Saturday, December 30, 2000

Home Again

Hello everyone. It is a little thing, but we have finally topped the site hit count for October! In October we recorded 262 visits to this website and we exceeded that number this month with 270 visits so far.

It is 8am here on the Wet Coast -- which, by the way, is still quite wet. Barely a week ago, we were still "Down East" visiting with Cheryl's parents and the atmosphere was dry and cold. We're talking -15c cold. Compare that to our relatively balmy temps of just over 0c / 32f...

We are happy and grateful to be home -- though the children miss the attention from proud grandparents and doting aunts. Our trip home was somewhat harrowing. We thank you all for your prayers for our safety. God took care of us very well despite the many twists and turns of circumstance as you will read next.

Our itinerary was changed a time or two thanks to snowstorms, delayed flights, and the general confusion and mayhem of the holiday rush. We began our trip expecting to have American Airlines take us from Portland, Maine to Boston, Mass. to Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas to Vancouver, BC. In Portland we found out that flights in and out of Dallas were cancelled due to a snowstorm. We were rerouted by American Airlines to fly Portland, Boston, Chicago. From Chicago, TWA would take us to St. Louis and from St. Louis to Vancouver. In Boston, we were rerouted again. This time, TWA would take us directly from Boston to St. Louis, skipping Chicago entirely.

Later on I found out how blessed we were to have been rerouted away from O'Hare. If we had flown through O'Hare, we might still be there today!

On the first leg of our trip Melissa regurgitated her breakfast onto her new LL Bean fleece jumper. On the second leg of our trip, we missed our flight, lost our box (see previous post), and had to trek from one end of Boston's Logan airport to the other. On the third leg of our trip we almost missing our connection again -- that after sprinting about half a mile through the airport in St. Louis, each of us carrying a diaper bag and child! All in all it was an adventure to write home about.

My internal clock has readjusted to our timezone; as has Melissa's. Michael and Cheryl, however, are still not sleeping with any regularity. Michael seems to be continuing his incredible growth spurt. He refuels pretty much every 90 to 120 minutes. Cheryl consequently has not had much sleep or recovery time.

We are mostly unpacked now. The 3 large duffels that the airlines did NOT lose have been emptied and their contents distributed to the appropriate places. Cheryl tells me we need another shelf in the children's room: this to accomodate the mountain of cloth diapers we now seem to possess. Debbie's "hand-printed" picture frame now occupies a (safe) place of honor beside our wedding photo atop Cheryl's computer station. The jolly-jumper has been installed in the doorway to the children's bedroom. The toddler reading software has NOT been installed on the P75. I simply haven't had the energy to do the installation.

Groceries need to be got, but again, by the time 6 o'clock in the evening rolls around, it has felt like 9pm and time to get everyone to bed.

Friday, December 29, 2000

Christmas Presents

While Michael napped with his elephant (Christmas present from Aunt Allison), I got out Melissa's sponge paints, paint brush, and paint paper (presents from Grandmommy) and settled her at her little table and chairs (presents from Aunt Gail) for her first painting experience. Melissa loved the paints and was remarkably neat for a child of her age. She was not so enthusiastic, however, about the plastic bag smock she had to wear and kept trying to remove it.

On a not so positive note, our big cardboard box is still missing. I spent a lot of time on hold with the airline today to find out that no updates on the box have been added since the initial report. Since 95% of missing baggage is returned within 24 hours, prospects are beginning to look grim for the return of our box. If no updates are made this weekend, we will be entitled to compensation. I don't want compensation! I want our box back! During unpacking, I realized that in addition to the many nice Christmas presents, that box also contained our baby books as well as our latest developed photos and negatives. How they could have lost that box is beyond me: our name and address were very, very securely affixed to it.

Saturday, December 23, 2000

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's just about supper time and Cheryl is napping while the Sweet Baboo is jump-jumping in the jolly jumper. Michael's diaper has been changed and now that his rump is dry and comfortable, he is a most agreeable fellow.

It was a very beautiful sunny day today. The temperature was in the balmy 30s; that is, if you managed to find a spot in the sun, sheltered from the breeze.

We attended church at Brunswick SDA church and then came home to a very satisfying lunch of macaroni and cheese and peas. Thereafter Cheryl determined not to waste the sunshine and loaded a sled, mitts, toques, the children, and I into the Caravan in search of a suitable area to perambulate.

Cheryl decided to brave the reportedly icy hills and curves of Pleasant Hill Road and take us to Wolfe's Neck State Park. We found that the road was dry and relatively free of ice: and so gained the entrance of the park without mishap.

In winter the parking lot of this park is gated to traffic. Visitors must park beside the ploughed road that runs past the gate. We debarked our green vehicle and loaded Michael (still in his car-seat) onto our blue sled. After we entered the park, we decided have Melissa also share the sled instead of Cheryl toting the child in her sling.

We spent about about 40 minutes exploring the empty trails of the park; pretending to be Yukon pioneers with our children and supplies in our dog-sled. We mushed our way over snow covered roots, bumps and hollows, and the small foot-bridges that allow access over the various gullies that run down to the sea.

The trail navigated around the end of Wolfe's Neck point; offering us many beautiful views of the Atlantic in winter. The tide was out all around the end of the point and one was tempted to walk out to the 'island' -- except that we Yukon pioneers had limited daylight and many miles to our warm and cozy cabin.

After we had turned away from the sea we followed the trail back towards the meadows at the head of the bay. We came to a 'T' in the trail. Cheryl told me that there was a trail that led all the way around the park -- this was NOT an option this late in the day -- so we turned towards the direction most likely to lead to our green vessel of exploration. It seemed only a few minutes later that we got to the Caravan and were no longer Yukon pioneers...

Thursday, December 21, 2000

Sleeping Beauties

Some candid photos of Cheryl and Michael napping.

Wednesday, December 20, 2000

One more photo

Almost forgot to add that we also had a special visit from an old family friend.

Photos from Maine

It has been a bit of work, but we have got (we hope) the children over their jet lag and functioning in this time zone. Our Maine (sic) difficulties arose out of the children being sick and secondarily from the travelling.

Melissa seems to have adjusted very well. It took her about 2 nights to adjust to the time change. She is put to bed at 8 or 9, goes to sleep between 9 and 10, sleeps through the night, and awakes around 7 or 8 in the morning.

Michael, however, had a harder time adjusting. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and then yesterday he would sleep most of the day and stay awake from 11pm until almost dawn before dropping into a sleep punctuated only by feedings.

This kind of schedule made it very difficult for Cheryl (mostly Cheryl) and me to adjust our own body clocks to the local time. After being up all night, Cheryl would not wake until noon; chagrined that half the day was already gone!

So, last night we conspired to get Michael "turned over". We let the boy nap early in the evening, but when he awoke at 7.30 we kept him awake! Michael watched TV, surfed the Internet, checked e-mail, wrapped gifts, loaded laundry, played UNO, and had a late night bath, before we finally let him go to sleep at midnight. The little guy had a feed and then, blissfully, conked!

Hooray! We thought we had the problem licked! Until.. 1.30am we heard a snuffling... pause... then WAHHHH!

I hopped out of bed and picked up the very-awake-boy from his crib beside our bed. I bounced him. I rocked him. I cooed at the child, but there was no abating of the wail. Cheryl ran around the room gathering all the remedies we had on hand in the faint hope that we could resolve his fussiness and get some sleep.

We checked and doubled checked the boy. Diaper -- dry. Hungry -- fed and burped. Intestinal Gas -- gripe water / simethecone drops. Teething -- Tylenol. Stuffy sinuses -- Dimetapp.

At last, the child settled. I bounced him a few more times and then lay him down in his crib. Asleep. At last!

The Vancouver aunt has requested pictures from this coast, so here they are:

A newly waked Melissa and Grandpa on the den couch.

Melissa notices the snow!

The child then discovers her feet are not clad in socks.

Note: the fathers both had bed-head, but were gracious enough to allow themselves to be photographed without great wailing and gnashing of teeth! Ye camera-shy, take note.

We all know the Sweet Baboo is not camera-shy.

Her brother is a bit too young to know about cameras at any rate.

Cheryl asked me to mention that a fellow Swappie, Candace, provided this lovely and sporty ensemble.

Part of the day's adventure involved taking the children outside to enjoy the current weather. This picture shows Debbie, Allison, Cheryl, Michael, and Melissa.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Bathing the Boy

While grandmommy and grandpa went down to Boston to pickup aunt Allison (who was returning from college), Michael lounged in his nappie waiting to be bathed.

Aunt Debbie happily agreed to assist in his laving so as to complement her picture from last year of the same activity (except that 'twas Melissa in the tub).

Monday, December 18, 2000

Melissa and Grandpa

The next day Melissa helped grandpa drain the pool.

She was rather pleased to say the least.

Sunday, December 17, 2000

Ticklish Boy

Young Master Michael is ticklish, and finds his aunt Beth amusing.

Meanwhile, Cheryl is pleased to have clean diaper wraps once again.

Melissa thinks the jolly-jumper is a hoot too. Though she finds Cheryl's hobby horse less so.

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Weary Travellers

The weary travellers lay spent on the living room couch.

Then the small boy visited with his grandmommy.

Later, in the kitchen, aunt Beth introduced the SB to a spinning top, while Michael investigated the jolly-jumper.

Also for your viewing pleasure, an example of Melissa's classic, "What? Me?" look...

Never fly through La Guardia (if you can help it)

Alternate title: In which we have an unplanned layover in NYC

We have arrived in Maine safe and sound, thank God! It was definitely an adventure getting here and a story worth a minute or two to record for posterity.

Our adventure began on Thursday evening. A snowstorm struck Thursday afternoon while I was in downtown Vancouver. By the time the public transit train brought me back to Surrey, the snow had brought traffic everywhere to a virtual standstill. It took Cheryl over an hour and half to get from our house to the train station to pick me up. This is in contrast to the 10 minutes it had taken for her to take me there that morning!

We crept home through stop-and-go traffic, past many cars that had slid off the road. According to the radio there was a strong possibility that the temperature would drop again below freezing that night. This would turn all the roads to ice and make our planned trip to the airport a very hazardous affair. Cheryl and I agreed it would be best to go to the airport right away, before the roads froze, and spend the night at the airport.

My dad picked us up at 11pm and we got to the airport around midnight... Melissa would not go to sleep until she was literally unable to walk. Cheryl decided to put her into Michael's carseat and the poor kid sighed and promptly feel asleep. Cheryl was not so fortunate. Michael insisted on waking every 30-40 minutes and feeding. By the time 5am came, Cheryl was looking very owly.

We boarded our plane to Dallas-Ft Worth on time. Michael sat with Cheryl and Melissa sat with me. She was fine until the plane had taxied into position for takeoff. When she realized I had to hold her securely on my lap for the ascent, she began to screech as if someone was beating her with a stick. As every head in our section turned to see who the child abuser was, I turned 9 shades of red an few more of purple. Melissa screeched for the next hour and a half. It was a 3 and a half hour flight and I thought I was going to die (but in all probability, so did Melissa).

At last the flight attendant rearranged the seating and Cheryl and Michael ended up sharing the two seats next to Melissa and I. The extra seat allowed the Baboo some room to move about and she promptly stopped shrieking. I was sure that the passengers around us were going to applaud, but of course nothing of the sort happened.

Melissa pretty much wiped herself out on that first leg of our trip and by the time our plane was in the air on its way to La Guardia, she was asleep. Michael, on the other hand was wide awake and very fussy; much to Cheryl's chagrin. Poor Cheryl did not get a chance to rest at all and she went from owly to 'just-barely-hanging-on.'

Just after our our pilot announced that we were flying over W. Virginia, Cheryl turned to me and said that we might miss our 7.00pm connection at La Guardia to Portland. I checked my watch: 5.55pm. Our pilot said that we had about 55 minutes until we landed at La Guardia. We would be cutting it very close.

We came in over New York from the south and as we descended, I pointed out to a waking Melissa the statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of Manhattan. I don't think she was all that impressed because they all looked about thumb-size due to our height and distance from them.

As it was, we did land on time. Our pilot had hurried us past the other planes stuck in holding patterns and landed us in a manoeuver that took us from landing speed to full stop in just about nothing flat. We were literally hanging on our straps due to the force of the deceleration. When we had stopped Melissa gave this little cry of glee -- I think she would gladly have done it again -- but everyone else just looked relieved.

Unfortunately, our pilot's efforts were in vain. La Guardia's gates and ramps were jammed with extra flight traffic from planes redirected due to bad weather and overbooking. Our plane stayed on the taxiway for a good 40 minutes before we finally were granted access to a gate and allowed to dis-embark.

Cheryl and I grabbed our backpacks, the children, and Michael's carseat and hustled over to the other terminal. We needn't have worried. The same congestion that had delayed our flight, had also delayed our next plane and about 40 other flights.

8 o'clock came and the airline staff changed the departure time to 8.30. 9 o'clock came and they delayed it again. It became apparent that the gridlock was not going to be cleared very quickly.

At 9.30 a few flights were cancelled and later still more flights were cancelled. We were told that our gate had been changed to a gate at the terminal we had arrived at. (This really got my goat, but I didn't say anything.) Cheryl and I picked up the children and hauled them back through security to the other terminal.

At 10.30 some more flights were cancelled and then we were told that our flight would be departing from the gate we had just come from. By this time Cheryl was just about to fall over. But she got up, picked up her backpack and Michael and followed me back through security to the other gate.

It was 11.30 before we were finally told that our flight had been officially cancelled. I do believe that if they had announced this earlier in the evening there would truly have been an uprising worthy of the Bolsheviks, but by this point the starch had been taken out of most of us and we all lined up (somewhat) meekly at the counter to arrange our bookings onto a flight in the morning. For a lucky few of us, the airline would provide overnight accomodations at a nearby hotel. The rest had to make do with the not-so-comfy seating in the airport lounges.

It was a grumpy / anxious hour later that we were finally in our room at the hotel. We were grumpy because the airline had provided us with a voucher for dinner at the hotel, but the hotel restaurant had already closed at 11pm. We were anxious because we had not factored an extra day of travel into our diaper supply. Between Cheryl and I, we only had 4 diapers left to get Michael and Melissa through the remaining night and morning.

Melissa got a much needed bath and Cheryl got a few precious moments to soak in the shower -- away from screaming children. It wasn't until about 1.30 am before we finally got to a reasonable approximation of rest...

The next morning we were able to use our voucher at one of the restaurants at the airport and so doing got some food into ourselves and the children.

There was one last insult to add to our injuries. I was checking us in with the airline at our designated gate when the ticket agent told me that "your wife's ticket is in order, but I haven't got one for you." I just about fell out of my tree. I went through all of my papers, but no ticket was to be found!

Cheryl was mad enough to spit, but kept her cool wonderfully. The ticket agent herself assured us that it must have been a mistake from all the kerfuffle the night before. A supervisor appeared about 10 minutes later and after some inquiries discovered that the ticket agent in Dallas-Ft Worth had punched the wrong boarding pass in my small collection of boarding passes. She printed up a new boarding pass for me and got us settled again.

We boarded our flight on-time and truly this last hop was so anti-climactic that we all fell asleep in the back of the plane.

About 45 after we landed in Portland, ME, we found ourselves in the warm comfort of the GMP's Caravan on our way to Brunswick...

Thursday, December 14, 2000

A Christmas gift from Gail

Cheryl is behind me with Michael. He is on the floor and Cheryl says that the boy is laughing at her. He has been a very fussy baby and Cheryl is worried that he will be so ill as to prevent our being allowed to board the airplane on Friday morning. Thank-you all for praying for us. We will need all the help we can get!

My dear wife, mother of the boy of happy demeanor, did say that she promised her mother, the GMP, some pictures of the child in our Christmas gift from my sister Gail. And so here are the promised digital photographs:

I had been wanting a PoƤng chair (and matching ottoman) like this from IKEA for a while now. As soon as it appeared in our house Melissa claimed it for herself.

During the photo shoot, Cheryl got this typical Melissa pose.

But all in all, the child was quite co-operative; even to the taking of plan and elevation views.

Meanwhile the boy and I followed the proceedings in a state of great mirth and merriment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Season's Greetings

Hi everybody! Our apologies for not updating our web-pages for so long. We are leaving for Maine in 2 days and everybody is getting very excited. Last night Cheryl got our duffles sorted out and packed. All that we have left to do is get our carry-on luggage together.

Thanks to Dwayne for the following image. He sent it along in an email with a note that "this is something we all need to be aware of..."

Sunday, November 26, 2000

Busy Baboos

It's been a long day and I do not have much time except to post highlights.

Today was laundry day (as usual) and Cheryl did manage to get most of the laundry done. However, the big news is that we now have the plumbing in place for our washing machine. Hooray! The next major step before we can begin to wash clothes is having the electrician come in tomorrow to make sure that our circuits can support a washing machine.

Melissa appears to have processed all of the remaining lactose in her system and has settled down (!) to being her usual rambunctious self.

Cheryl took some fantastic pictures of the two on Friday. (Was it Friday? I can't remember...)

This picture now occupies Cheryl's computer desktop: a place of honour few photos have managed to earn any amount of time on.

Cheryl also put Michael into the excersaucer for the very first time. The boy enjoyed it very much until someone found him in the coveted excersaucer. And because he was a captive audience, he couldn't escape a very affectionate kiss!

Q. How many Floridans does it take to change a lightbulb? A. We don't know, they're still counting!

Friday, November 24, 2000

Quick Update

Heavy rainfall warning for today and tomorrow. We have some strong weather systems coming in from the Pacific. At least I haven't had to scrape the windshield more than a couple of times this week.

We got Melissa some boots on Tuesday evening. She looked hilarious trying them on. She did not know how to walk with boots on and clumped around in them until she got the hang of it.

Last night we went for a walk with the double stroller around our neighbourhood.

Melissa climbed onto Cheryl's computer monitor this morning while Cheryl was in the shower.

Monday, November 20, 2000

Washing Woes

After almost 2 weeks of clear weather and freezing temperatures the clouds have returned and we are above freezing temperatures.

Wrap up to yesterday's activities. I ran into our landlord again yesterday and he is promising to get the plumbers and flooring people in to set up the plumbing for the washing machine and put lino into the entryway. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Cheryl is more relaxed about all of this than me. She says that the plumbers are probably working on one of the houses in the subdivision and will show up after one of their jobs to fixup our plumbing for the washing machine.

All the laundry was washed. Most of it got folded and put away except for the loads of diapers which are drying on our racks.

Cheryl made bread too, with Melissa's help. The 4 loaves they made turned out very nicely. We are still getting used to our new stove -- it works! -- because it heats up quicker and hotter than those we have used before.

Sunday, November 19, 2000

Sunday Report

I have to hurry. I woke up only a few minutes ago and this is my only chance to get the web page updated before the kit and kaboodle awake...

Sunday chores today: laundry and cleaning up the Caravan.

We invited our friends Kitt and Gareth over last night and they told us that they were getting married next month! Yay!

Uh-oh. I can hear Melissa fussing. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry...

The CD-ROM drive on Cheryl's machine is not completely dead. I managed to get an audio CD playing in it yesterday, even though the door to the CD drawer no longer shuts automatically. It was ripped open by hurricane Melissa and now hangs open in forlorn and mute testament to her power. (Actually, I think the main reason it will not play CD's or CD-ROM's is because it needs some cleaning.)

Pausing for now because the SB has awakened. (This is one energetic kid!)

Walking in mom's shoes - 1

Walking in mom's shoes - 2

I'm back, but only momentarily because Cheryl is now using this 'puter. Both the children have been fed and diapers changed. The first load of laundry (diapers) is in the dryer and Cheryl has put in load #2 (tans and greys).

Cheryl's sister, Beth, made a quilt each for Melissa and Michael when they were born. Since she is compiling a scrapbook detailing her various quilts, she asked if we could send pictures along of the M's quilts. These are the results of Cheryl's photo-shoot:

Blue Angel

Pouty Model

Melissa's blankey

Little Boy Blue & Sheep

A fun pose

Comparative blankey's

***The Grin***

The last picture is the very first time we have been able to get Michael's wonderful grin in a picture. Eat your hearts out folks because the Grandparents will be seeing it in a few weeks!

Last minute additions:

Bad hair day 1

Bad hair day 2

Return of the Grin

I'm a happy little boy