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Parents’ Advice

Casey and I bought our first house last October.  Technically, it was his second, but it was my first and the first we owned together.  We got an amazing deal through the Good Neighbors Next Door program, but using the program meant we didn’t have a lot to choose from.  A couple foreclosures came up each week and we put our names in a lottery.  The house we got is wonderful in many ways.  It has a backyard and a garage, the bathroom is bigger than our last, and it’s in a great neighborhood.  However, there are a few downfalls.  At 620 sq feet, it’s not exactly a mansion.  To take a tour, you basically walk in the front door, take 6 steps forward and you’re in the bedroom, take 6 more steps and you’re in the “dining room,” take 6 more and you’re in the kitchen, take 6 more and you’re in the backyard.  The only interior door is to the bathroom.  You can’t open the dishwasher without opening the back door, which is unpleasant in the winter.

Soon after we closed on our house, my parents came to visit.  I expected them to appreciate all the wonderful things about our new home, and notice some of its quirks too, including the fact that the only furniture we had at the time was a bed.  They immediately loved the home.  They thought it was “very cute” and the “perfect” size for the two of us.  They took our “tour” and admired it.  When we got to the kitchen, they saw the old, stackable washer and dryer standing right next to the stove.

My mom peered inside and said something like, “Hmmm… looks like you’ll need a new one of these.”

“No, not really,” Casey and I replied.  “We really want ski passes. The washer/dryer is fine.”

They dropped it, but they were clearly not convinced.  It became an underlying current that ran through the weekend.  The rust.  The fact that it took about 2 hours to dry even a small load.  That we could only wash OR dry, not both at the same time.  Still, we insisted that it was fine.

“For Christmas?” they inquired.

“Nope, but if you’re offering a large gift, we’d really like those ski passes.”

But somehow we ended up in the washer/dryer section of Best Buy.  Unfortunately, all of the shiny new models required more voltage than the electrical circuits in our 1891 house provided.  They suggested we upgrade our electrical.  We agreed, and just a little while later (over the summer) we did.  And then just a little after that (this Thanksgiving), we finally bought one of those new washers and dryers.  It took us a full year, but we finally did it.

Tomorrow, they are coming to visit again for the first time since we got our new washer and dryer.  I have been trying to clean our house bit by bit tonight, so it will be slightly less pigsty-ish when they arrive, but I just really hate cleaning.  And all I keep thinking is… I wish I had some laundry to do!  Our new system makes it so easy and so efficient to do laundry, that it’s become by far my favorite chore.  Sure it takes up far too much room in our kitchen and looks a bit out of place, but who cares, I get to press lots of shiny buttons that say things like “Hand Wash” (for my clothes) and “Antibacterial Temp” (for Casey’s scrubs).  The problem tonight though is that all our laundry’s been done.  Even after camping all weekend, it’s still done.  It’s so easy and so awesome that we actually do laundry now.

So, thanks mom and dad for convincing us that we “needed” a new washer and dryer.  Do you think some new hardwood floors would help me sweep up all the dog fur?

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Nothing to Write

It seems many of us are hitting the same writers block.  Writing has turned from something I looked forward to doing, to something I’m dreading.  I don’t want to think of a topic.  I don’t want to stop to write.  Right now, I want to clean my kitchen more than I want to write, and that is saying something because I absolutely hate cleaning!  But here I am.  Getting toward the end, but running out of steam.

I feel like its that time in a race or a run or a ride, when I hit the wall, break down.  When I ride my bike, I sometimes look longingly to the side of the trail and consider laying down and going to sleep.  I haven’t actually done it yet, but I have had my share of mid-ride breakdowns.  And mid-hike breakdowns for that matter.  Whatever the sport, its when I refuse to keep going, throw my pack/bike on the ground, and sit down exactly where I am. I think I can’t go on.  I think I’m done.  I think there is no possible way I can make it back to my car.  But the thing with all these breakdowns is that they don’t actually last very long.  In fact, I can go on.  And I always do.

That’s what I’m trying to do with my writing right now.  Just get up and take that next step.  Then the next.  Hopefully sometime soon I’ll hit my stride again.  For now, I’ll keep churning out one post after another.  Trying not to actually lay down my pen and quit.



To be clear, I am not Catholic.  I am not even Christian, at least not in the I believe in Jesus kind of way.  So I recognize the inherent problem with me giving advice about Lent.  Nevertheless, I did participate for 2 years, and in that time I learned something valuable about deciding what to give up for Lent.  So, here goes.

When I was living in Steamboat I did pretty much whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and eventually I decided that a little self-discipline was in order.  Not a lot, just a little.  Since Lent occurred right after Mardi Gras, which I celebrated religiously each year, I figured it was the perfect fit.

The first year, I gave up chocolate chip cookies.  This may sound like something little, but to be fair, it was a pretty large part of my diet back then.  You see, I taught kids ski school and every day we would get packages of 3 chocolate chip cookies wrapped in plastic wrap.  We were supposed to grab enough for each kid to have one.  Of course, we all grabbed more (because we had such good Christian values).  We stored these packs in our jacket pockets for “emergencies” like waking up too late to have breakfast or getting a late lunch time.  These plastic wrapped cookies led to me eating chocolate chip cookies close to every day.  Add to this the “breakfast of champions” that my roommate often fixed, which consisted of barely-cooked, break-n-bake chocolate chip cookies with diet soda (I know that doesn’t sound healthy, but I never drank the soda).  Needless to say, giving up chocolate chip cookies was going to be a good thing for me, but it was not going to be easy.  My roommate would often yell “But you’re not even Catholic!” when I declined her breakfast or saran-wrapped saucers.  “That is not the point,” I would tell her.   For the entire 6 weeks(?) of Lent, I held strong.  I did not eat a single chocolate chip cookie.  Success!

On the heels of this victory, I decided to attempt a bigger challenge the next year.  Ski school lunches, in addition to chocolate chip cookies, also provided a wide variety of fried foods: dino nuggets, French fries, corn dogs (my favorite)…  It would certainly improve my health if I gave all these up.  I could still eat pizza and burgers and salad and the chocolate chip cookies.  This was perfect, more challenging but still doable.  At least so I thought.  The trouble was that after I started, I realized that a lot more things are fried than I thought, and it doesn’t always advertise it right on there.  For example, chips!  Who knew those were fried?  What about tortilla chips?  Yep, those are fried too!  This meant I couldn’t even have nachos.  Since my dinner options were fairly similar to my lunch options at that point (I hadn’t yet learned how to cook), I was left with a dwindling array of bar food to choose from.  This is when I started to question what is and is not fried.  What about Cheetos?  No one knew.  I abstained.  Someone told me Chinese food was fried.  Is it?  Yes, lots of it is, but I never found an exact list of which dishes.  Someone said all tortillas are fried.  This did not turn out to be true, but by this point I was getting sick of needing to google everything before eating, especially because this was before smart phones, and I was never at home when I was eating. Then, came the day I wanted Sun Chips.  They seemed healthy; there is a sun on the package after all.  But again, no one knew.  This was the point I gave up.  I ate the chips.  They were delicious.  I didn’t know if I had broken Lent or not, so I just stopped the whole ridiculous thing.

However, I learned an important lesson: If you are going to give something up for Lent, make it something specific.  Not too easy, not too hard.  Chocolate chip cookies were just right.

Maybe one day I’ll go back to giving up something for Lent.  Maybe when I retire.  For now, I consider giving up a large part of my social life for much of the school year to be all the self-discipline I need.  I’ll leave Lent to those with carefree lives and/or religious convictions.  If you are either, I hope my advice helps.

By the way, just in case you were wondering if this is really me telling this story, yes it is.  My diet has improved vastly since the time of this story.

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A weekend camping

#1 – I did not post Friday or Saturday because I was camping.  However, staying true to my Month of March commitment, I did write.  So here are my three weekend posts.

#2 – Now that I am trying to backdate, I realize that the dates are way messed up on my actual posts.  Not sure why.  May go back and fix, may not.

Friday’s Post: St. Patty’s Day Decision.

Yesterday, Casey and I started getting St. Patrick’s Day texts.  What are you doing Sat.?  Where are you starting?  When are you starting?  Oh boy, we thought, should we really stick to our plan of leaving town and camping in Salida?  Or should we join our friends in all day debauchery?  A few years ago, when St. Patty’s Day was on a Tuesday, I would have killed to have it on a Saturday.  Now, I’m not so sure.  When it’s on a weekday, I can dodge it easily – obviously I’m not going out, I have to work tomorrow.  On a Saturday, I’m forced to choose.  Not just what to do, but between the various sides of me.  Most of you know I have two sides: the work-aholic side that those of you who stay at school too late see, and the outdoor enthusiast side that those of you who see me on Mondays hear about.  But I also have the partier side, that I don’t let on about at work.  It started in high school, gained steam in college, hit an all-time high in Steamboat, and has been waning ever since.  But, even at 31 years old, it’s still there.  So, now that St. Patty’s Day is on a Saturday, this leaves me with a dilemma: to stay and indulge my party side, or go and indulge my outdoor enthusiast side?

Sitting in front of a campfire at my favorite slice of BLM land, I’m pretty glad I chose the latter.  The stars are bright, the wind is calm, and the fire is warm.  I don’t see my party side dying anytime soon, but it is certainly dimming.

Saturday’s Post: Hitting the Pause Button

Writing requires one to pause, which is a stranger thing than I originally thought it would be.  I know that I am a do-er, that I like to go from one thing to the next.  Those are the days that I am happiest.  It’s best when I can go from one fun thing to the next – like today, from x-country skiing to mountain biking to bocce-balling to carbombing to disc golfing…  But my next best option is a productive day when I go from one thing that needs to get done to the next.  Either way, I love being busy.  In a way, blogging is one more thing that needs to get done, but it is also so very different.  It requires pause.  It requires thought.  I cannot write without stopping to sit down and put my pencil/pen/keyboard to paper.  And the key word is stopping.  I can think and reflect without stopping.  I do those things all the time… while skiing or biking or swimming… but I don’t stop.  Writing requires stopping those activities, and for me that’s hard.  The only reason I’m writing this right now is because my husband hit pause on our game to dig a hole.  And now I hear him walking back, which means more frisbee, carbombs, and fun.  Happy St. Pats!


Sunday’s Post: FYI

Those two bright “stars” in the sky, the ones that are way brighter than everything else, the ones you can see in Denver even when no others are visible, are not actually stars.  They are Jupiter and Venus.  I heard it on NPR the other week and thought it was cool.  I spent much of my weekend looking at them.  I’m not sure how much longer they’ll stay visible, but if you haven’t yet, you should take a look.

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Family Dinners

My family always sat down for dinner around our kitchen table.  Every night.  My parents both worked a lot, so we ate late and the dinners weren’t fancy, but we always sat and ate and talked.  I didn’t always like this, but we always did it.

In late December, my sister and her husband moved to Denver, into a house just a few blocks away.  Tonight, Casey and I are going to their house for eggplant parmesan.  Last week, they came to ours for tofu tacos.  It’s become a weekly event.  We don’t have a scheduled day or anything (I’m not much of a planner outside of school) but it tends to works out that way.  About one day a week, sometimes more or sometimes less, we get together for dinner.  I suppose it’s our new “family dinner.”

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10 Minute Symphony

On day one

With 10 minutes left

There was a symphony

Of turning pages

As they went back

As they checked

By the end of week one

Only a quartet was left.


A solo performance.

They are still trying

I believe

It’s just

That they’ve run out of steam

I understand

I know that feeling well

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When I’m stressed, I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.  Yesterday was stressful, so here I am.  I figured, might as well get this blogging thing out of the way.  I don’t think I’m allowed to write about TCAP, which is what was stressful, and I don’t have much more to say about it anyway, so I’m jumping on the wedding bandwagon.  It seems fitting since they are popping all over my calendar lately anyway.  I apologize in advance for the stream of consciousness writing.  It’s 4am, that’s all I’ve got.

But what exactly to write about…

I could do an engagement story like Jenn’s.  We skinned to the top of Wolf Creek Pass. He beat me and got out the ring before I got there.  After I got there, he got down on one knee. I said “Of course.”  Then we skied.  It was the perfect bluebirdpowderday, but too predictable.  It surprised the hell out of me, but no one else.

I could do a wedding dress story like Jamie and Sarah.  Only…there’s not much of a story.  I don’t like shopping unless its for gear.  I had absolutely NO interest in shopping for my wedding dress.  I knew what I wanted though, something like my graduation dress from high school, but V neck.  One day a Jcrew catalog came in the mail.  It had some wedding dresses in it.  I looked online just to see what they had, and there was the dress I wanted.  I ordered it.  It fit.  I tossed it back in the box and put it in my closet.  Later, my mom sent one of those hanging bags with a zipper and suggested I hang it up.  Perfect wedding dress, check!  Interesting blog, not yet.

Ohhhh…I know….THE CAKE!!!

The cake was the one part of wedding planning I was looking forward to.  This was the one part I’d always dreamed of.  So, when we decided to get married in California (since Casey’s side is all there and half of mine is too), I lined up cake tastings right away.  We spent an entire afternoon in LA eating little pieces of cake out of plastic wrap.  This was not nearly as elegant as I imagined, but still, it was FREE CAKE!!!  Some of the bakeries were snooty: You want chocolate frosting? No fondant?  No tiers? No decorations?  But I didn’t care.  I was eating their cake for free!  By the end of the day, I was feeling a bit nauseous but I had found my cake.  It was from a non-snooty bakery with a line around the block.  Done.  But I did not let that stop me from trying more cakes in San Diego a few days later, where I once again found my cake.  This one was dark chocolate like the first, but with a more interesting filling.  Done.

A few months later, we decided that we really didn’t want to get married in California after all.  This meant…more cake tasting!!!  Only this time we had decided to get married at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, outside Buena Vista.  There are not quite as many bakeries to choose from there, and the ones there are do not stock their refrigerators with bite-size pieces of cake wrapped in plastic wrap.  I was NOT going to have a cake at my wedding without tasting it first, so I called the entire list of bakers that I had gotten from Mt. Princeton (about 5).  Two agreed to make me samples and were available on the weekend my mom was coming out.  My husband had found the venue; he was more than happy to send us off to deal with the details (cake and flowers).  I had explained to both bakers what I wanted:  Basically, dark chocolate with more dark chocolate.  I was open to fillings: espresso, Kahlua, raspberry…

The first baker met me at Mt. Princeton with a small brown box.  When I opened it, it was love at first sight.  A little circle of heaven on a plate.  Dark chocolate cake, chocolate-pudding-like filling, dark chocolate ganache, and some fresh berries.  OMG!!!  I had found my cake.  Done.  But, of course, I did not let that stop me from meeting with the second baker.  She met me at a café with a small white box.  I was practically drooling with anticipation.  I opened it and inside I saw a slice of white cake with white frosting.  What?!  Did she listen to anything I had said? Oh well, I enjoyed my free cake and then immediately called the first baker to place my order.  I wanted exactly what she had made, only bigger, square, and with some extra dark chocolate shavings (a girl cannot have too much chocolate).

I described it to Casey when I got home, but apparently I did not use enough imagery because the sight of it on our wedding day still stopped him in his tracks.  I imagine that most grooms don’t talk years later about the moment they saw their cake.  Mine does.  It was that good.  Not typical, but hands-down the BEST CAKE EVER!!!







I even had some for breakfast the next morning:)

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Do you think we could change the report card date to April?  I didn’t think so.  I guess my writing for today will be report card comments.  Not so much fun.  I’ll be back tomorrow though.

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Lost and Found

The summer before Casey and I got married, we took a “backpacking road trip” through the Northern Rockies as part of our honeymoon.  Basically, we drove to a wilderness area, went on a 4-5 day backpacking trip, and then drove to another wilderness area, and so on and so on.  One of these areas was Hells Canyon in Idaho.  The first two days of our trip we hiked in warm sunshine, but on our 3rd morning we awoke to thick clouds enveloping our camp.  We made a warm breakfast, broke down camp, and were on our way.

Soon, it started to drizzle.  We kept walking.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.  We kept walking, only faster.  It started to hail.  We kept walking.  It started to snow.  We kept walking.  Finally, with wet gloves and frozen fingers, we made the decision to stop.  We had made it off the exposed hillside and into a flatter valley.  We ran into the trees and set up our tent.  We shed our rain gear and dove in our sleeping bags.  After we stopped shivering, we both drifted to sleep.

We woke up about 1pm to sunshine pouring through the “windows.”  When we emerged from our tent, the ground was white but the clouds had completely cleared.    After hanging everything to dry, we continued on our way.  With this turn of events, we figured we could still easily make our intended camp.

However, as we hiked, Casey began reconsidering our route, something he does often.  By the time he mentioned it to me, he had a full blown plan – let’s skip the detour to the lake and hike all the way back to the car tonight so we can celebrate with M&Ms and beer.  What??!!!  He was essentially suggesting combining two days’ worth of hiking into one!  No way!  But somehow, he eventually convinced me to give it a try.  I had found a few possible camps along the way and made him promise that if I wanted to stop he would.  Several hours and one breakdown later, we climbed the last hill and made it to the parking lot.  Exuberant joy poured out of us.  We high fived, took pictures, and relished in our perfect timing, arriving at 10pm, right as the last bit of light left the sky.

And then, I unzipped my zipper pocket to retrieve the car key.  And it wasn’t there.  No amount of fishing was going to pull it out; all I found was a hole.  The exuberance instantly evaporated and was replaced by an unmistakable “We are fucked” feeling.  The trailhead was 20 miles from the nearest paved road, and although there was a town there, it consisted of a few rafting outfitters and not much else.  We hatched plans to try and solve the problem, but it was clear that nothing could be done until morning.  So, with cold beer just out of reach, we set up our tent and started preparing our dehydrated meal.  Halfway through, we ran out of gas so to go with our misery, we ate a semi-warm, semi-crunchy mix of meat, veggies, and rice.  Casey was doing a good job trying to be nice, not blaming me for losing the key, but I knew it was my fault.  I felt awful, terrible, horrible… I cannot find a bad enough word.  Before going to bed, I went to the bathroom.

Casey was walking towards me when I came out.  “Do you have a lighter?” he asked.  I thought he was accusing me of losing that too so I started to argue, but he interrupted, “Cuz I’m going to need one to open these beers!” Suddenly, he produced two bottles from behind his back, grinning from ear to ear.

I stood in a state of confusion for a moment.  Where…how… “Holy Crap You Opened The Car!!!!”  But I still didn’t quite understand.  I stood there shaking as he explained.  He had been walking around the parking lot thinking that the key had probably fallen out pretty quickly and was either in the parking lot or beginning of the loop.  Then he started thinking what he would do if he found a key nearby.  Our key had big Honda H on it, and there couldn’t be more than one or two Hondas in the parking lot.  He thought that if he had found it, he probably would have tried the key in each Honda and then left it on the dash of the car it fit.  So, he did what had never crossed our minds – he looked on the dash.  And sure enough, he found the key tucked under the wiper blade.  Total relief flooded over me as I began to understand that this was real.  We drank our beers in the tent and celebrated, knowing we would be able to continue our adventure the next day.  We will never be able to thank whoever found and returned our key, but we are forever grateful.

I tell this story today because I was again reminded of what a loser I am.  Not a loser like the capital L on a pre-teen’s forehead, but quite literally a person who loses things.  A lot of things.  Cell phones, wallets, keys, jackets, shoes, cameras… and the ring I got for my 18th birthday, which I got to design using sapphires from my deceased grandmother’s bracelet.  Yep, that’s the kind of person I am.  For the most part, I am at peace with losing things.  It’s just a part of who I am, and I accept it.  I even think it’s pretty funny most of the time.  But there are certain times, like when I lose a key in the middle of nowhere or when I lose my very special ring, that I just plain hate it.  But, I lost the ring back in college and don’t think about it much anymore, so it wasn’t really bothering me  this morning when my mom called.  My parents have been going through boxes of my old things lately, calling me often to find out what is okay to give/throw away.  This morning, in one of these boxes was my old jewelry box and in it was my ring with my grandmother’s stones.  Found.  (I know!  Why would I ever have thought to look for it in my jewelry box?) 

Losing things sometimes stinks, but finding them again is so much fun!


Busy Day

Today was my favorite kind of busy day.  As many of you know, I don’t like to sit around.  I love being busy, but only when the busy is a fun kind of busy.  Today was a fun, all-in-one kind of a day.  We skied, mountain biked, played cornhole, and barbequed.  It was a good day.  But it doesn’t leave time for writing.  Oh well.  Something’s gotta give.

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