I love the ocean

When people ask what I miss most about New England while living in the west, two main things come to mind: green everything everywhere, and water (lakes, rivers, oceans). Third might be architecture, since I love these historic old buildings and the charm and character they bring. But that's a post for another day.

So in the (almost) 2 weeks since our arrival, we've made two trips the beach. I've always been crazy in love with the ocean-- I've missed it so much!

 The first trip was brief. We went with my brother Adam and his girl. We failed to look up when the tide would be in, and so arrived to see some large waves crashing against some large rocks. We brought our picnic lunch up to Nubble (Cape Neddick) Lighthouse while we waited for the tide to recede. 

Vera & Libby loved the sand, the huge expanse of space to run around, and water for splashing.
 Both found the waves and the undertow quite frightening, and either cried or clung to my hands and legs.
I love my sweet little people.
 Verity's hugs in particular these days.. she's just the sweetest thing.
 The other day we made our second trip-- when we had a little more time. Although the tide wasn't adhering to schedule and (people said) on account of the full-er moon, high tide was lasting much longer than usual. We're also apparently really lousy at this tide thing this summer. 

Vera asked why the ocean was coming toward us. I forget what I gave her for an explanation, but it was kinda lame, and I think it had something to do with the moon telling it to come in and go out twice a day. Sometimes I just flunk toddler questions.

So after just an hour of fun, we got back in the car to go grab dinner, and watch them make salt water taffy through giant glass windows.

Verity was pretty fascinated by that. Libby simply pointed and screamed out,


repeatedly, while struggling to free herself from her carrier. They eventually did get to taste the candy, and they loved it.
By the time the tide had receded from the rocks and left us sufficient beach for playing on, it was already 5pm. Read: no need to smear little bodies from head to toe in sunscreen.

The girls played and played and they loved it.

 Libby wanted ALL of the sand. 

A frightening amount of it ended up in her hair. It sort of coated her scalp in a layer of grey and looked... like some disgusting nightmare.

And true to Libby form, my requests to keep sand off heads were met with her demanding, 

"Mommy! Watch! Watch!"

And dumping handful after handful of sand on her head with a cackle. 


Verity felt inspired to taste the sand. She didn't like it.

And Libby clearly didn't grasp the concept of inedible sand, either. She tried it as a topping on both her strawberries and her salt water taffy. But she also didn't like it. There were many tears as that lost piece of taffy was thrown in the trash by her mean, mean, mother.
 ^^^I mean... seriously!! Look at all that sand!!^^^

 The girls absolutely loved the water this time. Laughing hysterically with every wave that hit them. The water was freezing cold and there was seaweed everywhere, and they didn't care at all. They loved it. 

I found a whole crab washed up on shore and we examined him, counting legs, imitating his pincers, as well as his funny walk. Then we tossed him to group of (rather aggressive) seagulls and that was the end of him. Verity was a little stunned... but she got over it quickly. 

Eventually we packed up just as the sun was starting to set, and Libby got too tired to be cheerful. (Read: Libby got tired and turned into a defiant little monster.)
Just as I was feeling a little bummed that we don't get to watch the sunset over the ocean on the east coast, the sky turned pink, which then turned the whole ocean pink, and made for the most surreal natural beauty I've ever seen in real life.

"Mommy, look! The water's pink now!" 

Verity never misses a detail. And I'm so glad she didn't miss this one! It was so peaceful and beautiful. And while my camera lens failed to capture the colors my eyeballs could see, photoshop was able to recreate it, and that is something really cool. I'm thankful for it.

And I'm soooo thankful to be near this beautiful ocean I love so much! Here's to a few more trips while we're here!


culture shock

Before leaving Idaho, several of my friends asked if we were coming back. Or if we wanted to come back. And the answer to the first is: no idea! The answer to the second is: We're torn.

Whether or not we return to Idaho in September will be a matter of practicalities.

Whether or not we truly want to live in Idaho... is not a simple answer. Idaho as a place, we're not attached to. Idaho as the home of several family members and friends, we're rather fond of.

I threw this together just for fun. When folks ask us where we're from, the most common answer is, "All over."
Husband was born in Mesa, Arizona. Moved to Minnesota. Served his mission in Seattle. Went to school in Idaho. Married me. In Idaho.

I was born in Nashua, New Hampshire. Studied abroad in Germany for a year. Went to school in Utah. Moved back to New Hampshire. Served my mission in California. Went to school in Idaho. Married the Husband.

Together we've lived in Idaho and Pennsylvania. Verity was born in Lancaster, PA. Liberty was born in Pocatello, ID. 

And for the next couple months, we're each back in the state we hail from (and the little ones with me, of course). Minnesota and New Hampshire.

The first few days back here have been so different for me. I've always held such pride in my New England heritage, always loved this place more than any other place in the world. Yet after having spent a whole third of my life in the west, along with a two year absence from this place, I'm going through a little bit of culture shock. 

Culture shock. I'm not even kidding.

Because I've experienced plenty of that in my life-- in Germany, in Spanish-speaking Southern California, which may as well be Mexico, and in the western part of the country in general (to a lesser degree). 

It's like I'm not even from here anymore. Or that I'm from too many places. Like some kind of dual citizenship.

When you're familiar with so many of the high points of two drastically different places, as well as the quirks. When you can make fun of what westerners consider "trees" as well as what New Englanders call "mountains." When you know which words the older generations in each place speak with an accent and adopt neither.

In looking to the future, I'm thankful that Husband and I are nearly always on the same page. If we're going to settle in the west, we'd probably choose Colorado or Washington. If we're going to settle in New England, it can't be in the sticks. Cities with actual stores and ethnic food are a must. And if I could see the beach from my living room window, I wouldn't say no to that, either.

Assuming, of course... that employment and proximity to family doesn't form the basis of our decisions. Which is sort of laughable, isn't it? I mean.. don't most all young families move to wherever their job takes them?

So, here are my questions for YOU: How did you decide where to settle and raise your family? Were you happy there? Or did you always prefer to be somewhere else? And if you've moved around a lot.. how do you handle it? How do your kids handle it?

I'd love to hear your responses in the comments below. Really, I would. We've become sort of obsessed with this topic this past year, and your stories will be so interesting to us!


across the country

No matter how far ahead I get with packing when we move, the end of it always sneaks up on me, and leaves me totally blindsided. This time around, packing up everything we own was (oddly) incredibly hard. The morning of our departure arrived and found all four of us crammed into snuggled up on an air mattress in our living room.
A million thanks to friends and family who helped us out! Saved. Our. Lives.
I've never been so anxious during a move. I've also never felt so great about tying up the last loose end and getting on the road to a new destination.
Our first day of driving took us through the corner of Wyoming, down through western, mountainous Utah. We had planned to stop at Flaming Gorge... but where on earth was that sign?! I kept looking. Didn't see it. Didn't realize that for a solid half hour. Sooooo, plan B took us to a fun rest stop at Red Canyon.
The kids got out and ran around like maniacs, and then sat happily in the car with a new box of crayons until we reached Vernal, settled into our hotel, and went out to Wingers. Since Husband simply couldn't imagine going two months sans sticky fingers, and needed one last plateful before bidding the west adieu.

 Verity immediately made a bed for herself on the floor, which she did not sleep in. Liberty proceeded to pretend Daddy was a trampoline at bedtime.
 We got off to a slower start the next day, traveling (at what seemed like a snails pace) through the Rockies, to my brother's home in Denver.
 I love these mountains. Such gorgeous views! So many tourists. 

My poor girls aren't used to the swarms of Asian tourists who all want their picture taken with them yet. They're still terrified every time.

Verity loved pointing out all of the "horsies" we saw in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I loved seeing this happy skyline come into view. It felt so welcoming. I seriously wanted to shout out, "I love you, Denver!!!" and dance a happy dance.
 We met Chad and Nikki for dinner and got settled in for the night at their house.

Libby immediately attached (again) to her Uncle Chad and it was super cute.
 I love my brothers.

And I already miss my hair staying that straight...

We swam. We laughed and ate goldfish. Chad taught Libby to hold her breath under water, which is nothing short of miraculous for my accident-prone little girl.

Libby had the time of her life with Chad and Nikki!
Vera loved swimming as a baby, but has since grown increasingly cautious. She finally did warm up... a little. And enjoyed the kiddie pool even after Libby crashed at naptime. She can't be rushed or forced into anything and I kind of love that about her. Maybe because I'm the same way. And I'm grateful to be her mom for that reason- that she has someone who knows and understands this part of her. She may not ever be the life of the party like her sister and that's perfectly fine. We're all about loving each child for who they are.

And I do. 
 Dinner on the grill and some "Colorado" brownies-- as we only joked-- and we decided to sacrifice a night of sleep for an easier day. We left that night just before midnight, since we had 11 hours of travel to our next stop. Anyone with small children understands that this kind of madness actually makes perfect sense.
 Husband took the first shift while I slept. We switched at the Colorado/Nebraska border and I drove another 4ish hours before the kids woke up and screamed till we stopped.

Husband was super motion sick with me driving, and super tired. Dramamine was the plan.. but then my driving partner went comatose (along with the kiddos) and I finished the rest of the drive while the rest of my family slept.

We arrived at Matt & Courtney's house about 12 hours after we left. And that was awesome. I promptly laid down and took a 4 hour nap.

"Hi Courtney! Hi kids! Haven't seen you guys in a year...."


It was a fabulous nap. I drink caffeine about once every other year or so, so the crash after all it took to keep me alert and driving all that time.... was epic. I'm not really interested in doing that again anytime soon.
 Libby just couldn't get enough sleep, so she flopped out anywhere, on anyone. Poor babe.
 We might have had the largest group of kids at a sushi restaurant that anyone's ever seen. Hopefully someday my kids will eat it as freely as their cousins, and not just stick to noodles!
 South Dakota is green and plants grow. Plants other than sagebrush and evergreens.

Also, there's water. And rumor has it... lightning bugs. 
We spent six hours straight the next day swimming with cousins. Vera had a blast for the second half of the day. We ordered pizza and had a picnic outside the swim park before heading back in for one last hour of water play before dark. 

I love the Honest Company... but their sunscreen totally failed us. 5 rounds of sunscreen on my little ones in 6 hours and they still got sunburnt. Poor things! 

Verity got to go to Primary with her cousin Guy on Sunday. Those two are so cute together! Two years ago when they came to visit us in Idaho, Vera and Guy did nothing but fight. It must have been the age...? And with this trip, Verity got along surprisingly well with her other cousin Leif, who's three years older than her. Also super cute together.

That evening we drove the last few hours into Minnesota, where we spent our last night with Daddy before taking off in an airplane the next day.
The flight went better than I expected, with only a couple of tantrums and both girls falling asleep through the last hour or so till we landed in Boston.

Soooo happy to see the ocean after two years absence. 

We were met by grandparents, Aunt Kelly & Uncle Rafe, and cousins EJ and Ari, who made a super cute 'Welcome to Boston' sign which is currently sitting over a box of toys at Grammie's house. Aunt Kelly brought healthy, kid-friendly snacks. We stopped for dinner at an Italian place just outside the North End which had (shock and awe!) gluten free pasta and made my entire night.

It's been a few days adjusting to a new place. New, especially because my mom and stepdad just moved into a new house last week! Libby met the Atlantic Ocean for the first time (more on that to come), and Verity learned to identify strange bugs called grasshoppers, and which blueberries in Grammie's backyard are ripe for picking.

We're going to miss Daddy for sure this next couple of months, but hope to fill the time with lots of fun adventures here in New England!