Making Summer Memories

Loveys, it's cloudy here and I'm on my second cup of coffee. We've got family in town visiting and the Jeffster has taken them white water rafting at the moment, so I'm just here with the kids, hoping everyone stays in the raft and there are no unexpected splashes into the river. My awesome friend Danielle texted me the recipe to this dessert she introduced me to--churro cheesecake--and it's fabulous (not even exaggerating a little bit) and I want to make it for our company tonight. So I'm wondering, reasonably, when I can make it. Not too soon, because the minute it's ready, I'm going to want to break into that thing. This girl is low on self control. One of the awesome things about having people come visit is getting to do all the touristy things in Colorado that we don't normally do. Canyons and rivers and Evergreens and breweries and 16th Street--it's fun to explore where we live.

(Seriously, in the above photo, I'm not even sure you can see the two tiny humans swinging in this canyon. One of the tiny humans is related to me.)

We've done these things before, but not in a long while and it's great to have a reason to do it. And seeing the sights always reminds me that there's magic where we live, if we take time to explore it. Everywhere we go, there's something special, every place we visit. I just got back from Texas and, I think, because I'm not there often and I miss it, when I am there, it's so special to me. It's always magic. For all of us, wherever we are, I think there's something to explore. (Also, my cousin has introduced my kids to geocaching. I have a feeling this might be a permanent situation around here.) There are things to see, but something about being with people you love makes exploring even more special.

We've been so blessed to have extra time with family this summer. I love it. There's carne asada in the crockpot right now and a slew of sweet potatoes on the counter, to go in the oven later. (Though I've warned my company to lower their expectations. We've got legit cooks in this family, loveys. For real. Brandy Bruce is not one of them. Every meal I've made so far has been new for them! I'm actually hoping that's helping me.)

I'm always reminded that spending time together glues us together in these ways that I love, that last even when we're apart. We spent all day yesterday in downtown Denver, taking turns holding Lily and pushing the stroller and taking pictures and holding hands with the kids. And by the end of it, you're just glued together a little bit more. Fun moments. Stressful moments (these happen when backing up and parking in the city are parts of my life. And Victor has to jump in and do this for me). Moments like all of us going into Union Station and all of us wishing it was actually Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter (love these people). Small things like eating breakfast together every morning or getting excited to watch Game of Thrones together.

Family in my house.

Sharing what we have with each other.

So it's been good over here. I'll be sad when they go and we'll miss each other until the next time. But these summer memories are good ones. Cable car rides over massive canyons, city shenanigans, water rafting, castles and trails and pizza and even helicopter rides. And lots of moments just being family together. On one of our car rides somewhere, Victor and I talked and reminisced about our childhoods--times at grandma's house and that sort of thing. And right now, I was thinking that these special moments with cousins are memories that will stay with my kids forever.

I can't believe there are already school supplies in the stores, reminding me that summer goes too fast and the school year is long. But we've got some time left and we'll try to make it last as long as possible.

Best Friends and Books

Loveys, I just got back from Texas. My BFF since forever had surgery so I took a quick trip to be with her. I had to post this picture because Michelle gave me this T-shirt in honor of The Last Summer! (Texas, y'all!)  I love it so much. Gillian and I were trying to take pictures of the book out on the farm, but the turkeys followed us everywhere so they're part of our pictures.

Michelle lives on a farm. I'm talking about a real farm. The kind where goats are milked in the morning and chickens are fed and we check on the cow (appropriately named Mr. Tasty) and turkeys roam around in what Shell's daughter and I called the Enchanted Forest (a small grove of trees that makes me want to pretend I'm in Sherwood Forest or something!). And sometimes the llamas get in the pond and look like Lochness monsters with those long necks. And dogs chase us while we ride on the 4-wheelers. And the sheep (which sort of look like goats because they're desert painted sheep) move together in a herd as they graze.

I'm so glad I was able to go. There was this moment when Michelle got out of the car and we were walking (carefully) back to the house, arm in arm, and I was thinking, Gosh, we've been together through so many seasons of life. From being just girls together on the property back where she grew up, laying on a blanket under a huge tree, next to a pond, writing stories and playing. Now we're older and we're wives and mothers. And still together. On her farm now, with her family, and her animals. I had time to talk and play with her daughter, Gillian, who's so special to me.

It's the story of a long friendship. A lot of years put in already. And more to go.

Worth it.

Because having people who've known you forever and loved you forever feels reassuring and comforting. We spent hours together, just curled up watching The Crown (so good!). Being friends. It wasn't so long ago that she was out here in Colorado, and we were cooking together and listening to our kids thunder up and down the stairs together while they were playing. And it was great to be together this time in Texas. Still being us.

So, as you can see below, The Last Summer is right at home in Texas. :) For all my friends who've already read it this summer, please take a few minutes and write a review on Amazon. It truly helps so much and your support means everything to me. I am so incredibly grateful for every reader. So hop over and please leave a review!! Long or short, they really do help.

Friendship and books. Two of my favorite things.

I miss Michelle already. And I miss Texas.

If you haven't checked out The Last Summer yet, I hope you'll click on the page at the top and put this on your summer reading list!

Goodbyes and Fresh Tears

Loveys, my grandma passed away. We'd been to Texas recently to see her because we knew she was ill, but I think we all felt she'd have a bit more time.
But then Jesus called her and she went.
It was the most emotional weekend I've had in a long time. I walked into her house and stared at the sink where she would wash dishes, and I just cried. The funeral was hard. She was a beautiful person who touched so many lives, and maybe especially because of that, saying goodbye was hard for everyone. Her legacy will live on, I know. And her family will never forget her.
But I feel this very real heaviness at the thought of her being gone. I think it will be with me for a while.
She was my last grandparent. They're all in heaven, and with that, it sort of feels like the end of a chapter of my life. Do you know what I mean? The end of childhood. The letting go of something. And with that comes this ache.
I was close to both of my grandmothers. They were alike in some ways--these two incredibly self-sufficient, capable, loving women. They were both examples of strength in womanhood and being leaders of their families. I'm so much better for having known them and being loved by them. My many memories of both of them are beautiful. They loved their families in such practical, inspiring ways. I hope to love my family like that. I hope to be there for my children and, one day, my grandchildren the way they were there for all of us.
My kids and I went to stay a week with my grandma last summer, and I'm so very thankful we did. Because I'll never forget seeing my children playing in the corners and spaces that I once played in. I'll never forget seeing Ashtyn roll out tortillas with my grandma, or seeing the kids eating breakfast at her table every morning. Watering the plants, thundering up and down the stairs, going out to eat, watching movies--all the things I grew up doing too. I didn't know at the time that last summer was our last summer with grandma, but I'll hold tight to all those memories for the rest of my life because it was such a wonderful time. Sitting with Grandma, drinking coffee together, talking, laughing, eating. She and I sat outside on a bench under a huge tree for a little while, just talking, watching my mom water plants and my kids run around.

This past weekend, I was there at the funeral. And after, with my family, all of us eating together--I was thinking how Grandma would have loved being there with us. And how we're all there because of our love for her. She's the root of us. She's where we all started. I have a special love for my cousins, for my aunts and uncles, because we're linked in this undeniable way.

And really, there with cousins I haven't seen in a while, I was reminded that it's so nice to be with people you always feel connected to. I'm going to miss my grandma. I already feel it. She was irreplaceable. But I'm thankful for the years we had her. I still miss my Mimi so much. But with her too, I feel so thankful for all the time I had with her. I have so many memories of time spent together.

And that's where the ache comes. This realization that those growing-up years, playing at Grandma's house or Mimi's house--those are only memories now. For many years now, I've been a wife and mother and lived my own life. But even grown-up women miss their grandmothers and cry over the loss. I know that part of who I am stems from Dora Vela and Patricia Brumble.

My Grandma Dori was beautiful. Classy. She worked hard and was successful. She had integrity, wisdom, and true love for her family. I loved her.

The kids were crying in the car when Jeff dropped me off at the airport. Everyone wanted to go with me. I was so glad to see them when I got home. Back to my own little family. I was so glad to hold Lily. And even today, as I'm doing laundry and making dinner and putting Band-Aids on little scrapes, it makes me think that Grandma would be pleased to see it. She taught us to take care of each other.

I've learned many things from her, but working hard, doing our best, and taking care of our family--those things stand out in my mind. Truly, I'm so grateful for the blessing of having had her in my life. She's in my heart.

I'll miss her till I see her again.