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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Wordless Wednesday: 4 Generations

Almost wordless. I wanted to just write a short note to explain the significance of this post. I think this picture will be very special to Lucien in years to come. Here he is with his daddy, granddad, and great-grandfather (who is in his late 90s).

I have a very similar picture from my own childhood and I am the only child who has it (my great-grandmother passed away before any of my siblings were born). This will likely be the case for Lucien as well, so while he didn’t really seem impressed on the day, I do hope that he’ll appreciate the significance down the road.

Aren’t we lucky to have these photos as a lasting memory? I think so.

Weekend Update: The Great Outdoors

We went camping in the great outdoors . . . with our toddler!  Not only did we camp in a secluded section of the Shenandoah National Park, but we hiked through a very steep, slippery, and rocky trail that was labeled moderate-to -difficult.  Check out the Cedar Run hike (elevation gain for the complete loop is 2,450 feet!)  We were warned that we’d be deep into bear country.  It would have been cool to see one, from a distance, on the hike.  We did see several deer, salamanders, and ravens on the trail.

Lugging 40 pounds on my back plus high stepping a rocky trail was very tough.  I haven’t done a ruck hike in about 9 years.  I wasn’t expecting my husband to pick something quite so . . . tough.

Later, I asked him why he wanted to spend our family weekend doing such a difficult course.

His response, “It’s not difficult.  It’s only a couple of miles.  Difficult would be a 6 mile hike with all of this rocky terrain thrown in the middle.”

Well, okay, so he didn’t really answer my question.  Ultimately, he wanted to camp in a more secluded spot.

We definitely had seclusion.  In fact, we were diverted from getting to our targeted trail thanks to a park ranger who told us to drive another 1.5 hours to another entrance to the forest to get to our trail.

We left our home at 4:45 pm.  We parked our vehicle outside of the trail around 8pm.  It definitely took much MUCH longer than projected.  So, by the time we hit the trail, it was growing dark, and we didn’t have much time to find a decent campsite, or take pictures, or view the waterfalls.

CAMPSITE

Steve found a semi-clear spot well enough away from the trail.  Unfortunately, the ground was littered with big gooney rocks.

Steve set up our A-frame tent that he purchased 7 years ago (we hadn’t yet had a chance to try it out).  Meanwhile, Calvin clung to my pantlegs for dear life.  I’m sure he was thinking, “where the heck are we? Why is it so dark here?  I’m scared!”

Once we were inside the tent, I set up the sleeping bags and turned on a flash light.  Calvin took a few moments to get oriented.  Yet, our tent was slightly inclined.  He still hugged me and had at least one limb on me at all times.

IMG_6069Then, I busted out with the gorp or trail mix.  He started picking through and eating the raisins.  Suddenly, life was good.  Big fluffy, down sleeping bags to clamber over and jump upon…and eating raisins late at night…staying up past bedtime.  He was living it up!

Since you cannot light a fire in the Shenandoah National Forest, we used our little camp stove to cook up some delicious nitrate-free brats and hot dogs.  We chased them down with more gorp.

IMG_6057Then, Steve decided to head upstream to see if there were any other campers nearby.  Meanwhile, it was close to 10pm, and Calvin was exhausted.  He and I snuggled together in a sleeping bag, and he kept pointing to the flashlight overhead and rubbing his eyes–wanting me to turn it off.

I would have loved to turn off the light and doze off myself, but I had strict orders from Daddy to keep the light on until he got back.  After another 30 minutes, he returned, and we finally were able to get some sleep.

Sleeping outside with Mommy and Daddy was such a treat for Calvin, that he got so excited and wouldn’t fall asleep.  He kept standing up, walking and stumbling around and laughing.  Finally, Steve had to wrangle him and pin him down, and told him to lie down and go to sleep.

Within minutes, I heard baby snores which lasted until daybreak.

I didn’t sleep nearly as well as Calvin. Maybe it was the various rocks underneath my back or the fact that I couldn’t sleep on my side without my favorite pillow.  I kept thinking to myself, “It’s only one night.  I can handle this!”  Steve quipped that the large rock underneath his low back was in just about the right spot for his low back spinal molding (something we usually do with cylindrical foam pillows).

THE HIKE: Part I

The next morning, we gobbled up bacon and eggs for breakfast before we set out to explore the waterfalls, pools, and steep rocky cliffs.  Rain was coming so we broke up camp rather quickly.

IMG_6076Even though Calvin was comfortable going to the bathroom on his potty at home, he wasn’t quite so ready to go in the forest.  He made his “I NEED to potty” sound and whimpered when we tried to get him to go near a rock.  That just wasn’t going to cut it for him.  So, off with one diaper, on with another, and immediatley off with the fresh diaper for one that was clean.  We were down to 3 diapers, and I had no idea how many more hours we’d be hanging around outside.

We decided to trek downhill and keep Steve’s pack hidden at the campsite so that he could bear Calvin’s weight while I freely hiked.  It was rough enough heading downhill with muddy puddles and slippery rocks, but it was treacherous returning back to our campsite.  By this time, the mild drizzle had turned into a torrential downpour.

IMG_6158 Rocky, slippery stream Cedar Run hiking trail

Yet, the rain was a welcome refreshmen in the hot and sticky air that otherwise clung to my skin and nostrils.  Calvin didn’t seem to mind the rain either, probably because he was wearing a hat.  IMG_6146

We passed more waterfalls, took a refreshing drink from the clean and refreshing spring water (Steve didn’t get sick from drinking it the night before, and we’d read that it was clean and good to drink from the source without boiling).  Calvin watched our lead and did the sign language for “please” and “more”.  We let him drink stream water from my hands.  When he was finished, he said, “Mmmm!”IMG_6166

We passed a couple of hikers who told us the next larger waterfall was another 30 minutes downhill.  We considered going, but the rain was getting more intense, and for every step we tread downhill, we’d have to re-claim it going uphill.  Sooner than later, I’d have to carry Calvin, and we’d have to climb even more back toward our car on Skyline drive.IMG_6135

So, we opted to head back to camp.  My legs were still quivering from the intense downhill climbing the night before.  It was tough walking, but I could do it.

The Hike: Part II

IMG_6108We got back to the campsite to get Steve’s pack and to take a brief rest.  We chowed on gorp, downed some water, and let Calvin loose to stretch his legs.  When the rain picked up, we put Calvin back into the carrier, and strapped him onto my back.

IMG_6119It’s one thing to climb a steep ascent on slippery rocks.

It’s a completely other thing to climb a steep ascent on slippery rocks during a downpour with your precious child strapped to your back.

My quads BURNED.  My calves felt like iron knots.  I was utterly exhausted from not sleeping (I consider waking up 8-10 times during the night NOT sleeping).  And yet, we had to get back to our car, and I couldn’t mis-step and fall and risk hurting my sweet baby boy.

Steve yelled back to me to stay focused.  I felt like I was in military survival school.

So, I thought about my sweet reward when we got home.  I completely focused on throwing back a strawberry-banana smoothie.  I was exhausted, but I said aloud the healthy and refreshing ingredients that would go into my lovely smoothie.

Then, I got tired and had to rest.

The rain let-up a little.  The air grew more humid and heated.  The mist starting rising from the stream.  Mosquitoes began to buzz and hover near me.

We pressed on.

Big rocky steps.  Endless trail in an upward ascent.

Tired. So freaking tired.  Must sit down.  Must rest.  Must sleep.

At one point, I told Steve he may have to continue up the trail and unload his pack…then return to carry out Calvin in the carrier while I walked back.  Steve told me to stay focused, and that it was only a little further.

About 45 minutes later, we finally arrived back on Skyline Drive with our  car in sight.

The Hike: Part III

We drove on Skyline and stopped at the Visitor’s Center to fill-up on gas, take a rest stop, and to check out the mini-museum inside. We ended up getting a hot meal which was rejuvenating for the spirit and the flesh.

Steve asked a park ranger about some of the less steep hikes in to some of the bigger waterfalls.

We deliberated back and forth on whether or not we should go.  I was completely tuckered out…but we were THERE, and we may not go back.  It was past Calvin’s naptime, but he could always sleep later.

Finally, we decided to give it a go…Steve would carry Calvin, and we’d take the easy-peasy trail to the waterfall.  Calvin was all revved up and happy for another walk.

We were momentarily distracted by a little cemetary path that jutted off to the side of the trail.  We wondered who’d have access to bury folks in a cemetery…in a National Park.  We walked around for a couple of minutes, then headed back to the trail.

The sun was beating down on us, and I didn’t want Calvin to get burned.  I reached up to put his hat on his head, and suddenly his head flopped to the side, and then the other side.  I ran up to look at him, curious at what he was doing.  IMG_6190He had fallen asleep…completely exhausted sleep.

The more Steve plodded on, the more his head would sway.  I’m a chiropractor, I didn’t like what was happening to his poor little neck without any side support.  So, I gently placed his cheek against the front of the carrier, and asked Steve to slow down his walking.

We were halfway to the waterfall at this point in the trail.

But, we decided to head back to the car and to put our little, sleeping boy in his car seat and head home.

IMG_6195Guess who was next to fall asleep?

I awoke for occasional breath-taking vistas along Skyline Drive, but I was glad to get home and whip myself up a strawberry-banana-coconut milk smoothie.

IMG_6196

Backpacking and Camping with a Toddler: Tips for Parents

  1. Bring familiar food and snacks
  2. Encourage a love of new and foreign things by experiencing it yourself with confidence and awe
  3. Counter fear of a dark and strange place with unusual animal sounds with calmness and joy.
  4. Point out and name familiar things: animals and trees.
  5. Point out and name unfamiliar things and describe how they’re like familiar things: waterfalls–like the bath tub faucet; warm rain–like a big shower.
  6. If you’re having fun and engaging your child, chances are that a uncertain attitude may easily settle into one that matches yours.

We had a wonderful Daddy’s Day weekend.  How was yours?

Going Back to Work after Staying Home with Baby

calvindollyI thought the laundry would pile up to mountainous levels.  I expected us to go hungry and scramble for dinner every night.  I expected us to bust bedtime by several hours on a regular basis.  Ultimately, I expected everything at home to lose all sense of organization and order when I started working . . . surprisingly and thankfully, I was wrong.

I could barely manage to get in a shower by noon the first six months post-partum.  I definitely was not on top of meal planning and preparation beyond one meal per day.  Once my son began solids, I spent so much time figuring out his foods, that I sorta didn’t do a great job multi-tasking meal prep for me and my husband.

How on earth was I going to get my life and home together and handle that and handle starting a practice?

One word.

Prayer.

Answered prayer: God-send of a husband–Steve.

  • Guess who makes hot breakfast for our family every morning?  Not me.
  • Guess who takes our son home at the end of the day when he’s had enough of the four walls of his playroom at the office?  Not me.
  • Guess who does grocery shopping 60% of the time and cooks dinner 40% of the time?  Not me.
  • Guess who balances the budget, keeps us on budget, and sacrifices his Christmas gift money for things we need instead of buying things he wants? Not me.

I couldn’t start a practice or continue blogging if it wasn’t for my amazing husband.

We’ve had to make some changes around the home to make things work for us as a family.  Strangely enough, when I’m not home all day, I have less of a mess to clean up.  Fewer dishes to wash.  Fewer cloth diapers to clean (yes, we admittedly do use disposables while at the office).  Two or three days a week, we do meal prep that can be converted into several other meals or dishes throughout the week.  That makes dinner simpler and sooner on those days when we get home later than we’d hoped.

Are there days when our son goes to bed later than we’d like.  Yes, but not more than 30 or 45 minutes past his regular bed time.

We eat dinner (and sometimes breakfast) together as a family.

Mopping and vacuuming happen once a week, and laundry–well, we get to that when it’s absolutely necessary.

Our son rolls with the punches.  He’s happy to see me all day long.  We’re together as a family several days a week–which is our dream and our goal.

It IS possible to go back to work, spend time with your family, and keep your home in order.  I can’t imagine doing it as a single, working mom, but with a supportive husband who’ll roll up his sleeves and share the load, ANYTHING is possible.

Happy Father’s Day!

We were going to do a picnic or hang out at the park, but we may just relax here at our new apartment in Charlottesville. Calvin gave Steve an organic dark chocolate bar with bits of raspberries in it for Dad’s Day. Steve even shared some of it with me! Yay!

1. We had some firsts as a family today. We visited a church in Virginia for the first time . . . and we loved it. Trinity Presbyterian is a PCA church with reformed doctrine, blended worship in the truest sense, and they have several other ministries (outreach to UVa, international, men’s, women’s, children’s, etc.). We may visit their church plant to the north of the city simply because it’s a smaller, start-up church. But, we may have found the place where we want to plug in after just one week. What a blessing!

2. Today was the first time we left Calvin in the care of perfect strangers at the church nursery.

In PA, I never left him there; usually I was there nursing or changing him. We wanted to have him with us to get used to sitting through a service. Also, the nursery was small and he was the youngest of the kids. I saw one toddler get stepped on numerous occasions by the older toddlers. So, I couldn’t imagine letting Calvin just hang out crawling or lying around on the floor when he may have gotten tromped on, too.

The nurseries at Trinity are divided up into infant, crawlers/beginning walkers, and walkers to age 2. There was a GIANT room with lots of stuff for him to get into and interact with other little people. Of course, if we wanted to take him with us to the service, we could do that, too. There’s a room for nursing, and another room for parents with small children who need to move around: both with windows that open into the sanctuary. I saw plenty of parents with babies and small children sitting with them through the service.

We prefer to have Calvin with us during the service, but we wanted to give him a chance to be social, and a chance for us to really evaluate this church without being distracted by tending to him. It was actually a nice break.

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So, we may have found a church home, and possibly future rentals since we’re only living in our current apt for about 6 more weeks. Trinity had a message board with rooms/apts/homes for rent. There were some fantastic prices that were far more economical than those of places represented by realtors or advertised online. . . some are apts in the basements of home owners who attend the church.

We’re confident that something will work out for us as far as a place to live for longer term AND Steve will get a job.

Charlottesville is such a fun town. There’s so many great things to do, so many businesses supporting one another within the community. The newness of our relocation hasn’t yet worn off. It still feels like we’re on vacation and just visiting temporarily. There’s so many restaurants to try, places to visit, activities . . . but I have to just tell myself, we don’t have to cram this all in all at once. We live here now. We have so much time to explore this new place.

You know you’re in a friendly town when the people at the grocery store are nice to you. That’s one place where other patrons or employees tend to be rushed or cranky. Standing in lines or dashing to get a shopping cart–things like that bring out the true colors of people. So, I’ve been continually amazed at how friendly and courteous people are time after time in place after place in this quaint town. It’s not that there’s so many neat things to do here, it’s that people love living here and are kind to one another . . . consistently . . . all throughout the community. What a great place to call home!

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When we picked up Calvin from the nursery, a woman handed him to us and exclaimed what a good baby he was. He was so happy and content. Steve just beamed! He’s having a great Father’s Day. I hope you and your husbands and dads have a blessed day as well. I’d love to hear about how you and your family spent your Dad’s Day Weekend.

Around the Blogosphere

Father’s Day is coming up in T-16 days. Do you know what you’re getting your Dad or your baby’s dad? I’ve been asking Steve what he wants for Father’s Day, and he said everything he wants, we can’t afford. (He gives me the same answer EVERY year when I ask him what he wants for his birthday or Christmas). It’s always some electronic gadgetry that really presses the budget.  This year, he’s actually requested a ninja sword (he’s a 3rd degree black belt in the Korean style World Tang Soo Do, so it’s not just a ninja pipe dream).   Anyway, we’ll see if I can pull that off.

I don’t know if the dads in your life have similar preferences (about the electronic gadgetry, not necessarily the ninja sword), but if so, let’s see if we can find a way to make them feel honored without breaking the bank. There are a few contests on the web for Dad’s Day gifts. So, check ’em out and if you win big, dad will be extra happy that you didn’t spend a dime.

1. Dr. Moz Big Daddy Giveaway is a mega gift basket of dad-lovin’ stuff that helps him daddy his baby from ages 0 to 24 months.  There’s over $160 in prizes.  (bibs, t-shirt, diaper bag, baby shoes, and GoodFather CD-ROM. Woo hoo!

2. Check out the Father’s Day Gift Guide on Mommy Mandy which also features a contest to win 2 cool items for dad!  Cuff links, photo bracelet (dad-style),

3.  Enter to win several Father’s Day gifts on The Nest (photo cuff links, Flip camcorder, Baby Bjorn Synergy, Be Prepared handbook, camo daddy diaper bag,  and rock-a-bye baby CDs.