Thursday, March 31, 2016


Can we take a moment and talk about the cutest three year old ever?  Everything about this boy makes my heart sing.  He turned three a couple of months ago and sifting through all these pictures has made. my. night.

Days like these are the days old people talk about when they say, "write it down... you think you'll remember, but you will not.  You will forget."

It's hard to imagine that I could ever forget this boy on his third birthday... but then I think about Kenzie's third birthday and... hm.  I hope I have that recorded in a journal somewhere because blogging didn't exist for me back then.

He picked his own letter toy out a couple of weeks before his birthday.  I thought he'd forget about it by the time it donned the wrapping paper and masqueraded among the other toys dressed the same.  But I was wrong.  "Dat's my new letters toy!" he said pointing to the correct parcel.  Busted.

The Timothy train was quite the hit, though. "It's ME!  Dis is a ME train!"  Hard to imagine I'll ever forget that I'm-So-Special smile...

After morning presents, we waved goodbye to Daddy and 'duh kids' as they headed out into the wide world for their day-jobs.  And then we played.  All. Day. Long.  Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am to have MY day job.

A quick little photo shoot (super quick because, remember, he's only three and has the attention span of a gnat) in which I spent the precious time trying to find good light.  Whew - I'm out of practice - and he was not real great at being patient with me.

But I got him talking to me and we had one little sequence that was absolutely hilarious and went just like this:

Hey TK?!

How old are you today, Buddy?!

Wait... are those THREE fingers!?  Wow, you are getting so big!  Show me again.

Waaaiiiiit a minute... THAT doesn't look like three fingers!

Show me how old you are!  Waaaaiiiiiit a minute...

Is that FOUR fingers?  You are crazy!!!

See.  I told you it was hilarious.

After our morning minute of comedy, we jumped into the car in pursuit of a free chocolate sample at the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory.

It was the right decision.  The cutest grandma was working the counter, and when she found out it was Teek's birthday, boy, did she make it a deal!  She gave him not one, but three chocolate samples, a straw, a picture book (read: an ad for their delicious chocolate), a little bag in which to put it all, and a spoonful of whipped cream to stick right. into. his mouth.

I ordered a Chocolate Sensation for us to share on the recommendation of the Cutest Grandma and, honestly, after one sip I kinda wanted the whole thing for myself... but then that beautiful face looked up at me with those birthday eyes and I was a goner.
"Mama?  Can woo sare dat wis me?"
"Absolutely, Teek!  That's why I got it, to share with you."
"Oh!  Tank you for dat!  Tank you for saring dis wis me!"
Sometimes he feels like my very best friend in the whole world.

We walked around the cactus gardens and talked about how each one was "pokey". Each. one.

But I didn't mind the repetition.  I had my chocolate sensation, after all.  And this beautiful face to look at.

There was one unfortunate moment when he jumped purposefully onto my camera and I did not react kindly.  Sorry bud.

He has the sweetest heart and I do try very hard to treat him kindly always because it's just so devastating to him when I don't.

But he got over it quickly enough.  A lesson in forgiveness for sure.  Hopefully my sharp reaction was a lesson in Don't Jump On My Camera.

Next stop - McDonalds for chicken nuggets.  How he can be so stinkin' cute just waiting for nuggets is beyond me.

The kids and Daddy eventually made their ways back home and we had delicious cup cakes smothered in green frosting and sprinkles.  I reeeeeeeally outdid myself with this one.

Happy birthday, friend.  We sure love having you around.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Circles of Understanding

I love moments where I see a connection happening between one of my parents and one of my children.  I'm so lucky to be sandwiched in between such great people.

My parents came down for a quick visit, so Timothy and I took them to the Hoover Dam (since, you know, that's kind of what you do in Boulder City).

Did you know that if you slowly dump water out of a water bottle over the dam that the water will fly up and hit you in the face?  It's true. We did it.

I also love moments when my parents teach me something... like that those weird giant stabber things sitting next to the grill when we moved in were actually rotisserie hooks, and that you can buy whole chickens in regular grocery stores and cook them on your own grill Costco Rotisserie Chicken style.   None of us had done it before, but it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!  So juicy and flavorful!  

We let the kids have the chicken for dinner that night and we adults hopped into my dad's spiffy convertible to travel down to the strip for dinner and a show.

Brian and I had fun with my parents, and we came home happy and full to a quiet, clean house. I felt blessed for two reasons: first, that I have such wonderful parents that I enjoy spending time with, and second, that I have such wonderful kids who are happy and willing to let us go for an evening.  The kids had had fun... they made dinner, ate dessert, watched movies, and cleaned everything up.  McKenzie put all three boys to bed and then climbed into bed herself to read until she, too, fell fast asleep.

I remember those nights when I was a 12-year-old drifting to sleep in my bed after an evening of babysitting. I remember drifting back into consciousness - just a little - when my mother, back from her evening out, opened my bedroom door and tiptoed across the room...  I remember the smell of Party on her as she bent to kiss my cheek - fresh make-up, hairspray, fabric softener, a dab of perfume...  I remember the feeling of love I felt towards her in that half-conscious state, happy she had gone to have a good time, and happy she was back.

I never even thought to wonder about what she felt in those dark, quiet moments...

I'm so proud of McKenzie. I opened her bedroom door and tiptoed across the room.  I watched her sleep for a moment and marveled at the young woman she is becoming.  I noticed the smell of Party on her as I bent to kiss her cheek - sweat, dirty hair, mac 'n' cheese, rotisserie chicken...  I was so full of love and appreciation, happy to have gone to have a good time, and so very happy to be back.

The next morning, my parents drove away while Timothy and I stood in the driveway waving good bye.  I paid attention to the way my heart pulled for them to come back - just for a moment - while their car got smaller and smaller.  I noticed the happy feelings in my heart that lingered long after they had disappeared, and I noticed the gratitude I felt that they had taken the time to come.

This time I thought to wonder about what they felt.

Someday, when McKenzie stands with her child and waves goodbye to me, maybe I'll know.

Timothy and I walked back inside the house and threw our efforts into packing the family for our ski trip, and a few hours later we were ready to roll.  But thankfully, very thankfully, before we rolled out for the weekend I found that the children had stored the delicious leftover rotisserie chicken carcass from the night before safely in the microwave.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

San Francisco

For McKenzie's twelfth birthday, Brian and I gave her A Trip To San Francisco with just the three of us because we felt like it would solidify her impression of us being the Most Awesome. An impression I would like to have strengthened as she preps herself to enter into this land of teenagers who are too cool, ya know?  We hired a young couple to come stay in our house and take care of the boys under simple instructions: As long as everyone is happy and alive when we get back, anything goes.

Brian had to see a few patients at his clinic on Saturday morning before our plane took off, so McKenzie and I tagged along.  I know Brian so well... I know what kind of a doctor he is, I know how he treats his patients, I know how much they love him.  But seeing it?  That was a pretty cool thing.  McKenzie and I waited in the waiting room for the most part and listened to the patients tell us how much they loved Dr. Alder.  Of course you do, I wanted to to say.  He's Brian.  But I didn't say that because that would have been awkward and presumptuous.  So I just nodded along and agreed that he's a pretty great guy.

Also, his name is on the side of a building.  I'm pretty sure that makes him some kind of famous.

Brian rushed through the patients that morning so we wouldn't miss our flight, but he needn't have.  Turns out our plane was (and so we were) delayed for s.e.v.e.r.a.l. hours (3) before we finally got the idea to ask if we could fly out on a different plane. Yes?  Hm. Wish we had done that earlier...

But no biggie. We entertained ourselves by walking around to look at the butterflies hanging from the ceiling.  

Or, I should say McKenzie and I walked around... Brian suddenly crashed with a fever and spent the three hours sleeping on a bench.  Terrible timing, really.

Finally we were off!

We landed at the perfect time to stroll to our hotel through the sunset.  Poor Brian was about to die, so we stopped in at a CVS and bought some Tylenol.  He and McKenzie each had some because by this point, McKenzie had started to feel extra lethargic as well.  Terrible timing, really.

But she was happy to jump on the bed for a minute anyway.

McKenzie and I almost left Brian back in the hotel room to rest while we went in search of food, but at the last minute he decided he wanted to join us.  I was so impressed by his will to Be Present during this special vacation - even though he felt so awful.  During the dinner, McKenzie fell further into her own slump of sickness.  But, aside from feeling bad for the two of them, I had a delightful time.  The Caramel Pizza was the cutest little pizza place with delicious (to Brian and me) and disgusting (to McKenzie) wood fired pizza.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in at Ghiradelli Square to get ourselves some chocolate.  Brian decided it would be best for him to walk back to the hotel instead of to stop in for chocolate, and after he left McKenzie and I had some great girl talks about being twelve and the situations she might find herself in.  We talked (a lot) about friends and (a little) about boys before Brian showed up again.  "It gets a little dark on the way back," he informed us in his feverish state.  "I didn't like the idea of you guys walking back alone."

Love him.

Hello to Brian and his double sized head!  

The next day Brian was feeling better and McKenzie was feeling worse. Darn.  So we took our our itinerary ideas and whittled them down into the things McKenzie most wanted to do.  Alcatraz topped the list (whew, because we had already spent a lot of money on those tickets!) so we spent most of the day slowly exploring The Rock.

It was fantastic.  I'd been a couple of times before, but taking McKenzie through it was the best.  She was so intrigued and such a sponge... at the end she even bought a book written by a woman who was a resident teenager on the island during one of the most famous escape attempts.  It was this that she wrote about and, as luck would have it, she was sitting in the bookstore signing copies.  We talked to her for a few minutes and had her sign Kenzie's book.

After the tour we sat and chilled for a while - talking (Brian and me), reading (Kenzie), and waiting for our name to be called for dinner.

The Fog Harbor Fish House had the most incredible crab sandwich I have ever eaten.  Which isn't actually saying much because I'd never actually eaten one before.

McKenzie had a few bites of her salad and was done.

But even so, it was such a beautiful setting and I was with such beautiful people and eating such a deliciously beautiful crab sandwich that all was well.

McKenzie reeeeeeeeeally enjoyed the bubbles in her soda.

After dinner we decided to hop on one of those double decker tour buses that I always make fun of.  It seemed like a good option that would allow Kenz to be able to sit, but still see the city.  So just like eager little tourists, we climbed up the stairs with our cameras in hand and found a spot on the top of the bus.

Turns out it was actually a terrible idea because it was freezing on top of the bus, and down inside the bus she felt nauseous and car sick.  So, darn.

But the bus did take us to this incredible spot where we could see the skyline and the bay bridge.  Beautiful.

And being on top of the bus was pretty cool as I got to see things from a vantage point that isn't all that common.

I hope McKenzie will have great memories of this vacation even though she was sick.  I think she'll remember Alcatraz, and I think she'll remember our crazy bus driver (who for some reason was obsessed with talking about nude people) who kept shouting "Happy Valentimmme's Day!" to everyone passing along on the street, and I think she'll remember the random 3D interactive adventure ride we did where our purpose was to shoot crazy people in cars (?), and I think she'll remember the hours of playing scum and nertz in our hotel room, and on the ferry to Alcatraz, and in airports, and I think she'll remember chocolate at Ghiradelli's, and that she does not care for wood fired pizza.

But I hope, most of all, that she remembers the happiness.  I hope she remembers the love.  I hope she remembers the beauty.