6/23/15

+ currently +





working: on my revised bucket list. Its quite extensive, to say the least. And does not contain things other, normal, bucket lists might! Excitingly, I did get to cross off a few things that are on my list this year!

wishing: I was at the beach...


remembering:  
  • Over the past week I spent some time with my dad who is currently going through some stuff with the VA. So I got to help him write an essay about his time spent in South Vietnam back in the 1970s. Some of the things he witnessed, I wouldn't wish on anyone... and he didn't even tell me the half of it.
  • Today is also the one year anniversary of my maternal grandfather's death. I'm still saddened by the fact that he suffered the last year and a half of his life. He deserved better. It still feels odd not having him around.


realizing: Spending time with certain people made me realize that some of my more recent actions are just.


savoring: experiences and adventures here in ATX.

looking forward: to moving... This little nomad's got the moving itch!


wearing: I started a minimalist wardrobe. I'm not one to follow trends, I think I give myself more credit than that. My personal style is a myriad of things. So, I've minimized my closet and gave away something like 5 trash bags full of clothing to a local battered women's shelter. I also donated tons of baby and kid clothing to the shelter as well.
 
celebrating: We just celebrated Father's Day. I'm so glad that I got to spend it with not only my husband, of course, but also my dad and my father-in-law. It was important for our kids to see them, too.


loving: this unseasonably rainy weather, everything looks so lush... our adventures here in Hill Country... Peach season... Some vintage 1970s furniture that I recently acquired for our home...


marveling: at the beauty of Hill Country. Loving our little adventures here in central Texas.


needing: an overdue haircut. I haven't had my hair cut by a salon professional in something like five years; since Dallas. I've been threatening to drastically cut my hair since I was 29. I'm almost 31, I think it is time to take the plunge.


watching: The Astronauts Wives Club, a new favorite television show. The Travel channel. The onset of creating a revised bucket list is just fuel to the fire!


appreciating: my husband. He's one of the most hard working people I know.


knowing: Trusting is knowing, and we're doing a lot of trusting with our upcoming move.




all images and content © Annalee Hodges

6/8/15

Adventures ➳ Longhorn Caverns

Adventures  ➳

Longhorn Caverns 

 

  This past weekend, our family adventure took us to the Longhorn Cavern State Park located in Burnet County, Texas, United States.We started the day off with packing a healthy picnic lunch and heading out to explore yet another state park. Our road trip gave us grand views of the beautiful Hill Country and countless wine vineyards. Whoever said that Texas was "flat and ugly" probably never explored past DFW. 

   We headed up Backbone Mountain to the site of the state park. We arrived, and ate our picnic lunch in the picnic area where we had views of the Civilian Conservation Corps  (CCC) officers’ quarters and observation tower. Afterwards, I got my pack and went for a short hike with Justin and the kids. We had stunning views and native wildflowers and cacti were everywhere on the trail! Thankfully, I didn't see any snakes this time! The hike lead us to the observation tower, where we climbed up the original iron spiral stairs to the top and enjoyed a fantastic 360-degree view of the Texas Hill Country. If you want a real challenge, I suggest doing what I did: carry a pack and a squiggly one year old up two flights of steep, narrow, iron and concrete stairs! 


  The park does an amazing job at not only keeping the place clean and tidy, but information about the caverns and historical buildings are located everywhere. During the Depression era, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) made many improvements to the park. You can tell by the workmanship that they used to construct buildings, retaining walls, and the observation tower, with native limestone and timber. Which is all still in pretty great condition, considering.

  After having a look around the picnic and historical buildings area, we made our way inside to the gift shop and cafe. Justin and I both like to buy a little souvenir from the interesting places we visit, like the peaks we hiked in Colorado. I had to restrain myself from wanting to purchase all the shiny, gorgeous, interesting, rocks and minerals that the gift store had to offer. Although next time I'm quite likely to indulge! From there, we headed out to see and explore the cavern. 


  Longhorn Cavern has been a state park since 1932. Their earliest records indicate that the Comanche Indians were the first to use the cavern. According to history, they came in about 400 years or so before anyone else did. The caverns themselves were created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. Longhorn Cavern is one of the few river-formed caverns in Texas. Excavators  even found fossil remains of some Ice Age animals who once occupied the cave. Which I personally thought was quite interesting because I've seen the preserved dinosaur footprints that are up north located in Glen Rose, Texas.

  In recent history though, the cavern was used as a Confederate stronghold where gunpowder was manufactured in secret during the Civil War. The CCC cleared the cavern of debris and built the facilities of the park as well as the scenic byway accessing it in the 1930s. Which is why they have preserved all of the buildings that the CCC built. Even the observation tower was once used to store water. 

  The cavern is also rumored to have been the hideout of Sam Bass, a legendary Texas outlaw. Which, prior to visiting Longhorn Caverns, I had never heard of. But apparently, according to the tour guide we spoke to, it is rumored that he hid a large sum of money in the cavern- money that has never been accounted for. The most fascinating fact in recent history about this cavern to me is that in the 1920s, during the prohibition period, the cavern was used by Burnet County residents as a speakeasy. How neat would that be to stumble upon some pictures from that era!


  We didn't take the cavern tour. The guide said it would last 1.5 hours. There is no way I'm taking a cranky, teething, bundle of Love in a cave for almost two hours. That wouldn't be fun for her or anyone else on the tour! I'm sure Ezra would've been bored, and just not having it, too. So that's why we opted out of the guided tour. But we did go down to the cave entrance and we did our own exploring, as far as we could go of course. It smelled and felt amazing down by the cave entrance! Cool (since the cave is 68 degrees year-round), damp, musky, earthy- like mud and moss, and with a gentle cool breeze- which is a nice contrast to the already hot Texas weather! The sounds of the trickling cool water naturally flowing by the rocks where you could sit and take in the beauty was so peaceful.

  Needless to say, this is definitely a new favorite place for us. Ezra keeps asking to go back to, "that cool cave!"  Eleanor, too, had a ball down by the caves. She ran her little hands over the cool cave rocks saying, "Oooo... this!", just over and over, smiling from ear to ear. Longhorn caverns are both peaceful as they are beautiful. As always, those who follow along on my Instagram account see photos from our adventures sooner than I post here!




all images and content © Annalee Hodges

5/24/15

Eleanor Love ~ one year

Eleanor Love

 one year


Our baby girl turned one year old!

  Eleanor is running around and full of smiles! We celebrated her birthday here in Texas. We had an ice cream cake for her, which she mostly just poked at saying, "This? This?" Her big brother Ezra enjoyed her chocolate/ mint chocolate ice cream cake. He said to us, "I just love Ellie's birthday! SURPRISE, Ellie! Happy birthday!"- he's too cute!  I'm a little sad that we didn't get to celebrate with my family in Arkansas. But my parents did send her some gifts in the mail, which she thoroughly enjoyed opening! We got her a tea party set, and she really enjoys playing 'tea' with us and Ezra. The kettle makes sounds like boiling water, steam whistles, and sounds of the tea being poured. When tipped, it plays the tune of 'I'm a little tea pot'. I also got her a whimsical gnome fairy doll that I've had my eyes on. Ellie also got more clothes than days of the week to wear them! Not to mention her first real bathing suit! We also got her a few smaller toys that go with a collection that we already owned- something Ezra ca also play with. Eleanor doesn't mind sharing toys. She and Ezra have a tea party everyday.    
  I guess I should share some of her new milestones in this update. Eleanor enjoys imitating people; tries to imitate sounds. This is a favorite activity that she does with her daddy.  Eleanor is a little chatterbox! She Says: Momma, Dada, Bubba, Ezra, This! & This?, Yeah, Texas, Bite (for food), Eyes, Nose, Mouth (or something that sounds like mouth while pointing at her/your mouth),Cheese, and exclaims "Uh oh!"- all very plainly. I think it helps that she is around her big brother, whom is two years her senior, all day every day.

  Eleanor has been enjoying simple social games like, “gonna get you!” where she laughs and giggles as she runs from us! She also will sit in the floor and play "babies/dolls" for long periods of time. Like I previously said, she likes playing 'tea party' with us. Ellie will also imitate talking on the phone by placing one of her play phones up to her ear and chattering away! 

  She hands you a book when she wants to hear a story. Right now it is very short stories or simple six page stories, something just long enough for her attention span. She also looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named. Eleanor points at everything and either exclaims "This!" or questions "This?".  She's still shaking her head no, smiling the whole time. Even though she does understand what no means. She just thinks its funny- of course!

  These past few weeks she has started to use things/items correctly; for example, drinks from a cup (during play tea time), places toy phone to her ear to talk, brushes her hair and my hair. She also knows where her eyes, nose, and mouth are located. Eleanor also says eyes, nose, and mouth while pointing to each, correctly. Ellie also follows commands easily. Example: when she wants a snack I'll ask her to get the container and bring the container to me so that I can open it, and give her a bite. She walks over to get it, brings it to me, and opens either her hand or mouth for the snack. She's really good at placing the shaped blocks in the block container, so we're currently working on getting her to help put away their toys.

  I might have mentioned in her 11 month post that Eleanor actually started walking at 10 months (unassisted and more than six steps at a time). It was actually two days before she turned 11 months, on her big brother's third birthday! He was so proud of her, calling her a "big girl" and saying "Yay, Ellie, you did it! You can walk!". Now she tries to run everywhere she goes! She walks, with ease, from room to room like its no big deal. Coming and going as she wishes. Ellie is walking better, now, with her shoes on- as she learned barefoot. 

  Her darling blonde hair is growing longer in sweet unruly curls. Eleanor now has 7 teeth, and is working on cutting more. It makes for long, sleepless, nights- but at least she's not having a hard time with cutting them this go round. She's getting taller and "slimming up", as she is more physically active now- hello running through our house daily! She loves spending time outside,  just like her brother, so I'm really excited about all of our summer activities! With all of the state parks and local parks and trails it is time to break in that new double stroller we just bought! 


12 month milestones {a few are repeats from 11 months}- Says: Momma, Dada, Bubba, Ezra, This! & This?, Yeah, Texas, Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Bite, Cheese, and exclaims "Uh oh!"- all very plainly; Says "Uh oh!" when she drops something; Babbles in tone & repeats sounds and words; Bends and squats easily without falling or completely sitting to pick up objects or to stand; (Stands on her own (at 8 months); Took a step on her own 9 months; Walked at 10 months, took more than 6 steps at 10 months, walks easily from room to room at 11 months, trying to run at 11 months); Eating more solids; Responds to and correctly understands commands; Copies facial expressions and gestures&  Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” and pointing to objects ; Loves having books read to her; Can feed herself finger foods; Loves playing alongside Ezra; Has 7 teeth and counting; Looks for things hidden- and knows exactly where things are, too.; Points at objects & points at objects and asks. "This?"; Responds to simple, spoken, requests; Tries to say words you say & Mimics and repeats sounds back to you; Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing; Has started to use things correctly (like cups and hair brush); Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container; Follows simple instructions. 




all images and content © Annalee Hodges

5/10/15

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day, ladies! 


I am feeling so very grateful this morning. 
I am spending the day, as I do everyday, with these two precious little humans that call me Momma. We're showing our glowing, real, smiles in this pic! 
Ezra kept laughing and Eleanor just adores him. I love being their Mommy!
I'm also thankful for technology, because we got to FaceTime my momma, their Gran, this morning too!

Proverbs 23:25 May she who gave you birth be happy.

Proverbs 31:2;8 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her.




all images and content © Annalee Hodges