Friday, September 12, 2014

Party Prep

It's no secret that Leon's birthday is my favorite. Or at least the date that it falls on, anyway. Until the arrival of baby Hayes his birthday was the only one in the family attached to a warm season and therefore the cause for hosting such large celebrations. That, and he seems to love his birthday more than almost anyone I've ever known.

This time we are planning on the same set up that worked so well for us last year. Beachside at our favorite spot, with friends, family, lots of food, and one enormous Lion piñata we scored today in a run down local swapmeet for 10 bucks. We actually debated for quite some time seeing that there was a specific request for a Spongebob style Piñata, but luckily Leon seems more than satisfied with our surprise (rouge) pick. In fact he laughed so hard when he got home he had tears in his eyes.
Leo the Lion. So glad he approves.

As for everything else around these corners, it's been quite chaotic to say the least. Adjusting to a new school schedule, one that has us driving circles back and forth around town on certain days, on top of trying to establish even a sliver of routine for the baby to count on, on top of working to get our shop updated with new photos and product, has been incredibly trying for us all. Our days are broken up, filled to the brim, and our weeks passing faster than seems fair. I am plain exhausted. Doing my best to keep up but feeling utterly, and completely bedhind most of the time.

But then I wonder if maybe this sense of sporadic defeat comes with the start of the school year, or a new baby, or four kids, or life in general. What I do know, is that we are always up for any excuse for a party. No matter the effort and exhaustion involved. And celebrating our sweet boy's sixth year is just about the best excuse I can think of.

Hope to share a few photos of his special day, here next week.

In the meantime, hope you all have a wonderful weekend as well,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Desert Friends

Last week I headed to the desert for a short visit with our friends Eric and Whitney, who recently settled down on a decent chunk of property deep in the dusty back lots of 29 palms. A renovation we've watched joyfully from the sidelines, marveling at their steady and consistent progress made apparent with each new visit we've made since the season they first landed there. What I've come to love most about this particular renovation is how every square inch of this place has been constructed with such careful consideration, design that takes so much from what is free and available to them from recycled materials left on the property, making use of their own surroundings, working it to their custom needs and design preferences. Placing equal balance on both practical and artful necessities. A home that in the end, will come to fully reflect everything they love and stand for as artists and lovers of nature. And that, in itself, is something I can surely stand by.

In separate but equally exciting news, Whitney - who's been featured here more than a couple times for various reasons - is on the verge of having her illustrations published in a children's book written by her uncle. It's a collaboration a long time in the making so it's release warrants a cause for major celebration. During my visit I got to flip through some of the initial raw sketches for the book, read the story and photographed a few aspects of it to share (along with clearer details) on The Ma Books just as soon as it is made available for purchase. A link I can't wait to share with you all seeing how much I enjoyed the book myself.

All in all, it was a great afternoon. A perfect excuse to get away for couple hours & catch up with old friends, toast new ventures, introduce our newest boy and devour a couple slices of Whitney's infamous home made gluten free pizzas. A recipe I must remember to track down next time I'm there.

As for life around here, we are, as usual, painfully busy. Tired, but well. I'm hoping to find some time to carve out for some more blog posts here that I have piling up, but it's a promise I know better than to make at this point. We have a full plate. To say the least. And the baby is growing like a weed which means when I do run into spare time, brief as it remains in spite of having the boys at school for a few days throughout the week, I usually just want to sit and play with him. Watching him grow. So that piles of laundry stay put and blogs go sorely unattended for now.

In the meantime, hope all is well on all your ends.
And please keep an eye out for a follow up post once the book is ready on The Ma Books. If you're not following already, you probably should.
Lots and Lots of great woman to read and fall in love there.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Road Trip

When our big summer plans for a road trip to Marfa Tx ended up falling through for multiple reasons we were left scrambling to figure out how we might "make up" for it. Naturally, being the kind of people we are, we ended up waiting until the very last week of summer break to decide where we might want to go. In fact the night before our trip we were still on the fence about whether we were heading up the coast or to the desert. Though the more I thought about it the more I realized I was really craving something a little different. After all, we had seen our fair share of beaches all summer long. I also imagined Arlo would like to see the Grand Canyon for the first time since I was about his age when I visited it first and knew it would be something special he would remember about the summer of 2014.

We packed the car the night before and headed out around 4 in the morning. Our first stop, Williams,  Az. Along Route 66, a half hour drive to the Grand Canyon. Our saving grace: the Hotel Tonight App that helped alert us to what hotels still had vacancies in the area for the night.

The car ride up, though, was rather disastrous. Rex, never one to adjust peacefully to long car rides, managed to fire up every single one of our last nerves till finally we all saw our breaking points. 6 hours of non stop whining & fighting. Elbow to elbow in a cramped backseat made for some pretty trying patience on all of our ends. I know I went through various phases of screaming, begging, threatening - all kinds of desperate tactics that ultimately proved ineffective in the end.

On the bright side, we did find a few kicks on Route 66. For me it came in the form of an adorable old turquoise shop where I took home a beautiful antique necklace. For them, a zip line ride across the strip and a western gun show played out in the streets which they found downright hilarious. We ate Mexican food and passed out in a dingy hotel just before 9:00. Once we finally made it to the Grand Canyon the following morning, I felt, at first, a sense of relief. We had made it to our indented destination. A sensation that lasted about 5 minutes. Maybe. 

See, the last time we visited this state park, it was snowing heavily. Mike and I had just started dating and we took a romantic train ride to the canyon, where, because of the heavy snowfall, the entire hole was covered in a heavy white mist and I could honestly not see much of anything. I wasn't scared then and only remember being mesmerized by it's beauty. This time, the breadth of the canyon, clear as day, made me sick to my stomach upon first glance. I broke out into a cold sweat, followed by a sudden whirl that whipped around inside my body and up through my head making me think I was surely going to faint. That, coupled with the overwhelming sense of anxiety while tending to three (well, ok, two) naturally curious little boys, itching to examine every inch of that damn rim, proved too much for me to take. I was a mess. In tears, ragged and manic. Begging them to pull back, get away, "sit with me!!

"But you're the one who planned this" Mike would remind me a couple times, to no avail. He was right. I knew this, but in the midst of this kind of boiling panic attack, reason slips right out the door and I didn't care why we were there or who's idea it was, I just wanted out.

Finally, I was calm enough to agree to sit in the shade with Leon, Jack and the baby for a bit while Mike took Arlo and Rex down one of the trails. We waited, noticeably tense, with our ice cream cones watching all kinds of wobbly toddlers running reckless along the edge. Tourists heaving their children up onto the edge for an array of photos. People smiling, genuinely interested in studying every inch of that God Awful death drop. The simple sight of which seemed to pain just as much as chasing after my own children. So I sat there in silent horror. Cursing myself for ever concocting such a stupid plan.

When they returned they seemed ready and willing to leave. Apparently the trail they walked was so narrow at one point that the group ahead of them turned back in fear. Mike said both boys had taken note, made the turn, saw the cave, and were suddenly more than ready to get back. A few of the photos of them on this trail, a million foot drop 2 feet away from them on one side is a vision I can surely live without ever reminiscing. Even nearly two weeks later, I skip right past those photos on my camera every time.

Our second stop redeemed the entire tone of our vacation. For me anyway. We made it to Sedona and it was far prettier than I ever imagined. We spent two days there amidst that beautiful red rock landscape and fell in love with the quirky downtown strip full of so many great restaurants, new age centers, and shopping options. We rested, stocked up on small souvenirs (mood rings and rubber band guns) went out for a fancy dinner and hunted down a local skatepark just before sunset. The following day we made the most of hotel swimming, long naps, a jeep tour along the rocks for Arlo and Mike, and later, dinner at a perfectly kitschy alien themed burger joint where we sat in a big black booth under red lights and devoured plates full of Neptune fries and blue planet burgers while eyeing the walls lined from floor to ceiling, with photos of supposed "sightings." All in all it was a city I would gladly return to at the drop of a hat. I love Sedona. And would really like to see it again in the Fall.

Lastly, on route to home, we decided (on a whim, of course) to book one last night in Palm Springs. We found a cute, stylish Hotel thanks again to our trusty hotel app, and spent the last part of our vacation in a hot tub, where Jack was free to roam around the hotel grounds and where Rex learned to swim! Arlo and Mike spent a couple hours at a water park nearby while the boys and I had lunch and lounged around the pool.

Breakfast at The Ace was our last stop. We talked about kindergarten, and what the school year might have in store for them. We took Photo Booth pictures in the lobby before heading home and everyone fell asleep instantly. The last two hours would prove the only silence our car would know the entire trip.

Looking back, I am always thankful for these kinds of vacations. Regardless of the effort it takes to get us there, and in spite of plenty of moments where Mike and I both feel completely overwhelmed, frustrated and beside ourselves, it's always worth it in the end because for me it's always about the experience. The good, the bad, the everything. Even when that includes far more tears and trials than seems fair.