Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life Moves Pretty Fast. If You Don't Stop And Look Around Once In A While....

 Oof. After a winter of dodging almost every cold and virus, this family got hit with the flu a few weeks ago, and we fell, HARD. I haven't been that sick in years and years. The J-bird managed to give it a miss, which was great, but James, Miss V and I all got hit with several days of fever, a week of utter misery, a couple weeks of coughing, and a few weeks of lingering exhaustion that made everything feel impossible. It's very good to be on the other side of that, I can tell you.

But today, I want to tell you about Bailey. I know I've talked about her before. We've known this girl since she was 13 and started babysitting the kids. We got to know her, then James and I became good friends with her mama, Amy, and then we roped her brother, Brent into the clan. Now, our two families are peas and carrots. We have supper once a week, go on vacations sometimes, and support and love one another, like ya do.

When Bailey was in high school, she used to walk over to my house after school, just to hang out and talk. We'd sit on my couch, and she'd tell me about her day, or she'd hang out and play with the kids. I helped her bake various treats for her first boyfriend, commiserated about fights with her buddies, heard all about the best teachers AND the worst ones. As she got to the end of her high school years, she'd tell me about the big decisions coming up - college, majors, career. I got to take a few of her senior pictures, and I even got to contribute a cake for her big graduation party. Bailey has an amazing mom who is always there for her. I know that, because her mama is also one of my very best friends. I've been lucky enough to be like an auntie, and my kids have been so very fortunate to have Bailey around as well. They just adore her, and the feeling is mutual.

Bailey is in college now, but we still see her. She goes to school in Portland, but maybe once a month, she comes and stays the night in our guest room. She gets to go see her buddies in town, and then we get a little time with the college girl. The kids are always delighted, and we are touched that she still invests that time in them. It's pretty special.

 





Time is precious and fleeting and so, so valuable, you know?

Thinking of Bailey and how just five minutes ago, she was thirteen made me think about my (not so) baby sisters. My brother and I are close in age, so we grew up together, but our sisters are much younger, so when we were in high school and college, our sisters were little girls. My brother and I both made a point of investing a lot of time in the girls in our own ways. I loved attending all the concerts and games and recitals and Sports Days, hosting sleepovers at my college house, stuff like that, but also just spending time with them. We spent HOURS playing cards and board games and watching tv and movies. We tromped all over my parents' gorgeous farm, me with a camera, them in thrown together costumes, coming up with "poses". I have never, ever regretted that time, because my sisters were and are fascinating, amazing people, and anyone would be lucky to know them. I've lived far away for a long time now, and I love where I live, but it's tough sometimes to have that physical distance. We have a bond forged by all that time that can't ever be broken though, and that is precious. THEY are precious.

We got to talking about it when we were all in Mexico over Christmas, and I was startled at how much of all that that they remember. As my kids' childhoods rocket past, and I try to grab onto some of those pesky, slippery moments, to nail them down and make them stay put (they never do), I wonder what THEY will remember. The good. The humiliating. The bring-a-tear-to-your-eye touching. The times I got mad and had to go pull weeds in the garden to cool down. The time the J-bird and I got his top tooth out in just two pulls. All the times Miss V got croup and had to be wrapped up in quilts on my lap on the front porch. Our beloved, far-flung family. Our beloved, near-by village. All the time. So much, but so little time. Life is weird, man. So weird, so full, so sweet, if I just open up my heart and let it be.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

LEGO Maniac

Oh, LEGO - these impossibly tiny blocks that are a joy and the bane of my existence. There is no more exquisite pain than that of a LEGO block, stepped on unexpectedly in the middle of the night. All I want to do is one last check on my sweet, sleeping darling, but no - half of the Star Wars universe or whatever is disassembled in a crazy obstacle course of pain all over his floor, and I just stepped on it, and now I have to try real hard not to howl and swear and wake him up. Fun, right?

I find them everywhere. I pick them up constantly. They have permeated every room of our house. MY HUSBAND KEEPS BUYING THEM ("They come in SETS. You just don't understand.")

But...look how much the J-bird loves them.

*siiiiiiiiiiigh*

Maybe I can start using them for home improvement projects, or something.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Screen Time

 Sometimes, when it's ominously quiet downstairs, it means the little mice are up to mischief.


Other times, it means they have tuned their screens to the exact same episode of My Little Pony, synced them up, so they're playing the episode at the same time, put on headphones, snuggled on the couch under a quilt, and decided to spend a little time being precious.




Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oh! Hello Again!

 When it comes to blogging, I've been asleep on the job. I know, I know. Lame. It's true though. Life just got in the way. It's a new year though, and I'm ready to roll back into it...theoretically, so I thought I'd start with a ginormous post that nobody except the people who really, really care about "What I Did On My Holiday Break" will sit through. Sound good? GREAT!!!




When it comes to Christmas, our family is traditional. We stay home, we put up a tree, we go see Santa, we go to church on Christmas Eve, and then we wake up early and do Christmas morning. We have friends over for lunch on Christmas Day...the whole bit. Not this year! My parents were going to be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary on December 23rd. That's a pretty huge occasion to celebrate, and my dad wanted to mark it by taking the entire family somewhere special. He and Mom chose Mexico, so...off we went.

We decided to spend a week in Kansas with James's folks beforehand, so that was our first destination. We pulled the J-bird from school a week early (he was not super thrilled), roused the children from bed at a truly brutal hour of the morning, arrived at the airport to a shockingly long line, screeched in just in time to board our flight and made it onto the plane.

Fine. Whatever.




Kids were tired.



Our kids have exactly two cousins and both are older. The J-bird is QUITE fond of Connor. It is always very sweet to see them together.





Grandma was pretty happy to see them as well.





And these two settled in for a long Winter's Chat.




Off to a formal event at the Country Club





Swinging in the back yard



We were able to visit James's grandmas in Warrensburg, MO while we were there. It's a short drive, and it's always nice to go see them. They used to come in to KC when we were in town, but they are both in their nineties - I think it's our turn to go see them.
(We always go to this restaurant in Warrensburg)



Great Granny K





Great Grandma Livie










Passed out children






























This is Laura. We will be friends for the rest of our lives. She introduced James and I, and she is amazing. We were able to have some "just us" time, which was fantastic, and then our families got together and celebrated Hanukkah, which was so fun.





Our red-haired four year old daughters




















We drove from KC to Lawrence one day during the week to see my folks at their place and to visit a good friend of mine, Christine. It was so good to see her!



Jimmy kind of fell in love with her dog.




Once we got to my folks' farm, the kids got right down to business. We had brought some presents for Granny and Papa, and Granny had a tree for them to decorate!




 (My youngest sister, Tassi)







It had snowed the night before, so, after lunch, we all suited up and went sledding. I hadn't done that in YEARS, and it was a total blast. Also amazing for James and I was watching our children sled down the hill we walked up to get married...











































 It was a really fun day. Later on, we got to go see my brother's new house and plan our airport meet-up for Mexico, which was coming up fast. We trekked back to KC, put the kiddos to bed, and my father in law gave me a guitar lesson!!


He's kind of awesome


Also pretty great: my mother in law. We got to spend a lot of really nice, relaxed time together, even taking a trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which I love.










Whole Houx Family




Then, the week in Kansas was over, and it was time to leave for Mexico. We all met at the airport, went through the complicated process of getting on our international flight, and we were off on our adventure!





It was a long day of travel, so arriving at our resort was a relief. This place was lux.ur.i.ous. My parents did NOT mess around when they picked it out. (*gulp* Thank you again, guys!)

"Smell no evil, feel no evil, see no evil"









We settled in, had some supper, and then the kiddos crashed. Hard.




The next morning, we hit the beach. We go to the beach as much as we can in Oregon, but that's a Pacific Northwest beach - cool/cold, rainy, windy...you don't really get in the water. My little Oregon babies were not prepared for the glory of a Caribbean beach experience. The sand! The sun! The beautiful blue water! There were NO rocks or shells, but that didn't seem to be a big deal. We still found a couple of little weird things to marvel over, and they built 900 sand castles and LOVED going in "the deep water" (up to my shoulders)












































 The resort had a Kids Club, which was really great. Since we brought the only kids in our group, they got kind of bored with all the grown ups, so after a couple of hours on the beach each morning, they'd ask to go play in the Kids Club. It was very well supervised, and they did crafts and activities, and oh, sisters and brothers...every day with the face painting...










 Then we'd go get them again to hang out with us. It was a good balance, I think.







 And hopefully, the adults also got a decent balance between this:





 and this:





 We all celebrated my parents on their anniversary. The siblings colluded on some gifts, and we all had a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants in the resort. It was so nice, just being together. Our waiter heard it was their special night and brought them a really beautiful dessert!




 The next night was Christmas Eve. It was kind of surreal, since we weren't at home. Knowing it would be that way - especially for the kids, we had celebrated "our" Christmas already, earlier in the month. The J-bird and Miss V wrote their letters to Santa, letting him know we'd be gone, asking if he might come a little early. We bought a little rosemary bush and made ornaments. We put out our Nativity set and the stockings and one or two other decorations. We got up early and...lo and behold! It was Christmas morning! On December 6th! It was pretty neat, and it took all the pressure off, so we could really just enjoy being non-traditional for the rest of the season.

AND WE WERE





Santa landed on the beach in a catamaran, ya'll. Christmas morning, 2014. Cancun.







And what did YOU have for Christmas dinner? We had sushi...from boats in a sushi river.




 That's my brother, Joe and his darling sweetheart, Denny.






Morning snuggles with Papa are the best.



Always more beach.








I don't have ANY photos of our snorkeling adventure, but I wish I did. You guys, you guys...we went snorkeling, and I was TERRIFIED. I'm very scared of sharks and open water and drowning (even though I'm a very strong swimmer - Thank you, Mama for all the swimming lessons!), and I completely - quietly - panicked for a good five minutes after I hit the water, BUT...James stayed with me and made sure I was ok, and I got myself under control (BECAUSE I HAVE AN IRON WILL, AND I DO NOT KNUCKLE UNDER) (or something), and I ended up really enjoying it. It was a lot harder for James, because of his awesome, kick@$$ beard. Funny thing about snorkeling masks and stuff: they won't seal if you have a mustache. Wah wah. He gave it a good forty minutes of near drowning though, and then I went back to the boat with him, so he didn't, ya know, die. I was really proud of him and SO grateful TO him for staying with me those first few minutes. Good husband. Gooooood husband.

I also went kayaking with my sisters, which was amazing. Don't have any photos of that. Great.

I DO have photos of three of my sisters doing this weird thing though:


















































 That looked difficult.



Beautiful sister, Olivia

There were many pools at this resort. I think we swam in all of them, because that is what you do when you have small children.










Always, more beach.







Beautiful sister, Emma



Beautiful mom.






















Respect the coconut














It was really, truly a beautiful week of family, relaxation, sunshine, laughter, and joy. We couldn't have asked for a better time.

We went back to Kansas for just one more day. Time for one last meal with an Auntie and a cousin...one last Kansas sunset...





And then we were off home. Home home home to Portland.
 (bonus points if you know what this is)
(double bonus points if you've read this far)




And the most beautiful reunion of all....


I promise my next entry will be MUCH SHORTER.