A Wedding in Vail {Part 1}

Whoa.

The past week has been a blur. I looked up this morning expecting it to be Monday, maaaaybe Tuesday, only to realize that–shoot!–it’s Wednesday, I haven’t blogged in over a week, and our vacation is almost over. (Pssst…even when I’m not blogging, you can still find daily updates on Instagram).

Okay, so I’m not quite that clueless, but the last 7 days or so  have melted together in a rush of travel and wedding activity.

The past few days have been a welcome respite from the busyness (we decided to stay a few days longer in Colorado after the wedding at an Airbnb rental in Broomfield), but I haven’t done (or felt like doing) much other than my best slug impression (although, I did get a free pass to a local gym yesterday and did BODYCOMBAT + GRIT STRENGTH for the first time in a week, and now eeevvverything hurts).

ANYhoo, how about that wedding that I went on and on about for weeks on end?

It. was. lovely.

And a lot of fun.

I’d only been to Vail once before (that I can remember), and while I had a vague impression of charm, my memory was a pale facsimile of reality.

I’m pretty sure at one point I said: “This is better than Disneyland!”

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Vail Village–while far from “real” (no convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, or otherwise necessary shops)–is such a picturesque escape from reality that it’s hard to care. Window boxes fair-to-bursting with vibrant blooms everywhere you turn, funky sculptures, adorable boutiques, a burbling river that runs through the center…and all of it set against the backdrop of the mountains and the crisp blue Colorado sky.

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{Theo woke up at 5 one morning, went back to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I went for a “run.” Code for mostly walk. Because I’m an elevation wimp}

It’s seriously Fairy Land.

We pulled in around 3 PM after driving all night last Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday. Other than Evy waking up and squawking every 15 minutes for the first 4 hours, the drive went as smoothly as it possibly could have. In what I can only describe as God’s care for the details of our lives, Theo, who had been churning out pretty horrendous teething diapers every half hour for a week, didn’t poop once on the entire 18 hour car ride. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt…even when he made 4 (!!) huge diapers within an hour of our pulling into Vail.

We were staying in the same condo as my parents, which was great, since my kids adore their Safta and Sabba, and my mom is pretty much the grandmother of everyone’s dreams (always willing to babysit, help, change diapers, do laundry, and just generally be a blessing).

We took the (free) public bus to the local Safeway (the kids thought riding the bus was the raddest thing ev-ah) and then proceeded to buy way too many groceries without realizing that we would have to haul them across a highway to the rather strangely situated return bus stop. Whoops. Let’s just say that, after contemplating hauling 6 kids plus 8 bags of groceries and a watermelon across the highway, we dismissed that thought and called Shaun to come rescue us.

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{Della: “Softa, this bus is sooooo fun. It’s like the funnest ever.” Not sure where she picked up her Valley Girl vernacular, but it’s pretty cute}

Thursday morning, Shaun and I took the kids on a jaunt through the village and up the pathway to the river + the park. Simon fell in the river, but, really, with six kids, that was bound to happen to at least one.

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{Simon is likely dunking himself in the background. Theo and Daddy aren’t too worried about it; also, RIP, Theo’s curls}

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Here we are at a bus stop that we would likely have waited at for a very long time had someone not come along and informed us that that particular bus was only running every 2 hours.

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And what would a family “hike” be if it didn’t end in celebratory ice cream?

Thursday evening was the first of a series of wedding festivities–a pizza/pool party at the Lion’s Square Lodge. The kids took turns shivering in the pool, but I was glad that none of the adults seemed the least bit interested (and also that I have a 10 and 8-year-old who are happy to save their mama some swimsuit angst and herd the little kids in their floaties in the shallow end–don’t worry; there was always an adult on the edge of the pool too).

We got to meet the lovely bride (who was marrying my first cousin, Erik), and the girls (the twins especially) shined up to her immediately, offering shy hugs that quickly morphed into Koala bear clinginess at every opportunity.  (Sorry no photographic evidence was captured of this adorableness).

Friday was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, so the girls and I headed to the rehearsal at noon while the boys (minus Theo) rode the gondola for some fun on the mountain. Not gonna lie. I was sad to miss the mountain adventures, but it was still pretty cute to see the girls taking their flower girl roles so seriously…prancing gravely down the “aisle” (it was an outdoor venue, so they mostly tried—and failed–to walk a straight line in the pavement and pretend that there were people on each side).

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{The bride gave them matching satin clutch purses and “pearl” bracelets, and they were just a wee bit thrilled}

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{My Aunt Patti–mother of the groom–was so sweet to the girls, even giving them wedding-themed coloring books/crayons, which kept them enthralled as we waited for the rest of the wedding party to practice}

Meanwhile, Della and I took shameless selfies.

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The rehearsal dinner was at a charming Austrian restaurant inside a resort called Sonnenalp (conveniently located a stone’s throw away from our condo), and, while multiple trips to the huge bathroom several levels down were the little kids’ favorite activity, the food was delicious, and I was just happy to make it through a 3 hour shindig with a minimum of spilled drinks and tears. (Between my brother’s two little girls–ages 2 and 9 months–and my brood, there were 8 kids, 10 and under, at 1 table; it could have been disastrous, but the kids did great).

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Nola: I luuurve Uncle Shae.

Shae:

{Kidding, he’s a fabulous uncle; just managed to catch him at a rather blank moment}

I’d been worry-warting about the girls’ hair for a while, since the twins’ is stick-straight and fine, and Della’s is long but still needs a little help to look smooth. I wanted curls but had struck out with trial runs of foam curlers and curling irons. Lots of nice people on social media suggested curlers through the night, but we were home way too late from the rehearsal dinner to stay up and roll. Plus, the twins were doing well to keep the curlers in for an hour, much less sleep on them.

ANYhoo, Saturday arrived–WEDDING day!–and the girls were suuuuper excited. Most of the day was spent in some form of preparation or another. But my mom was nice enough to keep kids while Shaun and I slipped away for a quick bite.

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Mmmm…crepes + bacon.

When the girls got up from naps, we went into full-on beauty mode. Pretty much everybody who wasn’t dressing him/herself got in on the action, whether it was toenail painting (Shaun: “So…how do you keep the paint from getting on everything around the nail?”) or hair-drying (Simon can wield a mean blow-dryer, y’all).  I dampened the girls’ hair, applied mousse, then rolled them in foam rollers and blasted them with the hair-dryer. I knew it would be touch-and-go, but it was the best option we had, so we went with it.

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Clearly, they loved the process. Clearly, I was very sympathetic.

A couple of hours later, it was time to go–not so much because were were all as ready as I would have liked but because we had run out of time.

Wedding time was upon us…

And now, lunchtime is upon me. Plus, this is really long.

Part 2 is coming…get excited.

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Brain Dump

Emily has these cute little posts she does called “Coffee Chats” which are basically her chance to talk about all the random things she’s been mulling over/doing in her life without having to have a specific post “theme” or title.

Well, that’s what today is for me.

Except I don’t drink coffee. Like at all. I once ordered a hot chocolate and, upon tasting the tiniest sip, immediately knew something was wrong; Lindsay, who is a coffee addict, tried it and said, “Nope, there’s no coffee in there,” but when I asked the barista, he said, “Oh! I think I did add a little shot of espresso.” Mmm hmm. I’m not sure if that means that my taste buds are over-developed or Lindsay’s are dulled, but either way, no coffee for me, thanks.

I don’t drink iced tea either. So, this is not an iced tea chat (but how charming and Southern would that be?).

I do drink HoCho, but the mere thought of something that hot on these blazing Texas summer days is enough to make me shudder. Oh! And Icees. But that might give us all brain freezes.

So…brain dump it is (see above: I think I already got a pretty good start on the concept).

Of course, the thing that’s been occupying my brain the most is the tragedy in Dallas last Thursday.

(If you don’t live in the States, 5 policemen were killed by a deranged sniper at a “Black Lives Matter” rally).

I’ve pretty much run the gamut of emotions–sadness, anger, frustration, futility–and prayed (and talked to my husband) about it a lot.

Ultimately, I know that we live in a sin-ravaged world in which hateful acts are going to be perpetuated by every skin color on the planet. That’s par for the course–as our pastor reminded us yesterday when he pointed out that some of the deadliest race riots in our country happened 100 years ago. Like Ecclesiastes says, there’s nothing new under the sun. Until the Lord returns, we will always struggle to love our fellow man.

I am grateful, though, for reminders that the Lord is constant–that none of this turmoil means that he has abandoned us or forfeited one iota of his sovereignty or his gracious loving kindness. Regardless of the sinful acts of man: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9).

On a similar note, a black reader-friend contacted me, asking my perspective (as a white woman) on all of the racial turmoil our country is facing, and I was really honored by her trust. She’s a fellow Christian, and we’ve had good talks about various topics via message in the past (definitely the type of lady you wish you could sit down and chat with in real life). Of course, our experiences and perspectives differ, but I think we both agree that the main problem here is sin nature, so I mostly just sent her a link to this article which is so well-written and does such a good job of taking a lot of the emotional factors out of the issue, since it focuses on statistics and numbers instead.

Another recommendation to balance that one out? The Logan Family series from Mildred D. Taylor. Namely Song of the Trees, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Let the Circle Be Unbroken. I read them with the kids, and even though they are heavy and hard in some parts, there is so much insight (especially for a white person) into the legacy of racism that still taints our nation’s history. And Taylor, who is black, does an amazing job of characterization without caricaturing. She writes with great pathos, while still seeming to lack a vendetta.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what kind of music you should listen to while you’re scrubbing your kitchen and praying and feeling sorrow over the state of the world…

I highly recommend Ellie Holcomb. Her voice is gorgeous and haunting. Her lyrics are poignant (and often straight from scripture), and her vibe is just so peaceful.

This is my motto in life at the moment. Not because mine is so hard (it isn’t) but just because it’s a good reminder.

hard is not the same thing as bad

It will be available in the Paint and Prose shop soon, in case you also need the reminder.

Oh, and this one too.

feathers

I love the verse, and I’m kind of obsessed with those feathers. (Be on the lookout for both of these in the shop soon).

We’re leaving for our wedding trip/vacation to Colorado tomorrow night, and I am in full-on packing mode.

I’ve been shopping and setting clothes aside and making lists and planning snacks for days, but as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m diving elbow deep in suitcases (wish me luck; this whole packing for 8 people business is no joke, especially when you’re all required to look put together and presentable for 5 straight days).

At the moment, I’m trying to plan our food for the drive itself.

I need stuff that’s easily passed out and consumed with a minimum of mess. I’m also shooting for healthy(ish).

So far, I’ve got:

  • homemade Lara bars
  • homemade banana muffins
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies (not healthy at all but sooooo yummy)
  • fruit
  • graham crackers
  • peanut butter crackers
  • fruit leathers
  • nuts + trail mix

Any other brilliant suggestions for me?

Speaking of suggestions, I know I’ve asked you plenty of times before what your favorite books are (I need to go back and look at your answers), but if any of y’all have suggestions of books that are super-engaging for long stretches, feel free to share.

We’ll mostly be driving at night (we did this last year, and, outside of leaving Shaun and me a bit zonked the next day, it actually worked really well). And I find that some audiobooks keep me captivated for long stretches while others require a break every hour or so. I need to download some of the “can’t-put-it-down” ones to keep me awake on those long night-driving stretches.

Thanks for all your hairdo suggestions!

I’m thinking I’ll go with a low chignon/braid combo…if I can get my ultra-thick, ultra-layered (the braids tend to end up with sprigs sticking everywhere when your hair is not all one length) hair to cooperate. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photographic evidence.

Speaking of pictures…

I’m almost completely out of my Younique BB cream that I love so much and didn’t leave myself enough time to order more before the trip, so I decided to take advantage of my Amazon gift card win from last week and order a new brand because of a friend’s suggestion +  glowing reviews (thank goodness for Prime shipping). I was also thisclose to ordering this pore-minimizing finishing powder to go with it when I read a review that said it should NOT be worn to events where you might be captured by flash photography, since the reflective nature of the powder renders your skin completely white in the photos. PHEW! You’d think they might mention that in the product description! Anyhoo, I’m not sure if you should consider yourself lucky or unlucky that I won’t have any pictures of me as a mime to show you after the wedding, but I know I’m sure relieved.

Aaaaaaand…that’s it. I do believe that I have sufficiently dumped most of the contents of my current brain situation right on this screen.

So, so scintillating, I know. Hope your Monday is off to a great start, friends. I’ll just be packing for the next 8 hours.

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Which ‘do should I do?

I have no doubt that you guys are sick and tired of hearing about this wedding dress business, but…

That’s never stopped me from writing a post about something before, so here I go again.

So, my dress came. And I like it (don’t love it, but I’m sick and tired of looking, so it’ll work).

But–being the codependent being I apparently am–I thought I might ask you guys some hair advice.

Honestly? I’m kind of a hair girl. I like to fix it, braid it, up-do it…the works. I’ve even done bridesmaid and prom hair.

But lately, I’ve gotten lazy. I’m terrible about doing cute stuff with my girls’ hair, except on Sundays, and mine is almost always up in a (sweaty) ponytail #thatgymlife or down on the few occasions I actually bother to “fix it up real nice.”

Again, though, this wedding has me thinking that maybe I should make an effort, you know?

So! The question is: which kindof effort, at least where my hair is concerned?

I snapped a quick shot of three possible (extremely simple) options, and would love to know which style you think works best with the dress.

First up.

D O W N

dress

(Ignore the leopard print shoes…my new ones haven’t come in yet)

Okay, so here we have my basic washed-my-hair-at-night-and-slept-on-it look. I refresh it with a bit of water/conditioner plus a quick blast with the blow-dryer. For the actual wedding, I might try to spruce it up a bit with the curling iron, but the effect would basically be the same.

H A L F  U P

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This is Shaun’s fave way for me to wear my hair, and–again–I’d probably do something a little fancier (maybe twists or braids) but the same basic effect.

And finally…

U P

dress2

I guess you get the idea that I’d actually  make more of an effort for the actual wedding, but I kind of like the idea of an up-do since it would showcase a pair of pretty, dangly earrings I plan to wear.

ANYhoo, this is hardly a momentous decision or even one that honestly truly deserves your vote, but if you’re in the voting mood just the same…well, I won’t object!

Thoughts?

Kitchen Itchin’

Well, after celebrating the 4th of July three nights in a row, I’m ready for routine. Don’t get me wrong. It was a very good weekend, but let’s get back to business, shall we?

Speaking of which, I  know I haven’t posted much about the house lately, but that’s mostly because there isn’t that much to post.

We Shaun and his dad are still plugging away on the weekends, but Shaun’s had to travel for work a fair bit, and it’s suuuuper hot and muggy up in here most days, which means that they have to start really early and knock off around 2 or so to avoid heat stroke.

Progress has been made.

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{Look, Mom! Trim + siding!}

But it’s slow.

We knew this would be the case over the summer. But every time I stop by to see the updates, I can’t help but feel the itch to design all of the things…even though, at this point, I’d be choosing where to hang pictures between bare studs.

That can’t stop me from dreaming, though. Or snapping up a furniture find here or there.

The other day, when Shaun and I met up for lunch after his plane landed from a work trip, he had some catching up to do on rental repairs, so I told him I’d amble over to a cute home decor shop next door and wait for him to finish.

I told him to wish me luck, and he arched an eyebrow at me as if to say, “Um, nope.”

Ha. Sorry, babe.

Y’all. I had zero intention of buying anything at this store. I was literally killing time, and it looked like it was probably out of my price range anyway. Plus, as soon as I walked in, the lady behind the counter said: “I’m so sorry. We’re closed.”

I stopped and stared around for a moment in confusion until she clarified: “Literally. I’m closing the shop. But we’re just here packing up, so if you see something you want, let me know, and I’ll make you a deal.”

WHOOP!

I got excited at the word “deal” because there was no end of cuteness in this fun little space. But what caught my eye almost immediately was this.

hutch

The plan for the kitchen (which I’ll share more of in a sec) is a simple cabinet design–mostly lowers, with a fewer uppers and open shelving. But I had it in my head that, between our mudroom and pantry doors (both of which feature on the long side of our L-shaped kitchen), I wanted a focal piece–a big, hefty, solid wood hutch that looked like an heirloom piece to sort of balance out the clean lines of the other cabinets and add a bit of funk and interest.

After months of scouring Craigslist and Facebook sites, though, I’d despaired of finding anything big enough in my price range. I even bought another smaller, extremely-cute-but-not-really-what-I-had-in-mind piece in hopes that I could make it work. But the second I saw it in person, I knew it would be too small. I bought it anyway because I’d driven over an hour to get it, loved it, and am definitely hoping to make it work somewhere else in the house.

But it wasn’t my unicorn hutch.

This one was.  It was the color, style, and–most importantly–size that I’d been picturing in my mind’s eye all along.

YIPPEE!

Even more yippee was that I talked her down 50% off of the asking price, and Shaun was down with it. My unicorn hutch was mine, all mine.

Side note: Even even MORE yippee was the fact that I opened an email the very next day announcing that I’d won an Amazon gift card (from a blog contest I’d completely forgotten entering) for the exact same amount that I’d paid for that hutch. Hashtag I never win anything. Hashtag Thanks, Lord. That was sure nice of you.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this is the look I’m going for in the rest of the kitchen. kitchen design board2

 

Believe it or not, I’d already decided on this direction before I spotted what is, easily, one of my favorite decor pictures evah. bathroom inspo e

via

Le sigh. This may just end up being the inspiration for the girls’ bathroom.

Of course, none of the kitchen design board above is exact (except the World Market pendant lights, which I already own) and, at the very least, that stove is a great big ol’ “YEAH RIGHT” (brand new, it’s over $13,000). But I think it gives you a pretty good idea of the look I’m going for.

The lowers will be a deep peacock blue–reminiscent of but not exactly the same as my original teal cabinets in our current house.

I luuuuurve the combination of this shade of blue with an antiqued brass hardware, but, while I’m crushing on the Pottery Barn versions I’ve featured on the design board, at $9 a pop, I think I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for a knock-off…or a really good sale.

The range hood will be wood with a back splash of shiny beveled white subway tile and open shelving on each side.

The few uppers we’ll have will be white, which may sound weird, but considering both the walls and the back splash will be white, they will mostly fade into the background.

Kind of like in this gorgeous Fixer Upper kitchen…

fixer upper kitchen

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In case you’re wondering, the island will not be blue. In fact, it will probably be a medium stained wood with furniture detailing like corbels and turned legs.  That’s still up in the air (isn’t all of it?), but that’s what I have in mind.

My dream countertops are white quartz (supposedly practically indestructible), since I want to balance out the dark lowers and wood with as much airy, open white as possible, but I haven’t found a price I can live with yet. We’ll see. You know I’ll keep you posted either way!

ANYhoo, that’s the kitchen scratch I’m itching at the moment. Considering that I won’t have to make any of these decisions permanent for quite a few months yet, any and all of this could change.

But I’ve had this stuck in my head for almost a year now, so…maybe not.

Any thoughts on what I’ve shared so far?

Countertop ideas?

Best sources you’ve found for awesome (reasonably priced) cabinet hardware?

Have a mint condition 60″ Viking range you want to teleport my direction? (Har har).

As always, I’m all eyes.

 

Wedding Dress Success!

First and foremost, THANK YOU for your encouragement on Monday’s post. Seriously. I read each comment, and I was just so blessed by your words. Also, for those of you who wanted a cuff of your own, the brand is Lenny and Eva. Here’s the exact saying.

Okay, so the “wedding dress” in the title of this post is a bit misleading, but “A Dress to Wear to the Wedding Success” just didn’t have quite the same ring. (And, in fact, is quite confusing…as if there might have been a dress to wear to a wedding failure too).

Either way…

I found my dress! At least, I hope I did. I ordered it…in two sizes, no less. But it hasn’t actually gotten here, so I guess we’ll see.

But the process? Ugh. Never, and I mean NEVER, get an idea stuck in your head about what to wear to a specific event. Trust me. It’s a pain.

Sadly, in spite of all that looking, my search was not over because I couldn’t get happy with (or find my size in) any of the options that I blogged about.

Shaun is gone on a work trip, which means by 9 PM, when the last child has asked for the last glass of water, and the last plate has been loaded in the dishwasher, I. am. done.

I always have grandiose visions of getting tons done once the kids are in bed, but…then reality sets in like a ton of bricks, and I wonder if I’ll ever get off the couch again, much less do something useful with myself.

And so, I’ve spent the last several nights somewhat catatonic on the couch, listening to my Audible book as I scroll through page after page of some of the most unattractive maxi dresses I have ever seen. We’re talking brown and sage micro-print muumuus and electric purple and yellow camo with hiiiiiiiigh-looooow hems.

When I did my original post, I hadn’t remembered to check ModCloth, but when I did (sometime around the end of last week), I felt hopeful. There were quite a few cute options, but, for one reason or another (usually price, the wrong sizes, or a review saying that the fit or quality was bad), none of them quite clicked.

Until I spotted this one.

eliza j

It grabbed my attention immediately.

But then, I noticed the price. $199.

Gulp.

Never mind.

And so the search continued.

Then, two nights ago, I got the bright idea to scroll through all of Anthropologie’s maxi dresses and note their designers so that, instead of scrolling aimlessly through thousands of listings that pulled up in response to my “floral maxi dress” search, I could try to find dresses from a specific designer I loved.

And–lo and behold–what did my eyes see?

anthro eliza j

Yup. The same dress. This time for $178 (I was honestly amazed that another store charged more for something than Anthro). And, again, I was immediately drawn to the dress…but not the price tag.

But I least now I knew the designer. Eliza J. Which, incidentally, is the same designer of this dress that the majority of you favored from my original post. A dress that I probably would have bought if they had had my size in stock.

nordstrom rack floral

Oh, and of this one (which wasn’t quite the style I was looking for but still sooooo pretty) that I drooled over on the Modcloth site too.

eliza j black dress

(Waaaaay cheaper on Amazon here)

This lady makes good stuff!

And so the search continued. I scoured Ebay, Poshmark, Tradesy, and the internet at large for the ModCloth/Anthro  Eliza J dress. With no luck.

Until…I somehow stumbled upon a site that claimed that Nordstrom (where I had already looked but somewhere missed it) had it…on SALE for 40% off!

Every other time something had lined up this well, some other glitch had emerged (usually not having my size in stock), so I squinted really hard, clicked the link, and was pretty much shocked to discover that they had both of my possible sizes available. Whaaaaaaaa?

Could it be?

And the best thing of all is that Nordstrom has free shipping both ways, so I ordered both, lickety split, and have my fingers crossed that one of them will work.

Now, I will freely admit that, even at 40% off, this was not a cheap dress. BUT! I was willing to pay $95 for this dress for several reasons: 1) I was reeeeeeally sick of looking for something that I liked in any price range and was definitely not finding it in my optimal $30-$50 bracket, 2) Shaun had already said he was fine with my spending more on a special occasion, and 3) if I choose to, I am 110% confident that I can wear this dress once and then sell it for a profit on an  Anthropologie Buy Sell Trade Facebook page that I’m a member of.

Of course, then I compounded my “problem” by falling in love with the shoes that the girl in the ModCloth pic is wearing.

teal heels

I clicked the link expecting them to be $80 but was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were “only” $40 (I’m telling you: a weeks-long search for something specific will chip away at your bargain-loving resolve until every price tag looks relative to the YIKES! NO WAY! version you saw two minutes before).

I can honestly say that I’ve never spent more than $100 on an outfit for a specific occasion other than my wedding, but I’m just so relieved to be done with this one (and yes, pretty tickled to be receiving pretties in the mail soon) that I’m calling it a win.

What do you think of my pick? Worth the work? (Um, no dress is worth this much bother, so don’t answer that too honestly).

I would say that this saga is finished, but I guess we all know that–if the dress doesn’t fit (or even if it does)–I’ll be blogging about it. To quote my favorite line from The Devil Wears Prada (other than: “When I think I’m going to faint, I eat a cube of cheese”)…”GIRD YOUR LOOOINS!”

Oh, and have a happy Hump Day, okay?

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For such a time as this…

First up, thanks so much for all of your suggestions/advice on what I should wear to the wedding. Especially those of you who took the time to send me links. Y’all are nice! I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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A few months back, I attended an event featuring a panel of “powerful” Christian women. I use the quotation marks because, of course, nobody is truly powerful but God, but these women are definitely influential in the Christian spheres in which they move.

And while I was  impressed with their accomplishments and their talents, I left feeling a bit let down by their philosophies of work and motherhood.

Each woman on the panel is both a mom and an entrepreneur. Great! Me too! Definitely nothing wrong with that. I don’t choose to monetize this blog (did you know that? I don’t know if that will always be the case, but I make very, very little money as a blogger…by choice), but I do teach exercise classes and  have my art print business, Paint and Prose, with my friend/business partner, Lindsay, and I am really grateful to have outlets that also provide some income for my family.

As a Biblical point of reference, the Proverbs 31 woman buys fields, “makes linen garments and sells them,” (she’d be a hit on Etsy!) and “perceives that her merchandise is profitable.” She “does not eat the bread of idleness.” In other words, she’s  the ultimate worker bee. Much more so than I am (SO not a fan of getting up “while it is still night;” yikes!).

But the emphasis in that passage is not on the name she made for herself. Or on the amount of money she raked in. Or on how many books she wrote about her impeccable housekeeping skills. Or on how many people followed her on Instagram (I have to think that, had she had access to social media, she probably wouldn’t have spent much time on it).

No, it’s on the way she cares for her family and her community. She brings good, honor, and security to her husband (vs. 11-12, 23), she feeds and clothes her children well (vs. 15, 21), and she provides for the poor and needy (vs. 20).

Now, obviously, this woman is a prototype–an example to strive for. AND she had servants (aka: her versions of washing machines and microwaves). But, even though I know I’ll never be as perfectly efficient and compassionate and loving and balanced as she’s described to be, I can still learn so much from her diligence and priorities.

In contrast, while I left in awe of these modern day women’s accomplishments, I felt unsettled by their priorities.

To a group of (mostly) young women with little kids and big dreams, one of their most notable pieces of advice was not to despise your children’s younger years because: “pretty soon, they’ll be at school, and you’ll have time to do what you really love…unless you home school. In which case, you chose that.”

I think my mouth fell open a little bit at that phrase. NOT because I was offended. I know full well that home schooling is not for everyone and that, by choosing it, I willfully forfeit a certain amount of freedom. I happily own that choice.

No, I was struck by the implication that a child’s impressionable, formative, baby years are something of a holding pattern until his/her mama can be released to fulfill her “true calling” of __________ (maker, writer, teacher, business owner…whatever).

I couldn’t help but feel that, amidst plenty of other good advice, they’d gotten that part backwards.

Not that I was too surprised, since the emphasis on “following your dreams” and the importance of “me time” and self-care before care of others is one that reigns supreme  on pretty much any form of media that I encounter lately.

Don’t get me wrong. I get why the baby years feel a little–forgive me–pointless. After all, they won’t even remember most of what we do.

And the neediness! Oy! They can’t even wipe their own poopy bottoms or runny noses, for the love. Anything “productive” we accomplish is punctuated by numerous, oftentimes odorous, interruptions and will probably be accompanied by tiny, sticky hands wrapped fast around our legs.

And yet. Studies show that, by age 5, a child’s personality, character, and feelings of security and worth have already been cemented to a very large extent. So, apparently, they were paying attention to our care of them–for better or for worse–even if they can’t remember the particulars of it.

And I know, deep in my bones, that no words I write, no art I create, no money I earn, no societal contributions I make, no amount of #girlboss cred that I achieve could ever trump the significance of the impact that I have as the primary influencer of the little humans that have been entrusted to me. Up to age 5 and beyond.

Which is why I bought this cuff in Canada at a cute little shop in Squamish.

for such a time as this

It’s a paraphrase of Esther 4:14, which says: “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

In Esther’s case, these words came from her cousin, Mordecai, who was encouraging her to entreat the king to spare her people from eminent destruction.

Heavy.

Important.

Significant.

But I can’t help but think that a series of smaller, less portentous choices were what brought Esther to that momentous brink. The choice to go to the palace to audition for the role of queen. The choice to humble herself under the care of the chief eunuch and let him direct her entire beauty regimen. The choice to not be a diva. The choice to continue to listen to her cousin’s godly advice, even though she was now queen.

I read that phrase, and it wasn’t images of the book I hope to someday write (nope, still haven’t found the time) that popped into my head.

Instead, I pictured one of the twins having a meltdown in her car seat–something that has been an almost daily reality for over a year–and I thought, “I need this cuff.”

What if, instead of despising the mundanity of motherhood or merely gritting my teeth until I can do something that “actually matters,” I viewed each seemingly insignificant moment of child-training as the “moment for which I was created.” The moment that is shaping me into the kind of woman that I hope to someday be. The moment that is allowing me to be a little bit more like Jesus.

(I’m not very good at this, y’all. Why else do you think I need to wear it on my wrist?)

sunday

{Sporting my cuff and posing with my humans in the sweltering Texas heat}

Which, after all, is the ultimate point, right? Well, that and teaching my children to do likewise. Anything else that I create or contribute pales in comparison to the legacy of faith that I leave behind with my family and–as we serve them and share the gospel–our greater community.

It’s not a very glamorous calling. At least not on the surface. There is nothing glamorous about “the first shall be last” or “take up your cross daily and follow me.”

But last I checked, I am not called to be glamorous. I am called to be godly.

And that is infinitely better.

P.S. Two caveats: 1) I have framed this post as a response to the things that mothers often can’t wait to escape FROM, but the truth is that, glamorous or not, I love spending time with my children. I may not always cherish or enjoy every single snot and tantrum-filled moment, but the fact remains that they (along with my husband) are my favorite humans on the planet, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything–not only because I know that they are my calling, but because they’re just rad, and I like them a whole lot. And 2) I know that not everyone who reads my blog is a mother, and I don’t want you to feel that this post is marginalizing your giftings and callings in the Lord. If you are not a mom, I would encourage you to consider even the most “insignificant” aspects of your calling to be “the moment for which you were created,” even if no one else ever recognizes the worth of it.

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Wedding Max Out

We have a family wedding in about a month in Vail, Colorado, and it’s the most excited I’ve been to go to a wedding for the sheer spectacle of it in a long time. It promises to be a gorgeous event, and Della, Evy, and Nola are all going to be flower girls (which…honestly…could either be super-cute or super-stressful; praying for the former).

4 years ago, my cousin, Amanda, got married in a vineyard in California, and I so wanted to go, but I was 37 weeks pregnant with twins, and for some strange reason, my midwife wasn’t real thrilled with the prospect of my flying thousands of miles away so near my due date. I guess I see her point.

Even so, I was disappointed to miss it.

And I think I’m channeling all of my frustrated outfit planning from four years ago into this wedding because I’ve spent hours (spread out over weeks) scouring the internet for thee perfect dress.

As always, I have a very specific vision in mind. And, as always, I can’t find the exact look I want. BUT! I am sharing the creme de la creme of my research with you guys on the off-chance that you, too, are searching for the perfect maxi dress.

Because that’s what I’ve decided will work best for this wedding for not one, not two, but three reasons, which I will of course share whether you want to hear them or not: 1) I think, for such a special occasion, as few people as possible should be forced to endure views of my right leg, which still shows the rather vivid marks of 6 babies worth of varicose veins, and the long skirt of a maxi is perfect for shielding innocent eyes (wouldn’t want to give the bride cold feet at the prospect of what awaits her currently unblemished stems. ha!) 2) even in the middle of July, it actually gets a bit chilly in the evenings in Vail, so I think I’ll be glad of the extra leg-coverage come evening, and 3) I would really like to be able to enjoy the evening without fear of a wardrobe malfunction a la Theo sticking his hand up my skirt and giving it a good flip. I don’t wear short skirts as it is, but with a maxi, he can flip away to his heart’s content, and a clear shot of the varicose veins is about all I’ll be risking.

ANYhoo…I actually spoke a bit erroneously when I said that I couldn’t find what I was looking for because I didfind the perfect dress…without even looking for it over a month ago.

It’s this Vineet Bahl Portia Maxi from Anthropologie.

vineet bahl

I found it NWOT on Ebay for $50, which, while more than I usually pay for an article of clothing, is an absolute steal for this dress.

BUT! They only had a size that was on the lower end of my possible-wear range, and, although it fit everywhere else, it was suuuuper tight (think straight jacket) right across the chest. Which is kind of funny considering that I am far from well-endowed. Apparently, this was made for a twiggy kind of gal, which…I am not.

Fortunately, I was able to resell it for the same amount that I paid, but unfortunately, I haven’t found anything I like even close to as much. I know. My life. It is so, so hard.

Still, I have unearthed a few that I’m mulling over…

wedding dress collage

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

1. This one is cute, cheap, and has good reviews, but…the print is kind of dark, and I’m not a big fan of strapless.

2. This Free People lace maxi from ebay is more than I want to pay and a little casual for a wedding (although, I think it could be dressed up with the right accessories. Read: NOT the combat boots the model is wearing). In some ways, it’s my favorite of the group because of the color and textures, but it’s not quite my size, and that, coupled with the price, make me wary.

3. I was thisclose to ordering this gorgeous embroidered dress from SheIn because I had 40% off of my order as a new member, but then I put it in the cart and realized that 40% off was as high as the discount could go (NOT the amount extra it was subtracting), and since the dress was already considered 35% off, that fancy 40% off coupon only made it a whopping $3 cheaper. Without having a clue how it would fit and no reviews of the quality, I wasn’t willing to shell out over $70.

4. Ordering from ASOS is always appealing because they send you prepaid return labels for anything that doesn’t work (plus free shipping your direction too). I like the idea of this navy/white floral maxi. The neckline is pretty, but I’m not a big fan of the keyhole cutout in the front. It could be fine. Or it could be racy. Hard to tell.

5. I luuuuuurve the color of this dress. I tried on a similar saffron-colored dress in Anthro in Canada and was surprised to discover that the color worked well for me. Also from Asos. Also easily returned. Hm…tempting.

6. This one from Nordstrom Rack is probably my favorite cut of all the options. The neckline is high and modest, but it still highlights toned shoulders, which is one of my favorite features. For some reason, I don’t love it on the model, but when I picture the colors on me, I think they might work (I promise I don’t mean that as arrogantly as it came out; it’s definitely the opposite of my normal reaction, which is: it looks fabulous on that goddess of a creature, but I’ll look like a dowdy mouse).

7. For some reason, a weird glitch wouldn’t allow me to save a picture of the front of this dress from thredUP. Honestly, it’s out of my price range, and it’s a sweetheart strapless neckline, so it’s not even a real option. But! The color is GORGEOUS! (If you manage to get sucked into perusing the 3,600 !!! maxi dress options they have over there, you can use this code for $10 off your first order).

8. This one is a pointless wishful pick. It’s from Anthro but sold out everywhere. I love the subtlety of the print and background color and–again–that lovely neckline.

So, far, I’ve scoped out all of the brands listed here plus Old Navy, GAP, LOFT and…I’m sure a few others I’m forgetting.

What have I missed?

Which one(s) do you like best?

Any suggestions for me?

I’m definitely–ahem–maxed out on this particular dress hunt.

 

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Mama life Hacks {#20}-The List That Changed My Life

Okay, so admittedly that title is a wee bit on the dramatic side.

But not untrue.

So, here’s the thing. I like to make lists. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of marking a line through a goal. Boom. Done. Cue: We Are the Champions (and Mighty Ducks flashbacks).

Planners are good too, since they force you to focus your list-making by day and time period. I’m a fan of both and have used both effectively. (Albeit inconsistently).

But here’s the thing: I have a tendency to overload my list.

I know this.

I know that when I write down: clean out girls’ closet, organize pantry, clean fridge, and plant front flowerbeds that I will, realistically, only get ONE of those things done (hopefully) in addition to the everyday stuff that I don’t bother to write down on the list.

I also know that I should probably write down that everyday stuff so I can check it off and feel better about myself when I get to end of the day and maybe don’t have ANY of the “extra” stuff done due to: unforeseen diaper blowouts on the sheets–necessitating a full nursery airing out and 87 foreseen but underestimated 3-year-old tantrums–necessitating accumulated hours of talking-to’s, praying, timeouts, and other various methods of discipline, etc. etc., etc.

Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my husband that I feel like I haven’t sat down or stopped “doing” all. day. long, and I’ve still “accomplished nothing.”

Honestly, if I were to hear another homeschooling mama of 6 say this, I’d be like: “Duh. You’re busy keeping half a dozen humans alive/fed/educated/reasonably happy.” But when it’s me, all I can see are the projects I never even started.

So, one day, this idea popped into my head: what if I wrote down EVERYTHING I do in a day–including time frames–so that I could be more realistic about my goals and also so that, by day’s end, I could look back and see exactly where my time was spent. No more of that: “I have no idea what I did today” business.

My hand got tired just thinking about such a list, so I decided to type it instead.

And you know what?

IT WORKED!

Totally.

Each day that I took the time to start out by typing my list, I ended feeling accomplished and satisfied with my work. Even if I hadn’t done anything “more” than what I consider a normal day.

The key was to include even the most mundane of tasks. Flipping a load of laundry? Yup. Getting the kids ready for the gym? Uh huh. Reading a story to the twins? Absolutely.

After all, they all take time, don’t they?

But if I don’t write them down, then I tend to discount those chunks of 20 minutes here, 15 minutes there, until I’m left with that frustratingly vague feeling of aimlessness when my day has been anything but.

In case you’re wondering what this list looks like exactly, here you go:  list1 list

This list is from several months ago on a random Tuesday (I don’t save most of my lists), and it’s fairly representative of a typical Tuesday during the school year (notice homeschooling was not on the list because Tuesdays were one of the days that my mom came to teach the kids).

Obviously, I didn’t get every last little thing checked off. Even when I try to be realistic by breaking things down sometimes by 5-15 minutes increments, I can still get too ambitious.

BUT! I can look at that day and see that my time was not spent idly and that I did accomplish a fair bit.

Some days, there’s quite a bit less red, due to my own hubris or unexpected distractions. Maaaaaaybe one day, I’ve checked every last thing off (I doubt it, though).

But the peace that this list gives me at the end of each day? That’s consistent.

Full disclosure: so far this summer has felt about as organized as a toddler-planned birthday party.

Trips!

Sickness.

Birthdays!

Shaun’s traveling.

Swimming with friends!

Seriously. It’s all over the place. That’s summer, right?

But I’m definitely starting to crave more order, so today, I made my first list in a month, and it went a little something like this:

MONDAY:

6:30 – Feed twins + Theo

7:00 – Make/eat breakfast

7:30 – Hang out with Alby (he just got back from a trip, and I’ve barely seen him)

8:30 – Bible reading with kids (totally haven’t done this yet because they weren’t all awake)

8:45 – Write blog

9:15 – Research/load new Audible book

9:30 – Get kids ready for gym

9:45 – Leave for gym

10:15 – Do Combat + 1/2 hour of weights

11:45 – Grocery shopping with kids

1:00 – Lunch

1:30 – Little kids down for naps

1:45 – Rest time

2:15 – Practice reading with Della

2:45 – Sort/start load of laundry

3:00 – Start dinner prep

3:45 – Put away laundry  in bedroom

4:00 – Wipe down kitchen cabinets

4:20 – Play outside with kids

5:00 – Finish dinner for kids

5:30 – Kids eat

6:15 – Read Bible reading (since we didn’t do it earlier)

6:45 – Play time

7:15 – Get kids ready for bed

7:30 – Kids in bed

7:30 – Finish dinner for Alby (I didn’t get to make his Father’s Day dinner last night, so we’re going to attempt a “date night at home” tonight; I certainly don’t usually cook two dinners or get my kids down by 7:30…wish us luck!)

8:00 – Eat dinner + hang out with Alby

Clearly, since it’s summer, there’s a lot more free time and margin for rest, but I think I’ll still enjoy highlighting (most of) these things in red tonight.

So…what do you think of my epiphany? Maybe not feeling accomplished at the end of the day is something you never struggle with, but if it is, and you often feel like you’re not sure where the time went, I HIGHLY recommend at least trying this method.

It’s done wonders for my sanity.

 

Boho Kimono

In general, I don’t post tons of pictures of myself on the blog anymore. Which…I doubt makes anybody too upset. I mean, I did write a few posts back last fall about holding myself accountable here for weekday outfits, but…I failed on that one pretty miserably. I did a better job of actually getting dressed in general, and I even documented it (most of the time), but I just never got around to posting about it, and then, I thought it would be pretty silly to show you a round up of what I wore…for the past 4 months.

So…there you go.

I have officially gotten too lazy to blog about outfits for the most part. If that’s your jam, I’m sorry. If it isn’t, you’re welcome.

ANYhoo, that longwinded intro is sort of a hybrid warning/preamble to the fact that you are about to be bombarded with pictures of me…wearing clothes (huge sigh of relief for that second part).

kimono5

So, I have to ask: what do y’all think about the kimono trend? I mean, it’s been going for a while, but it always takes me a loooooooong time to warm up to the latest thing, and I honestly have always felt that kimonos–along with most drapey, flowy clothing–are best for super-slim, long-limbed girls. Now before you go scolding me about complaining about my weight, I’m not. I just don’t have a leggy, lithe physique. I have muscular arms, curvy hips, a long torso, and relatively short legs. And despite being almost 5’7″, I “read” shorter, so lots of loose-fitting things don’t drape well on me.

kimono7

Cue: my reader-friend, Amanda, contacting me about trying out some LuLaRoe gear. I’ll be honest–at first, I was hesitant. I’d mostly heard about how great their leggings are. But I am firmly in the leggings are not pants camp (unless, of course, you’re wearing a tunic that covers both bum and thighs), and there’s only about 4 months per year of leggings-tolerable weather in East Texas anyway, so I passed on that option.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they have much more to offer. I especially liked the look of their jersey maxi skirts, but since LuLaRoe distributor’s inventory turns over rapidly, and even they are never sure which prints they’ll receive, I never managed to snag a particularly gorgeous large-scale floral print I had my eye on.

BUT when Amanda sent me pics of a few kimono options she had in stock, I was intrigued. As mentioned above, I didn’t really think I could pull off a kimono, but with Amanda being so gracious to let me try out an item of my choice, I figured, “Eh. How bad can it be? I’ll give it a whirl!”

Turns out, not bad at all. As in, I really like it!

kimono5

{I especially like the fact that you could wear leggings or more close-fitting pants with it, since it thoroughly covers the rear-view}

I wore this little ditty to church on Sunday, and, while I’ll freely admit that, as of this week, it is officially too hot to wear this particular version of it until–oh–December again, I like the fact that I could easily throw it on with some frayed jean shorts, a white tank, and some wedges, and–voila!–easy (breezy!) date night outfit. I also spotted a pic somewhere of someone wearing a kimono over a white shift dress with strappy sandals, and it was so cute, I’m definitely going to have to give that one a shot too.

kimono2

Oh, and, as always, I had plenty of helpers around for my oh-so-fancy photo shoot.

kimonocollage

Yup, that would be my almost 18-month-old running around with no shoes and the snaps of his onesie undone. Classy. (Not pictured: the other 5 kids lurking just outside the shot).

One more thing I like about this kimono? It’s a little like wearing a twirly dress.

kimonocollage1

Regardless of how much it looks like I am escaping from a bee attack, I can assure you (since I was there) that I am, in fact, twirling. #graceful4ever

So, what’s the takeaway? Um, kimonos are rad? Oh! I know! Don’t be afraid (like me) to try things that you think you won’t like. You might just be proved pleasantly wrong.

If you’d like to chat with Amanda about her LuLaRoe selections, you can find her on her Facebook page or Instagram. She’s an absolute sweetheart and will work patiently with you to figure out exactly what works best for you!

P.S. Ezra takes pretty much all of my pics now. Man, I love having a 10-year-old.

P.P.S. My jeans in these shots are Blank NYC Denim, and I “splurged” on them with some Amazon gift card money I had squirreled away because I’d read raves about how great they are. I asked a trusted source about sizing, since they didn’t have my actual size in stock, and she said, when in doubt, size up. So I did (because they did have the size directly up from what I normally wear). But…I think they’re too big. Well, I don’t think. I know. They are quite loose through the waist and hips, but I would probably only wear them with longer shirts, so that might not matter. On the one hand, they’re insanely comfy. Soft and buttery and pliable without falling down. All good things. But! Considering that they are skinny jeans, methinks the bagging around my ankles (you can see it especially in the profile shot from above) is problematic. Thoughts?

 

Vancouver Do-Over (Part II)

So, where was I?

Where…

Oh yeah! That pesky phone call right in the middle of the movie. (Read Part I if you’re lost as a goose).

Shaun checked his voicemail on the walk back to the rental, but try as he might, he couldn’t make out much more than that it was the Vancouver PD and that they had found our car with the smashed window (it was the little triangular window behind the full-sized rear window, in case you’re wondering) and were trying to notify us that it had been vandalized.

Of course, we already knew this. We also knew that we hadn’t lost one single penny or scrap of possessions.

So, when Shaun called back, fully expecting to be able to explain the situation, and was informed, instead, that the police had towed the car for “safekeeping” without permission or actual notification (methinks a missed phone call does not count), we were both a bit stunned.

Of course, the biggest bummer (at that point) was being car-less when we had been planning a day trip to Squamish the next morning, but the impound (hey! I got to visit all kinds of places I’d never been on this trip) was only a 30 minute walk away. So, the next morning, we strolled over to the Twisted Fork, ate an, ahem, hearty breakfast of banana stuffed french toast and Eggs Benedict, and then did our darndest to walk off at least a tiny fraction of those calories.

On the way, we were treated to some not-so-shabby views.

hiking4

When we finally got there (somehow, we missed a turn and turned our stroll into a 45 minute hike), the niggling suspicion that the VPD was going to stick us with the bill for their little act of kindness came true…to the tune of $155. (So, basically, our car got broken into, and we lost nothing…until the police came along. Ha!).

It was actually kind of (but not quite) comical to watch the exchange when the girl told Shaun the bill, and he said, “But…we didn’t ask to be towed or do anything that warranted it.” And she said, “But we performed a service.” And he said, “That we didn’twant.” And she said, “But we performed a service, so…” And he paid up.

I told him in the car that I was going to start washing random people’s doorsteps and then showing up a day later demanding payment, even though they didn’t ask and/or want me to wash their steps.

ARgh.

To add insult to injury, we had a parking ticket, even though I had proof that I’d paid the bill (we’ve since managed to clear up that little snafu, but at the time it felt like, “Oh, C’MON!!”).

Of course, although it never occurred to either one of us that getting towed was even a possible outcome, we sure weren’t keen for a repeat, so we drove the first rental car back to the airport, exchanged it for a zippy little VW Golf, and headed out for Squamish.

My brain could never quite immediately conjure the name, so I kept throwing out ridiculous versions like Squeamish, Sasquatch, and Saskatchewan, but the town itself was way cuter than its name (which, to be fair, originates from a Native Indian tribe and probably sounds much better in their language).

We got there while the Saturday market was in full swing and proceeded to eat all. the. things.

Basically, I’ve done vacation food two ways: 1) try to find a place with yummy salads and pace myself on all treats…mildly obsessing over/dreading the next meal (yup; that would pretty much describe my 20′s) and 2) gleefully research thee best food within a reasonable radius on Yelp and then eat what/whenever strikes our fancy.

I’ve learned that I much prefer the second, even if I do come home with some extra jiggle. Both because it frees up my mind up to actually enjoy the moment and because it makes Shaun happy when I don’t worry about it.

I point this out because I’m blushing a little remembering our farmer’s market indulgences, which included: a Greek Souvlaki wrap, an empanada,  a strawberry rhubarb hand pie, caramel kettle corn, and the best sno-cone I’ve ever had (most of them shared, I might add #justificationsrus).

hiking5

{Half raspberry vanilla, half hibiscus lemonade = aaaaaalll yum. Also, I really wanted to buy that gorgeous flower arrangement for only $10–$7 with the Canadian/US exchange rate, but it was our last day there, so it wouldn’t have made much sense}

After all of that, we couldn’t manage much more than a leisurely waddle around the picturesque square for the next half hour, but Shaun had warned told me about a challenging hike just outside of Squamish, and I said I was game. So, off we set, determined to beat the estimated 3 hour round trip time.

We started up the trail, unsure of when “the hard part” would start, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.

Y’all.

This is the hardest hike I’ve ever done…by a long shot. Now, granted, we didn’t take our time. We were determined to go as fast as possible, but after the first 10 minutes of climbing big rock after big rock and ascending stairs so steep you practically had to use the handrail to haul yourself up them, my pulse was hammering in my throat, and my breath was coming in jagged rasps. (And I thought I was in decent shape)

hiking10

{I keep looking at this and thinking: “That doesn’t look nearly as steep as it felt.” This was only the first flight of stairs, by the way}

Fortunately, although the trail rarely let up (there were 3 or 4 spots that plateaued for maybe 20 feet before you were climbing steeply again), once my legs warmed up and my breathing achieved a rhythm, it felt doable. Still hard. But not quite as likely to kill us.

Of course, I think we were pretty much the only ones on the trail (that day, at least) really pushing ourselves, since we passed quite a few people we never saw at the start, taking their time picking from rock to rock and stopping at the outlooks. (Like normal folks; not knocking this approach).

But honestly?

I loved it.

I love exercise (y’all know that). And I love challenges. But I don’t love hiking. I’m a multitasker, but I don’t enjoy stomping through nature while trying to enjoy it. If I’m meant to be looking around and taking in the views, I’ll need to stroll, thankyouverymuch. But if I’m working hard, I’m focused on the next step, the next handhold, the next summit, and trying to get me to simultaneously enjoy that waterfall over there just makes me peevish. (Don’t I sound like a fun hiking date?)

Fortunately, this time, since our goal was speed, and the ascent was so stinkin’ vertical, I kind of got the best of both worlds. I was always looking up for the next rock, which helped me take in my surroundings, and I was always pushing myself to get to each one a little bit faster.

At the end of the hike, there was a section where you basically picked your way up the side of a vast boulder, in some cases using chains anchored to the rocks to haul yourself up when the footholds weren’t sufficient.

And then…we were there!

And the payoff was pretty spectacular. 360 degree views of God’s stunning creation. As soon as we reached the tippy-top, we flopped down on the warm rock, sipped water, and shaded our eyes from the dazzle of the sun off of the water.

hiking

It was a lovely reward for all of the gasping and sweating and burning muscles.

IMG_3485

{Heeeellooooo, Squamish! Anybody else picturing that scene with Tom Hanks and his “aunt” and his “brother” from You’ve Got Mail?)

It’s a little hard to tell from the panoramic shot from above, but we were up high. I don’t honestly know if the next pic is going to give you any better of an idea, but…

hiking6

…we were on top of that giant boulder.

Of course, the wildest part is that we spotted at least one group of crazies folks rappelling off of the sheer face of the boulder. Shudder.

hiking7

{I promise we didn’t coordinate our climbing outfits}

Half an hour later, we started the descent.

And, y’all, it felt like we went so fast. Again, on the way down, we passed up multiple people taking it slow, but I was concentrating too hard on landing on the next boulder down to notice much other than the constant: “Don’t fall” chant in my brain.

Ultimately, it took us approximately 46 minutes to climb it and 40ish minutes to get down (I was pretty slow on the first section of the descent where you had to hold onto the chains, since I was more interested in not dying than speed at that point).

Still, we were pretty happy with our 2 hour round trip (including the rest at the top), and–I’m not gonna lie–I felt considerably less like a slug after 2 days of eating with no exercising.

That night, we crowned our culinary “achievements” with a trip to a place with Brooklyn style thin crust pizza, and I couldn’t help but notice a couple at the table across from us who were engaged (I presume; she had a solitaire, but he had no ring) but rarely spoke to each other. I honestly felt a little sorry for her, since she seemed inclined to talk, but he spent most of the time staring at his phone. (Apparently, I’m a nosey Parker; probably, there was someone observing me, wondering what I was doing staring at another couple instead of talking to my husband. Ha!)

I only say this because–weirdness of all weirdness–the exact same couple were on my plane home, on the same aisle as I was. (And they STILL didn’t talk!)

I mean, Vancouver is a city of over 600,000 people, and the odds of my sitting beside a couple I’d happened to notice especially at one of literally thousands of restaurants the night before are pretty darn slim.

Cue: It’s a Small World. (Sorry).

So…there you have it, friends: what we did, what we ate, what we saw.

I know I say this every year when we manage to get away, but I fully expect each trip to be our last. But our gracious parents (this time: his) are always so stinkin’ nice to keep our kids for several days, and–not gonna lie–as long as they keep saying yes, I’m going to keep tagging along on work trips!

The longer I’m married to my husband, the more I’m struck by how much I like him. Like just genuinely enjoy being in his presence–the way he makes me laugh, the way he can always, always make a crummy day better. I’ve always felt this way, but I don’t know that I expected my appreciation for him to keep increasing. It has/does each year, though, and I’m so grateful for a good God who saw fit to give me such a good husband and bless our marriage so richly with these opportunities to get away and just be us.