Taking Time to Nest

Well, we are officially overdue. Bea was nine days late, so apparently we make babies who are content to bake as long as possible. Philosophically, I’m all about letting babies decide on their own when to enter the world. Emotionally, during a hot week at the end of July? I cannot wait to not be pregnant. (And, of course, to meet this new member of our family!)

Since there’s no baby, I thought I’d continue blogging. After a false alarm hospital visit, where I had a brief quandary over whether or not our little girl counts as a “living child,” I thought about writing a post on the importance of language in light of the Planned Parenthood controversy, but that seemed beyond my mental capabilities at the moment.

Exploring the Botanic Gardens
Exploring the Botanic Gardens

Then, I thought about writing about our recent six year anniversary. We spent the day changing a dead car battery, making scones, and having a family adventure at the Botanic Gardens. It was not a fancy day, and perhaps didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, but it was a good reflection of our life now and this quiet, nesting phase that we’re in. The reality right now is that I don’t have much energy to write posts that make connections to life and greater ideas.

So, I thought I’d write a little slice of life of where we’re at in this moment. Frank took the week off in the hopes of spending a week with our new baby. While it didn’t happen as planned, it’s been a perfect week of connecting as a family and relaxing at home – no projects or home improvements, just walks to the park and the store and special treats. I think it was a necessary week of connection before our lives change with this new baby.

A week filled with special treats.
A week filled with special treats.

I also needed a week of full-time two parent attention for Bea. Because we’ve been anxious and there have been a couple false alarms, we’ve been on edge and so she’s been on edge. Emotions have been running especially high and I am so thankful Frank was able to be here to carry some of the weight with breakfast dates, snuggle and swim time, and the novelty of having him home all day long. My parents stepped in, as well, giving Frank and I time to walk, to nap, to take a break from our sweet but high strung daughter.

Especially with an overdue baby, this period of nesting has dragged a bit and taken on different incarnations. From the traditional painting the room and arranging furniture at the beginning of the month to chores and baking and tying up loose ends in the middle to this time of waiting. Our nesting now has looked like reading books and having leisurely breakfasts on the patio. It’s looked like spending time together in ways that will be difficult in the coming weeks.

It’s a reminder that, no matter how prepared I am, sometimes preparation looks less like doing and more like being. Like listening to the needs of myself, of my three year old, even of our dog and recognizing we are all waiting and we all need to process in our own way.

What does your life look like at this moment?

One Year

Today marks the one year anniversary of this little blog. Looking back, I’m amazed that I had enough stories and ideas to keep posting twice a week! One of my biggest concerns about starting a blog is that I wouldn’t have anything to say. While some weeks have been a stretch, it’s been a good practice to look for something each week.

Happy 1st Flickr birthday to me!!! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Benson Kua, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It’s been interesting to look at stories from my week or from years ago and to somehow link them to the present and with a universal question. In many ways, its helped me process life with a bigger-picture mentality. In trying to connect my own stories to a variety of readers and backgrounds, I’m honing the practice of stepping back and seeing myself as part of a bigger story.

There are definitely things I’d like to change in the coming year: Better titles (maybe expand beyond one word?); perhaps experimenting with consistent topical days; exploring a weeklong series, perhaps with guest posts (let me know if you want to participate!)… Really, though, I’ll probably just keep things status quo: telling stories, sharing thoughts, reflecting on life.

I know there is a lot of advice about how to build a bigger audience or to engage more effectively through social media, but I’m happy with the small size of this blog. It’s big enough to keep me accountable without feeling like it’s a job.

Mostly, I’m amazed at the people who read it: People I know and also people I’ve never met. Thank you for your engagement and feedback – it always seems to come at the perfect time, when I’m questioning whether the internet needs another blogging voice.

Thank you for joining me on this journey! I really do appreciate everyone who stops by!

What I’m Into 7:14

July is a month of celebrations in our family. We celebrate our anniversary, Daisy’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and Bea’s birthday. This year, in honor of our 5th, Frank and I took five days to explore Ouray in southwestern Colorado. We spent quality time hiking trails we can’t do with Bea, conversing uninterrupted, driving through beautiful scenery, and reconnecting.

For Bea’s birthday, my brother and cousin flew in from California to celebrate. Because we have a small house, we created a guest room behind our garden using our tent. With the room divider set up, it was about as spacious as our proper guest room, if a bit less convenient. It was a good lesson in hospitality with small spaces.

No guest room? No problem!
No guest room? No problem!

Bea continues to adore all things Daniel Tiger, so we decided to recreate a “Tigy” cake and she was over the moon. She absolutely loved having all her friends over and it was fun to see her understand that she was getting bigger. She kept shouting, “Happy Birthday, Beatrix! I’m two ‘ears old!”

Bea with her Tigy cake
Bea with her Tigy cake

We just dropped our last guest off at the airport and now the house seems a bit quiet. Even though a full house can have its stresses, I love being able to open our home. When we were all packed in the living room, eating leftover cake, Bea sighed and said, “My whole family is here!” There’s something special about instilling that importance from the very beginning.

Books: Finished and In Progress
I decided to read the rest of C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as part of our Reading Challenge. Upon reflection, I think Perelandra was my favorite and, as Frank is reading Surprised by Hope, we are finding connections, which is fun. Next up is Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire.

A couple five-star reads this month were Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. We are just barely into Season 1 of OITNB and the book helped me connect with Piper’s character. Though it doesn’t follow the series, the book brings up important issues around prison reform and has started conversations between Frank and I about ways we can help. An Altar in the World may be my new favorite book. I’m thinking of buying a few copies to give away, as I know I’ll be recommending it! In the midst of blog-style Christian memoirs, this is a refreshing, deeply written series of reflections.

Currently, I’m reading The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard, about Tyson chicken. We only buy local, organic chicken, but it has made me question what I’m eating when we go to restaurants. Definitely an eye-opening, thought-provoking book, though it is a bit dense and slow-going for a July read.

You can connect over at Goodreads and Pinterest for all of my reading activity.

Blogging
Many bloggers seem to be taking a summer break, which has been nice for me and has freed up reading time. Over here, my most popular was Freedom. My own favorite was Bagging Peaks. I’m still trying to figure out this blogging groove and have been really pondering what this space is about and for. Thanks to all who read, respond, and encourage. I do appreciate it!

Around Town
The Denver Botanic Gardens has a Dale Chihuly exhibit up right now. I love his whimsical style and have only seen it displayed in museum settings. The way the sculptures are integrated into the gardens is fun and natural. If you haven’t yet been, I’d highly recommend. Get there early (they open at 9:00) because parking fills up quickly!

What about you? What are you into these days?

Linked with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into. Head over there for fun books, activities, and goings-on from July.

Bagging Peaks

Frank and I spent five days in Ouray, Colorado celebrating our fifth anniversary. Known as the Switzerland of America, it is surrounded by the high peaks of the San Juans and is home to mining, Jeeping, hiking, and ice climbing. Since we left Bea with Grandma and Grandpa, we hiked every day and stayed in a cute B&B so came home to relaxing hot tubs and comfy beds.

Descending into Ouray
Descending into Ouray

Our first morning in town, we set the alarm for 5:00, smeared peanut butter on bananas, filled our Camelbaks with water, threw our boots in the car, and headed into the mountains to hike Mt. Sneffels. It had been three years since I hiked a mountain. We took Bea halfway up Bierstadt last year and Frank hiked a couple in preparation for the Ascent, but we hadn’t truly hiked to summit since Bea was born.

We parked and were on the way to Yankee Boy Basin by 6:15. Not at the beginning of the pack, but with enough time to summit and be off the mountain before noon. Most hikers try to stick to that rule – regular afternoon thunderstorms can be deadly at 14,000 feet.

We set off up the Jeep road to the base of Sneffels. When we got there, the sign said 1.2 miles to the summit. This lends a false sense of distance, as this mile can take more than three hours to accomplish. We started up the path toward the long, challenging scree field of loose rocks.

Scree field
Scree field

I can’t remember how many of the 14ers I’ve summited – somewhere in the low teens. As my dad and I started hiking them, we stuck with Class 1 walk-ups, so my success rate was high. Even though I’ve spent most of my life in this state and do love the outdoors, I’m nowhere near as hardcore as many who embrace the adventurous lifestyle of our state.

“Bagging peaks” is an underlying mentality of most who climb Colorado’s mountains. As beautiful as the views are and as amazing as it is to get away from crowded trails, many don’t count a hike successful unless a summit is reached.

The scree field on Sneffels was long and hard. We stopped partway up for a Nutella snack but didn’t make it to the snowy saddle until 10:45. By this time, clouds were beginning to gather. We had met several hikers who had turned around at the saddle, saying it was too snowy to continue. As we assessed the situation, overlooking amazing alpine valleys, we chatted with hikers who had made it to the summit successfully. They were seasoned and had “bagged” harder peaks than I had attempted.

We were only about 300 feet from the summit but those feet involved scaling a boulder field, skirting the snowy trail, and mustering more confidence in climbing abilities than I had. After some debate, we decided to turn around at the saddle.

Last 300 feet
Last 300 feet

It was a tough hike down. I felt that I had let Frank down – he would have summited had I not been along. I wondered if, had he known my hiking limitations, he would have still married me. (I think that may have been the altitude talking…) We passed novice hikers in Converse sneakers without water and I thought, Surely I can summit if they can! (Who knows if they actually did summit…)

By the time we reached the bottom, I was feeling very inauthentic in my ability to live in Colorado, land of hikers. As we looked back, the dark clouds kept gathering and I knew we had made a wise decision. Thankfully, no one was hurt that day at the summit, but I didn’t want to take my chances. I learned that I’m more of a Class 2 hiker, not the Class 3 of Sneffels, and that is ok. There are still many more beautiful hikes and trails that don’t involve scaling boulders.

At the trailhead, we came across an older man who had fallen and broken his hip. Luckily, a doctor was present, but they needed more help. Frank offered his belt to stabilize the splint and then carefully helped lift the man into a waiting Jeep. As we sat among wildflowers, eating our lunch, and watching the Jeep slowly descend the trail, we reflected that, had we not turned around, we would not have been able to help. Maybe realizing limitations had farther reaching effects than my own insecurities.

The next morning at breakfast, we told our B&B host of our failure. He asked,

“Was the hike beautiful? Did you see amazing views?”

Yes…

“Then it was a success!”

The rest of our trip was filled with river hiking adventures, scrambling up waterfalls, and hiking rolling, wildflower-filled trails. It would be fun to go back and try Sneffels again, maybe later in the season. But, as I settle into my own self and the example I want to set for my family, I’m counting successes among wildflower trails rather than peaks bagged.

Linked with SheLoves Magazine’s monthly theme: Authentic.

Trip vs. Travel

Frank and I just returned from a quick trip to Santa Barbara over the weekend. We left Bea with Grandma and Grandpa, and since it’s tax season and Frank can only take one two-day weekend in the next three months, we flew in at 10:30 on Saturday and left at 2:30 on Sunday. It was fast but rejuvenating.

The weather was perfect: mid-70’s and we arrived just in time to change and drive our rented Mustang convertible to the courthouse, where the wedding ceremony was. We had a few hours between the ceremony and reception, so we headed back to our inn, which was a block from the beach. We walked to the wharf and found a tasting room, overlooking the ocean. We were able to taste some of the local wines and then headed back to the reception. After dinner and a bit of dancing, we had some time (and were kid-free!) so found a bar near the hotel and chatted over one last gin and tonic and Glenlivet.

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View while wine tasting

The next morning, we walked downtown to meet Frank’s family and to herd the kids toward the beach so they could run, splash, and fly a kite. After packing up, we had lunch overlooking the harbor, sipping local rosé and pinot noir before heading back to Denver.

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Lunchtime view of the harbor

We reflected that, even though it was fast, it was such a refreshing time to be together. We also wondered about the last time we traveled. Since Bea was born, we’ve taken trips to see family, to explore favorite National Parks, to get out in nature, but we haven’t had the sense of adventure, of the new. I think the last time we traveled – the last time we truly explored – was our safari in southern Africa, the summer before we had Bea. I had forgotten how soul-filling, how exciting it is to explore and discover brand new places.

This year, we celebrate our 5th anniversary and were thinking we should return to Yellowstone, where we honeymooned. After this excursion, I’m wondering if we need to find a place neither of us have been and do some exploring together.

Where do you feel rejuvenated? Where do you think we should go – Yellowstone or somewhere new?