I’m slightly excited about the day, not because of something special planned but because I have nothing planned. An empty canvas waiting for its paint. The best thing about days with no plans is that nothing can go wrong you can’t be late when there is nowhere to be.
The greenhouse has been on my mind. My subconscious’ way of telling me to hold out hope, spring is near. It’s my first time in this greenhouse since I was a small child. I used to hate coming here because my mother keep us trailing her for hours going up and down the aisles and losing ourselves in the labyrinth of greenhouses. Today it is warm and the air was a mixture of fertilizer and nectar. There is a koi pond, one fish as big as my thigh. Harper was taken with the them, Willem snug against me was awed with the red circus trailer and of course, the popcorn. We wander, whispering past seedlings, being sure to not scare them, stunting their growth. We looked at lemon trees (I must go back and get one) and name every garden animal we see “a frog! a pig! a bunny!” We smell, touch and eventually pick out a few to take home. Willem keeps ahold of a small, round petaled succulent in his chubby toddler hands, breaking off only 3 petals before we leave.
In the car we talk about the seeds we were going to plant, how with care, love and attention they will grow out of the dirt and sprout into flowers. While we talk of flowers blooming from tiny seeds and I contemplate which road to take.
We drive through into the forest, eyes open for big horn sheep, deer, turkeys. We turn corners over the winding river, past our old house, to the T where the road ends and we end up at the lake.
There is no other car in the parking lot. I didn’t expect there to be. I unload the boys and we take off to throw rocks into the lake. A simple thing that brings insurmountable joy to young boys, or rather all boys, I remember my first camping trip with their father, watching him throw rocks off of a cliff. Today the lake is mostly ice and instead of a splash we get only slides.
Harper leads us down paths and over bridges, we’ve come all this way but we still have no agenda. Willem clings to me, his warm little head bounces between my chin and chest as he struggles between his curiosity to see the world and his stubbornness to touch me, proving to us all that no matter where we are or what we are doing, my attention is always held captive with him.
Returning to the still empty parking lot we take our time eating crackers and bananas in the back of the car, our goodbye ritual to any trail.
A little less than a mile from our house is a great, quiet little park/playground. Now lucky for us, the playground backs up to a wilderness park which leads to the Outdoor Campus. The Outdoor Campus is a beautiful but non peta friendly building maintained by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks where kids can learn about the outdoor habitats and animals as they play. Everything in the building is hands on (though the snake is still in the cage) and there are classes that children of all ages can sign up for, while we were there on a Sunday afternoon there was a children’s archery class (suction cup arrows) going on in one of the rooms. Outside there is a fish stocked pond, a swamp area filled with cat tails, a 3 story “tree house” look out tower, a mud kitchen for kids to play in and a large nest to take a break in.
We went on the walk to explore and we were surprised not only with the beauty that laid back there but also, as a parent of young kids, we loved all the activities there were for them. It’s great to go somewhere that truly welcomes kids, because then we parents could really relax. Willem didn’t even have shoes on because I didn’t think he’d be out of the sling at all.
Harper had a blast in the mud kitchen. He learned the lesson of fake eating after he real put rocks in his mouth. Oh the imagination in that child is wild.
So glad my sister could come with us. Besides wing a huge help and playing with the boys non stop, we actually had a family photo thanks to her. This only happens when we pay someone usually.
Yellow leaves, red leaves, warm temperatures, fun walks, exploring the world and all this just down the street from us. We probably belong here.
It has been an interesting summer. We’ve moved, fought illness, tried to settle into a new home and routine. In all of the stuff we’ve been stuck doing we haven’t had much time to get outside. Being outside is one of the things that makes Chad and I tick so when we get stuck doing things or even being outside separately we just don’t feel like we are living life how we truly want to. Therefor, even though Chad had been under the weather Friday, I was adamant about getting outside on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Harper hasn’t been for a hike since I was (very) pregnant with Willem and we were all missing out because Harper LOVED the “walk” so much that he actually never walked but instead ran the entire trail of Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon. The only time he stopped was to hide on the side of the trail in order to scare me.
Roughlock Falls is a little over an hour away from our house in Spearfish Canyon, a local attraction that is normally pretty popular this time of year for all the changing colors. The trail is fairly short and excellent for small children. Even around the falls and the water walk out there is railings that are 3 year old boy proof. The end is pretty to look at also.
After a quick lunch in the back of the Subi we headed over to my grandparents new place. Willem is getting better about not needing me, even went on a walk with Grandpa.
Then we went to the Spearfish pumpkin patch. The patch has some great activities for kids, a hay jump (stacks of hay piled high with old mattresses at the bottom for cushioning. This must be a midwest thing because I had never heard of it until we moved here), a corn sand box which is great for playing with tractors and dump trucks, and a little jungle gym made of old tires and ropes. Both boys had a blast. The pumpkins were not the best price or quality but they are actually grown right there and hay (haha), you pay for the experience of it all right?
When I asked Harper later what his favorite part of the day was, he said going for a walk. I guess that means we will be heading out somewhere new shortly, especially while we still have mild temps here.
It’s Breastfeeding Awareness week. I didn’t actually know that was a real thing. Breastfeeding has a huge history: nurse maids, class definition, formula invention etc. I find this mostly strange because we are mammals and lactating is one of the difining characteristics of being a mammal. An entire week to celebrate breastfeeding can seem silly or insecure because it’s celebrating a biological characteristic (Longer Second Toe Awareness Week) but I remember seeing a young mom feeding her baby in an airport bathroom. That bathroom was packed, with constant flushing, she hardly had any room and I just felt so sad for her and her baby being shoved in there while I felt fine feeding my then 1 year old anywhere I wanted. I think this particular awareness week has been created to celebrate journeys as new mothers as well as to normalize breastfeeding to the point that the young mothers don’t have to hide in public restrooms in order to feed their child. It’s not an inspiring story, or anything overly special, but here is my story so far.
When I was pregnant with Harper I knew I wanted to breastfeed, it was an easy choice because it was best for baby, cheapest/free and seemed the easiest to me. I spent a lot of money on a nice pump, read up, and of course received a lot of advice. The advice had me worked up in anxiety because I was basically told that breastfeeding would be very difficult but with perseverance and support I could possibly succeed. I was up in arms and ready to not let the nurse give my baby a pacifier, we would’t use a bottle for at least 2 weeks, I had tubes of lanolin ready by the time we headed to the hospital.
Harper and I had a beautiful feeding relationship from the start, he actually nursed for the first hour of his life keeping waiting relatives from seeing his little face. My body acted accordingly, as did his. We gave him a pacifier the second day of his life because he was such an eager sucker. I faked my feeding schedule and times they give new moms and just fed him every time he cried and he thrived. It was painful, but the pain was only my body adjusting and it was fleeting. When we left the hospital he only weighed 2oz less than he had at birth. At the doctors office 5 days later he had already put on a pound and a half! I remember the doctor joking that he was going to bring me the other babies he sees because even the formula fed aren’t putting on weight as well as my baby was.
I ended up nursing Harper until he was 19 months old. I weaned him because I wanted my body back, I wanted to stop leaking and I felt he didn’t need it anymore. He would try and I would sing and rock him and he would give in to cuddling. I remember the last time I nursed him, he was sleeping, Chad and I had just gotten home from a wedding and I needed to relieve some engorgement. It was bittersweet to end that relationship, had to happen though because Willem was ready to make his appearance.
Feeding Willem has been so different. I didn’t have any engorgement, he wasn’t such an eager eater, I wasn’t able to pump nearly as much. I doubted myself a lot and leaned to the idea of picking up some formula for occasional convenience but only resisted because he was already eating real foods. Some things have been the same, same let downs, leaking and night feedings. He has become a more demanding nurser than Harper was, maybe due to teething later, maybe just because he’s a different baby, either way I’m so blessed that I was able to provide enough nourishment for 2 very healthy boys.
I’m thankful that nursing them helped give them antibodies helped keep them from getting sick. I’m thankful that I rarely went without sleep, or had never had to get out of bed when it’s cold to prep a bottle. I’m grateful for the closeness that nursing a baby forces on you, I’m thankful for leaking through layers of clothes excusing me from work early, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to spend a dime on formula, or worry about taking stuff with me in a diaper bag. I’m glad I can say I did this for my boys and I’m glad I did it all without ever feeding them in a public bathroom, I never heard a harsh or derogatory statement about nursing from strangers or friends. I have felt nothing but love and support in feeding my babes, maybe a little teasing here and there but nothing I wouldn’t say myself. My kids are healthy and happy, so am I, not much else matters.