Friday, May 31, 2013

Backyards and mountains and oceans and adventures...

I grew up in a typical mid-western college town. I lived in a neighborhood. We didn't own any land. Our backyard steeply dropped off, i.e. we didn't have much of one. We were lucky enough to be on a corner, but otherwise all you could see in all directions was houses. We were on the edge of town, so a quick walk lended itself to pasture and pasture and pasture with a creek at the end of all that pasture. And corn fields after the creek.

What I remember my dad saying most about my teenage years and my chosen activities was 'Why don't you guys DO something?!!!!' He was always exasperated by our un-creativeness (?) and our desire (need?) to just watch movies. Most phone calls (yes, to the shared landline... we didn't all have cell phones back then) went something like this

My dad 'hello!!'
Any of my friends 'Is Ami there?'
My dad 'Yep.'
Friend 'ummmm....Can I talk to her?'
My dad 'OHHHH!!! If that's what you wanted why didn't you say so. (Big laugh) She's right here'
(sometimes, to my friends he knew better, particularly my cousin who I spent almost all my time with, he would actually hang up after answering that I was in fact 'there')

Me (rolling my eyes) 'Hello?! Sorry about my dad.'
Friend 'he's funny! What are you doing later? Want to hang out?'
Me 'he's not really. Sure. What do you want to do?'
Friend 'Come over and watch a movie? I'm also calling (name 5 other people) Do you want to call some?'

And that was what we did. At least a few times a week. It was really quite boring, even though we watched some good ones. And of course, I can't remember any of them. (obviously, really good)

But the thing is, we had fantastic, creative, outdoor, not much TV watching childhoods. I'm not sure when the need to just sit down and pretend like we were cool and knew everything about everything came.
Maybe it was the shock of adulthood coming on. The jobs, all the homework, all the drama of being in high school. Something was blocking the ability to PLAY. To get lost, to wonder, to dream and imagine...

Is this something other teenagers dealt with? Or were we weird? Not to say we never did stuff. Because we did. But not like before. We didn't have adventures...

The backyard I mentioned before did end abruptly, but for several years (before they built a house there) it ended abruptly into the 'woods'. It wasn't really a forest. It was a clump or trees and bushes and undergrowth in a vacant lot in between two houses. But to me, to my brother it was the woods. There was a small clearing in the middle of the woods. It was magical really, how there could be NOTHING growing in the middle of this 'dense' grouping of trees. It was dirt. In the spring, I don't even remember weeds growing up. Whatever else it was, it was perfect. Perfect for the Boxcar Children. Yes. Absolutely. I was Jesse. I was in charge. I was the oldest (girl). I knew how to take care of everyone. I swept that dirt floor with my tree branches like my life depended on it. I snuck cups and spoons out of the house so we could pretend to be the famed orphans. Their life was so different from mine. It was exciting.

I would go out there and be lost. For hours. I was somewhere else. I was someone else. Before I had anything I wanted to escape from. I went out and created a whole new world for myself. Or we created it if I was with my brother or cousin. It was a special, sacred spot. Good thinking went on there. Pretend hunting/exploring/searching for treasure went on there. Every tree was amazing and had hundreds of uses. Watching the season change was like walking into a new forest four times a year.

When we were 12, my cousin and I decided to be explorers.  All our friends pretty much lived in one neighborhood that was about 2.5 miles from mine and we wanted to walk. The road was busy and dangerous so we decided to cut through the fields. We bushwacked our way. It took us HOURS. We crossed streams, lovely tall grass pastures, thorn thickets, dense trees, and a few neighborhood streets. (I later drew a map) We stopped off at a woman's house we knew well, she had taught us Sunday School, for some water when we were half way.
We got to our friends just in time for it to be late afternoon, and for us to be starving and the most tired we could remember feeling in a long time. I mostly remember laying on our friends driveway, arms and legs splayed out, feeling marvelous. We did it!
It didn't take long for us to call our parents and have them come get us. We were NOT walking back. We never did it again.
But it was such a fabulous experience. The wonder of seeing something new. Something you feel like no one has ever seen or charted before. The thrill of that kind of independence. My dad of course was thrilled that we were doing something! He was advocate of activity even before the dreaded teenage years hit.

A few times we walked by all that pasture (on the road this time) down to the creek. We sat, and threw rocks, and talked, and were experience something 'larger and longer standing than [our] own immediate human existence.'

Being outside is the place that I have always felt most at peace and most confident in myself. My parents have their confused faces on right now, I'm sure because I pitched a HUGE fit about all the camping we did as a pre-teen and teenager. Looking back, though, I don't think it was the camping that bothered me so much. It was doing something my friends didn't do (because they didn't!) and I dont' remember doing it before it was 'uncool'. (Also, I HATE packing and unpacking. There was a lot of that involved) I have some good memories from going. Like the time my dad and brother decided to play in the river a little longer after it had started raining so my mom and I walked back and waited for HOURS for them to come back. Turns out they had the time of their lives and also got struck by lighting while my mom and I thought they were dead.

But, really, as a kid, outside, in nature, usually by myself is where I learned who I was. Or who I wanted to be. How strong I could be. How strong I wanted to be. How creative I was. What my dreams were (run an orphanage and adopt 15 babies. Live in the French countryside. Open a cafe in Boston called Spilt Milk with my cousin.) How small I was.

And not just the Missouri outdoors, seeing the mountains for the first time was breathtaking. Literally. How could something be SO big? My cousins and I found a rock one year nearby a cabin we were staying in, we named it Humphrey. Humphrey had a little ledge that was a perfect bench for the three of us. We sat up there for what seemed like hours everyday. I tried to read, but was mostly captivated by the beauty and the peace that surrounded us. And even though I've been going to the ocean since we had a blue Toyota station wagon in the 80's it still amazes me. It's vastness. The roar of waves. The rhythmic way they rise and crest and crash. I get lost in my smallness. And the peace. The calm.

Life is messy. It's stressful. It's heartbreaking, spirit crushing. People let you down, you let people down. People don't believe in you. People misunderstand you. And sometimes in all that mess I forget who I am. That I am strong. That I have worth.

It's been particularly messy for me lately. My heart hurts.

But then.

I go outside. I take my posse and head to the mountains. We hike and climb. We feel the wind and taste the dirt. The sun burns us. Our senses are engaged watching for tracks, for birds, fields of wildflowers. And that little girl returns to me. The girl that is still inside me. The one that knows who she is. The one who knows she has worth and is loved and that she loves. The one who is creative. The one who is strong. The one who is AMAZED.
I feel it even in the backyard when a bird lands in front of me and makes eye contact before flying away again. And when a fawn tiptoes around me. When a squirrel and a bird are fighting on a telephone line with the smell of lilac being carried on the breeze.

This is it.

This is life.

To be amazed. To wonder. At 'something larger and longer standing than [our] own immediate human existence.'

It's healing.

Life feels better outside.

*quote from 'Last Child in the Woods' Richard Louv pg 296. I finished it. It was fantastic. Book review later.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This week I am grateful for...

my husband.

The past two years have found us on different schedules for most of the time, dealing with our own very real but very different stresses. It's been (and sometimes still is) so hard to see where the other is coming from. But while this could have very easily pulled us apart, we somehow keep coming back to each other.

I don't know what it is. At the end of the day, we each just want to be with each other. Regardless of what was said or done. Or not said. Or not done.

We still talk to each other, even if it's less frequent now that it used to be. And not just about the weather or how Sis or Bubs {insert funny or annoying thing here}. Talk about what we've been reading or watching or listening to, what we have been thinking about and conversations we've had. The kind of talking you do with someone you trust.

He is my best friend. He affirms me. Even though a lot of times, the way he knows how is not the way that I receive it best and vice versa. (We do not speak the same 'love language')

But when I see a note taped to a ring pop hiding in the cabinet that says 'I'd ask you again' or the orchid he got me for mother's day, or the shoes I wanted that he ordered without telling me and then made up a story he knew would make me mad so that I wouldn't see it coming, I know he loves me.

I am so proud of how hard he has worked for himself and for us. We aren't out of the woods yet. Getting a day job (that pays less boo!) in two weeks (!!!!!!!!!!) is a big start. At least we will be on the same schedule for the first time in two years. And I can't wait to experience again in all the wonderful details who this guy is!

He is so funny. And so witty.
And loyal.
And creative.
And he is always doing the 'right' thing even when that is scary or awkward.
And he is so good at hosting people.
And good at reading people.
And good at being real and honest especially when it's really hard to say 'this is what is really going on...'
And supporting me in whatever ventures I take on (except this one. I'm pretty sure he isn't reading this...) cloth diapers, breastfeeding, natural childbirth with a doula (who is our friend!), running a half marathon, baking bread, starting two book clubs, studying French...I think the only thing (besides this blog) he doesn't support me on is how many documentaries I watch. ha!

I love him. I am grateful he was brought into my life. I am grateful he is still in my life. And I will be even more grateful in two weeks when we actually get to hang out again!!!!!!

What are you grateful for this week?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Deer (do I mean singular or plural?!)

I don't even know where to start today.

So many stories.

Do you want to hear about all the poop? Or how about the herd of cattle we ran into hiking? Or the fawn who tried to tip toe past me as I was reading? Or Ole MacDonald?

I'll start with the deer.
We have a family of deer that lives-ish in our backyard. We see them regularly. They are not really afraid of us, and we welcome their company. They nap in our yard most every afternoon, or at least just on the other side of the fence. They graze all morning long back there and can often be seen in the evening just hanging out. There is a new fawn that joined their ranks this spring. S/he is still a little wobbly on its legs and at times seems much more fearless than the others and at other times seems much more scared (of us that is).

This evening I was sitting on the back patio reading a book called 'Last Child in the Woods'. (Non-fiction. About how we are all experiencing this disconnect from natureI'm only 60 pages in and I'm super fascinated. Full book review later.) I thought it would be appropriate to read a book about the outdoors, outdoors. I heard a rustling behind me and as I glanced towards our gorgeous wonderful-smelling lilac bushes I saw the fawn. She look more startled than me! She didn't move. And I just slowly turned my head back to my book. She stood for a moment, and then tip-toed around the one big tree in our yard and peered at me from behind the trunk. I didn't know animals could tip-toe. This deer was tip-toeing. Seriously. Her whole body was trying to make herself as small and as quiet as possible. We just watched each other for a long time. I sat totally still, hardly breathing, trying to send her calm vibes 'you are welcome here! you dont' need to be afraid back here!' It was this beautiful peaceful moment. She continued to tip toe back and forth across the yard for a few more minutes until she finally jumped the fence. I was in the middle of a chapter on how nature calms and soothes us. Experiencing nature with all of our senses lowers blood pressure, soothes anxiety, makes us healthier.  Coincidence?!

Moving on....
We found a new place to hike! Sis, Bubs, and I went out this morning to check it out. These kids LOVE to be outside. They love hiking. They love looking at/smelling/trying to pick-while-momma-is-not-looking-flowers. They love rocks. They love running. They love the sunshine. And so do I.
We were walking along a wide open space, so we all walked at our own pace. No need to stay together. Bubs likes to run for awhile and then something like an ant catches his attention and he stops and watches it for awhile saying 'Ant ant ant ant ant' and then finds a rock and tries to pick it up and, usually succeeds no matter the rock is the same size as he is, saying 'BIG BIG BIG rock rock!' He eventually stands up and keeps on running swinging his arms saying 'hike-ing HIKE-ing hike-ing'. He is absolutely happiest when he is outside.

The cows are all in open range now. I know this, I've seen them. We have had to drive along the highway at a crawl because the cows were crossing and grazing along the road. But yet it still surprised me when after Sis had been saying she heard cows, I looked to the left and THERE WAS A COW. 100 feet from us. SO close! And then we heard some pounding hooves and looked to the right and there was another cow running down the hill, thankfully not in our direction. We said hello to the cow and watched it, as it watched us and then we both moved on. We tried to keep out of the cows way. We got to the top of the last hill before descending back down to our car and heard some more moo-ing. We kept walking talking about the cows, and what they say and before too long we notice ALOT of cows up on the ridge of the hill we had just come from. Several calves were in the herd. I started counting. I got to 18 before I wasn't sure what cows I had or hadn't counted yet. They took their time walking across the ridge and we just stood and watch them. Some of them bounded like they thought they were deer, some just mosied.

Flowers and Rocks!

 That seems like enough story for today...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Vert. Verde. Green.

I have a bike.

It's no ordinary bike. It's awesome. It's a 'coaster'. It has no gears. It has no hand brake. It's blue. It has a basket. It walked out of 1952 and into my life in such a wonderful way.

After surviving a year of nursing school with two babies and one car Brad and I still liked each other. Enough to get each other graduation presents. (!) I got one because 'he couldn't have done it with out me'

Because Brad loves surprises, to be and to get, I had no idea I was getting anything. But I had been talking about getting a bike for quite awhile but had no idea what I wanted. Road bike, mountain bike, some sort of weird hybrid...didn't know. We walked into a sporting goods store one day and I saw it. And fell in love. This super cute bike that was not good for anything except cruising around town. Which was what I wanted to do anyway. As per usual, I daydreamed about the bike for the rest of the day. Mostly about how cool I would look and feel cruising down the road with my bike that had a basket. And I could go to the grocery store, or the library, or wherever and do my errands and ride back knowing all the while that everyone would be so jealous of my cute ride.

Then I forgot about it and inevitably started daydreaming about something else like having an in-ground trampoline or living in a quaint French village for a while.

One day, Brad started acting very shady. Which is what he does when he has something up his sleeve, but he won't give an inch. Totally unlike me, I get so excited about whatever exciting surprise I've thought of that I CANNOT keep it to myself, especially if he knows something is up. And he is pretty perceptive. So he usually knows.

When he got home from school that night he brought me outside after the kids were in bed and introduced me to Lucy. My oh-so-cute Lucy. It just so happened that a girl in his class had a bike JUST like the one I'd been daydreaming about that she was looking to sell. She asked Brad if he knew anyone who wanted one. Amazing.

I rode her around the block barefoot. A little nervous because it had been approximately four years since I'd been on a bike. And it was weird to not have a hand brake. I was like 7 again. But we immediately fell in love.

But the funny thing was that I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to pedal her. I'd been running. I thought I was in pretty good shape. But it was just hard. And we didn't live in a great place to be biking-at the cross roads of two pretty busy streets in St. Louis. And school wasn't over yet. So she sat in the garage for a bit. Then we moved to Lander.

I rode her to the library a few times. I road her to coffee shop a few times. And then it was winter. I still didn't know why it was so hard to ride her. (did I mention that I know NOTHING about bikes?)

This spring I was anxious to get her out and really start using her, so I took her down to the local bike shop to get a tune-up. At this point I realized part of the problem was there was not much air left in her tires, so I had to walk her down to the shop because pedaling made my heart pound out of my chest and sweat bullets.

It took them 3 days to tune her up. It took me 5 weeks to pick her up. I had no thoughts of abandoning her I promise! But, we got sick. And then it snowed. And then Brad went to UT for his birthday. And then it snowed. And then I forgot. And then it snowed. And then it snowed. And then it snowed.

I finally got her and took her out for a spin Saturday. It is unbelievably what a little air in the tires, lubed up chain, and tightened up everything can do. I made a 10 mile loop. It wasn't a great loop to do with a no-gear cruiser bike. The wind was in my face. It was a lot of big hills. But it was so fun. So fun.

And today I took her out to run some errands. SO fun. And I think the best part, for right now is the green.

It's GREEN. Everywhere. The mountains are turning green. The trees are flowering. We are a few months behind lots of other people but I think it makes me that much more ecstatic about it. The fresh air blows in my face and into my lungs and I see vibrant LIFE. And I feel it in my bones. Things are alive. There is life! It came again. Every winter when things are dead it is so hard to imagine that anything alive can every come from those dead branches and brown grass again. But it does. It comes. Every time. And every time I am blown away. I'm blown away by the miracle of the seasons, but also by how my soul seems to follow the seasons. Spring makes me feel alive from the hibernating cold dead of winter.

And to be able to cruise around, not really working at pedaling and breathe that in, to feel it all over is, just, *long contended no words can be found and no words are needed SIGH*

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

so many things ...

#1 I now have cowgirl boots. Yes. I do. ($3 at the thrift store) I would show you a picture, but it's on my phone and I haven't the energy to get the cord. If you are lucky you might get to see them later. They are awesome. And totally legit. I wore them to church today and felt like I fit in. Today I was a Wyomingite. For real.
I got the energy. Here is me looking sad (why?), my boots (!!!!), and my Mother's Day orchid (!!!!)

#2 THUNDERSTORMS!!!!! And a lot of rain which is awesome for this high desert. The days started out sunny and warm this week and by 1 or 2 in the afternoon the wind was moving and the rain was coming and the thunder was rolling.

#3 So much green! And flowering trees!

#4 All my running and training for this stupid half marathon is producing some great things in me:
      *endurance (9 miles today!)
      *runner's legs!
      * and not so great, runner's feet. My poor flip flop loving toes are getting BEAT UP. Poor toes.

#5 New friends.


#6 BBQs!! We were invited to a small bbq that happened to be when Brad was off and we were invited with enough notice that we could talk about and then actually go! It was so fun to hang out in someone else's backyard while the kids ran around crazy and have a small enough group that we could actually talk with everyone there, who we didn't really know before last night.

#7 I'm tentative to say this, BUT I think Sis is getting the hang off the 'no paci' thing. HOORAY!

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Office

Is anyone else as sad about this as I am?

Having a whole year to prepare for it did not make it any easier to watch.

I know it's so super lame and cheesy, but I think I really am bff with Jim and Pam. And probably Oscar. He seems cool.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A running me vs a mountain thunderstorm.

I just got home from a run in the rain. A thunder, howling winds, and sleet kind of rain.

This is the best thing to happen all week!
(I'm sure that's not what you were expecting me to say was it?!)

Maybe I should back up to explain.

On the heels of my-best-mothers-day-ever weekend where I got to do what I want and drink mojitos and have a bonfire and hang out with friends I had the brilliant idea that it was time to get rid of Sis's paci. Again.

The thing is that she was an intense baby. She was so intense that she rarely would go for fifteen minutes without starting to get grumpy. West diaper, change scenery, change diaper again, now I'm overtired and dont want to sleep, there is a stranger in the house! (who is not really a stranger they come over often). When she was two weeks old my parents, brother, and sister-in-law came to visit. This is supposed to be the time where newborns just sleep and sleep and let anyone hold them. Not Sis. She knew when I was not holding her even then and was not having it. And by the end of the weekend she was so overtired from all the over stimulation of all the people holding her and talking to her that she cried and cried and cried and cried. And the only thing that would help her was being swaddled tight tight tight (thank you daddy.) and her pacifier. This was a trend that continued throughout much of her babyhood. Although we tried to get her too, she would not fall asleep without being swaddled until she was 8 months old.

And the paci. We have tried to get rid of it twice before. Each time failed miserably. The first nap/nighttime would go ok and it would quite quickly go down hill from there. Missed naps, late bedtimes and a very very cranky girl that no one wanted to deal with. So we would give her the paci back just so we could all get some sleep.

But it's starting to affect her teeth. And she is almost three. Time to bite the bullet. We talked it up. We said that she was a big girl now and big girls don't have pacis. She of course added that she was a princess. She did it. She put her paci in the trash. She knew what was happening. But of course, with this intense girl, all the preparation hasn't changed much. Currently, she is standing at her door, with it open crying. LOUDLY. And in an 800 sq. ft. house with hardwood floors it echoes quite a bit. We are all miserable. She is up several times a night. She is having a really hard time falling asleep at night as well.

But we are committed this time. It is time to give it up. So we just have to tough out the next week or so until she gets the hang of it.

Because she is not getting good sleep, she is cranky. CRANKY! When my kids are hungry or tired no one wants to be around them.  So, on the heels of my super restful weekend I walked into this mess. At least the weekend as helped me get through the week so far. :) BUT. There comes a time when the reserves are gone. That was today. I hadn't had any good time by myself for more than a week. I usually get at least one run by myself in a week and that hadn't happened SO instead of running with my running partner today as I would normally, I told her I needed to go out by myself.

As I steeped out it was a breezy 72 degrees, mostly cloudy with rain coming in over the mountains. What I've learned about mountain weather so far is that it's weird and you really have no idea what it is going to do. Generally, if it is snowing in the mountains it is not likely that it will be snowing in town. I thought this would be true for rain as well. So I head out, without my music because I needed it to be quiet so I could think and just be. As I ran out of town towards the mountains I saw the storms clouds start moving towards town. I still thought it would blow over, until I turned the corner and started heading back towards town. The wind was pushing me. It was blowing all the little bits of dirt and gravel all over the back of my legs. It was howling. Literally. Like a huge mythological dog that lives in the clouds was chasing me. And because the wind was pushing me I was running like he was chasing me. ha! I was about 1.5 miles from my car. A small enough distance that I thought I could outrun the clouds. Until I felt the drops on the back of my legs. The storm was licking my heels. The thunder rolled. And then it poured. The clouds just dropped it all. As I rounded the corner on 3rd street, the finally stretch, I felt something sting my arm. I looked around and there was sleet everywhere. Soon the sleet was outnumbering the raindrops. My legs still have sleet marks. The temperature had obviously dropped, and while it could have been miserable, it wasn't. I mean, what was I going to do? Either run through it and be miserable. Or run through it and love it. I choose to love it. And by the time I got to my car it had stopped and the sun had all but come out, I was soaking wet and ready to take on the rest of the day.

I think it was just the kind of challenge I needed to refocus myself for the end of the week.

How do you refocus?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I have a boy.

I'm not one to gender discriminate or gender socialize...ok. well, I try not to at least. Sis's room was green! With a massive tree painted on one wall. And despite our efforts she introduces herself (recently to people she sees on a regular basis and know her well) as 'Brooklyn the Princess'. However, we still try to be fair. We encourage her to play baseball and kick a soccer ball around. When she is doing something hard, say trying to climb the webbing at the park I encourage her from below with 'You are a strong girl. You can do it! Look, you are such a strong girl you are doing it!' And when she is well-behaved and holding it together when I know she is stressed out and tired and asks for a nap (!!! never happens but did on mothers day!!) so she can have some down time by herself I applaud her with the same refrain 'I am so proud of you. You are such a strong girl!' And when we are hiking in the awesome 80 degree weather we are currently having and Sis is wearing snow boots bc she thinks of them as her 'hiking' boots and she trips and stumbles on a log and scrapes her knee up the worst she has  as of yet and I say 'That is such a bummer! I'm sorry it happened. You are such a strong girl! You are doing a great job hiking. You are a great hiker. Can we run and catch daddy?!!' And then she does.

And on the flip side, Bubs likes to wear Sis's necklaces, he likes to wear headbands (and hats!), he likes to have me 'spray' him with my perfume (and deodorant), he gets excited about shoes (although, I feel like that is more because getting his shoes is now something he is able to do by himself), he is starting to care what he wears, and always wants 'gel gel gel gel gel gel' in his hair. I don't discourage any of these things. Although, when he asks for nail polish Brad usually gets out the Sharpies and gives him a tatoo of a truck instead.

But. I have a boy. And I have a girl. But this is about the boy.

For the first year or so of his life, Bub lived quietly in the shadows. Our life was a mess and if I was going to have a baby at that point I needed one like him. So. Chill.
After we moved up here, the mountain air started to get to him and it was like he woke up. He was silly. He was talking. He was imitating. He was creating. (He still has a hard time BUILDING anything with his blocks his pop pop made him. He just likes to throw them!) and so has been the story for the last 7 months. We knew brooklyn right away. Everyone knows her right away. But this dude we are just now slowly getting to know.

And as we get to know him we discover these things about him that we didn't teach. He LOVES trucks. He LOVES balls. He LOVES to eat dirt. He pours water on the ground and then gets down on all fours to try and lick it up. Yes, he does. It's so gross. But he has a cute little dirt nose when he gets up. He loves to reach for everything. He wants to take everything apart. He wants to put everything together. He wants to climb climb climb and I do not have to encourage him from the bottom that he is a strong boy. Something in the core of his being tells him this is so. All of this abandon to his curiosity inevitable leads to falls.

He mostly falls on his face. Mostly in one spot. Mostly his front tooth. He has had about three fat lips this spring. Which were made worse by falling and hitting the same spot after it was already swollen. He handles it like a champ. He knows the drill. He knows how we clean up the blood. He knows I'll hold him for a bit and then he wants down and he is off exploring the next thing. He is starting to tell us what hurts when he falls. And it usually sounds like this 'mouth mouth mouth mouth' 'does you mouth hurt Bub?' 'uh huh yesh'

Recently we were at the park. There is a big piece of playground equipment with big slide and monkey bars and such and a small piece with a tunnel and small stairs and a wheel, for the little kids. Kids like Bubs. But where the little slide used to be (I'm told) there is nothing. It just drops off. About 2.5-3 feet. This makes me nervous, but heights are the one thing that make Bub nervous so I wasn't too worried about it. But he showed his courage when he tried to go down that big drop off on his belly backwards like we taught him to go down the stairs. So, I was nervous again. And I just kept watching him and discouraging him from being up there.
We were at the park with several other moms and kids. And it was time to go, and I wasn't paying too close attention because Brooklyn found a dirty My Little Pony and was trying to take it home, and I was trying to make sure we had all our jackets and water and everything together when I heard it. The noise that makes your heart DROP. THUD. and then wails. And I knew without turning around because thats the weird thing about being a mom is that you learn your kids cry and can pick out of a crowd and you also learn what the cry means. Hurt cry, sad cry, hungry cry, frustrated cry. It was my kid. It was Bub. And it was a hurt cry. So I run over to him. he is face down (thankfully on mulch, could have been worse) where he fell off the drop off. His mouth was full of blood. Full. I almost panicked. Scenes from the ER flashing through my head. And how would that work? Brad was sleeping, do I take both kids? Do I try and get someone to watch Sis? But it's almost naptime. Disaster! My poor sweet little dude just clung to me, and eventually tucked his arms in between me and his belly. His favorite snuggling position.

And I talked myself through it 'Ami, you have a boy. You have a BOY. This will not be the last time his mouth is full of blood. This will probably not be the worst time his mouth is full of blood.Your husband is a nurse. It will be fine'

And it was. By the time we got home he was smiling and playing, although you could tell he was still a little sore. But the blood has mostly stopped and he didn't want to get cleaned up, he just wanted to play in the dirt in the backyard.

I want my kids to be adventurous and not be afraid of falling, because its in the falling and getting back up and trying again that we learn right? Let's go for it! Let's do and be and embrace life! And sometimes our mouths will be full of blood. Sometimes we will have pretty banged up knees. But it doesn't mean we should stop playing at the park. Or stop hiking the mountains.
And I know that. I know that I want that for myself. I know that I want it for my husband. I know that I want it for my kids.

But the falling is sometimes so hard, you know? So painful. It's painful to watch these falls my kiddos make. I can't imagine the falls they will make when they are older.

And, I'm so not ready for trips to the emergency room, but I have a feeling they are coming soon.

Also, sometimes you just get 'stuck stuck stuck!!!!' in a box.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day is like my birthday!

I just had

Granted, I don't remember the past three that celebrated me. I was pregnant, I had a baby and was pregnant, and then I had two babies and a husband in school full time that I never saw.

But I'm not sure that anything could have been better.

All of my 'activities': running, walking, reading, studying, etc all usually have to happen while the kiddos are sleeping. So what I usually want is to do these things when it's not naptime! And by myself. be on my own schedule, mostly, for the day.

Our friends live about an hour further into the mountains from us. We go up and hang out on a fairly regular basis. They have two kids as well, their ages staggered around ours so everybody has a playmate. And this weekend was the girls weekend to play.

We decided we wanted to do a long run (I'm training for the Lander half on July 4th!). And we had several routes to choose from. After weighing pros and cons an 8 mile pretty hilly in the beginning route was chosen. We drove out there, miles down a gravel route to the Whiskey Basin. There are three lakes and the gateway to the Wind River Mountains, Whiskey Mountain. The gravel road splits off to take you to trails and to the lakes. We parked on the side of the road at the bottom of a hill that was going to be the first part of our run. The boys were coming with the kids to pick up the car later.

It was the most beautiful run! Badlands and lakes on one side and just-now-turning-green mountains towered above us on the other. It was in the mid 70's and sunny but we only saw three cars our whole time out there. It was just us and the road. It's our husbands who are friends, and we haven't gotten a lot of time to just hang out as girls and it was such a great environment to get to know someone.

We walked a good part of the last couple miles because the wind picked up and for that day we didn't have the drive to beat it. It was a defeating wind. But we stopped at a neighbors house for some water on the way home, sat on the front porch and just enjoyed being child and husband less for a while.

We grilled elk kabobs for dinner. Elk is my new favorite. So. Good. And decided we wanted to celebrate mother's day eve with mojitos. We made some up, and started up a bonfire. Cloudless night, sliver of a moon, beautiful weather, good friends, new friends, and mojitos. Can't ask for anything better!

The night was rough, and it would take much too long to say why. We all had a hard time sleeping and the four of us ended up in the same room after being awake for about 1.5 hours in the middle of the night. But after we got everyone settled back in, it was really sweet. The four of us together like that.

The next morning brought warmth straight away. We normally have to wait until 10 or so before it starts warming up (the nights are still cold!), but Sunday morning was all sun and warmth! French toast and bacon were on the menu. As was another run! We hiked up the hills behind their house and ran some and walked some, a 4 mile loop that had quite a few white and purple wildflowers growing (!!!!!)

I didn't get much sleep but my soul feels refreshed if even just a little bit.  The air, the warmth, the sun, the beauty, the friendship, the time without 'being in charge'.

PS Brad brought me French toast in bed this morning. AWESOME.
Also, he bought me an orchid. BEAUTIFUL. I've been wanting one!!
Also, when Brooklyn was complaining about me running without her, Brad pulled her aside and told her that this was my special day, like my birthday so 'momma can do whatever she wants' he is a freaking ROCKSTAR.

PPS Sunday morning also brought alot of 'Happy Momma Day momma!' and Bubs even tried to chime in.

One more thing...I do have the best mom EVER. EVER. EVER. No contest. Love you mom!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


In an attempt to teach our children about earning and saving their money, we have been giving them 'coins' when they clean up their toys at night. Not every night...I mean, they don't get coins every night but they do have to clean up their toys (most) every night. It's usually a penny but sometimes a quarter. Whatever is in my husband's pocket.
They have no idea what it's worth or what can be done with it except putting it into a piggy bank they each have on their window sill. They know that Dora gets coins from her backpack sometimes to get things like ice cream after they have spent 20 minutes chasing the ice cream truck down through lakes full of alligators and forests full of snakes. So they get excited about the coins. Bubs like to take his piggy bank and say 'shake shake shake' while he is 'shake shake shake'ing the piggy bank. The shaking has gotten very loud as the number of coins has grown.

So yesterday.

We decided to take a road trip!

Daddy told the kids they could buy something at Wal-mart with their own money. Brooklyn immediately said 'a purple dress for barbie?!' She's been asking for awhile now for a purple dress for her one and only Barbie that we got for free at the thrift store around Christmas time. Bubs didn't know what anyone was talking about. He kept shoving peanut butter toast in his mouth.

We got dressed for the anticipated warmth of the day and got on the road. Wal-mart is a 30 minute drive north of here. And there is a Wendy's across the street. We don't have any of those. We only have McD's and a few other chains that we aren't big fans of. So everyone was the anxious tingle of excitement. get out of town, beautiful weather!, wendy's, purple dress for barbie!, and probably a truck.

Ever since our arrival we had been turning on the portable DVD player for all trips outside of town. This, so far, it includes the 30 minute drive to Wal-mart and the 1 hr 15 min drive to Critter and Debel's house. Brooklyn, Jackson, and I have not traveled out of the county in 7 mos. WHAT?!
Anyway, I realized that it was totally ridiculous and not OK to let our children watch a show on the 20 minute drive to wal-mart. These kids were born in St. Louis where we had to drive at least 20-25 minutes to get anywhere!

So, this time I said not a word about movies or shows or watching. Nothing. I just said 'get some books and a toy you want with you' Brooklyn brought two books and her Barbie (of course) and Bubs brought his BB (his blankie). We road with the windows down and the music up....oh wait this is not that kind of road trip. Children were involved. It was more like, windows down, 'Momma, it's cold I don't like that wind' Windows partially up. 'Momma, I dont like that!' My window up. Passenger window down. Music on and up. 'momma fjfdksa;fd jfsaklfdja (something unintelligible)' music off 'what baby girl?' 'fjdsakfds fjdsaklfdjsa; more unintelligible' music back on...and back and forth.

But everyone was happy.

Of course, the first thing we had to do upon our arrival at Wal-mart (despite all the other shopping we had come to do) was find a purple dress for Barbie. We hit the truck aisle first so I picked out some trucks for Bub to choose between. I held three up and said 'Choose one truck Bub' 'ok, yes' he took all three. So we did the exercise again until he realized he could really only get one truck.

Next was Barbie aisle!
Brooklyn walked up and down and up and down that aisle. And of course the only things that are on her level are the big Barbie houses and expensive things that her little $4 wont' be able to buy. I told her she had $4 so she needed to look for a #4. Up and down she perused so intensely 'Let's see here. What we get barbie? Let's see...' And as I perused the top I realized that the only thing she would be able to afford was a SKANKY dress. It was super uber duper short, and leopard print and it plunged and I thought 'ABSOLUTELY not. Especially not now when you are still 2. And probably not ever.' And of course the more 'tasteful' (I mean barbie herself isn't exactly tasteful...but I'm not here to argue about the merits and demerits (??) of Barbie) clothes were too expensive. Ever so hesitatingly and cautiously I leaned down and said 'Sis. I don't think we are going to find something here.' Quick thinking which is not a skill I normally posses led me to say the most brilliant tantrum saving statement 'let's go to the thrift store when we get home and see what they have there.' The response from my intense, independent, strong-willed, I-know-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now child was 'ok momma. sure! We go to thrift store find a purple dress for Barbie!' And just like that we were on our way down the milk aisle.

While we were there we also picked out some big boy underwear for Bub! I picked out some that I like and asked what he thought. He shook his head vehemently and said 'NO NO NO' and pointed to the far side of the boys underwear section. it took me a few minutes to figure out what he was pointing towards. CARS! he wanted the Cars underwear! So he got them. He was quite proud.

It got rough towards the end. We were tired of being in the huge store with lots of people and those obnoxious florescent lights. So we went to Wendy's for a quick snack. And Brooklyn sang the WHOLE way home. And Bubs took a snooze. The only time that I thought I might have lost her was when I said 'We are almost home' and she got the 'I'm going to cry' voice on and said 'I dont want to go home! I go to thrift store and get purple dress for Barbie!' I quickly saved that one and we were on our way again with Old MacDonald keeping us company.

We stopped at one of our town's three thrift stores. And they did not have anything to satisfy the specific needs of this 2.5 year old. So we made a deal to go to the other thrift store after naps. Still no tantrum!

We got home, ate lunch outside, and took naps. And first thing when she woke up was 'It's time to go to thrift store!'

We are a short 8 or so blocks from this store. We took a walk, on which The Wheels on the Bus kept us company (I think someone was so excited!) Brooklyn and Bubs spontaneously held hands most of the way there and I thought I was going to have a heart attack watching them be so gentle and kind with one another.

We walked into the store and she found what she wanted almost immediately. It was purple, it was pink. But this was it. She held onto it for dear life while we wondered aimlessly around the store and I found some awesome cowgirl boots for $3!

We set our stuff on the counter, B opened her money bag and pulled out her $.50 and handed it to the lady. She was nervous, and proud, and her joy was bubbling out all over the place. I tried to remind her that it was HER money that SHE had earned by doing her 'chores'. But she just kept looking at her new toy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Gratitude

The calm. The quiet. The stillness.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings take us to the local indoor pool. They offer swim lessons for kids 2+. The teachers are college age competitive swimmers. And while they are mostly male (only one female teacher) they are awesome with the kids!

The newbie swimmers are always easy to pick out because they are the ones with the nervous looking mommas and they are the ones who are screaming when she tries to leave. If the mommas have nerve enough to just run out the door and up onto the bleachers that first class they will quickly learn just how great these teachers are. They get the kids distracted by all the fun things they do: kicking, splashing, jumping, swimming out to the ropes!, blowing bubbles...all kinds of fun things. Often times though mommas are not ready to do that quite yet. Sadly I was one of those. It took three weeks of me (and Bubs!) getting in the pool with B for her to not scream as soon as we came out of the locker room. Which involved getting three people undressed and dressed again in a 30 minute time period. It was not my favorite three weeks of life. We worked really hard at home talking about how fun swim lessons was and I even made a 'map'. Just like Dora's map. We rehearsed it 'First we go to the baby pool, then the big pool, then the hot tub, then the locker room and that's how we do swim lessons!'.  We talked about it at dinner where she could see the map on the wall, we talked about it at the grocery store while she was also practicing her 'swimmer arms', and we talked about it on the way to swim lessons and in the locker room as we were about to go out 'there'. She would be excited until the moment we opened the door. And then her whole body turned stiff and slow with apprehension. She clung to me and started to whine. And if I ever moved out of her reach her whine became a scream.

That was all months ago. Now, Brooklyn wishes she had swim lessons everyday. She talks about her teachers like they are her friends. She waves emphatically and says 'Hi! I coming to swim lessons today. See? I have my swim suit on' when she sees them. The kids in her class are her best friends. She gets in trouble during class for having tickle fights with one of the girls. She practices her swimming on the couch and in the bathtub. She doesn't want to leave the hot tub (I dont really blame her for that).
And when she is done, she has had a work out. She has swam hard. She has played hard. And she is hungry, so she gets a snack while getting dressed. She is tired, so I can usually expect a cranky girl for the rest of the morning. The only way to avoid it is to go from the car to the backyard and stay out all morning, because being outside is one of the only things that flips the 'cranky switch' for either of these kids. Snow in the spring does not make this easy. Sometimes we play at a neighbor's house and while it is sometimes worth the distraction in the short run, getting her to leave is worse than pulling teeth. Kicking, screaming, yelling, throwing shoes...all of that 'NO IM IN CHARGE!!' business. All because she's tired and getting hungry again.

So imagine my surprise this past week when we came home and I went straight to the kitchen to get a snack for myself. I checked my phone while I ate and then sat down and got on the computer to look something up. And then, I realized. And I was flooded with gratitude. And such joy that you could say I was giddy. While I should have been breaking up fights, and fixing shoes, and saying 'try again, that sounded ugly' and 'please don't yell. That is not how we talk to me' and 'you need to stop throwing a fit. Please go to your room until you can calm down.' and 'Bubba get OFF of her!' 'Both of you in time out right now!' My kids were playing TOGETHER. QUIETLY. in the OTHER ROOM! They had been for the last 15 minutes! I was sitting in a chair. No one was saying 'HELP!' or 'Bubba DONT PUSH ME!' or 'MOOOMMMMMMMMMIIIEEEEEE' or 'wawee wawee wawee wawee wawee' and there was no one pulling on my leg or climbing up my back or touching my face or playing with my hair.

That kitchen was still. It was quiet. It was calm.

There was peace in the house. A harmony. A harmony that comes from little people working it out together. When they want to play together and they figure out how to do it on their own. Without fighting. They compromise. They share.

They continued to play very well together for most of the morning and I found myself drawing on that unbelievable miraculous event for the rest of the week.

If that isn't something to be grateful for this week I'm not sure what is.

Oh yes, I do! It rained yesterday. My first Wyoming rain. It's only snowed since we arrived in October. And while I would really love for there to be no clouds at all because we've seen a lot of them lately, I will take the rain over the snow. Thankful that while so slow in coming this year, spring is arriving.

What are grateful for today?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The ranch Pt. 2

My friend has the biggest smile I have ever seen. It reviles Julia's. It's beautiful. And welcoming. And kind. As is she. She is one of those people who says things like 'yeah, it was a really good challenge' when most normal people say 'that was the hardest worst thing I've ever done in my life' She gives up her free time to watch peoples kids so they can go on a date for FREE.
She is a magnet for people. They are drawn to her smile, her kindness, her generosity, her love.
ALL people are drawn to her. Even kids.

My kids adore her. When they hear she is coming they get very excited. When they hear they are going to 'her' ranch they get even more excited.

It's not actually her ranch, but Brooklyn doesn't understand the term 'housesitter'. So we just call it her ranch.

The ranch that my friend occasionally housesits for is amazing. It's on the southwest side of town. Down a gravel road less than a mile. There are lots of houses, but it doesn't feel like a lot because there are acres and acres that separate them from each other. The view to the east and the south are of mountains and mountains and mountains. Pulling up to the house, it's unassuming enough. A small log cabin with a horse corral on the other side of the drive. But little by little the house and its land reveal their wonder. The house has a front porch that faces east so the sun rising over the mountains is the view that reveals itself every morning. An old golden retriever named Jackson runs with his heart but limps with his body and happily greets all who come to visit.

Jackson, the boy, loves Jackson, the dog. He loves all dogs really. But this one carries his name! So he shouts excitedly as soon as Jackson, the dog, is in sight 'GOG! GOG! GOG! GOG!' Brooklyn, who has learned to affirm her brother says 'Bubba look! It's a dog! Oh, he's so happy to see us!' They are barely out of their car seats, not even on the ground and Jackson, the dog, is licking their toes Bubs continues to yell 'GOG! GOG! GOG! GOG!' While Brooklyn says 'He lick my toes momma! Hee Hee that silly. Silly dog. You lick my toes!' My friend, who is housesitting, greets us with a puppy. Bubs continues 'GOG! GOG! GOG!GOG!' pointing at the puppy and Jackson the dog. Brooklyn is not sure of the super squirmy furry little nibbler. Although the reassurance that the puppy is just 'really happy to see us!' does seem to qualm some of her anxiety over the new pup.
It doesn't take her long to realize why we are actually here and she starts asking to 'feed the horses?!' Carrots are grabbed from the fridge and we walk into the bright afternoon sunshine toward the pasture that is home to four horses. Four beautiful horses. Neither the kids nor the horses know what to think of each other. One makes loud, screeching, yelling, unpredictable sounds. The other is huge and up close and snorts. But carrot offerings of friendship are made and accepted. Bubs yells 'NEIGH! NEIGH! NEIGH! NEIGH!' Brooklyn says 'It's my girl! it's my girl! I feed my girl! Bubs you feed your boy, ok!' Bubs yells 'NEIGH! NEIGH! NEIGH!' and then, 'WALK! WALK! WALK!' When he has found the courage to brave the horses on his own, outside his momma's arms. A tentative bond has been made. The pasture is filled with things that a pasture with horses in it would be filled with. It gets stepped on, and picked up, and almost, but thankfully not, eaten.  The horses have eaten their 'carrot candy!!' (because carrots are like candy to horses) and now it's time for 'hay, that's what horses eat momma. They eat hay. But I eat food. And bubs eats food. And daddy eats food. I like peanut butter and jelly.' Inside the barn is stray farm cat. Jackson, the dog, barks like he owns the place. He probably does. Brooklyn helps untie the bale of hay and only freaks out a little about the cat. Bubba is hanging onto Momma for dear life. Jackson, the dog, chases the cat away as a sled filled with hay is drug out by the bulging muscles of a two and a half year old. She is something special now! The hay is laid out in four-ish piles. One for each of the horses. The horses are led into the corral from the pasture and they eat.

We watch them eat. We watch with wonder and excitement and amazement. The sun's warmth, the sky's clear blueness, the wind's steady breeze, the mountains view behind the horses, the log cabin all infiltrate our senses until we are enchanted. We never want to leave ever. Yes. This is it. This farm, this cabin should be our home! And these horses ours to ride! With neighbors so near but yet so far. With a daily, first thing you see in the morning, reminder of smallness. With a sky so big that you can breathe and breathe and breathe. Lungs filled with fresh air and sunshine and sanity.

But alas, too soon it is time to return to what actually is our home and make something for ourselves to eat. Protests are made. Fits are thrown, but hunger and authority win out, although even the authority does not want to leave. This place is good for the soul. This is the kind of place we want to end up.

And this is the kind of friend I have made. A friend who is willing to take time out of her day to let some kids experience this. And I am thankful.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The ranch Pt. 1

I have made a few friends up here in this rugged country.

It's a small, isolated town. We are forced together. Forced to look for the good in everyone we meet because the chance that we will see them in the grocery store, at the park, on a walk, at the library, at that meeting, wherever is pretty good.

 I'm not so good at this yet. I've just come from a big city. You know, the kind where you will never run into anyone you know, unless you have planned it.  The people you meet everyday you don't necessarily have to like. Be kind, yes. But like? Not so much. You probably won't see them again. So even if it was a bad day and kindness was somewhere far out of reach, the guilt can be easily assuaged by this knowledge.

So I'm learning. Learning what it means to be in community with my community. Live with these people even if I come across some I don't like. It's not an easy task. Especially for me.

I'm an introvert. Which does not mean that I am socially retarded. It just means that I prefer to process things more slowly and by myself. I like to write, it's as I write that I really start to understand what I'm thinking. I like to run, by myself, because that's where I get to work out the painful parts of life.
It also means that I prefer to have a few close friends, and that I really dislike small talk. For instance, when I first walk into a big gathering of people my senses are assaulted. Faces, bodies, movement, smells, noises, voices, lights all come at me at once. If I have my kids with me, there is that as well. Someone wanting to be held, someone wanting to run away. Someone screaming.
My brain kicks into hyper drive 'whose face is that? and that? and that? Where is that body moving? How should my body move in response? WHAT is THAT smell? What is that smell!?! That is such a loud voice. Whose is it? What is their name? Bright lights! Dark lights!....' and on and on it goes as my brain tries to identify all of its surroundings immediately. But, my brain doesn't work that fast. As it's trying to fill me in on everything around me someone I know (or don't) sees me from across the way and smiles. At first, relief! Something familiar! A face! A smile! But as they get closer my brain is still in hyperdrive noticing new things all the time. That painting on the wall. That carpet. Her shoes. Where did they come from? Those chairs? What should the kids be doing? Where do they go? Shoes off? Shoes on? Coats where? Bag where? The familiar arrives and says 'Hi! How's it going?!' and my automatic first response no matter how easy of a day it has been is '*SIGH*' Familiar then thinks I'm stressed out and it's been a rough day. When in fact we are probably doing ok. We probably sang silly songs on the way over. We probably laughed about Bubs being 'CRAZY!!' in the backseat (he shakes his head back and forth so hard it makes me dizzy and kicks his feet like he is going to break the seat down) We probably danced in the kitchen before putting shoes on. Someone was probably in time out for not listening when Momma said it was time to get shoes on. Someone was probably throwing a fit because they didn't like whatever shoes had been picked out. It has probably been a normal OK kind of  day. BUT for that moment, the moment when I've just arrived and haven't gotten my bearings yet, when people are swirling around me that I know and that I do not know, I am overwhelmed. And I need a minute to get it together.

And the small talk that ensues after such an encounter. 'we are doing alright. how are you?' 'good! Aren't you so glad it's nice today? But supposed to snow tomorrow!' 'Ugh I know! But I am so glad for the sun today'  '...........'  'Well, it's good to see you!' And off they go. And I feel like an idiot. But really. I do not really want to talk about the weather. What I want to do is find a cozy spot. On the couch, or in a chair at a table. I want to settle my kids in wherever they are supposed to be. I want to sit with someone I know, or someone that I want to know who seems equally interested in getting to know me and I want to talk. I want to tell stories and I want to hear stories. Silly ones. Sad ones. True ones. About dreams. Or your cousins best friend. Or a blogger. Or kids. Or 'how did you get up here?' and I want to hear the REAL story. The long one. And I want to tell the long story. I want to laugh. And eat some good food if that's appropriate and probably have a glass of wine or two.

Now that, is a good time.

Of course, all this is a bit different if church is involved. Not only are all the people things and light things and noise things going on, but someone is talking to you. About big things that need to be thought about and processed. And I don't do well processing important potentially life-giving information while I'm still trying to deal with all that other stuff. Which makes me want to duck out of there ASAP so that I can get to the still quiet car which honestly feels like a haven from the noise every single Sunday. And I start processing what I just heard and felt and said and sang. or not. Sometimes I just think about what's for lunch.

These are all things that I've known about myself for a very, very long time. But we live in an extroverted culture...err...a culture that values extroversion. I have had a lot of extroverted friends. My dad is an extrovert! So for a long long time I tried to hide it. I doubt I did a good job. I'm sure it was obvious. But I tried. Being an introvert was not 'cool' in high school. Or really in college. And so I learned from my dad. I learned how to mingle even though I dread(ed) it and hate(d) every single moment of it. UGH. (I had to mingle for a job once. Chat business people up in hopes that they would give more money or more support to our organization. Worst. Experience. Ever.) As the years have gone on, and I've had hard things happen to me. The normal painful experiences of living in a broken world. I've come to a place where I can say, this is who I am. And I am ok. I do not need to be my dad, or my extroverted friends. I can fully embrace myself, because this is who I was made to be. And that is freedom. I don't have to apologize for who I am. (probably for some of the ugly things I still do although I so wish I didn't) And that is freedom. I don't have to apologize for who my kids are, because they are not a reflection of me. I am who I am. They are who they are. And I know that I am doing my best. I know that my husband is doing his best, and that, well, they aren't ours to begin with.

So when I go to a new place, I know all this about myself. I know that I like a few friends and deep conversations. I know that I get very excited about the things I'm passionate about (and sometimes that's too intense for people. But look at Gordon Ramsey. He is passionate. He is intense. He doesn't apologize. And we, customers of the restaurants and chefs he helps are so grateful!) And I know that I hate small talk. So how do I go about making new friends??? I psych myself up. Thats how. I say' Ami, play this like you are extrovert.' And I do. I can fool a few people. I can act like a great extrovert when I need to do so, although instead of being energized, I am drained.

I got to Lander and I played it up. I went to everything I could think of and chatted everyone up. Park. Library. Moms groups. Swim lessons. Bible study. Church. Where people going to be there? Yes?! ok, I'll go.

I've met some great moms. Moms whose kids are the same age as mine so we can fumble our way through this stage of life together trying to figure out HOW in the world we are going to make it. Moms whose kids are older, so I can learn that I just have to make it to 5. And then we will have a HUGE party because things start to get easier with kids who are starting to reason. (This is what I have heard. Please do not rain on my parade. This is my sanity.) I've met one dad. The only one in Lander who stays home with his kiddo. He is a brave man. He is always surrounded by women, including his only child, a 2 yr old girl.

I have also met some great people who are not moms! I've met women who are young, unmarried, and childless. They help me remember that underneath the snot, the drool, the poop, the baby teething gel, the midnight wake up calls for water and 'POTTTTYYYYY!!!!!' I am, in fact, a person. There are things I want to do, want to know, places I want to see, ideas I want to explore, books I want to read, and so many discussions about all these things I want to have that are nearly impossible with someone pushing someone else out of the way for the slide and someone else saying 'mommiiieee hep peesseee hep peesseeeee hep peeeeessssseeeeeee!!!!!' as they try to climb the slide from the bottom up.

One of these women, is who I want to talk about.  But you'll have to wait until tomorrow!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Saturday was beautiful! It was in the 50's by 9:30. So I decided to brave the mountains with my kids. Just my kids and I. No hubs. Outnumbered.

Now. We had tried this once before. It was a winter day. It was cold. But it was sunny. And we desperately needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air. I put their boots on and talked up the hike. We were ready to go. Until we got there. And the path was covered in snow and ice. I had brilliantly thought that since both kids can walk, that they both could hike as well. This was terribly wrong. Having never actually used her feet to hike before, only daddy's back, Brooklyn did not know what to do. Jackson was thrilled at the freedom of not being strapped to anyone and only wanted to sit down and eat snow. As I encouraged them onward, Brooklyn became more and more of a disaster. The snow was deep, the hills were steep, and J was having a very hard time walking in the snow.
With Brooklyn slipping and Jackson sitting I said 'Let's go or we are going home!' Brooklyn promptly replied in her best whiny/verge of crying voice 'NO! Let's hike!' So we trudged onward a bit more.
It didn't take us too long to turn around and head back to the car with B crying the whole way 'NO go home! I want hike!'

Some reflection that afternoon gave me the insight that I needed. One of them needs to be on my back. It's the only way it will work.

So on Saturday, we tried again. Jackson on my back. Brooklyn with her 'hiking' (snow) boots on. Bright blue sunny skies. Warm air. Rushing river. Mostly dry path, some mud and some snow. As we got out of the car J said 'WAAA WEEEEE!!!!!' (note: he rarely SAYS anything. It is mostly all yelled) so hand him his sippy. He drinks, and then holds onto his cup. It' like a security thing. He walks around the house and the yard holding on to his cups for dear life. I resigned myself to the fact that I would end up carrying the cup through most if not all of the hike. It was a price I was willing to pay.

The trail we took has a suspension bridge over the river at the very beginning. B was feeling afraid as she rocked back and forth with each step. I was concentrating on helping her and I could feel it as it happened, but was not able to stop it: the cup went over the bridge into the water. And we watched it, helpless to do anything but that, float down the river and get stuck in-between a couple of rocks. Brooklyn screamed like it was her life that was floating down. She insisted that we do something! Nothing to do but carry on. So we walked on. She hiked up the first snow covered hill and did awesome. We got to a dry patch and we were rocking it. A few snow patches later and she started having a hard time, so I held her hand. And then I held her. Half way around our mile loop we stopped to climb on rocks. I let J get down and we climbed up and slid down. Climbed and slid. Climbed and slid.

We finished our hike with B on my back and J walking. Stopping to chuck every rock he could into the river below.

I kept encouraging them. I was so proud of how well they were doing. I told B she was doing a great job and was a great hiker. She said 'yeah, but hiking is hard!'

They were exhausted and starving when we got back and it was so worth it!

Unfortunately, it is snowing here again and we will have to wait a few days to try again but I am so excited for this summer and the adventures it will bring us. Hiking, camping, swimming in the river, teaching our kids to love being outside. And I can't wait to tell you all about it!