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!


Friday, October 05, 2012

Frozen Friday and Facebook

Lately, I've been lacking the creativity to come up with fun titles for my few and far between posts but at least I have some alliteration working for me.

Frozen Friday fits well today; it's quite wintry outside. I really hope we're going to return to fall for a few more weeks before the cold and snow are here to stay. Yes, I said snow. There are a few flakes on the ground right now and if the forecast holds true we have a good chance of seeing more tomorrow. Joy.

I think I prefer to focus on the "Friday" instead of the "frozen" part of that title.
IT'S FRIDAY! WOOHOO! I need a weekend, how about you? This is the first weekend since August that both John and I will be home at the same time. September was rough in that regard. We don't have much planned this weekend. We're all going to freeze our tails off at a high school football game tonight and then tomorrow night Sarah has her Homecoming dance. Other than that I hope to stay in my pjs for as long as I can and watch a lot of football and maybe a movie. I really want to see People Like Us.

Okay, let's talk about Facebook.
I've been tentatively tip-toeing back into Facebook. I reactivated my account in mid-September after a six-week break. Honestly, the only reason I got back on was because I manage a page for work and my admin stuff is linked to my personal account. You may remember that I decided I needed a break in early August after realizing how addicted I'd become. At the time, there were only a few weeks of summer vacation left and I really wanted to be intentional about how I spent the remainder of that time with my children. I can't say that I missed Facebook too much in those six weeks. I have a lot of thoughts about it but I can best sum it up with these two points:

1. Facebook is a ridiculous time waster. I was amazed at how much extra time I found in my day when checking Facebook was no longer a part of my routine. I was also amazed at how much mental focus I had and how uncluttered my brain felt.

2. Facebook is not a life-giving place for me. I hope you caught that the emphasis here is on me, Meredith. I just re-read my Confessions of a Twitter Quitter: Why I Pulled the Plug post and it explains this point in great detail. Just substitute the word Facebook for Twitter as you read.

I will say that I do miss seeing friends' pictures and feeling like I know what's going on in people's lives. During my break, I sat through many a conversation feeling out of the loop because the topic often shifted to something from Facebook. Thankfully, I have understanding and gracious friends who patiently fill me in while keeping the eye-rolling to a minimum.

So, yeah, I'm back on Facebook but it's not a place I visit daily (or hourly, as used to be the case). I deleted the app from my phone and I've pretty much kept my visits to a few times a week, mostly when I get an email saying I've been tagged in a photo or post, or when a friend directs my attention to something I need to see.

The bottom line for me? I want to have control over Facebook and not the other way around.

Happy weekend, friends. Hope it's warmer in your neck of the woods than it is here. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

October currents...

My current read: My reading mostly takes place while waiting in the carpool line and I lately I've spent it reading magazines and my bible study lessons.

Current playlist: I downloaded a song we sang at church last week and have had it on repeat on my iPod ever since. Full Attention by Jeremy Riddle. 

Current color: Orange! I love orange.

Current drink: I'm trying to detox from caffeine and I'm well on my way but I had a killer headache for a few days. The no-caffeine thing is hard when Starbucks taunts me with the pumpkin spice latte. It's harder still when morning temps are in the 30s and 40s. I suppose I could get the decaf version. Now there's an idea. 

Current food: copy-cat salad. When I was in Arkansas last month my sister took me to a place called Newk's where I had one of the best salads I've ever had. I've been trying to recreate it ever since because I literally crave it. I've almost perfected my balsamic vinaigrette. Almost.

Current wish: more hours in a week

Current need: jeans! that fit!

Current triumph: Last Sunday a friend and I climbed Grays Peak AND Torreys Peak. Both are 14,000+ foot mountains in Colorado. I'm working on a blog post about our hike but here's a pic from the top of Torreys.

Current annoyance: I mentioned last week that my debit card was stolen. That in itself is annoying but     it brings with it a whole other set of irritations--like having to write checks and returning items purchased with old debit (and ending up with store credit instead of cash back in my account). I got a new debit card in the mail on Saturday but didn't get my PIN until yesterday which made for a panicky moment at Costco when my transaction wouldn't go through without it. Thank goodness I still had my checkbook in my purse. 

Current indulgence: Daytime naps and going to bed super early. Sleep is my indulgence--not sure exactly what that says about me.

Current blessing: Good friends.

Current outfit: Well, at the moment I'm wearing my flannel nightshirt with moose on it, but will soon be changing into workout clothes. 

Current excitement: I'm hiking today with some friends. I did this same hike early last month and the leaves were just beginning to turn colors. I'm hoping we see some pretty colors today but I'm worried the wind we've had of late may have blown all of the beautiful leaves off of the trees. We'll see. I also love the cairns all along this hike! (You'll see some more cairns in my upcoming post from Grays/Torreys). 

Current project: I'm going to try to use my Silhouette to cut out some vinyl lettering for a friend this week. I have a feeling that will lead to more head is already full of ideas. 

Current plan: John and I talked last weekend about instituting one night per week that our family turns off our electronic/techy devices (phones, iPods, iPad, computers, and television) and have a screen-free night. He asked me to choose the night and I chose Wednesday. We start tonight and I'm sure it's going to be met with some resistance from our kids. We realize that some homework requires a computer so we're not hard-liners here. What we're going for is an attempt to have a night where we're not all off doing our own thing on our own devices. We're not opposed to turning on the television to watch a show as long as we're all in the same room watching it together and not watching television with a computer or other device in our hand/lap.