Another Season Coming to a Close…

I am having a hard time believing it is December already. I would ask you where the year has gone, but chances are it has flown by for you as well. The kids had a wrestling tournament yesterday and will have their last one of the season next Saturday here at home. Like the rest of the year, the wrestling season went by too fast. Liam has a chance to practice with the high school team if he chooses to, but since that option is only open to 8th graders, the twins will be done at the end of the week.

I love watching these kids wrestle. I don’t care that we have to get up at 4am (and I am not a morning person) in order to get the kids to the bus on time. I don’t mind driving 2 hours (I do love a good road trip) to get to a tournament. My rear end does start complaining after several hours on hard bleachers, but a good scolding usually gets it to be quiet for a while. The headache that comes from being in a gym filled with screaming parents and teammates is only a minor inconvenience, so on tournament days, asprin is my good buddy.

I love watching so many kids of all athletic abilities getting out there on the mats and put every ounce of themselves into a wrestling match. I love witnessing their successes and my heart breaks a little for their defeats. But each week, kids from all different schools get better and better. We watch them all so much that we almost feel as though we know them, even if it is in some very small way. We root for kids we may never see again, simply because they are trying so hard to do something that many are not brave enough to attempt. And we always root for the girls. Always.

There is a passion in wrestling that I never knew or understood, and I am proud to say now that I get it. I understand what it is all about. And each and every time we pull up to a school for another tournament, I am grateful that we get to be a part of it. So to all the kids we have had the pleasure of watching over the last couple of months, I say thank you. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey. I have loved absolutely every minute of it and am already looking forward to next year.

I know we still have one tournament left next Saturday, but I thought this would be a good time to share some videos with you. There is one of each of my kids. Please do yourself a favor and turn down the volume. The gym is loud, and we all get a little obnoxious when one of our own is out on the mat. Liam has improved so much since last year that it is almost hard to tell he is the same kid. Nathan has done absolutely amazing for a first year wrestler and has spent the entire season on the Hawks scoring team. And Catheryn, oh my heart, she is incredible. She has worked so hard this season and has accomplished so much. They all have so much to be proud of. I know that I am incredibly proud of them all, and nothing makes me happier than being their mama.

Family

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author unknown

Typical family photo in our house…

On our best behavior…

Apparently my mom and I look alike, although neither of us can see it.

Have you seen Nathan? No, I haven’t. Have you?

She got me!

Grammy, Grampy, and the kids started out behaving themselves…

Then Nathan cracked…

Followed by Liam until…

They all lost it except for Grampy.

Just when we thought Grampy was the only one who could behave…

And as usual, Rob and I are completely innocent. 🙂

Hopefully my parents will forgive me someday for sharing these pictures! 🙂

Time to Run

Catheryn had her first cross country meet last weekend and she did amazing! I think she was a little nervous going in, but once she got running, she said the course went by really fast. There were runners from close to 10 schools, so lots of girls out on the trail! Both the girls and the boys took first place in teams! They all did amazing and it was so fun to watch!

Ready to go!

Middle school girls at the starting line (our school is on the far right.)

Catheryn on the course just before the finish

Catheryn and her friend with the team trophy

And It Begins Again…

As hard as it is to believe, school has begun once again. In our school district, August 17 was the first day back. What is it about summer that makes it go so fast? One day it is just beginning and you feel like you have all the time in the world to do things, and the next thing you know, it’s over and you didn’t do half of what you had planned.  For me it is another reminder of just how fast life goes. One had better pay attention, or it will simply pass you by…

I have never been one of those parents who couldn’t wait for school to start back up after a long summer. I love having my kids home. Even when they are bickering up a storm, I love having them home. Perhaps it is because I am not a fan of stressful homework filled evenings of school, or perhaps it is because the time I have left with my kids at home is fleeting. They will be off on their own way too soon, so I have to soak up all the noise and chaos and bickering while I can, for all too soon, our house will be quiet. I cannot bear to think of that yet, so I will put it off for another time.

The kids are all getting settled into the new school year. Liam is now in 8th grade, his last year of middle school, while the twins are in 7th, their first year. They have all mastered their new schedules and are settled into a new routine. Catheryn is running cross-country this fall and both of the boys are playing football. Catheryn has not run in a meet yet, but I am looking forward to her first, which should be next week. The boys had their first football game last week and while they did lose, they both had a lot of fun. The game was an away game and by the time we got there, it was already half-time. As we were driving to the game, Rob joked about how we had just missed Liam score the first touchdown. When we arrived, Nathan came running over and yelled up to us, “You missed it! Liam scored the first touchdown of the game!” Go figure… Football is Liam’s passion, so hopefully there will be many, many touchdowns to come. Stay tuned for game pictures.

For now, though, here’s wishing a happy school year to everyone heading back, and to all the parents left home alone. May this year be one of your best!

Nathan, Liam, and Catheryn heading Back to School!

 

Off to Oklahoma!

Rob and I usually only have one day off together each week, but with the 4th of July and Rob taking Monday off, we ended up with three! We had debated staying home since we just got back from a big trip not too long ago, but knowing this would be the longest weekend we would have together for the rest of the summer, we decided to make the most of it. So, after some deliberation, we decided on Oklahoma.

Hello Oklahoma!

I had read about Autograph Rock in Boise City, OK, as well as some dinosaur tracks preserved in sandstone just up the road in Kenton. Black Mesa State Park is also in the area, as is the highest peak in Oklahoma. If you go just a bit further, you run into a fun tri-state marker. All of these things are only about five hours away, so the panhandle of Oklahoma was our destination.

We arrived at Black Mesa State Park at about 3pm. After setting up camp, we decided to go find the dinosaur tracks. There are no markers or street signs for the tracks, so you definitely have to have an idea of where to go. Before we left home, I wrote down every hint I could find as to their location. We found the creek bed, but went the wrong direction at first. We found the tracks just down the hill from the car. Apparently when the tracks were discovered back in the 80s, there were 47 footprints. You can only see about a third of them today. What an amazing find, though.

When we left the footprints, we continued down the road towards the tri-state marker. We were on a little country road that turned to dirt, and we did not see another car the entire time we were out there. We arrived at the state line marker for Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado out in the middle of farm and ranch country. It was absolutely beautiful.

We had contemplated hiking up the Summit Trail, but it was getting too late to start the 4-hour hike, so we went back to camp for the night. There was a thunderstorm heading towards us, so we ended up hanging out in the car for a little bit while all the thunder and lightening passed.  Once it passed, the sky was amazing.

After the storm

Upon waking in the morning, we noticed that we had a flat tire. This kind of altered our plans just a little bit, but we found ourselves being extremely grateful that it was Monday and not Sunday, or the Tuesday holiday, when most repair shops would be closed. After dropping off the tire, we went to a little cafe for breakfast. Great food at a great price. Of course we were the only non-farmer/ranchers in the place, but that was fine with us. After we picked up our tire, which they only charged us $10 to fix, we were on our way again.

Our next stop was the Cimarron Heritage Center. Unfortunately they were closed. I was a little bummed because Autograph Rock is on private property and requires permission from the Heritage Center. I had the number for the manager, so Rob decided to give her a call. She was extremely sweet and even offered to have someone come open up the center so we could see the museum! We declined that offer so that everyone could enjoy their day off, but she did give us verbal permission as well as directions to Autograph Rock.

“Cimmy” at the Cimarron Heritage Center

Autograph Rock was incredible. It was a common stopping point for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. There was year-round water, so it became a well-known campsite. Over the years, people carved their names in the sandstone bluffs. The oldest known name is from 1806, but we did not find that one. F.B.Delgado is the most popular, as he was the owner of a mule and ox train that used the trail, and he carved his name several times. We were the only ones out at Autograph Rock, so we were able to take our time and enjoy the history of the area.

On Tuesday morning, we broke camp and headed for home. We stopped at Fort Union National Monument on the way back. Another quiet spot with only a few visitors. We walked around the fort for a while, then loaded back up to finish our drive home. We arrived home in time to unload our little trailer, take showers, and head back into town for the 4th of July fireworks. We were all very tired when we got back home at almost 11pm, and it felt good to sleep in out own beds.

Before we left home last Sunday, we had worried that perhaps we would not be able to get a camp site, or that things would be crowded since it was the 4th of July weekend. Our worries were quickly put to rest, though. The campground at the state park in OK was almost empty each night. There was no traffic at all. There were no people at the places we visited. Even the playground we stopped at for the kids was quiet. I guess the panhandle of Oklahoma is not a tourist hot-spot for long weekends. For us, though, it was wonderful. A quiet get-away was just what we were looking for. Not to mention we were able to add Oklahoma to our state map.

I am still organizing pictures, so I will share those over the next couple of days. For now, here are a few random pictures I came across this morning…

Catheryn took this picture of Charbie at camp.

The kids really liked the glass coke bottles…

Nathan with his “You’re seriously taking my picture again?” face on.

Liam loves to photo bomb.

Utah

After celebrating Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday up in Idaho, being able to visit with my grandma who, at 88, is just as beautiful as ever, swimming at the hotel, going out to breakfast, and just enjoying each others company, it was time for our family to head towards home. Saying good-bye is always the hardest part, but on Monday morning, that is exactly what we had to do.

It is a long way from my parents’ house to ours, so we planned on making it in two days. Our goal on that first night was Moab, Utah. We wanted to spend some time in Arches National Park before finishing our trip home. Unfortunately they are doing road work in Arches at night so the park is closed from 7pm-7am. We got there right at 7pm…

So we went to bed and planned on being at the park right at 7am. There were many other people who had the same idea, but it did not take too long to get in. We only had a few hours to spend before we had to start our 8-hour drive home. Quite honestly, we could spend two weeks in Arches NP and it would not be enough, so a few hours did not come close. We got a nice taste of the park, though, and definitely plan to go back.

Critter prints in the sand

Landscape Arch

The kids in Partition Arch

Liam found a nice view

Catheryn found a heart in the rocks

I believe this was the Black Arch Overlook

Double O Arch

After a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center, it was time to leave. The drive home was pretty uneventful until we were almost out of Colorado. There was a black critter standing by the fence, and in the middle of cow country, one would simply assume it was a cow. But as we were passing it, I realized it was a bear. “That’s a bear! That’s a bear!” I yelled. (I get really excited about wildlife.) Just as we passed him, Rob stopped and we all watched him run across the road behind us. He was a big, beautiful bear!

Hard to see, but that’s a bear!

Just a few miles later we were back in New Mexico and on the final stretch. We made it home at about 8pm. 12 days, almost 600 pictures, four new states, and 2,700 miles later, we arrived back home to Charbie and the kitties and our little house in the canyon. As much as I wished our vacation were not over, it still felt nice to come home…

I am the restless sort, though, and my brain is already thinking about where we can go next…