Saturday, November 29, 2014

Excuses for Not Blogging

1. Teething Toddler.  
Drool, drool, everywhere.
I know I sound like a broken record but this teething stuff has been relentless. Molar after molar. Canine after canine. For the last 8 weeks we haven’t had much respite from cutting teeth and the myriad of symptoms that come with it. Mostly it has lead to short, inconsistent naps, early mornings, a few midnight wakings, daytime crankiness and a pair of worn down parents. Something had to give over the past few weeks and that something for me was blogging.   

   2. Sick toddler.

Boo. Forest has his first cold and it stinks. Poor bud is a fountain of snot on top of the already out-of-control drool, and if I thought his sleep was hurting before, I had a major wakeup call this week. I am wistfully remembering the days where he was solely teething and woke up at 6 AM  and took a singular hour long nap during the day (they are 'supposed' to nap 2-3 hours daily). Once this cold hit he was waking several times each night and only napping 30-40 minutes during the day, leading to epic overtired meltdowns in the evenings. 

    He also went on a milk strike, probably because it is too hard to drink through a straw when you can’t breathe through your nose. When a baby has a cold there is not much to be done except to let it run its course. The main advice is to help them get plenty of rest and fluids and we just felt totally incompetent for failing to get him to nap or drink more than 2 ounces at a time. He finally appears to be on the mend and is in much better spirits today, though still wanting to snuggle all day long (that part I do not mind at all).  

   3. A weekend in Bakersfield. I drove 4 hours south to Bakersfield last weekend to spend some time with my friends Jill and Brian and celebrate the upcoming arrival of fellow Bako residents Nary and Gerald’s baby girl.

   4. Thanksgiving visitors! 
 My brother and his girlfriend came for a visit for Thanksgiving so I was occupied gathering supplies and such this past week. Then I was having way too much fun hanging with them to worry about blogging.

   5. Not much inspiration. We were super busy in October with our vacation, visitors, and Forest’s birthday festivities. I think after all that frenzy my introverted mind needed some serious zoning out in order to reboot. I’m finally starting to come to and have a couple of things worth writing about. I’ll try to get back into the swing over the next few weeks before the Christmas holidays hit and I inevitably go into blogging hibernation again. 

    And I feel like in the time it took me to write this blog about why I’m not blogging, I could have certainly written an actual post. I have always been a fan of irony.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vote for Forest!

Look I don't like to brag (ha!) but I think Forest is a pretty handsome little guy.
He may not be the best napper or the earliest talker, but everywhere we go people stop us to comment on his adorableness. Some even say he looks like the Gerber baby...just with a few more teeth:) 

Some have even mentioned that he is the cutest baby they have EVER seen. True story. 
Now of course, when I went to Missouri for my Grandma Fern's memorial service, my sister was there with baby Andrew and quite a few people stopped us to comment on his adorableness too. Perhaps one or two even said that he was the cutest baby they had EVER seen. I'm a bit suspicious that this is just a generic thing that people say about all babies or maybe Andrew and Forest are really just two of the cutest babies to ever live. It's entirely possible. It's also entirely possible that I'm a tad biased in thinking their cuteness trumps all the other super adorable babies running around this planet. 

Those are some pretty cute cousins!

My mom is one of the people who staunchly agrees with me that Andrew and Forest are on a whole other level of handsome. She convinced me to put this theory to the test by entering Forest in the Gerber Baby Photo Contest. There is an overarching contest in which judges sift through all the photo entries to choose one lucky $50,000 winner. And then there are smaller sub-category contests in which the public votes on the cutest baby photo by milestone and whoever gets the most votes wins $5,000 and a year's supply of Gerber products. It was tough to choose a photo but this was his daddy's favorite so we went with it.

Forest is in the toddler group which has some pretty stiff competition. This is my shameless plea to please help my baby win some college money and free Gerber stuff by voting here! Thanks in advance:)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Forest's Actual Birthday

Jonathan's parents arrived in San Ramon on the evening of the 29th, after  our little munchkin had already gone to bed. The next morning he had a big surprise waiting for him. We greeted him in bed with balloons to start the celebration. 

It helped to have his grandparents there because he was a bit stunned and actually stayed still to have some cute photos taken. 

After breakfast we went to the park and just hung out until naptime. After his morning nap we headed over to the nearby Moore’s pumpkin patch. This one was smaller than the G&M Farms we had gone to a few weks earlier and was more catered to the elementary than toddler set. He couldn’t really participate in any of the attractions, but he had plenty of fun riding in the wagon and pushing it around the pumpkin patch. 

Unfortunately it was a blazing hot day so we didn’t stay long. Instead we headed over to Baja Fresh for his favorite meal – Black beans! 
Forest loves going out to restaurants. He is a people watcher and if staring contests were an Olympic sport he’d probably be a gold medalist. 
Dada is my homeboy.
That plus beans for lunch made it a great outing for him. It may have got him a bit too excited because he boycotted his afternoon nap (he’s been doing that a lot lately). After his (not really) ‘quiet time’ we let him open his presents from the family. 

His aunts and uncles did a great job picking out presents for him and there were puzzles, fox pjs, trains, and a talking dog. His grandparents got him some really cool toys for his first birthday as well. 

Someone just asked me what Jon and I got Forest for his birthday and my answer was : NOTHING! He got soooooo much amazing stuff from friends and family that it really felt excessive to get him something ourselves. His birthday was two weeks ago and I have been giving him one new toy a day and I still haven’t introduced them all yet.  Seriously! Baby boy is all set for toys. 

We spent the rest of his birthday playing with his new toys and going to the park. Because he didn’t take an afternoon nap that meant he sadly had to have an early bedtime on his birthday, but luckily he slept for over 12 hours that night and was well rested for his big Halloween bash which you can read more about here

I have been so sentimental about his turning one, I can’t believe his birthday has already come and gone. I have plenty of deep thoughts to share about my shaky emotional state as I watch my baby quickly transition into a toddler and I will do so just as soon as he cuts these stinkin’ teeth and we both get some rest!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fort Bragg Vacation

I love traveling in October. As long as we have kids not tied to the school calendar, I think we’ll always opt to take vacation time in the early Fall season. There are four main reasons for this: 1) The weather is usually still decent 2) the off-season prices have plummeted 3) you’ll usually escape the crowds and 4) Fall foliage. 

I remember one time my mom gave me permission to miss a week of school to take a trip to Disney World with my grandparents and all of their granddaughters in October. It was awesome! The weather was cooler and there were hardly any lines for the rides, the total opposite of our usual summer and spring break trips to Orlando. We went back to Disney with my parents, sister, and nephews 2 Octobers ago and we found the same results. 
When Jonathan started his new position in San Ramon, he and his small team of co-workers had to divvy up vacation time to make sure someone was always manning the office. Though at the time we didn’t have any plans, Jonathan requested a week off in October. When the heart of the San Ramon summer started to get to us we knew we wanted to use his week off go somewhere cool. 

We were saving the mountains for a winter ski trip and sort of had Oregon in our minds as a fun out-doorsy getway. However, when we discovered the drive just to get to the Oregon border was 6+ hours we decided to set our sights on the Northern California coast instead, where the landscape and climate  is very similar to that of the Pacific Northwest. 

We’d heard good things about Mendocino but couldn’t find any good housing options suitable for a baby and a dog, so we set our sights 15 miles north to the larger (but still teeny-tiny)  town of Fort Bragg. We found an awesome 2 bedroom townhouse that was located right on the ocean in the midst of a state park. It also walked right out onto an extensive paved coastal trail which lead us in both directions to Merkerricher State Park. 

Upon arriving to Fort Bragg we were not fully impressed. The town was sleepy (probably partly due to the October timelime) and just seemed a bit dingy and depressed. The first full day we had was Scottish-style weather. It was sunny one minute but pouring rain with hurricane force winds the next. We spent the majority of the day in our car, just driving along the legendary Highway 1 to the little coastal towns to try to get an orientation to the area. 
Luckily the weather and the scenery were both giving off a Scottish vibe, so of course the views were beautiful. 
For a vacation locale where literally every attraction is outdoors, we were feeling very cooped up and wondering  how in the world we were gonna spend the next 4 days if the rain didn’t cease. The whole ‘there is no bad weather, only bad gear’ motto doesn’t really hold up when you have a baby and an elderly pooch to think about. 

We really wanted to see the Avenue of Giants, known for it’s massive Sequoia Redwoods. On the map it was only 70 miles so we figured we’d make a daytrip. What we weren’t expecting was that those 70 miles were on tiny, windy, mountainous roads that google maps was estimating  to take 3 hours to drive one way.  With an antsy teething baby and a car-sickness prone momma, we just didn’t think a 6 hour round trip was worth it. We found some similar attractions within an hours drive (on the same treacherous roads) and decided to stay a bit closer to Fort Bragg. 

Literally this place is littered with State and National Parks that are chocked full of redwood forests and coastal hikes so it was a little hard to choose. We were very unorganized and unprepared for this trip and had more of a ‘let’s wing it’ attitude. As we got close to our chosen hike at Standish-Hickey State Park in Leggett we saw a sign for the WORLD FAMOUS drive through tree. Since we had our hearts set on seeing some giant trees and I was 2 curves away from puking we decided to pull over and see the attraction. 

We paid our 5 dollars and were told to pull our sideview mirrors in so that we could drive thru. We did that and were still comically too big in our Acadia to even come close to fitting. 
We just pulled into the parking lot, ate some lunch and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine while we watched Ford Fusions barely make it through the tree tunnel. 

Since I was still feeling queasy we took our time at the pit stop and let Forest practice his rapidly improving walking skills. 

Once my stomach settled we were on to the next attraction. Jonathan had picked a 4 mile loop trail called ‘Big Tree’ so we figured that would be a good route for sighting more giants. We easily found the park, paid our 5 bucks, and started on the trailhead. However, about 5 minutes later, the trail seemed to disappear into a river. 
 We circled around the river area for about 20 minutes without ever finding where the trail continued. 

We were perplexed and just kept thinking ‘woah, if we were on the Amazing Race right now we would totally lose this leg and people would be screaming at the TV 'look, you idiots, the trail is right in front of your nose!’. Not that we heckle the partcipants on the Amazing Race or anything...

We were certain we were missing something obvious but just could not figure it out. Finally we called it quits and hiked back up to our car where we found a sign that warned that the trail required a seasonal footbridge to cross the river and continue the loop. We are guessing that due to the rainy week the area had, this footbridge was under water. We were a bit frustrated that we had driven all that way and paid 5 smackers to basically hike .6 miles and not see any ‘Big Trees’. 

So far the whole trip felt like a bust. Our teething toddler was not sleeping well and was having a ball finding all the things that could kill him in our non-childproofed townhouse. We were feeling really discouraged and felt like we’d have had a much more relaxing time just staying home! We considered leaving but decided to give it one more day to see what the Mendocino coast had to offer us. 

We started by focusing on what drew us to our townhouse location in the first place: MacKerricher State Park.  The next morning we took a brisk jog in the stroller and saw some beautiful sights, including my favorite- harbor seals! 

The weather was perfect, like a crisp clear Scottish day in Fall and the air was almost as fresh. It was so invigorating to jog in and Forest must have also been channeling his Scottish days because he fell asleep in the stroller for the first time since he was itty bitty. 
Once we got home we put him down for a proper nap and got ready for an afternoon excursion to Glass Beach, which was only about 1 mile from where we were staying. I had read about Glass Beach in an article listing the most unusual beaches in the world. This particular beach made the cut due to its abundance of sea glass, which resulted because of its prior use as the town dump. We drove down to the trailhead and made the short walk down to the beach. 

Sam and I went treasure hunting while Jonathan and Forest played on the beach. I was a tad disappointed in the amount of sea glass left, since apparently due to its recent publicity people have been removing it by the handful when visiting. 

Still, Forest didn’t know any different and had an absolute blast running on the beach toward the waves. We would scoop him up just before the water reached his toes and bring him back up the beach where he would rush right back to the surf. 

I have never seen him so happy. 

The weather was perfect so we just stayed at the beach until he got tired, at which point we went home and put him down for a *2 hour* nap! In the pack n play! It was a much needed miracle. 
After his siesta we headed back down to the quaint town of Mendocino for a sunset hike among the coastal bluffs. 

For our final day on vacation we were on a mission to watch some whales and do a proper redwoods hike. We went bright and early to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse which we read was an optimal place to spot whales nearly year round. 

We weren’t so lucky and didn’t spot any during our hike, but it was still a pretty walk and another sunny day. 

After Forest’s morning nap we headed to the nearby Russian Gulch State Park to do a redwood/waterfall hike. We brought Sam along but felt bad for him when we got to the trailhead and saw that this particular trail didn’t allow pups. 
It was probably just as well that he stayed in the car though since it was a 4 mile hike and we were trucking it the whole way. It was a really pleasant walk along a river, and reminded me once again of Scotland and what I envision the landscape of Oregon to be like. 

It was certainly our favorite excursion of the trip and I wish we’d gone sooner so that we could have known to come back and do a few more of the hikes around there, especialy since it was only a 15 minute drive from our place. 

We finished off the trip with dinner at the North Coast Brewing Company Taproom. 

We enjoyed sampling all the beers and Forest had fun chowing down on zucchini and squash and chumming it up with the waitstaff.  Towards the end of our meal another family with a baby his age came in and since the restaurant wasn’t very busy, we let them walk around on the floor a bit together. It was a nice spontaneous play date and a good way to end our trip. 

The next morning we packed up and headed out early so that we could make the 4 hour journey back to San Ramon before Jon’s parents arrived that evening.  I’ll write more later  about Forest’s actual birthday fun. Forest has been averaging about an hour of napping a day plus waking up obnoxiously early so I've been having a hard time blogging recently. I wish these teeth would hurry up and get a move on so that hopefully my baby can start sleeping normally again!