Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love the One You're With

Almost nine years after we left her, Colorado has recently begun loudly calling to us with her siren song of clear sunny weather, year-round outdoor activities, and an overall lifestyle that is a better fit with how we want to live and how we want to raise the kids. She fills our minds with photo snippets of the two years we lived there as newlyweds--concerts at Red Rocks, day long hikes with the dogs, four seasons of adventure. She lures us toward old friends, big mountains, and the kind of skies that can make even a non-believer proclaim "This is God's country."

There have been many excited conversations around here lately about 'just going for it'--renting out our house, packing up and heading west. Dave has flexibility with his job that may not always be there; the kids are young enough to not completely hate us if we tear them away from their friends; and we've struggled long enough with the undercurrent of feeling like Northern Virginia just isn't 'home' to us. Between Dave and I, we've lived in five east coast states, and have yet to find a place that we can say with certainty is where we want to put down roots for the long haul. But, there is no denying we've got some roots to consider. Grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, school friends and neighborhood friends, girl friends who've known me since my perming/frosting years, and girlfriends who have seen me at my best and worst mothering moments (and still love me!). We've found good schools, doctors, speech therapists, hair stylists. We have favorites in all categories from playgrounds to restaurants to instructors at the gym. The notion of starting over, far away from friends and family is enough to make me take a double dose of Nyquil just to shut my brain down at night. Not that I would ever do that, or anything.

Our heads spinning with "what if. . ." and "I can't wait for . . . " and "we could always . . .", Dave and I have each taken turns going to bed gung-ho on the idea of moving, and then waking up feeling like it's not the right time. We've considered every conceivable option: renting our house versus selling it; waiting a year versus going now; me working full-time in the fall or continuing part-time (in Colorado or Virginia); and even recently spent a few days discussing the option of moving to my small and very affordable hometown for a year to save big bucks and head west with a nest egg approaching more the size of a Cadbury versus what we have now.

In the process of all of this thinking and wondering and dreaming, every little thing suddenly became a big thing--Should I put the wall decals in Marley's room or hold off? Should we buy a backyard composter or wait? Should we re-do our front and back patios on the cheap or something nicer? It has truly been like putting our thoughts and emotions in a blender, turning that sucker on the 'ice crusher' setting for 45 seconds, and then pouring out a little at a time, with some parts settling and other bits floating depending on who is doing the mixing, the pouring, and the drinking.

At the moment, we've made the very grown-up (and very un-Holly-like) decision to put the whole topic on hold for six months, and in the meantime, we're gonna do our best to "Love the One We're With." We've got a great (albeit small) house in a great neighborhood. We're lucky to have found a place to call home that has a forest, stream and trail directly outside of our gate and a huge yard for the kids and dog to go crazy in. We have good schools, good neighbors, and are within 90 minutes of mountains and beaches. We have friends and family dotting the east coast. Dave and I both have jobs that are fulfilling and flexible--two qualities that I can't imagine sacrificing, even if it meant no more 100 degree hot and humid summer days or weeks on end of cold weather and depressing grey skies. Ok, maybe ;)

We've got a lot here, much more than many people could ever dream of, but most importantly, we've got each other. All five of us crazies, with our individual quirks and oddities. Keeping it real, keeping each other in check, keeping it fun. These things are gonna make our home feel more like 'home' until we find a place, maybe Colorado and maybe not, to put down roots and watch our family bloom and grow. And by 'grow,' I absolutely do not mean grow in number. We are chronically out-numbered and positively finished with family building around here.

So in the spirit of loving life in the glorious suburbs of Washington DC (no sarcasm there, I swear) here are some fun pictures (and even funnier outtakes) from the past few weeks:

We took our first fossil hunt of the year at Brownie's Beach:

Keller had a sinus infection last week that was so bad fluid pooled in his eye while he slept and he woke up looking like he'd been on the receiving end of a good ole knuckle sandwich. In my typical 'mom of the year' mode, I found this hilarious:

Marley sat still long enough for me to straighten her hair one day, a task I feel strangely guilty about in a "will she think there is something wrong with her beautiful curls and need therapy later in life?" kind of way:

Casey, Marley and I went to a Lowe's Build and Grow workshop which was pretty cool. They got nifty handyman aprons, kits we used to make wooden 'fortune tellers', certificates of achievement and patches to iron on their aprons--all for free, which makes it a blog-worthy event in and of itself.

For the record, I asked the fortune teller "Should we move to Colorado," and here is what it said:

I took the kids for a hike on Sunday afternoon and let Casey have a whirl at some more photography practice. Here are my favs of the many he took. Kid has a good eye, wouldn't you agree?

Marley decided to hone that future-mom quality of being an excellent multi-tasker; here she is applying make-up while using the potty!

Marley loves Ni Hao Kai-Lan and showed off her 'Rintoo flip' for us, listen for the 'ta-dah' at the end. Nadia Comenaci's got nothing on her ;)

Finally, prepare to bust a gut while the Huffman kids bust a move! The videos are long, but worth every second, especial Keller's. Not sure where he gets his moves. I know Dave and I do not, could not, would not ever move like that!Casey forbade me from posting his dance video on here, and I have to respect his tender ego. For now. (Fast forward to his graduation party and insert evil laughter)

If you read my blog posts via Facebook, you'll need to click on 'view original post' (or something like that) or you won't be able to see the videos, and trust me, these are worth it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Camp In

What do you do with a day like this?

This is the stream behind our house, which overflowed it's banks mid-day today and has totally flooded the trail we love to walk/run/bike on. Crazy!

Now, let me add a little more detail to the question I posed. What do you do with a day like this. . .on the fifth consecutive day that your co-pilot on the hair-raising ride of parenthood has been out of town? Staring down the barrel of a day full of "I'm bored" and "Can you buy me ____?" and "Can I watch _____?", I did a little braingoogling and came up with the idea for a Camp In with the kiddos. We've camped in the living room before, but this time we made a full day of it.

Camp Huffman

Campsite, with tent door strategically turned toward TV for afternoon viewing of "Up"

Camp food, which anyone who knows me will be shocked to see! I've been known to be just a wee bit of a food nazi, so it was definitely outside my comfort zone to plan a list and buy junky cereals, miniature turkey dogs, and ingredients for a s'more cookie pie as the basis of the kids' diet for the day. Best part of being vegan--no temptation on my part to partake of any of the goods. The kids were in enriched sugar heaven all day.

Trail mix fixins (more like Sugar Rush mix!)At least I got some almonds in there, right?
Individual pans of Campfire Mac 'n Cheese, weenie kabobs, and corn bread muffins
S'more cookie bars. Ok, so there was ONE moment of temptation to partake in the junk--these piles of gooey goodness smelled so good! I didn't cave though.

Camp Arts 'n Crafts. Cornstarch, baking soda, and some unbent wire hangers made fancy personalized marshmallow roasting sticks for summer camp-outs. They are drying and will be painted tomorrow. Keller's is a log (see the wood grain he added!); Marley's looks like 4 marshmallows; and Casey's is going to be either a rockstar handle or Pokemon, he couldn't decide so we went with nothing for the time being!

In Other News . . .

The boys and I are almost finished with a 10-week Tae Kwon Do class. I really like the class. It's a decent workout and it's good for working on focusing. I think the structure and discipline are good for the boys. Casey likes it, but I can't convince him to sign up for another session. Keller, well, Keller just wants to get back to rock climbing, which is fine. So I guess my days of chopping, punching, and kicking are numbered. Yesterday was sparring practice and Keller took a friend to class.