Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life in Northern Colorado

When we moved to Colorado, we were moving to Boulder. The cool town right up against the mountains. Really expensive housing, and likely nowhere near our dream home in our price range, but immediate access to the mountains. And that cool Boulder vibe.

We rented in Louisville, 8 miles east of Boulder and a lot more affordable, to see what that felt like. But I was sure that I didn't want to be out in the plains, and Andy was working in Boulder, so we started house hunting there and focused most of our activities and shopping "in town".

Then a funny thing happened - we fell in love with Louisville. The Boulder job didn't last (thank goodness we figured that out before we put down money on a house!), we spent more time exploring our town, and I joined a wonderful local running group. Boulder has rush hour traffic (okay, so it's not much compared to Dallas and DC...) and a lot of rich people with too much time on their hands, kids with too much money in their pockets, and transients who make the truly desperately homeless look bad. Louisville has families - gobs of them. Not that Boulder is some kind of wasteland; it's a great place to be and live. But Louisville is more grounded but still outdoorsy and fun with a suprisingly cool restaurant scene in a great little downtown.

As the seasons shifted, we also grew to love being "out in the plains". When you're in Boulder, you see the Flatirons and other close mountains. When you're in Louisville, you see the entire Front Range. Boulder has a great farmers market, but it's hard to get in there and park and deal with the crowds. My daily commute north took me past farmstands at the actual farms where the stuff was grown. Hannah and I would drive past the crops then go pick out what we wanted to take home. We watch the seasons change in the fields - cycles of plowing, new growth, harvest, winter prep... I've grown to expect (though not accept - it's gross and annoying!) the burning of fields in the late summer. We listen to coyotes howl at night and know that it must be 11:30. We anticipate the opening of valves in the spring that will turn irrigation ditches in our neighborhood into season creeks, and the local mud pie into something resembling a pond. (I heard the other night that apparently people steal the water, which is why it stayed to low this year!)

Living in Colorado is so much more than enjoying the mountains. In 15 minutes, I can be at a mountain trail, and in 45 I can be up at 10,500 ft for a hike to treeline. But on a daily basis I live and thrive - and run - in the agricultural plains. And I absolutely love it. Here are some photos from my run on Monday on the Teller Farms trail. They've moved the cattle, so there were lots of piles to avoid (no fences between cow and person on this and many trails), and the farmers' kids were out working while I was running. I was struck by the scene in the mud...

Running shoes and boots, dogs, silly Vibram toes, horse, mountain bike, stroller, and truck. Didn't get any cow prints in this shot, but there were plenty.

The trail/farm road, looking north.

The recently moved herd.

And my wonderful running companion!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our girls

Fall 2011 and Summer 2007. The stripey girl is Lucy (in a Hannah hand-me-down, of course!).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time to change

I finally decided that it's time to change my title photo, then I realized that the song lyrics needed a little tweaking, too. Not brilliant by any stretch, but it'll do. I actually find that I don't sing that song anymore, but I have carried on a little naptime diddy that I started with Hannah. Not bad considering that I consider myself to be a terrible composer/improviser and really lacking in the creative side of musicianship.

Hannah's first Canyon hike.

I love this photo of my mom and Hannah. Buddies.

Simple joy.

In the middle of an extensive sidewalk chalk project.

North Korea appears to be missing a small leader...

We're settled in nicely to life with a 4 year old and a 4 month old and me staying home again. I miss the people at my last school, and I miss having fun with students and making music, but I don't miss working. I certainly don't miss getting out of the house early every day, but I'm also glad not to be working on lesson plans, program plans, grades - and all those meetings!

Since summer wasn't a great time for us to travel this year, we took a trip to Flagstaff this fall to hang out at my parents' house for a week. The girls and I drove out and Andy met us for the long weekend. That's right - the girls and I drove for 2 days each way. I'd say that's worthy of a supermom designation, yes? I actually really enjoyed most of the drive. I've never driven the country between Moab and Flagstaff before - Wow! It helped to have a really comfortable car, plenty of time, and a portable DVD player. I think our longest stretch without having to feed or change somebody was two hours, but it worked just fine. Once highlight was the cafe in Bluff, Utah that had the best oatmeal I've ever eaten, a friendly server who held Lucy while I ate, books for Hannah to peruse, and a great swing in a tree out in the yard.

The major drama was finding a bed bug in our hotel on the way to Flag as we were packing up in the morning. Hor-ri-ble. I was terrified about bringing them to my parents' and then home, so started by standing in the room for about 15 minutes panicking and telling Hannah I didn't know what to do. My wonderful daughter responded by hugging me and offering to get me a glass of water, which is the standard treatment for stress or injury at her preschool. (On a side note - it's been really fun to have a daughter who's old enough to act as a friend sometimes. We have plenty of preschooler drama, no doubt, but she's also really caring and helpful and fun.) So after much stress and many plastic bags and a week of less than stellar sleep, we seem to have left the bedbugs where they belong in the Travelodge in Monticello, Utah.

We had a wonderful stay in Flag. Lots of trail running, no trips out of the house without running into someone who knows my parents, and Hannah's first trip to the Grand Canyon. She even got to do two very short hikes below the rim. The first on a really steep precarious trail, and the second on the lovely and understandably crowded Bright Angel Trail. She kept talking about when she'd be able to hike to the bottom. No, honey, not when you're five. Lucy adjusted and slept well on the trip, and Hannah came home with a big-sister gift of a fancy purse and an antique rhinestone necklace from "Auntie" Karen. Very fun.

Back at home, we've been really enjoying the change in season. We've got quite a bit of fall color right now, and the temperature and skies have been gorgeous. I had the honor of running the last six miles with my friend during her first marathon last weekend. It was great to have a goal to train for and I'm honestly feeling a bit unmotivated now. Silly, since it's not like it was my race! I've certainly got baby weight to loose, but I'd rather set my sights on a running goal than a scale.

Next up - I have time to sew Hannah's Halloween costume again this year. It's my first time sewing since my Grandmother died, and sewing always makes me feel close to her. It feels good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's time to do this!

I suppose it's the usual excuse, but I have been meaning to get back to this thing for months. The last year has had it's share of ups and downs, and it seems like everytime I get it in my head to post something, there's a down. And I really didn't want to turn this into a place where I go to complain. Plus there's this whole Facebook phenomenon. I really didn't want to do Facebook, mostly because I had this blog, and I wanted to share here, but it's become the optimal way to connect with my local friends and of course it's fun to see what friends around the world are up to, so now I'm a Facebooker. So there.

Other than a birthday video for Baba, it looks like I haven't really shared stuff here since about last fall and Christmas, so I feel inclined to try to remember and sum up what's happened since then...

January - oh yeah, that's why I stopped posting. The company Andy was working for fell apart. Ultimate Electronics was a consumer electronics store, much like Best Buy, but not as big nation-wide. The industry has been hit really hard, and Ultimate didn't survive. We knew it was likely for a while, but couldn't say anything to anyone. Can't go telling people your company's going under when it's retail! So right around Hannah's birthday on January 31st, Andy was laid off with no severence. It sucked. We certainly are not the only ones to go through two lay offs in 2 years, but it sucked. And oh - I was pregnant! So that added to our stress, especially for Andy. Our plan was for me not to go back to work, so there was a lot of searching, both job and soul, local and distant. After 4 months (an eternity for Andy, but sadly not that long compared to a lot of people out there), he landed a job as Director of Programming and Content Aquisition at Dish Network. Just in time for me to comfortably announce my decision to stay at home next year before summer started. I really wanted to be able to tell my co-workers and the families at the school in person rather than just disappearing over the summer. It took a while, but he's starting to really enjoy the job and has taken on some additional responsibilities in recent weeks. The bummer is that it's 40 minutes to an hour drive each way and public transportation really doesn't work. But we were getting to a point where it was that or moving out of state. Thank goodness for bike rides, when Andy does all of his thinking and figuring things out. We both know that this is where we want to be, so a commute is worth staying in this amazing town, with our wonderful view of our magical mountains.

Okay so all the while, I was pregnant, right? I was a lot less emotional this time, thank goodness, since we were having to consider things like moving out of state, Andy traveling full-time, or me continuing full-time teaching this fall. Oh - and now I remember why I didn't share that on here before the whole job thing happened. I had some scares early on with spotting, so I really wanted to wait until we had the 16-week sonogram to post on here. And that was, sure enough, right in the middle of job-ending stress. Bleh. We did have a lot of fun taking Hannah to the sonogram. We decided to find out gender this time, and we had the sonographer tell Hannah out in the hall, so she was able to tell us that she'd have a little sister!

My school year had a very busy end, which I had managed to avoid last year (when I wasn't 3rd-trimester pregnant, go figure). Little kid program, choir concert, packing up my room, a keyboard unit (I taught 24 kindergarteners, in one room, by myself, to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on keyboards - yeah, me!), and a 5th-grade continuation performance. All the while dealing with the aforementioned pregnancy and husband job stress. Woo hoo! But at the end of the year, I was able to say good bye to everyone and received a lot of support and love. I really don't think that I'm the best music teacher out there as far as getting the standards covered, but I'm fun and engaging and welcoming and have a sane classroom, so people seem to think I'm pretty great. I always feel that I need to be doing more - a lot more - with my planning and teaching, but my ultimate goal is to get kids to want to participate in and learn about music, so I guess I do okay.

All the while, Hannah conducted herself like a typical and wonderful 4 year old. For a while there, every weekend was impossibly hard - tantrums, drama, and tears all around - but she also learned to write most of her letters and to read and write a few sight words, and to zip around like a pro on her Skut bike, and to ski (sort of), and to be funny, and just lots of other really cool things. She got about 5 inches cut off her hair this week, and she's completely lost her baby belly in the last month, and she's just so darn grown up! She's very close to the age of my youngest students, which I'm finding to be very strange and a little sad. One more year until kindergarten!

So after all that job trauma, and teaching stress, it was baby time! She was due on June 4th, but it seemed like she might come early. I was completely unprepared to have to leave work early, and really wanted to have some time off after the end of the year, and she cooperated by having to be induced on June 9th. Labor was a lot quicker, but a lot more dramatic, mostly thanks to not having an epidural as soon in the process. Chemically-induced contractions of course were strong and back to back, so there was a lot of yelling for about an hour, then 30 minutes of relative calm, then a baby! My mom was in town taking care of Hannah and had stopped by to see how things were progressing at what happened to be right before push time, so she stayed for the delivery, which was pretty cool. My wonderful husband turned on my favorite Yoga music for the (not so big) push, and the doctor was totally into it, which of course really worked for me.

Our beautiful Lucy Elizabeth was born at 11:15 in the morning, weighing in at 7 pounds 2 ounces, and measuring 19 1/2 inches long. Hannah had been about a half pound heavier and a quarter inch longer. Pretty consistent kiddos. Lucy has wonderful red hair that's decently long and sticks up all over the place. It really does remind us of the baby orangutan we saw at the zoo last spring. She's fairly calm and sooth-able, partly because she didn't starve for the first 3 weeks like Hannah did, and I'm certainly a lot calmer myself! Breast feeding has been a huge source of stress for me, with both girls. Hannah didn't gain any weight for her first 3 weeks, at which point we started supplementing and of course eventually moved fully to formula. Then she ate too much and I was contstantly second guessing myself and stressed about her feeding. I was determined not to repeat all of that this time. So sure enough, despite giving it a go - pumping, supplemental nurser, and wonderful, wonderful support of Andy, my mom, and a spectacular lactation consultant - I really can't feed my child exclusively with breast milk. Everything you read or hear - EVERYTHING - says that if you do it enough, pump enough, drink enough, take the herbs, you make enough. Not so. And that spectacular lactation consultant looked at me and told me it's not going to work. Amen and hallelujia. I want to go shout from the mountain tops (especially above Boulder!) - not all women can breast feed! And it's not because we didn't try hard enough, or long enough. And when I say I don't make enough, I don't mean I'm an ounce short, I mean I can't even make a full ounce!

Okay - so it's been a big deal, right? So now I nurse Lucy then give her a bottle. And sometimes I get to skip nursing, which makes things easier, and sometimes I'm completely stressed about once again giving too much to my formula-fed baby. And that part sucks. But mostly it's good and she's good and she's gaining weight and she sleeps and it's wonderful! Hannah's wonderfully helpful, when she's so inclined. She's also quick to anger and contrary and occasionally disobedient just 'cause, but she's a really good kid. And she goes to a really good preschool that's just a 5 minute walk from our house, which keeps us all sane!

So now it's summer. Andy's sister Claire got married last month to a wonderful man, and Hannah and her cousin were flower girls. My parents returned for the weekend and were incredibly helpful, so we all had a great time and avoided major stress. I'm able to run a bit again, which is fabulous! We've also been hiking with the girls and generally enjoying the fact that hot here means low 90's, not low 110's. I'm planning a road trip with the girls to hang out with my parents in Flagstaff in September and Andy will join us for the weekend. Wish me luck!

So now the good part - the photos. It's a long and wordy post, and I don't blame anyone for skipping all the stuff above to just check out the photos. I felt the need to do a little reflecting on 2011 so far and what we've been through to get here. In the end, or beginning, as it were, we are incredibly blessed to have two healthy girls, to live in a place that we absolutely love, to have made some wonderful local friends, to live near Andy's siblings and Hannah's cousins, and to enjoy frequent visits from our parents. We have eachother, and while we may not have a lot of time to enjoy that right now, we continue to have a wonderful relationship and grow closer through all that life brings us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas and New Years photos

The obligatory family photo. Not bad this year!

The best we got with Baba and Nammy. That's some look that kid's giving!

The next American Olympic Luge team. Hannah and her cousin Juliet made it further than anyone else on the hill on nearly every run!

Ski practice with Daddy. She's far from tackling the black slopes, or even the lift for that matter, but she's having a blast!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It seems the only reason I update the blog these days is when I have new photos. Such is life these days. We're having a good time, but it does seem that there's not a lot of time for more than work, meals, exercise, and bedtime. Weekends are nice. Here are a couple: