Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm back!

Take a seat and get comfortable, this is going to be a long one! :)

We had SO much fun on our vacation! It was a crazy busy week, we never stopped moving. So here I am with a photo montage of some of our activities.

We left town last Sunday. On our way there we stopped to see Shawn's brother and his wife and we had a fun picnic in the park with them. While we were there Shawn took this photo of Clarissa and me.

I love it.

We got to my moms house Sunday afternoon. My mom lives way up in the foothills on a few acres of gorgeous property and it's always fun to go there and see what animals are currently inhabiting her yard. The last time we were there the neighbors pet turkey wandered over for a visit. This time there is a litter of kittens who mysteriously showed up! Here is a photo of one of them:

There's pretty much nothing I love more than kittens, and so do my kids, so we had a great time playing with them. I wanted to take them home REALLY bad. We didn't. But I wanted to.

Monday morning we got up bright and early and headed up to Yellowstone Park. I grew up two hours from Yellowstone Park and I was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time there as a kid. Shawn grew up even closer and he spent a lot of time there too so it's always fun to go there with our kids. I love the drive up there. We get to go through the town my mom grew up in and I get to drive by my grandparents old house, although she doesn't live in that town anymore. They lived in that house for 50ish years before they sold it and moved to my hometown several years ago. I have awesome memories of spending time at my grandparents house as a kid and I love to get the opportunity to drive through their little town and see their old house. I'm obnoxiously nostalgic on these trips home, which you already know if you follow my blog. :)

We had an awesome time in Yellowstone! We went to the bear habitat, we walked around and looked at the mud pots and we saw Old Faithful erupt. It looked like this:

I've seen Old Faithful erupt dozens of time in my life and I love it every time. 

After we saw Old Faithful we decided to drive up the mountain and see Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It's basically a great big canyon with a waterfall and it's really beautiful to see. Here are some photos I took there:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is absolutely breath taking. It's really fun to see. After we spent some time there we found a little convenient store in the middle of the forest and got milkshakes. After all the driving and all the walking in the heat, I think that might have been the kids favorite part of the day. 

By then it was dinner time and everyone was getting tired to we headed back to the town of West Yellowstone where we had rented the cutest little one room cabin for the night. It was kind of like a hotel room, but it was a freestanding cabin. It looked like this:

We got some pizza and had a really fun movie night. Movie nights are kind of our favorite thing. One fun thing about the cabin is that they have fire pits out front and they leave s'mores supplies in each cabin. 

So fun! One of our favorite moments of the trip was when Shawn and the boys went out to make s'mores and were having a great time and then the sprinklers turned on, lol. They came running in a little wet and we laughed really hard. I don't think we'll ever forget that memory. I wish I had taken a photo of them! 

The next morning we headed back to my moms house but we took the long way and saw some fun sites on the way. We visited a place called Big Springs. When I was a kid it was an area with a little dock with tons of fish that you could feed. I have fun memories of feeding fish there as a kid. We took the kids there expecting to see the fish, but sadly there are no more fish. There are, however, about a million seagulls who aren't stupid and know that people show up there with food for the fish and will feed the birds if there aren't any fish, lol. They were right, we fed them. :)

We had a good time ever without the fish. It was hot outside so we took off our shoes and dangled our feet in the water. 

(I can't make up my mind if I like the Matthew photo with a hat or without a hat better, what the heck, I threw them both in.) 

After Big Springs we went to Mesa Falls. It's another really pretty water fall with a pretty little nature hike. We had an awesome time there, but it was SO HOT. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it had been about 15 degrees cooler. Still pretty though and the kids enjoyed the little walk to the falls. 

It was a pretty awesome little Yellowstone adventure. I love to be up in the mountains and the kids had so much fun exploring and enjoying nature. If you've never been to Yellowstone, I highly recommend it! It's beautiful! 

By early Tuesday evening we were back at my moms house and we had a fun night with them and my brothers family eating pizza. My stepdad is an awesome cook and this year he got a huge smoker. He actually smoked pizzas for dinner and they were awesome! So we had awesome smoked pizza and hung out with my brother and his wife and kids, who I really love spending time with. My brother and I have a lot in common and always end up spending a lot of time laughing when we're together. 

Wednesday we had a fun little family reunion. My mom does a cousins camp for the kids every year and this year she decided to take everyone swimming at a little water park. Our family, my mom and stepdad, my brother and his family and my sister and her family all met up at the waterpark and had an awesome afternoon swimming. There are no photos. I don't like cameras anywhere on the premises when I'm in a bathing suit, lol. 

Thursday was the 4th of July! I have been wanting to go back to my hometown for the 4th of July for years. When I was a kid the fourth was one of my favorite days of the year. I love the parade and the fireworks and the whole big celebration. So we had big plans to go to the parade. And then we didn't go. :( We were having a super fun time on our vacation but by Thursday we were TIRED, lol. We hadn't stopped moving since we got there on Sunday and I could tell that by Thursday morning the kids were starting to burn out a bit. When it comes down to it, I think I was the only one that really wanted to go. It's more of a nostalgia thing for me and no one else in my family shares that nostalgia. For the kids I think it would have just been a hot and crowded morning and I really didn't want to burn everyone out because we still had more adventures ahead of us on our trip. So Thursday morning we slept in a bit and got a slow start. I feel bad that I missed the parade but overall I think it was a better decision for the family. 

One thing I was determined not to miss was the fireworks! My hometown puts on an awesome fireworks display on the 4th. People come from all around to see it. Which is great, but it means that you have to show up hours early to stake out your spot and parking is a nightmare. Fortunately for us, my grandma lives in a little condo right by the area where the fireworks are. You can't see them from her condo because there are trees in the way, but we could park in her driveway and walk over there really easily. That was awesome, because otherwise parking is a huge pain and you have to walk a million miles in the heat. Plus that meant that we got to spend time with my grandma, which was awesome! 

After spending some time with my grandma and staking out our spot for the fireworks, we still had a few hours to kill before the fireworks started so we decided to go see a movie. We took the kids to Monsters University. Super cute. 

Finally it was fireworks time. Yay! We headed back over to out spot and watched the sun set while we waited for the fireworks to start. 

Unfortunately the fireworks ended up being delayed due to an unfortunate unforeseen circumstance and didn't start until 11:00. By then Clarissa had fallen asleep, but the rest of us had a great time once they got going! They were as awesome as I remembered them and I got my moment of nostalgia. :) 

And that takes us to Friday. Is anyone still reading this? I've been typing it and adding photos for an hour. Yikes.  

Friday was my 20 year high school reunion! Yay! :) 

I have never been to a class reunion. We only had a 10 year and I was giving birth to Matthew that week and was unable to attend, so this was a first for me. Unlike most people, I loved high school. I loved that time in my life and look back on it fondly. Well, most of it anyway. So it was really fun for me to go revisit that this week. Unfortunately I think Facebook is killing class reunions and a lot of people didn't attend but I loved catching up with the friends who came.

I mentioned it before, but most of my close friends weren't in my class. I was friendly with a lot of people, but most of my closest friends were older than me and a few didn't even go to my school. I wish I could have seen those people. This whole week as I looked forward to my reunion, those people were on my mind and there were a few people I was really missing. I want a reunion for my whole teenage years. Wouldn't it be fun if that were possible?

But I did love catching up with the old friends I saw at my reunion. Friday at noon there was a picnic in the park near the house I grew up in. It was fun to take my kids there and show them where I used to play and show them the swimming pool at that park where I spent my summers as a kid. Ah, nostalgia. I had an awesome time at the picnic. I saw friends I hadn't seen in 20 years. Some people have changed a lot and some people haven't changed a bit. I loved seeing every one of them. I had great conversations, I loved seeing everyone's kids and I especially loved seeing my kids make friends with some of my classmates kids at the same park I used to play with those classmates in when I was there age. (Did that sentence make sense? lol)

Friday afternoon we had a few hours to kill between reunion events and we spent it with my brother and his family. They're awesome to hang out with.

Friday evening we left the kids at my moms house and there was a reunion event at my old high school. Here's the situation with my high school. I went to one high school for my sophomore and junior year and then they built a new high school due to overcrowding and split our class in half for our senior year. I was one of the (un)lucky ones who got moved to the new high school for my senior year. It was fun to be the first graduating class of a brand new high school but at the time we were all super dramatic about being split up our senior year and having to leave the old school that we loved. As a result we agreed to always combine our class reunions and that's what we did. So technically half the people at the reunion didn't actually graduate with me but they were all people I went to at least two years of high school with.

The reunion event was held at the original high school that I spent the first part of my high school years at. I'm not sure if I have been back to that school since the end of my junior year and it was crazy weird to be back! I walked in the front door and was immediately flooded with so many memories. Being the sucker for nostalgia that I am, I just soaked it all in. I walked around for the first little bit and just bathed in the nostalgia. I opened my old lockers and walked through the gym and peeked in the window of the front office and looked at all the old photos on the wall and just completely LOVED it. I was happy there as a teenager.

I have a million memories of that school. I stood at my old locker and remembered the fight I got into with my best friend when she got her first boyfriend and I started feeling like the third wheel. We didn't speak for a while after that, which was awkward because our lockers were next to each other, lol. I sat on the bleachers in the gym and remembered all the games and assemblies I had sat through there. I stood in the commons area and remembered all the school dances I attended there. I remembered things I had totally forgotten until that moment. I remembered one school dance where we got bored and laid down on the floor and counted ceiling tiles. I remembered the first dance I went to with my high school boyfriend that ended 10 minutes earlier than it was supposed to so we drove out to a field and had one last dance in the moonlight. I remembered nights in the newspaper room meeting deadlines, passing notes in the hallway, having crushes on boys who didn't know I was alive and falling in love for the first time. I truly loved that time of my life.

It was so weird to be back there as an adult with three kids, talking to people I've known since I was five but haven't seen in 20 years. In some ways it doesn't feel like 20 years have passed. I feel like I was just in high school yesterday. But on the other hand, so much has changed and so much time has passed that walking into that school felt like walking back into a whole different life. The whole night was kind of surreal. I know some people couldn't care less about high school reunions but I loved it. I hate losing touch with people and I'm thrilled to make contact again. I had a great time. 

I didn't take a lot of photos, but Shawn took one with my cellphone when all my classmates gathered on the bleachers for a group photo. For a class that was so big it had to be split into two high schools, that's a pretty small gathering for the reunion, but I loved seeing everyone who was there.

And I got all artsy with a photo of my name tag because I'm obnoxious like that. 

So the reunion was awesome. I loved seeing the old school and all my old friends. Also, I felt old, lol.

Saturday we spent part of the day visiting with Shawn's dad and we visited my dads grave.

Then in the evening I did a photo shoot with the kids. I like to do photo shoots at my mom's house because she has such an awesome yard. Every summer when we go up there I take an evening and do some portraits of the kids. Here are a few of the ones I got this year:

And that brings us to today. This morning we packed up and headed home, tired, but happy. We had an amazing week full of family and friends and lots of adventures. I know this blog post was extremely long, but I had to write it all down because I didn't want to forget any of it. 

Our adventures aren't quite over. This week Matthew has scout day camp and Friday we're packing back up to leave town again. It's our annual cabin weekend with our friends. It will be a short trip, but it should be lots of fun! So far it's been a busy summer at our house!! :) 

No comments: