Posted in Cooking

Bread: Round 1

Rolls.  Garlic bread.  Cinnamon rolls.  Bread sticks.  French bread.  Croutons.  Sourdough.  White.  Wheat.  Pizza crust.

They are all bread.  Hot, soft, sweet bread.  Each delectable in their own way.

At Italian restaurants I could make a meal just on the bread they bring out dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  And don’t get my started on the biscuits at Red Lobster…!

I have never comprehended how anyone could complete the Atkins Diet.  Isn’t that the one where you can’t have any carbs?  And while I love to eat bread, I have never–I repeat, NEVER–made my own.  I honestly never gave making bread much thought.  Maybe once when my mom bought a bread machine but that’s it.  Bread is always in the Bakery section of every grocery store with an assortment of kinds to choose from.  Or in the refrigerated/freezer section if I want to go the extra mile and actually “make” some bread.

But, NEVER did I ever have a reason (and let’s be honest – a desire) to make my own.  Even my mother-in-laws amazing homemade cinnamon rolls and sour dough bread never enticed me to want to make my own.  I just savored every bite of what she made and was thankful every time she gave us a new loaf.  Sandwiches and toast certainly tasted better with homemade sour dough bread than the Food Lion wheat bread I usually bought!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and we were at our friend’s Joe and Nicole’s for dinner.  Nicole loves to cook and the last three times we have been to their house for dinner she has made some type of homemade bread.

It all began with “the rolls”.  She had underestimated how much time they’d take to cook so they ended up out of the oven after dinner was finished.  But after taking them straight out of the oven, the four of us hovered over the counter and ate them as if they were our dessert.

Hot rolls.  Melted butter.  Need I say more?

After the next two evenings of fresh, homemade bread (and Nicole saying how ‘eaaaaasy’ it was to make) I decided I would try.  First step: find yeast.  I didn’t even have a clue what I was looking for.  I thought yeast was a liquid for starters.  After failing to find it at the grocery store and admitting defeat to Nicole, she surprised me with a jar.

So armed with the correct ingredients, I decided to make the rolls for dinner yesterday. J (the boy I watch) was home sick so Liam and I had a free day.

Now I have to be honest.  When it comes to cooking, I tend to ALWAYS make some kind of mistake.  Matt says it’s attention to details.  I’ll admit that is usually the case.  I have a bad habit of skimming directions or skipping around.  It’s like I have ADD when it comes to cooking.  But in this case it was simply trying to make sure Liam didn’t pull out Tippet’s hair as he chased the poor dog around the house trying to put her leash on her.  I ended up leaving out three–yes, three–very important ingredients:  milk, eggs and butter.  I’d hate to think of what the bread would have done if I hadn’t realized this gigantic mistake!

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Leaving out three wet ingredients definitely makes for dry dough.
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Much better!

In the end, the rolls turn out great!  The original recipe made 48 rolls.  Who in the world would ever need 48 rolls?!?  It did say you could use half the recipe to make homemade cinnamon rolls but I decided tackling one new recipe was enough for me.  So I halved the recipe.  I still didn’t need 24 rolls so I froze 12 of them.  Still, though, we didn’t need 12 rolls so that evening I took four of them over to the sweet, elderly couple who lives close by.

Now I know why so many woman seem to give bread as a gift around the holidays!  It really wasn’t that hard and it certainly does make a lot.

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Fresh out of the oven.  Yummmmmmm.

Next, I may try to make Nicole’s pretzel bread.  With a little bit of cheese sauce and making the bread into bite size pieces I imagine it will be like eating my very own Auntie Anne’s pretzel!

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Not a bad addition to dinner.

 

You know you want to try to make some now, don’t you?  Here’s Nicole’s ‘secret’ recipe: https://reallifedinner.com/lunch-lady-cafeteria-rolls-step-by-step-pictures-and-instructions-no-mixer-needed/

If you do, let me know how they turn out!

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Posted in Montana Adventures

Where Oh Where Have the Dietrich’s Gone?!

Its been two months since I last wrote!  Bozeman is quickly becoming home and life is getting a little busier.

It’s hard to believe that Matt has lived here for almost an entire year now and Liam and I have been here for just over six months!  Time certainly does fly.

So to catch you up on the last two months in a somewhat quick way.  Fair warning.  This could end up long.  It is two months worth after all!  Here are the top things that stand out:

 

VISITORS!
August and September have been the month of visitors.  Matt’s parents came for about fifteen days, followed by my parents and their friends for just over a week, followed by two of my high school friends.  Sharing a two bedroom/one bath condo was not nearly as crowded as I expected.  There was no need to sign up for shower times or arguments over what to watch for TV.  I have actually taken a liking to small home living.  Easy to clean and only so many places to look if you lose something (hhmmm, my phone?!)

It was a lot of fun to be the local and to show everyone around some of the highlights of the area.  Yellowstone was a must for each group.  I’ve now been to Yellowstone a few times but I love showing everyone the popular sights.  Plus Liam never gets bored of seeing the buffalo!  As we live here longer I can’t wait to go and hike some of the trails and get to know some of the less trafficed areas of the park.

We also went to the Hot Springs.  When my parents were here we enjoyed the outdoor pools while the outdoor temperature was in the 70s.  When Courtney and Bethany were here we enjoyed the outdoor pool while the outdoor temperature was 40!  Liam and I stayed out for about fifteen minutes before my momma-brain told me to take him in so he wouldn’t get sick.  But he loved the “smoke” coming off the water!

And then there have been several North Carolina friends who have been vacationing out here that have been sweet enough to give us a heads up so we can meet up for dinner or something.  I may not have known about Bozeman, Montana but a lot of other people in North Carolina seem to know about it!

Unfortunately,  August and September are the wildfire months here in Montana and no one truly got a good glimpse of the gorgeous mountain views that can be seen throughout the entire city.  But that just means they will all have to come again!

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WEATHER
I thought North Carolina had crazy weather but Montana has won the prize.  I guess I already realized this in the spring but fall seems to be one and the same.  One day it was in the 80s and overnight we were in the 40s!  It has even snowed…three times…so far.  The first snowfall was September 16.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, friends and family were (and still are) complaining of constantly sweating.  Here, it seemed that someone just pulled a switch and decided to go straight from summer to winter.  I don’t think I have ever gone from tank top to scarf so quickly!

As I watched the snowfall I began to mourn the passing of fall for I fear we truly have skipped straight to winter.  But the weather has gone back into the 60s (atleast for the next few days) so I will enjoy it while it is here!

Mentally, though, I am prepared for cold, cold and more cold.  Which reminds me that I need to buy some new long underwear (which I wore pretty much every day in the winter and cold spring days) and some more tall socks.  Because if I wasn’t wearing long underwear I had on socks that came up to my knees!

 

BACK TO WORK
At the end of August, I started watching a little boy four days a week.  Liam and I drop Matt off and then head over to J’s house.  We’ve now fallen into a nice routine and the teacher in me is enjoying throwing in some preschool to our day.  The boys are learning Bible Stories along with their numbers, ABCs, a variety of poems/songs/books.  I sit in awe some days of just how much and how fast Liam learns.  And I soak in every moment knowing it is going to fly by in a flash.

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ADVENTURES
Matt has discovered some quite off the map places for us to go.  He’ll research some great fishing spots and we’ll head off.  I would call the roads we take back-roads but that usually implies there is a main road somewhere nearby.  There are no main roads for miles!  But our Kia has done a great job of taking the dirt roads like a champ.  It even made it up and down the road that a gentleman told Matt “you might want to walk the hill to be sure you can make it”.  I was a nervous wreck and tempted to get Liam out of the car and let Matt chance the hill himself.  But we made it with no problem at all!

It’s been fun, though, seeing the “real Montana”.  It is truly BEAUTIFUL!

 

HOUSE HUNTING
Our sweet next door neighbors told us a few weeks ago that their condo that they’ve lived in for three years was being sold and they were going to have to move.  Even though I knew Matt and I weren’t going to be in the condo too much longer (with plans to look for a house when our lease was up in February) I was sad to know they’d be leaving.  Who would let Tippet out in a pinch if we couldn’t get home in time?  Who was I going to borrow milk from when I was out at nine o’clock at night?  Would Hannah live too far away now to babysit?  Each evening Liam and Tippet run out to meet Justin when he gets home from work.

This announcement spurred us to start looking again at homes.  Maybe we could buy a house (which we planned to do anyway) and they could just move in to our old place?  But the house hunting here in Bozeman just made me uneasy.  Let’s just say that the housing prices here are astronomical compared to Marion, North Carolina.  The cost of houses was completely laughable to us when we thought of what the same houses would cost back home.  And if you want a place semi-intown you might as well expect an itty-bitty yard and to be up close to your neighbors on all three sides.  There would be no woods in your backyard or freshly manicured yards that seem to stretch out for miles.  Well, you can get the latter if you wish to spend in the MILLIONS and be outside of town.
I think the close proximity to neighbors was one big thing that has taken some getting used to.  While all the houses I have lived in were in suburban neighborhoods with neighbors that we could see out our bathroom windows, I always had woods in our back yard.  In Florida, Dad built us a tree house in the woods behind out house.  In St. Louis, we had a rope swing tied to a giant tree and would go hiking to the train track and river below our house, and in North Carolina for years we rode our four-wheeler through the paths behind our house.  While all these houses had privacy in the backyard neighbors were still to our side.  But there are no woods here (there are scarcely trees unless they have been purposely planted) so I’ve had to get used to the idea of having neighbors behind us as well.

When we first started looking online I got excited because I saw a 4,000 square foot house for sale for a decent price.  It seemed too good to be true.  Well, it was.  It turns out that the house wasn’t 4,000 square feet.  The LOT was!!!  That’s right.  They measure the lots here in square feet and not acres!!  I knew right then and there we would not be recreating our house in North Carolina.

But through much conversation, debate, searching and looking we decided exactly what we were looking for and what we’d be willing to pay.  I felt like I was on House Hunters.  ‘I love the kitchen and living room but the bedrooms are just too small.’  ‘Who builds a kitchen with no pantry?’  ‘I can literally watch our neighbors take a bath from standing right here!’ ‘This house is just too dark.’  ‘I wish I could just move this house to that part of town.’  ‘This yard is so small!  I can touch the fence just from standing on the porch.’
We have lived on the internet searching over and over.  Zillow.  Truila.  Our realtor’s website.  Craigslist (that’s right…you never know where you’ll find a good deal!).  It became quite obsessive.  How many times did I need to click on a house that I had already seen in person and decided I didn’t like?  Did I think it would suddenly have a bigger yard or an extra bedroom?

 

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
And then….we made an offer!  A house is a big purchase so most people have a “story”.  Whether it was love at first sight or they had to deal with crazy sellers, there is usually a story.  Our story is technically still being written but here’s how it began.

My parents were in town at the time we were scheduled to see a house with our realtor.  So they came along for the ride and watched Liam.  That house wasn’t “the one” and I mentioned to the realtor about a neighborhood we had driven through the day before.  He suggested going over there then and seeing a few (many were new construction so we didn’t need any appointments).  We ended up seeing several that day and falling in love with one in particular.  Without boring you with the details, the “perfect” house was not technically off the table and every house we looked at after never compared to it.  A week or so passed and I sent our realtor an email with several addresses we wanted to see including the ‘perfect’ house again.  We were seeing several houses in the neighborhood we liked and Matt mentioned going and seeing one of the houses we’d seen when my parents were in town.  I had already said no to that house in my mind for several reasons but when we got there all the negatives I remembered were not near as bad.  That night we lay in bed thinking about that house again.  While there were still some cons there were quite a few positives.  Matt continued to scroll through the online listings and turned and looked at me and says “You won’t believe this.  The price of the house was just dropped again.”

So here we are in the middle of the house buying process.  It’s a bit nerve wrecking knowing we are about to take on a mortgage again but it feels so nice to know that we will truly be setting up a home and we will finally get our stuff from North Carolina.  It’s going to be like Christmas Day when the moving truck pulls up!  But I have a feeling there is going to be quite a bit of stuff that we will look at each other and say “We did without it for a year.  Do we really need it?”

 

So life is going well here in Montana.  The holidays are coming up and I know there will be some mixed emotions for me.  But we’ve got a dinosaur costume picked out for Halloween and a Thanksgiving menu planned with friends so we’re starting out the season well!

Posted in Toddler Life

How Did Women Mother Before Pinterest?

It’s Friday and I have no car.  Matt is being a fishing guide for a gentleman from North Carolina.

This morning a sweet friend came and picked Liam and I up so we could go to a play date at the Splash Pad in town.  But we are now home and Liam doesn’t take naps and quiet time lasted just under an hour.

He wants to paint but all of our paint has been mixed together to make black or has been used up.  What to do?  I headed to Pinterest.

Within point two seconds I had hundreds of homemade paint recipes at my finger tips.  Some bathtub paint jumps out at me.  YES!  No mess.  I mean, lets be honest, more paint usually ends up on him or my floor than on the paper.  All I need is four ingredients and I have them all…or so I thought.  Into the kitchen I go and apparently I have no cornstarch and now I have a child who is pumped to paint…and no paint.

What to do?  Back to Pinterest!

Now that I know of the existence of bathtub paint I just can’t abandon it.  Then I see bathtub paint with only TWO ingredients.  I’m not too excited yet because I figure these two ingredients are probably some rare flower that can only be found in three states.  OK, that’s an exageratoin but I’m not getting my hopes up that I have these two miracle ingredients.  It’s like winning a raffle.  Never happens for me.

Shaving cream and food coloring?  I do believe I can do that!

And so, I am now typing away undisturbed while my little artist is completely content and my bathroom is becoming quite fragrant and my bathtub is getting a good cleaning!


Credit goes to: http://www.onebeautifulhomeblog.com/homemade-bath-paint/

Posted in Uncategorized

The You Don’t Need AC When It’s 20 Degrees

Thick, heavy comforters.  Warm, cozy blankets.

A single sheet and one, thin blanket.

Matt and I were not created to sleep in the same bed.  We have found our happy middle by folding the warm, cozy blanket in half and laying it only on my side.  Bonus: I now have an extra layer!

But the cover dilemma is a thing of the past….for now.

It all started at about two in the morning sometime in June.  I was tossing and turning.  My half-asleep brain couldn’t put together what had woken me up.  ‘Where’s all my covers?’ I wondered.  Gone was my folded up down comforter and quilt.  I was only covered by our one sheet.  No wonder I was awake.  I yanked the covers back up close to my chin, shut my eyes, ready to continue my somewhat-peaceful sleep.  But sleep didn’t come and I quickly realized that I was not actually cold.  In fact, I was HOT.

Wishing for the fan in our bedroom in North Carolina that had a remote control conveniently giving Matt and I three fan speeds to argue about each night, I threw back the covers and stood up.

In a daze, I got up and shuffled out to the living room and began mashing on the thermostat.  I pushed the down button repeatedly and shuffled blindly back to bed (narrowly missing tripping over the dog, I might add).

Again, I closed my eyes and waited for sleep.  Nothing.  I poked Matt and told him to go and see if he could get the air conditioner working.  Without even turning around he mumbled these horrific words: WE DON’T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.

That’s right.  NO AIR CONDITIONING.  I didn’t even realize places were built without air conditioning anymore other than third world countries!

It seems that air conditioning here in Bozeman is equivalent to soaking, garden tubs back home.  An extra, luxurious option.  It is listed special on realty listings right there with basements or master bedroom on main level.  Something people want but is not guaranteed in every house.

There were two times in Matt and I’s marriage where we have just absoluetly roasted at night.  Where we could not escape into a nice, cool indoor sanctuary.  But both of those occasions are mere memories inlight of the extensive heat we’ve lived in the past few weeks.

We’ve been keeping all of our window shades down and standing fans going.  That’s right.  We don’t even have ceiling fans!  I’ve been going to bed with wet hair to keep me cool and Matt has been falling asleep with a wet washcloth on his forehead.  There are even nights I have fallen asleep with no covers!

But, while I might sound like I’m complaining….I’m not.  For two reasons  1) There is virtually no humidity, which, while it is warm, it is not “North Carolina warm”  2) Winter is coming and I will enjoy every minute of heat I can…even if it is inside my house.

So, here’s to continued warm weather before the winter rolls in and I’m wearing five layers of clothes and never see my skin!

But I’ve seen it as high as 85!
Posted in Uncategorized

A New Normal

Prayers are an amazing thing.  ‘Be careful what you wish for’ is a common phrase but I think ‘Be careful what you pray for’ is a bit more accurate.

I never had a true life plan growing up.  Although, when I was in kindergarten I said I wanted to be a teacher and that dream happened.  I remember laying in my bed
freshman year.  Top bunk with the ugliest orange, flowery bed spread.  I needed to declare a major and was panicking because I didn’t have a back up plan.  What if I didn’t like teaching kids?  Then what?  Who even actually grows up to be what they wanted to be in kindergarten?  The best back up plan I came up with was flight attendant…yet I really didn’t like flying!

In college, I assumed marriage and babies would happen but I never had an exact time line.  After marrying Matt, we knew we’d have children but, again, there was no time line though I think I’d always just assumed I would be in my 20’s with my first child.  But plans are often broken and Liam came a day after my 30th birthday!

The move to Montana has offered Matt the chance to work at what can be classified as his ‘dream job’.  That term can be used loosely but I truly believe he is.  The people he works with and the environment he is in keeps him happy and enjoying going to work.  He is doing what he is wonderful at in a field that he loves.  And that is honestly something that I believe not many people can say.  Day in and day out he gets to talk fishing…or go fishing!  I thought he talked about fishing a lot in North Carolina but Montana has taken it to a whole new level!  I don’t mind hearing about it, though, knowing how happy it makes him.  He spends his day making sure Simms makes the best waders possible, giving tours of the plant, taking others fishing and loads of other things I’m sure.  And an added bonus: he no longer gets home “late”.  Though I am sure that is due in part to the fact that Liam and I drop him off and pick him up every day.  Living the one car life has not been near as hard as I thought.  I actually don’t mind it at all.  There are a few days he needs the car for a fishing trip but Liam and I make the most of our day at home.

And watching Liam say bye to Matt warms my heart.  He demands kisses, high fives, fist bumps.  A tickle fest usually ensues.  Kisses and hugs are repeated over and over.  And yet Liam usually wants more once Matt closes the door.  It’s a sweet way to start our day.  If we didn’t take Matt to work he would probably just get to sneak out and leave us sleeping.

As for me, I have been on an extended summer break of sorts.  When we moved here I interviewed and was offered a preschool job but after weighing a variety of pros and cons I ultimately turned it down.  I have spent the past four months being a ‘stay at home mom’…and loving every minute of it.  Ok, I’ll be honest.  Loving ALMOST every minute of it.

After Liam and I drop off Matt in the morning we usually have something to do almost every day.  We have found ourselves some amazing friends that we enjoy spending our days with.  At parks.  Picnics.  Play dates.  Library.  Hikes.

Yes, there are days I miss the classroom but watching Liam learn new things before my eyes and knowing that I have fully helped foster that knowledge means so much to me.  He can recognize so many letters and tell me their sounds and count to 20 and knows so many shapes and has a vocabulary that just blows me away.  How fast they learn at this age is just astounding…and knowing that I am not missing a majority of it by being at work is wonderful.

I know that me staying home was not the original plan when we decided to move to Montana.  Sacrifices have been made but I am so thankful for Matt and him allowing me this opportunity.  There are days I am drained after spending it entertaining and disciplining a two year old.  Honestly, I’m probably more tired than when I worked full time but my outlook on things are different.  I don’t mind doing laundry as much anymore.  Cleaning the house is not as burdensome (though it helps that we are living in a place a third of the size of our old house!). Going to the grocery store can actually be done during the day not on a rush home from work.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to truly mother Liam.  It is a privilege that so many women do not get these days (including me until recently) and I am thankful for this time.

I am grateful for how hard Matt works to make this possible (and grateful that he’s going to a job that is enjoyable to him).  There are pros and cons to me staying home but Liam being two will never happen again.  I am treasuring every second and making every minute with him count.  I was offered a job once when we moved here.  I pray that when I need one again it will be just as easy.

Just this month our routine (mine and Liam’s) has changed a bit and it will fully change at the end of the month.  We’ll still drop Matt off and pick him up but the between hours will be slightly different.  I’ve started watching our friends’ son two days a week and at the end of the month I’ll begin watching another little boy four days a week both of whom are Liam’s age.  Days will still hopefully be filled with play dates but also with some at-home preschool action (yes the teacher in me is still thriving!).

It’s hard to imagine that three years ago I was sitting on the playground having conversation after conversation with my friend about her chance to move to Raleigh and become a stay-at-home mom.  Having never been far from her hometown this scared her.  I gave her some very honest advice…not knowing that two years later I’d be having the same conversation with my other friend only this time I was the one with the possible move and trying my best to listen to the advice I’d given Jessie years before.  We still talk a few times a month and I can safely say we are both happy and blessed with our decisions (though knowing full well what we left behind).

I will say that though I am enjoying my time at home two things still bother me.  The first being I worry that Liam is spending TOO MUCH time with me.  He did so well going to our babysitter back home and he LOVED it.  I feel there were many pros to him being away from me for a time.  I went to daycare while my mom worked and all is well with me – ha!  Now, he’s literally with me 24-7 (with the rare occurance of slipping out to do something with a friend – like the movies the other night!).  I also don’t like bringing in NO money to the family budget.  Watching the little boy will help ease that feeling in the next month which will be nice.  And I have a business idea that I would love to get up and running – but more about that some other time.

So while staying at home is not for everyone (I have friends who would never want to) or financially possible for others (that was us), I am happy with our situation as it is now.  But it could change at any minute.

Staying at home with my children had always been at the back of my mind but once having Liam I never really thought it would happen.  So, God answers prayers in strange ways…and moving to Montana has been the answer to several.  Who would have thought?!?

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Being silly.
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Play date with friends.
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Playing in the creek.
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His pet rock 🙂
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Another family rodeo!
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Parade downtown.
Posted in Montana Adventures

Fourth of July

Our first of many holidays here in Montana.

For the past few years we’ve spent the Fourth of July with our best friends back home.  By a pool or on the lake, Ben and Jen were guaranteed to be decked out in complete red, white and blue.

This year we both had very different July Fouths.  While we were here celebrating in Montana, Ben kept the tradition of being decked out in red, white and blue while running a 5k and they hung out by a pool…but they were also decorating and cleaning out a baby nursery!!!!  (Just another change back home I am so sad to be missing!)

While they were enjoying their last Independence Day as a family of two, we headed to a small fishing town named Ennis for a Fourth of July parade.

I have always enjoyed parades.  A bucket list item would be to go to NYC to watch the Macy’s Day Parade.  Some years I want to stay in a hotel room over looking the parade.  Other years I want to be right in the hussle and bustle where I can actually hear what is going on.  Maybe one day I’ll have to be forced to make up my mind!

All the parades back home were similar.  You have A LOT of church decorated floats, pickup trucks with their business name on it, tractor trailers advertising their businesses, pageant queens waving from the back of a convertible, fire trucks and a small group of Shriners.  In the small town I was raised you could not even have horses in the parade.  I’m assuming because of horse poop, the horses always came after Santa which just seemed odd. My favorite part of parades, though, have always been the bands and any dance groups.  And there was almost always a high school who would be performing.

So we headed off to Ennis, population of 800 full-time residents, in hopes of seeing a great parade.  And what we got was an enjoyable true small-town America parade.  There was no band or dancers but it had its own unique qualities which made it wonderful.

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But, my favorite part was watching Liam sit and clap as each float/horse/clown/car went by.  Seeing things through the eyes of my two year old just warms my heart.

The parade itself lasted about thirty minutes so then it was off to discover the town…and find some food!  With so many extra people in town it was hard to get in and out of many of the stores but we ended up at a food truck towards to the end of the downtown area and then made our way back up the street.

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Can’t go wrong with food trucks.

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You can’t be a fishing town without a fish sculpture!

We headed out of town to a town I was super excited to see.  After a big day already in the heat the boys were nearing the ‘cranky time of day’.  I’d say nap time but a certain Dietrich boy has decided those are no longer for him.  So we did a quick once-up, once-down of the street (with a stop at an ice cream parlor of course) and headed back to Bozeman for a rest  and dinner/fireworks at a friends house.

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Can’t wait to go back.
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The kid loves to drive.

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Posted in Montana Adventures

Leaving Montana

That’s right.  We left Montana….for the weekend.  We headed south to Wyoming.

Matt, myself and Liam have been blessed with a friendship that I can see having for a long while.

It all began when Nicole did not hire me to be her babysitter.  HA!  But to her defense I wouldn’t have hired me either if I had been in her shoes.  (For the curious, my schedule and her’s were only going to work for a few months and she needed someone more long term).

But it has been a blessing.

We invited them out to dinner once.  And that is not an exaggeration.  We went out to dinner ONCE.  Going out to dinner with two year olds can be eventful.  We’ve pretty much learned that Liam can last an hour TOPS and that is only with extensive entertainment.  I’m talking books, toy cars, crayons, a few blocks, stacking the sugar packets, knocking down the sugar packets, I Spy, practicing his letters, counting, going to the bathroom, looking through the menu and when all else has failed pulling out games on a phone.  So basically the adults have no time for an actual conversation.

Joe mentioned how good it was to have friends with a kid (child I mean.  My mom likes to remind me that kids are baby goats!!) the same age who isn’t “perfect”.  And it is nice.  It’s nice to sit with a couple who’s right in the middle of raising a child that we are.  It’s nice when people say “we’ve been there” but that really doesn’t make you feel better.  And I love our friends with no children but I can’t help but feel embarrassed or irritated when Liam acts up as they are probably thinking (as I did) “our children won’t act like that”.

So Liam and Landon are learning sharing and not hitting amongst each other.  One day they’ll graduate from that (hopefully!) and it’ll be on to the next thing…

So Joe and Nicole invited us to a family cabin in Wyoming.  The ride there proved to be very eventful and once again we got to see a part of the US landscape that we haven’t seen before.

To get to the cabin we had to go over the Beartooth Mountains.  At the highest we were almost 11,000 feet.  The drive up was reminiscent of our trip up Pikes Peak in Colorado or the Pacific Highway in California.  Matt does not love heights and so it made the trip up even more eventful as we reminisced on the drives before.

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It was a fun, relaxing weekend.  The guys fished a few different spots.  When they came back – early! – on Saturday they said they had each caught close to 30 fish!  I’ve never found the excitement in fishing but I can imagine catching fish over and over again is both exciting and repetitive.  But they sure fished at a very picturesque lake!

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I like to think he posed for this picture for the sole reason that I could put it on the blog! 🙂

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Just gorgeous.
Meanwhile, the ladies took the kids down to a river and let them play around.  The river itself was raging (no lie) but there was a perfect little creek for them to play in.

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Yes, of course Tippet came too 🙂
And on the way to another lake one evening we came across a sight I have never seen and will probably never see again.  Two grizzly bear cubs!

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Just another weekend.  Just another fun adventure.  What will tomorrow bring?!

Posted in Montana Adventures

Eating in the Streets

Yes, it has been a while since I’ve written.  And I can make every excuse but it all boils down to having a toddler and friends.  And both are blessings so I can not complain.

So back to something I had started a while back and maybe I can get everyone caught up on some of the things we have been up to!

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Free hugs!  Leg hair inches long.  Dread locks.  Spiderman unitard.

It is not just small town North Carolina festivals that bring out the unique people of a community.  Any street festival can and Bozeman showed no difference yesterday (okay okay, many yesterdays ago) evening!

Every Thursday evening during the summer a part of Main Street shuts down for an event called Music on Main.  It becomes open to food truck vendors and a local band.  So Matt, Liam and I made a trip to see what it was all about.

Call me small town but food trucks have always been something only TV.  You know, like Food Truck Face Off on Food Network?  But food trucks seem pretty popular around here so it was fun to see a lot of them all in one place with so many different types of food to choose from.

And can you really go wrong with a food truck that ONLY sells Mac and Cheese?

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Liam didn’t want to walk for the longest time. He just sat and took in the sights.
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The line for the food truck I ate at!
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Like I said, there is no bad way to make Mac and Cheese!
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My Fajita Mac and Cheese and, yes, that is fried mac and cheese balls with ranch dressing.
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Where Matt ate.
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Watching the band play. Liam is strongly against getting on Matt’s shoulders.

As I look back at these pictures, I have a strong feeling that the dryer is NOT shrinking my pants.  But to be a local I must eat like a local, right?

I’ve heard that they do the same thing on Wednesdays for lunch at a park.  Food trucks and picnics and plenty of children running around.  I’m going to check that out tomorrow…!

Posted in Uncategorized

Suffocated By Weather

Let me begin by saying what a wonderful trip to North Carolina we had.  I could go on and on about what we did and who we saw but most everyone won’t care about those details.  But I will say that the last Saturday we were there we attended the wedding of Erika and James, my sister-in-law (Matt’s sister) and her now husband (WOW!).

The wedding turned out exactly how she planned.  She had every detail layed out.  For the last year she has been planning her wedding to her and James’ vision…down to making their very own corn hole boards and Jenga blocks for the backyard reception.  She didn’t even hire a professional wedding planner or coordinator…just an amazing lady from her church who made sure that Erika’s plans were in place and to run point on the Big Day.  She sure had more vision and organization than I did eight years ago. Oh, and she had Pinterest!

One thing that was NOT on her plan was the humidity.  Wow.  Having lived in the South the majority of my life I have realized that I didn’t really understand what humidity really is.  Yes, there were days that you could tell were stickier and muggier than others but over all a hot day was almost always sticky and muggy.

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One of the big things I’m getting used to here in the Northwest is the weather.  70 degrees can be very hot and cause for a sunburn but 85 can also be warm but quiet pleasant.

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Yes, there was humidity.  But there was also heat.  I made the mistake of planning a playdate for two in the afternoon.  OOPS!

When I walked out of the Raleigh airport with my sister two weeks ago, I was hit immediately by a wall.  The automatic doors opened and suddenly it felt like the air was just pressing in around me.  I don’t know any other way to describe it other than ‘thick air’.  By the time we got to her car I was already sweating and then we had to wait a few minutes for the car to cool down before we could even get in.  I HAD FORGOTTEN.

Once the snow decided to stay away here in Montana the days have been so pleasant.  Those 85 degree days feel nothing like back home.  Yes, I have sweat out here but it is from the amount of time spent in the sun not from the wet blanket that I seem to be walking in.

The other thing Erika didn’t account for (well, didn’t want) was rain.  I hadn’t given it much thought but there aren’t really afternoon rain showers here like back home.  In NC you could almost guarantee that you would have some kind of rain well into the afternoon.  Those rain showers ruined many, many good pool days for me.  Apparently here, all the snow we get in the winter (and fall and spring) makes up for the spring rains.  The snow melts from the mountains and flows down into the rivers.  Not saying it doesn’t rain here it just isn’t near as predicatable as in the South.

But God was surely on her side on Saturday.  There was a quick shower during pictures.  And then minutes before she was to walk down the aisle giant drops started falling from the sky as everyone looked around in a panic.  But as quickly as they started they stopped.  And they held off until 5:30…mere minutes after they pulled away.  And then the rain made up for lost time.  It began to pour.  But, the timing could not have been more perfect and it didn’t put a dampor on the after-party.

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And just after the almost-rain shower before Erika walked down, the humidity kicked in to high gear.  But she looked beautiful throughout the whole reception and while most of James’ groomsman retired their suits for more comfortable clothes, James somehow managed to make it in his suit without complaining.

 

When Matt, Liam and I stepped out of the airport in Bozeman on Sunday afternoon, the air that hit me was cool.  I laughed to myself because my thought was “Seriously?  It’s June and I’m wishing for a jacket?!” but I KNEW what Matt would say.  And before I could say anything, the words from his mouth were exactly what I predicted: “Now THIS feels perfect”.

Posted in Toddler Life

Thomas the Train Does NOT Save the Day

While in college I worked at a local amusement park, Tweetsie Railroad.  It was set up like an old Wild West town in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and had been around for decades.  The almost 100 year old steam engine, Tweetsie, pulled along passenger cars on a three mile loop through the mountains where cowboys and Indians put on a show.  The cowboys’ guns were sure to scare just about every kid on the train but the train show has scaled down its scary-factor a bit from years past.

I have no doubt you could stop several adults along Tweetsie’s Main Street and someone would have a story about how they were scarred for life by the Indians that ran onto the parked train screaming and swinging their axes.  My parents and husband would be three of them.

My earliest memories of Tweetsie Railroad were not from college but from when I was in elementary school.  We had come up for Tweetsie’s Ghost Train, a special event they put on around Halloween.  But my memory is not of the train ride or scary Indians but simply how cold it was waiting in line. Then again, maybe I have just repressed the memory.

But working at Tweetsie Railroad was the perfect college job.  The uniform…not so much.  Denim on denim is not the look most college girls are going for.  But I worked in the ticket office and I spent most of the day behind a set of pretend jail bars selling tickets to families as they came in.  At slow times, my boss would tell some of us to close our window and take a break.  “I’ve ordered us some fudge from the Fudge Shop,” he’d say.  “Go ride some rides and pick up the fudge on your way back.”  Carnival rides, fudge and getting paid?  Like I said, it was the perfect college job.


If not in my jail cell or fetching fudge, I was in the Call Center fielding calls for special events such as “Day Out With Thomas”.  It always baffled me why so many people were so excited for a big, blue train to come to town or why we changed so many of our daily events to accomedate all of the Thomas-related activities.  The cowboys were not even allowed to shoot their guns during their famous gun show!

Though my twenty-year old self didn’t understand the draw of Thomas the Train and about I about went crazy listening to the same Thomas CD on the speaker system day in and day out, I do remember finding myself imagining if I’d ever bring my own child back some day.

And yesterday was that day.

My parents and I brought Liam to Tweetsie last summer.  He LOVED it!  We watched every show and went on the train twice.  I will say my one bad parenting moment was the second train ride, though.  We were in the last car for the first ride and had trouble seeing all the action.  Liam loved it, though, and so the second ride we moved closer.  MISTAKE!  Moving closer not only helps you to see better but it makes the gunshots louder!

All in all, though, his first time at Tweetsie was wonderful.  He smiled for all his pictures.  He rode the rides he was big enough to ride.  He fed the animals.  He watched every show with great excitement.

So, I knew I was going to plan another trip back…not knowing it would be from Montana!

When booking the tickets, I was even more excited when I saw that Day Out with Thomas was during the week we’d be back.  Thomas is Liam’s newest show that he loves and he can name just about every engine by name.  So, I invited all the grandparents and we were going to make a day of it.

I envisioned him screaming excitedly and jumping up and down when he saw Thomas on the tracks for the first time.  I could see him excited to drive the boats he was too small to drive last year.  I saw him running down Main Street to get to the next cool thing with me yelling for him to slow down.  I was so excited to take him back.

But yesterday proved to be one of those days when the dream does not become reality.  The day before he’d had a slight fever and was just ‘off’.  I blamed it on a new molar, which I feel I am always doing (but he does have two more to come in and the first two were no picnic).  So, Tylenol and a good night’s sleep later, I had no doubt he’d be in a better mood.  Not so.

He fussed the entire way in his car seat.  He did not want to be in his stroller but he did not want to walk.  Only being carried would do…and most of the time only by the person of his choosing.  He covered his ears when Tweetsie blew her whistle and cowered down as we walked past Thomas as if Thomas would reach out and get him.  He kept whining and saying “Get off now” while waiting for our train ride to start.  He only rode one ride and that was only after some slight forceful encouragement that he was to drive his Pa and not Mommy.  Once in the car behind the steering wheel he was in Heaven.  He refused to drive the boats which he has driven before and was very wary of the animals he had once been excited about.  He did, however, let a stranger put two tattoos on his arm (the one thing I assumed he would NOT do).


I was crushed.  I just knew this would be a day to remember.  Well, it was, just not in the way I had hoped.  It was not the joyful, fun-filled, memorable experience I was positive we were going to have.

However, when asked if he had a good time he says, “Yes!  Saw Thomas!”  So, in some way he had a great time and I guess that should be what really matters.

But, I won’t be deterred.  I see another trip in his future.  The third trip will be the tie-breaker to see if we go again.  🙂

 

DO YOU HAVE A SIMILAR STORY?  Something you were so excited about that was just a flop?