Friday, March 30, 2012

Flash Back Friday: Moving On

Seven years ago, on April 14th, we bought our house. It's crazy to think about the day we bought our first house. I was nervous, anxious, excited, scared, dreamy, planning, and my life was certainly very different from what it is today.

And, while I felt all of these emotions and had all of these plans for our home, the one thing I didn't plan on was the people I would meet, simply by living where we do.

We were the first people to live on our street. We moved into a brand new home and all of the other houses were not yet finished. It was quiet and we enjoyed it, but we really wanted some neighbors.

Do you remember your neighborhood growing up? I do. I remember riding my bike from house to house, playing in driveways and exploring backyards, having picnics, climbing the 'old climbing tree', having popscicles, going to the pool, playing hide and seek, and when we got older, I even remember nights where we went around the neighborhood TP'ing our friend's houses. And, through the magic of Facebook, I've managed to keep in touch with at least a few of these neighborhood friends. {Isn't Facebook amazing!}

Until I had kids, I didn't realize the importance of 'great neighbors'. Five or six years ago, I had no idea that the people moving in next door, down the street, and across the street would have such a huge impact on my life and my family life.

(Halloween 2009)

Tonight we are having a typical neighborhood where we order pizza, have coolers of Capri Sun, beer, and fruity drinks in the driveway, the kids run around and enjoy themselves and the grown ups sit in lawn chairs and chat the night away.

(May 2011)

But, tonight is a little different...tonight we are partying to 'say goodbye' to two of these precious neighbors who have helped us through everything from having babies to swimming lessons, marriages to Vacation Bible School, house projects to 'can you watch these two for a few minutes while I go inside to get dinner started?', neighborhood walks {to the cul-de-sac to play games and ride bikes, to get Sno Cones, to the 'new' park, etc.} and neighborhood baseball games, and too many birthday and holiday parties to count.

(Halloween 2008)

(May 2011)

(Parker's Birthday Party 2011)

(Impromptu 4th of July Party 2011)

(Impromptu 4th of July Party 2011)

These kids have been buddies and friends from day one. And, us parents {some of us, even before kids} have become awesome friends.

(July 2011)

(July 2011)

(First Swimming Lesson 2008)

(Parker's Birthday 2011)

(Swimming Lessons 2011)

There's something about being able to call your neighbor in the middle of the night as you're going into labor and she says, "of course, I'll be right over to stay with Parker," and there's something about trusting your neighbors to take your child on their first playdate alone...without me there...and having them come home anxious for the next time they get to play. In fact, everyday, {with nice weather}, we see our neighbors outside and play for at least a few minutes.

(July 2011)

(July 2011)

(July 2011)

There's something about knowing so much about those kids that you know that J only likes jelly on his sandwich and hamburger on his pizza...and that his favorite thing to eat is Mac and Cheese. I know that the twins will eat just about anything and I can understand what little L is saying {even though he's just learning how to talk}. I know that G and A are only moving across town, but I will be so sad to not hear the words, "Pawkewr!" everytime we're outside with them and to not have Parker growing up 'spying through A's window' {this is, of course, only a joke}.

(Summer 2011)

Yes, these friends of ours have been a part of our family for many years and whenever someone is 'moving on' it's bittersweet. We've had a few neighbors come and go, but these two families have become a part of us, of our lives, and we are so sad to see them 'moving on'. But, at the same time we are so proud of their accomplishments and so proud to call them friends {BE WARNED: we are the kind of friends that will show up on your doorstep, just to say 'hi'...yes, even though you'll be in Utah!}.

(July 2011)

(A long time ago...I think it was January 2010)

(Even longer ago...Summer 2008)

On this Flash Back Friday, I am remembering all of those Halloweens, those 4th of Julys, those simple summer evenings playing in the driveway or in the backyard, and all of those pushes on the swings, walks to the park, and all of the days that Parker and Andrew have looked at me with pleading eyes and Parker asks, "Can we have ________ {insert name of neighbor here} over to play today?!"

Tonight I am going to, once again, live in the moment and simplicity and tradition of our neighborhood party and try to forget that in a few short weeks these neighbors will belong to someone else.

(June 2011)

But, I know they've had such an amazing impact on my life and us on theirs that we won't be saying goodbye forever...just, see ya's time to move on.

Here's a video from last night with our sweet neighbors...Andrew loves sweet A!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living The Simple Life

Do you remember my resolution for 2012? The one where I vowed that my family was going to 'take it easy' this year and live a life of simplicity?

And, do you know those moments that you never want to end? Those weekends where you're with your family and you wish you could just live in the moment forever?

I think those two things go hand in hand, don't you? It seems that more and more I am perfectly content when we are living the simple life and I never want those moments to stop.

And, who knew, we would find this simple life in a new adventure.

On Friday we packed up, we stocked up on towels, sheets, dishes, pants, shorts, sandals, and tenny's, we brought along water, snacks, and enough food it seemed to feed my family for two weeks {rather than two days}. That's right...we stocked up the new camper and headed out to conquer our first adventure...Pomona Lake.

Now, we've been to Pomona Lake before. Some of you may remember the birthday parties we've had out there and some of you may remember that we would take Bella out there {before kids} and let her tromp through the lakeside chasing her ball, showing her true Lab skills at swimming, but this time we were trying out something new...two days of camping with two little boys and a dog...I debated in my mind whether this really would be a relaxing, 'simple' weekend. And, as it turns out, this is just what our family needs to unwind and be 'simple'.

Let me tell you, it was 'simple' living at it's best. No TV, no cell phone service, beautiful trees, a playground, a nature trail, a running creek with tons of rocks for throwing, a 'troll' bridge, beautiful campsites, stars in the sky, campfires, and an unlimited supply of fresh air.

We went exploring...

We went climbing and sliding at the playground, we made new 'camping' friends, we threw rocks in the water and played in the sand...

Then we threw more rocks in and played even longer in the sand...

More rocks and sand...

We built sand castles at the beach and played in the {freezing cold} water...

We went fishing {catching only frogs}...

We cooked out, had a campfire, snuggled up on the brisk, cool mornings, played with cousins and grandparents, read books, went on wagon rides, took naps, and we even had time for a little Big Foot hunting, and when it was all said and done, I believe I had the dirtiest, stinkiest, but happiest boys on earth.

Not to mention that Sunday was Brandon's birthday. And, we celebrated in true Brandon eating some BBQ and having S'Mores.

Like so many of you, my family is at it's best when we are together, living life in its simplest form. And, this weekend, I believe we captured the meaning of the simple life. {If only I could bottle it up and drink it down every time life got busy.} In fact, I think we mastered it. The best part: We are slowing down. We are taking the time to focus on what really matters...what is going to give our kids the time and the memories they deserve in this life. We are doing this, and in return, I am feeling their comfort, their peace, and their happiness and I know we are doing this parenting thing the right way {well, most of the time anyways}.

We've got many more days to come in our new 'simple' life and with our new camping adventures. But, for now, I'm still living in this moment, in the weekend we just had.

**And, as a side note, I am keeping a journal of our travels with the camper. Stay tuned to hear my review of the Outlet Park Campground at Pomona Lake.

Here are some more of my favorite photos from our trip...

Me: "Are you sure you don't want to stop playing in the sand and go home and clean your feet?" Parker and Andrew: "No!!!!"