Friday, August 30, 2013

Thirty Three

Daniel turned 33 yesterday. We had a really low key celebration. He stopped to run on the way home from work and then we had pizza from Papa John's pizza followed by Chocolate Pudding Oreo Heath Pie and a RedBox for dessert – his pick.

Tomorrow we are headed to the beach for some much needed R&R. We have been traveling a lot lately, none of which has been even remotely relaxing. We need some time to reset and figure out some things pertaining to the next phase of our life.

I hope you have a blessed weekend and that you don't have to work too hard on Labor Day!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Things: Lake House Edition

This week we had the opportunity to stay at a lake house. We were under the impression that the house was in Sale Creek, TN (30 minutes from Daniel's work, 30 minutes from downtown Chatt). We found out after booking it that it was actually located in Harrison, TN. Harrison is directly across the lake from Sale Creek, but it is NOT Sale Creek. This meant a 50 minute commute around the lake for Daniel and I was still 20-30 minutes from anything. It was nice being on the lake but it was a little too far from everything.

A few things from this week:

1) Don't lock yourself out of your rental house immediately after you get there. Thankfully I had my cell phone and was able to call the owner and find a solution for getting back in the house.

2) Also, I am thankful that Jack was with me and not locked in the house!

3) Jack is fascinated by front-loading washing machines. Our washer and dryer are well over 30 years old. They still work, so we haven't felt the need to replace them. We bought them used 10 years ago because we are that cheap!

4) The lake house reminded me of something out of Grownups or Dan in Real Life. If I owned a lake house, I would want it to be like this. 

Large enough to have wall-to-wall beds in the guest bedrooms. A wrap-around screened-in porch with beds and seating galore and lots of fans for hot summer days. 

Wood paneling throughout (I don't care for wood paneling, but in this type of house, it just felt nostalgic). A huge dining table for lingering over a home-cooked meal or sipping sweet tea while playing games. 

The house was across the street from the lake. A trail went down to the dock, which would be perfect for fishing or canoeing or swimming.

5) Tuesday night we went to a lecture series at the Clear Creek Church of Christ in Hixson. There was a meal served before the speaker. This is our third week to attend. After the meal, the kids all play until it is time for "class." Jack was busy playing when I went to tear him away. I expected a meltdown. Instead this happened: 
"Jack do you want to go to class?" He looked at me, put down his ball and said, "Class?" and proceed to run all the way to his classroom –which was across the building– with no guidance. We trailed behind to make sure he went to the right place, and he did.

6) The speaker's topic was small groups and how they should be like a second family. He started asking if you had friends in your life who could just come over and make themselves a sandwich without asking permission to open your fridge. The point is that people in your life group should have that level of intimacy with you. 

We are still in the visiting stage at Clear Creek, but it is nice to know that we already have that level of intimacy with the family that invited us. It is such a blessing to have friends that we have known for the last 8 years and can pick up where we left off without worrying about having to "make" new friends.

7) This blog post by Hannah at Sundry Mumsy is a wonderful explanation about choosing to be connected to the internet world. Yes, there are plenty of things to be afraid about when it comes to the internet, but there is something sweet about sharing your life via the images and words you put out there. It's part of the reason I choose to blog. I want to be inspired by what I come across on the internet and I hope I am occasionally inspiring someone else. Besides, sharing my life online is a vital way for me to stay connected to my family who live far away!

I hope you have a blessed week! Today is Daniel's 33rd Birthday and we have some fun things in store for the days to come!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

See Jack {early-mid July 2013}

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 attempt to put shorts on. Over his pajama pants. 
He is very interested in trying to put on his own pants. 
{early July}

See Jack play on his "bike." He still hasn't gotten the hang of pedals yet.
{early July}

See Jack practice running. On a hill.
{early July}

See Jack build with his Legos.
{mid July}

See Jack pretend to talk on his daddy's flip phone.
{mid July}

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Little Exploration

This is our fourth Saturday in a row of riding bikes. I believe that this is the most consistent amount of outdoor activity we have done since we were newlyweds.

Today we went back to Hays Nature Preserve, but instead of trying to increase our mileage (like we did last week), we opted to do a little exploring on the horse trails. If you know us very well, you might be aware that Daniel and I have very different ideas of what constitutes a trail.

My idea of a trail is a clearly delineated path that humans and animals use to get to another point. Daniel's idea of a trail is much broader than mine. It could be a drainage ditch; or a hayfield with a swath of grass that is slightly shorter that the grass around it; or a path that he bushwhacks his own way through in an effort to see what there is to see. According to Daniel, his definition of a trail is, "a potential path through which sufficient space exists, or can be made, for me to proceed with no more than a moderate amount of scrapes and bruises."

Today's exploratory ride, more often than not, followed Daniel's idea of a trail more so than my idea of a trail.

The horse trails at Hays Nature Preserve include clearly marked trails, drainage ditches, overgrown sections of what might loosely be considered a path, as well as hayfields. Much of these trails had sections that were incredibly muddy. In addition, several times we found ourselves at the end of a trail and riding out onto the edge of a golf course. If you were golfing today and saw two muddy bikers come out of the woods, that would be us :)

Toward the end of our ride, the mud was getting out of control and the mosquitoes were eating me alive. Daniel had a brief mishap on his bike and I was ready to go. With names like Skip Rock Wilderness and 100 Acre Woods, we weren't entirely sure where we were in relation to our car. We consulted my phone that was mapping our ride and discovered we needed to head in the opposite direction we were riding. We rode until we saw a sign that said EXIT. We weren't sure where we would end up, but I was done with the blood sucking mosquitoes and mud. We came off the trail and onto the golf course. Thankfully we also saw that we were close to the Old Hwy 431 parking lot so we rode through a hayfield and found ourselves on the greenway. I have never been so happy to see pavement! We enjoyed a fast ride back to our car. 

Today's ride was a slow one. We only covered 7.4 miles in just over an hour. But we spent some time exploring so Daniel was a happy camper. And I didn't complain too much (at least not until the end!).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things I am Missing

This is the end of Week 8 of Daniel's new job and traveling is taking its toll. We need a vacation (living in a rental cottage for 4 days each week does not constitute a vacation).  

While I really love a lot of things about being in the city again, there are things about being home that I just plain miss...

1) My own bed. Sleeping in a king size bed is nice, but my dark room and our pillow-top mattress are calling my name.

2) Being able to open the back door and shoe Sophie outside without having to worry if she will get lost or hit by a car. Living on 3 acres in the country is a dream for our dog. It's nice for me too. One night this week I had to go outside with Sophie at 1am. 

For some reason Sophie feels the need to go out more often when we are not at home. Someday her neediness drives me up the wall. I'm trying to work on my patience.

3) Having a fully stocked kitchen and not having to guess where everything is. This week, I could have used a crock pot. Bringing my own is a pain. 

Instead I have made do with baking my pre-made frozen crock-pot meals in the oven. You do what you have to to make this (temporary) lifestyle work.

4) Having a "safe room" in my house to let my child loose. You parents of small children know what I'm talking about. There is no such thing as a safe room in a rental house. There are glass nicknacks and TVs within reach of little hands; not to mention light sockets and chemicals stored under sinks. 

The TV has been on more than we would like, but it is difficult when Jack can easily turn it on. There is no rest for this weary mama. I miss that we can hang out in our bonus room at home and I can relax knowing that the room is safe for Jack (and the TV can't be reached!).

5) Routines. We are not a big "routine-oriented" family, but there are some things that we do on a fairly regular basis as a part of our day. Being in a different house every week, with a different time zone, has me at a loss in regards to routines. 

6) Along with routines, is Jack's naptime. It's all over the place. One of the hardest things of this traveling life is that Jack tends to fall asleep in the car any time that I go somewhere. 

This means that 15-minute cat naps are taking the place of 2-hour afternoon naps. Toddlers have this way of thinking that any amount of sleep is enough sleep for their day. This is not so. These mini naps are leaving this mama tired and without any down time during the day. 

7) Jack's crib. This is more something that Jack probably misses (and should probably fall under #1). I'm pretty sure that Jack has experienced a growth spurt this summer. He is almost the full length of his pack-n-play. I really hope he doesn't outgrow it before our travel days are over! I'm not sure what we will do if I can't contain him in his pack-n-play while he sleeps.

I know this is all temporary and we will eventually get our Alabama home sold and get settled in Tennessee. It is just hard to be patient while we wait. I'm looking forward to being in my own bed tonight! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

See Jack {early July 2013}

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 practice using his daddy's vise in the garage.
{early July}

See Jack try his hand at "Chubby Bunny: Toddler Edition"
{early July}

See Jack try walking in his rubber boots for the first time.
{early July}

See Jack try to sit on his Little People Airplane. 
At the end, he figures out a stable solution.
{early July}

See Jack watch the rain. We've had a really wet summer this year.
{early July}

See Jack calling Sophie.
{early July}

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bike Rides and My Life List

If you have read my blog for awhile, you might be aware that I have a list of 100 Things that I would like to do in my life. On that list is the goal to ride a century (#19). If you don't know what a century is, it is a 100 mile ride (64 miles if you do a metric century).

In order to ride that far, I really need to start adding miles. After all, you don't just go out and bike that kind of distance without some kind of training.

Daniel and I (with Jack in tow) have been consistently taking 9 mile bike rides over the last few weeks, so today I asked if we could go farther. My initial goal was to up the ante to 12 miles.

We went to Hays Nature Preserve (one of our favorite places to ride) and set out. This is the first time that I have been able to maintain Daniel's pace for the majority of our ride. We even raced at a couple of points and I was able to hang with him. The last 1.5 miles I slowed down, but I still kept a decent speed.

I think the hardest part of increasing our mileage will be Jack's tolerance of being on the back of a bike. Today we rode for just over an hour and he was starting to get fussy at the end.

When we stopped, I was pleasantly surprised to discover we actually did 13.28 miles. We also managed to do 1,519 feet of elevation gain by riding up the waterfall hill at Hampton Cove. Daniel's fastest speed was 17.8 mph while mine was 16.8 mph.

I don't know if I will be able to ride a century any time soon but it has been nice to be out on our bikes on a semi-regular basis as a family.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jack is 21 Months

This post is a few days late (Jack turned 21 months on Sunday).

In three short months, our little baby will be two! TWO! With every passing day he seems more and more like a little boy and less like a baby.

This last month was a busy one. We have been traveling a lot and Jack has been a real trooper. I hope he doesn't outgrow his pack-n-play while we are doing this weekly traveling!

I think Jack is going to be a real rule follower. Any time he is in a seat that can be buckled (even if it just pretend), he insists that he get buckled in. Likewise, if he is on a bicycle, he insists that he wears his helmet! As parents, we are thankful for this little quirk.

He continues to really love cars and bikes. Weekly family bike rides have become a thing. Every time Jack sees a bike, he asks, "Ride?" He also continues to show interest in mechanical things and loves to help his daddy take things apart.

New phrases this month include: "What happened?" and "I don't know." He is also trying to count. Right now, this sounds like: "Three. Eight. Nine." He likes to repeatedly call us (even when we are sitting right next to him). Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. or Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. You get the picture. He also really loves following Sophie around, going where she goes when possible. One of his favorite things is stomping around in his black, rubber boots while following Sophie around.

This month Jack and I traveled to see some of my family in Arkansas and Jack had his first experience swimming in a lake. He also mastered the little water slide at our local splash pad.

Jack loves riding on the four wheeler with his daddy and finally figured out how to ride his own little powerwheels four wheeler (though I'm pretty sure he prefers the real thing to the toy!).

Thankfully, he has not exhibited much separation anxiety. We can drop him off at the toddler class at church or I can drop him in the childcare center at the YMCA and he doesn't even look back to say bye. We are so thankful that he is easy going and loves to be with other kids. I am also thankful for the opportunities for socialization since he is with me a majority of the time.

Our little guy got a new tooth this month. I think he is up to 11 little teeth, which I am sure makes eating easier.

A few firsts this month include learning to do a somersault, climbing on the furniture (more adventurously), and flipping over the handle bars of his tricycle (thankfully he was fine). 

He has also shown more interested in coloring/drawing this month. He will spy his markers on the shelf and ask to "draw." He is getting the hang of coloring on a piece of paper, but he is just as content to take the lids on and off the markers.

We are loving our time with Jack. We love to watch him grow and learn new things on an almost daily basis. I think we are learning too: how to be more loving, patient, kind, empathetic and silly.

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...