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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I GOT A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

About two minutes after posting the last post, the interview from today called back and I got the job! YAY! Instead of waiting until they were finished with interviews tomorrow, they called today so that I "wouldn't get scooped up by another school". FUN! It's nice to be wanted for a change!


It's a hard-knock life...

I had another interview today.

It was one interview for three separate jobs -- two first grades and a third grade. This interview was actually fun, I seemed to mesh well with the principal and vice principal, and the school seemed to be what I'm looking for. I have a good feeling about this one, but I'll need to wait until tomorrow or Thursday to find out more.

I still haven't heard back from the first job yet. They seem to be taking their sweet time.

At 3:00 I have an appeal hearing for my unemployment claim. I basically need to prove that I resigned because I was being forced out. According to their rules, I should get the benefits; however, knowing that the world is the way that it is, I'm not counting on seeing a penny. At least it has been an interesting experience.

Tonight our family drafts our picks for the Berry family Fantasy Football league. I am totally going to win. The family is going down. I know absolutely nothing about the players and I have a feeling I'll be choosing based on how cute their names are. Sad but true. If the players weren't around in the late 90s, I won't know who they are. If you have any suggestions, let me know before 4:00 tonight.

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with some friends from my old school. I'm excited to see them.

I want a job.

Monday, July 30, 2007

no good title today

This weekend we pre-rode the next Winter Park course. It's similar to the last race, only backwards, with a few extra trails thrown into the mix. Luckily I'm a beginner so I don't have to do the extra 6 mile loop that sounds brutal, so that's good. It has A LOT of climbing. A LOT. I think the race will be fun but also really hard. Lots of fire road climbing, a few rooty/rocky climbs to make it hurt even more, and some quick downhills. I'm guessing it won't be my favorite race of the year, but I hope to make it through with a smile.

Chris took this picture, I LOVE IT. Good photographing Chris!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Out with the old...

and in with the, well... hmmm... out with the old.

First off, last night I was told I didn't get the .5 kinder job that I interviewed for. Supposedly they were super impressed though and were going to keep me in mind for future jobs, but they still had to give it to someone already working in the school. Sucks, but I understand. I also know it wasn't the perfect job for me. But I did fall in love with the school itself. Oh well, another day.

Anyway, I have fun pictures to share!

This is when we first bought our house -- take a look at the giant pokey bushes in the front by the for sale sign (I couldn't seem to find a better picture to show than this)

And here is a picture from yesterday -- notice anything ugly and pokey missing?

Pretty exciting! My genius dad came over yesterday, pulled out some serious tools from the back of the car (including some 40ish year old Army tools), and we assaulted the bushes. We still have the stump of one to dig out, and then we'll be finished. My dad is awesome. For being 66 years old, he can sure swing the heck out of an axe. He showed the bushes who was boss and even hauled the remnants of our heavy, old broken statue to the garbage truck. When you are a kid, you think your dad is superman -- capable of superhuman feats of strength and bravery. Luckily for me, I haven't grown out of that phase yet. Thanks for your help dad!

Chris and I haven't quite decided what to replace the ugly bushes with. We are pondering some flowers, or pots of flowers (whichever is easiest to NOT kill), and maybe a small fence to prop the bikes up on. We also plan to get rid of the giant spruce in front of our house one of these days. It will be a slightly larger chore!

Luckily, Chris won a $50 gift certificate to the local garden center from Earth Day at work a while back, so we get to find at least some of our new landscaping for free. For now, we are giggling with joy as we can ride our bikes right out the front door, directly onto the lawn, and out to the street.

This summer seems to be filled with changes. We are getting rid of the 'old' in our lives. Old hobbies, old habits, old ugly paint colors. We are patiently waiting for new. New jobs, new parts, new landscaping, new humans. I'm a patient person but bad at being patient. We're making it though. I'm proud of us.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Interviews are an annoying part of finding a job.

Had an interview yesterday for a 1st grade job and one today for a half time kinder job. I think I did pretty well on both interviews and hope at least something comes out of at least one of them. If not, back to the land of never ending applications.

I realized that as I drive by the exit for my old school on the highway, I am still quite bitter. Probably more bitter than I should be, but still am. It's not right that I'm looking for a job right now. It's not right that teachers much less caring and talented than myself are soon to be getting paid almost double what I'll get anywhere else -- and I care about the kids and would do it for nothing.

But, it is what it is. I'm happy to be getting some interest... no, change that, I'm ECSTATIC to be getting interest. I hate interviews, but I can't complain. I want them.

Ooh, pictures of the booties I knitted! CUTE! (they are for Craig's coming baby -- baby might get some matching items if I get around to it in the next few weeks)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The big 6-0-0

Last night Chris and I dragged ourselves out of the wonderful air conditioning and went on a ride. I know, imagine that. Neither one of us were super motivated, but both of us knew we *should* ride. Luckily the legs felt good and the breeze ended up being nice. Eventually we got away from the cars and had a peaceful excursion on the road. But the big news was that my road bike odometer turned over 600 miles! Wohoo! Ok, so I've had the bike for more than a year and it's only at 600, but it sounds more impressive when you realize that I turned over 200 in a trainer session with Chris and Feedback Jim in December or Januaryish. So I've had about 400 miles this year on the road bike alone... as opposed to last year where I probably didn't have that split between both bikes.

In other news, I have an interview on Friday with a school in Denver Public Schools. Whether I get the job or not (it's a .5 kinder position), I'm happy to say I at least got an interview. It's about time. I haven't interviewed in a while, so I hope I can keep it together ok. At least I'll be going into this one with some teaching experience under my belt, whereas I just had to b.s a bunch of stuff before. Wish me luck!

Tomorrow is Green Mountain with the Wednesday group. I hope my throat is feeling better and I hope the mean old men on the Harleys don't harass us again. I guess I'll put Lakewood police on speed dial this time.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"I am what I am and I am what I'm not"

While racing this weekend I tried to figure out why I like it.

I'm a nervous wreck before, unable to enjoy even the best of hugs from the Mr.

I'm a tired sloppy mess that night and the entire next day.

It's not cheap.

Racing and training takes up a good amount of time, even for a jobless beginner like me. Hence the STILL unfinished kitchen and only partially torn down front bushes.

I wake up each morning and for the first ten minutes, I feel like my body has aged 40 years.

Sure, once in a while it's a very rewarding experience, but at least for me, it's generally been a little disappointing.

The inevitable weight loss is cool, if you're trying to do that sort of thing, which I'm not. I've lost about 6 pounds since the time trial series started in April. Not a lot for most people, but for me it seems huge. I feel like I eat ALL THE TIME to keep up with the calories I'm burning by riding every day. Ok, so that's not a negative. I like to eat. Actually, I love any excuse to eat more often.

I digress.

The morning before the race this weekend I racked my brain trying to figure out how I got sucked into all of this. I loved being a spectator at these events when just Chris was racing. It's fun to people watch. It's relaxing to sit in beautiful mountain locations with nothing but a dog, an i-pod, and a book that never gets read or knitting that never gets knit.

About an hour into the two hour race I figured it out. I looked down at my watch and the stop watch said 29 minutes and 42 seconds. I was suffering. My legs hurt and felt really weak. Since they felt so weak I couldn't stand up on the downhills for more than five seconds without them shaking uncontrollably. So I sat. Because I sat my back and booty were killing me. When I saw 29 minutes and 42 seconds I started to cry. Literally. I guess, in retrospect, had I been feeling better and saw 29 minutes at that point in the course I would've probably passed out from joy. But no. Freaking suffering, wanting to finish, and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through it.

Then something magical happened.

I used my brain.

Yeah, imagine that. I guess that's why we wear helmets to protect it. So we can use it once in a while instead of depending on technology.

I looked down at my watch about a minute later.



Ah yes, the watch had stopped. I must've hit the stop button with my wrist on one of the downhills at the start of the race. I checked the clock on my bike computer. I was a little more than an hour done. Sweeeeeeeeet. I looked around, made sure no one could hear my thoughts or see my useless tears, and smiled. Duh.

Back to why I've decided I like racing.

Shortly after that little incident, I was still suffering. Things were still hurting. But on one particular uphill, I realized that I hadn't THOUGHT in a while. Sure, I'd thought about where to put my front wheel. Thought about what was coming up next. Thought about where the competition was, who I'd passed, who had passed me and I needed to find and crush. I'd thought about how I was glad I didn't make it over the front of my bars when the front wheel stopped abruptly on a rock and it sent me into a suspended moment in the air, balancing between *almost crash* and *bad crash into a tree on my face*.

But I hadn't actually thought.

I didn't think about finding a job. I didn't think about what to have for dinner and how to pay for it. I didn't think about babies, patio furniture, furry floors, torn couches, or unfinished projects.

Ok, I thought about how to get a cold Sprite. But that was fleeting and it sounded good.

I think that's why I've started to really like racing. It's just me and my lack of important thoughts.

When I'm racing I'm not Mrs. Plesko or Marni or Marlene or wifey. I'm "Berry" when I'm hurting and tired. I'm "Plesko" at the end when I think I've earned the name.

Saturday wasn't an awesome race. I got 4th. 5 minutes out of 3rd place. I made up a solid 2 or 3 minutes in a crazy pedaling rage in the last two miles to the finish line out of a simple desire to see Chris and to lay flat. My legs and lungs felt like junk from mile 1.

But after 18.8 jarring, sitting, painful miles I finished.

No bling this week, but I loved it.

Congratulations to my amazingly talented husband who pulled out 3rd. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful person to spend my life with, and a wonderful coach to go riding with. I hear your voice and advice in my head more than I hear my own thoughts. For you, I make cake.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Jones' and the Pleskos visit the Butterfly Pavilion

Here are some pictures from our fun weekend adventure to the Butterfly Pavilion with my husband, sister, niece, and nephew.

Trevor being VERY brave and holding Rosie the Tarantula. On the way to the Pavilion, he would always answer a resounding "NO" when asked if he would hold it. He was the first to run up and sit down and ask to hold it.

Kylie also being quite brave, although there wasn't much doubt that she'd hold Rosie. Those about to enter middle school are ALWAYS brave! Duh!

I'm also quite cool myself.

"Marni, can we get one? PLEEEEEEASE?"

Colleen was way too wussy to hold Rosie, but Trevor sympathetically gave her his "I held Rosie" sticker for the picture. Kylie, not so sympathetic, is trying to point out that her mommy is a fraud.

Probably my three favorite people in the world... with some really icky insects all around them.

I love my D70 SLR but our little Canon PowerShot takes some pretty darn good pictures too.

La familia

Kylie digging out and eating a worm. I told you middle schoolers were brave!

Trevor doing the same. Here in Colorado, we grow a neon variety of worms for the children to eat. Mmm, delicious!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Part Deux

Well, we climbed Quandary and had a great time. Turbo is like a mountain goat. He leaped from rock to rock, would get about 10 feet ahead of us and stop and wait for us. He especially liked getting admired by all of the tourists and rubbing in the snow at the summit. He rolled around and slid all around the snow like it was his long lost friend. It took the three of us just under 3 hours to hike up the mountain at a pretty leisurely pace. Chris and I were both surprised to see that it took nearly as long to get back down. It was a great overall climb and we were happy with our new poles and bag purchases.

After getting down the mountain we drove into Breckenridge and had a couple of great burgers. After stuffing ourselves with food I drove us to Winter Park where we found a camping spot and attempted to take a much wanted nap. Stupidly, we had set up our tent in the sun and as soon as we painfully crawled in for a snooze we realized it was like sleeping in an oven. Rain clouds were looming on the horizon so we didn't quite dare leave the fly off the tent and that didn't help. Slowly we managed to crawl ourselves out of the tent, pick it up, and move it to a shady spot. Then we napped. I think we both could've slept for the night but I woke us up and insisted on ice cream. After a quick trip to town for ice cream, we hunkered down in the tent for the night as the rain moved in. Chris creamed me in a game of travel Scrabble and we turned in for the night.

Saturday morning we stiffly rolled out of the tent and made our way towards the deli in Winter Park for EXCELLENT breakfast burritos. Wow, seriously YUM. Chris's was called "The Heart Attack" -- that's how awesome it was. Mmmmm. Anyway, Saturday we met up with the usual gang for a preride of the next Winter Park race. The race itself is about 19 miles but it starts in Winter Park and ends in Frasier so then we had to ride back on a slightly uphill bike path. In all it was a hard 30 miles on the mountain bike -- officially my longest mountain bike ride to date. The course was a lot of fun, minus a few select parts. I'm looking forward to the race on Saturday but also nervous. We'll see how it goes. I felt pretty good on the ride on Saturday and that was after climbing a 14er the day before and having really stiff muscles all over my body. Should be a lot of fun!
This is a classic face!

My "injury" from falling ungracefully into the river crossing on the bike.

Well, we had some aspirations to possibly climb Mt. Sherman or the Lincoln/Bross/Democrat/Cameron group on Sunday but we were both wiped and quite sore. We will definitely be doing those before summer rolls to a close though. There's nothing like climbing up to 14,000+ ft with your favorite person in the world to make you forget about the stress of life down at 5280. We had a great weekend topped off by a nice surprise visit from my sister, niece, and nephew. We all visited the Butterfly Pavilion and hung out a little. We have pictures from that but that will have to wait for us to download them.

What a great weekend despite some lingering soreness and tiredness. Chris took me to ride Marshall Mesa last night (a ride that we rode a few times back in college and I hadn't ridden in a while) -- my legs felt like total junk. My entire body felt completely worthless at riding a bike. The 10 miles was fun but also a little more painful than it should've been. Today I'm taking the day off the bike due to a nice muscle strain in my hip from a wicked garage-door-closing incident. Note to self: not a great idea to try to leap over the garage door sensor in flip flops and short skirt when your legs are already not working right. Ouch.

That's the end of my story. For now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stand by you

Sir Edmund Hillary once said "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." Seems like he was a pretty smart guy.

This weekend Chris and I escaped from Denver to those big mountains in the distance. We both needed to get away. Get away from the house. Away from work (or trying to find work). We needed to some time together to remember why we work so hard so we can live in this beautiful state.

It felt like a vacation.

I LOVE vacations.

Thursday Chris and I decided to leave town. Thursday night we packed up our camping/climbing/riding gear and hit the road. We had to make a small detour to the REI flagship store downtown to buy some new hiking poles, a new backpacking pack for me, a collapsible doggy dish for pup, and a new stuff sack for all of our puffy clothes. A few hundred dollars later we pealed ourselves out of the store in search of food. After driving around for a while, we finally found some cheap parking and we set off on the 16th street mall in search of something unique. We ended up eating at some place with a funky name but it was GREAT. We had an excellent meal and then caught the free mall bus back towards our car. We were on our way!

Thursday night we drove up past Breckenridge and parked/slept at the Quandary Peak trail head. Being one of the easier 14er peaks near Denver, Chris and I have been itching to do Quandary and check it off our list. Last year around this time, Chris and I climbed Grays and Torreys peaks. We had so much fun and we shouldn't have waited this long to climb another one. This time Turbo got to come with us though, and that was a fun new addition to our adventure.

Early Friday morning we set out on our hike. It was beautiful! Here are a few pictures:

For now I'm going to leave you with those pictures. We have about 50 of them and I want to play around with some before posting more. More pictures and report on the climb and rest of the weekend to come...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

For some reason, blogger is being lame and not letting me type in a title. So, here's what it was supposed to be:

Holy ****!

Today Chris and I and the gang raced the 3rd Winter Park race. This is the one we pre-rode, I decided I hated, cried a bit, complained a lot, and vowed not to race it. Then I decided it could be a fun challenge, but that I still wouldn't race it. Then I decided I should race it, to prove to myself that I could do it again, but still didn't want to race it. Then, at Noodles one evening, Chris convinced me to do it.


(He can be a very persuasive person)

So this morning I found myself with pre-race jitters, wondering how the heck I ended up deciding to do it. Chris got up early and cooked a delicious Omelet and Bisquickets breakfast and we headed off to Winter Park. After going through the normal pre-race motions, I got to see Chris start up the hill after the race starts were already pushed back 30-35 minutes. After he left, I found Melissa in the bathroom and we rode around a bit together and got to the starting area quite early in an attempt to get the primo spots in the front of the girls pack. We succeeded at that! Yay! I love getting to start races with a friend. It cuts the tension and gives me a co-conspirator in the 'stare of death' towards the competition.

When the race finally started, Melissa took off up the hill and I decided I couldn't possibly hold that pace. I was worried I was making the same rookie mistake as letting Michelle go on the hill climb at the beginning, but I was still ahead of half the pack and working hard so I let her smoke me. Eventually I caught back up and squeeked aero-bunny past her and thought she jumped on my back wheel. After getting up the fire road we finally got to turn onto some singletrack and when I looked back she wasn't there. I expected her to catch back up quickly but she ended up not feeling very good and I didn't get to see her again. She still rode a great race and I hear she was her usual thoughtful self and ended up stopping to give a guy a tube at some point. She's a great rider and an even better person.

Eeeeenyway, the race went by and I had a great time. The first downhill was a little chaotic as the Expert men were passing us constantly on their second time down the trail. Luckily Chris and I have practiced the whole passing thing and when they'd pass me close I didn't freak out. I know that most of the girls were pretty furious about the timing by the race putting us out on a rough downhill with experts. For me, I think it turned out to be a good thing. It forced me to go faster and take more risks than I probably otherwise would've -- especially when one of the Feedback boys pulled up behind me and decided rather than to pass me he said to keep going and he'd stick behind me. I didn't want to slow him up so I went much faster than I'm used to and it was a blast. Whoever that was, thanks for the encouragement!

I raced the rest, never really letting up, knowing that there was a group of 5 or 6 girls in front of me, but also a more substantial group of girls behind me. Often I rode by myself, trying to eat my cliff blocks every 10-15 minutes, drinking a bunch of water, trying not to puke. When there were people around me they were beginner men. I yo-yo'd with a guy who could climb really well but couldn't descend worth anything. It was fun to blow by a guy on the downhill, I'm not used to that. I ended up passing a fair amount of people in the race which was fun. It felt good to be the passer for a change and not always the one being passed.

When we got almost to the end, I had my one mishap of the day. I thought for a second "wow, I'm actually almost there, this is so exciting!" and then my wheel clipped a rock or a root or something as I was going on a decently fast slight uphill and I ejected myself over the front of the bike. Like a spastic cat, I landed on my feet about 6 inches from a tree, looked around, and cheered for myself. I quickly grabbed my bike and quickly caught back up to the two guys that had been ahead of me. At one point the front guy slammed to a stop on a rooty uphill, then the two guys proceeded to stand around arguing about passing. We were seriously about a mile from the finish. Why stand around and chat? Finally I got aggressive (yes, me, aggresive, I know) and yelled "well, I HAVE to go" and hiked my bike around the loose cliff on the side of them to get around. I don't think they were happy that I did it, but seriously. They were just standing there, knowing I was right behind them, and I didn't want to lose the race because they were being big fat girls.

Well, I finished. I was SO happy just to be done. Especially after hating it so much the last time I rode it. This time I felt pretty good, pushed through the tough times, and had a big silly grin on my face most of the way... AND I finished under two hours (1:58:something). That became my goal after seeing that the group of girls ahead of me where probably not within reach and I didn't see any girls behind me for a while. So I decided I wanted to be 2 hours. I was super psyched.

Chris was there to meet me at the finish and he told me he got 3rd! WOW! For being in a really hard Expert group and not really training for these short races, 3rd was extraordinary! I was so proud of him! He was sweet, took my bike, and even ran off to find me water as I had gone through the Camelbak. We waited for the beginner women results to post, but the race directors were pokey and it wasn't until well after the awards actually started that they finally posted our results.

Here comes the best part of the day. I knew I'd tried my best and I knew I should be really proud of that no matter what, but secretly I feared getting 4th and being so close to a medal but just missing it. Chris walked over to check to see if the results had posted and I watched him walk over. Then he got a HUGE grin on his face, took about a triple take at the paper, and ran back with the good news.

And now the reason for the title: holy ****! I got 3rd!

My first award since my 2nd or 3rd place in a big wheel contest when I was 3. YAY! I gladly accepted my medal, Chris gladly accepted his, and we got to watch Bill proudly accept his 3rd in Clydesdales. Overall it was a successful day! We celebrated our three bronzes with a tasty pizza dinner in Winter Park and now we're home.

I'm tired.

My abs are already sore.

But my cheeks are too!

Ever wonder how comfortable it is to sleep with a medal around your neck?

I'll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Playing house

Well, I've managed to keep myself busy lately. Here's a little of what I've been up to:

You know you're getting old when cleaning your floor makes you excited -- a little before and after

My first baby blanket project for the baby hope chest. It's sofffft.

The kitchen before actually being finished. One of these days I'll get the crown molding up and the paint touched up. We painted it orange, sanded and painted the cabinets, put new hardware on (new as in used to be my parents, hehe), and pulled down an ugly valence thing.
Before (I have to point out that this is from when we first moved in -- those ugly grapes were painted over immediately):

All of our camping stuff has made the move from the upstairs room to the downstairs office. We are slowly cleaning out the brown room to make space for future baby. This was the first step. Yay!

I'm also currently pondering the next winter park race. Despite my extreme dislike for the course when we pre-rode it, I'm now 75% sure I'll be racing it on Saturday. Hmmm...