Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Family Tradition

Every year in August, a group of us pull out of our driveways in CA, AZ, UT, NY (have I missed anyone?) and meet in Cedar City, UT at the El Rey Best Western for The Shakespeare Festival. Some of us attend the plays and some don't (depending on the year). Essentially, we are all there for one reason: A Campbell family reunion. I started going to the plays with my husband the first year we started dating (that's been 17 years). We missed some years due to babies, med school, residency, etc, but when we can, we are there.

Every year since they were little my husband and his cousins have been going to the Shakespeare Festival and now we are continuing the tradition with our kids and their cousins. I'm just hoping we don't get kicked out of the El Rey any time soon. Like in any family or big group, some years almost all of us are there and some years people can't come for certain reasons, but the "show must go on".

The days are long and lazy and the nights filled with laughter, tarts, and of course Shakespeare plays. This year we saw A Midsummer's Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet. The girls and I saw the first play together and it was fantastic. Cam, Annie, and I saw Romeo and Juliet and truth be told, we were a little disappointed (we weren't the only ones). Some plays you're impressed with and they impress you and some don't. That's the nature of theater.

This year we picnicked at Duck Creek, played at the new community water park/pool, went to see Planet of the Apes (some of us saw it). Uncle Ed entertained all of us, especially Annie at the movie theater. "Hey, Annie, you want a poster"! We sat around the pool while the kids played, talking and eating (what's a family function without food?).

We also came together as a family when we received some bad news about Cam's mom. Her doctor called when we were all there with the news that her breast cancer had metastasized to her liver. Devastating to the whole family, but most of us were there with each other and that was of great comfort. I hope we were able to distract our Mae enough, so that she enjoyed a very long, otherwise stressful weekend. Since that time, she's undergone a biopsy and they are trying a new hormone blocker and perhaps chemo therapy. We're also praying she gets accepted to an experimental program at UCLA. We continue to pray for healing and health as we wait to see what happens.

Our trip went something like this...

This is how we roll...

Cam taking a picture of me taking a picture of the kids...
"Come on, Mom! It's hot out here!"

Exploring at Duck Creek...yes, some little boys did get wet...

The scene looks so serene from afar, but there was a lot of laughter, talking, and yes, even some yelling.

Can't wait to watch them grow up together and hopefully, not get into as much trouble as their dads did at their ages!

Cam lovin' on his mom!

The cousins got their own tables this year...

...which is why the parents were all smiles...

Peace out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beautiful Inside & Out

Belle has such a tender heart. This is something she was born with (I'm convinced they come to us hard wired) We can encourage certain behavior, but certain things are inherent. Belle's compassion and love for everyone is inherent.

Recently, we spent 4 days in Cedar City, UT at The Shakespeare Festival, which turns into a Campbell family reunion every year. Saturday night we were all getting ready to go over to the the Green Show and someone drew my attention to my Belle. She was leading a blind, elderly man through the pool area over to a seat in the sunshine. She took his arm leading him through the gate to the perfect seat. I stood there for a moment realizing that I just witnessed her sweet spirit in action. These are things you can not teach, but when they happen as a parent you become so proud. It was a small action that probably meant a lot to the man in a world that sees his blindness as a handicap, something that makes him different. Belle did not find him scary or uncomfortable, but someone who needed her help.

She is the peacemaker in the family and wants everyone to be happy. Tonight at dinner, Annie got excused from the table due to her attitude (another post) and Belle crosses her arms and announces to the table, "if Annie can't eat, I won't eat". We told Annie she could come back if she apologized and I think Belle was more than happy she did because that meant her hunger strike would be over.

She is kind and her tender heart is one to be praised and emulated. I've brought the incident with the blind man up a couple of times and she just shrugs as if saying "of course, Mom, I would do that". It just comes so natural to her, so she truly is a beautiful person inside and out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What we did over Summer Vacation Part I

Our summer vacation was jammed pack full of fun, friends, and family. Here are a few of those moments captured on film...

Fourth of July with the Woods' in Santa Barbara!

We went to the beach almost everyday in Santa Barbara where we learned to Boogy Board!

So much fun at the drive-in seeing Transformers...

The kids weren't the only ones that had with my bestie and her hubby.

Spent a fun week at Lake Powell with some of our family...

Spent more time with my cute "nephews" in Santa Barbara.

We even bought a house!

Celebrated Cam's 35th birthday with our family over a weekend of sun and fun...

Uncle Lance schooled us all in how to do a proper flip off the diving board...

Savy fell in love with Fiona!

My sister-in-law and cousin-in-law spent the weekend with us...

A little lovin' at the pool!

Cam and his brother, Lance

Chris, Cam, Alb, & Lance chillin' in the pool

The little boys had so much fun together!

To be continued...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back To School

It's the most wonderful time of the year...the kids headed back to school this week and I am one happy mom! Don't get me wrong, I love being with the monkeys. We traveled a lot this summer, which was fun. We also had a lot of difficult things come up that we had to deal with as a family and/or a couple. Plus, the kids fought more than usual and that drives me NUTS!

Time can not be stopped. Annie is an 8th grader, Belle is in 4th, and Charlie is in 2nd. It was just yesterday I was dropping Annie off for her first day of kindergarten and I cried all the way home. Everyone had a great first day and didn't complain when I woke them up this morning. Not being the new kids this year helped so much with first day jitters (there were hardly any) and everyone left the house with smiles on their faces. Cam was home for the first time ever on the morning of the first day, which the kids appreciated immensely.

I'm wishing everyone a happy, safe, fun-filled school year. And in a couple of months will be saying "I can't wait for summer to get here, so we can relax". It's like child birth: you forget the pain, so you can do it again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hubby's Birthday Letter

Dear Cam,
What an incredible year! July 17th is one of my favorite days of the year because we celebrate the birth of an amazing man. Yes, you! I am so proud of the husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, and doctor you have become. Taking cupcakes to work last week was so much fun for the kids and I because we got to see you in your element and everyone loves you SO much at the office. As I drove away I just swelled with pride. What you do and the things you have accomplished are immensely important.

I have loved you for so long that I can't remember a time when I didn't love you. It seems so natural to love you like waking up in the morning is natural. It hasn't always been easy and we have definitely had our struggles, but we fought to hang on during the tough times and look at us now. A happy family (most of the time).

One of my favorite things about you is your ability to forgive and I have certainly needed that in our 17 years of being together. Your patience and understanding have made me and everyone around you better people. I also love how easy it is to laugh with you. You've always brought a smile to my face. Of course, you also have an inane ability to drive me insane with your lack of time management, but who can be perfect?

I remember the first time I saw you in Coach Karnowski's preface B class our freshmen year in high school. Instant crush! I still get butterflies when you come in from work or you're meeting me somewhere and I look up and there you are with your beautiful smile. Thank you for being the love of my life!

I am grateful that you are my husband even when you are driving me insane. I love you, Cam Pico. You lead this family the way God calls you to lead and that is a true blessing. You are one of the most involved fathers I know (it hasn't always been that way due to training, but you certainly are making up for lost time). What lucky kids to have a dad like you. You are an amazing husband that would rather stay in and watch a movie than go out with the "boys". You have no idea how much that means to me. You take care of me when I have my headaches (which is a lot lately). You let me vent when I need to and reign me in when needed (I hate it when you do that, but later I'm always appreciative).

Your birthday has passed, but I still wanted to write a birthday letter since everyone is getting one this year. I hope you enjoyed your special day. I appreciate you and all you do for this family. Thank you!

Just put "Pooter" on a Plane

My baby is gone. I watched her get on a plane this morning and take off in a big, clear, blue sky headed "home". Annie is spending the next 7 days in Birmingham, AL with family and friends. I say she is headed home because her heart will always be in AL where she started school, made her first best friends, and started a very special, successful life.

Who would have thought 13 years ago that the tiny little, bawling baby would have grown into one of the most interesting, intelligent, beautiful young women I have ever met?

And now she is on her "own" for the next week. I can only imagine she enjoyed her alone time on the plane reading and listening to her music. She was loaded up with gum, candy, and her fav bque chips! I teared up in the airport as she was waiting to board and she looked over at me and smiled her most genuine smile saying "I'll be fine, Mom. I'm excited!". It's not her I was worried about. I quickly wiped my tears and gave her a hug that lasted a minute too long for her. She slept in our room on the floor the night she left, starting out in our bed. The 3 of us laid in bed talking about all the fun she would have and all our memories of the friends she would be seeing. I wish I was going with her!

For the next 7 days, "Pooter" will stay up as late as she wants, meet with "old" friends, giggle, swim, probably talk about boys, hopefully not giving me a second thought. I know Cam asked her to keep her cell with her and call us every night. He did that for my sake! This growing up thing is hard and I wish I could slow it down, but it's here and we'll meet it head on.

I'm a mom and I'll always be her mom even if she's 1200 miles away. I miss her already and the house seems a little quieter without her. I'll try not to worry and think of this as preparation for when she heads to college in 5 years. I can't think of that now. I'll just take the next week one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Trip to Sedona, AZ

About a month ago, Cam and I spent a very relaxing, romantic weekend in Sedona (an amazingly beautiful place). We stayed at a bed and breakfast, which I loved and had never done before and this labyrinth was right outside our room. It gets a little new "agey" in Sedona, so we immersed ourselves (that's me trying to enjoy the journey).

Us waiting for the people from the ranch to pick us up and take us on our horseback ride (very thoughtful on Cam's part since he's not CRAZY about horses like I am).

In another life, he was definitely a cowboy :) It was beautiful scenery. I think I talked to the guide (real cowboy) more than Cam. That's what happens when you get two horse people together.

The last day of our trip. We visited a cathedral built into the side of the rock and it was amazing. In typical Kris fashion, I just wanted to get home. Vacation was over, but Cam talked me into stopping at this church and I am so glad he did. BEAUTIFUL. We are standing right outside the doors, but couldn't get a good pic of the actual building because it was literally built into the side of the mountain.

This trip was my Mother's Day present and Cam certainly earned points for this one. The older we get and the longer we are married, the better it gets. After we got home, Cam was trying to tell our 13 year old about something that happened and started the conversation with "do you want to know something I did to mom while we were in Sedona?" Horrified she replies, "I don't want to know anything you two did in Sedona!" He was just going to tell her about a little practical joke. Jeez, Annie! I guess the idea of us "kissing" makes her want to barf. We're old, not dead (hahaha). I love teenagers!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

10 things that make me smile today:

1. Summer is almost here and my kids will be done with another busy, crazy school year.
2. Finding our little dog, Fiona on our very tall bed (I still don't know how she got there).
3. Spending time with rescued horses (feeding, mucking, and applying ointment).
4. Hearing the new ring tone I have for all my crazy girlfriends (of course, we rule the world).
5. Iced tea with lemon and splenda (almost as good as southern sweet tea).
6. Talking to my handsome husband on the phone (sometimes when I see him walk towards me like at one the kid's events and he's meeting me there, I get butterflies).
7. ALL the clean laundry in piles all over the house waiting to be folded (yes, this is on the right list).
8. Finding out who wins DWTS tonight.
9. The kids coming in after school and breaking the silence.
10. My SIL's latest text message and accompanying picture!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Camping with the Pico Family

The kids live on hot chocolate when we camp. Freckles joins us in the tent every night on our camping trips. You should see the tent when we go to bed. Cam, Charlie, and I on the blow up mattress (Freckles ends up there too). Annie and Belle in their bags on the ground. It takes hours to settle down. We talk and laugh until we fall asleep exhausted.

Breakfast anyone? I'm not saying anything about the hat. It speaks for itself!

The big question here is: why would Cam take a picture of my backside? Really? I mean it takes up the whole picture. We need to work on his photography skills.

These family memories are the ones that the kids will hopefully remember forever. Right after this picture was taken I'm sure someone poked someone with a hot clothes hanger we use for s'mores and then the fun ended.

Hubs loves to camp and the kiddos do, also. Love might be a strong word when it comes to camping and this mama. It's a lot of work to get there and get home, but everything in between is worth it. I love the campfires. I love the ability to do nothing while camping, but most of all I love how much fun we have as a family.

And don't forget: "Everything tastes better when you camp!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

They Call Me Mom

These 3 monkeys are why I get the honor of calling myself Mom. It's the best job I have ever had and frankly, the hardest. I told Cam recently that the kiddos are my best accomplishments in my life.

When I was little I used to play house and school. There was never a time in my life when I thought about not having kids. This is what I was created for: to love, to nurture, to teach, to play, and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

I became a mother the minute I found out I was prego with Annie (ready or not). I was young, a little stupid, and a lot idealistic. No bottles, no "pacies", no nipple confusion (give me a break), no sugar, etc. You get the picture. I remember telling my dad that I wasn't going to change my life and that she would fit into our life and schedule. I think he laughed out loud. I've never been more wrong about anything in my life. The night she was born I changed everything to fit into HER life, needs, wants, whims! I made a lot of mistakes with her as a first-time mom. I'm surprised she turned out, but we didn't kill her and it was an awesome journey, so we decided to do it, again.

One miscarriage and 6 months later, I was going to be a mom for the 2nd time. Truth be told, I was afraid. Afraid that I couldn't love another baby as much as I loved Annie. I was wrong, again! The day Belle was born was one of the BEST days of my life and once again another child would call me "mom". She got a "pacie" and a bottle and never experienced "nipple confusion". She nursed for 17 months :)

And then I found out I would be a mom to a son. A son who would take a piece of my heart the minute he was born. A 3rd person on the face of the earth would call ME "mom" although I never thought he would talk, so it took 2 yrs to hear that word leave his mouth.

I take my role as their mom very seriously. A role that I am honored and grateful to fulfill every day. A role that is frustrating and at times tedious. A role that challenges me as a person everyday. I will never win an academy award for this role. I will never get paid 6 figures for this job or any monetary compensation. I am taken for granted and unappreciated (at times). I am tired and never get a vacation because when I am on vacation, I still think of them, worry about them. There isn't a moment in time that I am not a mom and I wouldn't change it for the world. Not one single second.

I run a marathon everyday and it's call motherhood. I train hard and sometimes I finish first and other times I crawl across the finish line. But, at the end of the day, I get to tuck them in, kiss them good night, listen to them pray, cover them before I go to bed and start all over the next day. I send them to school with love notes and everyday I remind them to "be good"! I hug them after school and sit with them while they do homework. I pray for them every night before bed. I pray for their safety, health, soul, friends, and the people I want them to be. I pray for their physical aches and their heart aches. I pray for patience and forgiveness because I do it wrong everyday. I am inpatient and quick tempered. Some days I worry more about my dirty floors than taking the time to sit and listen.

I love it when I hear them call my name: mom, mama, mommy. But every once in awhile depending on the day, I ignore any derivative of mother and pretend I am on a beach with my toes buried and can only hear the waves. A girl can dream, can't she? It's time to thank my 3 kiddos for the journey of a lifetime!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Heart Is in Alabama

Yesterday a devastating tornado ripped through Alabama, a place that I consider my hometown. My parents are there, some of our best friends are there, two of our children were born in downtown Birmingham. Luckily our family and friends are safe. Most of them trying to provide aid to those who have lost everything. They estimate the death toll at 300, but that is early.

The town of Tuscaloosa looks very different on a map. This is the home of the Tide, as well as two of my cousins who attend college there. I hope they have someplace to sleep because entire school buildings were demolished. My prayers are with them and my heart is in Alabama today.

That was our home for 8 years. We made some of the best friends we will ever have there. It is an amazing place and in my heart I am a Southern lady, well, maybe 1/2 a Southern lady (a Southern lady does not use foul language). Right, ladies? My heart is heavy with concern today for the people who have lost loved ones, their homes, their businesses, and life as they know it for now.

I am proud of the people who live in AL who have come to the rescue to provide provisions, shelter, help, medical care. This is when you see God. He is there standing right beside the mother of 3 who has lost her home and the precious pictures of her children's life. He is with the man who is looking at his small business that is just a slab of concrete. God is with the children who have lost their parents or grand parents in this horrid natural disaster. My prayer is that those people who are hurting and lost look for God and not blame Him, but let Him hold them in their time of need.

Alabama will always be special to us (I mean that's our football team. Sorry Susan Ward!). My parents live there. They are just fine and I am thankful for that. Although I'm sure it was a rough night. My dad is not fond of storms! And for that matter neither is mom. Truth be told, I am thankful for facebook. Don't laugh. I am getting updates via fb from people all over the state. It was comforting last night to know Homewood AL was safe. Pelham, AL was safe. And today I am watching people gather supplies and get them to those who need it most. That's a God thing!

Alabama will come through this with all her Southern charm. And I was blessed to have lived in that great state for 8 years. Prayers are with you, my Southern friends.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Piano, Baseball, & Easter

The kids and our furry family

Our first Easter in Mesa, AZ

When did she pass me up in height?

What do these things have in common?
Answer: The way we spent our spring.

First game, first hit

Charlie is LOVING baseball. It's a good thing because his mama is a big baseball fan.

Our Annie has a gift.

Belle just started playing and this was her first Old McDonald Had a Song ever!

I love that all my kids are playing and performing now. Music is SO important to development and will be required to take lessons until they are 18 (yes, I'm that kind of mom).

This is our first spring in AZ and we are loving it so far. Beautiful weather and I absolutely love the smell of the orange blossoms that blows through every evening. We go to an awesome church and Holy week was very special for us this year because Annie sat at the Lord's table with her brothers and sisters in Christ on Maundy Thursday. Yes, I cried. Would you expect anything less? Christ's Greenfield Lutheran Church is special and we are blessed to be part of this church family. This is my favorite time of year and I'm trying to enjoy it to the fullest so I can survive the summer!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What a pain in the...wait wrong title!

I was in my doctor's office the other day and I looked over and this was on one of the side tables in the waiting room.

Fifth one down is my hubby and I have to say I am proud of all his accomplishments in medicine and in life. But, don't tell him that...I need to keep his ego in check j/k.

He's been on tv too, but I might be going too far with posting that! Anyway, I love the man he has become over the last 17 yrs and never cease to be amazed (good and bad) by him.

So, if you need a good pain doctor, you know where to look :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mom, Can We Sleep With You Tonight?

How do they sleep like this? Almost every night Charlie and Belle ask if they can fall asleep in my bed. And of course, I say yes and Dad says no, but most nights we find them like this in our bed. So, Cam picks each one up and carries them back to their own beds.

This is how we found them the other night. They are like puppies...all snuggled up together and laying every which way. After I took the picture, I stood there for the longest time trying to figure out why I was so sad. It dawned on me that we have so few nights left that they will want to sleep in our bed with each other. I was trying to capture this moment in time, so when Charlie goes away to college (I'm trying to talk him into ASU) I can remember him as a little boy who wanted to be in his mama's bed every night. I'm pretty sure the dog will always be there and as for Belle, I hope she wants to sleep with us even when she's 30.

Annie used to say that she was going to live with us when she got married and she would have her room, and her husband would have his. We call that the couch in our house...haha. I've told Cam many times how I want to live in a great big house with all our kids, their spouses, and their children. Well, maybe just in the same neighborhood. Daily I look at these kiddos and get glimpses of what they will be like when they grow up and I'm already proud, but can't we slow down time and have a few more years that the kids will want to fall asleep in our bed?

BTW, why don't we sleep like this as adults? I've never woken up to Cam at the foot of the bed and don't think I wouldn't take a picture if I did. And yes, the dog sleeps right there all night long with our cat up on my pillow. I think I need to establish some night time limitations or Cam may sleep on the couch permanently.

Have a great weekend and if you are so inclined leave a message about what you will miss the most when your children are grown or what you currently miss if you do have grown children. I would love to hear from all of you about the memorable things your kids do and say. Thanks for reading about our little crazy slice of life we like to call Picomania