Please bear with an album's worth of photographs; this four days felt like a full-tilt family vacation, so I was clicking away like an old clicker dog. I will intersperse commentary and stories for variety.
I'll tell ya, permanent (non-seasonal) jobs for big, impersonal companies have some serious downsides, one being working five days a week, all year, with limited time off. You can't just quit to go hiking for a month. What's the idea there?! This particular job, of which Jason just completed one year, requires a lot of hours, so our time together has become precious. We try hard to make weekends either eventful or truly restful - both when possible. But last weekend was THE BEST EVER during our 8 months here in south Texas. Jason lined up his days off so that we could take four in a row. It meant working extra days beforehand and extra afterward, but the weekend turned out to be so, so, so worth it.
We had planned on spending time in either Austin or South Padre Island, but the week leading to our vacation was our most wintery one yet, as the edge of the cold front that was hitting the rest of the country lightly brushed us. We suddenly longed to be in a cabin in the woods, sitting before a fireplace. We found one online, and to the cabin we went!
|Zoralee quickly tires of car rides.|
Here, she's still trying her darndest to keep entertained.
|small town drive by photo shooting|
|first night: Z laid with us on the couch and fell fast asleep with no rocking,|
no singing, no stories, just conversation - a peaceful rarity
|view of the Frio River from our cabin|
|in lieu of real fishing|
|down at the river|
|a Papa rock, Mama rock, Zoralee rock, and baby in Mama's belly rock|
|washing Mama's hair|
|getting into place for a timed shot|
One recurring conversation topic between Jason and I is household simplicity, with occasional emphasis on the dishes. At the cabin, there was a small shelf above the sink with four cups, four plates, and four bowls. Additionally, four coffee mugs hung from tiny hooks that clung to the shelf bottom. Well, Jason thought that set-up was the cat's meow. He said he could really get excited about doing dishes more often with a situation like that. I asked what we'd do about company, or any time we needed more than four things. He said, "We'd do like old people do: have a china cabinet filled with china." So, I don't know if that counts as simplicity; it's certainly rearrangement. But I can see the appeal.
|Jason reinforcing the concepts of "on top" vs. "underneath" vs. "beside"|
after she took forever to fetch a paper from underneath the table
During the two main days, we went to Garner State park and Lost Maples Park, each within 45 miles of us, to hike and explore. Whew - it was good to get the cobwebs out of the lungs, even as on the first ascent, I thought, "Now, why do we like doing this?" But as we climbed, I soon shaped up in the brain. We are as wilderness-deprived as can be in the border town where we live, so to see a clean river and bright stars, deer walking about the woods, and the geographical wonder known as a hill, was unbelievable. I could've burst into tears over the fresh air, open space, and safety, if only I'd dared to waste any time with closed eyes.
|Are you aware that there are girl juniper berry trees and boy juniper berry trees?|
The girls have berries on them; the boys don't. True story.
|identifying deer tracks|
|a sweet cave|
|Caves inspire story-telling.|
|Zoralee's leaf "umbrella"|
|She kept an eye on us and chastised us if we let down our umbrellas.|
Before we had kids, Jason was set on referring to bodily functions and anatomy by their correct names. None of this "wee-wee" stuff for our kids. No Sir-ey; we were going with the full truth right from the start. From the time Zoralee first noticed that Papa had boy parts and Mama had girl parts, she has called the main boy part a penis. No prob. However, now she asks questions (loudly) and refers to penises in public, which has old Jason re-thinking things. I'm not really bothered by it, because yeah, they are called penises! But Jason is afraid someone will turn us in for exposing our child to lewdness or abuse. I tell him that anyone who has kids or has been around them will understand. Besides, that's about the only term we don't have a nickname for. Otherwise, we go with girl bottom, bum, boobies, potty, tinkle and poopers. By now, Jason has tried to turn the tide and refer to a penis as an It's-A-Boy. Like, "Yes, that gorilla has an It's-A-Boy." That strategy isn't really taking.
Okay, so that was my lead-in to the two public discussions about human anatomy and physiology we had on this trip.
- Zoralee and I were looking at pictures in a state park headquarters trailer, waiting for Jason to use the restroom. "Where's Papa?" she asked. I told her he was going potty. "Does Papa have a penis?" she inquired for the 1,000th time in her life. I assured her that he did. I didn't bother looking over at the ranger, only 10 feet away. I figured she knew about penises already, and if not, she would surely get our attention if she wished to thank us for the information.
- At dinner one night in the cowboy restaurant pictured below, there was a family across the room, the father of which at one point was gone from the table. Zoralee asked, "Did that Papa go potty?" I told her yes. "Did he go poopers?" she wondered. I said maybe. And the next logical step, "Did he wipe himself?" I ventured a wild guess that, yes, he had. That particular family wasn't within earshot, so their appetite wasn't ruined, but I can't say the same for the couple next to us. They definitely heard the conversation, but we were laughing too hard to pay them any mind. Jason's face was suddenly extra sunburned.
|First rule of success: keep your standards attainable.|
As much joy as we were beholding, something had to be done to keep our family grounded, so midway through, I volunteered to have a pregnancy-related bout of insecurity and emotional non-fortitude. Other than that, we couldn't have written a more pleasant script.
We ended our trip with a night and restful morning in San Antonio.