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  • Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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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:

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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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    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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    *Prepare for a photo overload!*

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    Last weekend the part of the Whitlock clan, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, came down for a visit. The four of them haven’t been here together since Forest’s birthday last year and my SIL, Zoe, and Grayson haven’t been here since last November. It was time for a visit!

    Friday evening we all walked over to the park so they could hunt some Pokemon. While Zoe and Curt were searching for pidgies and the like Grayson and Forest played around on the jungle gym and were being silly boys! Grayson told me he was a monkey as he was climbing the jungle gym—lots of evidence above that that’s the truth—and Forest tried to stay as involved as he could. Spending a little time at the park was good for everyone and got the toddler to fall asleep a little faster than usual.

    The family have turned into fishing fiends which delights Chris, because that means they can spend hours on the dock catching fish. Unfortunately for me I can’t really go and hang out right now because Forest doesn’t understand he can’t jump off the dock. There was plenty of fishing over the weekend but also a lot of cooking—Chris smoked a brisket and I made potato salad for dinner Saturday, and breakfasts were frittata and French toast—and all around playing. It was really good to see Forest and Grayson interacting together and I can’t wait to see them playing together even more as the years go on.

    I’m hoping Zoe and I will be able to spend more time in the studio on her next visit…time was a little short this go around because I didn’t have the studio cleaned up very well. We get to see the crew again soon to celebrate Zoe and Grayson’s birthday—8 and 5! What?

    Taking photos over the weekend reminded me to get my camera out more. I don’t think to shoot photos constantly and I know I’m missing moments that I want to look back on one day.

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    This kid: turning into a big boy, got a hair cut, always has a cracker in hand, ready to explore the world.

    Love, love, love him!

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    These days, the toddler is much more of a toddler than he has ever been. There’s glimpses of little kid coming through, too. I realized this more the other day when I was looking at photos from February’s trip to Village Creek State Park. He’s a baby in those photos! I know that in six months I will look back on photos from this summer and think he was so little now and that yes, this will be never ending.

    Forest’s verbal skills are improving immensely but he hasn’t hit the sentence stage yet. Words that he’s never even tried to say will just come out all of a sudden. Sometimes he repeats them but sometimes he says them once and tucks them back in for a later date. Others, like Nooooo are a favorite! He’s been using that for probably two months and saying it even more, usually mixed in with something he does in fact want. Just the other day I asked if he wanted another piece of bread to which he replied with “Noooo” and signed ‘more’ at the same time. So, ya know, sometimes no means more!

    He loves to read books and magazines and we’ve gotten good at working through most common animals and noises. He is great at repeating sounds or telling us what sound a particular animal makes. When he says a word we repeat that word and tell him good job and keep working on the language skills. Forest may not talk a lot but he understands just about everything. He even understand enough to ignore but also to follow directions—when he’s not choosing to ignore.

    We have alphabet magnet letters as well as alphabet puzzle pieces but Target had a huge section of $1 Spot teacher stuff in their bins a few weeks ago so I bought a package of sticky-felt letters that I put onto construction paper and cut out. My goal was to start him on letter recognition, which seemed to work a little—I held a letter up and told him what it was and many letters he repeated it—but then they turned into something in which to chew on so it’ll be a more supervised activity from now on!

    It’s hard to write everything that he does now because he does so much little kid stuff. I will definitely say it is a little easier with him being able to communicate somewhat, though there are still plenty of times we don’t know why he’s having a tantrum (or as my brother coined, a Forest Fire!). He’s really good at body parts and last week he had something in his eye and he was able to come to me and tell me ‘eye’ as he was rubbing it, letting me know that he had a problem. I love this!

    We’re still nursing, too. I never thought I’d go this long but here we are and he shows no signs of wanting to stop. I’m still debating about stopping pumping when he turns two; I still pump once a day around lunchtime. I’ve donated all of my frozen milk, though I have one bag of frozen as a backup, so I just pump the 3-5 ounces and he gets that at daycare with his meals and snacks, along with water. Just for that reason and because I’d rather he drink that instead of cows milk, I’ll probably keep pumping. It doesn’t take long, five minutes now, so it isn’t that big of a deal. I know almond milk is an alternative (and our pediatrician actually recommended it) but because he’s in the stubborn/picky toddler eating phase where he sometimes-not-all-the-time eats meat or beans (protein sources), I’d rather he still get a milk with a higher protein content, and almond milk doesn’t have that. I don’t know, all of that is still up in the air. I’m definitely going to be turning into that ‘crazy’ extended breastfeeding lady you see on the news very soon. I’m comfortable with our choices to keep breastfeeding this long, despite some annoyances at times. It’s been good for us!

    I/We haven’t been great at taking photos the last few months and I’m kicking myself for it so we’re trying to make up for it. Our point and shoot died and we finally got another so we should be getting back into taking videos. Gotta catch all of the cute little phrases and mannerisms before they disappear! Now, a bunch of adorable toddler photos…

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    Oh, we were forced to try a booster seat at a restaurant for the first time, due to the table we were put at. We were nervous about it but he did really well!

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