Posted in Montana Adventures

Duking it Out with the Little Debbie Guy

Months ago I was at our storage unit in North Carolina with Liam and my father-in-law.  The rectangular box that houses literally everything Matt and I own other than clothes and food.

As I’m doing whatever it was I was doing, a Little Debbie’s truck drives up and backs up to the unit directly beside ours.  The driver hops out and opens the back of his truck.  I stood there finding it funny that this Little Debbie guy was doing a personal errand using his Little Debbie work truck.  But then the most surprising thing happened.  He opened his storage unit and packed from floor to ceiling were Little Debbie boxes!

That’s right.  Just inches away from my “life box” were hundreds of boxes of Little Debbie snacks!  The man proceeds to start loading the boxes into his truck.  Who knew that such delicious snacks were just stored in some ordinary storage unit?!  Makes me wonder what other treasures there could be just feet from our stuff!

Jerry took Liam over and starting chatting with the gentleman….and came back with a few boxes of delicious treats!

Fast forward to yesterday.

The moving truck was in Marion picking up all of our stuff.  My mother-in-law met the movers at our unit to make sure everything went smoothly.  And apparently not one but TWO Little Debbie trucks show up.  With the way our moving truck was parked the Little Debbie’s trucks were not able to get to their unit as they normally would.

This apparently led into quite a quarrel complete with grown men yelling!  The Little Debbie’s men didn’t like that they couldn’t park close enough to their unit and our moving man said he had a few hours left to go and would not move.  I wasn’t there but Darnell said it was quite the excitement.

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But our stuff is now loaded and going on quite an adventure before coming here.  The truck is heading to South Carolina and Georgia before heading over here to the icy tundra.

All in all, the loading went quite well…except that Darnell didn’t get any free sweets this time!

Meanwhile here in Montana, we closed on our house three days ago.  We won’t officially move in, though, until the truck arrives sometime around the 15th.  But packing here has begun and we’re taking a few boxes over to the house at a time.

It was like Christmas day for Liam this morning as I started packing up his toys and he discovered toys he hadn’t played with in ages.  He’s already asking when the “big truck” will be at the “new house”.  He’s getting quite excited…and so are we!

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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 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 Montana Adventures, restaurants, Toddler Life

Ducks and Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts.  That is a big debate in the South.  Along with Coke vs Pepsi, Duke vs Carolina, Heinz vs Hunts, eastern BBQ vs western BBQ.  Do Southerns get along about anything?  It can be an all out brawl sometimes!  I absolutely hate my Facebook newsfeed anytime there is a Duke vs Carolina basketball game!  Everyone has an opinion.  And I mean everyone.  Even if they don’t have an opinion, they post about how they don’t have an opinion and how stupid other peoples’ opinions are!

And just to get my two cents in about the doughnut debate.  There should NEVER be a debate.  Krispy Kreme makes there’s fresh and Duncan Donuts are frozen and baked there.  Now, you can debate the coffee all you want to…

But the only debate I have come upon in Bozeman is how the word “creek” is pronounced.  Some say creek with the same long e as in street while others give it an i sound like trick.  The second grade phonics teacher in me will tell you that the double e gives you the long e sound but nobody wants a smarty pants.  And I’m not one to talk.  In the south, there are plenty of short e words that become i’s.  There is a big difference in how you pronounce a pen you write with and a pen a pig sleeps in.   I’m not about to change my ways because it’s not phonically correct!

But back to doughnuts.  Bozeman has no such debate.  There is only ONE doughnut shop in town: Granny’s Gourmet Donuts.  You just can’t count the grocery stores that sell doughnuts although Liam and I would agree that the chocolate covered sprinkled doughnuts from Albersons are very good!

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So some friends and I made a morning of it and decided to take the kids to get a nutritious breakfast (ha!) and then go feed the ducks at the pond at Montana State.  (Stay at home moms are great at creating fun, FREE activities!)

It was the tiniest little shop but that just meant the boys couldn’t run around everywhere.  The workers let the boys sprinkle their own doughnut but for some reason Liam was very unsure about this.  He just kept staring at the doughnut in the bowl not quite sure how he was expected to get it out.  The other little boy dug right in and was ready to eat it before he even got off the chair!  Back at the table, Liam decided the only good part of the doughnut was the icing and while I agree partly with the deliciousness of icing he was missing out on a great tasting doughnut.

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Watching them frost his doughnut.
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He finally decided to reach in for it.
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“All mine?!”

The special doughnut of the day was a Mojito doughnut.  Creative yet an interesting flavor choice.  One of the girls I was with got it and said it was good.  Then again, I don’t like mojitos in liquid form much less in a pastry.

Funnily enough, the shop gives kids free ‘duck bread’ to feed to the ducks at the pond.  So, each boy, complete with their white bag of dough for the ducks, headed out the door running, walking and excited to see the ducks.  The man in the shop warned us that the ducks may flock to whoever had the white bags…but he underestimated the energy of our boys!

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They fed the ducks plenty of food and ran around and around the pond chasing a lot of the poor ducks.  Many of the ducks were smart enough to head to the water and stay there until the two wild and crazy humans left!

Rumor has it that there could be another doughnut place in the works for this town.  But, it’s safe to say we’ll have a repeat of this play date sometime this summer.  Poor ducks!

Posted in Montana Adventures

Carribean, Montana

 

Clear, blue waters.  White, sandy beaches.  Lots of warm sunshine.  And preferably wearing a bathing suit.  That is my definition of paradise.

Who knew that you could find the clear, blue waters in the middle of nowhere Montana?!

Now that winter is over, we have found that camping is the activity of almost all weekends.  Unfortunately, we do not have a camper or a tent.  So we have resorted to ‘day camping’ with friends.

When Matt told me where we were going I kept thinking he was saying Cliff N’ Wade Lake.  What an interesting name for a lake I had thought.  But apparently it’s TWO lakes side by side.  Cliff AND Wade Lakes.

The weather was supposed to be on the warmer side I had thought so I dressed Liam and I in pants and short sleeves and jackets.  And I brought us each a pair of shorts for when it got warm.  MISTAKE.`v    ZXDBHBVVNBB I feel confident it got increasingly cooler the longer we were there.  The scattered rain showers that kept coming through helped with this.

 

The waters really were such a crystal blue.  We could see probably twenty feet down – if not further.  We took Matt’s boat out, paddled around and he fished for a while.  Somehow (miracles do happen) Liam ended up falling asleep in my lap for over an hour. He was out.  Even when the rain started up and I covered him with my raincoat he just kept right on snoozing.

 

Posted in Montana Adventures, Toddler Life

Off to the Water Park!

Snow.  Fields.  Cows.  More snow.  More fields.  That is the vision I believe almost all of my friends in North Carolina had when I told them we were moving to Montana.  I think most everyone had visions of me being surrounded by acres and acres of land (with snow) with no signs of city life around.  And they are partially correct.

Bozeman, where I am living in Montana, is surrounded by just that exact picture.  But Bozeman itself is NOT that.

Now, I was living in a town with a population of just under 8,000 people.  And Bozeman has a population of just under 42,000.  So in terms of all my local shopping and culture, I’m now in the ‘big city’!  I mean, Target is now only 10 minutes away not 45 minutes.  That right there was a pro on the Bozeman Moving Pro/Con list just a few months ago.

The biggest difference is that in North Carolina, I had many cities within an hours driving distance…and those cities were truly ‘big cities’.  You know, the kind with skyscrapers or even buildings with more than five stories?  I asked Matt just yesterday if there were any skyscrapers in Montana and he just laughed.  I took that as a no.  Here in Bozeman, the nearest city is at least two hours away (with Bozeman being the fourth biggest of the state).

To help put it into perspective a little better, imagine the city you live in with absolutely no suburbs around it.  It’s as if you can draw a line around the city and color it in.  Anything not colored in is the gorgeous, spacious Gallatin Valley and beyond…for about two hours all around….with the occasional small, small town sprinkled throughout.

I am learning that things in Montana are not quite the same as the more metropolitan areas I am used to.  I was researching zoos here in Montana and found one in Billings.  I plan on taking Liam sometime but I’m glad I checked the website first before I got there and was majorly confused before becoming disappointed.  There are no elephants or giraffes or chimpanzees like I normally think of at a zoo.  But Liam will be just as happy seeing the tigers, wolves, owls, and beavers…so I see a trip there in our future this summer.

Matt and I have laughed several times about my reaction when we went to the Grizzly Encounter a few weeks ago.  My (unrealistic) expectations of a drive-through grizzly bear experience seems ridiculous now but that is just a perfect example of my way off expectations that I’m learning to turn down.

On Saturday, Matt, Liam and I went to “Montana’s Biggest Indoor Water Park”.  Now, I would place money that it is probably the only indoor water park in Montana but I could be wrong.  It has an attached “resort” so I had visions of Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, NC.  We drove two hours to the ‘nearby city’ of Billings.  Gorgeous views along the way but nothing in between.  I have to assume there was at least one gas station along the way but I didn’t see it if there was.  Matt had looked at booking a room for the night but they were full.  It’s a good thing, though, as Liam was finished playing in about three hours.

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But it was great family outing.  Liam loved playing ‘baketball’ in one of the pools (his deletion of the /s/ sounds is still so precious these days).  He’s getting better at swimming with his float and so he loved swimming back and forth between Matt and me.  There was a big toddler area with some water slides and squirt guns and such but he was very apprehensive about all the water falling from above.  The one time that the large bucket at the top of the play area filled up and dumped all the water down, Liam grabbed onto my neck and wouldn’t let me put him down for a few minutes.  He enjoyed the water slides some but not near as much as I thought he would.  The boy LOVES slides but with all the newness he was a bit skeptical of them at first.  He wanted me to go down with him so I broke the age/weight rule and headed down with him several times.  Not that any of the teenage lifeguards cared.

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I don’t know if I’m truly getting old or if my ability to judge age is off, but no one working there (from the front counter to the life guards to the concession workers) could have been over the age of 22.  As I waited for close to twenty minutes for our nutritious lunch of hot dogs and chicken fingers, I calculated that the workers had to have been born somewhere around 2000.  Not even in the twentieth century!

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Liam’s favorite part of the water park was the wave pool.  He had a blast just floating up and down as the waves came by.  I have a feeling, though, that he will not have the same feeling when we’re at my parent’s place in Myrtle Beach in two weeks but maybe he’ll prove me wrong!

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And the best part of the water park?  This momma got to go down a ‘big person’ slide a few times and didn’t have to wait in line for 45 minutes to do so.  They had two three-story water slides and I felt like a kid again going down them.  I was shrieking and laughing out loud as I went through the dark tunnel on the tube having no idea which way the slide was going.  And, my smile got even bigger when I got down to the bottom and saw Matt and Liam waiting for me and I listened to Liam talking all about how Mommy was coming out of the purple slide so fast.

Montana may have twice as many cows as people and it might have a tenth of the population of North Carolina but the four of us (yes, I am including Tippet) are enjoying all of the adventures no matter how big or how small.

 

 

 

Posted in Montana Adventures, Toddler Life

How to Take a Toddler On a Drift Boat

The boat rocked gently back and forth.  I looked up from the book I’d been reading for the past fifteen minutes or so and saw Liam sitting quietly in his seat gazing up as Matt cast his rod out over the water.  Liam seemed to be taking in Matt’s every move as if to memorize just what to do for when he was older.  From the corner of my eye I saw Tippet sit up straight and gaze out over the water.  I reached down to pet her as she laid down for me to rub her belly.

OK, so that’s not exactly how our first trip on the boat went.

After floating down the Madison River for about four hours, here’s my take on taking a toddler out on a drift boat.

  1. Take rocks.  While throwing rocks in the river is not exactly ideal for catching fish, it is the number one thing that kept Liam most entertained.  Thank goodness we knew this ahead of time as he throws rocks into any body of water he can find.  He’d throw them into the bathtub if they were accessible to him.  At the beginning of the float he was spotting every rock imaginable: on the banks, across the way, in the water.  Matt had grabbed a grocery bag on our way out of the house and filled it full of gravel rocks.  So we had plenty of rocks to last us the four hours.  Although, let’s be real.  I pretended numerous times that “Oh no!  No more rocks! Let’s _____.”  He never quite caught on to the magic bag of rocks that appeared every time he wanted to throw them again.
  2. Start a family choir.  That’s right.  At one point we were floating down the river singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” under the leadership of Liam who would dictate “No Mommy.  Just Daddy.” or “Mommy, Daddy, Liam sing!” or “Louder!  No, louder!”  And, ladies, there is nothing better than watching your husband singing loudly on the open water with your son (though, let’s be real, he probably looked to see that no one was close by…at least I did!)
  3. Point. At. EVERYTHING.  At the birds, planes, rocks, boats, people, animals, motorcycles, trucks, cars, fisherman, trees, bugs.  You name it and we pointed at it.
  4. Count, count and count some more.  If you point at it you might as well count them too.  We counted rocks.  We counted birds.  We counted boats…and people in boats…and dogs in boats…and kids in boats…and people wearing hats on boats.  We counted the Goldfish that dropped onto the floor of the boat.  Liam can count upwards of 15 and he finds no boredom in practicing his numbers over and over.
  5. Let ’em row.  While we didn’t get far or fast with him as captain he had great joy in rowing the boat.  And it was NOT okay if Matt was helping.  “Myself!” is what he’d yell.
  6. Lunch…I mean Goldfish. And pretzels.  And Cherrios.  And fruit packs.  And Pringles.  And Capri Suns.  And milk.  Yes, I packed us some sandwiches and pasta salad but he had no interest in those.  He just wanted to graze all of the other snack foods we had on board.
  7. Become a naturalist.  Liam and I would point at birds and trees and flowers.  “Black bird!” Liam would say.  “Yes, that black bird has red on it’s belly,” I’d say.  And Matt’s response was, “It’s a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.” I’m amazed at all the names of birds, trees and fish Matt knows.  But, maybe one day Liam will acquire that knowledge as well because I simply know simple bird names like:  duck, goose, flamingo, woodpecker–and I only know its a woodpecker if it’s pecking on a tree!
  8. Catch a fish.  While I know our float down the river did not provide Matt with the ample fishing time it normally would have, he was able to catch one fish and Liam was so excited.  He kept telling Matt, “‘Nother fish.” as if he could snap his fingers and make another appear. But the entertainment lasted until the fish was back in the water – much to Liam’s disappointment.
  9. Throw potty training out the window.  Trying to get your two year old to pee off a boat while it’s rocking, the dog won’t sit down and there are a million things to look at is virtually impossible.  And the same goes for on the side of the road as ants are crawling up your leg.  Just give it a rest for the day.

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The float trip was not exactly like the last time Matt and I went where he fished and I sunbathed while reading a book….but it was a wonderful time in a whole new way (just as everything with a toddler is)!

Posted in Montana Adventures

A Hike is Just a Long Walk

Hiking is something I’ve always enjoyed.  Now, I’m not talking backpacking or anything like that.  But just a few hour hike preferably that ends in a gorgeous view.  And while I enjoy an easy, casual hike the best hike I can remember was with my brother one Spring Break in Arizona.

We both were at college at App and our dad had been working in Arizona for a while.  Dad got us both tickets to spend the week with him.  So during the day, Christopher and I did everything from visiting some museums to hunting ghost towns.  We decided to go hiking one day and somehow came upon Camelback Mountain.  I guess the word ‘mountain’ should have clued us in to the strenuousness of the hike.  But we set out with one water bottle apiece and headed to the trail head.  Over a mile later and with a change in elevation of 1,300 feet later we had made it.  The accomplishment we felt was wonderful but what we would have given for some more water!

Most of the hikes that I did in college thorough the Appalachian Mountains were along the Blue Ridge Parkway and none were near as strenuous as Camelback (though I know those trails are out there).  And most of thoese hikes were to either the gorgeous view of the Smoky Mountain Range or to amazing, picturesque waterfalls.

I’ve done two hikes here in Montana so far and they’ve both been great.

A few weeks ago, we joined some friends at their campsite for the afternoon.  Just as soon as we pulled in, a group was heading off for a hike.  Liam and Matt stayed behind and I headed with the hiking group.

There was no trail.  There was simply a destination we wanted to get to and our figuing out how to get there.

Just today in the grocery store, I was talking to an older lady who’s sisters live in Hendersonville and Raliegh.  She was talking about how beautiful North Carolina was but her one complaint was about all the trees!  She said she felt so claustophobic with all the trees everywhere.  It cracked me up inside thinking, ‘The Rocky Mountains have trees’, but then I realized there is definetly a difference.  Especially if you are not high up in the moutains here.

But the hike was enjoyable.  It definelty got my heart going and there were plenty of things to see along the way.  I can’t say I’ve even seen a deer carcus…much less three.  And I learned that Montana has cactus.  But they are sneaky cactus not rising more than an inch or so off the ground.

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Last weekend (the precurser to Liam getting sick), we went to Buffalo Jump State Park.  The name itself was intiquing to me.  Native Americans used to drive the buffalo through the fields and off the cliff in a massive slaughter.  I had hoped that Liam would nap on our drive out there but no such luck–the hike certainly would have been much more enjoyable.

 

Liam and I had plans to go on another hike today with a group but Sweet Boy is still asleep.  And it’s never a good idea to wake a sleeping baby (well, boy), right?

 

So tell me, what’s YOUR favorite hike?