Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wrapping Up Summer...

Awwww....summer as we know it is coming to an end.  I know it doesn't officially end until September 21st, but in my world the start of school marks the end of summer.  Even the local swimming pool has closed for the year and I am finding August to feel more fall like this year than summers past.  The days have still been warm, but the shorter days and cooler nights all scream fall to me in loud capital letters and I am not ready.  I want more long summer days that stretch into the evening, when I'm going to bed before the sun has fully set. I want days of no schedule where impromptu park trips are the norm. I want nights when I don't worry what time the kids go to bed because they can sleep in the next morning and stay in pj's all day if they want and I am not ready to trade flip flops for boots and shorts for jeans.  No, I most certainly am not.  We have 5 days until Ava has her first day of school and 11 until Layla does.  There is a small part of me when the girls are fighting for the hundredth time of the day that I can't wait for school start, but it passes quickly and I go right back to wanting to hold onto summer for dear life.  But, what are you gonna do?  Time keeps on going even if you want it to slow down.  Seasons change and all you can do is go with it and enjoy the moments you have while you are in them.  So that is what we've been doing this past week...wrapping up our last bits of summer vacation.  

Last weekend Matt had a friend visiting from Michigan so it was just the girls and I for most of it.  We did, however, get my little cutey nephew for the night...

It was my sister's birthday so we got her little boy for the weekend.  Oh, how my girls love on this little guy.  They are so nurturing with him and I see little mama's in training when he's around.  With an extra kiddo we ended up sticking closer to home and it was very laid back.  After a summer of very busy weekends, this slower pace was welcome.  No plans...just kids playing and enjoying our own backyard.  The girls and I did spend the first part Saturday at the river.  We weren't getting Jacob until later in the afternoon and 
Matt and his friend were heading up to the river to float.  I knew we couldn't be there for long, but three hours at the river on a beautiful summer day is worth every second.  And, the quiet drive home with two sleeping girls and me rocking out to my music was the icing on the cake.  

After both Jacob and our company left, the house felt quiet.  That is always nice for a little bit, but then we were ready for some noise.  Best way to make some noise....have a pool party!  Kori and the kiddos came over for what I am sad to say was probably the last pool party of the summer.  The kids took full advantage and splashed for hours.  It amazes me how much time they can spend in a small pool.  The funniest thing was, at the last party their older cousin, Jaelyn taught them how to play "Marco-Polo" so this time that is what they spent all their time doing.  All Kori and I could hear was a lot of giggling, splashing and yelling of "Marco?"   "Polo!!"  I don't remember playing this game as a kid, but these guys totally dig it.

Later in the week we had more visitors from Michigan in town.  Matt's beautiful cousin and family were here in Bozeman for a couple of days.  It was great having them here and we got to show off our town since it was their first visit.  I love getting to show all that our Bozeman has to makes me appreciate it here even more.  The first day we left the little kids with Grandma and took them on a hike to Storm Castle.  It is one of my favorites and one we haven't done for a couple years.  It's not a real long hike, but it gains elevation fast and the views from the top are breathtaking.  You can still see the Gallatin River and cars below, but they all look very small.  Makes you realize how small we all are in this big world.  There is nothing like the feeling of sitting on top of the mountain after a big hike up.  It makes me feel strong, happy and so peaceful.

About half way down any hike we go on my mind quickly turns to food.  I start imagining what I am going to have when we get done.  This gets me down the mountain even faster and we quickly gathered up the kids and grandparents and headed downtown to what I think is the best outdoor seating in Bozeman...The Garage.  Soon we were all sitting in the shade, cold beers in hand, happy kids with coloring books patiently waiting for our food.  Even though we weren't the ones on vacation, you can't help but feel a little like you are when you are with people vacationing.  That and the fact that we were having lunch and beers at 3 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.  After lunch, we took them for a stroll through our downtown...going in and out of stores and picking up some food to cook for dinner.  (Even though I don't think one of us was the slightest bit hungry at this point)  We got some beautiful Red Snapper and it was one of the most delicious things I've eaten.  Not only did it taste good, but it was so pretty.  I wasn't the cook for this so I can't take credit...Matt's cousin's husband prepared it.  It was a mustard/white wine sauce and then topped with grape tomatoes, yellow squash, onions, carrots, garlic, lemon, sage and basil.  I wanted to take a picture like I usually do when we're cooking something so beautiful, however...I didn't want to be the crazy lady taking pictures of food so you'll just have to picture it in your mind.  We had that with roasted potatoes and beets and enjoyed it all in on our back patio with wine while the sun went down.  Perfect end to a really wonderful day.  Unfortunately the next day, Matt had to work and we only had a little time to show them some more.  We packed up some lunch and headed up Hyalite to the Reservoir.  I know Hyalite gets a little busy this time of year with visitors and it is so not like it used to be when you could go and have the whole place to yourself...but it easy to get to and a great representation of our beautiful home.  It didn't disappoint.  We didn't have much time, but we got to swim in the cold water and get in one last visit before his family had to leave town.

Guess what else we did this week?  We made our first zucchini cookies of the summer...
I've said it before...this time of year I put zucchini in EVERYTHING.  You add some dark chocolate and lemon zest and these little babies don't last long.  (Recipe at the end!)

Also this week?  We got Layla her cleats and shin guards for the upcoming soccer season and this girl is ready to rock it.  Layla didn't do soccer last year when Ava did because she was in ballet.  However, this year she told us she wanted to do soccer instead.  The dance mom (not in the cheesy tv show way, in the used to dance and loved it so much way) in me was sad that she didn't want to do ballet anymore.  However, I believe strongly in letting them choose their extra curricular activities so we traded in ballet slippers for cleats.  Both girls will be doing it, so there will be many soccer games these next months.  I look forward to it.

Tomorrow will be the last day of our full week of summer vacation...we will spend it with a final picnic at the park with Amy and the kiddos.  On Monday, Amy has to go back to work and get her classroom ready for the year and I will lose my summer play friend.  I can't complain, it's good having a teacher friend so you can have summers with them. We'll spend the evening at the annual "Story Under the Stars"  where they play a movie at the Story Mansion outside under the clear skies.  We've taken the girls the last couple years and it has become a nice tradition.  We never make it more than half the movie before tired girls need to go home and get tucked in.  That's's more the idea of watching a movie and eating popcorn outside than the actual movie that is the fun part.  

The weekend will be full of celebrating.  Matt and I have our twelve year anniversary.  Twelve years!!  That's crazy.  I feel so lucky to have spent the last dozen years with my best friend...but more gushing on that later.  In the meantime, I leave you with the best zucchini cookie recipe and wishes for a happy weekend.

Chocolate, Lemon, Zucchini Cookies
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 cup shredded zucchini
-1 1/2 tsp lemon peel (grated)
-2 cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup dark chocolate chips (You can use milk or semi-sweet, I just prefer dark)
Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg, zucchini and lemon peel.  In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly add to creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.  cook in a 375-degree oven for 9-10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

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