Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ho ho ho!

Christmas was great this year.

In the last few years, I've struggled with Christmas -- being past the little-kid-excitement phase and before the I'm-excited-for-my-own-kids phase. Luckily, this year we got a tree, planned a great Christmas day dinner, and I played Christmas music on my XM starting back at the end of November. This year, the Christmas spirit wasn't going to pass me by!

Despite it being on the same day every year, Christmas eve snuck up on me as always. Christmas eve brought an early drive down to my parents' house, a nice 45 mile bike ride on the C470/Centennial Trail from their house to Bear Creek Park near Morrison and back, some cookie decorating, dinner, and presents with the family. Before we knew it, it was late and it was time to head home.

I am absolutely a traditionalist when it comes to holidays, so when we woke up Christmas morning to this on our deck, I couldn't help but get that little-kid feeling back. There's nothing like a true (and surprising!) white Christmas:
Chris and I woke up giddy around 7:30 and ran downstairs to use our new four-slice toaster to make some Eggos. Turbo seemed to know it was a special day and he bounced around like a kid. He even decided to put his new ball (a gift from my dad) in his food bowl and eat around it. He's never done this before, and it was really cute.
Santa came while we were sleeping!
You will only see me this happy at 7:30 am once a year.
Santa brought Turbo a doggy-bagel wrapped in paper! He had a great time trying to figure out how to get it in his mouth.
Turbo's other favorite part of Christmas was shredding the paper from the gifts. Watch out for hurricane Turbo! Chris was way into reading his new GPS's instruction manual.When your family is not in town, you have to experience Christmas over the phone. Chris was happy to talk to everyone and flip through his new "Ski the 14ers" book.
As I enjoyed my new Smartwool hat and socks, Garth Brooks ultimate hits CD, Polar Express book, and annual Victoria's Secret goodies, I also enjoyed a delicious Christmas cookie. Turbo is coveting it in this picture.
Awwwwwwwwww. Last year we hoped we'd be at least pregnant by this Christmas, but instead I have my sweet pup to admire :)
We bought a 17 lb turkey after Thanksgiving last year and it has sat in our freezer ever since. We finally decided to make it and after an early morning head-to-toe cleaning of the turkey juiced refrigerator, we started the meal. We had a yummy mixed green salad with feta cheese, apples, and walnuts, some baked mashed potatoes with a feta/brie/parmesan cheese mixture, lemon infused turkey, canned cranberry sauce, and homemade gravy. Yummmmmm. At 17 pounds, we'll be eating turkey with every meal for the rest of the week. Turbo's special meal included "whoops" turkey and part of his doggy bakery treat from my dad.

To burn off the turkey we battled, pretty much all day, on our new Wii. I discovered that I'm terrible at Wii tennis, but at least pretty good at Wii bowling and baseball. The highlight had to be working together to knock off enemy tanks on one of the most elementary games that came with the remote... I also enjoyed the updated Duck Hunt game. Tonight we'll probably break open Super Mario Galaxy and see how we do. The Wii is a lot of fun -- luckily I have a dad who can find impossible finds.

Christmas is over for now. The tree will come down this week and the Christmas music has been replaced by my new CDs. Luckily for us, we will be leaving Friday for St. Louis to have a great New Years with the rest of our family.

Cheers to many more Friday Starbucks Breakfast Dates...
And snowy adventures in the wild!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Merry Christmas to all out in blogger land!  Christmas eve and Christmas morning have been wonderful this year.  Many stories and pictures to come about our 45 mile bike ride yesterday, our new Wii adventures, and how (in the madness of shredding wrapping paper this morning) I think our Golden somehow ate the letter "o" off of the computer.  Hmmm...


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Come be stupid with me.

"It is the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday I posted my favorite "accidentally awesome" pictures. As I continue sifting through the many pictures of 2007, I have decided to post my favorite group pictures. Enjoy!

Spring break 2007 -- woooo! Vegas with Karen and Shaina. Good friends, good times, good drinks by the pool.
Girls mountain bike ride at Colorado Hills with Michelle and Melissa. It was fun to spend time with the girls on the bike without any man-pressure. We need to do it more often in 2008.
Riding back from the flooded time trial at Cherry Creek, Chris managed to snap a great group shot. It was fun to warm-up, race, and (most importantly) eat with the crew every Wednesday in the spring. These weekly races got me through a really rough end to the 06-07 school year.
Once the time trials ended, we started up the Wednesday mountain bike rides with great regularity. One of these days the sun will stay out, the weather will warm up, and we'll be back to our usual shenanigans.
One of my favorite weekends of '07 included a spur of the moment trip up from Colorado Springs from my sister, niece, and nephew. I wish we lived closer together and could do this sort of thing more often.
The flatlanders conquer Mt. Sherman! Chris and I loved hiking with his sister and mom and we couldn't be more proud of their accomplishment. Chris grew up with an awesome family and I feel so privileged to be a part of it.
Toast to more group adventures in 2008!

p.s. I have to mention that I just turned over 700 miles on my road bike computer today. I'm back to riding on a regular basis and am trying to find some biking goals for '08 to work toward.

p.p.s. Today a kid told me I look like Santa's mom. Hmmm...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Captured Moments

As I've started to look back at 2007, I noticed that we (me, hubby, or various friends) took some pretty great "accidentally awesome" pictures from our many '07 adventures.  In no order, here are some of my favorites:

24 Hours of Moab -- Chris's dad and I worked hard on the whole "crew on the fly" concept and this picture shows the setup in action.  Dad2's intensity is something to aspire to.  

Fall Fruita trip.  Wheeeeeeeee!  Thanks again for the picture, Scott!
Grand Loop Christopher.  I don't think he intended the road to be so perfectly framed in his glasses, but it looks so deliciously artsy that I love it.  Also, the face exactly depicts his experience as well as my own trying to find him in the middle of the night in Bedrock.
Spring Rim Ride finish.  In 2006, my favorite picture was of Chris finishing Leadville with a huge childish grin on his face.  This has to be my favorite of 2007.  Another random shot from the camera towards the finisher with extraordinary results.  I love that look and hope I see it many more times in 2008. 
Random fall walk by the Prairie Dogs.  He may be three, but Turbo still looks and acts like a puppy.  I cannot believe how much I love this dog.
Cherry Creek Time Trials -- "let's push Jeanie into the rushing river across the road".  I still can't believe Chris caught this shot.  With the intention of showing us all riding through the flooded street in our time trial garb, he happened to catch Melissa tipping into me, me tipping into Jeanie, and Jeanie luckily not crashing into the river.  Heheheee...  
Mt. Democrat anniversary climb.  In an attempt to get one of our many summit shots, Chris happened to catch the nice weather to his left and the charging block of clouds to his right.  My head just happens to be the perfect splitting point!
24 Hours of Moab -- The stampede that is the beginning of the race looks like a cloud of dust from my position behind about three rows of screaming, cow-bell ringing people.  Luckily for me, those people decided to walk away just in time for me to hold up my camera and take a picture of the stampede.  When I got back to the pit and looked at the picture, look who happened to be the star.  I couldn't have timed that more perfectly had I tried.
So there you have it, my favorite "accidental" pictures of the year.  There are a million more posed shots, action shots, and nature pictures that filled up our iphoto in 2007.  I'll bring those out as December winds down.  

6 more days until Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Today I was supposed to be riding another *epic* (ok, epic for me, not for most) Sunday afternoon ride with hubby and Mr. Nice.  Two weeks ago I rode an easy 55 miles and loved every second of it.  I couldn't wait for this Sunday when we'd repeat the ride.  Dave decided to change the route for this week which included some possible trail riding, so I wussed out.  With many inches of snow still on the ground, I probably could've been convinced to ride the bike path, but trails and snow on my non-pugs-mountain-bike still intimidate me a bit.  Chris tried to talk me into it, telling me it was mostly road riding and any trails that got included could be bypassed on road, but I'm still so new to this super-multi-hour riding thing, that I couldn't muster up the courage.  

Yep, I'm officially lame.

Oh well.  I woke up with a bit of a sniffle -- with the flu and strep still running rampant around my classroom, it's probably best that I rest anyway.  One more week until Christmas break, and if I end up sick like I have the last two years, I'm not going to be very happy.

So instead of out riding, I am vacuuming up tree needles and dog fur, defrosting a chicken to roast later, and doing laundry.  

I know, I know, sounds awesome.

p.s. I can't wait to give a certain someone his Christmas present (presents?).  

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Feel the promise of a warm day"

Ah yes, wisdom from the good folks at Dove chocolate. Yum and hmmmm all in one delicious package.

It's cold and snowy outside, I'm fighting some sort of impending illness, but there's always a warmth inside that's been missing lately.

Some of the sources of warmth:

I haven't mentioned lately how wonderful my dog is -- is he not the cutest dog EVER?
Our first Christmas tree! Yep, after almost 7 years, we still wonderful have firsts together.
Our nearly-annual Avs/Blues game -- holy huge scoring batman!

8 more school days until two weeks of delicious, restful, and much needed break. I find myself longing for late-night crappy TV in bed in St. Louis and TMom's unbelievably perfect fruit-smothered waffles.

For now: Hubby-made Funfetti Brownies with vanilla ice cream and then bed warmed by one of the best Christmas gifts to date -- heated blanket. Once again, life is good.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just have to say...

For the past few months I've had 31 kids in my class.


17 Kindergarteners and 14 first graders.

If you've ever met a 5, 6, or barely-7 year old kid -- multiply that by 31 and you get my life for the past few months.

I love teaching.

I've been told I have a great command over a class, no matter how many kids are in it.

I've been praised for taking 31 kids under my wings without complaining blah blah blah.

But inside I felt crazed every afternoon at 4:00.

Two ears are not enough to listen to 31 poverty-stricken children needing some love and attention.

I felt like I was failing the kids and failing myself... how can you be a truly good teacher and suck when numbers get too high? To me, the numbers issue felt like a lousy excuse. My patience was wearing thinner than a piece of paper and that wasn't fair to the kids. Sure, I've been told things like "wow, if you were stressed, no one could tell" or "you always had those kids under control, I don't know how you could stay so calm and keep them so calm." My brain was a mess and my heart truly wasn't in it. I tried. But it wasn't... I knew the school was in the process of hiring a new Kinder teacher to take my 17 little ones, only no one knew when that would actually happen. I was in limbo and I'm bad at limbo.

Last Wednesday someone finally lifted the limbo stick and I'm back to being an actual teacher. I have 19 calm, cool, and collected first graders (14 of whom have sat through a class of 31 and now seem to truly appreciate the quiet that accompanies the simplest of tasks).

I'm finally having fun again.

I'm finally actually able to teach again.

School districts, the state, the president can throw theories and curriculum around like baseballs all they want, but the way to teach these low-achieving, under-privileged kids (to leave "no child left behind" if you will) is to lower freaking class sizes.

I've been able to teach more in the last four days than I have in the past two months.

When they come from a home where simply putting food on the table is a priority, the kids need to feel like someone loves them before they can even begin to think about learning.

When there are 31 kids, a child can't get a word in edgewise without someone else shoving themselves in the middle. A kid I've had all year finally told me on Friday that most of the time his family doesn't have food -- because we had a few minutes to just sit down and connect. Now I'll know to feed the kid when he comes to school and he'll probably start making some progress -- not because of some magical reading program, not because Mr. Bush decided so (in fact, because of No Child Left Behind, it delayed the hiring of this teacher and made things even worse) -- but simply because I could stop playing crowd-control officer and start being a teacher to the kids.

Chris has put up with my constant complaining for the past few months. His job is WAY worse than mine, no matter how many little bodies I have in the room; yet, he always listened and helped and convinced me I was still doing the right thing. What is love? Knowing someone will be there every night to lend a comfy shoulder, a pre-warmed t-shirt, and a bowl of ice cream and listen to the same complaints every night without hesitation.

Thanks for listening.

I've off my soap-box now.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A good day...

Today I had a great ride with great friends. 55ish miles of Denver bike paths. I've never ridden so far on a mountain bike before. I've only ridden more than that on one other occasion. 40 miles, some delicious Panera, then another 15 or so miles, shop at REI for a while and buy dog a new toy, come home to a hot shower and breaded/fried pork chops and trashy tv sitcoms... can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white...


Ok, seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again: MOAB IS NOT A DESERT.

Our great plan to ride the White Rim over two days quickly got, for lack of a better word, stalled.

Thanksgiving was great. Yummy food, great company, happy times. We had a beautiful six hour drive out to Moab where we confidently drove down the Mineral Bottom switchbacks at 11 pm. Being a ginormous wuss, I was a little scared driving down these switchbacks set into a nice giant canyon wall. And it was dry. Luckily, Chris is a great driver and he got our car down safely and we settled in for a nice sleep before waking up at 6 am for our 100 + mile bike adventure.

Yep, me, riding 100+ miles on my mountain bike. And I was actually super excited. We had our gear dialed in -- me carrying a 13 pound pack, Chris's weighing more like 25 pounds. Lots of water, lots of delicious camping/riding food. We had warm clothes -- knowing the weather would be in the 40's, with a 20% chance of precipitation friday morning.

20%. Yeah, just like before the '06 24 Hours of Moab when there was a 20% of rain and we had the downpour of the century. Uh huh.

I woke up to an "OH SH##!" from Chris. I groggily asked if we slept in too late (typical of a Marni trip) and he said "Uhh, no, look outside." I sat up and saw this:Not clear enough? Hmmm. Let's open the door...

Hmmm? Desert? Yeah. Sure.

Now the big decision that we would struggle with for the rest of the trip: Do we try to get out of the canyon? It was a harder decision than you'd think. Afterall, we had enough supplies and warmth and food to get us through at least a week down where we'd parked... probably more. However, as the snow continued to dump in hand sized flakes, we knew the road would only get worse and thus definitely trapping us down there until it melted and then we'd have to outlast the ensuing mud. We also knew that mom had instructions to call the park if we didn't call by Sunday evening... we didn't want her to have to think the worst.

Chris and I rationalized that we'd know shortly up the road whether we'd make it up or not. We started up and the car was doing surprisingly well and the road relatively grippy. So we kept going. And going. This is my face as I tried hard not to freak out and make the situation even worse:
Yeah, we were driving up this -- Chris driving, me screaming on the inside...We made it halfway up the switchbacks and, well, that's where our plans got stuck. After sliding out a few times -- on a road little more than a car's width wide, on one side there's a big rock wall, on the other a 200 ft cliff -- we called our upward mission off. We even slide into the wall at one point which caused this:

We're not complaining though, one slide the other way and there would've been a much more tragic outcome. As we realized that we couldn't drive forward or straight without getting sucked back into the ditch, we made the decision to come up with a new plan. We both freaked out, but luckily at different times, so between the two of us we made the rational decision to stay put. Yeah. A little cockeyed on a slippery canyon road, but a decision nonetheless. I didn't take a picture of the car on the slippery slope for fear it would later haunt me should something bad happen. I feel content with that decision, although the scariness of the situation is hard to imagine without seeing a picture.

To get us out of the situation, Chris made the decision to bundle up, hop on his bike, and head up several miles in pedal deep snow to find some help. We decided that I'd stay with the car. As I watched Chris pedal into the still falling snow, I hoped he'd be back soon and that splitting up wouldn't be a decision we'd regret.

Truthfully, I had a few seconds of wanting to freak out over the situation (to me, it sounded like a Dateline story just waiting to happen), but I ultimately pulled myself together, bundled myself into our down pants and coats and tried to sleep.

I didn't allow myself to look at a clock. I didn't want to know how long Chris had been gone and I didn't want to look down and realize it had only been a few minutes.

I listened to the click of the emergency blinkers and I found a strange comfort in the sound. The way we were perched, I was a little afraid that the car would start sliding and head down the cliff. Irrational fear -- maybe. We propped rocks behind the tires just in case though. Still, any little noise made me think it was the car sliding. So the constant click, pop, click of the lights kept my mind off of the maybes.

Pretty soon I heard a SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL and worried it was some creepy canyon animal. Luckily, it was frozen-Chris. With ice in his "beard" he explained that he'd found some guys in a truck and they had called for help. It could be a while. A few hours? A day? We weren't sure. We settled into the car, pulled out the sleeping bags, and started a game of Travel Scrabble. I'm pretty sure I was losing, so it was good when the sheriff came tapping on our window to walk us out of the canyon.

I can now say I've ridden in the back of a Sheriff's truck on two separate occasions. Neither in Colorado. Both after snowy car "incidents". This time was much better than the last. Still, sitting under some large shotguns was a little unnerving.

Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long, we checked into the good old Super 8...
Showered and ate some Denny's...
Laid our gear out to dry...
And called around for chains. Chris found us some chains, put a call into Moab local Fred W in hopes of getting a ride back up to the car with the chains, and walked to the Napa several blocks away. As luck would have it, Chris ran into some friends from college in the parking lot of the bike shop. They very nicely agreed to take him up to the car and help him get it out (Erin/Shannon etc, if you ever read this, shoot us an email, I owe you girls and Tim and Ari? some freshly baked cookies at the very least). Chris called and told me what was going on and that he was headed back to the car.

I sat nervously in the hotel and did this:Watched an I Love Lucy marathon and a Dog Whisperer marathon...
And shoved my face with Chex "Muddy Buddies". Like half the bag. I was nervous, ok?

After lots of worrying, Chris called saying they'd gotten the car out. YAY! He came home, we relaxed, and then headed off to the Brewery for dinner. Not before seeing that our car had apparently ralphed up some Moab sand in the parking lot though...

So it wasn't 100 miles of riding. But we were really exhausted by the end of the day. Later I'll write about the rest of the weekend -- my first experience on Slickrock and a run-in with apparent food poisoning.

It was quite the weekend.

In the desert.