Visiting the Green Mountain State

Hey there!

Welcome to another exciting post here at Chris Lackie – The Blog!

This past weekend, me and the family took a trip down the fabled Americas (Vermont, specifically) to visit our friends Rob and Sam. We entered the U.S. on Wednesday (Canada Day, of all days) which took much longer than expected. It poured rain all the way from Ottawa to where we crossed the border in Quebec. We expected the border crossing to be fairly empty given it was the middle of the week, and it was pretty clear sailing most of the way, but when we were about three kilometres from where we were set to cross, traffic was completely stopped. And when it wasn’t stopped, it crawled for a few feet. And then it would stop again. And then crawl again. And then stop again. And Crawl. And stop. And crawl. And of course, our 19-month old son woke up just as all this fun started. And of course, since it was around lunch-time, he was starving, so we did our best to keep him happy by feeding him a steady stream of granola bars and Cheerios. I know you shouldn’t given little kids food in the car (they could choke, after all), but given we never got above 10 kilometres an hour, I figured he’d be fairly safe. When all was said and done, from the time we hit traffic, it was two hours before we finally got into Vermont.

The entire time, Sarah and I were trying to figure out why that border crossing was so busy at that particular time, and it wasn’t until we were past it when we remembered that the Germany-U.S. Women’s World Cup Semi-Final was in Montreal the night before. Given all the U.S. license plates we saw, we eventually figures out that all the Americans were trying to get home at the same time we were trying to get into the country. That was definitely some poor planning on our part. I’m also embarrassed to say it took us almost three hours to figure it out. I thought it was odd that so many of the cars we saw had soccer team logo stickers on their bumpers…

Anyway, once we got through customs (which wasn’t nearly as eventful as the time my wife and I crossed into Detroit on our way to Florida) it was time to get some real food into us. While road Cheerios are great and all, they don’t exactly constitute a complete meal. We got off the highway at the first opportunity and headed towards the first food place we saw, which, luckily for us, was the healthiest place we could take our child: McDonald’s. This led to our son enjoying his very first Happy Meal. When ordering I was asked if I wanted the boy toy or the girl toy (because toys have genders, you know), so of course I picked the boy toy (because I assumed it would be cooler). It ended up being a blue water gun that my son will probably never use, while the girl toy on the other hand, I’m pretty sure, was the exact same water gun, only pink. That’s some sort of progress… I think. Anyway, needless to say, my kid very much enjoyed his chicken McNuggets and his apple slices. And because I’m a good parent, I took it upon myself to enjoy his kid-sized fries (they came in an adorably tiny fry box!).

After our very late lunch (it was almost 4 PM when we finished) we headed to our hotel. We stayed at a place called Green Mountain Suites in South Burlington. It turned out to be a really nice place. I highly suggest staying there if you plan on going to the area. What I loved most about that place is that in addition to a pretty impressive hot breakfast buffet (which most hotels offer some version of) they also offer a free dinner on weekdays. We were unable to partake on the first night (since we already had plans for that evening), but on the second night we had steak tips. I didn’t know what steak tips were until I had them, but I must say they were delicious!

Anywho, that first night we got ourselves settled and had dinner with our friends Sam and Rob, as well as Rob’s parents, at a pretty good Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, the little guy (my son, not Rob) was up way past his bedtime, and he wasn’t his usual well behaved self. He still wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it was obvious that he was tired. The kid passed out in the car on the way back to the hotel, and both the wife and I assumed he would sleep in the next morning. Well, that sure did not happen. Our kid woke up bright and early at 4 AM. That’s not nearly enough sleep for a 19-month old. Luckily for me, the hotel had free coffee.

For our first full day in Vermont, we headed to Waterbury to meet Rob and his parents at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. Sarah and I had been there before as part of our honeymoon (in fact, we decided to go to Vermont just so we could go to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory), but we were more than willing to go there again to get our hands on some delicious, delicious ice cream. From there, it was time for lunch in town and then a quick trip over to Stowe, Vermont to take a walk along a fancy pathway. You can tell that this pathway is fancy because you can buy expensive artwork along the way ($3,200 for a twisted hammock? Yes, please!).  The beautiful views weren’t limited to the art.  Here’s a picture Sarah took while we were on our walk.

water

At one point during our walk, we went by a little stream and decided to let our son waddle around the shore. On the way back to the car, we had his sandals hanging on the handles of his stroller to dry off. Just as we were getting to the car, we heard someone running up behind us, shouting, “Excuse me, excuse me!” I turned around and saw a young woman we had passed 15 or 20 minutes prior, carrying one of our kid’s sandals. “You’re the only ones around here with a stroller,” she said as she handed me the sandal. “So I figured this must belong to you.” I have no idea where the sandal fell or how far that person had to go to give it back to us, but it was certainly very nice of them to go out of their way to help us out. Yay America!

That night, my son went to bed around 8 PM and woke up at 5:30 AM (which is a reasonable night’s sleep for him). Unfortunately, the missus wasn’t feeling well that day, so it was up to my son and I to entertain ourselves. What did we do, you ask? Well, what else do Canadians do when they go to America? We went shopping! We started our shopping spree by going to Barnes & Noble where I picked up my 100th Funko Pop Vinyl Figure! What an accomplishment, right?!?! Now, in reality I bought figures 96 through 102 at the same time, but I am going to arbitrarily decide that this figure is lucky number 100!

wendigo

Who (or what) is that, you ask? That’s the Wendigo from the TV show Hannibal. He is basically a very creepy, very scary figment of the imagination of one of the characters (Will Graham, if you’re familiar with the show) and he looks totally awesome. This figure sells at conventions for about $20, but I got him for about $10 ($12.50, if you factor in the exchange rate). I also picked up a little toy for my son (you know, because I’m a good dad). I bought him a little police car that lights up and sings a jaunty little tune about racing towards a crime scene. What fun! And how many books did we buy at this book store? Not a single one. I am very proud of us.

We then made our way to University Mall to shop at the Hot Topic (because I am a grown up and I can shop wherever I want). But before we got there, the first thing we saw when we entered the mall was a kid, who couldn’t be more than five or six years old, walking out of a collectibles store with a wooden sword and nunchucks. America really is the land of the free and the home of the brave. My kid and I eventually made our way to Hot Topic (after spending a lot of time trying to get my son to leave Sears… I have no idea why he was so obsessed with that store), where I picked up this little gem.

earth 2

This is Batman from Earth 2, who is Thomas Wayne; Bruce Wayne’s father (spoilers!). He’s a Hot Topic exclusive figure, so I was happy to find him. Acquiring this figure also fits into my philosophy that you can never have enough Batmen in your life.

Crisis of Infinite Batmen

Crisis of Infinite Batmen

We then went to IHOP for lunch (the irony being that neither of us had pancakes) before heading back to the hotel so that my little guy could have a nap. I felt really bad for one of the waitresses at the restaurant. She was clearly very new and was consistency forgetting peoples’ orders and mixing stuff up. People were generally nice to her, but they started getting agitated after a while. I’m going to choose that those people were from out of state. I refuse to believe anyone from Vermont could lose their patience. Vermonters are just too damned nice.

The next day was our final day in the Green Mountain State, so I was happy that Sarah was feeling better. I was less happy that our son decided to wake up at 3 AM. Yup. You read that right. Our kid woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Again, I was very happy that our hotel had free coffee. Two cups later, we went off to the Burlington farmer’s market, but not before stopping off at a Walgreen’s so I could pick up this (please excuse the blurriness):

punisher

Yes, it has gotten to the point where I am now travelling to foreign pharmacies to pick up Funko figures. I think I have a problem. Do you think there’s a prescription for it? Is it available at Walgreens? Jokes aside, can you really blame me for getting this? Look at how adorable this Punisher figure is. Who knew that such a hard ass could be so cute?

Anyway, the farmer’s market was cool; the highlight being that a bachelorette party showed up with someone, who I can only assume was the bride-to-be, carrying a five-foot long inflatable penis. I wonder whose idea it was to bring the party to a farmer’s market. I also wonder if the party was just starting or just ending. It’s hard to say given the oddness of it all (hehe… I said “hard”). Regardless, after that bit of strangeness, we picked up some sausages (not inflated or five feet long, unfortunately) and went to Sam’s for a barbecue.

After eating some delicious tube-shaped meat (and watching my son eat a ridiculous amount of it) we said our goodbyes and made our way back home. The trip home was much faster than the trip down. What took us upwards of seven hours on the way to Burlington, Vermont only took us three-and-a-half hours on the way back to Ottawa.

Other than my son not sleeping much and my wife getting very sick, it was a pretty good trip. Vermont is a really great place. The state is beautiful and the people are incredibly nice. I wish we could go more often, but unfortunately the Canadian dollar is too awful right now to make it affordable. Damned economy and all that jazz. Oh well. Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery and buy a cottage there. Or maybe I’ll just go when I can. Yeah, that sounds like a more likely scenario. But a guy can dream, can’t he?

GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE-BAMPF!!

Dear Baby: You Need To Sleep Now

Hello friends,

As you know, I am the father of a beautiful baby boy. Being a parent is wonderful, incredible, fun, exciting, fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Except for those times when it isn’t.

Believe me, the tough times are relatively few and far between, but when things go south they go very, very south.

Recently my son decided that sleep was for the weak, and that he wasn’t going to go for something so typical and average. So instead he decided to stay awake, and keep his dear old dad up for company.

He was up for hours.

I wondered to myself, why won’t my baby go to sleep? He’s tired… it’s dark… what’s the problem? Of course, my son couldn’t answer me except to say: “uhhhhhhhhh!”

Why would an exhausted human being (even a little one) do everything in his power to stay awake? He was kicking his legs, stretching his head back, twisting his body around in a hundred different ways. Why? What does he think he’s going to miss?

So once I decided to give up trying to put him back down to sleep (guess 5 AM is as good a time as any to start the day), I went online to figure out why exactly my exhausted kid wouldn’t go back to bed (because if the internet can’t solve a problem, no one can).

I Googled the phrase “I’m exhausted my kid won’t sleep why is this happening to me SRSLY WTF!?!?!?” As expected, this turned out to be a very common Google search term with many results. I clicked on one of the first links which led to a website called Mummyology, with an article called “10 Reasons Why Babies Don’t Sleep”. Perfect! If I can figure out the root cause of the problem, then finding the solution to that problem should be easy-peasy, right?

So here is the list from Mummyology, including my thoughts on whether this particular reason can explain why my special little guy can’t manage to fall asleep, as well as if I can use this information to help my kid fall asleep in the future.

1. He’s hungry – Nope. I offered him formula and he responded by spitting out the bottle and slapping my hands away. Doesn’t sound like the actions of a hungry baby.

2. He’s thirsty – Nope. See above.

3. He’s over-tired (over-stimulated) – Well, he was definitely over-tired. That happens when you’re already exhausted and you refuse to sleep. And over-stimulated? Well, if the small green light on the baby monitor counts as stimulation, I guess that could be a problem as well. It’s amazing when I think about it. Every time I try to get him to sleep, he always manages to find a small source of light to focus on. It could be the light from his baby monitor, the light that creeps into his room from downstairs, or even the light from the neighbour’s house across the street coming through his window. Either way, light somehow manages to help him stay awake. I may have to institute a neighbourhood-wide no light policy in the near future.

4. He needs movement – It never occurred to me, but I guess this explains why babies are more likely to fall asleep when they are being walked around or rocked. However, it is impossible to either walk my kid around or rock him if I am to sleep. So unfortunately, keeping baby mobile in the middle of the night is not an option.

5. He needs to suck – If this refers to my life force, mission accomplished. Just kidding, I know what this means (but seriously, my kid can completely drain the energy from me). Luckily, my son is willing to use a soother, but sometimes it doesn’t have the desired effect of helping him sleep. Instead, using a pacifier can lead to my son waking up if it falls out of his mouth. Either way, sucking wasn’t helping my kid (or me) the other night.

6. He’s learning a new skill – Is keeping me awake a skill?

7. He needs a change in routine – I get that. When your life consists of eating, playing, pooping and (occasionally) sleeping, things can get stale after a while. Well, I can assure you that nothing changes a routine like staying awake all night.

8. He wants to be close to me – Well that’s just adorable. At least it would be if his desire to be close to me didn’t extend into the wee hours of the morning. It can be pretty frustrating. When I hold him, he sleeps like… well… a baby. He can sleep like a rock in my arms, but the moment I put him down he wakes up. If he’s asleep, how does he know I’m not holding him anymore? He’s got some form of superbaby alertness superpower.

9. He’s teething – I think we have a winner here. My little boy already has two teeth popping out of his lower gum and has a couple others starting to show at the top. His cheeks are all red and he’s super drooly. If only there was a magical pill to make teething pain go away. Baby medicine can only do so much.

10. He’s in pain – Yup, having little pieces of bone poking through your gums will cause some pain. Raising a baby would be so much easier if they could tell you what’s bothering them. In this case, I know my kid is teething, so I know that’s where his pain is coming from. If he wasn’t teething however, I would have no idea what the problem is. I guess you just have to do your best in making your baby comfortable. Unfortunately, sometimes that means being awake at all hours of the night. Remember that episode of the Simpson’s where Homer’s brother (did you remember he had a brother?) invents that machine that can translate baby talk into English? Someone needs to get on making that a reality. Now.

Well, I don’t know how helpful this list is, but at least I know there are only 10 reasons why a baby may not be able to sleep (yup).

Having a baby that can’t sleep can be frustrating to say the least, but I guess it’s the price you pay to be a parent. And being a parent is the best job in the world…

…Except for maybe an ice cream taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s. I hear those guys get full health benefits.

What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah…

NO SLEEP BAMPF!!!