Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mountain Mama

Durango, CO.
It is beautiful.
The thousands, possibly millions, of pine trees standing tall and shedding beauty.
The layered view of mountain and trees, farmland, and the bluest of skies.
Beautiful, actually, doesn't even begin to describe it.
The view seems to host a certain peace that comes from being far away from everything.

Now, make no mistake, I could never live in a place like Durango.
In fact, I think this visit solidified what I have long suspected about myself--
I am a city girl.
I like busy and buzz and other humans' energy.
I would even go as far as to say I NEED it.
And that is not offered in the mountains.

But for vacation, it was lovely.
Not to mention, the company I enjoyed it with.
My mom and dad are always so generous in finding a place to house The Crew, whose numbers are now right around 40.
No easy feat.
Making it happen is so worth the effort though.
We all find a corner of the house to call our own and stash our suitcases and lay our heads at night.
And because we're all under one roof, after that it is free roaming!
All the cousins are constantly together doing whatever it is they do-
playing ball, climbing trees, stomping rockets, painting nails, playing with dolls, etc etc. (including getting kicked out of the basement and having electronics banned because MY GOSH you are with your cousins, get out and PLAY!)

And because we're all under one roof, the adults get to catch up. I love all my brothers and sisters and their spouses and my parents so adult time is much appreciated. As you can see, being all in the same house makes a huge difference.

I think we all noticed that our family has progressed to a different stage. The youngest grandkids were two which meant we weren't planning around naps and there were a lot more free hands than there had been in the past. That's a milestone right there!

This year's schedule was planned to perfection in my opinion.
One big outing a day:

Pope Family Reunion
Fruitland cook out
Horseback riding
Mesa Verde
Durango rec center, followed by Bar D dinner
White water rafting
(and that night, my favorite "tradition": sushi din with Auntie Gay and the older niece/nephews!)  

This trip also marked a different milestone for me. Who knows why I look forward to the things I do, but I have been anxiously awaiting the day I could rent a sedan, throw a big boy up front, and call it good. And that's just what we did this trip! The kids and I flew into Albuquerque and rented a Jeep Cherokee. Dallin and Porter took turns riding up front and we (maybe only I!) loved our 4 hour drive to Durango. The sky was endless and amazing. It was scattered with storms that sat right behind the plateaus, drawing a million different shades of blue. A rainbow (a double one if I remember correctly) capped off the picturesque view before darkness covered it all. It was the same views that fascinated me as a little girl and left me thinking New Mexico was the most beautiful place in the world!

On our way back to the airport, we stopped at the house my dad is building in Albuquerque. It made me excited to have an official house for grandma and grandpa! Can't wait to make that trek!

The whole week was a huge success. I love my family and love all the effort that goes into keeping us connected! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A little summer catch up, hum now

My gosh I am tired.
I don't know how that is possible considering I opened my eyes for the first time at 8:49 am.
Time to get used to it, for sure.
Why? Because tomorrow is the first day of school.
AKA back to reality.
AKA boot camp week.
And I just ran out of AKAs but there are a million more fill in the blanks possibilities.

Summer was good.
June was full of visitors (Desai's and Chelsi) and baseball.
July included a road trip (Austin to Arkansas to St Louis to Austin) and then a couple camps and what I termed a "very sterile environment". Meaning it was a bit too much of JUST me and the kids. There weren't a lot of play dates, not a lot of family get-togethers, hence not a lot of change in dynamic. And let's be honest, a little diversity goes a long way.
One week I took Yosh's advice and made it a planned, fun week.
The kids did their morning chores (including making their own lunches to bring with us!!! Yes, that was a highlight and a big accomplishment for Mamacita over here!) and then we were off to adventures.
Monday we went to Wazoo's- a HUGE jump house facility owned by a couple in our ward.         

Tuesday we went top IHOP for breakfast- check that off the summer bucket list!- and then went to a medium-sized water park called Hawaiian Falls. I was laughing at the below picture. Kaia was apparently on the cusp, height-wise. So the workers are all asking me what rides she wanted to go on so they would know whether or not to add her bun into the measuring procedure! They wanted to really make the customer happy!
I loved this water park. It was the perfect size for a good 4-5 hour adventures. There were rides big enough to satisfy the big boys and enough pools/lazy rivers/wave pools for the littles. And you could bring a cooler in. Next summer I wouldn't mind buying a pass to this place. 

After the water park???
In n Out.
Every time. 

And despite two applications of sunblock, this happened.

Wednesday we went kayaking at Towne Lake.
That was a blast!
Dallin and Porter shared a kayak and the littles and I shared one.
The kids loved jumping in and taking a dip and I loved watching them do something outside their norm and enjoy it.
I also enjoyed not being in the same kayak as Dallin and Porter since that meant I didn't have to be involved in their bickering and learning to work together as a team.
Win win.
Our week must have ended after Wednesday because quite frankly I remember nothing after that.

It was a great week, and truth be told, I was feeling all types of accomplished for planning, organizing, and executing these activities.

August was the month for traveling.
A whole 'nother post.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing Up

I have these moments, that come very often these days, where I am caught in utter shock of my reality. Let me give you a for instance. We went to a water park and the big boys went off on their own with the only directives being to stay together and check in every now and then. The littles got busy exploring in the pool where my poolside lounger was closely situated. And I just sat there, relaxing. Did you catch that? I was at a water park RELAXING while my four kids played. I wasn't following anyone closely to intercept an impending drowning. I wasn't waiting in line with four kids for a ride only two of them would ride. I wasn't faking interest in the spray apparatus in the middle of the pool. I was relaxing.

And in these moments, I am keenly aware of them. They are not after-thoughts, rather real-time reality checks. In that same moment, I know exactly what this means…my babies are growing up. And then this feeling hits. It's an all-encompassing feeling and one I'm never quite sure what to do with. I mean, it fills me with wonderment and makes me feel sad as I feel time fleeting. But since it's fleeting, I want to enjoy it. But I don't quite know how to soak it all in.

It's weird.
Living in the now is weird.
Watching kids grow up is weird.
Sitting in a moment- knowing you're going to soon lose and miss that moment- is weird.

Just another way that parenting isn't easy.
It's so complex.
In so many ways.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Year Down

Holy moly, we're coming up on our first anniversary here in Texas! I think we closed on our house like July 30th or 31st of last year. I've heard that a moving trend is as follows: the first year is terrible, the second year is a breath of fresh air and a feeling of "maybe I can do this", and by the third year you love it.

Accordingly, this first year was supposed to be terrible.

Now, rewind to my first year of marriage. How many of you all heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest? So much for well wishes and words of encouragement-- that little did bit gets thrown into the mix more often than it should! Having heard at least a thousand times how hard the first year of marriage was going to be, Yosh and I often made comments before reaching our first anniversary how we didn't know what anyone was talking about! We felt like we were nailing it and that we must be the anomaly. Can you believe we even enjoyed our first year?

But there is something- actually A LOT- to be said about perspective. A couple of our first year issues that immediately come to mind: I remember giving Yosh the silent treatment a few of those days, we fought over whether or not Yosh would come to my family reunion with me (he did come), or my mission reunion for that matter (he didn't come), and we didn't agree on curfew (Yosh loved played Halo with his buddies at their apt til 3, 4, or 5 in the morning::).) This is just my side of the issues- who knows what Yosh could add to the list. All this to say, that while in our state of "nailing it", we were doing a lot of growing and figuring out how we were going to function as a couple. We have come a long way from those days. But in the present, it was all we knew and we spent a lot of days where we were on the same page and all through the year, we still enjoyed each other's company. Our first year was far from a living hell. Please take strong note of my next comment: I hope to not have to go back to my first year of marriage. Fingers crossed this is my only marriage. Fingers crossed that Yosh and I maintain our relationship so that we're not at a crossroads where starting over is the only remedy to saving our marriage. That first year was a great building block and necessary step to be where we are now, but...been there, done that.

So, having completed our first year here in Texas and while still lacking perspective, I can honestly say it hasn't been that bad at all. In fact its' been good. Our family is thriving, I'm learning a lot about myself, I've taken good care of myself despite not being surrounded by familiar people and places, and I'm not completely depressed and ready to throw in the towel. I can also say I've met a lot of great people and have found a lot of things I genuinely enjoy and appreciate about Austin (the food and water activities.)

Would I move to SoCal if the opportunity arised?
In a heartbeat without a second thought.

I'm curious what my take will be on year one when we have a few more years under our belt.
But for now, I'm looking over the last year with a good taste in my mouth and without too many complaints.


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