Another Chapter Complete

I always have a hard time around this time of year. You see, today is the last day of school. And while I am excited to have my kids home for the summer, it breaks my heart to know that another chapter in their childhoods is coming to a close.

This is the last day of 8th grade for Liam. He is moving on to high school now, which means I only have four years left with him at home. Four years. He has always been a challenging child, and there have been countless times when I was not sure if I would survive from one day to the next. Now here we are, a few short years away from graduation, and I find myself wondering where all the time has gone. I still see my little baby, his sideways smile forever etched on my heart.

My twins are now 8th graders. Seriously. Teenagers. Only a short year behind their brother when it comes to graduation. One more year of middle school, and it is high school for them as well. I am watching them grow into amazing, beautiful people, and my heart smiles. And it cries. And I find myself spinning in circles, not exactly sure what to do. How is one to hold them close and set them free at the same time?

I try to live in the moment, enjoy what is in front of me at this exact moment in time and not worry about what is to come. Sometimes I fail miserably at this. Like right now. This will pass, and pretty soon we will be enjoying summer and I will not be thinking about school and how old my kids are getting and how ridiculously fast time is going. But right now I just want to hit the rewind button. I want to go back and be a better mom, enjoy the little moments more than I did back when I was in them and completely exhausted.

I used to work with a woman back when the kids were little. The twins were 2 and Liam was 3. Her daughter was older, so every time she would see my kids, she would comment on how much she missed her toddler, but how much she loved her teenager. I remember trying at the time to imagine what it would be like to be the mom of teenagers, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t picture my babies as teens. It was impossible, not to mention so far off that it would never actually happen. Now here we sit, three teenagers in our family, and all I can think is, I really miss my toddlers, but I sure do love my teenagers. Life is funny.

I wish I were one of those people who could stash my emotions away somewhere, always wearing my brave face no matter what, but unfortunately I am not one of those people. Every emotion I feel seems to stamp itself right on my face. There is no hiding anything. I know that growing up is perfectly natural, a simple fact of life, Babies grow up, life goes on. And I know that every moment is precious and meant to be cherished. My head knows and understands this, but my heart does not always agree. I should be excited for the next chapter to begin, but I am still a little sad about the ending of the previous one.

Oh, but I am so very grateful for this life and these beautiful young adults who call me mom. I am grateful to get be a part of their journey. As I sit here thinking back over the last school year, I know that I would not change a thing…

Weekend at the Lake

It is hard to believe it is the end of May already. This year is just flying by! Last year we did not make it out for as much camping as we would have liked, so this year we decided to get a better start. For Memorial Day weekend, we made our way to Morphy Lake State Park. It is a small lake a little over two hours from here. The water level is really low due to lack of snow this winter, but that did not stop people from heading out to fish. The lake was quite crowded every day that we were there.

We set up camp on Friday and spent three nights. We spent the weekend fishing and playing on the boats. The kids caught crawdads and frogs, even some baby fish. It was a great relaxing way to spend the weekend.

Everyone had a wonderful time and we are looking forward to heading out again. Unfortunately, a lot of campgrounds are now closed due to extreme fire danger. Hopefully we will get some good rain soon.

I have some catching up to do on the blog, but since pictures will not load with our poor internet at home, I have to come to town to get it done. It is my goal to get all caught up within the next week or so. I guess late is always better than never!

For now, though, here are some pictures from our weekend. 🙂 Hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Nathan was the first to catch a fish!

It was quite muddy, so everything, fish included, ended up brown…

This one was determined to catch the most fish on day 1, which he did. He caught 6.

Camping fish fry!

Nathan loves sleeping in his hammock when we go camping.

Family and Fun

We had a wonderful visit with my parents this past weekend. We live 15 hours apart, so it is not exactly easy to get together, so we enjoy every minute we have to share. They happened to be here for a track meet on Saturday, so it was really nice that they were able to see the kids run. Unfortunately, Liam has an injury, so he was not able to compete, but they got to watch the twins. They even took home souvenir sunburns!

Nathan had such a great day! He placed 2nd in the 110m hurdles and also ran the 800m leg of the 1600m medley relay where they also placed second. In fact, he did so well, that he found his name on the Varsity roster for the meet in Albuquerque today! He is so excited!

Go Nathan!!!

Catheryn ran the 800m and did really well. She was disappointed with her time, which was slower than usual, but she is just going to work harder. In the meet today, she will be running the 1600m instead of the 800m. It will be her first race at the mile distance, so we will see how she does. I can’t wait! Liam is still out with an injury, but he will go with me to watch his team run.

Catheryn in the 800m open run.

On Sunday, we went for a hike through the park and climbed up Alcove House. That was something my dad really wanted to do, so it was fun to be able to take him out there. It was really just a nice, relaxing day. In the evening we went out to watch the turkey vultures start coming in for the night. They roost here in the canyon, so there are quite a few circling up above before they land in the trees. They are neat to watch. And of course, we took family pictures.

The kids with Grammy and Grampy.

Me and Rob with my parents, Bill and Caryn.

Our crazy family

Like I said, it was a wonderful weekend. I am so glad my parents were able to drive all the way down here so we could spend some time together. They are planning on coming down for Thanksgiving, so we have another great visit to look forward to!!!

~Special Thanks to my parents for being so incredibly awesome! We love you so much!!!~

Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos National Historical Park is only about 70 miles from our house, so I am little embarrassed to admit that it has taken us two years to finally make it there. We pass it all the time on the way to wrestling tournaments or football games, but we never really have time to stop. On our way home from Kansas, we finally took the time. It was a great history lesson with a chance to stretch our legs for a bit.

Ruins

My crazy kids are photo-bomb happy…

I think if they heard “Hey, let me take your picture!” one more time, they would have hog-tied me and left me along the road somewhere…

A little over an hour after Leaving Pecos NHS, we arrived back home. As fun as it is to take trips, it is always nice to get back home. I am pretty sure the kitties were happy to see us! Charbie had fun out exploring with us, but I think even he was happy to have his favorite lounge spots back. Only two days left, and then it was back to school for the kids. There are just two months remaining in the school year, which seems hard to believe, but apparently time really has gone that fast.

Time to start planning our next adventure!

Dodge City and Beyond

We got up in the morning and walked around downtown Dodge City a little bit. We stopped into the Visitor’s Center and checked out an antique shop I had read about. It is definitely the off season because it was pretty quiet. The Visitor’s Center has a map for people to put pins in their home towns. Each month has a different colored pin, and there were not many locations pinned yet. We were showed the map from last year and it was filled! As it was, we were just the second pin in the state of New Mexico, the first being in Albuquerque.

A fun sign we found on the way to Dodge City.

Kansas Countryside

Dodge City

Dodge City

After lunch we decided to hit the zoo. The Wright Park Zoo is very small but cute, right in the middle of town. It is free to visit, but they do accept donations. We always enjoy visiting the animals, and this little zoo was the perfect place to do that.

It is true what they say about the wind never stopping in Kansas. It blew and blew the entire time we were there, well, except for a few minutes at Fort Larned when the flag was practically still. That probably does not happen very often! We had a wonderful time, though, and western Kansas is beautiful. (I am a sucker for farmland and cows.) Our plan was to start driving towards home until we found a nice place to camp for the night. That happened not too far inside New Mexico at Clayton Lake State Park. It was a great place to spend the evening.

After a good night’s rest, we would head for home in the morning.

 

Exploring Kansas

We had originally planned on staying at the same campground for our entire stay in Kansas, but ended up deciding against that. It turned out to be a good decision, because after a couple hours of driving across the state, we did not really want to go all the way back to where we had started the day.

Packing up camp.

Our first stop was Pawnee Rock. This was the half-way point on the Santa Fe Trail. It is basically a small mound out in the middle of flat farmland. They have built a small monument on the hilltop now, and you can see for miles and miles in every direction.

Pawnee Rock

Liam actually let me take his picture…

Once again, we appear to be all alone…

From Pawnee Rock, we continued down the highway for about 7 miles or so until we came to Fort Larned National Historic Site. We pulled into the parking lot at about 4:20, hoping that they were going to be open until 5pm. As it turns out, they close at 4:30. We ran to the Visitor’s Center to get a pin and a stamp in our passport, assuming that would be all we had time for. We were all prepared to simply admire the grounds on the walk back to the car, but we were invited to go along with the Ranger as he locked up for the night. We thought we would simply be able to peek inside the buildings as he locked up, but he ended up giving us a personal tour! We did not end up leaving the park until 5:45pm. They closed at 4:30pm. That was completely unexpected, and we couldn’t be more grateful!

Names etched into the walls.

Sleeping quarters. Two men to each bunk level, head to foot.

Special punishment for the really bad guy. They put Nathan in there…

From there, we drove to Dodge City. There was a campground we were going to check out, but it turns out Dodge City is a much larger town that we had anticipated. Not very comfortable tent camping in an unfamiliar city, we opted for a hotel for the night. We stayed dry during the night rain, and after a nice hot shower, we were all refreshed and ready to go explore Dodge City in the morning.

Spring Break!

Spring break is always such a great time for a road trip. It’s not too hot, and if you head the opposite direction from the rest of the crowd, you don’t bump into too many people. This year we decided to head to Kansas. We are trying to get the kids to all of the lower 48 states before they head out on their own, so now we are one state closer to that goal! Only 13 to go!

Nathan did not make it very far before falling asleep.

Our first stop was at Capulin Volcano National Monument. It was quite cold and very windy, but we practically had the place to ourselves, so there were no complaints there! What a neat, perfectly shaped volcano! I realize now that I did not take any pictures of the volcano itself, so I feel a little bit silly.

The view from the top was amazing!

We did not have too much trouble finding a place to park!

Mr. Amazing himself. 🙂

It was windy on top of the volcano!

Quiet country roads are my favorite, and we saw only a handful of cars on our way to Lake Scott State Park in Kansas, which was where we made camp the first night. It was great! We arrived later than planned and it was somewhat difficult finding a place to camp in the dark. Once we figured out which loop we needed to be in, though, we were able to get set up pretty quick. Again we found ourselves practically alone. Apparently not many people are up for camping in late March in Kansas. Who knew?

Bright sunshine not only makes it hard to look, but also makes it hard to stop laughing!

Beautiful sky on the Colorado/Kansas border.

This kid loves to photo bomb, and he dove right into my sky picture!

My camp pictures will not load with our blazing (not) fast internet, so I will have to leave that to your imagination! Just picture a pretty state park right on a lake, with no cars except ours. Join us tomorrow as we venture a little further into Kansas to see what we can find!