May 18, 2018

Wildflower Pictures 2018

Well it was time for that yearly Texas baby's right of passage-- wildflower pictures!  We had noticed over the last few weeks that our neighborhood park had some beautiful flowers blooming.  I know they've had some in the past, but I don't remember the crop ever being this good-- we've usually gone elsewhere to take pictures.  But we decided to try out the neighborhood park, so we loaded up last night between work and dinner and headed to the park.  And the pictures turned out better than I could have imagined for a 13 month old!








And just for fun, here's a look back at last year's trip to take wildflower pictures.  I even commented in my post that it was hard to believe the next time we did it Cooper would be up and moving around, and boy is he!  This year our pictures are complete with a bandaid on his leg and scrapes on his face from falling down playing outside.


Happy Springtime!


May 3, 2018

Day in the Life: 13 month old Cooper

When I did my last Day in the Life post, I mentioned trying to do it again when Cooper was 12 months old. With his birthday and party and our vacation, the month of April slipped away, but I still wanted to do it.  This week is pretty low key getting back from vacation and with Cooper being sick, so I decided to document our Tuesday.  So here we are the day Cooper turned 13 months old.

6:45 am
My wake up time varies pretty greatly still.  Before vacation and on vacation I was only sleeping about 5-6 hours a night.  So this week I think I'm catching up a little and getting more like the 7-8 hours.  So today I woke up around 6:45.  I checked emails and read a little bit.  Then I got up and put away dishes and tried to pick up the living room a little before getting Cooper up.  

7:30 am
Cooper is usually awake before now, but we leave him in bed until 7:30 and he lays or plays happily.  I get him up and change his diaper and then we head to get breakfast.  Almost every day I scramble some eggs for he and I to share.  Some weeks I do egg muffins that I make ahead and can reheat, but usually I just cook the eggs that day.  Then he'll have some fruit/cereal/yogurt/oatmeal with his eggs.  This morning he had eggs, Cheerios, and a banana with some milk. This year we've been listening to the Chronological Bible over breakfast (thanks for the idea, Erin!) and today we listened to the whole book of Ruth.  We'd made it halfway through before he told me he was done eating, so I cleaned him up and brushed his teeth and then I listened to the rest while he started playing.

8:00 am 
Playtime!  I usually do the breakfast dishes while he plays.  Some mornings he's content to play while I do that, others not so much.  Today required a few breaks from dishes to comfort him and pay attention to him.  Then we just play in the living room/dining room/kitchen.  A few days we might have something going on, but usually we are just at home this stretch of the day.  Above is a glimpse of an hour of Cooper's morning-- all the smiles and tears and toys and puppies and random spoons that it encompasses.  The variety of emotions a 1 year old displays in the span of a few minutes can be mind boggling.  But usually he's pretty content to play with only a few meltdowns in the mix!

9:30 am 
Around 9:30 we usually head to his room to look at books.  Today he picked out Llama Llama Red Pajama and I read it to him.  We also read some farm animal books.

 10:00 am
Nap time!  Before our vacation, it seemed like Cooper was about ready to drop to 1 nap a day and I was worried being on a different schedule and not in his bed would do it for us, but he took 2 naps a day in Taos and seems to be holding on to his morning nap for now.  Today he was reaching for his sleepsack at 9:55, so I put it on him and sang a few songs and then put him down.  He went right to sleep.  Some mornings he stays awake a little longer, but I think he's pretty tired from being sick.  Random fact: Cooper's morning nap time has been the same since he was 4 months old.  When he was little it seemed like he could go longer than normal between morning wake up and his first nap, now it almost seems to be shorter than normal.  But 10:00 still seems to be his sweet spot.  While he napped, I got dressed for the day and then worked on a few things on the computer.

11:00 am

Cooper actually woke up around 10:45, but I was finishing a few things up so I got him up at 11 and then we had some lunch.  I quickly made some chicken salad from leftover chicken that I cooked yesterday and I had that with some lettuce and cheese.  Cooper had chicken salad, crackers, and blueberries.  While he finished up lunch, I checked the mail.  When we went on vacation I had put a hold on our mail and it was supposed to be delivered to our house when we returned Saturday.  Well we've gotten mail since Saturday but still haven't gotten our held mail, so I decided to call about it.  After going through the automated system it said my wait time would  be 50-60 minutes, so instead of waiting on hold we got ready and headed out for some errands.

12:00 pm
First stop was the post office.  We actually have 2 post offices within a couple miles of us, so I wasn't sure which one was the best one to talk to, but I decided to try the one in that seems to be the main one and success!  The guy was able to find our held mail and apologized that it hadn't been delivered--I was just glad it wasn't lost and we were in and out pretty quickly.

 Then we headed to Hobby Lobby.  I am working on a project and had messed it up and sewed on the wrong side when I tried yesterday--I was able to salvage the fabric but not the zipper so we needed another one.  Since Cooper is recovering from Hand Foot and Mouth I'm trying not to take him out too much, so we skipped the cart and I just held him in the store.  We played with the camera a little while we waited to check out.

1:00 pm
With my attempts to quarantine Cooper this week, I decided to give Walmart pick up another try.  I blogged last summer about our first experience with Walmart pick up and how it was so-so for us.  We actually did it another time or two and had not great experiences with it, so I hadn't done it again.  But I noticed a couple weeks ago that a different Walmart kind of close to me (the 2 Walmarts closest to us still don't have it) now had pickup and thought I should check it out.  And it was like night and day from my past experiences.  They were so quick, very kind and helpful, and we were in and out in less than 5 minutes!  Success.  We went home and unloaded groceries and my observation after reminiscing about our last grocery pickup is that unloading groceries with a walking 1 year old is not much easier than unloading groceries with an overtired screaming 2 month old :)  Today he just wanted to go out the front door while I was trying to bring all of the groceries in and then he took apart the kitchen while I put everything away.  But at least he was happy!

2:30 pm
Time for another nap.  Once again, Cooper went down easily and I got to work on my project that I messed up yesterday.  I definitely love getting to be at my sewing machine.

4:00 pm

Cooper woke up a little before 4, so I got him up and got him a snack.  Then we headed out for a walk.  I've been trying to go on a walk every afternoon--helps me get a little exercise and gets us out of the house to pass some of the time in the crazy hours before dinner.  Sometimes we stop and play at the park a little, but today we just did a long walk through the neighborhood.

5:30 pm
As we were on our street coming back from our walk, David texted to say he was heading home.  So when we got back home I worked on prepping a few things for dinner.  Luckily dinner wasn't too complicated-- we had Chicken Caesar Salads and I used more of the leftover chicken I'd cooked last night.  So I just had to cut up and wash the lettuce for the salad.  Cooper kept me company in the kitchen.

Then we played until David got home.  This is just a small glimpse of how much of a mess the living room becomes each day.  I really did pick everything up that morning, but I usually just let it be during the day since Cooper will just get it all out again if I pick up.  We're trying to get into a habit of picking up before bed each night so it's at least clean some of the time.

6:15 pm
We are all excited when Daddy gets home from work!  He and Cooper (and Lily) played a little while I finished assembling dinner.  Then we sat down to eat together.  The rest of the hour was spent playing a little more and then picking up.

7:30 pm
 Cooper goes to bed anywhere between 7 and 8 depending on when his naps fell during the day.  We used to read to him when he was really little, but then he got to the point where he was just too tired to sit for a story or would get upset if David was holding him instead of me, etc.  But recently he's seemed not as out of sorts at bedtime (most nights) so we've started trying to read a little more.  Tonight David read to him.  Then I rock him and sing to him.  In addition to JJ Heller's I Dream of You, which we've been singing at all naps and bedtime for at least the last 9 months, we also sing a different hymn or worship song each week.  We liked our Advent calendar of songs, so we decided to do a regular rotation of songs during the year and we incorporate them into a family devotional each week.  So this week we're singing It is Well.  I sing, rock and snuggle him and then put him down.  He went to sleep pretty easily.

8:15 pm
I took a shower after Cooper went down and then David and I settled on the couch for a Netflix show.  We had started The Crown several months ago but never finished it, so we watched another episode tonight.

10:30 pm

Bedtime!  I usually get in bed between 9 and 10 and read for a while.  Then it's time for sleep!


May 2, 2018

Taos Vacation: Hiking

One of the things we were really looking forward to on our trip was hiking and being outdoors.  As I mentioned, the weather was pretty perfect all week which made us want to be out even more!  

 Our first full day in Taos, we spent the afternoon at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  We walked across the bridge and took lots of pictures of the beautiful scenery!  
Halfway across the bridge.

We had seen online that there was a hiking trail out there, but we didn't find it at first.  After we'd gone across the bridge and come back we saw the entrance to the trail so we went out a little ways and took a few pictures, but decided it was about time to head back for dinner and bedtime.

Tuesday we got up and decided to head into Taos Ski Valley for a hike into the mountains.  We really wanted to try a hike up to try to get some good views.  So we researched and found one of the "easy to moderate" trails to Williams Lake (fun fact, from Williams lake there is a 1.5 mile trail to get to the top of Wheeler Peak which was the original destination of the hiking trip I went on in 2012.  Once again, it was so close yet so far away!)  It was labeled as a 2 mile trail, which seems doable enough, but add the altitude and constantly changing elevations and it was rough for me.  But we are so glad we went!
Also have to add this guy on my back.  We had a backpack with our waters and snacks, but Cooper was actually more comfortable for me to carry so I wore him and David carried our backpack.  We took it slow and steady up the mountain.

We made it over 2 miles before we decided to go ahead and stop for a snack break.  It was so fun  being up in the snow capped mountains!

While we were taking our break, a guy was coming back down and told us about how far the lake was.  Even though it wasn't too much further, we decided we'd gone far enough for the day and had seen a lot of the scenery we were looking for, so we headed back down.

At least half of the trail was covered in ice and snow (which we hadn't really considered or planned for, silly us) so that made it more slow going too.  The way down was less taxing than the way up, but we also had to be pretty careful most of it.  A few times I'd go off the trail to walk in the snow so I didn't risk slipping on the ice--my little traveling buddy LOVED that part.  His favorite thing was when I would slip a little or when my foot would go way down into the snow and we'd step down quickly.  He would giggle and giggle.  He kept us laughing through the crazy trip down the mountain!

And then he fell asleep.  Glad he was comfortable back there.

So amazing this part of the Earth that God created.


We made it back down to our car!

Thursday afternoon we decided to head back out to the Gorge Bridge and try out the hiking trail since we knew where it was now.  We packed a lunch at ate at the rest area before our hike.  Then we headed out.
Cooper was on my back for most of the hike again, but when we got to the point where we were ready to turn around we let him get down and run around a little.  The trail itself is about 10 miles long (I think) so we hiked out about 1.5 miles before turning around since we had to once again get back in time for nap.  But it was a great walk, beautiful weather, and amazing views.

Our little hiker.


Our week away was such a fun time as a family of 3.  I know I said it before, but we really feel like Taos was a perfect location for our first family vacation-- it had plenty to do in town and lots of places to be active and run around.  The weather was beautiful.  The food was delicious.  There was so much to see.  We ended up not doing much of the historical stuff (pueblos, churches, etc.) in favor of more hiking, but it seems to have some stuff for everyone there.

Cooper's first family vacation is in the books!  And it was definitely one to remember!

May 1, 2018

Taos Vacation: Around Town

Taos ended up being a perfect location for our week away.  When we first were planning our trip we'd looked at various towns and Taos had the best and most affordable lodging of where we looked so we settled on that and I'm so glad we did!  Our casita that we stayed at was about half a mile from the Taos Plaza, so it was easy to get into town.  Our first morning there, we decided to walk downtown to explore after Cooper's nap.

Not a bad view for a walk downtown

There was a park downtown that was a little less than a mile from where we were staying.  So we spent some time playing there.  Now that Cooper is more mobile, he's become more interested in climbing.  We've gone to a few parks at home and he would cautiously climb up.  This week he really took off.  He climbed all the way to the top of the playground structure by himself several times.  And he loved going down the slides!

Playground selfie


After the park, we walked back through the Taos plaza on our way to lunch.  We at lunch downtown at a Mexican food restaurant and then headed back to our casita for afternoon nap time.

Tuesday we spent hiking (more on that tomorrow) but Wednesday was another day for exploring Taos.  We had originally loosely planned to go up to Colorado on Wednesday to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but after our hike on Tuesday we decided we'd rather do something more low key and it was perfect.  We drove to get breakfast at Michael's Kitchen downtown and then spent some more time at the park.  Cooper loved walking and exploring everything!

When we were walking around downtown on Monday we had seen this play structure and looked it up.  It ended up being part of Twirl which is a free play area in downtown Taos.  We went to check it out Wednesday after morning nap and it was so cool.  I love this picture of him looking up at the play structure--I know soon he'll be running around in something like that, but this day he just took it all in.
Through a gate they had another play area complete with a climbing structure, sandbox, blocks, and lots of "musical instruments" like a variety of wrenches you could bang on, polls with washers to slide against and make noise, and a big row of wood hollowed out that made different tones.

One of the coolest parts of the trip was watching Cooper explore new things and for all of us to see what he was capable of.  The playground he usually climbs has lots of steps which he's used to, this "ladder" into the playhouse seemed like it would be way too difficult for him, but we decided to try it anyway.  David helped him get over the straight vertical part and then he climbed the rest of the way.

And was so proud of himself when he got to the top!  Twirl also had an upstairs playroom with lots of cool toys.  It was such a neat place!  We definitely could have spent a lot longer there, but we headed on to get lunch before afternoon naptime.

Cooper's ride for the week.  I found a used umbrella stroller on Facebook marketplace so that we had something that folded down smaller to not take up as much of our cargo space.  It was perfect for the week!

We ate breakfast at the house most days and tried to eat sandwiches for lunch or dinner each day, but we did still get to try out a few fun restaurants.  One of them was 5 star burgers a little South of downtown.  The food was really good and we sat on the patio with a view of the mountains.

Thursday was our last full day in Taos, so we spent the morning at the park again.  We walked to a different park that was actually closer to our casita-- only about half a mile.  Cooper played on the playground and then enjoyed walking around looking at all the dogs that were out there on walks.

Our last night we went out to dinner at Orlando's which was a recommended Mexican food restaurant.  It was very good and we're glad we checked it out!  It was a great way to end our trip!

We also got to spend quite a bit of time at the casita.  Traveling with a little guy can be hard because you have to plan around his naps, etc. but it also gave us all built in downtime each day.  So David and I played a lot of games during naptime.  We would watch movies or shows at night and we did lots of reading.

One night we went outside and read on our patio before the sun went down.  Pretty great view from the little table.

The weather was pretty perfect the entire week.  The lows were in the 30s and 40s, but it would warm up pretty quickly to the highs in the 60s and 70s.  It made for a great week exploring the outdoors!