under a sleeping baby, I can't get to them. The rare occasion I have Lyra napping alone, I still can't yell at them out of fear she'll wake. Roxi has already dug her own grave though. I'm 100% serious. There's a hole she'd fit in right under the kitchen window. When I was about 478 weeks pregnant, I put copious amounts of hot pepper in it and took to standing vigil at the kitchen window to throw buckets of water on any dog dumb enough to get close. All while muttering angrily to myself and cackling when I aimed well enough. It got to the point they'd scatter the second they hear the window begin to open. We didn't get it filled in the chaos of baby having. So when the day comes, I'll be ready. They sure owe Lyra for saving their coats. I'd love me a nice Dinger skin rug for the nursery. Roxi would perhaps make a cute hat.

I'm finishing this post sitting in a camp chair under another person, in the same position I was in an hour ago, wondering if I've permanently damaged my left arm by restricting blood flow for an hour. But the hour long nap is probably worth loosing an arm. I have two. Biology is nuts, man. I will wipe butts and sit in the dark for hours for a few coos, a smile or two and the hope of a giggle while contemplating when I should have the next one and if I can talk Travis into four of them.

My life.

The funniest way she's passed out ever. 

We sit in the dark. A lot.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Birth of Lyra Beatrix.

It has been six weeks since the birth of my little stomach dweller and it has been a whirlwind. My mom arrived a week before my due date, just in time to help me with my last few nesting chores. And also we binge watched a lot of Call the Midwife and X-files. I'm pretty sure Lyra recognizes the X-files theme song now, to be honest. I was thrilled to have someone to hang out with me during the day, and Travis was thrilled to have someone else I could voice my complaints to. At this point, I was convinced Lyra would be late. All the August babies were early, all over the country, it was insane! So I was a little displeased by this fact. In addition,  I was hormonal about how I would soon have to share my baby and miss my baby kicks from the inside. Not rational,  but neither is pregnancy.  Also, I could not sleep, I could not waddle very fast anymore, I had to pee approximately 45,673 times per day, even looking at food gave me heartburn, and my random contractions that I'd been having for months were getting more painful but staying completely unproductive.

I could not sleep the night before my due date. Travis was scheduled to work a day shift and his family was due to arrive at midnight. Once I gave up on sleep around four in the morning, I got up and began pacing around the house while Travis got ready for work.  I started having quite a lot of contractions but they barely hurt and I'd been playing this game of random contractions for a while.

Side note; we found out during a trip to the hospital at 34 weeks that I have a super irritable uterus. Luckily we didn't have an early baby, we just tricked my uterus with some nifty meds. Basically the meds kicked on my flight or fight reflex and said, "Hey uterus, calm the hell down, don't drop that baby yet, we need to escape from some lions first." But back to my due date...

I sent Travis to work and I decided to time contractions just to be sure. I assured him it was a false alarm but said I'd update him if necessary. After an hour or so of my usual slightly painful contractions every 3 or 4 minutes, I woke up my mother and insisted she vaccum my floors just in case I was in labor. I should have realized I was definitely in labor as I was forcing my mother to vaccum my house at six in the morning,  but I was in denial.  I had a gut feeling that when I went into labor, I'd have a fast labor, but I kept convincing myself that as a first time mom, that couldn't be the case.  But I called Travis anyway and told him he should get his crew lined up and then head home so we could just pop into the birth center when they opened to find out if I was in labor or not. My contractions started to get more painful than they'd ever been before so I timed them again and they were only 2 minutes apart. At this point I started to panic a bit and tried to finish packing my bag in between contractions and ordering my mother around. I also called Travis crying and told him to hurry up.

I did hypnobirthing but had a hard time staying relaxed since I didn't have a break between contractions so I didn't really utilize it fully. I do credit hypnobirthing for making the car ride bearable. When we got to the birth center I found out I was 4 cm and definitely in labor. My midwives told me it probably would be a while and we probably would want to wait a while to call our birth photographer. After an hour or two contractions were getting very intense and I was worried about my ability to handle them later on if I wasn't very dilated yet and they were already this bad. However, the policy on cervical checks was only once every 4 hours so I had no idea if I was making progress.  In hindsight I was already in transition and progressing very quickly. My midwives recognized this though, and got me set up in the tub. Previously they told us to hold off on the tub until I was further into labor. They said something like, "You know, you might want to go ahead and tell your birth photographer to get here."

My water broke while I was in the tub. It was definitely a weird sensation. I felt a big pop and then kept feeling like I was peeing uncontrollably with every contraction for an hour or so. It is only in hindsight that I had the realization that was my waters and not pee. The midwives told me things would get "more intense" now that my water had broken.  Indeed. I think it was for the "more intense" comment that I called my midwife a dirty liar. I changed my mind about having more children while in labor. I decided adoption was a pretty swell idea. Also I very much regretted not having the option of drugs and pain relief. In the end I'm glad I did everything fully naturally, but at the time I was pretty upset with past Miriam for making rash decisions. My labor went fast enough I might not have had the option for drugs anyway.

At some point,  the midwives verified I was 10 cm and I started pushing. And pushing....and pushing. I pushed in the tub, on 2 different types of birthing stools, on the toilet, laying on my side, laying on my back, on all fours, on all fours with a leg pulled up in a lunge, squatting....they ran out of ideas for new positions. I pushed for so long we ended up calling for an ambulance to transfer to the hospital. In the end that wasn't needed and the paramedics sat around having tea while I gave birth at the birth center. This was why I was able to get decent pictures immediately after Lyra was born; I'd been wrangled back into clothing for transfering. Most of labor I spent unclothed...except while delivering my child, ironically.

Labor really set me up for parenting. I thought pushing lying down on my back would be counter productive and I would hate it. And I ended up delivering that way. Partially because I was so exhausted that it was the best position to be in. Another sidenote here: Travis calls this pushing position "the Mitt Romney," as he misunderstood the actual name the the midwives kept calling it. And since then, I've changed pretty much every plan I've had for Lyra. She got some jaundice after several days and wasn't eating well; there went my plan of no bottles for a while. We gave her a pacifier around 2 weeks old when we hadn't planned on using one. I struggled cleaning the cloth diapers I was set on using so we are using disposables instead. I planned on her sleeping in her bassinet but she often sleeps in our bed; something I said I'd never do. I just really like snuggles and so does she.  So yeah...welcome to parenthood apparently. But she's been a good easy baby overall

Lyra did fantastic throughout the entire labor. Her heartbeat was strong the whole time. That and the fact I kept making very slow progress while pushing were the only reasons we got to stay at the birth center. But I could tell I was a difficult customer when I had 3 midwives and an assistant attending.

Lyra Beatrix finally made her entrance after about 11 hours of labor (5 of that was pushing!). Lyra was an incredibly alert baby as soon as she was born at 5:15 pm. Her eyes were immediately open and this really cool shade of dark gray. I had no idea babies could have that color of eyes. She was 7 lb 4 oz, smaller than I thought she'd be, but I'm so glad she wasn't bigger. She was 20.5 inches, a long baby! And she has long legs and feet, I have trouble finding her socks that fit. Her poor little head was majorly coney  and pretty bruised, but no lasting harm done. Everyone says I was a very nice and quiet laboring mother, I have no idea where that alternate personality came from! I only swore a couple times, anyone who knows me knows how crazy that is!

Overall the experience was exactly what I hoped for. It would have been great to spend a little less time pushing and to have more spaced out contractions, but we were really fortunate to have a quick and complication free labor and delivery on my due date.

The last few weeks haven't been easy, but they haven't been the hardest weeks ever. The fatigue and sleep deprivation was overrated in my experience so far. I'm tired, but not a debilitating amount. Honestly, working nights was much worse.

Breastfeeding was a huge challenge. Lyra had jaundice at first and once my milk came in, we had immediate oversupply problems. Even though everyone says you're lucky to have a problem like that, you're not. It is still a problem. It has taken 6 weeks to be comfortable and be able to nurse normally without having to pump and/or catch insane amounts of leakage. We're still working on perfecting it. And I have 400 oz of breastmilk in my freezer. Plus 100 oz that I donated. That's a total of about 34 lbs of milk, around 4 gallons.

The messiness of parenthood was not overstated. I've had to catch my wildly out of control breastmilk in a wine glass. At one point I sent my mom into a fit of hysterical, turn her whole face purple laughter when I hung a couple of those bibs with pockets from my boobs to catch milk, saying I was going to patent that invention. I've been covered in projectile exorcist style spit up several times and had boogers sneezed on me. Once I caught projectile poop during a diaper change. Not to mention all the drool and spit. Lyra has this habit the past few days of licking my neck even when she isn't hungry. I think she thinks she's a puppy. Babies are weirdos.

Postpartum hormones are no joke. Happy tears, stressed tears, odd random tears, lots of tears! There were a few days straight I couldn't look at Lyra without crying because, "I love her so much," emotions overwhelmed me. Raw is the best word to describe the first postpartum days.

Present Miriam checking in here. I can't believe I have a 14 month old. Life feels like it is back to normal but simultaneously completely different than it used to be. It still blows my mind a little that a whole other person exists now. I have a wildly fearless, fiercely independent, adorable, and scary smart toddler now! I can't really adequately sum up a year in a few words but I can say it's been quite the adventure and I'm glad to have photos that capture some of the countless milestones.

39 weeks preggo. I forgot my 40 week photo on the midst of being in labor.
My 40 week "bump photo"

Sunday, May 3, 2015

March Madness

Well it is official, Travis and I have never had a cheap or boring March. In fact, we've had big life moments every single March together; new jobs, engagement, marriage. This year Travis and I are officially homeowners!!!  We closed on our new place a few days after our first wedding anniversary. We also saw our baby for the second time the day after our first anniversary. I even started feeling our baby move and kick about a week after my birthday. So here's some updates on all that.

First a virtual house tour!

Our new house!
A great view of Dinger charging, he loves the yard. We plan on putting up a fence this summer.
The arctic entryway. This is immediately through the main front door, the garage is off to the right and  the main house is through the door to the left. We even have a coat closet in here, small victory. The garage will be fantastic for the winter.
We got to hang our wedding wreath on the door to the house.
When you enter from the arctic entry way, you come out onto the main stairwell and can go to either floor. The stairwell has a nice tall wall where we hung wedding pictures. We have baby gates up to contain the dogs and the future baby.
The dogs currently have their own room  in the main basement area with a door to the front yard. Roxi ruins the panoramic shot with her darn waggy tail. That wood stove is just a secondary source, we use heating oil mainly.
 
Another basement shot, don't mind the tools and closet doors sitting out, we're still getting set up. The far right door is under the stair storage space, to the left of that is the bathroom, and to the left of that is the guest room/office. The nursery is on the far left. The dogs ruin my pictures again. 
Our downstairs science themed bathroom. I'm hoping to find some beakers or something for a soap holder and toothbrush holder and so forth. Our washer and dryer hide behind the door in here. 
Our under the stair storage is so handy. As is the garage, it is great to have usable space.
The nursery was the first room to get a paint job, we will start working on the rest of the house soon. And also working on getting some baby furniture. This room will be space themed!
 The office/guest bedroom doesn't get it's own picture yet, it is full of boxes and doesn't have a bed or desk set up yet so it is a mess, but we are working on it!

Now for upstairs! The floor plan is very open. We have a living area, dining area, and kitchen all in one room. I LOVE this. It makes it easy to chat with Travis while cooking, track the dogs at all times, and will be great for watching a toddler. We plan on changing the flooring to a consistent non carpet of some sort before we have a solid's eating child. The windows are huge and let in pretty much all the light, which will be great come winter. Also this room is pretty nerdy, Sasquatch and a drill bit are both in the picture.  Also the entertainment system shelves are full of nerdy board/card games.

Another view of the upstairs. The old fashioned radio is actually a liquor cabinet. The door to the left is the master, next to it is the bathroom and there's also a closet hidden back to the right that we use as a pantry.
Our kitchen,  we added the butcher block island, best purchase ever! Just ignore the dirty dishes, we were having a lazy day and cleaning out leftovers for lunch.

The master bedroom. We finally got nighstands and dressers, it is awesome. I get to put all the seashells from the honeymoon out and our lab beaker decor made it all the way up without getting broken.
I also love our color coordinated and tree/leaf themed bathroom. It is great to have upgraded past the eclectic decor a bit.
And that's the house! It is located above the inversion so we get warmer fresher air. Travis saw a moose just down the road a week or so ago, and I saw two this evening in the same area. I'm pretty much in love with the immediate area and the house. It is so nice to finally have a home without a future move date already planned.

So about the pregnancy and baby...

It is no secret I've been having a rough time this pregnancy with morning sickness. Mine did not let up after the first trimester as is often typical.  I tried everything, small frequent meals, ginger candy and tea, lemonade and potato chips, prescription nausea meds, unisom and B-6, papaya enzymes, peppermint, preggo candies I bought off Amazon, I even considered sacrificing the dogs to appease the pregnancy gods.  I don't think there was a fix I didn't try. Every day was all day nausea. I did have a few spare good days or hours but also had far too many days that included vomit.

Meanwhile, Travis and I debated whether or not we would be finding out if the baby was a boy or girl or would leave it a surprise until delivery. Travis wanted to keep it a surprise and I did not.  It became clear neither of us would have a change of heart. But at some point, after being confined to a small hotel room and plagued by hormones, a dog that temporarily forgot his manners and potty training skill, morning sickness, sadness that I hadn't felt our baby kick yet, heartburn, and insomnia fueled by a constant need to pee, Travis finally caved.  He agreed to find out what kind of baby we were having if I was still seriously battling morning sickness by our 20 week ultrasound. We got a whole set of pictures from this ultrasound.  And if was so amazing to see a baby that looked unmistakable baby like, you can see so much intricate detail for being only halfway gestated. I'm talking individual finger and toe bones detail. The pictures I posted are a little fuzzy, but in person everything was crystal clear.  Little one checked out 100% healthy, which was great news.

Baby girl measured perfect, just one day ahead!
Our girl at 20 weeks!




 She was also not shy about showing us she was a girl!! I won't plaster the picture of her girl parts on the internet though. I have some discretion and dignity left yet. Nearly everyone in our immediate families guessed this baby was a boy.  I can't claim any mother's intuition because I've had 3 vivid dreams about having a son this pregnancy.  Even now I haven't had a dream about a daughter.  Travis refused to guess what kind of baby we were having.  I personally think this was just so he could never be wrong but he claims it is simply impossible to have a guess because science and blah blah blah. He was gleeful afterwards that he could tell his mother she was wrong with her guess though. When we visited Michigan right after finding out, she did the wedding ring on a string trick as a gender prediction. Travis refers to it as "mumbo jumbo." She will never live it down. I'm glad we are having a girl because if we were having a boy, I don't think Travis would have agreed to tell anyone just so he wouldn't have to tell his mother she was right.

We told some of our family and friends (who all thought we weren't finding out the baby's sex) the news with these pictures....

This Easter you already know we are eggspecting... 
But you didn't know we took a sneak peep at our little one...



My favorite reaction to the news was my brother's.  You can't be subtle with him.  I should have learned this lesson when I called to tell him I was pregnant in the first place. He was coming to visit in a few weeks so I decided to hint at it until he realized I was pregnant.  I said something like "Sorry Martin, I won't be able to drink with you or get a tattoo when you come to visit...."  I was answered with silence and then panic when he thought I meant I had just been diagnosed with some serious disease.  I had to spell it out for him. So I shouldn't have been surprised when he saw these pictures and honestly thought I was trying to tell him I was having sextuplets. 

My father's reaction was my other favorite.  He was guessing boy but my mom was one of the very few who guessed girl.  I just called him to tell him the news as, frankly, he is not the most technologically advanced and I was not sure he'd get a picture message on his cell phone.  The conversation went like this:

Me: So what is your final guess about the baby, still think it is a boy?

Dad: Yes, it is a boy.

Me: Well you're wrong!

Dad: No, I'm not yet!

Me: No...you're definitely wrong...

Dad: No, you're wrong, I'm right!

Me: No, Dad, really, she's a girl...

Dad: What? Really? Well shoot!

To clarify, he was not disappointed that he's having a granddaughter, he is only disappointed that he was wrong and my mom was right and also that he would have no more chances to try and convince me I needed to name my son a made up name combination of Jose and Travis. But still, one of my favorite reactions.

Currently, (25 weeks and some change or 5.5 months) baby's movements are getting pretty strong and consistent.  Travis was able to start feeling them from the outside pretty quickly after I started initially feeling her move. We can even see some of them nowadays. I can also feel her kick on one side and her head bump my other side. Her favorite position seems to be laying with her butt sticking out in a goofy looking lump on my right, it is kind of amusing.  

My morning sickness finally does seem to be getting better.  Since a little after 20 weeks, I generally had a good day every other day or so. The past week or two I've had no bad days, just a few, "I feel kind of awful," portions of days. I contribute this to less stress now that we finally moved out of the hotel, and eating good food now that we have someplace to cook. It is really hard for me not to be suspicious that this is just a fluke week and my morning sickness won't be back full force at any time.

With the second trimester, I've picked up some new pregnancy symptoms. Heartburn. So much heartburn. It feels worse than my infamous first Thanksgiving stuffing that took down everyone who met it. I get heartburn some days just from drinking water. And forget about spicy foods, truly a tragedy in my book. I live on tums and milk. At one point we had three gallons of milk in our fridge because I was going through it so fast.

I've started to experience another fun pregnancy symptom; Braxton hicks contractions. Basically my whole stomach turns into a rock. It happens if I'm dehydrated or have a full bladder (makes for a super fun juggling act), if I'm physically exerting myself for too long (and I mean too long on my feet or carrying too many groceries, not even real exertion at this point), or if I'm especially stressed or emotional. I also get them every time I drive down the dirt road to our house.  Since all the snow is melting around here, the dirt road is basically just a series of potholes, and all that jostling is not comfortable. We have to drive slower than I could walk down that road to survive the drive. Plus the Braxton hicks contractions are often accompanied by the feeling that I need to pee. So every ride to the house becomes a serious test of whether or not I will pee my pants.  I have so far succeeded in not wetting myself. Sadly, I consider it a great accomplishment.

I also already can't bend over without crushing my bladder, apparently my soccer ball sized uterus is very unyielding. I haven't started waddling yet, but I'm sure that's coming. I'm even starting to grow out of the first maternity clothes I got so I guess it is time to start sizing up even more. 

Surprisingly, I've have had fairly rare episodes of hormonal mood upheaval.  The most notable and distinctly pregnancy hormone related episode was during a game of Munchkin that I played with Travis.  If you didn't know, it is a rather nerdy card game where you battle monsters and whoever reaches a certain level first wins the game.  But you can also make deals to help each other out in exchange for rewards or you can help the monster and harm your opponent. During this particular game, Travis and I were both doing pretty badly and he guilt tripped me into playing a card for free to help him out. My traitorous pregnancy hormones have made me excessively fond of the father of my child and prone to being a push over. So I gave in and played a card to help him out, thinking he'd be nice because he kind of would owe me. But then, the unthinkable occured. He turned on me and used that nice free card I'd played for him to stab me in the back and utterly destroy my character.  So naturally, I started to cry. At first Travis tried to reason with me, "Babe....it is just a game! That's what we do in this game! It was a totally fair move." This tactic lasted about 2 seconds before it became clear that it just wasn't going to work. All I could do was rant and sob about how he had stabbed me and the back and how he was so mean even though I was carrying his child. Who cares if it was technically a fair move. I couldn't stop crying for over an hour. I cried over a move in a card game for OVER AN HOUR.  Even after we finished our game and I'd somewhat forgiven past the traitorous move, I just kept going, I simply could not turn off the waterworks no matter how I tried.  I used up half a mini box of tissues. I felt like I was a toddler as Travis had to hold me and comfort me while I carried on about how I just wanted to stop crying and how I felt so dumb and crazy. I was in such emotional turmoil I had a Braxton Hicks contraction or two. Absolutely ridiculous. Travis just found it all highly entertaining and reminded me of a video we watched where a pregnant lady cried over cutting vegetables. He assured me he didn't find this behavior alarming, it was just a pregnancy thing I couldn't be held accountable for. He did not, however, ever apologize for his treachery, a fact I will not be forgetting.

And unless I'm forgetting something (which is highly likely since pregnancy brain is real and has turned my brains to mush) that's all that's been going on in our lives the past few weeks.  We're headed out in a few weeks for a Hawaiian "babymoon" soon I should be able to muster up something to write about then.  Until my bump grows more, here's a fun recap!

5 weeks, we took this one at the Perry when visiting Travis' family. Right where we took some of our very first wedding photos :-)
Another shot around 6 weeks, basically a before picture. This blue shirt barely reaches my bellybutton now. o_O  
Clearly, I've made some progress with the baby growing! 24 weeks here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Travis Drives 44 Hours With a Pregnant Wife and 2 Crazy Dogs and Lives to Tell the Tale

Driving across Canada in the middle of winter sounds a lot more crazy once you are a few days into the journey and your car decides to overheat when it is 35 below zero and you are an hour and a half drive from any sort of town. But aside from that hiccup of a story, the journey was more uneventful than it could have been.

We started out our venture on a hopeful note.  Travis meticulously packed the jeep full with two months of supplies for us to live in a hotel, emergency travel supplies, things mover's could not move (mostly a couple boxes of homemade wine, some ammo, etc.) and enough space for human-sized-Schrodinger and also large-cat-sized-Roxi to comfortably ride. 

Travis loading up the jeep
My morning sickness even appeared to be easing up for the second trimester. Spoiler alert, we were very wrong. I'm apparently not that lucky. For example, on Valentine's morning when everyone was inundating Facebook with, "#bestguyever pretty flowers/candy/jewelry #loveday" posts I was all, "#I-will-not-make-it-the-10-footsteps-to-the-bathroom, Travis, please bring me a trashcan with much haste." I recovered enough for a reindeer dinner and presents but I did miss out on tacos and cupcakes for lunch. It was pretty pathetic. But back to the whole travel thing. I'll break it down by days.

Day 1: The first day the drive was pretty nice. The weather was still mild, there wasn’t much snow on the roads. and we saw some decent scenery.  The border crossing was very simple, probably because they didn’t want to deal with a car search after seeing a loud, overeager mastiff try and wedge himself out the driver’s side window after launching all the way up from the trunk across the luggage in the back seats.  

Dinger liked to wedge himself in those few
inches between suitcases and car ceiling.
Roxi hated it back there.






















I freaked out for a moment while driving when the jeep began slowing to a stop for no apparent reason even after I put the gas pedal to the floor. Travis figures one of us must have bumped the shifter since it never happened again and no alarms went off .  He made fun of me a bit but I swear...something did happen, I didn't imagine it. This day was one of our 2 long days at 11 hours or so of driving.  We also discovered that it was an…experience…to spend the night in a hotel with both dogs.

Some of the prettier part of our drive in BC. 


A gigantic lake in BC.


Day 2:  Another 11 hour day, but luckily this was the last of our long days. It began to snow. All day it was kind of nasty and gross and I began to become concerned.  But it never worsened unbearably and we made it well onto the Cassier highway, the portion Travis was most concerned about. There was also a rather alarming road sign warning women not to hitchhike because of the highway 16 killer….okaaaay…pleasant.

This was the clearest it ever was on day 2

All the bridges were one lane metal grate bridges, neat but kinda scary.

The beginning of the Cassier Highway.

When we got to the inn we’d made a reservation at, the place looked kind of deserted. Travis went to check us in after a search for the front door. When Travis came back out, he said, “Let’s unload the car and leave the dogs in the car until that guy goes back to sleep in a minute." Then he told me about the conversation as we unloaded the car. Apparently, the inn manager man was asleep and came out in his pajamas once Travis found the office.  The guy also had no memory of our reservation or that we’d be bringing dogs, even though Travis had talked to him the week before. Since, no one else was staying there so it wasn’t a problem. Travis said a little toy sized dog was in the office and after Travis mentioned our two dogs, the inn manager said, “Oh, about that size?” pointing to his dog. Travis glossed that over with, “One is about that size and the other is a little bigger.”  A slight understatement but at that point, we had nowhere else to go and Travis knew we’d be staying in our own cabin and the inn manager would be in his separate house. Odd, but we shrugged it off and moved on.

We had a beautiful view from the cabin in the morning.

Day 3:  This was our short day, only a 6 hour drive so we got to sleep in until 8, which was awesome. This day was not very eventful until the evening. I think this was the first day we saw some moose and also some caribou.

Saw these caribou right after a
 "Watch for caribou sign."
Caribou butt close up.



















I think we got to the Alcan sometime this day. But it is all one big blur of a car ride.

At some point we entered the Yukon. Then dipped back into BC. Then came back to the Yukon.
It began to get colder and colder all day. Once we got to our next hotel, it was about 20 below zero. Dinger had never been in weather this cold before but didn’t seem all that bothered, though he wasn’t exactly eager to stay outside. Now Roxi has been this cold before and she hates it but she knows the routine for outside.  Usually we have booties for her but we didn’t have good new ones yet. So she reverted to her normal coping mechanism. It essentially is to get her business done as fast as possible while on as few paws as possible. This usually means multiple trips outside, one for number 1, one for number 2. Both trips gave us a good laugh.  When Roxi pees in the cold, she usually balances on one hind leg and one front leg then won’t move except to switch out legs after she is done. This time she went to a new hilarious extreme and as soon as she finished, she shot both front paws up in the air, it looked like she was being arrested or was really surprised or something. When she pooped, it was actually pretty impressive.  She managed that feat balancing on only front legs. Obviously, it isn’t actually just dramatic behavior in that kind of cold, so she gets always gets a pity carry back inside at the end.   

Roxi in new booties in Fairbanks.
This is an incredible feat to accomplish. Trying to wrestle
booties on a Mastiff should be an Olympic event.


















The night at this third hotel was a miserable fiasco. Dinger barked and growled and wouldn't settle for hours. Roxi, on the other hand, was easy enough to shut up. We just shoved her under the blankets at the foot of the bed and she was content and well behaved. I think all she ever wants is to be warm and spoiled. Generally if allowed on the bed, she is on good behavior, I think she thinks we will forget she is there and she’ll be allowed there indefinitely. This is actually pretty true.  

We tried everything to get Dinger to sleep. We tried locking him in the bathroom, we tried turning on the bathroom fan, we try getting him to sleep right next to the bed, we tried being soothing and nice, we tried being mean and scolding, we tried ignoring and waiting it out. All for nothing; he kept growling and barking. Finally, after one in the morning when we’d had no sleep yet, we had an early day ahead of us, and I was quickly spiraling into a crying. hormonal, exhausted, and now hungry mess, Travis remembered that we had Benadryl with us.  He admits he was fully prepared to drug Dinger and I both to get some sleep at this point. Thankfully, we had wi-fi to search for the correct dog dosage.  Travis fed Dinger a hot dog bun filled with pills while I tried to calm down with a snack and a book. Truly, I’m like a toddler again. Luckily, this settled everyone down, Travis only had to drug one of his companions, and we got all got a few hours of sleep.

Day 4: When we woke up for the 8 hour day, it was cold….35 below.  The jeep was not pleased about this and wouldn't start for a bit, even after being plugged in all night. Then it threw some alarming errors for while it warmed up.  All seemed fine after the car warmed up for a while. I do think Travis jinxed us though.  A U-Haul had been limped in from a good distance away with a completely destroyed tire. Everyone in the gas station/hotel office was trying to figure out how to get help and parts out for the guy.  As we pull away discussing our rough car start and night, Travis says, “It could be worse, at least we aren't that guy.”

About an hour and a half later as we are driving along (still -35 outside), I hear an alarm go off and Travis makes a pained face that doesn't bode well. We are overheating.  Not a problem I expected to run into, honestly. We were about an hour and a half drive away from a town in either direction.  So we continued onward at a slower pace while blasting the heat in the car. This becomes a little ridiculous as we trundle along, and I have to leave my window cracked open several inches for the car to be a bearable temperature.  The whole time I contemplate the fact that one of my first acts as a parent is to trek across the treacherous remote wilderness in the dead of winter. I spend some time reflecting on what this says about my mothering instincts. 

When we did finally reach the next stop, we found some locals to chat about our problem. Travis had checked for leaks since he assumed the cold had cracked a hose and we just didn't have antifreeze.  Turns out, our antifreeze was turning to slush and not circulating fully. So the friendly locals found us a trash bag to put over the front grill and block some airflow. This got us the rest of the way to Fairbanks.

We stayed at Destruction Bay on our last night on the road. It was uneventful as Dinger was again given Benadryl for the sake of everyone’s sanity. I should mention the other big problem with Dinger in cars; getting him in and out but especially out. Travis and I generally open the trunk door slowly while both awkwardly squatting and attempting to block the dogs from leaping out of the car. Dinger can’t just out of the car, he’s so big that it is likely he will hurt himself or eventually cause joint problems. The most memorable leap out of the car happened at Destruction Bay.  He got away from us one day and got a terrifying limp for a while. This does not deter him from trying to leap out of the car though. This particular time we’d hardly started opening the trunk when 130 pounds of mastiff comes flying from the car. I don’t know how Travis managed it, but he gracefully caught Dinger in mid-air and did this half twirl thing to land him gently on the ground. It was like they’d planned it.

Found this adorable Destruction Bay onsie
First baby thing we bought!



















Here's an "artistic" shot taken one of the later mornings. I honestly don't remember exactly which morning. 

Day 5:  This was our final 8 hour day to Fairbanks. We saw a lynx or bobcat by the side of the road. That was the most exciting thing of the day I think. 

The area to the right and left is actually a huge lake a few hours from
 Fairbanks, this was another of the most memorable views.


A random pretty scenery shot from who knows where, the mountains in Alaska
are fantastic, and this Colorado girl knows mountains.
Mountains completely blanketed in snow are also pretty darn stunning.
The border crossing was different. After we drove through the Canadian border to leave Canada, we had about 20 miles to drive until the border crossing into Alaska. The actual border line was in between the two stations and was marked by a 20 foot clearing (10 feet on either side of the border).  

That line in the middle is the border.
I had one foot in each country to take this picture.





















Finally made it to Alaska!


The last few hours were the worst, we were all so ready to get out of the car. Then we rather unceremoniously settled in to the hotel in Fairbanks for a long stay.

It was chilly when we got here.
So we made it safely and without major disaster. We even hopefully have found a house already, as long as all goes well with closing.  That process will still take long enough to keep us living in the hotel room for, oh, another month and a half or so.  We're at an extended stay hotel, but it is pretty miserable around here. We are in a pretty standard size hotel room with a tiny kitchen area. With two adults, a human sized dog, and a small dog, space is limited to say the least, especially with dog kennels in here too. We have an armchair (but just one) and a desk with office chairs that stands in for the kitchen table. But we have to keep the coffee maker and toaster on said table since the outlet by the kitchen area doesn't work. And the kitchen area is a tiny counter with some cupboards a fridge, stove tops and microwave.  We've also concluded we have no control over the thermastat.  You'd think this would lead to a lot of freezing cold, but it has been HOT. I'm talking up to 80 degrees in the room hot. Probably contributing to this is running our humidifier constantly but it is so dry, we don't really have a choice. There is also a strip club across the street. I could go on, but I should probably stop ranting and move on to other topics.

I've just started to look more pregnant. Still an "I can still easily hide it" size, but if you know me and I'm wearing something tight, you can tell what’s up. My abdomen basically feels all swollen like I drank a whole six pack of beer by myself, yet I can still be hungry. It is weird.  I've already started the stereotypical hands on the belly/belly rubbing thing. However, it doesn't feel like I look adorably pregnant or anything yet while I do this. Mostly I feel like I must look more like I’m Gollum, contemplating eating Bilbo, “Well, it if loses, precious, then we eats it! If Baggins loses, we eats it whole!” And actually, Gollum is a surprisingly good representation of what it is probably like to live with me right now.  There’s a good quote that could adequately describe my feelings about every situation from when Travis eats one of my candy bars (no matter if we have 10 of them stocked up) to when Roxi scratches me while cuddling, or Dinger flicks a drool string at me: “Wicked. Tricksy. False. We ought to wring his filthy little neck. Kill him! Kill him! Kill them both!” It doesn't even feel like an overreaction.  Travis may have reason to be seriously concerned if I start rubbing by baby bump and hissing, “My precioussss.”

Best 15 week bump selfie I could take. I'm generally afflicted by resting bitch face syndrome and all the time crazy eyes syndrome, so selfies are a challenge. But luckily my hair is finally starting to grow out. And the pink is sticking around impressively.
Also, I’m definitely getting dumber. Pregnancy brain is very real. I tried to walk the dogs in slippers the other day. Travis will ask me to do something and I’ll cheerfully say, “Sure, no problem,” Then I’ll proceed to do exactly the opposite or entirely forget what he asked me to do not two seconds later. And the insomnia. Ugh. When I do sleep, I have crazy dreams, lots of them. The other day I dreamed Roxi morphed halfway into a pelican (picture a griffin or centaur like creature; Roxi body with a pelican head and wings) who liked to attack and attempt to eat my hands. But luckily she could be distracted by throwing rocks or socks.  Then I dreamed Dinger ate my hands off. Every single dream is random and vivid like this now. And apparently I also have a subconscious phobia of my dogs eating my hands.

That’s all the news here. Hopefully the next post is about a new house!