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  • Archive for September, 2016

    Two years ago we started taking photos at a particular spot in Sam Houston National Forest. We were a few weeks later than usual this year but we finally made it out to take photos. I like the progression:

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    Before Forest

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    Two weeks after that first photo

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    Last year’s photo

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    And this year!

    One thing I do notice from being out there and in the photos is that the area needs to be burned again, there’s quite a bit of undergrowth and it doesn’t look as nice as it did those first two times. I’m also annoyed with the painting on some of the trees, I’m guessing to mark trees to be harvested. Trying to frame a photo with them in view is frustrating. It was mid-afternoon when we went this time and quite hot plus Forest had his own idea of what he wanted to do so we didn’t get nearly as many photos as I would have liked.

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    There’s some PawPaw hair going on there!

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    Our first stop on our vacation trip was to the ‘Big Tree’ at Goose Island State Park to get one of the Famous Trees of Texas. You may recall last year we stopped in Rockport to nab one but didn’t stop and grab this one. I had sights on getting another tree in Corpus Christi while we were on this trip but we never made it up to get it.

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    We’d just missed a rainstorm when we arrived at the tree and thankfully it was overcast so it wasn’t too hot but the mosquitoes were out. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve hung out with that many mosquitoes—it was pretty awful. I ducked into the woods to use a tree and it reminded me of some of the worst times I had to do that in Florida. Needless to say we didn’t hang around the tree too long.

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    The seasonal transition is starting, the inching towards fall and all of the wonderful parts that come with it; pumpkin everything, the wonderful autumn light, cooler weather, a new gardening season. I was thinking back to myself two years ago, with a fresh baby. There I was sitting at home spending most of the time nursing or changing a diaper and watching autumn come and slowly fade into winter. I missed my favorite season. Sure, I attempted to get out and enjoy it when I could but there was no savoring of that season in the usual sense. Does part of me wish there was a little baby to hold now? A little but I’m also relishing another transition, this one of toddlerhood. It’s all I can do to not scoop the kid up and hold him tightly and never let him go because he’s so darn adorable, even in his hysterical tantrum moments. Ok, maybe not every tantrum and trying moment. Sometimes I just want him to understand reason! And patience.

    Nearly two years ago I wrote a post in which I wondered who I was and where I had gone. I recall that after the post had published to Facebook (back when I was on the platform) that many of my friends chimed in that they had felt the same and it took some time, several years usually, for that old self to return—albeit maybe in a transformed way. I was glad for the verification of the feelings but frustrated that no one had bothered to share it with me beforehand. Of course, would I have listened? Would any first-time mom have listened? That said, here I am two years out from that and I can firmly say that I am feeling more like my old self once again. Not completely there of course, but the glimpses are more long lasting.

    There are two other transitions that have occurred in the last week. The first would be that I stopped pumping milk at work. I know, I know, some of y’all are raising your eyebrows at me and wondering how I pumped for two years when most of y’all (who have breastfed) stopped that pumping bit at the first six months or a year. Well, for several reasons I kept going. One was that after I hit that year mark of breastfeeding I set my sights on two years and pumping would keep that up. Sure, I could have stopped and my body would have adjusted to nursing only during the times I was with Forest but I figured that if I slowly dropped sessions and went from there it would be a lot easier on me and I might reach the two year goal. I had dropped down to one session at work sometime in mid-winter so I was only the pumping 3-4 ounces and less than 10 minute pumping session right before lunch every weekday. I looked at my pump a few weeks ago and decided that after Forest’s two year checkup and talking to the pediatrician I was probably going to stop pumping. I had continued because I had wanted to delay giving him other milks if there was a way that I could still give him my own milk for any reason. Thanksfully my situation at work afforded me the ability to continue pumping so I figured, why not? I know some people hate pumping but I never hated it. Sure, it was an inconvenience but it was never something I loathed. So, all of that combined led to the extended pumping and I am glad to be done with it and glad for what I accomplished. There is now no more frozen milk in my house! All of it has been donated!

    The second transition happened the same day as the stopping the pumping. We started sleep-training. I know it could have happened sooner but as the person with the milk and the body parts that have become the soothing mechanism in the house, I was the one who handled nighttime. And I fell into a pattern that was easiest for me because I felt like I couldn’t do anything else. A year ago I had transitioned Forest to his crib and it took a few weeks but he stopped nursing to sleep at bedtime. I’d pat his back or hang out quietly in the room with him while he went to sleep. I still do this because it is easiest at this point but I may change that here in a few weeks—we’ll see. But without fail the kid woke up 3-4 hours later and then every two-ish hours after that to nurse. For a long time I could nurse him and put him back down to sleep but eventually that stopped working and as a sleepy mom I just wanted the quickest result that lead to me sleeping once again, so I would take him to the guest room with me to sleep after that first or second wakeup. Sure, there were times this last year where he would sleep for long stretches, even once or twice that he ‘slept through the night’, from 8pm until 4am, but they were never replicated. Needless to say it was a frustrating situation for everyone in the house. I have never been a proponent for cry it out or some of the other sleep training methods. I read up on tons of them but I would consistently see negative things about cry it out, especially for babies. I had seen many pro-breastfeeding people show that night waking was very common with breastfed kids and there were a lot of biological norms for this. I knew I wasn’t alone. But something had to give and our pediatrician suggested the cry it out for him and well, we bit the bullet and tried it. It was effing hard that first night with the first wakeup. When your kid is crying for you, you want to go to him. We watched on our monitor for thirty minutes and it was miserable for me. But, he gave up and laid back down. The rest of the wakeups that night were on that 2 hour time schedule but did not last more than 5 minutes, with most 30 seconds to 2 minutes before he laid back down. I got him at 4:30 that first night because I really needed him to empty the milk—I wasn’t used to no nursing at night yet—but the rest of the nights he’s stayed in his crib until anywhere from 5:45 (strike that, we’ve had one or two 5am wakeups…I drafted this before those happened!) until 7:30. There are much longer stretches of sleep, short fusses, but he always lays back down. I know if he wakes up after 5:30 without going back down quickly that he’s up for the day. On the days he has slept beyond when we’ve gotten up it has been incredibly odd feeling, to have to wake him up instead of him all of us being up together. It’s a work in progress but at least, for the most part, we’re getting more consistent sleep around here.

    Everything is moving fast around here, words are getting easier to understand, though there’s plenty of whining, too. He may be a toddler but little kid land is right around the corner! I’m learning what to abandon and figuring out what to focus on instead and am constantly trying to make sure I’m trying to balance it all out as much as possible.

    Happy Sunday y’all! Mid September already? I put out my fall decor over the weekend. It’s not much, mostly ceramic pumpkins I’ve picked up over the years but I got a few other fall pieces at Hobby Lobby last month that included an owl and some fabric pumpkins. I’m holding off on the Halloween items until October but honestly? I think I like the generic ‘fall’ decor because I can keep it up through November!

    Here’s a few few reads and listens for your Sunday!

    Reads
    +Stop Asking for Permission from Maris Mohi in regards to blogging or really, just about anything. Just “do what you want to do”. I know for some people this comes easy but for, I think, most of us it doesn’t.

    +A few weeks ago Lisa asked me to send a healthy snack idea for a list she was compiling from other bloggers and the list debuted while I was on vacation. You can check out the 23 snack ideas here! Lots of good ones that I need to incorporate. Lisa is also sending out a weekly newsletter right now with a healthy snack challenge that includes recipes if you are interested in signing up!

    +Evil Weeds from the Florida Native Plant Society touches on the differences from native plants that might be ‘weedy’ like Spanish needles (Bidens alba—I miss that plant!) to true invasive weeds.

    +I was drooling over Julie Zickefoose’s bobcat encounters in her yard a few weeks ago. Her bobcat friend reappeared several times and she got some amazing shots from her window. Pretty awesome!

    +Joan of Rambling Hemlock is back on the PCT after a two year departure to heal her foot and do some work with Americorps. She’s finishing the rest of the PCT and is currently in Washington where she met and hiked for a bit with Anish on Section K of the PCT. What an awesome experience!

    Listens
    +Kelly Starrett on Chase Jarvis’ Podcast Pain Isn’t Normal. Furthering my interesting in increasing my mobility and flexibility and pushed me into getting a foam roller, something I have mulled over for awhile now. This is a must listen if you are interested in bettering your health in multiple ways. Kelly is from Mobility WOD if you’ve ever seen that site.

    +The Working Girl Next Door Part I and The Working Girl Next Door Part II on the Coffee and Crumbs Podcast with Kelsey Wharton of The Girl Next Door Podcast. These episodes hit close to home because it’s about being a working mother and balancing/juggling all of the things that we do as working mothers but also about relationships, kids, hobbies, all of that good stuff.

    *Later edit*
    +I forgot to include this episode of Radio Cherry Bombe with Martha Stewart! Excellent Q&A with her and she seemed so much more down to earth than I think I’ve imagined. I hope she’s got many more years!

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    For our vacation, since we were on North Padre already, we opted to drive down to Padre Island National Seashore for all of our beach visits. I think this was mostly spurred because the first night we were there we drove down after dinner and it was quite peaceful with just a few cars on the beach. Even though we spent about 20 minutes driving down there, being able to drive on the beach eliminated the need to haul our gear across the street to the beach that was directly across from our hotel. There are definitely good and bad things about being able to drive on Texas beaches. One of them I later realized was not only did we need to keep a toddler from going surfing on his own but also keep him out of the beach roadway! The road issue wasn’t nearly as problematic during the weekdays but as the holiday weekend started the quiet beach quickly turned into a very busy affair, complete with people setting up camp in tents and RVs the first five miles of PINS. I knew from our experience last year on the beaches down on Mustang Island closer to Port Aransas, that those beaches were probably doubly packed with wall-to-wall people!

    Being on the beach with a toddler versus a baby was completely different. While both had their ups and downs (baby: mom and dad get to play in surf while grandparents watch baby; toddler: no grandparents meant no playing in surf together but it meant playing in the sand and building sandcastles and oohing at the Coast Guard or pelicans flying by) it was definitely a great experience for Forest. It made me wish we had gone to Galveston at least once this summer but we never made the time. Next summer we need to go a few times at least. A funny thing was that we had a some beach toys from last summer but couldn’t really find many parts to them, only a bucket and shovel. Then, just about every single day we were out there we would find at least one shovel or rake to add to our collection. We now have a nice beach toy collection just from picking up stuff people left behind or got washed up!

    Speaking of washing up, there were two items of note on the beach down there. One was very little sea life debris, ie: no sargassum, jellies/man-o-war, shells, etc. Sure there were some things here and there but not much. I’m not sure if it was the time of year or the beach location in relation to currents but I was surprised. While there wasn’t a lot of debris, there was a healthy amount of coquina, Donax variabilis, living in the intertidal zone which Forest loved to dig up and watch them rebury themselves. The second was that despite the lack of sea life debris there was plenty of plastic and trash debris. Some was left from campers and beach-goers but a lot was washed up. The oddest thing we found was a giant light bulb that had to have come from a ship. It must not have been in the water long because the metal was barely rusted and no barnacles had taken hold yet.

    We had a great trip and I already miss the beach!

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    The second afternoon of our vacation we popped down to the Packery Channel jetties to walk along them (they have a sidewalk on top) and to look for sea turtles as we had done six years ago when it was just Chris and me. We were looking to kill a little time before dinner and it was very hot walking along the jetties in the late afternoon sunshine. It didn’t take long for us to find a sea turtle and then we continued to find them all along the jetties, inside Packery Channel and along the beach. Forest was in his stroller for the ride so I don’t know how much he saw and I only had my 100mm lens. I had meant to pack the 75-300mm lens and thought that’s what the 100mm was when I had glanced in my camera bag but was obviously disappointed when I reached in and grabbed it. It wasn’t a complete fail at least, I was able to get some decent photos.

    These are all green sea turtles that were looking for crustaceans along the rocks in the jetties.

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    For Forest’s birthday we spent most of the morning at the Texas State Aquarium. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager, about 20 years ago, and during that time period went two or three times. I had vague memories of it but couldn’t quite recall everything about it. It appeared based on the website that the aquarium had more attractions but it was also working on an upgrade to the facilities. When we actually arrived to the aquarium I began remembering more about it, recalling that I had been to some of the features before and that definitely some of it was new. They are working to upgrade to include a rainforest exhibit, my guess to compete with Moody Gardens in Galveston.

    We got in half price with our Houston Zoo membership so that was nice because overall I think we were a little disappointed in the aquarium. It wasn’t bad it just wasn’t as interesting as I think we were hoping it would be. We were also looking at it through the lens of being adults instead of kids or teenagers. Chris and I were both ‘meh’ on the dolphin show with both of us agreeing that marine mammal shows have definitely lost their allure over the years. I keep trying to think of what aquarium I’ve been to that I have loved and so far I can only think that I remember really loving the Baltimore Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium was nice but even I remember being not as impressed despite how that aquarium is touted. I’d like to revisit the Baltimore Aquarium to see how my memory holds up to its actual quality.

    That said, we did have fun at the aquarium and it was Forest’s birthday and he loves fish and just about any animal so we knew he would enjoy the aquarium. He definitely did because it was non-stop ‘oooh’ and ‘oh oh’ for the first part of the visit. The outside attractions were a little harder to enjoy with the heat and humidity but we did have fun! We originally intended to eat lunch at the aquarium but opted later to find something afterward, though we did end up sitting inside the cafe to cool off and split something for a snack to stave off hunger. Forest wanted to nurse and I couldn’t find anywhere that I felt comfortable nursing so we snuck to the second floor and found a little library and nook. Of course once we got there he didn’t want to nurse and wanted to take all of the books off the shelf. Later we ended up back at the car to cool off and nurse because he expressed renewed interest and then we changed to head to the splash pad. Unfortunately we wern’t at the splash pad long before it was closed for cleaning because of a poop accident with another kid. That was probably for the best so we cut out and found an Olive Garden for lunch.

    It was a great diversion from our beach days and brought back a lot of memories for me from being a kid and having a lot of my marine biology interests spurred from those visits to the aquarium.

    Oh, that photo with the ‘Oil and Water’ and the guy holding the sheepshead…well, I saw it on the display and thought, “Man that guy really looks like Pure Florida!” Sure enough I glance at the credit and it is him! Talk about a weird place to recognize someone from the internet!

    We chose to take a short vacation to North Padre Island for Forest’s second birthday instead of having a party. While part of me still wished for that party, I’m very glad we opted to go on a vacation and spend some time at the beach because Forest loved it so much! We kept it pretty simple, chosing to find a hotel that had a kitchenette so we could cook some meals in our room and for the most part we just stuck to heading for the beach with one excursion on Forest’s birthday into Corpus Christi to go to the Texas State Aquarium. Compared to last year this was definitely a difference, having a running and walking toddler with a mind of his own on the beach is a little exahusting! Swimming lessons are definitely in order sometime soon!

    We kept his birthday celebrations pretty low-key, picking up three cupcakes at the grocery store on our way back from our city visit. Forest had been picky with food for a few days, we think his teeth were bugging him, but he sure wasted no time in shoving down a cupcake for his dinner! He has an ever expanding vocabulary these days though plenty of babbling sentences, too! Love this little kid!

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