Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hidden Hills Farm Cow Milking Play Day

Ever since all of our company went home and Daniel returned to work, I have been making an effort to get out of the house with my boys. I have done this as a way to try to return to our normal daily routine for Jack, and so that I won't go completely stir crazy. While it isn't the easiest thing in the world to go places with two kids, it is much easier than I anticipated.

Earlier this week while checking Facebook, I saw that a friend was signed up to go to the Hidden Hills Farm Cow Milking Play Day and I thought it looked like fun. I asked her if it was open to the public and then I tentatively decided to take Jack and Isaac.

Friday morning we slept in until 9:40am (I am so glad I have good sleepers), but we needed to leave the house by 10am. Somehow I managed to get both boys up, dressed, fed and in the car by 10:10am. Miraculously, I even fed our dog and managed to make myself a cup of coffee to go.

And so we made our way to Ooltewah to the Hidden Hills Farm and Saddle Club to see what kind of fun we might have. 

There was quite a crowd at this event and we got there about 15 minutes late and had to park in the furthest parking area. Jack was a trooper and walked all the way to the main area of the farm without complaining. I opted to carry Isaac in my Ergo carrier. I also decided to leave everything else in the car (even though it was a walk). I didn't want to be hauling a diaper bag with me and I knew that, worst case scenario, we would just walk back to the car. Overall this was a good decision.

When we first got to the farm I felt a bit overwhelmed. Thankfully it was a small enough area that we found our friends right away. There were lines everywhere and Jack didn't seem very interested in any of the animals. We did check out a calf, but skipped the line to milk the cow... Jack was more interested in digging in the sandbox and playing on the Little Tykes play equipment than participating in farm-related activities.

I let him play and tried not to be annoyed with the lines. After an hour, I sat down under a tree to nurse Isaac and my friend convinced Jack to go feed chickens. The chickens were his gateway to the rest of the farm animals – though I think he was the most interested in just pouring chicken feed from one container to another.

After the chickens, we went back to the sand box and then I noticed that the line to sit on a cow had dwindled to a few people, so I hurried Jack over to the stable to meet the cow. Easter weekend we had attempted to get him to sit on a cow and he refused so I wasn't sure how this would play out. This time he was stoked and got on the cow without batting an eye.

Once the cow sitting was over, Jack said he wanted to ride a horse (especially if he could wear a helmet). So I stood in line while he played. The line was much shorter, but still a good 20 minutes long. While I waited, I noticed that Jack had found some playmates and they were "playing farm." At one point Jack was running across a big grassy area and shouting that he was riding a horse.

The horse that he finally got to ride was named Grand (for Grand Old Lady). She was 30 years old! All of the horses seemed very gentle – they had 4 horses and 1 pony giving kids rides. Jack rode a pony last summer and was terrified. This time he sat on a grown horse and seemed very comfortable.

Overall, we had a great experience but in the future I would consider showing up an hour later to when the crowds have dwindled. The farm has monthly play days and I hope to take the boys back. Next month they are having a "Water" day at the farm and in two months they will have a "Blackberry Picking" day.

The cost is $10 for your first kid and $5 for subsequent children and babies are free. The Ergo carrier worked great for me, but at the end Isaac was getting hot and fussy. I would consider taking my BOB stroller next time, just so I could carry my diaper bag and snacks. However, at 2 hours long this event is doable without the stroller. 

A lot of families brought picnic lunches. We left ours in the car, and opted to picnic in the shade next to where we parked. Overall I would give this experience a thumbs up.

This was Isaac's first trip to a farm. I'm sure he will enjoy future trips more, but I would count this trip as a success!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Off the Wall

Back in 2006 (I think that was the year) I had the unfortunate experience of forgetting to set the parking brake AND put our Pathfinder in gear when I got home from work. This happened not once but three times in a matter of months. Did I mention that our driveway at the time was a hill? The first time the Pathfinder rolled down the driveway and into our fence. The second time didn't do much damage to the pathfinder, but it did push the fence over. The third time the Pathfinder rolled down the driveway, over the now downed fence and into a tree. Daniel discovered the tree incident and was not very happy. He didn't let me live down the Pathfinder mishaps for YEARS.

As of two weeks ago, he can no longer give me a hard time about my "record" with cars (on a side note I have never had a wreck)...

On Daniel's first day to go back to work (after a 3-week paternity leave), I was woken up by Daniel anxiously asking if he could take my car for the day. Something about his car going off our driveway and being stuck on the retaining wall.

In my half-asleep state I told him he could take the car and that I didn't think I would manage to go anywhere with a 3-year-old and infant on my first day home alone.

Several hours later when both boys were up and fed, I looked out the window to see what Daniel meant by his car was stuck on the retaining wall. From the house, it didn't look great, but it was kind of hard to tell through all of the trees.

Later that day Daniel called and asked me to take pictures of the vehicle to see what kind of damage there was and how stuck it actually was. This would give him time to think about the best way to get it off the wall, and allow him to stop at Lowe's on the way home to pick up the materials he needed to get it unstuck.

While Isaac napped, Jack and I ventured down to the back driveway and onto the path below the retaining wall. As I got closer, I asked Jack to stay back. From what I could tell, the car had knocked off a section of curb on the retaining wall and the car was lodged on the wall. 

Daniel was lucky that it didn't go over completely. Especially when he later told me that he had not yet buckled up... 

Had the car gone over, there is a good chance it would have flipped backward onto its roof. As it was, it was perched rather precariously and I'm thankful Daniel was able to climb out unharmed.

So how does one drive off a driveway? Well over the weekend we had had a crowd of 16 people in our house to celebrate the arrival of baby Isaac and Mothers' Day. During this time, Daniel had spent some time replacing the rotors and pads brakes of his car. Every time he finishes a brake job, he immediately gets in, pumps the brakes enough to set the new pads against the rotors, and then drives the car to make sure everything is fine. 

When he finished this brake job it was 10:30 at night, and he needed to close up the garage so guests downstairs could go to bed. He had planned on test driving the car (and pumping the brakes enough to set the pads against the rotors) sometime in the next several days before going back to work the following week.

Several days came and went, and besides being tired, Daniel was distracted with numerous other things (taking Jack to the ER in the middle of the night, dealing with an A/C unit that stopped working while the house was full of people, etc.) Suffice it to say he got distracted and never took that important drive. 

Early the next Tuesday morning Daniel was in a hurry when he left to go back to work, and had forgotten about the recently completed brake job on his car (that he had yet to pump the brakes for or driven). 

He backed out of the garage towards the wall like he normally does, and the brake pedal went to the floor when he tried to stop backing up. He had time to pump it a second full pump before the car rolled into the curb at the top of the wall, broke out a huge chunk of the curb, then rolled over/through where the curb had been. (If anyone is wondering, it takes about 3 pumps to set the pads against the rotors.)

Daniel has worked on cars since high school and he has never made this kind of mistake – chalk it up to 3 weeks of sleep deprivation with a newborn and a lot of distractions. At 6am Tuesday morning, he was exhausted and not thinking about the brakes as he backed out of the garage and onto the turn around spot that is on top of a retaining wall.

Thankfully the car didn't go over all the way over, and the wall held. That night Daniel came home and went straight to work on getting his car unstuck. First he secured the front of the car to a tree to ensure it couldn't go any further backwards, and if the wall collapsed the car couldn't fall far. He then leveled a spot on the side of the hill under the car and built a foundation out of plywood and concrete blocks to support his air-over-hydraulic-ram that he would use to jack up the rear end of the car.  

Once the foundation was in place, he ran the air hoses for the ram and placed the control for the ram where he could reach it without being under the car while it was being lifted. He inserted wooden blocks as cribbing under the car as it was raised higher, so that if it fell for any reason it would only have a short distance to fall before landing on the wood.

After the back end of the car was a couple of feet above the retaining wall (and about 8 or 9 feet above the ground below where the foundation was), Daniel put long 4x4s underneath the rocker panels on each side of the car that extended all the way from the front tires to underneath the rear wheels. The 4x4s would serve as makeshift ramps to pull the car back over the top of the curb and onto the top of the wall where it belonged.

Using a come-a-long (basically a winch that you crank with your hand), he was able to use the hand crank to pull the car slowly off of the wall and back onto the driveway. It took him until 10 that night to get the car unstuck. Amazingly the car was driveable and only has a little bit of cosmetic damage to one plastic panel. It was an exciting first day back to work to say the least.

So my first day flying solo with the boys lasted until 10pm that night. I got to experience the full deal – an entire day, plus evening activities including dinner and bedtime flying solo. We don't like to do things the easy way around here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Don't Feed Me

As I mentioned before, on Mothers' Day weekend we had a crowd of family here to celebrate the arrival of Isaac. It was quite a busy weekend and Jack was coming off of 3 busy weeks of having various family members here. I don't know if it was the sudden onset of spring allergies or the general lack of rest, but Jack came down with a serious cold on Friday. As the afternoon wore on I noticed that he looked more tired than usual and then I realized he also had a fever.

With the onset of the fever we decided that he would have to sleep in our bedroom instead of with his cousins and that we needed to try to implement some degree of quarantine – easier said than done. The best solution we had was to tell Jack he could only touch Isaac's feet and to not get near his face, and to not get too close to his cousins. Washing hands became mandatory as did coughing into his arm. We also tried to get him to rest, but that was an uphill battle.

Jack's fever broke shortly after we administered Tylenol and put him to bed. The mama in me is always a little nervous when my baby(ies) get sick. When I woke around 2am to nurse Isaac, I noticed that Jack had pretty labored breathing. As I finished with Isaac, Jack sat up on his pallet and started wheezing. I immediately woke Daniel up and then checked Jack to make sure he was doing ok. He had a fever again and said that it was hard to breathe. 

Daniel and I agreed that we didn't want to mess with breathing issues, so we gave Jack more Tylenol and then Daniel took Jack to the ER. By the time they arrived at the ER, Jack's fever had broke (thank you Tylenol) and the cool night air had helped his breathing. The doctor at the ER told Daniel that Jack basically had a cold. Thanks doc! Needless to say, Daniel and I got very little sleep that night and our house full of people were none the wiser.

The next morning Daniel and I slept in, but Jack was feeling better so he and joined the rest of the family for breakfast. Later that morning when I finally got up, my mom mentioned that they hadn't fed Jack anything. I asked why and she said that Jack was wearing a sticker that said not to feed him.

Then my sister then walked up and mentioned that Jack had told them he had been to the hospital but no one believed him (they thought he was talking about the hospital for Isaac's birth)! I was able to verify the hospital trip and get Jack some breakfast. Who would have guessed that a sticker would cause such confusion?!

"Wasn't sure if my sis was trying to mess with us, or if I should actually believe my nephew's sticker he appeared with this morning. Don't feed him....Turns out he went to the hospital in the middle of the night for a bad cough/breathing trouble, but was fine." #youdontseethateveryday

Monday, May 18, 2015

Isaac is One Month Old

Has a month already passed? It feels like little Isaac has always been with us. 

We (meaning me and Daniel) are slowly waking from the fog of having a newborn at our house again. Jack has taken the whole new baby thing in stride. He really loves his little brother – though he tells us it hurts his feelings when Isaac cries.

Isaac is our little chubby bunny. At one month he has already gained a whopping 4lbs above his birth weight! His pediatrician wants me to try to stretch out his feedings a bit. Right now he is 10lbs 15oz, 21.5 inches long and has a 40cm head – another big headed boy! 

He is a sweet little guy who loves sleeping and eating above anything else. He has a couple of times a day when he is wide awake and he loves to stare into the eyes of whoever is holding him. Alternately he likes to stare out the window at the trees. At one month old he will grasp your finger and hold on tightly if you give it to him.

Isaac rarely cries, though when he does you would think something catastrophic has happened. Instead of crying, he grunts. The grunts are pretty funny, especially when he gets really mad and the grunts turn to snorts.

The first time we attempted tummy time, he was so mad he almost rolled over on the couch. He was only 10 days old! I was kind of shocked that he was able to rock up onto one hip.

Also at 10 days old, Isaac's umbilical cord fell off and Daniel gave him his first bath, with Jack supervising of course. 

At 2 weeks old, Isaac was big enough to start using cloth diapers. We can't believe how fast he is growing!

As a second child, things have definitely been different for Isaac. Whereas with Jack we were nervous to go anywhere, with Isaac we just keep living our lives as usual...

At 4 days old Isaac went on his first shopping excursion and dinner date to McAlisters with Mommy and Daddy. 

At 5 days old he had his first trip to the park so that his big brother could play. 

At one week we took him to church for the first time, and then went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant as a family. At this stage eating out is still easy so we are embracing this while we are able!

Last week we were finally on our own, and other than being generally tired, things went really well. I even managed to get both boys ready and out the door for a 10am preschool party for Jack and then today we made it to the pediatrician by 9:30.

I have surprised myself in that I can get two kids ready and to places relatively on time (though to be fair, I don't always get breakfast, but the boys are both fed!).

*As with Jack, I will be posting monthly updates of Isaac on a quilt (inherited from my Grandma), next to a yellow Tonka truck (a toy from Daniel's childhood).

A Look Back: Jack at One Month
(We used a quilt from Daniel's family for the Jack photos, along wit the Tonka truck from Daniel's childhood).

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...