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January 2020
« Nov    


Home again jiggity jig

Thursday was our last full day and we decided to spend it at the Boone Hall Plantation that was conveniently located near the Isle of Palms. While there we took a guided tour of the grounds in an open air trolley, learned a bit about the Gullah, walked through nine slave cabins, and did about half of the plantation house tour before Isaac informed us it was time to go home.

The plantation still grows produce which is sold locally. In its past, the plantation has belonged to several families who have grown cotton, pecans, and indigo among other crops. They still grow a small field of cotton for show which was very pretty. After we left the plantation we went to their market and bought some of their strawberries and peach cider.

That afternoon all of us walked down to the beach to take some final photos with the Kennealys. The next morning Susan, Isaac, and I went back to the beach to try to get a few shots of Isaac. He mostly wanted to keep his head down and not look at the camera but we managed to take some cute shots anyhow.

The end of a successful vacation

Too bright!

Mmmmm sand

We cleaned up the house and left midday on Friday, drove as far as Richmond, VA, and continued the final 9 hours home on Saturday. Things learned this trip: vacationing with another family is fun, driving (if you make the time) is better than dealing with airlines, Charleston is a lovely city, and even a cold day in South Carolina is warmer than Boston in March.

Our complete set of vacation photos is uploaded at flickr.

SC Days 3 and 4

Day 3 started with our first (and probably only) day of rain. The girls declared this to be a sign that a spa day was in order and the boys decided this would be a great day for napping.

The couples ended up going in separate ways for dinner. We had dinner at the Old Village Post House in Mt. Pleasant, about 20 minutes from our house. The restaurant was recommended by our favorite farmer from Newburyport who just happened to see via Facebook that we were on vacation in the Charleston area. We both had very delicious meals with Isaac cooperating from the time we sat down until the entrees arrived. While Susan enjoyed her salmon with some of the tastiest tomatoes we’ve had, Brian held Isaac in the entryway. Brian ate the best duck breast he’s ever had while Susan did parenting duty. It wasn’t exactly the long dinners we’d enjoyed pre-Isaac but there’s a lot to be said for sitting down with great food in a relaxing atmosphere and having someone else do the cooking, serving, and dishes.

Wednesday the weather cleared so we decided to would be a good time to go explore downtown Charleston. We both ran in the morning which was sorely needed exercise and fresh air. When I got back from my run I found Susan and Isaac on the patio on our turret. Note: Su loves wraparound porches and turrets on houses so this is a clear winner.

Wraparound turret? Sign me up!

All 6 of us piled into the car around noon and headed into the city. First stop was Charleston’s City Market. We browsed the vendors for a while looking at the local artists and sampling some local flavor. Next up was lunch at an Irish pub. Susan had a crazy sounding, terribly unhealthy, yet amazingly tasty burger with fried oysters, cole slaw, jalapenos, and hot sauce. A tasty lunch and good time was had by all.

As happy as his daddy

After lunch we wandered our way on foot up to the visitor center taking in the historic Charleston architecture. Heather particularly likes Spanish Moss so when we were walking down a street heavily shaded by moss I snapped a picture of them.

Old buildings and Spanish Moss

One of Charleston’s many steeples

The diaper blowout on the walk over was tiring

What? I’m not tired

Finally we headed back to the car and headed home for a quiet evening of bath time and early bed.

South Carolina Day 2 – Fort Sumter

Day 2 started perfectly with everyone, including Isaac, sleeping in. We woke up, had breakfast, and checked the schedule for Fort Sumter tours. Fort Sumter is only reachable by ferry so we had an actual schedule to keep. Isaac made things adventurous by having a diaper blowout in the car on the way to the ferry. Once we managed to get that taken care of, our adventure could begin.

Issac got on his first boat ride since he was born. The ferry to Fort Sumter left from where the USS Yorktown (now a floating museum) is docked.

USS Yorktown

After a short 30 minute ride to the island the ferry docked for a little over an hour letting us explore a bit and learn a little more about the battle for Fort Sumter than our history books taught us. We got on the ferry back to the mainland, did some grocery shopping, and headed home to a tasty home cooked chicken dinner with the Brian, Heather, and Liam.

Approaching Fort Sumter


Flags on top of the newest gun battery

Brian K with Isaac

Liam giving kisses

Road Trip

Back in February we finalized plans to go to Isle of Palms, SC for a much needed vacation. Our friends Brian, Heather, and their son Liam live in North Carolina and after discussing with them we decided to rent a beach house for the week and enjoy some warmer weather and some new scenery.

This trip would also mark Isaac’s first plane flight. We booked early and got one the few direct flights from Boston to Charleston. On Friday, the day before we were to leave, we got a foot of snow in Chelmsford. I cleaned up the driveway enough so Su could go into work, and immediately set to doing the laundry, packing, and cleaning that needed to be done before we left. The snow continued to fall…

Su got home from work early and took her afternoon telecons at her deck in the dining room. I kept cleaning and doing laundry and the snow continued to fall. I decided to take a short nap while Su finished her phone calls and wake up to clean the driveway one last time when the snow stopped.

I woke up and was greeted by a message on my phone; our flights had been cancelled. No worries, they had rebooked us they said. So I got on the computer and checked our new itinerary. Instead of a direct flight at 10am we now had a flight on Sunday morning (a day later) at 6am (a terrible time) with a connection in JFK (a terrible airport) and the connection was only 45 minutes long (yeah… try taking a 4 month old across JFK at 6am to make a short connection). This was not going to work so I called Delta. After waiting on hold for 45 minutes they transferred me to an operator who promptly hung up. At this point I was becoming rather irate. I called back, waited 45 more minutes, and discovered my options were to wait until Monday or Tuesday, take the crappy 6am on Sunday, or to flying Sunday at a better time but have 2 connections. So Su and I huddled and did the only reasonable thing we could think of; we got a refund on our plane tickets and decided to drive the 1000 miles!

I went outside relieved to have made plan, cleaned off the driveway, came back in, had dinner, and finished packing. We were in bed by 11pm and planned to leave the following morning sometime after 7.

The drive ended up taking 18 hours (for a 15 hour drive). Isaac did great again. A few more stops to feed than our last roadtrip but by far the biggest delays were NYC traffic, Washington DC traffic, and a backup in Virginia caused by the setting sun. We rolled into the beach house about 3:15am (would have been 2:15 except for DST) and went the bed happy, warm, and safe.

Isaac got to travel through 7 new states and Brian got 2 new states (the Carolinas). Susan had been to all of them previously. Brian has now been to 47 of the 50 states (Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia) and Isaac has been to 12 states. Not bad for only 4 months old!

Susan practiced using our new camera taking state line shots as we traveled. Brian took the final shot going into South Carolina. I was a little tired by South Carolina and the shot looks nothing like a state line marker. Oh well!

New state for Isaac

New York smells funny

Maybe New Jersey will smell better

Wow, what a big bridge

An even bigger bridge

Wait, where’d Delaware go?!

The setting sun is about to irritate Isaac

New state for Brian and Isaac

Yes, that says South Carolina

Sunday was a slow day around the house as we got acquainted with the area. We walked down to the beach and explored before heading back to the house for naps and a nice dinner out. The rest of the week will likely include a plantation visit, a trip to Fort Sumter, exploring downtown Charleston, and definitely more beach time. More pictures later!

Ready for the beach

Beach time with Daddy

Su’s birthday 2013

Last week we celebrated Susan’s birthday in a manner which we frequently do; playing in the snow. Back in 2008 we celebrated with our first big out of town snowshoe trip. Since then a few minor things have changed in our lives like buying a house next to a cross country ski area and having a child.

Not to be thwarted and since we had several inches of fresh snow on top of the base from the previous storm, we decided to see what it was like cross country skiing with Isaac.

Sunday morning we woke up and seeing the snow falling decided to get bundled up and head over to the ski center. One way to take a small child in the snow is to use a pulk. The ski center rents them so we decided to try it out.

Note, neither Susan nor myself are good skiers. We manage pretty well on flat terrain but add some gentle rolling hills in and there’s likely to be a fall or two. Since I have a bit better balance than Su we decided I would pull the pulk first.

Isaac bundled up in the pulk

Yah mule!

We skied about 1/4 of a mile and decided to stop and check on Isaac. Since he’s so young he’s a tad small for the pulk so we had to pack him in with blankets to get the harness tight enough on him. It’s turns out we didn’t have to worry as he fell asleep shortly into the journey. We also didn’t have to worry about the temperature either. By the time we stopped he was already steaming up the plastic window that keeps the elements out.

Doing just fine in here

We did a loop around one of the fields and since things were going well decided to ski over to the cow barn before looping back to the ski center. As we neared the center Susan took a turn pulling and I got to ski “sled free” for the first time that day. As we both discovered, pulling a baby in a sled is harder than it looks. I was so much faster when set free and Susan ended up doing a little huffing and puffing as she pulled Isaac uo to the ski barn.

Faster, Mommy, Faster

Below are two videos we shot testing out the new camera. Shooting with a new camera, in snow, with gloves/cold hands is certainly a challenge but the basic point across. I keep looking back while skiing to make sure I haven’t dragged the pulk into a lantern post. We were on a trail that can be lit for nighttime skiing and I was not sure whether or not I’d run Isaac into a pole. Better safe than sorry.

We had a lot of fun although I’m not sure if we’ll get enough snow again this year to re-open the ski area. We are thinking of taking short weekend trip to Vermont in a few weeks in search of one last hurrah before Spring.

Sittin’ and readin’

The past two weeks Isaac has been very interested in sitting up. Ok, maybe not sitting fully under his own power, but being propped in the corner of a chair. Of course he also is interested in lurching from a sitting position onto his face which combined with his new ability to scooch means we can’t leave him unattended. Being able to put him in his Pack ‘N Play has been very nice as it gives him something else to do in addition to laying on his playmat.

I fell over but my giraffe was there to catch me

They won’t let me ride the cat so this sock monkey will have to do

We’ve been reading to Isaac every day and for the most part he just sits quietly in our lap and stares at the book or possibly off into space. Last week he finally showed an interest in holding a book on his own. He managed to hold it like a real book for a little while before tipping face first into it.

What this?


These pages are hard to work!

Finally, last week we had some friends over for a wine tasting. The Sheldons spent the night for the first time in many months and Theo and Max got to read Isaac a book at bedtime. Theo did an outstanding job reading “That’s Not My Dragon” while Max read “Little Blue Truck” complete with animal and horn sound effects.

Bedtime books

Theo reads to Ias

Little blue truck goes BEEP BEEP BEEP


I’ll spare all of you the details as there was plenty written about this storm but here’s the summary from Chelmsford. It started snowing early afternoon on Friday. We got about an inch an hour and had 7 inches by 9pm. We went to bed around 11pm and there were 11+ inches so it had picked up. When I woke up at 6am there was about 18 inches on the back deck. I checked the radar and decided to wait it out before trying to dig out. By 10am the snow had pretty much stopped and the winds had died enough that it made sense to start the snowblower. Thankfully we kept power the entire time. Final total in a relatively drift free spot was 21 inches.

I’ve used the snowblower twice now for about an hour each time. We could get both cars out if we needed to but I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. The turnaround by the garage is particularly painful to clear because the snow swirls against the garage, bushes, and fence. I’ll have to go out at least one more time to clean up the blowing and drifting.

We decided to dress Isaac up and take some photos with him and his first big snow storm. He’s a tad young to enjoy it right now, but Su and I will certainly be snowshoeing and cross country skiing over the next few days.

Why are they putting these flannel jammies on over my clothes?

This blue bomber hat is AWESOME!

Why are they dressing me up like a smurf (whatever that is)

Only 21 inches? I was taller than that at birth!

This will be awesome when I can sit up by myself!

New stimulus, must react like I do to every new sensation. Close my eyes and DROOL!

February already?

It’s time for an update on what we were up to in January. On New Year’s Eve we said goodbye to our families and headed back to Chelmsford from Toledo. Isaac was a great traveler at two months old and slept most of the way which meant our trip was not too much longer than pre-child times. When we got back we did the math and realized Isaac had been on our Midwestern road trip for over 20% of his life. Yikes! Here’s Isaac in his snazzy travelling outfit.

Two months old

The second week of January marked Susan’s return to full time work and my start as a full time father in addition to general homemaker. Everyone survived the abrupt changes this new phase marked and now that we’re a month in, things have settled into a happy (if tiring) semi-routine. Of course we’d always welcome more time together as a family but the bills don’t pay themselves and dinner doesn’t cook itself!

The middle of the month was marked by our friend Jeff’s 40th birthday. He rented a castle in southern New Hampshire and invited many of his friends to join him for the weekend for games, food, watching football, etc. Isaac made an appearance Saturday night to be doted on by friends before heading home with Susan.

The following week brought Isaac’s 2 month pediatrician appointment and his first shots. Of course he did well while I got sick after he got his shots. I thought he was supposed to have the compromised immune system after immunizations… He is still in the 99th percentile for height and dropped back to the mid 60s for weight. He is a tall, slim boy.

Isaac also has increased mobility. He hasn’t rolled over yet despite trying, but by pushing with his legs and waving his arms he manages to scoot around when he needs to. We’ve found him wedged into the corner of his crib several times and I was very surprised one time when I returned to check on him on the playmat and found the following…

How’d I get over here?

The end of the month brought a return to our “to do” list of things to fix/modify/decorate around the house. Last year we put new floors and carpet in all the upstairs bedroom and managed to paint all of the bedrooms except our master. The previous owners had a striped, green wall with floral trim motif that was a bit cool and busy for our tastes. Here’s the bedroom before:

Master bedroom before we bought it

We chose a warmer yellow/tan earth tone to compliment the new wood floors and our comforter cover. Susan (and Isaac) did the priming and first coats while Brian did all the taping and final coats.

Susan priming the walls

Isaac helping out

We still have some things to do like finishing the registers, getting a headboard for the bed, valances, and adding some art to the bare wall but already it feels like a warmer, more comfortable space.

A much warmer color

Walls are done

This weekend I felt I had been cooped up long enough and despite the cold weather put together the jogging stroller to take Isaac out for a spin. As usual when strapped in to a moving object Isaac calmed down and stared at the scenery while Susan and I jogged the neighborhood. He held his head up really well for three months old and I’m hoping it warms up and melts the bike path so I can start running with Isaac.

Time to run with daddy

Finally, here’s a picture of Isaac on his last day as a two month old. This is probably the last time he’ll get to wear his Mickey onesie as he’s outgrown his newborn wardrobe.

Three months old!

Six Weeks Old

We’ve had a lovely time the last few weeks; it’s hard to believe that 6 weeks have already passed since Isaac’s birth.  He was 10 lbs 15 oz and 23 inches long at his 1 month checkup.  He is able to hold up his head when he concentrates and has been finding his thumb more often.  He’s been to his first fraternity house (for an IRDF meeting), out for coffee, to the grocery store, and to a number of restaurants in Cambridge, Chelmsford, Nashua, Merrimack and Westford.  Just as I was getting used to longer stretches of sleep – he did a 4.5 hour and 3 hour stretch back to back one night – he went through a growth spurt at five weeks, shifting back to 2 hour feeds.  By the end of the week, he was back to a 3 – 4 hour cycle and is more awake and alert.

It’s clear that he can see farther away and we think he’s seeing more colors.  He loves faces too – now he will smile when you make faces at him.  He continues to be an easy and happy baby.

Isaac has gotten to meet lots of new people, including several good friends and family members from out of town.  Carolyn took the train up from Boston after her conference so she could have dinner with us and meet Isaac.  After a busy Stitch-n-Bitch, we wound down at Dan’s house where Isaac got to meet G who was visiting from Montreal.

Isaac and G

Then Uncle Woody visited us from Fishers.  He was a huge help, from cooking and helping with laundry to tackling our handyman list (including helping to fix our gas fireplace and installing a ceiling fan!), to feeding Isaac and changing his diapers.  We look forward to seeing him again in just over a week!

Isaac and Uncle Woody

Note from Brian: Su wrote this just before we left for Christmas and it’s been waiting for me to upload the photos. Oops! It’s been a busy few weeks but now that we’re home and settled back in it’s time to get back on the blog wagon.

The Story of Isaac’s Birth

Isaac Allan Judd arrived on Saturday November 3 at 3:01 AM.  Here’s the story of his arrival.

The start of labor
After starting pre-labor contractions on Monday morning, I continued to have contractions through Friday morning.  I blogged about the week from Monday to Thursday previously.

Our midwife Kim stopped by at 9:30am to see how I was doing, and to discuss if we wanted to take any herbal measures to try to move labor along.  As it turned out, my contractions picked up pretty soon after she left, and were about 3 minutes apart just before noon, marking the start of official “active” labor.  We called Kim back and made a plan for her to come to the house again after dinner, when we figured I’d be fairly well dilated or least ready for a check-in.  During the day I generally paced and leaned on the counter, couch or wall when a surge happened, with Brian helping me breathe through the harder contractions.  I also spent some time in the hot tub to relax.  The afternoon passed uneventfully, with regular contractions, as I sought to stay hydrated and relaxed, if not distracted.  My water broke at 6:45pm and the three midwives all arrived at our house by 7:30pm.

The tub
I had spent a lot of time on my feet since Thursday night, and because I enjoyed being in the hot tub off my feet so much, I took Kim up on her offer to bring a birthing tub (despite the fact that every previous time a birthing tub was mentioned, I said I was not interested).  So, between 8 and 9pm on Friday night, Brian was called into action to figure out how to get tens of gallons of 98 degree water into a large inflatable tub that the midwives set up in the nursery.  I understand it involved removing the shower head and plumbing a connection of the garden hose. (Of course if you’ve never tried to get a coiled garden hose into your shower, Brian doesn’t recommend it.  There is a reason they are for outdoor use!)  

You sure this will work?

I was oblivious to this late night plumbing, other than wondering why the midwives and Brian kept leaving me to labor alone (there are 3 of them, how is it none of them is in here with me?) and then being so touched that when the tub was ready they had laid out towels in the hallway for me to walk on, which I assumed were to keep me from dripping a mess on the floor (but in reality were due to the inevitable drips and leaks of the hose and bailing water back and forth from the bathroom to the tub!).  It felt really good to be in the tub, and I stayed in there for maybe 20 – 30 minutes until I was fully dilated, then got out a while to push – first on all fours, then on the birthing stool – then got back in again when my right leg started feeling weak and I wanted to get my weight off my feet again.

A slight complication
I should mention at this point that my abdomen shape had changed between Thursday and Friday, with the appearance of two separate sections and a “band” across the middle (as though there was a belt around my waist).  Even when I was fully dilated my contractions were a bit irregular and my pushing wasn’t making much progress.  The midwives were concerned that my uterus wasn’t working well as a single muscle which would definitely be a problem.  So, one of the times they left me in the tub was so they could caucus.  They asked me to stop pushing and recommended that we transfer to the hospital to get a medical diagnosis on the “banding”.  At 11:30pm they got me out of the tub, dried off and dressed, Brian packed a bag for me, and we got in the car to go to Emerson Hospital.  Brian drove me and managed to not only drive safely, but to also coach me to keep breathing and not push during the 20 minute drive, while Kim followed us in her car, so she would continue to be with us as a doula.  She had called ahead so they were expecting me at the hospital, and took me straight into labor and delivery, bypassing the emergency room.

It turned out that as the baby had descended, somehow my bladder had gotten above my uterus to form the “top” segment above the “band” (which was the space between my uterus and bladder), and the nurses drained over 2L of urine with a catheter.  We were surprised because I had spent a lot of time in the bathroom at home, but evidently was passing other fluids and not peeing as often as I had assumed.  It did explain why I had such a feeling of relief, almost euphoria, when my water broke.  It had released the pressure built up between my bladder and uterus, which felt great!  But after that, all the water I’d drunk had probably stayed with me for hours, building up pressure and causing my contractions to push against my bladder rather than helping the baby to make progress descending.

Back to pushing
Once the bladder issue was resolved, the doctor on duty said everything else looked great and invited me to continue pushing.  I pushed with increasing intensity for the next couple hours.  We got a bar set up on the bed so I could try squatting, rather than being on my back.  Due to what turned out to be a strained groin, I ended up doing most of my pushing on my side, with one leg in a stirrup and the other being held by a nurse or Kim or Brian, as I closed my eyes and pushed.  I was usually able to get 2-3 breaths worth of pushing in for each contraction.  Everyone was so supportive in updating me on my progress, praising my pushing, encouraging me to relax between contractions, and holding a hand or leg or bringing me water to drink or a cloth for my face.  Kim encouraged me to reach down and feel the baby’s head, which was reassuring and motivating for me to continue pushing.

The doctor would pop in every so often (I have no idea how often – every 15 – 20 minutes?) to check on me.  He said he wanted to respect my wishes for avoiding intervention, but that he was growing increasingly concerned about the baby’s health given the long duration of labor and pushing, and the fact that its heart rate would dip down into the 90s or even 80s when I pushed.  I understand that he was quite patient for an Ob/Gyn, even though I felt like I was on the clock to get this baby out before his patience ended!  In order to help with my energy and to help keep baby’s oxygen levels up they gave me an oxygen mask. I highly recommend pure oxygen if you’re feeling tired. For the next 2 hours I felt stronger than I had the previous few hours.

I got the baby’s head to crown about 3 inches but just didn’t have much more pushing in me after a couple hours at home plus almost three hours in the hospital.  If I knew it would be a few more pushes or 5 more minutes, I think I could have definitely continued, but Kim and the nurses couldn’t say – afterwards, Kim thought it might be 30-45 more minutes, and I surely didn’t have that much more pushing in me.  So, we decided to get a little help from the vacuum extraction to get the baby delivered more quickly.

Isaac is born!
After two pushes, the head was out, and with one more push, his shoulders and body were out too!  The baby immediately gave a loud cry, and the doctor was clearly relieved to see such a healthy pink yelling baby, the nurse interjected , “It’s a boy,” and the doctor announced “he’s FINE!” as he rolled his chair back.   They laid my baby on my belly and we got to meet one another.  I can’t describe the elation of delivery.  Yes there was the “ring of fire” and yes it was intense.  But I was so focused, with eyes closed, the only thing in the world at that moment was concentrating on delivery of the baby.  And then, to feel that release and hear the cry, was just amazing.  I said hello and cooed at him and cried with happiness and relief.

Isaac Allan Judd

We recovered in the hospital on Saturday, which was really nice.  They took care of me, helped me to the bathroom, and offered lots of helpful advice.  The Sheldons stopped by to meet Isaac (and bring Brian a clean shirt – he had packed a bag for me but brought nothing for himself!) before they left for a trip.  Another friend came to visit and helped us with breastfeeding to make sure Isaac was latching properly.  The nurses kept an eye on my bladder, to make sure it was recovered and operating properly before I went home.  Isaac was thriving from the start – he even flipped himself over on the examining table right after he was born! – nursed well and passed all of his tests.  We were able to get discharged Sunday evening so we could come home and rest in our own bed, without the 2x per night exams and lights, etc.  I stayed in bed for 5 days on Kim’s advice,  glad that Brian and several friends who stopped in could take care of me while I recuperated and took care of Isaac.

Overall, we are so happy with the experience and the support.  It really was just as we hoped – we labored at home as long as possible, were ready to give birth there if everything had gone well, but were able to get medical care when we needed it.  In our mind, this is not a “failed” home birth, it was a complete success.  I got so many comments about my preparation, mental attitude, strength and resilience, and how well Brian and I were able to work and communicate together.  I took no drugs and avoided a C section, so we were very happy with the result.  I did have some tearing between the hard pushing – much harder than the midwife would have recommended, but I was on a deadline to avoid the C-section!  – and the forced extraction at the end.  So that takes a while longer to recover, but in the scheme of things is a really small part of the overall experience.

If someone told me 5 years ago I’d have 4 days of prelabor contractions, 15 hours of active labor including 3+ hours of pushing, all the things a body goes through, not get more than 3 hours of sleep at a stretch for weeks, and think these were easily some of the happiest days of my life, I would have thought they were crazy.  But on November 7 we were watching the snow fall outside, enjoying a  favorite meal Brian prepared, with him wearing our son in a wrap so we could sit down to have our first dinner as a 3-person family, and I thought my heart might just burst.