Monday, February 28, 2011

Five Minute Attitude Check

Good morning. Or rather Good Monday morning. I purposefully left the exclamation mark off the end of that sentence.

I'm tired this morning. Tired and grumpy with a raging case of PMS on the side.

Our weekend was SUPER BUSY. I'm not a fan of busy. I'm a recovering busy-a-holic (if there is such a thing). I've learned the hard way that I function best when life has a slow and relaxed pace. I work hard to control the chaos and minimize activity in order to offer my best to those I love the most. Y'all, this weekend kicked my butt.

But I'm also learning that having kids means being busy. Especially having older kids.

My friend Nancy wrote a fabulous blog post about this very thing. I couldn't agree with her more.

I'm finding that I'm having to give up some of my comforts and desires as my family grows and changes.  Our weekends now involve other kiddos and activities of all sorts and driving kids all over creation. I'd love for all five of us to be at home together every single weeknight but that's slowly changing too. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, it's just different for us.

It's worth it though. I love how my friend, Nancy, responded when chided about her busyness being a choice. "Well, that may be, but that choice started long ago. With children."

So, so true. I'm choosing to be happy about this stage of parenting. Choosing to show my kids that I'm absolutely crazy about them and will do whatever I can (within reason) to show them. Choosing to be happy (as much as I can) about being busy.

Alrighty. The busy train is about to pull back into the LifeAt7000Feet station. Gotta go! Have a great Monday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Suffering and Hair and Mad Men

My kids are troopers. After four mornings of sleeping in, they popped out of bed today with good, happy attitudes. Well, two of the three did that. The littlest is still asleep because our elementary school starts 1.5 hours after the middle school does. Good, happy morning attitudes? That's more than I can say for their mother. But the coffee is helping. Definitely helping.

Our break was nice. I wanted it to be a mix of fun, productive, and restful and it was. Yesterday was the most restful of the four days. I didn't leave the house and I stayed in my pjs ALL day! I haven't done that in a very long time. It was nice. Really nice.

John and I are hooked on the television show Mad Men. I think we're both lovers of story, and we think the story line is this show is really good. Sad, tragic, ill-fated, and morally questionable at times, but good. Plus, Don Draper is pretty easy on the eyes. John teases me about that a lot. Since the first of the year, we've made our way through Seasons 1, 2, and 3. On Monday I used an iTunes card to download Season 4 (it's not available on dvd until March 29 and we couldn't wait that long!) Good grief. Have you ever downloaded an entire season of a television show on iTunes? It took about 18 hours. 18 hours. I had no idea.

I also downloaded and listened to a radio podcast about Joanne that aired last week on the show her husband co-produces. It's about an hour long but it's good. And it made me cry--both tears of joy and sadness. I know so many of you have prayed and are still praying for her. I'm standing alongside of you in that as well. After listening to that podcast, I sent Joanne a quick text message to tell her hello and that I was thinking about her (she recently got her phone back!) And guess what? A couple of hours later she replied back to me with not one but FOUR messages. They were sweet. And thoughtful. And she referenced something from early December which made me know that her memory is still very much intact. Isn't that ASTOUNDING! Made me so happy.

Her progress is so encouraging but she still has a long way to go. My heart is heavy for her family these days. And not just for her family but for so many I know that are struggling with hard things: loss, marital stress and divorce, financial stress, and other kinds of health crises. I think the internet is a really wonderful tool for bringing people closer but it also makes me acutely aware of the pain and suffering of others. As a person who tends to feel things deeply it brings a heaviness of heart that I often find myself unable to shake. It's hard sometimes, really hard. The flip side of that though is that sometimes you get to see the good that God often works in those situations or in the waiting. Not always, but sometimes.

I don't want to end on a sad note, so I'll tell you one thing I'm super excited about this week. I'm getting my hair cut and colored tomorrow. HOORAY! It's been 14 weeks + 2 days and I never intended to go this long or let my hair get this scraggly or have such a hideous root stripe down the top of my head. I don't know what's worse--my roots or the grays that seem to multiply by the day. I've been told it's "really not that bad" but I think my friends are lying to me. One more day until Rachel works her magic. I think I can...I think I can...I think I can. Now, where's my hat?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tell About It Tuesday: Spicy

I've got something new to tell you about. AND, it's Tuesday. So there ya go.

I love chipotle peppers. Basically, chipotle peppers are very ripe jalapenos that have been smoked to perfection! They add terrific flavor to certain recipes and I'm slightly partial to their sweet, smoky heat!

Typically, I buy a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and find myself using only one or two for a recipe. Not wanting to waste an entire can, I've been freezing the rest in small ziploc bags. I've had good results with that BUT a couple of weeks ago I decided to try this:

It's ground chipotle peppers (looks sort of like chili powder) and it is W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! I've heard about this powdered form of chipotle for a while but never remembered to look for it until a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon it on the spice aisle.

I'm guessing a bit here, but I think that 1/2 tsp of the powder is roughly equivalent to 1 chipotle pepper. Unfortunately there isn't an equivalent measuring guide on the can. I love spice but my family doesn't so this seems like an easier way to control the heat in certain recipes.

I bought the above can at King Soopers (which is Kroger here in Colorado) for $1.99. I saw a can at Walmart for around $4.50, so if you have a Kroger close to you that's a much better deal! I'm sure there are lots of different brands, but I'm good with the Kroger one for now.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite recipes using chipotle peppers, uh, I mean chipotle pepper POWDER:

Shredded beef tacos
Quinoa salad (I love, love, LOVE quinoa!)
Chipotle burritos (Very similar to the popular Chipotle chain's burritos)
Chipotle chicken pasta in fire-roasted tomato cream sauce
Southwest stuffed peppers

I just ate breakfast, but my mouth started watering when I added those links. I bet yours will be watering now too. You're welcome.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Schmonday

I've been a very nice mom this weekend. Technically, it's still the weekend for me and the kids. John was at home with us but he worked all day today. And yesterday. And Saturday too. C'est la vie, I guess. 

I've said yes to multiple sleepovers and junk food and movies (Gnomeo and Juliet gets low, low marks from me so don't waste your time or money!) and pretty much anything else the kids have asked to do, including jumping on the trampoline at 8:30AM when the temperature was 30 degrees with a windchill of 25. For the record, I was extremely UNhip on that idea but after listening to them beg/plead/whine for an hour I gave up, sent them outside, and told them I didn't care if they turned into popsicles. I'm tired and I'm ready to have my family of five back together. I love having other kids over, but after a couple of days of extra kiddos, I start getting a wee bit grouchy. I'm sure you couldn't tell.

Despite my grumpiness, I'm enjoying our long weekend. I'm excited that we have tomorrow off as well, but that makes the rest of this week feel VERY short. I have a lot of things to pack into Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday!!! Ciao!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Ketchup. What a weird word. Wonder what the etymology of that word is. Regardless, this is my Saturday morning attempt at a newsy, catch-up post.

It's been a full week. Full of life.

Aside from some hideous wind, the weather has been GORGEOUS! It's felt almost spring-like and as much as I love sweaters and scarves and boots, it's really nice to not have to wear a coat every time you leave the house! I love that it's staying light longer at night too. Spring is definitely in the air and I'm grateful. Despite the beautiful days we've had, I haven't been able to get out and walk or's been almost three weeks now...that's simply tragic.

John had to go to the coast of Alabama this week. Had to eat seafood. Had to bask in seventy degree temperatures. Had to look out at the gulf. Had to smell the salty air. Had to interview some amazing people. He's so lucky. He arrived home yesterday--just as I got two weeks worth of groceries put away and just in time for a lunch date with me. That's two dates we've had this week. I could get used to that! I'm very thankful he's home. I know travel is a necessary part of his job but I dislike being separated. We both do.

Seems like something always goes awry when he's out of town and this week was no exception. I was in the carpool line at the middle school on Thursday afternoon when the nurse from Abbey's school called. She got two of her fingers slammed in the heavy metal door while coming in from recess and the nurse thought they might be broken. Poor Abbey. Thankfully, they weren't broken, just badly bruised and very sore. That girl is a trooper. And I could have lived without the nurse telling me about the student whose finger was severed in a similar freak accident last year. Shudder. 

This is a FOUR DAY WEEKEND for us. FOUR DAYS!!! The kids are out Monday and Tuesday and I am thrilled. We don't have too much planned. I hope it can be a mix of fun, productive, and restful days.

Here's just a few things on my happy list from this week...

Bible study (Esther). Ohmygosh, this study is so very good. I've never really considered myself a Bible study girl. I have friends who love/crave/need it but I've never considered myself one of them.  Also never considered myself a Beth Moore devotee either, but this study is amazing and I'm astounded at the truth and wisdom she pulls out of a handful of verses every week. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed this study.

I bought two small things this week that made me happy. I'm very aware that things don't fulfill you, but sometimes they do lift your spirits and make you happy! I bought the Stealing Home soundtrack from iTunes. John and I saw that movie on one of our earliest dates in college and I literally wore the cassette tape of the soundtrack out! Isn't it funny how music can just take you back to a place, time, and memory? 
I also picked up this DVD.  John and I both love that movie and how could I pass it up for only $5 at WallyWorld? Small, happy things! 

There were lots more happy things in my week, and some really hard things too, but I've got to get showered and run some errands and do some cleaning and get this weekend started! Peace out, peeps!

For my fellow word geeks--the etymology of ketchup/catsup. So interesting.

ORIGIN late 17th cent.: perhaps fromChinese ( Cantonese dialect) k'ē chap‘tomato juice.’

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pink Pancakes and Love Bugs

Happy Valentines Day!

Our day started our with a little festive fun--pink, heart-shaped pancakes. They were a hit. Even if a few of them looked a lot more like Africa than a heart.
(Inspiration for these pancakes was found here and here! Thanks, Angela!)

After I dropped my last kiddo at school, I met John for a Valentine breakfast date. We had a family dinner date last night and sadly, our week is full and busy and this is the only time we could manage for the two of us. Still, it was wonderful...I love dates with him!

In a few minutes I'm heading to a third grade Valentine party where we'll be making some Valentine Love Bugs. They're really homemade chia pets. And I'm still waiting for my "samples" to start sprouting some hair! My super-creative friend, Jen, gave me the idea...and the grass seed. Thanks, Jen.
After the party, it's home for dinner and homework and showers and all that other ordinary stuff that everyday life is comprised of. And I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. I'm feeling very blessed today.

Hope your Valentine's Day is full of lovely things!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Letters

Dear Will,
Aside from a few homework issues, you've had a pretty big and a pretty terrific week.
High school registration? SUPER fun!
Your birthday party? Also SUPER fun!
I think my favorite memory of this week was sitting in front of you and your whole row of friends in the high school auditorium listening to you all talk and laugh. You've been friends with most of those guys since fourth grade (and one of them since first grade!) and I hope you all remain friends for a long, long time. You are all great guys and I think you're going to have a blast in high school.
PS: Your dad wrote something sweet about you here. He loves you so much, buddy, and I do too!

Dear Sarah,
You are such a sweet sister to Abbey. Thank you for fixing her hair yesterday (she loved that!) and for being patient with her and for sharing your cool "big sister" stuff with her. She looks up to you so much...she literally hangs on your every word.

I loved listening to the two of you singing in the van tonight. You guys sound awesome together and you look pretty cute when you share earbuds too. :)

You have the BIGGEST heart, Sarah. You wanted to give gifts to all of your teachers and all of your friends so you spent a lot of time working on Valentines and Valentine goodies this weekend. I hope everyone loves your treats as much as they love you! I love you, sweetie.

Dear Abbey,
You made me laugh so hard this morning on the way to church. We were talking to Will and Sarah about summer camp and when Will admitted his hesitancy about going, you got frustrated. You were afraid he'd back out and you'd lose your "only child for a week" privileges. So funny.

Your daddy bought you a pillow pet this weekend--a fluffy brown dog. You named her Lily but later changed it to Chip. Your treasured stuffed doggie that you've had since you were a baby is named Chocolate, so you named your pillow pet Chip to make Chocolate Chip. You're a clever one, Abbey, and I love you very much.

I'm also proud of you for reading FOUR books this weekend, and so glad we found this book series for you.

Dear John,
I think this was the best weekend we've had in a long time--it was perfect!

Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for staying up late to watch Mad Men with me. Thank you for driving Will and his friends all over the place on Friday. And thank you for our family Valentine dinner date tonight.

This is our 23rd Valentine's Day to spend together and you're still my favorite Valentine. I love you!

Want to write your own Sunday Letters? You can! Go here to link up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Quick Hello...

Ah...Friday. I'm always glad when Friday rolls around but this week I'm doubly glad. Everyone at the Lifeat7000Feet Casa is tired. T-I-R-E-D, as evidenced by snippy-snappy conversations and mini-meltdowns. I think our weekend is pretty low key (hooray!) and I just issued a mandate for weekend rest for everyone in this family.

We will rest, but first we get to celebrate Will. His birthday was yesterday (#14!) and he's having a small get-together with some friends tonight. They're going to see a movie after school then coming back here for some grilled brats (his choice) and dessert. No sleepover though. I don't have the square footage or the stamina for that. It should be fun and more importantly, he's EXCITED! We had a family celebration last night and I think he felt celebrated. It's hard to tell with fourteen year olds. 

Believe it or not, I can't think of anything else much going on around here. Unless you want to know that...

I had to send my van back to the shop (Minnie-the-van got new shocks, struts, and tires last week) because she was feeling all wobbly and misaligned. I *hope* they fixed it this time.

Freshman registration was PAINLESS. I actually had a blast with Will that night.

I haven't hiked in TWO weeks because of our cold, snowy weather. I'm feeling it too.

I have a weird crick in my neck and it hurts! Muscle relaxants to the rescue!

I won this book from my friend, Deidre! So excited to start using it.

Joanne is making HUGE HUGE HUGE progress. Her husband wrote about it here, and Kristen included pictures in her post. So astounding!!! So wonderful!!!

I've got a ton of errands to run so I've got to get off of the computer and get in the shower! Peace out peeps. Happy Friday. Happy Weekend. Happy. Happy. Happy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tell About It Tuesday: Can't Touch This

It's another snow day for us today. This time we have snow + arctic temps and it's been nice to stay cozied up inside with my peeps.

I've been cleaning (a little) and cooking (a little) and doing a lot of meat prep this morning. And that brings me to the last little life-changing "a-ha" discovery I wanted to share. 

Playtex CleanCuisine Disposable gloves.

I love these gloves.  

I hate touching raw meat. Besides the fact that I'm a crazy germophobe freak, I just despise the feel of it, especially chicken. And I never feel like I get it completely washed off of my hands. 

I use these gloves when I cut up raw chicken. And pork. And beef. 

I use them when I put raw bacon strips on the cookie sheet. You do know the easiest/least messy way to cook bacon is in the oven, right? That's a life-changing tip you need to check out as well. 

I use them to mix up/roll meatballs and sausage balls.

And I always remember too late that I should wear them when I cut up jalapenos. For some reason I'm sensitive to the oils in the peppers and end up with burning fingers...or eyes if I accidentally touch them after handling peppers. Oy! That is not a pleasant experience.

Anyway, they're great for all those things and much more. I can usually find coupons in the Sunday paper for these gloves too. Win-win. 

Okay, so Tell About It Tuesday may not be a regular weekly feature around here BUT I have a feeling from time to time I'll find something else life-changing that I'll want to share. So until then...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Show of Hands

Last week my friend, Angie, posted a super cute Valentine craft idea for kids.

Let me back up a minute and tell you about Angie. She lives a little north of me and we met a couple of years ago at a luncheon at Joanne's house. Angie is adorable! She's smart, creative, and absolutely HILARIOUS. I wish she lived closer to me because I love her and her neopolitan kiddos. (She's had another baby since that neopolitan post...hmmmmmm...wonder what color hair Chloe has?)


Angie's Valentine craft? Soooo cute!!!!

On one of our snow days last week the girls and I followed her tutorial for  I Love You shrinky dink necklaces. Who doesn't love shrinky dinks?

Didn't they turn out cute? Abbey made hers into a necklace (simply slide a ribbon or cord through the space under the folded fingers) and Sarah just wanted to keep hers as is. Angie's tutorial is super helpful. We made ours with some #6 plastic I'd been saving for homemade shrinky dinks. Here's a link with directions for that as well.

I think I'm going to do this with Abbey's class for Valentines Day. I volunteered at school one day last week (and I have a new appreciation for teachers who stand on their feet and talk to kids for seven hours a, that completely wiped me out!). Since I was there all day, I collected the tops of the salad clamshells at lunch which are #6 plastic. Woohoo! I love free craft supplies!

You've probably figured out by now that when you fold the middle and ring fingers of your hand down, that's sign language for I love you. If you don't already read Kristen's blog (Kristen is Joanne's sister), then you absolutely must go read this post right now. It's about her hands, and it's beautiful. 

Thank you, Angie, for sharing your fabulous idea!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Letters

Dear Abbey:
I am so thankful you are finally feeling better! It just breaks my heart when you're sick and I can't do anything to make things better. I think we're all thankful that you're back to your funny self! You were (finally) chosen to be the Star of the Week in your class for this upcoming week and the grin on your face when you told me that your name was drawn was priceless. You've been waiting (not too patiently I might add) for this honor. Saturday morning we picked out pictures and got them printed so you could take them to school tomorrow. You loved looking back at your baby pictures but I had to fight back tears. You are growing up too fast. I love you, sweetie. Sooooo much.

Dear Sarah:
I am so proud of you! You've really found a few things that you enjoy doing and that you're really good at--like Reader's Theater and Duets. I'm sorry your group didn't make it into the finals at your speech tournament yesterday, but I'm super proud of you for sticking with it. I'm also proud of you for waking up super early on Saturday with a cheerful attitude. Your daddy and I often talk about how you're growing up so quickly, but there are still some things about you that are little-girlish. This morning in church you leaned over and put your head over on my shoulder. You do that almost every week and every time you do it, I just melt. I love you, girlie. So very much. And PS: Your daddy wrote something very sweet about you this week. He's pretty crazy about you too. :)

Dear Will:
Well, your freshman registration was post-poned a week because of sub-zero temps and windchill, but by this time next week you will be registered for high school. You'll also be a year older since you'll turn fourteen this week. Fourteen. Wow. I remember the day you came into this world...surrounded by family and friends who loved you from the moment they saw you. I feel really lost some days as I try to navigate your world of Xbox and 8th grade and junk food and girls and all the other high tech stuff you love, but being your mom is a huge blessing. I'm proud of you and I love you, buddy.

Dear John:
I think most of all I just want to tell you thank you. Thank you for driving the kids to school when it's snowy. Thank you for unloading the dishwasher every single morning. Thank you for having coffee ready for me when I wake up. Thank you for locking up at night and for always taking out the trash and keeping gas in my van and for helping me keep the laundry caught up and the other hundreds of things--both big and small--that you do to help me on a daily basis.

Thank you for loving me--especially on days that I'm not easy to live with.
Thank you for loving our children and for being generous with them in ways that they'll remember for a lifetime.

PS: I really love my new vacuum. THANK YOU! And I'm sorry I made a big deal about you running that red light this morning. Grin.
Want to write your own Sunday Letters? Visit Deidre at For Such a Time as This for details!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

One of my favorite bloggy gIRLs

I've been blogging for what seems like really long time. Actually, it's been about five years...which IS a really long time.

What started as a way to keep our family and friends caught up on our life in Colorado has evolved into something much, much more. I think most bloggers probably feel the same way. And they can probably articulate much better than I can about the amazing relationships that develop from this crazy world wide web.

I've been privileged over the years to meet some of my favorite bloggers IRL--in real life--and now call them my real-life-friends. I guess that makes the rest of you my non-real-life friends. And that makes me snort-laugh. 

Last week I got to (finally) meet His Girl Amber. She flew to Colorado to attend a conference and we worked out some time to hang before she flew back home to California.

I LOVE Amber. I've loved her from the moment (years ago) that I started reading her blog. She's the real deal, folks. We decided long before we met IRL that we needed to be neighbors. We have kids close in age and she has a fat beagle too. A female fat beagle that rivals Jack in terms of naughtiness. I always feel (slightly) better about our disobedient dog when she tells me stories about hers.

Amber is a wealth of wisdom for me in regard to raising a teenage boy. She's been a sounding board for me (more than once) in regard to that and other things I've found myself struggling with. So, even though I'd never met her face to face until last week, we've been friends for awhile! She was every bit as honest and real and smart and witty and beautiful and thoughtful and wise as I expected her to be and now I want her to move to my 'hood more than ever!

If you haven't met her, trust me, you'll love her. She blogged about our meet-up today too! Amber, it was my privilege and pleasure to hang out with you! I'm sorry that I was unable to deliver some Colorado snow while you were here. :)

(Oh, and this was the "big" thing I was referring to on Saturday. I thought it deserved it's own post!)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


The kids have a snow day today. We have maybe an inch of snow but schools are closed because of bitter cold temps and wind chill.

The NOAA web page says that the actual temperature right now is -13 degrees.
The NOAA web page says that the actual temp + windchill makes it feel like -41 degrees.

I believe those might be the coldest temps I've ever experienced in my life.

The funny thing is that it was really, really cold when we were in Winter Park last month. There were a few days while there that we had sub-zero temps. We even went tubing one day when the actual temp was -5. I told John last night that I'm glad we weren't watching the news 24/7 while we were there or we might have realized the stupidity of our decision. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Anyway, yeah, it's COLD outside.

That's why we're staying in today.

I just put a roast in the crock-pot for dinner, and I'm thinking movies, hot chocolate, some reading, and cookie-baking are on my to-do list for the day!

John has to get out later to get a hair cut. I called last week to make an appointment and was told it would be about 3 weeks before Rachel--our family hair wizard--could see me. John called yesterday and got an appointment for this afternoon. HUH? It's not the first time it's happened. I tease him all the time about how quickly those salon ladies accommodate him. It's absolutely true, but I think he got an appointment so quickly today because they had multiple cancellations because of the weather!

I was really thankful for a snow day because Abbey is still sick. I took her to the doctor yesterday to rule out strep, which we did. She seems to have some sort of virus with sore throat, cough, and fever being the symptoms. I would have kept her home today anyway but it was nice for it not to be counted against her. She still has a low-grade temp this!...and so I'm still not sure she'll be going to school tomorrow. So far the rest of us are well and I'm hoping it stays that way.

John took Jack-the-beagle back for (another) follow-up appointment with our vet yesterday. He's now on his THIRD round of (sorry, no generic available) antibiotics. That dog has cost us a lot of money lately. I really really really really really want an iPhone. I've been waiting forEVER for Verizon and Apple to join forces and as you probably know, they recently did. I suppose I'll be waiting a bit longer because we've spent he equivalent of 3-4 iPhones on Jack's rear end. I'm slightly bitter. Grrrrrrrrrr.

FYI--Tell About It Tuesday will be back next week. Because I have one more life-changing discovery to share. I know you're on the edge of your seat.

Peace out, peeps. And Happy Snow Day!