Monday, June 12, 2006

Ah, Life on The Water

So, yes, I know, it’s been a while since I last wrote an entry for the Aidan/Ella blogs. Since last September you say, wow, really? That long? Well, what can I say other then it’s been a bit busy and while there’s been a fair amount to write about, not much of it has been all that entertaining – mostly sick kids, diapers, lack of sleep, more diapers, a two year old who is coming into his own as a two year old and all that goes with it, and a one year old who, well, is a one year old.

Rather then simply recount the various goings on and how life at the Stutz estate has been going, the following may sum it all up fairly nicely:

Dateline: Pleasant Harbor, WA, Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Initially the idea for our holiday weekend was to start out Friday morning and head out on our 1990 Sea Ray Sundancer 350, our little slice of the maritime family fun. We really had no departure plan and as such our departure plan moved to Saturday, which was fine as our little princess Ella had just thrown up all over her crib shortly before 10pm Thursday night.

This is how our story begins; Chunks of curdled baby vomit.

And it only got better.

As Princess Ella had shown she wasn’t the epitome of health we decided to move our departure to Saturday - assuming that Ella was feeling well enough to go. For the rest of Friday Ella seemed to do OK, or at least wasn’t providing cause for each item she touched to require laundry service.

Friday night my fine bride and I determine that, while Ella has been doing fine, if she’s going to be sick, she can be just as sick on the boat as she could be here at home and at least we’d be able to be on the boat for the weekend.

Friday night also brought us a new issue. Young Master Aidan , approximately forty-five minutes after being put to bed, started crying. Now this isn’t all that an unusual occurrence. Aidan will, at times, decide that he’s not ready to go to sleep yet and will complain until he gets tired and puts himself back to bed and to sleep. Upon checking on Aidan on my way to bed, I opened his door and started into his room when a wafting of a less then pleasant odor made it’s way past the dual oxygen input / output orifices which make up my fairly ample nasal facial feature.

Aidan had thrown up in bed.

Not just in his bed, but all over his bed.
Not only all over his bed, but all over his ‘bankies’ and his ‘bunny-bear’ stuffed animal, his pajamas and anything else that was within a 4 foot radius of his mouth. Then he’d fallen back asleep. Normally you don’t get this kind of experience until college – Aidan, it seems, decided to be a bit ahead of the curve.

So, my tired bride and I removed Aidan from his bed, stripped the bed, Aidan, the pillows, and everything else that had experienced the wrath of Aidan’s power vomiting and began rinsing off all the larger pieces and placed the items into the washing machine, cleaned up Aidan putting him in a new set of pajamas, and putting him back to sleep.

“We’ll see how he’s feeling in the morning.” we told ourselves. Besides, we had reservations at Pleasant Harbor and it was a three day weekend.

Saturday morning started with Aidan again rejecting his morning nourishment intake. “Well, Ella (his younger sister) got over this thing fairly quickly” we told ourselves. “ and even if he doesn’t we could either be miserable here at the house, or we could be miserable on the boat.”

Here, I’ll take pause to pass a long a note of advice to any newer parents who have not yet encountered this type of decision:

  • Rethink the decision.
  • More then once if necessary.
  • Rethink your decision until you finally realize that it will simply be better to stay home with your ailing child.
  • Life will be much easier for you and your ailing child once you've come to that realization.

It’s so easy to rationalize a poor decision when it comes to boating and a three day weekend.

On the way to the marina, about a 30 minute drive from Redmond to the Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle, we had to pull over before we even hit the half way point as Aidan was complaining that his stomach wasn’t feeling well. We didn’t make it to a full stop before Aidan again purged his increasingly depleted nutritional content. So off went his no longer clean outfit, and on went a new outfit as I attempted to clean up his car seat by using an available towel and rain water from a near by parking lot puddle, grit and all.

“Well, he must be getting close to done.” we, and at this point when I way ‘we’ I’m really meaning ‘I’ as my bride was beginning to question our earlier decision that we could be just as miserable on the boat. She is the more intelligent one of the two of us. We pressed on.

Pulling into the parking lot of the marina, Aidan again required a new change of clothes.

After cleaning Aidan up yet again, getting him and the two sets of clothes to the washroom to clean off the larger chunks and trying to get rid of the foul odor, getting Ella squared away, packing all the gear into two dock carts, and getting all of it and everyone on the boat, we were off for our fun filled weekend on the water.

Insert foreboding sounding music here.

The two and a half hour trip from Elliott Bay Marina to Pleasant Harbor was fairly uneventful. It’s easy when your mostly sick child is already worn out and sleeps the entire way and the other pretty much just is happy being up and looking around – until it’s time for her late morning nap and she’s just not into the idea.

Arriving at our destination we got situated - just as it started to sprinkle. Aidan, who continued to insist he wanted juice (crystal light lemonade flavor drink stuff), but would then purge it 20 minutes later, decided that he needed to, as I was holding him, purge himself all over my clean sweatshirt. It was time for laundry as we’d already gone through nearly a full weekends worth of kid clothes on the first day.

It started to sprinkle a little harder.

By the end of day one we’d realized that we’d made the wrong family fun time on the water over an extended holiday weekend decision. Being miserable on the boat could certainly be worse then being miserable back at home. And the weather wasn’t helping. By Sunday Ella seemed to be feeling much more like herself. Aidan had, for the most part, stopped returning each slug of juice he’d taken and there wasn’t much to do other then watch the weather. It would rain every once and a while, but it was Sunday, and Sunday was supposed to be a much better day then Saturday, weather wise that is.

It wasn’t.

Sunday was pretty much a carbon copy of Saturday, with the only difference being that there was the oh-so-brief sun break here and there between showers and that there was the hold out of hope that Monday was actually going to be nice. It didn’t help the outlook when my cousin’s family, with whom we were spending this glorious weekend moored in front of, decided to pack it up and head home Sunday afternoon as their daughter was having her own issues and they determined it best to depart early.

Seeing as how there had been such a purging of the stomach over the past 24 hours, It made sense that Aidan and I venture forth to take a shower at the marina provided shower facilities. The facilities are provided on what can only be described as a converted houseboat tied to the dock, the back room of which makes for a large bathroom with shower and ample space for elbow room. Aidan has seemingly always liked the shower so this, it would seem, would be a quick win to get Aidan into an environment he enjoys and I get to become clean. We’ve also been working on potty training Aidan and are elated when he’s willing or offering to go potty. Aidan was willing to use the toilet in the shower room so I dropped his pants, removed his diaper and waited while he appeared to putting a fair amount of effort into his task at hand. Something didn’t seem quite right. I looked down and there was nothing but liquid, brown goo all over his pants, all over the floor, and to some extent, all over me. Oh, joy.

I spent the next 15 minutes rinsing off all the clothing items which needed it, more or less mopped the bathroom floor with the available paper towels and in general tried to remove all traces of the explosion which took place a few minutes earlier. That being completed, it was off to the shower! Aidan did not want to take a shower. He wanted nothing to do with it. Given the recent events however, there was no other choice for Aidan, he needed a cleaning – so to cleaning we went, wailing, screaming, crying all the way; before, during and after. Chalk up yet another ‘oh, isn’t it great to be a parent’ experience. I may need to get an additional chalk board and chalk given all these experiences. Having completed this wonderful task, Aidan ended up wearing the towel back to the boat which was fine - it helped absorb the rain on the walk back.

By Monday Aidan seemed to be feeling better and, of course, it was time to head home. The weather started to clear up and was actually sunny by the time we arrived back at Elliott Bay Marina in time to wash down the boat, pack all the gear and kids back to the car and head home. Two sick kids, a rainy weekend and $500 worth of fuel later we were back where we started and the vomit and rain filled holiday weekend was over.

So, that pretty much sums up the past 6 months or more. Sick kids, and bad weather. There were some bright spots in there, such as moving and going to Hawaii but those will be saved for later, makeup posts.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Start of Year Three

Yesterday was Aidan’s second birthday. He survived yet another year in spite of the overall bumbling attempts of his paternal parental unit at fatherhood. Aidan’s blog has had infrequent postings to it over the past year which is really too bad as Aidan has experienced quite a bit of growth and life over the past 12 months. It’s amazing really, watching it all happen – He’s like a real little person these days although starting to show the occasional tendency towards the highly reported and feared ‘terrible twos’.

Since it has been so long…

Hello, my name is Brad. I am Aidan’s father. It has been three months since my last confession, er, posting.

Since we last left our hero he has been spending his time better adapting to his sense of balance, running speed, language skills, and his ability to memorize and lip-sync the dialog from a number of Disney movies. My mother will be so proud of the latter… Not.

Aidan, when wanting milk will now go to the drawer containing his sippy cups, select one, go to the fridge, open it, take out the milk jug and bring them to the nearest parent to pour him a cup – then want to return the milk jug to the fridge.

We’ve been working on potty training for a few months now, starting a bit early I realize, but he’s getting no real pressure to become proficient yet. For the most part Aidan can pee on command when placed in front of a toilet. He’ll even, on occasion, request to go ‘potty’ – mostly it seems to be because he likes to wash his hands or enjoys flushing the toilet so really it’s just a means to a different ends, but that’s ok for now. Aidan is also able to recognize any restroom wherever we go – excitedly pointing in the direction of the restroom door or sign and saying ‘potty, potty, potty’, at which point we make a side trip for a visit.

Aidan is also stringing multiple words together more frequently such as ‘daddy, more milk/pasta/bread/whatever….. pleeeeeeessssssseeeeee’, of course the ‘please’ is only added after either looking at him expectantly or asking ‘More milk, what?’. He’ll say ‘I’m sorry when asked to do so after he’s done something he shouldn’t, or when he trips and falls down. I’m not really sure where the habit of saying it after he falls down came from, and he doesn’t really say it to anyone in particular, just says it, then picks himself up and moves on.

Over the past month or so he’s now grown tall enough to get enough leverage on the house doorknobs to be able to open them on his own. So he’s been taking great joy in being able to do that, and turn on/off the light switches. So occasionally in our house it’s like we have an indoor lighting/thunder show going on as the lights flash on and off with the occasional loud door shutting, opening and re-shutting.

Aidan enjoys playing and helping his little sister Ella; pointing out items which are Ella’s, bringing Ella’s bottle to her, bringing her blanket to her – all if she needs them or not. However Aidan doesn’t really like Ella touching him, it’s really funny to watch. Putting Ella next to Aidan on the floor, she’ll reach out to try and touch him and he’ll inch himself away just out of reach. I’ll move Ella closer, and Aidan will inch his way just out of reach again. I’ll pick Ella up and place her on Aidan’s back, and Aidan goes nuts, trying to get away as quickly as possible.

Aidan has also picked up on the concept on ‘come on’. He will come over, grab my hand and tell me ‘come on, come on…’ whenever he wants me to come some place. That was cute enough in itself, however about the same time he’s figured out how to incorporate this in with his problem solving capabilities. Aidan isn’t yet tall enough to see everything on the tops of the counters, in the cupboards or the stack of Disney DVDs which are kept out of reach (as Aidan has a tendency to destroy the cases as he tries to open them to get the discs out.) so he forms a plan. He’ll come over to me and grab my hand, ‘come one, come one’, directing me to the location he’s interested in. ‘Up, Up’ wanting to be lifted up. ‘Look, Look’ excitedly pointing in the direction of whatever it is he wants to have access to, followed often by the ever popular ‘OOooohhhhh’ as he leans over towards whatever the item is that he really wanted to look at or get close enough to in order to make a grab attempt. Some times this is all preceded, if I am sitting on the floor, by his grabbing my knee and trying to get me to stand up by lifting up on my knee saying ‘Daddy up’.

There have been other advances as well, such as the use of eating utensils. Aidan has started to feed himself: a spoon for his morning cereal, a fork at dinner. This advancement in civility seemed a fairly disappointing one to all those in attendance at his second birthday party, held a few days early for scheduling considerations, where young son Aidan was presented with his own slice of his birthday cake. All in attendance waited, then tried to prompt my genius son to dig into the cake with his bare hands, however Aidan calmly asked and waited for a fork. That’s my boy. Not that he still didn’t get the frosting on his hands, on his face and in his hair.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Conjunction Junction, What's your function?
The afternoon was giving way to the twilight of early evening. The 30th anniversary edition of the School House Rock DVD played in the background, subconsciously educating the two small children half paying attention to the video as it played on. I sat next to my desk browsing the latest news stories via the wonder that is the Internet when there was a sudden thud behind me causing me to pause and instantly turn around to see what the cause was.

It's what I do. My name is Brad. I'm a dad.

Fortunately it was only a 1.5 year old (going on 15) toddler/adult wanna be, pulling yet another book off the imitation maple laminate bookshelf towering 4 feet above his blond head and letting it crash to the floor before starting to reach for another.

'Aidan,' I spoke towards the blond, oompa loompa sized, on his way to being known as 'Aidan, formally known as Son' figure that stood before me providing a head down, 'I know what I did but I'm going to do it again' look.

'Please do not pull books or anything else off the shelves' I continued. Aidan gazed back at me, smiled, nodded, and then reached for another oversized, coffee table book as I bounded out of my desk chair and took firm hold of his arm, again explaining that books are to remain on the book shelf.

I quickly reached behind me and grabbed my, as would be stated on 'Blue's Clues' my handy, dandy (guide to being a parent) notebook for consultation.

Use calm, firm voice. Check.
Move down to Childs level so as to not intimidate by size. Check
Explain clearly the desired actions. Check.

I read over the list again and validated my suspicions.. there was no listing for 'expect child to completely ignore you and do the undesired action immediately after being told not to'. Must have been a omission at time of print.

I carefully explained to the now semi-frustrated for not being allowed to pull all books off the bookshelf Aidan that he was not to pull the books down and reminded him that, in the immortal words of Bill Cosby, I helped bring him into this world, I can certainly help him out, and that he might consider putting the books pulled down and now littering the floor below back on the book shelf, he might remain a member of the family.

The books were quickly replaced to their original positions.

Followed immediately by a series of Disney video tape cases being removed from another shelf, opened and tapes being pulled out, dropped and scattered around the floor at Aidan's feet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's fairly amazing that young Mini-Me moves as fast as he does. Watching him decide that he wanted to be chased and head down the hallway at a full toddler sprint; arms a flailing, legs seemingly detached from the hips, feet thudding down on the floor with each step; I wondered how Aidan actually moves so quickly when all the functioning body parts don't really seem to be in concert with each other. What keeps him from continually falling on his face? How is it that one so seemingly uncoordinated is able to move so fast (and with such apparent glee)?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Summer Vacation
This years summer boating vacation started off with a bang – three out of four family members having colds, the water conditions being horrible for crossing the straight and dense fog – Aidan didn’t seem to care, he seemed to be treating it as if the entire ordeal was one long theme park ride, walking/bouncing around down below, climbing up on the main stateroom bed and flopping around on the pillows for each plunging nose dive the boat took as it lurched from one five foot wave to the next. He thought it was all great fun. Ella, well she slept through all the excitement.

Over all, the vacation was a success. Nobody was inured, Aidan’s parents didn’t throw the other overboard, and Aidan came back with a ‘Tiva Tan’ showing that he did spend a fair amount of time out in the sunshine walking around the docs in his little toddler Tiva’s.

Poor little Aidan though, he so badly wanted to play with all the older kids on the docks – all running around with their shrimp nets, catching a variety of sea creatures that dared to venture too close to the dock. Aidan, wearing his water skiing type life jacket, with I attached to the ‘handle’ strap behind the neck, would move as quickly as possible trying to keep up with the other kids – with I continually hunched over, keeping hold of the life jacket strap trying to keep up with Aidan. One of our fellow boaters was kind enough to donate a toddler sized shrimp net which floated when dropped – and it was dropped a lot so this feature was certainly well used. Aidan thought it great fun to dip the net into the water, play with it for a while, drop it in the water, then look at me and say ‘help’…. After about the 15th time, I finally caught on.

Aidan also visited a number of pools available to marina guests. Hopefully Aidan learns soon that he can not breath under water and that, as he can’t swim yet, walking to deeper water is not a good idea. Aidan didn’t seem to mind swallowing half the pool water as he soon found that he could navigate around the edge of the pool, hanging on to the poolside and seemed irritated each time I attempted to assist him when he was looking like he was starting to lose his grip on the side of the pool – apparently he was well in control of the situation and I was only getting in the way. I guess I should start to get used to that.

Aidan is picking up words left and right these days, I’ve lost count as to how many he actually seems to have a near command and understanding of. He’s added Car, Airplane, Notebook, Ear, Nose, Eye, Shirt, Pants, Boat, Fish, Net, Juice, Ta (Australian used for ‘thank you’ and Thank You kept coming out as Ga-Ga and didn’t seem to have any chance of migrating to the more understood pronunciation. However, after chatting with an Australian staff member at Roche Harbor, Aidan picked up on ‘Ta’ immediately.