Harvey – Months 9 – 12

Month Nine – Harvey the Lion

Harvey is officially on the prowl; he has teeth, and is an expert crawler. With his pincer of death, there isn’t a piece of fuzz he can’t wrangle.

Harvey Nickname: Harvopotamus (As in – I want a hippopotamus for Christmas)

What’s New: Harvey brought us lots of new gifts this holiday month. He finally had a tooth pop through! So many times DSC_0321.JPGbefore, during times of mild fussiness or malcontentness, we had said “oh, he must be teething”. Then over a Friday and Saturday he was a real mess. Slightly feverish, very grumpy, fussy, and constantly pulling at his mouth and ear. Surely, this HAD to be his first tooth coming through? Sure enough, during a morning breastfeed, Sarah screamed in pain. “That hurt!” She put her finger in his mouth, and sure enough the long awaited tooth had popped through overnight! Harvey, has also taken to crawling this month and we haven’t found that any amount of baby-proofing can guarantee he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t. The days of plopping him down in a boppy while taking even a 2-minute crap in peace are gone. Fortunately, I have two hands, one to wipe with and the other to hold onto his foot.

Harvey’s not quite to standing, but he’s working on it. Here’s a fun video of him trying to do just that.

What’s Working: The biggest development this month was that Harvey started sleeping in his crib through the entire night. This was extremely bittersweet for us, because we really did enjoy our nights with him, and waking up next to him in the morning. Co-sleeping was a hugely defining pIMG_5761.JPGart of our life as a threesome, and we do miss it. Harvey had been waking up earlier and earlier, excited by our presence, and it was clear to us he was ready, even if we weren’t sure if we were. We decided one day to just “pull the band-aid” so to speak,  “Cry it out” understandably has a bit of an negative connotation as a method of sleep training, but that’s basically what we did. When one o’clock came, and Harvey started crying, we just didn’t retrieve him. That first night, he cried several times, from 15 – 30 minutes each. It was rough, but we made it through. After just a few nights, he slept through without crying. We were both rather shocked it wasn’t more difficult. I’ve also been unpleasantly surprised, that with Harvey’s move to the crib, I haven’t been able to go back to my pre-baby restful 8 hour nightly slumbers. I wake often throughout the night, sometimes because I hear Harvey in the next room… and sometimes because I don’t!

What’s Worrying: Now that Harvey is crawling, he’s like our own Roomba. An019394b41a7a65e4bded76e6a9fe40a03097c61b89.jpgything he is able to find be it toys, dustballs, fuzz or crumbs, he tries to eat. Sometimes he’s successful. With any new phase for Harvey, there seems to be a corresponding anxiety for me along with it, and my fear of him choking right now is extreme. The phrase “it’s all a wing and prayer”, one of my mom’s favorites all these years, is really resonating.

Favorite Memory: We took Harvey to see Santa. We did this 100% for our own amusement and entertainment, obviously, as Harvey certainly won’t ever know the difference. We had to wait an hour and it cost $20, but was well worth it. Harvey did not disappoint and hammed it up.

Month Ten – Harvey the Koala Bear

He’s a cuddly little thing. He loves to pull up, cruise, and hold onto whatever he can get his hands on.

Harvey Nickname: My Squishy (As in – I shall call him squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my squishy )

What’s New:  It seemed like as soon as Harvey started crawling, next thing we knew he was also pulling up and cruising. Some of his favorite things to practice on are the couch, the coffee table, his IMG_5990crib, his toy shelf, and mommy and daddy’s legs. He loves to crawl all over us and tossing him back and forth is one of our favorite past times. We are now also feeding him two to three actual food meals per day . He is a curious little dude, always on the move. I often think back to the days where we could sit him down and he’d stay, but no longer. It can be quite exhausting having to constantly monitor and watch his every move! Making up for all the exhaustion is that he very affectionate and frequently gives his mama and I kisses. It’s sloppy.

What’s Working: We can’t eat anything these days without Harvey making it cleaIMG_5981.JPGr that he wants in on the fun. So, we’ve just started obliging. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been giving him two to three meals a day, and for the most part we just give him what we eat. It’s a blast watching him try all kinds of foods for the first time, and giving him what we eat, makes the preparation that much easier. Additionally, seeing how well he does with food has really helped me curb the fear of choking I mentioned last month. When he really can’t swallow something (as I learned the hard way when I tried to share some Kale salad with him one time), he gags and spits the food out, and that’s simply the body doing what it was designed to do. Harvey loves pasta, especially spaghetti, which he loves to slurp up. See a video below of him and his mama lady-and-the-tramping it.

What’s Worrying: Donald Trump. Yeah, I’m going there. I’m completely sick over this past election and it has no doubt effected my ability to be the best parent I want to be. As a means of getting through the next 4 years, I made a pledge to myself to focus more on local politics, helping the earth and others through volunteering, and supporting quality journalism. While, I have been doing those things (though not to the extent I’d like just yet), with Trump’s inauguration this month, it’s frankly hard to feel good about anything. Most of you reading this probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’ll do my best to explain.


Sarah and I made the choice to try and become pregnant very deliberately (winky face) and we had several reasons. Of course there was plenty of vanity in wanting a little carbon copies of ourselves. But also, because of our own luck and circumstance we have a very comfortable life with the means to provide a safe healthy and happy home for children. We also have a lot of love to give. We thought our child would inhabit an earth capable of sustaining itself. We thought our child would have every opportunity in this world regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. We thought our child would see a world where truth is validated and recognized, and knowledge revered. We thought our child would see a world where people not only look out for themselves, or families, or people who look and think like them, but all of their fellow humans. I no longer have confidence Harvey will know the world his mother and I had pictured for him. But we are more determined than ever to teach him through our own example and community. So thankful for Durham.DSC_0424.JPG

Favorite Memory: Sarah got me the perfect gift for Christmas – a backpack for wearing Harvey while we hike. For the first hike, we decided to go to our favorite, the Eno River. Harvey loved it! He spent the first half of the hike staring off into the wooded scenery. The second half he snoozed, laying his face forward. The facial reaction of the fellow hikers was quite amusing, as they ranged from awe, to hilarity, to genuine concern. Looking forward to putting many miles with the pack and our family.

Month Eleven – Harvey the Porcupine

Thanks to some well-placed cowlicks and static, Harvey’s hair points out in all directions. He is on a mission to get into every crevice he can find and will prick you if you try to get in his way!

Harvey Nickname: Harvey E-NO! (As in – Is there anything you won’t get into?)

What’s New: Play-time with Harvey is super fun these days. He’s standing on his own now, has four teeth, and is super curious about everything. He loves to play catch, play with all kinds of toys and mimic our words and noises. That’s the good part. The bad is, he seems to require even more attention and focus on our part than ever before to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. Even though he’s stopped trying to eat everything quite as much, he just wants to get into everything – cabinets, toilets, drawers, trashcans. Needless to say, there are lots of bumps and bruise these days. IMG_6087

I’ve been realizing that with a lot of “firsts” its actually hard to pinpoint the exact time something happens. Did he just say that word? Does he know what he’s saying? He’s saying enough words now that we realized we had never really knew what his first word was. We retroactively decided it was “dog” , since that was the first word he said on his own and seemed to know what he was saying at least. What has also been interesting to me is that everything isn’t totally linear.  He might say something one day, and then have no interest the next. One day he’s standing on his own and looks like he’s about to take a step and the next he has to hold onto something. The one thing that has been totally constant, is his ever growing obsession with his penis since its initial discovery a few months ago.  Between his wiggles and desire to grab his jewels, changing him has become quite the task, particularly with just one person.

Harvey saying “neng neng neng”. No idea what it means, but one of our favorites.

What’s Working:  Harvey’s play area. Thanks to generous friends and family, we’ve stockpiled quite the toy collection. In thDSC_0437e carpeted downstairs, it’s Harvey’s territory. Its the one part of the house that is basically baby-proofed. If we need to fold some clothes or do some computer work, just chromecast some Sesame Street, plop Harvey down there, and he’s got all kinds of activities to chose from and can’t get into any mischief. We’ve also had some of our favorite family memories together playing  together in this room – learning how to use his toys, playing catch, and practicing to walk with his toy walker.

What’s Worrying: On the one hand, I am so ready for Harvey to be one – put the bottles, formula and other baby stuff away. On the other, I can’t believe time has slipped away so fast. It sounds and is so cliche, but Harvey isn’t a baby anymore, and it just felt too fast. I am enjoying this time of his life so much, but it is actually quite sad to see pictures of him as a newborn and feel like I legitimately don’t remember what that was like and can’t relate to i0158f08b2e05e89e56200c44d6d3509af2a86c57fat anymore. Part of the reason why I try to take so many pictures, videos and write stuff down I suppose!

The other somewhat tough thing this month is that Sarah went back to coaching soccer for the girls season. To be perfectly frank, the start has been a little rough. For the first time, more than half of the parenting responsibilities have fallen to me, and I’m feeling a lot of resentment. At the end of the day, we talked about it plenty before hand, I agreed to it, and the biggest actual issue is my attitude. I’m hopeful I can start to relish the extra opportunity I have with Harvey and be grateful. Otherwise, its going to be a long 2 and half months.

Favorite Memory:  Two memories stick out to me. One was when Harvey was playing in the living room while I was getting some things together in the kitchen. I DSC_0483could hear him banging some things, and realized I hadn’t heard anything for fifteen seconds or so. I went and checked on him, and he had been banging a tube of Puffs, managed to get them open and had stuffed his mouth completely full. The other was one evening I had Harvey to myself for the night, and right after I got home, I plopped Harvey in front of some toys, and sat immediately on the couch and starting checking emails on my phone. I was distracted and hadn’t really left “work” mode yet and a little disgruntled I was going to have to do nighttime by myself. A few minutes later, Harvey crawled over to me, pulled up on my legs and laid his head gently in my lap and looked up at me. It was the reminder I needed at that moment of how lucky I was, and what was important.

The below, I wouldn’t really call a “favorite” memory, but is certainly a vivid memory from this time period, so I wanted to share.

As I mentioned, with Harvey approaching his first birthday Sarah and I both have been having intense feelings that he’s growing up too fast. This all came to ahead for me while I was having a crown put on my tooth.
A tooth had been bothering me for months and I guess I had assumed it was the result of a recent filling. I finally got it checked out and turned out the problematic tooth, was one that had had a very deep filling when I was as a teenager and it was now starting to deteriorate. I would need a root canal and a crown.
I scheduled the root canal for just a few days later. I really just wanted to get it over with, as I had a root canal due to trauma in middle school which was one of the more traumatic childhood memories for me (story for another day, but probably not). Several times I had to recall the past experience during my current situation and definitely think that played a role in my fragile emotional state (I’m getting to it) following the crown.
The root canal went great. Much shorter and less painful than I remember. The next day I went to my dentist for the crown. He said some words about what he was doing but I wasn’t really paying attention or just didn’t let my brain process them. As he was putting the drill in my mouth I was kind of thinking to myself “What exactly is he doing? Seems like a lot of drilling…” My tongue grazed passed my tooth at one point. I had a moment of panic. It felt like my tooth was barely there. I convinced myself that I had imagined it. The dentist said the drilling was complete and I copped another feel of my tooth with my tongue. My tooth was in fact a little more than a nub.
I was livid. “They just circumcised my tooth against my will!” I thought to myself. I dug into my brain about my prior knowledge of crowns and to what the dentist had said not long earlier. Of course they have to shave down my tooth to have a place to attach the crown. The procedure was medically necessary and I had consented.
My anger turned to sadness. I’m old and my body is failing me. I’m already having parts replaced. Then I remembered my mom who was incessantly telling me I needed to take better care of my teeth so they don’t fall out when I was older and if I had listened to her I wouldn’t be where I am today. Sadness turned to guilt.
Next came thoughts of Harvey. Our nearly 1-year-old, who is the sweetest creature I could ever imagine. But, he won’t always be, and it feels like it’s slipping away too fast. One day even though I know what’s best for him, he won’t listen. And he might have to get a fake tooth one day and pay $1,500 (even with insurance!). My eyes watered and for the remainder of the procedure I wiped tears from my eyes when the dentist looked away. Fortunately,  he didn’t seem to notice.
As the dentist was finishing up he said the hygienist would show me how to floss the tooth in such a way that the (3 week) temporary crown wouldn’t come out. “That won’t be necessary” I said, “I think I’ll just take a few weeks off from flossing”. He let out a genuine belly laugh. “Most people aren’t so honest”, he said.
“That’s just how I was raised”, I thought to myself. Harvey will see me and hear me, even if he doesn’t always listen.

Month Twelve – Harvey the Baboon

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Harvey is constantly standing and just when you look away will take some steps. His butt is inflamed and bright red, thanks to diaper rash, or is it acid burn?

Harvey Nickname: – Harv (We think this one will stick!)

What’s New: All month long, we just keep saying that it feels like Harvey is turning into a toddler. He gets upset or frustrated and isn’t afraid to let you know. And then he gets distracted and is totally fine. His cry, which used to sound like nails on a chalkboard to my ears, barely phases me anymore.  We’ve definitely learned, based on the sound of the cry, to tell when there is something actually wrong and when he’s IMG_6280.JPGjust being a booty. He took his first actual steps (that we saw) on March 7, and by his first birthday, he was walking regularly, up to 10 steps at a time. Our favorite is his squatting. Up and down he goes, butt never touching the ground. We’ve been transitioning from formula to milk and from bottle to cup. The formula to milk was no problem at all, but ole Harv does not want to let that bottle go! Especially first thing in the morning or right before bed, he will kick and scream if you try give him milk in a cup. Put some in a bottle and its the tastiest concoction he’s ever seen. One of the neatest developments is his apparent understanding of what we are saying or doing. It’s kind of hard to explain or verbalize, but its kind of like a dog. He responds to his name, expresses emotions, and is testing limits. If we tell him not to do something, like open a drawer, his favorite reaction is to stare at us with a smile and slowly do it again. I grab for a wipe, and he starts shaking his head ferociously, knowing I’m coming for his nose. When I pull out a baggie of veggie straws he lights up, making grabbing motions with his hands, which will shortly devolve into screaming if he doesn’t get any friggin’ veggie straws in his hand right this minute. He’s also big into hugging. When I pick him up at daycare he crawls over to me and gives me a big smile and a hug. Holding him is a two way affair these days as he rests one hand on my chest, and puts the other behind my shoulder. It is truly my favorite thing in the world. Sometimes, when we are apart, I will think about him and have phantom Harvey sensations where I can feel him in my arms. Thankfully, I never have to go that long without seeing him. If he’s anything like I was, the separation anxiety that is starting to rear it’s head is going to be brutal.

What’s Working: Dermacloud aka “Fanny Cream”. See why this is necessary below. Also, retired grandparents. My dad, or “Pop” these days, retired a couple months ago, and we’ve been able to utilize him several times for childcare. It has been a huge help! Saving us from having to take time off of work, pay a babysitter, and enabled me to continue the bowling league, even during soccer season.

What’s Worrying: For one, Harvey had his first real temperature this month. He was at Rochelle’s and I got a call that he had a temperature of 103.5. Honestly, I knew a day like this would come, and I had been dreading it. I just didn’t know if I had what it took to take care of my sick child. Rochelle and the doctor both helped keep my mind at ease, and thankfully, it was just an ear infection, which cleared up quickly with antibiotics, and Tylenol kept the fever at bay.  This is the video of him I took that morning, thinking it was rather funny, and not realizing he was acting so lethargic because sickness was overtaking him.

I had to make another trip to the doctor just a couple weeks later because Harvey developed some really intense, open-wound, diaper rash. I’ll spare you the picture on this one. It was the third time this happened in the past couple of months (though this was by far the worst). Everyone has an opinion on what is causing it and how to prevent. Not sure we will ever know totally for sure, but we do thing acid in his stool from eating fruit has something to do it. Possibly certain diaper brands as well…  For now, we are just limiting fruit and keeping to just the one diaper brand that he used before any issues developed.

Things got a little worse before they got better as far as the soccer stuff goes, but Sarah and I are both feeling good with where they are at. Her team is 11-1-1, so they are playing great. Games are only 2 days a week now – before they were 3 – and that really was tough on both of us… Not quite sure how I did it, but I think I had finally had enough of my moody self and had a much needed attitude adjustment about it. Sarah is doing something she loves, and it makes me very proud, knowing what a difference she makes on so many kids’ lives.  And if it means I get to spend some extra one-on-one time with Harvey for a couple months of the year, that is hardly something to be aggrieved about. Everyone knows relationships are hard, with or without kids. Adding a kid to the mix, especially when both parents work full-time and have extra-curricular activities, adds a very predictable strain. For us, planning ahead with things like meal preparation and making detailed schedules really helps keep surprises and frustrations at bay. But, the more you run a relationship and family like a well-oiled machine, spontaneity and passion can wither. I oIMG_6287.JPGbviously don’t have the answer here. I’m not sure there is one. But if there is, pretty sure it lies somewhere near the intersection of attitude, expectations and communication. I do know that Sarah and I’s relationship has reached levels not possible without Harvey, and we are a better team and partners because of him.

Favorite Memory: I had some very special times with Harvey this month, and have definitely felt like a good dad. Feeding him dinner and entertaining him on the soccer sidelines is actually a real treat. Also, I really tried a few times to get him to drink milk out of his cup. He was throwing a bit of a temper-tantrum one evening over the cup. Mostly hoping he would just copy me, I took a few gulps of the milk from the sippy cup. Harvey started giggling. He then grabbed the cup himself and held the cup to my mouth. He then brought it back down and drank some. Smiled. And back to me again. Whether it’s a cup or bottle, “sharing” his milk with me, or any food really, always makes him smile.

Well, there it is. Harvey is a year old. In some ways it feels like this is the milestone we’ve been counting down to since we brought him home from the hospital and it feels really great, though I can’t help but miss his little baby self sometimes. I look back at who I think I was a year ago and see a lot of differences. I used to feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that I want to do. NoIMG_5887.JPGw, I am jealous of all the free-time I used to have back in those days. I used to be pretty stingy dude, some might say. Between all of the gifts and kindness we’ve been shown in the last year, and experiencing new expenses like diapers, childcare, and formula I have not only found more joy in giving, but can’t really afford (pun intended) to worry about where money goes. When my mom says life brings “peaks and valleys” I thought I had an idea what she meant a year ago, but I hadn’t really a clue. Some of the joys I’ve had this past year, were truly unknowable to me, as were the feelings of anxiousness and worry over another living creature’s life that you would gladly roll over and die for. I’ll never forget the feeling when I first held Harvey. It was just the most amazing, most mysterious, and most NEW thing I had ever experienced. This child in my arms. Today, when I hold Harvey, there is nothing new about it. A world without him is so far out of reach from my soul, he just feels completely eternal and inevitable. It’s like I’m holding a perfectly innocent version of myself. There was never a me, without a him, I just hadn’t gotten there yet.

Harvey – Months 4-8

Well, I had intended to write one of these things every month, but its been a much busier time for the Cainades than originally thought. Things have wound down a bit, and I am finally getting to this. I hate that some of this stuff is such old news at this point, but I will be happy I wrote it down someday. I made some notes along the way, so some of these thoughts do originate during the time period about which I’m writing, though all filtered through my current state. As I mentioned the last time, this is just a sharing of our parenting story for our own purposes, not meant to be advice, nor a source of judgement (of us, or by us on others).

Month Four – Harvey the Meerkat

Harvey is wide-eyed and alert. He knows there is a big world out there and he’s peeking around every corner, ready to see it all!

Nickname: Isama (As in – It’s A My Harvey)

What’s New: We are officially out of the “fourth trimester” and it feels great. I can honestly say up until this point, every month felt a little tougher as the newness wore off and the difficulties increased, but somehow this month seemsIMG_4719.JPG easier than the last. I liken it first to a heightening in our confidence as parents. I think this is a result of understanding more and more what makes Harvey most content and happy. Secondly, we’ve reached even further levels of joy as we watch Harvey take notice in the world around and interact with it as well as seeming to recognize us as his parents. When we hold him, rather than hold his head into our chest, he has started to jut his head upward to take in the world around him (hence the Meerkat). He as also taken a notice to TV screens (more on this later), to the point where we can put him in front of the TV and he will be entertained for 10 or 15 minutes.

Thinking about appropriate “screen time” isn’t something I have even begun to consider, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to come up this early in Harvey’s life. It is a small reminder of the countless decisions we have to make and think about everyday… For now, sometimes you just need 10 minutes so you can use the bathroom or fix a plate of food, so hopefully a little Sesame Street at 4 months old won’t cause too much damage.

What’s Working: We started getting serious about some infant massage this month, thanks to my mom who has taught infant massage classes the past couple of decades. We found this to be a great age to do the massage, while Harvey isn’t too wiggly yet, and it is an activity we enjoy as parents, and Harvey seems to as well. Plus, Harvey’s skin is so soft and plump, its like massaging a stress ball. It is as much a massage for our hands as it his for his body. Harvey inspired my mom to create some YouTube videos of her doing the different massage strokes with him as a dummy. The clip below is my favorite outtake.

What’s Worrying: Well, for one, we decided to buy a new house and sell our old one. The stresses of this I think are pretty self-evident, not to mention, while trying to care for an infant. Perhaps the biggest fear, isn’t so much the move itself, but that we are losing time with Harvey as a result of all the time and attention the move is taking. The only way I know to calm this anxiety is just to remind myself that, at the end of the day, we are doing all of this for him, and we’re doing our best. We ultimately felt like doing the move now, while Sarah isn’t working and Harvey isn’t mobile, would be easier than if we waited. As much as I wish we could be the kind of people that are good at just relaxing, we aren’t. Taking care of a newborn is extremely time consuming, but can also be quite boring. Having the move to focus on has had the upside of keeping the boredom at bay (particularly for Sarah) and also been a distraction from the huge cloud looming in the near future of Harvey starting daycare. We feel great about the choice we’ve made for Harvey’s care, but are both just unsure how he and we will handle the huge adjustment of Sarah going back to work. If Harvey’s history of being such an easy going, adaptable baby, are any indication (we count our lucky stars every day), the transition shouldn’t be too bad. On Harvey at least.

One IMG_4646.JPGfollow up – Harvey is still not enjoying the car – he either cries or sleeps, nothing in between. This was particularly difficult this month which saw a trip to Ohio. I would say this has been the most difficult part of parenthood so far for us, and really tested our mental fortitude. As a parent you are hardwired to know your child’s cry and do whatever it takes to curb it. It’s not so much the sound of the cry during these road trips that is difficult, but the fact that Harvey is malcontent, and our only means of pacifying him (getting out of the car) is not an option. With the stress-o-meter pulsating past 10, needless to say, pointless bickering is often a by product of Harvey’s car crying. Sarah and I find some peace by turning up the tunes and singing away.

Favorite Memory: On our trip to Ohio Harvey got to meet his great dsc_0655grandmother. Though the traveling was tough, it brought us great joy that Harvey was able to see all of his grandparentIMG_4758.JPGs in his first few months of life. During our time in Ohio, we stopped by a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. As I mentioned before, Harvey has become really into screens. He was asleep when we got into BWW, but upon awakening his eyes immediately widened and he got a huge grin on his face looking all around the restaurant. There were screens everywhere! He was in heaven. Frankly, so were we.

Month Five – Harvey the Bird

Harvey took a flight to the west coast this month and got to see the Pacific Ocean. He not only flies like a bird, but makes little birdie noises and eats like bird too.

Harvey Nickname: Manuganug (As in manamana)

What’s New: Harvey has really started to discover his own voice. Lots of chirps and gurgles, as well as some laughter. For some reason, I seem to be the one that can make him laugh the most. I have to admit it feels pretty good! So much of fatherhood thus far as been in the background (as compared to motherhood), but bonding with Harvey on such a human level really makes me feel so proud, perhaps even a little arrogant!

This month was quite a busy one. We went to dsc_0709Georgia so Harvey could meet Sarah’s camp friends. We took a trip out west to visit some friends in Salem, Oregon and Seattle. We sold our house (and chickens). Bought a new house. Lived with my parents for a cou13938042_10207643532832016_3715417529020390508_o.jpgple weeks in between. Sarah started back at work. Harvey started daycare. Harvey got over his car woes (yay!). And lastly, moved into our new house. We are so grateful for all of the hospitality we were shown during our travels and while we were in between homes. While I’m tempted to feel guilty about some of the time that could have been spent relaxing, staring at Harvey, I’m not. Sharing Harvey with our friends and family has been one of the greatest things about having a child, and our travels and busyness during this time enabled us to do just that. We are so lucky that Harvey has been such a good baby and for the most part goes with the flow on all that we are doing.

What’s Working: Baby led weaning. I’m really fortunate to have a partner who already knows so much about little humans. There are so many aspects of taking care of Harvey, choices to be made, that I really don’t even think about, I just follIMG_4865.JPGow Sarah’s lead. I hadn’t given any thought to when we would start feeding Harvey real food, but one day Sarah decided today was the day. Even though at 5 months, Harvey is really too young to need anything other than milk, but apparently just the act of eating is good practice for both his hand eye coordination and learning how to eat. To do baby led weaning, we don’t so much feed Harvey, but rather put food in front of him and let him play with and eat it, how he sees fit. We haven’t given him anything that he hasn’t taken to, but the biggest hits have been bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados. I can’t recommend this enough as it is highly entertaining for both us and Harvey!

What’s Worrying: On his first day at daycare, Harvey’s daycare provider, Miss Rochelle, asked us to write down his daily schedule. I knew we were in trouble. The boy literally has no schedule. When he cries, we feed him. If he’s not hungry, we rock him to sleep. Otherwise, we either actively play with him or wear him. That’s pretty much been what we’ve done for 5 months. I certainly don’t regret the way we’ve done things so far, but we now realize things will have to change a bit in order for him to be happy with us and at daycare. We’ve only had a few days of daycare so far, but it’s clear there is a lot of adjusting to do. Most frustratingly, Harvey all of a sudden decided he doesn’t want to eat out of a bottle. We hadn’t used bottles too often, but hadn’t had any issues when we had, so never gave it a thought as something he’d need to practice. We got a few different bottle types to try out and are hoping one of these will work out – will report back. Also, by just the second day of daycare, Harvey came down with a cold, and it quickly spread to the rest of us. People had told us this would happen, but we just didn’t want to believe it. I know Sarah is happy to be back in the classroom, but being away from Harvey is hard, and all the more so knowing he isn’t transitioning great. It’s weighing on us heavily. See Harvey’s bottle woes below.

Favorite Memory: I have two favorite Harvey memories from this month. The first was when we were in the Pacific Northwest, eating at an amazing small Pizza restaurant (EVVIVA) in the coastal town of Edmonds, Washington. We were taking turns holding Harvey on our lap while we struggled to enjoy our beers, salad, and pizza. I caught eye contact with a man in the restaurant and he smiled at me, then poked his wife to look our way. “She’ll hold him for you” he said. She stood up and held arms out and said “can I!?” We gladly handed Harvey over while we finished the rest of our meal and they played with him. We were both happy! I didn’t even vet them to see if they were planning on voting for Trump or not.

The other img_4936favorite memory is something that started this month (it has continued many months later). It’s simply Harvey waking up in the morning, always in the best moods, with a huge smile on his face. I have a distinct memory of him waking up next to me smiling and when I looked over at him he just gently touched all parts of my face. The cruelty of the world and people in it can often really get me frustrated, angry and sad. The simple curiosity of a new human discovering himself, the world, his dad, serves as a reminder of all the beauty and wonder right in front of us.

Month Six – Harvey the Teddy Bear

Harvey likes to lounge around and can sit up on his own. He’s a gentle cuddly little guy!

Harvey Nickname: Harb (As in – short for Harvey, and because the “v” in “Harv” can sound a little too harsh for such a sweet baby)

What’s New: Harvey had a complete 180 at daycare this month. Most importantly, he remembered how to eat out of a bottle, which obviously came as a huge relief to Sarah and I. He also (thanks to much patience from Miss Rochelle) started falling asleep on his own at nap time, rather than being rocked to sleep as he had been used to for 5 months. We helped with this to by putting Harvey down in his crib both for naps and at night, both new things for us. We definitely had to endure a couple of agonizing cry sessions for 30 minutes or so, but within a week he was falling asleep within 5 minutes every time. Being with all the other boys at daycare has definitely opened Harvey up as well. He’s starting to say some things – namely “da” on repeat, and loves to hold onto to toys. Since he’s sitting up so great, I can actually set him down, walk away for a couple minutes and know he will be just fine and (for now) right where I left him. This is huge!


Classes officially started for Sarah, which means she’s out the door at 6:15AM every morning, and Harvey is all mine until I drop him off at daycare around 8. Having this alone time with Harvey is both quite special and also quite difficult at times!  Harvey loves to go on runs with me in the morning – he either sits in complete tranquility, or falls asleep. He also loves to spend img_5069time playing with toys in the carpeted downstairs where he is free to roll around as he pleases. When its time for me to shower though, that’s where things get dicey. Sometimes he loves sitting in his bathroom chair, sometimes not so much. Up until this month, I probably hadn’t spent a total of 5 hours with Harvey by myself where Sarah wasn’t with me, or at least in the next room. It has been humbling. We have so many fun times, but when I’m trying to get ready, pack a lunch, get him dressed and he’s fussy – AND there isn’t anyone else around to pass him off too – woo, its tough. There is just no escape and you just have to deal.  It has given me new appreciation for all that Sarah did during his first 5 months, being his sole child care provider while I was at work. Of all that’s happened since Harveys been born, nothing has made me feel more like a parent than this morning time, and specifically dropping him off at daycare. The odd combination of feelings I get when I drop him off in the morning – relief, sadness, pride, yearning – I know I have never felt anything like this before, and I know so many others know exactly what I’m talking about. When I go to work I no longer see myself as Nick, the accountant, I’m Harvey’s dad, the accountant.

What’s Working: Now that we are settled into IMG_5145 (2).JPGour new house, aren’t traveling constantly, we have found some consistency in our life and have developed a nightly routine of sorts.How nice this has been! Since I have my Harvey time in the morning, in the evenings, usually Sarah plays with Harvey while I cook. We then eat as a family, bathe, massage, read and feed Harvey all before his bedtime at 7. The best part about all of the routine, and getting Harvey down in his own bed, is that Sarah and I have some time to ourselves at night. I forgot what it was like to actually be able to put our feet up, watch some TV, and relax!

We also IMG_5089.PNGhave our trusty baby monitor to make sure Harvey is doing ok. It has a feature where you can watch through your phone and even snap a picture. I caught this beauty one time in the early days of trying to get Harvey to sleep in his crib. Whatever it takes!

What’s Worrying: So yes, Harvey is starting the night in his crib now. Once he started daycare and we realized we needed to change some things up with his sleep, we were prepared to do a whole big sleep training thing – get him on regular naps and make him sleep in his crib permanently. We never quite got all the way there. The thing is, he still wants to eat at least a couple of times at night and we’ve been letting him. We just bring him back to the bed with us once he inevitable wakes up around 11PM and let him eat and sleep with us. I only say this is worrying because some day we will inevitably have to peel the band aid off, suffer through some tough nights, and get him to sleep through the night without eating so he can make it all night in his crib.

Favorite Memory: As I mentioned, Harvey has started to say “da” this month. For the first couple of weeks when he started to say “da” it would come out of nowhere and he’d stop as suddenly as he started. We could never seem to capture it on video. One Saturday morning while entertaining Harvey, he started saying “da” on repeat and wouldn’t stop for several minutes. Plenty of time to capture it on video (below). Though I don’t believe he had association with the sound “da” and anything it all, my heart melted nonetheless.

Month Seven – Harvey the Caterpillar

Pretend this is what caterpillars look like eating.

Harvey Nickname: Tinky Winky Pinky Minky Stinky (As in – no real explanation, its really just as many iterations of “inky” we can think of strung together. Perhaps there is some Teletubbies nostalgia going on as well)

What’s New: Post 6-months, it seems like all the 01b39740d6014a3a9f25268c7c1f31214f817eff0echanges with Harvey are finally slowing down a bit. For the first time, I can look at a picture from a month earlier, and not really notice a difference. Harvey is officially on the move, though. Not crawling or anything like that, just lots of rolling. He has opened up even more and has started laughing at people other than me (see clip below.) He’s started making lots more “talking” sounds like “ma” and “ga”.

Harvey in Target

img_5441What’s Working: Wild Wednesdays at Whole Foods. $2 *quality* pints. $2 Slices of Pizza. It’s a deal that can’t really be beat. We’ve officially made it a Wednesday tradition at this point and its a great mid-week treat that the whole family enjoys. It’s been a fun way to keep up some of our dear friends during their late pregnancy and early parenthood, and for Harvey to meet his future best friends – hey Theo & Luke!

What’s Worrying: Sarah’s original goal was to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and reevaluate. We were very lucky to achieve that goal, and the new goal became 12 months. This is Sarah’s story to share not mine, so I won’t dive into a lot of detail, but this month it has become a concern that that goal might not be feasible and it has been difficult to accept. For now, we are weighing our options, and have started to try out some formula with Harvey to make sure he tolerates its ok – which thankfully, he did.

IMG_5271.JPGFavorite Memory: There was not one special moment that I can point to this month as my favorite memory. I just adore this little man more than I ever thought would be possible. It sounds so cliche, but I don’t know how else to describe it. What really hit me this month, is that the best “memories” I have of Harvey are in fact, not one single moment at all. It is something much more esoteric, a collection of experiences. The beauty in children doesn’t come from one “cute” or special experience or moment, DSC_1032.JPGbut its watching, experiencing them grow and change everyday. When Harvey was born, the love I felt was more of a wondering love, a love based in awe. As we have more memories together, as I see Harvey grow, watch myself change, the love shifts to one based on the relationship itself. A relationship that grows each day. I say this, and I only have 6 months under my belt as a parent – 1/36th of Harvey’s childhood. I look at anyone with kids, especially grown kids and just can’t imagine how they can even concentrate on anything, after so many years, the love for their kids must be so big. Maybe that’s why teenagers are such a horror – natures way of keeping their parents’ love from becoming debilitating.

Month Eight – Harvey the Monkey

Harvey, the expert pat-a-caker, is constantly clapping his hands together like a toy monkey. He climbs all over his parents like his own private jungle gym.

Harvey? Is that you?

Oh, there you are!

Harvey Nickname: Panky (As in, Panky Bottom)dsc_0101-2

What’s New: Harvey is not one to sit still these days. Not only is he rolling all around, but he’s starting to lift his butt in the air and even take a crawl or two before flopping over. See the video below of some of Harvey’s first crawls during our trip visiting Sarah’s dad in Arkansas, which prompted the phrase, “Learning to crawl in Arkansas”. He still often loves to be held, but rather than relax in our arms, he finds it to be more of a game – lunging around, and trying to crawl up myself by putting his feet on my chest and lifting up. And when he wants to be most difficult, he’s discovered the advantages of arching his back, usually while screaming and also kicking his feet. Getting dressed and changing diapers, which used to be rather tame affairs have turned circus events. Just when you almost have one pant leg on, Harvey turns his body entirely completely covering the other side, often while humming “da da da da da da”. I can’t tell if he just doesn’t want to sit still, or gets a thrill out of being difficult.


What’s Working: Do you need a high chair? We said no to that question many times. For meals out, we pretty much had to take turns shoveling food into our mouths, while the other held onto Harvey. We finally recently realized Harvey was big and coordinated enough to sit in a high chair at restaurants. Now, he still expects attention and to be fed along with everyone else, so its not a totally relaxing experience, but its a big step up from before!

What’s Worrying: When Harvey started rolling around, I joked to several people it was only a matter of time before he rolled himself off of the bed or couch. Well, it happened and it was the bed. Sarah and I were both in the bedroom at the time, hanging some stuff on the walls. We both simultaneously assumed the other had a closer eye on him than they actually did. At the last second, I saw him nearing the edge, but it was mostly too late. I did manage to get a foot under him to break the fall a bit, but he landed on his back nonetheless, and we both felt completely disgusted with ourselves and worried about Harvey’s well being as he cried for the next minute or sdsc_0067-2o. We did monitor him for any concussion symptoms throughout the day and fortunately, he was totally fine. Also fortunately, our bed is quite low to the ground as it is. I was proud of both of us for letting the feelings of guilt wash away from us rather quickly, and instead be thankful nothing worse happened, and learn from the mistakes. Needless to say, with Harvey on the move, the baby proofing is in full swing. The fireplaces have pads on the corners, all the electrical outlets have covers, and we have a baby gate to install shortly.

The only other prominent worries are sleeping and teeth. His sleep patterns seem to have gotten a little worse if anything… he used to sleep in occasionally, but not anymore. He’s awake by 5 or 5:30 (sometimes earlier) every morning, regardless of when he went to bed. He also seems to be even hungrier at night than he has been, which keeps us both up, but especially his mom. Not so bad that we’ve done any major steps to try and improve his sleeping… one of these days. His teeth are worrying because, well, he doesn’t have any yet! For about 6 months it seems whenever he’s fussy we assume he must be teething, but those teeth are no where in sight.

Favorite Memory: Harvey can’t talk or sign yet, but he can communicate. When he was born, crying was about his only form of communication (obviously pretty common among newborns), but as he grows, his repertoire of means of conveyance grow as well – smiling, kicking, laughing, cooing, outstretching his arms, etc. I set all this up because each time some new thing happens, as a parent it just blows you away. Where does it even come from? An example from this month was Harvey, after having his stomach blown on, returned the favor and began blowing raspberries on his mom’s stomach. What’s more, he appears to be quite pleased with himself and found the whole thing quite humorous. Fortunately I caught most of the exchange on video.

Thanks for reading! Until next month.

Harvey – Months 1, 2, and 3

It’s been nearly 3 months since Harvey was born, and I still feel in a state of awe every single day. I regret not taking the time to put some words to paper before, as I really want to capture what the once-in-a-lifetime feeling of new parenthood has felt like.  And that is mostly what I’m writing about – what it feels like. I don’t want to forget. While I’m sure I’ve lost some of the vividness of those feelings, particularly those first few weeks, I’ll do my best to capture my thoughts and feelings at each stage (broken up monthly for now), for purposes of categorization and preservation.

Before I go into it, I did want to just say, I’m writing this for myself. Sarah and I made the choice to be parents, but that was our choice, and we understand it’s not for everyone. Similarly, we’ve made choices as parents, that have worked for us, and while I’ll share some of those, we know not everyone will make those same choices, nor would we expect or want them too. Simply, this is just a sharing of our story for our own purposes, not meant to be advice, nor a source of judgement (of us, or by us on others).

Month One – Harvey the Piglet

Harvey, looking like the runt of the litter, grunts, eats, sleeps, poops, and is adorable.

Nickname: Nug (as in – what we called him in the womb)

What’s New: Many months ago, upon receiving congratulations from a coworker (with two kids herself) on Sarah’s pregnancy, I replied how I often did, with thanks, and said that I was both thrilled and terrified. She responded simply, there is nothing to be terrified about, it’s all goodness. Crossing over the pregnancy threshold (which was terrifying), the words, “it’s all goodness” really stuck with me. The first month truly is all goodness. Better in fact – I feel like I am on cloud 9. More grateful and gracious than I have ever been in my life. We have a healthy baby, something that is distinctly a part of both Sarah and I, that we could be so lucky, fills me with joy.

Every time I hold him, look at him, I’m just blown IMG_4099.JPGaway by the mystery and wonder of it all. Sarah and I decided to try and make a child together, and here he is. Not only a part of each of us, but our responsibility to care for and guide him in this world. The major life shift from existing as an individual to existing in partnership, is gradual, there is no exact moment it happens, just a slow intertwining of activities, relationships, obligations, cares and desires until one day you look back and realize your life is no long you, but us. The life shift to parenthood is immediate, and forceful, though not suffocating nor destabilizing, as I think some new parents fear. For me, the force was tranquil and empowering – like angels themselves lifted me to a new plane of understanding and responsibility, saying “you belong here, now”.

This is the first time in my life that I can remember truly living in the now. Not wasting any time of the day, dwelling on the past or stressing the future. Just experiencing every day for what it is. I wonder if parenthood has truly released something new in me. Will this feeling of inextinguishable contentment last forever? I think not, so I try to relish it all the more [Expectedly, it wouldn’t].

What’s Working: During Sarah’s pregnancy, I was so focused on the labor and birth itself, that I really didn’t think a lot about, or do research on how to be a parent. [I can say several months later, that such focus on the birth was unwarranted, once its over, its done, and I rarely think about it anymore]. One of the untended consequences of this, was once Harvey was here, I really didn’t have a “plan” for the choices we’d make in caring for him. Sarah and I both just really approached everything from the beginning with an open mind, and decided to make choices that worked the best for us.  The first couple of weeks, Harvey really only slept when one of us was holding him. We tried the crib, a bassinet, a cosleeper, but he just really needed to be even closer than that to us. We started bed-sharing (AKA breastsleeping) at first just as a necessity so we could get sleep, but after doing research, and seeing how well it worked for us, we’ve really come to love it. [3 months later, we are still doing it today]. As someone who can be very stiff and rigid with the choices I make in life, being flexible as a parent has really been freeing and help keep stress levels to a minimum.

What’s Worrying: IMG_4223Very little, life is so great. Harvey has developed a slight umbilical hernia from all the grunting [which would clear up after a couple months]. When my 2 weeks of paternity leave ended, going back to work was tough, but I consider myself very fortunate to have a job I enjoy, and with flexibility. Working is a part of life, and to complain about it seems unrealistic and  selfish, but I would spend every second of everyday with my wife and child if I could. Also, Sarah keeps me well-informed of all things Harvey during the workday thanks to Snapchat.

Favorite Memory: This might go down as my favorite memory of life. It was the day after Harvey’s birth. I had spent the day learning how to change a diaper, how to swaddle a baby, and to how hand express colostrum – practical skills you need as a new parent. It was early evening, and all of our family had left us for the day. Sarah had just gotten off of the magnesium, and was starting to come out of the fog and feel like herself again01e48f114c086d9d3dabc4ebd767816fff901316ea.jpg. Sarah was holding Harvey and admiring him, really soaking him in, and just kept saying he’s so beautiful. Suddenly, Harvey opened his eyes, the first time Sarah had been able to get a look at them. She cried tears of joy, and I joined. Particularly given the scary circumstances of Sarah’s induction, and just with all of the uncertainty that comes with pregnancy, we were looking at our alive and healthy baby boy. And he was looking back at us.

Month Two – Harvey the Monkey

Harvey, who is growing like a weed, not only grunts, but also coos, farts, smiles (usually while farting), sighs, and makes all kinds of faces with his eyes and mouth.

Nickname: M’angel (as in – my angel, also happens to be the favorite actual new baby name we’ve heard from my mom who works with newborns)

What’s New: Harvey’s personality is starting to show itself a bit, which not only ramps up the cuteness factor, but also the malcontent factor. We think Harvey is a great baby overall, but he does cry (thankfully far from “purple crying”), usually when he’s not being held. He demands touch and motion, which means lots of car rides, and lots of hours of walking him around in circles in our home.

IMG_4392The “normalcy” of having a child has started to set in. Rather than my first thought of the day being “I can’t believe I have a child”, it has become “I can’t imagine what life would be like without Harvey”. Sarah and I no longer feel like a duo, but a trio. Harvey is his own person and an integral part of our family. I notice a shift in my thoughts of my family. For 30 years of my life, the thought of “family” conjured images of my parents, and my little sisters. Now, when I think of family, I first see Sarah and Harvey. This is obviously nothing against my parents and siblings (all of whom I’ve only felt closer too post-Harvey), but just noticing the shift in perspective – the shift of being part of a family, to creating one. It gives me a greater appreciation for my spouse, Sarah, as the person whom chose to become my family, and I hers. More than just a best friend, or a spouse, there is a permanency to family (for better or worse), and we chose to become that with our decision to create life.

Considering this “choice” I mentioned, and experiencing parenthood firsthand, I reflect on my own parents often these days. Really seeing them as people, not just my parents, who have been through all of the things I am now describing before, and are also going through a new transformation themselves (as grandparents). I reflect on some of my bad memories from childhood – things like having to go to church every Sunday (despite my pleads, and logical arguments as to why I didn’t need to go), not feeling like we had enough money to buy all the video games and Abercrombie clothes it seemed like everyone else got, and being embarrassed by my mom making a fuss at the school every time I didn’t make a sports team – and can see where my parents’ motivations were coming from in a new light, even feeling guilty for some of my childish behavior as a child. I remember my mom telling me all the time, I wouldn’t understand certain things until I was a parent someday, and being super annoyed by such a statement. Now, I know its just a matter of time before I’m saying the same thing to Harvey.

What’s Working: Being active. Harvey has 01629dd9c0a2aac6779aa18c66529dbf97274f4443let us know that he likes to be on the move, and we have been answering his call. Sarah takes him on frequent walks during the day, and we often go together during the evenings. We take him all over the various food and beverage options Durham has to offer, and have frequent get-togethers with friends and family. Sarah, in particular, does not do well will ideal hands, and being active with Harvey has really been good at curbing the feeling of loneliness that some new mothers can experience. We hope that taking Harvey everywhere will translate into him being comfortable in various situations through his life.

What’s Worrying: It is very surreal to I’m starting to see Harvey as a person, and can help but wonder what kind of person he will be, and what the future holds for him. As I have these thoughts, I realize my time of truly living in the present has passed, as I figured it would, and I do my best to find peace with that. Harvey had a choking scare, where we went so far as to call EMS, [he was totally fine, and nothing like that happened again] and for the first time I truly realized with the joy that we’ve created, that’s just so much more that we have to lose. With that realization, I’ve accepted the inevitability of anxiety and stress. Always “living in the moment”, or being purely content, I just don’t think is feasible for long spurts at a time, particularly with children. There is a reason we evolved to feel stress. It keeps us and our offspring safe, and drives us to accomplish things we wouldn’t otherwise, that someday we can look back on with pride. And I am ok with that.

Favorite Memory: Sarah left me home alone for the first time with Harvey, so she could go to a “listen to your mother” performance with readings on motherhood. I felt ready, but was a little anxious about being the only one around. He ended up sleeping almost the entire time she was gone, and finally woke up around the time she called me to tell me she was on her way. I took a Snapchat of him while Sarah spoke to him through the phone. Though you can’t hear the audio because I was on the phone, you can clearly see him look from side to side and break out into a big smile at the sound of his mother’s voice – one of his first “voluntary” smiles.

Month Three – Harvey the Joey

Despite his growing size and personality, looking more like a little boy every day, Harvey still loves to be held close. Thanks to the Ergo Carrier, he spends much of his day like a little Kangaroo attached to his mama or myself.

Nickname: Matinky (as in my stinky)

What’s New: It’s apparent Harvey is starting to take after his Mama in several ways, most notably, his love of talking. His grunting has subsided, and a sweet healthy voice shines through. The little guy is always having conversations these days, particularly in the mornings. When I look back at pictures/videos of him in his first few weeks, when he was just a little grunting peanut, I literally can’t believe Harvey used to look like that. Literally, if I didn’t know the photos/videos were real, I wouldn’t believe them. As Harvey’s found his speaking voice, he’s also found his crying voice. Whoa – the decibels have really increased. His favorite time to cry is at night, where even walking him around the house in circles, doesn’t always work right away. My secret trick is to sing to him at the top of my lungs. Usually, it shocks him into silence and he just stares at me. About the only actual song I sing to him is “Chantilly Lace” for some reason (maybe the lyric “hellllllllo, babbbbbbby”), otherwise I just make words up to whatever song is in my head at the time. I truly can’t wait until we can have actual English conversations today.


The most special part about becoming a parent, for me, has been watching Sarah become a mother. To call her a “natural” I don’t think really cuts it, DSC_0443because I think parenthood is a very natural thing. Sarah is the most nurturing and caring person (often to her own detriment) I know, and she’s glided into the role of mother with ease and wonder. I am known to have trust/control issues with certain things, but not when it comes to Harvey, because I know he is in better hands with his mother than I could ever hope to provide. While, I think I am a fairly hands-on new dad, the vast majority of the responsibility of caring for Harvey right now, as his food source and non-working parent, falls to Sarah. I try to remember this, and thank her often, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly appreciate what it’s like for her on a daily basis.

We’ve been at this three months now and it becomes easier to take how lucky we are for granted. Things that we used to be thrilled to do can start to feel like chores (changing diapers, bathing, washing cute clothes), and even though we have a nice sleep thing going considering, it’s still not the sleep we used to have before Harvey, and it feels like its catching up to us. It can definitely be hard at times. Often when its hard, Sarah and I end up taking our frustrations out on each other, as easy prey. As partners in parenthood, it means we not only have someone to rely on when we need help, but that we each have to be the person that can be relied upon. Usually, one of us is happily up to the challenge. But occasionally, neither of us is excited to be that person, and in those moments, it’s difficult to fend off resentment. Especially when, in addition to raising a new human, we are also dealing with buying and selling a house, moving, traveling often, and I do stupid things like leave the freezer open overnight less than a month after Sarah lost 100 ounces of breast milk. We are working on it though, and I think being upfront about it, and recognizing why we have the feelings we do sometimes, helps us better control ourselves during those difficult moments.

What’s Working: I mentioned the Ergo Carrier, and I have to expand and say that thing has been a life saver. Putting Harvey in the Ergo is the quickest way to either relax him or put him to sleep. It also enables whoever is holding him to have free hands to do whatever, while Harvey sleeps or simply takes in the world.

What’s Worrying: The car had always been a place for reprieve. Riding in the car often put Harvey to sleep, and if not, he rode around contently. That changed abruptly this month. All of a sudden Harvey seemed to detest everything about being in the car. We first noticed the issue on a trip to Raleigh where Harvey screamed the whole way. A few days later, we hoped all of that  was just a fluke, as we embarked on the 6 hour journey to Hilton Head. Harvey slept the first 3 hours and we were feeling great. The last 3 were a different story. He dozed off a couple times, but for the most part he just screamed. We made, it but its tough. As much as you try to just block it out, the sound of a child crying, particularly, your child, is excruciating. And this is our life now in the car – Harvey either sleeps or screams. Needless to say, this is very worrisome. Particularly, because Sarah has a trip to Georgia scheduled and we are also driving to Ohio next month. Hopefully Harvey gets over this soon!!

Favorite Memory: While at the beach, we really enjoyed getting to take advantage of the pool on the property we were staying. Harvey has been a water person from the very beginning, always loving his baths. He didn’t much care for being dipped in the river or ocean though, so we wouldn’t sure how he’d react to the pool. He was absolutely entranced by the pool though. Watching his face light up as we glided him through the water was hilarious and memorizing. There is so much we take for granted about the world, and all that is around us, but there is nothing like watching a baby experience something for the first time to remember how unique and special life can be.

For fun, here’s Harvey meeting the beach for the first time.

A Quick(ish) Update!

So, I wanted to update everyone on what’s been going on since Sarah’s last blogpost. I’ll do my best to keep it short, as I’m sure Sarah will want to do a much more detailed post in the near future!

Everything sort of started just after her last blog post a couple Mondays back. Sarah was feeling a little off and extremely swollen at the end of her work day, and because her blood pressure had been a concern, she went to CVS to check it. It was the highest it had been up to that point – 155/115. I made an appointment for her the next day at the birth center, where her blood pressure remained just as high. The midwives were quite concerned she could be developing preeclampsia and did her bloodwork and a urine test, which came back normal. At the birth center’s recommendation, Sarah went on bedrest in an attempt to control her blood pressure. We had another visit a couple of days later, and it was quite apparent being off her feet a done her a load of good – her blood pressure had dropped a bit, and she had actually lost two pounds in fluid over the two day period. We were optimistic that with continued bedrest her blood pressure would remain under control and a natural delivery at the birth center would be possible.

A few days later, on Monday morning, Sarah woke up with a rather severe backache. I headed to work, but couldn’t help but be worried about her. We then had the following text exchange.

With that we were at UNC less than an hour later, where her intake blood pressure was at 175/115. Things started happening really fast, and a lot of the details are hazy for me at this point. Our midwife told us that she had discussed the situation with the attending doctor and they both agreed that Sarah was unquestionably preeclamptic at this point, and that they should get her started on a magnesium drip, as well as other medications to get her blood pressure under control, followed quickly by an induction. We were in shock and in tears, but we agreed, and basically told them we were in their hands and to do whatever necessary to get us a healthy mom and baby.

Things got scarier before they got better. Before they could get Sarah set up on the medication, her blood pressure had soared (probably due to the circumstances) to 188/125. Fortunately, the medication worked great once they figured out the best cocktail Sarah responded to, and it was mostly a non-issue during her labor.

I don’t want to get into too much detail about the labor (I think Sarah will be much better at that), but before we forget, a basic timeline of everything is below.

11:30AM – Arrived at UNC

12:30PM – Checked into delivery room, magnesium (to control BP) started

2PM – Sarah induced – Pitosin started, Foley catheter inserted

5Pm – Sarah starts feeling light early labor contractions.

9PM – Foley catheter fell out (indicates 3 cm dialated)

12:30AM – Sarah’s water broke

1AM – 2:30AM – Contractions becoming very strong and more frequent. 4-5cm dialated

3AM – Epidural received (another measure suggested by the doctors and the midwife to control her blood pressure… although her original birth plan didn’t include one)

9AM – 6 cm dialated

9AM -11AM – Sarah starts feeling very strong, painful contractions, feeling head descending. Epidural rechecked and dosage increased.

11:30AM – 10cm dialated

11:45AM – Pushing begins

1:14PM – Harvey is born (On the same day as two of his great-grandparents!)

I will say Sarah’s courage, determination, and positive attitude during the entire labor process was UNBELIEVABLE. Sarah’s plan (and how she prepared) for labor had been one where she was free to move around, eat and drink freely, in a non-hospital environment. Instead she was confined to bed where she was hooked up to IV, blood pressure machine, catheter, and unable to eat (she had to wait 24 hours after delivery to eat). She handled it all with grace and barely complained. Her entire focus was getting baby out healthy and she embraced the entire experience for what it was, taking it all in, instead of focusing on how it wasn’t what she wanted. All of the nurses and doctors commented on how great she was doing and how well she was handling all the different stages of labor.


The best part was when it came time to push. Sarah completely lit up and kept saying how much she loved it. Finally, she was in control of something, and she didn’t disappoint. Her mom, my mom, and I were all there to help encourage her, but she did it all herself. With each push you could sense she felt closer and closer to her baby. Overall, the pushing was only an hour and half, and the time from induction to delivery was less than 24 hours (very fast for an induction on a first child).

When the baby finally came, it was up to me to announce the gender. In what was the most amazing, surreal, elated moment of my life, Sarah pushed the baby all the way out, and as the doctor held him and turned him towards us, I yelled “It’s Harvey!!”. He came out looking pink and whimpering, so they were able to put him immediately on Sarah for skin to skin and we all laughed, cried, and I felt the most intense happiness and relief I’ve ever experienced in my life.


As I write this on Saturday, its now Harvey’s 5th day in the world. During the past few days we’ve seen so many different sides of him already! It’s hard to have too much personality when your life consists of sleeping, eating and pooping but a few of my favorite physical and personality traits so far are below.

Harvey Dent – As soon as he came out, my mom was the first to notice his prominent chin dimple.

Harvey Milk – UNC had some fantastic lactation consultants that were able to help us make sure Harvey was feeding well. He’s done really great so far despite his wee little mouth. Other than witnessing the birth itself, the whole aspect of breast feeding and what all goes into it has really blown my mind. I certainly understand why some women choose formula, because it is not easy.

Pee Harvey Oswald – His favorite time to pee seems to be when he’s getting changed as to give the changer a nice spraying.

Harvey Cry-tel – When he first came out, his cries were just a little whimper and they were constant. After an hour or so of skin to skin time, they put him under the warmer, and he fell asleep for the first time. Since then his cry can still be very whimpery at times, but he’s not afraid to let out a good belt if he’s not content – usually when he’s being changed, moved, or hungry.

Thieve Harvey – He’s a real heart-stealer.

IMG_4030We’ve had a lot of questions about how we came up with the name “Harvey”. Eno is a little more self explanatory – we liked it because of a river and state park we do a lot of hiking. Also, it is similar to my middle name of “Eli”, and everyone in my immediate family has either a first or middle name beginning with “E”. Long before we knew Sarah was pregnant we had talked about what we’d name our kids. Our favorite names were those that had previously been popular long ago, but had since had a decline in popularity. Harvey fell in that category for us. I actually went back and found the conversation where we decided on Harvey. It was very short and sweet! For context, it wasn’t uncommon for us to just text either name ideas at the time. This was back in September, just a couple weeks after we found out Sarah was pregnant!



Finally, I wanted to let everyone know, I am writing this from the hospital, in what will be our final hour or two here – just waiting on all the discharge paperwork to go through. We had originally planned on leaving yesterday, but Sarah’s blood pressure took a bit of a spike yesterday morning. This isn’t uncommon with preeclampsia, IMG_4044and medication soon got it under control. She will continue to take medication for her blood pressure for a couple of weeks, and it should be under control at that point. Harvey, as it turns out needed an extra day to monitor his weight, and bilirubin (related to jaundice) levels, which are now fine, but were a little iffy yesterday. Additionally, he didn’t pass his “car seat test” after a couple of tries the past two nights. This is a test they do with preemies to make sure their oxygen levels don’t dip too low while in their car seat for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, Harvey didn’t do well in his car seat. Fortunately, they had a “Dream Ride” car seat, where Harvey is able to actually lay down in his car seat instead of sitting up, and Harvey passed the test just fine.

Ok, so that’s it for now! Excited beyond words that we are going home today!

I’ve included some more pictures for your enjoyment below.


Laurel Bluffs + Eno Quarry + Cabe Lands Loop – Eno River State Park

There’s a moment every year when it hits you that Spring is just around the corner. You know Winter isn’t quite over, but you feel a warmth and a smell in the air, that let’s you know Spring is near. It always feels wonderful. This year, it hit me while on a hike at the Eno River. Yes, I know I’ve written about this place before, and I can assure you I will write about it again. After this, I will have only written about 13 of the 28 miles of trails that make up the park.

For this loop, you could start at one of two parking areas – either the Pleasant Green Access or Cabe Lands Access. Full disclosure – we broke the hike up over two different trips, (with Sarah in her third trimester, 3 miles is about the limit) so we actually started at both locations. See picture below.

This is a hike I’d recommend doing anytime except on a Summer weekend. The reason being, both access points are popular parking spots for trips to the Eno River Quarry. The quarry is a popular swimming hole for high schoolers, but also families alike and can get quite crowded during summer days. Parking can be quite difficult on those days, and I’ve even paid local residents to park on their property in the past.

The hike itself has three distinct parts. The first is the western most portion of the Laurel Bluffs Trail. This is my favorite part of the hike, as it follows along a ridge a couple hundred feet from the river, providing wonderful views. The rhododendron and steep drop offs give the allusion of mountain hiking.

The next part is a loop around the Eno Quarry Trail. The Quarry was initially dug up in the 1940s to provide rock that would become interstate 85. Once the quarrying was done, it slowly filled with water over the years. As I mentioned before, it is a popular swimming destination in the summer months, but also a very nice view and unique part of the park.


The last part is known as the Cabe Lands Trail. It’s a steep trail, going down to the river, following the river a bit, and back up to connect to the Quary Trail.


We loved the chance to do some Eno hiking as Spring is beginning. With this Spring in particular we are so excited as it is a reminder at how close we are to the arrival at our first child, which increasingly can’t come soon enough. The hike also gave me a chance to play with a new camera I recently got so I can capture some quality photos and videos of our little gal or guy when they arrive!

Full map of the hike is here:


Hike Info:

  • MapMyHike LinkMapMyHike Link #2
  • Starting Point: Eno River Pleasant Green Access Point (4702 Pleasant Green Rd, Durham, NC 27705)
  • End Point: Same (Note: You could also do same hike and start at Cabe Lands Access parking lot)
  • Length: 5.25 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 Hour, 45 minutes

Nick’s “Babymoon” Post

Well, if you haven’t noticed, I haven’t exactly written as many posts as Sarah. There are lots of reasons for this. First off, I like to write about hiking and beer – two things we haven’t been doing as much (or at all) recently. Secondly, I am not as gifted a writer, nor as succinct a writer, as Sarah. It simply takes me longer to produce a lessor product, so it’s no wonder that I’ve been writing less. I’ve been getting a bit of grief from my beautiful bride about my lack of blog proclivity as of late, so when she asked me this past weekend if I would write about our trip, I said sure! And as I read her last post, I saw that she hadn’t forgotten about my agreement. So on this sleety Friday morning, here it goes.

I had heard the term “babymoon” before, and figured it was something Sarah would be all over. To my surprise, we were months into the pregnancy, and Sarah hadn’t made much of a peep about it. I thought I was in the clear! In early December though, the kitchen paint not even dry, she brought it up. She wanted to go on a babymoon! To my delight, her ideas were modest, just a weekend trip – something close and historical. We quickly settled on Charlottesville. It was a place we’d both only been to very briefly and separately. With Monticello close by (I’d never been, Sarah  went when she was around 8), it seemed like a fun city to explore together, with plenty to keep us busy for a weekend!

While never explicitly spoken, it was clear at the onset of the trip we had three shared goals for the weekend. Below, I’ll share those goals and how we accomplished them!

  1. See some history.

Not only did we get to see a lot of U.S. history, but also some history from Sarah’s family as well. Our first historical stop was in Lexington, VA, the home of Washington & Lee University, as well as the Virginia Military Institute, where Sarah’s dad and uncle both attended school. I’d seen pictures, but couldn’t appreciate the beauty and grandeur of the place until seeing it first hand. Also, I was amazed to see Stonewall Jackson’s horse, Little Sorrel, stuffed and on display, looking as though he just trotted off the Civil War battlefield.

Upon arrival to Charlottesville, we checked into our home for two nights, at the South Street Inn, a downtown Bed & Breakfast, first built as a personal residence in 1856. Over the years the house has served several other purposes as well, including a school, a boarding house, and a brothel. Our room came with a large Jacuzzi tub (guessing this wasn’t original), which made up for the narrow staircases and thin walls.

The highlight of the trip was Monticello. Its free to go on the grounds, but the $25 for a tour inside the house was well worth it. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I couldn’t believe how much of the 200 year old house was original – functioning clocks, window glass, furniture, floors, books, various tools & gadgets, silhouettes and even elk antlers acquired from Lewis & Clarks’ famous journey. It was an amazing look into life at the dawn of our nation from a man who was so “ahead of his time” in some ways, while still a prisoner (not to mention an imprison-er) of societal norms of the day. I was amazed at how intact Sarah’s recollection of the place was from her visit 20 years prior, but given Sarah’s affinity for history her whole life, and the wonder of the place itself, it didn’t really come as a surprise.

On our way back home we stopped at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. This is one of those historical sites that requires a lot of imagination, as many of the buildings weren’t original. It was neat in that several miles surrounding the actual site of the surrender has been saved as park land, and thus undeveloped. Driving through the open fields while approaching the actual park helps the imagination go back in time and picture life as the civil war was ending. Our stay was brief, as it was freezing, but we were glad to cross this place off the list!

2. Eat some tasty food (and for me to drink some good beer).

An hour into the trip we stopped for breakfast in Danville, VA at a diner called Heart Line. The “Hillary Lied and Four People Died” and “Keep Working: Millions On Welfare Depend On You” bumper stickers in the parking lot, as well as the sea of camo hats and NRA sweatshirts caused us some slight apprehension at the start, but the delicious food and friendly staff quickly put us at ease. I also think it helped that Sarah dialed up her Southern accent meter to 10.

We also enjoyed some great food around Charlottesville. We enjoyed some delicious won-ton nachos and wings at South Street Brewery during the first half of the Panthers game, and a burger and salad at the highly acclaimed Citizen Burger Bar during the second half. Upon leaving the brewery at the end of the first half, I told our server there wasn’t even much point in watching the rest of the game. WRONG! As tasty as Citizen Burger Bar was, I don’t think we’ll forget our feelings of embarrassment and fear we felt as everyone else in the bar (seemingly) cheered on the ultimately failed, but respectable 2nd half comeback by the Seahawks.

On the way home we stopped at a cafe in South Boston, VA called Southern Plenty. We loved the food, though quite a different atmosphere from our experience a couple days prior at Heart Line. Part grocery store, part cafe, part craft beer store, and filled with collar-shirted retirees, it was clear the target demographic of this place was a bit wealthier than the close-by diner we had stopped at a couple of days prior . Still, being in the rural south, wouldn’t have been surprised to see another anti-Hillary sticker. Maybe something with a little more class, like “Huck Fillary”.

We visited three Charlottesville breweries during our trip – the aforementioned South Street Brewery, as well as Blue Mountain Brewery and Champion Brewery. I must say I wasn’t blown away by any by any of the beer, but it was all decent. (SIDE NOTE: I’ve admittedly been having a hard time finding beer I like ever since having a beer called “Tropicalia” by Creature Comforts while in Atlanta over New Years. It was so good I think it ruined me, and of course I can’t find it for sale anywhere in NC.) Each spot had it charms too. Blue Mountain was a bit out of town with gorgeous scenery and outdoor seating. The place was also a restaurant and was huge, clearly a favorite spot among locals and vacationers alike. Champion Brewery was a quaint little bar spot downtown, and South Street was worth it for the food alone. Probably my favorite new beer I tried during the trip was from a local brewery, Three Notch’d, called “Killer Angel”, a double IPA. My favorite old beer was a 22 ounce Grapefruit Sculpin for only $8.

3. Have some quality time together.

The truth of the matter is that this was a given. We cherish our time together, no matter what we are doing, so it always feels like quality time. Now would be an appropriate time to say “barfola”, as my sister Ellie likes to say, but we don’t care. Our relationship has been through some very trying times over the years, which makes the happiness and contentment we found in ourselves and each other recently (Sarah has alluded to this in prior posts) all the easier to cherish.

In addition to cheering on a Panther victory, seeing some historical sites and eating out together, we also managed to start and finish season 1 of the show “Broad City” and see the movie “The Revenant” at one of those leather-seated swanky theaters. Despite our vacation status, we still got up at 6AM -and breakfast wasn’t until 7:30 – hence all the time to enjoy “Broad City”. Though I was initially skeptical, we both really enjoyed “The Revenant”. I don’t know if I can say the same for the gentlemen sitting next to Sarah, who’s uncomfortable shifting during the movie would seem to suggest he was confusing my hand under Sarah’s pants in order to feel nugget wiggling around, for something a little more raunchy.

The weekend came and went in a blur, but it was nice to do something a little different from our normal weekend routine, and make new memories together. We can’t wait to go back to Monticello someday, nugget in tow, and tell her/him that they actually came to this exact place with mommy and daddy once before.

The Long-Awaited New Kitchen

Summer of 2011. I had just started a new job in Durham and Sarah was away at her last summer at camp. Neither of us had a place to live come August, and though we tried to find something before she left, nothing worked out. It was all up to me and she was quite worried. Fortunately, I found our house on Huron Street. I loved the yard, the size, the hardwood floors and the big oak trees. I’ll never forget when Sarah returned from camp, and saw her new home for the first time. I had assured her she would love it, but I could see the uncertainty as she approached the house for the first time. She loved it, saying “it’s perfect…except for the kitchen, we’ve got to do something about that”.

Well, it took us four and a half years, but we finally did something about it. Sarah’s pregnancy was definitely the jump start we needed to start moving forward on the project we had been contemplating for so long. We knew we wanted a dishwasher, to switch the fridge and stove locations, as well as new floors (the old ones were not something you’d want an infant crawling around on), but that’s what about all we knew a couple months ago.

I called Roger (who has done some house work for some co-workers) and asked him to come take a look and see about making a plan for the kitchen. Before I knew it, we had drawings with a new cabinet set up all done, and Roger said as soon as we emptied out our current cabinets, he’d be ready to get started. We emptied them out that night and put everything in the dining room. I remember thinking “Wow, this is really happening!”.

We snapped a few pictures that night. Here’s what our old Kitchen looked like.

The next day, Roger got started. Before I even got home that evening I received a text from him that read something to the effect of, “I assume you’ve seen the carnage by now. We’ll need to talk about a plan on moving forward.” Needless to say, I was a little alarmed, and wondered if I had made a huge mistake embarking on this project. The below is what I saw when I got home.

While it was exciting to see all of the cabinet’s down, there was quite the mess in the piping behind them. An old cast iron pipe, which carried the old sink water was basically completely rusted through. Fortunately, that was pretty much the extent of the damage, and all it took to fix was some new piping. It added some costs we hadn’t foreseen, but as this would end up being the only real hiccup in the whole process, I never again wondered if we made the right decision. See our new pipes below.

Once the piping was all fixed, it was time to get the cabinets in place. We left the cabinet layout much the same as our previous cabinets, but also added in a pantry and some additional cabinetry along the side wall. At Roger’s recommendation we decided on Sheffield Honey cabinets we got at the Surplus Warehouse. The biggest factor was the price, but we liked the color and the fact that it was solid wood. Definitely a big improvement from the particle board/laminate cabinets we had before! It only took Roger a week, and the cabinets were all in place. See a picture of (most of ) the cabinets in place below!


After the cabinets were in place, it was time to take on the floors. While on a trip to the Surplus Warehouse to decide on cabinets, we looked at some floors, and found some gray plank vinyl that seemed as though it’d be fairly easy to install ourselves. We looked into having the floors done professionally, but the price difference made it an easy choice. It took the majority of a weekend, but we were able to handle the floors ourselves, and I think it was easily the most rewarding part of the process. We first removed all of the toe molding. We then starting laying the vinyl, one row at a time, directly on top of our old floor. For the end of rows and around odd shapes, we had to do a decent amount of cutting the floors, but it was relatively simple with a utility knife score and a hard snap. The most difficult part was locking the floors into place, but between the two of us we got the hang of it. Once it was all in place, we put some new toe molding down (thanks to Roger for letting us borrow his nail gun!) and the floors were good to go! There was no glue or adhesive involved. The floors just “float” in place, secured by their weight and the toe molding. See pictures of the floor coming together and finished below.

With the floors done it was time to get our new appliances in place. We were able to get a decent deal from AJ Madison since we were getting 4 appliances. We went with stainless steel and we are really loving our choices! Having the appliances installed was one of the more stressful parts of the whole experience. I still am not sure how the delivery people managed to maneuver the fridge through the entry way (even after taking removing the fridge doors) but they did it. There were a couple dings on the walls, but we knew we still had to paint, and were just happy to have our appliances in place! I must say, getting used to having a dishwasher again has been a bit of an adjustment, but definitely a welcome one! Likely due to the stress of the delivery, we forgot to snap any photos at this point, but you can see them in the finished shots at the end.

After the appliances were in place, and all hooked up, it was onto the counter tops. We definitely splurged a bit here and went with granite. We went with a slab that had lots of reddish brown, grey and black to match other parts of the kitchen. We also decided to create a little breakfast area with an extended bar behind the sink. Speaking of sinks, we also got a 10″ deep (to Sarah’s delight) under-mounted sink. See some pictures of the installation below by the fine folks at marble unlimited.

At this point, we finally had a functioning kitchen and we were thrilled. Rather than relax and enjoy our 3/4 finished kitchen, we decided to keep going and spent the entire next weekend painting and organizing. Sarah painted, I organized. In case you didn’t know I can be a little particular about how things are organized, particularly when it comes to the kitchen, so I was thrilled to find new homes for all of our food, pots, pans, dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. Sarah chose the color “racing red” (by Sherwin Williams), though, we think of it more like a terracotta. I put on some basic cabinet hardware we got at the Surplus Warehouse, as well as some shelving we got at Ikea. We also got some new bar stools and smaller chairs for our dining room table as well as some new lights. We put in some small touches like like stain less outlet covers, paper towel holder, knife magnet, drying rack, salt & pepper grinders and a sponge holder to boot. By the end of another long weekend we were almost done, only back splash stood in our way! See a couple progress pictures below.

The back splash was the final step. We went with some gray ceramic subway tiles purchased from South Cypress Floors (online). The first step for the tile was to apply SimpleMat, an easier bonding alternative to thinset. In the picture below (though hard to see because its clear), the SimpleMat has been applied to the wall.


Next, we simply removed the plastic covering and applied the subway tiles to the sticky surface, cutting the tile where necessary (thanks again to Roger for letting us borrow his tile cutter!). The tile had built in spacers, so the process was quite strainforward. Once all the tiles were in place, we filled it all in with premixed grout. See the results below!


So, that was it! We had a completely transformed kitchen in about 6 weeks. Aside the obvious improvements of better appliances and cabinet functionality, we have been thrilled how our work opened up the dining room, and has made everything feel more spacious (as well as more visually appealing) than it did before. It’s going to make it all the more difficult someday when we grow out of the house, but we are excited to get a few good years of use out of hard work and efforts! Pictures of the finished product are below!


Pilot Mountain State Park + Small Batch Brewery

Firstly, I’m writing this post a week and a half after the fact. For purposes of documentation and consistency, I’m dating this post on the day I’m writing about, as I have done in the past in will do in the future. Just wanted to be clear on that -now onto Pilot Mountain!

Sarah and I have both driven past Pilot Mountain on dozens of occasions and have known it to be one of the pillars of the North Carolina State Park system. But, amazingly, neither of us had ever been. For that reason, as we start out on our journey of visiting all of North Carolina’s state parks, we wanted Pilot Mountain to be one of the firsts. A beautiful October weekend seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.

Our initial plan was actually to stay a night at the campground. The day before, we made the decision nix that as the forecast was predicting overnight temperatures below freezing. As it turns out, this wouldn’t be the only change of plans that the day would bring us. When we arrived a Pilot Mountain State Park, we weren’t able to park at the campground like we had hoped (due to large crowds and no more parking spaces according to the ranger), and instead had to park along the road outside the park gates. I pulled up the park map from newly download NC State Parks App (this would prove to be a mistake), and saw that there was a trail right by where we parked that should lead us to the campground where we would begin the 2.5 mile hike to the top of the mountain.

We started the hike, and after a mile or so I got a little weary that we didn’t seem to be anywhere near the campground. I pulled out the GPS and could see exactly where we were, but there didn’t appear to be any trail on the map even though the trail was clearly marked in front of us. I gently broke the news to Sarah that I knew exactly where we were, but wasn’t exactly sure where we were going, though I assumed this trail would eventually lead us to the top in a couple of miles.


As you can see from Sarah in the picture above at this point we charged ahead. The trail was beautiful and we were feeling great. A mile or so later, a couple passed us and we chatted with them. They let us know that we were on the newly redone Mountain Trail – a trail that encircled the entire mountain before ending back at the campground 4.5 miles later. They weren’t sure, but they assumed it ran into Ledge Spring Trail, which would take you to the top, but would also add a couple more miles to the trip. I did the calculation in my head and realized it was probably going to be at least 6 miles to the top, and at least another 2.5 to get back down.


The picture above was taken not long after this revelation. Sarah was starting to get a little testy, but I told her if we could make it to the top, that we could hitchhike on the way back down.

So we charged on…

IMG_3245    IMG_3247

When we passed the same couple again coming back down the mountain, I knew what they were going to say before they spoke. There wasn’t a way to get to the top, the trail just circled around to the campground, around the mountain. At this point, it was actually somewhat welcome news. We had the genius idea of finishing the hike around the entire mountain, and then driving to the top! At the very end of the hike, we stopped in the park office where they did have freshly printed maps of the new trail locations. When it comes to maps, paper is better.

As it turns out, though the hike was longer than we intended, and we didn’t hike to the top, it was actually a very nice hike. The trail was not crowded at all, unlike the main trail to the top which we saw packed with people.
The fall colors were beautiful – both the leaves on the ground and in
the trees. It wIMG_3251as also just a wonderfully cool day to go for a long hike. Once we drove to the top, it was late enough in the afternoon that the crowds had shrank some, and we didn’t even have to wait to park (we were told the wait earlier in the date IMG_3259was over half an hour). The views at the top were phenomenal and we were so happy we had finally reached our ultimate destination. The sky was completely clear. We could make out all kinds of landmarks  – in addition to Fancy Gap, Hanging Rock, Kings Mountain, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro we even were able to see some buildings in the far distance which had to be Durham.

The trail map of what we hiked is below. For anyone passing through, not looking to hike, but with a half hour to spare, I highly recommend driving to the top. You won’t regret it! Or if you have a couple hours, hiking from the campground to the top would be a nice 4-5 mile out. Alternatively, you could actually do the hike we did and take the Grindstone Trail (you pick it up just outside the campground) to the top, so you would really do the entire park, and it would probably be around 9 miles. Sarah and I will definitely be back to this park, not just to witness the views at the top, but there is another section of the park along the Yadkin River that we want to see.

IMG_3270   Hike Info:

  • MapMyFitness Link
  • Starting Point: Entrance to Pilot Mountain State Park Office (1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, PinnacleNC 27043)
  • End Point: Same
  • Length: 6.5 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

On our way home from Pilot Mountain, exhausted from the hike, we decided to check out a new brewery. I’m thinking this whole hiking and brewery combo might become a bit of a theme… The brewery we selected is called Small Batch, and it is in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem. It’s philosophy, as the name suggests, is making small batch beers, focusing on experimentation, rather than focusing on creating staple beers.


I got a flight. They also were able to provide (pregnant) Sarah with a ginger beer, IMG_3260which she very much enjoyed. Easily my favorite was the Mr. Lemon Man IPA, and the Cucumber Basil Saison was good too – I think I would have enjoyed it even more were it Spring. A little research led me to discovering that the Mr. Lemon Man IPA used to be called Limonhead, and it is a rare beer that they do make over and over again. We also had some very delicious food. Particularly, the pumpkin bread pudding! Overall, we both really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place and the friendliness of the staff. If you find yourself in Winston-Salem and have already done the foothills thing – this is a great place to catch a game, sample some beer, or grab a bite to eat!

Brewery Info: Small Batch Brewery (241 West 5th Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101)

  • Number of Beers: 8 taps, beers continually rotating
  • Favorites: Mr. Lemonhead IPA
  • Prices: The Flight was $8 which I thought was a little high for only 4 beers. Most pints are $5.
  • Food: Gourmet Bar Food

12 Weeks… And It’s My Turn!


This was the week the long-awaited doppler arrived (albeit a day late), beginning our A.D. (after doppler) pregnancy journey. Before I get into that though, I did want to share a few thoughts about what the last couple months have been like. I’ll admit, when Sarah’s pregnancy first came to light, I was in a bit of shock. I was curious and excited, sure, but more terrified than anything. So many “how” questions circled through my mind. How will we sleep? How will this effect our relationship? How will I handle watching Sarah in pain while giving birth? (I refused to watch birth videos with her for the first several weeks) How will we find the time to get everything done? And most importantly…. HOW WILL WE AFFORD IT?

The first ultrasound is where it really started to sink in for me that this was happening, though not even that we are having a baby, but the fact that Sarah’s body is going through a transformative process. While the “how” questions still circled through my head, I tried not to obsess over them and just started focusing all of my attention on Sarah. This pregnancy is about her, not me. I am doing my best to remember that and do all I can to make it as positive an experience for her that it can be. When she is joyous (which is most of the time), I share in that joy and embolden those thoughts. On the occasions where she is moody, anxious or fearful, I have tried to be calm, patient and understanding (though, admittedly, I am still working on this part). I have also tried to do little things I know she enjoys – cooking meals she is craving (or even going out to eat when we have plenty of food at home), buying lots of seltzer & juice (not to mention a doppler) and most importantly, rubbing her every night.

In focusing on Sarah, I’ve seen how happy she is, how true to herself she is (which can sometime mean being outwardly anxious and worried, which is ok!), how grateful she is for all the support she has received from friends and family, and how appreciative of me she is. I don’t know when exactly it happened, I think it was probably gradual, but over the last couple of weeks, by concentrating on Sarah and her needs, the “how” worries and fears have slipped into the background. I can’t say they’ve disappeared, but my excitement and gratitude has grown to a such a level that it dulls the worry. I (and we) are so very lucky for so many things, beyond just having each other and this pregnancy, but at this moment its never felt so clear, and I am enjoying letting it soak in.

That brings me to the doppler. To me it seemed both unnecessary and a potential cause of undue stress, so I wasn’t really excited about the purchase. I mostly kept that to myself though – her body, her choice. My fears were almost confirmed when on Sarah’s first try she was unable to locate the heartbeat. I could see the disappointment and worry on her face. While watching some YouTube videos on the matter, we heard it works best on a full stomach. Sarah downed some food and we tried again. This time, about 5 minutes in, I first heard Sarah gasp and her face light up. I then leaned in and heard the unmistakable beat of the little nug’s heart, just as Sarah had. I have to say, getting the doppler was definitely worth it, firstly, just to see Sarah’s expression of joy. Secondly, hearing the heartbeat was magical. It is still is hard for me to really make sense of the fact that there is a human growing in her, and that we will have to care for that human. But in hearing the heart, I couldn’t help but feel an intense connection, not just with Sarah, but with the little nug his or herself, and in that moment the realness sets in.

You can see a video of Sarah using the Doppler here!

HBP Brown Ale

I had two goals with this beer. The first being to make a beer a nice beer for Fall. The second was I wanted to use peppers; specifically, some hot banana peppers I had growing in the garden. I decided to do a brown (though a little on the lighter side given the Pilsner Extract) to give it a fall feel, used plenty of hops per usual, and added in the hot peppers at the same time as the yeast. We’ll see how it goes!


  • Steeping Grains
    • Brown Malt – .75Lbs
    • Caramel 40L – .50Lbs
    • 2 Row Pale – .25Lbs
    • Roasted Barley – .25Lbs
  •  Extract
    • Breiss Pilsner Light Extract – 6.6lbs
  • Hops
    • Cascade (6o min) – 2 ounces
    • Cascade (20 min) – 2 ounces
    • AU Stella (5 min) – 2 ounces
    • AU Stella (1 min) – 1 ounce
  • Other Ingredients
    • Whirfloc Tablet (5 min)
    • 6 Hot Banana Peppers, mostly deseeded (Pitched with Yeast)
    • Safale US-05 Yeast
    • 1/2 Cup Table Sugar (for priming)

9/30/15: Brew Date IMG_3162Thoughts:

I am pretty worried about this beer. Firstly, I really wasn’t sure how many peppers to use. I used 6, because I want it to have the pepper flavor, but I took most of the seeds out, because I don’t want the heat to overwhelm the beer. Hopefully this works, but there is a chance the pepper taste won’t come through at all, or even worse, it’ll just be too hot to drink. I also used over 7 ounces of hops so this thing is going to be really hoppy. I think that is great, but just hoping the hops work well with the brown grains (and the Pilsner Extract), as well as the peppers. Other areas of concern are the hops I used called “AU Stella”, which I’ve never used before. I decide to risk it because they had similar acidity to Simcoe (what I had planned to use), and they were majorly on sale. I also realized while brewing that I don’t have any corn sugar left. After consulting other brewing blogs, I think I am just going to keep the risks going here and try using table sugar for the first time as a primer.

10/14/15: Bottling Day Thoughts:

Based on the FG, looks like this beer is only 4.6% ABV. Seems rather low. Taste wasn’t bad though, so optimistic it might turn out alright.

12/18/15: Final Thoughts:

I’ve drank many of these beers trying to decide what I think of it, and I think I’ve decided its rather good. All of the things that I was worried about ended up not being a real issue. The pepper amount was perfect – noticeable, but not overbearing. The table sugar worked just fine. It’s very drinkable and has a flavor that is unlike any other beer I’ve had. The hops do drown out the malts quite a lot, so there really isn’t much “Brown” character to the beer. Not a complaint, but didn’t really turn out like I had originally envisioned. I think if I could do it over, I would have gone less on hops and heavier on the brown malt. While I do enjoy the beer, I don’t see a compelling reason to make this again. I do really enjoy the peppery aspect of the beer though, and definitely try to do that again in the future. Maybe something a little lighter so the pepper can shine through even more.