The Day We Found Fall

9.23.2015
^^Playing with their monster trucks in a super gorgeous Autumn-like spot^^
^^His facial expressions kill me!  So, so animated.  Wish you could just watch him talk.^^
^^Tyke is such a smart and sweet dog.  He always brings up the rear wherever we go--be it bike rides or hikes.  He looks out for his family.^^
^^Ross Falls!^^
^^Hanging out in a real cave covered in wet green moss!  "Mom, it doesn't hurt me, see??"^^

Brotherly love.  It doesn't always look like this, but when it does, my mommy heart swoons.  Different as night and day, I love watching Jed do something thoughtful for his brother and hearing Levi sweetly reply, "Thank you, Jed!  It's enough of an indication that I know these two are forming a special lifelong bond.
^^Beware the crazy-haired bridge troll!  Haha.^^

September has been a rough month for me and the last few days have been especially tough.  Feelings of inadequacy have been eating me alive!  I've really been struggling to find my groove since school started.  I try my hardest (oh do I try!) to be the best wife, mother, and friend I can possibly be.  I try to keep a clean home, teach my children the Gospel of Jesus Christ, keep a budding photography business afloat, cook healthy meals, exercise, and a host of other really good things.  But I feel as if I come up short every single day.  I am painfully aware--and sometimes blissfully unaware--of my personal quirks and faults.  And my daily plans to accomplish always seem to be thwarted completely in the other direction because someone or something demands my attention.

Tuesday I was in tears.  I felt so completely overwhelmed it was paralyzing.  That's when I decided to leave all my cares behind with a trip to the South Hills, just my little boys and me.  Fall is in full swing up there!  The hills are aflame in gorgeous yellow leaves.  We had a blast.  The boys and I spent four hours in the afternoon hiking and 'sploring' and playing among the trails and trees.  Even Jed noticed how quiet it was.  "It's so peaceful up here, Mommy!"  I know.  It's perfect.  Turns out, some fresh air was just the pick-me-up I needed.

I'm feeling better today and much more like myself.  Yesterday's time-out helped me push that proverbial reset button and to realize a few things:

1. I expect way too much of myself.  I've gone this circle before and need to keep reminding myself that my self-worth is NOT in any way equated to how many things I can cross off my to-do list.  I am not lazy; I do accomplish a lot.  It's just that many of my daily accomplishments come in the form of listening to a friend or babysitting a neighbor's child or reading ten chapters of a book with Jed tucked under one arm.

2.  I feel as if my Heavenly Father is showing me that He is in fact the one in charge.  My own grand plans for the day--or even my life!--mean zilch.  A certain talk given by Hugh B. Brown called The Currant Bush keeps coming to mind and brings me some comfort.  "Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down."  Read it, you'll understand, and I promise you won't be disappointed.    

Rock Climbing in the City of Rocks

9.14.2015
^^New favorite!  Totally blowing this image up and framing it.^^

I promise, our daily lives really are chuck full of the normal monotony that make up life.  My couch had a pile of laundry to the ceiling this week.  It took me two days, a bit of stress, and some help to get a load of {client} images off a corrupted SD card.  Whew!  And I'm trying to be mature about it (Am I 3 or am I 30?) but I still struggle waking up a sleeping child each morning to get ready for school.  There were two mornings last week when I helped Jed get dressed in under ten minutes and then loaded him into the car--breakfast in hand--with instructions to 'eat on the way'.  So yeah, all in all, I am still adjusting to this new school year's routine.

However, all that day-to-day tedium is easily overshadowed by weekend fun.  On Saturday we followed our good friends, the Horsleys, out to the City of Rocks for an afternoon of rock climbing!  Even the kids got in on the action.  We parked the 'Acadia Brigadia'--we both drive GMC Acadias,  haha--just off of a place called Practice Rock.  It slopes upward and is the perfect spot for teaching kids how to climb.

Levi was the first to get on that train.  He geared up and headed straight to the top of Practice Rock without ever looking back, though it was a little bit more difficult than he imagined.  But the brave kid did it.  The scary part was sitting back in the harness to come back down.  Fortunately, Aaron was there every step of the way.  And Jed climbed too!  He is much more cautious by nature and actually claims to be afraid of heights.  Jed got himself halfway up the rock and was ready to come down again.  Nonetheless, he was determined and tried it twice.  That's more than successful for a first time in my book!      

Just adjacent to Practice Rock were a series of more difficult climbs that we adults (and Ollie too!) tried and I am proud to say, we conquered.  Woot!  Woot!  Having very little experience rock climbing, I had no idea what I was doing.  I approached the rock very differently than either Amy or Aaron, but the thing is, I did it!

Rock climbing is such an exhilarating sport: a heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping, strategy thinking, muscling through, kind of exercise.  I am hopelessly hooked.  It is time to start collecting our own gear because our whole family can't wait to go back!  A whopping THANK YOU to the Horsleys for inviting us along.  We feel so lucky to have friends whom enjoy adventuring in the outdoors just as much as we do!  Saturday was soooo much fun.

See for yourself in pictures!
      
^^My brave little boy near the top of Practice Rock^^
^^While we all took turns climbing, the kids entertained themselves with monster trucks in the dirt and grazed on snacks.  It worked out great.^^
^^Dirtier than the boys!  Addy is one little girl whom is easy to love on.^^
^^Go, Jed, Go!  I am so proud of that little man.^^
^^Oliver looking like a regular rock climbing pro.^^
^^Amy and Aaron showing us how it's done.^^
^^The little kids cheering on Bron while munching on snacks.^^
^^Chocolate pudding break^^
^^Our Saturday evening view.   Crazy how there's a pocket of granite boulders in the middle of the desert.^^
^^Then the boys had the time of their lives climbing and exploring.^^


I couldn't help laughing at this view every single time.  Jed ripped holes in his pants and all the way through his underwear by sliding down the rough rocks!  It reminded me of a similar incidence that happened to me in high school repelling with a church youth group, except Jed didn't seemed phased at all.  Embarassed?  No.  Ready to explore til he couldn't see his hand in front of his face?  Yes.  Good thing those pants were old.

^^I never want to forget just how animated Levi's facial expressions are these days!  Lol.  He was running to tell me about a bobcat he'd just seen.  Thankfully he really didn't see one.  He was just passing along the older boys' big imagination.^^
^^Tough Boys: Owyn, Jed, Ollie, and Levi^^
^^That's me!  Seriously, love this stuff.^^
^^Looking pretty awesome there, Amy!^^

The Nelsons Take On Table Rock

9.10.2015
Table Rock:
A strenuous day hike approximately 10 miles round-trip with 4300 feet elevation gain. The summit point is 11,106 feet above sea level and offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding areas just 2.5 miles west of the Grand Teton.

^^Nice photo bomb, Bron!  Haha^^
^^The entire Nelson crew: 
Me, Bron, Amber, Talon, Nichole, Garret, Call, Chantee (girlfriend), Kaleb, Tyrel, Merri Sue, and Flint.^^
^^Luuunch!^^
 ^^Cue Queen: "We are the Champions... of the world!"^^

This man, I love him.  There is no one else with whom I'd rather do life.  We got ahead of the group on our hike, so we sat down to eat our lunch together and wait.  We rested our backs against a big rock and immediately commenced talking and laughing like a pair of kids.  Yeah, I'm glad we still got it.

^^The whole group at the top of the world!^^
^^Lovebirds.  The flat rock behind them is Table Rock.^^

Table Rock has been on my to-do list for quite a while now.  I'm so happy we finally got to do it last Monday!  Momma Nelson was determined to show us what the hike was all about so she planned a trip months ago, and miraculously, all six Nelson boys showed up to make it happen!  No kids allowed, just adults.  And it was so much fun!  We walked and talked and cracked witty one-liners the entire afternoon, all the while encouraging our dear mother up the mountain.  The trail is no joke!  We took the North Trail on our way up (longer but less steep) and the Face Trail back down.  At the bottom I happened to find a sign at the trail head that said, "Trail not maintained.  Very steep.  Not recommended."  Hahaha.  Joke is apparently on us.  My quads are still sore and tight from that descent.

But no matter.  We made it to the top!  It was blustery and freezing cold.  However, the view was unmatched.  The Tetons were larger than life!  So yes, it was totally worth it.  (Though if I'm being completely honest, I think I'd recommend going over Hurricane Pass instead; it's prettier.  That legendary adventure with those pictures are coming soooon!) 

And then... we topped the evening off with a warm dinner in Victor, ID.  Yum!  I could have eaten three helpings of those french fries.

Thanks for planning a wonderful family adventure, Merri Sue!  You rocked it.  Our hike is already going down as a day I think we will all remember and talk and laugh about for a very long time.