Friday, September 23, 2016

Arizona Has Four Seasons

I just have to get this off my chest.

I'm so tired of hearing people say that Arizona (or, more specifically, Phoenix) doesn't have four seasons.

Um, yes, we do.
 

They are called summer, fall, winter, and spring.

The same seasons the rest of the world has.

Granted, Phoenix will not have any scarlet and gold bursts of fall color. There will be no snow blanketing the ground in the winter. But there are four seasons here. I should know. I've lived here (almost) my whole life.


I can feel the moment summer's blaze mellows into fall, when the sun shifts and no longer burns your face off the minute it crests the horizon. The mornings are cooler, the evenings come sooner and the leaves on our trees turn gold.


Winter here is short, but for several weeks we'll wake up to find intricate patterns of frost on the windows of the cars, the water in the horse's bucket frozen solid. The trees shed their leaves and the days shorten, yellow sunsets melting into crisp blue evenings spent by our fireplace.


I know it's spring when our Mulberry trees sprout tiny green buds and the brown grass comes back to life. The desert trees burst with pink and yellow flowers. Birds build nests on our roof, bees buzz by the windows, and the fragrance of orange blossoms floats on the breeze.

 
As the days get longer and warmer we know summer's coming. It hits like the blast of heat you feel when you open your oven door. Yet nothing compares to a spectacular summer sunset blazing in brilliant shades of gold, rose, and orange. Or a late-afternoon thunderstorm washing the desert in cold rain and flashes of lightning.


 
In case you weren't counting, that's four seasons.
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
So, please, in the future, say you don't want to live in Phoenix because it gets so hot, or because you miss the snow, or because you can't stand the way we drive. Please don't say you have to live somewhere that has four seasons. Because we do.
 
 
*Rant over*
 
I feel a lot better now,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Returning to the Ranch

This summer, I finally got to go back to Ensign Ranch. And this time, I took my family with me.

It has been eleven years since I spent a summer at the ranch working as a wrangler. But time seemed to fold in on itself and disappear as we drove up Hundley Road.

It was like I had never left.

Except, you know, for the husband, kids, and baby I was bringing with me.


Working at the ranch was amazing because we basically had our run of the place, exploring every trail and secret meadow.

Visiting was also amazing because my time was all mine and I didn't have to shovel a single scoop of horse poop.


And we got to play on the giant slip and slide!
 
     
You know what it's like when your Old Self and your Present Self meet? It can be uncomfortable, even jarring.

Think ten year high school reunion. *Shudder*

Sometimes Old Self isn't ready to accept your Present, and other times Present Self squirms remembering what Old Self was really like.

This was not one of those times.

It was the perfect meeting of Old and Present. I embraced the beauty of the ranch and the memories that flooded me around every corner--even the memories of my mistakes, like the time I let go of Levi's halter while he was getting shod and we had to chase him around the barn--and loved every second of introducing my husband and children to the place I once--and still do--called home.

Because let's face it, every single one of us who ever worked at the ranch still feel as if a part of it belongs to us.

Like the barn where I spent hours saddling horses, shoveling poop, and unsaddling horses. And fitting helmets on people's heads:

The pasture where we fought for our turn to gallop to the gate...

And where we once sprayed all the horses' backs with water and watched them, one by one, buckle down and roll in the dirt:


The creek where we got in water fights on hot days:

The trails I traveled a million times on horseback:




The lake where I canoed for the first time ever:

 
The tree-lined road that made me want to fall in love:

 
As much as I loved that summer at the ranch, the two days I spent there with my family were even better. Nothing beats having a hand to hold and children to share your joy with.




The best part was how much the kids loved the ranch. They still tell me how much fun they had there. Which makes my heart swell with pride.

Because, you know, the ranch is mine.

In my dreams,
The Brown-Eyed Girl




















Friday, August 5, 2016

Keeping it Real

Blue-Eyed Girl wanted a Pinkie Pie cake for her third birthday. I googled images and found the cutest, simplest cakes and thought it would be no problem to make an awesome one for my little girl.

Here is how it turned out:


Of course I felt horrible, like I had ruined Blue-Eyed Girl's birthday and she would never forgive me.

Do you know what she and Brown-Eyed Boy said when they saw the cake?

"That looks delicious!"

No comment about the sagging layers or the frosting's sickening Pepto-Bismol hue. I wanted to snatch them up in bear hugs that very second.  

Why am I so terrified of making mistakes? Why does the thought of sharing my mistakes make me dry-heave?
 
I know I'm not alone. Most of us share only the sweet, beautiful moments of our lives on social media. I get it. But I'm tired of it. I'm tired of feeling like I have to touch some lofty, unreachable standard of perfection in order to be happy with myself. And when I fail--because, inevitably, I do--I have to keep those failures quietly tucked away lest someone--heaven forbid--discovers that I am less than perfect.
 
I am the one, by the way, who sets those impossible standards. I am the one who condemns the girl in the mirror for her countless flaws. I know, in my heart, that no one else--even on social media--is judging me as harshly as I judge myself.
 
So I'm breaking free. I'm going to start these "Keeping it Real" posts not to convince the world that I am less than perfect, but to convince myself that I can make mistakes, share my mistakes, and still be okay.
 
That I can fall short of that standard and love myself anyway.
 
Taking a deep breath,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tawnya's Wedding

As I have mentioned in the past, there are eleven kids in my family.

I am number ten.

(Ha, ha, I should make a movie out of my life, with that as the title.)

These days, my brothers and sisters are some of my best friends. But it wasn't always so.

I have this sister who is five years older than me. Which as a kid is like, eons. She would babysit us and always take our baby brother's side when we fought. She bossed us around. She and our older cousin would tell us scary stories and give us nightmares.

I don't even remember talking to her as a kid. I think I just stared at her in awe and terror.

Then, as I got into middle school, things changed. She started driving me places in her shiny new car. She bought me lunch with this amazing thing she had called money. And we started talking. And I stopped being afraid of her. Instead we'd laugh together and make up ridiculous songs to sing while we brushed our teeth. Road trips and late-night alien hunts and Christmas Eve movies became tradition.

Although we'd been sisters our whole lives, we had finally become friends.

Last year, this dear no-longer-frightening sister of mine got married. Due to several different factors, we ended up having the reception at my house.

It was a big, beautiful party.

Although I had very little to do with how gorgeous everything turned out, I wanted to share it all with you here.
(Photography by the amazing Cindy Price)
















This is how not scary Tawnya is now:


My kids absolutely adore her.

The end,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, July 15, 2016

Oregon 2016

Just when it started getting miserably hot in Arizona, we made a getaway to beautiful Oregon: 




Everyone kept apologizing for the cold weather. And I just laughed.

Visiting with Mr. Brown Eyes' family was fun just like it is every year, but I can't really call it a vacation.

"Vacation" denotes rest and relaxation. And, let's face it, traveling with three kids--one under a year old--is neither restful nor relaxing.





Between back-to-back potty breaks, overtired babies, late nights, tantrums, and a whole lot of whining, there were plenty of times I wanted to pull my hair out.

But the good times made it all worth it.




Nothing says family bonding like twenty hours in a car together.

 

But now...we just might need a vacation from our vacation.

Happy Summer,
The Brown-Eyed Girl