So it has been nearly three months since Father’s Day, and I honestly cannot remember what we did to celebrate Keith’s awesomeness. I took obligatorily adorable photos of Keith with the boys after church (I got one when all three were looking), and Keith got mega-Meyer-nap snuggles at naptime. Other than that, I’m sure we spent the day giving him our love, but the specifics just aren’t ringing a bell. Oops.
Later that week, we made our way to the Trop to see the Rays take on the Orioles. Elliot loved his first game, but I wouldn’t really know because I spent the majority of my time hanging with Henry around the stadium. Our main goal was visiting the touch tank so Henry could touch a stingray. That grosses me out, but he likes it and was willing to wait in line so we waited it out. He drank his free blue slurpee in line (before he dropped it and made a giant mess and freaked out over not getting to finish it), and we were in the last group to touch the stingrays. Except the stingrays were totally over people trying to touch them, so it didn’t work out. Luckily, the view of the game looks fantastic from the tank area so we watched the game for a bit.
Next up, we rushed down to a kid dance party/game that Henry LOVED. It combined his two favorite things, so I just let him dance and play for as long as he wished. I sat in a corner and zoned out; it was bliss. We tried to head back to our seats, but Henry found the coloring area so of course we had to spend some time there. He meticulously colored a DJ Kitty page and started a Raymond one before realizing he hadn’t made it to the kids block area and the game was winding down. We packed up Raymond to finish him at home and set off to play. Henry had so much fun; we never made it back to our seats. We eventually caught up with Keith, Elliot, Tom, and Margo after a game of tag (we couldn’t figure out where they were in relation to where we were). The Rays lost, but the gang had fun.
We love being outdoors, especially with the boys, and wanted to take our adventures out on the water. Back in December, we had the opportunity to put our plan into action. Suncoast Surf Shop ran a sale on its stand-up paddleboards so we took advantage and bought our first one (perhaps another to be purchased once the boys are older). We quickly thereafter bought a tandem kayak from Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure because all four of us would be able to use it immediately.
Since then, we’ve put in our SUP at a few locations in Pinellas County – War Veterans Memorial Park, Redington Shores, and Cooper’s Bayou Park. Henry does a great job of sitting on the front of the board while we paddle, and I think he loves the special attention since Elliot can’t go yet. All four of us have kayaked from Boca Ciega Millennium Park and Weedon Island Preserve. One of us holds the baby while the other paddles in the back. Henry sits in the middle and plays in the water. I loved paddling to Weedon Island this weekend, mostly because of us getting to splash in the water at a shoal, but also because it was my first time steering a kayak. Ever. Usually I sit in front and do my part to paddle, but never doing the hard work. This time, I did the work for everyone since Keith was Elliot-wrangling. I made the comment that paddling was really hard. Henry’s response, “Yeah, even for a girl.” At four years old, he already knows that girls can do everything boys can do. He’s such a smart kid.
Back to Step 3 of our boat plan. Keith had been scouring Craigslist for sailboats for months. He found this gem of a boat that was like new, the previous owner mostly kept it in his garage and was selling it because he never used it. It’s a West Wight Potter 15, if you know anything about boats (which I don’t). Keith is just so excited to own a sailboat that he watches YouTube videos to learn how to be a better sailor and has joined up with a group of like-minded small sailboaters. He took Henry on an adventure to Lake Tarpon for a meet up and they had a blast (next time, Henry requires his sunglasses, however.) Keith’s exuberance for sailing is contagious. I can’t wait to see what he has planned next for us!
We survived Christmas Eve service in the front row of worship and zero meltdowns. The boys behaved as if angels were whispering sweet songs into their ears the whole time, mesmerizing them and keeping them calm and happy. I’m sure it won’t happen again until they are teenagers, but I’ll take it!
Henry loved opening his presents, and Elliot tried his best to eat the wrapping paper. Everyone ate more delicious food than they thought they could consume, and love and laughter were ever-present as we first got together with my parents and then with the Walbolt/Miller clan. The remaining 11 days of Christmas were my favorite part because Keith had some time off to spend with us.
We spent our time playing with Henry’s new toys, walking around the lights of Lake Park (the model train and candy cane factory were two highlights), drinking beer at Green Bench Brewery with Brent, and going to Honeymoon Island State Park, because what else do Floridians do for Christmas break when it’s shorts weather?!
The beach has beautiful, powdery-white sand that even Elliot thought was too pretty to eat. He spent most of his time wrapped up in the k’tan so he didn’t have much of an opportunity to gobble it up. We checked out the nature center with it’s expansive views, but didn’t have time to hike the trails because little boys must take their naps or turn into dictators. Next time we’ll check out the nesting eagles and whatever other natural wonders the park offers up.
A few weeks ago we realized that Elliot had never really been to the beach. Sure, he’d dipped his toes into the Gulf following his first trip to Frenchy’s, but that was it. And since the beach is one of our happy places we decided to go catch the sunset one Sunday night down at Pass-a-Grille.
We don’t usually go to the beach during the day. We’re pale, red-headed creatures who burn easily and have family members continuously getting skin cancer removed – it’s just not a great place for us during the day. But the hour or so before sunset at the beach is a magical place. It’s not so hot, the sand appears to glow, and there’s a relaxed atmosphere to it all.
We chose to go to Pass-a-Grille since I had never been there, and Keith said it’s really beautiful. Sold. We were going. It’s a little south of St. Pete Beach, in a neighborhood full of beautifully designed beach homes. There was plenty of parking on a Sunday night and little traffic – important things when traveling with toddler and baby dictators.
Henry loved digging in the sand and building castles. He also has an epic shell collection thanks to Keith scouring the sand looking for new ones. I think Henry could spend forever at the beach without getting bored, but again, his super white skin coupled with his fair hair prevents this. Elliot was his chill self and relaxed on a blanket for a while. He also liked (my) walking while wearing him in his Baby K’tan wrap. He could see the surf, shore birds, and people, and hear all the sounds of the beach. I think he loved it, too. We’re definitely making the beach at least a monthly priority, because why not…it’s a perfect, happy place.
Today I’m officially 36 week pregnant and baby is the size of a large cantaloupe. Nothing like feeling gigantic and then being told you are carrying a gigantic fruit-sized baby within you. Baby boy weighs 6 pounds and is 18-22 inches long (approximately), and this is how I feel:
Most days, I still feel pretty good but a few days a week I wake up knowing I’m not going to be able to do squat all day. These days usually follow a restless night of tossing and turning due to continuous Braxton Hicks contractions and crampiness, which my midwife assures me is normal (they don’t get worse or time-able, they just exist and cause discomfort). Apparently, my uterus is irritable after being pregnant the first time around and is doing these things in preparation for the baby’s birth. The muscle memory is strong with this one because even on good nights I have a ton of BH and crazy movement. I’m taking a Natural Calm Calcium-Magnesium supplement which is supposed to help with muscle relaxation and make these false contractions more bearable. It also assists with replenishing these vitamins that that baby is usurping from me.
I’ve also had some hip and back pain from carrying an additional 30 pounds or so, and from my joints relaxing in preparation for labor. Needless to say, I’m ready to have this baby, but know he has to stay on the inside at least another week so I can birth him at Breath of Life (at 37 weeks), and would prefer him to stay a little longer so he can get fatter with greater brain development. I have 28 days until my due date, and I’m officially counting down each day (singing “It’s the Final Countdown” Gob Bluth-magician style).
I’m also struggling with how I’m going to be a great mom to two kids, and this hypothetical can drive a person crazy. Obviously, I’m going to do my best, and love them both, and eventually I’ll figure out a rhythm to parenting two, but it’s going to be a challenge at first. I get sad when I think how Henry and I won’t be a two-person team during our days, because I love him too much, but he is such a caring kid I know we will be fine and we will both love his baby brother so hard.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed with all these pregnancy emotions, I try to make a list of all the ways this pregnancy is awesome so I’ll leave you all with my non-comprehensive list:
My hair, nails, and skin look amazing – definitely my best ever, and I don’t even have to do anything.
I’m still Body Pumping at the gym, with much lighter weights. I feel incredibly strong and capable of having this baby naturally because of it (in part).
My feet and ankles are not swollen.
I don’t have any stretch marks.
Most people (the kind ones) tell me I’m all belly, meaning the baby weight isn’t all over my body.
My baby boy kicks and moves so often, he’s always letting me know he is doing well so I have little anxiety over his well-being.
Prenatal yoga calms me despite being the hardest yoga I’ve ever done. I’m never taking my natural flexibility for granted after trying to do yoga while pregnant.
I’m able to become pregnant easily, and remain pregnant until full-term with no complications. I realize not everyone is so fortunate.
This is my last pregnancy, and soon my body will be my own again. I’m doing my best to savor these last few weeks of pregnancy despite disliking the alien-feeling inside. Keith tells me I’ve completed 17 out of 18 months of being successfully pregnant, and this helps (for some reason).
I have an amazing husband and son who love me. For this, I’m eternally grateful and happy.
Not being a native to the Tampa Bay Area, I mostly use Groupon to discover some of the more touristy places at a discounted price. That way, I feel justified if the place I’m visiting is a trap or pleasantly surprised if it is awesome. Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg falls into the latter category. Originally owned by a private citizen who created the gardens around and inside a drained lake, and operated as a roadside attraction starting in the 1920s, it’s now owned by the City of St. Petersburg.
Winding paths take visitors through some of the oldest tropical botanical gardens in Florida. Henry loved watching the fish and turtles swim in ponds connected to beautifully flowing waterfalls. He also enjoyed trying to make the birds talk to him, and running through the butterflies in their garden.
As members, we not only have access to its many horticultural programs, many of them specific to Florida gardening, but also to various gardens around the state and country at a free or reduced rate. Sunken Gardens also has a deal with the Florida Aquarium for 50% off admission anytime, and free admission to MOSI certain months of the year. I’m excited to return with Keith, who as a Clearwater native has never been before. I hope he likes it as much as we did.
We finished our morning with lunch from the Fourth Street Shrimp Store, and it was delicious. They have options for people like my mom who do not like seafood, and the food came out quickly. So good.
For this week’s Field Trip Friday (on a Saturday – hey, I’m nearly in my third trimester and tired so the Hen is lucky to get a field trip these days), Henry and I traveled to St. Petersburg to attend our first Rays Fan Fest. A precursor to Spring Training games, this free event is for the fans – autograph signings, prizes, and activities for the kids were all happening.
Since even the parking at the stadium was free, I thought it would be cool to take Henry because if he didn’t handle it well, it didn’t cost us anything to try. And he was a gem! One of the first things he did was reach down to touch the turf grass, and of course his next move was to take his shoes off to run around. Somehow I managed to stop him (a miracle in itself since this kid loves to be barefoot), and then we made our way around the field. He took off running (without me) the actual bases Rays players run so I had to sprint after him to catch up. I must have looked ridiculous, but he couldn’t stop laughing.
Other highlights for Henry were getting a free lollipop from a pelican mascot (don’t know what team he was representing), the dance party with Raymond (the Rays’ actual mascot), practicing his pitching skills, and taking batting practice with some of the Rays’ pitching staff. This last one required a 40 minute (or so) wait in line, but he made friends with the kids in front of him so he did pretty well. Until it was his turn to bat. He was assigned to Xavier Cedeño, but he wasn’t having that and launched into a meltdown. Did I mention it was close to naptime? He wanted to be in the line with his new friends, and the Rays’ staff were kind enough to accommodate my tired kid.
Choosing the pink bat, Henry took to the plate. After a few swings and misses, he connected the bat to the ball and got a hit! And he thought his batting practice was over – he did it! Except he had a few more balls left, so I convinced him to go back. He tried this time with a smaller bat for bigger kids, so it didn’t go so well. The ball player pitching kept trying to help, but Henry’s stubbornness confused him. When his turn was actually over, Henry didn’t want to leave so another meltdown ensued. I carried him kicking and screaming (while apologizing) out of the batting area. After he calmed down, we split an ice cream because we love ice cream and can eat it in February in Florida. Sleepy Hen laid down twice on our walk to the car, so I had to carry his ~34 pounds most of the way, but we had a fantastic time so it was all worth it.