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  • Archive for May, 2014

    I started seeing the tag #100HappyDays pop up around the internet a month or two ago and thought it was interesting. The gist is to snap a shot of something that makes you happy for 100 Days. I was watching the photos my cousin Elizabeth posting and remarked that it sounded like a project I might do but wasn’t sure if I felt up to taking a photo a day for 100 days. My track record with any kind of photo challenge hasn’t been all that great. I attempted the 365 portrait challenges that were popular on Flickr 5 years ago and even tried a Summer in Photos two summers ago but failed to continue after we moved into our house.

    Anyway, Elizabeth gave me a suggestion that I could do it for the last 100 days before Teddy was born. Well, that day 100 countdown started last week. And here I am, attempting to chroncile the happy snippets of the 100 days before I have a kid!

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    Day 1: Grayson, Paw Paw, and Chris all hanging out at the bench Chris built out of a tree that was cut down at our office. We had been meandering in the yard that morning, taking it all in.

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    Day 2: My fisherman husband appeasing a gaggle of kids by taking them all fishing, some for their first fish ever!

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    Day 3: Zoe giving a goofy grin as she stands next to one of the tomato plants for perspective on how tall the plant had grown.

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    Day 4: The second day of heavy rain resulted in our pond flooding and covering the dock. I’m happy ’cause the items on the dock didn’t float away. The water rose higher the following day, but not as bad as this day two years ago.

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    Day 5: Finally, it is peach and nectarine season! I’ve been patiently waiting for local/American grown peaches and nectarines to come into season and that day has finally arrived.

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    Day 6: We bought patio furniture—FINALLY!—and who decides that it is the perfect nap time material? Ruby and Mr. Stripey, of course.

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    Day 7: Chris has started work on making a closet for Teddy out of the extra-large closet in the guest bedroom. He’s been doing a lot of work lately and I really appreciate it and feel bad that I can’t participate in as much as I would like to.

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    I got to see my niece and nephew, Zoe & Grayson, two weekends in a row after not having seen them since the very end of January. It was quite a crazy two weekends, the second weekend especially since they came down to see me.

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    Zoe’s moving on from kindergarten to first grade! I can’t believe it!

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    And Grayson, well, he’s a little daredevil. I’m afraid for my future in dealing with having a boy of my own…I think my hair is going to turn gray fast! (Still haven’t really found a gray hair yet. There’s one or two that I can’t tell if they are white or just really blonde. I think this will change after September and I have Teddy.)

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    So, these photos above were all taken up in Ft. Worth and the following were taken at my house.

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    Chris was picking up random limbs from around the yard and putting them on our fire pit. Grayson decided he was going to help out. The pumpkin shirt was actually Zoe’s several years ago and has now moved on to become Grayson’s sleeping shirt.

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    The dock was definitely a highlight of the trip, mostly because Uncle Chris would go fishing with them! Both were enamored with catching fish and being out on the dock. The kids came down with just my parents, Mimi and Paw Paw, so their own parents weren’t with us. I had been looking forward to taking them out on the canoe and we even have kid-sized life jackets just for them, but their mom and dad sent them down with express directions *not* to go in the canoe without them. Well, the dock was the next best thing to enjoy….next time their mom and dad will have to come down so they all can enjoy paddling in the canoe!

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    Zoe loves coming up into my studio so she can paint and draw. On my drawing desk, I have lined up a set of these teddy bears. Most of them came from my grandmother, Nanny, though a few I had for myself. Apparently Zoe had been eyeing them and asked for one, so I indulged her and let her chose one to take home. I expressed how a lot of them were from Nanny, which meant they were sentimental, so if she ever changed her mind about wanting it to make sure to give it back to me instead of throwing it out.

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    My mom with Grayson.

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    One of the toys the kids love to play with when they visit is the ‘Marble Game’. It’s a set of plastic tubes that are constructable and you stick a marble in the top and watch is go down the tower you built. We hadn’t played with it all weekend and so I told them they had to wait for Uncle Chris since he constructs really elaborate and fun towers that make the marble shoot out across the room. They set up right on the stairs just inside the house and I had been doing a bit of weeding in the flower beds when I peeked inside the front window to see Grayson playing.

    Growing up there were always those special toys that either my friends or relatives only had and I remember looking forward to playing with them when we visited.

    Zoe is really impressive with her reading skills, too. I can’t believe how well she reads! They are both interested in the baby in my belly, Zoe probably more so. She’ll get up in my stomach and talk to Teddy, often telling him she can’t wait for him to come out! I keep reminding her that he needs to stay in three more months and not come any sooner!

    I love these two kids…they definitely keep you on your toes.

    It’s been a rainy 2.5 days here in my neck of Texas. Between 11am Monday morning and about 5pm yesterday afternoon we had 4.7″ of rain. We’ve had even more since then and my backyard is more flooded this morning than it was last night. There’s even more of a swimming pool in my front yard than you see in this video. The chorus you hear singing is from the eastern narrow mouthed toad! At one point last night I asked Chris if he was playing this video and he said, “No, that’s the toads outside!” So, that’s how loud they were! Usually we get a lot of green tree frogs as well but I think it was too early for them to be making a racket.

    Not sure how much rain we got overnight, but we’re definitely making up for a previously pretty dry spring.

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    Another one of my favorite garden plants is the ‘Lauren’s Grape’ Poppy. Last year I wrote about them over on Sprout Dispatch and they bloomed at about the same time last year as this year, maybe a little bit earlier last year, though, since we got them in later this year. I swore I saved seeds last year but couldn’t find them and we ended up buying a new packet of seeds from our local nursery instead. We had a mix of some coming up on their own from last year and then Chris sprinkled the seeds about in various places in the garden. I’m hoping a few of the stragglers plants will still bloom, but I’m not sure they will.

    I love this poppy for its vertical grace, much like the foxglove. It adds dimension to the garden and different color to the garden than most of what is planted in the garden at the moment, a lot of yellows and reds.

    It’s also gladiolus season, but that’s another post for another day!

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    We planted several bulbs (tubers?) of Spigelia marilandica, or Indian pinks, last spring. They came up last year but were chomped on by the deer and then went dormant. They returned this year and most of them have been chomped on by the deer but somehow this one escaped long enough to bloom. Of course the following day when I went back to check on the bloom and top part of the plant was gone. The deer waited long enough for me to get a photo before greedily feeding on the plant. Maybe we’ll have more next year??

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    This photo is a little blurry as it was nearly dusk and I was very low to the ground and looking underneath foxglove leaves. I’d been checking a certain area where the pineapple lily we’d planted last year might be. Some of our more tropical plants have taken their time in coming up this year, waiting until May to make their appearance. I’d about given up on them when for the heck of it I decided to check the other evening. To my surprise there were several plants coming up so the following evening I took the clippers to the foxglove leaves that were shading out the lilies in order to get the plants to grow just a little bit better. Of course this will probably just prove to be fodder for the deer, but I don’t recall last year if the deer ended up eating the lilies or not. Let’s hope not, I’m tired of disappointment in the garden.

    Those were just two little delights, as tiny and as fleeting as they may be.

    Back in December my cousin Elizabeth received a VoxBox from Influenster. I’d never heard of it before but after seeing her video posted I was defintiely curious. She sent me an invitation to sign up and join, which I did. Basically Influenster is a product review service and if you are selected to receive one of their boxes, you review what you receive and keep the goodies for free. The idea is to share it on some form or multiple forms of social media as well. I was a little bit iffy on doing it at first, for one because I’m not really into doing product reviews on my blog and turning this place into some giant ad space. I write what I want to write when I want to write it.

    Anyway, I signed up, did some of the basic survey stuff on there with some input on products that I’d used before and kind of ignored my account. I figured there was no way I would ever be selected for a box because I did so little with the site and my blog is not a product placement type blog. Well, back in February I got an email saying I was up for the J’adore VoxBox and so when I received it I kind of kept it on the back burner because it was a mix of frou-frou items that I’m not really into. Like false eyelashes. So, just to participate I did a quick video for YouTube and linked it to my Influenster account and did all of the proper final surveys for receiving the box and again ignored my Influenster account. You can see my review video here. Lots of rambling and heavy breathing, still in the first trimester there.

    I figured there was no way I would ever get another box, let alone one so quickly, when I received an email two weeks ago asking for me to fill out a short survey to see if I fit into their cohort for getting another box. Then I got an email to say I would be receiving the Go VoxBox, which sounded definitely a bit more up my alley. It arrived over the weekend after I’d forgotten that it was supposed to come.

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    Chris opened it up for me since I was busy doing something else and when I went to see what all was in there I was definitely surprised at how much of the products were more in line with items I might actually use.

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    Chris takes a lot of baths so the lavender bath soak he was definitely all for. I’m not nearly as much of a bath person, but I would definitely use the bath salts if I decided to opt for a bath. The blueberry almonds sounded intriguing and I meant to take them to work yesterday but forgot. I did try the chocolate protein drink using the cup that was provided and was not grossed out, in fact it was actually pretty tasty. I really like the to-go shake cup as well. Would I actually buy one? Probably not, but since I have this one I’ll probably use it on occassion, if not just to put in a smoothie that I made in the blender versus one from a packet. The tampons, yes I’ll use eventually after Teddy arrives. I think I’m going to hold onto the orthotics for when I buy some new running shoes after Teddy is born. The only time I really use orthotics has been in my hiking boots, but I’m hesitant to try a new orthotic than what I am used to in my hiking boots. I’m willing to try these out in another manner that doesn’t usually result in my getting blisters, like in hiking boots! The pedirock is intriguing. I typically like my callouses and I might have been a bit regretful after the first pedicure post AT thru-hike…I think the woman who did my pedicure wondered how on earth I had such thick callouses, but callouses mean less blisters. Hopefully the pedirock isn’t too difficult to use like some pumice stones can be.

    Anyway, I thought I’d share this with y’all especially since it was definitely geared more towards my lifestyle. I don’t know if I’ll blog about future boxes if I get others, but this one sounded relevant enough to the blog for me to write about it. I just checked my Influenster and I can invite 20 people so if you are interested leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite via email.

    Now, Influenster, how about a gardening one? Some seeds, gardening gloves, a shovel? Maybe some gardener’s lotion or soap? I’ll totally review that one!

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    25weeks

    It’s hard to believe that I’m on the downhill side of this pregnancy. I mean, at least in terms of time. The little dude still gets to grow another 7lbs or so (I’m mentally limiting his size to about 8lbs…let’s not go higher than that, ok kid?) and my belly is going to stretch even more over the summer. I’m definitely beginning to get more uncomfortable and the indigestion just keeps getting worse. Blargh. Tums is my friend these days.

    We’ve only got three weeks left in our Bradley Birth class. I’ve really appreciated the class and am glad we attended the class. I think we’ll be as prepared as we can be by the time the class is over and we’ll just spend the summer reviewing what we’ve learned and continuing to do the relaxation exercises. I need to sit down and work on a birth plan this week so I have a draft ready for our next appointment with the midwife at 27 weeks. Thankfully the midwife was very open to the birth plan and was familiar with them when I mentioned it to her at the last appointment and so I think we’ll be able to work with her quite easily on our wishes for a natural and as much as can be, intervention free, birth.

    I took forever reading it, but I finally finished Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I highly recommend reading this book for anyone who is pregnant. The first half is mostly birth stories and the second half goes into all of the stages of labor from a natural birth viewpoint as well as elaborating on all of the potential interventions that may occur or be offered to you at birth as well as their consequences or benefits. Our Bradley Birth teacher let us borrow Birth Story, a movie about Ina May and her work at The Farm from the 70s up until today. There’s a completely fascinating and freakin’ scary natural butt-breech birth in that movie, too. I started watching it while Chris was out of town working in the field and finished it the following evening when he’d returned. He was getting out of the shower when the breech birth was being shown and the woman was making a lot of noise and he came in asking ‘Is that a Bradley birth?’, because Bradley births are generally more relaxed and quiet. I told him no, it was the butt-breech birth—which he didn’t know could happen until we talked about it in class. For the men or the unaware, butt breech is obviously where the baby is butt first and the legs are tucked up and folded against the body. Once the butt is delivered the midwife reaches up and manually untucks each leg so that the rest of the body can safely be delivered. Definitely a difficult birth position, but Ina May and her midwives have kept up the techniques and methods of delivering breech babies, whereas most doctors these days have lost/not learned the ability to delivery breech babies and usually schedule breech’s for a c-section. Let me just say that I mentally told Teddy he was going to need to be sure *not* to be breech ’cause that did not look like fun…and I don’t want a c-section.

    Since I only have an estimated 15 weeks left with Teddy in my belly, I’ve been going back and forth between wishing that I am ‘myself’ again and being wistful that in 15 weeks he’ll be on the outside and not inside me any longer, meaning I won’t get to feel his movements anymore. And if this ends up being my only pregnancy, it’ll be the only time I get to feel a baby inside me (don’t jump to conclusions on this, please. I have no idea what our future prospects on other kids are at the current time, nor can I outrule any problems conceiving subsequently. It’s just a general thought.). So, I bounce between savoring it all and wishing I was in badass thru-hiker shape with some skinny jeans. Teddy has been moving a lot more in the last week and he likes to kick or hit me hard enough to freak me out a bit. It almost feels like someone coming up from behind you and punching you in the shoulder…well, at least the surprise of it. I’ll be laying on my side in bed and *WHAM* into the side of my belly, enough to make me jump. It’s definitely surreal! And he’s to the point where when he moves my entire belly jiggles!

    Over the weekend Chris and I were in DFW and we raided my parent’s attic for all sorts of baby items. They were from my niece and nephew’s baby days and so now I have pile of great hand-me-down baby stuff that I won’t have to register for. Some of it I was iffy on wanting/needing, but now I’ll at least have some of this stuff to use for if and when Teddy wants to use it. I am also accumulating so many blankets! Between blankets I already had, blankets my mom was keeping to pass down and some others I got from Chris’ mom, I’m going to be overloaded with blankets. I am still debating whether or not to make a blanket for Teddy since I usually make blankets for most of my friend’s kids (I’ve slacked a few times!), but I thought Teddy probably needs one from his own mother so I’ll likely put one together this summer. I’m thinking a sewn quilt versus a crochet blanket, though.

    Anyway, other than just reading more birth stuff I’m trying to already think about breastfeeding and attempting to read up about that. Talk about another controversial subject in the baby world…

    I guess that’s about it. Teddy does have a name but I don’t really want to post it online until after he’s born. Family and a few friends know, and more friends will find out eventually, but there’s something about keeping it quiet until he arrives.

    I guess that’s about it for now!

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    Back in the summer of 2000 I did a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle tagging internship with my university, Texas A&M at Galveston. We spent the summer catching sea turtles adjacent to jetties in Sabine Pass, Texas and two other passes in Louisiana. It was there that I fell in love with sea turtles, namely the Kemp’s ridley which is the smallest and most endangered of the sea turtles in the world. I loved them so much ‘Ridley’ became my trail name while on the Appalachian Trail and is still my trail name today.

    Two weekends ago Chris and I, along with some coworkers, volunteered for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Shell-e-bration down on Stewart Beach in Galveston. It was hosted by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project with many different state, federal and local agencies/organizations with booths set up to educate beach goers about the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, but also to celebrate that the state of Texas making it the offical sea turtle of Texas, much like we have a state bird or tree, etc.

    We were there most of the day talking to all of the folks coming to the beach when sometime around lunch time we found out that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was going to be bringing two ridleys to release! The two turtles had been caught in shrimp nets (or fishing nets, I can’t recall) a year ago and had been rehabilitated at the lab in Galveston over the year. It’s been years since I’ve seen a ridley, but I’ve seen many other sea turtles since then while we lived in Florida, primarily loggerheads, so I was incredibly stoked! Kemp’s ridleys historically nested on Texas beaches with the primary arribada nesting being done on certain beaches in Mexico. However, with the decimation of the sea turtle population in the Gulf of Mexico it was many years before Texas finally started seeing nesting sea turtles on its beaches again. Most of the nests are located on South Padre Island with others scattered along the coast elsewhere. There had been an upsurge in nesting done by ridleys within the last 10 years but it seems the last two years have seen a decline in the number of nests and a lot of folks are worried about potential reprucussions from the BP oil spill four years ago finally having their affect on the population. It’ll be interesting to see how the trend goes in coming years.

    Anyway, when we found out that two turtles were going to be released I was very excited! I was also nervous because Stewart Beach was incredibly packed that weekend! Luckily we found a great spot down at the waterline, where most people didn’t want to stand, and got a great view of the two turtles being released. Of course I brought just one lens for the event, a 50mm, thinking I was going to be taking people shots to share with my coworkers so I had to make do with that lens. If only I’d had the long lens! I ended up zooming and cropping some of the photos you see in order to crop out the crowd and to get a better look at the turtles. I was happy to see I got at least one good shot with the flipper tag in one of the turtles.

    It was an awesome end to the event and I’m glad the folks who were there got to see a sea turtle being released. It is not a common event in Texas whereas in Florida there are turtle walks and hatchling walks with various organizations around the state.

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    Here in Texas most of the major wildflowers that are seen earlier in the spring, bluebonnnets and paintbrushes, have faded for the most part. In their place a plethora of other wildflower have taken over, such as these prickly poppies. Their white tops dot the landscape of many fields around the area and the flower is quickly becoming one of my favorite wildflowers. Over the weekend Chris and I went to Lake Somerville State Park in the Nails Creek Unit for a camping trip. You may remember that we went hiking on the Somerville Trailway there last November with our AT friend Red Hat.

    Chris and I didn’t hike 9 miles this weekend, probably about 7 miles total the entire weekend. I wasn’t sure how well I’d hold up doing some miles on the trail with a nearly six month pregnant belly, but it wasn’t too bad. Aside from stopping to pee behind a bush more often, I felt great! We kept our hiking to mornings or evenings, though, avoiding the afternoons where the temperatures are starting to get into the low 90s these days. We’re quickly hurtling towards summer…and frankly, I’m worried about a repeat of the 2011 drought. Though, technically most of Texas has been in an extended drought for a decade with some years, and areas, worse than others.

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    The carolina larkspur, Delphenium carolinianum, were gorgeous, though they weren’t in the quantity that other wildflowers were in.

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    One of the more interesting finds was what seemed to be a locally distinct population of Gaillardia that were strictly red. Initially we thought they were restricted to the main area of the campgrounds but we saw them spread out along the trailway for several miles. I don’t think they are a …. err, oh, hey, looks like they are Gaillardia amblyodon.

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    It was really cool to see this different species of a genus that I really love.

    In all, it was a great weekend of camping, particularly at a state park with a lot of hiking accessibility.

    Lemme in!!

    It’s hard to believe this little kitten is now 10 years old! Leo came into our life July 1, 2004 when we lived in an apartment in far west Miami. We’d heard a squeaking noise all night, sounding like a bird. At one point I got out of bed and walked around to the back side of the apartment, we were on the ground floor, to see if I could figure out the noise. I saw nothing, but the next morning Chris found Samson sitting by the sliding glass door staring out at this kitten that wanted inside. Chris and I managed to corral him to stay on the porch with some food and a laundry basket lined with a sheet and decided we’d keep him if he was still around by the time we got home from work. I’m fairly certain Samson didn’t like this arrangement initially, but Leo was persistent and now they are pretty good brothers to each other—though Leo can still be a little bit of a punk. We estimated his birthday based on that when he showed up he appeared to be about two months old.

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    One of Leo’s (many) nicknames is ‘Runty’, but really he’s the giant of the pair of cats, especially since Samson has turned into ‘Grandpa’ Samson these days. Leo knows cat people and it takes him awhile to warm up to non-cat people or just strangers in general, but he comes around eventually.

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    And we can’t leave Samson out…he’s hanging in there are somewhere around 17 years old. We’re pretty sure he’s going deaf since he meows louder than he used to and sometimes he takes awhile to wake up when we get home.

    It’ll be interesting to see how they adapt to having a human brother in the household come September!

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