Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

For various reasons, our family has been out of town every weekend of this month. It's been a bit rough on all of us, but obviously toughest on Owen who's had what little routine we'd developed obliterated and replaced by hours on end in his car seat listening to the offerings of Daddy's iPod (baby mixes, Sufjan Stevens, and a healthy dose of Viking lectures), followed by numerous new people vying for his attention. It probably didn't help matters that the one week he was home featured my falling down the stairs while holding him, his migration from our bedroom to his own room and crib, and his first round of vaccine shots. November has been a cruel, cruel month.

Anyway, we thought you all might enjoy a summary of Owen's experience for each of the modes of transportation employed in our many travels:


When we planned our trip to Iowa, we went back and forth on flying versus driving and ultimately decided on the latter as we didn't know how else we were going to convey all of Owen's stuff, and that way we could visit Allen's sister and my brothers on route. While Owen had never traveled further than Tyson's Corner in his car seat, we figured that dividing the trip into two six-hour and one three hour segments over the course of three days and leaving really early in the morning during prime nap time would make it a not entirely unpleasant experience. I really think it would have too, had we not lost a tire tread an hour outside of DC.

While Owen cried, Allen pulled over and dutifully emptied the trunk filled to the brim with various baby implements in order to get out the "donut" only to discover it had a giant hole in it. He then re-packed the trunk, decided we could drive slowly on our tread-less tire, thus allowing us to spend about 45 minutes trying to find a place open at eight o'clock on a Saturday morning that sold tires. We finally found a Sears in Hagerstown, MD that informed us that the other three tires were just an accident waiting to happen, so we dutifully hung out at the Valley Mall amid the mall walkers, intermittently trying to get Owen to eat and sleep while waiting for the tires to be replaced. We got back on the road about an hour later, but Owen never really recovered and would only nap for an hour before waking up and sobbing uncontrollably for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, the next day was infinitely better and by the end, Owen was only really awake during scheduled stops (the key seems to be perpetual motion – construction is the enemy). And while still not a world traveler, he's now driven through DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan (someone missed an exit…) and on a separate trip, Texas.


There's really nothing interesting to report here, but since I'm calling this entry, "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," I thought I'd mention that Owen rode on the Metro for the first time on our trip to the airport, and he slept for the entire twenty minutes we were on board. Obviously this is a superior mode of transport, and if we could only convince them to extend the Metro to Texas we'd be set.


I'd read somewhere that once babies reach six weeks of age, they stop pooping every day. This has not been our experience. Owen generally has two to three dirty diapers a day and has been known to have as many as five, so you can understand our concern when two days before flying to Dallas for Thanksgiving Owen had only had one barely dirty diaper. The following day he had none which resulted in his parents having a caucus as to what to do. I maintained that our son was saving it all for the most inconvenient moment possible 35,000 feet in the air. Allen was so confident that he would go the next morning before we boarded American Airlines that he offered to change Owen should he go on the plane.

He didn't go in the morning and despite some horrible smelling flatulence, he didn't go while we were waiting to be boarded. For the first two hours of the flight he pretty much just slept or ate and we started thinking that we might make it through this without having to change a diaper when in the last half hour of our trip I felt a rumbling. Allen scoffed as we had felt previous rumblings which turned out to be nothing. After a second one, I insisted that Allen at least check.

At which point he really regretted his previous night's offer.

Allen swears he'd never seen so much excrement. Two days worth of poop had filled Owen's diaper and spilled into his outfit. I had to run back to our seats to get extra wipes and a change of clothes as Allen attempted to clean Owen while the flight attendant requested we return to our seats and several passengers looked on. Finally, Allen emerged, shaken but victorious, and we returned to our seats with a much happier baby.

Now we're happily ensconced in Dallas with one more leg of our month long journey ahead of us. Hopefully our return flight will pass without incident, and we can finally spend a quiet weekend at home.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Elaine and I both have family and roots in Iowa, so we envision many road trips to that fair state in our future. We hope to build many fond memories for Owen of trips to his grandparent's house, corn on the cob, summers swimming in the pond, and winters skating on it.

Last week we took Owen on his first road trip to Iowa, though the circumstances of this first foray into the great Midwest were less than ideal. On Saturday, November 5th, my Grandfather passed away at the age of 95.

We had thought our first trip to Iowa would be next summer for Owen's baptism. When we heard Grandpa's health was failing, we moved up out visit to just after Christmas so we could introduce Owen to his Great Grandfather. Once Grandpa was put in hospice care and Dad headed out to Iowa, we decided to drive out to Iowa that weekend and spend the week in Iowa letting Owen meet the family and hopefully giving grandpa a chance to meet him. Sadly, on Saturday morning, around 5 am, while we were packing up the car and getting ready to hit the road my phone rang. I knew before I answered, it was Dad calling to tell me that Grandpa had passed. Our trip would still involve many introductions, but our purpose was now to say farewell.

All of our travel adventures will have to wait for another post, for now I want to fast forward to Wednesday morning, November 8th. Sitting in the Hickory Grove Friends Meetinghouse, across a dusty gravel road from the cemetery where Fawcetts have been buried since the days of my Great Great Grandfather, the silence of my Grandfather's Quaker funeral was broken by the cries of my son. The spirit had moved him to remind us of the beginning of the cycle of life as we sat an mourned the end. After he had reminded us for a while, and was more interested in continuing to remind us than focusing on his bottle, Elaine took him outside to calm him in the warm November air. As they left, I rose to speak:

When I was two years old, I sat in this Meetinghouse during my Great Grandmother Malissa Fawcett's funeral, and my parents gave me M&M's to calm me. My son is a bit too young for M&M's so hopefully a little fresh air will help him calm down. I don't remember that day, and I don't remember meeting my Great Grandmother, but I know the story, and many others besides, because the family kept her memory alive. Grandpa used to tell me how Malissa would say that she must have lived in the most interesting time to be alive. As a little girl living on the frontier, she would hide under the kitchen table during Indian raids, and yet she lived to see Man walk on the moon. I always loved hearing this story as a child, because it made me feel connected to the past and to this land, because this amazing woman who had seen so much, had also known me. Owen may not have met his Great Grandfather, but Floyd had known him and delighted at his birth. I hope Owen will always feel at home here in Iowa, and years from now after growing up with stories of his Great Grandfather, I know he'll be glad that he was here.

Floyd Thomas Fawcett
July 25, 1911 - November 4, 2006