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Chris has been hard at work, still, though with a slight delay last week when trying to figure out an electrical problem. It’s coming along!

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When I wrote my summer goals last month I mentioned wanting to read three books this summer. I am well on my way to getting that done and adding more to the list. I credit a few things for this, one of them being that I gave up Facebook back in late April. The last time I spent this much time away from the site was for the last half of 2009. I’ve done little hiatuses here and there, but it just got to be too much. I don’t have the personality where I can just say I won’t log in…because I will. I have to actually close the account. It got much easier as the weeks went by, though sometimes I felt like I was missing out on little news updates and tidbits, but I really don’t miss the drama or memes or people selling me stuff.

So with my evenings, instead of reading status updates, writing my own, or reading the myriad of links that people post, I am instead doing things around the house, trying to write here, or reading. It’s incredibly refreshing!

What have I read in June?

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+Eat and Run by Scott Jurek: I actually listened to this via a free Audible download. It had been on my radar for several years, particularly when I was vegetarian, and it seemed like an easy book that I could follow while listening at work. And it was. I really liked the book and the person who read it. Scott almost makes me want to run more than 3 miles at a time, but really, I’d rather hike all of those miles he runs in an ultra. It was interesting to listen to his story of growing up, how he got into running, running with the Tarahumara, and how he became a badass runner. It also reinforced my vegetarian ways…I want to go back someday. I might eat my weight in pulled pork before I go back, though!

As a side note I only found out a week or so ago that he currently going for Jennifer Pharr Davis’ Appalachian Trail assisted speed record: read more here.

+Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis: Hah, yes, I mention her above and I also read her first book about her first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. In 2011 she set the AT assisted speed record in 46 days but in her first thru-hike she did it as a typical NOBO hike. I bought this back in October when I was still on maternity leave as part of a Kindle bundle with her second book, Called Again, when they were on sale for like $3 total. I’ve been a fan of Davis’ ever since I followed her AT record in 2011. I went into reading this book ‘knowing’ one aspect of her persona put out on Facebook by her own page, and through news and blog articles. I really like her and support her.

I really did not like her in this book. At first I did but then I started hating her a lot! At first I was excited to be back on the trail, but then some of her side stories just became entititled and obnoxious. It toned down a bit towards the end, though. She actually does address these shortcomings here, so it is nice to know that she realizes she’s changed and that she had some issues in the first book.

That said, I did feel the book was poorly written. It could have been developed so much more! Maybe she wrote it a few years after the fact and forgot some details, I’m not sure. Some of the details she did write were harrowing, including hiking with a guy who was borderline stalker. I know that many women hiking alone are very cautious about who they hike with and their surroundings, so I can’t imagine being stuck around someone you just can’t shake.

In all, it was an easy read and brought back memories from our hike. It is only my third AT memoir to read and I would be put it at the bottom of those three. The Barefoot Sister’s set is by far my favorite AT read, though I really need to Nimblewill Nomad’s account.

+Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: This was an impulse grab off of my library’s audio book shelves. After having success listening to Eat and Run I wanted to pick up a few other books to listen to as a way to break up listening to podcasts. I was familiar with Hitchens but not really of his work. I knew he had died a few years ago and that he had quite the public profile as a writer for many major publications.

This book is incredibly short, about two hours on audio, and it is really a very simply stated and truthful telling of facing death by cancer. There’s no sugar coating it, no glib remarks about putting on a brave face or having a battle with cancer…he pretty much just turns all the fluff about it on its head. I like his writing and I like the narrator for the audio book. I definitely shouldn’t have started here, with his death, but I think I’ll go back and read some of his other works in the future.

In The Middle Of
+The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless: For Into the Wild fans, this is Chris McCandless’ sister telling the rest of the story, what she told Jon Krakauer but did not have him publish. Let’s just say, they did not have a happy home life. I’m about halfway through it and will review it next month.

+Illiumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey: I started this back in mid-spring and had to return it to the library before I finished. I love, love, love it so far. It’s set in the Appalachichola area of Florida, so definitely up my alley.

+Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott: This is another impulse grab off of the library audio bookshelf. Unfortunately it is read by the author and I am having a hard time with her voice. I’m not sure I will finish listening to it or try to find it on paper to read later. This would be my first Lamott book.

On Deck
+Called Again by Jennifer Pharr Davis: Since I bought it as part of the Kindle bundle with her first book I am going to read this, too. I’m hoping for better writing and am definitely excited about the story.

+The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon: Since I am all caught up on other Outlander novels and tv shows, I’m going to bide my time of Droughtlander with Gabaldon’s other novels that revolve around many of the same characters and other small characters in her novels.

Got any recommendations for the coming months?

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When I found out I was pregnant in December of 2013 I knew that our outdoor hiking life would be changing for awhile. I tried to find other people online who still did outdoorsy things with their babies and kids, people who hiked and backpacked with babies and toddlers. I didn’t want that aspect of our life to change that drastically. Of course, it has and it did. But, we still have made it work. Are we doing any long distance trails? Nope, but we are doing long dayhikes. It was our hike in Sam Houston National Forest in February that helped me realize that we could do it, that our outdoor life was going to be there, just looking a bit differently for awhile.

I wanted to offer up some things I’ve been thinking about in regards to hiking with a baby, particularly for those who have been very active previously.

Be Flexible
For everyone’s sanity, maintain this mantra. If something isn’t working, change it. If the miles are too long, go back to the trailhead. If the baby is just too fussy, call it a day. It isn’t the end of your outdoor life, just the end of that particular hike. Savor that experience for what it was and move on to planning the next outing. Enjoy the one or two mile trek in a local park when you can because you know the longer and more adventurous ones are in your future.

Get A Suitable Carrier/Stroller
Good gear sets you up for having a good experience. This goes for having the proper clothing or tent but also for however you are going to carry the baby. There’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable and now you’ve got a baby who can’t adequately express itself in words, so the better the gear you have to support you on your hike, the better of an experience it will be. Does this mean go all out for the top of the line? No way! Do what’s within your means while also looking for used items, too. I’m very thankful we registered for and were able to get a Bob stroller and the Osprey Poco Premium pack, but there are a plethora of other offroad strollers as well as baby and toddler backpacks. I’ve used my Ergo on most of our hikes and it works fabulously, you’ll just have to have a partner carry your other gear (though I have seen pictures of people with baby on the front in a carrier and a daypack on their back).

Psst….Don’t forget your typical hiking gear, as well as snacks and water! Plus a change of clothes for the baby (you know, poo explosions and spit up!), diapers, wipes and all that sort of stuff. Yeah, packing light gets a little tougher.

Start Easy
Do a trial run of a hike around your neighborhood or on a short trail before going for the longer and more remote hikes. Work out the kinks with your gear and make sure you and the baby are comfortable using whatever carrier you have chosen. It’s also a good time to make sure you’ve got all of your other gear together. Even though we’d been out a few times before for short hikes, when we did our long hike that I linked to above, we completely forgot toilet paper. We realized in a pinch we could have nabbed the baby’s wipes, but it’s the small things you’ve got to remember.

Find Some Friends
Maybe you are the one interested in hiking but your partner isn’t? Try to find a meetup group or even the Hike It Baby group to join on a hike, or even some likeminded friends. You could always become adventurous and strike out on your own, too.

Go For It!
On our first excursion with Forest we went to Hamilton Pool over in Austin. Another dayhiker made a comment on the side about Forest being too young to be out there. Ignore the naysayers. If you and the baby are comfortable out on the trails, just go for it. The younger you introduce your child to the outdoors the greater the liklihood they will be enthusiastic about it later in life.

Don’t forget to stop often for hydrating and eating, especially if you are a nursing mom. That’s one great thing about nursing and hiking with a baby—there’s no need for carrying bottles or formula. Just find a comfortable spot on the side of the trail and feed your baby. If your partner is comfortable carrying the baby it is great to switch out who is carrying the gear and who is carrying the baby.

Sure, our hiking life isn’t quite the same, but I hope that as Forest grows he’ll be so used to hiking that we can go on longer treks and overnights. Maybe one day in the not-so-distant future we’ll even embark on another thru-hike—hey, I can dream because there are others who have set that precedent…it is possible!

Happy trails!

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This would be the messy phase of this project. There’s dust everywhere and we both can’t wait until this phase is done so white footprints can stop being tracked around the house. It’s coming along but it’s a tedious process for Chris, putting on the mud for the drywall, letting it dry, smoothing it out. Chris thinks at the end of the week he can have it cleaned up and start painting. We’ll see!

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An Amorpha sp.

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I mentioned Hike it Baby a few posts ago in my link roundup and that I was going to try to go on one with Keely last weekend. Well, we did make it despite some passing t-showers that were coming in off the Gulf. It didn’t threaten to rain until we were about to leave the hike anyway.

We met at a parking lot at the outlet of the Barker Reservoir/George Bush Park in Katy. Terry Hershey Park is a greenway that lines Buffalo Bayou heading east towards Houston. I hadn’t seen Keely since 4th of July in 2013. We’ve kept in touch via email, blogs, and Facebook during this time so sometimes it feels as if we’ve met more frequently than that. Keely had her third son 2.5 months ago and had been in need to get outside and stretch her legs postpartum so she met up some other Hike it Baby groups recently and decided she wanted to lead her own hike.

There was quite a crowd, a diverse one, too, that showed up for the walk. It was just a 2 mile out and back walk down the paved path along Buffalo Bayou. Chris and I decided it was time to get our big backpack carrier out and try it for this walk. Once we put Forest in and he decided he liked it, we realized we should have used it the last two camping trips we’ve had. I think it is going to change our hikes now! Forest seemed content the entire hike and even fell asleep in the carrier on the way back.

I’m hoping to lead my own hikes around my area of town in the near future. We’ve got several great open spaces around here and I’d like to get out and meet other people as well as introduce some nature to some folks. Maybe sometime in August I can get something lined up for an early morning hike or stroll.

You can read Keely’s write-up about the hike here.

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I’ve been seeing ThredUP mentioned a lot lately and I finaly decided to check it out. Someone had posted a link to $10 off your first purchase with the company and I thought it was worth it to see what they may have. Instead of going with the typical brands that most people into fashion would go for, I instead went for brands that you might find at REI or Backcountry.com. Outdoor and hiking brands. It is rare to find good outdoor clothing brands at a Goodwill or other similar stores.

Some of the brands I searched for were Patagonia, Lucy, Mountain Hardwear, Prana, Icebreaker, Arc’teryx, Stonewear Designs, and REI. One I forgot about and looked at later was Marmot. It was hit and miss on some of them, but I did find a few things in a size that I could wear. For those who don’t know, ThredUP is an online consignment/thrift store. You can get some super nice brands for very, very cheap. Items you would definitely not find, or rarely find, at a general thrift store. You can send them your stuff, too. I haven’t done that yet. There’s a whole process where they send you a bag and you ship your stuff off to them and they will either give you money or credit towards the store. It helps you to verify which brands they accept before sending your stuff off to them.

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Lucy is a brand I found years ago when out shopping with my parents at the Southlake Town Center near where they live. I found and fell in love with a pinkish-orange shirt that I wore to pieces. I still have it and wear it for yard work.

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I have several Icebreaker pieces, but they do not come cheap. Sale items are even generally still over $30 or more. This shirt I wore on the Florida Trail is an Icebreaker shirt my dad got me at Christmas before we went on that hike. I really love it—can’t fit into it at this second—but I love the merino wool hiking shirts.

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Mountain Hardwear items are also not very cheap. Another outdoor company I love!

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Columbia is a popular brand and you can find affordable sale items of this brand at places like Academy and Sport Authority, even REI. I liked this tank, though, for my lunchtime running this summer so I threw it into the mix.

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Stonewear Designs is an even more niche brand that is difficult to find a lot of places. I’ve eyed their stuff on many occassions, particularly when mentioned on other hiking or climbing blogs. I’ve just never had the opportunity to purchase anything from them. What was great about this particular piece was that it had never been worn and still had the tags on!

And a bit more of a review…

If you are interested, use this link and you can get $10 off your first purchase—it helps ME because then I can get $10 for later….and so on and so forth down the line with you if you end up buying and then you can share your link with your friends. So far I’m really pleased with the service and I may look into it for getting Forest clothes in the future.

I’ve got a lot of ideas and posts up my sleeve in the coming week or two, but until then I thought I’d share some things I’ve bookmarked in recent weeks and months.

+I heard about the Qalo silicone wedding band on two fitness podcasts recently. I wish I’d known about it (I wonder if it was around 5 years ago?) when I hiked the AT and FT. It is super affordable and much more realistic for hiking than even the simple silver band I wore.

+My brother made a video of his kids fishing during a campout back in April. Love it!

+The map and plant geek in me loooooves these density gradient maps from BONAP.

+Anne of Green Gables fans were full of sorrow back in April when Jonathan Crombie, the actor who played Gilbert Blythe in the three Sullivan production films, passed away suddenly. A generation of girls were in love with him back in the 80s and 90s. I’m pretty sure, no I am sure there are I love Jonathan Crombie and I love Gilbert Blythe doodles scrawled in some of my old diaries. This write-up in the New Yorker summarizes what he meant to many of us.

+I found the Hike It Baby site a few months ago and didn’t really share it with anyone. Then my friend Keely happened to find it as well and she took the initative even further and decided to lead a hike. AND she’s got three sons, the youngest being three or four months old. Anyway, we’re going to join her and some others for a short hike this Saturday. Looking forward to it and maybe I’ll lead a hike around here sometime soon.

+The Crybabies podcast with Susan Orlean (of The Orchid Thief fame) and Sarah Thyre. For the more sensitive of us out there, the ones who easily cry. Gah, there was a commercial that came on right after Forest was born and it would rip me to shreds as I sat there holding Forest while he nursed or napped. I can’t even think of what it was now but I can picture the scenes. Also, if you want to punch me in the gut, play Holocene.

+This Rich Roll podcast episode with Dr. Garth Davis. As much as I am loving my chicken thighs and pulled pork, I am looking forward to going back to being mostly vegetarian eventually.

+This great article about lifting heavy in relation to the myth about being ‘bulky’ from doing so. I’ve got a working out post being written in my head at the moment that maybe I’ll write-up here soon.

What about you? Any good links to share?

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A week or so ago Chris randomly tells me that he’s going to tackle doing a mini-makeover on the guest bathroom/Forest’s bathroom. This came after several months of dormancy on projects around here so I wasn’t expecting it. Really, we typically keep projects like this (except last summer and working on the guest room and Forest’s room) for the winter time and leave summer for working outside. I guess it was on his mind so he went for it!

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It was probably the second worst room in the house when we bought it, the guest bedroom being the worst. Now it is definitely the worst room.

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Chris had already started working on it before I got photos so we’re missing the awful off-white/aged-and-turned-yellow towel bars.

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The pocket door is constantly getting scratched by nails that are hiding behind the wall. Chris’ plan is to take the door off and fix it and then somehow use a tool to get back there in the wall and cut the nails off. We’ll see!

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Ugh, ugly lighting!

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He’s working on all of the prep work first, including patching spots on the wall and sanding areas down.

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We went ’round and ’round about paint colors when we did the guest bedroom so when he told me he was thinking of some kind of gray for the guest bath, it sounded good enough for me for him to just pick a color out. He showed me a photo he found online to get an idea of how dark he was thinking. That was our problem with the blue in the guest bedroom…I was going for more azure and a deep, ocean blue while he was thinking more on the light, sky blue instead.

We’re going with the Moen Voss collection for the hardware in there, except for lighting. We had settled on some lights the other day at Lowe’s but Chris did some reading about them and they are halogen and apparently really hot. Also he read that the fixture rust easily, so they are being returned and we’ll come up with another option.

I also put together a video (what’s new??!)). I’m sure there will be more progress reports as the week(s) go by.

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