Life As We Knew It

We recently hired a new CEO at my work and as part of his introductions he asked us to go around and tell him what our hobbies are. I froze then panicked. What are my hobbies? Do I have any? Could I say “infant sleep training and half-assed house cleaning?” I took a deep breath and decided to channel my cooler inner self of two years ago…I had hobbies then, right? I stuck with the standard Montana answer, fishing and hiking, even though I am not currently doing either.

My mom came to town a couple weeks later to help with Josie. Matt and I decided it was time to revive those cool people of long ago and go fly fishing. It took us over an hour to locate all the fishing gear we have jammed here and there over the years. I was dreading trying on my no-mercy-no-elastic-pre-baby-body waders, but somehow they fit! With one beer to split, two apples, trail mix, water and all the fishing gear we could wrangle we were off.

We decide on an “in-town” fishing spot called Kelly Island because there was the distinct possibility of Josie freaking out and needing a mom-mom or dada.

It was beautiful, quiet and tranquil on the river….and much needed.

Tie one on

Tie one on

Beautiful Skwala!

Beautiful Skwala!

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I am not embarrassed to admit that we caught nothing, in fact, we didn’t even get a bite! This outing was less about catching the big one and more to prove to ourselves that those free-spirited, cool people who moved to Missoula four years ago still exist and are emerging after a couple years figuring out how to be new parents. Look out fish, we’re back!

Something else that we used to be much better at was getting the black pack into their natural environment–the wild. Since Josie came along the dogs have been playing second and third fiddle and are not happy about it. They have acted out in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, eating every piece of bread that comes into our house; dumping and eating the trash; bum-rushing dogs and people they deem sketchy; digging holes in the backyard, pooping in the garden, fighting dogs that look at them funny…I should stop as my blood is starting to boil. We came home this week to find Wade’s indiscretion on his head:

I love Raisin-Bran!

I love Raisin-Bran!

This bag had obviously been on for hours and we feel lucky that he was okay. We hope that he didn’t kill off either of his brain cells. Okay, okay, their life is not all bad…check it:

Into the woods!

Into the woods!

Best buds

Best buds

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While we do miss a part of who we used to be and our adventures and hobbies, this is really our favorite hobby these days:

Cone head

Cone head

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Temper Tantrums and NO!

Oh the terrible twos! How did they creep up on us 10 months early? Josie has really embraced her new title of “toddler” by zooming everywhere, getting into mischief and asserting her will. That last part is a gentle way of saying that she throws temper tantrums and repeats NO! over and over and over…. I have been told by seasoned parents to get used to it, you have 17+ more years of NO! I should add that 99% of the time Josie is a doll, this post is about the other 1%.

I dare you to try to take away my wooden Prius...

I dare you to try and take away my wooden Prius…

I never put myself in the shoes of that mom in Target whose kid is writhing on the floor because she took away (insert ANYTHING here) or said no to something – that will never be me, right? I think I might be that mom with the child who has “strong feelings” as we are calling them. Josie’s highs are fun, exuberant, happy, joyful and silly and her lows are red-faced rage, tears and hitting (eek!). Matt and I went out and bought a library of books to try to figure out what to do with a 14-months old who has spirit coming out the ying-yang. We consider ourselves pretty laid back people, but the reality is that Josie gets this from someone…probably Matt (;

Instead of describing the drama queen in action, I figured you could watch it for yourself. Note to viewer, no people or animals were harmed in the making of this video…unless you ask Josie, this may have hurt her pride and her ability to draw all over the walls…again.

Our pediatrician put it best, “all you have to do is figure out how to channel all that energy into good and she will do amazing things.” Is there a book for that?

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Snaggletooth

It has been a long two weeks. I have been traveling for 10 days out of the last 12 for work, worrying that Josie will forget who I am. Through the wonders of technology I have been able to watch Josie stuff her face, cruise around, and act wild on Skype. Whenever Matt takes out his computer now she points and says – Mom-mom!! Apparently I live in the computer.

Pack me!

Pack me!

Josie has been growing-up at breakneck speed. We have been particularly tickled watching her tri-chompers come in.

Check out my chicklet

Check out my chicklet

It is amazing the amount and variety of food three teeth can mash. I guess if you have been used to eating with gums for a year you make it work. She also bit my finger the other day and they are as sharp as baby shark teeth!

Naked lunch!

Naked lunch!

In other exciting news (it’s sad what is exciting to us these days), Josie has graduated to a new car seat! I have been feeling like she needs to know her Vermont roots, so when I saw the Britax Pavilion in cowmooflage print, I knew we had found a winner. Matt did all the important (boring) research on safety and it has arrived! Josie is psyched to get out of her infant seat but will probably scream in the car regardless of her swanky new throne.

Am I camooflaged?

Am I camooflaged?

Black Pack Update:

Where we used to support the wildness and spirit of our pack, these days we are trying to control it. Having a wild baby and two high energy cattle dogs has pushed us to buy some devices of control like a gate to relegate the dogs to the back of the mini van. Wade thought this was b.s. and found a way to squash his pea brain to the flatness of paper and crawl under the gate. We moved the gate down and he found a way to separate the bars and jump through the middle. That dog is dumb as rocks, but determined!

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Happy Birthday to Josie!

Today Josie turns one – can you believe it!? A year ago this morning we were in the hospital deciding if it was time for Josie to come into the world three weeks early. I was in pain, Matt was stressed, and our doctor was calling in favors for an early morning emergency c-section. Luckily the surgery ended in joy and relief for all of us.

After a sleepless, challenging and rewarding year of firsts, I still find it amazing that we are all alive, semi-well rested, and functioning at a socially acceptable level. Josie is having a bunch of her little friends over tomorrow to roll in cupcakes and blow bubbles. Matt and I are having our friends over for hi-fives and booze to celebrate making it a year.

In this past year Josie has developed into a spirited little girl with definitive likes and dislikes. Here are her stats at one year:

Height/weight – short/wide. Josie is 4x the size she was when she was born!

Tough little 5 pounder

Tough little 5 pounder

Number of teeth – 3.5

Signature color – purple (unless you ask Matt, he would say brown)

Team Carhart

Team Carhart

Favorite words – bubble, buh-bye, HI!

Dislikes – drinking water, sleeping, sitting still, the car.

Most yummy food – fruit, fruit, puffs, cheese, more fruit, sigh.

Blueberries!

Blueberries!

Favorite books – DOG, In My Forest, Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, Little Blue Truck…Not that she has ever sat still to read a book.

Jet-setting – Josie has been to DC, San Fran and Vermont in the past year.

Coveted items – bubbles, paper, anything electronic (tantrum material), shaker egg, daddy’s wallet (mmm…butt sweat).

tasty Mac

tasty Mac

Likes – jamming food in her face (apple does not fall far from the daddy tree), babbling (apple does not fall far from the mommy tree), The Black Pack, baths and helping dad.

Instructing Matt on how to make a dog bowl holder

Instructing Matt on how to make a dog bowl holder

periscope down

parascope down

The arrival of Josie has been a little hard for the Black Pack to handle. Wade sees Josie as a walking lick-a-stick and Blue sees her as competition for our love. We know they will all be good friends in the end, but it has been tough year for the “first babies”.

We found Blue trying to pretend she was Josie the other day..

maybe they don't see me

maybe they don’t see me

yup, they caught me

yup, they caught me

We could not be happier looking back on the last year, and we think Josie is pretty comfortable in our family.

Chillaxing

Chillaxing

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Land-Locked Lobsterfest

I was both thrilled and worried about Josie being born in Montana for a few reasons. 1) She might only like venison steaks and 2) she will never want to leave this vast state – much like her dad. Another reason, a little further down the list, is that she will not identify with New England, my home stomping ground and half her genetic make-up. I have already made her taste REAL Vermont maple syrup; I read her bedtime stories about Maine and Vermont; I dress her in Magic Hat Brewing Company and Shelburne Farms t-shirts; I even put up a Vermont license plate light switch cover in her bedroom…all in the hopes that my half of the genes will sink in.

The native montanans of the family

The native Montanans of the family

Yesterday evening I took additional steps to strengthen Josie’s New England roots by taking her to Lobsterfest. Once a year, the Montana Club Restaurant hosts this event. They fly in fresh Maine lobsters for 2 days and poor land-locked Montanans can get a taste of the sea. I grew up vacationing in Maine every summer, and had my first lobster at age 2. I can clean a lobsta (as we say in Maine) with one hand tied behind my back and blind-folded and I am a purist – no butter and no shell cracker. These skills are completely irrelevant and useless living in Montana. Still, I hope that Josie will learn all these important tricks in solidarity.

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Last year, Matt and I went to Lobsterfest while I was horribly pregnant, miserable and practically immobile. I had not left the house in weeks, but somehow dug deep to get my fat butt out the door for the taste of lobster.

Best hour of my pregnancy

Best hour of my pregnancy

This year lived up to the anticipation I had been feeling for a year. We squeezed Josie into a Maine Diner lobster t-shirt we retired 6 months ago and headed to the Montana Club at 3:30 to beat the rush.

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Josie thought lobster was okay, but she LOVED the rolls – go figure. All and all, it was a-MAINE-zing (that was Matt’s bad joke).

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Toothless Wonder

First a pop quiz. What is Josie up to in this series of pictures?

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If you answered pooping in a restaurant highchair, you would be right!

I may have mentioned that Josie is a little behind in the whole tooth development department. She has little friends who already can flash a full grill – show offs. Josie’s tooth deficiency has not stopped her from gumming down every kind of food we have put in front of her. She has gums of steel. Tonight during dinner I was trying to dig some food out of Josie’s over stuffed cheeks and BINGO! Is that something tiny and sharp?…A TOOTH! A TOOTH! Matt and I were more than a little excited. We both had been silently wondering, “is it possible that Josie will not get teeth?” Looks like our toothless wonder is now an 11 month old toothed wonder.

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Holiday Travel Hell

Boy did we learn a lesson in traveling with an infant the hard way. I guess most parents have lived this story and some would say it’s a rite of passage – all I can say is that I would not wish this form of torture on my worst enemy….

I should start by saying that we had an easy 3 flights (in retrospect) from Montana to Vermont and a wonderful Christmas vacation with my mom lounging around while she woke up every night and every morning with Josie, who slept in her closet.

Hello Church Street!

Hello Church Street!

After a week in VT, we were scheduled to fly home on Friday the 28th, then super storm Euclid hit (does anyone else think it’s stupid to name winter storms?). This storm buried us under 15+ inches of snow and seemed so lovely at the time. Then our flight was canceled and the earliest United could get us out of Burlington was Jan. 2nd. I had to be back at work on the 31st, and had the bright idea of booking a flight on Sunday out of Manchester, NH – it’s only a 3 hour drive, what could possible go wrong?

Damn blizzard

Damn Euclid

Winter storm Fryer blew in on Saturday and the thought of driving 20mph on crappy roads down to Manchester with a baby on board was enough to get our butts in gear.

We woke up at 3:30am on Sunday, packed up baby and grandma and headed to the Burlington airport to play stand-by roulette. Little did we know that other stressed-out travelers had been stuck in VT since the previous Wednesday playing stand-by roulette every day and losing. I started the day off by TSA giving me the options of either opening all of our baby food packets to test for bomb jelly, or getting a full body search, I opted for the search. Nothing like getting felt up by a grumpy old TSA lady in rubber gloves at 5am in front of hundreds of other travelers.

5am sucks - Josie would not even turn on the charm to get us on a flight

5am sucks – Josie would not even turn on the charm to get us on a flight

We tried to get on 3 different flights and realized quickly that we were so far down the stand-by list that even Josie’s cuteness could not get us out of Burlington. We headed back to grandma’s house defeated, slept for an hour and got back in the car to hit the snow covered roads to Manchester.

Grandma back seat entertainment center

Grandma back seat entertainment center

Josie was not thrilled with the car ride, but did manage to sleep for 1 hour out of the 3. My mom tearfully (more like sobbing) said goodbye for the 3rd time at the Manchester airport and we were on our way.

Hour travel 12, feeling it...

Hour 12, feeling it…

Cheers, to caffeine!

Cheers to caffeine!

The flight from Manchester to Newark was relatively uneventful. We mostly wrestled Josie as she tried to do flips on us the whole way….all the while babbling, laughing, yelling, flirting, and practicing her wave. Newark, for those of you who don’t know, is the worst hell on earth airport in the country. We had to take a shuttle bus and run to make our connection and were the last ones to board the dreaded 5 hour flight from Newark to Denver.

This is where it gets interesting. The woman in the window seat of our row took one look at Josie and nicely told us that she had taken an 8 hour bus from Bulgaria to Istanbul; 12 hour flight from Istanbul to Newark; was heading for Denver; and could she be re-seated. We were happy to get her out of our row so that Josie could spin, flip, dive and scream in the discomfort of our laps. The monkey-on-crack gymnastics got so crazy that at one point Matt was trying to restrain her with his arms as a strait jacket and she jammed her finger so far up his nose that it gave him a bloody nose. We then were stuck in an airplane traffic jam for an hour on the runway before take-off, make that 6 hours in the plane thank you very much.

Josie finally went to sleep after Matt violently rocked her for 30 minutes. She would wake up every time the flight attendant or captain would come on.  All I could think was SHUT UP! Is it really worth telling us that you are about to illuminate the seat-belt light in exchange for a screaming infant!? Matt and I ordered booze, a box of crackers and direct TV football to try to calm our nerves in between the bouts of screaming.

The beast is asleep. No moving, talking, or breathing!

The beast is asleep. No moving, talking, or breathing!

We were an hour late getting into Denver and had to run a couple miles to make our flight – last ones to board again! Josie was loony at this point so she was flirting with everyone on the plane, waving and saying “HI!” Most of the people around us thought it was cute at first, but it was not cute when they got tired of the game and she still wanted to play and would yell at them if they did not wave back.

The two hours from Denver to Missoula was maybe the most tense I have ever been. Josie screamed, bounced, clawed our faces, kicked and howled because she was tired but could not sleep.  She was over the day as much as we were. Matt finally took her up front to violently rock her (Josie was not the only one crying at this point) and got her to calm down for the last 15 minutes of the flight. A mom with 2 kids who was flirting with Josie on the plane came up to us in baggage claim and said, “Your baby has the loveliest voice! I really enjoyed listening to her for that whole flight.” And she was serious, and maybe deaf!

You would think that getting to Missoula at midnight would have been a huge relief; it was for a few minutes until we remembered that we had basically rolled into the airport lot without any gas. We drove the mile to the gas station with the miles-until-empty gauge at 0 and the fumes got us there!

What lessons about traveling with an infant did we learn in all of this?

  • Do not under any circumstance travel for 22 hours straight with a 10 month old.
  • Don’t over feed your baby to get them to shut up or they will fart, pee and poop non-stop…usually during take-off or landing.
  • Changing your baby on your lap is easier than changing them on the airplane toilet seat, number 1 or 2. Those airplane puke bags are also great for dirty diapers.
  • Don’t try to use your baby’s good looks to advance your travel agenda. Other travelers and airport workers see babies as dirty, smelly, loud, nuisances.  We came to find out that they are right.
  • Other people around you are not as sensitive to your baby crying as you are. I could not believe that people were sleeping through Josie’s (and my) crying!
  • Try to sit near other families with kids, they will feel sorry for you and try to help you because they have been there.  And maybe the other passengers will think it’s their kids that are crying.
  • Try to breathe deeply, smile at your partner and baby even when you want to kill them, and remember that even the worst travel day will be something to look back on and laugh about (eventually).
I'm an adorable monster!

I’m an adorable monster!


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