Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Reads for August

So, what have you been reading over the past month or so? I have a huge list of books to tackle, and I've been happily chugging along. I've had a little extra time on some flights recently, so I've been able to work my way through some extra pages and it's been great. I wanted to share my current reading/to-read list with you guys, and let me know what you've been loving too. I missed a few "5 Reads" over the past couple of months so let's get a head start on August:

1. The Girl on the Train. I just finished this last week and I really enjoyed it. I was a bit apprehensive to actually pick it up because I felt like the hype level was out of control, but it actually lived up to my expectations. It's not one of my all-time favorite books, but it's definitely a great read and completely engaging, which is perfect for a beach-summer-travel book. One thing is that I really got a "The Yellow Wallpaper" feel in the beginning? Anyone else?

2. The Goldfinch. My friend Kelly suggested I try this one and I just started it last night, and I'm enjoying it. Another one I've seen all over the place but just didn't pick up for one reason or another. So far so good though- I'll keep you posted.

3. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. This popped up in my Amazon recs and I was drawn to it for some reason. I downloaded the sample but haven't cracked it open yet. It looks great though, doesn't it?

4. The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. Okay so this one looks a little too cheesy for me after reading the summary, but I was still drawn to it, and it might end up being a fun summer read. Another on my to-read list.

5. Paper Towns. I finished this up a couple weeks back and I definitely liked it. I love John Green, but for some reason it took me a few tries to really get into this one. Have you read it? I also just saw its been made into a movie, so I'm curious to check that out as well. Keep in mind this in a young adult book, but I do feel like anyone would enjoy it. Green is the best storyteller, and this one is no exception.

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Is This Enough?

First of all, I already know the answer. Of course it is. I look at that photo, at those beautiful boys and it's clear. I can sit in the big chair in our living room and have these little limbs strewn across me, blonde heads buried into my neck, big brown eyes crinkling as they laugh at one of my silly jokes, and I know, this is all I need. Truly. But then sometimes there's this tiny little twinge in my heart- an extra beat maybe, when I think about having another baby.

I used to want six kids. I dreamed of this. I imagined Hank and I living on a farm somewhere (ignoring that I'm basically scared of most animals) raising our children. I would homeschool (I would never homeschool), grow our own food (I kill half of the plants that enter our house), and live our life simply. Oh, dreams. What funny things they can be as you grow into your reality.

So we had one child. And as he got older I said, "Okay, for us, six is insane. Maybe four. Yes, four." And we had another. And I saw how that went. And I said, "Okay four is insane. Maybe three. Yes, three." And that baby grew and grew and more and more of his baby-ness fell away. And now that baby is turning two and the other is turning five and I look at this life and I wonder what is next.

Do I have a hole in my heart that yearns to be filled with another child? Is that what this feeling is? Do we grow our family one more time? I'm certain the answer is yes, and I've been thinking about it often. But not now. I'm pretty sure about that. But then we ask ourselves, when? When does life slow down enough where I would say okay, this is the time?

It's weird to be at the end of this part of our lives. One more baby. Just one. It seems like yesterday that we were at the beginning, pregnant with Henry and imagining what life would be like once he arrived. Then I can flash forward to almost two years ago, when Charlie was born. Two boys sitting there with me on the hospital bed. One wrapped up in a blanket nursing, the other snuggled up next to me, looking with awe at his new baby brother.

What a gift it is to know when something is your last. The last time you're pregnant. The last time you have that first moment with your new baby. The last time you give a first bath. The last first word. I've already promised myself that when the time comes to try for that sweet baby, and if we are able to have another, that I won't spend my time mourning everything as it passes. That's no way to enjoy a beautiful season of life. Being in the now will be so important, and that's where I want to be- where I need to be. So we will see what's next for us, see what's next for this little family of ours. I have babies on the brain lately, but there's a pause button there too, and a little thought in my mind saying "Not now, but maybe soon." We'll see, we'll see.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Zion National Park Adventure

We drove into Utah from Arizona just as it was starting to get dark, the night before we were to set out and tackle Angel's Landing. As we got closer to Zion we started to see the outline of deer in the pastures lining the road, the last light of the day highlighting their shape against the rocky backdrop. It was beautiful. We rolled down the windows and let the air in, taking in the little bits we could before the sun went completely down behind the mountains.

When we woke up the next morning and took a look around we were in awe. Rocks towered around us on all sides- the red only made redder by the green trees. We stretched, we took it in, we discussed our plan. That morning we were headed out to hike Angel's Landing, a 1,500-foot rock formation that promised to provide insane views of Zion Canyon. I'd researched the hike pretty extensively- I read about how difficult it could be for those with any fear of heights and how dangerous it could be in inclement weather. All along I hadn't felt nervous- but the night before Erinn, Alana, and I had hopped back on the internet and started to psych ourselves out. "How many people have died doing this?!" "WHY are we doing this anyway?" etc.

As we got our packs out, laced up our shoes, and headed out,  the sun was coming up. After a tiny bit of back and forth and some "once we get there, if it looks like a stupid idea we won't do it" talk we began the hike, pushing aside the previous night's apprehension. We entered at the trailhead at the Grotto Picnick area and made our way uphill, through Walter's Wiggles, a set of 21 steep switchbacks.

We approached Scout's Lookout and saw a few people deciding to stop there, rather than going all the way to the top. We had made some friends along the way and we all decided to head up together, and this is where is got interesting for me. All along I felt like I could possibly have some fear of heights, but I wasn't totally sure because up until recently I hadn't been in too many situations where I could have found out. A few weeks prior Alana and I had hike Devil's Bridge in Sedona and I was incredibly uncomfortable walking across it. But Angel's Landing, oh man, this was in a whole different realm- SO high, SO scary...but oddly enough I wasn't scared at all. This came as a surprise to me- my adrenaline kicked in and I was 110% stoked, no fear whatsoever. Awesome.

We continued going upward, and the hike definitely became intense at a few points. You're literally standing on a ledge thousands of feet in the air, with nothing to hold onto, sheer drops on both sides. It was crazy. And beautiful. And the kind of thing that makes you feel sick with excitement and nerves the entire time. Some of the way up there were chains- but there were a few hairy sections that had you just saying "okay, I'm doing it," and taking a breath then a quick step to a different rock or spot, with the world kind of spinning below thanks to how high in the air you are.

In all honesty although the scary parts were definitely scary, but those parts made up a small portion of the entire hike. It definitely wasn't as bad as I had read, and once we got to the top I sat there for a second and processed what I just did. Now, I'm going to try not to get totally cheesy here but I would say that this hike was kind of life-changing. Tears and everything, people. Just being nervous about something and then doing that something, and really and truly loving the shit out of doing that something...that's such a great feeling. How often do we get a chance to really get shaken up in life, or be surprised by ourselves? This was one of those times for me, and I will really and truly cherish this adventure forever. My only wish was that we had more time to spend in the park, but since it was a quick turn-around three day trip we headed home upon completion. Next time, I'll have to bring my GoPro (and Hank!) and capture a bit more of the climb!

Here are some iPhone photos, and do let me know if you have any questions below. I'm sharing this story in partnership with the National Park Foundation and their Find Your Park campaign. It's really an amazing project so be sure to check it out when you have a moment. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

And that's where I begin.

It's Monday. I'm sitting here in my living room, after arriving home late last night from a long, 11-hour drive. The boys are still sleeping, I have a big glass of water next to me, and I'm enjoying the very quiet silence of the morning. This is my favorite time of the day. Whenever I can, I try to get up before everyone to enjoy a small bit of it before the hustle and bustle of the morning begins. And it's funny, I remember my Mom doing the same when I was little- I would wake up to find her having been up for hours, the gym, morning tea, breakfast, already check off her list.

So I sit. And I think. And the thing on my mind most this morning is happiness. I've been thinking a lot about it- Hank and I actually had a long talk about the idea of joy on the way home yesterday. What makes me (you/us) happy? What makes us feel alive? Are we doing enough of those things?

Henry is in a place right now where he is acutely aware of his own happiness. "I'm not happy right now." "This is making me feel upset- I'm not happy with this." So I ask him, what would make you happy? "I want to play!" "I want to run outside!" And so we do it. It's as simple as that, really.

There have been many times in my life where I haven't felt happy. And although I can also look back and see specific seasons of my life where it wasn't a choice- hormones or chemical imbalances- I believe most of the time it was a choice for me. I chose to do things or be around things that didn't add to the goodness of my life. I would do the same things over and over, all the while saying "why isn't this working?" and expecting things to change. And it wasn't until one day I woke up and said "I'm not happy right now." And asked myself, "What would make you happy?" and did those things, that I understood more of how to get back there when I needed to.

It's a long road, you know, this happiness thing. And I remember reading something somewhere that was about the goal not being happiness, but wholeness. Does this add to your wholeness? Bad or good or terrible or wonderful. Does it add to the big picture of your life, the experience, the feeling? Yes? Well good then. I like that.

So what things make you happy, what things make you whole? What makes you feel alive? As far as happiness, it's my family, always. Being around them and traveling with them- seeing new places and that first excitement of a shared new experience- that's what I live for. Just waking up next to Hank and feeling safe, hearing the boys stirring down the hall- that is everything. And then there are my my soul sisters, the girls who have been there from the beginning. Traveling with them, sitting on a couch with them, just being in their magical, accepting, uplifting presence- they are my happiness. Being outside, hiking and exploring. Exercising and moving my body. Seeing new places with the people I love. A good book. A good meal. Writing.

The other day Henry was complaining about something, I don't remember what, but I told him that it was silly to keep complaining, when he could be spending that energy working to change it. And I thought about my own life, and how many times I could have used that advice. Life isn't so simple when you're really in it, but sometimes when I take a big enough step away, it can feel that way.

It's exciting really, when I think about being 33 and how I'm kind of in the middle of the really sweet spot. Enough behind me where I feel slightly experienced in how to live my own life, but so much ahead that there's a lifetime of goodness to look forward to. Isn't that such a gift? Waking up today and feeling like there's a whole day stretched ahead of you? What will we do? How will we fill it?

I hear stirring in Charlie's room, so I'm typing this quickly. My quiet morning time is coming to an end. How wonderful it feels to just share this river of thoughts in my mind with you, to empty it here to revisit later. Today I will work on my wholeness. I will look at the big picture and pull out tiny pieces of goodness, things that are happy and hopeful, and hold them there for a minute, and say thank you. We're building something here, and those are the parts I most want to grow. So I ask myself, what would make you happy? What would make you feel whole? And that's where I begin.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Revisiting a Summer Favorite

Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013

Hey guys! I've worked with Radisson numerous times in the past, and this time around we've teamed up to spread the word about their summer Get More Radisson campaign. It's an awesome deal- when you book any stay at a Radisson hotel between now and July 25th, you'll be sent an e-voucher to use that will give you 50% off your next stay (see more details at the bottom of the post!).

We've stayed in Radissons many times, and it was great looking back through my photos to this particular stay and seeing how tiny the boys were. I had JUST given birth to Charlie two months earlier so it's just so neat to see how much has changed. And this weekend really sticks out in my mind- it was the first time Charlie had stayed away from home and it was just a great family weekend. I've always really enjoyed stayed at their properties, and their Club Carlson benefits really seal the deal. Earning free rooms as you stay, extra perks...awesome.

And now- a little flashback photo diary from a fun visit almost two years ago. Just look at those tiny babies!

Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013 Weekend in Phoenix/Staycation October 2013

*this post was shared in partnership with Radisson Hotels
*With the Get More Radisson® campaign, now through July 25, 2015 at participating hotels, when you book a 2-night stay you'll receive an E-Certificate for 50% off a future stay. All eligible stays must be completed by August 31, 2015, with the discounted stay taking place between September 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016 (with the exclusion of December 31). To join in the #GetMore conversation visit the Radisson Facebook page throughout the summer for a chance to win weekly prizes. To get even more rewards from your travels, check outClub Carlson and access a collection of benefits, services and privileges at over 1,000 hotels worldwide.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Weekend Links

Wait...could it be?'s the return of Weekend Links. For today, anyway. ;) I'm finishing up this post from beautiful Park City, and this is my current view. It's breathtaking here. I've already shared it on Instagram but wanted to repost here as well.

And before we get into links, I wanted to mention that I'll be partnering with on their 2015 summer campaign sharing some of our summer adventures and highlighting their new Switch Art. It's really awesome, and I'll share more about it in upcoming weeks.

Here are ten things I've enjoyed reading on the web this week:

Heather "Dooce" Armstrong talks life after Mommy-blogging. Side note, I saw Heather speak at Mom 2.0 this year and absolutely loved her!

Yay, Girl Scouts!

Why do we care so much about Ben Affleck's and Jennifer Garner's divorce?

Read this, about not wanting to date guys who don't read books written by women.

The oral history of Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd’s Clueless kiss.

I like this: Why Selfies Are Good For Girls.

And this too: I Was Told My Lesbian Mother Is A "Deviant." Today Is For Both Of Us.

We listen to the wrong people when it comes to sexual assault.

Bless Your Heart: Turning 40 as the Mother of a Preschooler.

I love all of this advice!

Have a great weekend! xo

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Explore Arizona: Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend. This is another one of those places we've passed so many times while headed to Lake Powell and I'm so glad I finally got to see it. It's beautiful, and as we walked the .75 miles up the hill to the top, I had no idea what to expect! It totally blew me away though, with the gorgeous water color, that green moss contrasting with the red rocks, and just sheer size. I love places that make me feel so small.

Have you ever been? It's a quick stop that is totally worth it, in my opinion. It's located just north of the Grand Canyon and outside Page, Arizona. Alana, Erinn and I had a bit of a hard time finding it, which seemed so weird and funny once we DID, because it's so obvious. It's an easy turn off, which ample parking, and you simply walk down a short path to get there. There's no railing of any kind, and I was very nervous to see so many little kids running around and people bending over backwards trying to get the entire landscape into their selfie. Scary.

After getting lost and then finding simplified directions, the best way to go is just to look for the well-marked turnout between mileposts 544 and 545 on 89. That's it! If you stumble upon a detailed list of directions DO NOT follow it! Trust me. It's much more simple than you're led to believe.

Let me know if you decide to check it out, and happy exploring! I'll be back soon sharing photos from Antelope Canyon.

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