Sunday, November 22, 2009

A family weekend

Beginning in June, this ended up being the busiest year ever in the Bailey household! Summer vacations, weddings, weekend getaways, camping trips, and lots of time with friends and family have made this a very blessed year. This trend isn't ending with the holidays coming upon us. In two days we're heading to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, in-laws, and hopefully see some extended family and friends while up there. Then we're leaving straight from there to West Virginia to celebrate an early Christmas with my sister, brother-in-law, and my brand-new nephew! A couple days after getting home, we're celebrating Rosemary's second birthday and before we know it, it'll be Christmas!

We've also been making the most of our down-time. After almost two years of searching, I finally found a baby hiking backpack on craigslist for only $15! I didn't want to buy a new one because I figured we'd only use it a few times and couldn't justify the price, but I've been aching to get back on the trails (Joe and I were occasional day-hikers before embarking on our parenthood journey and our recent camping trip has made me all the more determined to get back out there!). We picked it up yesterday and tested it with a couple walks around the block. Rosemary loved it. No, you don't understand. She LOVED it. She repeated "I love it" over and over and over as we were walking and refused to get out when we got home! So we decided not to waste any time trying it out. We found a local 1.5 mile trail (it might take some practice carrying a 27 pound child around and we didn't want to risk going on anything longer) and headed out to Brooker Creek Preserve in nearby Tarpon Springs. I didn't check the weather forecast before leaving the house and noticed some clouds on our drive up there. Joe said, "Yeah, it's probably going to rain. I checked this morning." Um, given our track record (our last hike found us huddled on a picnic table surrounded by very threatening-looking owls and critters in a booming, earth-shaking thunderstorm while at Hillsborough River State Park. It made for a great story for my 4th graders at the time, but is not something I want to relive, especially with an almost-2-year-old in tow) I was a little miffed that he had not shared this bit of research with me. But all was well and it didn't rain a drop and we enjoyed an easy hike- well, easy for me, Joe had the backpack with the little one on!- in a beautiful, peaceful setting.

The trail starts with a nice boardwalk leading to an education center (which was closed on Sundays, but don't worry, we'll be back!). There are interpretive signs describing the Tarpon Springs watershed and some of the local flora and fauna, and really cool artwork. My favorite had symbols adorning a half-arch. My interpretation was that it showed the relationship between humans and nature. There were symbols showing humans (a fingerprint), animals (one that looked like a fish scale to represent aquatic animals, and one that looked like a wing), plants (symbol that looked like branches), and one to represent the sun (a series of circles). I'll have to take a better picture next time. It was really cool. We headed out to the trail- the trailhead starts where the boardwalk ends. We chose to go on the 1.5 mile Wilderness Trail, though there were both shorter and longer trails to choose from (actually, the longer trail was currently closed due to flooding). The trail we went on wound through several ecosystems and there were some interpretive signs explaining the differences. Rosemary kept asking "What's that?" so we made a game of pointing out and counting pine cones. That little girl has a good eye! She found pine cones hidden underneath brush that Joe and I could barely see! After finishing our hike, we headed to the picnic tables to eat some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples before heading home. Rosemary did so well that she got a lollipop. And we learned that she takes after her father and doesn't like butterscotch, so mommy actually ate the lollipop! It was a gorgeous day for a hike (one of the benefits of living in Florida is that it's the end of November and it was in the high 70s- if you can make it through the nasty, humid summers, it's actually pretty nice this time of year!). Here are some pictures to enjoy if you've sat through all this!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The big 3-0

I did it! I made it to 30! I wanted to spend the day doing my two favorite things: spend time with my family and travel the world. We saved on airfare and lodging by making the hour and a half drive to Orlando to spend the day at EPCOT. The first (and luckily only) mishap that occured as soon as we walked through the gates was my camera unfortunately broke. Yes, the second camera I bought in the past couple weeks. So I wasn't able to get too many pictures. Joe got more than I did but he's back to work so it might take a while before they're downloaded and I can steal them to post all the funny pictures of me in crazy hats and standing in every country we visited.

Let me backup. We started the day with an uber-healthy breakfast of red velvet birthday cake made my amazing friend and cake-maker extroidinaire, Kara (thank you again!).
When we finally made it to Epcot we started at the new Nemo exhibit for Rosemary's sake. Joe and I ended up loving it! After a boat ride trying to "Find Nemo", we checked out Disney's awesome aquarium that includes a dolphin and a manatee rescue tank. By then we were all ready for lunch so we started to begin "traveling the world" as we told Rosemary who repeated it every time we left from one country to another! We made our way to Paris to eat lunch in the Boulangerie Patisserie. I had a ham tartine (fancy word for pizza), Joe had some quiche, and we all shared a creme brulee. We then spent the day wandering the shops in Japan, scouring Italy for Pocket Coffee (a tasty treat we picked up when we were actually in Italy that we have been unable to find anywhere in the States, and unfortuntaly had no luck at Epcot, either), taking a river boat cruise through Old Mexico, and awed by the amazing Relfections of China panorama film. I was able to replace my Notre Dame keychain that I bought in the real Paris 4 years ago and that has since broken with an Eiffel Tower keychain (that broke today at the bank ;(). I don't have much luck with cameras or keychains. I also bought myself a Murano glass necklace. I always regretted not getting on when we were in Venice and I think I paid twice as much getting it at Epcot, but at least I now have it! It was a wonderful day. We stayed until after the fireworks show, which as a perfect ending to our perfect day. It did whet my appetite for a real European trip, but I think it was an adequate substitute. Rosemary did a great job in the car and I can't guarantee that she would do as well in a trans-Atlantic flight. Oh, and that whole cost of a plane ticket thing is a bit of a deterent as well ;). I wish I had more pictures, but I'll update when Joe gets his uploaded. For now here's one of France I was able to get out of my malfunctioning camera:
I was really tired when I wrote this last night and I forgot about the most fun part! We ate dinner at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany. All the reviews I found said they had nothing for kids, but Rosemary proved them wrong!!!! It was a gastronomic joyfest for her! She ate a roasted chicken leg, pickled herring, sauerkraut, sausage, dumplings, pot roast, salmon with a dill sauce, and various other German delicacies. I don't know any other almost-2-year-old who will eat all of that! The only thing she wouldn't eat was lettuce from the salad! They also had live music and she loved dancing to it. Our waiter brought me a birthday card and a gingerbread man cookie. It was family style and we were seated with a family from Alabama. It made for a fun and interesting meal that we will most definitely do again!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Campers!

I'm happy to report that the Bailey family is full of happy campers! So happy, in fact, that we decided to make it a semi-annual event!

We arrived at St. George Island State Park just before the sunset and set up camp.

Then the amazing Jesse and Tammy cooked the best camp food I have ever had. Our dinner was grilled salmon, green beans, and rice. It was ah-mazing!!!!

It was pretty chilly that night so we warmed ourselves by the campfire and roasted some marshmallows.

We also decided to walk down to the beach to check out the view. And it was worth it! The moonlight shimmering on the ocean was pretty darn amazing.

We did eventually head back to camp and get some sleep while the raccoons invaded our camp and sprinkled our trash all about. I heard them in our camp and I swear there was one crawling up our tent. Joe woke up bright and early and cleaned up what he could.

Rosemary, of course, insisted on her morning yoga routine.

After breakfast (another delicious meal of cheese grits, bagels, bacon, and eggs by Tammy and Jesse) we walked to the beach again. It was pretty chilly and we were having a great time until Rosemary decided to jump in the water! It was way too cold to leave her in her wet clothes so Joe ran back to camp to get a change while Tammy wrapped her up in the blanket. She ended up falling asleep like that with Jesse holding her. It was right at that moment that my brand new camera died! Tammy came to my rescue and let me borrow her camera for the rest of the trip and I did replace it once we got back home.

We somehow lucked out and found out this was butterfly migration season. I'm talking about thousands of butterflies! It was amazing (I seem to be using this word a lot lately!). We walked to the playground that connects to a hiking trail and they were everywhere. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven! All that effort I've been putting into attracting butterflies into my yard for the past two years and here they all seem to be in one place created by Mother Nature! Just amazing. There was also wild rosemary everywhere you looked. I tried getting a picture of my Wild Rosemary next to the wild rosemary, but the best I could do was getting her smelling it.

We went back to camp after this and I took a nap while the troops played what I found out was an epic football game that Rosemary is still talking about! I liked my nap, though.

After another great dinner of mac n cheese, Jesse's ridiculously good habanero chicken, and corn on the cob, we all piled into the Perkin's tent, which is actually big enough that I think I could actually live in it for an extended length of time, and played Scattergories. Thanks Alina for bringing that! Rosemary got a little tired so Joe put her down and we moved the party back to the campfire to roast some marshmallows. The raccoon family from the previous night made an appearance. They certainly weren't shy. One got uncomfortably close to me. If it weren't for the mesh on the beach chairs we brought with us I think I would have run! After some more marshmallows and conversation Joe and I retired to the tent to join our sleeping beauty.

This was the gorgeous site I woke up to the next morning. Rosemary is in the habit of always having something to say right when she wakes up in the morning. That morning I was greeted with "I like to camp. Where's my other sock? [one sock slipped off during the night] Maybe under the bag? Where are my friends?" So I took my cutie patootie to the campfire that was already roaring and had yet another cheese grits, eggs, bacon, and egg breakfast before packing up and heading home. It was the best camping trip we have ever had. I was nervous about how Rosemary would handle it, but she was a trooper. More than a trooper. She loved it! I can't wait for our next camping trip!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

New camera

In honor of the big upcoming 3-0, I got myself an early birthday present. Actually, it's going to be a gift from my parents but I bought it a little early so I could have it for our camping trip. A new camera! I ended up getting a Fuji Finepix J38. Rosemary and I took it out for a test drive today. Here's my little cutie patootie on the playground in our neighborhood, playing with the mulch.

I couldn't have gotten it at a better time. November just ended up jam-packed with plans almost every day! This weekend is our camping trip, next week Joe's going to California so I'm going to spend a few days in Jax, next Friday we're entertaining some friends, we're spending my birthday at Epcot (I'll get to spend my 30th in Paris after all ;)), parents and in-laws for Thanksgiving, and then we're going up to West Virginia to meet my little nephew Malachite!!! Yay!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The many adventures of the Bailey family

Joe and I were avid travelers before embarking on this fascinating journey called "Parenthood." While we traded touring castles in the Bohemian countryside for exploring the kid's museums in our own backyard and wine tasting in St. Goar for milk shopping trips to Super Target, that doesn't mean we can't occasionally venture out and explore the great outdoors for a super awesome family vacation! We don't even need to leave the country this time! We're heading up north to St. George, near our former dwelling place in Tallahassee, for a camping trip extroidinaire! We're packing up one tent, three sleeping bags (including one really cool Popple sleeping bag for Miss Romy on loan from our good friend Nikki), and a truckful of miscellaneous camping supplies and caravaning it up on Friday with four friends in tow. Hopefully I'll be updating soon with details of our trip, maybe complete with some pictures (still don't have that new camera, but my birthday is coming up). I haven't been this excited about anything in so long!!!