Monday, June 29, 2015

Little Trippin'

My close-as-you-can-get-with-one-living-in-Montana-and-the-other-living-in-Florida friend, Robert, asked me if the fam and I had been roadtrippin' lately. I told him that while I still (marginally) keep up with my blog, no, we don't really roadtrip anymore, as the highlight of my existence stems largely from our crazy lives at home, recent awesome vacation to Tucson not withstanding. But while we don't travel far, we are able to do a little bit of here-and-there trippin'.

(Sidenote: If you live in Florida, or in any of the states within driving distance, and require photographic services, look no further than Robert Hunter Photography. He recently started out and has a natural talent for the art. I only *wish* he could take my picture. Maybe one day when he's famous and I'm a D-list celebrity for my Hallmark movie.)

Leaving the house is a production I try to avoid at all costs but every once in a great while, I work up the courage. As the kids get older and more active, leaving the house turns into something I do just to keep them busy until nap time. So here are some ways I've been doing that:

 The playground is always a popular choice, until it gets too hot, of course. Would you believe it's not uncommon for it to get over 100-degrees in Montana?

 Holding her own with the boys.

Swing King.

The Manly McIntyre Men.

 Anywhere with a play area is also high on my list and the mall is one such place. In fact, we only ever really go to the mall to visit the play area.

 Baby geniuses.

 Sometimes we leave the house out of sheer necessity, and on one such occasion I turned it into a short, impromptu Girls Day. Zoey has adjusted remarkably well to having a baby in the family but I can tell she gets frustrated every now and then, so I've been trying to carve out little moments just for her, where she gets all of my attention. And it's positive attention; not my usual frazzled mom self. One rainy day, we ran a quick errand, then I spoiled her with hot chocolate and a giant cookie, and we sat in a coffee shop like grown ups.

 Cookie Beard doesn't work so well on me...

 The exact moment she realized her chocolate was in fact hot. I have to admit, I pat myself on the back for this one. I managed to hit the shutter at the precise moment her lips touched a shockingly hot cup of hot chocolate while simultaneously reaching for her to make sure she was ok (she was). Then we both laughed until we cried and she spent the rest of our time there trying to recreate the moment. Then she demonstrated for Daddy when we got home.

Some days I set aside specifically for a Mommy and Zoey date. Having a baby and having a "big kid," I appreciate each in their own special way. Oh, who am I kidding? I LOVE that Zoey is a big kid and can eat regular food, doesn't require a nap she'll ultimately fight, can be reprimanded for throwing a tantrum, can buckle her seat belt, and doesn't demand require to be held. I love being able to walk around with her and share experiences, especially since she's reached an age where special, undivided attention is important to her, and necessary. When I heard about the Billings Strawberry Festival I thought it would be a great thing for the two of us to do together; she loves strawberries and I love walking around outside in downtown Billings. One of those Jacob sort-of likes, the other Jacob would rather do without.

Welllllllllllll, the Strawberry Festival was some seriously weak strawberry sauce. We walked all around and didn't see a single strawberry in sight, save for the block-long strawberry shortcake with a line to get a piece being just as long. Watching people turn away from the cake with a pallet full of slices wasn't all that encouraging, either. My inner-Leslie Knope was thoroughly disappointed as I pictured a giant, tiered, skyscraper of a cake with a jolly old man passing out slices. As we decided against waiting the next few hours for a slice and turned away, Zoey said to me, "I thought it was going to be tall." After 30 minutes - including parking, walking from the car, navigating seriously long lines for Native American-themed crafts and Chinese food, and walking back to the car - we decided we didn't want our date to be over and headed to the nearest playground. Now *that* was fun.

 Now *this* is a Strawberry Festival!

 Not one drop, morsel, or bit made it into his mouth.

 What's a Strawberry Festival without an accompanying Banana Festival?

 Most of our regular outings, though, are walking the old men around the neighborhood.

If nothing else, leaving the house makes us appreciate coming home that much more. And we do manage to have fun within the confines of our property line.

 Preparing for our Big Top Garage Circus.

 Perfecting our selfie-skills.

 But whether we leave the house or not, we always do our makeup.

And dress in our best.

 As a 13-year old girl we came across during one of our neighborhood walks so eloquently said, as she blew bubbles with her friends and Zoey, "Bubbles are fun at every age."

 Always something to do outside!

 Montana roadtrippin'.

 Hey Girl. How *you* doin'?

Hmmm...maybe it's *not* best to "stop and smell the flowers."

While we may not travel the globe (yet), we do manage to keep busy and squeeze in some fun and make good memories. Our summer seems to be filling up nicely so who knows what more little trippin' is in store.

(Don't forget to book Robert for all your photographic needs! Click on the "Robert!" Happy modeling!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Springing into Summer

Although we didn't do much - or far - traveling, we can't completely discount Spring, even though you'd never know it existed to look at my blog. So here are some of the more interesting parts of the rest of March, April, and May.

 My good friend, Holly - of Our House, is a Very, Very, Very Warm House fame - was recently diagnosed with Colon Cancer so to celebrate a positive progress, we had a St. Patrick's Day-themed Girl's Night with me, Mer, Debbie, Holly, Paula, and Paula's sister.

 Easter is usually a sign of Spring to come, but not around Montana. If it's cold and dreary, it must be Easter! This year we broke with tradition and instead of going to family, went to visit friends who are like family in Big Timber, MT where they had just moved into a house in the country (but, to be fair, everything in Montana is "in the country"). Jacob's high-school friend, Matt, and his wife, Chelsa put on an amazing display of delicious, home-cooked food, we were treated to a last-minute dance performance by the older kids to some song I've never heard of by someone I've never heard of. Adrianna Grandes, or something. And we got to catch up with old, good friends.

Getting reacquainted. Matt and Chelsa first met Holden when he was about three weeks old. Then when Holden spent some time in Denver, they happened to be in the next hospital over and rushed to his bedside and stayed with him. If that's not what Godparents are, then I don't what is.

Matt and Chelsa's daughter, Alex.

Winter coats? CHECK! Must be time to go Easter Egg hunting!

Egg-hunting, Montana-style.

Even the puppy had too much fun!

See. Cats are total assholes.

The blizzardy drive home. Happy Easter!

 Around Easter it was also Jacob's birthday. We spoiled him with treats and homemade cards, and his parents spoiled him with new pots and pans! I was so excited, I wanted to say thank you but didn't know if  that would have been appropriate since it was *his* birthday and all.

 Meeting the newest members of the McIntyre-Metzler herd, chickens!

Cousin love. Little boys can be so surprising. They're so wrapped up in their world, which is new every day, and mainly consists of cars, TV shows, the gross thing his friend at school said, the latest tooth he just lost, and the dinner he doesn't want to eat. Layne is all of those things but he's also AMAZING with his Cousin, Holden. He is so sweet and cute, genuinely excited to see him, and loves to help out. And after spending his years herding Zoey and Libby, I think he's also probably excited to have another boy around.

After playtime, it was Holden's job to whip up Daddy's birthday cake.

 Also enjoying a birthday in the Spring was Zoey's friend, Eli (my friend, Ashley's son), so off to his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party we went!

 Played some hoops.

 Hopped some scotch.

 Can't talk. Eating.

 Pinata time!

Even Ninja Turtles need a cupcake break. And wear sparkly Hello Kitty shirts.

As the weather gradually became nicer, Mother's Day quickly approached. God planned that just right in my book, even though, aside from celebrating the greatness of my own mother, mother-in-law, and Grandma(s) (two of which are at the giant card table in the sky) I generally scoff and roll my eyes at the "holiday," dubbing it Do Everything You do Every Other Day Only You're Worshiped for it Day. Watch the Season 1 Mothers Day episode of The Middle. Just sayin'.

 Look at that face!! Holden's aint bad, either. ;-)

 It was, really, just another weekend day except that everyone was trying harder than usual to be nice to me. Since it was Sunday, I went to work in the morning and came home to homemade cards and Jacob making breakfast. I took a shower and didn't hear any griping about the Hallmark Channel being on all day (which it usually is during most weekends. Hey! Start playing some movies during the week! A girl can only take so much Little House on the Prairie!). I decided that I didn't want to worry about cooking and/or the dirty(er) kitchen, and wanted a cheap fishbowl of alcohol so Applebee's we went! As it happened, that was THE place to be for Mother's Day; our across-the-street neighbors were there as was a guy I used to work with.


We, of course, did a lot of staying at home, so here are some interesting  - well, as interesting as it can be - pictures of that:

 Well, at least interesting to Holden. The kid LOVES doors. He loves to push them closed then pull them open. The only problem he runs into, of course, is when the door latches shut and he can't figure out why he can't get his fingers in there to get it back open. Then he usually looks up at me and starts whimpering. He could sit there all day just pushing the doors around. Zoey loved chairs. She'd run to a chair from across the room, exclaiming, "Chair!"

 Oh, you know; just livin' the mom-life. Hashtag: where my Bon Bon's at?

 Beastmode. Oh, yeah? You and what army? Me and my fur-army! And that one licking himself in the back there... Hashtag: matching socks are for suckers.

 I dunno, Dad, I think it's the doomaflachy.

 What up, Girl? I don't usually look like this - my mom usually wipes me off after I've downed a jar of sweet potatoes but she probably figured I'd get dirty outside anyway. (For those of you lucky enough to follow my Instagram or be my friend for life on Facebook and have seen the black and white version of the first picture, now you know why; to hide lunch remnants.)

I am by no means a "photographer," but I've watched America's Next Top Model enough to know that some photogs take a bunch of the same picture then save/edit the best one. This is one such photo, before or after the "best" photo, but still one of the best. That Montana wind can be a real bitch!

Weather-speaking, we were lucky enough to have summer creep up on us this year. And also lucky enough that we didn't get some of the rain and moisture we've gotten in previous Spring seasons. Now we're deep in the throes of summer and...wait for it...



Pray for us...