Monday, September 12, 2011

7 Months!!

September 1st marked two things for us this year:

1. The start of Dove Hunting Season
2. Asher is 7 months!!!

We know the first only because we can hear the hunters from our house...we woke up to gun shots that morning.  Nothing like living in Texas!

Asher is busy, busy, busy.  Here's what he's up to, lately:

 - Rolling all over
 - Napping more consistently, sort of (we are trending in the direction of two naps a day, longer than 45 minutes)
 - Babbling up a storm
 - Getting up on all fours and push up position
 - Eating very well - right now up to two meals a day (one fruit, one veggie) plus nursing four times a day
 - Showing some serious personality - he has a "cheese" smile, this big, almost fake smile that he'll give when he's in a goofy mood.  He seems to ask questions according to his tone and inflection and is also figuring out how to use his hands very effectively.  Let's just say he's like a little monkey and you have to watch your stuff - he'll steal it very stealth-like!
 - We're having a blast right now in the Jones house.  Mommy's settling in to her new full-time job as homemaker, daddy's career is rockin' along nicely (recently making an exciting transition over to Microsoft yet still has a home office!!) and just enjoying living life.

Serious concentration...
Using the tongue for balance.
Partial "cheese-smile"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oh It Was Grand!! Part II

(A continuation of the last post...)

Sooo...after all the fun and festivities in Casa Grande, Austin, Asher and I departed Monday morning for the Grand Canyon.  My mom and dad were also en route, towing their fifth wheel.  I had mentioned previously that we left our home with a tent packed in the back.  Yes, yes, we were headed off to camp for four nights.  With a baby.  In the summer.  Thousands of miles from home.  A few things that made this possible:

1. Asher is a pretty easy baby.
2. The temps at the Grand Canyon rim are actually really nice.  80s during the day and 50s at night.
3. Notice I mentioned my parents were headed to the same spot, with their luxurious trailer (not even joking, the thing has a fireplace and TWO flat screen TVs)...that was our plan B for little man in case the tent was a bad idea. 

We would be half crazy if we thought we were going to drive all that way without a backup plan!

We set up on Monday evening and slept our first night in the tent.  Success!!  Asher did amazing, I woke up every hour checking on him :)  The plight of a mom, I suppose.

Tuesday we waited out the rain, met up with some family that decided to stick around after the reunion and take a train up to the rim and then caught the sunset that night.  It was my first time to actually see the canyon.  Without getting to gushy, it was profound.  I love how God's earthen creations make me feel so small.  For me, it's an emotional experience.

 Wednesday we all hopped in my dad's truck and spent the day site-seeing and hiking along the rim.  Austin captured some fantastic pics:

That night we settled in at the campsite and finalized our plans for the next day.  You see, there's this hike that my dad has been talking about for the last two years.  The Bright Angel Trail.  At it's longest point the trail is 18.6 miles and a 4,380 drop in elevation from the rim to the river and back.  My mom had agreed to stay with Mr.Man while I joined Austin and my dad.  

The plan was to feed Asher that morning, right before leaving and then hike out an hour and half.  Then I would turn around and head back while the guys carried on.  If I'm being honest my real plan was to pump enough milk for one bottle so I could stay with the guys the entire time but thanks to poor planning and change in altitude I couldn't pump anything (at camp we were somewhere around 7,000 ft.) so we had no bottle.  My fault!

We woke up early Thursday morning, dropped Asher off with Gigi and embarked on our journey.

We took the trail into the canyon - switchbacks, shear drop-offs and a steady decline providing a completely different perspective from the minute you begin.  It was amazing.  

I turned around about a mile and half down and made my way back to the top so I could get back to Mr.Man while my dad and Austin continued on, attempting to fulfill the goal of making it to Indian Gardens, 4.6 miles down from the trailhead.  They made it there by late morning, ate a snack and headed back.  Roundtrip they hiked 9.2 miles, descended and then climbed 3,060 ft and they completed it in six hours.  Talk about champs!!  

The experience was such a success that we're all talking about hiking in further next time, with backpacks and intentions of staying over night.  Here's why: seeing the canyon from the rim versus being IN the canyon are two completely different experiences.  My mom makes a fair statement when she says "I've seen the Grand Canyon, I've hiked the rim, it's beautiful but I'll probably never go back."  That makes complete sense for her - she's terrified of heights and we're lucky to get her to the rim! Poor thing.  But if you're not afraid and you don't mind the shear drops on the trail, once you get inside the canyon, it's a different place.  Every angle of the trail gives you a different perspective.  

Ok, enough about that, I could go on and on.  Some details about Asher and this trip.  Let me just say he was AWESOME!!!!  He was a rockstar when it came to sleeping in the tent, he seemed to enjoy exploring the campsite and generally was agreeable to tagging along whether it was with us or with Gigi while we were away.  Of course, like any baby he had his moments.  Squawking in the evenings, squealing in the early morning while rolling around on our sleeping bags (I'm sure the neighbors loved us) and wanting to nurse more because of the altitude.  But all in all we will definitely do this again.  I will admit, we did enjoy the luxury of a clean shower at my parents place though...that was the one area where we avoided "roughing it".  It was just easier with Mr.Man.  

The drive home was fairly straight forward (no pun intended.)  We followed my parents, stopping in Santa Rosa, New Mexico for the night and made it home by 7pm on Saturday.  Funny side note that I feel the need to document - all those miles on the road and being gone 10 days and Asher didn't have a blowout until we were 30 minutes from home :)  I think we had all had enough by then!

I'm so grateful we took the leap of faith and did it all.  We learned a ton, spent time together as a family (the three of us and the extended family, too!) and got OUT - outdoors, in nature, something we love.  I'll cherish these memories always and look forward to making more.

A special thanks to my mom - Gigi - for being there during an awful moment for us and Asher, to both my parents for camping with us and lending a helping hand and to Ghirin Newton for sharing his winter clothes so Asher could stay warm at night!!