Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring Break 2016.

It's spring!  Which in Montana means the fact that it was snowing sideways early this afternoon is totally normal.  I've always thought winter was my least favorite season, but I think I've changed my mind.  It's spring.  At least with winter you know what you are getting.  You can count on it being cold and snowy.  I actually welcome this in the winter because it always looks so pretty and perfectly festive for the holidays.  With spring most people would be expecting tulips to be popping up, birds to be returning and temperatures inching up.  Those people don't live here.  Yes, we have flowers popping up and the robins returning.  However, as soon as I get excited about these signs of spring the snow begins falling, the temperatures drop and the flowers get buried.  The robins hop around on the wet sidewalks with looks on their little bird faces, like " what the heck, why didn't we go to California instead?"  Spring in Montana is just a tease...she flirts with us...go ahead, get out your patio stuff, maybe have a beer out there one evening.  Just kidding, not quite done with the snow.  Ugh.  

Okay, okay.  That's enough of my spring rant.  We have had a couple beautiful days tucked in there...just enough to give us hope.  We also just finished spring break.  We didn't go anywhere warm, no vacation, no real plans.  Yet, it was just what we needed.  A break from the school routine, no homework, activities or bedtimes.  A slower pace.  I had to work most of it so Matt took a few days off to hang with the girls.  There was some cousin time, some playdates with friends and lots of indoor activities thanks to the not-spring-like weather (seriously, I'll stop complaining.)  To wrap it up we went with our friends for a weekend getaway adventure.  We had loose plans to go for a soak at a local hot springs and stay at their families cabin tucked in the mountains.  It may not have been Spring Break 1999 (the year in college we all went to Mexico), but Spring Break 2016 was still pretty awesome.  

There's something about getting out of town that instantly gives the vacation vibe.  Pack the car, hit the road and get away.  First stop, Fairmont Hot Springs.  The sun was shining, but the wind was freezing so we stayed in the warm water watching our little fish of children splash around for hours.  Finally when we were all so starved for lunch we were able to convince them it was time to leave.  Rather than eat there we took our friends advice and drove the short distance into Anaconda where she promised was the cutest little diner that had converted VW slug bugs as tables.  It did not disappoint.  

Stomachs full, we went from the dry roads in town to a winter wonderland at the cabin.  As much as I'm ready for spring, it was fun to go someplace where it was FULL of snow.  Not the wet snow storms we keep having in Bozeman where it sticks for a minute, melts and makes everything turn to mud...but real snow the kids could play in.  They traded their swimsuits for snow pants and jumped in.  The parents found their spots on the fantastic back deck and soaked up the warm sunshine that was reflecting off all that snow.  Visiting, laughing, engaging in snowball fights with the kids and just enjoying.  

The sun was so warm we sat out there until it set over the frozen nearby lake.  The light was gorgeous...


I think it's from all my happy childhood memories of going to our cabin that I love doing things like this.  It's nothing fancy, but cabins always feel so cozy.  Once the sun went down we were all tucked inside, eating dinner...kids played games and fell asleep watching movies.  Adults playing cards, drinking beers and laughing.  A lot.  I love it.  I love that we have been with these friends since those spring break days of 1999 and while things certainly have changed since then, the laughter and love is the same.  It makes me so happy.  

The next day we got up slow.  No one was ready to get back to Bozeman because that meant the real world had to begin again and spring break would officially be over.  There is a small Montana town, Phillipsburg a short drive away that Matt and I had never been.   Our friends had and said how cute it was.  The decision was made to take the long way home and check it out.  Oh my gosh...it is the cutest little place!

The main street is full of restaurants, coffee shops, stores, a brewery and the kids favorite...a huge candy store!


So many decisions!!  I loved the old buildings and the small town charm.  I loved that there was a pay phone, something our kids had never seen before...

I loved telling them how we used to carry dimes around just in case we needed to make a phone call because there were no cell phones.  Yup, we totally dated ourselves with them.  We wandered up and down the whole Main Street, made a detour to a pizza place that was closed but found a great park instead for the kids to run around.  Still not quite ready to let go, we headed back to the main street for lunch.  Sadly after that we knew it was time.  We made the long drive back to Bozeman.  Happily exhausted after the fun-filled couple of days.  

Spring Break 2016 may not have been filled with Corona's and night clubs, but I wouldn't trade them.  I love the memories we have from those crazy days, but I love even more the family memories we are making with our crazy kiddos.

Now if Spring would just stop flirting with us and officially come to Bozeman I'd be a very happy girl.  


Thursday, February 11, 2016

38.

I approach birthdays a little like I do New Years.  It's a time of reflection of the past year and a look into how you want this next year to go.  It marks another year gone of this thing we call life and I get all sorts of feelings about it.  Last week I said goodbye to 37 and welcomed 38...

I also believe strongly that birthdays are meant to be celebrated.  To quote Dr. Seuss..."Wake up!  For today is your day of all days!  Today you are you that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you."  It's a day just for you...not a day to be skipped over quickly, not a day to have to go to work...a day to do what makes you happy.  I like to keep it simple and surround myself with loved ones. I started the day with hugs and birthday wishes from my favorite girls.  They are figuring out this whole birthday thing and how special they are.  The day was spent with my family in the morning and a hike along with an afternoon brewery trip with my favorite guy...

It may be February but we had a gorgeous, blue sky day and the trail to ourselves.  Oh how I love the quiet in the mountains in the winter.  As much as I miss having the birds around, there is something about the peace and calm this time of year.  We topped the day off with a cheesecake lovingly made by Matt and Layla and a scavenger hunt made by the girls.  So sweet.  

I also believe in stretching birthdays out for a whole week so we kept it going through the weekend.  Matt had planned a night away at one of Montana's best places...Rainbow Ranch in Big Sky.  We kissed the kids goodbye and headed for this beautiful mountain resort.  It did not disappoint...

It is the most relaxing place.  We spent the next 24 hours drinking wine, eating good food, sitting outside on our patio listening the partially frozen river ramble by and then warming up by the fireplace inside.  Throw in plenty of time soaking in their amazing hot tub taking in the mountain views...

One night is simply not enough here.  I left feeling rejuvenated and oh-so-grateful for my husband.  He's so good.  

Now I'm in the next year of life.  38.  This is what I know...

-I am beginning 38 as a non-runner.  
This is difficult as I've been running for the past 20 years.  After hurting myself last spring, my 37 year old self kept pushing on.  I finally gave in and stopped to give myself time to heal.  It has been hard.  Now at 38 I have come to terms with it.  I will continue to try and heal and know that by being gentle I may be able to end my 38th year as a runner again.

-I am sad to see my thirties come to an end.  
I try not to worry too much about age.  Knowing each year continues to get better.  However, I have loved my thirties so very much.  I sort of wish I could rewind them.  I wouldn't do anything different I just want to do them again.  I found my twenties, like most, such a confusing time.  The contentment that has come with this decade makes everything so much easier.  Calmer.  I wish it would all just slow down a bit.

-I'm right where I want to be.
I'm so happy where I am in life right now as a 38 year old mom, wife, person.  Living in this beautiful community where the mountains are just a hop skip and jump away.  Near family and friends.  But...

-I wish for adventure.
As much as I love it here, I never thought I'd end up raising a family in my hometown.  Giving them similar experiences of my own childhood.  While there is so much good in this, I sometimes long for something else...a new place, a new adventure, giving them a totally different experience than my own.  Living someplace that perhaps doesn't have nine months of winter...where you don't even have to own snow boots.  Seeing how happy and thriving they are I can't imagine taking them away from it and I know adventure is still in our future.  It may just be a several years away.  This is okay.  I'm really getting into Matt's plan for "the year of the van" after Layla goes off to college.

-I am grateful.  Happy.  
I have always believed in looking for the good in things and finding gratitude in life.  In the past couple of years I've really tried to act on this rather than just think it.  Making it more a way of life...finding the happy in situations, meditating and taking time to feel truly grateful for things that happened throughout the day.  It's a constant practice, but it is becoming more natural.  Maybe it comes with age.  If that's the case than I am so grateful for my 38th year.  

Cheers to many more birthday celebrations.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dealing with January.

So we're in it.  The smack middle of winter.  Deep in the grey of January.  No hope for spring for months to come.  I've been good with this until I went on a hike last week and I carefully tried to stay on my two feet while slipping up the hill (yes, it is possible to slip up a hill, it just has to be very icy).  I realized how much I missed seeing color.  Right now it's all shades of grey, white and brown.  I am missing the vibrance of green and wildflowers and brilliant blue sky.  I let myself feel bummed out about this as I stumbled up a few more switchbacks.  When I approached the top and took in a deep breath I was humbled by all those negative thoughts of this not being beautiful...

Of course it's easy to get sick of winter around here, but truly time flies by anymore. I might feel bummed that it's only January right now, when I should know April is right around the corner.  As someone who is really trying to enjoy these little moments each day I need to realize it means every day.  Not just the sunny, eighty degree ones.  It means the Monday morning in the middle of winter.  It was a good reminder.  

My kids love winter.  I have a suspicion they may like it more than summer (gasp)!  I get it.  They have way better circulation so they don't get cold and we end every outside activity with hot chocolate.  (I think I need to encourage more ice cream eating in the summer to counteract this a bit.)  In the summer we do a lot of what I love doing...hiking, camping, getting out on the water.  In the winter the activities are all about the kids and certainly not something we would be doing without them.  These girls are all about it...

That face says it all.  Flying down snowy hills or gliding across shimmering ice on skates.  Taking a break on the side to cool down with natures best snack, snow...

I do believe they would fill every weekend with ice skating, sledding and hot chocolate and skip right past the summer months.  I know as long as I get to be a part of this and still get into the mountains once in awhile I am happy.  Even if it means standing in the snowy side lines trying not to freeze my toes off.  I just wished I liked hot cocoa more.  

Speaking of getting into the mountains still, a couple of weeks ago Matt and I started off a date night with a sunset hike.  Talk about feeling gratitude for the snowy beauty...there's something very peaceful about being on a snow-packed trail in the cold.  Everything is a little quieter.  The colors of the sunset are somehow magnified by the blanket of white on the valley below.  It was pretty awesome. 

As we made our way back down the trail you could see the lights of Bozeman beginning to pop on, lighting everything up.  We left the peace of the mountain and ended up in a loud brewery.  It's funny to be in two such different worlds within moments.  Solitude one and then with friends sharing laughs and a beer in the next.  We are so lucky.

The next time I'm feeling down about the cold, snow and drear I'll remind myself how quickly it will be gone.  If I've learned one thing each year I get older, it's that time keeps going faster.  I often find myself wishing I was younger again (yikes, I have a birthday coming up that will push me firmly into my late thirties!) or yearning for the girls to be babies again and wanting to stop them from growing older.  Yet at the same time I wish away the winter months each year.  This is just craziness.  You can't have it both ways and while I know time won't slow down I do know I can embrace each day.  No matter what season.  No matter what the weather.  Embrace what we have today so I don't look back later wishing I could come back to this very moment.  Snow and all.  

Until next time...