Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sunday Drivers: Montreal edition

This edition of Sunday Drivers carries us through a long weekend of driving: James’ first road trip.  Also his first official jaunt across a border, his first passport stamp, first ice cream (WHAT?!), first olives, three hundredth pickle, and hours upon hours of car seat time.

Here we go…

Friday morning we set out early (or early enough – it was 10:30) on our journey to Montreal

Buddy bear has trouble keeping his eyes open before he has his first cup:

The plan was to head north on I-93 all the way through to Vermont, hop on I-91, cross the border, and mosey into Montreal.  James blessed us with a couple of hours of sleep right off the bat, so our first stop was not until two hours in: The Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock, NH.

As it was a gloriously sunny early Fall day, we sat on the patio, surrounded by wildflowers, microbrews, and fellow cheerful diners.  I’m not sure if it was the Friday escape from work, the excitement of a weekend adventure, or simply a nice lunch break, but Chris and I both agreed that we felt a world away from our day to day routine.

Relaxation.  And a growler (our first of the trip) to go: the Autumn Brew (yum!).

Back on the road, we continued north to Canada and James’ first passport stamp (totally unnecessary yet totally necessary).

Destination: Holiday Inn right on the edge of Chinatown.

After a quick wander around Montreal, we settled in for some Vietnamese food before heading back to the hotel for one wee lad’s bedtime.

Saturday morning: rise and shine bright and early for some crappy hotel coffee (us) and a stop at the milk truck (one wee lad) before two of the three decided crappy hotel coffee wouldn’t cut it and this was a situation for breakfast Autumn Brew.  Best decision we had made yet – it tasted a bit like warm apple pie in beer form…in the morning.

We had some time to kill before heading out to pick up the moms, so the boys broke out the map to plan our attack.  We wound up walking through Chinatown again to pick up some breakfast (red bean and green tea buns, rice balls, the usual delights) before we found our way down to the water, then back up to our hotel via Tim Horton’s for a proper cup of coffee.  After retrieving the car, we set out to retrieve the moms and carry on with our journey through Montreal.

Sleepy Nugget

On the road again, this time heading South to Vermont.  Next stop: Burlington, Magic Hat, Vermont Brewery (James’ favorite pickles to date), hotel motel.

Magic Hat angel

Sunday morning in Burlington called for a stroll along the lake, followed by a brunch trip to Ben & Jerry’s and a few snacks at Cabot.

My favorite Ben & Jerry:

ICE CREEEEEEAM!

Next up?  Through the fall foliage to Manchester, NH, to Milly’s Tavern for our final microbrews of the trip and $1 hotdogs with a side of Patriots game.  We relaxed for a brief while, enjoyed a cold beer, and hit the road home: Sunday Drivers journey #2 complete.

As for road trips with the kid?

They’re so fun we’re back on the horse next weekend with a trip to New York City!

Photos on Friday, ehh?

Well, we’re heading to Canada, ehh, yeah, you betcha.  Wait.  Not North Dakota.  Canada.  We’ll leave it at ehh.  Ehh and some photos to ring in a long weekend.

Check out the farmer’s corn:

It’s huge!  Oh wait.

You should have seen the bugs crawling out of it too.  Mmm, savoring the glory of the harvest.

Go Broncos.  And Patriots.  But mostly Patriots despite what this picture implies.

Much better.

 

And we’re off.  Road trip with a five month old.  For the record, it seems like a great idea right now.

We’re hoping for lots of this from the back seat:

Sunday drivers: open farm edition

So we created a goal of becoming Sunday (morning) drivers during football season.  As a means to distract Christopher from the football-induced anxiety he suffers from each Sunday morning and to prevent me from puttering non-stop, we decided that we will take Sunday morning as our time to enjoy and find ways to not simply pass the morning, but to truly enjoy it.

Sleepy Sunday morning pre-drivers

Yesterday marked attempt #1, and we can successfully declare the Sunday Drivers victorious.

Our day began early, with a 6:30am wakeup call from the littlest member of the group.  After some coffee for us, milk for him, and a bit of eye rubbing from all three of us, we piled into the car to head west (young grasshopper).  We had our eyes on Route 9 as the means to our end: Chestnut Farms in Hardwick, MA.   Chestnut Farms is where our monthly meat CSA (community supported agriculture) originates.

Back up: earlier this year we signed up for a monthly meat CSA, and since then we have received ten pounds of meat (cow, pig, chicken) fresh from the farm the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  In a word, it is awesome.  So delicious.  Especially the bacon.  Oh, the bacon.

Anyways, Sunday morning we headed west on Route 9, destination Hardwick.  Our first stop of the day was Rutland State Park for a brief stroll through the woods, by a pond, through more woods, and back to the car.  As Sunday was the first of my favorite types of fall days – crisp yet still warm air, cool breezes, shining blue sky – our walk through the woods was a delight.  We finished it off with a snack at the car – all three of us – before piling back in to continue our journey.

Next up was the Hardwick Farmer’s Market, pleasantly located on Hardwick’s town green.  We stocked up on beets, rainbow chard, poblano chiles, hearty breads from a local bakery, and some hermits to satisfy a sweet tooth.  And then we carried on smartly – next stop, the farm!

Let me pause here for a minute.  I’m fairly certain that at this point in time it was still before 11am.  No one can accuse us of wasting a day (remember, these are pre-football Sunday drives).

So the farm: it was a delight!  We wandered around, visited the new chicks, saw a few piglets (including the runt – he was so cute, poor little baby bacon), hung out in the fields, and sat under a shady tree.  Oh, we also saw our Thanksgiving dinner – s/he was busy growing into a delicious dinner, entirely oblivious to what is to come.

Anyways, after the farm we climbed back in the car to head home, Sunday drive complete.  We arrived home just in time for the end of the first games (we’re new to this and our timing wasn’t as great as it could be).  Thoroughly exhausted, we spent our afternoon watching football, cooking the bounty from the farmer’s market, eating the bounty from the farmer’s market, and relishing in the success of our first Sunday drive.

See you at Thanksgiving dinner, Turkey.

Blessed.

I’ve begun to wonder if I think about, talk about, ponder all too often these grand feelings of being blessed.  I know very well how the good times in life ebb and flow, and I’m certainly in a high tide of happiness…floating through days feeling oh so very blessed.  When I let my mind wander too far, I grow a bit fearful that what goes up must come down, but then I rein in that thinking and simply savor the emotions of the present.

Chris and I have this perfect little man all our own.  He brings us joy every single day beginning with a soft coo with which to wake us and ending with an even softer snore in my arms before bed.

The simplest of pleasures. A baby eating tomato, watermelon, whatever we will feed him.

A peaceful stroll.

Surrounded by friends and family full of love.

A healthy little man, growing bigger by the day.

A husband I am proud to call my son’s father.

A son…I have a son (sometimes it’s still a shocking notion).

Holding my tiny little Nugget in my arms, I feel more beautiful than I ever have before.

But let us not forget these legs. THESE LEGS.

How did we get so lucky?

How did we get so blessed?

And how do we ever begin to pay it forward?

These days…

This one got lost in the haze that was the last couple months…better late than never I suppose.

We’re coming up on James’ four month birthday in less than two weeks, and I really can’t get over it.  Last night he and I went to visit a coworker who has a six week old…a six week old is tiny!  Like really tiny.  And James looked huge…and so strong and so not like a newborn. It made my heart proud to see how much my little man has grown in such a short amount of time, but it also made me sad to see how much he has grown in such a short amount of time.

People keep reminding me to soak up this first year as so many incredible changes happen so quickly, and I realize with each passing day that it is so very true. And he is so very cute…and weed-like in his ability to grow…but mostly just so very cute.

We watch the cars outside our house in the evenings now while we wait for Dad to get home from work. It’s like a tennis match, but with a delay from the arrival of the sound until James connects it with what it is.  It goes like this…

Mom: James, I hear one…
James: tra la la, tra la la (head snaps to the direction of the sound)
Mom: There it is, bud!
James: (head follows the sound in jerky, typewriter-like motion)
(We repeat this for about 15 minutes until the trees overhead become more interesting than the cars)

It’s a fun game that always leaves me wondering what has become of me that this is what I believe to be a fun game.  Alas, the car watching continues. 

I always believed myself to be a person who delights in simple pleasures, and now I really understand what children are: they are a way for parents to return to the simple pleasures of being a kid.  An excuse to watch the cars go by, to stare at leaves, to make silly sounds and blow bubbles. A justifiable reason to stay in bed for that extra five minutes of snuggle time, rather than popping right up to get ready for the day. A smiling face after a long day at work. A return to the truly valuable in the world.

And a really good target for torture in many, many bodies of water (sorry, kid).  So far we have the Atlantic Ocean and a Colorado mountain lake…with many more to come.

Stepping back, taking a breath

With all of the happiness in our lives these days, there are also never-ending feelings of constant motion, added stress, lack of control.  Usually it’s okay.  Sometimes it’s not.  But whatever it is, it’s life these days, and we make of it what we can. 

A few weeks ago James and I went out for an evening stroll – our summer routine of a quick half hour or so walk around the neighborhood that ultimately brings us to the parking lot where we find Dad each night.  The ritual serves as a way for me to wind down after a day at work and a way for James to catch a quick snooze before he plays away the evening with Dad. 

Anyway, on that particular evening, after a long week at work, I really needed the walk.  The details are unnecessary, but recently I have struggled more than usual with the notion of working at an organization that boasts about its mission to help women, while at the same time forgets the value of practicing simple kindness to each other on a daily basis.  Morale stinks.  People aren’t nice.  It’s a competitive environment in which people put each other down in order to save their own face.  It’s unfortunate.  But it pays the bills, gives us health insurance, is a job. And, perhaps most importantly, I have hope that it won’t always be this way – there are enough people who want it to be different.  And, truth be told, it’s a pretty awesome organization if you get beyond the day-to-day malarkey.

Back to the walk though.  Lost in thought, I rounded a corner past a house that is under construction. The sidewalk was closed on account of the construction, so James and I crept into the road to make our way around a workman standing on a ladder. We waited for traffic to break to allow for safe passage, but given that it was rush hour on a busy street, that break did not come. So we stood. I felt sad…lonely even…a lady with a baby carriage stuck behind a workman on a ladder, just waiting for a safe time to continue her walk with her baby.

And then it happened.

A man in a utility van coming from the opposite side of the road (behind me) stuck his hand out his window, laid on his horn, and pulled in front of on-coming traffic.  He did not do this to be unsafe (nor did he do it in an unsafe way) – he did it to help. He did it because he was the only one who could free his mind from its hurried state to consider the lady with the baby carriage. The driver he stopped, now freed from her own hurried state, rolled down her window to apologize to me for stopping so suddenly.  I smiled at her, passed, climbed back on the sidewalk, and continued on my way.  And then I cried a little bit at how touched I felt by a simple act of kindness at just the right moment.  A moment in which I was lost in thought, feeling a bit disenchanted, slightly disappointed by the world. 

And what happened?

A kind soul in a big white utility truck opened his heart to a simple act of kindness, and in that moment, reminded me the power of simple acts of kindness, committed for no other reason than because they are the right thing to do. 

Month 5

Month 5: the month in which I finally feel like I have a bit of time for reflection, appreciation, soul cleansing adoration of my little man.  Time certainly has yet to slow down…if anything it speeds up with each passing day…but perhaps I am growing accustomed to my new normal – to OUR new normal – and finally, maybe just a little bit, I have some time to breathe and to soak it all in.

Month 5 was a fun month.  I feel like they have all been fun months (aside from maybe month 1 – that was a hard month) – but somehow they just keep getting more and more fun.

The smiles, oh the heart warming smiles: they come freely and frequently. They light up his entire face: eyes, cheeks, grin…all of it consumed by a giant smile.  Before his birth, Chris and I would ponder who he would look like and what traits he would inherit.  I always said that I hoped the baby would have Christopher’s Cheshire cat grin – a smile that by its very nature makes others want to smile – and I think my wish was granted, as here I have a tiny little man with a great big smile.

Following the smile came the laughter, and I know I have talked about it before, but I simply can’t get over it.  The boy has me wrapped around his tiny little fingers.

Some firsts from month 5:

Aug 3: First music festival – if you can call it that – in Manchester. We spent the evening relaxing at the Festival by the Sea: beer, food, and live music made for a lovely evening in the park.

Aug 10: Sarah and Rohit’s wedding! This marked his first formal outing as a tiny little Bengali boy. He wore his Punjabi and enjoyed a day of being passed around by the wedding guests.

Aug 18: Kara and Christening. Rather than a christening in a church, we (as per usual) opted to do it our own way.  Preacher Bob blessed the wee lad with some holy water; he took a dip in the water at Tuck’s Point; and we all enjoyed a lovely picnic brunch.  Our way may not be the usual way, but it sure is fun.

Aug 19: first dribbly nose, coughing, sneezing, full-blown cold.  Poor little creature. It was worse on us than it was on him – he would hack away and finish the cough with a big smile up at Mom. The boy is ridiculous.

Aug 28-Sept 1: I suppose this was really a second, because it was both his second trip to Colorado and his second wedding, but regardless it was a big event in the life of a five month old.  As always it was wonderful to see the family, to soak up the Colorado sunshine, and to enjoy some time away.  Mom and Dad dropped the ball on picture taking (Grandma Jody, you have any to send our way?), but it was a wonderful trip nonetheless.

There you have it, month five in a brief little synopsis.  I can’t believe we’re almost to the halfway to a year mark…the days truly do fly by.

Here you have him, our most wonderful five month old little boy, one month shy of a six-pack.