Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It is Thanksgiving Eve.  The house is very quiet except for Layla's terrible cough here and there.  Everyone fast asleep after our first round of Thanksgiving food.  This round of Thanksgiving is a celebration with Matt's parents, full of Lebanese food, a tradition we began a couple years ago that I love.  I wasn't ready to go to bed.  After a week or so of feeling very uninspired in the writing department, I suddenly felt the need to come here.  Last night I tried to force it...wrote a whole post on things I felt grateful for.  I generally just write and then hit publish because that's how this blog thing is supposed to go, but last night I couldn't hit the publish button.  It felt too forced somehow.  I mean there were parts I liked.  Things about trying to find a balance between getting into the holiday spirit without getting caught up and swept away with it.  Remembering the beauty of the season and leaving the tacky consumerism part of it at the door.  Being a part of the contagious magic of it with the girls, without needing to buy them everything on their wish lists.  I even got all self-righteous about the nonsense of Black Friday shopping and how ridiculous Christmas can get with "stuff".  As if just because I don't partake in that I am somehow better, which is so not the case.  I went on to talk about being grateful for my girls, family and friends and all that good stuff.  Somehow, it all fell short and I left it.  

Tonight as we began our Thanksgiving holiday I was reminded of the beautiful simplicity of this holiday.  The one that tends to get overlooked between Halloween and Christmas.  The holiday that is a favorite of mine because it is about food and family and let's be honest, what is  better than that?  This morning while I was at work the girls were with Matt's mom and they made some decorations for our Thanksgiving dinner table.  Instead of the list I made last evening of things I felt grateful for, I'm going to expand on what my babies said they are thankful.  It is basically the same as I wrote about last night, but something about their beautiful simplicity makes more sense.  

First, Ava...

1.  "I am thankful for my family that loves me, takes care of me and trusts me"  
Trust was the big word in this one that caught my eye.  Loving and taking care of...that's easy, but trust...that you have to earn.  I am grateful that my girls trust me to take care of them.  I am grateful for the trust Matt and I have in one another.  Without that, our relationship simply would not work.  In our family we take care of each other.  When someone is down, we rally around.  This is true in my little family of four as well as my extended family.  We are a team and for this I am grateful.
2.  "I am thankful for good tasty food and clean water"  
I love that Ava sees beyond our small world here in Montana to realize how lucky we are for these big things we take for granted.  We try to remind them that not everyone in the world gets three meals a day, plus desserts.  Yes, we work hard to get what we have, but some of what we have is because of the luck of where we were born.  I hope they always understand this, feel compassion for those that don't and feel the desire to help everyone get these basic needs met.
3.  "I am thankful for freedom and a country that I can worship God how I want".  
This one surprised me.  We are not a religious family.  The girls go to Sunday school and the occasional church service, but not regularly.  We talk more about faith than church.  We talk about how not everyone believes in God the same way and that is okay so I'm wondering if that is where this thought came from.  Regardless I am happy for her open-mindedness to it.  Everyone should be able to think how they want and I also am grateful to live in a country where it is okay to do so.  In the past few months I have had my own internal dialogue about religion and faith.  I know my doubts and questions are okay to have.  I am thankful to live someplace where having these thoughts out there does not make me a bad person.  Oh, sweet Ava...wise beyond her eight years.
4.  "I am thankful for a warm, cozy, safe place to live".  
This is something to be thankful for indeed.  We live in a beautiful place and a lovely community.  And, it may be cold outside, but it is warm inside.  The happiest moment of my every day is at night when everyone in my family is safely tucked inside our home sound asleep.  Yes, I am grateful for this.

And, then there was sweet Layla's...

1.  "I am thankful for flowers because they smell good"  
I also am thankful for good smelling things and flowers are on the top of that list.  It's the little things.  Smells can take you to a happy place.  Lilacs give me the scent of spring with the hopes of summer.  Pine trees always bring on the Christmas memories.  Rain, sea salt and sunscreen are a hot summer day.  Occasionally I will smell sunscreen in the middle of winter just to take my mind to summer...crazy, I know.  I am grateful for smell and its ability to bring on beautiful memories.  
2.  "I am thankful for love cuz it is nice"
Love is nice, isn't it?  It sure is.  If there is one thing I am happy for in this world, it is love.  The love I have for my girls and Matt is like nothing else and makes everything okay.  Giving love, feeling love, seeing it out in the world...there is just nothing bad about it.  You can watch all the terrible news going on in the world...but if you look close, you can see the love too.  That is what shines through, you just have to look for it.
3.  "I am thankful for family cuz they are all nice". 
Our family is nice.  I like them very much.  Our friends are nice too and I am thankful for them this season as well.  We try to surround ourselves with good people who help enrich our lives.  Life is too short to get caught up in drama that surrounds some people. It's as simple as what we tell our kids.  Be nice to others and make friends with others who are nice to you.  How much better could this world be if we all just remembered to be be nice to one another?  Kindness is a simple thing.
4.  "I am thankful for Thanksgiving cuz it is happiness".
Yup, that sums it up for me.  Thanksgiving is happiness.  Family+friends+food=happiness.  A day to remember everything we have to be grateful for and to share this with those we love.  No gifts, no decorations, no hoopla...only gratitude.  This is happiness.  

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Why is it that weekends are so awesome?  Even when they are filled with a bunch of nothing special.  There is something about the weekend vibe that makes it awesome no matter what's going on.  It begins Friday around 5 and continues until I wake up Monday morning.  And even if I try really, really hard, that vibe cannot continue into the week.  I wish I could bottle it up and pour some in my coffee Monday morning to kick start the week.  I suppose if that was the case you wouldn't realize how awesome the weekends were and you would begin to take them for granted.  This is the same logic I tell myself about living in a cold climate...if we lived someplace warm we would take the beautiful weather for granted.  And, we really appreciate our summers here in Montana after a long winter...blah, blah, blah.  As if I would ever get sick of warm weather.  Or weekends.

Our weeks are very full.  We are in the time of our lives with busy kids.  Full days, homework, sports, dance all smashed into a day with work and everyday household stuff. It's a different phase then when the girls were young and the days were tiring, but felt much more carefree.  I like this place we are at.  Even if it feels crazy at times I like running the girls from school to dance, or getting home to get homework done.  I always knew this was part of the parenthood thing and I know one day I will miss this part very much.  Catching little glimpses of my girls trying new things...

Little sister watching big sis at basketball practice.  She must have looked on long enough because the coach invited her in to join them.  With a big smile and cowgirl boots she ran out and grabbed a ball.  Yes, I enjoy this phase of our lives very much.

Even though I like all the chaos of our weeks it is the pace of it that makes weekends so needed.  Everything slows down.  Schedules get thrown out the window, there is no homework, there are no tired parents from a long day of work and the tone is carefree yet again.  

Some weekend awesomeness-

A Chilly Morning Run...

Because it is dark in the mornings this time of year I find it harder to get a run in during the week.  I scramble to find a time that works to squeeze it in, but on a Saturday a morning run is a guarantee for me.  And, it is always the best one of the week because I'm immersed in the above mentioned weekend vibe.  Because I don't get my runs in as regularly during the week right now I get to the point where I physically and mentally need to get out.  It is so much a part of me that if I miss it, something feels off.  It clears my head like nothing else can.  It is the truly selfish thing I do.  There is no distraction.  It is simple.  No one needs me.  Running shoes on, headphones and nothing more to think of except which trail I want to take.  On days I feel tired, I push myself and feel strong.  I look up at the mountains and feel very small in this world.  I always end feeling better than I did before I began.  I even really dig running in the cold.  The crisp air is very refreshing and I find I don't tire as easy as I do when running in the heat.  Yep, it's awesome.   


There is still a ridiculous amount of Halloween candy at our house.  I've thrown some of it out, took some to work, sent my nephew home with a few, and yet we still have a bowlful.  While browsing Pinterest the other day I found "80 recipes for Halloween Candy".  Jackpot.  This was just what I needed.  I didn't want to go crazy with candy in a dessert because when we added a bunch to our oreo pie a couple weeks ago Matt called it carnival food.  I came across something called Snickery-doodles.  I was intrigued.  They only called for Snickers and are a take on snickerdoodles which are a childhood favorite of mine.  They taste great and I finally was able to trade the giant candy bowl for a smaller one.  The Halloween candy should all be gone in a few weeks, just in time to be replaced with candy canes.  

Birthday Parties...

The one obligation we had this weekend was a birthday party for Ava.  She was so excited to get the invitation and even more when she found out it was an ice skating party.  It took me awhile to figure out the school-age-birthday-party thing.  When Ava was in kindergarten she began getting invites every other weekend for birthday parties.  I didn't understand because she didn't even know these had barely started.  As a kid I don't remember going to birthday parties, except family ones, until I was much older.  My own kids parties at this point had always been just family and family friends and with as many cousins as they have it was quite a party as is.  Because of all this, I ignored most of these invites for her.  I see now this may have been a mistake.  Come first and second grade the birthday party invitations dwindled.  This may not have seemed like a big deal until Layla started kindergarten and her round of invites began.  Layla, being more outgoing and vocal, insisted on her desires to go to these parties.  As it is with second children I felt more comfortable letting her go.  Although Ava never said it, I think it was hard for her to see her sister getting to go to all these fun parties.  Third grade is proving to be a great year for Ava in the friends department as she is finding her groove with a few girls in her class.  I can see this helping her come out of her shell.  I was so happy to drop her off with a bunch of giggling girls for a party, presents and cupcakes.  

Now it is Sunday evening and the weekend is wrapping up.  I will soak up the last couple of hours of the weekend vibe and then go to sleep.  I will wake up Monday morning feeling a bit bummed that it is over.  And then I will streeeeetch out, get up and get ready for another busy week that always leads to another weekend of awesomeness.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Family Day.

Today I turned off the heat in the house and opened windows while I cleaned.  I rode my bike to the school when I went to help in Ava's classroom.  I walked at the end of the day to pick them up and the three of us strolled home without jackets on.  The air felt warm and the sky was bright blue.  It felt more like a September day than November and I loved it.  We've had a streak of grey dreary days, so today was welcomed with open arms.  Although with the start of holiday cheer all around I would have been just as happy with big fluffy snow flakes.  Okay, that's a lie.  I'll take 50-degrees and sunny over cold and snowy any day.  Even Christmas day.  Well, maybe not Christmas day.  Hmmm....not sure on that one.  


Even though this evening I found myself totally over parenting 15 minutes into a game of hide and seek I'm going to write about one of my favorite kinds of days.  A family day.  By the way, I had no reason to be over it tonight...girls were being awesome, no fighting, we'd finished a nice dinner and were playing some hide and seek before bed.  However, when I couldn't find Ava thanks to Matt's super power hiding skills I got frustrated.  Normal bedtime had already passed and I knew we had a couple more rounds to go and I was just ready to be done for the day.  I suppose we all have those moments for no good reason.  It is okay.  

So, back to family day.  Sunday.  A day of no plans beyond church.  Very quickly after waking up we also decided against church.  The girls had slept in a bit (7 am is sleeping in at our house!) and were watching some cartoons and we were all cozy in our bed.  I was thinking about skipping out on church, as usual, so when Matt mentioned similar thoughts it didn't take me long to agree with him.  Lately I'm not sure where I stand on the church thing.  I feel like a faithful person and I'm happy the girls are learning about religion in their Sunday school, but I feel less inspired by the actual church part of it.  Matt and I have talked about it, even thought maybe we should explore other options.  Who knows what we will end up doing, but for that morning church was going to be about spending the day as a family.  It began with a chilly stroll to breakfast...

It was a bit of a walk, but the air felt so fresh and was nice.  Once home we warmed up with hot cocoa.  I think Matt and I would have been content lazing around the house the rest of the day because we had been up late the night before.  However, the girls were antsy to go do something.  At the arena where Ava takes horse back riding lessons they having team roping every other Sunday and spectators are welcome.  She has been wanting to go check it out, so we thought it a good day to try it.  I know I've mentioned this before, but it is so funny to see Ava embrace this cowgirl world.  We pull into a parking lot (field) full of pick-up trucks and horse trailers and find a little area to park the Subaru.  Inside the dusty arena is the smell of burgers from the concessions mixed with general horse stink.  There are a couple dozen horses and probably 50 young steer penned up ready to be roped.  It was interesting.  I haven't been to a rodeo since I was a kid so didn't totally understand what was going on.  It was kinda cool to watch except I couldn't help but feel bad for the cows.  Apparently Ava felt the same because later that day she told me she wanted to ride horses, but not do roping.  About a half hour in the girls lost interest.  After walking around to check out more horses and saying hello to the resident goat, we were off.

A couple weeks ago we had gone to the museum one day because Matt needed to visit the exhibit for a class project.  The girls had really wanted to see the planetarium show about volcanoes, but it was way too nice of a day to be inside so we skipped it that day.  Sunday, however was chilly so after we left the arena we headed to the museum to catch the show...

It was all about super volcanoes and it didn't exactly end with warm fuzzy feelings.  When they started talking about West Yellowstone  most likely being the next super volcano eruption and it not being a question of "if" but "when" I started to wonder if it had been the best idea to see this.  It took quite a bit of convincing the girls after the show that the chances of it happening in their lifetime were low to get the look of concern of their faces.  I try to not think of it much....we're so close to Yellowstone, if something bad happens it'll be over pretty quick.  Besides that part, the show was pretty cool.  

As we sat around the dinner table that evening I realized besides a few people out in the community we hadn't spoken or seen anyone else all day.  Neither Matt or myself had talked to anyone on the phone or so much as sent a text.  It had been just us four all day long.  I love hanging out with family and friends and having a house full of people makes me happy, but a family day is priceless.  The girls are at such awesome ages for days like that.  Old enough to not have to worry about naps or snacks but young enough that a day with their parents is enough.  I will always hold family days close to my heart. Even if some of it was spent with a bunch of cowboys sitting on dusty bleachers and watching poor cows get roped over and over again.  And if one day Ava does get into it and has events like that I will be a proud mama cheering her on from those dusty stands.  I will not, however, wear cowboy boots to said events.  

Layla is involved in a hobby I understand a bit more...

It was parent observation at her dance class and I loved watching her proud little face dancing her heart out.  She kept taking peeks at us and giving us a shy smile.  

Lately she has seemed very grown up.  Because she is the youngest I always think of her as the baby.  I see the young lady growing up out of those chubby baby cheeks.  I have mixed emotions about this.

Onto other happy things.

Beautiful, yummy kale...before it became delicious kale chips-

Matt bought a bunch of kale for a recipe but didn't need all of it.  My favorite thing to do with kale is of course turn it into crispy chips.  I drizzle it with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and bake for around 20-30 minutes at 350-degrees.  The girls love them.  They usually last about five minutes around here.

My adorable nephews.  Baby's rock.  

I have six nephews.  The three older boys are all hilarious and crack me up.  The three youngest melt my heart. 

Birthday Celebrations with Grandma...

Around here we think birthdays are sort of a big deal.  Especially when we are celebrating someone special who does so much for all of us.  And, we love us some birthday cake.  Especially when it actually turns out looking good.  I have had more than my fair share of baking disasters so I'm always excited when one tastes and looks good.

Hope your week is finding you healthy and happy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Little Things.

I wrote in my last post about wanting to slow things down a bit.  I'm happy to say this week has been a better.  Not that we haven't been any less busy, but I have been able to take the pace down a notch.  Let certain things go.  When things started to feel frantic and busy, I took a breath and knew it was okay if everything didn't get done.  Apparently my Internet has taken this same stance because it took it a full ten minutes, including re-booting, unplugging and a bit of frustration on my part to get it up and running.  So, we'll see how this goes.  

By slowing down this week I've been able to remember to take in the little things.  Happy, little things like...


As I write I am eating a pumpkin muffin and pumpkin bread is cooking in the oven.  The freezer has a couple cups of frozen pumpkin puree waiting for Thanksgiving to be made into pies and I still have two lonely pumpkin waiting for something to be done with them.  Even with the scavenger hunt and all the kids taking home a pumpkin, we didn't use them all.  I must say it is one of my new favorite things to cook with.  I like the process.  Scooping out the seeds, roasting the pumpkin, spooning out the insides and blending until you have a smooth puree ready to be baked into goodness.  It feels very fall-like and I love how my house smells when pumpkin is cooking.  

Oreo Pie

Keeping with the food theme.  Today for the first time I made an oreo pie.  My mom makes this every year for my younger sisters birthday, but I have never done it.  Talk about an easy dessert.  I probably don't make it because I never have oreos.  I prefer to bake our own cookies, but my mom showed up with a bag of Halloween oreos.  I have to admit, there is something about dunking an oreo in milk, letting it get the perfect amount of soggy and drinking the milk dotted with crumbs when you are done.  We did that with a few of them and I decided to do the pie with the rest.  For fun, we added M&M's to the ice cream and drizzled chocolate syrup on top.  I will be taking a slice to my sister to see if it passes the test.  However I am not worried.  It is ice cream, oreos, candy and could it go wrong?

-The end of my Bikram yoga class
Last month I signed up for thirty days of a hot yoga class.  With the weather changing I can't do my usual running routine.  I was searching for an early morning yoga class to replace one of my running days.  I found a place that offered a 90-minute Bikram yoga class at the perfect time for my schedule.  I've done lots of different types of yoga, including a hot yoga (not Bikram) so thought this would be fine.  I was wrong.  That first class I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack.  The room was over 100-degrees and you were told to try to not leave.  If you felt light headed or nauseous (totally normal "they" say) you were supposed to sit down, but not leave.  Only take water when they tell you as to not to disrupt the energy of the room.  This made me feel incredibly claustrophobic during that first class.  However, I pushed through, concentrated on the teachers voice and at the end felt pretty good.  Sweatier than I've ever been in my entire life, but pretty good.  They recommend coming back within a couple days for the second class so I decided to do this.  That second class was easier, the anxiety was gone and I was able to focus on the yoga part of it.  I still was undecided if I liked it or hated it.  Since I had committed to thirty days I decided I needed to keep it up.  It is a love/hate thing for me.  I've gone once a week and each time, I dread going there.  Once there I love the first part...walking into a hot room after being in the cold morning air.  The first 45 minutes I'm feeling good...pushing through poses, warm muscles loosening up.  And, then I hit a wall and for about the next 30-minutes I really hate it.  I feel sweaty and hot and I wonder what the heck I'm doing there.  Then blissfully the last 15 minutes arrive and I feel like a rock start knowing I had pushed through 90-minutes of intense yoga and I leave feeling awesome.  As soon as I leave the room I feel disgusting from all the sweat, but after a shower feel pretty good all day long.  I am so conflicted about it.  However, yesterday I got the email that my thirty days was expiring and I felt relief.  I suppose that answers my feelings of conflict that it is not the right type of yoga for me.  I'm going to squeeze one more class in just to make sure.  Then I'll be on the hunt for a new class.

-Dark evenings
I know a lot of people don't like the time change and the days getting shorter, but I embrace it for all its coziness.  It signals to me to stay inside with my family and be warm and together.  To cook with candles and soft music on.  It takes me back to my girls being babies.  Both girls were born in the spring so the first summers of their lives were a newborn haze of diapers, feedings, sleepless nights  and not a lot of cooking.  Come fall they were out of that stage and I remember fondly the early dark evenings as being a really happy time.  Especially with Ava.  I would put a big blanket on the kitchen floor, sit her in the middle with some pots and pans, or one of her favorites...the bowl full of tea bags and she would play while I made dinner.  It was dark outside, but warm in.  I would turn music on, pour a glass of vino and start chopping.  Ava would happily play and giggle.  Even at the end of a long day home with a baby, this was a good time.  I knew Matt would be home soon and I'd be able to have some adult conversation.  I felt like I was getting a hang of the mama thing.  Every year at Daylight Savings time, these feelings come back.  Now as I'm cooking dinner during the early dark evenings the girls are usually sitting at the counter, working on homework or busy playing in their rooms.  I still turn on some music, sip a glass of wine and cook.  Feeling happy my girls are here and anxiously waiting for Matt to get home to join us.  Yes, I enjoy this very much.  And speaking of the counter where the girls do homework...when we first bought our house and put stools at the counter, I envisioned my future children eating snacks and doing homework right there.  Maybe because I have so many happy memories from my own childhood of sitting on a stool at the kitchen counter...eating breakfast, doing homework, having snacks.  To this day it is my favorite place in my parents house.  

We have been reaching out to various hospitals to get some more opinions and help for my sister.  This week they have heard from a couple with some possible appointments in her future.  I know nothing is totally set yet and she still has a battle in front of her, but for the first time in awhile things feel hopeful.  I know she needs this because I believe she has been feeling a bit hopeless lately.  Fingers are being crossed and prayers are being sent up daily that this hope will turn into more.  It is a start.

Happy day to ya.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Part 2. Plus Some.

Our lives have felt very busy lately.  I keep waiting for things to slow down.  I thought after the start of school and getting in the swing of things it would.  They haven't.  Then I thought it was just because we were coming upon Halloween.  That has now come and gone and talks of Thanksgiving and Christmas immediately began so I suppose the slow down will come in January, maybe?  I'm not complaining, I just wish the pace of our lives could slow down a touch.  I don't like the running frantically from one activity to the next.  The every minute of the day scheduled so you forget to stop and enjoy the moment.  The constantly thinking of what needs to get done next and what can be put off until the next day.  As much as I have gotten better about letting the little things go and focusing on the important things I can't completely enjoy the moment unless some of the small day to day things are done.  When life gets busy, I can't help but get caught up in the pace and lose sight of the important things.  An entire day can go by without stopping to catch a breath and we crash on the couch the minute the kids are in bed.  Because we are the ones who create our own day to day lives, I know I'm the only one who can change this pace.  Slow it down.  Let some things go and refocus.  This will be my new plan.  Even within the chaos of it all, to slow it down, take it in and relax.  One of my favorite things about writing is this.  I hold myself accountable to things I put out there.  I clear my head by writing and if I put the thoughts out there it really helps me to stick by my words.  We shall see if it works this time.

Halloween certainly added to the activity of this week.  It's a favorite of my girls.  And, why wouldn't it be?  Candy, dress-up, class parties and cousins...what's not to love?  These kids totally get this holiday now.  Every single Halloween since they were babies we have gotten together with my sis and her kids.  They have gone from this...

To this...

Big kids, running houses ahead of parents trick or treating.  Instead of hitting a few houses we go for a few blocks.  Giggles, happy faces and lots of candy.  Parents stroll behind, chatting, laughing and feeling thankful for a mild evening without snow.  Our neighborhood is full of families and on Halloween night it seems as if surrounding neighborhoods join ours in trick or treating.  The sidewalks are full of princesses and super heros, houses are decorated with jack-o-lanterns, skeletons and spiders.  It feels exactly how I always imagined being a parent would feel like.  I really love it.  

Other Halloween fun-
I helped with Layla's class party.  23 sugar-hyped first graders.  Their energy was contagious, it was a lot of fun.

All the kids full of animation talking about their costumes and where they were trick or treating.  If only we could all feel this excitement every day.

The girls insisted on putting fairy wings on the dog, so we had a fairy, butterfly Sadi...
Always the good sport, the wings stayed on the entire time we were out trick or treating.  I do believe she received more attention than the kids.  Once home the kids partook in the tradition of counting, sorting and trading candy.  I took it upon myself to make sure I got a Twix from every kid to get my own sugar fix.  Friday I took all the Halloween decorations down and felt incredibly happy that the next holiday involves no decorating.  Not that I don't love it, but I tend to get over holidays as quickly as I get into them.  We do them full force so when it's over, I am done.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorites for the simplicity of it.  Again, I love the traditions we have with so many of our holidays, but having one that only involves food and gratitude is pretty awesome.  I will savor having the house as is before Christmas explodes all over it.  

Ava continued her horse back riding lessons this weekend.  She loves it.  I have mixed emotions.  Seeing her face light up of course thrills me.  However, seeing my little 50-pound girl on a 900-pound animal freaks me out a bit.  This week she learned how to canter.  (This is between a trot and gallop our little horse encyclopedia informed us).  Ava couldn't stop talking about how fun it is to go fast on the horse.  The girl is hooked.

She talks about one day needing a truck because you have to have one to pull a horse trailer.  Every book she reads is about horses.  She plays horse with her sister.  At least a couple times a day she offers up horse facts or mentions one of the horses she recently rode at lessons.  She is horse crazy.  This is so funny to me.  I grew up in the country.  My grandpa always had horses.  We didn't ride them often, but they were basically in our backyard.  We would feed them apples and carrots and I liked them, but wasn't into them.  My cousins also had horses we were around often, but again I didn't feel a strong draw to them.  I always resisted the country living ideas.  Looking back I have so many fond memories of growing up this way...playing in the fields and barn with my sisters for hours and hours.  We didn't have playgrounds, just acres of land we could run wild in.  We did and it was great, but as soon as I realized what cities were I was fascinated.  I wanted bigger.  More excitement than cows and horses and dirt rodes.  There was a brief part of my childhood where I wanted to run away to Hollywood and become famous and I resented living in little old Montana where I could never get discovered.  Eventually I had my opportunity to leave and check out city life and funny enough ended up back in our lovely Montana town.  Now, as an adult I have found such a great blend of city and small town living.  We are in the same town I grew up in, but instead of the country we live right in town where we can walk or take the bus to where ever we need to go.  The town has grown up and offers so many things we loved when living in a city, but it all still feels safe and community oriented.  I always think we are giving the girls everything, less the Hollywood part, that I always wanted as a kid.  And, then there is Ava who wants exactly the opposite.  It is so funny to me.  Matt, the total city boy and myself, the wanna be city girl get a daughter who dreams of living on a ranch with horses and driving a truck so she can haul her horses around.  I know she is only eight and hobbies change.  At eight my sister was totally obsessed with dinosaurs and unicorns and she got over that and I certainly didn't become an actress, but you never know.  As different as it is from our thoughts, we want to encourage her to follow her dreams.  And, if horses are in her future then I will watch every horse lesson she has. Even if I partially cover my eyes during it because it makes me nervous.  

There are perks to horse back riding lessons.  Like seeing this baby colt at the arena...

She was a sweetie.  And when she got comfortable with us, we even got to pet her.  Under the watchful eye of her mama.  

In the midst of this week we got a new addition to the family.  A new nephew.  A new baby to love, snuggle, kiss and spoil.  There is nothing like a new baby to bring joy to a family and this little guy sure has done that.

He is my 6th nephew.  I only have girls, so I have a soft spot for these boys in my life.    I think babies are like weddings.  Such happy occasions and when you experience one you can't help but reminisce about your own.  Whenever I'm at a wedding, I think back to the day Matt and I made those same vows to one another and it makes my heart feel full of happiness with memories.  When I hold a newborn baby it takes me back the days my own girls were born.  The love bursting that I didn't even know I was capable of.  The wonderful, but overwhelming feelings of the new chapter of our lives.  Because life goes so fast, I am grateful for these flashbacks.  It keeps the memories fresh in my mind.  

And, nothing makes you stop, slow down and take in the moment like holding a tiny, newborn baby.  In all the busyness of our lives these past few weeks, I made sure everything stopped to snuggle this baby.  These are the moments.

Happy November.