In the summer, Jack and I tried to go out for a walk every morning right after breakfast, before it got too hot. The winter was touch and go, and there was more than one occasion where I desperately headed outside for some fresh air, only to return one short, brisk walk later with a cranky, cold baby. When the weather is cooperating the late-afternoon is one of my favorite times to walk, because it's when everyone is getting home from work and letting their dogs out. Jack loves to see the doggies, and he really likes it when they jump up on the stroller and give him kisses! It's an added bonus!
We have a specific route we take nearly every walk. It's very similar to the one I took when I would pound the pavement those last few months of my Jack-pregnancy. I still have flashbacks of walking as hard as I could with Jon, trying to get contractions moving after my water broke, for one last trip to 7/11. For a while, pushing Jack in the stroller was much easier than lugging him between my hips. Lucky me, these days I get to experience both!
Speaking of strollers, we got a fantastic Jeep jogger last spring. Ironically, I don't jog, but Jon does! I really wanted it so I could take Jack out of the beach. And as long as the tide is low, it works really well. I can push Tank through the sand with one finger if I need too. Plus, it has an iPod dock, so Jack and I can rock out to Hillsong Kids while getting our exercise. (Speaking of my iPod, it went missing about 2 weeks ago. I'm assuming Jack stuffed it into some random cubby hole and can only hope it turns up during the move.)
After living and walking in this neighborhood for going on three years, we see some familiar faces. First, there's the lady with a little boy in a red jogging stroller that actually jogs. She and I must have been on similar schedules this Summer because Jack and I almost always ran into them as we left our driveway. But we take opposite routes so we usually ran into them a second time halfway through our walk. Despite the fact that we see each other ALL THE TIME she still barely gives me a nod. Then again, she's jogging, so maybe she's just out of breath.
There's the retired couple across the street that refer to themselves in the neighborhood newsletter as the "morning walkers." They walk every morning. I'd always pass them on my way to work in my pre-baby days, and he would always give me the same straight-hand wave. There's our neighbor Ashley and her daughter Addison, who is only a month younger than Jack. They must not walk much, since we rarely see them. Which is too bad, because I'm sure we could be great friends! :) The one time we actually had a conversation she mentioned that Jack and Addison were both big babies, and that he must be nursing because "the big ones always are!"
Then there's the neighborhood bachelor, the Lieutenant Commander that lives a few houses down. He always has a group gathered at the beach on weekends. Jon and I laugh because every summer he seems to have a new girl. I wish he would've stuck with Summer '08 girl, she was really nice. And since we're speaking of Naval officers I might as well mention the 3 guys that live in the other half of our duplex. One of them has offered to babysit if we ever needed a hand. And they even bought Jack a Naval Academy sweatshirt, although I'm pretty sure that one of their mothers bought it and just signed their names on the card. For being 3 young bachelors they're not too bad. My only complaint is that, when the weather's warm, they play cornhole at least 4 nights a week. In the middle of the street. Sometimes into the night. In fact, one weekend I woke Jon up certain that someone was breaking into our car. Nope, it was just the neighbor boys throwing bean bags onto a wooden board ... at 2:30 in the morning!
There have been many times, while sitting out on the front deck or playing out in the yard, that we've waved hello to one particular couple - the husband walking two dogs and the wife waddling behind him, clearly with child. One day I realized we hadn't seen them in a while. Sure enough, that evening they strode by again. This time the man was pushing a stroller and walking two dogs, and the woman was booking it behind him, with that look of determination only a new mom with baby-weight to lose can have.
And then there's one of my favorite neighbors, Dylan ... the dog. Dylan is one of those long, lanky show-type dogs with an equally long and lanky owner. He's also the sweetest, happiest, most disobedient dog in the 'hood. It amazes me how well-behaved dogs are around here, especially on the beach. Hardly anyone uses leashes. The dogs are just content to run back and forth to their owner, fetching tennis balls or jumping into the waves. Except Dylan. He's either deaf, or petending to be. You always know he's coming, you can hear his owner yelling his name blocks away. But he's really a sweet dog!
And now you have a taste of our neighborhood. Jack's and my stomping grounds. It's been a great place to raise a baby, I was sad about leaving it behind in a few months, but our new neighbhorhood seems to be very walk-friendly. Now the dilemma is to find the right double stroller. We have three different strollers for Jack - the regular one that the car seat clips into, the jogging stroller, and an umbrella stroller for light packing and short trips. And we regularly use all three. I don't foresee us buying a double-version of each of these, although that would be ideal. So for months I've been researching options trying to figure out which kind of double would serve us best, or if we even need one at all. And so far I haven't been able to decide. :(
I've been watching one particular neighbor walk by my house several times now this spring. She's got the most beautiful double stroller I've ever seen. I finally worked up the courage to run outside and ask her about it, but she was busy talking to another neighbor and their conversation was lasting so long I was beginning to look suspicious lingering in my driveway. Jack and I had to leave for my doctor's appointment anyway, so I drove by as slowly as possible, took a number of mental notes, came home that night and found it online:
Isn't it heavenly!? It also has top-notch reviews. And guess what? It only costs $650!!! That's right, a mere $650 to take your babies on a neighborhood walk. Geesh. Clearly I'm living in the wrong neighborhood.
And so the search continues. I started using my stroller the day we brought Jack home from the hospital, as evidenced in this picture by the fact that I still look pregnant, so perhaps we need to make a decision sooner rather than later. Especially since beautiful, sunny spring weather and a an adorable new baby boy are both on their way!!