Just after returning home from our long summer road trip, I learned of my grandmother’s passing. And as much as I would’ve loved to have the whole family hop back in the car and drive the 18 hours to Montana, I knew it wasn’t going to work that way. I worked to secure last minute tickets to Montana which is never cheap, but it was affordable enough to bring Hallie along as she was begging to join me.
It didn’t work out for my family (parents and siblings) to gather together this summer, probably the first summer in years we haven’t been able to make it work. So it was a pleasant surprise to be with them all for a short 48 hours.
I’ve been to Montana many, many times and I’ve been able to go several times in the last couple years, but this visit was a little different. With my grandma’s passing, I’m not sure when I’ll be back, and I could feel that deep within me while we were there. There seemed to be a sense of finality with each activity. (Although I have high hopes to make it back there with my family when we visit Glacier National Park – it’s on our list of parks we want to visit)
I’ve mentioned this before, but this carousel, as random as it may be, holds a special place in my heart. And I knew in our short 48 hours it had to make the list of activities. My siblings were all on board and we were excited to go together. But Hallie and I arrived in town earlier than everyone else and we made a special visit just the two of us (Just in case something came up and we weren’t able to go as a family!!) The park was empty and Hallie rode over and over again in an attempt to grab the brass ring. I was about her age, maybe a little younger, when the carousel first opened and I could see myself in her and she flew past me with each rotation. She was just as happy as I remember being and it reminded me of my sweet grandma.
There happened to be a marathon finish line right next to the carousel and we made sure to cheer on the strangers. In my mind, a marathon is an impossible feat and anyone who finishes should be cheered on from family and friends and even strangers.
In order to be closer to family and the funeral location, we stayed out of town a ways at a VRBO. Upon our arrival we were surprised to learn we were staying on several acres that bred miniature horses and who happened to have an llama. It really was beautiful country.
We attended the life celebration of my grandma with all my siblings present. It was fun to reminisce on grandma’s life as well as the years we spent going to Montana. It was a day focused on families and their importance and I was grateful to be in attendance.
And yes, I have a whole lot of these photos as my brother’s attempted to smash us in the middle. Never a dull moment and I’m sure my parents are wondering when we’ll grow up!
There wasn’t a graveside as part of the service, but we went as a family and for the first time I saw my grandpa/grandma’s headstone as well as my mom’s brother who passed away two days after birth from a heart defect. As far as cemeteries go, this one was beautiful with lush grass and large mature trees.
We made it to the carousel as a family and nothing is more entertaining than watching kids and adults fight to gain the brass ring from the dragon. I’ve never seen a carousel that creates this much interest from adults – I’m wondering how I can get one in Arizona??
It was a really short weekend, but one I’m so grateful to have been apart of. I love my family because they have shaped who I am and my grandma is at the base of that. I’m so happy Hallie was able to join me – its a shared experience we will have and I cherish it.
Steve is not a music person at all. He has a hard time understanding the lyrics and much prefers talk radio or audiobooks (I almost wrote books on CD and then remembered they were replaced years ago!) So when he gave me concert tickets last year for a gift (for the two of us), I knew it was out of love. It could only be out of love!
Granted, his track record for concerts is extremely limited – and the last time we were together at a concert the impaired lead to Counting Crows went on a 15 minute political rant and couldn’t sing his lines, and they couldn’t seem to get hime off the stage…so the bar was pretty low!
9 months after receiving the tickets as a gift – we were finally able to cash them in and see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill with some friends. Growing up I was a huge country fan and Tim McGraw still ranks as one of the few country artists I still listen to. They were amazing in every way, they put on an entertaining show and I enjoyed every minute.
Much to my surprise, Steve also enjoyed himself even though he didn’t know all the songs. In fact one song Faith started to sing and he turned to me and said, “I thought this song was Shania Twains”. It blew his last concert out of the water. Perhaps it was enough to get him to a couple more concerts! Music is good for the soul!
We all have a choice. Some days I choose better than others. I don’t even think it’s a daily choice – perhaps more of a minute-to-minute decision. Depends on the day!
Very few people are brave enough or love us enough to visit in July. In fact, no one loves us enough – however, we do get visitors on occasion when they have to be in Arizona for something else. My brother and his family had a reunion here (I know…who plans a reunion in July in Arizona?!?) which means we got them for a couple days after they were done.
July visitors get a lot of water time. In the past we’ve gone to water parks and to the lake – this go around we had less time so we stuck with pools.
A visit isn’t complete without scorpion hunting – its always a fan favorite! After killing the 11 in our yard, we moved on to our neighbor’s yard where we found twice that many. Including these two moving along the wall attached to each other. After hunting, it was late and finally the temperature was bearable (just over 100 degrees) to be outside. We played basketball speed for an hour while sweating profusely.
With pool time and scorpion hunting complete – we hit a local indoor trampoline/ninja warrior/skate park. This was a hit with our kids and we had no problem spending two hours jumping and climbing and everything else they had to offer. An indoor park can’t be beat in the Arizona summer.
Hip hip hooray for the start of another school year!! Luckily all these smiles are genuine and every one came home with the same smiles.
They all met up with friends either riding the bus or when they arrived at the school which helps calm any nerves that might be bubbling just below the surface.
One of our favorite traditions is having cousins come over after school to share in the fun and excitement – and they hop in the photo booth to document the day. We got a good kick out of looking at first day of school photos from years past – memory lane is always a fun road.
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