27 September 2013

Brazos Summit Scenic Drive

On the same day that we did our Ghost Ranch Scenic Drive, we also did the Brazos Summit Scenic Drive, another scenic drive on my 101 in 1001 list.

We started in Tierra Amarilla and ended up in Tres Piedras. Brazos Summit is part of the San Juan Mountain Range, also called the Tusas Range, and this heavily forested area of northern New Mexico is so beautiful! I love how diverse the scenery is in New Mexico - you have desert and then rocky red mesas and then forest-covered mountains. This mountain range is actually a southern part of the Rocky Mountains.





It was a pretty quiet drive; we just took in the cool, green scenery and the kiddos napped on and off, as it was afternoon quiet time. When we got to the top of the summit, the view was just beautiful. I thought the summit looked like a miniature Half Dome - like a hidden gem in the vast and varied geography of New Mexico. And the temperature was so cool, in the 60's at least. We were over 10,000 feet and the summit itself it 10,507 feet. The road we were driving on, US-64, is actually the second highest road in New Mexico.

After reaching Tres Piedras, we headed back south to Santa Fe and then home. We stopped at a small, quaint restaurant in Ojo Caliente for a snack and a break to stretch our legs.

While we were there, an elderly man in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots walked in the restaurant, to which Little Man asked him: "Are you a real cowboy?" "Why, yes, I am." "Do you have a horse?" The man chuckled, and say "Well, yes, I do." It was a great moment in three year old life to meet a real cowboy! We all, including the gentleman, got quite the chuckle out of this encounter.

 It was a really great day of exploring more of the Land of Enchantment!

Ghost Ranch Scenic Drive

Back in July (I am so late in blogging about this) we went to Ghost Ranch, aka O'Keeffee Country, about two hours away. Ghost Ranch is famous for two things: Georgia O'Keeffe and her beautiful art work and dinosaurs. In fact, the dinosaur Coelophysis was discovered in the quarry on Ghost Ranch.

Ghost Ranch

There is a Scenic Drive that starts in Abiquiu and ends in Tierra Amarilla. Being one of my 101 in 1001, I had several reasons for wanting to do this drive. I wanted to check it off my list, I am interested in O'Keeffe's art and I really wanted to see the scenery.

So Mike and I picked a day, and it happened to be a long weekend Friday, and we loaded the kiddos up in the van and off we went! It was an absolute stunning day for a drive. There was a storm looming to the west, while east the sky was incredibly deep blue. The red earth of terrain once we got outside of Santa Fe stood out in stark contrast to the gray-purple clouds and the blue skies and it was just incredible.
On our way, just outside of Santa Fe here
 With each bend that we rounded and each hill that we ascended, the view beyond was just incredible. I haven't really seen anything like it. I couldn't get enough. When we reached the summit of one hill, and the view of Abiquiu Lake was just amazing - it glistened like a turquoise jewel in the red dessert. I wish we had driven the short distance, but with the storm approaching, we didn't really want to go near water, and we were anxious to reach our destination.


Lake Abiquiu


Once we got to Ghost Ranch, we got out and explored the paleontology museum, which is built around an actual dig that is ongoing. I got to hold a T-Rex's tooth that was dug up on the Ranch! The kids were pretty wired from sitting in the van for two hours, so they weren't too interested. The is a camping-type lodge that you can stay at the Ranch (it is a working ranch), and in front of it there was a really nice grassy area. The kids ran around and played in the grass under the tall green tree. It was so tranquil.



We had planned on going on one of the hikes on the ranch, but the storm to the west quickly approaching, we decided not to. We didn't want to get caught in a flash flood with three small children or be out in the open country when there was lightning. And we were hungry. So we drove back to Abiquiu and lunch at a great little restaurant on the side the road called Cafe Abiquiu. The food was so good!
Cafe Abiquiu


After lunch we drove back up towards Tierra Amarilla so we could do another scenic drive, which I will write about it a follow up post. With the clouds now overhead, the scenery looked quite different in the shadow of the storm. The light definitely made the landscape appear more vibrant.

Rain in New Mexico - if you look carefully, you can see the actual rain band - pretty neat.
 It was a stunning scenic drive and I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to drive it while we are here in New Mexico. I would definitely recommend this scenic drive to anyone in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area - it is so worth it!

Summer's End, Autumn's Beginning

I called this picture above "life and death in summertime" - I thought it just captured the fullness of summer. Don't sunflowers just say "summer!" to you? They do to me . ..

Our summer was pretty good, although it went by a lot faster than I expected. Butterfly and Little Man had zoo camp every week, and then in August Butterfly started speech therapy twice a week, so I think that helped things to go by pretty quickly. I also did the PWOC Summer Study (actually, I co-lead it) so that also made the summer go by pretty quickly.

It didn't seem to be as hot as previous summers in New Mexico. Until July, we were in an exceptional drought, but then monsoon season really kicked into overdrive. We had some pretty freaky storms, including one with hurricane winds that caused quite a bit of damage (the zoo even had to close for a day to clean up!). Then we had the record flooding that I wrote about here. We did some fun exploring, including our trip to Antonito to ride the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad, and some beautiful scenic drives to Ghost Ranch and Brazos Summit.

This past weekend, autumn officially arrived and the we had some great northern winds to properly usher in the season. It seemed like right on perfect que that the nightly temperature started dropping, the winds started picking up bringing cooler temperatures and the leaves started changing. It was a very distinct change from summer to autumn this year and I am just relishing it!

In our house, we've also started soup season, which I love! And home-made bread season as well. We're hoping to get in a few more family excursions before it gets too cold (including one tomorrow, Lord willing). So bring on the Fall Weather and season! I love it!

26 September 2013

The Soup Circle

So this is a FB post that I wrote today about my afternoon. Thought I'd share it here too. :)

An example of the way I think & do things: At noon, go into the kitchen to start soup for dinner. Before starting, recipe needs to be pulled off computer. Look over at the side counter and it's covered in papers and other miscellaneous items. On top are some picture frames I recently bought. Pull out file of "pictures to be framed" and frame some pictures. Put away file and set out new picture frames. Next: baby shower gift that needs to be bagged. Go upstairs to get gift bag and tissue paper from the upstairs hall closet. Open the closet and before I can pull out my stash of gift bags, I see my fall decorations. "Oh, I need to get out my fall decorations." Get out fall decorations and set them aside to take downstairs. Comforter needs to be pulled out to do this. "I really need to organize this closet." Take out all the sheet sets and blankets and rearrange everything into an orderly fashion: adult sheet sets, kids sheets, pillow cases, blankets, extra curtains. Put the original comforter in it's new place. Go through gift bags and pull out what I need and go downstairs, gift bags and fall decorations in hand. Before making it back to the kitchen, take down some summer decorations and replace them with fall ones. Put summer decorations on the stairs to go back upstairs next trip. Back to the kitchen: bag up gifts and set them aside. Go through rest of papers and make different piles: "to file" pile, "to recycle" pile and so on. Put all of that away. Kids need to go down for naps. Get Edward milk and take him upstairs while Daphne cries at the bottom of the stairs. Go back downstairs, nurse Daphne, lay her down. Last thing on the counter, cards to finish writing that I started yesterday. Dad calls. While on the phone with Dad, look up Bible verse, copy it into card and seal up card. Put on labels. Realize I put labels where stamps go. Remove labels and put them in proper place. Get stamps out of wallet and put stamps on. Now I can put my computer on the counter! Look up address and walk cards out to mailbox. Get off the phone with Dad. Now I can start making the soup! And only 2 hours have gone by . ..

23 September 2013

23 September

I think I'm going to start a new thing: I'm going to try to just write a few (or many) words about daily life, for posterity and all that. I feel like I don't do enough of that on my blog. :) We'll see how long it lasts . ..

So today is Monday, 23 September 2013. It's only a quarter after noon, but we've already had a very busy day and Flower is already passed out for her nap.

We all had an early start this morning. I was up, well awake, at 0600 nursing Flower in bed. She slept from 2130 until 0550 in her crib last night! Yay! She's sleeping longer and longer in her crib. Last night she woke up once and made her clearing her throat noise, and even though I heard her, I lay very still to see what she would do. After a very long minute or two, she laid back down quietly, made herself comfortable and went back to sleep. And slept the whole night! When she semi-woke up to nurse, we cuddled for a while and she nursed. I really love this special time in the early morning when we're not really awake, but awake (well, Flower is usually mostly asleep) where we snuggle in the warm covers and she nurses. It's the quiet part of the day before it gets really busy and loud with life and there is peace.

Alas, it wasn't to last this morning as I had to get up by a certain time and take a shower. I was hoping that Flower would stay asleep in bed, but she wanted none of that. So she played with her stuffed owl while I took a shower. Then we went downstairs and I got our "to-go" breakfast ready for Butterfly and Little Man. Butterfly had an 0800 occupational therapy appointment that we had to make. I made a very important phone call at 0700, and after eating three bites of breakfast I hurried upstairs to get Butterfly and Little Man, who were now awake, dressed so we could be out the door by 0730.

We made it out the door just in time! (Yay! This doesn't happen very often.) I dropped Little Man and Flower and their carseats off at my friend Karissa's so she could watch them while I took Butterfly to her appointment. Karissa is my friend who usually watches the kiddos when I need to do something where I can't take the kids with me. She's so great with kids and the kids love her and trust her, as do I.

Then off Butterfly and I went to her appointment. I had never been there before, but we found it all right with no problems and even made it with 5 or so minutes to spare. Butterfly's therapist is named Theresa and she is very nice. Being our first appointment, it was an evaluation appointment, so there were lots of questions (in addition to the multi-page questionnaire I filled out that had been mailed), and Butterfly had some more tests, including the usual follow simple directions with blocks, draw a line, fold a piece of paper but also some other tests like buttoning and unbuttoning a button and lacing a thread. She did pretty well, although her delays are very obvious. She did well for Butterfly I guess is what I mean. And she is doing better than what was doing six months ago.

After the appointment was over, I took Butterfly to the CDC and dropped her off in her classroom. Her teachers commented on how well behaved and sweet she was, which I was very pleased to hear. I reassured Butterfly, as always, that I would see her in the afternoon when she got off the school bus.

Then it was off to pick up Little Man and Flower at Karissa's. We talked for a bit while I installed the carseats back in the van. Then we were off to Flower's Inspiration's Therapy appointment with Casey at the big park on base. We got there a little early, but that was no problem. Today is a gorgeous fall day. We have sunny, clear blue skies but very cool with an autumn breeze in the air. Little Man and Flower and I played on the swings, took a turn on the seesaw and then went back to the swings. Little Man was lying on his stomach swinging, so Flower tried that too, for the first time. She was definitely having a great time! (This is when I started wishing I had brought my camera.) Casey got there shortly afterwards and the kids just continued to play. I asked Casey if she thought that Flower needed to continue with therapy and she said that she didn't have any concerns at all about Flower and that she had pretty much met her goals already. All in all, she was fine discontinuing therapy, so we agreed to do that. She also pointed out that Flower was ahead in language, was very self aware, was good socially and was doing very well with her gross motor and fine motor skills (the latter two being the main reason for her being in therapy to begin with). I was very pleased with this report. We will just meet tomorrow with Carla, the case manager, to finalize everything.

Flower was pretty tired after getting up so early this morning and Little Man was asking for cheese, so we decided to get some mozzarella sticks from Sonic and go watch some airplanes. I was hoping that Flower would fall asleep in the van and have a mini-nap before going home. When we got to the airport ten minutes later, Little Man decided that he did not mozzarella sticks, so I ate both orders (not really complaining here) and we watched planes for about 5 minutes before we all decided that it was time to go home and get some lunch.

Flower did fall asleep on the way home, so when we got home I put her on the couch and she slept for another half hour or so.  Mike was at home reheating some steak and corn on the cob from last's night's dinner, so we got to have a nice lunch with Mike. Little Man was very happy to see Daddy home in the middle of the day. I made some homemade beanie weanie then I filled Mike in on the morning and also shared with him some new information about sensory processing, which Butterfly really struggles with. (I.e. she hates having her hair washed, combed and hates putting on/taking off shirts/dresses and doesn't like loud noises at all.) I explained how Casey told me that they discovered within the last seven years that kids who have sensory issues have a very, very hard time learning because they are so worried about protecting themselves and doing self soothing. She gave me an interesting visual - she likened it to have a sticker on your foot really bothering you and you can't get it off and in the meantime someone is trying to teach you the multiplication tables. You're hearing what the person is teaching you, but you just aren't able to concentrate and learn it because you are so preoccupied trying to get the sticker off your foot. This went perfectly with what Butterfly's occupational therapist said that we would be working on. This really made so much sense to me and I felt so much better about Butterfly in terms of my mothering ability. It isn't anything that has or hasn't happened or been done with Butterfly - she cognitively has a very hard time learning, and not just academic type stuff, but anything (i.e. learning to get dressed, learning about shapes, etc). One more piece of the puzzle fitting into place.

So that was our morning. I like writing about our little daily experiences. It is the small things that make up life, not the giant events. How was your morning?

22 September 2013

Birthday Tea & More

This past week I celebrated my birthday! I am well into the third decade of life (not too well though) and so far I think I'm liking my 30's. It's not too bad, haha. Busy as ever with three kiddos running around, but when has my life not been busy in some way??

Mike took me to the St. James Tea House here in Albuquerque for my birthday and we had a great time! If you are ever in Albuquerque, I think it is a must visit! Especially if you like English high tea (which Mike and I both love). Mike had never been before and he said that he thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a little nook all to ourselves (very romantic), and our nook was named after one of my favorite authors, Beatrix Potter, which made the occasion even more special. September is also Clue Mystery month, so their menu revolved around the Clue mystery game (the original game that came out in 1944, not the modern one) and Clue is one of my favorite games. I've also really been into Sherlock lately, so that just added to it.
I even borrowed on of their hats to wear - so much fun!
We had three delicious teas - an Indian assam tea to go with the savories, which included Ms. White's scallop in wine cream sauce, Colonel Mustard's sausage roll,  Mr. Black's Prosciutto-wrapped fig, and the Reverend's Greens alongside Ms. Peacock's Apple with Boursin on Raisin Bread tea sandwich. For our breads, we were served another amazing tea, a Sunrise Scented Black Tea with The Butler's Citrus Scone, discovered with Blood Orange Curd and a Traditional Cream Scone with Clotted Cream. For sweets, we had Pham Green Scented Green Tea with the Murderous Mousse, Professor Plum's Turnover and Miss Scarlett's Red Velvet. (I had to look all this up on the menu for the St. James Tea Room, so the clue mystery wording is entirely their wording, not mine.)


Next month is Shakespeare and Mike has already asked me back to the Tea House for our anniversary! I'm so excited! :)

I also got some really sweet text messages that meant a lot to me and I got a lot of FB birthday text messages, which was really sweet. It's really nice opening up your FB to see all of those. :) (Thank you FB friends!)

On my actual birthday, which was a Tuesday, we had a lot of running around. Butterfly had speech therapy and then after I dropped her off afterwards at the CDC, I went to the bank and then I got some Burger King and took Little Man and Flower to the "Big Awesome" park (as one of my friends calls it) and met my friend Anja and her littles for a picnic lunch. It was a very sweet time and it was a beautiful day. Sunny, not too hot with a slight breeze. A hint autumn in the air . . . (my favorite season!)

For dinner the Mike and I and the kiddos went to my favorite restaurant, McAlister's Deli. I love McAlisters! I think I really like it because I like just about everything on the menu, so I can get something different each time I go if I want, and the kiddos really like it and Mike likes it. And the tea is awesome! The one we go to is located in ABQ Uptown, which is a sort of outdoor mall and is very nice. If you go at the right time (Sunday night is best here), then you can be there when hardly anyone else is there, which we love. You get your food fairly fast (kids don't have to wait too too long) and it isn't too loud. :) (Mike and I do not go to restaurants like Chili's, et al where they try to pack you in like sardines and you can't hear your partner across the table. So we avoid those restaurants and have learned when to go to other restaurants when it isn't like that.) I brought my camera, but then forgot to take pictures, so bummer there. Oh well, I have words, right?

Mike got a very sweet card for my birthday, which I loved. I also got some sweet cards from other family members and friends.

All in all, it was a really great birthday and I felt very loved and special all day. :) Thank you to all my family and friends that helped make it a special day!

15 September 2013

Rain, rain, rain!

Over the past week, we have had some major rainfall here in New Mexico. We had so much rain, actually, that the state went from being in the worst drought in over 100 years to the worst flooding in over 50 years. A friend who is a native here said that extremes are par for the course here. One article from KRQE stated that the Rio Grande River rose more than 100x its' depth in just a few days, cresting at over five feet.

Being from the east coast where rivers are 20 or more feet deep in some places, it's so weird to hear a flood crest of five feet, but this is the desert in the west. :)

Normally when it rains here, it only rains for a short amount of time, sometimes only for five minutes (seriously, just five minutes). A day of solid rainfall is just incredibly rare here, even during the monsoon season. And when it rains, the bands of rainfall move across the city, not staying in the same place for very long - this is how it can be raining in your front yard, and not your back yard (true story- has happened several times!!). So to have several hours of rain, much less all day of rain, is incredibly rare. And to have several days in a row of this type of rain, well, it only comes around every few years.

While I have absolutely loved seeing, hearing and feeling the rain falling for days and days, I am sad to hear about the loss of life as well as all the roads and bridges that have been washed away across the state. Even bridges that the Rail Runner train goes over were damaged, causing the train to close service today.

We certainly had lots of localized flooding on the base too - streets being covered in water on some of the main thorough ways through the base. I didn't leave the base this week once the rain started (not because of the rain but because we didn't have any reason to), but I heard that the water coming off the Sandias was causing a few mini rivers in the streets that ran west from the mountain. That would have been neat to see.

Of course our flooding is hardly anything compared to what parts of Colorado are experiencing right now. Wow! Praying for the people up there.

Does it rain where you are? What is a typical rainfall pattern for you?

Here are a few articles for posterity:
From Weather.com: Parts of NM brace for more rain
Overnight Rain Pounds Albuquerque
Photos of Flooding Across NM
Storm Flooding Spreads Havoc Across NM




12 September 2013

Good or bad?

The last few months I have to be honest, I have really been feeling like a bad Mom. I mean, I know all moms feel like this at some time or another, but I feel absolutely plagued by these feelings of being a bad.

Despite confirmation from family and friends that I am not, indeed, a bad mom, I can't help but shake that feeling.

Then this afternoon while I was reading, the main character in the novel ends up in the hospital receiving a burning IV medication for an infection. And my mind started to wander.

I thought about the things I have been through to protect my children. Physical pain to help insure that they arrived in this world alive and strong. And I'm not talking labor and delivery either.  Before they were even born. Because I am a Mom, I endured getting four steroid shots, two in each hip, to help my daughter's lungs develop should be [most likely] be born premature. If you have never experienced this, I can tell you it is the most painful injection I've ever experienced. Two for each daughter.

I thought about all the injections I received to stop preterm labor. Injections with side effects like rapid heart rate and uncontrollable shakes. I thought about the magnesium sulfate I received via IV for four (or was it five?) days to stop preterm labor. A drug that makes you feel like you have fire coming out of your head and coursing through your arm. A drug that makes your blood pressure drop so low the nurses won't let you get out of bed alone for anything - in fact, they often looked at me like they wondered how I was still conscious and talking.

I thought about all the time I spent in bed, or on the couch, with two of my pregnancies. Time I would have much rather spent doing something else.

I thought about all the round ligament pain that would double me over in the kitchen while I cooked dinner. I just gritted my teeth and got through it until I could go lay down.

And I didn't complain. When they said it would be rough, I nodded and said "let's do it." Because I am a Mom and moms protect their children. They sacrifice of themselves over and over again for their children. They don't complain, they just do it.

I thought about the hundreds of sleepless nights, stirring at the faintest cry so I could get up and feed my infant. I thought about the all the times I've stayed up most or all of the night to catch vomit and press cool wash clothes against foreheads burning with fever.

And I thought about all that I gave up so that I could stay home with children. I dropped out of nursing school - saying "no, I'll wait or possibly not even do it" to my dream of being a nurse. Because my children are greater than a dream, they are my reality. I stopped just a mere 13 hours short of graduating with my bachelor's degree because I refused to compromise my children so I could finish my degree. My children are worth more than a piece of paper, no matter what that piece of paper says or how much I want it.

So I may yell at my kids, and I may say stupid things and I may not do things the best way, or sometimes even a good way, but at the end of the day, I would give anything for them. Go through anything for them. Because they are my children and they are worth it.

So as much as I want to do other things, like go back to school and be a nurse, and trust me, I really, really want that so badly, my children are worth more. I think I had lost of sight of that recently and I needed the reminder of why I sacrifice of myself for them and how much I have actually sacrificed for them. And that makes me a good mother, if in no one else's eyes, in my own. And I need that right now. I need it so I can be a better mom to them.

03 September 2013

On top of the world

About a month ago, I was having a rough morning, so I decided to go take the kids for a drive. (Scenic drives are my answer for stress - it's nice to just get away and distract yourself with beautiful scenery, plus the kids might learn something.)

I didn't go too far on this day - I drove to the east side of the Sandia Mountains and then drove up to the top of Sandia Crest. It's a 14 mile drive to the top through beautiful Cibola Forest once you get on the road to the top. The kids love to drive in the mountains, so they were talking about being in the mountains, except for Flower, who fell asleep.

I have driven this drive a few times since I moved to New Mexico, but this time, I decided to get out of the van when I got to the top and walk around. Weather had usually stopped this in the past (stuck in the snow one time, rain another, etc).

So when I arrived to the top, I parked the van, got all the kids out, and we walked to the very top of the mountain. It wasn't far and since it's a tourist attraction, it was paved and had a safety rail and a fence, so I felt fairly safe. I still held the kids little hands very tightly, but it was all good.

Unfortunately, the area had been vandalized recently and there was graffiti spray paint everywhere (that kind of thing makes me so mad - who does that?? It ruins it for everyone . .. ). Anyway, the view nonetheless was spectacular. I would love to go up there by myself and just sit and stare for a long, long time. And maybe write in a journal or something.

Five thousand feet below us to the west and north spread the city of Albuquerque, glittering in the sun like a golden brown desert jewel. I-40 perfectly bisected it and the sun glared off the streets so that you could see the gridwork of the city layout. To the south lay the rich green forested peaks of the Sandias and Manzano Mountains, stretching out and down to the desert floor below. To the east behind us, the gray skies rumbled with a thunderstorm and rain fell in silvery curtains to the earth below. Lightning flashed and streaked far away as the storm worked its' way south over the land. It was just amazing and beautiful. And it was so cool up there - much cooler than the 90+ degrees in Albuquerque where we had been just 30 minutes before. Sandia Crest is like an alpine haven for the desert dry soul - just so beautiful.


Looking out over those jagged cliffs and peaks, I felt like I was on top of the world. At 10,000 feet plus, I was double the altitude, or just about, to where I live every day. I felt like my stress just melted away as I looked out over the earth - it was a different perspective.

Sometimes one just needs to rise above the cares of everyday, literally. And here in Albuquerque, I'm glad that I'm able to drive a short ways to do just that. :)

Biking adventures

Our family is finally outfitted with bikes and a bike trailer! We've actually had the bike trailer for quite a while now, and just have been using it as a double jogging stroller, but I finally bought a bike off Craigs List a while back. Later in the spring Mike got a bike as well  - so now we go on family biking adventures!

Butterfly, Flower and Little Man ready for a bike ride last spring
 The last two summers our family outing adventures have been walks and such with the kids on trikes or their little car or in the stroller. This summer we haven't done too much of that, but we have gone riding around base housing a lot together, which everyone loves.

Although, as a side note, when it's just me with one kid on the back of my bike and two in the bike trailer, pedaling as hard as I can while elderly people with walkers pass me by, and the kids yelling "Faster Mom!" from the back, it can be very . . . interesting . . .  and definitely quite the work out!

But when we all go out, Mike pulls the trailer and I have one child on the bike seat behind me. The kids are pretty good about taking turns and we hardly ever have an argument about whose turn it is ride in the bike seat. I think it helps that we call the bike trailer the "Rocketship" because it feels like we're buckling the kids in for a ride to outer space with all the buckles and stuff. They love that though! Well, that they're riding in a "rocketship".
Mike pulling the "RockShip"

Our favorite place to ride is around Hardin Field - this beautiful square of grass and trees on the base. It's so beautiful there, with a view of the Sandias, which turn amazing hues of pink and purple in the evening as the setting sun hits them, and two almost perfectly lined rows of trees all the way around and lots and lots of green grass. I find it quite breathtaking and it's certainly my favorite place on the base. Running here is great fun too. And sometimes in the evening we catch the sprinklers on one side or another and ride through them, which the kids love. The neat part about that is that the air is so dry here that by the time you get half way around the field your clothes are dry again. (Yes, it's that dry here.)

Monsoon clouds on the Sandia Mountains

Little Man's expression is priceless in this picture! Mike's is too actually, lol

Love the trees and grass!! It's so rare here!
I highly recommend family biking adventures - they are great fun! And it's fantastic exercise. :)

Do you have any family adventures? What do you guys do?

Surprise!

If you read my post routines and chaos, then you probably know that my life has been a bit on the stressful side lately. I am glad to say that some of that stress is going away! Yay!

And last week I had a really great surprise! My friend Lindsay and her girls were over for lunch hanging out and we had just finished up some trifle and I got a call from my Dad. My Dad calls me almost every day during nap time, so I just didn't answer the call, since Lindsay was there, and thought to myself I would call him back in a little bit.

Then I got a knock on the door. I wasn't expecting anyone, so I was a little surprised that someone was knocking on my door . .. well, I went and opened it and there stood . . . my Dad!

I couldn't believe it! My Dad actually flew all the way to New Mexico to surprise me! (Okay, so he had an ulterior motive and was TDY to the area, but he didn't tell me that! I knew he was going to TDY, but not to here!)

So my Dad was out last week for a surprise visit and it was great! He did his work for his TDY for two days, but we got to see him in the evenings, and then he took some leave and stayed out until Sunday. Even though Dad was out here just a month ago, it was really great to see him again. The best part of the visit, to me, was that he really helped me to get some perspective in my life and that I'm not doing as bad as a Mom as I thought. (My Dad is such a great encourager!) It was really a God thing that he came out when he did.

Of course Mike, Butterfly, Little Man and Flower were so excited to see him again. Little Man exclaimed "You're back!" when he saw him when he woke up from his nap. Their reaction was so priceless!

While Dad was out, we went to the zoo and we rode the RailRunner down to Belen, which is apparently the freight train hub of the southwest - every freight train coming from Chicago to LA and visa versa runs through Belen - Mike and the kids loved that. :) We have a lot of train lovers in the family . . . it must be in the genes - poor kids - they're doomed from both sides!

The other really great part of the visit was playing Parcheesi a lot during nap time. Dad and I have been playing Parcheesi together for years and years (going on 20+ I think, actually) (and wow, don't I feel old writing that!!). We like to have championship "tournaments" (best out of 7, etc) and they are always so fun. I discovered an amazing move that I was able to put into practice to win several games. There is some strategic thinking to Parcheesi, it's not all roll of the dice. :)

It was just a really fantastic visit and I'm so grateful that Dad was able to come out and see me. :)

GrandDad and Flower cuddling together

Ah Parcheesi! (And I won 2 out of 3 championships . .. just sayin' :) )