Traveling Friends

My friend Beth M always catogorizes friends into three groups: friends, good friends and friends you would travel with. The last group is the biggest complement because it means that you like your friend enough to spend tons of time together for days on end.

We are so lucky that we have lots of friends that fall into that last catagory. And this summer, we were lucky enough to have our friends, the D family, came to visit us in Montana. As if we couldn’t love this family more, after sharing a glass of wine in Big Sky Country really put it over the top.

One of the best parts of having them visit was that their daughter, Morgan, shacked up in Baylor and Auggie’s room each night. And they. all. slept. Like all night. So clearly we have to move in together.

We did a little of everything – rafting, hiking (well, tried to, that’s a long story), Yellowstone Park, roamed around Livingston, and just enjoyed laughing with each other. It was a fantastic week!

I can’t stand this picture. It kills me. The girls are THRILLED to be playing the hardest game of Go Fish (no numbers, only names, they can’t read. You get the picture.) ever and Jeff is physically in pain over it. I’m laughing as I type.

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 I’m not sure what this is about…but I like it

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 Someone finally finally won the game and put poor Jeff out of his misery

photo 3 (43)More to come on our Griswald-esk trip through Yellowstone National Park.

America the Beautiful

All American 4th of July 2014

Small town parade….

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Rodeo…where the only limit on the number of beers you can purchase is how many you can carry

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I’ve got some work to do on high speed low light pictures….IMG_7096 IMG_7089 IMG_7079 IMG_7050

Fireworks, pig roast, family and friends

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‘Merica

(Did you notice Baylor’s missing tooth?! More on that later when I can stop crying…)
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Loving Cousin Z timeIMG_7105

There was much controversy brewing over the ring in my back pocket. Anywhere else? No one would notice. In MT? Everyone things I’ve taking up dipping…I assured everyone it was my lens cap, not a can of tobacco!IMG_7173

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We did discover that Auggs is not a big fan of fireworks. But he was a trooper and agreed to watch them from inside so there’s hope he’ll be with Peter on the fire duty in the future!

Stretching Christmas

I need more Christmas. Christmas time, really. I need more festive parties, quiet nights watching movies, cinnamon candles, cookies, good excuses to leave work early, letting the kids eat too many Hershey Kisses, more of all of it! I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. I need to be eased out of Christmas. I mean, we start sneaking Christmas into our lives in late October, why does it just have to go – bam- done-! I need some time to say goodbye. I’ve still got cookie dough in my fridge for Pete’s sake. Therefore I am protesting. Christmas does not end in our house until New Year’s Day. And really, that’s only because the tree will be like really dead.

Family pics!

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Lovely cousin Madi

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All the cousin’s except Ms.Z – sad. And if we could figure out how to make Mason sit still…I’ve got like 6 pictures where all I can see is his posterior…Thank you Mason.

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Those curls

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Checking out Noni’s Nativity scene

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Christmas Eve ended with an all out cousin wrestling match

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 Christmas morning brought presents from home, Aunt Nancy’s and Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Santa broke his back getting all the goodies to some very happy kiddos.

“I got my wish!! I got my wish!!”

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The new tool table was a hit with everyone!

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Mackie loves Christmas too

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 “Auggie, that’s not your gift. Auggie!! That’s not yours!!”

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Auggie crawled away with his truck for some alone time…

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Presents were followed by my mom’s world famous brunch. She makes enough food to feed an army and we all attempt to eat like an army. The day wound down with a warm fire (backdoor open of course because otherwise it was too hot), Christmas tree lights, stretchy pants and playing with all the new goodies! Which is exactly why I need at least one more week.

Surprise Santa

Last night we were invited to our friend and neighbor’s home for a little surprise party. The special guest? Santa!

Their family has been inviting Santa to their home right before Christmas since they were kids – in fact it’s the same Santa. The looks on the kiddo’s faces when they heard the sleigh bells was priceless. We are incredibly blessed to have such fun neighbors who included us in their party!

“Do you guys hear something?!?”

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It’s so strange. We’re really not sure where she gets her chattiness from….Santa was impressed / a little overwhelmed by her detailed wish list.

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Auggie was a little unsure.

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Warming up with high fives

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Hands down my favorite picture of the night. I love how B is holding Auggie.

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My little shutterbug. I’ll finally have someone who wants to geek out over lenses with me.

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Thankful

This perfectly sums up our Thanksgiving. Warm, beautiful, delicious. Family, friends and pumpkin pie.
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The rest of our weekend included:

Brunch with the lovely Karen and Patrick

Melissa (Missa) and Jullien’s wedding

Post reception, reception

Wedding brunch

Lunch with all my cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles

Invoicing (bleh)

Full house Christmas decorating

Addressing and stamping 80 Christmas cards

It was a fantastic weekend. And completely exhausting. Yeah holiday season!

Wake Up Call

I snuck away for a pedicure and was reading Self Magazine which was all about breast cancer and awareness. I read the statistics and a learned more about the risk groups and realized as I am now in my early thirties, I’m now at a higher risk and that it’s time to start taking those self exams seriously.

The next morning I got an email from a very good friend of mine. It started out apologizing for the mass email – as it began, I thought she was about to write that she and her husband were getting a divorce – I don’t know why I thought that, I love her husband and they have a great marriage, but it seemed to be the only logical piece of bad news she could be sending out. I literally felt my heart stop when I read that she was writing to tell everyone that she had breast cancer. 32 years old. Stage 4 breast cancer. My heart is racing as I write those words.

The good news is that she is crazy tough. And she is married to an amazing guy and they have been battling this awefulness together and she’s going to be ok. The road to recovery is long – she’s already endured several months of chemotherapy and despite it being successful, she is having surgery and then radiation. And all the while she has been open, honest about her feelings and making jokes. I will never look at arm pit hair the same way after she told me how excited she was to see hers growing back!

The part that makes my heart happy is that as I forwarded her email to our massive group of Phis, they all jumped in. They started a Meal Train so for the next several weeks, they will have dinners brought to their house a couple of times a week. There have been gift bags, flowers, emails, cards, texts and love going out to her. I know sororities get a bad wrap most of the time, but I’m proud to know my chapter has an amazing network of women who come from far and wide to help when a sister needs it.

I hate that this had to hit so close to home in order for me to pay more attention to my own health and risk. Take this as your wake up call to get your annual exams, do self exams and contribute to a charity/non profit who is working on a cure for such a miserable disease.

 

BFFs

Sometimes you just need a friend who will sit under and umbrella and watch a movie with you. We’re grateful that M is that buddy to Baylor.

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Say Cheese

What do you do when your very favorite family pictures don’t include your newest addition? Why you recreate the exact same pictures. Down to the same clothes. Well, I wore the same thing anyway. Crazy? Maybe. But I’m so thrilled with the result, sign me up for a padded room and straight jacket.

Our good friends and sorority sister Gina and her husband Rene took the family pictures that have hung in our kitchen for the last 4 years. They were taken on our front patio and the colors of the teal bench and yellow flowers just so happened to coordinate with all of our decor.

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Since those pictures were taken, Gina and Rene have moved to Seattle. And in addition to missing their presence, we missed their photographic skills! Thankfully I have several talented friends so I asked Natalie, another sorority sister and my little sis from our Alpha Phi days to snap some new pics for us.  When she asked what I was wanted to do, I pointed to the wall and said “that. I want that. Exactly”. And so that’s what she did.

Now that I have finally gotten the right color frame, our new family photos are up! By the way – thank you Pottery Barn for changing the shade of white of your standard white frames and then not telling anyone. I bought it. Framed it. And then realized that once the sun goes down, it’s totally obvious that it’s a different color of white. Thankfully Pottery Barn knows they are nuts and happily found me the right shade of frame and exchanged the wrong color despite my lack of receipt and packaging.

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I couldn’t fit all of my favorites on the wall

So perfectly captures her funny 4 year old self

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Natalie’s website will be up and running in the next few weeks – I’ll be sure to post a link just as soon as it’s live. If you just can’t wait to book your session, comment below and I’ll make sure to get you in touch! Thank you Natalie for capturing such great memories for us!

God Bless America

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.

Aunts Sarah and Nancy. Auggie is a big fan.
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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.

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Again, the cuteness.

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Cousin Madi, Sienna and Baylor with Madi’s patriotic press on nails.

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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.

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This was the first year that B did sparklers and I didn’t have a heart attack. We were spelling out her name.
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It really is Big Sky Country

263 262There 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!

Thanks Mommas

I thought about writing a post that called out some of my friends for the amazing things that they do and that I admire them for. After starting a draft, I found myself worrying that I might accidently insult someone. Like if someone wrote about me “she works hard and keeps her house and family pulled together!” my first thought would be that’s so nice! I love when my friends lie to me and my second would be wait, but I am a good mom to my kids too, right?! People think that part too, right?? So I decided I would write out the things that I’ve learned from my momma friends sans names. Because at the end of the day, the lesson is the important part so here goes:

~Laugh. Make simple things funny. Instead of responding with an honest answer all the time, give a funny answer once in awhile. Your kids have their whole lives to be serious. Make them laugh now while they still think you’re funny.

~Work it. Work hard at your job and then work hard at giving your kids your full attention.

~Be cautious. They’re little and sometimes delicate  While it’s good for them to learn cause and effect (jumping off of the couch will hurt), it’s equally important to not let them learn the effect of their cause all the time.

~Give in. It’s ok to lose the battle BUT, lose graciously.

~Listen.

~Shut up. Don’t be quick to give the answer to their question. Let their imagination wander and ask them what they think the answer is and then be gentle when giving the real reason.

~Save the drama. You are not always going to win every day. Some days you’re just going to survive. Don’t dwell on the negative, look at the positive that happened in the day and then get ready to make the next day better.

~Rest. You are not a robot. It would be cooler if you were but since you’re not, let the laundry sit and you do the same.

~Be kind. Teach your kids that not everyone is as lucky as you are and that it is our duty to care for those around us.

~Don’t judge others. Mostly because we’ve all been that mom that is walking the SCREAMING kiddo into preschool while the baby is still in his jammies with a dirty diaper and blueberries on his face.

~Don’t judge yourself. Some days you’re the mom who got a shower AND both kids out the door. Some days you’re not. Both are ok.

~Laugh. A lot. Enjoy the simple things. Smile.

 

So thank you to all the lovely moms I get to call my friends. You are all an inspiration, whether you know it or not.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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