Baby it’s really, really cold outside

photo-282We’re living through an Arctic blast here in Pennsylvania. The snow hasn’t been too intense this winter (unlike in Boston) but wow. This was a good weekend to be indoors. I’ve never had a baby in winter before. I can see upsides and downsides. The downside is that we are pretty much housebound. I can bundle him up, but even the minute it took to get him from the grocery store into the car seat on Saturday set the baby screaming. I nixed a family trip yesterday because of the minus-30 wind chill. If it were summer, we’d be going for daily walks at this point. My January baby has only had one walk, on a somewhat spring-ish 40 degree day a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, you don’t get out that much with an infant anyway, and if it were gorgeous spring or summer weather, the opportunity cost would be higher. There’s not that much to do when it’s this ridiculously cold out anyway, so sitting around watching TV, or reading while the kids play Mario Kart, isn’t quite the same sacrifice.

That said, we did do a few fun things this weekend. On Friday night, I took the 3 big kids to the circus. My husband stayed home with the baby. We had a blast watching the performers. I would really like to interview the woman who gets shot out of a cannon about her life and career choice. In the parking lot afterwards, my daughter ran away from me, which caused momentary panic (and scared the daylights out of the people in the car she was running toward). Fortunately, I was able to nab her before she got far. When I asked her what she thought she was doing, she told me that she wanted to run back to the circus. Yes, my 3-year-old wanted to run away to join the circus. In the car on the way home they all identified which performers they wanted to be. My 5-year-old wanted to be the stunt biker doing tricks on the half-pipe, which didn’t surprise me at all. He’s also told me he wants to be a soldier, and I think specifically, a fighter pilot.

On Saturday, after my attempt at red, heart-shaped pancakes (see photo) my husband took the two older boys to try snowboarding. The two boys took a lesson, and seemed to like it. Humorously, my husband shot this long video sequence of what turned out to be another child going down the hill on his board. I guess in dark coats and helmets, they sort of look the same. I spent the day at home with the baby and the 3-year-old (other than the grocery store trip). It was one of those days full of infant time. He took a long nap, but I didn’t know he’d take a long nap. So I just did what I could. I did get to play outside with my daughter, and I got a run in on the treadmill. I proofread some of I Know How She Does It. When the boys came home, we got the kids to bed and then my husband cooked a Valentine’s Day dinner of king crab legs and asparagus.

On Sunday it was so cold that we were mostly inside (I’m really glad we’ve got that treadmill!). My husband took the 3-year-old swimming at the YMCA, though, and she had a good time. At night, my husband and I went to a local BYOB for our anniversary dinner. We met on February 15th, 2003. We got engaged on February 15th, 2004. It’s been a busy 12 years. I celebrated by sleeping for 7 hours straight (the night nanny was here). This morning, I took the big kids out for breakfast, since they were all on school holiday. They devoured the diner’s silver dollar pancakes. I think next time I’ll have to order off the adult menu for them! Now it’s back to Mario Kart. Oh well.

In other news: I’ve been doing some interviews with fiction blogs about The Cortlandt Boys, my novel, and I’ll be doing a Twitter chat on writing habits and routines on Thursday, February 19th at 12:30 p.m. eastern. The hash tag will be #CortlandtBoys. I welcome questions and suggestions on making time to write, the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction, and so forth. Please join me! I’m @lvanderkam over there.

23 thoughts on “Baby it’s really, really cold outside

  1. I made those exact same (red, heart shaped) pancakes the past 3 mornings for breakfast (they were a hit and begged for again)
    My first was a winter baby, the year there were 3-5 feet piles of snow outside all winter. I did take him for walks daily, strapped to my chest in the carrier, because that was the only way he slept. Despite all the snow that winter it wasn’t anywhere near THIS cold. I would’ve gone insane.

    1. @Ana- or you would have done a lot of going up and down stairs inside! I took the stroller for an indoor walk around the kitchen yesterday. I kid you not.

        1. @Griffin – I hadn’t thought of that! Per your other comment, there are in-home anchor events – maybe a subject for a post! As long as I’m looking forward to it it counts. So post kid bedtime special dinners would go in that category…

          1. Please DO do a post on in-home anchor events. Especially apropos given the dearth of Sunday afternoon activities in the area when it’s winter.

          2. Also, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, how much does a night nanny cost, and what are her responsibilities?

          3. Echoing the enthusiasm for an in-home anchor event post. Implementing that concept has dramatically improved our weekends, but I’m at a loss for how to make it work when we are stuck inside for days at a time!

    1. @June – oh yeah. The “2 hours per day” recommendation is getting violated repeatedly. Maybe 2 hours per kid, per kind of screen (TV, computer, Kindle…)

      1. This makes me feel much better. We left Boston after 10 years in time to miss this record-breaking one, but you still have colds and flu bugs and all the other stuff that make you housebound with young children.

  2. As much as I appreciate the thinking around weekend anchor events, it’s also helpful to see how families muddle through weekends when out-of-the-home activities are limited for any number of reasons.

  3. OLDMD, We used a night nanny when our twins were born four nights a week for the first month and then slowly weaned downed to no nights by the time they were four months old and I returned to work. Our daytime nanny for my return to work started a few days after our night nanny finished. Night nannies can charge a little more than the going rate for day nannies because a) it’s night and b) it’s infant work and c) they are often for families of multiples. Everyone had lots of advice for me when I was pregnant with the twins, but the one constants was “get a night nanny!” It was worth every penny and basically meant I started paying for child care four months earlier than anticipated. I’m foggy on the rate, but I want to say it was $25/hour for 10 p.m. – 7 a.m. in the greater Boston area in 2012.

    1. @Griffin and OMDG – that’s about right. Will be more or less depending on person’s experience, whether it’s weekday or weekend, multiples/singles. Some people are less per hour because they do 24/7 coverage. We aren’t doing that version this time around. Duties include all baby care other than nursing. I nurse between 7-8 p.m. at some point. Then I pump before I go to sleep and she gives the midnight-1am bottle. Then I do the feeding between 4-5 a.m. On nights she’s not here, I sleep a lot less because I’m listening for the baby, spending the time it takes to rock him or quiet him down, etc. If my husband is here he can do the midnight bottle, but then I wind up covering the rest of the night and not sleeping much. She also does a lot of clean up. I now wake up to a clean kitchen and coffee in the pot!

      1. Also, I feel like what I’m really going to need is a 2nd nanny between 4 pm – 8 pm, when the older kids are all home from school, have homework and other activities, need to get ready for bed and there is a baby having evening”fussy time”.

    2. Laura, yes, I forgot those other duties which do help. Our night nanny did their laundry and cleaned all bottles and pump parts, etc.while on duty.

  4. I have suffered the winter baby blues. My son was born at the beginning of the season just over a year ago, a month early, in fact. It was one of the historically coldest winters to ever hit Chicago. Whole days went by when I didn’t even step outside to get the mail, because the wind chill was 20 or 30 below. He was almost three months old by the time the temperatures started to creep into the teens and I felt comfortable taking him out and about. I was used to walking outside every day, so I settled for trips to Target or the mall where we could walk laps and I could enjoy being around other people. I vowed that I would never have another winter baby, but now I’m starting to feel that I might not have as much control over that as I like to think!

    1. @Lindsy- At least we live in the era of central heating! Can you imagine having a baby in this weather while living in a log cabin heated by a fire?

      1. I know! I actually thought about that quite a bit in the postpartum days – how pioneer women had babies to care for, but they still had to keep the home going without running water, electricity, and all of our many modern conveniences. We are very lucky.

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