Thursday, December 22, 2011

December Magic

I was driving home from my parent's house tonight, and oohing and aahing at the Christmas lights with my kids, and suddenly I thought, "Oh my Gosh, it's already December 22nd!", where has the holiday season gone?  The span of time from October to December is my absolute favorite of the entire year.  From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, the excitement just keeps coming, the weather is beautiful, and the kids find new fun around every corner.  I love it.  It's almost over, but truly, the best is yet to come - Christmas morning with kids!

But before I get ahead of myself, I should share some of the magic we've already experienced this holiday season.  The decorations inspired Ruthie's very first word, "Pretty", which I love!  She will wake up, all fuzzy and red-cheeked, wrapped up in her blanket, and we'll walk out into the living room, and she'll just point and wave to the lit wreath and tree, and say "Pretty" over and over.  It's about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.  She is relentlessly attracted to the Christmas tree, and I regularly find her wrapped up in a cord of lights or ribbon, or with an ornament in her mouth.  Little troublemaker!  While she loves the lights, she is NO fan of Santa.  Our two experiences were monumental fails.  Perhaps next year :)

Her complete awe at the simple things - the lights and decorations - is just a fraction of the magic the boys feel. What wonderful ages they are this year.  Everything is magical, and very real to them.  They are constantly concerned about whether they are on the "naughty" or "nice" list, and Hayden told Santa that he wanted a baby reindeer that he can feed with a bottle!  He told me again tonight that, "wow, that baby reindeer is going to be hard for me to care for!".  Yes...that should be interesting.  I have a feeling the reindeer "webkinz" I got him is not going to cut it, but here's hoping!

While the boys are always sweet to Ruthie, I think they've taken to being especially kind and caring with her, in hopes that they will move higher on the "nice" list.  The other day, Ruthie was crying in the living room while I was busy with a house chore.  I heard Hayden start to sing "You are my Sunshine" to her, and my heart warmed more than a little bit.  He ran into the kitchen to tell me the good news that his singing worked!  I told him he was just about the best brother I've ever seen, to which he happily replied, "I know mom, and now Santa is going to bring me LOTS of presents!".  Hmmm....regardless of the motive, it was cute.

One of the more special experiences this month was a vacation to Colorado to visit Nate's family and our friends.  It was something that we had really hoped to be able to pull off, however it's getting increasingly difficult to get home the more kids we have, and the more plane tickets we have to buy!  But I am so glad that we made it happen, and it's going to become a priority every year.  Seeing my kids with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, is just priceless.  The holidays are about family, and being home in Colorado is exactly where we need to be during the season.

Happy Holidays everyone!  May Peace and Joy fill your year to come.

Grateful - Rest of November (oops!) have I managed to neglect my blog this badly??  I was so determined to see through my Grateful posts in November, and I have a list of so many more things and people to recognize.  I think I will go ahead and finish off the list in a simple way, and then move on to the holiday festivities and travels.


Nov 18 - For wonderful cousins for my children to grow up with, making memories all along the way.

Nov 19 - For my health.  This year it's become abundantly clear to me that health isn't something you can take for granted, and I am blessed every day that my body and mind are sound.

Nov 20 - For an adventurous spirit, and the ability to provide travel experiences for my kids - so they can see new people, places, and cultures, and grow up with their eyes open to the world.

Nov 21 - For an amazing group of women that I can call my best friends.  They are women that I've known since I was in elementary school, that I danced with in high school, that I joined a sorority with in college, that I studied with in graduate school, and that I met as a mother.  You all have the ability to make me laugh, and you let me cry.  Love you all.

Nov 22 - For an equally amazing group of friends that my children have grown up with, literally, since the days they were born.  They are sweet, and kind, and smart, and I'm so thrilled to have such wonderful companions for my kids.  I imagine them being friends for life!

Nov 23 - For my education, and a job that allows me to help provide for my family, and which gives me a chance to assume an identity besides "mommy/wife/daughter", for at least a few hours every day.

Nov 24 - For all of my awesome in-laws.  I can't believe I got lucky enough to marry into a family where ALL 4 of my sister-in-laws are people I would probably be friends with even if they weren't family.  I respect them all and laugh with them until my cheeks hurt.  And my mother-in-law is someone that I look up to completely, and whom I love dearly.  And the guys aren't half bad either :)

Nov 25 - For football!  I love all of the nostalgia associated with the game, and the memories I have of growing up, and watching the Badgers and Packers.  There is no more perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon in the fall, than being gathered with family and friends, eating chicken wings and queso, and watching a great game of football.

Nov 26 - For Sonic Diet Dr. Pepper with cherry and lime.  Simple, but true!

Nov 27 - For a life that just keeps getting fuller and richer and happier (and busier) with every passing year.

Nov 28 - For my intelligent, ambitious, adventurous, witty, kind-hearted and generous brother, who always challenges me to be better and do more.

Nov 29 - For my children's TWO sets of great-grandparents.  How lucky are they to have relationships with so many generations of their family!

Nov 30 - For all of many many blessings.  I will never take this life I have for granted, and I will strive to be most thankful EVERY day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grateful - Nov 17th

I often blog and talk about what wonderful brothers my boys are to their baby sister.  And they really are.  It's a joy and pleasure to watch.  But lately they have been growing into their "big boy" relationship with each other.  What I mean by that is that Pierce is finally growing up, and becoming a partner and playmate for Hayden, rather than just a baby brother.  I know this is not uncommon, but it's just absolutely heart-breaking / heart-warming (depending on the degree of success) to watch Pierce try to accomplish all of the big boy activities that Hayden can perform with ease.  For instance, he has to put his own socks and shoes on like Hayden, and he also can put on his own underwear and pants - but the shirt gives him so much trouble (sad!).  He potties on the potty like a big boy ("Mommy I'm a big boy!" he'll say each time), and he can build train tracks, drive monster trucks, and play cars just as well as brother.  If big brother is out riding his bicycle, you better believe Pierce is out there on his tricycle.  I'm always hearing little voices yelling, "Piercey, come in the garage and build trains with me", or "Hayden, come outside in the sandbox with me".  They eat every meal together, and chatter and joke the whole time, and they will often fall asleep next to each other in Hayden's big boy bunk bed.

They definitely have their moments of bickering and sometimes seem to show a remarkable lack of ability to share, but more and more I am pleased by their friendship and companionship, and can only hope they remain this close as they grow.  So today, I am grateful:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grateful - Nov 16th

In addition to watching my children enjoy physical activities, like skiing, golf, soccer, baseball, swinging, swimming, riding bikes, etc, I also love watching their little minds work.  All 3 kids are constantly surprising me with the connections that they make, and the memories that they can call up from seemingly inconsequential moments.  I am clearly unbiased, but I think my children are bright and curious, which I love!!  Just today, Hayden begged to join us in a game of Jenga (which we had brought on our vacation for the adults), and he honestly kicked my butt!  It was crazy to explain to him once how the game worked, and then to watch him follow our instructions so earnestly, and actually play the game with concentration and skill.  He's only 4!  And it's only going to get more interesting to watch these little brains at work :)

For this reason, today I am grateful:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grateful - Nov 15th

I never imagined the day that I would gladly accept the title of Soccer Mom.  But the day is here!  I cannot lie - cheering my children on as they play sports has become one of my most favorite activities.  Hayden has played 2 seasons of blastball, and 1 season of soccer, and Pierce is about to embark on his own sports career this spring.  I love watching the joy on their faces as they compete, and learn new skills.  I can't wait to see what sports the little ones excel in!

For this reason, I am grateful:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grateful - Nov 14th

One of our first stops in Arkansas this week was to visit the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville.  About all I knew of the school was that their mascot was a Razorback (which turns out to be a rather fierce looking pig), and they are typically good at football.  Turns out they have a gorgeous campus that reminds me so much of my own alma mater - University of Wisconsin!  As we toured the campus, memories just flooded back - of beer and cards on the Terrace in the summer, watching the sailboats float by, of battling the cold and snow to climb Bascom Hill each morning for class, of late night library sessions at Helen C White, followed by midnight cocktail hours on the way home at the KK.  Sorority parties (AXO what a way to GO!), Humorology, crazy hard math classes, early morning physics and chem labs in my pajamas, trivial pursuit challenges on our patio on Langdon, sunbathing on the pier at Pi Phi, Den sodas, bar time, the Farmer's Market by the Capitol, Tutto Pasta, Jump Around, the gorgeous fall colors on Lake Shore Path....on my gosh the list goes on and on.

Being on a big University campus again, I was reminded of how amazing my college experience was, and not only did it lead to a great career for me, but it gave my lifelong memories.  Being a Badger, and spending 4 years at that great school, in a fabulous, beautiful city, has shaped me in so many ways.  I dream of my children attending Madison (although now Hayden would like to be a Razorback haha)!  It was fun to kind of un-earth some of the memories, and to day dream about what schools my kids might go to, and what wonderful things they'll choose to study!

For that reason, today I am grateful:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grateful - Nov 13th

Earlier this month, my parents and I decided to pick up and head for the hills for a week (literally).  My work load is light, the weather is nice, and they happened to have a free timeshare week to burn.  So off we went to explore NW Arkansas.  As we were driving, it occurred to me that we are so lucky to have the resources and ability to pick up as a family like this, and just go on vacation for a week.  We arrived at our condo, and there was a huge pile of leaves in front of our door, and immediately the boys started kicking them, jumping in them, and throwing them in the air with GLEE!!  Playtime!  For all of us!

For this reason, today I am grateful:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grateful - Nov 12th

Today, I am thankful for a father who I have the most complete trust in, and respect for.  There is never a moment that goes by that I don't believe my husband is the BEST dad for my children.  I look up to him, and often find myself relying on him to make important parenting decisions, because he is so GOOD at it.  There is no wishy washy-ness like I sometimes feel.  He is convicted, he is devoted, and he is always 100% in the game.  I believe that he will be an excellent role model for my boys in how to be good, strong, kind men.  And I already see him protecting and nurturing our daughter - teaching her to respect herself and be determined and confident.

For this reason, and because he is always making them laugh and smile, today, I am grateful:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grateful - Nov 11th

My past two posts have gotten long-winded, so I will keep this brief.

I have a little girl, and it's so incredibly fun to dress her up and accessorize.  I can't help it.  For that, I am happily grateful:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grateful - Nov 10th

I remember when I was growing up, we would go eat dinner at my grandma and grandpa's house at least once a week.  Grandma Sale would make flank steak and homemade macaroni and cheese (the kind in the oven, with milk and butter and cheese - YUM!) - all my favorites.  After dinner, I would sit at the vanity in her room, applying her make-up, and putting on all her costume jewelry.  Then I would write a little note begging to spend the night, which was always green-lighted, and out would come my pre-packed Care Bears suitcase that I had "snuck" into the car.  The night would round out with a bowl of ice cream, an evening of Golden Girls with my grandma, and a couple issues of old Reader's Digests before bed.  In the morning, my grandpa would have fresh jelly filled donuts waiting for us, and then he'd drive us to school about 30 minutes away, while my brother and I made up a whole morning radio show (he did sports and news, I did entertainment and current events).  Heaven.  Perfection.

At home none of these things happened!  My mom always was quick to remind us that "grandmas are magic", and for us, it could not have been more true.  Anything we wanted, we got, when we were with both sets of our grandparents.  My mom said that my Grandma Mueller watched me one day a week while my mom worked, and I would come home with a new outfit each time!

Only Grandmas can work this kind of magic and get away with it.  Moms just get accused of excessive spoiling and bad parenting lol.  I have adopted this kind of mentality with my kid's grandparents.  Whipped cream from Mammaw's coffee at 9  months old - go for it!  Ice cream before lunch at Grammy's house - absolutely!  Stay up until 9:30 pm watching Dancing with the Stars - why not?

The other day, Hayden begged to go home with grammy after she had spent the morning just hanging out with us at home while I worked.  My mom explained to him that she was having a boring afternoon of running errands, and he wouldn't have any fun.  He thought about if for a moment and said, "but grammy, I just like being with you".  Ummm...yeah that was pretty heart melting!  And the other night, we were late getting home after a Chuck E Cheese birthday party, but Hayden wanted to continue home with grammy to sleepover.  Once again, she explained that it wouldn't be fun for him because they couldn't do their usual nightly routine (swinging on the tire swing, watching airplanes, eating ice cream, snuggling and watching shows), since it was already so late.  Again, he was quiet for a minute, and then he responded, "well that's ok grammy, because I'll still get to be with you in the morning".  No doubt part of the excitement of spending time with grammy and poppy is that he gets to eat more sweets and stay up later, but he obviously there is so much love there, and just BEING with his grammy makes him happy.  Going to the bank and Lowe's is fun, because he has a magical grammy.

Along with a healthy dose of indulgence, my mom heaps on the love and affection and adoration that very few kids are lucky enough to experience.  For that reason, I am abundantly thankful:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grateful - Nov 9th

I never really was one of those girls who dreamed about my wedding and my future kids.  I was more interested in my career and education, and day dreaming about where I was going to live and what adventures I was going to have.  But once I got pregnant with Hayden (by surprise!), I suddenly became a mommy, and started imagining my future family.  It was always 2 boys and a girl.  I suspected I would get along better with boys, potentially, because they are less dramatic.  I didn't need several daughters rolling their eyes at me for their entire teenage years (as I did to my mom!), and figured I was more suited to be a soccer mom than to give a daughter make-up tips.  But then of course I was a dancer my whole youth, and I love girly things, like Miss America, dance recitals, and planning weddings!  Clearly I needed both boys and girls, and for some reason I just always pictured myself with 2 boys and girl.

And can you believe it?  That's exactly how it turned out!  Just simply getting to experience parenting boys and a girl makes me so incredibly grateful and blessed.  But even more, getting to see my two boys just ADORE and coddle their little sister, is almost too much to bear.  They honestly, literally, live to make her laugh.  In fact, the other night we had a babysitter, and Hayden was doing his typical show-off out of embarrassment act, and he was running in circles and kissing Ruthie on her nose at each loop around the living room.  She was giggling and clapping as usual.  When he finally stopped running, he looked at our babysitter and said, "Ruthie just smiles and smiles whenever I kiss her".  And it's so true!  I love both that he was TRYING to make her smile, and that she was THRILLED with the attention.  So many little blessings all wrapped into one sweet moment.

While Hayden developed a tight relationship with her immediately, Pierce is only recently becoming really interested in her.  I suspect they are going to be VERY good little buddies.  Pierce requests daily that I allow Ruthie to hang out in his crib with him while he's falling asleep for his nap, and usually I'll oblige for a bit.  While she cries in her own crib for nap time, she's more than happy to lay next to Pierce, and laugh at all the silly noises and faces he makes, purely for her enjoyment.  I swear there is nothing better than the sounds of your kiddos laughing together.

Anyway, that got long winded.  But today, I am ever so grateful, for my own sake and for Ruthie's:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grateful - Nov 8th

Before I had Nathan.  Before I had my lovely little boys and Ruthie.  Before I had my degree or career.  Pretty much before I become an adult.  I had Dallas.  Dallywagger.  Dallasaurus.  Big D.  The one and only.  The very best dog on the planet.  What can I say?  Dallas and I have been best friends for eight years, and I count him among the most precious souls I know on this earth.  Honestly.  He sleeps at my feet every night.  He is ridiculously soft.  He has these deep brown eyes that just gaze with love and loyalty.  I hug him as often as I can, and he always wags his tail in delight.

For these reasons, and so many more, I am grateful:

Grateful - Nov 7th

Look at those impish eyes, that cheeky little smile.  Oh he's such a happy, funny dude.  And today, I am ever so grateful:

Grateful - Nov 6th

Almost everyone will admit, grandparents are AWESOME!  There are the out of town, pseudo-celebrity, sob so hard you can't speak when they leave town kind of grandparents.  And there are the local, beg to spend the night, light up like a light when they come to dinner kind of grandparents.  We have both.  And we are SO BLESSED.

But there is just something about Poppy and his love for his grand-daughter that is beyond special.  Ruthie doesn't just "go" to anyone.  She is deeply into her "I'm 9 months old and only want my mommy" phase, yet somehow, whenever Poppy comes around, she immediately reaches for him, and is happy as a clam in his arms.

How many grandfathers will drop everything to go to a pumpkin patch with his grandkids on a random Wednesday?  And not just GO, but play with them while he's there??  How many grandfathers will suggest that their 2 year old grandson come over a help with yard-work on a Saturday afternoon?  How many grandfathers will spend the dinner hour outside, with a colicky baby strapped to his chest, trying to soothe him so his mama can eat?  That's my dad.  He's fabulous.  And for that reason, today, I am grateful:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grateful - Nov 5th

My brother got married a month ago to his girlfriend of 7 years, Rebecca.  One of the biggest perks of them waiting a bit of time to officially tie the knot is that I really got to know her well before they became husband and wife.  I actually met her back in Copenhagen, in what, 2003, when they literally first started dating.  She has been part of our family holidays for years, was at my wedding, and was there to celebrate the births of my kids.

It's one thing to watch your brother marry someone who in intelligent, who makes him happy, who is beautiful, and who you know will always be a good partner and teammate.  As a protective sister, that is the priority, and Rebecca definitely fulfills all those requirements and more.  But it's quite another to gain a sister whom you respect, you adore, and you laugh with.  And that is what I gained when Jeffrey married Rebecca.

So today, I am grateful:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grateful - Nov 4th

Coming off of the hottest summer ever, and with the knowledge that large parts of the US are already experiencing cold and snow, today I am grateful:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grateful - Nov 3rd

Today, as we spent the afternoon enjoying a picnic at the Dallas Arboretum, Ruthie started officially crawling (versus the army crawl she had been practicing until now).  Perhaps it was all the leaves and wood chips just out of reach that motivated her!  It's exciting that my baby is growing up and reaching her milestones.  And for that reason, today I am grateful:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grateful - Nov 2nd

Today, my friend's young son Tyler passed away after his two year battle with leukemia.  What a tragedy and enormous loss.  But in some ways it is good, as his suffering is now in the past, and he can be at peace.  However, as a mother, I can can physically feel my friend's pain.  I pray for some comfort for that entire family.

But I can also rejoice in the health of my own children, and not take any moment for granted.  My gratitude for my blessings is boundless today.  On that note, I am grateful:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grateful - Nov 1st

Grateful, thankful describe an appreciative attitude for what one has received. Grateful indicates a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness as shown to one: grateful for favors; grateful to one's neighbors for help in time of trouble. Thankful indicates a disposition to express gratitude by giving thanks, as to a benefactor or to a merciful Providence; there is often a sense of deliverance as well as of appreciation: thankful that one's life was spared in an accident;thankful for the comfort of one's general situation. pleasant,gratifying, satisfying.

In this month of Thanksgiving, let me recognize my gratitude for one thing each day.  Today:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Superheroes and Peacocks!

Happy Halloween everyone!  We just returned home from our first night of trick-or-treating ever!  We usually only do the "Monster Mile" in our neighborhood, but this year we ventured out for the real deal.  It was a blast and certainly the start of a Halloween tradition.  We even got to hitch a ride with the neighbors in their golf cart :)  The boys called it a "go-kart" lol.  They got a serious candy stash, which I of course have been digging into!  Fun times.

While it has been fun to watch my superheroes run about the house for the past month in their costumes, flexing their muscles, and attempting to scare their sister, I do have to admit that I FULLY enjoyed indulging my girly, crafty, accessorizing side with Ruthie.  For one of our parties I made a little poodle skirt, and dressed her as "Sandy" from Grease, which was appropriate, since her main squeeze Nolan went as Danny. It was fun to just plan that costume down to the tiny details of ruffled bobby socks, a silk bow tied around her neck, and the poodle silhouette.  Then for the other events, she wore the most beautiful little peacock outfit that Linda got her from Gymboree.  Sadly, it didn't come with a head piece, which meant that I had to make one!  It was fancy :)  She looked cute.  

The Halloween festivities have capped off a month of fun pumpkin patches and fall activities.  I've always LOVED October in Texas, and this year was no exception.  Life is precious, and this year especially, I am not sweating the small stuff - the little annoyances and fights and messiness and crabbiness.  I'm soaking up these three healthy, amazing kids of mine, and am ever thankful for all of my blessings.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Praying for a Miracle

Today I am abundantly thankful for the health of my children.  I take it for granted most days, but not today.  Today my friend Stephanie is possibly going to have to make a decision to suspend life saving measures on her 2 1/2 year old son, Tyler.  Just typing that brings tears to my eyes and gives me instant anxiety.  If I feel that way, imagine how she feels?

I "met" Stephanie on an online pregnancy forum when I was first pregnant with Hayden - 5 years ago now almost exactly.  She had her son Dawson a few weeks before Hayden was born.  We were always good friends on the board, and it was exciting when she found out she was expecting her 2nd son Tyler just weeks before I was due with Pierce.  However, as I was snuggling my healthy newborn, and celebrating his first milestones, she was learning that her son was ill with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  At four months old.  After a rough road through chemotherapy, he was in remission a few months later, and things were looking bright.  Stephanie found out she was pregnant with her third child, this time due mere weeks after Ruthie.  Unfortunately, about the time that her son Gabriel was born, she learned that Tyler had relapsed.  Miraculously, Gabriel was a bone marrow match for Tyler, and they prepared for a bone marrow transplant, which took place 40 days ago.

I don't know the details of the procedure, or what a recovery from the transplant is supposed to be like, but the bottom line is that this family has watched their son suffer each and every day since the transplant.  They have maintained a level of optimism that is truly inspirational, and they have NEVER given up hope that their little boy would fight through this, and become a success story.  But every day the battle gets harder.

Today she shared that the doctors have warned them that he is reaching the maximum threshold in terms of medication he can take to correct some of things that are going wrong in his little body, and after that, there really is nothing they can do without doing irreparable harm to his organs.  In other words, in the absence of a miracle, they are going to have to make a decision to stop life saving measures.  On their 2 1/2 year old.  I cannot even hold it together to type this.  This poor family, and this poor child.

I just want a miracle for this family and this little boy.  I want Tyler to get well and be able to play with his brothers, like Pierce gets to play with his siblings.  I want Stephanie to be able to spend a day outside of the hospital, enjoying pumpkin patches. I want her to be able to hug her son, without a million wires and tubes getting in the way.  Just to hold him on her lap and giggle and laugh with him.  I want him to be free from pain and suffering.

I don't even know why I am writing this post.  I guess I am hoping that everyone who might read this will say an extra prayer for Tyler tonight.  And maybe all of these prayers will make him well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hawgwild Fly Fishing

So the other night I got an email from my brother.  I was pretty surprised actually, because I knew they were on their honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies, and I expected no communication until they were back in the real world.  Nathan and I had actually honeymooned in the same place, 5 years ago, and I knew that it was remote and wifi-less, and blissfully free of the distractions of home.  So the email was a surprise!

The title:

We picked up the brochure for fly fishing.....

And the content of the email:

Yes, those are Nate and my smiling faces in a fly fishing brochure for "Hawgwild Fly Fishing" in Banff, AB.  HA!!  First of all, Nathan and I had no idea that our photos were being used in this brochure.  Secondly, can you imagine Jeff and Rebecca's shock when they opened this random brochure and there was their sister and brother-in-law?  I am dying!  What a small world we live in.

Once I got over the complete hysterical-ness (is that a word?) of this coincidence, I started thinking about our own honeymoon and how much FUN it was!  I haven't relived those memories in a long time, so I dug up my old photos, and I spent some time remembering the day that we spent fly fishing on the mighty Bow River, near Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Big Jim Dykstra picked us up in downtown Banff, and we rode in his beat up old pick-up truck to pick up a bunch of yummy pastries at a little shop nearby.  He was so proud to tell us to pick whatever we wanted!  And they did turn out to be delicious.  We got our roadmap for the day while we sat having breakfast and coffee, and learned that we would be hiking to a few "sweet spots" along the river, and both fly fishing and regular lure fishing, depending the type of water.  This was all complete gibberish to me, but the weather was fantastic, the views even better, and I was game!  We got our waders and gear, and off we went!

I remember lugging fishing poles, and coolers, and tackle boxes through thick trees and tall grasses, all the while yelling "here bear, here bear!", to try to warn any grizzlies of our presence before we stumbled upon them.  Um, scary!  Big Jim was the King of story-telling, and we heard all sorts of tales of bears and moose, and other interlopers on the fishing scene.  Alas, we saw no dangerous wild-life, Thank God!  We had an encounter later on the trip with a black bear, and that was enough to cure me for life of hiking solo in the Canadian Rockies, thank you very much.

Anyway, we spent the most luxurious day just basking in the sun, casting our poles into the crystal clear waters of the Bow River, with the golden larches lining the shoreline, and the majesty of the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies surrounding us.  It truly did feel magical, and I loved watching my new husband enjoy a day of fly fishing, one of his passions, along one of the most famous stretches of river in the world for that sport.  

I feel like, even though I've only been there once, that a part of my heart will forever be in the Canadian Rockies.  Pieces of it can be found in a canoe on Moraine Lake, in a tea house at Lake Agnes, along the steep hiking trails of Lake O'Hara, and on a balcony over-looking the perfect gemstone waters of Emerald Lake.  And of course in the flowing waters of the Bow River, where I went fly-fishing, and unknowingly become the spokesperson for "Hawgwild Fly Fishing" :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Berkshire Wedding Weekend

My brother is married.  WOW.  It is crazy to say that.  It has been 8 years coming, and he married a woman that he not only loves and adores, but whom our entire family is in love with.  They are a perfect match, which is why we have all been so eagerly anticipating their marriage, and all the festivities that went along with it, as they hosted all their family and friends in the Berkshires last weekend.

Where to begin??  It was important to Jeff and Rebecca that our whole family was there to celebrate, so we flew everyone out, and spent the first few days of our visit on a tiny little speck of water called Watson Pond, in Otis, MA.  It is the long time vacation home of Rebecca's family (her mom told the sweetest stories of bringing her there just weeks after her birth, and nursing her by the fire to stay warm), and we were lucky enough to be able to stay in the cottage next door, and spend time all together.  While the weather wasn't perfect, we still all got decked out in rain gear, and spent the whole day exploring outside.  They have a row boat, a canoe, kayaks, fishing gear, you name it!  And the pond was full of bass, perch, pike, and of course, beautiful fall colors all along the shoreline.  We caught fish after fish, which thrilled the boys, and Hayden was able to take his first ride out in a row boat.  Ruthie stayed safely dry on the shoreline with grammy, and enjoyed time with her aunts and GG, and other land loving friends :)  The Sadocks were the most gracious, warm hosts, and we had a blast even before the official wedding festivities got under way.

One of the greatest parts of the trips was having my whole family fly in from all corners of the US, and even Europe.  Our foreign exchange student, Phil, who lived with us my senior year of high school, traveled all the way from Switzerland with his lovely new fiance, and my entire extended family from Wisconsin made the trip, as well as cousins scattered as far as LA, Seattle, and NYC.  I felt like I was going to burst with all the love I felt!  All these people there to support Jeffrey, and celebrate this marriage.  It was pretty amazing.  And so cool to introduce Ruthie to so much of the family, and see the boys get to know everyone better.  The idea of the "specialness" of family was reinforced for me, which was a nice prelude into watching my brother start a family of his own with Rebecca.  It just reminded me of the greatness that comes of a marriage.

After our mini-vacation at Otis, we switched rental houses to be closer to the ceremony site.  Our second house was gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows, a big wrap around deck, and a view of a pond and endless fall colors up the hillside on the opposite shore.  They too had a canoe for us to use, however the previous renters had left it upright, which allowed it to fill with water.  It was pretty comical to watch my friend Eren and I try to flip it over, while the whole time Hayden is telling us if we get tired, he is there to help haha.  We finally got it drained, and enjoyed a couple of leisurely laps around a great beaver dam in the middle of the pond.  These kind of things you just don't get to do in Dallas!!  I'm so glad my sons will have these memories.  The fall colors were just fantastic as well.

I really wish I had more photos of the actual wedding day, but everything was so busy, and we were rushing from salon, to hotel room, to ceremony site, to reception site, and I just didn't want to risk losing my camera.  So alas, we'll have to wait for the professional photos.  But the day was amazing.  I started off with a morning at the salon, getting my hair done (thank you Linda!), and having a nice little lunch with my mom and  our good friend Linda.  We then headed up to the bridal suite, where we got to see the bride for the first time, as she was getting her hair and make-up done.  All the girls and moms were up there, and it was a really festive, fun atmosphere.  Rebecca gave out gifts of earrings and shawls to all of us, and then my mom and I left to ride a shuttle to the ceremony site with my brother and his groomsman.  As we left the bridal suite, Rebecca got a little choked up, and admittedly I did too!  I think it felt real then!  And seeing my brother for the first time in his tuxedo was just overwhelmingly emotional for me.  I'll say more about that later.

We arrived at Jacob's Pillow at about 3 pm - exactly one hour prior to the ceremony.  This place is FABULOUS.  It is an outdoor dance venue in the mountains, with the most gorgeous outdoor stage.  Jeffrey and Rebecca had picked this site specifically to be married on this stage, with views of the fall colors and mountains stretching for miles, and their wedding planner had convinced the venue coordinators to proceed as planned outdoors, despite a major hailstorm mere minutes before.  The stage was soaked with water up to an inch deep in places, and the aisles were muddy.  Not to mention it was COLD and windy.  We immediately realized upon arrival that an outdoor wedding was not in the cards - the guests would have been freezing, no one would have been able to hear the vows with the wind roaring, and Rebecca's dress would have been ruined.  So inside we went.

At this point, I knew how much Jeffrey was hoping for this outdoor wedding of his dreams, and I felt a huge sense of sadness overcome me, for his sake, and I suddenly felt this "mama bear" urge to make everything fixed for him.  I looked into his eyes and wanted his wedding to be everything he imagined it would be!  I couldn't believe that the weather was going to keep this from happening, and I wanted more than anything to protect him and make it perfect.  It was really a foreign feeling.  My brother is always more than capable of taking care of himself, and certainly in this situation he took charge just as always.  But I think as a big sister, I wanted to just make everything perfect for him.  I don't know, it's hard to explain.  But I felt a fierce love for him that I haven't felt so powerfully in a long time.  He is my little brother!  Getting married!  It better be perfect!

Anyway, things were quickly moved into this adorable little chapel, with rough hewn benches, and rafters on the ceiling, and soon guests began arriving.  They were served hot apple cider, and a string quartet was playing music.  Outside it was chilly, and the wind was blowing, but inside everyone was cozy and warm.  As soon as I saw the scene unfolding, I realized it was the perfect place for them to be married.  Intimate and warm.  The ceremony was beautiful, with my husband officiating, my son as the most adorable ring bearer ever, and myself reading a lovely excerpt from "The Wedding Song" by Bob Dylan.  A group of Rebecca's friends from high school sang "Stand by Me", while Jeffrey's friend played the guitar.  As they exchanged their heartfelt vows, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.  Despite the change of plans, it ended up being exactly the ceremony for them.  Perfect!

After the ceremony, the night became a blur of great food, fancy cocktails, musical performances, emotional speeches and toasts, and an absolutely rocking dance floor.  SO MUCH FUN!  I haven't danced that much in ages, and I loved mingling with all of the guests from far and wide.  I love my brother and Rebecca, and I'm so thankful they found each other.  It was a fabulous wedding day!

While the highlight of the weekend was obviously the wedding, we stayed on a few more days to enjoy the area and all the family who had flown in.  My kids loved being able to spend time outside, and we got some quiet time to spend just with Jeff and his new wife :)  I will leave this trip with a renewed sense of family, and a refreshed view of my own marriage, and how special it is that we have made it 5 years.  At the wedding, as we were gazing at the new couple, someone asked me if I remember what it felt like to be that much in love.  I looked at Nathan and we both just smiled, because we know we are even more in love now than we were on our wedding day.  I hope, and suspect, that the same thing will happen for Jeff and Rebecca.

As always, it takes a village to go anywhere with these little munchkins of mine.  Managing 3 kids on vacation is no easy task, and my parents where troopers to the max.  They negotiated with airline passengers to sit near us to help (while most people negotiate to get away from kids!), they carried extraneous luggage, they held nervous children and babies, they changed diapers and did nap time when I was stranded with a flat tire, they fixed meals, and they shared their cottage space with 3 not always happy and quiet children.  And for that I am extremely thankful.  Once again I am humbled by how awesome family is.

And lastly, I have to extend a HUGE thank you to one of my dearest friends, who gave up time with her own family, to come help me with mine.  Nathan and I knew that the kids couldn't manage the late nights of the rehearsal dinner and wedding, but we wanted them there for the early bits.  But the idea of a stranger watching our kids in a strange house was just not acceptable.  So our friend Eren flew out to be the third parent for the weekend, and we couldn't have enjoyed ANY of this without her.  The kids were thrilled to have her around, and never once did I worry about their safety or comfort.  Not to mention she was great company as always.  You'll see her peppered through out the photos above, which is only fitting since she was an integral part of the weekend activities.  I'll always remember how much fun we had, and feel grateful for our friendship.  Thank You Eren!!