Monday, October 27, 2014

August Harvest

The beach is gone.

That makes these harvests quite a bit harder, you know. 

But, look!  Turns out there is beauty in the desert after all. 

1 - I am falling more and more in love with my camera phone every day.  For such a tiny, multipurpose thing, it sure did a good job with all the levels of light at the Bellagio, didn't it?  And isn't the color of that sky dreamy?  (Not captured, Andrea Bocelli's voice coming through the loudspeakers.  Also dreamy.)

2 - Cute little things.  The picture doesn't do a good job of showing you what this tiny bush actually looks like (though, I love the picture the way it is), but this is the tip of one in front of my house.  We have several of them lining our walkway and they were the first things that made me feel that maybe we could do this whole desert thing.  Foxtails, they're called. 
3 - I think these flowers look like happy eyelashes.
4 - Silhouettes.  I don't know why they're so hard for me to get right, but I just love a good one.
5 - Dancing sunlight
6 - Does this even need a caption?  He was on cloud nine after that spare - and those curls bouncing on his head just kill me.
7 - Cactus.
8 - Another plant in our yard.  I think it kind of looks like someone needs to take a hairbrush through all those tangles... but light can make most anything beautiful.
9 - Do you know we're back in the land of Not Making Our Own Fry Sauce?
10 - The. Best. Burger. I. Have. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Eaten.  I will be back to this place.

11 - Everyone needs a role model.

12 - Sunny Grass
13 - I'm finding I'm developing an affinity for the color orange.
14 - Red Rock
15 - Beautiful.  Beautiful boys.
16 - So symmetrical.
17 - Uninviting in such a beautiful way.
18 - My parents live in an amazing place.
19 - You guys.  It rained.  And I loved it.
20 - My McKenzie.  She's beautiful.  So is that sky.

21 - It was dark, and I didn't have a tripod but, lightning, so I had to try!  It's grainy and fuzzy, but also beautiful.

22 - Tiny little spider-webby fibers.  And notice the new growth on the cladode in the bottom right corner. (Don't I sound smart? (Google helped.))
23 - First day of school bacon.  Sometimes it's nice to put Brian in charge of breakfast.
24 - Sigh.  My beautiful boy.  He's growing up, you know.  Turned 8.
25 - Tiny corndogs.
26 - Fuzzy leaves
27 - Isn't the way the light is playing off of this pillar pretty?
28 - My second dessert plate at the Wicked Spoon.  Trust me, it was a beautiful thing.  Also, I just realized that this is the third picture of food in this one collage... hm.
29 - First day of school.  You know how many kids I had shopping with me that day?  ONE!  One.  Just one.
30 - Such a funny, cloudless sunset!

31 - Isn't that baby precious?  Even more beautiful is the fun and love he'll share with Poppy all through his life. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


There is something about being with the Alders... something fulfilling.  And beautiful.  And encouraging.  And motivating.  And inspiring.

Brian's parents revolve around family, and they are masters at expanding and adapting their revolving circle as the needs and circumstances of the family change.  They didn't miss a step when I entered into it, and with the addition of each of my children, they have changed their lives to welcome them. They are parents, but I have watched them as they've become grandparents, too.  And, through their stories, I can see that they have not forgotten that they themselves are children and grandchildren as well.

This bleeds down into the rest of the family.  Each of Brian's siblings are unique and interesting.  Each has something different to contribute to the family, and all combine together to make the family setting rich and beautiful.

I know my kids feel it too.  Though, mostly they just love being around their only cousins.

We spent a week with these awesome people... here are some of the highlights (and then, I promise, I'll start talking about my life as it is now instead of my life as it was during the summer.  Though, lets take a moment to feel the accomplishment of sifting through and editing two thousand summer pictures, and then recording the highlights.  Deep breath in, deep breath out... Ah.  Feels good.)

1 - Mawwage.  Mawwage is wat bwings us togeder today.  Mawage, dat bwessed awangement, dat dweam wifin a dweam...

Well, it wasn't really marriage that brought us together this night... but it was the celebration of a marriage.  Remember how Brian and I went to Hawaii for his sister, Heidi's, wedding?  Well, this summer she decided to have an open house in Utah.  And all the children got dressed up for it.

The setting was gorgeous, and don't let this next picture fool you, the kids were energetic and had fun all night. (Though, maybe the picture proves that...?)

2 - Formal birthday parties are fun when you're young and again when you're old.

I love that my children are old enough to now have memories of a great grandparent... Great Grandpa Alder is an inspiration to us all... Happy, hard working, and surrounded by love.

3 - It is miraculous that this quiet patch of earth can be both emotionally draining and emotionally sustaining at the same time.

Brian and I were happy to take time out of a busy day to escape up the hillside for this quiet moment with our children.  Timothy was napping, and initially we thought it would be best that way because... well, because he's not really the type to sit still and reverently as we remember what Jess means to us.  But now, I'll be honest and admit that a quiet tear just rolled down my cheek as I saw this picture and felt the hollow absence of him.  I would have liked all of my children to have been there... toddler energy and all.

But, it was nice to be able to sit in a circle around Jess's grave and to talk with the kids, again, about how beautiful he is to us and to our family. And we might not have been able to do that if we were trying to keep Timothy from balancing on the headstones, or darting into the parking lot, or eating the memorial flowers next to us, or... well, or otherwise behaving like a crazy toddler.

4 - Alder Family Reunions are the best

I'd be lying if I said that the Alder Family Reunion wasn't surrounded by a lot of stress.  My mother-in-law, Jean, deals with the brunt of it (she's a planner) as she arranges everything just so.  I watch her bat ideas around and then try to juggle the needs and wants of every member of the family who, by nature of being different humans, have different ideas and opinions about how it should go.  Bless her for trying to accommodate us all.  In the end, we settled on a beautiful cabin in Eden, Utah with an incredible view.

This year she brought all of the family history books she has collected over the years.  She piled them on the giant coffee table, and it provided hours of enjoyable reflection as we poured through them.  There were stories and pictures of our history all the way from great-grandparents down to the family calendar I made with my own hands just last year.  It was incredible to be able to see all those years thrown together in such a small pile on one table.

I spent one afternoon getting snapshots of each person for Jean to make a little remembrance book.

And aside from that, we spent the time relaxing.  And eating. 

And playing in the rocks.

And patrolling the doors.  TK took it upon himself to be in charge of all open doors.  They were unacceptable, in his opinion, and soon were slammed shut.

One afternoon, we took the kids for a hike.  Which ended up being less of a hike and more of a 'drag the kids up (and down) a giant mountain on a trail that was most certainly intended for ATV's and not for human feet'.  But when the trail ended up being steep enough that it would have been impossible not to use our hands, we decided to call it a day.  It ended up giving (some of) us a sense of accomplishment and (all of us) a pretty view, anyway.

Sorry, Miles... you are going to have to get down somehow...

We ended the reunion with a scavenger hunt put together by Brian's oldest brother, Steve.  The kids had a blast,

and the scavenger hunt was so well organized that every single child had fun. 

5 - Sometimes people ask me to take pictures of their family.  I'm always nervous, but thankfully my sister-in-law has a gorgeous family that is hard to mess up.

We stopped off at Heidi's house just before we left to have one last hot-dog BBQ and to take some pictures of Mary's family.  Brian was so helpful and actually let me drag him around the backyard to take pictures of him as I experimented with the light.  I'm not even going to tell you what he found so funny here... because it might have had to do with me being indecently exposed as I bent over to take the picture. (Man, I gotta watch that.)

And since the camera was out, and these two were sitting in the hammock all cute-looking with Jack by their side...

Alders, we sure love you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

If you go to San Francisco, make sure you pack a sweater

My mind is often a frenzy of thoughts.  Fragments and colors.  Patterns and strings of words... it's a mess, actually.  And when I sit to write, I get so much satisfaction in turning those jumbled images into useful words that capture the moments of my life in a way others can understand, and sometimes even relate to, and in a way I'll be able to relate to later in life. 

Just now, as I sat to record our San Francisco vacation, I had all the frenzies I usually have - fragments of paragraphs sputtering around and varying in their opacity.  Shapes of phrases, patterns of analogies, colors of happiness, memories of feelings... but then I uploaded this picture of Brian and everything. just. stopped.  I love this man, you guys.

We've been so lucky throughout our marriage... we've had friends through it all that have been happy and willing to swap babysitting for days at a time, and the older I get the more I see how fortunate we have been in that.  Our relationship is most certainly built by the small choices we make on a daily basis, and has been largely shaped by our children, but it's also been shaped by pockets of time where we forget our 'daily basis', leave our children in the loving care of another, and simply Be Together.

It's that face that gets me.  And the feeling behind those eyes.

I try to always think in the present in terms of our relationship because, as much as I want to ignore it sometimes, now I understand on a greater level the precariousness of this life - of his life - but sometimes I can't help myself and find that my thoughts are hoping for the future.  That face, and the soft, tender, understanding way he looks at me...  I so want to be sitting across from that exact face when it's old and wrinkled.

Whew.  Anyway.  Let's get the frenzy back on.

Apparently it's common knowledge that in traveling to San Francisco one should pack a sweater.  In fact, a quick Google search brought me to a site where 5 of the first 6 items listed had to do with 'warm clothing' in one way or another.  Layers, raincoat, sweater, jacket, foggy weather clothes... unfortunately, we didn't think to do a quick Google search before we got on the plane.  So just minutes after we unloaded from the airport into the shuttle, we keyed 'Ross Dress For Less' into our phones.

After purchasing a couple of light jackets, we were much happier.  Good thing, too, because being grumpy would not have served us well as we hauled our suitcases all over the hilly terrain of San Francisco. 

Really. All. Over.  We couldn't check into our hotel for seven hours after we arrived in the city.  So our bags went sight seeing with us that day.  I found it rather amusing.  Then again, I was the one taking pictures while Brian was the one doing all the pulling. 

Anyway, like I said.  Good thing we weren't grumpy. 

It was also a good thing that I didn't get hit by a car or trolley as I took this next shot. Also that the group of teenagers that watched me and then decided they wanted to get the same shot didn't get hit either (teenagers running out into the middle of the road - sheesh). 

It was a rather unfortunate thing, however, that I was wearing my trusty, black, weareverysingleday skirt because skirts, wind, and crouching-on-the-ground shots are a rather uncomfortable combination for the skirt wearer.  And probably for everyone who happens to be watching the skirt wearer, too.  Sorry people.

That evening we ventured out to grab a bite at the Comstock Saloon.  It was such a funny place where we had at least three quirky waiters waiting on us, and the food was great.  Also, this bartender looked like he was straight out of a history movie, so I had to take a sneaky picture of him.  Brian may have rolled his eyes a little bit when he heard the faint shutter sound ('Linds!', he whispered. 'Are you...!? What are you taking a picture of?!'), but he secretly loves sneaky pictures too.

The next morning, Brian and I waited in line for two hours in order to eat breakfast at Mama's.  This was highly uncharacteristic for us because we're the type of people who find another restaurant if the wait is much longer than a blink.  Probably because one of us gets reeeeeeeeeally grumpy if she he or she is not well fed.  But hey, we had no kids!  Live it up, I say.  And by 'live it up' I guess I mean stand in a line for two hours.

Once we finally made it inside the tiny breakfast cafe, we decided we had to order three different breakfasts, as well as juices and hot chocolate. To try them all, you see. Plus, we were starving.  As I handed my credit card over, I began to see the wisdom in making people wait so very long in line.

Okay, tell me if you think this is manipulative: while we were there, we happened to notice that as the waitresses were clearing the tables, they would strategically place the tip they had received in a visible location on the table and then leave it there.  Minutes after the next group was seated, they would come back and tactfully pull attention to themselves as they slipped the tip off the table and stuck it into their aprons.  A bit manipulative, right? 

But then, we watched as two waitresses cleared off a large booth table and saw them start grumbling to each other about the size of the tip that had been left for them.  So one of them fished around in her apron to pull out a wad of cash (that included two ten dollar bills!) and added it to the obviously less-than-satisfactory tip that had been left for them.  Then they brought the next group in, seated them, and minutes later came back for the now giant tip!  It was enough to make me want to leave a less-than-satisfactory tip myself (just to prove I wasn't being manipulated, you see), but Brian is the tipper of our family and he didn't quite see it the same way I did.  So he left a fair tip anyway. 

See, guys?  He's a good man.

That afternoon, we welcomed some of our dearest friends and toured Alcatraz together.  I had been on the tour once before as a child, but it was much more fascinating as an adult. 

Afterwards, we all took turns in the car changing into fancier clothes (read: jeans instead of shorts) before heading to an amazing restaurant called Wayfare Tavern to stuff ourselves with delicious food.  We then went to the San Francisco playhouse and watched Into the Woods, which I found highly entertaining and delightful.

Remember how I gushed about Brian up at the top of this post?  Well, I could recreate a similar gushing about these awesome friends we spent two days with.  The Aldriches are some of our very dearest friends and being with them is always so fantastic.  When you've been through the ups and downs and ins and outs of a years-long friendship, there is not much that feels safer.  They didn't even make fun of my super-yellow hair (oops). One of the greatest things about moving west is being closer to where they live in California (though, not quite close enough, in my opinion).  

The next morning we all woke early and rented bikes for the day to bike around the city (huff, puff, up, those, hills, holy, cow, dying, burning, out, of, shape) and, maybe my favorite part of the whole trip, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down into a little valley called Sausalito. 

Huh.  I just realized I didn't choose any pictures where you could actually see the bikes... but they were there, I promise. 

After biking all day, we had another amazing dinner at Flour and Water (okay... does anyone else think this is a terrible name for a restaurant?  I understand the art of simplicity here, but after a long day of biking I have to admit I was a little apprehensive that I would be getting nothing more substantial than paste.  Thankfully you can't always judge a restaurant by its name).  And then the Aldriches drove us to the airport where we said our goodbyes and caught a flight back home to our kids. 

I love spending time with Brian, and having days of uninterrupted conversations with each other and the Aldriches was blissful - but we were sure happy to see those sweet, small faces again.