Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our First Music Festival With the Boys!

N and I "met" on our way to see Widespread Panic in Memphis in 2003.  The year before that, we were both at the very first Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, although we on different sides of the friendship line.
The festival was amazing.  It took 14 hours to go the last 4 miles into the festival grounds.  That is not an exaggeration.  The traffic going into the festival was unbelievable.  I think it was the first festival of it's kind, in many years anyway, so they did not plan things out well.
70,000 people were there.  The port-o-johns were overflowing.  There was no shade and having never done this before, we had no shade tents.  In Tennessee.  In July.  Yeah, a recipe for much disaster.
Now we did have an absolutely amazing time.  The bands were incredible.  I had a perfect tan afterwards.  It was an experience I would never take back.  But, I will never again go to such a large festival.
After N and I got together, we found another festival we frequented- Wakarusa.  It started out small, around 4000 people in 2004 according to Wikipedia.  This was the perfect size for us and our friends.  We went every year until 2007, which is when I was pregnant with BBZ.  Here's a photo of my friend and I at that festival.
Wakarusa has grown to about 20,000 people now, so we probably won't be heading to another one of those for a while.
When we heard about Harvest Fest, put on by one of our favorite bands, Yonder Mountain String Band, it seemed to be a good fit.  With only about 7,500 people, we thought it would be a good intro into the land of music festivals for the boys.  Four days of camping and music, what could go wrong?
We tried to take a few trial runs for camping.  First was our memorial day camping trip, where BBZ threw up in the tent and we were home by 7:30am.  The next was our trip to our friend's farm the day after LBZ's tube surgery where he spiked a crazy high fever, which cancelled our tent camping.  So we didn't really get to practice tent camping as we hoped.
Not that it really mattered anyway.  It's not like we would cancel our trip if it didn't go well.  I am not afraid to admit, I was down-right scared about this trip.  I was scared of the cold nights, although the forecast kept getting warmer and warmer.  I was scared of the rain and how we would manage 2 little boys in a big, but still very small, tent.
But all fears aside, we took off for the road on Thursday morning around 9am, perfect timing for LBZ's nap.
The boys were amazing in the car.  Considering the nightmare that was BBZ during our super-long trip to Florida in June, having him in a pleasant mood in the car is not something we take lightly.  They were both happy and contented to stop just twice during the 6-hour ride.
We got there around 3pm and set up camp.  Our friends had a camper there, so we pulled the car p next to theirs and added our stuff to their camp ground.  It was a good fit, as some photos below show.
Then we headed to music.  And I realized the one thing we didn't think about.  BBZ hated the volume.  We were at the smallest stage and he really didn't like how loud it was.  Luckily, our friends had some ear plugs and he was happy with those.  He did some wining about wanting to go back to the campsite, but I really think he just wanted to get accustomed to being there.  N was clearly frustrated that he BBZ didn't want to stay at the stage, but I had high hopes that hanging out at the site the first night would give him a good start to the weekend.
The did great dancing on the blanket.

Even with the toys, they loved the music!

LBZ did especially.

Everyone slept pretty well Thursday night.  It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, and while LBZ did wake up crying, he spelt well in the sleeping bag with N and me.  BBZ slept great on his one sleeping bag.  We got up and cooked a yummy breakfast.  One thing we did for this trip is amp up our camping gear.  We have a new storage container for our food that doubles as a table for our stove and a new cooler.  It was all awesome to have for this trip!

But then the rain came.  Thank goodness our friends were there with their camper.  We would have managed in our tent, but it was much better that the boys had the camper to run around in.

The most frustrating thing was that we had no idea how long the rain would last.  We all had our phones but didn't have any internet connection to check the weather.  I finally texted my mom who said the rain should stop around 5pm, which it luckily did.  LBZ had his raincoat on for a while and was exploring the campsite in the rain, but that got old really fast.

Aren't you just in love with these little pants??

The rain finally ended at about 5pm, just like my mom texted it would.  We ran out of that campsite so fast!  We were really ready to hear some music.

The festival grounds were so incredibly muddy.
I've never been so happy to have water-proof shoes!

BBZ messing with his ear plugs.

They brought in bales of hay to help with the mud situation. 
It was almost impossible to push the strollers through the mud!  The hay really helped.

We did take the long way around a few times to avoid some of the worst muddy places.

See the main stage?
It was nice to have it so close that we could see and hear it from our camp site.

Snackin' and nappin'

Friday night was a big 'ol sloppy mess. We were all completely mud-covered. But we did ok. We saw some music, the boys fell asleep in the carrier and the stroller, and we called it a night a little early-around 11pm. BBZ slept awesome and LBZ ended up in our sleeping bag again, but he didn't cry as hard as when he woke up Thursday night. He seemed more interested in where N and I were than scared like he sounded the first night.

Saturday morning we all woke up, ate more eggs and bacon, and headed to some music.  The sun was shining and we were hoping for some sun to dry off the festival grounds.

Some photos of our campsite.

Little napper.  He actually asked to crawl in the stroller and fell right to sleep!
He must have been very sleepy :)

Little muddy shoes :)

Saturday early afternoon, Jeff Austin of Yonder did a tutorial on music and song writing.  It was quiet and intimate and an awesome look into such a talented musician's mind.  I really enjoyed it.

They had some kid activities, but BBZ wasn't interested.  We moved over to the main stage and watched a few shows and ate some festival food.  BBZ and LBZ did some dancing and running around, the way we hoped they would.

Our friends' kids are the exact same age as ours, so they were playing really well together.

Can I just say how unbelievably sexy it is to see my husband wear my baby?
Be still me heart :)

This really made me wish that the whole weekend was this beautiful.  The kids had so much fun.  If only we had more than the 1.5 days of non-rain that we had.  Saturday really was a perfect day.  We ate some dinner and found a great spot for the evening shows.  It was to be Yonder's 1500th show.

I should add here that BBZ had a puke incident.  We were walking to a show and he was in the stroller.  He said mommy, there's something on my shirt.  And sure enough, he had barfed all down the front of his shirt.  Perfect.  N went back to the site and got him a new shirt, but I was a wreck.  I have an issue with puke.  Not necessarily the first episode, but the anxiety that comes along with the possibility of him doing it again is often enough to make my tummy all crazy.  Luckily, he didn't puke again and seemed to be ok.  I guessed it was another camping fluke puke.

At around nightfall, we noticed a nearby festival tent frantically packing up all of their stuff.  N walked over to see what was going on and they told us that a huge storm with 80mph winds and the possibility of tornadoes was headed right for us.

N went into keep-family-safe survival mode.  He rushed us back to our site and began taking down our shade tent.  We just bought it fr the trip, so he wanted to make sure it was safe.

I felt like I was on a bit of a whirlwind.  N is always calm cool and collected and I'm the one who freaks out.  This time, I wasn't sure what to do!  At the site, N talked to some older folks who were camping nearby us who said that they had friends at home who were supposed to let them know if bad weather was coming and they hadn't yet, so they thought we were ok.

We planned to pack up as much as possible that night anyway, so we did while we were there.  Then we headed back to the field to wait for the next band to start.

After the next concert was over, it started raining, so we headed back to the site again.  This time the neighbor said that something big was heading our way and suggested we pack up even more stuff.

We did and decided to wait at the campsite for the storm to pass and go from there.

BBZ had fallen asleep on me at about 7:45 and was now cuddling with me in the camper while I held sleeping LBZ in the carrier.  We weren't sure what was happening, so we kept wondering if we should go back to hear music or not.  Yonder started playing (and played BBZ's very favorite song first!), and we were so bummed.  Four songs into the set, Jeff Austin said that the festival folks told them they had to stop the show and send everyone to their camps.  They said to take cover in our vehicles during the storm.

We were all in the camper already, so we stayed there and waited for it to pass.  I cannot even believe how much rain fell.  There were rivers of water all around our tent and our site.  It was a mess.

N moved BBZ into the tent and onto the air mattress first.  We figured we would all have to sleep up off of the floor so we wouldn't get wet from water seeping in from the floor.  About that time I took LBZ out of the carrier and handed him to my friend so I could get his bottle ready for him.  She noticed that he was feeling warm.  Sure enough, he had a fever.  For the love.

So LBZ drank his bottle down fast and I put him in the playpen in our tent.  N, BBZ and I were on the air mattress.

At about 1am, LBZ woke up and was on fire.  I didn't take his temp, but I could tell it was really, really high.  I managed to get him tylenol from the back of my car in the rain and decided to sleep with him in my car, because I figured we might both sleep better than trying to have all four of us on the air mattress.

While it was pretty uncomfortable, we did get some much needed sleep.  He was still feverish in the morning, but I hoped he would fight it off while we drove home.

It was the sunniest and most beautiful day of the while weekend on Sunday, just as the weatherman had predicted.  We packed up everything and headed on the road.  We were about a mile away from the campground when it happened.  BBZ puked again.  We pulled over and I cleaned him up, and again I panicked about how we would make it home with a puking 4-year-old and a feverish baby.

BBZ puked just one more time and while he looked half dead, his color returned shortly and he was clearly on the mend and asking for food and something to drink.  The worst was certainly over.

We stopped and ate lunch and regrouped.  LBZ was still running a fever, but it was lower.  BBZ was no longer puking.  The rest of the trip was really easy.  LBZ slept a lot and BBZ was pretty happy.  We survived!

So it certainly was an adventure.  I must say that because of all of this drama, I feel like we can take on any little 'ol camping trip now.  I figure as long as the weather is nice, I'd camp every weekend!

And I think I might just have to accept the fact that on any trip we take, BBZ will inevitably puke and LBZ will have a fever.  The best line was when N happily reported that he was not the first one to puke on himself this weekend!  Ha!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The End.

I asked for a sign that it was time to stop.  I needed something to tell me it was time.
Between an extremely kind comment from my aunt (my father's youngest sister), which gave me permission to stop pumping, and the fact that my sweet LBZ has tolerated whole cow's milk since yesterday morning, I believe I am done pumping.
I pumped only about 4 ounces this morning, and while I felt the familiar need to pump, I easily could have gone without.  I wanted to remember the last time I pumped.  I wanted to cherish it, as I was unable to cherish our last nursing session since I didn't know it was our last.  I wanted to remember it, so I pumped, knowing it was likely going to be my last.
I've tried to introduce cow's milk to LBZ, but he either became very crabby, or woke up a lot that night, or did something similar to make me think the milk might have contributed.  He has now had all breastmilk/cow's milk bottles since yesterday morning and has displayed no symptoms that it's not agreeing with him.
I now feel comfortable stopping pumping.  I have about 100 or so ounces in the basement that I will continue to give him over the next few weeks, as long as it lasts.  Here's the last of it, which I just poured into a bottle for his night time bottle.
Thank you, aunt Robin, for telling me it is ok to stop.  I didn't realize that I needed to give myself permission to stop, but I did.  I needed to know it was ok to stop, and your sweet comment helped me do that.  So thank you!
And thanks to everyone else who sent me positive thoughts and love as I went through the end of this phase of motherhood.  I think I will always mourn the way our nursing relationship ended, but I can feel really good and proud of myself for continuing to provide this milk to him well into his second year.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."  ~Winston Churchill

Friday, October 19, 2012


I'm struggling with a few things today.  Lately actually, not just today.

While I am still pumping for LBZ, my heart is no longer in it.  I want to stop, but I want him to continue to have the benefits of my breastmilk.  I still get sad sometimes about the abrupt end to our nursing relationship, and pumping was keeping that positive for me.  Now it feels like a chore that I don't want to have to do.  I'm waiting for a sign.  Something to tell me that It's ok to stop.

I thought that might come from my body as it decides to no longer produce milk, but it just keeps on producing it.  I pump about 5-6 ounces in the morning, which I divide and combine with almond milk for school and his bottle for before bed.  Then I pump another 4-5 ounces in the afternoon, which I give him in the car on the way home from school.

It's actually a manageable routine, but I'm growing tired of having to stop what I'm doing to pump.  At work it is somewhat easy, although still inconvenient.  On the weekends, I get positively mad that I have to find time to pull myself away from the boys to pump.  20 minutes of uninterrupted time with two little boys is very, very difficult.

So, I'm struggling.  I'm waiting for a sign.  I'm waiting for something to tell me to stop.  I guess I'm still waiting to be ready to stop.

I'm also struggling with how to deal with some of BBZ's very challenging behavior.  It seems that the only thing that works when he is falling off of the deep end is for me to yell.  Like, really yell really loud.  It works, and then I hate myself for it.  There has to be a better way, but I can't seem to find it.

I keep my cool for as long as humanly possible, but when he hitting and kicking me, trying to hit his brother, yelling terrible things and throwing toys, I just cannot put up with that.  I try holding on to him tight, giving him love during these emotionally challenging times, but they have more often than not ended with me yelling lately, and I'm not happy with that.

When I let myself get so upset sometimes I can't hide it from him, even if I want to.  After a blow-up and when he is crying and beginning to come down from it, he will often look at me and say "but what will make you happy, mommy?"

Just rip my heart out from the heavy guilt I feel, please.

Seriously.  I was fine.  Then my four-year-old throws a fit and gets me all worked up and pissed off, then he is asking me what I need to be happy?  This doesn't seem right, and all I can think of is when he is older and looks back on this, all he is going to remember is trying everything he can to make me happy and me being pissed off all the time...when I wasn't pissed off at the beginning at all!

So here I am.  Struggling.  I'm not miserable, or sad, or having a terrible day or anything, I'm just...struggling.  I'm having a hard time figuring out how to parent my 4-year-old in a way that shows him love and doesn't give in to his misbehavior.  Trying to give my 1-year-old the best foundation for good nutrition and good health while trying to balance my own needs.  It's a struggle.  One that will likely become worse and get better over time.  And now, it's on the bad end.

Blah blah, blah.  Enough poor me.  The Cardinals are in the post season!!  Cardinal fans are truly the best.  This town is the best during post season baseball.  Everyone is wearing red and thinking the same thing at every turn.  Even BBZ sang the whole Take Me Out to the Ballgame song on the way home earlier this week!

Go Cards!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Z Boys' Lego Birthday Party!

I remember when I first found out LBZ's due date, I was happy that the boys might not be born in the same month.  I didn't want them to have to share a birthday party.

Fast forward to LBZ's 10-day-late birth, and there I was, with two boys who's birthdays were just 13 days apart...and in the same month.

I couldn't imagine letting LBZ's birthday go by without some kind of celebration, which is why we threw him a little party the day before his real birthday.  Then we had BBZ's real birthday celebration in Chicago, then came the next weekend, which was the party for our friends and my family (that couldn't be here for LBZ's real birthday).

The theme was an easy choice...Legos!  N said he wanted to do the Lego head cake, and I'll admit, I was scared about how it would turn out.  I told my mom I was nervous about it, so she brought everything we needed to make it.  It turned out so good!

All four of my big boy's birthday photos.

And my sweet littlest's too.

So I have to admit something.  I completely forgot to get LBZ something nice to wear for his birthday.  He wears all of BBZ's clothes, which are mostly pants and t-shirts.  The nicer polo style t-shirts have all been worn by BBZ at some photographer occasion, so I needed an idea stat.

I bought these iron-on ties from a baby website and almost forgot about them.  It was perfect to celebrate the little man's day.

Our friends and family are so generous.  Each person who came made the day a little better for my boys.

I love how much he loves Legos.  And I am quite pleased that I love them as well.  If I didn't, we might all be in trouble.

This toy is awesome.  I can program it to include LBZ's name in a song and the dog actually says hi to him using his real name!  LBZ loves music too, so it's perfect.

My sister with my bestest friend's baby girl.  My sister has a baby in her belly too.  We will find out in 8 days if that baby is a boy or a girl.  I can't wait!  And I think it's a girl :)

My big 4-year-old.

Hooray for birthday candles!

LBZ had a piece, too...with Grandpa Z's help.

The kids really seemed to have a good time.

He had this smile permanently attached to his face while his sweet uncle B pushed him all around our yard.

I have to admit, that photo above reminds me so much of this one...
...of BBZ on his first birthday.
It was such a wonderful party.  The boys were really worn out by the time it was over.  The only bad thing is that a few people were missing from their special day.  My parents came in town for the party and left around noon to pick up my grandmother, who lives in an independent living senior apartment.  She is still quite independent, but doesn't drive, and my aunt was sick, so they offered to pick her up and bring her to the party.
When they showed up to get her, she was hallucinating and couldn't get out of the chair or walk.  It was pretty scary.  They took her to the hospital and she ended up having a UTI.  It was along day for all of them, and they were all really disappointed that they missed the party.  We weer able to spend some time with them in the next couple of days, so that was really nice.
It really is amazing how things work out though.  My aunt is my grandmother's main support person since my mom lives out of town, and she was both sick herself and caring for her husband who had to have back surgery.  If my parents hadn't been in town, who knows what my grandmother would have done.  It really amazes me how things come together in this way.  Happily, my grandmother is recovering well.  She's not home yet, but hopefully she will be soon.
So thanks to everyone who came to the boys' party!  I now LOVE the idea of having a joined party each year for them.  It was fun to have everyone here celebrating both of my boys.  I probably won't have it at our house next year though...it's so much work!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our Chicago Trip (for BBZ's Birthday)

On Friday 9/21, I took the day off to get ready to celebrate BBZ's 4th birthday.  As requested, we went to the donut shop for breakfast.  Not a bad way to start a birthday weekend!

The drive was pretty great.  Having my awesome new car certainly helped.  We ran into a little traffic when we got there, but nothing too bad.  It was pretty late when we got to the hotel, so despite the incredible excitement we all had for the events scheduled for Saturday morning, we all slept pretty well.  Both boys ended up in our bed, but in a king-sized bed it's not too bad!
Breakfast was first on our list as we waited for Lego land to open.  I love this one of BBZ and N.

I can't believe he is four.  He is growing up so fast.  I didn't get a birthday cake photo on his birthday, but whip cream from a pancake should do.

Lu had fun at breakfast, too.

Here it is...Legoland!!!

This place was amazing.  There were so many awesome displays of everything made out of Legos.  BBZ loved it, although we kept having to tell him that there is more fun stuff to see and do because he really just wanted to get to the store at the end to chose his birthday Lego.  Luckily, there really was enough to keep him occupied.

The place reminded me of Chuck e Cheese, but with Lego's.  I guess the Legolands in Florida and California have rides and are much larger, but this one was just right for our boys.  There was a small jungle gym the fit LBZ perfectly.

LBZ is very much into sorting.  He loves to take things in and out and move things from one space to another.  It is so much fun to watch his mind work and to see his little plans unfold.  He stayed in this spot moving Lego pieces from one shelf to another for a nice long while.

I love this photo for a few reasons, but mostly because BBZ is busted throwing a rubber Lego block really, really hard.

They had 2 really cute 12 minute long 3D videos for us to watch too.  They really know their audience because 12 minutes was just about how long BBZ could sit still.

LBZ didn't even make it through one movie.  He and I walked around so we could watch the second one.  He did dig the glasses though.

BBZ was so excited to pick out his Lego at Legoland.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for BBZ), they didn't have any of the ones that he really wanted.  N had found that there was a Lego store at a nearby mall, so we walked over to the mall to check it out.
The walls were filled with every Lego imaginable.  They even had the VW bus, which I have had my eye on for some time.  The $120 price tag will likely keep it out of my life for quite a while.
I love how BBZ has his hands in his pockets.  He did find the one he wanted in the rows and rows of Legos in this store.  He left a very happy little boy.

LBZ got some Duplo blocks, too!  We hung out at the hotel, did some swimming, and called it a night.

But not before we put together BBZ's birthday Lego!  He was super excited.

Sunday morning was BBZ's real birthday.  We checked out of the hotel and grabbed some breakfast.  A birthday donut, of course.  As a side note, he really does eat much healthier than this, typically.  Birthdays only come once each year, ya know?

After breakfast we headed to the Museum of Science and Technology.  This place was awesome.

I couldn't believe how brave Lu was standing over this balcony.  It is all glass and a huge drop, but he didn't seem to mind!  He just loved exploring all that was around the museum.  He loved to be carried to, as the above photos show, but this boy loves to get down and run!

There were things for kids of all ages to do.  LBZ found 2 of his favorite things in the kids area, water and balls.

I believe this might be my very favorite photo of the entire trip.  N told BBZ that he could move this ball with his mind, so that is exactly what he is trying to do.  Love him!

It was a wonderful and successful birthday weekend trip.  And he managed to get not one, but TWO birthday Legos out of us.  He sure has us wrapped around his adorable, loving, kind-hearted, four-year-old little finger :)