Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thanks for the Memories

In case you hadn't noticed, we're already halfway through April.  (Hopefully you remembered to file your taxes.) :)

Besides being tax day, April 15th marks the first quarter of our family's six-month separation.  I'll write more about life as a single mother later, but for now let me summarize by saying that I think this this experience has been most difficult for Jason.  I may be crazy-busy and often exhausted, but I am blessed to have the kids to brighten each day.  In the "Life of Pi," Pi descibes how a bengal tiger, Richard Parker, is actually his salvation as they are stranded together at sea.  Caring for Richard Parker gives Pi a reason to live, a purpose for each day.  Similarly, the kids save me, even through their neediness.  I am so engrossed in making sure that everyone is dressed and fed and occasionally clean that I rarely have a moment to feel lonely.  (Better yet, I'm not usually afraid that they will eat me, with the exception of Annika.)

Jason doesn't have the same luxury.  His work is tough, challenging, and time-consuming, but when he retires at night, it's lonely and too quiet to sleep.  He misses us, just like we miss him, but feels the ache more keenly without the blessing of constant distraction.  Peanut Butter, we love you and appreciate everything you do to support our family from afar!

So here's the good news.  Jason's coming home.  Thursday!  Hurrah!!  Which means that I better hurry and finish catching up on photos before we take a hundred more.  Enjoy the photo dump.

Cathedral Gorge:

When Jason came home for Annika's baby blessing in mid-March, we drove out to Cathedral Gorge, a Nevada State Park in the middle of nowhere.  Our friends, the Johnsons, were kind enough to invite us for some hiking and a picnic, and all of the grandparents were kind enough to tag along for the long journey.

The Wind Caves at Cathedral Gorge

Erosion of the soft clay created these dramatic, deep caverns and slot canyons.

Peering up through one of the many mazes.

The clay is perfect for climbing...

...or for resting, right Eli?

Jason, back at home in a desert clime.

Our friend Kess is the blue dot in the middle.

Brooklyn and Talia thought the caves were great fun for playing hide and seek.

Found you, Grandma Susie!
Here's the pavillion where we ate lunch.

From left to right, Heather, Thad, NomiAnn, and Kara--all enjoying our hot dog roast.

Papa Kay enjoyed his diet drink nearly as well.  If only I had that kind of willpower in the face of smores!

Kess's all-time favorite thing to do is kidnap the baby.
Ha ha!  I snagged her back.

Hiking to the overlook.  From the front...
And the back...
Just for the record, I love the kids' Camelbaks.  SO nice not having to tote water bottles for them.
And the view from the top.
On the way back, we stopped by an really neat old train depot in Caliente.
The inside of the train station had some fun hand-painted murals.
The best part, however, was the merry go round.
After some super spinning from Kajun and Keat, the kids were krazy dizzy.

Fun in St. George
When Justin and Brianna came up from Phoenix the next day, we all headed to mini-golf.  Here's princess Brianna in front of her castle.
The princess Annie Mae, sound asleep.
Justin and Brianna help retrieve some golf balls for their nieces.
And Jason, back at work behind the camera.
A fun afternoon, right Talia Lily?

Back at home, Grandma Susie pulled out a game of Qwirkle.

Talia, hard at work tallying the points.

Jason, serving Susie's pie in honor of Pi day.

All too soon, it was time to bid Daddy farewell.  I think Jason's absence has been hardest on Eli, who can't quite understand why it's taking Dad so long to come home.  Every time we drive past the Heritage Court construction site (a tax credit project Jason was highly involved in),  Eli notices and says, "That's Daddy's tower!"
Even though our bubbling house simmered shortly after Annika's baby blessing, my mother Cathy fortunately stayed for a full two weeks.  It was such a blessing to have her here!  Most days we were too busy caring for munchkins to take photos, but here are a few:

Hanging out by the duck pond at Shadow Mountain.  This cute little park is tucked away in a nearby neighborhood.  Too bad it took us so long to discover it!
The turtles remind me of our beloved Parc Tete d'Or in Lyon.
NomiAnn bonds with Annika (who is donning her first pony tail.)

Few things in this world are happier than bright red shoes.

Love this picture of Annie Mae watching NomiAnn sew.

Oops, spit up!

NomiAnn took each of the kids on a special date to Jumping Jacks or Fiesta Fun.
Can you tell Brooklyn had fun?

Walking with Annika along the Virgin River trail.

St. George in springtime.

The kids enjoyed a neighborhood Easter egg hunt at their school.

In truth, the event was a crazy free-for-all where the kids were better behaved than the adults.  The little girl next to Brooklyn didn't get any eggs, so Brooklyn and Talia happily shared their treats.  I was really proud of them.
As one who loves to be held, Annika is the ultimate time-waster.
Annie's favorite position.
And now the hard part--saying goodbye.  Thanks so much for coming, Mom!  You mean the world to us.

Aunt Callie:
As hard as it was to see my Mom go, my sister Callie came from Washington to spend her spring break with us about a week later.  We don't get to hang out nearly as often as we would like, so we played hard together.  We started the week with a picnic along the pa'rus trail in Zion and ended with an exploration of the white rocks in Snow Canyon, squeezing all sorts of adventure in between.  (We also squeezed in all sorts of miracles too, but I'll save those for later.  Let's just say I'm extremely grateful Talia didn't get hit by a jeep and our van didn't get stolen when the door was left open all day.)  Despite all the fun, I took almost no photos.  I guess that makes the ones that I do have even more special.
Aunt Callie and Annika.  You can tell Annie loves her auntie!

We delighted the kids by treating them to shaved ice one hot afternoon.  Sugar in a cup--Talia was ecstatic!

Eli thought the spoons that change color were pretty nifty.

Even Brooklyn agreed that a small tropical snow is plenty large!

Can you tell we're sisters? (By the way, I got a compliment on my figure when Callie went to my gym class one morning.  An older woman told Callie how fantastic she looked after having four kids.  Wish someone would tell me that...)

And one more photo with my sis.  Callie, it was such a treat having you!  Thank you for spending your break with our crazy crew.  Far from a relaxing vacation, but hey, definitely something different!
Whew!  And there you have it.  We're all caught up on photos and ready to make some more memories.


Anonymous said...

Kara McCall,
Thanks for posting these terrific photos ... They are wonderful visual reminders!

Julie L said...

Such sweet times. So glad Jason at least gets to make it back home on occasion. It seems like a very long time for you to be apart, but looks like it is going by very fast for you. I see so many families making similar sacrifices and am truly in awe of every one of you!

Susie said...

Thanks so much for reliving the memories for us. It's so great to see the pics!