Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We Interrupt Our Regular Programming For a Little Abbey Update

I have interrupted my babbling on building houses to bring you a Little Abbey update on recent happenings. Nothing major, just giving those who need a baby fixes their fix.

Little Abbey is definitely "talking" a lot more these days. It started out in the mornings when she seems to be the happiest but is spreading throughout the day. Mostly it is just a vowel sound here or there and nothing continuous but it is still more than a few weeks ago when I heard her first sound followed by several days of nothing.

She is gaining control of her motor functions but still hasn't mastered voluntarily hanging or hitting something. She is quite adept at pulling her pacifier out but always when she accidentally hooks a finger in it while rubbing her face. When we put her in the crib to watch the mobile bears go around in circles, she gets so excited that her legs and arms are constantly moving around. In the morning when she is excitedly awaiting her feeding, she does this as well. Fortunately, she doesn't do this while feeding which could make it much more challenging.

Although during stomach time, she can lift her head up for a few seconds and change sides (that she is looking), it isn't for longer than a few seconds. She hasn't been able to lift her upper torso up yet but I'm sure that will come with the motor control of her hands. However, when sitting on daddy's lap for a horsy ride, she can keep her head upright now without any guidance from me. It still bobbles side to side now and then but who doesn't when they are hungry or tired?

Through constant diligence, the diaper rashes haven't reappeared in awhile and she is content in that aspect. She is also getting more regular in her "movements" so she is a chip off my block for sure. For some reason, she really enjoys getting her diaper changed. She can be screaming bloody murder and as soon as I begin to remove the old diaper to put the new one on, she stops and happily smiles and coos at me while I change her. If she is still upset, crying will begin again as I remove her from the changing table.

The swaddling has about come to an end with Little Abbey. She enjoys it for sure but wakes up every morning with a messy kimono belt instead of a swaddle. I'm afraid that soon the belt will start coming free and present a hazard. We do have some sleep sacks, which is like a dress with a zippered in bottom to it that we will try out. It's such a shame because Little Abbey really likes her swaddling.

We are also beginning to transition into daycare by weaning her from mother's breast during the daytime and strictly bottle feeding her. Hopefully we can gradually do this over the next few weeks until my wife starts work in September so that she will be ready to go for the babysitter. Still haven't finalized the babysitter yet as we are waiting for our first choice to get back from her honeymoon. Maybe Little Abbey can cure her from starting a family right away!

Although she can push herself around a little on her back, she needs a surface to press against such as the sides of a changing table or our bodies. Sometimes she moves around in her crib but I think it is mostly inertia from her excited leg kicking and a slippery surface.

Little Abbey has been pretty good about sleeping through the night. Mostly we can put her to bed around nine and she will wake up sometime between 4:30 and 7:00. She slips occasionally like last night where she woke up at 10:30 after being to bed for only an hour but I think that was due to a really wet diaper. In the last week, she sleeps through the night four times for every once that she wakes up in the middle of the night. Now that we are transitioning to bottle-feeding more often, I'm going to have to start taking my turn for the middle of the night slips and let mother and breasts sleep.

Speaking of breasts, we ended up buying a top of the line Medulla pump for her to use while home. What a difference in quality between it and the high end Wal-Mart version we had before. The Medulla pump could suck the socks off the Wal-Mart pump that I took great delight in returning after two months of use for a full refund. (Stick it to the enemy!) The new one is much faster and does a better job leading to less problems and more expressed milk to bottle feed later. When my wife goes to work, she will just have to get a hose kit and bring her own storage containers and she will be able to pump during work and bring home. Her employer has a special room for this and supports mothers doing so which I'm sure pays off in employee retainership after the maternity leave is over.

Well that's all that I can think of posting. She's a happy camper and we love having her around. Maybe in sixteen years when she wants to pierce her tongue to spite us, I may rethink that last bit.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Little Abbey Was Shot Four Times!

Little Abbey turned two months old on August 1rst, which meant that it was time for her to join the majority of the United States and get her vaccinations. Now ordinarily this would mean a thirty-minute drive to the local big city pediatrician's office complete with paper work, insurance submissions and bills. This time however, we went a different route. We simply went to the County Health office at the local fire station and got the shots for free, without waiting.

Since it was our first time, we did have to fill out some biographical information on Little Abbey, which at two months of age, wasn't much. She doesn't have a sexual history… and hopefully won't for another quarter century or so… nor has she done drugs, traveled to exotic locations, etc. So we filled in what little there was to fill in and away we were whisked into the confines of the fire station.

In a back room, two nurses were mixing up the potions while Little Abbey laid on the paper covered bench cooing and gurgling happily. When the nurses were ready, they asked me to hold her legs still while they simultaneously gave her shots in each leg, twice, for a total of four shots. So I held Little Abbeys legs as her eyes wandered around and on the count of three, two needles plunged into her legs. Her eyes went wide and then immediately shut as a new cry that I hadn't heard before filled the room. One of pain. Two more shots quickly followed and then it was all done. I picked up Little Abbey and cradled her in my arms as I tried to soothe her cries while the nurses explained things to my wife and handed out stickers for the baby.

She quieted down and we got her in the car seat, but on the five-minute drive home she would cry out with that painful cry now and then. It was heartbreaking to listen too but it is just one of those things that must be done. Back home, we fed her and dosed her with infant Tylenol for the fever that would be sure to arrive and she fell asleep. Four hours later however, she woke up screaming and we would spend the next several hours trying to console her. Little Abbey wasn't going to let us forget this injustice anytime soon. Finally we were able to get her to eat several hours later than normal and put her to bed but she slept a troubled sleep that night waking often and crying whenever someone touched her. It wasn't until the next morning that she started getting back to her old self and the fever finally went away. It's only two months until the next shots.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

BWCA Journals: The Load Out

July 16, 2001

It remained overcast and somewhat foggy in the bays all day and rained off and on. I was up and packed before it started raining so all my gear was still dry but everyone else packed up wet again in the pouring rain. I pulled on my poncho, cooked myself some breakfast and ate out on the point while waiting several hours for everyone else to get up and packed. By the time they were ready, a cold, heavy wind was blowing straight across the lake at us and from the direction we needed to paddle to get back to our vehicles. There was nothing to do but to dig our paddles in and go.

Because of the exertion, we stayed warm but the going was slow and we were soaked from the whitecaps splashing over the gunnels. Dave and Milan had about twice as much personal gear by weight than Don and I had as I discovered while helping by carrying their packs for them on a long portage, so their boat was a little lower and took on more water causing them to stop and bail occasionally, all the while losing ground that they would again have to make up. But eventually both of our canoes made it across to the other side and followed the lee shore back to the take-out and our vehicles. After loading up, we dropped off the rental canoe and drove to the first bar we could find that served food and I ate my first decent meal in a week that wasn't prepared by first boiling water. It was heavenly.

All in all it was a good trip and showed that it is something I would like to do it again. My partners were and still are good friends but with the exception of Don, probably not the type of people I would do a long camping trip with, or at least one where we have to share communal duties. I'm a believer in the pack light principal because it makes enjoying the trip much easier. Packing light doesn't mean you have to skimp on food quality because many high-class meals can be cooked over a campfire without sacrificing weight. In the end, the trip was a success because it provided us a break from our everyday lives and allowed us to commune with nature up close and personal.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

BWCA Journals: Paradise Island

July 15, 2001

Rained all night and by morning, the cheap tent that I was sharing (not mine) was leaking like a sieve. I waterproofed my gear so that it would remain dry, put on a poncho and got up to enjoy the rain and to cook breakfast for distribution among the tents. After breakfast, Don and I packed up our gear, the general camp gear and had the boats loaded before the other two even made it out of their tent. We weren't in any hurry to move while raining so we just watched as the fumbled around and got ready. After an hour and a half of waiting, they were finally ready and just as we pushed off, the rain stopped.

We paddled and portaged through Wanihigan, North Cone, Middle Cone and South Cone lakes. In South Cone Lake, there was a horrible looking campsite on an island that Dave really wanted to camp at even though it was still mid-morning. We vetoed him and pushed on into Brule Lake where he immediately found another campsite that looked extremely buggy. Again we vetoed him and pushed on to the big island, which is where I was hoping to go, and just as we arrived there, another group was leaving. We scurried in behind them and unloaded the boats. It is a magnificent site out on the point of an island with big rocks for lounging on all around. Better yet, we had the entire island to ourselves and with the lake breeze, there are no mosquitoes!

I strung up a rope for drying stuff for those whose gear got wet in the morning rain and then we ate lunch out on one of the big rocks. Had we found this site on day one of the trip, I would have been content to just daytrip and keep returning here night after night. After lunch we napped until we couldn't nap anymore and then I borrowed some binoculars (the old and very heavy kind) to look around and stare at my maps. I played a mental challenge that I always do and tried to orient the map first and then check how close I was with my compass. However, whenever I laid my compass on the map, it kept saying that it was 90 degrees out of rotation and what I thought was north was actually west. Since I knew the sun doesn't set in the north, I thought my compass must be broke and borrowed someone else's only to have the same thing happen. After much thought and trying different things, I finally noticed that there must be a vein of magnetic material in the rock and could actually trace it with the compass. I move a few feet away on the rock and suddenly I proved that my initial map orientation was in fact right.

During this time, I happened to see a duck and a dozen or so baby chicks go swimming by which I dutifully photographed along with a gull of some sort doing some fishing. Since the sun wasn't out and the mosquitoes didn't know about this island in the middle of the lake, we hit the fishing hard and finally caught some legal sized fish to eat with our boxed chili and vegetable soups for supper that night. But the fishing wasn't without peril. Two of our members took the canoes out solo to fish a little farther off shore. One went one way and another paddled around to the side of the island where I was fishing. He neglected to tend to his paddle and I watched it slip over the side as the canoe drifted off. By the time he noticed it, he had drifter perhaps 50 yards away from it. He saw me perched on the rocks and pleaded for me to go get the other boat and come rescue him. Since the other boat was who knows where and he wasn't in any real danger, I simply told him that I preferred to watch. After much thinking, he finally started paddling by hand back to his paddle still floating in the water. Quite entertaining to watch I might add.

No bugs were out so after the others had washed dishes by flashlight, we stayed up long into the night talking and wishing that we could have had a fire. Although we didn't know it, the fire ban had been lifted due to the rains but someone had thoughtlessly not choppered or paddled out to tell us. We enjoyed our last night in the wilderness talking and planning on when we would return. I just didn't let it be known that the next time I returned, it would be with a different group of people.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

BWCA Journals: What We Have Here Is a Failure To Communicate

July 14, 2001

It clouded up during the night and so far has remained cloudy. I had long been awake and was sitting on the shore watching an imaginary sunrise behind the clouds when the others finally woke up. While they were rummaging around, I started the stove and cooked our daily gruel of oatmeal. After breakfast, I did dishes and tore down the kitchen by myself, packed up my gear, loaded my boat and then spent the next hour helping the others get their stuff packed up. It is not that they have a lot but they seem to spend every waking minute in camp stringing it everywhere. I'm not the most organized person in my home life but when it comes to camping, I've had too many middle of the night pack up and move experiences to not have my stuff organized.

Despite the delay, we still got a fairly decent start and with a little tail wind, made good time. We paddled across Gaskin, portaged to Henson, paddles a couple miles and dropped into Omega Lake. There is was a quick paddle and portage and then we were back into Winchell Lake where we found a fine camp on a point very close to the portage tomorrow on the opposite side of the lake. Remember, this is a long, narrow lake. We took a quick swim and then set up camp and ate lunch.

Everyone quickly disappeared to do their own thing and I was left with empty water bottles again. I have probably filtered over ten gallons of water so far this trip for every one done by someone else. Dave hasn't yet filter one bottle to my knowledge but did come down to the shoreline once to offer advice on how to pump water using my filter. I drew a line in the sand and pumped my water bottle full and leaving the others to fend for themselves.

I spent the heat of the day swimming, napping in the shade and writing in equal proportions to make sure I was having a well-balanced vacation. I also did some exploring in the rocks behind camp and found a bear den sans bear but with fresh scat all around. I made a note to make sure our food bag was well hung this evening. Later, Dave and I paddled over to a nearby island with a large cliff and took turns climbing to the top and getting our picture taken by the other. What we do for a good photo-op! It would have been an exhilarating jump into the water from up on top had it not been for the water being only a couple feet deep.

Back at camp, I cooked up more macaroni and ramen noodles for supper. After supper, nobody made a move to do the dishes so I finally just set mine down, packed up the stove and walked away to hang the food bag. Later I would see Dave doing them by flashlight. I tried fishing but like most of the trip so far, they just weren't biting. We obviously didn't have the right bait and the sun was keeping them away. By the time the coolness of the night allowed them to come up from the depths to eat, we were knocking mosquitoes the size of bats out of the air with our fishing poles while casting and decided it was prudent to go to bed or risk being carried off.