Friday, June 28, 2013

Imaginary Friends and Lemonade Stands.

Did you have imaginary friends?  I'm not sure that I ever had a legitimate imaginary friend.  At least, I don't remember having any.  However, I had brothers.  And I lived in neighborhoods full of kids to play with.

Ayla is an only child.  Ayla spends most of her time with mom and dad.  She gets to see cousins on the weekends, but during the week she is generally stuck with us.  Well, us and Hildegard and Amber and Kelsi.  And her cats Ginger and Tito.  And her dogs Shasta and Zeek.  All of these imaginary.

This child's brain blows my mind.  She is so intelligent.  She understand so much.  She uses her imagination!  Like crazy!  I am often having to pet a kitty or hold an item that is not there.  I take bites of imaginary cake and I sip on imaginary drinks.  I get text messages from my husband that go like this:

Dang it Hildegard, would you please stop calling?  And these phones conversations?  They are classic, I tell you.  Complete with arguments and big sighs.  There are a lot of "okay, okay, yes.  Mhmm."  Hildegard must have a lot to say.

It really is amusing.  And I kind of love it.  Although it can be frustrating when we are getting out of the car and Ayla is having trouble deciding which friends are going to come in and which will stay behind.  "Tito, you stay here.  I'll be riiiiiight back."  And heaven forbid you close the door before Hildegard gets out of the car.  Holy meltdown, Batman.

If you haven't notice, Hildegard is her favorite and very best imaginary friend.  Here is a photo of my cute Ayla and Hildegard.  She has her arm around her, of course.  {When taking this picture I was a little scared to look at the camera afterwards because I didn't want to see a ghostly little girl with a straight face standing next to my child.  I watch too many paranormal shows.}
Ayla and Hildegard.
Here's a little background on where Ayla came up with the names of her imaginary friends.

Hildegard- She is a princess on the Disney Junior show Sofia the First.
Amber-  Also a princess on the Disney Junior show Sofia the First.
Kelsi-  I'm not sure where that one came from.
Tito {cat}-  The name of aunt and uncle's cat.
Ginger {cat}-  I'm not sure, but Uncle Jerry has a dog named Ginger.
Shasta {dog}-  The name of aunt and uncle's dog.
Zeek {dog}-  The name of a dog that lives up the street.

These are not her only imaginary friends, I have heard a few other names dropped.  And let's not forget about her other mom, Cherry.  Well, that's actually her aunt Charity who Ayla sweetly calls "Cherry".  {You will generally see me refer to her as "Cherry" in all of my posts!}  Ayla talks to Cherry a lot, as well.  She'll say to me, "My mom told me I could!"  And I say, "I am your mom, crazy girl!"  She says, "No, my other mom, Cherry!"

This is such a fun stage.  I love watching my girl and listening to the silly things that she comes up with.  Isn't it amazing watching your baby grow into a child?  Where has time gone?  I can so clearly remember my childhood...

One thing that I remember is lemonade stands.  What kid doesn't want to sell lemonade on the street and earn some extra cash for candy?  Well, I remember doing things like painting rocks and selling them to the sweet older couples on the street.  {Really, they would pay for a painted rock.}

I've seen quite a few lemonade stands recently and every time I see one I smile.  These kids are so dang cute!  Every chance I get you better believe that I pull over and hand over my quarter.  What could brighten up your day quicker than the massive smiles and yells that these kids exchange when they realize that they have a paying customer?

I have the best story about a lemonade stand in my hometown of Stanwood, Washington.  My friend and I were driving along some back roads and there were some kids sitting at a small table with some hand drawn signs advertising lemonade.  Of course I stopped.  The excited kids quickly poured me a cup of lemonade.  It was a red solo cup.  My friend asked for one as well and they filled up a cup for her.  We started to walk back to our car when they said, "Can you finish and give us back the cups?  They are the only ones we have."  We about died laughing.  I mean, I couldn't even breathe.  I gulped down my juice and handed my cup over.  She couldn't even finish hers she was laughing so hard.  These kids looked so confused.  We laughed all the way home wondering how many other people had already sipped from those two cups.

Lemonade stands are getting pretty fancy these days.  {No cup sharing!}  We have one right down the street.  This is a weekly stand where they seem to get great business.  Not only do they sell sparkling grape lemonade {hello, YUM!}, but they also offer freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and bags of popcorn.  Ayla gets to take her dollar down the street and come home with one of each.  I love this.

Check out this insanely fancy stand.  And they have a working cash register!
Summertime is beautiful.  Experiencing summertime through the eyes of a child {and her imaginary friends} all over again is even more beautiful.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Saturday Afternoon at Bridal Veil Falls.

On Friday afternoon I got a text from my mother-in-law.  It said, "Tomorrow's plan... Leave for canyon about 1 after Brynn's game, for a picnic/walk to Bridal Falls.  Please bring your own hoagies."

Our Friday evening consisted of grocery shopping for picnic items for Saturday and BBQ items for Sunday dinner.  Then we spent the evening watching movies together and staying up way too late.  {I love doing that with my husband.  Getting in bed to chat with him and watch a movie/TV is the best part of the day.}

Saturday morning I slept until 10:30!  It was amazing.  I ate toast with Ayla and we watched the Disney channel.  I made our picnic lunch.  I slowly got ready.  I love slow Saturday mornings.

We met up with the fam and we headed to Provo Canyon.  We parked near Bridal Veil Falls and found a picnic spot.  We all enjoyed our lunches while the kids played around.  Then we walked up to the falls.  The kids fed the fish and played in the water.  We walked back down and headed home.

We made it to Sonic for Happy Hour with 2 minutes to spare and got some drinks to cool us down.  We picked up a pizza and went back to the Lee home for pizza.  We sat outside on the patio, wrapped ourselves in blankets when it got chilly, and talked until 10:30.

Patti, Jodi, and Kacie were in town.  Patti is Debbie's sister.  Jodi and Kacie are her daughters.  Katelin, the other daughter, lives with Deb and is going to school at UVU.  It's so fun to have them here and to visit with them.  Jodi brought her daughter Aftyn.  I fell in love with her.  She is perfect and I secretly have my fingers crossed that I have a little red-headed girl just like her!  {Sorry Kyle!}

We had such a laid-back, easy-going, fun-loving Saturday.  What a wonderful weekend!

Pictures!  {Aftyn overload!}

Brent, Bryanna, her sister, and gma happened to run into us!  This is Bryanna meeting Aftyn.

I begged to borrow this little girl to get my baby fix!
Cutest cousins!  Syd and Ayla, birthday twinners!
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
Feeding the fish.
Jaycee is always so patient and helpful with Ayla
They were super far away, thus, poor quality.
Cousins on the bridge!
That belly!
I LOVE these girls!
Ayla adored Aftyn.
She plays with dolls all day.
Aftyn was a real-life doll and she loved it.
Kyle and Aftyn.  {He's gonna be so awesome to have babies with!}

Can you even believe this cuteness?!

Preserving Memories. {And Overloading my Aquaintances with Photos.}

 It's no secret, I post a lot of pictures.  I am an Instagram addict.  And I link those pictures to Facebook

I take pictures of everything.  I have had people make comments to me about "living my life" rather than photographing it.  Please don't be mistaken.  I live my life.  I love my life.  I enjoy the people I am around and the things that we do.  I love my family.  I am obsessed with my daughter and my husband.  I'm proud of the things we do together.  I love to take the time to snap a picture because when I look back at that picture days later, weeks later, years later, I am thrown back to that moment.  I can remember the people, the smells, the feelings.  I love to preserve these memories.

I love to share them.  I love that my family that lives far away, the family that I love and don't get to share my daily life with, can still be a part of my life through pictures.

Every time I hear people around me complain about people posting so many photos I cringe a bit.  I know people say that about me.  I'm sure people roll their eyes when they see another picture of my daughter.  I mean really, how many times can I post Ayla and Kyle and say that they are my favorite?  Not enough times.  They make me happy.  I want to share.

"Because sharing is what I do when good flows like river currents.  I want to take pictures of it, describe it, store it, scoop it up in community cups and pass them along to anyone else who might like a sip." - Kelle Hampton

I read a blog entry this morning where Kelle expressed her feelings about sharing.  My feelings exactly.

I want to share.  I love to share.  I will share with anyone else who might like a sip.

So please, do not roll your eyes at my daughter if you've seen her face one too many times today.  You may unfollow me if you so choose, or you may share in my sunshine the way that I love to share in yours.

Grandma's House:  the place where cousin's go to become friends.
This girl can't wait to be a big sister someday. {we LOVE Aftyn!}
This girl can't wait to be a mommy again someday.  {we LOVE Aftyn!}

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ladies who Lunch, Live Music, and a Really Great Day.

Yesterday was a good day.

Work was good.  Work is always good.  {tangent} I am so incredibly grateful for my job and all of the sh*tty things that happened that led me here.  Sometimes I need to pinch myself so I know that yes, this is real life.  I do work here and they do appreciate me and they give me so much respect and they treat me like I'm awesome and even if I don't always feel awesome I really love that they say that I am.  They spoil me.  They know that I am capable.  They are wonderful.  This whole "we love you and love what you do" thing hasn't happened for me in years of employment.  Thank goodness for this job. {end of tangent.}

Lunch was great.  Carissa and I met at our spot in the park.  The spot below the tree, just south east of the jungle gym.  The spot that is half shaded and half sunlit so that we can adjust our place on the Rapuzel blanket so that we're always comfortable.  The spot in the park that is halfway between her place of work and my place of work.  We bring our own lunch and we chat.  As always, we chat about our loves, our lives, our jobs, and our books.  Yesterday we talked about loss.  We shared tragic stories that didn't involve us directly, but involved those that we know.  We  spoke about the fragility of life and how paralyzing it is to truly think about how temporary our time here on earth really is.  I walked away feeling sad.  I felt sad because of the situations we discussed, but I felt recharged.  That little recharge that I mentioned back here.  The recharge you get from connecting with your best friend.

I didn't have time to pack a real lunch so I improvised.
First things first.  The shoes come off.
I adore this little bird.
When I returned from lunch I had 4 tickets waiting on my desk for me.  These tickets were for the Guster, Ben Folds Five, and Barenaked Ladies show that night!  They were a gift from our marketing company.  A fantastic gift!  I absolutely love Ben Folds Five, and though I rarely listen to Barenaked Ladies, I like them a lot.  I saw them years ago at the White River Amphitheatre in Washington and they put on the best show!  Not only do they have catchy tunes and plenty of talent, they are hilarious.  If you ever get the opportunity to see the Barenaked Ladies perform, whether you are a fan or not, TAKE IT!  You will not regret it.

I decided then and there that even though it was so last minute, I was going!  I decided that I was taking my baby girl with me.  I would have loved to bring Kyle, but you know, game 7 of the NBA series...  I posted the other 2 free tickets that I had on Facebook and didn't get any bites.  On my drive home from work to grab my girl and head north it occured to me that I should call my aunt Marilyn.  She loves the Barenaked Ladies!  She loves to go to concerts!  She lives near by!  As luck would have it, Marilyn was able to join us.  So last minute!  This was very spontaneous and I loved it.

I was so excited to spend some time with Ayla.  Working full-time I feel that I am lacking in the "quality time" department.  I miss my little girl.  One of the things that I miss the most is driving in the car with her.  Just us two.  I know, that seems silly.  Why would I miss a car ride?  Let me tell you.  Ayla is fun in the car.  Ayla loves music.  Ayla loves to sing.  In the car Ayla and I rock out.  We turn the music up loud.  We sing at the top of our lungs.  We dance.  We have a lot of fun.  I popped in the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack and Ayla about had a heart attack.  She screeched, "LILO AND STITCH! MOM, I DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER THIS SONG!"  She, of course, did remember the song.  She sang the Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride song over and over.  Then she said, "Can we listen to The King, mom?"  Elvis.  You bet we can listen to Elvis.  That's mah girl!

We stopped at Sonic and to grab some dinner.  Really I just wanted a dirty diet coke and Ayla wanted a watermelon slush.  We decided to grab a dollar item to eat.  Worst decision ever.  Sonic is great for drinks, not so much for food.  Long story short, we waited for 30 minutes while they messed up our order and forgot about us.  I had to march in to the kitchen and ask for my money back.  Whatevs.  We got free food and we took off.  Ayla was asleep 2 minutes after we were on the freeway.

Generally I would be bugged by having to show up late.  I don't like that.  I want to see all of the bands.  I want to experience the entire thing, start to finish.  But last night, meh.  I was happy to show up as Guster was ending their set.  This meant we didn't have to sit as long with a three-year-old.  This was her first experience at a music show and I wasn't sure how she would do.  Turns out that she is her mother's daughter.  She did awesome.  {Once she fully woke up.  All that took was a bag of cotton candy.}

It was fun to catch up a bit with Aunt Marilyn.  Ayla was SO happy that she was there!  Even when Marilyn left us for a while to run to the restroom Ayla said, "Mom, can Aunt Marilyn come back now?"
Ben Folds was amazing.  Just like I expected him to be.  Here's a small clip of the song "Brick".  Plus there's a bonus of Ayla meowing like a kitty at the end.  :)

Once Ben Folds was done we moved in closer.  We got a better view of the stage, which was great!  Unfortunately my phone died and I didn't get any more pictures or videos of the Barenaked Ladies set.  But man, were they good.  They are so talented and their songs are just silly.  You just laugh when you watch them perform.  You laugh and sing and dance.  Is there anything better?

Sometimes I forget what live music does for me and how important it is to me.  I know that music can reach a person like nothing else, but live music?  Oh man.  It doesn't even need to be a song that I know or even a band that I'm familiar with.  Live music is just powerful.  The ear-piercing wail of an electric guitar being strummed for the first time that set, the bass drum that seems to beat through your own chest, the static, the chaos, the purity...  The feeling that I get while watching live music rivals only the feeling that I get from a roller coaster.  You know that feeling when you are strapped in and you are slowly clicking your way up an impossibly high ramp?  You're questioning your sanity {I AM GOING TO DIE} and you are wishing that you never sat in this little rickety car.  Your heart feels like it going to pound it's way straight out of your chest, or maybe out of your stomach - what is that awful feeling in your stomach?  You are terrified.  But oh man, it feels SO GOOD.  I love that feeling.  That's how I feel when I listen to live music.  It's excitement.  And joy.

Cotton candy mouths.

I watched my little girl feel that excitement and joy for the first time.  Oh, she loved it.  She didn't seem to get into Ben Folds Five much, she was still too excited about her cotton candy and her aunt Marilyn, but she sure loved the Barenaked Ladies.  When they sang "Gonna Walk", they included the crowd.  He would sing, "I'm gonna Walk" then we'd repeat.  "I won't quit."  Repeat.  "Until I get!"  Repeat.  {all together!}  "To the bottom of your heart!"  Ayla sang along at the top of her lungs.  After every line she belted out she would laugh.  A hearty, mouth-wide-open, laugh.  She clapped along with the beat.  She swayed.  She screamed after each song.  The first time she cupped her hands around her mouth and let out a "Woooo!" she looked at me hesitantly.  Her expression was cautious as if she wasn't sure she was allowed to yell.  I responded with the loudest "WOOOOO!" I could muster.  She laughed and squealed, "WOOOOO!"  I think that screaming after each song was one of her favorite things.  Also, singing "If I had a million dollars..."  She rocked that song.

And oh, Ayla.  One of her favorite things to say is "Chickety China the Chinese chicken!"  She heard that line of the song "One Week" at some point and has adopted this as a replacement for "I love you".  Really.  We do this thing where we say, "I gotta tell you a secret!"  Then you whisper, "I love you!"  She loves this game.  She plays it all the time.  Out of nowhere she started saying, "I've got a secret!"  Then she whispers, "Chickety China the Chinese chicken!" in your ear.  So you can imagine her joy when they sang that song.  The whole time I was amping her up for it.  I was like, "They're gonna say it, oh my goodness, it's almost your part!"  She was buzzing with excitement.  And finally they said it, "CHICKETY CHINA THE CHINESE CHICKEN!"  And then they said it again.  And again!  They said it three times!  If you know the song you know that they usually only say it once.  But oh boy, I love love love that they said it three times.  I love love love the squeal that escaped from Ayla after each time.  I love the way she laughed and the way that she bounced on my lap and clapped her hands.  I loved everything about this.

This was just another way for me to recharge.  It was quality time with my girl.  It was family time with aunt Marilyn.  It was fabulous music.  It was a great, great night.

The one thing that brought me down on the way out?  Some teenaged kids were making fun of a woman.  They were blatantly mimicking her dancing and her weight.  They were putting her down.  That brought me down.  A music show should be a place to escape real life.  To be free.  To have fun.  To dance!  No matter the dance moves.  No matter the way you look.  It made me sad for these kids to be mocking this woman who surely had the time of her life.  Why were they not discussing the awesome music or laughing about the goofy way that they let loose and danced in the aisles?  Why did they have to be tearing down an innocent, unknowing woman.  It made me wish that I had been next to her and that I had been dancing like an idiot with her.  Someday, perhaps when they've grown up a little, I hope that they can enjoy a show and let go and dance like fools and smile at the fool dancing in front of them and realize that we are in this together.  We're all fools trying to have a good time.

We had a good time.  It was better than good.  I am so glad that I got the chance to go on this spontaneous adventure with my girl.

What a day.  A terrific Thursday.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Camping at Currant Creek: Family, Fun, Fishing, & Four-wheeling!

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” 
-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

The Lee family has a "place".  It's the place that they go every year.  It seems to be a sacred place to them.  It's called Currant Creek.  It's up in the mountains past Heber, past Strawberry Reservoir... It's in the middle of nowhere.  I mean, past paved roads.  There is no cell service.  No internet.  No way of connecting to the outside world.  There is only you, your present company, nature, and a hell of a lot of dirt.

Ayla and I just spent our second summer outing with the Lee family at Currant Creek and we know why it's a sacred place.  We know why they come back every year.  We know why the kids don't want to leave.  We know why they don't mind the dirt and the disconnection from society.  Currant Creek is magical, really.

On Our way to Currant Creek we had to stop by Dairy Keen.  This is another Lee family sacred place.  A place that I loved from the start and I crave all the time but only have every so often.  Luckily, it's far away from us in Heber so it remains an exciting and rare treat.  Ayla loved seeing the Harry Potter train.  I loved my bacon cheese burger.

The drive in to Currant Creek feels so long.  We are all so excited to get there.  It's so fun to finally hit the dirt road and to finally see the lake and to finally see the little road that our camp is on and to finally pull up to the spot.  The spot that is full of Lee family trailers and a few tents and a lot of family.

Guys, Currant Creek is dirty.  I mean FILTHY.  The dirt is soft and loose and it flies around you with every step you take.  And it was windy this weekend.  Really windy.  I felt like every time I opened my mouth I got a mouth full of dirt.  Dirt is not really my thing.  I don't enjoy dirt in my hair and under my nails and EVERYWHERE else.  However, at Currant Creek I don't mind it.  I'm ok with the fact that my hair is heavy with dirt and actually looks gray because of it.  I'm ok with the fact that my nails are black.  In fact, I don't even notice because I still have pretty blue polish to hide it.  I'm ok with dirt in the creases of my arms and in my eyebrows.  It's worth it to be filthy for one weekend.  It's worth it to fly through the mountain on a 4-wheeler and sit next to the lake watching the fish jump but not bite our lines.  It's worth it to end the day sitting around a campfire {3 fires actually, to accommodate the large group!} roasting marshmallows or making campfire eclairs.  It's worth it to watch my little girl have the time of her life with cousins and other extended families.  It practically makes me cry thinking about the memories that she is making.  Currant Creek is going to be her "place".  It's going to be sacred to her, too.

I love the Lee family and I loved getting to spend my weekend with them tucked away on a mountain.  I can't even describe how wonderful it is to be up there in the open air with no phone and no computer.  Just family, fun, fishing, and four-wheeling.  I cannot wait until next year.

Without any further ado, here are pictures from our weekend.  A lot of pictures.  All pictures are from my trusty iPhone.  You may not judge any of the dirty faces or hobo clothes that you see in these pictures.  Camping = the ultimate lazy/dirty/hobo people.

Cousins checking out the caterpillar in the bug box.
Heading over to the side-by-side!
Buckled and ready!

Quick stop to look out over the lake.

These rides are tiring.
Are they related?  Sugar Crush while camping :)
Addi and Ayla having an adventure as I listened from the tent.  SO. CUTE.
Lindsay's massive fish she caught with a baby pole. {Sorry Lindsay, I had to!}
Ayla and Addi.
Cutest dirty faces ever.
Throwing rocks.
I got to snuggle the sweetest baby by the fire.  My heart!
Three fires.
Brent and Bryanna by the fire.
Off to the lake!
Grandma and Grandpa bringing Ayla and Logan to the lake.
Brandon and Cherry on the paddle boat.
Brent and Bryanna
Grandma and Grandpa with Jaycee and Mila.
Kyle and I with Ayla and Logan
Lindsay and Jaycee with Braxton and Addi.
Ayla and Jaycee with Cherry and Brynn.  We LOVED the paddle boat!
Between mom and dad on the 4-wheeler.  Perfect spot for a nap.
We found the tree we carved last year.
Trying to carve into the tree.
Kyle added the "LEE" for us.
Two ticks for two years at Currant Creek together.
Shooting clay pigeons.
The face of camping.
She LOVED being dirty!
Teaching his girl how to fish.
I didn't catch anything.
Ayla and Mya {sp?} relaxing by the lake.
Sunburned nose!
The best s'more ever.  Chocolate was all over my face.
Bedtime in the tent!
Kyle got a Dundie award for being the world's best dad!  Happy Father's Day, love!
Ayla and Braxton.
The spot where our tent sat.
Loaded up to go home.
The trailer, ready to roll out!
Driving away, until next year!
Dinner on the way home.  Cousins.  :)
Best camping trip ever.  We'll be back, Currant Creek!