Archive for September, 2015
In My Head
I’m thinking about how fast we’ve sped through September already! I am also thinking about how glad I am for the Autumn Equinox. I’m finding that so many people have latched onto loving Fall in the last few years. There’s just something about the light and the colors that make it a magical season.
I decided to go through my archives and pick some old posts from the last five years from September. It was fun to go down memory lane:
+16 Miles Through Sam Houston
+Making Way for New Growth
+Forest at 3 Weeks
Still not a whole lot. I debated getting back into Big Bang Theory this season and did jump into it the other day. After not watching much tv the last three or so months it is a little overwhelming/overstimulating to see commercials and general tv. Still waiting for Homeland to debut in a week or two.
I did end up watching part of that movie Tiny on Netflix one day. I never finished it as I kind of lost interest.
Cowspiracy has been on my radar for the last several months and I did end up watching it on Netflix. I definitely recommend this one as it touches on veganism/vegetarianism on an environmental aspect in regards to water and land use in agriculture. After watching it I did my typical delve into the internet to read about it and to also see about opposing viewpoints. A few years ago I became interested in permaculture and listened to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of blogs about the subject, and overall I generally like the principle. Around the same time there was a TED talk going around by Allan Savory about using grazing animals and how they can restore habitats. Initially the talk captivates you and it all sounds well and good. Until you think on it a bit more from an scientific standpoint. I had a lot of problems with this theory because a lot of permaculturists have latched onto this but I don’t think they quite get that local ecology and local ecosystems might not be well suited for grazing and thus try to apply permaculture principles/theories to habitats that aren’t built for it. The movie did touch on Allan Savory a bit. The guys in the movie were also on the Rich Roll podcast recently and delved a bit more into Mr. Savory, talking about meeting him and actually being invited to his home in New Mexico. The whole thing is a complex issue. I do recommend watching the movie, though. It offers a differing viewpoint on the thought process behind being vegan/vegetarian with less of a focus, though touched on a bit, about animal welfare and more on impacts environmentally.
Since I was on a documentary kick I ended up watching Miss Representation, a movie I saw previews for about four years ago. This movie discussed issues regarding sexism in regards to women, blatant and covert, in our media. The more I watched the more I was happy I am not watching a lot of tv right now. I mean, none of this is news, sexism towards women, or the fact that overall in this world we live in a patriarchal society. Just a good re-focus movie if you want need a little bit of a reality check.
The final documentary is Stories We Tell. I love Sarah Polley and when I first heard about this movie a few years ago I knew I wanted to watch it. I, of course, forgot about it until I went looking for something the watch the other night. Overall I really liked the movie, loved how she shot it—she did good with trying to replicate scenes and passing them off as home movies (there were real home movies interspersed). It actually took me awhile to figure out that a lot of them were replications. And of course it made me want to dig out my Road to Avonlea tapes.
Outside My Window
The light, I love the light this time of year. It is something to soak in.
In The Art Studio
Scrapbooking! I am finally scrapbooking again! Yes, lots of !!!! surrounding that. My photos came in the mail one day and the itching began so I got everything spread out on the table in the studio and I’ve been scrapping away. I have spent a few evenings over the last few weeks in there at just an hour a time, but it feels glorious to be using that space and to be creative again. I’m planning to do a scrapbooking post sometime in the next week.
I need to do some more clean-up in the studio but I anticipate getting back into painting/drawing later this Fall.
In The Garden
Chris and I spent two hard weekends, really it was a total of about four hours between two weekend days over two separate weekends, completely weeding the vegetable garden. Chris has spent another probably two hours tilling in compost and then spreading mulch over the beds themselves. Our weekends are full for the next month so he is trying to go early in the morning to get mulch during a weekday and then spreading it out in the evenings. I’m just glad that space is usable again.
Same as I was reading in July, but I did start Wild. I am making progress with Wild but since I read it before bed I end up getting sleepy rather quickly.
+Kicking Horse ‘Bear Claw’ coffee in the mornings once again. I had a bag of Cinnamon Dolce Starbucks but just finished that. I love Kicking Horse, though. Thanks Elizabeth for getting me into it!
+In the afternoons at work I’ve been sipping some hot tea. Usually chamomile, decaf chai, or my Mother’s Milk tea.
+A new self-supported/unsupported Appalachian Trail thru-hike record has been set and smashed by Heather Anderson aka: Anish with a time of 54 days 7 hours and 48 minutes! The previous record was by Matt Kirk in 2013 of 58 days 9 hours and 42 minutes. Now all that is separating a supported record and an unsupported record is 8 days! I think it will be a few years but I do think someone out there will attempt to get this even closer. Chris and I talked a bit about that 46 day record for a supported hike and how Scott Jurek only bested Jennifer Pharr Davis by a few hours, that beating that 46 day mark is going to be tough. In essence, all ducks need to be in their proper rows while at the same time the stars align perfectly. I like Anish…she’s a badass.
+ Matrimoney podcast. I have listened to Kelsey on her other podcast, The Girl Next Door, but this one is with her husband and they talk about money and marriage. They have an aggressive goal of paying off their mortgage in about five years. Lots of interesting advice and discussion in this one.
+Seriously lifting weights again!!!
+Being more serious on potty training Forest. I’ve been getting him to use his little potty lately, first thing in the morning and it is working. Slowly, but working! In fact, #1 and #2 is being done on it! I’m so thrilled about this and very glad I started casually doing Elimination Communication when he was a month old.
What’s up in your world?
It’s been a long time since I have categorized something as a Local Adventure, though I have had other blog entries that might have been written as such. I decided this hiking trip should be labelled as a Local Adventure and so here we go!
After having quite a busy and hot summer (when is it never hot in Texas during the summer?) Chris and I sat down and planned out a pretty full autumn and early winter, filled with camping trips and other excursions. We have a lot on our plate at home, too, with general yard and house chores. Sometimes, a lot of the time, I tend to get overwhelmed with not having enough downtime on the weekend to catch up from the week. This is heightened now that Forest is being more difficult to get to sleep in the at night as I tend to lose a lot of time in the evenings that I would otherwise dedicate to random chores or personal time.
I was feeling that this weekend, the over-planning stress, when Chris said he wanted to go for a hike on Sunday morning. I had agreed to it on Friday night but by Saturday the weight of reality was hitting me. We still ended up going on the hike, which I am grateful that we did, but I still feel a little frazzled about getting it all done here on the flip-side of the weekend.
Nevertheless, it was a great hike out in Sam Houston National Forest on a portion of the Lone Star Trail we hadn’t been on. The map for the section we hiked is here. We started the trail just west of the junction of FS 271 and FS 204 and parked at a makeshift hunter’s camp on FS 271 (Kelly’s Pond Road), just across from the trail.
We left the house too early for Forest to have breakfast so he had a little bit to eat at our parking spot before we left.
After we got going on the trail it was evident that we were going to have quite a bit of a showing wildflower-wise. There were lots of wonderful plants in bloom for an almost fall morning.
Forest did great in the backpack, though this time we had to be extra careful he didn’t grab handfuls of plants as we walked through thicker sections. Being in an area with yaupon holly (it isn’t called Ilex vomitoria for nothing!) and other potential poisonous plants, we didn’t need him to decide he wanted to taste test the forest offerings!
We crossed several drainages that were fairly well-maintained with either stairs or bridges. The maintenance of the trail itself in this section was pretty good though it was evident that it wasn’t always well traveled. Grass grew high in a few areas whereas other parts of the trail looked like it had traffic more often.
We found a few of these compact Ruellia humilis (that’s what I’m going with, I don’t think it is R. caroliniensis) on the edge of a piepline clearing. I have always loved the native versions of Ruellia. You’ve probably seen the highly invasive garden variety, Mexican petunia.
I believe these are Lobelia spicata, a purple/blue form. The Lady Bird Wildflower Center suggested that the coloration can be highly variable and Google images is showing mostly white flowering types.
We were nearing our time for a break and a turn-around point when we came to this dry creek bed lined with Lobelia cardinalis. It was very gorgeous sight to behold and was enough for us to decide to stop. I wished I had my good camera at this point but we only had the point and shoot. Maybe we’ll keep this in mind for this time next year!
After a short break we turned around and headed back for the car. In all it was about 5 miles and a 2 hour hike. When we started out the morning was cool and pleasant but by the time we were back at the car it was quite warm and humid once again. We’re not quite there with cool temperatures yet, just a tease here and there.
Forest fell asleep on the way back! All in all this was a great section of the trail to explore and I definitely recommend it during this time of year, especially for the flowers! On the our hike we spotted the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, I nearly stepped on a black racer snake that was sunning itself partly in the trail, and we really rattled a raccoon hiding on a log next to the trail. Not bad for wildlife sightings!
Chris has been working on the shoreline of the pond in front of our house lately. Elephant ears have taken over the shoreline in many areas of the pond, particularly where people aren’t maintaining the shoreline as much. We tend to keep our shoreline wilder than many others but that has meant letting the elephant ears get out of control. A year and a half ago Chris worked on knocking them back on the south side of the pond but the north side remained. That area has since gotten overgrown with elephant ears and they have choked out some of the other plants we’ve put down at the shoreline. Chris got out there a few weeks ago and knocked them back and is even target spraying some of them when he can. It will be a hard battle to fight, one that will take a few years I’m sure.
In the meantime, we’re working on planting a few more stabilizing trees down there. Bald cypress trees can be hard to come by at times but we were able to track a few down at Shades of Texas on Forest’s birthday and we planted them that afternoon. Hopefully they will take off like the others we have planted over the last few years.
This year the bees have been doing very well. Last year we had the freak freeze/ice storm in early March just as we were leaving for Florida. We had left the hive unprotected and thus at least half of the bees perished. It was touch and go for awhile and then we ended up with a bad hive beetle infestation. I believe Chris pulled only a comb from the hive, giving us a quart of honey for last year. It was rough last year for the bees. Chris got the hive beetles under control and has been able to take care of the bees better this year and so we ended up with an almost full hive this summer.
Chris got in the hive a week ago so that he could harvest honey for the year. The bees had done a lot of cross combing so he ended up taking off more combs of honey than anticipated. That yielded 3 gallons of honey for us! Ok, it isn’t all for us, we shared! I stayed inside and shot photos from our little window in the stairwell while Forest played before bedtime. I did dash down to Forest’s bedroom window to try to get a different angle, too. Hopefully next year I will be able to help out again, but we’ll see.
Growing up we didn’t have a lot of birthday parties. My parents didn’t always have a lot of extraneous money so most birthdays were quiet family affairs. Even so, I’m still not a big party person (hello, introvert) but I knew that I definitely wanted to have a big bash for Forest’s first birthday. Since Forest’s birthday is so close to Labor Day here in the US we will always have a good option for throwing a party or doing a little weekend getaway as a little family.
For Forest’s first birthday we kept it pretty simple inviting my mom and dad, Chris’ mom and step-dad, and Chris’ dad and step-mom, plus my brother and SIL and Zoe and Grayson, and I invited a friend of mine and her two daughters that are my niece and nephew’s age. I also invited my uncle, my dad’s brother, but he was unable to attend. A simple cookout, cake smashing (round 2 for Forest!) and opening of presents, along with time spent outside enjoying the weather despite the mugginess. All in all it was a good party! I had a lot of plans in my head, some of which were manifested, some were not. The two I really wanted to do but was distracted and dealing with a baby who was having major sensory issues with the crowd in the house, were getting photos of Forest with each set of family and to also have the family record video for him.
Now for more photos!
The Florida Trail has had some hardships in recent years, some I touched on in this post, but more recently a large swath of land in the panhandle is for sale and the Florida Trail was kicked off of this land and rerouted through a roadwalk.
Unless anyone has several million dollars to faciliate a corridor being accessed through there, or better yet whatever billion it’ll take to buy the whole area outright (come on, let’s make another National Forest!), for the current short-term outlook the Florida Trail won’t be going through this area.
Since the option of really helping that area out isn’t going to be something I or most people can actively do, you *can* help do something else.
You can help the Florida Trail win a $25,000 grant to work on trail that goes through St. Marks NWR. I know the section of trail they are talking about in there as it was accessible when we went through in February of 2011 but I know it has deteriorated since then. Closing this section of trail and adding yet another roadwalk is just not ideal for the Florida Trail in this area. So, go here and select the Florida Trail to win the grant! You can vote daily through the end of October. The Florida Trail has been winning since the contest started last week but the Continental Divide Trail is hot on our heels and I suspect it’ll be a close competition because the CDT has a lot more notariety with the outdoor community.
Bookmark it! Vote for the Florida Trail, it needs your support!
Alright, strap yourself in! This is going to be one photo heavy post! If one is going to go all out with photos, a first birthday is a great excuse to do so.
Chris and I took the day off to spend with Forest for his first birthday. One thing I’ve hated in this last year is how little time we really get to spend with him during the week and I think prioritizing moments like this is important if it is accesible to us. We woke up about our usual time this morning, 6:45 am, and took some time to wake up and get moving around the house. Forest opened a few presents from us and then we decided to get going and head up to Sam Houston National Forest for what we’re aiming to be a yearly tradition for the next few years—a yearly family photo. The first two photos from last year and this year’s will be below. After our trip to the national forest we stopped for Mexican food for lunch and then headed to a tree nursery to get two bald cypress trees to plant down by the pond. We had a relaxing afternoon at the house, did smash cake, and let Forest play most of the afternoon. Poor kid was tired earlier than normal and was asleep by 6:15pm!
At the end of the photo extravaganza is a video I put together from his birth. There’s nothing ooey and gory in there because we didn’t take a ton of video, and the video is only about 11 minutes long.
Original photos here.
You can see the rest of the photos from the smash cake here: Forest’s First Birthday album.
I can’t even…a year? A YEAR? I’ve gone through 52 weeks of weekly photos, writing weekly and then monthly about this growing child of mine. If the first six months of his life felt eternally long, the last six months have breezed by me.
Here’s the final installment of Forest’s first year of life. While I won’t be documenting his life like this in this space after this post, I will be keeping things for myself behind the scenes. He’ll still make appearances here in other forms but I’ll be tailoring it differently.
- Food: The kid has finally figured out solid food! We’re still feeding him some jarred food but we’ve started offering a lot more finger foods that he can self feed. It’s messier but he enjoys it so much more. Once he started eating the chunkier jarred foods better I knew that we needed to work harder on finger foods. It took a few tries but he finally got it! Rice kind of started the whole thing. Chris and I went out for Mexican one day and I decided to give him some rice. He’d had a bit of rice at one point a month or so before that and had been interested but not super interested. Well, he went to town with the rice at the Mexican restaurant and has been loving finger foods ever since.
Some of his favorites right now aside from rice are eggs (boiled and scrambled), chicken, carrots, bananas, and ricotta cheese. He’s tried other things like green peas and bits of other fruits but he hasn’t taken to them as much as those items. I’m basically letting him try little bits of meals that we have so he gets used to the various tastes. He doesn’t always eat a ton but sometimes he chows down!
I’m just happy that food finally clicked for him!
- Nursing: We’re still going strong with nursing but he’s definitely going for longer periods of time between sessions during the weekend and also being diligent about making it known when he’s done. When he does want to nurse we do battle a short attention span and him being interested in the environment around him. I’ve decided to currently leave weaning open ended for this next year. I know as he eats more food that nursing sessions will taper off and from what I’ve read it might be just a few times during the day or eventually just at naptime or evening time before bed.
Since I have made it to a year of nursing I am going to slowly break up with my breastpump at work. I’ve been pumping four times a day since I returned to work last October and for the most part my pumping sessions have stayed steady in regards to production. I’ve decided to drop one of my afternoon sessions starting this week. That will leave me pumping twice at work instead of three times. As the months go by I hope to drop sessions as I can and maybe get off of pumping totally. From talking with a friend who dumped her pump after a year but continued nursing at other times, and from other stuff I’ve read, this is totally doable. I’m not in a rush to drop all of my pumping sessions because I wish to delay introducing cow’s milk as long as possible and Forest still drinks 2-3 bottles at daycare.
I think a few months ago I mentioned having a huge milk stash built up. I had privately donated almost 200 ounces to someone and as the months continued going I knew I needed to donate more. I ended up getting in contact with the Austin Milk Bank and went through their registration steps, which included blood work, to be approved to donate to their supply. I got together all of my oldest supply so that it wouldn’t go bad sitting in my freezer and donated another 210 ounces to them a few weeks ago. I will likely donate another 100 ounces in another month or six weeks. The goal is to keep a stash for Forest but not let it sit too long in my freezer. I have been so very blessed to have had a great supply to feed my child but to also share with other families who need it.
- Developmental: This change to toddlerhood has been very interesting. Every day a new light turns on in his brain and something different and awesome happens! He’s really soaking in everything. His attention span has gotten significantly longer in the last month. Where he would have gotten bored with something after 10 or 15 minutes he can now sit for up to 30 minutes playing or watching a cartoon. With the change to toddlerhood he’s also gotten much more active! We are in constant chasing mode.
New sounds come from his mouth constantly and he’s excelling at standing up. He’s not yet decided to take a step yet but we’re in no rush. Chasing a crawler around is hard enough, I can’t imagine chasing a walker. Well, I can—it’s going to be CRAZY!
He’s barely starting to wave but isn’t quite there yet. He will sometimes do what you ask, say if you ask him to clap, he gets that. It’s pretty fun to see him realizing things.
- Health: So far this month we did not have any major health issues, though we think he’s cutting another tooth. Getting in his mouth to see which tooth it is is now difficult because he knows how to bite and also likes to clamp his mouth shut before we stick our fingers in there! We started attempting to brush his teeth but we haven’t been successful yet. Our coworker gave us the idea of just having him hold the brush and watch us do it, so he can see what he should do. Definitely trying to do it ourselves is not going to work at the moment.
I’m a little sad this is over! It’s been fun to try to take his photos weekly, though it was increasingly difficult because he wouldn’t lay still. There were many laugh tactics behind the camera to get him to hold a pose long enough to take a few shots.
Onward to year 2, y’all!