Wednesday, August 26, 2015

my recent montana trip

I have always loved traveling solo.  It gives me time to think, write, dream, and plow through books at warp speed (compared to my nightly 'read one page and fall asleep' speed.)

Recently I ventured to Montana to visit my sister Heidi.  She is my older sister by five years, but many times people assume I am the older one.  Heidi, though thirty-something, with a figure that is tiny, despite birthing four beautiful children.  Besides that, she just looks youthful!  If you can't tell, I adore my sis.  Always have.  Even when we were little and I stole all her clothes and followed her and her friends around like a really annoying lost puppy.  She is just great.

So I flew out through Big Sky to see her and her fam.  I wanted some good quality time with all of them, and I feel like I got it over those four days.  Her kids are a lot of fun and that made it easier to be away from my own little blondies.

I cannot believe that Heidi has an (almost) ten-year-old. What?!?  Isabel is beautiful, and it is kinda crazy how much like me she is.  She likes a ton of the same things ( ie writing, art, drama), reads voraciously, questions everything, and total introvert.   She even has written four (probably more by now) chapters of her first novel.  I am blown away by Bel - her passion and how self-aware she is.

Her little bro Logan is pretty awesome, too.  ENERGY!  Loud and total boy, yet I was able to steal a few snuggles.  Greyson - the third of four kiddos, like me - loved talking to me about Transformers and his Hotwheels tracks and playing with me and the youngest, Selah, in the basement with all the lights off.  (That sounds creepy, but kids like to play weird games and I've learned through my own littles not to question the fun they like to have.)  Grey was a little shyer but nothing a little tickling, and subsequent shrieking, didn't fix.  As for Selah, she only two months younger than Finola, and is a tiny little peanut.  The sweetest thing, with a teeny high voice and a delicate way of walking -- but so much FUN!  She let me snuggle her quite a bit and reminded me of Fin in a lot of ways -- just full of smiles and life!

My sister and I got to have plenty of deep (and some not-so-deep) conversations over coffee at their kitchen table, at her gym, and out to dinner.  Her hubby joined in on a few, too!  I am in awe that they have been married sixteen years!  Oh, and she started dating him at Brian and I know each other pretty well.  I definitely gave him a lot of grief in our younger days.   Now that we are all adults I try to do that less.  :)

While I missed my own family over those four days, even more than expected, I know it was good for me to have uninterrupted time with my sis and her fam, whom I maybe see twice a year.

It is important to me, despite not having quantity of time, we have quality time.  (My love language!)

What a great four days for that.

Here are some moments from my visit...

introducing selah to selfies.
One of the three books I read during my trip.  This book truly is *life changing* - and a bit kooky.  But I've already gotten rid of five garbage bags of stuff, with lots more to go!
apple tree in the backyard.
sunset over flathead lake.  we try to hike in the mountains this time, but did a tiny hike and sat on some rocks to enjoy this view.
selah dancing at the backyard party we went to.  she looooved the band.
backyard bunnies.
the kids kept stealing chocolate covered almonds from the kitchen, and I found several on the blanket in my room. in light of the bunnies sometimes being invited in the house, I was a bit wary.
selah was excited for a postcard from uncle spence (my little bro)
her third child greyson.  kind of a loner.  I totally get it.  #thirdchildoffour
Heidi and I went out for a sister night out in whitefish, and this is where we went for dinner.  Casey's is significant only because it was featured on Sean's season of "The Bachelor."   We are nerds like that.  
one of the bunnies.  I can't remember any of their names.  bad auntie.
drank some delicious beer at this little spot.
finding the "montana light" for a pre-night out selfie.  I am still loving my short cut!
logan the daredevil on his mini four wheeler
Selah and her willingness to snuggle helped me not feel *as* sad about being away from my two babes.  the others I had to steal kisses and hugs from!
my sister made me amazingly delish and creative breakfasts.  this one I've already made several times, post-trip!
sunset over the mountains.  the mountains were always at least this close.
sun shining through the poplars in the backyard.

logan, with his dramatic loudness and hilarity, reminded me most of my kids. 
my sis and her youngest in a bouncy house.  oh, the things we do for our babes. 
the boys enjoy the inflatable slide at a picnic we went to one day.
auntie sandwich in the back of the minivan.
My sis and her hubby Brian on our "adult night out."  So fun!
Heid and I.  I wish we had taken more photos together!!!!  
Such a fun little trip.  I miss you already, sis!!!!  Thanks for being such a lovely host.  Hopefully next time we see each other the cousins will all be able to be there, too.  They are gonna have such a crazy, loud, amazing time together.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

my style : short hair

Hair.  A topic I love.  I believe in my heart that we all (even guys) have a 'hair story.'

Hair can be intimately tied to our emotions.  Even when it is other people's hair.  Example: When I was six and chopped into my hair so I could have bangs like my sister.  (I mean, come on, it was the 1980's...why didn't I have bangs????)  Well, my mom felt much differently and had quite the negative reaction to my self-induced haircut.  I got a heckuva spanking and lots of yelling/lecturing about that one.

BUT...I got my rad permed bangs!

Then my mother got her revenge by putting me in this dress and bow...
well played, mom, well played.
A year later I chopped my hair again.  It was literally down to my butt and I probably cut it to mid-back.  But, again, my mom seemed to be emotionally tied to my hair, and, again, I got punished for cutting my own hair, and there were many tears my mom.

Here is what I deduce from this : I really wanted to experiment with my hair!  Even at a young age.

Starting in high school my mom eventually "let go" and allowed me to do all kinds of weird things to my hair.  We didn't have money for lots of salon visits so she bought me products like "Sun-In" and whatever box of hair color I wanted.  And I chopped my own bangs on the regular...usually with very un-even and ridiculous results.

Needless to say I had horrible hair in high school.
junior year - "blonde-in-a-box."  not a good look.
In college, when I was independent and working all the time, I started going to the salon for my haircuts.  Wow! What a different that made!  Now I could experiment and have it look decent!  I mostly had long hair, but every once in a while would chop it all off.

Usually major hair changes in college followed some kind of break up with a guy.  I remember one particularly emotionally-jarring break-up. I broke up with him, but right after I did he said he actually wanted to end it anyway, and ripped me a new one about every flaw I had.  So, I did what any woman whose pride has been wounded would do: I went out and got all-over blonde highlights.  Now I don't look good as a blonde, really, but there was something cathartic about drastically changing my look.
"A woman who changes her hair is about to change her life." 
Or she's just bored.

My attitude has always been : It's just hair.  It will grow back.  (Which is easy for me to spout because my hair grows ridiculously fast.)

Not much has changed since college.  I still like to change it up.  Long, short.  Bangs, no bangs. Dark brown, natural, ombre.

Recently I really got the itch to chop it again.  I briefly considered a pixie, like I shared in this post a couple years ago.  But ultimately decided on a piecey, chin-length bob instead, with no bangs.
before and after...
I honestly feel more comfortable in short hair.  I feel like it fits my personality better -- and I simply feel more vibrant as a human being.  I know women who would say the opposite - that their long hair makes them feel more feminine and happy (and perhaps their significant other likes it better, too) and would never consider going short.

We all have the hair length + style we feel best in.  Or if you haven't figured it out yet - experiment!

And mamas...if you have a daughter who decides to give herself a haircut, with heartbreaking (to you) results...perhaps she is just trying to find her own personal style.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

a lil road trip

Recently we took a road trip to Wisconsin for a family reunion.  

I haven't seem most of my extended family in eight years or I really wanted to prioritize this little weekend adventure.  The kids and I drove the roughly six hours to Chicago, where we picked up Hubby from the airport, as he had been traveling for work that week.  From there we drove another hour to Rockford, IL and stayed in a hotel for the night, where we jumped on the beds, swam in the pool, and ate pizza.  The next day we got ready and drove another two hours to just past Wisconsin Dells, where my extended family reunion was being held.  It started at 11am so we just barely made it.  We caught up, took family photos, laughed, chased the tiny kiddos who were dead-set on running off, ate delicious food during a potluck for lunch (hello, we are Minnesotans!) and then a catered dinner later.  We played lots of games (the family is very competitive) and even had a worship service together.  It was pretty cool to hear our voices praying and singing "How Great Thou Art" together, the sound wafting through the atmosphere.

The whole event was a lovely reminder of where and who I come from : an organist who met a pastor in Minnesota and fell in love...creating a large family of people that love Jesus.

I will say that this was the first road trip with the kiddos where I have felt, well, relaxed.  I didn't really worry whether they would sleep well in the hotel the first night, or how we would feed them, or if it would truly be any fun at all.  ("Will mama get any breaks from this vacay?!?!?")

Things are just easier now that they are two and four.  (Seriously.  I'm not joking.)

I feel like we get to experience things together, rather than them being too tiny to enjoy/remember our travel experience, or us being too tired/stressed to pay attention to it.

A person should really always should keep a journal while traveling.  I usually do, but somehow it got away from me.  There were all these really cute little things I meant to remember.  Then when we got home I was so exhausted I couldn't remember anything.  The struggle is real.

Thankfully, I tried to snap a ton of photos throughout the weekend...
why walk when you can be carried?

we found plenty to do at rest areas during our drive. Nola playing hide and seek solo while cormac slays me with an impressive stick.
my favorite travel companion
the kids refused to enjoy any water fun at the indoor water park...but they loooooved the blue Icees.
"Sand angels, Mama!"  Fin always finds a way to be one with nature.
napping with dada.
there were various terrible two diva tantrums
walking through the trailer park with dada.
 Auntie Anne's pretzel stop at an Oasis near Chicago.  We are regulars at these places, I feel.
 The blondies loving on their uncle Spence during our breakfast out!
the guys 
my mama, fin and me
taking a break at an Oasis
being a bear 

jumping and "surfing" on the hotel bed

cormac has mastered the "stop taking my photo" scowl.
meanwhile, finola will always give me a good "cheese!"
we visited the really lovely cabins where the rest of the fam stayed.  we, however, were in the Jellystone trailer park due to my late booking.  I thought "trailer...hmmm...could be fun and kitschy!"  lol.  
mama-daughter selfie!
I like watching kids do really tactile things that adults never seem to do.  Don't you want to dump sand on yourself?  Think of the exfoliation!
those that could make it from our branch of the "tree"
my little guy loves the fire!
preeeetty sure she shouldn't be trusted with a sharp stick.
our classy 1980's trailer was not furnished with anything like a wine this had to do.
she was so tired that night she requested to be put to bed.
this is his preferred method of keeping smoke out of his eyes.
wrangled the two for a photo with mama.  man I look good.  just keeping it real, folks.
cormac was in rare form that night, and told many ghost stories. well, he told the same one about 500 times.
By their expressions I feel the marshmallow roasting part was more fun than the s'more eating part of our campfire experience.  I guess it is an acquired taste.
at our final rest stop.  seriously the worst one in IN and I always vow to never stop here.  yet, here we are.
This trip was short and sweet and oddly relaxing.  
We look forward to doing it again in two years!

Where have you adventured to this summer?