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Camping was an integral part of my childhood.  We all loved the outdoors, we were never more at home than when we were in the middle of nowhere.  There was one particular spot that we found when we were pretty young that became “our” spot.  We always called it Cherry Lake.

 Jake, Jennet, Alan and Dad

That was the only year it really snowed while we were there.  I remember pulling up to the campsite and hiding in the car while Alan, Mom and Dad set up the campsite.  While we slept, snow fell across the campground and blanketed the world in white.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

I remember waking up when we camped there.  It was always so cold in the morning, so I’d be buried deep in my sleeping bag and listen to the rustling of the tent, the songbirds, the crackle of the fire.  I could hear my parents hushed voices and the occasional laugh as they shared their morning coffee.  If I close my eyes I feel myself transport back to those moments, when the world was perfect and at peace.

As we visited and grew older we wandered further and further away.  The following picture is the “Rock Club,” a place just far enough away from the campsite to make us feel independent.  We would wander there daily, hang out on rocks and talk about life, or have adventures in between the cracks.  We would climb to the top of the rocks, and look out, terrified of falling and thrilled at the prospects ahead of us.


We went there every year, sometimes twice a year.  I remember being 9 years old, laying on a hot rock and contemplating the grandness of God.  I remember learning to whittle sticks, and trampling through brush to find a “walking stick.”  I remember seeing a water snake for the first time in the lake down the hill.

It was always the most beautiful place on earth.


I climbed up this wall once, and got all the way to the top.  On the way back down I felt myself losing my grip, but something pushed me back against the wall.  I believed in angels before, but that experience pretty much cinched the deal.


The last time we visited Cherry Lake it was 2002 and right before we moved to Texas. 


Ten years is a long time.

Since that time, my older sisters have tried in vain to find our old campsite.  They’ve combed Stanislaus Forest and driven around for hours, all to no avail.  When I visited in 2010 I tried to help them find it and we were yet again unsuccessful.  I told them I’d see what I could do in the future for my next visit.

So I contacted the Stanislaus National Forest Office in Groveland, since that was closest to where we thought the campsite was.  I spoke with a charming lady named Gail who was willing to listen to my story and my plea for help.  She gave me her email address and I sent her a bunch of pictures, and a map of the grounds (as best I could remember).  Then I waited.

She called me back just a short time ago and thanked me for giving her such a fun project.  She said she had some of her park rangers act as detectives – print up the pictures and try to match up the pictures while they were out driving around.  She thanked me for the map I had drawn, and said we had done a good job remembering.

An old ranger, one who had lived there forever, knew exactly where we were talking about when he saw the pictures.  We had always called it Cherry Lake, but the park rangers knew it as Cherry Barrow.  Gail told me if we drove to the Groveland Park Ranger station she would be able to show us exactly how to get there.

I cried when she told me.


I’m going back in just over a week – I’m flying to California Monday for Amy’s wedding and after the wedding I’m heading to visit my sisters.  We will go camping, hopefully at this spot, and I will once again drink in the beauty.

I can’t wait.

I’m not going to lie to you. These pictures are taken during 39 degree weather.  Everyone froze, and Chad is my hero for putting up with us wanting to shoot by a pretty blue wall in the middle of winter.  Next pictures won’t be taken till summer, because honestly? Burrr.

So late. And technically some of these are after the 4 month mark, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t. Enjoy!

Justin feeding Benjamin while Lucky looks out for them.

He is absolutely in love with his Jumparoo!

I love this picture so much. My sweet sleeping Benjamin!

Hey Mom! I discovered my feet!!

Nap time for Jammin AND Mommy!

Giggling with Daddy!

I’m not happy ALL the time…

…but for the most part, I’m a fun kid!

He sleeps through the night after a few nights of rough sleep training, he’ll be introduced to solid food once I get the cover for the high chair sewn, and he loves playing and smiling and laughing.  Still not a fan of naps, but he takes them eventually 😉  Parenthood is crazy and fun and emotional and I love it.

Lucky and Benjamin

Hopefully friends for a very long time.

Well, I am happy to report that we survived the entire first month mostly intact. Benjamin’s mostly a happy baby, who fusses when he has gas, when we’re trying to get him to sleep, and if something’s wrong, but usually no other times. He enjoys bath time (usually) but starts crying afterwards when the cruel, cold world attacks his wet skin. Uncle Cory is warming up to a baby in the house, and Uncle Jim is my hero for always being willing to hold the baby for a bit when he’s fussy. We’ve settled on “Jammin” as a nickname – we’d been calling him “Ben-Jammin” for a while and eventually dropped the Ben part. We still call him Benjamin sometimes, but Jammin is pretty much the family name for him around here. I found him a pair of socks that have music notes and say “Jammin.”

We’ve mostly settled into a routine, Justin is back to work and I’m loving my time off. I’ll definitely be ready to go back to work though, I miss it already! The more time I spend at home the more time I realize that going back to work is the right decision for me – as much as I love spending time with him, as hard as it will be to leave him for 12 hours, I love my job and will be happy to go back.

I wanted to share a few pictures from his first month. You can see the whole set here.

Bath time!
His first “real” bath. We didn’t bother with one of the fancy baby tubs so we put a towel down in the tub and called it fair. He fussed a bit the first time but doesn’t seem to mind baths TOO much, which makes me happy. He’s pretty chill.

Tummy time!
This is him doing tummy time. He likes tummy time in the beginning, this was taken when he was DONE with tummy time! He’s able to lift his head up a bit during tummy time and can move his head from side to side. So far his progression is pretty normal 🙂

Mommy and Benjamin
Justin took this without my knowledge 🙂 He’d been fussy and I finally put him to sleep on my chest and went to bed myself. Mommy needs sleep too, you know!

Daddy and Benjamin
I actually took this the morning before Justin took my picture – he was on baby duty in the early morning while I ran errands and I came home and saw them all sleeping. Lucky had been sleeping too, but by the time I grabbed the camera he woke up. I’m just glad he stayed on the couch to be in the picture. They make an absolutely adorable trio 🙂

This was taken July 15th, on his 1 month birthday. I’m going to try to take pictures at each month with Winnie the Pooh so we can see the size progression.

Anyways, things are good! We’re happy!

After a lot of this:

And this:

And some of this:

I got this:

Benjamin Charles Sullivan
June 15th, 2010 at 4:29am
8 pounds, 7 ounces, 21 inches long

Absolute love.

Ok, I’m posting these nursery pictures because I love what we did but the nursery is NOT DONE! We still need a crib.  We will get a crib, but not until a few days after Benjamin is born because it’s traveling from my sister-in-law in Magnolia and it won’t probably make it before he gets here.  It’s not worth an extra trip for someone since I have the pack-n-play in my bedroom for the first few weeks (at least) anyways.  Also, the nursery is missing the rocker we have, but that’s because it’s currently in regular use in the living room.  That will probably end up in my room initially anyways.  So, keep in mind that it’s still in progress.  We haven’t added maternity pictures to the walls yet either, but we’ll probably add some of them in the room when we develop pictures next.  So, all that disclaimer, now, pictures!

First, lets look at how it was before:

The curio cabinet has a TON of knickknacks that are now boxed up in my garage. I will eventually be strong enough to part with some of my mom’s treasures, but that day is not today or tomorrow or probably anytime soon.  There’s a huge couple of boxes of CDs that still need to be gone through, and the chair is at my friends David and Judy’s house, David is repairing some damage to the wood for me.  The jumparoo is a bit big, but that was a gift from my friend Alyssa and has already been utilized by visiting relatives and I fully anticipate getting a lot of use out of it.

Bookcase.  The only thing different with this is the stuff on top has been relocated and the stacks of books have somewhat been re-organized.  The two shelves on the left are all my fiction and the shelf on the right is all my non-fiction.  And no, that’s not all the books I own, but it is most of them. Thankfully.  I refuse to relocate these bookshelves, do you have any idea how long it took me to get these suckers together and all those books alphabetized? Yeah, I don’t know either but it was a LONG TIME.

Yeah. Stuff was broken.  There were sweaters.  Backpacks. Crazy stuff.  Maracas.  Amazing framed art by Frank Wu (I moved that piece off my wall because the glass broke but I have several of his pieces on my walls; he’s incredible!)

So now lets take a tour of the room….

…this is the view of the door to his room…

This is what you see as soon as you open the door:

To the left you’ll see the crib mattress leaning against the wall. As you guys know we went for a science theme.  So there’s a chemistry poster, a cloud poster, and against the back wall some random stuff about science experiments.  The solar system mobile is AWESOME and put together by Justin and I.

Over here is the changing table and the toybox.  Also, beautiful diagrams of the cell and the periodic table of elements.  Note the border: it reminds me of the borders from my science classroom as a child.

And yes, Benjamin has a toybox, but it mostly has stuffed animals and spoons and outlet protectors in it for now.  Oh! And in the corner is my AWESOME handmade diaper bag from Babyness Custom Designs.  It’s halfway packed with stuff to go to the birthing center with me, so it’s out and about.  I can’t wait to really start using all this crazy stuff.

This is the closet.  Got the boys to fix the doors.  Top shelves are clothes from Alyssa that won’t fit yet, second shelf is thick blankets and my iron (since the ironing board is against the back of the door and won’t be leaving there anytime soon) along with sheets and thin blankets.  The clothes are self-explanatory, that’s just the 0-3 months for the most part.  In the black crate thing I have more clothes, books, and random other baby stuff.  And my chicken dance Elmo.  Because doesn’t every baby need a chicken dance Elmo?

Here’s a close up of the mobile.  It will hang slightly over the crib.  We did this today and I am SO FREAKING PROUD of it!  We hand painted everything, which was fun and slightly messy and probably good practice for elementary school.

I made Justin do the earth. He is WAY more artistic than I am.  He wasn’t super happy with it, but I think he did an AMAZING job considering we had standard cheap paint and brushes.  You’re looking at Africa.  I love the clouds.

So, there ya go.  Our nerdy, nerdy nursery.  When we get the crib we’ll also get some awesome bedding that is science/astronomy themed and will match the diaper bag.  It will fit nicely with the mobile.

I hope you guys enjoyed the tour of his room.  We’re really, really, really happy with how it turned out. And you can see the flickr set here if you’re so inclined.

Now I just need a super-cute baby to put in the room!

Last night Justin and I went to a park in Leander with our friend and photographer Chad (of Image Studios).  Chad and his family are good people we met from Legacy Fellowship, and Chad also happens to be an amazing photographer.  I never thought I was the type of person to need a professional photographer in my life, but that was only until I saw Chad’s work and came to realize that great photography isn’t just about capturing persons A and B in this stage of their life… it’s about telling a story through the photography.  Most people can’t do that, at least not with any consistency.  But Chad can.  He’s shot family pictures for us the past two years (including some amazing family-reunion portraits) and at the end of last year we purchased a package deal he offered giving us 4 mini photo shoots any time during 2010.  It worked out great since we’re broke now 🙂  Anyways, I’m digressing.

So yesterday we took maternity pictures.  You know I wasn’t really looking forward to pictures because I haven’t been the most self-confident pregnant woman… but of course I shouldn’t have worried.  Chad and I talked a few weeks ago about the nursery theme – science – and how cool it would be to incorporate the science theme into our pictures.  Justin and I, we’re nerdy people.  We like sci-fi and science and space and chemistry and the scientific method.  Science is, while not all-encompassing of our nerdism, nevertheless a part of who we are.  So we had some ideas and we left the design stuff up to Chad (he’s the professional, after all!)

Justin hates taking pictures. But he loves me very much, so he puts up with me and my need to document life changing events. Yay for having a great husband!

Here’s what is probably my favorite picture so far of the ones I’ve seen:

Chad posted a preview of the pictures on his website.  So go over to his website and check them out.

Things are coming together. I’m 34 weeks, 2 days along… only 40 days left. That’s just a bit over a month! HOLY COW! Where has the time gone?!

Nursery: I’m still working on it! I picked up a thing called “chain gang” which is a long chain that has clips attached so you can put stuffed animals and soft toys on it. It looks slightly more organized than some of the other stuffed animal holders, and gives me the ability to have stuff out instead of hiding in the toy chest. Still have a LOT to organize, and not sure where to store baby bottles and kitchen stuff just yet. Guess I need to organize some more in the kitchen!

Baby: Benjamin is doing good! At the midwife appointment yesterday they said he was doing great. Heartbeat was a little slower than usually – it usually runs exactly at 150 and yesterday it was 140, but still well within normal range. He’s had the hiccups A LOT lately. Usually in the morning – be it 2am or 10am (in fact, he has them now, as I’m typing this)!

The midwife found him to be posterior, but since I’m only 34 weeks they’re happy he was head down and not worried about his posterior position. She said he has plenty of time to rotate anterior.

So yesterday, during my birthing class, Teresa (my cousin and secondary coach) was helping me and we were doing birthing-position-practice. She was poking at Benjamin and he poked a limb out at her, she pushed it to the side, and ROTATED HIM. It was the CRAZIEST THING EVER. I mean, feeling a baby move every once in a while is pretty cool, but having his entire body rotate was something I hadn’t quite experienced to that strength. He sure did rotate anterior, but by the time I got home he’d moved back to posterior. That both made me happy and sad. I’m glad he was willing to move anterior, but the fact that he pretty much went right back to posterior means it’s more comfortable for him there. I don’t want him comfortable posterior, I want him comfortable anterior 🙂 I’ll keep doing pelvic rocks and keep trying not to worry. The important thing is head down. The anterior just makes birth easier (and we ALL want me to have an easier birth, don’t we?!)

The crazy thing is, I think Teresa showing Benjamin how much he could move just made him realize all the fun stuff he can do. He has been moving like CRAZY all morning!! Even last night, it was like he’d suddenly discovered half of my womb and is now busy exploring. He’s staying head down but definitely poking limbs all over the place.

Pictures: Justin and I are going to get maternity pictures taken by Image Studios ( ) as soon as we get around to booking him. I’ve been putting it off because we really didn’t know what to do – we didn’t want traditional maternity pictures, for lots of reasons. Firstly, I’m not a pretty pregnant lady. I mean, I don’t have super low self esteem or anything, but I’m not the skinniest person anyways, and I just am not one of those women in love with being pregnant. It’s amazing, incredible, occasionally slightly freaky and humbling and wow, but I don’t feel the need to take naked pictures of myself (or even slightly unclothed ones) to remember this experience. I have nothing against those pictures, mind you. My cousins got maternity pictures and they were BEAUTIFUL! They are just not for me. Justin and I want to do something a little more “us” so we have been brainstorming. My friend Leslie and I were talking and she is trying to talk me into painting my belly – something that I’d probably manage with more grace than just exposing my stretch marks to the world… and we came up with a few cool ideas for the pictures – something a little more “us” – that we’ll be talking over with the photographer. I’m not ready to share the idea with the world yet in case Justin or Chad (the photographer) hate it..but if it works out, you’ll know.

Pregnancy brain: Holee-molee! I had no idea how bad pregnancy brain is!! I swear, I think I’ve dropped about 50 iq points. And lost my short-mid-term memory. I’ve worn my clothes inside out to a hockey game (which ended up working out OK since I also dropped nacho cheese on my huge belly), I’ve forgotten my cell phone, lost my wallet that was right in front of my face, miscalculated the amount of money needed to take out of the ATM, taken out what I thought was the wrong amount only to have it accidentally (thankfully) be the right amount… I could keep going. I think, so far, it’s the worst pregnancy symptom I’ve experienced. I’m terrified I’m going to forget to pay bills – I already keep forgetting if I’ve paid them yet and keep double checking… in a few weeks am I going to forget to pay them at all? Hope not! Justin is fairly amused by the entire thing, I guess I’m just glad he isn’t being driven crazy by my absent-mindedness (even if I am!)

So in less than 2 months I’m going to have a baby. Craaazzzyyy!

Soon is a manner of speaking, I suppose.  Technically I can/should have the baby sometime in the next 6-10 weeks.  Some days (like yesterday) I hope it’s closer to the 6 week mark.  And then some days (like today) I don’t mind waiting those full 8 weeks.  I guess it just depends on how tired I am of lugging around 4 pounds of Benjamin!

Today I went to the midwife and had a great appointment. I really love the people at AABC, they have been amazing and very down to earth.  I like to think that I’m inclined towards a more “natural” lifestyle without being fanatical, so it’s encouraging that they respect my lack of fanaticism.  She didn’t bat an eye when I told her we could wait on a firm decision about the Vitamin K shot until birth.  State law says he gets it unless we decline, and there’s plenty of opinions on both sides of the board.  Do I think it’s going to ruin him one way or the other? Nope.  So we’ll see.  If he looks like he might benefit from it, sure, toss it in.  If not, then lets not mess with natural, yes? I can always take the supplement myself, or give him oral supplements of Vitamin K.

The midwife did recommend I start taking some echinacea since I’ve been sick the past few days.  I don’t know what’s up, but I think it’s a mild sinus infection.  Lots of nose blowing and occasional sneezing.  Fun stuff.

On other fronts, remember how I mentioned needing to get my mustang towed to my car guy? Done! Very excited to start that process! I’ll be making frequent stops at his place to take pictures and get an update on what’s going on, but it will be very nice to not worry about it and leave the restoration to the professionals.  I could go through the hassle of learning it all myself, but honestly? It will never get done.  Much rather let him do it and get it done right.  It’s worth the extra cost to get it done stress free!

I keep wanting to post pictures to the internet, but I keep having reasons to wait.  So I think I’ll wait to post pictures of the nursery until it’s all ready (which will hopefully be the first few weeks of May).  In the meantime, here’s an only slightly ridiculous picture of me at my Houston baby shower last week.  Enjoy!

*note: actual date of picture was not, in fact, 1/15/2008