To Camping IV and To School

The last morning of our camping trip, Lacy and I struck out for The Bridge. Each time we drove into our campground, we drove over a bride -it was a mile or so away from our campsite, and Lacy and I were wanting to hike to it. As we approached it, we found out it is on The Arizona Trail -a trail that spans the state vertically.

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We had a nice visit as we walked…
“Mom, when we first came camping, I didn’t know if I was ready to make the trailer my home. But now? I NEVER want to leave!”
Sweet kid.
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We checked out of our camp and headed in Flagstaff where Dad took the older two shoe shopping and came back with a pair of shoes for Alice that made her say, “OH MY GOSSSS!”
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I sat out in the truck with Alice for an hour and a half while Dad helped the kids. Dad’s particular when it comes to shoes…
I made the best of my sweaty time (we had to stay outside with our pup) by writing a bit in my handy dandy journal:
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We made it home in time to make a snack for the pack meeting, after which we headed across the street for the kids’ school open house. Just like that, summer vacation slipped through time and became filed away in our memories. It’s bittersweet.
Why is time suddenly flying by?
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So we’re back into the swing of school and schedules. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes it’s the weekend.
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Daily Do’s

Sometimes I feel defeated.  It’s not hard because I have a toddler.

Yesterday that defeated feeling began to turn to shame, and I took a time out.  I put the kids in front of dinner which was in front of a movie, and I took the dogs for a walk and then pulled weeds in the garden.  I hadn’t done much movement yesterday, so I wanted to let my body MOVE.

It got me thinking less about what I’m NOT doing and more about what I AM doing.

 

 

 

I’m doing a lot of listening…

listening to my body, listening to music, listening to my Soul Needs.

…You’ve got so much soul…
 

To Camping III

0805151201Our third day out camping brought our Papa to us. We started our day out with bacon, eggs, orange juice and grits which meant both Danny and his Dad were in heaven.
We drove out to Lower Lake Mary and Upper Lake Mary and finally settled on a dock where we could toss our lines out into the muddy water.  The wind was against us, but luckily kids don’t care about that!  They just wanted to see if they could out-cast themselves.

I took Bronco for a mile-long hike which he hated me for.  Poor arthritic pup!
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The kids all took turns in Papa’s kayaks, but Lacy made sure everyone knew that they belonged to her.
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She cried when Trenton went out on the lake in it:
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Though Trenton wasn’t crying!
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When they came back in, Alice took her proper possessive state. Ain’t no one sittin’ in “da liddle boat” but her!
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Lacy was the last to go:
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I didn’t go at all.
I don’t like boats. Or swimming. But I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures! And I enjoyed The Upset Baby falling asleep in my arms. I had one solid hour of just sitting on the shores, listening to water lapping, birds chirping. It was so nice, so refreshing! Danny was jealous of my cuddle time.
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We had no luck catching fish, but Papa tossed his line in and started teaching the kids how to fish for crayfish. We caught at least 40! The kids were thrilled.
Danny and his Dad have such nice hands -they are hand twins.
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Danny’s Dad actually caught a fish under the dock but it got away. So close!
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Lacy was the sweetest picture of childhood with her bare feet danging off the side of the dock, her pole in the water:
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And when she crawled up on the railing, I just smiled. So sweet! I’m so grateful the kids have the opportunity to fish in bare feet in the summer time!
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Her and Trent were catching so many crayfish -she bravely picked them up and threw them back out! I *almost* picked one up. So she wins The Brave Girl award… and I win clean hands.
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I kept Alice by my side because discovering nature with a toddler is like seeing it through brand new eyes. This kid has NO agenda but to be present with where she is:
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Watching Danny teach her how to catch crayfish was so cute.
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Her face tells ALL her feelings on crayfish!
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I feel the SAME WAY, baby.
We stayed out in the sun WAY too long, and that meant that Mom was spent… so for dinner we had Cafe Rio. It was the best choice for everyone involved. Danny and I reflected on that day -August 3rd, 2015. Three years ago to the DAY we had gone to the Dr. and found out we were having a baby GIRL and then we headed out camping.
And there we were WITH that baby girl out camping again.
Life has changed so much in three short years.
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Dirty Thirty -The Weekend Getaway

Yesterday I turned 30.
The entire weekend was a sort of Kim K and George Bailey mash-up where I felt completely self-indulgent and took a million selfies while the stream of birthday greetings from phone, text, facebook and voxer helped me feel like I really mattered to other people.

I knew Danny was planning SOMEthing, but he wouldn’t tell me what because there’s nothing that Danny loves more than birthdays AND surprises. Friday morning, Danny told me to go about my day as usual but to
1) Not shower before work
2) Go to work
3) Shower and get dolled up AFTER work
4) Not ask anymore questions.

Guys.
I even plucked my chin hairs.
#fancypants
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Danny cleaned our car out REALLY well -something he actually loves to do.
#luckyme
He picked the kids up from school, packed a bag for them and sent them off with my Aunt. He asked me to pack a bag and then loaded me up in the clean car.
“Your birthday chariot!”
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We went down the road and visited, talked about the kids…
When I turned 25, I promised myself that I’d spend my 30th birthday at the spa getting ALL THE THINGS done. A massage, a mani-pedi… just do it all for once in my life! I said to myself, “When the day comes around, you’re going to try and talk yourself out of it, but YOU MUST DO THIS THING.”
As they day came around, I didn’t talk myself out of it so much as change the direction up a little.

The past two years of my life have brought a lot of change… physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually -basically every facet of my life has shifted. I’ve been working some form of a 12-step process for 4 years, and the round I’m doing right now has been the most far-reaching.
When we were out camping, I saw the chaotic surface of the lake lapping, lapping and I thought how much of my life used to look just like that: a chaotic surface of a life.
Each time I work the 12-steps, my life goes deeper… more still, and the more I work out the more I find there is to work ON. As my mental health has healed, I feel God opening up a peaceful way for my BODY to heal as well.
In short, God wants me to make amends to myself and my body.

In yoga this morning, Instructor Taura said, “I find the way I treat myself is the way I treat others.”

As I’ve dipped myself past a surface life, I’ve found that I have more compassion for myself, less judgement, more patience, more acceptance and YES! I find now that I have more patience with others, less judgement, more compassion and acceptance.

As the time drew near for my 30th birthday, I found that I DID want to spend time and money on myself, but in a different way. I decided to start sending the right messages to myself.
I’ve worn out my 6 year old tennis shoes. I haven’t had my hair so much as trimmed in two years… I decide my 30th would be a time of amends. Buy the things that send the right messages! And burn the things that don’t!

I didn’t know what Danny was planning, but he assured me I’d have some time for a little shopping. Whenever I’d ask what we were doing, he’d reply, “All will be made known in due time.”
Smug.
Smuggy Smuggerson.

We headed out of town, and as we pulled into Flagstaff, my husband had me put on a blindfold and within 20 minutes, we had arrived at our destination!
(As it turns out, Danny unknowingly did the same thing I did for HIS 30th birthday without realizing it. So yahoo for having one mind? Ha!)
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He told me we had a few hours to get dressed up and play downtown before our late dinner reservations. Danny had called ahead at the restaurant and the Bed and Breakfast to let them know about my gluten issues, and I appreciated that so much! It saved me from having to explain.
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As we strolled along downtown Flagstaff, we found a thrift store full of vintage clothing.
It was just like The Room of Requirements at Hogwarts. It was PERFECT and appeared JUST when I needed it. We had a blast rummaging through all the old beautiful garb.
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And I came home with the most unnecessary pants in the history of pants. And some funky glasses that Lacy won’t part with.
#literalfancypants
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And I could have resisted a postcard, but I didn’t:
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Danny reserved us a table we’d sat at twice before, and so it was written in stone -set in figurative GRANITE -we now have A TABLE at A RESTAURANT and when they make a movie about our lives, they will talk about it.
Right?
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We decided to order things we’ve never tried before, and we knew it The Cottage Place is the safest place to try something new because the head chef, Frank, is immensely gifted when it comes to food.
His restaurant is fancy enough to make you feel important and small enough to make it feel personal.
The napkins alone, my friends…
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I went with lamb and couldn’t stop quoting My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.
“He don’t eat no meat?! That’s okay… I make lamb.”
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Danny went with duck:
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We started our meal with their fresh bread and magic butter -I’ve been trying to figure this butter out for YEARS. This weekend I had a bit of a breakthrough in recognizing chives… I’m pretty sure there’s chives in that butter. And I’m also fairly sure the butter is made there, mostly because they make their own certain types of cheese, and making butter is relatively easy compared to cheese.
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I gobbled up a perfect spinach with magic pecans (seriously, this place!) and Danny gobbled up lobster bisque:
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We were perfectly filled, and I’m still dreaming of that mint sauce… and yes, I picked up the lamb by the bone and ate it with my hands. Ah, the perks of LATE dinner reservations! No one was around to care.
And if they were, I don’t know that I’d actually care if they cared… I wanted every little bit of that meat!
#unfancypants
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I used the bathroom and found that not only was the ceiling painted to look like the clouds at the end of “Sleeping Beauty” but there was a TABLE in the bathroom with CHAIRS and Frank’s own cookbook. Fun!
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I also snapped ANOTHER selfie -just wanted to remember my outfit. It’s one of my favorites, I found the skirt at a free clothing exchange and the shirt was given to me by Tia years and years ago. I fall in love with free clothes:
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We headed back to our room -my favorite room -where everything is bookish and cozy and the world forgets you exist.
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The next morning we went on a brisk walk, we stretched our limbs out on the green lawn of the bed and breakfast and then went in for some delicious breakfast!
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We packed up quick, had a nice visit with the owners, Laurel and Richard, and then we were sent off with some goodies including the recipe for that delicious custard!
I was able to do some shopping to make my self amends -bought THE GOOD foundation that I always convince myself I don’t need. I bought a new outfit at Target -I rarely buy NEW clothes, and it felt so good!
Then Danny surprised me further by dropping me off at a salon to get my hair cut and colored:
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I had no one to quote Studio C to:

“Leave it in for a week!”
Danny and I also woke up to an egged car (BOO!) but then our car was given the SPA treatment by the local car wash (remember, Danny loves clean cars) and now Danny wants to buy a membership to the car wash that lives over an hour away from us.
And I just love the cool car washes that PULL your car through. It’s like Disneyland.
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Danny thew me in the car after our appointment so I could change into my new clothes, and we went out for sushi! Something we LOVE to do together.
On our way to the restaurant, we stopped off to visit old friends:
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Our sushi didn’t disappoint but it never does!
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After we ate, we grocery shopped without kids. It took NO TIME AT ALL. I think the entire weekend was coated in some kind of magic.

Here’s a spattering of “leftover” photos. Such a memorable weekend -we sure do love our little getaways!
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The dining area in the bed and breakfast is my favorite!0815150906a

8/12/15

I have no clever title for what happened yesterday.  It was… well, it just needs to be recorded for posterity, and that’s all we’ll say about that.

On 8/11/15 (Dad’s birthday!) I set my alarm for 6:20 AM the next day. I needed to get up and moving -scriptures, prayer, breakfast, kids ready for school. I wanted to pick up the house Alice had destroyed (along with my get-up and go) before my cousin Clarissa came over with my cousin Annelie so we could throw a tiny celebration in honor of Clarissa turning 18. Then I would be off to work…
6:20 AM would give me enough time.

Except my alarm did NOT go off. God smiled kindly upon me and had my friend, Beki, call me at 7:15 to ask if her daughter could walk with mine to an after school activity.
I POPPED out of bed.
After school activity!
I’d forgotten!

I wrote a note to Lacy’s teacher, pulled the children out of bed and had them from bed to bus in FIFTEEN MINUTES. Ask me how I did that! I dare you!
Answer: no clue.
Wait, maybe it had something to do with the Fruity Pebbles I shoved in my mouth? Energy rush much?

By the time Annelie and Clarissa came over, there was hot chocolate and I was prepping cinnamon toast. I had skipped my scriptures and prayer and healthy breakfast -I knew it would affect me later in the day, but I took a deep breath and did my best to take the next step forward.
I put on Studio C.

And I gotta say: if you’re going to have a morning routine disrupt, it should include Studio C. I started my crazy, disruptive day belly laughing so hard I cried.

We cleaned up our hot cocoa and toast, laughed with Clarissa and talked about Disneyland and then I packed up Alice and made it to work late looking and feeling like:
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But I MADE IT.
While there, Alice sat next to me on a tall, red stool watching youtube videos and demanding a bean burrito from Ruth -our sweet weekly Mexican Food making woman.
“Hey!” Alice threw out her hand and horrified her mother, “Hey!” She beckoned for a burrito which her Grandpa paid for and I hid my face in shame. Pretty soon, Dad took Alice to run some errands with him and Grandma, and I went home to an empty house.
Well, void of people but NOT of Bronco.

I decided to hit “reset” on the day and do my dailies (scriptures, prayer…) right then. Danny and I are trying to connect spiritually with each other and thought it would be a great idea to send a piece of our scripture reading to each other each day, if we read.
Danny has sent me some insightful stuff, and I think I might reserve a post just for those… but the one I found yesterday was SO NICE. It is a perfect companion scripture for the studying I’ve been doing on temporal salvation, health, The Word of Wisdom…
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Those verses gave me a sort of PUMP, and I hit my knees with gratitude -thanking God for the chance to hit the “reset” button and ALSO sneaking me an extra hour of sleep that morning, for the rain that had been falling, for the earth that felt so much like my playground, for the chance to spend time with Him at a crucial day where I’d been unsteady and unbalanced.
Unbalanced meaning I’d been so OFF, and I knew WHY and was struggling to return to sanity. I’d gone to yoga with Taura on Monday and fallen over and over and over. I mean, I USUALLY fall over when I do yoga but on Monday it was RIDICULOUS. Thank goodness the earth is a healing element, right? Right?
I just soaked up the goodness earth has to offer while I was down there.
Right.

So with the word “balance” on my mind, I got up from my knees and channeled my favorite youtube yoga.

Bronco hated the whole idea:
IMG_20150812_131855Just before my routine ended, my Alice came into the house and immediately began shaking things up.  If I thought Bronco was against my doing yoga, he had nothing on Alice.

“I meeda dwink.  Get it, okay?  Be all done, yoga!  All done!  Get up, Mama!”
I only had to pause and resume three times in the last 15 minutes. So all in all, it was only mostly disruptive.

After yoga, Alice took a snack in her high chair and watched Daniel Tiger (and Baby Margret! who is the newest celebrity in our house) while I stitched up a pillow that’s been pooping fluff all over my floor. I listened to some voxer messages and felt almost human talking with other women. Blessed afternoon.

I wrapped up my sewing and socializing in time to prepare for cub scouts. I made granola for a snack which ended up being pointless because Danny came home and made popcorn and it turns out boys like popcorn and NOT toasted oatmeal mixed with almonds.
Whatever.

We researched fish in our area and after taking the boys home vacuumed up all manner of popcorn and dirt. THAT’S what little boys are made of! Lacy came home from her after-school activity and we watched Studio C as a family and also? EXHALED as a family.

I saw a storm rolling in, so I got our wildest dog out of his kennel to take him for a quick walk/jog. During the big storms, we have to bring him inside and I wanted him calm. Well, Lacy wanted to go too!
And if Mom is going and Lacy is going, then Alice will go!
And well, if you guys are going then I’ll come along and Dad makes 4.
So Trent decides he might as well make it a Party of 5.

I ran the dog ragged and he ran me ragged, and we all gathered back together near our garden and pulled together to pull weeds. LOTS of weeds which our crazy dog insisted on chasing and thrashing as we threw them out.
Thunder rolled in the distance and then the not-so-distant and before we knew it, it was CRASH BOOMING right over our heads. We piled inside, gathered around the kitchen counter and colored together.
It’s amazing how much kids will open up when you color with them… We had a pretty interesting talk with our school agers about bullies.

As the rain began really pelting down, Danny got worried about the third dog and so? We brought him in and put him in the inside kennel.

This picture is for you… in case you’ve got a hankering for writing prose or poetry and need some inspiration.  Rain falling on a window!

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As soon as the rain stopped, Danny took a call and there was a knock on the door. Our cousin, Seth, came over to play games for an hour, during which time a family friend stopped by with some God-sent information on food storage.

I was sauteing squash, onions and garlic, visiting with my Mom on the phone and somehow managing to keep Alice on the counter next to me which is where she will always be if I’m in the kitchen.  Because she wanna hewp.

While I grated cheese, Danny started “checking in” with me.  Every day, we try to check in on how each other is going:

Physically
Emotionally
Spiritually
Socially

And then we list one victory for ourselves and one victory for our spouse. This script was given to us, we weren’t in touch with our needs enough to figure it out ourselves… but it works well for us. It gives us a chance to really touch base in pretty much every area. Only, Danny couldn’t really finish because he had to keep leaving to batten down the hatch, stop rain leaks, play video games, keep the kids from choking each other.
He covered physically, emotionally, spiritually…

After Seth’s Mom picked him up, we ate together. After the kids let us know how making them eat squash was torture and we made them eat it anyway, they all ended up bathed and PJ’d.  I rolled the girls’ hair up in socks while we watched Bible videos (family scripture time!) and hoped it would make the next morning easier… just in case my alarm decided NOT to go off again:

 

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We prayed together and sent the kids to bed with kisses and they only got out once.
Alice came out to let us know she needed her “braids” out because she couldn’t sleep. The socks came out and the baby went back to bed.
Danny and I sat together in a living room that would have been quiet had it not been for the pacing dog. We sipped hot chocolate and Danny said.
“So, SOCIALLY…”
And we laughed so hard. WHAT A DAY. Life isn’t usually like this?!

Can we get back to the school routine? Will THIS be the end of our hero?!

I crawled under the covers last night and reviewed a quote I’ve loved a lot lately:
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In the midst of the whirl storm that sometimes comes into our lives -whether that storm is literal and leaking water through your windows or figurative and stealing your serenity away -there is a safe place within ourselves, untouched by drama of any kind.

It is light, truth, and divinity.
And today I found it. Sometimes that place seems to shift like the staircases at Hogwarts, but when I find it, I bask in residence.

And perhaps someday, I’ll set up permanent residency as did Viktor Frankl -no amount of outside influence could steal away the liberty he found within himself as he spent time in the death camp of Auschwitz.

It is impossible without God.
God is my sanity, and I am his treasure… come what may.

To Camping II

I’m not a huge camper, but I love hiking.  I was excited to be in a place where I could just strike out without organizing a sitter… Danny stayed with the kids and I took Bronco and away we went!  Almost every morning, I was able to take this trooper out for a little hike:
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The kids got a kick out of the pictures I’d bring home.  They couldn’t get enough of the squirrels. I had to take a picture of one up in a tree, chittering loudly:0804150815

I found this nice little cove-ish area where I could pray.  One morning I took my yoga mat and iPad down there and stretched out -it was awesome.  There were a few flies that REFUSED to share their space.  I mean once those guys found you, YOU WERE DEAD.  But until then, it was a great place to breath and gain perspective:0804150834

 

 

I loved coming home one morning to find Danny making a hearty breakfast.  He’d pulled the kids beds back into the couch and table.  He made toast on a little griddle:
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It was amazing -even he ate and loved the toasted gluten free bread.  If it’s toasted, he’ll eat it.  If not, forget it:0804150848a

Lacy said to me, “When we first took the camp trailer out, I wasn’t ready to make it my home.  But now I never want to leave!”  But that’s only because she’s 8.  If she were 13, she’d be SO READY to have her own space!  I do have to agree, though, that it’s pretty awesome to have a tiny house all to ourselves:0804150848b

One of the camp site’s workers dropped off some paint, brushes and glitter at our camp site for our kids to play with.  They were in heaven!  People like that always inspire me to be give more.  I love it!
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This was my favorite view while camping.  She’d stand outside the door and call out, “KNOCK! KNOCK!” until I’d open the door.  And then she’d say, “Sanks, Mom!”0804150848d

After we’d cleaned brushes and left the pine cones out to dry, we drove out to Mormon Lake.  I’ve been dreaming of seeing this lake since I was a kid!  And this is what we found:
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All of the dark green is where the lake USED to be.  The little pond-ish creature to the right is what’s left.  Boo!  Boo on the drought!  Boo for not seeing the lake earlier in my life!  We drove into the little Mormon Lake community and played by a pond while Dad filled us up with gas.  It was idyllic.0804151345

 

 

 

We took ourselves out to the lake we’d fished the evening before.  Alice and I went to play in an area where there were no fishermen.  We threw rocks in the water so hard they splashed our faces.  I skipped rocks and hit my personal best record: 5!  It felt good to yell out my accomplishment to the world… because when you’re a mom, your life is LESS about personal accomplishments and MORE about the kids’s accomplishments: peeing in the right places at the right times, for instance.

So the rock skipping?  It was a pretty big deal.  I was happy to see that God noticed… check out this perfect heart-shaped skipping stone He sent me!0804151449

Alice went from putting her feet in the lake to climbing the rocks.  She called it, “I DA KING A’DA WORLD!”  I encouraged her.  Because there’s no greater feeling:queenoftheworld

I made sure there were a couple pictures of me in the mix. I’ve made a promise to myself to get IN FRONT of the camera when I can for posterity reasons.  Also, I used to love looking at old pictures of my parents, but they were scarce!

So here’s Mom in Dad’s hat and -for the first time since she was in first grade… leggings!

When I was growing up, my Mom always had Kool-Aid on hand. Fruit Punch Kool-Aid. We thought it was the only kind… We liked it because kids like Kool-Aid.  And then one day my Mom went to the store and WE SAW.  WE SAW ALL THE KOOL-AID! There are 70 or a million flavors!  We asked her, “Why?  Why do we only get the Fruit Punch?”  And she said it’s the one our Dad likes.

My legs are feeling a little like I did in that moment.  All this time, there’s been these comfy leggings that feel just like our skin and you’ve been putting us in JEANS!  WHY?!?!?!?!  And now it’s hard to take them off to leave the house.  I clean in them and sleep in them and they promise to love me forever.
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Here’s my oldest saying, “Watch! I’m going to cast JUST LIKE DAD TAUGHT ME.” Talk about heart melt. It was like a scene out of a Hallmark TV Movie:Lacycast


The next day we met up with PaPa and his kayaks.  It was the crowning day of our trip!

(Though I still feel like my 5 skips was pretty much the deal maker.)

To Camping I

After three years of not camping, we decided it was time to camp with our kiddos. This time around, we had a fun little camp trailer and an arthritic, retired work dog, so it felt just like our family is really grown up.
Officially.
Before heading out, I went to yoga and stretched and folded and reached and fell a little.
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Once out in the wild (it took FOR.EV.ER to get on the road), I whipped up some sandwiches to eat before we went out evening fishing. I made a bunch of regular sandwiches and two gluten free sandwiches for me. I ate one and was pretty full. My husband wasn’t full, though, and eyeballed my sandwich.
“Are you going to eat that?”
“I’m full,” I said, “I was going to put it in a zip-loc for tomorrow.”
“Oh…”
“Unless YOU’RE still hungry…”
“Thanks!”
One bite. One chomp.

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“Um, you can go ahead and put it in a zip-loc, and babe?”
“Yeah?”
“I’m sorry you’re gluten free.”
So apparently my palate is dead?

We saw some deer on our way out to the lake and the kids flipped out -as if the deer somehow made the camping trip REAL.
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Trent and Alice worked on building a rock castle because fishing was turning out to be a bust.

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Bronco kept a watchful eye over us all.0803151812b

And the whole thing felt very American… a Dad, a son, a dog, a fishin’ pole:0803151813b

I watched the ripples on the lake and was reminded of how life sometimes feels like that -messy and dramatic when all we see is the surface… a hidden, peaceful haven hidden underneath, only accessible to those willing to take the dive:0803151815

And Bobby Frost was there -how badly I WANTED to read and analyze “The Mending Wall” but having a toddler by a lake doesn’t leave much time for analytical reading.  Or reading at all, come to think of it.0803151816

Tea Time

For a few weeks, Lacy has been planning a Back to School Tea Party. She even has a pin board full of ideas. As the day approached, I planned on taking her thrift shopping for some dishes because we don’t have any fancy tea cups. But it never *quite* happened. I thought the nearest thrift shop was over an hour away, and every time we went anywhere near it, we didn’t have time or patience to walk inside with Alice.
Alice has a way of scaring Mom over the “you break it, you buy it” rule.

We went to Winslow to wash my Dad’s truck -he loaned it to us while we went camping, and we wanted to return it spiffy clean. Nature had the same idea and POUNDED us with rain.
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We cleaned the inside out REALLY well and returned it with an IOU. We’ll wash it when the floods cease, Dad.
While in Winslow, I googled thrift shops, thinking there weren’t any. We found a little flea market that was over-crowded and severely over-priced, and then we hit the jack pot with Alice’s Attic.
It was spacious and organized. We had found three tea cups in the flea market, each marked at $4/each. Since the tea party was going to be for little girls, it seemed ridiculous to pay $4 for a fragile tea cup knowing that it was being hired to PLAY not be pretty.
In Alice’s Attic, we found a set of dishes with tea-ish cups.
“How much for just the cups?” I asked.
“We want to sell the set…”
“How much for the set?” I held my breath.
“$10.”
SOLD.
We will take that ENTIRE SET.
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And we did. In Wal-Mart while it flooded wildly outside, we picked out sugar wafers, tea and sugar cubes. I’m a simple girl. When it comes to tea parties or any parties, I get no fulfillment in going ALL OUT. If anything, it just stresses beyond what God ever had planned for me.
Lacy wanted MORE (cookies, doughnuts, cakes, oh my!) but I just kept reminding her that tea parties are about COMPANY not eating.

For decorations, we used what we had: tablecloths from my sister’s reception, milk vase gifted from my cousin filled with what we found outside + a few leftovers from the bouquet Danny gave me a few weeks ago, doilies from around the house…
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Grandma’s beautiful yard provided the perfect atmosphere, and she has the cutest metal tables and chairs… and waterfalls!
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Grandmas are the best.

Lacy invited her cousins, and we all set up together.
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Lacy picked out the tea. 0808151015

After the party was over, there was about 10 of these sugar cubes left… #hummingbirds
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The girls were so excited to brew their own tea. But having tea is sort of like growing up… we all fantasize about what it will be like, we romanticize the idea of it, wait in anticipation while it brews and then?
We take a huge gulp and are completely underwhelmed at least and disgusted at most.

My niece threw in two sugar cubes, then four, then ten… I quit counting after that. She took a sip and said, “THERE. NOW it tastes okay. Would you like me to make you some like mine?” She hated the thought of her aunt STILL DRINKING the Nasty Tea.
“No,” I said, “I’m okay.”
She took a deep breath and then offered her own tea, deciding it would be better to sacrifice her own happiness for mine.
“No,” I smiled, “I actually really LIKE my tea.”
“Oh,” she sipped on her “tea” for a few more minutes and then asked, “Alicia, can I go inside and get a real drink?”
HA!
That line made my entire day.
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And this is why I simplify -if there’s no planned activities, the girls will make their own! Where there is no expectations, there is imagination, adventure, freedom and red wagons at the tea party:
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Attire was also Come As You Will. This includes oversize costumes and sparkly tennis shoes.
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I think we’ll have to make a tradition out of our propriety-optional Tea Party. Because the company was pretty fabulous:
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After we came home, I finally brought a little dream I’ve had into fruition… it isn’t *exactly* what I have in mind, but it will work for now! I want a little tea and hot chocolate station so our family can enjoy them easily. We’re in a tiny living space right now, so this is what we’ve got. I didn’t mean for so much yellow to happen, but it did. I also didn’t mean for it to look so old lady or so cottage-ish, but it does.
But it does what it’s asked, so we like it:
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Cousins

Finding one for every one of them wasn’t hard.  Should I worried about that?  Like maybe it’s a sign that I need to STOP with the aprons?

I can’t.  They bring me so much joy.  And days when they end up on all of the children, it validates my apron hoarding like CRAZY.  I even had a little apron from the hardware section for my nephew!  My son came out later and wore my “grill magnet” apron I keep tucked away… one of those “I spent an hour on this and hate it but will keep it because it cost time and money” things.

0721151604A bite of frosting, a bite of cookie… and again and again and again!

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0721151703Those sprinkles, tho!

 

We also spent an overcast, windy afternoon with our cousins making grandma’s playdough so Alice could grind it into the carpet and make mom say funny words.

0717151621bHaving cousins close by is so great.  It’s built-in best friends!

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The Things I’ve Seen

I’ve seen a little girl with blonde curls running right for me as the sun was setting:

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I’ve seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” in July:

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I’ve seen the beginning and end of my first s’more (Thanks, Aunt Trina for the GF Graham Crackers!) since going gluten free in January of 2014:
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I’ve seen what happens when I tie my hair up in three tube socks before going to bed:
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{Tutorial found HERE}

I’ve seen a truly great picture of my great-grandma Alice sitting on a horse with her four boys nearby:

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I’ve seen how cute my girls can look when I braid their hair up so we don’t have to wake up and style it the next morning before leaving for a day of school clothes shopping in the city:
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I’ve seen a picture of the snake… the kids took it. I didn’t actually see the snake itself. Apparently it was as small as a worm. Check out how small it is next to the blades of grass!
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I’ve seen how hard Lacy will sleep on one Benadryl after breaking out in hives (something in great-grandma’s ditch bank threw her for a red, swollen loop):
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I’ve seen what happens when Trent finishes his Tic-tacs and has white duck tape on hand:
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I’ve seen a grown man snuggling with a “Frozen” throw and a Belgian Malinois and felt second base beneath my feet:
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I’ve also felt the earth beneath my feet after giving the kids a quick lesson on the positive effects of negative ions:
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I’ve seen homemade caramel corn made by me. For the first time ever:
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I’ve seen great-grandpa’s old international parked on Dad’s farm during my morning walk as a light, gentle rain fell:
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I’ve even seen God:
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