Sunday, June 26, 2011

A few moments captured in time...

I still have LOTS of pictures to sort through, but I just thought I'd share these ones right now..

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Journey of 3,000 Miles...

I’ve always liked the saying, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” For this trip, perhaps it should read, “A journey of 3,000 miles begins with a single birthday wish…” We are on our way home, and I find myself wishing this desolate land between home and the west would offer a bit more pleasurable views for our driving enjoyment.  But this ‘nothingness’ gives me time for reflection. And because of this amazing invention called a ‘laptop’, I can type away as the miles roll on and on and on…there are some things you just gotta love about this ‘modern’ world! 

And I wonder, 20 years from now, what will Morgan and Sarah remember about this trip?! What stories from this trip will be told to my grandkids one day down the road? What memories will Mike and I always hold…after we return home, life settles back into routine, and the years keep flying by? I guess that’s part of the mystery and the fun of an unknown future. 

I’ve taken lots of photos this trip, trying to capture some of the moments along the way, and yet I am also aware that pictures fail to capture so much of the experience.  I’m hoping at some point when I’m less sleep deprived and not still on a ‘high’ from this trip, I will awake one morning and be able to capture into words some of this grand adventure.  But to begin, here are some of the experiences we had on this trip…

We found joy in a can of spray paint. We meandered through a petrified crystal forest. We observed the beauty of minerals in the Painted Desert. We immersed ourselves in frigid mountain stream water for the thrill of siding down natural rocks. We traversed over lava rocks beneath Sunset Crater. We found flowers in unexpected places. We attempted to experience the refreshing coolness of the ‘blow hole’ in ancient Indian ruins. We beheld a shared wonder of viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time. We held hands often.  We froze (42 degrees) and huddled together as we watched the sunrise over the Grand Canyon welcoming Morgan into the next decade of her life. We put a candle in her muffin and sang her happy birthday on top of that canyon rim. We took a relaxing horseback ride at sunset thru the ponderosa pines of the Kaibab Forest. We ventured downward into the Grand Canyon and back up again (only for about 1.5 hours). We strolled along the rim’s top, snapping countless photos. With gratitude we watched our girls skip everywhere. We enjoyed stiff breezes that kept us cool during the day. We camped. We enjoyed s’mores and campfires. We let our faces reflect the sun’s concluding rays as it fell over the Grand Canyon. We sat in awe at the brilliance of the stars after the sun went down. We had no bedtimes. We were amazed at the sight of Saturn’s rings through a telescope.  We rafted (smooth water) down the Colorado River, thru Glen Canyon.  We froze in even colder water of the Colorado River (ok they did, I wasn’t getting in 47 degree water!). We splashed in hotel pools. We kept a lookout for mountain lions and bears, but alas, we saw neither. We toured ancient pueblo Indian ruins at Mesa Verde. We watched our girls get ‘sworn in’ as Jr. Ranger’s and Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.   We rose above the treetops on the ski lift and soaked in the mountain views. We screamed flying down the half-mile Alpine slide on the mountain side. We had a picnic on top of the mountain. We watched a ‘gun-fight’ in the streets of Silverton. We burned our feet in the sand of the Great Sand Dunes.  We listened to our girls sing countless songs. We laughed at silliness. And of course, we also thanked God often for the opportunity to experience all this beautiful creation of His!! Yes, we journeyed these 3,000 miles together and regardless of what details we remember, I’m certain it is a trip that will endure in our hearts for the rest of our days. 

And in 19 months, Sarah will turn 10…I wonder where she will choose?! Rumor has it that our next adventure may be more “Magical” than “Grand”, but we will see if she chooses Disney or elsewhere in the end! J

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Double Digit Day

So after living her entire life in the single-digits, today, my beautiful daughter, will jump into the double digits for the rest of her life.  And while there is a chance she may reach 100 one day, chances are greater that this is the only time in her life she will ever add another digit to her years.

When Mike & I were dating or early married (funny how 20 years later, those early years of 'us' tend to blend together) we saw a movie about a kid celebrating a double digit birthday. It was quite sad, I believe he was dying, and so for his double digit birthday, he wanted to see the ocean, and he got to. I wish I could remember the name of the movie, or more details, but I can't.  But for whatever reason, after seeing that movie, we knew that we would do something BIG for our kids when they turned 10!!

So, we are letting them choose where to travel to on their 10th birthday (within limits).  Morgan's first choice was Italy, but that was simply not in the budget.  So after discussing lots of places we could go...she chose the Grand Canyon. It's a place none of us have ever been, so we are thrilled to be traveling there. She wants to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon on her 10th birthday (5:12am) and conclude her birthday riding horses into the sunset. (Ok, let me wipe away a tear that just slipped out.) So I'm writing this post prior to our trip and scheduling it to post on 5:12am on her birthday, because on her birthday, I'm planning to live in the moment and breathe in every gift that is given to me that day.

Morgan, you have brought joy and love and laughter to our lives. I find all the moments of watching you grow to be bittersweet - it's so sweet that you are growing and discovering your place in this world and who God made you to be - and yet the reality is, your growing means your days with us are numbered. There are a thousand moments I wish I could go back and redo, but I am human, and imperfect, and trying to figure this parent thing out just as much as you are trying to figure life out.  And yet I hope you never doubt my deep love for you, my intense joy of having you for a daughter, and my sincere desire to guide you the best I can into adulthood. I love you and I thank God every day for the gift of you! Happy 10th Birthday, Sunshine!! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Westward Ho!

So in the middle of the most desolate land...lies an anomaly called cadillac ranch.  These Cadillacs are 'planted' along the side of the road and you are encouraged to stop, bring your own spray paint and have a blast! So, since our good friends The Bennes told us about this fun stop, we couldn't resist a chance to graffiti these old cadillacs. 

"look at all these paint layers!"
And while for most, this is just a way to have a little fun on your journey, Mike described this place as "a trace examiner's dream" and had a huge smile on his face our entire visit.  He collected our first souvenirs and is thrilled that there are 37 years of paint layers that he can 'examine'!
Mike helping Morgan paint "10th Morgan" for her birthday.
Sarah adding her peace sign.
our first souvenirs: paint chips

Monday, June 13, 2011

Luckiest Gals in the World

Conversation from 2 minutes ago:

Morgan: "Mom, you made a good choice!"
Me: "I did? About what?"
Morgan: "You picked daddy!"
Me: "Why yes I did!"

We are actually celebrating Father's Day today...well because some dads are too special to share a day with all other dads! ;) And because Father's Day falls on Morgan's 10th birthday this year...and all he really wants for Father's Day is a Blackberry concrete from Andy's...and you can't get those in Grand Canyon Village. :) So here's to celebrating the man who makes us all feel like the luckiest gals in the world!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crime Lab Camping Trip

We LOVE camping with Mike's work...and our time with them seems to grow sweeter with each passing campout. Here are 20 more things I added to my "1000 Gifts" list...bringing my number to #695, after returning home today from our most recent time this weekend.

#1 -  Dams that create lakes.
#2 -  Yummy food I didn't have to plan or prepare.
#3 -  Solitary bird filling vast blue sky
#4 -  Magical lights flickering in the woods. Mesmerizing those lightening bugs were.
#5 -  Refreshing lake water
#6 -  Quiet sunsets shared on the boat with Mike
#7 -  Amazing people Mike works with.
#8 -  Happy people
#9 -  Babies and kids and laughter
#10 -   Watching people’s ‘happily ever after’ dreams come true
#11 -    Glowing embers
#12 -    Crackling wood
#13 -    A dozen or more sails bobbing along the shoreline
#14 -    Wind
#15 -   A break from the extreme heat for a few days
#16 -   Hammock lulling me into a nap
#17 -   Leaves silhouetted against the twilight sky
#18 -   Happiness
#19 -   Toasted marshmallows
#20 - girls who feel the same way, "Dad, you picked a great job!" - because camping with those he works with is so much fun!

and now that we're home...five top off #700
#21 - hot showers
#22 - washing machines
#23 - air conditioners
#24 - pictures on the camera
#25 - memories in my heart

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summertime Down the Road

And while my summertime is filled with sweet messy basements, I can't help but feel a bit of sadness for those down the road. Wishing there was so much more I could do for 'my neighbors' in Joplin. Their summer plans look very different than mine...and I grieve for them. 

Where would you go...if you couldn't go home...

I appreciate this doctor taking the time to write down his first hand account of living through this nightmare at the hospital. You can read about it by clicking here.

And this is the saddest story I've read out of Joplin (and there are many), but I think I will pray for this dear woman for the rest of my life, because for the life of me I don't know how I could go on if I were in her shoes.

Here is Ms. Edie Howard's story: Sunday afternoon dinner at McCallisters with her husband, toddler and preschooler, she heads off to work in one car, they head away in the other car.  Moments later, her family is taking refuge in Home Depot as a tornado barrels down on them.  Later, her precious children are found in her husband's arms in the rubble of the Home Depot store.  And she asks, "why wasn't I with them?"

May I never forget that 
every moment is a precious gift 
not to be taken for granted. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summertime at the Baker House

So the last time I was in our basement we had two couches, a floor and a pool table.  Somehow they have all seemed to have vanished beneath this elaborate fort/reading tent/dressing room/maze the girls have created in our basement.  I seriously LOVE lazy summer days at home which inspire creativity like this. AND I'm thankful for a space in our basement where this can happen. HOWEVER, I think for my own sanity, I might need to avoid going down into the basement the rest of the summer, because I think my heart stopped and I actually gasped when I ventured downstairs to find this...(yeah, you don't see couches nor floor either, do you?!) :) 
...and where are the girls at, you may ask? Outside in their swimsuits with a bag of water balloons and a hose, finishing up a lunchtime picnic. Oh summertime, we LOVE you!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can't Decide...

So, I can't decide which wall in my dining room I like the most... my ever changing artwork wall... new branch decal that I just put up...
what do you think?! 

Only in Missourah!

Well this June marks 15 years since we packed up our belongings and moved to Missouri...pronounced Missourah by most those who live down here. All we knew about Missouri at the time is that the capital city was Jefferson City (yeah for 4th grade state capital tests!) and that this state had an Arch.  But after six months of looking for a job after graduation and a 2 inch stack of rejection letters, we were more than thrilled when Mike was offered a job as a criminalist at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab, so off we went! Always thinking we'd return to our beloved state of Michigan...

Well here we are 15 years later, still here, and other than missing family immensely, happy to call this home.  Tonight Sarah reminded me of a story from our first few weeks of living here.  I was on my way to my temp job (with Missouri State Parks) and they asked this question on the radio, "Name 7 body parts that have only 3 letters." One person called in and said "jaw" to which the next caller called in to respond (totally serious I might add), "jaw is not a correct answer, because jaw is spelled j-a-w-l, it has 4 letters." Which left me wondering where in world have I moved to...a bunch of rednecks or hillbillies or something must live here.

Well tonight, I noticed Sarah wrote down this word (on her list of 'boredom buster' ideas for the summer): "drawl" - and I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it.  Later when I saw her, I asked her how to spell straw, to which she said, "s-t-r-a-w-l" - and draw? "d-r-a-w-l".  Well since I refuse to let my daughter be a complete redneck, I had to explain to her that while people in Missouri say, "you want to drawl?" - and so that's how it sounds to write it, that they really should say, "do you want to draw? - see, no 'l' on the end.  So after mini lesson in proper English, we tested out "jaw" - Sarah, how do you think you spell jaw? She answered:  'j-a-w' - and how do you think people in Missouri spell it? 'j-a-w-l' she responded with her big grin.  :)  That's my girl! :) And dear sweet state of Missouri, and wonderful people whom we've met here - we love ya'll no matter how ya'll talk! ;)