Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Trip...

Do you ever have those days when you just think, "What on earth am I doing??"

Today is one of those days.  I think I've said many many times on this blog that I'm not great at preparing for trips.  I don't love to venture very far out of my comfort zone.  I'm not crazy about flying alone.  And I really REALLY like my little routine.  

But...I also really REALLY like my mom.   She's going to be in Las Vegas for a long weekend, and so I'm flying out to meet her there.   I can't get to Hawaii anytime soon and she isn't coming all the way to Texas on this trip, so...Vegas it is! 
I made this trip a couple of years ago and my sister came with my mom.  Super fun!  

Before I can get on a plane, though, I have to make sure all my little ducks are in a row at home.  Why is it so hard to leave all those "mom responsibilities" for someone else to do??  

I have stocked the fridge, planned/made dinners for the next two days, written out a schedule, done laundry, vacuumed (why I thought I needed to do that, I'm not sure) and made dessert for the youth activity tonight.  Oh, did I mention that I said yes when Savannah asked me last week if she could please have all the 16+ YM/YW and their leaders over to our house after a scavenger hunt that she's in charge of tonight?  (again...not sure what I was thinking)

I'm sure I'll be excited once I get to Vegas and see my mom, but holy cow! it's agony trying to get everything done before I feel comfortable leaving.  Phew...I'll let you know if I make it out the door.  :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


While we were in Florida, the six of us were together nearly 24 hours a day.  We traveled in a roomy, but crowded Yukon.  We slept in ONE hotel room.  We ate every meal together.  We played at the pool and at the beach together.  

I worried a little before we left that after two whole weeks of togetherness, someone would have a meltdown and want to run screaming out of the car.  That didn't happen.  Instead, what DID happen, was that we got used to each other's little quirks.  We had inside jokes that even if I tried to explain no one would ever understand.  We could tell when one or two of us were getting sick of the togetherness and somehow effortlessly shift the seating/sleeping arrangements so that everything went back to neutral.  

It was truly a happy surprise and a huge blessing.  

Last Sunday in church, a very sweet woman who is new in our ward spoke about families and personal revelation and prayer and a whole lot of other things I love to learn about.  She said that their little family, no matter the size of the house or the space available to them, can always be found within 5 feet of each other.  They just always gravitate to one another.  I loved that.  And I hoped with her that as her children get older they always love to be physically close to one another. 

And then I thought about our two weeks of Florida togetherness and realized that we have been home for almost two weeks and we are all still together.  No one retreated to their personal space just because it was available.  They all still just want to hang out with us in the living room or in the kitchen.   

Last Wednesday, all three of my girls plus a friend stayed up until 2:30am chatting in my bedroom and then just piled blankets on the floor and slept there.  On Sunday night, Savannah stayed up late to help Megan figure out her new freshman schedule and map out a route to all of her classes.   Last night, Savannah came home from her second long day of school and then work and didn't head straight upstairs.  She climbed into my lap (yep...right in my lap) and told me how tired she was and then perked up when she remembered a handful of small but great things that had happened during the day.  Emma got McKay a snack after school.  McKay waited until his sisters came home before he went out to find his friends after his first of school on Monday.  

They're small things, but they're a pretty big deal, I think. a few short years, these kids will be leaving this safe little nest we've made for them and flying out on their own.  Distractions will come.  Jobs and school will keep them busy.  They won't have constant contact with us or with their siblings.  And oh, how we want them to learn to love each other and be friends now so they will continue to have that bond when they're older.  

I'm so happily content tonight thinking about how much that little Florida vacation did to tie all of us together emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and to help us remember how much we genuinely LIKE each other.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School

6:00 came so early this morning.  I think we got WAY too used to staying up late over the summer.  (...zzz...)

Everyone was really excited to start a new school year...except me.  This is the first year that I think I've ever really been sad to see them all go back to school.  Usually I'm pretty excited to get back into a routine and have a quiet house for a few precious hours during the day.  But I've totally enjoyed these teenagers lately and I'm seriously going to miss having them around to talk to all day.  What on earth will I do?  Nevermind...I have a million things planned, and in just a blink, it will be 3:00 and they'll all be home again.

This year, we have four kids in four different schools.  EEK!

Emma (8th Grade) started our morning carpool route at 7:20am.  Show Choir rehearses BEFORE school!  

McKay (5th Grade) followed right behind at 7:30 to walk to the elementary school with his friends.  They were so sneaky and fast, I didn't even catch a picture of them outside.  
And thank goodness for an extra driver in the house this year.  Savannah (11th grade) and Megan (9th Grade) left at 7:45 for a stop at the Freshman Center and then onto the High School.  

By the end of the week, we'll be adding early morning seminary to our routine which starts at 6:00am, but for a few days we'll enjoy easing into the new schedule.  

I'm so grateful for a new school year to look forward to, for great teachers and friends, and for opportunities for the kids to meet new people and learn tons of interesting stuff.  I'm glad they're all excited to start this year, and I hope it will be a great one for all of them.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Goodbye Summer...

What an unbelievable summer this has been.  I could not have planned a better one...perfect lazy days in the beginning and a whirlwind Florida trip to wind it up.  Here are a few of my favorite 2013 summer memories...

I'm so grateful to have spent so much time happily traveling across the country with my family.  I'm grateful for Craig's amazing job and the opportunities we have because of it.  And I'm especially grateful for lasting memories that we will all have long after summer is gone.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

High Five for Friday

Is it really the last H54F before school starts on Monday??...sniff..  
As usual, the days and weeks FLY by around here.  Do they do that at your house, too?  I seriously have not been able to keep up with all the demands of the week.  We've had tons of fun and we've gotten tons done, but it's a mystery to me how it's already Friday.  Just a second ago it was Monday.

1.  School Shopping with McKay
This is always the easiest and most delightful school shopping trip of the year.  Last year he said he didn't think he needed a new backpack because his was "perfectly fine."  This year he only wanted a new pair of khaki shorts and a few new shirts.  Oh how I love shopping with boys!

2.  New Haircuts for School
I don't know if you've noticed the MOP of hair that McKay has been sportin this summer, but it was nearly driving me crazy.  He decided to "embrace his curls" which is awesome as long as they don't get away from you.   By the end of our vacation, his "do" was looking a bit more like a 'fro than any of us thought possible.   Craig convinced him to get a little trim earlier this week, and it looks awesome.  Still curly, but much more suitable for going back to school.  :)

3.  My BFFs this week
I've spent a lot of quality time with these two this week.  I'm pretty sure I've washed every article of clothing and every sheet and towel we own.  

4.  New Discoveries
Speaking of laundry, have you tried these??  I got a tiny little sample pouch of them to bring with us on our trip in case we needed to do laundry and I loved them!  Super convenient.  Super great smell.  And they come in this handy little container.  I'm such a container freak.  

5.  Shock of the Week!
I had a teenager sleepover in my room on Wednesday night and somehow all the girls talked me into getting on Instagram.  See what happens when you stay up until 2:30 in the morning??  (You can follow me if you want @haunaniann)

Hope your weekend is great!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Everglades National Park

On our way back from Key West, we decided to detour through Everglades National Park.  We had all been looking for alligators for over a week and not seen a single one, so we thought the best way to ensure an alligator sighting would be to drive through the park.   

That turned out to be a pretty good idea.

These little walking paths stretch all over the swampy marshes once you get in the park.  Yep, they are technically bridges, so I wasn't thrilled about walking on them, especially knowing that alligators might be lurking below.   But I devised a great plan to only walk on the nails.  That way, if a board came loose or the railing became unsteady, we would be standing on the most stable part of the bridge.  I know...I'm a little paranoid.  But the plan worked, and none of us were eaten by alligators that day.  

McKay looked and looked under every lily pad for one of those alligators, but couldn't see anything.  
We did see tons of these pond apples though.  They just grow wild in the middle of the mangroves and the swamp.  Apparently the alligators and other wildlife like to eat them.  They're very seedy, though, so I don't think they're very delicious for human consumption.

Finally, we saw a little alligator swimming around in the dark water.   Isn't he so cute??  
I was perfectly satisfied to call that an alligator sighting and get off the bridges and back to the safety of the car, but the kids kept walking.

And I am so glad they did!

Around a corner and under one of the bridges, we found these guys...
I did have my zoom lens on for these pictures, but it's not that zoomy.  We were actually this close to these beautiful giants!  We could have reached through the railing and touched them.   Don't worry...we did not do that.  

We lingered for a really long time and just watched these guys.  (We named them Fred, George and Lily.)  They are absolutely amazing creatures.  Unbelievably calm and still...until of course, they decide they want to eat you, and then they become lightning-fast beasts that can bite your whole hand off in seconds.  We gained a great respect for the gator on this little side trip and the kids talked about them all the way to Miami.   Just one more memorable experience to add to the many others we had on our two week adventure in Florida.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LAUNCH Update...Zumba!

In January, I decided to link up with OneWord365 and select a word for the year that would shape the way 2013 looked for me.  I chose the word LAUNCH for various reasons, but mostly because I felt like I had a jillion lists of things I wanted to accomplish and loads of time to do it all, but for some reason at the end of a day or a week, they were still left undone. Not things like laundry or dishes...I rarely leave household tasks undone.  But the bigger things that will move me toward fulfillment and greater satisfaction in my life, like pursuing a purposeful method of scripture study, and getting a Masters degree, and being part of an organized choir, and finding new super powers...those things seemed to be eluding me month after month.  LAUNCH seemed to be the perfect word to remind me all year to move toward some of those lofty goals.  

To kick off my LAUNCHY-ness, I joined a gym, because...well, everyone joins a gym in January...and because I like to stay at 72 degrees at all times, even during exercise.  I found a nice little secluded "women only" part of the gym that had a couple of elliptical machines, a handful of treadmills, and played estrogen movies on a giant screen 24 hours a day.  Supremely comfortable...

But...should comfortable really be part of an exercise plan?

A week or so later, I passed the huge classroom full of women and thought I might need to step up my exercise routine a little.  I love exercise classes.  I love crazy loud music.  I love exercising with a group of people who motivate me to keep going.  I love that a room filled with people holds me a little bit captive for the entire hour so I'm less likely to sneak out.  

So I casually grabbed a class schedule.  

And guess what!  They had ZUMBA classes!  For years...seriously, YEARS!  I have wanted to try a ZUMBA class.  I have a million friends who have raved about them.  I have a super cool aunt who is a Zumba freak!  But the exercising planets never aligned for me to find a class or location that fit into my schedule...until January.  
You would think that seeing that calendar on my fridge filled with Zumba opportunities would have pushed me to GO TO ONE, right?  Well, it didn't.   Every week, I intended to walk into that Zumba class but instead walked into the dark little media room and watched Bride Wars or Sleepless in Seattle for the 50th time.  

I have no idea why I was such a chicken.  I was worried about looking silly.  I was worried everyone but me would know what they were doing.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up.  Blah...too much worrying!

But then, while we were in Florida, one of the hotels we stayed in happened to be hosting the 2013 ZUMBA CONVENTION.  (Who knew Zumba conventions even existed??)  

It was so fun to watch these amazing and vibrant people milling about the hotel.  They looked fun, fit, happy and just like you would imagine Zumba instructors would look.  And I took that little glimpse into the Zumba world as a sign that I needed to stop being such a chicken and just get my bottom into that class at the earliest opportunity.  

So that's exactly what I did on Monday morning.  

I got there 40 minutes before the class started, so I could stop by my comfort zone and do 30 minutes on the elliptical, just in case I chickened out of the class again.  And then at exactly 8:55, I made myself walk into the Zumba actually all the way inside the room!  I scoped out an inconspicuous spot and watched as one person after another filed in there with me.  I'm sure there were at least 80 of us in there.  I was SO nervous.  But then the instructor turned on the music, and all of a sudden I didn't care one bit about what anyone else was wearing, how great they were at keeping up with the moves, or how uncoordinated I am.  Instead, I just shook stuff and moved stuff and danced for a whole hour!  And ket me tell you, that hour totally flew by.  I was completely drenched in sweat.  And I absolutely LOVED it!!   

Oh, and do you know how many calories you burn in a 60 minute Zumba class??  714!!  That's all I need to b completed and totally hooked.  

And guess what I thought when I walked out?  

I thought, "Why in the heck did I not start this 6 months ago??"  

I don't have a good answer to that.  But I do know that being paralyzed with fear and doubt 
gets you no closer to your goals.  I know that being out in that brightly lit room with all those other people dancing around to blaring Latin music made me feel better than all 6 months of being on the elliptical in that dark little media room.  

You cannot find fulfillment sitting (or walking on a treadmill) in the dark all by yourself.

So, I am happy to report that, as of yesterday, I can now check off another 2013 personal goal of LAUNCH-ing into the Zumba world.  I will be happily and confidently adding Zumba classes into my regular weekly schedule.  And who knows...maybe someday, I'll even go to a ZUMBA Convention!  Because wouldn't it be awesome to "shake the world?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Biscayne Bay

Every now and then in life there are amazing adventures that present themselves and you just can't pass them up.  Craig has some really kind and generous connections in his industry and last week after a very productive day with them, they invited our whole family to go out on their boat.  We had a delicious Cuban breakfast with their families in their beautiful Miami high-rise apartment on Monday morning.  And then we walked out to the marina to board their gorgeous boat for the day.  
On our excursion we passed homes like these...
This is the part of Miami where Usher and Gloria Estefan live.   Can you even imagine???

We got really comfortable on that boat really quickly.  
About an hour into the ride, we stopped at a beautiful little secluded harbor and all the kids got out to swim. 
...and this is how you do a business meeting in Miami...
After an hour or so of swimming and then a very indulgent seafood lunch at a nearby cafe, we all got back on the boat and headed back to Miami.

We cannot thank these guys enough for sharing their beautiful boat and their families with us.  It was truly an unforgettable day.