Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Happy Happy!

We had the BEST family day yesterday. I love 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. We spent most of yesterday down there--shopping, eating, and just enjoying the sights and sounds. Here are a few happy pictures from our day!
 My four favorite people!
 Our traditional "it's almost Christmas" dinner.

 The Pinkberry in Colorado Springs closed this fall (BOO!!!) so we stopped in before heading home and had some of our favorite fro-yo for dessert.
 Downtown Denver is beautiful at Christmas time.
I don't remember there being an outdoor ice-rink last year. I wanted to skate so badly but no one else in my family was up for it so we watched for awhile instead. It looked like so much fun!

Other things that made me happy yesterday:

1. John made us all take a pledge in the parking lot that no one was allowed to go to "Grumpy-town" while we were there. And NO ONE DID. Everyone was in a great mood all day long. Love that. 

2. I found a cute sweater for SEVEN American dollars at H&M. That's a fun store--full of great bargains. Every time I'm there I think to myself that I want to come back some day while alone and take my time shopping. Maybe one of these days I'll remember that when I have some extra time on my hands. 

3. Perfect weather! It wasn't too cold yet it felt like December should feel. 

4. Late last night I found the girls watching television together. I asked them what they were watching and they smiled and said, "Guess?" I figured it was something on Disney and offered a few guesses but it turns out they were watching a Duck Dynasty marathon. That made me laugh out loud and of course, it made me happy, happy, happy because I can't get enough of the Robertson family these days. 

Today has been full of errands and grocery shopping. I am 100% finished with my Christmas shopping! John braved Costco for me--I avoid it at all costs on Saturdays and the thought of going on the Saturday before Christmas was completely overwhelming. He's a good man. 

Alrighty. I need to get off of the computer and give my house a bit of attention before getting ready for a fun Christmas party tonight! I am hoping to blog a little more regularly over our break--for the moment things seem relatively calm and leisurely. I could get used to calm and leisurely! Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Here! It's Here! Christmas Break Is Here!

I was driving home late yesterday afternoon from Abbey's classroom Christmas party feeling a mix of exhaustion and elation because we'd survived the week and our break had officially begun. I called John to check in and realized he'd beat me home. I asked why he was home so early and he smiled (you know you can hear smiles through the phone, right?) and said, "Because it's Christmas break, silly". Ahhhhhhhhhh, Christmas break. I love you. I love that my husband is on vacation for the next SEVENTEEN DAYS. My kids have the next EIGHTEEN days off. I am a one ridiculously happy mama right now!

This week has been pretty spacious for me. I didn't plan it that way--it just worked out beautifully. Typically the week before Christmas is nuts, but this week has been full of relaxation and fun. What a gift! I had two full days of catching up with friends (coffees, dinner, and hiking!) and thanks to a blizzard that blew in we got to enjoy a snow day this week too. I stayed in my pjs all day and made cookies with Abbey, wrapped gifts, did a tiny bit of straightening around the house, and watched a Christmas movie. It was fabulous! The only downside was that Will and Sarah had final exams that day that will now have to be taken after Christmas break (oy!) Thankfully their remaining exams aren't their most difficult ones.

I'm in great shape with all of my Christmas preparation and am counting down the days. I think I have two remaining gifts to purchase and wrap. John took a day off last week and we went to Denver and knocked out most of our shopping--he's fun to shop with because he's VERY generous! I haven't done much holiday baking but that's on the agenda for the next few days. This afternoon we're heading to Denver for a repeat of last year's Christmas Eve Eve fun. We opted to do it today instead of the twenty-third but for the life of me I can't remember why. Really looking forward to spending this day with my family!

Let the Christmas break fun begin!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday thoughts and random photos

It was a tough weekend.

The news out of Connecticut has been almost too much to bear.
In fact, when the news began showing photos of the children who were killed it was too much. We had to turn the television off.

We also learned over the weekend that a couple of dear friends unexpectedly lost people who were dear them.

Things have felt so heavy; my tears have fallen so easily and my grief is deep.

I was caught off guard by lines from Christmas carols a few times. Words like these from Away in a Manger: "Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there".

And these:  "God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray, Oh tidings of comfort and joy...."

I'm hoping and praying that today is the beginning of a brighter week.

I'm very thankful that this week is feeling way less full for me. I actually have a few catch-up dates with friends on the calendar. HALLELUJAH! It's a busy week for my kids though...Will and Sarah have finals and Abbey is wrapping up some academic stuff as well. Their last day is Thursday and everyone around here is so so so so so so so so so ready for Christmas break.

How about a little random catch up via a few iPhone photos? (Please note that word 'random' in bold print.)

Sarah chose to take Ceramics as one of her electives this semester and has made some amazing pieces! She's a super creative girl and it's been fun to see the work she brings home from class. I love that she has one "easy" class in her schedule since she tends to be a bit of a braniac. We're so proud of her for that but I love seeing her nurture her creative side.  This was her seasonal twist on the clay whistle they made in class. Rudolph's snout is the whistle and it really works! LOVE it.

I don't know who to credit for decorating this tree at the top of the Incline but I LOVE it. So cheery and fun. And we won't talk about the nasty tumble I took on my way down Barr Trail. It was my worst one yet. Yuck.
We had a blast of Arctic air blow in a week or so ago. It was brutal after the unusually mild weather we'd been having and it was a very real reminder of what winter feels like. It takes a lot for my morning walking posse to be deterred, though I admit to always being the one trying to talk everyone into staying in bed. I snapped this screenshot before our walk one morning last week where yet again I wasn't persuasive enough to keep everyone in their warm beds. In case you're wondering, 0 degrees is freakin' cold and yes, we realize we are slightly crazy. Crazy, but committed.

Besides, if we didn't brave the cold we'd miss seeing sunrises like this. I don't know about you, but I hate to miss a beautiful sunrise.
I'll leave you with a photo of Jack-the-beloved-beagle. I think he's happiest when we're all at home with him and he's snoozing in contented peace. Wouldn't you agree?
Have a great Monday, everyone!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The North Pole 2012

As we were unwrapping ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree a few weeks ago, I came upon the kids' photo ornaments with Santa at the North Pole. I got a little teary eyed at the sight of them. It has always been such a fun tradition of ours to skip school and to visit The North Pole, a Christmas-themed mini-amusement park just west of Colorado Springs. That tradition got shelved as Will and Sarah entered middle school and the tween/teen years.

Sitting there in a pile of ornaments and boxes and dripping tears, I looked up and asked the kids if they'd like to go this year. Surprisingly they said yes (well, two of the three said yes) so we found an available date, put it on the calendar, and made it happen. 

It was such a FUN day with my girls. I really didn't know if Sarah would enjoy it this year because most of the rides are kiddie-oriented but she loved it! Abbey did too. A few times I found myself just standing still and listening to the sound of kids and grown-ups around me laughing and squealing with delight. It's a beautiful, beautiful sound and a really fun place to visit during December. I love the North Pole!
Sarah has a flair for the dramatic. Love that girl!

Rudolph is the most coveted reindeer on the carousel.

This picture was taken from the top of the ferris wheel--I don't know if you can see it very well, but it is a terrific (and sad) shot of some of the burn scar from the Waldo Canyon fire. Made my heart so so so sad. 
The BEST Santa lives at the North Pole. 

Abbey and Sarah rode the Tilt-a-HURL no less than 15 times. Not even kidding. My stomach lasted through about four rides and then reminded me that spinny rides are NOT my thing.

This was on the gondola ride. I have a similar shot from a few years ago!

It's not every day you bump into Santa walking around the North Pole!

I found this post of our North Pole trip from 2008. And 2007. And both made my eyes leak. Kids grow  up sooooooooooo quickly. 

I hope that one day my kids will look back and remember doing this together during the Christmas season. And if not, they'll have the photo ornaments to remind them of these special, special days!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


SMP. Seven Minute Post. I think I need to trademark that or something.

I also need to come up with some sort of warning for rambling, random posts.

As much as I rant about how much I dislike Facebook, I realized again last night why I can never truly close my account: instant responses. I had some time last night to clean up my Christmas card list and I realized that we have a LOT of friends who have moved in the past year. Facebook to the rescue! I had rounded up almost all of the new addresses I needed within a matter of minutes with very little effort on my part.

I walk on a trail by my house almost every day but it's been a couple of weeks since I've been on a real hike. That's on my agenda for today. I worked like a crazy woman yesterday to knock out my work stuff so that today would be free and clear of obligations. We are having some pretty mild weather right now and I want to take full advantage of it. While I'm enjoying this very uncharacteristic weather, Colorado REALLY needs some snow! Things are so dry here.

Can y'all believe that Christmas is less than three weeks away? I need to sit down with John and get our calendars synched. The next three weeks are full of some fun things but there's some other stuff we need to try to fit in there and it will slip past us if we're not intentional.

I love the word "intentional". I wish I was more intentional about a few things in my life.

Okey dokey, my seven minutes are up! I have 45 minutes before I need to rouse my youngest child for school so I think I'll be INTENTIONAL about a few household tasks. Happy Hump Day, friends.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December Currents

Current reading list: I have a pile of books stacked beside my bed that includes Room, Touching Wonder (I think everyone needs to read this book written by my amazing husband), Parenting Teens With Love and Logic, and Daring Greatly which John added to my stack last night.

Current playlist: Christmas music of all kinds! Some of my favorite albums include Glory in the Highest, Jim BrickmanPoint of Grace, Glee Christmas, Bebo Norman, and Daniel Renstrom. My all time favorite (contemporary) Christmas song is Welcome to our World by Chris Rice. 

Current food: I can't get enough buffalo wings or red meat these days. I really have odd food cravings huh? 

Current wish list: New slippers for Christmas! Are you reading this, John???? 

Current need: I need for all the candy cane Hershey kisses to disappear from my house because I can't quit eating them. Not to worry--I've almost polished off the entire bag that I bought yesterday. I also need to finish decorating for Christmas! And I really need to find some (free) pinecones. That shouldn't be too hard considering where I live, right?  

Current triumph: I logged 100.8 trail miles in November--that's two back-to-back months of 100+ miles! 

Current annoyance: Facebook. If I didn't have to be on there for work purposes, I would permanently delete my account. 

Current addiction: Ummmm, the aforementioned candy cane kisses. I'm also still addicted to shellac on my nails; I'm tough on my nails but that stuff is TOUGHER and I love it.

Current blessing: Family!

Current outfit: I'm still in my workout clothes from my pre-dawn walk but today is feeling like a jeans and sweater kind of day.  

Current excitement: I have something fun and festive planned with Sarah and Abbey on Friday! Also looking forward to a few Christmas parties with friends and to our church's Advent soup suppers and services. 

Current to-do's: Get my Christmas cards ordered, get crafty (I have some small gifts to make), and finish Christmas shopping, but I doubt any of that will happen today. Today is a work day. Sigh.

Current favorite stuff: our Advent wreath and eating dinner by candlelight this month, our Christmas tree, and pretty much everything about this time (minus the busyness and the crowds!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

A domestic day

I can't even remember the last time I had a day that I was able to spend entirely at home but I'm having that kind of day today and I absolutely LOVE IT. Earlier in the week I realized that today was free of commitments and I contemplated my favorite hike but ultimately decided that what I needed more than anything was a domestic day. I chose well. I am deeply domestic at heart and needed this day.  Laundry. Cooking. Cleaning. Organizing. Baking. I'm a happy girl.

It's been a busy, busy fall and I'm feeling pretty run-down. It's not just me; my entire family is exhausted and running on fumes. In light of that reality, John and I made the difficult decision to stay home instead of traveling to Arkansas next week. Each of our family members was incredibly gracious about it which made it a little easier but it's still just really hard to be away from family on holidays. John and I both feel at peace about our decision though and are looking forward to having a restful and low-key break next week.

So now I get to plan a Thanksgiving menu. It's a good thing I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner! Of course, we'll have turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce (both homemade AND from a can because I have some picky palates around here), peas, another veggie (possibly asparagus or brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes?) and rolls. Oh, and dessert of course. Last year I made a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust that was delicious. I suppose I need to ask my peeps what they want! Wonder how many desserts are appropriate for a family of five? 

Moving on to other random stuff--

Yesterday, I saw an owl! It's been years and years since I've seen one but there is an elusive one in our neighborhood that I hear often. I think they're fascinating creatures. I was picking Abbey up from an after-school activity and driving down a busy street and noticed it perched on a branch, silhouetted against the dusky sky. I slowed down but was unable to get a great view (or a photo!) because there was a line of cars behind me but Abbey and I watched it turn it's head. It was beautiful and I was mesmerized by it. There is also a pair of foxes that I've been seeing on my morning walk for a couple of weeks now. They're getting more and more relaxed about sharing their territory with my group of walkers and maybe the slightest bit more brazen. I LOVE seeing wildlife like foxes and owls and deer and coyotes all around us. So, so cool! I love where we live.

As usual, I am DOWN on homework. Boo-hiss. My kids have had tons of homework this week and I really might lose it if they come home with any assignments over Thanksgiving Break. I'll either be doing a happy dance or quietly cursing when they unload their backpacks this afternoon. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of their teachers will be merciful and kind.

Will is going to Winter Park this weekend for YL Winter Camp. He leaves shortly after school today and returns home Sunday afternoon so it looks like it will be a girly weekend around here. Fun!

I made the Pioneer Woman's Potato-Leek Pizza for dinner last night. It is my very favorite PW recipe and possibly my most favorite meal ever. It is crazy delicious. (The link above is her recipe, it's just that she doesn't have the potato-leek pizza recipe posted on her site. It IS in her first cookbook--The Pioneer Woman Cooks--which by the way is completely worth owning.)

And that delicious pizza was likely my last gluten-laden meal for awhile now. I feel ten-million times better when I don't eat gluten and I've been careless about my consumption lately. I need to find a good cookie recipe that uses almond or rice or coconut flour otherwise I might go into into Christmas cookie withdrawal. Anyone have a good recipe to share?

I think that's all I've got today. Who else is glad it's Friday?!?!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Titleless Tuesday Post

I've got seven minutes this morning so you know what that means, right? Wink wink.

The kids and I ended up going to see Wreck-It Ralph yesterday afternoon. It was surprisingly good. I wasn't prepared to like it as much as I did. There's one "vurp" (vomit + burp) reference in the movie which was even more comical to the four of us since the little girl seated next to Will threw up mid-way through the movie. Gross, gross, gross. Wasn't prepared for that visual image yesterday. Gross.

I made Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake last night. I'm sure it tastes as delicious as it looks but I haven't tried it. It's for a teacher appreciate luncheon at school today. I think I'm going to have to buy the ingredients to make another one for us because John and the kids were drooling and asking me why I never bake stuff like that for us. It's true, I don't do a lot of baking. Mostly because they don't eat tons of sweets and I end up throwing stuff out. Or eating it. I'm good at that part, unless it's chocolate of course. I don't like chocolate and yes, I know that makes me odd.

Running out of time but have one auto-correct story to share. I've shared before that I have a love-hate relationship with autocorrect. Mostly it just makes me laugh. I was texting my boss last week asking if I needed to send an email with the 'corrected' information and autocorrect changed my misspelling to 'colorectal'. Yep, glad I actually caught that one before it sent. Colorectal? Seriously? Makes me laugh.

Happy Tuesday, folks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Currents

Current read: I'm sad to say that I haven't read much lately. I borrowed Room from a friend and I have a manuscript that some friends asked me to read as well. We're driving to Arkansas next week for Thanksgiving so I'm hoping to get some reading done in the car. 

Current playlist: I've been listening to a worship mix lately. Not too long ago, I downloaded 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman and have had that on repeat pretty frequently. I love these lines: The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning, it's time to sing Your song again, whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes. What a prayerful thought for each day.

Current food: I'm so addicted to jalapenos lately. I love them on chili, nachos, and almost anything! I'm planning to make this broccoli cheese soup for dinner tonight, sans jalapenos.

Current wish list: New slippers for Christmas!

Current need: More hours in a day. I was adding some November/December stuff to my calendar this morning and immediately began to feel the stress of the holidays. YUCK!

Current triumph: Surviving October? That is the first thing that comes to mind. It was such a crazy-busy month.

Current annoyance: I completely respect Nordstrom for taking a rare stand against Christmas decorations until AFTER Thanksgiving. It annoys me to see people begin decorating in October. I think Thanksgiving is often downplayed because it's not a huge gold mine for retailers.

Current indulgence: Shellac manicures! I'm hooked.

Current blessing: Love. Laughter. Provision. Health. 

Current outfit: Jeans and a sweater.

Current excitement: I'm looking forward to next weekend--have some FUN things planned!

Current project: Need to cut some "turkey feathers" for our thankful turkey. I bought the stuff to do this weeks ago. I need to get on the ball! In my defense, it's not for lack of tradition or desire but lack of time. I hate being busy.

Current plans: The kids are out of school today (two are still asleep!) so I thought I might take them to see Wreck-It Ralph. We shall see. They're such homebodies. The one who is awake told me he would be fine to stay home and "be lazy" all day.

Current favorite stuff: Ziploc VersaGlass containers (I won mine from a blog giveaway in September), scarves, this candle, Burt's Bees lip balm, and these flannel sheets (we bought a set last year with a gift card and they are pricey, but oh-so wonderful!)

Happy Monday, y'all!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day, Carnitas, and a NAP!

I hate politics but I really like Election Day. Voting is a right and a privilege and few things inspire me to patriotism more than exercising that right. Today was no exception.

I was a little worried about the lines at my polling place because there was a line outside the doors this morning at 6:30AM (I passed my polling place on my early morning walk) but John and I were in and out in less than 10 minutes. That might be a new record!
I deliberately wore patriotic colors today. John didn't intend to but laughed when I pointed out his blue and white checked shirt and his red cap. 

He worked from home today so we got to enjoy lunch together. We chose mexican which was not really the most fitting choice for Election Day, but I had some really delicious carnitas!

After lunch I came home and took a nap. I really didn't have time to do that but you know what? I needed it. It just means I'll need to get some work done tonight while watching television. I have absolutely zero desire to watch election returns tonight so I'll be working while watching re-runs of Friday Night Lights or Mad Men or something. All the while rejoicing that the political ads will cease! 

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Monday full of random

Happy Monday, peeps!

Evidently today is “found it” day at my house. A few weeks ago I noticed that I couldn’t find one of my sweaters. Seriously, how does one lose a sweater? Then I noticed I couldn’t find my perfume. Last week Sarah lost her earbuds and I was beginning to think someone was sneaking in my house and hiding things just to make me crazy. But today, Sarah found her earbuds right before she left for school and shortly thereafter I found my sweater (hiding in the same place in my closet I’ve looked at least two dozen times) and if my perfume just happened to magically appear in the medicine cabinet this evening then it would be a perfect trifecta kind of day!

Do y’all watch Duck Dynasty? Oh my gosh, I LOVE that show. I did a double take on the way to pick kids up from school this afternoon because I thought Sy was filling in for our regular mailman. I slowed down and stared but I think it was just some bearded, Colorado dude who just happens to look a lot like him. 

My house is a disaster these days. You might think I’m kidding but I’m so not. It is gross. My housekeeping standards border on OCD, therefore I’m not handling the “gross” so well. But I’m also not finding much time to tackle it. I had quite a bit of work to do this morning but before I could get started I "needed" to clean my kitchen sink. I scour that baby out almost daily because there’s something about a shiny kitchen sink (shout out to The FlyLady!) that makes all things right in my world. Is the FlyLady still around?

Here’s a couple of new recipes I’ve tried and loved lately. Both are easy and delicious!
Spinach Tortellini Soup
Slow-Cooker Pork and Green Chile Stew (I could eat green chiles every single day of my life)(Seriously)

I know lots of people hate it but I really like the time change. I like that it gets dark early—especially if I can come home from afternoon carpool duty and put on my jammies while I cook dinner. I like going to bed early and I especially love it when it’s light for my early morning walks (thought that will likely be short-lived).

Know what has amazed me as of late? A shellac manicure. I treated myself to one a couple of weeks ago. I'm 42 years old and it was my very first professional manicure. I went for the shellac in hopes of keeping my nails looking nice for more than a day or two and I am SO impressed. My nails look great (my cuticles are another story) and the polish still looks as perfect as it did the day I got it. I wish I could figure out how to work this into my budget every few weeks! I think it's going to be my new splurge. :)

My eyes are starting to hurt after staring at a computer screen all day so I'm signing off and wishing you all a very happy Monday evening. Hope you make it to the polls tomorrow...I'm planning to go bright and early. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Good news--I scored four things out of my girls' Halloween baskets last night. They gave me all of my favorites--one package of sour patch kids, one piece of Bit-O-Honey, and two packages of candy corn. I'm pretty happy with that. I think they have enough candy to last until next Halloween. Too bad I don't like chocolate. Otherwise, I'm sure it would only be enough to last until next week. Smile.

Here's my little Minnie Mouse.
I mentioned last week that I bought her costume (smartest move EVER considering my inability to keep my head above water the last few weeks) and it's pretty simple but I thought she looked VERY CUTE. Best of all, she loved it and was h-a-p-p-y.
The two of us trick-or-treated with one of her favorite friends and her mom. Her friend was a cute little nerd (who took off her sweater and glasses and set down the dictionary she was carrying around for this picture). They were adorable. And they raked in a ton of candy. The weather was really pretty nice this year. Abbey still needed her coat (as did her mother) but I'm not complaining.

Sarah trick-or-treated with friends and ditched the cute bumble bee costume we bought in favor of 80s workout attire. I guess that's that's the prerogative of a fourteen-year-old girl. And I'll be returning that unworn costume today, thankyouverymuch.
Will opted out of the festive fun and stayed home and played XBox while John and the Beagle passed out candy to droves of trick-or-treaters.

A fun night was had by all but after two big nights in a row I am beyond exhausted! I so wish today was Friday but at least we have no place we have to be tonight. I am very much in need of a nice quiet evening at home!

Happy NOVEMBER y'all!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hump Day

I'm popping in with another one of my seven minute updates. I truly only have seven minutes because I have to get ready for a lunch date with my husband and a couple he's been wanting me to meet. I'm excited about a Halloween lunch date.

I'm even more excited to have the morning off from work! Our huge Young Life fundraising banquet was last night and I have been crazy-busy with that for awhile now. It was a huge success and I am really happy to have it behind me. I still have quite a bit of follow-up work to do but my pace should begin to even out here before the holidays and I am very very thankful for that.

I actually just got back from a quick morning walk. I usually get up at the crack of dawn to hit the trail with my neighborhood walking posse, but I got home super late after our banquet last night and decided I needed to sleep in which was wonderful. I don't get to do that much these days. I'm super happy to report that I've logged 100.3 miles for the month of October! 100 miles is my goal every month but most of the time I fall pretty short. Every single one of those one-hundred miles this month did wonders for my stress levels!!!

I'm missing Abbey's class Halloween party today. Pretty sure it's my first class party to EVER miss but I just can't arrange it today. She's fine; I'm the one who's more sad about it. I'm not a room-mom this year and can I just say it is VERY nice not to have that on my plate right now?

We have big plans to trick-or-treak with some friends tonight. I am so happy that we're having great weather today and very mild temps! Colorado Halloweens aren't generally kind to trick-or-treaters, but this year the weather is definitely a treat!

Hope you're all having a wonderful, hump day! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Friday list

I'm having a great day today! Here are a few reasons why.

1. It's FRIDAY! Fridays are my favorite day of the week, though Sundays run a close second. 

2. It snowed last night and the kids had a two-hour delayed start this morning. I would have been happy with a snow day but the delay was a nice compromise and replaced the mad morning rush with a calm, gentle one. 

3. I just ate a bowl of my favorite soup--left over from last night! It is soooooooooooo good, y'all.

4. I am almost finished with work for the week--just a few more loose ends to wrap up. I've been up to my eyeballs in phone calls, emails, and spreadsheets this week and I am looking forward to some serious downtime this weekend. 

5. We have a pretty low-key weekend on tap and it looks like all three of our kiddos have plans that might leave me and John kid-free for several hours. I could sure go for a one-on-one date with my favorite person in the universe!

6. Let the weekend begin! Hope yours is a good one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven more minutes of random

That seven minute post yesterday really helped me over my writing slump. I often sit down to blog and feel overwhelmed by how much I want to say and how long it's going to take me to say it. I'm a pretty task oriented girl and I tend to just give up if I just can't accomplish what I want to accomplish in the time I have to do it. Seven minutes though? That formula works for me! So here's seven more minutes of rambling.

I don't know how people get through a day without a list. I am literally lost without mine. Lately, my lists have been long but I've been ROCKING 'em. Yes, ma'am, rocking 'em. It's a good feeling!

The most important item on my to-do list today was to figure out Abbey's Halloween costume.
We were in Denver last Friday and I almost bought one but honestly, it was kinda pricey and I didn't want to spend the money. I'm generally pretty frugal. They were also sold out of Abbey's size so that helped my decision. However, I spent the rest of the weekend mildly hyperventilating and freaking out about how in the world I was going to find time to make one. I hopped online this morning and bought the same costume I saw in the store last week except today it was forty-percent off. Score! I literally felt my stress melt away when I crossed that off my list. Over the years, I've come to enjoy the homemade costume process but this year it just wasn't in the cards. The most important thing is that Abbey is excited and I feel sane. The costume is a secret for now but I'm sure I'll post pics on Halloween so stay tuned.

And just like that my seven minutes are up. I guess I'll have to write some more tomorrow. Maybe I'll even give myself TEN minutes! Later, peeps.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seven minute post

I have exactly 7 minutes before I have to leave the house. Note: I wrote this post earlier this afternoon but forgot to actually post it. My forty-two-year-old brain fails me daily.

Since blogging has been on my to-do list for at least two weeks, I'm going to give this post my seven minute best.

My week is BUSY, y'all. (I know I sound like a broken record these days).

Even in my busyness, I'm trying to find some time to take care of myself.

I've learned the hard way that if I don't make/take time for self-care, I suffer. And so does my family.

So, my "self-care" today was getting my hair cut.

They worked me into a cancellation spot. Probably because I was in there last week with Abbey and whined to my stylist about how bad I needed a hair cut and how long I was having to wait to get in with her (5 weeks!)(Oh the horror!)

So I took the cancellation gladly and my appointment was this morning.

Unfortunately we had family pictures made YESTERDAY so the hair cut would have come in handy earlier, but oh well. It's just hair, right? I hope our pics will still be fantastic. Can't wait to see them!

I stopped by the library after school today for Will to get a book he needs to read for Lit. While he was looking  on the shelves for his book I paid my $23 library fine. TWENTY-THREE DOLLARS. In library FINES. That is so ridiculous. I have no excuse for letting fines pile up like that. I'm hanging my head in utter and complete shame.

Turns out they didn't have the book he needed so we ended up downloading the e-version when we got home. Awesome. The "free" book I went in search of at the library ended up costing me $7 (plus the library fees I paid in order to actually check a book out). Isn't that a kicker?

My seven minutes are up. But I have so much more to say! Later, peeps!

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Weekend

I had exactly the weekend I'd hoped for--LAZY!

Here's a short recap.

Friday night we went to a football game. It was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G at kick-off, with a light snow/drizzle falling. Awesome. I questioned our decision to go a few times but Abbey reminded us all as we were driving to the game that "We're Coloradoans; we suck it up and brave the cold". Yes Abbey, yes we do.
And we did. The worst part was that the drizzle was sticking to the metal bleachers (thank goodness we took our bleacher seats) and we saw LOTS of people almost bust it on their way up and down the metal steps. Sarah's school lost their game, but we still had fun despite the weather. 

You know those hand warmer things you can buy to stick in your gloves/boots? They're GREAT until your stupid beagle eats one and vomits it back up. That's what we woke up to on Saturday morning. I swear beagles will eat anything

Saturday's weather was a repeat of Fridays--cold and dreary with light snow and drizzle--perfect for a lazy day at home. I put dinner in the crock pot (beef stew--yum) and stayed in yoga pants (technically a step up from pjs) most of the day. I even watched some of the Razorback game before taking a really nice nap! They sure needed that conference win.

Sarah spent the late afternoon getting ready for her Homecoming dance. She went over to a friend's house to finish getting dressed and John and I bopped over there to get some pictures before they left. My pics aren't great--I forgot my real camera and only had my phone--but she looked beautiful and so grown-up. 
After the dance, she came home and crawled in bed beside me and told us every single detail of the night. It made me laugh because Will told me NOTHING about his dance a few weeks ago. I asked him a lot of questions but really only got yes/no answers. The differences between boys and girls are staggering. By the way, Sarah had a great time!

We came home from church yesterday to learn that a friend from Arkadelphia lost her son in a tragic car accident on Saturday night. He left behind a young wife and an almost one-year-old daughter. My heart aches so bad for that family right now. It wasn't too many years ago that this same friend lost her husband to cancer. Our pastor talked about Job yesterday and after coming home and hearing this news all I could think of is how much this family has been through and how they can relate to Job's suffering. I wish they weren't hurting right now, but I know their faith in Christ is very strong and they will depend on him to carry them through this. Make every second count, people. We are not promised tomorrow. 

I just can't end on a sad note...
Have I ever mentioned my love-hate relationship with autocorrect? I love it when it catches my mistakes. I hate it when it changes my words. The upside is that autocorrect changes are often really funny. Here's my latest laugh:
PRUNE TOONS? Really? I was going for "projections" but I guess prune toons works too. The funny thing is that Heather knew what I was trying to say. She's probably gotten enough autocorrected texts from me to read them intuitively by now. 

Happy Monday, peeps. I'm excited about a new week, albeit a busy one!

PS: This post is brought to you by my missed workout this morning! The only days I find time to post in the mornings are when I skip Garage Fit (a term of endearment for our cross-fit workout in my neighbor's garage). 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

On Top of the World: Hiking Grays and Torreys Peak

The state of Colorado has exactly fifty-three mountains with an elevation of 14,000+ feet (14ers) and I can proudly claim to have climbed THREE of them. I hiked Pikes Peak several years ago with a group of friends, and last Sunday my friend Lisa and hiked both Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. It was a crazy fun and amazing day!

Last fall, Lisa and I threw around the idea of hiking a couple of 14ers and decided to go for it! We knew we'd missed our window for a fall ascent so we decided to wait until summer. Well, summer rolled around and the topic surfaced again but our schedules were so out of sync that we realized we were going to have to look at this fall. We finally found a day that worked for both of us and decided to climb Grays and Torreys Peaks because both peaks are easily summited in one day and because hiking two 14ers was my personal goal for 2012. We put it on the calendar for September 30 and the rest is history!

The hike:
I picked Lisa up at 5am on Sunday morning and we drove to the trailhead, just west of Denver. We got our gear on and started hiking right around 7am. Our first glimpse of Grays Peak revealed a TON of snow on top. I think we were both a little caught off guard by the amount of it. 
The hike itself is about 9 miles round trip (that includes both peaks) with a 3600 foot elevation gain. Grays and Torreys Peaks are considered two of the easier Colorado 14ers mainly because the trail is very accessible and well-maintained. The two peaks are connected by a saddle that allows hikers to descend about 500 feet from the summit of one before climbing about 500 feet back up to the summit of the other.

The elevation at the trailhead is almost 11,000 feet so you're definitely feeling the thin air from the start of this hike. I think I was surprised at the long, winding trail and lack of switchbacks. See that pic above? It almost looks flat! Don't get me wrong, it's not flat and there were switchbacks, but they were a bit more spread out than I expected.
The photo below is a good shot of the two Peaks with the saddle in between. Grays is on the left (tallest peak with snow) and Torreys is on the right. The saddle is the ridge that connects them. 

Lisa and I figured we'd be hiking in the cold most of the day. The forecasted high temp for the summit was 46 degrees and we knew we'd be starting early in the day when temps were chilly so we wore lots of layers and packed our down jackets. That was a good move because we needed our down for most of the day. The sun didn't come out and warm us up like we'd hoped! The other thing we were thankful that we packed was our Yaktrax. We put them on about midway up the trail because there was a lot of packed snow and ice on the trail, and we especially needed them on some the icy, rocky parts near the summit.

It took us 3 hours to summit Grays Peak! And let me tell you it was bitterly C-O-L-D and windy up there. Don't let those blue skies fool you. Brrrrrr. It was so cold that we didn't stay up there long--basically just snapped a few photos and headed back down to the saddle to get out of the wind. At one point I really felt like the wind gusts might blow me off the mountain. I'm not kidding--those gusts were strong and were blowing snow pellets at us! The mouthpiece and tubing to our Camelbaks froze while we were up there which was something I didn't expect. They eventually thawed out but we were thankful we had extra bottles of water and Gatorade in our packs!
Getting closer! See the cairns? What you can't see is the icy snowpack! We had to be extra careful of our footing here--both on the climb up and down.

So, so cold up there.
Me and Lisa on the summit of Grays Peak. Elevation 14,270 feet.

It took us almost another hour to descend Grays and summit Torreys Peak. We were a little skittish about the weather after ascending Grays, but we could see that Torreys barely had any snow and the face of the summit was facing a completely different direction. I'm glad we went for it because the two summit experiences were TOTALLY different. It was still cold up there but it was a lot more sunny and mild, plus we were shielded from that nasty wind.
This photo was taken in the saddle, looking up at Torreys Peak. See? NO snow up there. Weird.
We stopped for a quick snack mid-way up Torreys. It was the ONLY spot on the entire trail that I had cell service and I was able to text John and tell him that we had almost summited our second 14er of the day! NFL games had not yet begun or you know I would have been checking my fantasy stats then too. Can you see the people approaching the summit. There were dozens and dozens of people sharing the trail with us that day.

Some kind person left this sign at the summit so we put it to good use! If you look closely, you can see the geocache cylinder to the right. There was one on top of Grays too but our fingers were too cold to open it!

At the summit of Torreys Peak. Elevation 14, 267 feet. That's Grays Peak covered in snow behind us.
Literally felt like we were on top of the world!

This was the view of Grays from the summit of Torreys Peak. Crazy, huh? If you look closely you can see the trail traversing the left side of the mountain--proof that there were indeed switchbacks. 

By 11am we were headed back to the trailhead! Again, we were soooooooo grateful we'd brought our trax because we saw lots of folks slipping and sliding on the icy trail. I think if we'd waited until October to do this hike we might have talked ourselves out of it or we'd have been in for a much harder hike due to weather and trail conditions. Folks hike it pretty much year round but neither of us are huge risk-takers. We both took it very slowly on the way down, carefully trying to avoid falling and getting hurt. You think about that stuff differently when you're a mom and have folks depending on you daily!
Someday I'm going to do a post of all the cairns I've come across while hiking. I usually take photos of them because I find them so interesting!

We made it back to the trailhead around 1:15pm and hit the road. We stopped for a quick bite in Denver (which we inhaled) before heading home. I dropped Lisa off around 4pm and came home and took a long, hot shower and shared photos and stories over dinner with my family! It was an exhilarating day but my body was so so so so tired--I crashed at 8pm and slept like a baby. 

A friend asked me how I prepared/trained for this hike and I really didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Just lots and lots of hiking--anywhere from 2 to 9 mile hikes with varying degrees of elevation gain. I will say that the Manitou Incline is a fabulous training hike. I've hiked it an average of twice a month for the past year and it is probably the single most effective hike for getting adjusted to huge elevation gain over a short amount of distance. I can honestly say that the Incline feels harder to me than climbing to the top of Grays/Torreys did. 

It feels great to cross this off of my Goals for 2012 list! I'm super proud of us both! We would love to climb Pikes Peak again next year and possibly another 14er or two. I'll keep you posted. Wink!