Happy Birthday Baylor

I think it’s safe to say, 8 might be my favorite age.

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This year has marked some big confidence growth for Miss. B. I didn’t see it coming so when it plopped down in front me, I was left in awe. Watching her stroll into the first swim team practice of the season like a seasoned professional – no tears, no arguments – and literally dive in, was amazing.

She waltzed into a new camp with the same attitude. I was intimidated by the other kids, but not Baylor. She was by far the kid with the least dance experience and sadly her mother’s gymnastic skills, and not only did that not stop her, she wasn’t fazed in the slightest. She happily danced along the way she wanted to and at the end of the week announced “camp was fine. But I like the way I dance better”.

I hope for the rest of your life, you always like the way you dance better, B Baby.

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Happy New Year 2017!

Wowza. It feels like it was yesterday I was sitting here typing away and thinking about the past year. And yet there’s been a whole 365 days since I wrote this post about my resolutions for 2016. What a year it’s been!

My goals for 2016 were simply written, but given what we did this year, were not always easy to tackle! I wanted to 1. Have No Negative, 2. Have Less Noise and 3. I’ll Do Me. I think focusing on those things allowed me the time and space I needed to do the things I really wanted to do. Well, except one…

I failed miserably at the Less Noise part. It  was supposed to include no long term volunteer commitments for this school year which should have allowed me to just jump in where and when I wanted to. Instead I am Auggie’s class room mom, his soccer coach, was a committee member of the school auction and now the co-chair of the St.Mary’s Centennial Gala. So, yeah. I probably should have written “take on too much” and then when I did the opposite, it would have been helpful. But I have to say, it is all really good. I worked with and am working with people I love and while I was in no way qualified to be a soccer coach, we had an amazing time!

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Given all those commitments, we were neck deep in remodeling our house. Which is one of the reasons my  posts here have been sporadic at best. More on the other reason to come. But for the house, here’s what we did in a nutshell:

We boxed up 3/4ths of our house

Moved out with the other 1/4 of crap

Gutted our house

Put it back together

Moved it all back in 6.5 months later

We are still finishing the final touches… for now. They say when you’re house is done, you die. So I guess the upside is that we’re going to live forever because the list of “phases” keeps growing. I think we’re on phase 15. With about 25 more to go…

from this…

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To this in just 6ish months and many many dollars

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Despite all the house craziness, we were able to get away a few times. We traveled separately and together and it was all awesome.

Mexico

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Disneyland

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Montana

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San Diego

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Oceanside

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One of my main goals for 2016 that I didn’t really write down was to start my writing business. It’s funny, I’m not where I thought I would be, but where I landed is so much better. I finally returned the email I wrote about last year. I negotiated a deal and started the freelance writing “course”. I worked through the exercises and geared up for my first call with the woman who wrote the course. I was so excited to hear her expertise and get her insight….and then she blew me off. And then rescheduled our call. And when we finally did get to talk, she yawned at my work. Like for real. It made me so mad that she was so dismissive of me and my goals – I never finished the course or contacted her for our next meeting. No Negative. See? I got one of them right.

And I’m so glad I did. Instead of moving forward with the course, I contacted friends. Friends who write, friends with small businesses, friends who are just damn good at being cheerleaders. I asked for their opinions, I made a few deals and I got busy writing. And it is awesome. I’ve made contacts and work seems to keep finding me (www.bethwand.com!) It’s a huge and exciting challenge, and  it makes my soul happy.

What’s in store for 2017? I think I’m going to keep working on that Less Noise part. And also:

  • Balance – How do you get it all done?? I have no idea, but I’m going to keep working on finding balance, maintaining balance, and most importantly and most difficult for me is letting a few things go in the name of balance.
  • Reconnect – It’s so easy to fall away from old friends when your lives take different paths. Even when your lives take the same path, there’s always something to distract us. This year will be a good year to reconnect with some friends and keep the momentum of contact going.
  • Keep thinking about and working towards Less Noise, No Negative and I’ll Do Me. I think those things got us pretty far in 2016. Here’s hoping 2017 is juuust a little quieter.

 

More Montana 2016

The rest of the week was jam packed. Did I mention that the Dehaven’s came to visit? They always bring the fun. And Jeff shared his pictures too!

 

We rodeo’d in Livingston…

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We creeked…

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Creek coolerimg_9767

Which lead to a lot of this….

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Do you see the fish right in front of Baylor?!

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And after taking a year off from our last Yellowstone Park visit, we again braved the winding roads with all 7 of us. This trip went far better and we even made it all the way to Old Faithful without murdering each other and only one person vomiting. Success!

Stephanie studying the warnings carefully…

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The amazing Grand Prismaticsimg_4923

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I’m so bummed – the colors of the pools are amazing – but it was barely 32 degrees and so the steam made it hard to see.img_4962img_4987

Old Faithfulimg_5027

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A tourist died earlier this year jumping into one of these pools. It’s so hot, by the next morning, they could only find a few bones….img_5086

We also got to see the Beehive Geyser. It’s less predictable than Old Faithful, erupts for a shorter period of time but is as intense. Plus you can get a lot closer!

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And the Old Faithful Lodge was fantastic. At 112 years old, it’s seen some amazing history. Also I’m sure it’s haunted.

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And it wouldn’t be Montana without visiting the Long’s for some horseback riding lessons. The girl’s favorite, Duke, was donated to a school to be a therapy horse. They get reports once in awhile about how happy he is to be ridden every day! Thankfully the ladies were happy to give Heidi a try – and they now have a new favorite.

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Auggie is still not sure he’s a fan

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Auggie with the safety checkimg_9918

And we drove kids and a dog around in a gater. While taking selfies. This looks safe, right?

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Montana; Water, Parading and Celebrating

A little catch up from earlier this year…!

When we finally landed home in Arizona, I realized how physically exhausted I was…but how refreshed my brain felt! I think that sums up a good Montana vacation – physically hard, mentally great.

We packed a LOT into our two weeks!

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I don’t think anyone enjoys the river as much as this fur faceIMG_4853IMG_4864IMG_4867IMG_4861

How pretty is Chico Hot Springs? The water in the pool is fed by a natural hot spring – the water is about 103 degrees. It’s strange to swim in a hot tub but a good strange.

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The Fourth of July Parade in Livingston is one of my favorite things. Seriously, how cute is this town?

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This guy’s style is so on point. He is obsessed with Baylor’s hand me down boots.IMG_9690

Patiently waiting.IMG_9712IMG_9699

Less patiently waiting.IMG_9713IMG_9746

There’s either a firetruck, ambulance, forest service vehicle or farm machine coming…IMG_9733

This guy lassoing these crazies was hilarious. I think I need one. IMG_9742

They even made the local paper! This was the picture on page 7 of the Livingston Enterprise.

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Children wait along Main Street for the next float handing out candy during the Livingston Roundup Parade, Saturday afternoon.

We spent the 4th at the lodge celebrating with all our friends and family. And of course, we have our annual flag picture.

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Gorgeous sunsets waiting for fireworks.IMG_9839

Baylor is not a fan of sparklers.IMG_4846

But Auggie is!IMG_4848IMG_4875

Auggie got to go on his first rafting trip down the Yellowstone! It was with our friends at Wild West Rafting and as usual, it was a boat full of fun. IMG_4714IMG_4717IMG_4724

Saturday Hikes

A few times this summer, I convinced myself to ignore the urge to sleep in on a Saturday and went for a hike. Each time I realized how amazing it was to watch the sunrise from the side of a mountain. How much cooler the air was at 6am at the peak of Camelback. And how nice it was to enjoy some peace and quiet without having to watch the clock.

This past weekend, I was treated to a truly breathtaking sunrise, vegetation that was greener than I’ve seen in months and a cool breeze with just a few sprinkles of rain.

I looked like a total tourist taking so many pictures, but I really couldn’t resist. At least I wasn’t hauled off the mountain by paramedics like a tourist so there’s that.

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Seriously, I couldn’t get over how green it was

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A view from the top

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Missing June

Before I get into the fun we had in Montana, I neglected a few of the things we did in June this year. I normally do a post for B’s birthday, my birthday, our anniversary…and yet here we are, staring down the barrel of school starting and not a post to be seen.

In my defense, it’s been busy.

The house is coming along – you can actually see where the new walls are going to be. And with a whole new sewer line that runs through the entire house, we shouldn’t ever have to use the phrase “shitter’s full”. So there’s that.  This is all a long way of saying instead of blogging, I’ve be housing. Yes, it’s a verb. Ask anyone who has remodeled.

So, without further delay, the missing June posts.

Sweet Baylor turns Seven.

You, my gorgeous daughter, are by far the smartest, most challenging, loving and wonderful girl. Your potential will only ever be limited by your desire – you will move mountains.

I am so proud of the hard work you put into school, into making new friends, into learning to read and do math. I love your enthusiasm for swim team this summer and for your ability to conquer your fears. Your hustle for sports is growing and it’s amazing. You are so beautiful and your outer beauty is only eclipsed by your beautiful heart. Watching your faith in God grow and your kindness spread – especially to strangers in need – makes my heart happy.

Year six was a pretty amazing year. But I think seven is going to top it.

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Love this kid. Gangsta face in a doughnut float.

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The Momma turns Thirty Something….

So this is one of those birthdays that makes me feel old. Not as much physically, but the number is a little up there. However, I really really really like my birthday. So while the number can be a little shocking, I’m always grateful for one more year to celebrate. And having good health, a happy family, fantastic friends, a good wig and the realization of a few dreams while still having time to dream up new ones? Well that’s just the icing on the cake.

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Also? This is the kind of old person I plan to be. Just bat shit crazy in the best way. Good news is that I think I’m already there. Check. Mark.

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Happy Anniversary

Every year when I bring up our anniversary, Peter argues with me about the number of years we’ve been married. He always thinks it’s less than the actual number. Which I think is better than him feeling like it’s been much much much longer.

We celebrated 11 years married and this year marks 17 together (also the other reason I’m feeling real old). We will have been together more than half my life this year, which is a nutty statistic and yet such an awesome one. It’s amazing to think how much we’ve both changed – we’ve grown up together. We’ve watched each other go from nerdy (ok, just me) teenagers, to college coeds, to young adults, graduate student, newly weds, homeowners, parents…and thankfully the list keeps growing.

The traditional 10 year anniversary gift is tin, but since we redid our pool last summer we decided the gift would be PebbleSheen. Which is not really romantic, however very enjoyable. We say “happy anniversary!” every time we slide our feet over the smooth surface of the pool.

Thankfully the traditional 11th anniversary gift is far more appropriate for us this year. As the contractors were bracing a new steel beam in our living room, I pointed and said “happy anniversary!”. Maybe 11 years is when most married couples go broke on a remodel so they made the gift steel. Makes sense to me.

Happy anniversary PW!

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Alpenglow

Monsoon season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the clouds, the dust storms, the rain, the thunder and lightening, I love it all. And while this season hasn’t been one for the records, we’ve had a few evenings that did not disappoint.

How spectacular are these clouds? No filter, no editing. Mostly because I don’t know how to do that, but really,they don’t need it!

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The Praying Monk makes for the best pictures2015-08-29 06.31.50

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Say Cheese

While at the lovely wedding of Ryan and Lisa, I crossed paths with the photographer. After she snapped a picture of me and the banshees, she said “I’ve taken your picture before!”. I’m usually great with faces, but I couldn’t place her. Finally she said “Scottsdale Moms Blog! I took your head shot!”. And it’s still on my About the Author page today.

After seeing the pictures she took at the wedding, I immediately booked her for a family session. Right after that, I started a Pinterest page and the photographer, Stacey and I  set out to coordinate the clothing. I asked the neighbors if we could use their yards as alternative back drops and started threatening everyone in our house that they better get on board because I wanted SMILES in these pictures!

Then something amazing happened…they all enjoyed themselves and actually smiled! They cooperated! It was amazing. And Stacey from Dream Photography Studio is a huge reason why. The best complement I can write is that Peter’s response post session was “That was actually pretty fun. And really easy”. 45 painless minutes yielded so many great pictures, we’re having a hard time choosing which go on the wall!

So here’s just a sample of the gallery we received. If you like, go to Dream Photography Studio to book a session!

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Sunset on the Beach

The last night in San Diego, the light was amazing. It was an overcast day, but still a little sunny…it was strange but in a good way. It made for some spectacular pictures:

No filter, no special settings.

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This is my favorite. Do you see the sun in the very top of the frame?IMG_7806