Monday, July 26, 2010

Rescue at Sea, Part Two: Coast Guard Edition

OMG you guys. LOOK what happened:


It all started when the kids were asleep, my sister and her family and my parents were out for a few hours, and I was working on that last post. Ryan told me he wanted to go for a short sail. Ever the nagging wife, I yelled after him "If you're all by yourself you should wear your lifejacket!" (instead of just keeping it in the boat, which is common practice around here). Half an hour after he walked out of the house I looked out to see him sailing by, dutifully wearing his orange horseshoe lifejacket around his neck and having a great time.

I puttered around for a few more minutes then walked back out onto the porch to read my book just in time to see Ryan's boat capsize. I wasn't worried; capsizing is common in a small sailboat and Ryan knows how to handle it. But when he got the boat righted and it capsized again almost immediately I thought he might need some help. Not in a DANGER kind of way, but in a might be nice kind of way. I called my aunt, Candy, who has a dinghy tied up at the dock to ask for help. I saw her sprinting down the dock to the boat seconds after I hung up the phone.

She was joined by a huge lobster boat and they both made their way out to Ryan, who had capsized two more times by this point. He tells me that the boat was totally swamped and the wet sail made it very top heavy. By the time the lobster boat arrived, a smaller, personal motor boat had come out to help. I was watching all of this from the porch, with two sleeping kids keeping me from doing anything useful. Shortly after it arrived, the small motor boat left the scene and sped back to the dock just as AN AMBULANCE WITH IT'S SIREN AND LIGHTS ON drove down the road on the other side of the bay and stopped near the dock with the motor boat. OMG. I was shaking so bad I had to sit down. I idiotically tried to zoom in with my camera to see what was going on (I only thought to get the binoculars later, and then was happy to see Ryan sitting in my aunt's boat still wearing his orange life jacket). Then another lobster boat responded!

You can see Ryan's white sail in the back middle, the big lobster boat in front of that, and the second lobster boat on its way to help. Not pictured: Me nearly throwing up on the porch after seeing the ambulance and wondering just what the H I'm going to do with three kids all by myself and what I'm going to say to Charlie.

I should mention that Ryan and I were out the other day and witnessed a similar sailboat SINK in nearly identical conditions. Ryan tells me that all he could think about was "DON'T SINK DON'T SINK DON'T SINK" mostly because he didn't know how he would face my grandfather after sinking his boat, not because of the dangers of being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no boat. He didn't even notice the sixty-five degree water.

After fifteen or so more minutes the boats dispersed and started to head back to our house. The biggest lobster boat led the way, towing the sailboat, which looked very pitiful and wet but was undamaged, behind it was my aunt with Ryan in her boat, and behind that was the freaking COAST GUARD with their LIGHTS ON. A BOAT WITH LIGHTS LIKE A POLICE CAR. The whole entourage tied up at the dock and I temporarily abandoned the sleeping children so I could run down there and jump into Ryan's freezing, wet arms and make sure he was alright.

The Coast Guard guys told Ryan to go change into dry clothes then come back to answer some questions. Then they helped take the sail off the sailboat and made sure everyone was alright before they filled out their form and left. The Coast Guard guys were SO nice and were really happy to help. Ryan and my aunt got everything cleaned up and put away, the kids woke up, and everything was fine. Ryan got lots of teasing and the last piece of blueberry pie. We still don't know who called the fire department or the Coast Guard, but think one of the lobstermen put out a "sailor in the water" emergency call before he came out to help. Given the potential for things to go wrong, we are grateful for all the help.

And that was our first, and hopefully last, encounter with the US Coast Guard. Unless they have a pancake breakfast or something.

In My Board Shorts, and My Flippy Floppies

We have some very serious sailors in this family. The weather has been perfect, warm and sunny and breezy. In Charlie's words, "I like it here, it's warm and cool at the same time." And when the woman who cut my hair the other day told me she felt awful because it's been so hot and she hasn't walked her dog all week, I had a brief glimpse into the feelings you all have when I complain that it hasn't climbed out of the forties all week in January. This woman we met at the park told us that winters are so much fun in New Hampshire because everyone bundles up and plays outside all day, and I thought about how much more time we could spend up here if we lived that close, and it almost seemed possible. And then I thought about what a pain in the ass it is just to find shoes for everyone before going out; snowsuits, mittens, and hats might send me right over the edge into crazytown. Also, they don't sell cilantro in the grocery store.

Charlie went sailing with Ryan, my dad, and me while Wes napped one day. It was a lot windier than we expected once we left the harbor and Charlie spent much of the trip clinging to Ryan's arm and listening to us sing songs from Barney over and over.


Wes joined us on a motor boat ride to see some seals. Here is is taking a break from sucking on the collar of his life jacket and trying to fall out of the moving boat.


Yesterday my aunt and uncle took us out on their big boat, which they sailed here from Seattle, the LONG way. Around South America. Everyone got to steer. Wes hasn't worn shoes in three days. Neither have I.


Charlie made a good captain too. My uncle apologized for the lack of excitement during our trip, since the wind was so calm, but I think it was perfect for two little kids. And although Ryan is, I'm not a big fan of feeling like I'm going to fall into the water myself, so I thought it was lovely.


And then Charlie couldn't take the excitement anymore.


And just because it amuses me, here's a picture of the boys feeding crackers to the seagulls in their jammies. Please note that the Texans put the baby in fleece footies so his wittle toes wouldn't be too cold in the crisp July weather. I am DREADING walking out of that airport when we get home.


Saturday, July 24, 2010


Charlie recoiled when I put the steaming, red lobster in front of him. When he recovered he looked at it, then at me. "Why isn't it crawling around?" he said slowly.

I immediately regretted letting an older cousin play with the live lobsters on the porch earlier that day. They'll do a headstand if you hypnotize them by rubbing their back with your finger. Charlie had shrieked and jumped onto an end table after a loose lobster had started approaching him, very slowly, across the porch. We've not yet had such a vivid lesson on "where our food comes from" and I was not prepared. My aunt saved the day. "It's ready to eat, Charlie!"

This answer satisfied him and I reminded him he would be having a little bit of Ryan's lobster, but that Grandma had made him a sandwich and cut up an orange for him. He stared at Ryan, who was expertly dismembering the lobster with a tiny fork and a nutcracker. His eyes widened when Ryan squeezed a shiny piece of meat out of a leg like toothpaste, dipped it in butter, and offered it to him.

"No, thanks," he said, and took another piece of orange out of his bowl. A few minutes later, curiosity got the best of him. And then he ate Ryan's entire lobster, pausing only to make the pink, fleshy claw meat "pinch" at an imaginary finger and say "snap snap snap!!" I made a mental note to consider giving vegetarianism another go, as soon as these hamburger and french fry cravings subside.

We all sat around the table to keep Ryan company when someone took pity on him and brought him a second lobster so he wouldn't go to bed hungry. My mom asked Charlie if he had enjoyed his first taste of lobster. Charlie responded, "I like the meat inside, but you can't eat the plastic."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rescue at Sea

Yesterday while we were enjoying a pre-breakfast family walk across a footbridge in the harbor in this town, Charlie stopped. "OH NO!"

I kept walking. "What's wrong, Buddy?"

"Heartfeet FELL!" Heartfeet is the little elephant my grandma gave Charlie last week. Somehow he "fell" through the four-inch gap along the floor of the bridge.

Ryan and I looked over the side then exchanged a glance. Ryan sprang into action, jogging back towards the shore on the bridge "I'll get him!" We all cheered.

Moments later, Ryan appeared on a dock in a marina about a hundred yards away in the direction the wind was pushing Heartfeet. Charlie bounced and cheered. I uttered fervent, silent prayers. Float, Baby. FLOAT!!

Heartfeet doing the backstroke, lower right. Damsels in distress, upper left.

We held our breath as the wind very slowly moved Heartfeet closer to the dock where Ryan was standing. A woman came out of her boat and handed Ryan a boat hook so he could reach out and grab him. Charlie and Wes jumped and yelled. I willed that thing to float like its life depended on it. We waited.

By the time it was within reach of the boat hook, my parents had arrived on scene. We all watched as Ryan laid on his belly and reeeeaaached out as far as he could with the hook. Charlie yelled "You got him! You got him!!"

Ryan stood triumphantly, Heartfeet in one hand and the boat hook in the other, raised over his head. We cheered. When Ryan came back around to the bridge, Charlie ran at him with everything he had and jumped into his arms.

Ryan looked at me over Charlie's shoulder. "If it had been Phent I would have jumped right over the side."

At breakfast we recounted the whole story for my parents while Charlie held Heartfeet close, wrapped in a napkin. Charlie clung close to Ryan for the rest of the morning.

Ryan said it was pretty much the best day of his life.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I think these sum up all of our relative vacation styles nicely.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just call me Smarty McSmarterson, Depriver of Lovies

Hahaha, SO! If you're trying to get a one year old to sleep in a new place? You should proooobbbably make sure they have their "A" blanket when you put them down.

Yesterday morning I said casually to Charlie, "Hey Charlie, you haven't seen Smelly [Wes's lovey] around, have you? I can't find him."

When Wes heard me say "Smelly" he dropped what he was doing, ran to me, looked me right in the eye and stared. Which is the same reaction we get from Rossby when we accidentally speak the word "Sonic" instead of spelling it out.

And then I found Smelly under Wes's bed and there was great rejoicing in the land. And also slightly better sleeping. He took another nap for our babysitter yesterday and last night the shenanigans only lasted about forty-five minutes.

Today's project includes packing for our trip. Our packing list is as follows:

Becca: eh, whatever
Ryan: swimsuit, tshirts, deodorant, toothbrush
Charlie: Forty-seven pairs of shorts and undies, five shirts, Phent
Wes: Smelly

I've just cleaned out the fridge and guess what? We really do have NO FOOD. I wasn't exaggerating when Ryan and I had macaroni and cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes for dinner. Next up I'll do something about our truck stop kitchen floor, stock up on Goldfish, and drag my kids into the used bookstore long enough to grab something at random off the popular reading shelf.

Off to fold some laundry, because as messy as my house is normally, I hate coming home to a mess. I like to start from a clean slate, in other words.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm beginning to think Jo Frost, the SuperNanny, had one too many Guinness down at the pub

So. Bedtime? Is not going well.

Twenty-two times putting Wes back in the bed now seems like a quaint little memory. The two nights he went down with no fuss at all were a total fluke. The nap he took today when our babysitter was here? MIND GAMES.

We've chosen the SuperNanny plan for sleep training. The plan is that you wordlessly and with as little fuss as possible, put the kid back in bed, as many times as it takes, until he gives up and goes to sleep. On the show they usually put the kid back like a hundred and fifty times the first night, forty-six times the second night, and then on the third night the kid stands up from the couch, clicks off the Daily Show, says goodnight to the family, then walks up to his room, brushes his teeth, puts on his pajamas, and climbs quietly into bed. SupperNanny wins again! Roll the credits.

It is is Day 6 and we are not having the same experience. Tonight, while I was enjoying a delicious Italian dinner with the other church ladies, picturing the sweet, sleeping babies I was going to kiss goodnight when I got home, Ryan was engaged in The Battle of the Bed, 6.0. It ended with Charlie in our bed, Ryan meeting me in the driveway looking like he had just run a marathon, a marathon where people yell at you while you are running, and Wes having a panic attack in his bed (after I took over so Ryan could regroup). Horrible choking sobs. It was miserable. I wrapped him up in a blanket and held him tightly to my chest. He was asleep in less than a minute.

I think we missed "the window" tonight. That narrow sliver of time in which a child is sleepy enough to sleep but not so sleepy that the adrenaline has kicked in and turned him into a jittery psychopath capable of resisting even the most reasonable request. Like "GET IN YOUR BED AND STAY THERE! A NEW NETFLIX CAME TODAY!!"

SuperNanny has clearly never encountered a kid as strong-willed as Wes. I fully expect him to move a salt shaker across the table one day using only the power of his mind. And then I will probably absentmindedly sprinkle some in my coffee because children who don't get enough rest are REALLY FREAKING CRABBY. And I'm starting to lose it a little.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Hunger Strike is Over

It rained, there were muddy puddles, and Mr. Mad had a much better day.

Mud Man

This guy, on the other hand, screamed. Screamed at the grocery store, screamed at a friend's house (who loaned us this pretty pink lady-Pullup when Wes needed a change), laid facedown screaming in the back yard while I was on the phone with my friend, and screamed in the kitchen before bedtime when I wouldn't let him hold his hand under the running hot water in the bathroom.

Mud Fun

But he did do an impressive job on his first night in his new big boy bed. Ryan, ever the engineer, made careful notes of the evening. A tally of the times he put Wes back in bed along with notes about other activities that might have affected the experiment. According to his notes, he put Wes back in bed twelve times before he required a diaper change. Eight times later, he became frustrated and began to cry (Wes, not Ryan, although by the twentieth time putting Wes back in bed I would have been crying. Or swearing). By the twenty-second time Ryan had to put Wes back in his bed, he stayed there and went to sleep. We only heard from him once in the night. The whole thing took about forty minutes. Naptime today took an hour in the morning and I gave up after thirty minutes in the afternoon because I wanted him nice and sleepy at bedtime. It worked--he didn't get up once--but that could be because he was afraid of me after I had a nervous breakdown in the kitchen right before bedtime (see: day of endless screaming, and also, Charlie shut my foot in the bathroom door).

Wes sleeps on the right, Charlie on the left. They seem to be doing well, although Charlie calls it "Wes's room where I sleep."

Brother Room

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where the Heart is

I meet Ryan in the driveway alone. This is never a good sign. Good days end with gleeful, barefoot children spilling from the house and slamming into his legs at a dead run. Bad days end like this.

"Charlie lost his trip to the pool. I'm sorry, I know you were looking forward to it."

He hugs me hello and I take the brown paper bags from him. We turn toward the house to face the music. I open the door and we are greeted by Wes, no pants on, watching Nightly Business Report on PBS while he drives race cars around the coffee table. Charlie's voice is booming over the baby monitor, "I'M CHANGING MY NAME TO 'MR. MAD.' AND I'M NOT EATING DINNER TONIGHT."

"He refused to help me clean up the six dollars in pennies he threw all over our bedroom floor. Then when I took away his trip to the pool he told me that he wouldn't be eating dinner because I'm 'not very nice to him sometimes,' so I sent him to his room until you came home." I want to cry I'm so frustrated, but won't because I don't want to appear to have let such a silly remark get to me. "AND I'M NOT EATING BREAKFAST TOMORROW EITHER!'" he continues. I explain "He lost our outing tomorrow morning for throwing a handful of pennies down the stairs at me while he was supposed to be in his room."

I ruminate on the "not very nice" comment and come to the conclusion that the best comeback would have been "I'll tell you how nice I am! I'm not beating you with a hairbrush right now like women from another generation would be!" Damn pregnancy brain, I wish I'd thought of that sooner.

I call up the stairs "Papa brought hot dogs from Sonic if you're hungry!"

The yelling stops abruptly and a streak of red tshirt and truck undies comes barreling down the stairs then stops halfway. He says "I'm not eating dinner tomorrow night."

Ryan takes him upstairs to put some pants on for dinner and I hear them talking over the monitor. "Mom does a lot of things for our family and she can't do it all alone. It's important for you to help. And you should never be rude to Mama. She loves us all very much. I want you to go apologize to her and give her a big hug."

He skulks down the stairs and mumbles his apology then gives me a tight hug before taking his seat at the table and biting the end off his hot dog.

"I'm not eating breakfast tomorrow," he reminds us through a mouthful of food. We shrug in unison. "Okey doke!" Ryan says. I seethe silently having taken away our fun morning activity. "And I'm changing my name to 'Mr. Mad.' Mama said I can't go to the POOL with you today!"

Welcome home, honey.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maybe Wes and I can sleep in the Ergo

One night while we were in DC it became obvious that my exhausted children would never make it until the normal adult dinner time we had planned on, so I gave them some sandwiches and ushered them up to our room for the night around 6:30, which is their normal bedtime here. It was quiet for a long time and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

We had just sat down for dinner when I heard a funny noise. Godmother and Godfather live in a two-family, so I figured it was the neighbors walking down their stairs or something. But then I heard another funny noise. And then Wes burst into the dining room, grinning from ear to ear and babbling proudly.

I'll translate. He said "I got out of my crib then walked down two flights of hard, wooden stairs! All by myself! I bet you're really glad I didn't give myself a head injury!"

I didn't get to finish my delicious teriyaki meatballs that night. I still need to ask Godmother for the recipe. Instead I rocked Wes to sleep to make sure he didn't get out again. I woke up the next morning to find him scissor-kicking his way over the side. At six o'clock. Oy.

There were no more crib shenanigans after we came home and I figured the problem was limited to the Pack and Play. My mom asked around for cribs to borrow for an upcoming trip while Ryan wondered aloud "Really what's the big difference between a kennel and a crib? I mean, if we clean it out really good, and it's as big as the Pack and Play, then what's the big deal?"

We went around and around. It was $150 to rent a full-sized crib for the time we would be away. Ryan thought it was too much. And while I agreed, I pointed out that we would be staying approximately twenty five feet from a giant cliff over looking THE OCEAN and unless he wanted to sit by the front door all night, we really needed to find a reliable way to contain Wes.

The topic fell off the radar for the last couple of days because we were busy doing other things. But today Charlie and I were sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Wes to finish up his nap so we could do something when I heard a house-rattling WHUMP! directly above us. I stared at the baby monitor for a moment, counting the seconds between impact and scream that are an indicator of the severity of the injury.

There was nothing.

Then there was a fast series of small thumps heading in the direction of the stairs. I ran up and came face to face with Wes in the hall. He was very proud of himself.

This is really, really bad.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Belated Fourth

We celebrated Independence Day by leaving the kids with my sister (thanks, Kate!) and staying at a swanky hotel downtown by ourselves. This place had BATHROBES, friends. BATHROBES. Which is kind of awkward, really, because who hangs around their hotel room in a bathrobe? I mean, after Ryan rejected my suggestion to put them on and then order up some room service for dinner. He MADE me go out to eat at a great restaurant and order anything I wanted, including dessert, and then he MADE me go to a piano bar to sing boozily along with all the tourists and bachelorette parties. I only pretended to sing boozily, obviously. Although I was pretty tipsy after I smelled Ryan's beer. It was a pretty great evening. The next morning we indulged in two breakfasts (one savory, one sweet) then went to get the kids who welcomed us home by whining for seven hours straight then falling asleep at ten after six.

Sunday morning we stopped by the traditional Boy Scout pancake breakfast at the fire station on the way to church. It was lots of fun, except I nearly forgot to take our annual firetruck picture. I'm so glad I remembered because this time they both sat so nicely and looked at the camera and next year we're going to have the disembodied arms propping up a floppy infant again and Charlie will probably be, I don't know, playing a video game or checking out girls or something.


Firetruck Brothers

Annual Firetruck Picture

Also, can you tell we're trying to make their long pants, which they only wear to church, last until fall? Wes's are size 12 mo and look like capris despite being huge in the waist. They fell down around his ankles as he walked to the car after church and Charlie laughed so hard no sound came out. Such a supportive brother.

After church we met Ryan's parents for brunch (more breakfast foods, can you stand it?) then went home for naps. I got some great chapter books to read to Charlie on an hour long trip to a bookstore with Ryan's mom, who is a children's librarian. She was very excited to help when I mentioned we had flown through Stuart Little and were hungry for more. She suggested some GREAT things and it took great restraint to not come home with several bags full of childhood memories: Mrs. Quimby and The Rats of NIMH, Little House in the Big Woods, Ramona, A Cricket in Times Square, Little Women. Charlie better learn to like coffee because we have a LOT of reading to do.

We had dinner at Labmama's house then sent the kids home to bed while we recreated the American Revolution on the street in front of her house with Black Cats, Roman Candles, and the aptly named "Mortar Shells," which come with their own cannon, shoot a hundred feet in the air, and explode with a resonating BOOM. When we got home at ten Wes was fast asleep and Charlie and his grandparents were enjoying the show from Charlie's bedroom window. This morning he joined me for the Boston Pops Patriotic Sing-a-Long on YouTube. A kid after my own heart.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I really need to start wearing shoes. Or being more careful. Or putting Wes on a leash.

One day after I raved to Ryan about how awesome the kids are and how they NEVER EVER cross the invisible line that separates our front yard from the scorpion infested woods of certain unfavorable wildlife encounter on the next lot over, I was standing on my front porch watching them run around and enjoy the unseasonably pleasant weather.

Not surprisingly, Charlie crossed over the line. I yelled for him to come back and he did, but not before his understudy had taken notice. Wes, barefoot like me (because apparently this is Huckleberry Finn), headed for the woods shrieking and laughing. And ignoring me and my warnings about scorpions and snakes.

So I jumped off the side of our porch (not as dramatic as it sounds--it's about a foot high) to go after him. And landed with my left foot on a steel landscaping barrier that was buried in the grass (not buried enough, we now know). My foot slid across the metal a little after the initial impact and I ended up on my hands and knees in the grass, trying my hardest not to yell obscenities. Because oh my head that hurt like a %$%#@$%$er. And I still had to get Wes.

So I limped after him, yelling in a not-so-patient tone to GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW. Then dragged everyone inside and turned on the TV so I could call LabMama to tell her all about how I had figured it out, in that split second I was lying on the grass before I realized that I had NOT sliced my foot open clear down to the bone. She would come over and watch my kids so I could heroically drive myself to the emergency room, all without ever bothering Ryan at work. And then when he came home from work I would be preparing a lovely dinner while hopping around on one foot.

I also debated whether I would have asked her to retrieve a bra for me from upstairs.

She was appropriately sympathetic. Ryan thought the whole thing was hi-lar-i-ous. I even led him outside to show him the evil piece of metal he would be spending the whole weekend digging up and he was totally unmoved. Charlie pointed to it and told Ryan gravely, "Donnnn't step on that. That will hurrrrt your fooooot."

If only I had some stitches to prove it instead of the unimpressive and barely visible red line that is there now. It doesn't do the persistent ache that's been there all day justice.

And now he's just gotten a freaking AARON NEVILLE song stuck in my head. Oh no, ladies, he's ALL mine.

UPDATE: Ryan would like me to explain to you that he didn't think me hurting myself was funny, what he found so hilarious was the "old world ethnic Brooklyn accent" he claims I was using as I described the injury. He thought it was particularly funny in light of the fact that I had made corn fritters for dinner.