July 19, 2015

Forging Westward: Idaho

After my short stint in Madison, it was time to pack up again to head west to Boise.

OK, so while Wisconsin and Idaho may not make the average tourist's "bestseller state list," I could argue that's why they are so beautiful and enjoyable. So many outdoor activities, low-key airports, and genuinely kind people are ready to welcome you to their pretty corner of the world. If you have the chance: GO.

Wisconsin to Colorado to Idaho

I will never forget this arrival in Boise.

I never know exactly how somebody is going to pick me up from the airport. Sometimes it depends on the airport parking fee, or somebody might be running late, or that one time last year my in-laws had to page me over the Denver airport loudspeaker.

All I remember is looking up through the glass doors and seeing my tall best friend, Jenn, and I became one of the crazy people who try to run with their suitcase in tow. I mean, we didn't get too emotional, but it was just so so SO good to be together again.

I think seeing each other helps remind us both that we have people in our lives who really like and love us. That might sound a bit silly because we both have loving husbands, parents, extended family, etc., but it makes sense to us.

The friends I made in college and through NBC Camps have always been "my people," and no amount of moving around will ever change that.

I had to switch gears from older generations to a newer generation on this trip because...Jenn is my best friend with kids.

Don't worry, she knows about me.

But little 2-year-old Blake and 5 1/2-month-old Tenley are basically my version of my kids without me having to do any of the real or hard stuff.

I realize this doesn't make me their #2 Mom, but it definitely makes me Aunt Chevy (at least, that's what we think Blake said when we think he was trying to say my name)!

We caught up on all of the cartoon movies I haven't watched the last 10 years, took a few walks to park, and I probably had way too much fun winning every pillow fight. But Blake kept laughing and shrieking, and in my limited parenting experiences, that's usually a good sign.

Jenn threw a fun 2-year-old boy truck-themed birthday party the Saturday I was in town, and it was hilarious watching all the little cousins running around and trying to process that the new toys were only for Blake.

(I won't mention all the not-so-cute events, but they're just normal toddlers, so it just comes with the territory. I will mention that Jenn is still normal and her stern-ness vs. fun-ness is on point. I am very thankful for all of that.)

We did manage to squeeze in the exceptionally fun and cool adult activity of Paint Nite.

I loved all the art classes I took in school growing up. It wasn't because I didn't like my other classes, but art class was a chance to color outside the lines for a change. It was the only class where we could experiment with and interpret an assignment in a different way and still get a good grade for it!

Well, throw us into Paint Nite, and it was an opportunity to go crazy with colors all over again!

We did stay generally within the guidelines of our art instructor, but after staring at a big blob of red paint for too long, I just had to start putting it onto the canvas.

I don't know why adults stop doing things they enjoyed as children. Do we shuffle away those hobbies as "kid stuff?" Do we just chalk it up to never having enough time?

All I know is anytime I've gone out of my way to scrawl with my crayons in a coloring book, find a park with a swingset, or play with paint on an empty white canvas, I feel that fun freedom that comes when I am about to start something that will end up great no matter what happens. How can we think we are getting the same creative enjoyment out of running 3 miles and balancing our accounts?

Paint Nite encourages everyone from the confident sketch artist to the clumsy stick figure artist to let loose and create something fun together. It's a positive and open atmosphere, and even the guy sitting next to Jenn who painted like a 6-year-old was having a great time.

Paint Nite is probably in an American location near you. If it's not, contact Paint Nite and I'm sure they'd love to become a part of your community as well!

Boise is a great place to raise a family, with suburbs galore, a great downtown scene, and Boise State. I'm glad I have a surrogate family there, and thankful for Jenn who always makes sure I know Boise is cool.

Jenn: Boise is cool, because any place you are will always be awesome and I'm happy to visit you there for as long as we both shall live.

(The visits to the snow cone places help a lot.)