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  • Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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    It’s been awhile since my brother’s clan spent some time at our house but last weekend they all arrived for a wonderful, fun-filled weekend. Oh, we’re getting to a good intersection in this cousin relationship between the three kids, particularly between Grayson and Forest. Those two had a ball playing together, though sometimes I think the love went more one direction with Forest being enamored with Grayson. Poor Forest is just a little too small for real rough housing and playing hard so he had a hard time keeping up with Grayson. And I think we’re going to really have to dig into getting swimming lessons accomplished this summer so Forest can hang out on the dock more; the kid likes being on the dock and wanted to do what the big kids were doing (hanging over the side, fishing, etc.) but he doesn’t know how to swim yet.

    Little Zoe is now a tween and apparently reading thicker, more complicated chapter books than I envisioned her reading. She was reading this cat fantasy novel and joked that next thing she was going to be reading Clan of the Cave Bear or Game of Thrones! Ok, maybe not, but Harry Potter is not but a year away for her.

    The kids got a kick out of painting, as per usual. Zoe and Grayson usually visit my studio but as I rarely even visit my studio it is an awful mess and not really suitable for visitors. I set us up on the picnic table in the backyard, complete with a plastic table cloth, and the three of them went to town with finger paints. I had bought a few wooden pieces they could paint, their first name initials and dinosaur figures for Grayson and Forest and an owl for Zoe, and brought out the large pad of paper Forest uses to color or put stickers on. It was a great way to chill out for an hour outside and still be a little messy.

    You can see in some of the photos how buddy-buddy Grayson and Forest were, with Forest really looking up to Grayson as his big friend and helper. I think Grayson liked being in that position, too. We all played in the garden a bit, scoping out what was growing. Carrots, snap peas, and strawberries were eaten straight out of the garden. Everyone played hard on Saturday because Sunday was supposed to being severe thunderstorms. Those didn’t appear too heavily until right after lunch and even so, they weren’t bad at our house. The worst developed to our north and east.

    As always, it wasn’t long enough and it was really quiet in the house when they all left, even with Forest in the house! I’m hoping these three can get together a few more times this summer!

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    Every evening we venture out to the garden to see which strawberries have ripened enough to pick. I usually get an idea of what we need to get when I go through the garden at lunchtime, so when dinner is over and Forest is ready, we get a bowl (or sometimes a plant container) to hold our berry haul. Last night Forest picked out the biggest and ripest of the bunch and chowed down on it, leaving just a little bit of the tip when he was done. This kid eats his berries backwards, from the stem side first!

    Once strawberry season is over it will be snap pea season, bean season, tomato season, and onward throughout the summer. Which means picking something in the garden most nights from here on out!

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    Forest is getting better as talking now, speaking short sentences and saying adorable words and phrases. The way he now says yes, with a little grin, makes me want to nibble his little cheekies as he cackles away. Succinctly saying yes instead of no when he was meaning yes has become more common over the last six weeks. When he says no he usually means no these days. And he will tell you “Don’t want!” if he really doesn’t want!

    But the sweetest is when he says Momma to me and in particular when he starts picking flowers from the yard and bringing them to me. Here Momma as he hands me oxalis, crow poison, and Japanese hawkweed flowers. I just want to bundle him up and tuck him in my pocket to keep there forever. He also likes to say Eat it Momma as he holds out a dripping spoonful of baked beans or a bitten off piece of chicken nugget, to which I reply back that he should eat it and I’m good with my own plate of food. Occasionally I’ll indulge him if it is something he hasn’t already eaten off of or made disgusting. Toddlers are messy eaters, you know?

    Soon he will be speaking even more clearly and the baby words will be gone. I’m doing my best to capture some of it on video so I can listen to it later.

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    Last weekend I finally got around to making cookies with Forest. He’s become more and more interested in watching us do stuff in the kitchen and I figured it was about time he got a little more involved. I’ve had him mix batter in bowls before with my help but this was the first time we’ve done cut-out cookies. He’s a Play-Doh loving toddler so he’s already familiar with making snakes and balls with that and I have little cookie cutters for him to use with the Doh as well but he hasn’t quite gotten the process down yet. I totally forgot to take photos mid-process so I have after-the-fact photos instead. Needless to say, we made a slight mess but Forest had a ton of fun and really enjoyed eating a few cookies! We don’t give him a ton of sweets but he could easily turn into a Cookie Monster if we let him!

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    “Whoa! Big Boat!” – Forest

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    This is a fun age. I remember liking the toddler stage when I was around Zoe and Grayson, my niece and nephew, at that age. Every day is a new learning opportunity, where something clicks in his brain and new words sprout out of his mouth and phrases are put together. Sure, there are the tantrums, the trying moments, but once you manage to wade through those it is pretty enjoyable being the parents of an exuberant toddler! I mean, it is of course exhausting, too, but thank goodness for weekend naps. Oh, well, when he wants to take them; he’s fond of figuring out how to get out of at least one of them on many weekends lately.

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    It all changes so fast. Words that were unintelligble are slowly becoming cute little words and then slowly clearer, to real words. I keep meaning to get more on video so I can listen to the sweet words one day in the future, before they are gone. Outside, he still loves being outdoors and exploring the yard. We’re on constant caterpillar watch and he loves watching the butterflies. These days it is mostly gulf frittilaries and various sulphurs. The sulphurs are all over out Turk’s cap hibiscus. If it isn’t butterflies, it is keeping an eye out for deer or sometimes an owl or hawk. He loves snakes, well at least toy and cartoon ones—we don’t see too many real snakes—and sometimes earthworms become ‘nake’ when we’re out exploring the yard.

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    I’ve been experimenting with freelensing some and the rest of the photos are from me trying to figure it all out. My friend Joni does it quite a bit with her kids and I’m always emamoured by the photos she takes. It just reminds me to take more photos of this little kid because he’s going to grow up so quickly.

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    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:

    Misti Chris 1
    Before Forest

    Misti, Chris & Forest 091314
    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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    IMG_0426

    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!

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