Inside Out

Have you seen the latest Pixar film Inside Out?

I love how recent animated movies are shifting away from the typical “damsel in distress” or “good vs. bad guy” themes and moving more into deeper territory. Inside Out depicts the inner monologues of a young girl and her family, and how so often the voices in our heads can steer us into the right or the wrong direction. It also beautifully illustrates that we need joy and sadness, for without one, there isn’t the other. Like so many children’s films, there’s plenty of humor for the entire audience, but there are some wonderful, more substantial themes.

We viewed this film while on our mini vacation to visit friends. Along the way we went to a waterslide park which was fun, and sparked the memories of waterslides I went to as a kid. I LOVE the water and always have. Any vacation was met with the question, “Does the hotel have a pool?!!” because to kids, the pool IS the vacation. I did not have a fear of heights that I remember growing up. For whatever reason, that has changed. My stomach does flip flops, I get panicky. It’s not pleasant. I have to concentrate and focus to push through it. The voices in my head were raging as I gulped down some terror approaching the stairs. “Do not look up,” I told myself. “And when you get up there, don’t look down.”


Hannah was screaming, “BEST DAY EVER!” racing up the slippery steps and Jacob was taking two stairs at a time trying to beat Eric to the top, wind blowing his inner tube around crazily. Death grip on the railing, my knuckles clenched white,  Eric asks, “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” I mutter, just trying to breathe. Trying not to envision the minions plummeting down to their deaths. Hoping I wouldn’t biff myself too badly on the slide, I kept telling myself that it would be worth it. “One step at a time. Look only at your feet. Just get to the top, the ride down will be worth it.”

And you know what? It was.

I kept climbing up every time the kids shouted, “Let’s do it again!!” Each time I swallowed hard, focused and just did it. It was a blast. I’m never going to be that cool mom that sun bathes on the lounger. That’s fine, but it’s just not me. I want to get in there with them and play, even if the voice of fear in my head is screaming, “NO! You’re going to DIE!”

I want my kids to remember me in the moment, not always taking a picture of the moment. I want them to be having fun with me, not around me. I want them to see me get my hair wet and crazy, but with smiles on our faces. If I want them to know how to breathe in a moment and revel in their own joy, I have to lead by example. 

No matter what the pesky voices in our heads say!


Back to Real Life


I had a feeling this would happen. I just didn’t expect it so soon. Sitting in the airport, drinking a lovely cup of coffee I am missing my my family something fierce. I can’t wait to get back to them, to our home, and our life.

It has been a fun weekend, awesome to catch up with and meet new friends, and a much-needed reset button for me. Everyone needs a break, if anything just to step back and gain some perspective.

There’s a story that goes something like if everyone stood in a circle and put their troubles, worries and problems in a pile and trade it for someone else’s, virtually everyone takes their own right back. Perhaps it’s familiarity – we’d rather keep what we have and what we know.

I highly doubt it is reciprocal, but spending time with my single friend affords me to peek into a life I might have lived. It’s fun to wonder what I would be doing and where I might have lived given different circumstances.

While it’s fun to travel, living out of suitcases on an on-going basis holds no appeal to me. Being in a city, eating late dinners in bustling restaurants, adult conversations and evening cocktails was a blast. But for my everyday, I really love watching a show, cuddling with my kids (or chasing them), and spending quiet evenings (after the kids go to bed) with my husband. Hotel fitness centers get the job done, but I much prefer a trail off the beaten path to get my sweat on. Having access to museums, restaurants, spas and quality shopping are wonderful, but I just don’t think I am built for a life lived in a city. After a while it feels like I can’t breathe. It just gets too people-y out.

I love a place where I can look at the stars in the evening. I love having access to the ocean. I love running in a wide open space, on a trail in the woods, or hiking in the mountains. I like being outside in a space not man made.

I cherish my dear friend and always smile as I ask her about her life, her work and her travels. It’s always fun and exciting to hear about her adventures and her take on random “talent”. I can appreciate how hard she works. After my mind wanders in that direction, playing “What If?” for a while, I find myself immediately in that circle grabbing my life right back.

So…This Happened….

The friend I came here to see works for Microsoft. They launch retail stores all over and she travels to the various cities for store set ups and grand openings. With each store opening there is talent booked as well. This could be singers or professional athletes.

In Dallas, it was The Band Perry and Tim MCGraw!

IMG_8167-0.JPGUmm, just… Wow!

I like his music, but had no idea he put on such a great show!

IMG_8150.JPGThen he came over to our side of the stage and I was literally an arms length away!

IMG_8156.JPGAlthough it was extremely difficult to maintain my composure, on the inside I was totally turning into my freak show 12-year-old self! And yes, he totally smiled at us. Multiple times. We are totally BFFs now.

Just sayin’.

I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane…

Only I DO know when I’ll be back again. Sunday. I have exactly three and a half days to remember what it was like to be my own person. To not have any real responsibilities.

Driving in the rain, my mind imagines all kinds of catastrophes, all completely unrealistic. This is not a reflection on my sweet husband’s driving abilities, but rather a window into my own ridiculousness! Why do we do that? I’m looking forward to this trip, and have been for quite some time. Yet, I imagine all the things that may go wrong in my absence….as if my presence would stop any of theses improbable scenarios. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. Perhaps if I traveled more it wouldn’t be such a big deal. (Hmm. I could volunteer to test that theory! Paris, London, New York…oh the possibilities are endless!)

This is the first time in over six years that I’ve been alone for more than just a few hours. While I am 99% in-the-air-heel-clicks-ridiculously excited, there is a tiny 1% that is out of sorts. I have a zillion ideas for how to suck the marrow out of every minute, but am finding that the list keeps growing, but the amount of time I have remains the same!

I used to think it odd that couples would take separate vacations. “Why would someone want to be away from, and experience fun adventures without their loved one?” I wondered. As a military family, we spend so much time apart already, it seemed odd to me to choose to be apart. After having kids, I get it. Completely. The idea of being autonomous, no responsibilities, no “I really should…” or “I have to…” and to just be, is really heaven when you’re in the endless cycle of day to day parenting. I love the idea of just being me for a few days outside of the roles I am within my family. I’m living the dream, baby!

As we pull up to the terminal, I can feel my sweet pajama-clad daughter staring at me, clutching her pink stuffed dog. Her bottom lip quivering, I walk around to her side of the car and give her a big hug and whisper “I love you. You are going to be fine.” She lets go and I find I can’t meet her eyes. I know it’s time. “You’ll be fine.” Was I saying it to myself or her? Both, probably.

“Flight number such and such, now boarding,” blares out over the loudspeaker, jarring me out of my people watching and pretending to read reverie.

It’s time. I’m ready. I’m going to be more than fine. I’m going to have a blast!


Safari Fun – Texas Style

Now that the house is getting somewhat assembled, we decided to get out and do something. We went to San Antonio to check out this:


We got to see all sorts of creatures – and they came right up to our car door!

EXCITED! “They are so close, Mom!”
Inspecting and dividing up the animal food pellets.
Why the long face?
We saw an ACTUAL Texas long horn! (They are so huge!)
Everything really is bigger in Texas!
Hello friend! I wanted to reach out and scratch his chinny-chin-chin!
Twin giraffes!
I talked to this guy. He looked at me like I was nuts. Nothing like being made to feel stupid. You know, by a bird.
“Humps are what camels are made of!” – Jacob

Hannah said “OOOH OOH OOOH! Mom look!!!” about 5000 times. Jacob laughed at the funny looking animals for about 5 minutes into the tour, then promptly wanted to go to the gift shop. Hannah said the “drive” around the park was too long. When we exited, she cried saying she wanted to go again.

Go figure.

Perhaps Natural Bridge Wildlife would like to accept two new rare breeds to their menagerie. I’m thinking they don’t have anything as wild as rug rats…

Idaho vacation!

Ah! There is nothing like a good get-away vacation! The kids and I joined my sister and her family for a week at their cabin in Idaho! So much fun!
Hannah is ready to ride!! Lucky for us – Uncle has some awesome quads!! My kids were in serious heaven!


Hannah and I headed out for a ride!
Jake and his Uncle!
Jake even let me join him for a ride!!


I chopped wood for the campfire!! Watch out! I’m pretty dangerous with an axe!


We discovered that Jacob gets wacky on chocolate and smores!!


Hannah has a sugar crash!


We visited this beach on a huge lake a couple of times! Pretty much the closest I could get us to Hawaii without a 5 hour plane ride! It was nice and hot too – we soaked up that warmth!
 We learned to play FLINGO!!! So fun! (When we weren’t whacking our sibling in the face with a golf ball!)
Hannah is ready to go!! She kept saying “Faster! Faster!” This girl seriously has no fear!


They played so hard – and slept harder!! Neither of them napped during the day because we were just outside fishing, playing, picking rocks, riding quads and having a blast!


Little miss! She is so cute it kills me!
Jake got his first tackle box, fishing pole, and fishing trip! I seriously wonder why I buy him toys when the tackle box, a 12 pack of bobbers and rocks kept him entertained for HOURS. Seriously.
 Tall tales around the fire!! So much fun!
 The newest face of Moka Joe Coffee! Hannah got ahold of an “almost” empty coffee cup and got some grounds on her face forming this ‘stache!!
It was such a great little get-away and for their first vacation that included a LOOOOONG drive and completely new surroundings – they did FANTASTIC!
Hooray for Idaho!

Minnesota Madness!

We made a whirlwind surprise trip to Minnesota last week to visit Eric’s family before his upcoming deployment!
Flying with little kids is really not for the faint of heart – but we did it and we all survived!
The flight there couldn’t have been more perfect! As you can see, Jake was sleepy as we were getting ready for take-off! 5 minutes into his movie – and he was out! Hannah slept through take-off, landing and the entire flight in between!


Jacob catching some zzz’s after the first day of travel! Poor bubba! Globe trotting is hard on little ones!
Squeezing in visits with friends and family in 3 days was a bit tough, but luckily there were lots of fun playground opportunities in between!
Jake was enthralled (for 5 minutes) with Uncle Steve’s video of trains!
Hannah hangin’ with Pop-Pop Stoffers! Not sure where she got “Pop-Pop” from, but that’s what she calls her Grandmas!
And of course the hotel had a pool and a jacuzzi – a must for any family vacation! We were so happy that many of our friends and family were able to come see us to minimize traveling in the car for the kiddos!


Jake and Hannah were both in heaven!



While visiting a family friend, the kids got to sit on a real tractor!! They were so excited!!




I think Jake was ready to take it home!!!
And Hannah got a seat in Ms. Fannie’s super cool Camaro!!!



Being silly!


 Getting out the sillies!


 Super fun at Uncle Greg and Aunt Marty’s!!! Jake was SOOO thrilled to ride such a big “monster truck”!! (Hannah was of course “all done” half a block down the road!)
 She loved Buddy!
Great food and fun!! (I even tried smoked duck for the first time! Pretty darn good!)
And then back home again! This time the boys slept while Hannah and I played with the phone!
Overall – it was a great trip and all things considered, the kids were FANTASTIC! It really was a quick trip and so hard to fit time in to see everyone, but we made it work and I’m so glad we got a chance to see our Minnesota family before Eric’s departure 🙂

Trip to Maui

We got a chance to get a girls night out!! So much fun! We did our usual dinner at the mai tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian hotel. It is so beautiful there and dinner on the water just can’t be beat!
 We took pictures of each other from the balcony of Moose McGillicutty’s. Great food in Lahaina!
 Yummy mai tais and lava flows too!!

Back on Oahu, we had a beach day at the Hilton lagoon. 
 The lagoons are great for the kids because there are virtually no waves!
 Fun in the sand!!
 Daddy got Jake a mixer!!
Hannah in her little Hawaiian dress!

Jake in the banyan tree in Lahaina!

Its been such fun and we get to attend a fun event tomorrow….part of the Hawaiian International Film Festival…..stay tuned!!!

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