Philippe Park (2525 Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor 34695) is a Pinellas County Park located on Old Tampa Bay and shaded by gloriously large oak trees draped with Spanish moss. This combination makes the park particularly lovely for family photos, if you’re looking for a picturesque, Pinellas location.
The main playground (I haven’t made it to the climbing one) is mostly shaded and overlooks the water from a distance on a hill. It has many of the same features as the other county parks, most noticeably, the rideable green and purple dinosaurs. There are 2 infant/toddler swings in one section and at least 4 regular swings in a different area.
Henry liked the variety of slides to climb up (& then slide down) on the older kid (5 to 12) set, and both generally liked the equipment. We spent the most time accumulating sticks and climbing the centipede, which Henry mastered the art of dangling by our second trip. He still needed a touch of help climbing down the centipede after he rapidly ascended.
Dislikes for us include the distance to the park (it takes us about 30 minutes from Seminole), especially since there are closer county parks to us, and the lack of kids playing on a weekday morning. My boys love playmates, and often immediately judge a playground as lame if no one else is there.
Around 1,000 years ago, Tocabaga Indians feasted on clams and oysters, leaving the remaining shells which comprise the still-visible Indian Mound that is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. You can climb to the top of the Mound for a fantastic view of the Bay.
This 122-acre park is the oldest county park in Pinellas, having been acquired in 1948! Named after Count Odet Philippe, the man who introduced grapefruit to Florida, it covers the site of his citrus plantation (St. Helena). Philippe has the distinction of being the first permanent, non-native settler of Pinellas County (he took the land in 1862), and is an ancestor to the prominent McMullen and Booth families. His grave site is located somewhere within the park.
- 9 picnic shelters
- 2 playgrounds (one is a rock climbing playground)
- Boat launch ($6 with trailer, $2 without)
- Tocabaga Indian Mound
- Softball field
- Fishing (saltwater permit may be required)
In college, whenever I told someone I met I hailed from Jacksonville, and they also came from there, they would become interested and ask me, “What part?” Jacksonville is the biggest land area city in the country, so your neighborhood served as an identifier. When I responded, “Arlington,” mostly they looked shocked. Unless they have been there, Arlington is portrayed on local news as a decaying neighborhood whose heyday in the 1950s through the early 80s is long past.
Arlington became the first automobile-dependent suburb and flourished following the construction of the Matthews Bridge in 1953. My parents’ home in the Fort Caroline Club Estates was built in the late 60s, and they’ve been its owner since 1977. It’s always been a nice, middle class neighborhood within walking distance of the St. John’s River.
To me, it’s home. I spent entire summer days swimming at the Fort Caroline Club pool. I rode bikes around the neighborhood without a helmet. I played softball at Arlington Little League. I snuck into my first R-rated movie (There’s Something About Mary) at the Gazebo theater. I attended the local (non-Magnet) schools and received a great education thanks to committed teachers and my involvement in after-school activities.
I’m feeling nostalgic about Arlington lately because my parents are preparing their house to sell within the next year and move closer to my brother in Kissimmee. We’ve been trying for years to convince them to move closer to me or Scott and now they are actively moving forward in their process. And it kinda scares me. I’m not entirely sure why; I rarely visit Jacksonville because (a) my kids do NOT sleep when we aren’t at home and (b) my parents visit us on a monthly basis. It’s the change that’s intimidating…my parents will be moving from the place where I grew up, the only one, and all its familiar idiosyncrasies. I have to make sure to get back at least one more time before they move, sleep be damned!
Back to our visit…my kids had a blast at Grandma and Grandpop’s house – playing with new (but seriously old, like my dad’s old) toys, splashing in the sprinklers, and walking to and terrorizing Gerrie’s Park, just like my brother and I used to. It’s a small, neighborhood park with a few climbing areas, some swings, and space to run around. They boys’ favorite was helping Grandpop pick up tree debris from a recent storm. Who needs an actual playground when there are sticks bigger than your body? It was the best!
Keith had a church thing at the Lutheran church closest to my parents’ house in Jacksonville (St Matthew’s) so we took a mini-vacay because it’s summertime and the living is easy (even if travel with littles isn’t so easy). Our first evening there we headed downtown to see the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp play baseball. I hadn’t been in the new stadium (it opened in 2003; I’m slow) and I definitely hadn’t seen a game since the team changed names from the Suns to the Jumbo Shrimp.
The name change suits the team (because Florida), and the stadium is awesome! We had third baseline seats, and could see everything. The beer was cheap and cold ($1 beer night), and the game was short in length thanks to a rainout the day before (only a 7 inning game). Henry liked dancing in the grass seating berm and sliding down the inflatable slide (bring money if you want to do this or play the other outfield games). I think even my mom had fun (and she’s an indifferent sports-ball watcher).
The next morning we checked out the Dinosaurs in Motion Exhibit at the Museum of Science and History for free since we have a MOSI annual pass. We even got my parents in for free (something they always like) since our pass is for five people! We controlled the dinosaur bones’ movement and sound via levers, wheels, and game controllers – Henry’s dream! Other parts we enjoyed were seeing the live animals from Florida, building structures, and zooming through Jacksonville’s history (not so interesting for a little).
My favorite activity of the day, however, was taking the monorail to and from the museum. It’s just so cool to ride above the road and see the city and river from a different perspective. Henry was all about it, too!
Our littlest turned ONE in May, and he continues to be a joy. He seriously cannot stop smiling, and makes others feel welcome simply by looking into their eyes, smiling, and waving. He loves to get down and dance at every opportunity, like while the blender is running. Drums are his favorite instrument, and he does a great job keeping the beat. He’s beginning to like reading – especially the BabyLit and Duck & Goose series – after not caring much for the first year of his life. Now, we read many books a day to him. He plays quietly by himself for a good amount of time, just checking in with me periodically to give me hugs. It’s lovely.
- Weight & Height: At his one-year checkup he weighed 20 lbs (~10th percentile) and was 29.75 inches long (~50th percentile). He’s growing right on his curve and was in the 25th percentile weight for height.
- Clothing: He’s just now wearing 12-month clothes, and will be for a while.
- Diapers: size 3
- Teeth: 4 on top, 3 on bottom
- Sleep: He goes to bed between 8:30 & 9 and wakes up for the day between 7 & 8, with usually 1 nighttime wake up (but sometimes more than that if something is going on with him). He generally takes one afternoon nap for 2-3 hours starting around 12-1pm, but sometimes still does a quick morning one that messes up his afternoon one. Sleep has been a challenge, but hopefully will continue to get better. On the plus side, he goes to sleep easily, just doesn’t stay asleep.
- Nursing: He continues to breastfeed a lot – primarily before he goes to sleep and when he wakes up. He takes at least one nursing break in the middle of nap, and doesn’t seem like he wants to give it up anytime soon (although I’m feeling more and more ready to be done, especially when he’s biting me!)
- Food: He prefers to feed himself, which can be messy! He doesn’t love food, but likes cantaloupe, strawberries, yogurt, green beans, beans and rice, and peas. Plus, he enjoys snack food like chickpea puffs and yogurt melts. I offer lots of food to him, but he’s picky about what he actually consumes.
- Movement: E began walking at 11 months (Easter Sunday) and is now working on running and climbing.
- Words: Mama, Dada, Dog, Head, Hi, Bye, Door
Other Things: He understands so much more than he can say. For example, if we say you need to sit in the chair, not stand, he will sit down. We’ve started working on getting him to stop doing things that hurt (like pulling brother’s hair)…although we continue to work on that with Henry so we know it’s an ongoing process. He gives fantastic hugs, and sloppy, wet kisses and we are all so in love.
We spent our last day in North Carolina hiking up a mountain. You may be thinking, they have two kids not even school-age – they must be crazy! Naysayers be damned – the kiddos did splendidly!
Keith selected Black Balsam Knob (via the Art Loeb Trail) in the Pisgah National Forest (Mile 420 off the Blue Ridge Parkway) as the location. It’s the second highest mountain in the Great Balsam Mountains at 6,214 feet tall! The weather was freezing for us Floridians – in the 40s! It was quite a shock from the temperature in Asheville, so I took Henry’s hat for myself because he had a hooded coat.
Henry has been preparing his whole life for hiking. He has an abundance of energy, climbs everything in sight, and has been doing trail walks since he took his first steps. Up on the mountain, he acted like a little mountain goat hopping from rock to rock and sprinting the straight-aways. We have a great backpack carrier that Elliot rode in since his walking skills weren’t up to snuff for a mile and half hike. He could look out and see over Keith’s shoulders, and looked quite relaxed so long as we didn’t stop moving.
After the one mile hike to the peak, we took a break for snacks and water, reclining on the grass while enjoying the beautiful view. On a clear day, you can see Shining Rock, Looking Glass Rock, Mt. Pisgah, Cold Mountain, and occasionally Mt. Mitchell (the highest point in the Eastern United States). In other words, the view is pristinely lovely. Henry only needed the tiniest bit of help going down the mountain when the rocks were slippery. We didn’t see any bears (thank goodness!), but ran into a few hiking dogs (much to the Hen’s dismay).
We stopped for ice cream at Dolly’s Dairy Bar (Lutheridge is a special flavor!) on the way back to Amber’s (kids were sleeping so we got to enjoy a mini-date), and ended the day with an evening stroll and playground adventure in her neighborhood. It was such a great visit; I hope we return soon!
My littlest is now 11 months old! He seems too big these days, even though he’s still in the bottom half of the growth charts. His strength allows him to endure Henry’s endless tackle hugs, wrestling, and crushing sitting attacks with minimal fuss. He loudly cries out when it gets to be too much for him, but I tend to freak out before that happens. He crawls with lightning speed, forcing me to close off rooms of the house so he won’t explore without supervision. If he can find a toy with wheels (walker or large car or truck) or even one without (blue IKEA stools), he walks around pushing away. He cruises the furniture and people present in the room, and stands without holding on to anything for several seconds at a time.
He is ready to walk. But I’m not ready. The world as I know it as a mom of two will change in the instant that happens. And I’ll be running down two little boys headed in opposite directions instead of a toddler and baby. I’m excited to see him motor on his own, but sad at the same time since he’s my last little.
Motherhood is strange that way. The baby stage exhausts and frustrates me at some point each day (often more than once), but my heart seems to be breaking to see it go. Elliot is my snuggler; he’s always loved being close to wherever I am and maybe he won’t play and then come over for a hug and return to playing anymore. His favorite way to sleep continues to be on top of me (or Keith). While exhausting and not feasible for normal sleep, I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly suffocating love for him when he is sleeping in my arms after (while) nursing. But I’m so ready to sleep for more than four hours in a row sometime soon.
He’s been sleeping much better at night and is only waking up 2 to 3 times versus the 7+ it had been from months 6 to 10. He still takes two naps, a short 30-minute morning one (probably due to being out and about with his bro) and a longer 2-3 hour one in the afternoons (usually split by a mid-nap nursing session). He sleeps best in our bed, but I don’t so he spends his nights and some naps in his crib in the project room. We’re waiting until he is big and strong enough to share with Henry, who still isn’t the best sleeper and tries his best to sleep in our bed each night.
Elliot’s smile and laughter are ever-present. Everything brings him joy! He especially likes pointing out all the birds in the sky, making fart noises with his mouth, getting dirty while trying to eat leaves, taking things out of things and putting them in other things, and dancing. The world is his dance party and anything can spark him moving his body to the beat.
He just cut his 6th tooth and enjoys feeding himself finger foods. We still give him purees, too, but we mostly have to trick him into eating them. His favorite foods at the moment are eggs, black beans and rice, pears, and yogurt. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to have any food allergies (we’ve still been holding off on giving him oats since he had a sensitivity a few months ago).
He’s had a virus or ear infection or cough pretty much every month of his life, but that comes with the territory of having a big brother who wants to share everything with him. It looks like he inherited my immune system, but at least he remains mostly happy when he’s ill.
Finally, his favorite words are mama and dada. He also says words that could be construed as milk, head, hat, and brother, but aren’t quite there yet. He points as his main basis for communication and shakes his head no repeatedly when he doesn’t like or want something. His voice is beginning to sound like Henry’s, so it can be difficult to tell who is crying or yelling. Poor kid, he gets called HenryElliot all the time already, and we aren’t even old yet! At least he doesn’t mind right now.
Elliot is becoming a little boy day by day. At his 9-month checkup today, he weighed in at 18 lbs, 7 oz (25th percentile) and measured 28 and 3/4 inches long (50th percentile). He’s on track for everything for his age, and his second ear infection has cleared up. It looks like two more teeth are cutting through, which will bring his teeth total up to 6.
He loves trying to eat anything and everything, except for actual food, which he only eats in the evening. This makes for adventures in picking up tiny items from the floor, trying to keep up with the vacuuming, and encouraging Henry to clean up his toys – all before Elliot quickly puts them into his mouth.
He crawls remarkably fast, especially because he only started doing it at 8 months while we were on vacation with the Bad Kids. He giggles with glee as he chases after Henry from one side of the house to the other. Being a mom to two boys is loud and raucous already!
He started cutting his two bottom center teeth just before Christmas, and gave up on nighttime sleep around that time. He grew his two top center teeth while on vacation in January, and we didn’t even notice until the pearly whites poked through. That’s what sleep deprivation will do for you – he was awake every one to two hours and needed to nurse each time! That means he gained about two pounds during that period, but I feel like no amount of sleep will allow me to catch up.
We just moved his crib out of our room this past week, and he seems to sleep more soundly. He has had a couple nights of good sleep, followed by a night of terrible rest. I hope it continues to involve less wake ups and more consecutive hours of sleep for everyone.
He suffered two ear infections in the past two months, necessitating antibiotics that he doesn’t like. They only seemed to bother him at night; he remained his smiley self during the day. He is social and loves for people to smile and play with him. He claps his hands and dances to music, stretches his hands above his head to tell us how big he is, and pats his head when we ask him to locate it. In other words, he’s a wonderful, typical baby!
My smiley, little Elliot is four months old now, and doing things. The past week he has been focused on rolling from his back to his stomach, waking us up multiple times a night when he realizes he can’t easily return to his back. Even better, he has started to laugh – mostly at us for doing silly things, but also at life in general. His spirit is so joyful he is a pleasure to be around. He had his first cold and trip to the doctor to assure us it was only a cold, and still has the remnants of a cough. He is always drooling…copious amounts of drool the likes of which I have never seen. Please don’t tell me he will be getting teeth; I like to live in blissful ignorance that they are probably forming sooner than later.
- Henry, Mama, and Daddy (in that order)
- Chewing on whatever he can grab – fingers, toys, blankets
- Cuddling with people
- Reading (eating!) books
- Sophie the giraffe
- His car seat
- Not being able to roll off his belly (even though he has done it in the past)