Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Book 19: The Last Explorer

While reading The Last Explorer: Hubert Wilkins, Hero of the Great Age of Polar Exploration by Simon Nasht, it struck me that if you gravitate towards reading books on topics you love then I am a sucker for real-life adventure.

I found the historical account of Sir Hubert Wilkins to be fascinating. This man lived through so many near death experiences – from being on the front lines as a photographer during World War I to being in numerous plane crashes as a pioneer in aviation. He even walked out of the Arctic after a crash landing and was the first to lead a dive in a submarine under Arctic waters. He was also the first to fly over the North Pole from the USA to Europe. The Australian born man explored on behalf of the Australians, the British and the United States of America.

He was ahead of his time in how he viewed the need for exploration and the need to understand weather patterns. I really loved learning about this last great, private citizen who was the last explorer.

Excerpts from the book:
His near suicidal dedication (to photographing WWI) defies belief. If it had not been witnessed by all around him, and visibly evident from his photographs and films, Wilkins’ exploits would seem the loftiest of tall stories.

The wise men of the Meteorological Society acknowledged his proposal, honoured him by electing him a fellow of the society, and then reacted like all practised bureaucracies when faced with difficult questions—they appointed a subcommittee to investigate.

He had fantastic plans, so ambitious that no one else had dared to dream them.

Wilkins intended to establish once and for all whether there was land in the unexplored frigid heart of the Arctic. Since the beginning of recorded history this mission had been making fools of smart men and widows of their wives.

While the Empire had lost its taste for exploration, he soon discovered the United States had a huge appetite for adventure—and the money to bankroll it.

Wilkins summed up his two years of struggle in his typically succinct way: “We begged for money, bought machines, flew them and smashed them, rebuilt them and smashed ourselves."

“Is it the primitive thirst for adventure,” Wilkins asked, “the desire to penetrate the unseen and the unknown; to experience the thrill that comes from the presence of danger and the satisfaction one feels at facing and narrowly cheating death that takes me again and again to the polar regions? Yes, it is, to a certain extent, but the experienced know there is a thrill greater than that of adventure. It is the thrill of worthy accomplishment.”

The man was a dreamer, and dreamers are important. They think things that other people would reject immediately as not being possible.

In all Wilkins had made thirty-three expeditions in polar regions and explored every continent. He had sledged and flown, sailed and walked across more unknown land than any man in history. He had been knighted by the kings of England and Italy, awarded by the great societies, honoured by Stalin and U.S. presidents. The other giants of the golden age of polar exploration considered him without peer. But the great achievements had ultimately been overshadowed by one sad misadventure aboard a decrepit submarine which had put the lives of twenty men in the gravest danger.

Wilkins was unmoved by working-class revolutions, unshackled by dogma; his optimism was left unbroken by the ferocity of wars or the blind cruelties of nature. His talent was to see beyond the horizons of our limitations or the vicissitudes of fate. He sought a licence to dream, to imagine, to go where we had not ventured with our feet or our minds. Ultimately he believed in the power of the human spirit to walk into unknown territory and make good, for ourselves and our world. His legacy was this sanguine, unshakeable faith in our power to progress. Where would we be without his kind?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Visiting with some of the Moore side of the family

Yesterday was the first day of many {two weeks to be exact} where we will be visiting with family or friends. 

It had been several months since he had seen Jack's Great Grandmother so we decided to make a quick day trip to see some of Daniel's family.

Jack is one loved little guy.

Unfortunately for Jack, he only slept a measly 60 minutes throughout the course of the day. We had hoped he would nap longer while we drove. Alas, that was not the case and we had to resort to distraction tactics to keep him happy. 

He hung in there though he did have some fussiness due to a lack of a good nap.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Milestone: Crawling

For the last couple of weeks, Jack has been toying with the idea of crawling. We discovered that if he was interested in something – namely something he wasn't supposed to have – he would make great efforts to get that thing. But he never really did more than scoot and pull and roll.

He then progressed to where he would shift himself from a sitting position into a crawling stance, with a look of great determination, and act like was going to crawl. This generally puttered out and ended with him laying his face on the ground in defeat or whining until we scooped him up or helped him attain the object of desire.

Yesterday, I sat him on a blanket to play while I folded some laundry from our drying rack. He moved himself into the crawling position and then resolutely crawled the two feet to the drying rack. Being the good mom that I am, I moved the drying rack further away and he proceeded to crawl to it. Then Daniel came inside and Jack finished crawling the rest of the way across the room to his daddy. It was really sweet.

We officially have a crawler. Later that day he crawled across the bonus room floor, ending at the vacuum cleaners – which he proceeded to lick. Everything has to be taste tested these days.

He doesn't crawl ALL of the time, sometimes he just likes to sit and play contentedly. I think our days without crawling are limited though. Time to get a baby gate AND start the baby proofing process. I know that Jack is almost 9 months old, but we haven't done ANY baby proofing yet.

Monday, July 23, 2012

See Jack {June and early July 2012}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack work on standing up. 
When being held, he likes to use you for a jungle gym. 
He is getting pretty proficient at pulling up to standing but he hasn't 
figured out how to use furniture to do it yet.
{early June}

See Jack interact with Sophie. 
Jack and Sophie are starting to develop a relationship. Jack always looks for Soph and he knows her name. You can say, "Where's Sophie?" and he will start looking around a room for her. She, in turn, will come over and intentionally sit by him and let him grab her fur (within reason).
{late June}

See Jack try to crawl.
This video is a couple of weeks old, but our little guy has proven that he can move. Currently he can move up to about 4 feet before he gets tired. It's a slow crawl, but he continues to make progress daily. Baby gates are high on our list because we have a feeling we will blink and he will be cruising.
{early July}

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Catching My Breath

After weeks of life being set to go.go.go. work has finally slowed down for me. I am beginning to catch my breath. It's kind of been like running a long race. There are times you can't see straight and feel like you are going to keel over, but you keep pushing forward. You keep putting one step in front of the other and eventually you cross the finish line. When you finish, it takes a moment to breathe normally again and it may take a couple of days for your feet and body to stop aching.

Yesterday afternoon I tried to savor an afternoon snack of hot coffee and chocolate pie... 
Jack had other ideas. Evidently naps are not for teething babies.

That is what this week has been like for me. Trying to return to a sense of normal without the constant motion of being busy with work. It's a good thing, but it's also been hard to adjust to. Learning to find and keep my life in balance is something that I have to work on continually. Life is always changing and I am doing my best to change with it.

On top of that Jack is in the throes of teething. For his sake, I'm extremely thankful that my work has slowed. He needs me right now. A lot. Yesterday he just wanted to be held. Any time I took him near his nursery for a nap, he bawled. Daniel could distract him for a little while, but mostly he just wanted his mama.

Monday, July 16, 2012

See Jack {late May/June 2012}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack laugh with is his Daddy.
{late May}

See Jack help with the laundry.
{mid June}

See Jack take a break while playing.
{late June}

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Missionary Friends who are Cairns Bound

The Morriarty's: Zoe, Jason, Callum and Sheryl

Back in 2010, I wrote about how Daniel and I came about meeting our missionary friends, Jason and Sheryl Morriarty, in 2004; how we put them to work renovating our house in Charlotte during a weekend visit in 2006; and how {surprisingly} they came back to Charlotte in 2010 {a family of four} just as we were preparing to move. We didn't make them work on their second trip to Charlotte.

Two years have passed and a lot has changed. Daniel and I now have a baby and we live in another state. Meanwhile Jason, Sheryl and their two children are making preparations to leave for Cairns, Australia.

The Morriartys and the Moores
I'm bummed that our only group shot was blurry and I didn't check for clarity :(

Before they left the country, we all wanted to get together for a visit. After all it may be a few years before we see them again. It turned out that the best way for us to see each other was to meet in Atlanta {approximately half-way between where we all live}. So this morning we packed up Jack and a bunch of gear for a day trip and made the trek over to ATL for lunch at Chick-fil-a.

We enjoyed getting caught up with our friends and introducing them to Jack.

After lunch, we headed to the Whitewater Creek Trail {part of the Chattahoochee State Park} for a short {1.35 mile} hike and more visiting.

This place is apparently a mecca for dog lovers and young adults who want to float the river on a lazy weekend. First off, we had a bunch of huge dogs run up to the kids in our group {all under the age of 5}. The dogs were a little over zealous and one actually put Jack's leg "gently" in it's mouth. Umm – we were not exactly ok with that. So we left the area with the dogs and abundance of people and enjoyed a nice walk in the woods. The kids all fared pretty well,  though Callum was getting weary towards the end and his sister, Zoe, got tired of being carried in the kid carrier. Jack was a trooper in our BOB stroller and was fast asleep by the end of our walk.

We enjoyed catching up with our friends and were surprised when they gave us a certified boomerang from Cairns. We wish them the best as they move back abroad and that God blesses the mission effort that they are about to begin.

I may have to work on convincing Daniel that we need to make a trip down under.

When we were getting ready to leave, Daniel put the stroller in the back of our Subaru and I noticed a lovely odor: dog poop. With a 3-hour drive home, we were not thrilled at the prospect of riding with a smelly stroller INSIDE our vehicle. Thank goodness our Yakima basket was attached to our roof rack.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jack is Eight Months

These days Jack thinks that fake sneezes are incredibly funny but generally most loud noises make him cry. He also thinks it's very funny when his daddy rubs his soft beard on his cheek.

Jack has now gone through a screeching phase, a roaring phase, a buzzing lips phase, etc. He has also learned how to make a fish face. The first time I did it for him he look at me intently and I could see his mind trying to work out how I made my lips do what they were doing. The next day I spied him doing it. And now he will mimic us when we do it {though not every time... kiddo doesn't do too many things on demand}.

He has been making great efforts to talk. Lots of babbling going on in our home. Two back to back visits with friends with older kids probably encouraged this little spurt of "talking."

Efforts at crawling: He started out by sticking his butt in the air and his head on the ground... he must have felt more secure having 5 points of contact with the ground. He then progressed to getting himself into a plank position. He will also get up on his hands and knees and rock back and forth while trying to lunge at things. Toward the end of the month he was trying to bear crawl and getting closer to actually moving in the crawl position.

Jack continues to love story time. He now flips pages when we read and will generally still sit still for an entire book.

Bed time has progressed to "get riled up" time. Even when he is exhausted, when we get out "Goodnight Moon" and start reading, he starts clapping and bouncing in an excited manner. When we sing our goodnight songs he really gets into it. Thankfully he still goes to sleep without too much of a hitch, so we will be sticking with our routine. 

Jack wears 9-12 month clothes now. Partly to fit over his head, but the 12 month stuff actually fits pretty well.

We upgraded our carseat. You can read all about why we picked what we picked here.

Newest food experiences: a taste of a pickle – surprisingly he didn't make a sour face at this. However plain Greek Yogurt did receive a sour face. Then Daniel tasted it and he made a sour face too. So after that we went with Vanilla Greek Yogurt (which has the same amount of sugar as "baby" yogurt without all of the preservatives. He is really intrigued by pizza crust – probably because it was right off of Mommy's plate. Other new foods this month include strawberries, Cheerios, red bell pepper, refried beans, carrots, mashed cauliflower, squash, blueberries, scrambled eggs and tomatoes.

Jack has been in the process of teething all month. The drool has come on with a vengeance and every once in awhile, our happy little guy cries big tears for no apparent reason. Still no actual teeth though. As of today there is evidence of an actual tooth getting ready to push through.

This month marked Jack's first father's day and first 4th of July, though we didn't do much since everyone in our household had been under the weather. Daddy and Mommy stayed up and watched the neighbors shoot fireworks from the comfort of the bonus room and then watched a movie. Jack woke up briefly and saw a little bit of the show, but preferred nursing to watching the sky light up.

Jack and Sophie are continuing to get to know each other. Sophie has progressed past tolerating Jack's "love pats" and will come and intentionally sit close enough for Jack to pet/grab her fur. She is smart enough to keep her face and tail out of his reach {generally anyways}.

End of month stats:
Eye Color: I think at this point we can say that his blue eyes are for keeps.
Hair Color: Sandy blond, with a bit of copper tint. It really depends on the light.
Height: Don't have numbers but he is getting long.
Weight: We weighed him today and he was 20.5 lbs.
Foods: We have introduced lots of different foods over the last two months. Thankfully no allergies.
Words: Lots of different sounds, but no actual words.
Movement: Lots of effort to get in the crawling position, but no serious movement. Thank goodness for this, we are not ready for a mobile baby!!!
Teeth: Zero, but there is at least one in the works. 

*I will be writing monthly updates of Jack with pictures of Jack and the Tonka truck on the 11th of each month. One Month Old. Two Months Old. Three Months Old. Four Months Old. Five Months Old. Six Months Old. Seven Months Old.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Recaro: The Racecar-Inspired Convertible Car Seat

Once Jack turned 7 months old, we got in a hurry to find a replacement car seat for our infant carrier. For one thing we were no longer carrying Jack in the carrier {really since about 5 months, the carrier plus him have been too heavy to lug around}. For another, the friends whom we had borrowed the carrier from are having a baby at the end of July and we didn't want them to end up at the hospital without a car seat.

This post is actually written by my husband based on his research of convertible car seats -- it was originally an email written to a friend who was interested in his findings. It covers our top three choices and why we ended up going with the Recaro...

Convertible Car Seats... You've Got Questions, 
I've Got Unscientific Opinions
by Daniel Moore

So I did a lot of reading on safety during an accident; people's post-accident opinions of how their car seat did; ease and convenience of use; quality of materials; and most notably I spent several hours installing every single car seat model that USA Baby in Franklin, TN had in stock. That's when I discovered that a lot of car seats won't even fit in our year Forester {later research would show that this is known problem for Foresters}. Until I went to USA Baby, I had only researched car seats in general, not which ones would actually fit in our car.

Ironically some of my choices were fairly low on consumer reports rankings, but consumer reports places some emphasis on safety and a lot of emphasis on ease of installation {and some would say they place some emphasis on which companies have paid them advertising dollars}. I really don’t care how hard it is to install, as long as it can be done safely. I do care about how safe, how easy to use and how long lasting a seat is.

I looked at convertible car seats from ~$125 up to $290. The cheapest ones are just plastic shells with a thin layer of cloth. The higher prices generally get you nicer materials, cooler design features, and in some cases better safety ratings {those that go “above and beyond” the minimum federal standards that all car seats have to meet}.

Keep in mind all these opinions are formed with me never having had to put a child in any of these seats.

If driver legroom was no object, and I had a sufficiently large vehicle {which a Subaru is certainly not} my preferences, in order, would be:
  1. Diono Radian RXT 
  2. Recaro ProRide  
  3. Britax.... whichever you prefer, the outer shell is the same size for all the Roundabout, Marathon, Advocate, Boulevard, etc. {they have multiple models, all very similar}. The more expensive ones have better side impact protection and each model has different materials.
Cheree looked at all 3 and came up with the same exact prioritized list of choices, though for different reasons than me.

The Radian RXT pros:
  • Narrow width -- great for 3 across seating {or for us 2 adults and 1 car seat, or 2 car seats and a dog, etc}.
  • Folds up for easy transport/storage {good for airline travel}
  • Nice materials
  • Really, really sturdy and well built. It weighs ~26LBS, which is about double what some of the cheapest car seats weigh {this overbuilt thing is a biggie for me}.
  • Outstanding ratings in terms of safety
  • Low sides make it easy to get kids in and out. I believe the sides are adjustable for width as well.
  • Long life (8 years as a car seat, 10 years as a booster)
  • Industry leading rear facing weight rating {45LBS}, though junior running out of leg room may be a problem at some point for rear facing.
The Radian RXT cons:
  • HUGE front to rear dimension when rear facing {no hope of being able to put it in the Forester behind the driver or passenger seat}
  • Most expensive {$290, but for something that keeps my kid safe that I have to use and tolerate for nearly a decade, I’m not concerned with saving $100}, plus it lasts 8-10 yrs instead of the typical 6.
  • Hard to find to look at in person {closest store to us was in Franklin, TN} although it can be found at Amazon, and I think Amazon even offers free returns and free shipping on it.
  • Did not appear to be easily adjustable for recline angle {it is a bit complicated though, so I may have missed how to do this}
Recaro ProRide pros:
  • Recaro makes high-end racecar seats, which certainly lends them some credibility in terms of knowing how to design a seat to keep the occupants safe in a crash.
  • Good safety ratings
  • Reasonable front-to-back dimensions, similar to the Chico KeyFit infant carrier that we had on loan.
  • Pretty good materials
  • At least 2 different settings for the amount of recline
  • The base is fairly tall – this is good in terms of safety {getting kid’s heads higher} and the child's outward visibility.
Recaro ProRide cons:
  • No cup holder {hope we don't regret this}
  • The base is fairly tall – this could be an issue in getting the kid into smaller/shorter cars without hitting their {or your own} head on the door frame
  • Hard to find to look at in person {closest store to us was in Franklin, TN} although it can be found at Amazon, and I think Amazon even offers free returns and free shipping on it.
Britax pros:
  • Popular and easy to find at “regular” stores (Wal-Mart, Target, etc)
  • Similar fit to the Recaro, or KeyFit.
  • At least 2 different settings for the amount of recline
  • Plenty of “we totaled the car but the kids are OK and so now we’re going to buy another Britax for them” stories. {This could just be b/c they are so popular, much more so than the Recaro or Diono Radian}.
  • Reasonably nice materials
Britax cons:
  • A bit wide
  • To me the “wings” {side impact protection for the child’s head} were either non-existent or not as nice on the Recaro and Radian. Their top model {I believe it’s called Britax Advocate} has these funky rubber-plastic pads on the outside of the shell, which may make it safer, but looks like a complete afterthought in terms of design, maybe even a bit gimmicky.
  • Looking at all the models together, aside from additional side impact protection, I’m not sure what the $270 model gets you that the $170 doesn’t get you. 
We seriously considered getting a larger vehicle than the Forester just so the Radian would fit, but in the end we don't want to deal with purchasing a new vehicle right now, so we are going to "settle" for the Recaro ProRide.


by Cheree
We have had the Recaro for a few weeks now. Jack has adjusted really well to it. I think he really enjoys being higher up and able to see. The first time he rode in it, he would not lean his head back because he was so busy looking around.

It is a little awkward to get him in and out of the car since the car seat sits so high. Our smaller Forester SUV doesn't help with this. Within two years we will probably graduate to some kind of larger SUV. Once he is forward facing it should be easier to get him in and out.

We really wanted to get the Radian, but since we could only squeeze it in the middle of our Forester, we didn't think it would be a great solution since 1) Sophie rides in the back seat too and 2) it would mean that both front seats would be unable to recline or scoot back at all, which would be a problem for Daniel.

I would walk 500 miles (May/June Recap)

I am way behind on blogging. We have been keeping busy with summer stuff, but I have been swamped with work so updating my blog has been on the back burner.

Several weeks ago, I woke my family up at 7:00am {including my parents who were in town visiting for the weekend} so they could go watch me run another 5K. Lucky them :) I am thankful to have family who love me and are willing to give up weekend sleep to come watch a sport that is not really a spectator sport.

Run So They Can Crawl was a race {organized run in my case} held in Stevenson, Alabama as a part of Depot Days. It was in support of the Huntsville Hospital NICU and families who have experienced the loss of a child.

My race results: my gun time was 38:08 and my net {real} time was probably 37:48. 
According the MapMyRun, the race was 3.26 miles long.

I continue to be a slow runner, but making the effort to run means that I am doing more than I if I were just sitting on the couch. I also have to admit that I am enjoying getting to know other runners by participating and training for local races. 

This was my second race this year... back in May, I ran The Round the Rim 5K on Mother's Day weekend. Happy First Mother's Day to me!

The weather has been really hot since the June race {and I have been too busy} to run any since. I am afraid that my goal of 500 miles for the year is pretty much unattainable :( Hopefully I can up my mileage once the weather cools down (September-ish?).

As of the end of June, my running stats are as follows: 4.38 miles in January >> 6.66 miles in February >> 11.66 miles in March >> 11.56 miles in April >> 19.92 miles in May {including a 5K} >> 12.82 miles in June {including a 5K} >> 67 ytd

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

See Jack {late May 2012}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack drink. Jack tries his first sippy cup.
{late May}

See Jack eat. Jack's first experience with Baby Led Weaning and avocado.
{late May}

See Jack play. A gift bag is more fun than the gift.
{late May}

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...