Sunday, November 15, 2015

Alistair Augustus is born

Alistair is a male given name of Scottish and Gaelic origin of the name Alexander. The name Augustus is a Latin name meaning venerable or majestic. Basically, Alexander the Great.

On November 7th, our second child was born. Alistair Augustus arrived at 1 AM weighing 8 lbs 2 oz and measuring 19 1/2 inches long. It happened all so quickly and I was not always aware of what was going on. Here is my side of his story.

My regular, weekly appointment scheduled on Thursday was normal. I had been feeling more pressure in my back and shooting nerve pains down my legs starting the day before. My doctor measured my cervix at 2 cm.

Since Thursday the 5th was the first due date we were given, we went to Chili's to initiate contractions. Hey, it happened last time, why not this time? For Gabe, I decided to get a half rack of ribs which is out of the ordinary. Leading up to the 5th Evan and I were discussing how I would re-order the ribs because that was obviously the key to unlocking labor. Well, I didn't actually feel like ribs that day, so I ordered the chicken enchiladas. No contractions during dinner. We went home and went to bed like normal. Obviously, I should have gotten the ribs.

Friday, Evan had to go to school briefly in the morning to get his FluMist. Naturally, he was tired from it and took a nap. I was folding laundry when the contractions started at 1:30 PM while Gabe was on my computer playing PBS games. I woke Evan up to tell him, "I think I just had a contraction." He looked at me, looked at his watch, and then closed his eyes again. A few minutes later, I had another one. This went on and on for several hours where the contractions were 5 minutes apart. During that time, we packed Gabe's overnight bag to stay at a friend's house. Then we packed our bag.

While the contractions gradually increased in intensity they were still bearable. The typical rule is to go into the hospital after an hour of contractions that are 5 minutes apart and lasting for a minute each. We figured we should take Gabe to his friend's house and for us to go to the hospital to get checked out.

Despite 6 hours of steady contractions there had been no cervical change by 7:30 PM and we left. We walked around the nearby shopping center. Almost immediately after we left the hospital the contractions increased in pace and intensity. We went home where I would be more comfortable. After the pain was too much for me, we got into the car to head back to the hospital.

We checked into the hospital (again) at 10 PM and I was dilated to 5 cm. The staff got the room prepped for delivery. The pain was rough but I did NOT want an epidural. Evan was a big asset in me reaching my goal. He held my hand and talked me through each contraction, the constant shakes, and fetched me water. He even tried to drown me once. And when I told him to shut up or stop breathing in my face, he did just that without taking offense.

Anyway, when I measured about 8.5 cm my contractions were at a point where they were causing me to push. If you've ever tried to prevent yourself from having an involuntary impulse (such as hiccups or sneezing) then you know just how difficult it can be to not push during a contraction. Yeah, it wasn't working. The water had not broken on its own yet and the offer to have them broken was presented. I accepted. 9 cm. Pushing was unstoppable. My doctor agreed, thankfully.

This doesn't make things easier. There is not enough evidence to support or refute the idea of "pushing too soon" or before complete dilation. My doctor thought it was best to stretch the cervix around Alistair's head. Yep...it was as enjoyable as it sounds. The pain was different than the contractions, but it wasn't unbearable. The sensation was definitely something I had never felt before and cannot compare it anything else. Evan tells me that during the second stage of labor all I could say was "Ow! Ow! Ow!" It lasted 3 minutes. It was quick and then it was over. He was born at 1 AM.

He was placed immediately on my chest and I closed my eyes and rested my head from relief and exhaustion. He is sweet, asleep most of the time, and so loved.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

If it is called Yellowstone, why are none of the rocks painted?

WE MADE IT TO THE PROMISE LAND! We are safe and sound in Monterey, CA. BUT I guess I need to fill you in on our journey here first!

This is Update #9 on our GRAND CROSS COUNTRY ADVENTURE.
For previous installments CLICK HERE!!!
Last I left off we had reached Yellowstone!
We had AWESOME TRAFFIC when we got there, and after an hour and a half to go 21 miles and get checked in at camp, we were too tired to do much else.

SO Gabe woke up at 5:45 the next day and we got rolling. We had all day to see the park and get to the Grand Tetons. Shouldn't be too bad right? Wrong. The park is literally over 2 million acres. And it is all between 35 and 45 mph.
All told, we did over 200 miles in the park alone. Orange is where we drove.
So good thing Gabe got up super early.
First stop was Old Faithful. It was actually the closest to us in the park, but we would have to circumnavigate the entire park before the day was done.
video
LAME!!!!
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Okay. so with Old Faithful out of the way we proceeded on our odyssey through Yellowstone.
Gabriel really like walking through the steam, but had to ride on my shoulders so he would not go off running into the boiling pits of death.
Disorienting isn't it
The longest division I've ever had to do.
Apparently there is something more interesting elsewhere
That's better
He decided climbing up and sitting on my head was better than my shoulders
Reminds me of this.
I'm so impressed

Somehow it managed to be decent weather for us. Of course, though, that would not last once we reached the Grand Tetons, but that is a tale for another time.
This might as well have been my visibility...

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Little Bighorn

Native American's love Star Wars. I got no less than 5 compliments on my shirt. You can NEVER go wrong with Star Wars.
This is Update #8 on our GRAND CROSS COUNTRY ADVENTURE.
For previous installments CLICK HERE!!!

So I am going to keep this post short because it has been a really long couple days and I am super tired.

So this was a couple days ago now (the 26th) on our drive from Sheridan (where there is no Sheraton, a real lost opportunity IMO) WY to Yellowstone WY. Along the way we stopped at the Little Bighorn.
Now basically the summary of the video is what all of us learned in school right? Custer took a few men and went off chasing Indians and died because of it.

WELL going there actually taught me a lot about it. Link to Wikipedia.
So before I share some pictures or make a lot of jokes I want to clarify some points in history.

SKIP THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT A HISTORY LESSON
Fury Road had nothing appropriate here.
1- He was a Lt. Col. Not a Major General. This is because he WAS a General in the Volunteer Army during the Civil War, but since he was an Officer in the ACTUAL Army before and after the war, he maintained his rank and reverted back to being a Lt. Col.
2- He was ordered to scout out the Rosebud, Bighorn, Little Bighorn by an ACTUAL General, and departed from a far larger column with a full regiment, NOT a single Battalion. This was 12 companies of nearly 600 mounted soldiers.
3- This column was one of three columns in the region searching for the large Indian presence in the region, all of whom were off their reservations. One column had been repelled on the 17th of June at the Battle of Rosebud (not a My Little Pony), where as the Little Bighorn was on the 25th and 26th.
4- WHAT! The battle was 2 DAYS!?!?!?! How is that possible, they all died on the first right? Wrong. The battle was actually two separate battlefields, Last Stand Hill and the Reno-Benteen battlefield. The last stand happened on the 25th, with a single Battalion under Custer's direct command consisting of 5 companies. However a little over half the Regiment, in two battalions of 3 companies each, was under siege about 5 miles east until the morning of the 26th (the 12th company joined these men, they had been escorting the baggage train with ammo and provisions). Majority of them survived as the Indians retreated when the rest of the column Custer's regiment had been a part of drew close to the battlefield.
5- Custer was not looking for a fight. He only started an attack when he and his Officers believed they had been spotted. He did this for multiple reasons; fear of loosing the initiative, fear of the tribes scattering to the four winds (there were 26 tribes of varying nations) and the army not being able to capture them all in one place, and underestimation of the warrior presence and a reliance of them panicking as he attacked the Indian encampment (there were 1500-2000 warriors present, but an estimated 6000 noncombatants in women and children). He also knew the main column was supposed to converge on that position the next day and sent a messenger back to it letting them know where the camp was and asking for reinforcements.
6- Custer ordered Maj. Reno and his men (3 companies) to attack the encampment from the position they were at, sent for Capt. Benteen (3 companies) to join them QUICK. He was to take 5 companies and ride around an attack the camp from the rear. Unfortunately, the Indians did not panic and were in a larger force than anticipated.
7- Reno had to retreat from the Indian camp back to where Custer had ordered the attack from, but was fortunately reinforced by Benteen and the wagon train. As well, they had a defensible position with a steep ravine being the only approach. With all the ammo from the wagon train and 7 companies, they were able to hold out. Meanwhile, when Custer's attack was repulsed further upriver, he was forced further away from Reno and continually lost men during a lengthy retreat, along which he had likely hoped to see Benteen coming to reinforce him, rather than Reno. Eventually, he got to what is known as Last Stand Hill, where he and his remaining men killed their horses to form barricades until they were over ran. On the other side of the battlefield, Reno and Benteen didn't know where their CO was and sent a company to try and find them. Unfortunately, they could not advance far and turned around. However at that point, Custer was likely already dead.
8- Only the 268 men directly under Custer were massacred and later the rest of the regiment discovered his "lost" companies.
9- Later that summer, nearly all the Natives surrendered or returned to their reservations.
SUMMARY-
It wasn't so much one man blinded with delusions of grandeur going up against impossible odds, but more so an aggressive and accomplished commander following orders and advancing with little intelligence and getting sucked into a bad situation.
SO this was probably one of my favourite stops, since I could ACTUALLY SEE History in the as it happened.
THE INDIANS HAD OVER 5000!!!!
This is because after the battle, when the survivors from Reno's/Benteen's companies found Custer's last stand, they marked where ALL the fallen soldiers were. And then later, little white headstones were put in these places, so you can see where the battle happened. AS WELL, there are A LOT of 1st hand accounts of the massacre. How? Well, the winning side definitely wanted to remember their victory, so the Natives had a lot of accounts, and even put red headstones where particularly important or brave warriors of theirs fell. Lastly, after a brush fire in the 80's, a whole ton of artifacts were recovered, particularly a butt ton of shell casings that pretty much laid out how many people were shooting and from where.

Last stand hill.
This is the marker of what was a mass grave and approximately where Custer fell. He is the only one where they aren't sure where he fell exactly because the Natives stripped him and left his body naked. He is now buried at West Point.
View of the Little Bighorn and where the Indian encampment was from Last Stand Hill.
The marker for where they eventually buried the horses Custer's command killed to form barricades.
Other side of last stand hill,
LOOK AT THOMAS!!!
This is the Native American memorial at the site. It used to be "Custer National Battlefield" but political correctness for once got it right.
Where Reno attacked from and retreated back to. The markers are of where 3 of Custer's Indian Scouts fell. In all, 53 men fell retreating to this position.
The ground he had to retreat over.
Where Custer attacked from.
You can see the trail of markers leading up to Last Stand Hill.
The retreat up the hill.
Sorry I waxed on about history there (pulled a Wardog there for all my Gettysburg friends).  But it really really was awesome.

We drove onto Yellowstone from there. This involves driving into Montana and then BACK to Wyoming. And then we had to go through miles of construction to get to our camp.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Momentous Memorial Day Monuments

Such patrician nobility.
This is Update #7 on our GRAND CROSS COUNTRY ADVENTURE.
For previous installments CLICK HERE!!!

Last I left off we had crossed through the Badlands.
What a lovely day indeed...
WARNING: MASS QUANTITIES OF PHOTOS AHEAD

We then set off this morning into the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our first stop was BEAR COUNTRY USA!
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Traffic jam with a view
Roll 'em up
The questioned finally answered. No, they do not in the woods. They do it in the road.
Baron, you would loose.
WRONG.
It was pretty cool to see animals in their not natural habitat. And the Bear Pen was like 87 bears. And they had another area for more bears. What we drove through must've been like the "yard" at a jail and the other area just containment. BUT IT WAS A LOT OF BEARS.

We continued to explore the Black Hills (the black heads of SD)
You decide what is special about the forest.
The dangers of 70mph photography
As an Engineer, this was the coolest thing in the forest.
While the scenery was awesome, we were on a quest to reach Mt. Rushmore before it became too busy and the weather came crumbling down upon us. What was particularly awesome was my National Park Annual Pass got me jack squat and I still had to pay for parking. Sure I got mine for free as the military one, but even the normal annual pass that you pay over $100 for does diddly.
Like filming a car commercial for Enterprise or something
Gabriel C. Valdyke declares his bid for Presidency under the Bull Moose Party
He did his best impression of Washington 
Grumpy face
Happy face
What would a lineup be without a profile?
What you really see at Rushmore is a rush of more people than you thought would fit into the park. 
After Rushmore we proceeded to the Crazy Horse Monument.
This will eventually be cooler than Mt. Rushmore IMO. Unfortunately I'll probably be dead before they even get done with the head at this rate, seeing as they started in the 40's
I am such a rebel, grabbing that sign like that.
Well, only one of us was prepared.
If the monument was this, you could color me impressed. This looks like it is missing from Vegas. Nipples and all.
And after the crazy horse monument we drove on through WYOMING. For a good while Gabriel asked for chicken instead of going back to sleep.
Vast nothingness
The roads are red. Why are the roads red?
These antelope seem to be grazing and not playing as I was led to believe they did in the 2nd grade.
Not the film festival or the cowboy.
Ah, the wild lamas of Wyoming. 
Look dad, a field of baby cows.
And our last, and coolest stop for the day was Devil's Tower.
Our first view was pretty depressing, so just like in the Badlands I commanded the rain to go away.
And it did
I am a titan amongst men, I control the weather.
Anticipating a close encounter...
Look, I have a tractor.
These guys have been parked out in front of the tower for over 200 years. Hundreds of holes. I guess they are waiting for the mothership to return.

There were two other parks I wanted to see. Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument. I was pulling for them but...
Voting in the car
Unfortunately both of them ALSO required extra charges, despite an annual pass, and to enter the cave you had to take a tour, all of which were at least an hour long!
My vote changed upon learning that.
We ended the day in Sheridan WY, apparently the king of the cowboy towns.
I wonder if you get Extra Virgin Bison Oil on the first press.
 Tomorrow, we venture forth to Yellowstone.