02 February 2017

Mexico for the Escape





If there was any year to "get out of Dodge" this was the year. Boise has seen record snowfall and lasting cold temperatures. Skies have been overcast and a dose of vitamin D (with SPF coverage, of course) has never felt so good.

Destination warm weather was Punta Mita, Nayurit, Mexico. And the sun, waves and warm breeze didn't disappoint. 






We rented a condo through a family-friendly travel site called Kid and Coe. Think Airbnb or VRBO with families in mind. Check it out for some dreamy, worldwide travel destinations (hint: I often peruse the site for destination ideas). 




The greatest part of our trip was the fact that we vacationed with the loveliest family we met last year while we were in Hawaii, sitting at the pool. You know how sometimes you just get along so well with a person, that you know you'd like to hang out again? Well, picture that and add in that your spouses also get along (and look like brothers) and your girls do too. So when they asked if we were planning a 2017 getaway and if we'd like to meet, we said yes.




Our flight from Boise (via LAX) landed in Puerto Vallarta on a warm Sunday afternoon. Plane rides are a breeze these days with a 3.5 year old, and I even read my book "America's First Daughter." A 45 minute taxi ride took us north to Punte de Mita, down a windy, cobblestone road to Los Veneros, a culmination of private residences. And right next door to a newly opened W Hotel, with two restaurants and ceviche bar. 

The grounds were beautiful, with many pools, lush greenery and lovely ocean views. The condo was spacious, with a full kitchen and large terrace. The one disappointment was not being able to use the main pool (which now belonged to the W) or the gym (also under the W) which was not clearly stated in the Kid and Coe website description. You win some, you lose some. 



Our days consisted of swimming, watching the girls dive for toys in the pool, reading books and playing in the condo, catching waves at the beach and eating out. We also practiced our Spanish with the patient waitstaff at the restaurants. We drank margaritas, swung in hammocks and gazed at bright stars in the night sky.



On the plane ride home, I read an article in the Delta Magazine about being a traveler vs a tourist by Andrew Zimmern. Meaning, to be a traveler is to get out and explore, immerse yourself in the country you visit, learn customs and cultures. I love being a traveler and dare say it is one of my favorite hobbies. This is more important now than ever in our world. However, sometimes being a tourist who sits by a pool, with no stresses is allowed. It's OK to leave the plans and adventures for another day and have the biggest question be: beach or pool?

Thanks for a great vacation, Joe, Harriet, Polly and Arnie. You were such wonderful companions and made the holiday all the better. Until next time! 

















30 January 2017

Loss by miscarriage



A year ago we were preparing. There was excitement paired with anxious nerves. We were coming up on an appointment at our obstetrician's office to see and hear the first heart tones of an 11-week-old baby we thought would be joining our family in August of 2016.

The appointment was scheduled two days before we were headed to Maui for a weeklong vacation. I had a pedicure scheduled with my mom right after the ultrasound, Kiki was home playing with Melanie and our bags were mostly packed. I had plans. 

The ultrasound didn't reveal a strong heartbeat. At best, this tiny bundle of cells never made it past 7 weeks. I cried and tried to be brave, but I didn't know how I was supposed to feel or what we would do next. Courage I had before seemed gone and I felt paralyzed. 

The next day Dan and I arrived early for my procedure and the following day after that we boarded a flight to Maui. I've never been as grateful to get away from it all. Hawaii was the best medicine for us. It was time spent together as a family. Time to enjoy our beautiful girl. Time to begin healing. Time to be present.

I don't tell you this story for pity. I know this loss is common. You may have experienced it yourself or know a close friend or family member who has suffered the loss. Or maybe you never even get there. I know far too many people who have gone through grief at all stages of making babies. You never think you'll be in those shoes, though. And we go on to grieve in our own ways. We each move on with different plans. For me, the hardest part is know which path is right for us.

I share this because I am reflecting on an anniversary. Storytelling is healing. It also helps me to think about all I have gained this year.

Our plans changed a year ago. I thought I knew what 2016 would look like (we had even strategically planned vacations). And one day, that all changed. This past year I have done more soul-searching than I've done in a long time. I've said yes more times than no. I've started exercising more regularly again and watching less TV. I am making and keeping goals I never had before.

I spend time soaking up my daughter. I came home that day, a year ago, from the hospital with a new sense of gratitude for Kiki, even for the hard parts of parenting a 3 year-old. I am not spending my days at a hospital, using my degree as a pharmacist, but I am grateful I have a sweet girl with whom to play princess and dance next to for hours.

I've chosen to use this experience and grow from it while listening to my heart. I've learned that plans change and I will choose to move forward, counting the many blessings I have today. 

Our loss isn't unique. Loss is common. We were fortunate to have a healthy child to come home to that day in January a year ago. She didn't know what we had lost. All she had was love. Writing has become a therapy for me over the past years. Reflecting on the good and hard helps put things into perspective. I am grateful for all I have to feel and love, even the hard. The hard is what makes it good.

10 January 2017

Opened a new door


Today I saw a whole new world open for Kiki as she marched into ski school.

She hasn't always been so independent. She spent most of her 1st and 2nd years of life attached firmly to my hip or leg. She's had my number since day one. She's always stayed close.

This year she has come out of her shell. Since this fall, she has attended preschool three mornings a week. It is just enough for her to make friends, learn how to be a tiny human and recognize that a whole world exists outside of her and me. She can make friends with anyone and is turning into the loveliest person.


And so, as we continue on the path of growth, she started ski school today. We live in the mountain west so it's kind of like a right of passage to learn to ski. Honestly, I felt like we were a bit behind schedule only getting her on the slopes this year. Alas, this was her year.



The Mogul Mouse program at our local ski resort, Bogus Basin, (just 16 miles up the hill from us) is teaching our children to love the outdoors, the snow and the sport of skiing. It was seamless and easy. We rented skis at Greenwoods Ski Haus, dressed her in warm gear and signed up to be ski each Tuesday this January.

As a parent, you always wonder how the first day of anything will go. Will she refuse to be dropped at a strange location? Will she cry once she is dressed in all of her gear and just sit there in the snow? Or will she forget about me and march out, excited about an opportunity to play in the snow and conquer something new?


Lucky for all of us, she hardly looked back when I check her into lessons this morning. She was excited and knew what to expect (kind of). We talked about it, just like Daniel Tiger tells us to do. She is confident in who she is and believes in her body. She was ready to fall and get back up.



I adored watching her learn today. And it made me proud seeing that little girl be brave and strong. I loved that she trusted me enough to let me go. She went out there with all she had and gave it her best. I hope she learns to love skiing. But mostly, I hope she keeps that drive to learn new things, even when it is scary and new. That she remembers these moments when it wasn't easy to start, but that the reward of conquering fears opens up a whole new world of opportunity.


16 December 2016

Photos in the Digital Age

Back in high school and college, I used to make photos albums. Some were elaborate scrapbooks with fancy papers and decorations from Archivers. Others were a compilation of photos taken on film cameras during a sports season or semester of college. I usually had the glowing, red-eye pupils, the quality of photos printed at the local drugstore was less-than-great, and it was hit or miss if you captured the moments as you remembered them.



But regardless of the professionalism or how they were arranged, at least I printed my photos. I had hard copies of these memories. The images weren't lost in old computers I can no longer access because of forgotten passwords. 

Today, we take unlimited digital photos. We may snap 10 photos of one place in time, just to make sure it was perfectly captured. If you're like me, you don't go back to delete the 9 that had shut eyes, were blurry or weren't framed right. These photos sit on our phones, might get transferred over to a computer or live in the cloud. No one sees them, or remembers them, but some how they were so important to take that you almost didn't enjoy the real moment because you were stuck behind your screen.  

I still have thousands of photos that are not edited or sorted. They sit on my computer for days when I am feeling nostalgic and wish to remember how tiny my Kiki was at 3 months or to relive those long vacation days on a beach. But a few weeks ago, I decided I needed to take some action to get control of these photos. They were slowing down my computer, making it almost useless. I visited the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.


With my hard-drive cleaned up and my photos in one place, easily accessible, I can get back to making my albums. So, what do I do to document my memories? I have had great luck creating photo albums right from my computer, using the Photos app and creating a "Project." 


These projects turn into hard or soft covered albums of various sizes. There are many formats and layouts from which to chose. Select your favorite photos from a vacation or time period, import them to your project, then click and drag. I include as many captions as I can to remember the name of hotels, sights or feelings. When the project is completed, it is printed and shipped to my doorstep. 



I just completed our summer travel album - it was a bit later than I had hoped, but it was really nice to revisit the photos from our vacation. The hardest part is gathering photos from everyone's phones and cameras, putting them in one spot and picking your favorites. My next project is to go through photos from 2016 and pick favorites of Kiki dancing, swimming, playing with friends, hiking, going off to preschool and growing up way too fast.



I know I am not the only one with unorganized photos that long for a home. These projects can seem overwhelming if you have a backlog of years of photos. Start with one vacation and enjoy a trip down memory lane. You may find it is less of a chore than you think and maybe you'll make that next album sooner than you think!


10 October 2016

Connecting your Past and Present



Do you have those friends you only see once every year or two, but it feels like no time has passed since your last visit? 


Do you have people that know so much about you that being with them feels so easy because they just get you?


We rarely even text one another, let alone find time to call, but our bond is stronger than that. My freshman-year college roommate at St Ben's was assigned to me randomly in 1999, but it couldn't have been a better match. Katie and I lived on Regina J in a tiny room together, decorated with stars and inspirational quotes. We studied together, gushed over the DOGG book together, ate meals together, made friends together and grew into independent women with a best friend by our side. 


This weekend, after years of planning, we finally got away and met up in sunny Santa Monica. We reminisced about friends, boys and parties, but also talked about our families, our jobs and our friends that shape us on a daily basis. We talked a little politics, a little religion and a little philosophy. 





But the best part of a weekend with someone from your past, is that they know so much about you because they were with you through key moments in life that formed you. They knew you before your husband or kids knew you. They knew you at your worst and at your best. And they love you for who you are today. 




Thanks for a great trip down memory lane, Katie! Until next time!

21 September 2016

Growth


This isn't about my daughter growing-up or replacing her wardrobe every 6 months to keep up with her long legs (although both of those statements are definitely true). It's about me growing as a person.

This weekend, I took a step out of my comfort zone. And enjoyed every minute of it!

I attended the Make-A-Wish Boise gala on Saturday night. But I went without a date. Dan was out of town and I was invited by a new friend I met through preschool who sits on the board of directors. She was looking for friends to invite to this inspiring benefit.

Usually, I would have said, "Thank you for the invitation, but my husband is out of town, so we won't be able to make it. We'd love to join you next time." But, instead, I said, "Sure! I would love to join you, but it will just be me because Dan is out of town."


Was I hesitant about going alone, to pre-funk with a group of people I had never met before? To sit at a table with couples whose names I didn't know? Sure, I was! My introvert-self was a bit nervous to be dropped off by my mom and Kiki at the pre-party, but my optimistic self said, "I bet I will meet some really great people tonight and might run into someone I know."



I had a fantastic night, being more outgoing than normal and striking up conversations with new faces. I bonded with fellow Children's School families, met the new owner of a pharmacy coming to town, found another Minnesotan whose parents had recently relocated to Boise and was looking for friends for his parents, watched the Boise State athletic teams devote their Saturday night to raising money for children by entertaining us gala-goers and heard the stories of many courageous families and children of Idaho.



The night wouldn't be complete without telling you about the live auction. Earlier in the evening I had the pleasure of meeting Grant and Kim Porter. They own a white-water rafting guide company called Middle Fork Rapid Transport that runs trips down the Salmon River, through some of the most remote wilderness in the lower-48 states. To hear the passion in Kim's stories about the river and the experience one gains from these trips, was enough to get me to raise my paddle to this all-inclusive trip. I went for it. Dan and I will be spending six days in the wilderness next summer - no cell phones, no distractions, just a bunch of nature, water and adventure. Really out of my comfort zone.


I could have said no to the invitation. But I have learned better in these last few months than to say "no" to opportunities. Sometimes we only get one shot at something. Usually we will never know what we missed out on, but somehow we can still regret staying home.

Every day I am growing, learning more about who I want to be and what I am. I am proud of my growth and know there are great things ahead for me, my family and anyone who takes a chance.