Thursday, May 29, 2014

Field Trips and Long Weekends.

The week has been filled with field trips with my girls.  This signals the end of the school year.  The weather finally nice, wrapping up school work and getting the kids out to end the school with a bang.  Both have several and I am lucky enough to hand pick the ones I want to volunteer for.  I do love that I get to do this.  They are tiring and make me appreciate all our teachers do every day for our kids.  But I'll take tired to get to take a day off work and hang with my kids on their turf.  It always shows the differences in my babes.  I like seeing this.  The young ladies they are growing into.  

First up was Layla's.  A day put on by the Montana Outdoor Science School at our Fish Hatchery.  A day of searching for habitats, looking at the tiny insects that live in the water and holding bugs.  My Layla was the first one to volunteer to hold the cockroach.  She eagerly took it in her hand and as it crawled up her arm there were no scared squeals from her, only giggles and exclamations of it tickling her...

I didn't have the same enthusiasm for holding this thing, but when she looked at my with her bright eyes and asked if I wanted a turn I put on my big girls pants and took the bug.  It wasn't so bad...the thing was actually kinda cool.  Now, if it was a spider...not a chance.  

The day ended with a hike up the mountain.  Like things went most of the day, my girl hung with her friends.  Miss independent, doing her thing.  I hung back as she ran ahead with her crew and a quiet girl from the class hiked with me, telling me all about her summer camp.  She was very sweet and I quite enjoyed getting to know her as she pushed herself on the hike.  The kids choose to go the steep way and this girl was slower than some of the others, but she never complained and I loved the look of pride on her face as we reached the top.  
As for Layla, we met back at the bottom.  That's cool.  
It was a glorious day full of sunshine.  It was spent outside with happy first graders.  It was awesome.  And exhausting.

The very next day was Ava's with her third grade class.  I was super excited for this one.  They've been studying the history of Bozeman.  I know I learned these things when I was a kid, but as I've gotten older I have more of an interest in history.  It did not disappoint.  We began at the Pioneer Museum.  This place is a hit with kids because it used to be the jail and they have one cell where they lock you in.  What kid doesn't want to "pretend" to be locked in jail?  Well, maybe Ava didn't...

It was a quick tour.  I want to go back by myself and read everything about Bozeman.  Imagining all those years ago, the people who came to our valley and decided to make it home.  Throughout the day, as the stories were told I was more and more fascinated.

After the museum it was a walk through downtown to learn about the old buildings...who designed them, what they were originally, what type of design they were, which was the oldest.  Seriously, I had to remind myself I was supposed to be keeping an eye on kids because I was so caught up in what her teacher was telling us.  I felt like I was on a tourist walk in my own city.  

We have a cool history here.  

Last up was a walk through the cemetery where many of the people they are learning about have been buried.  John Bozeman, Daniel Rouse, William Beall, The Story family.  I have walked through that cemetery many times and didn't realize the history right under my nose.  I love getting these second opportunities of learning through my children.  You miss a lot the first time when you are worried about who you are having lunch with.
Ava hangs with me a lot more during field trips.  I even get to ride with her on the bus.  She hangs with her friends too, but sticks a little closer.  

Before this week of field trips we had the long Memorial Weekend.  This was the first one in as long as I can remember that we didn't go anywhere.  Most have been spent at my parents lake or river house.  I think because we had been gone the week before we weren't feeling like packing up and leaving again.  We wanted to stick closer to home and be with our kids.  Unlike most Memorial Days, the weather was spectacular.  Each day sunnier than the next.  The three days were perfect.  No plans beyond putting in the garden and a barbecue with the neighbors.  Lazy mornings and late nights.  Campfires in the backyard and a Sunday afternoon hike.  


Swimsuits came out for the first time and our backyard became a splash park...

Walks to parks and cool downs in streams...

Sometimes staying home is the best for getting away from it all.  I need to remember this as we approach summer and I get the urge to flee to the mountains every chance we get.  

Although I am just dying to go camping.  A couple more weeks and it's on.  

Happy day to ya.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Portlandia.

So, I said I was going to take a month hiatus from the blog world.  I have been sticking with it, no posting or reading the usual ones I enjoy.  But, 20 days in and I miss it.  I thought for sure it had been a month already, so since it feels like it has been I'm gonna go with it.  My purpose for taking a break was to see if I still enjoyed it and obviously if I am missing...both reading and writing....then there's my answer.  I did do some writing on my own, but found it didn't happen as regularly as I thought it would.  Something about the blog holds me more accountable to actually do it.  I like doing it in this space.  Keeping the memories from our family time.  Sorting my thoughts.  Being creative.  I can't find a negative so onward and upward.

Maybe I felt compelled to write again because after a road trip with my hubby I have many fun memories bouncing around in my head I want to get them down so I won't forget.  Vacations rock.  They are hard to come home from.  Back to real world responsibilities and no brunch in the middle of the week.  No afternoon brewery tours.  I love our real world day-to-day, but like all things it's nice to change it up a bit.  I like to write about vacation because months later when I re-read it, I can go back to that place and get that vacation feeling.  

Let's begin...

Oh, sweet Portland.  The city where Matt and I spent our newlywed time.  We moved there right after our honeymoon and unfortunately we did not give the city the appreciation it deserved at the time.  Sure, it was awesome to be someplace new and try new things, but a combination of too many changes at once and a lot of dreary rainy days quickly brought us back to sunny Montana.  Almost fourteen years later and it now seems as if it is our perfect city.  It goes to show you at 36 we are very different people than we were at 22.  However, the rain is still rough there and I didn't see any sandy beaches so for now I'll keep it as a favorite vacation spot.  

We dropped our girls off at school and hit the road...

The trip seemed long, but my excitement eased the distance.  By the time we began to follow the river up the Gorge memories of being in the car all day long began to fade.  Once there, freshly rejuvenated from being back we headed out in search of food.  That is the greatest thing about Portland...it is the most walkable city.  After 12 hours in the car, we parked her and didn't get in again for days.  That's the way to see a city...the neighborhoods, the parks, the small street full of boutiques and quaint coffee shops.  You can so easily miss that in a car.  After a ten block stroll we headed into a jazz club for food and music.  Yet, another thing I love about this place...you can find music anywhere.  And the variety!  One night was jazz, the next night a total hippie band in a dive bar and another day a young girl and her guitar singing an acoustic version of Macklemore's Thrift Shop.  Love it.  

Before any trip, I am the planner.  I try to find a balance of knowing some things to go do, but having flexibility for the trip to go on its own.  We had nothing we had to do until Saturday evening's wedding...the reason we were on this adventure.  Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people who could just wing it, but I have to do some planning.  I feel like in a big city you can miss some of the gems by winging it.  I also don't like to get trapped into the touristy things so I avoid TripAdvisor which continually ranks Montana Ale Works the best place in Bozeman and I respectfully disagree.  I want to go where the locals go, the small places.  Fortunately we have some old (and new!) friends from our Portland days so I went to them for advice.  Portland has changed so much since we lived there and so have we, what we did then would be totally different.  We probably wouldn't even hang out with Matt and Angie of 2000.  But that's cool, cuz 2014 Angie and Matt are pretty fun.

Anyways...after getting some ideas from friends and a bit of research on my part we had a few places we wanted to try but lots of room for whatever.  It was a perfect balance and we crammed in so many things in our few days.  We ate and drank our way through the city.  Some nights doing an appetizer and happy hour at one place and then light dinner someplace else and ending with drinks yet another place.  I was so very full by the end of each day.  And tired from walking for miles.  But, I wouldn't change a thing about it.  

The Sights...
In this place anything goes and I find so much beauty in the randomness of it-

We walked down this road a couple of times and each time I was taken by the old church steeple set against the modern building.  Old with new.  Beautiful.

The skyline.  

We didn't spend a ton of time in the actual downtown Portland area.  Enough to stroll by both of the places we used to work and head to a rooftop bar for drinks and overlook the city.  The bar itself was a bit pretentious, but I love a good rooftop bar...looking down and across the city around you.


Palm trees!!  

Spring was in full effect in Oregon...everything green and lush after months of rain.  It felt warm and humid and after our long, cold winter this made me so very happy.  The palm tree outside our hotel room patio was icing on the cake.

Did I mention the greenery?  Oh, it was everywhere!  Roses blooming, trees with full leaves....color after only seeing grey and white for so long. 


Other Favorites...

I'm sure you think I'm talking about the beer here, which was in fact delicious.  However, it is the map on the table that made me excited.  Matt and I had a long discussion on the way there (it was 12 hours after all) about my resistance to GPS and modern technology when it comes to directions.  My thoughts-I miss good old fashion maps.  Where you spread it out and find where you're at and where you're going and it tells you everything along the way.  I know, I know, GPS can tell you this too but no one is going to no how to use a map.  I feel like it's making us stupid and no one will be able to get anywhere without an automated voice telling them which way to go.  I like to study a map of a city before we go and figure out how their streets are laid out...get my bearings of which way is north and how to get where we want to go.  Matt likes to rely on Siri to get him places.  I tried to let go of my stubbornness and let GPS lead us to our hotel.  I tried to embrace how easy it is to simply punch in your destination.  I was good with it when we were driving.  But, once in Portland and walking I got to lead the way.  It was a good compromise.  And, when we stopped at this brewery and sat down at the map table I was in my glory.  

Throughout Portland there were little signs that made me so happy.  

Things like this graffiti on the side of a mail box...

I love this.  Matt and I have love letters from our first summer apart.  Boxes full.  It was a time before email and for this I am forever thankful.  There is something so beautiful about a box full of love letters.  

And this little gem I found in the above mentioned dive bar...

Word.

And just a few more favorites...

One thing we did do back in the day was go to the Portland Saturday Market so we had to make a stop there.  It has grown, but is still awesome.  Food, crafts, art, music, drinks and a mix of tourists with weird locals all around.  And, we must give off the local vibe because we had numerous people ask us if we were from around there and if we could give them directions to Pioneer Square or Voodoo Donuts.  

And of course...the whole reason we went...

To celebrate the wedding of a dear friend.  Weddings are awesome and this one was beautifully done.  From the purple Converse the wedding party wore to amazing food...full of vegetarian options which doesn't happen often in Montana.  It was small, intimate and so very sweet.  Celebrating love is right up there on my favorite things.  

The drive back was so very long.  The excitement gone and our bodies exhausted from the miles of walking, the late nights and partaking in far too many local brews.  I wanted to click my shoes together and be home.  Back to our babies.  The best part of coming back is always returning to our girls.

The first night home, everyone tucked safely back in their own beds I sleep peacefully.  Grateful for an amazing trip with my guy.  Grateful for the laughs, the fun and the reconnection.  Grateful for happy girls that had happily spent the days with Grandma's and cousins.  Knowing they were in good hands so we could simply enjoy.  

And, so grateful to come back and see that spring finally decided to make a real appearance in Bozeman as well...

Thank you Portland...we love you.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Birthdays.

I have taken a bit of a hiatus this past week or so and am thinking of extending it.  Part of it has been the chaos of some reconstruction at our house.  As a creature of habit and Type A personality I struggle when things are thrown out of wack.  I have tried to let it go-(this so makes me want to break into the Frozen song but the girls have begged me to quit singing it).  I think it is good for me to get out of my routine and comfort zone of having everything in a certain place.  It reminds me to breath and remember if things don't go the way I have planned, it is okay.  That being said, I am ready for my therapy session to be over and get back to normal.  Add to this has been birthday after birthday after Easter celebration and I am over it. Ready for things to slow down as we welcome spring.  More time for after dinner trips to the park, not moving furniture and tearing up carpet.  

The reason I'm thinking of extending my hiatus is because I think it is a good time to take a step back and see where I want this blog thing to go next.  I read some really negative and mean spirited comments on a popular blog I like to read.  I don't like to focus much on negativity, but something about it caught my attention.  This world of mommy-blogs and putting everything out there is fairly new.  The question asked is what will all these kids whose lives are being blasted all over the Internet think when they are older.  Now, I realize my audience is on a much smaller scale, but the thought was still valid.  Is it okay to put their lives all out there?  When I began I wanted to document our lives and expand on my writing hobby.  However, this can be done privately so what is the desire to hit the "post" button?  I do think it makes me stretch my writing when I know others may read it, I think more about how I string my words together.  I have thoughts on this and decided after this post, to take a little break from the blog world.  Writing and reading.  I find I get caught up in other peoples worlds from the few blogs I like to read regularly.  I want to take a few weeks to take a step back and re-evaluate.  

But first, I do feel compelled to gush on my other baby girl who just celebrated a birthday.  After doing that for Ava, I thought it appropriate to continue with little Miss Layla who turned seven...

This girl makes me laugh Every.  Single.  Day.  And she knows it.  Much like her daddy she loves to make a joke and get someone to laugh.  Whether it be a joke or simply being silly.  It is so hard to believe she is seven.  That seems so grown up.  I suddenly feel like our lives have been put on fast forward and I wish I could slow it down a bit.  I try to keep these feelings in check or it really stresses me out how far into this parenthood gig we are.  I so clearly remember those early baby years with her when she would scream and cry for 16 hours a day.  I would hold her and bounce on the bed for hours.  Then it seemed as if time was standing still.  Not totally fair that those hard baby years seem long and now these fun ages are going so fast.  I know, I know...all ages are fun...but I've really been digging where we are at with our girls.  Their growing independence, yet still desire to be close and with us.  

To celebrate Miss Things birthday we began with a monkey party with her friends.  Speaking of growing independence...this girl has quite a group of friends.  It's fun to sit back and watch.  
  
Layla pretty much planned her whole party.  She wanted a monkey theme, play pin the banana on the monkey and make banana splits.  This is exactly what we did.


The weather was gray and rainy, but we managed to run around outside.  I'm not sure why people throw elaborate parties....all kids need are a couple balloons-

And maybe some bubbles-

After a couple hours the party ended with a big hug for each friend.  Layla's personality draws people to her...she is open and funny.  This girl can try my patience like no other, but I wouldn't change a thing about her.  I see her always surrounded by a flurry of friends.

By the time we got to Layla's actual birthday I hate to admit, I was so over it.  Celebrations began the first weekend of April with a family party, and now we were in the last month of April and finally wrapping things up.  I love how they all went, and none were stressful.  We kept everything low-key and simple, I had just had enough.  But, I pulled on some extra mama strength to make her day special.  Because she's my baby and most certainly deserves to be celebrated.  It was a school day, so Matt and I took her to lunch and then I made her a special dinner followed by a scavenger hunt to find her gifts...

Since we don't get the girls a ton of gifts, I have found a scavenger hunt is a way to make only a few gifts a lot of fun.  I send them all over inside and out, searching for their presents, putting the riddles together. 

In the end we ended up getting Layla an American Girl doll.  I had mixed feelings on this. I think they are crazy expensive and after seeing one of their stores, a terrible example of American consumerism.  But, I looked back to my own childhood and how thrilled I was when I got my own Cabbage Patch Doll.  Seeing her happy face made all my opinions fly out the window.  I still think they are crazy expensive, but we don't splurge on a lot of toys so I'm happy with our decision.  And...FYI...I still have my Cabbage Patch Doll.

After gifts it was time for birthday singing and wishes on candles...

This girl was all smiles on her day.  So excited that it was her birthday.  She gets it that birthdays are kind-of a big deal.  

So that's that.  My girls are another year older.  Ready to rock year 7 and 9.  I can't help but say it one more time...my how time flies.  

Happy Thursday.  Be back later.  Or not.