A Decade

I don't like to be awakened before 7am, unless it's with a travel itinerary before my very eyes. This past Thursday, the alarm startled me out of a deep sleep at 4:30am. In other words, my world was rattled at an ungodly hour.

Once I remembered that I was leaving on a jet plane in a couple of hours, I jumped out of bed to prepare myself to face the dark world. The fatigue was quickly corrected with my flat iron and a Diet Coke.

Liam didn't need a flat iron or a Diet Coke to get started. His motor was runnin' the minute he got up. I even had to hold him down at the airport. You don't believe me?
Beware: You are about to see a lot of pictures of Liam and me together. Daddy took the camera for pretty much the entire trip.

But I did manage to get the camera for this shot:
That man...
and this girl.... We went to Vail this past weekend to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Holy cow, I still can't believe I'm old enough to be married that long!

You may be wondering why we took Liam on our anniversary trip. Well, we were wondering that ourselves on day 2, when he was bawling his eyes out on a mountain bike. I really tried to remain calm, but the mountain biking was his request and it was fun, darn it!

We took Liam to Vail because it's hard to leave 3 boys behind with family when both grandmothers stay extra busy. Plus, we thought it would be fun to have some 2-on-1 time with our big boy.

Minus the dramatic mountain bike ride, we did enjoy each other's company in one of our favorite places.
What's not to love about a European-feeling mountain village?

And ice cold creeks?
And beautiful walks?
And what's not to love about torturing your body while climbing a 14er?
For you flat-landers, a 14er is a mountain that reaches at least 14,000 feet in elevation.

The main reason that Rick wanted to take Liam on our Vail trip was to introduce him to Daddy's favorite sport. After Liam freaked out on the mountain bike the day before, I decided that I better tag along in order to provide the boy with a way out, in the event that he couldn't keep up with the drill-sergeant, I mean father.

I thought it would be no big deal for me to climb Mt. Elbert, which is supposedly the easiest 14er.

"I work out. I'm in better shape than Rick. No problemo," I thought.

Before we even reached treeline, I was ready to use ugly words. I tamed my tongue slightly with my child on the scene and told Rick that he was "full of poop" when he told me, "You're almost to treeline. It won't get any harder than this."

Five minutes later, I was huffing and puffing and it was not getting any easier. "I hate you," I said. And proceeded to turn my exhausted baby and myself downhill.

Daddy continued without us and made it.
And I'm so mad at him that I could spit, because I wanted to see the view!
Once I was able to speak to my husband without spewing hatred upon him, I explained to him that I want to try again. Only the next time, I will carry my own water and snacks, and I will order him to move ahead and leave. me. alone. I can do it, but I don't move at his marathon pace. And neither does our boy.

I did forgive him. After a day or two.

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit us the next day, so that we could see this beauty:
Edie is a dream girl.
And she's just as sad as I am about the fact that she lives so far away.
And she really hates lemons.

My brother took Liam home with him for our last night, so that we could go out for a nice dinner alone. Sweet Basil was our restaurant of choice, and the 5 pounds I gained on that entire trip can be contributed to that one meal.

We had also hoped to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain for an anniversary picture, but we forgot to go before the early closing time. I was really disappointed in this, because we have a sweet picture of us from our fifth anniversary in the same location that I wanted to repeat and frame. You know, so that the two pictures can sit side by side on my dresser and mock me for the aging that's taken place since adding "twins" to our family in that time.

It wasn't meant to be, so we asked a fellow to take a picture of us here instead:
It turned out cute enough for framing, minus the boot in the left corner. I'm hoping my brother can use his fancy photoshopping skills to get rid of that boot. But even if he can't, I'll still frame the photo to commemorate a decade with my favorite man.

Besides, that photo is taken far enough away that I can't see the five-year aging process.

Before flying home the next day, we spent a couple hours at my brother's house to get more Edie lovin'. Gosh, I love that girl!
Unfortunately, her parents wouldn't let me bring her home. What is their problem?

Instead, we snagged our child and headed for the airport, where we had a rain delay. We passed the time with being crazy on the moving sidewalk...

(Look close and you'll see Liam in action.)
and playing cards.
We finally arrived home at 1:30am. Lord have mercy, we were beat.

But we spent our anniversary trip making great memories. And I hope for many more anniversaries with my man, even though he is a drill sergeant on the mountain.


Sometimes I get frustrated with our new camera. We converted from a simple point-and-shoot digital camera to a Nikon D60 a few months ago. If I had more time to play with our new toy, I think I would fall in love with it. But at this point, I've been frustrated with the fact that I know very little about it. The other annoying factor is that it's so darn bulky and doesn't fit into my pocket.

But Nikon and I did have a bonding moment a couple weeks ago while camping in Oklahoma. I chose to take pictures instead of swimming in the freezing, bacteria-laden water of Chickasaw.

And I'm so glad I did, because I captured this:
Look at the details of the water droplets on my beautiful boy's skin!

Never mind the fact that he's pointing a water gun at my camera.

I wish I could tell you which setting I was using on Mr. Nikon at the time of that shot, but I've slept a few times in the last two weeks and can't even begin to remember what I did.

Anyway, while Mr. Nikon and I were bonding, Garrett was connecting with my mom, his Didi:
You may not realize what a monumental moment it was for my baby to fall asleep in any one's arms. This is the child that typically takes an hour to fall asleep in his bed. He usually has to sing and talk to himself for approximately sixty minutes before nodding off. I suppose he wore himself out with swimming and playing that day, as he was asleep within a skinny minute of settling into my mom's lap.

While I've always known that camping can bring a family closer together, I've now discovered that camping can also unite one to a camera. I'm beginning to come around to appreciating my Nikon, but we may need another camp out or two to iron out some of the wrinkles between us.

Since This Blog Serves As Our Scrapbook...

Liam lost his third tooth on July 14, 2009.

(Yes, I'm a little behind on my blog, but I've been rather busy traveling, y'all. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.)
Anyway, my eldest pulled his third tooth a couple of weeks ago. It's a good thing he can pull his own teeth out, because this mama can't even watch the act take place. He tells me he's about to do it, and I turn away until I hear him sqeal, "I did it, Mommy! Where's my money?"

Later that same day, he also asked Jesus to save him from his sins with Daddy at his side. Is there any better person to have in your presence when asking God to be your big Daddy? I think not.

Family Vaca Part IV

After a week in North Carolina, the inevitable happened. We had to leave. I never want to leave a vacation spot, but leaving that mountain cabin was especially difficult. As I walked through the house for one last check of forgotten items, I fought back the tears. I have a wonderful life in Texas, besides the blasted weather, so it's rather silly for me to get so sad. But I suppose those emotions prove how thoroughly we enjoyed our time.

Because we knew that coming home would be hard, we decided to add two more days of visiting Rick's family onto our trip. We spent one night in Georgia with his Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bubba, as well as their grown daughter Libby and her family. I'm kickin' myself for not getting a group shot of our favorite family members out east!

But we did get this shot of Peggy.
When God created hospitality, he poured all of it into that woman!

After GA, we headed to Baton Rouge to see Grandma, so the boys could do this:
Rick has many fond memories of riding on the tractor with his grandparents.
It was good to love on Grandma and to visit with another aunt, uncle, and cousin. But we can only handle one night of Baton Rouge's humidity, so we headed home the next day.

Peace out.

Family Vaca Part III

When we weren't sitting on that deck doing a whole lotta nothin', we were hiking.

We heard that Grandfather Mountain was a good family hike, so we hit that on one of our first days. This hike was a littler harder than I thought it would be, but our 4 year olds persevered and made it to the top.
Do you see a little fear on my face? Just seconds before Rick snapped the above photo, I had to yell at Garrett to sit down. He was jumping around and hamming it up. He wasn't the least bit worried about the fact that we were on top of a rocky mountain with high winds.

He was so darned proud of himself for being brave and strong.

But this little guy:
He was a little bit skeered. I was shocked that our normally rough-and-tumble Jack was intimidated by the mountain.

Perhaps walking across this swinging bridge didn't help his fear.
Notice how he's still sitting? Every time we moved to a new location, he immediately sat down upon arrival.
I hope we haven't scared him of hiking forever!

After the hike, we made our way to the wildlife habitat where we could see otters, bald eagles, deer, and bears. This bear was quite funny. If you bought him food and told him to hold his foot, he would hold up his foot with one paw and catch food with his mouth.
What's not to love about that face?

On another day, we began hiking at Carver's Gap on the Appalachian Trail and went to Jane Bald.
En route, we ran into a botanist who is leading a restoration project on the Roan Highlands.
He herds about 40 Angora goats on top of the balds during the summer.

Their summer job is to eat the woody plants in an effort to restore the natural grasses to the area. Two Great Pyrenees dogs are also with them for their protection.

The goats and dogs are fenced into about an acre for 2 1/2 weeks of eating. After that time, they are moved to a new acre plot to resume their work.

It was really quite interesting to visit with Jamey, the botanist, and I'd encourage you to visit his blog for more info.
Jamey camps nearby to keep a close eye on the animals. God bless him! I couldn't do it! An entire summer in a TENT?!

If you feel so inclined, you can adopt one of these:
We plan to adopt a female and name her Aggie, of course. Even North Carolina needs at least one good Aggie.

I believe I've wrapped up one week's vacation into three posts, which is quite good if you consider I only used about 20% of our pictures. However, our trip wasn't quite over after leaving NC. We stopped to see some of Rick's extended family on our way home, and I'll post about that tomorrow.

Family Vaca Part II

After a night in Nashville, we were on the road again. (I'll try not to break out in Willie Nelson....)

Our destination was a cabin on Roan Mountain near Bakersville, NC. This cabin was said to be remote and a mere 15-minute drive from the Appalachian Trail. Being the mountain lovers that we are, we were extremely excited to explore the Smokey Mountains.

Before I go any further, I must ask the Smokeys to forgive me. I always envisioned you being second-rate compared to my beloved Rocky Mountains. But I was terribly wrong! You are breathtakingly beautiful.

We took the scenic route on our way to NC and took the time to stop for photos along the way.
I knew I was in the country when I saw this:
The boys saw a creek and had to try it out.
Yep, it was chilly, but we were thrilled, because WE MADE IT!

The house we rented greeted us from the road ahead:

And we climbed out of the car as fast as our legs would carry us.

That deck pictured above is where you could find us for the next several days.

See the view from the deck:

What's not to love about that view?

And the temperature?
Heavenly! It never climbed above 64 degrees while we were there. A mere 40 degrees cooler than home.

Someone asked, "What did you do on vacation?" My answer was, "A whole lotta nothin'."

And it was perfect!

We chilled out, right Jack?
Some of us drew the mountains.
Some of us cooked, but it wasn't me.

Ladies, he's taken.

I did wash the dishes, however. It wasn't such a bad task with my pet humming birds that stopped by to visit the kitchen window.

Rick also played the guitar, an activity that he loves but doesn't get much time for at home.
The boys ran, ran, and ran some more. They were made for this.
My favorite spot was this:
I spent hours in that swing enjoying three books, the cool breeze, and the view. Occasionally, I'd snag a boy to love.

And, of course, we ate a lot of junk food, such as S'mores. Some of us tend to wear our food.

I suppose such a slow-paced vaca might bore some, but it was such a welcomed change for us. But we did do some hiking, which I'll share about in Part III.