Birthday, Buddies & Beauty

Ethan turned 8 years old on Saturday. For some reason, that sounds so old to me! I still try to snuggle with him even though he is so long and lanky that his body overhangs mine and I feel as awkward as that book Love You Forever. He got to have lunch with a couple friends at Chuck E Cheese. Although the fine establishment does serve beer to help parents cope, I did not want to ruin Ethan’s fun by having one too many and getting arrested in the prize line like two folks at our former neighborhood CEC’s in Chicago did recently. Instead, our coping was greatly aided by the arrival of dear friends from Chicago who love us enough to spend their initial moments in Albuquerque at the mouse’s house ‘o fun. They had no choice really, but still they did so with a smile.

We met Monica and Conway when they were just dating. A pastor at our church asked if Mike and I would be interested in mentoring them as a couple. We were impressed that these two took their relationship seriously from the get-go and were happy to witness their coming together as husband and wife a couple years ago. As if their presence wasn’t gift enough, they came with freshly roasted Metropolis coffee, delicious chocolate from Spain and made the birthday boy extra happy with a bag of our favorite macarons from Vanille Patisserie.

Ethan's birthday dinner dessert was his favorite vanilla macaron

Ethan’s dinner dessert was his favorite vanilla macaron

After church and green chile cheeseburgers at Holy Cow, we ventured off to Tent Rocks National Monument. What New Mexico lacks in restaurants and shopping it clearly makes up for in its natural beauty. This area continues to win us over with its accessible and varied display of God’s magnificent creation.

At the trail’s start, the wind was rushing through the trees so loudly that I thought there was a river of rapids nearby. The sun would be so warm and then as we moved between the large rock mountains we would be covered in soothing shade. Most times the boys led the way and sometimes yelled behind to warn the rest of us what to expect: “Narrow path approaching!” The skies were bright blue and clear like sapphire. It was a great way to spend the afternoon in a sanctuary no human could build.

Starting our hike on the Canyon Trail

Starting our hike on the Canyon Trail

A treehouse like no other. Erosion revealed the massive roots.

It was 3 miles round trip and the boys did great.

It was 3 miles round trip with narrow and steep parts. The boys rocked it.

Standing tall and straight

Standing tall and straight

Monica & Connor at the top

Monica & Connor at the top

Going back down by the tents

Going back down by the tents

Shade and sun as we hiked through the mountain gaps

Shade and sun as we hiked through the mountain gaps

About to disappear inside the rock

About to disappear inside the rock

From there we drove to Sante Fe to walk the Plaza and dine at Cafe Pasqual’s. We sat at the large community table in the middle. I felt bad for the other diners who were chatting with one another. We were not sitting there to talk to strangers but because we did not want to wait for a table for 6. The boys mooched mussels from Conway’s cioppino. I wondered if having a James Beard recognition authorized one to charge almost $30 for an enchilada. It was delicious though. Monica may not have been able to enjoy hers as much with Connor making himself comfortable laying on her lap. It was nice being with friends, talking so much all day that our voices were hoarse.

On their last day here we took them up the Sandia Peak Tram while the boys were at school. We ate at Flying Star, our local go-to chain for lunch with out-of-towners. Our first trip to Flying Star was with our realtor Joe when making a house-shopping visit to the area. At the time, I remember being amazed as my introverted husband laughed and joked with strangers who knew Joe.


Conway at Sandia’s peak; he survived. 🙂

We still miss Chicago. We cherish friends from there and treasure their visits. We love the treats they bring or send. However we know we are where we are supposed to be. It keeps stretching our hearts to appreciate more of the variety of life He has made. Had we never moved, we would have continued to think Chicago was the best and only place to live. We would have thought hiking was for unshaven, grungy backpackers (or maybe Boston Red Sox players?) and that running was for the insane (that might still be true). We may have lived as though being comfortable was preferable to sacrificing for others. I know I am simplifying things but the gist is true. We are where we are meant to be. That being said, we hope our beloved community continues to visit us, and we count down the days to our O’Hare arrival!


Thankful for friends, family and fabulous views


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