Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doing Things PART TWO: Running to the summit of Vail Mountain, COLORADO!

Still playing blog post catch up...let's go!
This is part 2 of a three part blog series.  See here for part 1. 

I just talked (15 seconds ago!) about my girl's trip to Denver.  On the drive home from my vacation, I had a mini adventure that turned out to be one of those life highlights that I will remember for always!

The interstate drive home from Denver is one of my very favorite freeway drives.  The views are beautiful, right in the heart of Colorado, and the drive is dotted with handfuls of perfect mountain towns.  

 I knew I wanted to pull over on the side of the road and do a little run on the bike trail that runs alongside the road.    It was just me in the car, so it was the perfect opportunity!  I was so excited!  I jumped out of the car and tied my shoes.  I planned on a mile up and a mile back.  And off I went.    Just as I was about to turn back, a couple on bicycles passed me and said, "Hey! Are you going up to the summit?"  I murmured back in question, "Err, the summit??".  They responded cheerfully, "Yeah!  It's just a few miles up the trail."  I answered, "Uhh no...ummm YES! The summit. Yes, I am going to the summit."  And just like that, on an empty stomach, my plans for a short run changed to plans for a long run.  The run to the summit and back was 12 miles, 12 of the best miles of my life!

A renewed burst of energy hit my feet and my shoes bounced off the trail the second they hit.  Running brings me unexplainable joy.  I've shared my running journey before earlier this year.  And I have shared the story of my first big running race too!  Running sits in the happy place of my heart and always will.  Pushing along, up hill, to the summit of Vail Mountain filled my entire being with pure joy and extended peace.  I could not stop taking it all in.  These minutes were the type that can't be easily repeated.  They're the lifetime minutes, the ones that hold steady in my memory for the rest of my days.  I was experiencing something on my bucket list that wasn't even on my list until this very moment!  I was just me and the mountains.  My only company was emotion-- every sort of good emotion swelling up within.  

 Beauty was in every step, with every blink.

Around every corner, new awe inspiring views emerged.

I made it! 

Headed back down!

Done, bam!  The second I reached my car, I dove in for a leftover cookie sitting on the seat.  I was starving and had been lusting after this cookie half for 4 miles!

Celebrating my body's capabilities 
and using what I've been blessed with 
lightens my life in new ways each day. 
I am so thankful for the gift of running.  
It shines bright in my life, 
setting me free over and over again. 

Vail Summit Run 2014!

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Doing Things PART ONE: Girl's Weekend Getaway to Denver, Colorado

Ok!  I am still hard at work playing catch up on my lil blog.  By the end of next week, I should be caught up and ready to post in sort of real time again, instead of months behind.

After the busy part of our summer, filled with moving and surgery, we spent the rest of it doing things.  Doing a lot of things.   I like doing.  It makes me happy!  The next three blog posts I'm going to share some personal fun, just me and my stuff, family not included. ;)  This is part one of a three part blog series. 

My best friend lives in Denver.  You all know about Brandi.  I've talked about her here, and here, and here.  Oh! And here.   Chris was the biggest sweetheart and encouraged me to take a girls trip to Denver over Labor Day weekend to see her.  He would hang with the kids all weekend at home, and do guy stuff...stuff that I'm probably glad to not know about.  I was so excited to have a little mini escape to beautiful Denver to spend quality time with my girl.

She made me feel so welcome and special!

I was excited to stay in the guest house of her beautiful place on top of a hill.

The view from my window!

Such a gorgeous and beautiful home,
hidden in the mountains of Denver, Colorado.
I couldn't get enough of it. 

We had ice cream nights

And latte mornings...

And cupcake days

We did lots of shopping
(thanks Brandi!! hehe)

And a lot of cozy chatting.

It was such a good three day weekend 
and I can't wait to do it again.

Cheers to almost a decade of friendship, 
a friendship made of the good stuff.

I am so thankful to have that one in my life, 
who knows me inside out, 
who doesn't care about my flaws, 
who cheers me on,
who always believes in me, 
who wants to hear about my day...every day,
 and who delights in listening to stories about my boys.  
Brandi is my treasure.  
She has supported me and helped shape who I am today.  
Oh yes, it's the good stuff. 

Lessons learned during my season of ill health

I am still behind on blog posts, but I am working hard to catch up!  My goal is to post quite a few stories in the next couple of weeks.

I've mentioned a couple times recently that I had surgery this summer.  We moved into a new home over the summer AND we did the whole surgery thing.  Goodness, it was a crazy summer, but still oh so good.   I don't want to talk too much about surgery gets a little boring.  

What I DO want to talk about is what I learned through this time.  I usually turn away help.  I always say "no" then I do it all on my own.  I've heard that is a pride issue.  Maybe.  I'm not quite sure.  I just know that is what I do.  But, these years, I've been practicing on improving personal character wrinkles.  So...THIS time when friends asked me for help, I said "yes".  At first it was a timid, barely audible whisper, peeking out from beneath my eyelids.  Then, as the blessing of my "yes" response started flowing in, my arms uncrossed and started spreading open, accepting all the love and all the help my personal community of friends had to offer.   Accepting these gifts was the most beautiful part of my sickness period.  I have never felt so cared about, so peaceful within, or so hopeful in our incredible human race.  People are beautiful.  My friends and family interrupted their daily rush to help me, to care about me, to ask about me, and to bless our family.   I am carrying this lesson along with me for the rest of my journey in life.   My friends taught me how impactful a bowl of soup, my favorite dessert, a bouquet of flowers, or a couch visit is in people's lives.  It was their actions that bellowed to me the loudest, like a big choir of happiness, telling me that selfless caring and compassion really are the best ways to bring joy and rest to those in need.  Thank you friends for being YOU, for being a part of my life, and for making this short season of my life so positively memorable.     

Here is an update I wrote on Facebook, soon after my surgery:

"Finally, I got online and I am absolutely speechless at the amount of care and love found here. I don't know how to respond to it. This world and the people in it are truly beautiful. EACH one of you soothed my spirit with your caring words as you showed your heart to our family. I am completely thankful for the massive support. It's a big deal and I never want to take it for granted. Thank you all for being my friend, for cheering me on, for praying, and most of all for caring. You are all teaching me so much. I'm learning how to let go, how to lean on others, and how to compassionately show love to others when they go through crisis situations. I think life is beautiful and I know for certain that you all have hearts of gold."

In summary... 

I learned: 

Lessons in community, friendship, support, love, and giving. 

Learning to let go and breathe in. 

Taking in a new perspective of people who live with daily pain, 

practicing compassion. 

Feeling life in different ways, 

being constantly grateful for blessings,

 including health, our greatest gift.

 Realizing how quickly things can change, 

but knowing that our strength will always start from within. 

Finding solace as we realize that strength creates beauty. 

And finally, being reminded 

that people ARE love.

Ok, here is the story update those of you who have asked about this.  First of all, YES! I am doing one hundred times better now.  Thank you for caring and for asking.  I appreciate it lots.  Here's the nutshell: I started feeling really unwell the day I was preparing for our big 4th of July party.  I knew something wasn't right.  The days following were a miserable blur of sickness.  I found out I needed to get my gallbladder removed, which is very common and a very routine ordeal.  Simple, easy, and better!  I, however, was a case of the minority percentage where things didn't go as expected or planned.  Because of this, my recovery was a bit longer than normal.  God is so good.  Everything is back on track and normal once again.  For those of you wondering, I eat everything and function the same just as I did before surgery with no problems!  Hooray! 

There is always a first!  My first time having surgery, arriving at the hospital.

A very WELCOME home sign from my boys


My house was a flower garden!


During my slow recovery days, Titus would play violin for me as I soaked up the sun.  It was beautiful. 

I had SO many visitors.  My dear neighbors bringing me my favorite cake one evening!

And another special friend (and favorite baby!)  bringing me cupcakes from my VERY favorite shop!

Chris was incredible!  He is so patient, gentle, and loving.  I am none of those when I'm around sick people.  I admire the way Chris is so good with helping people.  It's beautiful.   He made me signs each day just like the white boards at the hospital.  It was SO cute and hilarious! 

In spite of an uncomfortable, painful, and unwell season, it was a time of beauty.  My loved ones created a sanctuary and gave my spirit peace.  I am so grateful.

The song that played in my heart during these days was a little praise song I used to sing as a little girl.  And oh, how true it is.

"He brought me to His banqueting table, 
His banner over me is love. 
I am my Beloved's and He is mine, 
His banner over me is love. 
And we can feel the love of God in this place, we believe Your goodness, we receive Your grace. 
We delight ourselves at Your table, God, You do all things well, just look at our lives...
I am my Beloved's and He is mine, 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Curious George Pancake-Making Day with my youngest: Individual Special Days part THREE

This is part THREE of a three part blog series on creating special individual days for our kids.

Check here for part ONE and here for part TWO

In my previous blog posts, I shared our tradition of creating a "special day" for EACH of our sons.  I know a lot of parents do this!  It is such a great way to connect and to really get to know our little people.

Titus, my youngest, he has my heart in a really big way! He has the most gentle and sweet spirit.   His day was very similar to Dakotah's day, because it was also time spent in the kitchen, preparing a meal.  I didn't intend for their day's activities to be so similar but Titus has been wanting to read the Curious George pancake book with me for awhile so I built his day around that book.

For Titus' special day, I bought him his favorite individual serving of orange juice as a treat, read his Curious George Makes Pancakes book with him, and we made pancakes and fresh syrup together.  He then served our family fun pancake faces for a weekend breakfast! 

Starting out our special day...

To start, Titus and I read his pancake book together.  These are the moments I dwell on, the ones that prick my awareness, the ones that I long to last forever.

After that, we got busy in the kitchen!   We made a homemade pancake mix from my Southern Living cookbook.  I taught him a little bit about make-ahead-mixes.

It was late summer on this day, so we also made a fresh fruit syrup, using delicious Palisade peaches and summer blueberries.  I already shared this recipe on my "Flowers and Food of our Summer" blog post.

Titus, quietly and diligently working hard.

Then he was ready to make the pancakes! To make it fun, Titus topped pancakes with a variety: blueberries on some, chocolate chips and rainbow chips on a few, and some plain. 

Just like on Dakotah's Special Day, Titus got to set the table outside for our meal.  I really enjoyed watching how they each decorated the table in their own style.  I keep leftover party papergoods.  Titus dug out Curious George napkins from a party I had hosted YEARS ago to use on his breakfast table.  

*See here for more details on using a leftover party box.  And check here for fun ways to use leftover party napkins. 

Setting his breakfast table.  He used his old Curious George for a centerpiece.  It was adorable!

Ta Da!

The old party napkins worked perfectly for this special pancake breakfast!

It was a beautifully bright sunny summer morning for our family to enjoy Titus' pancakes.

Fresh Colorado sausage...

Tall stack!

Titus had an idea to make each of us our own unique pancake face.  This is SO Titus, since he is known as our smiley face boy.  I am quite sure smiley faces will ALWAYS remind me of my  youngest.  He draws about 15 smiley faces on every card he writes and every picture he creates.  He also always does a big closed mouth smile that almost perfectly matches the classic smiley face.

Oh! A not so smiley face...

I didn't get pictures of his other face creations, but we had a lot of fun with them!  We enjoyed some of our pancakes with the fresh blueberry peach syrup!

Claiming minutes and calling time 
with the loves of my life
 is by far my most favorite thing in life. 
 I grabbed lots of squeezes from my youngest one
 as we worked together making pancakes. 

 I know these are the moments that will always remain my favorite,
 even long after this time of raising a family has past. 
 I'm painfully aware of how brief this season is.  
 I know, in the future, 
I will look back even on the not-so-special days with longing.  
I breathe it in with every inhale 
and I only exhale so that I can breathe it all in again.  

This concludes this three part blog series.
See here for PART ONE, Cameron's Library and picnic day.
See here for PART TWO, Dakotah's meal planning and preparing day.

I also shared some of the kids' cooking in the Flowers and Food of our Summer blog post.