Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Trips part three

More Colorado...ya, I know.


We found the family plot in Creede. It took quite a bit of searching but Shane was the one who found it :)

 They were refurbishing the little church in Creede, it looked beautiful.
 
 

Summer Trips part two

I will let the gorgeous pictures speak for themselves in Colorado. Suffice it to say, we were very taken with our trip there.  The whole family can't wait to go back in the fall!

 Alyssa on her hike at the top of Wolf Creek Pass
 Some gorgeous land in Pagosa Springs ;)
 Griffin and Alyssa made a good friend at the cabin, Michael the cat.
 Daddy and Lyssie Belle fishing.
 She was so ready to try out every trick she learned watching all the River Monster episodes! I think Jeremy Wade would have been proud ;)
 My goofy boys.
 Savannah had just informed Cassandra that "you are short and bossy but I love you!"
 My little fishergirl.
 Me and my cubby.
 Crazies.
 We had such a gorgeous spot to fish! Clouds and breeze and then sun and breeze. Sadly, no fish biting.
Me, boy and our favorite photobomber!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Trips Part One

This summer has been a glorious whirlwind of travel! As you know, we started off the last day of school headed to Disneyland. A couple of weeks later, Shane and I went to San Diego to mix a little business with our anniversary getaway. Recently, he had a conference in northern Arizona so we tagged along and went to Bearizona, the Flagstaff Arboretum and then headed up to Colorado.

San Diego was awesome! We stayed in a gorgeous hotel right next door to Seaport Village. We did a harbor cruise (I had not done one of those since before we had kids) and we toured the USS Midway! What a great experience! I really didn't care much about doing it but Shane was really excited so I said sure ;) It turned out to be amazing!

Our trip to Flagstaff was great, it was pleasently chilly! We swam, got in the hot tub, hiked all over the Arboretum, saw squirrels and all sorts of beautiful birds. We went to Bearizona which is a preserve of sorts. They have bears, wolves, bison, fox, badgers, mountain goats and more! You drive through part of it and then there is a walk through section which is much like a tiny zoo. They had adult bears in the drive through part, adolescent and baby bears in the walk through section. We had a great time and again, the weather was gorgeous!

We finished up our 2 days in Flagstaff and headed straight up to Colorado. It was sad to see how much of the Ponderosa Pines that had been destroyed by the Bark Beetles. The aspens were still alive and flourishing but the pines were just dead and brown. Crumbling in many cases. It had been 12 years since I had been to Colorado, I had forgotten how much I liked it there. We went up through Durango, Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek Pass and stayed in Southfork in some cute little cabins. We fished, hiked, saw a TON of wildlife. OMG, I have never seen so many different kinds of animals not in a zoo! We drove to Lake City which is breathtaking!! I saw moose, deer, squirrels, beaver dams, porcupine nests, birds....so much! The valley leading there with all the horses and ranches was so beautiful. It was like watching a Robert Redford movie, so scenic! We went to Creede a couple of times. I love that little town, so much colorful history. We went to the old Creede cemetary to find the Leonard family plot. Apparently, Leonards settled there to mine silver in the 1800s. The cemetary was very pretty and very old. We walked and walked until Shane found the Leonard plots.



We went fishing one day. It was one of the few cloudy days during our stay. The kids were super excited! Alyssa has watched so many episodes of River Monsters, she was delighted to try out her own fishing skills. She was surprisingly quiet and patient. I reminded the kids that fishing is not an exciting sport (unless you are Jeremy Wade, netting a monster) and that they had to be very quiet. They had a great time and we were out there much longer than I figured we would be! The fish were not biting but they were well fed by the time we left our spot....We all loved the small towns and being outdoors so much. We can't wait to go back!


 Our anniversary in San Diego
 Headed to Flagstaff and then on to Colorado
 We had a great time in Flagstaff
 Bearizona
 Flagstaff Arboretum
 Enjoying the fact we were outside and not sweating! Beautiful skies, lots of squirrels and killer swarms of butterflies ;)
 My love
 Gorgeous Flagstaff skies
Shane and Cassandra goofing it up at Cracker Barrel as we head out to Colorado

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Disneyland part TWO :)

 Waiting in Cars Land
 The best kind of family picture :)
 Aunt Julie's first time on California Screamin' but Cassandra is an "old pro."
Shane (waving) and Griffin (his first time!)
 
Another successful Disney trip and a wonderful kick off to summer break! They never saw it coming and I'll never forget how excited they were. <3 p="">

Disneyland Surprise Part ONE!

We pulled off the biggest of all surprises! After MONTHS of planning, dodging curve balls in scheduling for the last day of school ( we received last min notice that all of the kids were getting academic awards and special awards on the LAST DAY!)Thankfully, our schools rock and they moved our kids to the front of the award line so they could be done in time for us to leave town on time! We arrived at each of the 3 schools midday and picked the kids up. They were under the impression they were having an epic sleepover with their aunt/uncle/cousins to celebrate the end of school. Shane and I had packed and dropped off our suitcases at their aunt and uncle's house so that none of them would be suspicious of the luggage. Upon arriving at Uncle Andy and Aunt Julie's house, each of the kids was given a bag with 2 things...first being a small Disney themed stuffed toy and 2nd, a Disney gift card. On the back of each card was a word and when each kid read theirs in sequence it said...

"LET'S GO TO DISNEYLAND...RIGHT NOW!"
 
After much screaming, disbelief and one pissed off kid because she didn't want to miss a sleepover with her cousins...we were on the road!
 
Don't worry, it only took Alyssa about 15 min to get over the attitude because she really realized that her cousins would be at Disneyland also! This scheduling phenomenon had not happened since Christmas of 2009!
 
So, without further delay..here are our pictures!
 
 These are the little bags of love containing our surprise! WOOOO
 Still a little dazed but ready to go!
 We have arrived :) Dinner at the Grand Californian Hotel~Storyteller Cafe
 We "grown ups" are just as excited!
 YAY DISNEYLAND
 We broke tradition and rode Indian Jones first.
 Cassandra and B, they rode many rides together on this trip.
 Andy, Savannah and Shane waiting for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The refurb was worth it, what an awesome ride!
 Alyssa joins the party ;)
 The kids were pretty blah about all the princesses except this one, check out Brandon's face!!!!!! He looks like he just landed the "catch" of the day! (See what I did there?)
 We waited 60 min for Dumbo. Never again...well, not until I have grandchildren ;)
 My and my Cubby flying high!
Alyssa and Sully. I FINALLY got this kid on the horse drawn trolly after almost 7 years of her visiting Disneyland. Whew, cross that one off the bucket list!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Turning 40

Most of you know that I am usually behind on blogging. This post about turning 40 is no exception! My birthday was January 5th and here we are in April when I'm finally blogging about it. Oh well, better late than never, right?

I know that turning 40 is something a lot of people fear. I did not. Don't get me wrong, when I was turning 30 I had all sorts of friends asking me if I was ok, was I freaking out? I kept saying I was fine and then two weeks before my birthday I completely lost my marbles! Why didn't I feel that way turning 40? I have some theories because if nothing else, I've become more reflective in my life ;) So here is the long reflection...

When I was turning 30 I was very unhappy with myself. I was severely overweight, I was in a miserable soul sucking job, I was tired, cranky and frazzled much of the time. I'm not saying I was unhappy with my life but I was absolutely unhappy with myself. A couple of years later great things started to happen. I "retired" from my miserable job, we had Alyssa, I joined PTO, I loved being home with the kids and taking care of everyone. All those things brought me great happiness but I still didn't like myself for a myriad of reasons. When I was 35 I decided to join Weight Watchers and I lost over 90 lbs over a period of 2 years. I am still working on my goals because I did learn that for me, managing weight is a forever process. I think that losing that weight also helped me lose a lot of emotional baggage once I realized WHY I ate like I did and I started to like myself more. 36 rolled around and I decided that looking back, I had kept myself from doing a lot of things because I worried about what other people would think. I finally realized that it's ok for me to want things for ME and that if those things make other people uncomfortable, that's their problem. I got my boob job and my first tattoo within 6 months of each other ;) Two things that I had wanted since I was about 15 years old...it's never too late to accomplish the things you want for yourself. The more I allowed myself to recognize that it's ok to be yourself and be true to yourself, the happier I was.

There is definite happiness I felt from being married to Shane and having the kids but there is a different happiness I found from myself by finally accepting me for who I am. I don't have to hide what I think will drive people away. I'm not saying that I go out of my way to be obnoxious but I am to the point that I realize I'd rather you hate me for being my true self than to love me for pretending to be something I'm not. I still pause from time to time...wondering, if I say or do this or that will it drive someone away? Would it keep this person from being  my friend? So far, the answer is no. I feel lighter. Not just because I've lost over 100 lbs by now but because I keep reminding myself not to weigh myself down with unnecessary crap.

Another thing I have struggled with for a great portion of my life is religion. I was raised Catholic even though I never felt comfortable in church. My mom had me when she was in high school and raised me on her own until she married my (step) dad when I was 14. In elementary school the kids at church were mean to me. Some of them insisted that if my mom wasn't divorced then I HAD to be adopted. Some said that there was no way I could have been baptized Catholic if I had no dad. The ugliness escalated from there. Looking back, I realize that most of those kids probably didn't have those thoughts on their own, they were just regurgitating what they heard from their parents. Regardless, that's not an overly Christian attitude. Or is it? Is that the problem? Faith is just not something that I come by naturally. I also don't come by it forcefully. Believe me, I've tried. I did take a break from church from high school to around age 32. Shane and I decided that baptizing the kids would be a good idea. We joined the church he had grown up in and I jumped in with both feet. I thought that surrounding myself with good church people would help me find my faith. I even taught Sunday School to Pre K/K kids for 2 years. I hoped that some of their faith would rub off on me but at the end of the day...it did not. So here I was, struggling to feel what I just don't because atheist can be such an ugly word. Since losing my father in law in 2012 I would have to say that atheist is the word that best describes me. Maybe Agnostic...I just don't know at this point. A label seems pointless in some ways. I do not believe in God. There, I said it...in black and white. Maybe there will come a day...a moment that I will feel differently but for now, this is where I am in my life. Once I was able to admit to myself my feelings, I felt a burden lifted off of me. I felt peace in my heart. I do not strive to be a good person because a bible tells me to. I don't do it to assure myself a place in heaven. I do it because it is the right thing to do, it feels good to help people and to be caring. There is so much ugliness in the name of religion that it completely turned me off to the idea of pursuing it any further. I have often said that Christianity would be great if it weren't for the Christians. Yes, I know..right now someone has their dander up. I know not all Christians are that way but I encounter more who are than not. I just hope that if nothing else, our kids will look back and say that we did good things for people we loved and people we didn't even know.

So there it is, part of what 40 years on the planet has taught me. We lost Mike at age 60. I will not complain about getting older, it is a gift. I am more thankful than ever for every day I wake up, period. That's one more day I get to participate in which, oddly enough, is something Mike used to say when I'd ask how is day was going. "I was able to participate." And sometimes, that's enough.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

We had an awesome Easter weekend!! We had a nice and relaxing Friday with all the kids home. The weather was cloudy and breezy, so beautiful. Saturday we had another nice and quiet day until joining our neighbors at their church. That was quite an experience! They go to a very contemporary church which is very different from what I am used to having grown up going to Catholic churches and then Episcoplaian churches in more recent years. Some of our kids really liked it (as Savannah said, it was more like a rock concert than a church sermon) while a couple were not as impressed. I am glad we went, I know it meant a lot to our neighbors :) There were some awesome food trucks there too and FREE COFFEE! HA! You all know I can be easily suckered in by free coffee.

Sunday we had a brief egg hunt in the backyard. Griffin and Alyssa had a lot of fun! Cassandra and Savannah went out and grabbed a few eggs each and then were done. They missed out, Griffin and Alyssa made over $20 each in egg money. You snooze, you lose ;)

We had a family dinner at Buca di Beppos with my parents, sis, Shane's brother & family and Shane's step mom. It was a great dinner, we laughed a lot and just had a good time all around.

So, as usual, here come the pictures!