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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Finding the Balance on Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving.  I have thought all week what I wanted to post today.  I set aside some pictures to share.  I made a mental list and the order of the things I would list that I'm thankful for.

However, as I sit in this silent and dark hotel room at 10am on a Thursday morning I was thinking I'm thankful for silence.  But that makes it seem like I don't love and enjoy the chaos of my life.

So I decided one word to sum up what I'm ALL thankful for is balance.

I love the craziness of raising three children who all have different personalities and needs.  I love my husband who snores like crazy when he has a cold (currently).  I adore my friends that I'm so lucky to have.  They are all each so different and support me and I them in so many different ways.  I am blessed to have a family that loves and supports us as a family.  I'm thankful for nights when I can sneak away and shop by myself.  Or get a pedicure right before they close.  I'm thankful that we can take trips and I love the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready.  I also love the quiet of a hotel room with my baby sleeping just a few feet from me and the big kids happily playing in the water park with their Daddy.  I'm thankful that I cannot do laundry right now, even if I actually wanted to.  I'm thankful my kids are all healthy and are able to try the Flowrider.  I'm thankful Mark and I love our jobs.

I'm thankful for moments like this where I can sit back and see the balance in my life.

Some days get so crazy I feel like I don't take a breath from the minute the first child wakes (almost always Christian) to the minute my head hits the pillow.  I try to sit with Brecken every day (usually rocking him before he goes to bed) and just stare at him and only think about how happy I am to be his mommy and how blessed we are God added him to our family.

But everything else....whirlwind.

Not today.  Today I'm going to slow down and focus on nothing but the joys of my family.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!  Hoping you find peace and balance today too.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Misha's Visit

When I was the new girl in school in 5th grade I met all new friends.  Only two have remained a constant in my life.  One being Liv, one of my life long best friends who we have contact just about every day.   And Misha, a life long friend who moved hundreds of miles away to Alaska when we were in 6th grade.

What are the odds that being such little kids we continued to stay in touch even when we wouldn't see each other for years.  But when we did see each other, it was as if we saw each other all the time.  We'd pick up right where we left off.  (These relationships taught me it's worth it to keep in touch with people. So glad I do!)

What are the odds?

In high school she would still visit MN to see her grandma and aunt so we'd still see each other fairly often.

As we got older her grandma passed on and Misha actually moved to San Diego.  Mark and I visited her in 2004 when we went there for Ted and Hollis' wedding.

She flew, by herself, and attended our wedding.  Even though she knew hardly anybody, including the groom.  I regret so much I didn't make more time for her.  In hindsight, I should have had her in the wedding.

She visited me after the birth of both Victoria and Christian.

We've seen each other a couple times since Christian has been born but they have been very short times.

This summer she had the opportunity to travel to Minneapolis for business.  She texted me the dates and we were good.  Then the opportunity fell through.  Then it opened back up.  And it happened.

I was soooo excited!!!!  I couldn't believe the luck!

But then I got nervous.  We've changed so much over the years.  She's single, in the business world, travels often and is living it up in San Diego.  I am married, mom of three, teaching in Minnesota.

Would we still have things in common, I wondered.

I packed up my carry on suitcase and headed to Minneapolis.  Only to realize I forgot my pump.  Just what every single girl wants.  A friend who drags her pump along!  I went back home and retrieved the pump and then actually headed out to the Marriott.

I parked in the ramp.  I texted her when I was in the lobby.

I sat there waiting for her.  I was pretty nervous.  We hadn't seen each other in quite a while.

We hugged and were so happy to see each other.  By the time we walked to her room I was feeling completely comfortable.  Don't we look so happy to be together?

We just started walking down the street and decided on Britt's Pub.
We ended up getting a great table, it was a gorgeous night.
We ended up staying there until we were reading to go back to the hotel.

There did not have "my" beer so I ventured out of my comfort zone.

Mish and I talked and talked and caught up on life.

Back in the hotel after a night of reminiscing.
I am so very glad she made the effort to come to MN.
I am so very glad we have both made the effort of the last couple decades to keep our friendship up.

I'm already wondering when we'll get together next.

Moms Gone (Not So) Wild

Each summer Shauna and I manage to get together for an overnight.
We refer to it as, Moms Gone Wild.
Although, two moms have some drinks and talking all night is actually, 
far from wild, but we have such a great time!

This year I planned Mark's surprise limo trip with his brothers the night before.
So I wasn't feeling great the morning I was getting packed to go with Shauna.
Luckily by the time we got to the Minneapolis Hilton I was in much better shape.
We walked down a couple blocks and had dinner at The Newspaper or something like that.
I had a couple pineapple drinks that were amazing.

We had a few drinks at a few other places and walked around the city a bit.
A group of drunks guys at a bachelor party walked by.... It was Molly's brother! What are the odds?

We headed back to the hotel because I had to pump, really bad.

I brought along the rest of the jello shots Tegan put in our cooler the night before.

The next day in the lobby.
G was feeling pretty relaxed:-)

I love getting together with Shauna.
We've been friends since we were in our very first year of teaching together.
We got engaged just a couple months apart.
We got married just four months apart.
We had our first children less than one month apart. 

I can say anything to her.
We can talk about our kids.
Our husbands.
Our families.
Our parents.
Our friends.

We just really get each other.

The next morning we couldn't get it to any restaurant for breakfast so we ate at Jimmy John's.
Then we had massages at The Ivy.
It was the perfect way to end Moms Gone Wild.

Colorado Road Trip 2013

Our road trip to Colorado each year is so special.
Not just because we travel to see relatives that we love so much but because we get to spend some serious quality time as a family.
Serious quality time.
Serious, time.
Nothing but time.

You get the point.

Brecken started eating solids just a couple days before we left.  Here we are feeding him for the very first time in a high chair and in a restaurant.
Every single waitress came by to say how cute he was.
They also stopped by to see how cute Mark was, until I got back from the bathroom.
True story.

We arrived in Lincoln, NE at 12:30am.
That is one party town!!
But when you're the mother of three having just driven 9 hours it's rather annoying!
The kids thought they were cool stuff walking through the lobby in the middle of the night in their jammies.

The next morning Victoria informed us she 'had to get some reading done.'
Yes, she seriously says these things. 
She read a 3rd grade comprehension book.

Brecken decided he was sick of sitting he the back.

Fort Cody's.
Gotta stop each and every year.

FINALLY made it to Aunt Joan's and couldn't have been happier to see Walker and Nash!!!

How cute are these two daddies buckling up their babies?

We had lunch at a park.
The kids had a blast!!

Doesn't he look like he's having a great time!?

Waiting outside a gas station.
Only in CO do you find a chair made out of skis.

We may have deer in MN but each and every year we see a herd of elk in Joan's yard it is amazing.
All of us run around and take pictures and watch like we're from out of the country.
It's so cool.
Christian didn't move an inch until they were all gone.
Then a deer came and laid under the slide and he watched her for another hour.

Ted, Hollis, Walker, Nash and Baby Meg joined us at Casa Bonita.
Man, we love that place.
Had a great time.

Mommy's with our babies.
Every year I say, if Hollis and I lived close we'd be best friends.
Love her to pieces.
It breaks my heart next time we'll be together the babies will be walking.

Can you tell these kids LOVE each other??

Brecken was very interested in Meg!

Our standard family picture.

The arcade is not amazing.

But the diving is!!!

We headed to downtown Golden for the first time in a couple years.

As we walked down the street I said, "Isn't that where you used to get your haircut?" to Mark.
Not only had he pointed it out during an earlier trip, but I have heard about these amazing haircuts for years!  "Why don't you stop now?"
Next thing I know I have three kids in the barbers and Mark is getting a head massage.

It really is the place that gives him the BEST haircut.

That's the day this little dudes bottom two teeth broke through!

Then we went to lunch.
Only in CO is it appropriate to put your napkin around your neck:-)

We drove past Table Top Mountain.
After that the kids thought every mountain was Table Top Mountain.

On the way back we drove up Look Out Mountain Trail.
It's the scenic route to Aunt Joan's.
Brecken was sleeping so I told Mark I wanted to stop at every tourist spot.

So glad I did.

This is one of my favorite pics of the whole trip.
I took about 20 pictures because I didn't know how close it was going to get.
Pretty close!

Playing Dominoes with Aunt Joan as Mommy and Daddy left to go to dinner with Ted and Hollis.

Meg joined us at the Buck Horn Exchange.

Ted & Hollis enjoyed a flaming drink.

They played some ping pong.
What a fun bar!

The next morning Uncle Bob was headed to CO Springs for a Bridge Tourney.
We didn't know if we'd see him again this trip.
In the mornings when I was holding or just getting done feeding Brecken he'd say, "Give me the boy."
And I'd hand him over.
It was so cute.

Red Rocks, one of my favorite places in CO.
I actually almost cried when we got out of the car.
It's almost spiritual.
It's so amazing.
I wish we lived near it.
I'd want to be there as much as possible.

Maybe I'll get amazingly lucky and New Kids will perform there some day.

Of course we have to make a Red Rocks penny.
These penny machines are everywhere in CO and the kids wanted every single one.

People we exercising on the steps of the ampitheater and Victoria asked if she could do it.
Suddenly she was hopping two feet together up these tall steps.
Tall even if you're an adult. 

Notice the girl running by smiling at her:-)

This was the SIXTH time she did it, so she was getting tired.

She finished off with a yoga pose she loves.

Next, we headed over to Walker's house.
He was busy showering his baby sister with love and kisses.

Then we got to see his awesome room.
His walls are completely painted in an underwater mural.
The kids are looking out his bedroom window.
So cool!

While the big kids played Brecken and I cuddled and he was all smiles.

Ted and Hollis' deck.

Christian and Walker working on their placemat at a deli.
Our kids get along so well it's wonderful.
Even though they don't see each other often, they love each other.

We hadn't been to Tiny Town in years, so we headed back.
We loved it.
This is where the idea for our Tiny House came from.

The Tiny School House.

The Storybook House
In each window you could see different Dr. Seuss characters, such as The Grinch.

Brecken woke up, just in time!

A replica of the White Fence Farm.
We decided that would be the perfect place to head to dinner after Tiny Town.

Mark felt at home with Home Depot:-)

I was texting Liv pictures while we were there.
I sent her one with just V & C at the library.
She said (basically) wake up Brecken.  He has his whole life to sleep.
He happen to wake up just a few minutes later and I sent this picture to her.
She thought I actually woke the baby.
For the record, I pretty much, never, wake the baby.

Tiny Town doesn't give tiny ice cream cones.

On his very first train ride.
It was a very small train - which is why you can't really tell we're even on a train.
But, it's his first no less.

After Tiny Town we headed to White Fence Farm.
It rained while we were at Tiny Town and the temperature dropped.
I only had PJ's as a back up outfit so Brecken is totally sporting jammies.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who cared.

Christian loved this horse because it reminded him of his friend Tyler's real horse, Teddy.

We actually arrived before they were open so we had plenty of time checking out the whole property.

The meal at White Fence Farm turned really close to disastrous.

It was really late for Brecken and he fussed like crazy so Mark took him to the car while I was going to finish eating.  Suddenly Victoria said, "I'm going to throw up."  V only says that when she's actually going to throw up.  I had to leave Christian at the table because: 1. I didn't want them to clear the table 2. I didn't want them to think we left without paying.
So I left my poor five year old sitting at this large table completely alone.  I texted Mark from the bathroom and told him to get back into the restaurant.  I got V in a stall and left her there to go back to pay and get Christian.  I took way longer than it needed to.  C and I ran back to the women's bathroom to hear V screaming.  I threw open the stall door and said, "Why are you screaming?"  "I'm scared," she replied looking so sad.  She didn't actually throw up so we were getting ready to exit the bathroom when a little girl comes in crying with her mommy.  Her hand was bloody because a goat bit her out in the yard.  That was one night on vacation, I could not wait to get the kids to bed!

After they were sleeping Mark and I sat on Joan's deck.

On our last day in CO we went to CO Springs and went to The North Pole.
We all just love that place!
Aunt Joan, Hollis, Walker, Nash and Meg (& Ted for a bit) met us there.

We always spend so much time at the rides right inside the entrance. 
It's all you can ride all day, so they come down the slide and run right back up the steps.

Victoria was finally tall enough to drive herself.

And so was Christian!

Even though Brecken just hung out all day,
he enjoyed it and was quite the trooper!
It was really hot.

The kids and I went on the Tilt A Whirl three times in a row.
The first time was so much fun.
The third time, not so much.

I do not remember Mark taking Brecken on this.
Good thing I have the picture!

Even though Christmas was months away, 
Santa is always waiting at The North Pole.

Christian and Walker walked right in before the rest of us were even there.

The Dads:-)

I went in a corner to nurse Brecken and faced a fence.
Next thing I knew the fence opened and a maintence man was standing in front of me.
Pretty sure, he was more embarrassed than I was.

Hollis getting in a little Brecken time.
We didn't have much time for each other's babies, since we each had our hands-full with our own.

It's so fun to see how much everyone grows each year.

His second train ride of his life - just days after the first one.

This was at the height of Christian's obsession with deer.

That ferris wheel is the highest in the world.
The North Pole is at the foot of Pike's Peek and the ferris wheel is at the very highest point of the amusement park.

The official Picture with Santa.

Brecken had had it.

Brecken and Meg bonding.

After The North Pole we all met for dinner.
It was our last meal together.

We all received flash flood warnings on our phones,
it poured.
Then there was a rainbow!

The kids signed Walker's cast.

There were some tears when we left:(

On the way back to Golden we stopped by the Garden of the Gods.

Each trip brings so many memories.
I absolutely love our road trip to CO each year!