Sunday, May 31, 2009

Live from the finish

Live from the finish of the King Pine triathlon in Madison, NH:

Details to follow.

Sent from my iPhone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unpacking? Nah. To The Mountains!

In addition to being move-into-the-apartment week, it is also Alex’s vacation week, because he starts work on Monday. So we’re trying to mix in some fun with the unpacking and errand-running.

Yesterday we took advantage of our newfound proximity to the White Mountains, heading up I-93 around lunchtime. To our delight, we found that we now live an hour from Lincoln, a kind of gateway town to the Whites, and therefore about an hour and ten minutes from the trailheads in Franconia Notch.

For Brynna’s second hike (the first being our winter attempt on Mount Willard), we selected Lonesome Lake Hut, about a mile and a half from the road.

Here’s the crew in the parking lot. Jasper was very, very skeptical about wearing his pack, which he hasn’t practiced with in awhile, but we wanted him to carry his own water.

Off we go!

The walk to the hut was lovely—we had a perfect day, bright and sunny in the 60s. Brynna looked around, chattered away, and shrieked occasionally in an attempt to draw out the local wildlife. Jasper eeyore-d his way up the trail under his pack (which was not heavy), sticking close to my side and looking up at me pathetically whenever he encountered a rock or log that he needed to surmount. We think he wasn’t sure how the pack would act if he leapt over things as usual, so we just encouraged him with lots of praise and occasional boosts to the hindquarters.

When we hit the edge of the lake and got our first gorgeous view over to the ridge, we were disappointed that Brynna seemed completely unimpressed. We found out why a few minutes later, though. As Alex arrived at the hut, he felt Brynna’s pacifier fall down his back. Removing the pack, we were met with this sight:

She snoozed for about half an hour as we relived Jasper of the dreaded pack and had a snack.

Then she woke up and we went and had a look out over Franconia Ridge:

I also sat down on the walkway there and gave Brynna a snack, which is definitely the most beautiful place we’ve ever nursed!

Then I took Brynna into the hut and signed the guestbook, which she will be able to look up when she returns (perhaps under her own power!).

And then we took a last photo looking out over the lake.

The descent was quick and easy. We let Jasper go without his pack, and he bounded along very happily, including a couple of swims as we circumnavigated the lake.

So, a very successful outing for the whole family, and we were back in time for dinner. We are thrilled to be living so close to the mountains (even closer than we were at Dartmouth!), and anticipate lots of these short trips in our future.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

New (Old) Home

Well, yesterday and today saw us working long and hard to get the bulk of the move finished. We had lots and lots of help, which is really what made it possible at all - we wouldn't even be out of Minnesota yet if left to our own devices.

After a very entertaining drive across southern Vermont and New Hampshire in the heavily loaded truck (with trailer) on winding and steep roads, Da, Jasper and I arrived in Concord not long after Hilary, her folks, and the B showed up. Friday afternoon and evening was spent trying to unload as much from the truck as would to into the apartment, and trying to sort what would go to storage on Saturday. Recall that we were moving out from a house, fully furnished, into an apartment we had more than half moved into and filled back in December. A bit less than half the contents of the truck would go straight to storage, augmented by not a small amount of stuff already in the apartment. Alas, due to timing and the practicalities of how the truck got loaded, the stuff to go into the apartment and the stuff for storage were all intermingled. Likewise, the stuff for storing from the apartment wasnt all in one place nearly staged. What is more, we were going to change the layout of some of the rooms. It made for a tiring Friday night as we tried to sort as much of the truck as possible while making some changes indoors and ensuring the place was still livable. Things were made a bit better by my Mom's lasagna - good for a crowd.

Saturday started off with more of the same. We had hired a pair of movers to assist with some of the heavy lifting (some of the furniture was murderous), reloading of the truck, and packing up the storage unit. They were really fast and efficient. Even though I am not old by most measures, the loads they manhandled for three hours were really astonishing and made me glad to leave it to the young'ens.

That set us up well to make headway in the afternoon doing some unpacking and making the place tidier and more livable. There's still a pile of work to be done in that area, but it is now to the stuff that Hilary and I just need to sort out on our own. That will occupy us for quite a while, but we have definitely arrived and are settling in comfortably.

Sent from my iPhone
(because Comcast sucks and we don't have Internet service yet)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Traveling and Tolls

After a rest day Thursday in Rochester, NY, today we are all of us back on the road. Da and I headed out at a reasonable hour with the slower-moving truck, while my mom and sister will follow a bit later. H, B, and get folks will make their much shorter way north, with the hope that we all arrive in NH at about the same time. This afternoon and evening will mostly be about rearranging things already in the apartment, staging those items that will go to storage when we unload the truck tomorrow. They'll be in good company, as we are dropping down from a fully furnished and decorated house to a significantly smaller apartment.

We'll be dropping about $50 in tolls in NY, thanks to the high fee structure and the extra axles we're driving.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Late Night, Parking, and Coasting

What you see is how one couldpark our rig, if one had lots of space at one's disposal. Nice stretch of asphault, with hardly a car around, and plenty of space leading into the spot to ensure that you can pull in straight. Recall that, with the trailer, backing up is a dicey option.

So when we pulled up to the motel south of Chicago at 1:30 in the morning, and saw utility trucks scattered around a mostly full lot, we knew we were going to have difficulties. It took us about twenty tough minutes, with Da spotting and me behind the wheel, more than one false start, and a ten-point turn to be able to pull into a spot one wide by two long, and hemmed in by three utility trucks. Thank goodness the mirrors fold in.

Still, it did mean no bed until about 2:30.

The picture above is from about six short hours later, as we fetched some hot drinks for the road.

We headed into Indiana with just over a half tank - the dash display estimated 160-mile range. I-80 in Indiana ends at milepost 153. We intended to fill up at one of the last two rest areas, but balked at the $0.25/gal markup they had. When filling a 40-gal tank, that actually does make a difference. However, when we saw that the first gas in Ohio is 15 miles in, and the dash is estimating only 12 miles left, you start to question if it's really worth that much. For that 15-mile stretch I dropped down to 50 mph, killed the AC, coasted where possible, and hoped for the best. We trusted the truck had some margin beyond zero miles, but couldn't count on much.

As it turns out, it had at least three miles' extra.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sad, empty house

This is me, eating the last of Hilary's chocolate graduation cake, sitting on the bare floor of our now very empty living room. Although it took longer than hoped, my dad and I rolled out of Rochester driving a 17' U-Haul full to the brim (well, we did have acwhole six inches to spare) and towing my Jetta behind. I locked the door on the way out - for the last time, for we are leaving Minnesota.

Hilary and the B left a few hours earlier by air with her folks, leapfrogging us to CT. They'll meet up with us at the end of the week, in Concord. Brynna has gotten busy enough and assertive enough that a three-day journey in her carseat sounded like a disaster.

So, once again, I'm blogging from the road. Jasper is such a good dog, as always. He is curled up between us in the cab of the truck, squeezed into an unfortunately small space. Due to our late departure, we'll probably get no farther than Chicago before calling it a night. Note that I didn't say we'd crash, because that brings up all the wrong images with this much moving mass.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Doctor Hilary

Or Doctor Mommy, if you prefer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waving Goodbye to Med School

So, today was my last day in the clinic, and it feels great to be done!

Tomorrow I have a committee meeting in the AM and then taking the afternoon to turn in my pager and other tidying-up details.

Graduation is Saturday! About 36 hours from now, I will be a doctor.

Brynna decided to celebrate the occasion by waving for the first time. We were walking down the hallway in the clinic at lunchtime, I was holding her in my arms, and suddenly she started waving at her grandparents, who were clustered around us. She's done it a bunch of times since, so we know she means it. How fun!

I'll try to post some video soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Terminator

I logged on to my Clinic email the other day to find a notice from HR stating that my "upcoming termination date is May 15, 2009."

Yikes! They couldn't find a slightly nicer way to put that, one that perhaps doesn't bring to mind images of firing squads?

My computer and building access end that day. Which is no problem at all...except that it includes access to the stupendous gym, where Alex and I were hoping to get in another training swim or two before leaving Minnesota next Tuesday.

Anyway, we're winding down here, which means lots of packing and not much blogging.

Three more days of clinic (done on Thursday)—and I am suffering from a rip-roaring case of senioritis!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! And an especial Mother's Day well-wishing to Hilary, who gets to celebrate it for her first time this year. Brynna felt like honoring the occasion by waking up about 15 times overnight demanding to be fed. Because, really, what can make you feel more like a mother than breastfeeding your child to get them to be quiet?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On The Go

By stroller, backpack, laundry basket, or PapaAir, Brynna is a busy little B!

She objects quite strenuously to being still these days! She won't sit in a lap for more than a few seconds unless she is being entertained with the Itsy Bitsy Spider or some other hand game or a little toy. Mostly we just turn her loose in our room upstairs, where she can prowl around. There are board books and toys strewn all over the floor, plus her push-toy and an upside-down laundry basket, which she also walks around the room with.

Brynna can now pull herself up to stand on pretty much anything. She can cruise along furniture, especially around the edges of our bed, and will drive her push-toy or laundry basket over to the bed or a shelf and transfer over to that new handhold. She understands the concept of something being hidden—when I put a toy inside my bedside table, she will crawl over at top speed and pull open the door to find it. She claps now (adorable!) and we think maybe she is starting to wave. It is so much fun to watch her learn all these things!

The only downside to this tremendous activity burst is that it is very hard for Brynna to turn herself off at the end of the day. She has been getting better about going down for her daytime naps, but at night it is still quite a long struggle for her to settle down. Or perhaps Dad is just more soporific than Alex and I are? As she is getting quite heavy, we are looking forward to having the glider again (it is still in New Hampshire) for slumber-inducing movement. We have tried putting her in her crib awake, but then she just crawls around and around and ends up standing there, hanging onto the bars and screaming, some time later. Reaching into the crib to gently hold her still is an option, but a contortionist one since we economized on a crib without drop sides.

(Yes, we have considered Ferberizing but don't think it is a good fit for us. That doesn't stop me from being envious of perfectly-sleeping babies, however...)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Try a Tri!

Brynna isn't the only one around here who has been busy—Alex and I are training for a triathlon! Two triathlons, in fact—one near North Conway on May 31, and the other in Grantham on June 20. Both are sprint-distance triathlons, with 1/3-mile swims, 12-mile bikes, and 3.1-3.8 mile runs.

I have been thinking about doing a triathlon for awhile—I was a pretty serious runner in high school, and we've taken up road biking here in Minnesota. The big thing holding me back was not being a very good swimmer. Alex, however, swam in high school—but hates running—so we have been able to jolly each other along.

The main reason that we have taken up training now is that I am tired of being out of shape post-pregnancy, and it is much easier to fix that now than after my internship year begins!

So, for the last 8 weeks or so, we've been training about 5 days a week, including a couple days a week of "bricks," or two-event workouts. Jasper and Brynna do the running with us. We've been able to shift our biking outdoors over the last few weeks, thank goodness. And there's a wonderful salt-water pool at our gym.

The swimming has been the real struggle for me. I swim for 30 minutes, twice a week. At the beginning, my only goal was to keep moving for that time, which mostly meant alternating a length of crawl (25 yards) with a length of breaststroke. 25 yards of crawl was about all I could manage as I worked on my breathing. I also took swim lessons weekly in April, which wretchedly involved getting up at 5:30 AM, but helped my stroke. I've been slowly extending my crawl intervals, and tonight I was able to swim a total of 1200 yards (twice the distance I will have to do on race day!), alternating 100 yards of crawl with 25 of breaststroke. So, big improvements. I don't dread going to the pool anymore, since I feel like I am actually swimming and not just trying not to drown!

I run very slowly, still, and Alex keeps blowing by me on the hills when we are out biking. But, as I keep reminding myself, the only way to get fitter is to just get out there and keep doing it!

9 Months Old!

We went out to dinner on Friday night to celebrate Brynna's 9 month birthday. She really enjoys going to new places, and now she can even nibble at some of our food. We gave her some pieces of tortilla and some soft, small pieces of veggies from my grilled veggie fajita.

But the big hit was my pina colada, which she was smart enough to covet:

Wow, Mom, that's really good!

(Just kidding. She didn't actually get any alcohol, of course.)

But she did practice drinking water out of a straw with Daddy:

And here she is with her birthday board. It's pretty typical of 9 months old that we couldn't get her to stay still and look at the camera at the same time. It's action shots only from now on!

Inelegant Solutions

What do you do when your house needs improvements but you are moving in a few short weeks?


As I was laying in bed one morning last week, well before the alarm was set to go off, with Brynna crawling around, sitting on my head, clawing Alex's nose, standing up against the headboard to squeak out the window, and otherwise making it very clear that it was Time To Get Up and Play NOW, I realized that we had seen this sort of behavior before, with the fuzzy member of the Moose Family.

Light. Light was the problem. Light was the thing standing between me and those precious last minutes of sleep before starting the day.

Therefore, blackout curtains were the answer.

But, we were not going to buy blackout curtains for three weeks of Minnesota window coverage, as the New Hampshire windows are entirely differently shaped.

A hammer and a few little nails later, and voila:

Ugly? You bet. But the results? Priceless. No more early-morning squeaking, clawing, or body-slamming. Hurray! Harried parents catch a break. Brynna is happier during the day, and even goes down more easily for her naps.

We'll probably have to disassemble my engineering marvel before the buyer does the final walk through, though...