Thursday, August 31, 2017

Scrambled Thoughts XXIII (Catch Up Post)

1)  Good Teenage Role Models are the Best

It's true that Robbie taught my boys to swim this summer, but more importantly he taught them the importance of being kind and patient, of being cheerful and gentle and respectful. He showed them one example of what a great teenage boy can look like and act like, and he is one of my favorite teenagers ever. I totally got a deal with all of the lessons going on here.

2) Friends who Mustache Together Stay Together

It's true. Also true is that friends who figure out how to be adults together share an extra special bond that can withstand the tests of time and distance. The Aldriches and Birdnos came to visit and it filled my heart so completely. Those years in North Carolina were so precious to me, and the friendships that came from it belong in a small handful of Very Greatest Blessings.

When we first met, our three families together would have needed 10 chairs around the dinner table to hold us all. Today we need 21. And housing 21 people for a few days generates lots, and lots of dirty cups. So naming (and reusing) all the cups was essential.

After I spent a small chunk of time writing all the names, I placed the last one on the counter and my heart filled with happy that all of the people that belonged to all the names were there in my house.

When Cami and Katie left I woke up early to see them off and forgot to tame the bed-head. But I wanted a picture anyway, and looking at it today my poofy hair and makeup-less face somehow make the picture all the more beautiful. These women know me better than almost anyone. They know my ugliest pieces, they know my beautiful, and they love me.

3) Ever Had a Day when Bonnie Tyler's voice belted out Total Eclipse of the Heart in Your Mind All. Day. Long?

I kept the boys home from school on the day of the solar eclipse. And, as luck would have it, the clouds rolled into the desert sky and prevented us from seeing most of it. But near the end the clouds parted just enough so we threw on our protective glasses and watched the moon travel in front of the sun.

It was close to a total eclipse... we could have hopped in the car and driven a few hours to see it in totality, but we decided to watch it on the internet instead.

Totally the same thing, right?

4) Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

It's fitting, you know, because she creates a bit of a rumpus in the home, being a baby and all. Also, big siblings are fun.

5) We're All Stocked up and Ready for the School Year.

Yes, yes, we bought all the paper and pencils and erasers and glue and binders and folders and spiral bound notebooks. But we also bought a pile of spare tubes for the kids' bikes because they're kids, and they love to ride through the old empty piece of land just north of our neighborhoods. They call it 'The Desert', and The Desert has prickles and glass and sticks that aren't so friendly to tires.

Bring it.

6) I Wonder If a Stick of Deodorant has a 'Keep Out Of Reach Of Children' Label Somewhere...

If it doesn't, you run the risk of the 4 year old washing his hands with it and walking around delighted that they smell like 'Daddy's armpit singy'. 

7) Getting Ready In The Morning Feels So Good Sometimes

Especially with Leonardo watching you creepily from the top drawer handle. Every morning, Timothy sits up on my bathroom counter playing make believe games with all of my hair products while I get my face ready for the day. All sorts of delightful 4-year-old noises come from him as he creates his stories. Giggles, crashes, sirens, screams, clicks... he's my favorite.

And speaking of creating stories...

8) Dress It Up, Guys. 

They play like this all the time. I can't decide what my favorite part of this particular photo is. Timothy donned in a fluffy pink princess dress with a football helmet and a weapon set to 'stun'? Miles working his best ninja pose? McKenzie's mask-face? Definitely not McKenzie's mask face. All four kids including baby Eliza in their play? Carson... what the heck is Carson?

These are the days. I see it. I feel it. And since I can't stop it, I'll love it all as much as I can in the moments.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Carson's 11th Birthday (Catch Up Post)

For the first time ever, Carson had to go to school on his birthday.

A year ago the district changed their dates and is now starting the school year much earlier than they have been in the past (second week in August), and is getting out much earlier than they have in the past (end of May). There's a lot of chatter about the changes (because there is always chatter about changes) but I am of the opinion that this is a great thing. I love to have my kids get out of school at the end of May when it's not quite so hot outside so they can do fun things outdoors. And then they start back in school while it's still the blazing middle of the summer so that they spend all the hot, dangerous sun hours inside an air conditioned building learning about the world around them. I have to do much less entertaining throughout the summer this way.

Anyway, back to Carson's birthday. When we were trying to figure out how to make it special for him Brian and I knew that there was one word that needed to be a giant part of the solution: food.

Carson absolutely loves food. And he has loved it ever since he was a baby. And what better way to celebrate with food than to take him to a Brazilian Steak House?! He was completely on board with the idea.

So we told him to go grab his best friend, Chandler, and hop in the car for some all-you-can-eat meat.

The boys had a fantastic time.

And at one point I noticed that Carson had a big log of sausage on his plate while Chandler had two rolls of sushi on his. It seemed to fit their individual personalities so well.

Carson is such a beautiful kid. He is sweet and compassionate, and shares his heart with the world. He can make the best of us laugh with his quick wit and he is truly one of my very best friends. Happy 11th birthday, my love!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Meeting Cassie (Catch Up Post)

Did I ever tell you that my brother is getting married?! And did I ever tell you how elated I feel over that? Brian brought his fiance, Cassie, to Las Vegas to meet the family and we fell instantly in love with her.

She is kind and compassionate, yet strong and opinionated. She is intelligent and grounded and very genuine. Of course I only got to meet her for a couple of short days, but to me they seem like a perfect fit.

Whenever a new wedding is on the horizon I always reflect on my own marriage.

This man loves me. And I love him. We are so opposite in so many ways and so alike in others. He has made me into a stronger, better person and I am so lucky to have him.

We took the lovebirds out to the strip to enjoy the Bellagio lights because, romantic.

And we walked around the inside of the casino a little bit admiring the artwork and the big fountains of chocolate.

Cassie, we are delighted to have you join our family.

And if I know my brother like I know my brother, I predict you will be a very happy lady all your life.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Girls Trip to Imperial Beach (Catch Up Post)

Right after we got back from the family vacation at Oceanside, The girls and I hopped right back in the van and drove back out to Imperial Beach with my friend, Alycia, and her girls. It was a girls vacation full of fun, games, food and relaxing beach time. And I was so happy to be able to spend a few days with my favorite girls.

It so interesting to parent a teenage daughter right alongside a baby one. The both fill me so completely in different ways. McKenzie was an absolute joy to hang out with. She is turning into a great friend and someone with whom I can slog through some of life's problems.

And Eliza was pulling out all of the greatest emotions from my heart. Emotions all rising from unconditional love. She was just. so. cute and left smiles in her wake wherever we went.

We stayed in a little two bedroom town-house that was perfect for our needs. We stayed out late on the beach and then played games well into the night. One day for lunch we decided to walk to the restaurant at the end of the pier and try out their seafood. Most of us got the clam chowder, and it was delicious.

We explored the small town and enjoyed the interesting things to see.

But mostly we just hung out together.

And worked on our selfie taking skills (to which there is added a new layer of complexity when a baby is involved).

We are blessed to have great friends here in Boulder City. Friends to travel with, friends to laugh with, friends to beach with.

Thanks for the great idea, Calverts!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Family Vacation to Oceanside Beach (Catch Up Post)

One of the greatest things to me about a beach vacation is that there is almost always something for everyone. This is a difficult thing to find, yet so priceless when you are taking a family of 7 different personality types ranging in age from 37 down to 4 months old to one location and hoping that each one comes away with the feeling that they had had 'fun'.  If you are feeling adventurous, for example, you can grab yourself a boogie board and swim out into the deep where the biggest waves are breaking.

If you are feeling that you'd like to be adventurous, but would rather stay on the safer side of it, you can hop on a boogie board and plop yourself down in the surf and wait for the waves to come and carry you across the smooth sand.

If you are feeling non-adventurous, grab yourself a book or a friend, a chair or a lap, and snuggle down in the sand for some relaxation. There are birds to entertain you, sailboats to watch, children to laugh at, and sounds that will relax even the greatest feelings of frustration and stress.

And so everyone gets to hang out in their own element.

If you're feeling introverted, there are waves to keep you company who don't demand any conversation.

If you're feeling social, there are people all around to join in your play.

The beach truly is one of my very happiest places. So when we started making preparations to go to the beach for the last week before school started, I was all on board.

As were all the kids.

We borrowed boogie boards from our neighbors and the kids jumped right into the cold water with hardly a thought.

I knew we didn't have much time on the beach the first night before the sun set, so right after we parked in the driveway of our little rented cottage, I told the kids to get their swimming suits on and leave all the unpacking for later. I think this surprised them because I'm very naturally a 'work first then play' type of personality. But when the sun is dictating your time, you have to play by its rules, and I wasn't about to miss the last hour of daylight for some silly principle. The kids played their hearts out and didn't even seem to notice the setting sun. But my camera and I did.

The sunset kept getting more and more beautiful as the night went on, and I started feeling emotional over the beauty of it all. When the last of the sun went behind the horizon and the clouds started filling the sky with a fluorescent orange, I couldn't contain it anymore.

I cried. Real tears. It was just. so. beautiful.

I am so grateful to be living in a place where my kids are thriving. I'm so grateful for Brian to have a job that he absolutely adores. I'm so grateful for the friends we've made and the down-to-earth people that populate the small town in which we live. I'm grateful for the sense of community and for the landscapers that work to make this desert landscape as beautiful as it is. But every once in a while my heart pulls for the beauty of an ocean. For the salty sky and the comforting sounds of the waves. For the wide expanse of nothing, and everything, as I stare out at the line where the sky meets the sea. In these moments I miss our year in Miami more than ever and I feel a deep mixture of gratitude that I have that year in my heart, and sadness that I no longer live it.

Anyway, back to our vacation. After we were a little beached out one of the days, we rode into town and went exploring through the shops.

I think the sunglasses were one of the greatest purchases of the day.

These brothers... I hope they always realize how lucky they are to have each other.

Little Eliza tolerated the whole ordeal rather well. There were a few moments of frustration on her part as she begged to eat at inopportune times, but all in all, she handled it well.

And she absolutely charmed everyone on the shuttle to and from downtown.

We attempted to take a family selfie a few times, and the results were mixed. We have a lot of people these days, you know.

But regardless of the lack of our selfie taking skills, we are so in love with each other. I choose to believe that the frustrations and the fights are just making our bonds stronger. We know each other inside and out - we know each others weaknesses and strengths, and sometimes the temptation to pick on each others weak parts gets too strong to withstand. But we love each other anyway.

We have a beautiful little tribe. And family vacations help us remember that.