Archive for October, 2012

Paranormal Activity and the Car Thieves

One night years ago, Ryan and I watched 2007’s Paranormal Activity. At the time, we were living in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We owned two dogs and three cats, we had a steady influx of neighborhood kids coming in and out of our house, and I was the proprietor of one very unorganized desk.

When I watched Paranormal Activity, I got a huge kick of how easy that demon had it at first. It could instill fear and anxiety simply by moving a set of car keys from the counter to the floor. A demon certainly wouldn’t have been able to get away with such subtly in our house! If I had walked into the kitchen and found my keys on the floor, I had a myriad of culprits to blame before I would ever fret about ire from the underworld.

So flash forward a few years now. Ryan and I now live in a new town. We are (very sadly) no longer frequented by the neighborhood kids (we really miss them). But, we live with my mother and a tenant and are visited regularly by family members and friends. My brother, in particular, lives right across the street and comes over daily. We still have a lot of pets and also there might be a chance that I am possibly, perhaps, still dreadfully unorganized.

This morning Ryan and I loaded Sagan up in the car and we discovered our belongings scattered over the front seats. Our car had gotten broken into the night before. BUT— the thieves didn’t take anything! It’s a serious thing, of course, but Ryan and I couldn’t resist taking some amusement in this.

Facebook Status Update - Discovery of Car Thieves
What, our stuff is not good enough for you?!!

Now, that said– having the contents of the glove compartments vomited out on to the front seats is a pretty unambiguous sign that something is out of the ordinary. That is exactly the kind of chaos a demon would need to aspire to, right?

What the Car Thieves Did Not Take
Now THIS is noticeable (Click to see notes of the items the thieves did not take)

As Ryan and I commuted to daycare, my mother called to coordinate chores. She rattled off her plans to get papers notarized and how she was going to stop by Sam’s Club. And then when there was a lull in the conversation that needed to be filled, my mother adopted an annoyed tone (the one usually reserved for critiques about how the dishwasher was loaded) and threw out this little tidbit:

“[Your brother] rummaged through my car last night. He must have been looking for a paper.”

It sounded like a possibility but once she heard our story, she realized her car had been broken into as well.

It only took five hours.

So the take home of this story: If a car break-in could almost go by unnoticed, a demon sure would have to work its supernatural ass off to fluster my family.

Who knows, maybe one has already tried but after a few weeks of our collective obliviousness, it threw up its hands in frustration (or whatever other type of appendage a demon may have) and moved on to a family that could provide an easier return on investment. 🙂

October 17, 2012 at 11:52 am 2 comments

Family Hike: Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax, Virginia

This past June, Sagan went on his first outing with a hiking buddy his own age. He was invited by young Adela (roughly six months his junior) to check out Fairfax County’s Huntley Meadows Park. Huntley Meadows encompasses 1425 acres, including some impressive freshwater wetlands. The trails are short, completely flat and well maintained. You aren’t going to get your heartrate up in Huntley Meadows, but if you are in the market for some wildlife, this is the place to go to.

Huntley Meadows Park - Sagan Meets Adela
Hiking Buddy Adela and Sagan

Trail Overview
We started at the Visitors Center and took the Cedar Trail to the observation tower to take in the wetlands. Afterwards, we took the boardwalk for a more intimate encounter with the wetlands. Finally, the Heron Trail took us on the last leg of the journey back. Overall, I think we walked between 1 and 1.5 miles.

Huntley Meadows Park - Sagan Smiles As He Passes
On Cedar Trail

Huntley Meadows Park - Sagan and Ryan Take in View
Taking in View From Observation Tower

Huntley Meadows Park - Walkway From Above
Wetlands from Observation Tower

On the tree front, I saw a variety of oaks, red maples, black gum and hickory. The wetlands sported swamp rose and some amazingly fragrant white flowers and lots and lots of grasses.

Huntley Meadows Park - Spikey Grass

The real highlight of the trip was all the animals that were commonplace in the park. Almost immediately, our companion found a small frog in the parking lot. From there, we would see and hear many more frogs. Turtles were everywhere as where geese and herons. We saw a red-winged blackbird. Although we didn’t get the see the beavers, their handiwork was readily visible.

Huntley Meadows Park - Little Frog
Frog in Parking Lot

Huntley Meadows Park - Frog in Water
Frog in Water

Huntley Meadows Park - Turtle Head
Turtle Pokes Head Out of Water

Huntley Meadows Park - Baby and Adult Canadian Geese

Huntley Meadows Park - Red Winged Black Bird
Red-Winged Blackbird

Huntley Meadows Park - Beaver Handiwork
Formidable Stick Pile

Thanks to the beautiful landscape and all the animal-sightings, our outing was a memorable one. But there was an additional characteristic to the trip that we could appreciate as new parents — it was short and fast! When we finished our loop, we still had plenty of time to tackle all the tasks that waited for us back home.

Thank you to Adela and her father for inviting us along!

More pictures of our outing to Huntley Meadows Park are available on my Flickr site.

Huntley Meadows Park

3701 Lockheed Blvd
Alexandria, Virginia

Trail Map

Length: Varies 1.5 – 2 miles

Elevation Gain: Neglible

Directions from Occoquan, Virginia

Take Route 1 North towards Ft. Belvoir/Mt Vernon for 11.4 miles

Turn left on Lockheed Blvd

Turn left on Harrison Lane

October 16, 2012 at 10:55 am 2 comments

Exclusively Pumping: Tips for Quality Time with Baby

Last Saturday, I passed the 15 month mark of Exclusively Pumping (EPing). Since August, we have gone down from 4-5 pumping sessions a day to just 2. Even though I have been rather enjoying the new flexible schedule, at no point in time in the past 15 months did I ever want to quit. At no point in time did I hold the pump in distain. At no point in time did I hate what I was doing. I have had a very positive experience.

I have read my fair share of Exclusively Pumping forums and blog posts, so I am aware my positive experience isn’t shared by all mothers. There are definitely a lot of challenges and a lot of factors involved and I do recognize I had very little discomfort after birth, a top-notch support system, and the flexibility of a telecommuting job, so I paraphrase a wise statement from my Mommy-friend Quinn:

     Every family needs to pick the path that is right for them.

With that disclaimer, I am “open sourcing” a little bit of my process for anyone that wants/needs it (accompanied by completely safe-for-work photos). This is stuff that worked for me. If it looks like it can be adapted for your family, that’s great. If it isn’t a good fit for you, no worries.

Pumping Challenge: Bonding with Baby?
I’ve read a lot of Exclusively Pumping accounts where one of the biggest challenges and heartaches a mother describes is the lost time with her baby. The mother feels like she has to keep leaving her baby to pump (some posts use the verb “abandon”). She worries she is neglecting the baby and losing bonding time. Even worse, maybe she frets she is fostering attachment issues for the poor child! One mother described feeling helpless when her baby started crying while she was pumping and desperately wishing she could “go in the other room and pick her up and console her.”

When I first read those accounts, it took me by surprise. That wasn’t my experience at all and I thought, “What in the world am I doing differently?!?” It couldn’t just be the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra. It looks like most people independently made that same discovery (If you haven’t– definitely get one or a similiar product. It opens a lot of doors of what you can do while you pump).

I’ve reflected a bit and I think I’ve pinpointed some possible differences.

I Pump with the Baby
Now, there were times where I felt like I was missing out on time with adult family and friends because of pumping, but for me, time with the pump and time with the baby are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are times where I pick up the baby and tell my family, “I am going to take him upstairs and pump. We’ll be back.” A lot of our pumping sessions could easily be described simply as “Mommy-Son Time”.

It’s easy for me to pump with the baby and I think part of it is because…

I Pump on the Floor
Well, at home anyway, not in public restrooms. 🙂 I’ve always pumped on the floor. I pump on the floor because I sleep on the floor (even when I was pregnant). So when we arrived home from the hospital and were faced with the question, “Hmm…Where should this breastpump go?” the natural answer was, “Oh hey– how about right here on the floor?”

Sagan - Day Seventeen - Helping Mommy With Server Update
Day 17 – Breast Pump on the Floor

Because I was on the floor, the baby could also be on the floor where that scary gravity and all the injuries and disfigurements it aims to inflict on my child are kept at bay. The baby could be right next to me or even physically on me (more on that in a moment). If he needed something, I was right there. Thanks to the hands-free pumping bra, I could give him a bottle, I could comfort him, I could change his diapie (though really messy poopies I would recommend handing off, particularly when the child is enamoured with crawling). Heck, I’ve dressed him for daycare while pumping. And even if he didn’t need anything, I was still right there where I could just stare at him, sigh, and think about #$*&ing lucky I was.

Now, as far as comforting and burping, there is the limitation where you can’t really hold your child to your chest while you are pumping, which brings me to my next possible difference…

I Tailor Sit and Use My Legs A LOT
Tailor sitting is also known as “Indian-style” and I do it a lot. I always have. Even in chairs, I often opt to tailor sit in my seat. It’s true. I’ve been reprimanded by librarians (They aren’t fond of people’s feet being where other people’s butts will be). Because it is so natural to me, tailor sitting also makes cameos in my mothering. My crossed legs have proven to be a nice comfy spot for my son to hang out…and sometimes nap.

Sagan - October 28th - Resting in Lap While Mommy Works
Tailor Sitting – 3 1/2 Months In

Earth 383 10 Year Anniversary - Sleeping Sagan, Vicky and Malena
Tailor Sitting – 13 1/2 Months In

If he is having gas or discomfort, I’ve found bouncing my knees or rocking to be effective. I’ve also found my legs to be a great way to prop him up while he takes a bottle.

Now when I’m pumping, I may not be able to embrace him and hold him tight to my chest. BUT I still have full use of my lap and my legs. Sure, you have to move tubing around, but I’m there and available for my son. Plus it is good motivation to keep good posture as babies seem to get annoyed when pumping accessories are shoved in their faces (I haven’t tested it out, but I suspect most adults would experience a similiar reaction).

I think the trickiest part to master was finding a way to burp him while pumping. It didn’t come up often because my husband was so attentive but when it did, I would lay the baby stomach down on my thigh and pat his back that way (Hat Tip, my mother-in-law).

Exclusively Pumping with the Mobile Baby
I think like with most things, exclusively pumping gets more challenging as the baby gets mobile and wants to explore. I still pump on the floor and around the “pumping area” are a whole bunch of toys, including this wooden workbench that continues to captivate him. For the most part, we play and talk. Sometimes I supervise him as he explores the room and there are times where I quickly disconnect the tubing so I can go fetch him. The most friction we’ve run into is an ongoing disagreement about how much fun it is to yank the tubing out of the breast pump. Though I expect the incident rate of both his exploring and my adbrupt retrieval missions to increase in the future. : )

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Plays With Happy Lights Bear
13-Month Old Sagan Plays, I Pump AND Take Pictures (Also there is that tailor sitting again)

Shared Moments
Pumping with my mobile son has had some spectacular moments. One day I got to watch as he figured out how to stick his toy screw driver into a spare breastshield he pulled out of the breast pump bag. The breastshield and its funnel shape turned out to very friendly to the unadept and a marvelous tutorial. A couple of days later, I pumped and watched my son’s more confident hand manuever the toy screwdriver into the small holes in his workbench. Then from day to day, I got to witness his increased steadiness as he stood and played. He develops right before my eyes.

And then there was the first time in the middle of playing, my son paused, crawled over to me and gave me a hug. Children are adaptable, and sure enough, my son found a way to make a hug work.

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Hugs Me
13 Month Old Sagan Hugs Me While I Pump

I didn’t miss these moments because I was attached to a breast pump.

And maybe (if it is right for your family), you don’t have to either! : )

October 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm 4 comments

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