“What are your thoughts on a family camping trip where you and I stay in a cabin?” Mom asked me back in December. I said of course. And before I knew it, it was time to head back to Missouri and drive to Bennett Spring State Park with a car packed to the brim (including a waffle iron and Keurig). It truly was a little insane the amount needed to sustain the two of us, for two days, when we didn’t have to bring a tent.
I was nervous. Mainly because while I’d like to think I’m a frontier woman, I sorely am not. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being outside. I love staring at the sky aimlessly wrapped in a blanket and just sitting and staring at water. Though I love knowing a bed, four walls and few bugs wait for me at night.
Needless to say, the Ladage Family Camping trip was stellar. Growing up, we ran a pretty tight-knit group. Most often, aunts, uncles and cousins all felt like extra Moms, Dads and siblings. Though as everyone started school, getting married, moving, we started seeing each other just around the holidays. I felt like a kid again spending more than just an evening and afternoon with everyone. There was always an empty chair somewhere around the fire. Someone ready to play cards. Someone ready to make s’mores. Someone needing to make the trek to the bathroom in the dark.
We learned that Cousin Kate and Uncle Rob dominate yard games while Mom and I do not. That the way to anyone’s heart is through a Bacon Station. That fresh fish from the river is divine. That the Olympic theme song truly is inspiring. That beverages make things funnier. That hiking is truly fantastic when you have Cousin Alli ready to play the ukulele on demand. That seeing a bald eagle fly over your head while you’re in a kayak paddling around the river bend is pretty damn American.
And that it’s always a Good S’morning when surrounded by your favorite people.
I recently stumbled upon photographer Fred Levy’s “Black Dogs Project” and immediately started googling and reading and clicking to understand Black Dog Syndrome. Black dogs are often overlooked at shelters and rescues, so Levy has photographs these dogs in a stunning matter to show their personalities and how light still shines through them.
The project’s starting to get quite a lot of traction, especially from pet owners and their adopted black dogs. Seeing as Mom sent me this photo yesterday, I just couldn’t resist. This Summer marks the fifth anniversary Nixon Oscar joined the family after being rescued. And lucky for us, this Black Lab mix always looks like a puppy, no matter his age.
Between the holidays, the never ending Polar Vortex and a busy work schedule, life as gotten the best of me. As I sit here hyped up on some Alka-Seltzer on yet another Work From Home day (thanks to those tundra temperatures), I figured I should take some time to update.
Within the past two months, I met two people I’ve been waiting to meet since 2004. And three weeks ago, I got to meet a tiny little lass I’ve been waiting to see and hold since August.
First up, the Bernings. Fate dealt us one sweet card when Matthias and his parents ventured down to Chicago the same weekend Mom was in town. We’ve heard a lot about Matthias’s parents over the years, but we’ve never met, as they don’t come to the States all that often. This meeting/reunion of sorts was my absolute favorite part of the holiday season. We all easily fit into conversations with each other, though Matthias had to jump in every now and then and wow us with his seamless German-English-German speech. The weather wasn’t the best, though I spent the whole day in fits of giggles and smiles. A Christmas miracle? Nah, just much overdue.
After some time Facetiming with Lisa and Baby Beckett, I ended up having a work trip out to Colorado. Lucky for me, the presentation was on a Friday, which meant I could take the weekend with the Watsons down in Colorado Springs and finally meet Baby B. I was pretty excited and anxious as well as a little more than nervous. I cannot tell you the last time I held a baby. After a drive (and gossip sesh) from Denver to the Springs with just Lisa, I arrived to Watson Manor ready to meet Baby B. We both played coy. And during the Kansas game the next day we moved into the “hold me” phase. Thankfully, there’s one thing Baby B and I cannot get enough of…books.
Sharing some book love while dressed in Rock Chalk attire
Even with the mood swings of Old Man Winter, it’s hard to complain too much. Especially since Restaurant Week is going on and Sundance U.S.A. is this Thursday. Needless to say, there’s not much meandering around the city though enjoying the quiet, downtime of “too-cold-for-tourists” season.
Per yesterday’s post, one thing I love about this time of year is all of the Holiday cards you receive. It’s an easy way to spread some holiday cheer while showing off your best look. And while I’m totally digging the family Christmas card videos that are currently just everywhere (#XmasJammies, Slade Family, We Won’t Stop), I still find myself hoping a card went out with the link.
So whether you’re sending cards, giving out smiles while walking around town or sending elaborate productions, Happy Holidays!
*This photo will never, ever get old. It’s such a shame this came on such a tiny Polaroid in the 80s.*
Mom gave me this really cool looking quote box with “365 Truths” to help usher in my 28th year. Seeing as today is Day One of that very year, I pulled out the following truth (which sent a shiver down my spine because c’mon fate, you sometimes are seriously too good).
“This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind… Let it be something good.”
***I’ve recently just started my third Gratitude/Happiness Journal. Ever since Oct. 7, 2007, every day, I have written at least three things that made me happy that day. It’s a nice way to look back over the past 5 years and see how much there truly is to be thankful for.***
There’s a lot to be thankful for this year. And I wouldn’t know where to start. But luckily, one of the things I’m thankful for just walked into the room.
Matthias was a missing link in our family before showing up nine years ago. I often forget just the kind of family dynamic and power he brings, mainly because when I see or talk to him, it’s just us. After surprising Mom last night, it hit me as we spent nearly 3 hours at the dinner table. As he and Mom sat there catching up and having thoughtful conversations, it dawned on me; underneath his huge muscle mass, he’s a huge softie. He loves family. He loves laughing. And he loves those close to him so very much.
No matter the time that passes, he always has a place in our house. Even Oscar the dog was smitten with Matthias, refusing to leave his side all morning. I’m thankful that Mom and I have someone like this in our lives. Someone who gets up at 6:30 while he’s on vacation to cook you his family’s special eggs before you head off to work. Someone who sings along at a very (some may say insane) high octave while you clean the kitchen. Someone who does pretty much anything to get a laugh out of you.
He’s more than a friend and brother. He’s our German Destroyer. And I’m thankful he barged through our lives nearly a decade ago and made himself right at home. Hope everyone has an equally fantastic Thanksgiving holiday.
Sending Mom off to work after cooking her the most important meal of the day. He went back to bed immediately after she left.
For this year’s Fam Fest/Gram Fest, we decided to participate in St. Louis Public Radio‘s MetroQuest–an adventure around St. Louis using only your feet and MetroLink (and okay wheels in our case). Rounding out our team were our fearless leaders, Grammy and Grandpa, Aunt Nan, Aunt Suzi, Mom and myself. Aunt Suzi named us (“Fam-A-Lam-A-Ding-Dongs”) and Mom dressed us (in capes and white sunglasses courtesy of Stoli). Then we literally were off.
Taking flight at the first Metro Stop
Along each stop, you answered trivia and completed challenges. Not having a smartphone, we didn’t upload our photos to the site for points. Instead, we were the team creating chaos and laughter along the way. Case in point: the elevator.
It was here the wheels of the Gramses’ got tangled and refused to come apart. While the elevator door opened and closed at the Metro station, Grandpa used his cane to make it stop and Grammy attempted to use her arm. All to no avail. I made sure to document the fact the sisters could barely get it together in the back to figure out a plan.
Upon exiting, I think everyone was newly invigorated as we took the Missouri History Museum by storm in our photo scavenger hunts.
Sing “Proud Mary” to a stranger. And to think, we were rollin’ all day!
Your best 50s housewife pose in the pink kitchen
Proudly display the beaver pelts
All in all, the day might have started out with this….
I know I’m super far behind, but here are some pics from Lisa’s wedding weekend. It was a perfect weekend filled with love, laughter and of course, dance offs. After arriving on Thursday, we had an impromptu BBQ in the patio of the hotel, where we met 77% of the wedding guests…Lisa’s Overman Family. And it’s where Sebastian and I first met with my poor Spanish speaking skills. He was a great sport with my charades.
Friday morning we had an early rehearsal at the mountain…my first time seeing the venue. It was simply breathtaking. I seriously felt like we were getting ready to shoot a movie, it just did not feel real. Jem also finally came in town and our 2-year absence from each other’s lives ended. I seriously could not stop smiling having him back around.
The wedding was like all weddings, a complete whirlwind that felt like it was over in minutes. But I am so very thankful I got to be a part of the day and Lisa and Ryan just looked stunning.
My favorite part of the weekend was Friday night before the wedding, sitting in a hotel room with Lisa and a few other girls. We did a jumping on the bed routine (where Bridesmaid Cora accidentally punched Maid of Honor Rachel in the face) and I was just in fits of giggles. Lisa is just the same lass I met 8 years ago.
Lisa and Ryan’s first dance was to Louis Armstrong’sLa Vie en Rose from WALL-E, their first date. Needless to say, this wedding weekend purely captured the love that continues to blossoms between these two. Cheers to Mrs. & Mr. Watson!