There’s no place like home
The thing about having moved too many times to count is you’re perpetually homesick for somewhere. This ache for a place you once called home and then the joy of revisiting it is a constant see saw of emotions and memories.
We returned to Belgium on Sunday, and we’re so glad to be back. We missed our dog, our bed, our life here. But, it comes at a cost because we will now go back to missing our loved ones ‘back home.’
I cherished my time with my kids, and I’m glad Joe and I got to travel around so much of the U.S. this summer. I have not been on American soil for that long of a time since I moved overseas. In 5 weeks we got to visit our nation’s capital, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. Here’s a quick rundown of our highlights.
Staying in Phoenix in the summer at homes without pools is tough. I missed my pool more than ever during this visit. I’m an outdoor kind of girl who loves to sip her coffee with the birds and, well, the bees (or flies). It’s hard to do that when you’re melting (I used to sit in my pool and sip coffee), but it’s all good I did get a little pool time in during our vacay. Besides this trip was truly about soaking up family time, and I got to spend time in each of my children’s homes.
I also got to sip coffee outside in northern Arizona over the July 4 holiday weekend (at a lovely house we rented in Oak Creek Canyon) and another weekend in Flagstaff. I loved that I got to whoop up the 4th with this crew!
For some reason I can no longer format the way my photos post — argh. I’ll figure out how to fix that next post.
It was also fun visiting Flagstaff, Williams and Prescott. It’s just way too hot to stay in Phoenix in the summer. And, I did get to play with Torin in a pool.
Little monster is just too too cute. I miss him dearly.
We drove from Flagstaff to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I got to catch up with an old friend. We stayed at a lovely hotel in the art center area. It was beautiful, and we so wish we could have stayed an extra night.
I’m really annoyed by photo editing right now, so it’s messing up my writerly vibe as well. But, oh well, you see that plate full of green goo — OMG I crave that now. I’ve discovered hatch chiles and christmas sauce. I may have to go back just to eat that meal again!
It was so good to visit Kyle and Kendra in Castle Rock. The only thing missing during our July 4 feast was these two. Plus, you can’t go wrong visiting the big C during summer. It’s always gorgeous there.
From Colorado we headed to Indiana to visit Joe’s sister. We spent a night in Kansas next to a truck stop. Lol there’s really not much I can say about Kansas (although we didn’t explore much). The highlight for me was taking a side trip to the Oz museum and Oz winery. Those snazzy slippers that start this blog were bought there — love them!
Before reaching Indiana we spent a night in Missouri near Columbia. We regret not taking an extra day to explore the Ozarks (especially since we love the show set there), but perhaps another time. Again we didn’t do much sight seeing, but we did spend a lot of time having fun with Joe’s sister, who lives in a Disneyesque town called Carmel. LOL I swear they even pipe in the wildlife because while we were sitting at the fire pit we were entertained by racoons, foxes and a possum. During the day blue jays and cardinals stopped by to peek at us peeking at them. No need to do much exploring when it’s all right there.
I loved the artwork all over the town center, and a cool restaurant had my favorite bathroom ever. Who knew Indiana was so progressive?!
We spent a day sitting waterside sipping bevies, which was wonderful. It made me miss living by a lake (but that was several lifetimes ago!).
And then our road trip was over. We flew back to Phoenix for a few days, packed up and returned to Brussels. Luckily we totally missed the heat wave. I cannot imagine attempting sleep in my third-floor, non air-conditioned apartment in 106 degree temps.
I wish I would have taken the time to write the many reflections I’ve had during this trip, so that I could share the good ones with you, but I didn’t and now that I’m typing I can’t think of any of them.
I am torn between wanting to move back to the states to be closer to my kids (and their kids) and staying here where I’m in a bipolar relationship of peace and wonder and frustration and WTF (you never get used to eets a problame, which basically means “bitch you’re gonna wait another week, two, three or maybe four before this shit gets fixed”).
But, I do so love my home here and my job and the life, so it’ll be a while before I go back (unless my employer has other plans for me).
I am also heartbroken and enraged that a few days ago I messaged my children that I loved them and to please, please be safe and vigilant. All of the places where mass shootings take place could include any of us. We love festivals, shopping, drinking and getting educated. The story of the young mother dying in Walmart while shielding her infant crushed me. The only saving grace is that wouldn’t be my daughter since she probably owns stock in Amazon by now, but why oh why are we so violent? America I love you, and all my people there. I truly believe there are more good of us than bad, so please, please, please let’s get our shit together and quit letting shit talkers stir it up (and noooo I’m not blaming politicians for the murders, but our leaders aren’t helping make change for the better, and we’re getting caught in the web with our own arguments and circular reasoning. Bottom line: conservatives and liberals want the same for their children: safety, growth, freedom and opportunities). We know how to get along and play nice in the sandbox, so let’s get to it. And, yes, that includes me.
Okay, this isn’t a blog about my country’s issues, so let me get back to the whole point of this post. It was great to go home for a bit, and it’s just as great to come home! I loved time with my people, but most of all my absolute favorite thing was rocking and singing my grandson to sleep. OMG it is amazing how much a baby can fill your soul with love and hope. (um, maybe we need to all rock babies before problem solving?)
Three years ago, about this time, my husband and I christened his new pickup by bringing it up to Williams Mountain, parking it somewhere in the middle of the woods, and throwing an air mattress in the back. After a bottle of wine (or two) by the fire we crawled in and fell asleep counting asteroids thanks to the annual Perseid Meteor shower. There is nothing like waking up in the middle of the night to have the universe as your ceiling. Plus, you can’t help but get giddy wishing upon a shitload of falling stars.
A few nights ago we got to do this again, and it was amazing (well except for the massive bug that buzzed us a few times and my 3 a.m. irrational fear of getting devoured by a bear or mountain lion —- Joe’s snoring could possibly pass as a mating call).
Sorry I didn’t think to grab my camera and take pics at night
As much as we travel I know you’d think we’d honeymoon somewhere exotic like Fiji or the Maldives, but because of lack of time off (for Joe) and money (it happens) we opted for a few nights up north, which is really the only right way for us to commemorate our 10 years of putting up with one another, and first month of marriage. This is who we are —- but no worries we have plenty of other travel adventures ahead of us, including those exotic islands we have not yet snored on.
We began our little vacation Wednesday night inhaling Moscow Mules in the pool while strategising our Olympic synchronised cannon ball routine —- seriously we could bring home gold. Next day after running errands (including Joe signing the papers that sold his house —- whoop whoop! mine is next) we booked a room at St. Michaels, an early 1900s hotel on Whiskey Row in Prescott. We strolled, we ate, we drank, we mingled with folk, and we watched Americans kick ass in the Olympics (we can swim, volley and summersault the hell out of ourselves, can’t we).
In the morning we walked alongside Granite creek. It’s a lovely little walk we didn’t even know existed —- despite the many times we’ve been to Prescott. You can enter it off of Gurley street, two blocks down from St. Michaels hotel.
Then we headed up to Williams for our no-tent camping trip and hike for one night. Our second night there we spent in a Williams hotel (because Mama demanded more tub and real toilet time on her honeymoon).
Today, after putzing around and enjoying more of Williams, we drove up to Flagstaff and for the first time ever rode the ski lift to the top of Snowbowl. My pictures cannot do the experience justice.
While I wrote most of this my man napped in the shade of a tree; butterflies dared each other to touch him (I’d post the pic I took, but only the butterflies and I should witness his extraverted belly busting out for a photo bomb). All I heard was the wind through the forest and birds and insects busying themselves with their morning chores. Later on I rested under the same tree and watched clouds embrace each other to bless us with a small rain shower. The best parts of our honeymoon were all gifts from nature, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.
We’re back in Phoenix now, but in three days I leave again for the other desert I live in. I will think of all of this when I sip my coffee in my heavily air conditioned Al Ain apartment, and I will once again thank the powers that be for the many miracles in my life. Blessed Be, Allah Akbar, and Amen!
Bonding in Sedona…
Forgive my focus on all that green, but you see I see so little of it so it gives me joy.
It’s raining real rain — not the normal two-second tease — in Phoenix. It’s dark outside, the dogs are huddled by my feet (as if I could protect them), and my youngest is snuggled up in his bed sleeping his way through the storm. It’s an awesome morning to sip my coffee and share some more photos.
A few weeks ago Kyle moved from Colorado to Sedona, so on Wednesday Kaylene and I took a mother-daughter day to enjoy one of our favourite places on earth while getting the chance to visit our boy. We treated ourselves to a ‘room,’ which turned out to be a mini cabin. We loved it so much I’m thinking of booking a night there with Joe (because I now have a really good excuse to drive up to Sedona again, although does one ever need an excuse to visit living art?). I won’t waste your time bragging about how wonderfully awesome my kids are (hehehe guess I just did), but I will tell you how proud I am of my babies. Man oh man I have spent countless hours worrying about each of them and some of their choices, but this time I have with them now is proof that I need to just let them be and continue doing their adult thing their way. They’ve totally got this.
Kyle has learned that he is most grounded and most at peace surrounded by nature. He is finding his way, and I’m so glad Kaylene and I got to enjoy a bit of his happiness with him. Sedona is already proving to be a good move for him and his pooch Piper (if his dog nurturing skills are any indication of the kind of father he will one day be, I envy my future grand children). I also envy Kaylene and Aaron’s future babies. Ohhhh and I so want to write about them now too, but I’ll do that privately so you can get your chance to enjoy some pics of Sedona (and two of my amazing offspring). Long story short the three of us had a fantastic time together.
For those of you who’ve never been to Sedona it’s a must-see if you ever go to Arizona. It’s kind of the reverse of the Grand Canyon. When you see the Grand Canyon you look down (unless you’re one of the lucky ones who also get to hike to its bottom), when you go to Sedona you look up. Artists, psychics, naturalists thrive there. It’s a spiritual place thanks to its beauty, its connection to ancient times (use your imagination and you’ll see faces embedded in its walls), and its vortexes — although I honestly don’t know much about the vortexes. For me hiking through its woods and trails is magic enough; maybe its the vortex energy, maybe it’s not — who cares because it’s all good. So, please do make sure you hike as much as shop if you ever get a chance to visit. And hey if you’re into the psychic thing get a reading or buy a crystal while you’re at it.
Fun times with two of my kiddos
A boy and his dog…
So, this creek is right near where Kyle lives. THIS is where his dog gets to play every day while Kyle sometimes strums his guitar (sorry no guitar pics this time around). Lucky dog!
Aaron, my youngest, had to work so he couldn’t make this trip with us, but we’ve had plenty of mother/son lunches. Sadly since he still lives at the house we don’t think to take pics doing our thing together, but he’s as awesome to spend time with as his brother — and I’m gonna sneak some shots of him and post before I leave!
Next up? A weekend in Yuma visiting friends, and then Joe and I will have a few days up north by ourselves, and then I’ll cry my eyes out leaving the fam until we gather together again.
Pool Time Memories…too many to post
Fifteen years ago I packed up my kids, my cat (who passed at the age of 20 last year), my belongings (most of which have been replaced over the years — oh those kids!), rented a Ryder truck, attached my car and drove 2,300 miles to move to the Arizona desert. The first time I set foot in Phoenix was the night we pulled up during our first monsoon storm.
While the heat about killed us, we immediately fell in love with our new state. Within our first year I bought the house my kids did most of their growing up in. It’s a colourful, kid-pet-party scarred home full of love, laughter and tears. As beat up as it is right now — needing new windows, new floors, new paint — I love this house, but it’s time to spruce her up for another family.
I’m sweaty, dusty, and a bit too furry (thanks to my shedding dogs) because I’ve been packing up the stuff that needs to be stored until Joe and I are ready for our next American home. It might be awhile since I’m not yet finished with my overseas adventure (Joe has yet to begin his), but the things that matter to us will be waiting for when we’re ready to replant our roots.
It’s hard packing up now because the house won’t even go onto the market until the Fall, after Joe and the kids have gotten some of the cosmetic fixes taken care of. I’m sad that I won’t be here the last day I own it, but I’m totally cool with missing out on all the moving hell that comes with it. I’m also looking forward to using some of its sale money for our family, summer Europe trip next year (now that’s fun packing!). I’ve been wanting to take my kids on a trip like this for forever, so yay we can finally do it — in about a year.
In three weeks I fly back to the second desert I moved to, and I’ll finish off my probable last year in the UAE (who knows what the future holds?!). Until then I’ll continue enjoying my time here. It’s not all melancholic packing. There are more pool parties, happy hours, family trips and gatherings planned before I leave, so it’s all good — just a little nostalgic.
Just some random (stuff posted on Facebook throughout the years) home memories.