The Land

Grandpa & Chloe @ Quail Hollow
(Grandpa playing in the stream with Chloe, just like when I was a girl)

When I was a little kid growing up in Virginia, my father bought 20 acres of land in the mountains not far from the Shenandoah River. He built a small one room cabin wired for electricity, but no running water, and uses it as a refuge from the city, as well as private property for hunting. Mostly there is only deer and very small game, but I once remember seeing a black bear, too.

For my part, I have always had a love/hate relationship with the place. Things I hated: the long, boring drive, the warm weather mosquitos, ticks (my dad actually got Lyme Disease a few years back) and and other insects, thorns, brambles and poison ivy, squatting in the woods to pee, and generally being stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. On the other hand, I have some good memories, too – of wading in the little stream that crosses the propery, throwing rocks and catching minnows and crayfish, climbing my dad’s tree stand, learning to load and shoot a rifle, wandering the nearby abandoned factory, swimming in the Shenendoah, and getting a Nehi soda and a coleslaw-topped pulled-pork sandwich from the old country store.

Anyway, I hadn’t been back there in probably over a decade and my dad specifically asked to take a trip there during our visit so he could get some photos of him with Chloe. Of course I agreed, and we all ventured up there for the day. This time, the drive went much faster than I remembered and I actually enjoyed seeing Chloe doing a little exploring of her own. I got some great shots using my good camera, too, and look forward to sending them back to my Dad.


On the way home, after a brief stop at Skyline Caverns so Chloe could ride on it’s miniature train, we decided on an early dinner at the newly built Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. I only mention this because, besides the perfectly fried catfish, it was the first time I had ever tried chocolate fudge Coca-cola cake. I had heard about this old-timey southern specialty, and the moist richness of this cake did not disappoint. As a fan of Classic Coke, I think I may have to find this recipe and make it myself (although it will likely take a few experiments to find the right one – a google search turns up a wild amount of variations). But I think I’m up for that challenge. 🙂

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Dear Chloe, 7 months

Barkley and Chloe in the backyard

Dear Chloe,

Happy 7 months old sweetie! Is it possible for me to love you more and more each day? You’re still my baby, but I see signs of you becoming your own person, developing your own preferences. You are certainly ready to move, pushing your current motor skills to the limit. You have this funny habit of pumping your arms and legs, sort of like swimming, but more floppy, like a fish out of water, when you are tired of laying on your stomach and want us to sit you up. Sometimes it freaks me out when I set you down for a moment and come back to find that you are not where I left you. You’re not scooting yet, but you are becoming a champ at pivoting, pushing off objects (like me) with your feet, or pushing yourself backwards with your hands – that combined with a roll or two really gets you going places. Places beyond my current comfort level. You are also really into tags. Tags on your soft books, stuffed animals, toys, and play gym all go straight into your mouth.

Stylin’ with your new sunglasses

Physically, you seem pretty similar. You’re still petite for your age, with tiny feet and tiny toes, but you might be lengthening out and putting on a bit more weight. Last month we noticed that the cute, fuzzy hair at the tip of your ears has disappeared.  Your eyes are still dark grey, but there is a little patch of brown creeping out around your pupils. Sometimes they look hazel depending on the light. It is unusual because your eyes are darker than mine, and mine are brown. Every month your hands and fingers seem to grow more precise and nimble. Even when I think something is out of your reach, you manage to stretch out just far enough and quick enough to surprise me.

Chloe hanging out with Lorenzo and Ania

You are now eating several solid foods. In order, you’ve been introduced to rice cereal, banana, sweet potato, pear, peas, apple, avocado, prunes and squash. You prefer banana and sweet potato, and don’t particularly care for avocado or prunes. I have to hide the prunes in some banana to make it more appealing to you. We are also having more success in getting you to drink water or watered down apple juice from your sippy cup.

With your Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Alan in Colorado, and playing in your room

This past month we flew to Colorado for the first time to visit your Dad’s side of the family. I know you had a great time (as did your dad and I). We also went on your first trip to the zoo. I don’t know that you saw very much this time, but I’m sure we’ll visit again soon.

And then there is sleeping (sigh). We moved you out of our room and into your room, and adopted a bedtime routine, hoping you’d sleep more and wake less. There have been a few days of longer sleep stretches, but also many, many days where you’d wake up a lot more than before. Sometimes I doubt whether we’re doing the right thing. I also sometimes wish we had gotten a video monitor, even though you are only one room over. On the flip side, nap times have gotten much easier. Sometimes you’ll go down right away, or just fuss briefly before drifting off. I am grateful for that.

Looking forward to another wonderful month with my darling baby girl,
Your mama

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