When I was a kid, I used to look at the American Girl catalog for hours. I loved day dreaming about which doll I wanted and all the accessories that you could get for them. Baylor has now taken on the tradition of pouring over the catalog for days – she cuts out the things she likes and she circles the pictures of Shirley (who is the baby version of the American Girl dolls). And if I thought the accessories were fun when I was little, the things the dolls have now are nuts. They have everything including a bike hot dog cart for the dolls. Totally nuts…and yet adorable.
Ok, ok, okay. I’m sure you’re tired of seeing pictures of Montana. But I’m not so here are a few more 🙂
One of the prettiest hikes at the ranch, in my humble opinion, is the trail around the lake. It’s about a mile and a half and there is little elevation change so it’s pretty easy for Baylor to do and I can carry Auggie in the backpack AND walk. The scenery is spectacular – you walk through fields of wild flowers, duck under dense, dark forest and hop over small streams. It’s really amazing.
The Quaking Aspen trees shimmer and shake as the breeze blows
The wildflowers are amazing
So the theory goes that Baylor will hike the lake. The reality is that she spends most of the hike on Peter’s shoulders. Translation? Mom and Dad are wiped out from hiking with an additional 40lbs and 30lbs (Augg plus pack) and the kids are well rested.
Nothing puts that kid to sleep like a hike in the backpack
Taking in the view
PW and were able to escape the banshees for the better part of a day and do some fly fishing on the Yellowstone River. The river is really spectacular and we were lucky that it was a great day for fishing. Our guide was none other than Matthew. Yes, the same Matthew that Matthew the deer is named after. He is as good a hunting guide as he is a fishing guide. His home is the wild Montana country so he is an expert at all things outdoors. Not to mention a good friend and very funny.
We started off slowly – the weather turned cold and we waited out a rainstorm for about an hour. The wait paid off as the fish were suddenly very hungry. Matthew said it’s because they know after the rain that the river is going to mud up from the run off so they eat a lot in anticipation of not being able to see their food for a few days. I didn’t care what the reason was, I was just happy that we were actually catching something! We caught so many that we stopped counting – it made the day really fun.
One of Matthew’s signature phrases is “yup, good, fish that”. He would tell me where to cast and then judging where the nymph fell, he would tell me to leave it (“fish that”) or to recast. The beauty of being in a row boat with Matthew at the ores is that he could maneuver the boat to make my cast work – and me feel like I knew what I was doing. I actually didn’t realize that was happening until PW pointed out after. Which is why Matthew gets paid the big bucks.
Point of Rocks
First fish of the day – and yes, it was cold enough for a hood!
There are few things that feel as patriotic as the 4th of July in Montana. There are purple mountains majesty, amber waves of, well grass, but still and all the cowboy hats too. Hubbard’s always puts on a cookout that screams holiday and Mike has a fireworks show that is second only to professional displays. Watching the kiddos run around in their red, white and blue is really the best.
Thank goodness we had a professional taking our picture. Vern (his real name is Eric. However the summer he worked at the ranch there were too many Erics so they started calling him Vern. Why? Because he’s just such a Vern) literally took 40 pictures and there were only FOUR where A) everyone is looking B) Peter’s eyes are open C) everyone is smiling and or not crying. I’ve realized also that Augg has inherited PW’s squint and head tilt.
Seriously. Look at those eyes.
Again, the cuteness.
Cousin Madi, Sienna and Baylor with Madi’s patriotic press on nails.
Pig roast! It always tastes delicious, I just don’t like knowing what my dinner’s face looked like so I make Peter get me a plate.
It really is Big Sky Country
There were friends and friends of friends at the lodge for dinner and they thought that the sparklers were the fireworks. They about lost their minds when they saw Mike’s AMAZING firework display. Peter is always the fireman at the docking station. I’ve asked him not to tell me what happens down there because I never like hearing about how he almost lost an eye or a finger or is now deaf. Baylor always watches with her hands over her ears and I was anxious to see what Augg thought. Thankfully he loved them – and by that I mean he didn’t scream so it goes down as a win in my book. Fireworks? Check!
PW does not, however, which is why he’s not in any of these pictures. He claims that he doesn’t enjoy it, but I think the fact that he has a heart attack every time Baylor runs into the street to get candy has something to do with it. Which is why he goes fishing when we go the Livingston Parade.
I, on the other hand, LOVE the parade. I love the rodeo queens. I love the Costco “float” where they throw out rolls of toilet paper. I love the totally random groups of people that roll down the street and call themselves a float. I love the man who drives his truck through with a sign saying that he’s been in the parade for the last 65 consecutive years. I love that you can sit on the sidewalk outside of a bar and legally drink. It’s all around good fun.
The Noni with Ms.B and me with Augg.
In my defense – it was empty and I didn’t know he was chewing on it…
Baylor, Zoe and Siena trolling for candy
The big man enjoying the wagon to himself
Ms. B has been dying to ride horse since taking the Mini Horse Hands class last summer at the zoo. When we went down to feed the horses some carrots, she began begging us to let her ride. Thankfully, Uncle Mike agreed to take both B and cousin Zoe for a spin around the corral.
The Barn Bar
Big man trying out a saddle
Star, Cahl and Seabass (my favorite)
Auggie was unexpectedly not a fan of the horses. He literally shuddered when he pet them. Hopefully it’s only a temporary reaction.
Ready to ride!
Can’t stand the cuteness
This picture summarizes the whole trip for Baylor. She was loving her independence and cousins to pal around with!
The summer vacations continue! We landed safely (and on time thankyouverymuch Allegiant)last night and as I loaded up the pictures today, I realized how bummed I am to be back in the desert. MT has a little piece of our hearts and it gets harder and harder to leave.
This marked Auggie’s first real trip and plane ride. It went….ok. Not amazing but not horrible either. There was a fair amount of crying before and after takeoff but I think the temperature was to blame. Temperature you ask? Yes, it was 117 degrees while walking across and standing in line on the tarmac and then at least 102 on the plane. Peter bought a little battery operated fan and I totally made fun of him…until we were sitting on the plane. Yes PW, you were right. The fan was a fantastic idea. Pun intended.
Someone did really like taking off.
Eventually we got to this. I got to eat my Mike and Ikes AND read my book. The return flight? Not picture worthy…
The worst part about traveling to the ranch is that once you land after the 2 hour flight, you have a two hour drive. It’s rough when you’re an adult. It’s murder when you’re a baby and just. want. to. crawl. We finally pulled in and turned the banshees loose in the grass. After a little unpacking when the sun was finally setting around 11pm, we sat on the deck in rocking chairs. I was holding Auggie and my brain was buzzing. And much like a loud noise stops you in your tracks, the dead silence hit me like a train. I suddenly was able to take a breath and realize that we had made it. We were in one piece and not in too bad of shape. So there we sat, breathing in the cool air listening to the soft squeak of the rocking chairs and letting vacation begin.
This is the face of a kid that is only satisfied eating his dinner if his mother is making a fool of herself by singing to him while he eats. His favorites are The Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald had a Farm and Holla Back Girl (for when he’s eating bananas). He also enjoys when his mother is getting really frustrated but trying to stay calm by singing a new verse of The Wheels on the Bus about how the mommies are getting off the bus to go have margaritas.
When we saw friends Karen and Patrick in January, Patrick issued PW a put up or shut up on a visit to Chicago. Patrick has been living there for nearly the last decade and Peter is always saying we need to go. You can only make your wife cheer for the Cubs for so long before you actually have to take her to see a game. (side note: I’ve now been to two more major league baseball parks than Peter. Which kills him. )
So, we booked tickets, PMac and Karen’s guest room, and dropped the kiddos at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. The party started at the airport when we decided we had time for margaritas (plural) before our plane ride. Patrick and Karen had planned a full weekend of baseball, great meals, a little sight seeing and a lot of fun. It kind of went like this: arrive, drink, drink, eat, drink, sleep, eat, drink, drink, baseball, driiiiink, eat, drink, eaaaaaat, drink, drink, sleep, repeat. It was, in a word, fantastic.
Game #1, Cubs v Astros. Bleacher seats.
After the game, we headed home to change and then back out to The Loop for dinner at The Girl and the Goat. Reservations in June were booking for August…thank goodness Karen is a smart thinker and booked our reservations in February! It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Tapas with amazing ambiance, good wine, great servers, no time to take pictures because we were too busy eating a drinking. But I did manage to snap a picture of the Chicago River from the cab – so pretty.
Saturday brought sunny skies and game #2 – or as PW called them “the really good seats”. We were in the 6th row behind home plate. I’ve rarely seen Peter as excited and happy as he was for the pregame, game and post game.
Our last stop of the night was Red Ivy – an all encompassing Chicago sports bar. We caught game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and it was a blast. Everyone in the bar was electrified – it would have been hard not to cheer for the Blackhawks.
(Chealsea Dagger. Look it up)
We went home tired, a little hung over but oddly well rested. It was the break from parenting that we very much needed whether we knew it or not. Getting to laugh with old friends, swear, sleep in, drink at will and have conversations that were only inturupted by more food, drinks or funny comments was amazing. Big hugs and thanks to Patrick and Karen for being the most amazing hosts! Can’t wait to see you in the desert in July and for the big day in 2014!!