What do I say?!

How do I share that this weekend was one of *euphoria* without sounding overly dramatic? What words do I use to express the bond that friends have? I can’t, because simply there are none. It takes a long time to develop an old friendship.

Who would have thought when I was running around in first grade playing kissing tag with Heidi, that we would form a closeness, a sisterhood, that would last almost 30 years (so far)?

Not many are lucky enough to have a cousin they also consider a best friend like Ally. The hours we spent frolicking on our grandma’s ranch and riding horses were endless.

It’s crazy to me that my ninth grade Home EC. class led me to Heather. I guess she knew as she watched me jump out the windows to meet my boyfriend, that she had found a life time buddy!

A best friend that grew up on the same street as me was nothing less than a blessing, and her name is Nicole. Long walks up the mountain every day to and from school from the tender age of 10 helped us understand each other better than anyone else.

Dancing for hours on end with Karen bound me to her for life! I couldn’t begin to count the number of practices we endured starting at 6:00 a.m. every morning before school and many times once or twice more after.

I observe my daughters navigate through school every day. It isn’t always pretty. Friends are the most important thing to them in the world. It’s so hard to watch them base their happiness on friends when they are all struggling the same within their changing bodies. Rumors, gossip, degrading comments, family problems, and hormones make life hard… to say the least. Only friends that can make it through all the drama are the ones that last. They stand the test of time, somehow, and stick. Thank goodness there are some that do, because most don’t. My heart brakes as I watch my girls experience this for the first time. None of us are exempt because this is when some of the hardest lessons are learned. It is the first challenge of having a community outside of family. Leaders develop, and groups are divided. It’s when we decide who we are and what we believe. Some challenges that I went through as a young girl, even had me thinking that I wanted to have all sons some day because the dynamic between girls could be so intense!

As you can see, over time I have not only seen the greatness that comes with a women’s friendship, it has become me. It is my life raising six daughters, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There is nothing as strong and beautiful as a woman that knows who she is and what she wants to achieve. How often have you heard someone say, “I wish I could go back and do it again, knowing what I know now. Once again I am brought back to my PROJECT and why I am taking time to do it.

As we shared our life’s experiences this weekend at the cabin, it became very apparent to me that we had all been through the fire of life. We travel on different paths and struggle with different things but in the end we are the same. We want to be good women, friends, daughters, and mothers. We strive to do the best job we can and won’t stop until we do!

What is it about women that makes us so hard on ourselves? It is good that we have a tireless drive within us to pursue greatness, but somehow if we let it, it can take over and start to canker our self worth. Gradually we look in the mirror and see something that doesn’t live up to our standard. We find every imperfect* minute* nit picky* detail* and compare ourselves to other seemingly perfect women. I believe Satan uses this as one of his biggest tools of destruction within the family. I wanted to take each of my friends individually, look them in the eyes, and tell them everything I noticed about them that is special. I want them to see themselves as I see them. I guess I am even more passionate about this since I have started reading the letters I have been receiving for my PROJECT.

Some women want to participate, but won’t because they tell me that they can’t find anything to say to their 12 year old self that would be positive because all they ever heard growing up was the opposite. I have to wonder if these same women are still struggling. My guess would be that they are, but I think this could be the first step to finding beauty within themselves and accepting the fact that we are all different and beautiful.

Believe me, I saw beauty this weekend! There was beauty all around us. Some was in the laughter, hugs, and jokes, while some came from the stories told of bravery, loss, and heartache. Hearing all we had gone through individually had an extreme emotional impact on me. By the time we were ready to drive away leaving the scenery and fun behind, I expressed my gratefulness for my friends in prayer. The humility I feel for being blessed with friends across the nation that I know care for me, even though we aren’t always physically together.

But believe me when I say that this was only the “FIRST annual girls trip”!

The first day (Thursday) I picked up Nicole at the airport on the way to grab the others. You see, I have a suburban and always have. Over the years I have become the designated driver because of this! When I first saw Nicole, I noticed how she flipped her hair out of her face and floods of memories came into my mind! Something so simple, but a motion I have seen countless times. I was filled with excitement and gave her a huge hug! She was beautiful, just like always and the years haven’t changed that! Listening to her voice was almost comical because even though she was talking about her flight, all I could hear were the plans we used to make together and the many nights we laughed until the early morning. We set off to pick up the rest of the crowd and had the same experience with each of them. We have been apart, but will somehow always be connected.

We had a great drive up to the cabin through Idaho, a route that I have never been on. It was fun to soak in different scenery. The pine trees, snowy majestic mountains, and slow flowing freezing rivers were so relaxing to me as we drove by. We were all talking so fast, that the sound level gradually became a low yell because we had so much to share and laugh at!

When we arrived, we dropped off our stuff and went to eat at Gunner’s Pizza, the best pizza in all of Alpine Wyoming. O.K., it’s not that big of town, but it is fabulous! Afterward we attacked the grocery store to grab some food to munch on at the cabin. When we came home, I suggested we play the “get to know you game”. (Sad that we actually had to) It was fun to hear all of the stories that came out from each of us that nobody knew about. Some that will never be repeated *wink*wink* We laughed until our stomachs hurt and finally fell asleep in heaps on our beds from the long day of travel.

We woke up bright and early Friday morning ready to play….or relax that is! We had a day at the spa in Teton Village planned and NOTHING compared to this experience! Are you ready to see this? I AM!

The day started out with an expansive overcast sky that had a crisp, fresh, feel in the air. That was enough to make me smile and I anticipated the day that lay ahead! First we pumped a little iron and showed each other how tough we were.

Old competitions don’t die easily you know!

After that was over, we prepared to do absolutely NOTHING!

The jet tub with perfect, complete with cucumber water (Sounds wierd, but refreshing!)

and we decided to take a picture in the lounge in our robes. The first picture turned out alright…

The second picture looks like we are all victims on a chainsaw massacre movie!

It was supposed to look “relaxed, and sultry”. Hmmm… I can’t even type the plans we had for this picture without laughing outloud!

(The lady that ran the spa took the picture)

We all enjoyed a Sweedish massage. I opted to also have a facial and Heidi added a body glow wrap. It couldn’t have been better. They even offered lunch from the “Mangy Moose” restaurant to be served by the pool. {sigh} It was HEAVENLY.

I asked the helper man standing in the lobby of the hotel to take our picture. We decided to call ourselves “Charlie’s Angels” because, well, we like them and my Jon became our “Charlie” for the trip making random calls and bestowing gifts at will.

When we walked outside I couldn’t believe my eyes! The sky was perfectly blue and the temperature was great! We had timed it just right! I made the “Angels” line up for a few quick pictures. I was in their face with my camera most of the trip, but I think by the end everyone was grateful for the recorded memories.

Because I started becoming extremeley jelous at seeing all of them together without ME I yelled “HEY MR. MAN! CAN YOU COME TAKE SOME PICTURES PLEEAAASSEE!!” The poor bystander was very sweet to help out with my ego and snap a few pictures including ME!

I know the picture of Ally is blurry, but I love it anyway. At this point my camera battery died *shocker I know* and we had to leave the best time of the day to take pictures and go get old time photos. We had a ball playing dress up in the “saloon”.

I love LOVE Nicole’s face in this picture because she thought it was kind of strange that all of the costumes had tie backs and she had to physically hold on her dress while he cinched it tight enough!

I think Karen had the same reaction!

I for one, could not stop laughing. I wasn’t quite sure how to get into my bloomers. To make it worse, Nicole and I had to use the restroom pretty bad. The nice gentleman that owned the store offered to let us pee in a bucket in the back because he didn’t have a public bathroom. I couldn’t believe that the city regulations would let him get away with that, but he told us if we wouldn’t tell anyone it would be o.k. !!! Nicole let me know that she needed to go bad enough to make it worth it. I thought she was pretty cool and remembered why I loved her so!

It wasn’t until a while later that Heidi let it slip…

IT WAS A JOKE and I fell for it! Not only did I fall for it, I was slipping around, slidin’ in it! Such is the life of a blonde.

Be glad that you don’t get to see the picture Heidi took. Let’s just say she surprised me in the dressing room and there was a full moon out that night! I just didn’t know she would be recording the evidence!!

We worked up quite an appetite taking pictures, so we headed on down the road to “Merry Pigletts”. Merry Pigletts is a scrumptious Mexican restaurant in Jackson Hole. If you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth your stop! At this point we started to get a bit out of control giggling like school girls. I think all of the relaxations brought out our crazy side. The people around us were either laughing watching us because of our apparent happiness, or moving away from us to prevent ear damage. Seriously, the floor was tile and we were in a little cove part of the room that only helped project our cackeling throughout!

No, I don’t drink, but I DO drink virgin pina colada’s through the nose.

It was a perfect end to a perfect day! I love Ally’s sweatshirt down over her face with her boxes of food. I couldn’t stop laughing because she could barely see where she was going. She looked like a Jedi knight.

That was it. It was all I could handle for the day and I lost complete control over myself in the middle of the road. It was a miracle that I wasn’t hit by a car or loose control of my bladder. After you have kids, it is never quite the same you know!

We drove home that night completely satisfied with the events of the day. It couldn’t have been more perfect. When we arrived at the cabin, we sat and looked at the photos from the day and laughed until we thought we would puke! We started to watch the movie Avatar but we passed out on the couch.

The next morning, Nicole and I decided to go for a walk. We strolled up Grey’s River Road. The temperature was just right, not too hot and not too cold. Ahhhh….

We talked about business mostly because we both have owned businesses. It was comforting for me to chat with someone who understands the unique challenges that comes with it. The ups and downs are brutal, but a necessary part of the growth. Talking about it can still be emotional and a bit stressful, but I think it helps. I wish we were able to talk this way more often but the distance and daily life makes it hard.

When we got back to the cabin, we got ready and left for Jackson Hole. As soon as we pulled in, we were ready to eat a COW! So we DID. Welcome to “Billy’s Giant Hamburgers!”

We asked the guy there if he was Billy. He told us that your name had to be Billy to work there, so we called him Billy. He said I could be hired because my name was Billy Jean. The picture above was taken by a sweet lady across the bar that I asked to take a picture. All of Jackson had the chance to photograph the “Angels” by the time we were done there!

We told Heather to pull a pouty face and I think she did a pretty good job!

Check out the eyeballs on these girls!

After we finished up our pig cow out session, we set off to take the town by storm! We had some play money from “Charlie” to buy a few things, AND BUY WE DID! Number one was getting a picture taken by the famous horns at the park.

Once that was checked off our list, we took off like little kids that heard an ice cream truck and started shopping! “The Shirt off my Back” is where we found the best deals! All of the mommies picked out something for their kids over themselves *definition of a good mommy.*

*Yes Heather, you have a cute bum!*

After we bought everything in that store, we moved onto the next. I told the girls that one of my favorite stores was Jolly Jumbucks. They sale handcrafted leather belts that are custom fit to your body, not to mention they are darling! I have bought one belt there a year for the past three years. I have one with that is white with horses on it in all different colors and it is fabulous, if I do say so myself. Actually, Ally agreed and was planning on getting one too!

Just take a look at Ally’s priceless face expression when she found out the owners had
“Gone fising” and the store was closed!

We made it out of there with loads of goodies. The next store that I love to visit, (but can’t actually buy much in) was “Davies Reid” The store is filled with treasures from all over the globe! They have everything from antique toys from India to massive hand loomed rugs. I did find a fun necklace for each of the girls to signify the BFF status that we all hold.

En route to our next destination, I found this great statue and of course saw it as an awesome photo op! Here, Karen and Nicole are showing him some love. Of course, I felt left out once again and petitioned for the nearest pedestrian to take our picture. This time it was four interesting men that happened to be staring at us anyway. I told them if they took our picture, they could take one for themselves. I know, you can say it, I am a DORK but it was so funny to see how excited they were! One of the friends took a picture with his camera and kept saying “I got it, I got it!!” over and over again.

Did I mention above that we had everyone in Jackson take a picture of us? You must believe me now when I say it is true! This next set of fine pictures were taken by a fantastically funny *slightly nauhty mouthed woman* name Elise. She was the nicest woman, and I dare say a bit tipsy. She spent about 15 minutes telling us stories and lining us up for our mini photo shoot. We were so appreciative and will never forget her. *Of this I am sure!*

Right after we finished lining up for Elise, we popped into one last t-shirt store to find a few remaining unfound shirts. Gradually…one…by….one, my friends were dropping like flies. I couldn’t find them until I walked to the front of the store and saw them all sitting on the couch with two fine looking gentlemen. They were all dressed up in good lookin’ cowboy wear and I couldn’t pass up the chance to grab a photo with them. There was nowhere to sit when I got there, so I asked the nice man on the left if I could sit on his lap. Now, I don’t know why, but I think he blushed. Was I being forward? I didn’t mean to rattle him. I explained that I was married and had six daughters of my own and that his sweet wife didn’t have any reason to worry! The men were being so patient wating for their women to return and I didn’t mean to cause any problems. What great guys! I can only imagine the conversation when his wife returned, “I swear honey, this blonde girl just asked to sit on my lap!”

OH, I almost forgot! I had the store owner take this picture.

Heidi is pointing out that the tumbleweed we hit on the way to the cabin was STILL there. It actually made it until Monday morning when Kinley found it before school and pulled it out!

“Thank you Charlie!”

Whew! After a long day of shopping, we decided a smoothie sounded jusssst right! We found the perfect place *Hagan Dazz* mmmmm. I am not sure which of my friends asked the cute sheriff of Jackson to take a picture with us, but I love it! Any guesses on who took it? YEP, someone in the line ahead of us!

We must have pushed his button because right after he cuffed and stuffed us!

Luckily he decided to let us go in time for another mini photo shoot in front of the stage stop.

We finished off the day with a trip to Sidewinders. The food was divine (kind of) and the company was even better! Did I mention that my friends are crazy?! Well they are. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Gotta love this picture of Karen dancing the night away!

We were very safe on the trip because as Heather made sure we understand that “Safety is no accident!” Even our food was safe. We learned a lot of safety tips from Heather. For instance, as we were driving down the canyon, she had to use the bathroom really bad but let us know that “There is NO safe pull out!” I marvel at her knowledge sometimes.

During dinner, Heidi also made me laugh because she kept referring to the campground everytime she needed something. She would say things like, “Oh, it is back at the camper” because they camp so much. She may blame it on something else, but I believe it is all that blond hair of hers. She just has no chance.

When all was said and done, we wouldn’t have changed a thing! We plan on making this trip happen again this time next year. It was a much needed break from reality, a minute to take a step back and breathe. It’s fun to be around people that know the essence of who you are. There isn’t any need for small talk and you can just fall into the present and enjoy being you.

Thanks girls, for the memories and laughs!