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

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rock Moves

This Thanksgiving weekend started out with a wonderful climb on Wednesday. Chris convinced me, through my nervousness, to take advantage of the nearly 60 degree weather and get outside and climb.

When I first jumped into climbing the 3rd Flatiron a month or so ago, I wasn't nervous. I had only been climbing a few times, and while I knew the risks and knew the heights involved, I was pretty naive and not too nervous. Once I got on the rock, I flipped out once, but quickly got into a groove and climbed without too much hesitation. Having already done the 3rd and having climbed inside and outside several times since, I felt really nervous to climb the 1st Flatiron. I know that it's still considered a relatively "beginner" climb and small children do it, but I was still a little reluctant.

Chris reassured me, and convinced me that I'd feel better pigging out on turkey and pie if I'd done a big climb the day before, and we set out to do it. He also bribed me with delicious Starbucks hot chocolate if I could get up and commit to do it. When we got up to Boulder, we enjoyed the hike to the Flatiron and met up with another couple roping up to do the same route. We talked with them for a bit, and decided to climb first while they followed up behind. They were a nice couple from North Carolina and generally climbed at a similar pace. It was nice to have people to talk to at the belay points.

The first pitch of the climb is considered the crux. There aren't many good hand/foot holds, and you mostly have to rely on the friction from your shoes and some palming of the rock to stay on. I watched Chris fly up it to the first belay station and he made it look very easy. As I got started it wasn't too bad. The hardest part was that the rock was very cold which made for some uncomfortable hands, but other than that it was like crawling up a wall. Unfortunately I took a weird line toward the top and got a bit stuck a few times.
The view down from one of the belay stations. Those trees are FAR away!

The rest of the pitches were generally easier, although each had their own challenges. Overall the climbing was more difficult than the 3rd, and it required a lot more attention and friction moves. Overall, however, I enjoyed this climb more. There were lots of interesting little sections, including a slot where I had to climb under a rock (finally my shortness comes in handy climbing!) and a rocky, exposed ridge that we climbed as the sun was setting.
The slot is to the left of the middle of this shot. Taking a break on the wall. The climbing was more difficult on this flatiron, so we didn't get any actual climbing shots. In this picture, I am probably 700 ft off the ground.
Chris did an awesome job leading this climb! He was careful and precise when placing gear and climbing up ahead of me. He kept us moving, kept me positive, and kept us laughing. I couldn't ask for a better climbing partner.
After scaling the ridge in the beautiful sunset, we reached the summit of the 1st Flatiron! We still had a 100 ft rappel to complete before calling the climb a success. The other couple that we climbed with set up their rope and let us rappel from theirs. This allowed me to go down after them (so I knew the rope reached the ground and was properly anchored), but before Chris so he could double check my harness and remind me how to do the rappel. This one wasn't as long as the rappel on the 3rd, and it was only free hanging for the last 30 ft or so.

We all safely reached solid ground, packed up our gear, and hiked back to the car in the dark. Since we were rushing at the summit to beat the dark, we weren't able to get a proper summit picture. We did, however, get a really bad picture of us on the hike back down. Keep in mind it was very very dark and this picture blinded both of us for the next few minutes. Personally, I love my hair in this one ;)
When all was said and done, it took us about 7 hours from car to car to climb the 1st. It was not nearly as scary as I expected and when we were climbing, we moved pretty quickly. It was the perfect way to start the weekend and I'm glad we got to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Thanksgiving itself, despite being one of my favorite holidays, was a complete bust. An early exit from the family dinner left Chris and I dessert-less, but thankfully wonderful Chris saved the day. A quick detour to a closing Safeway resulted in a delicious end to the day. Frozen pizza, granny smith cider, and whipped cream with pumpkin pie made the perfect snacks to go with a movie and wild game of rummy. If you haven't seen Run Fat Boy, Run you should. It's a pretty great movie!
This is how we roll in this house. Is there pie under there? I think so.
Chris left yesterday afternoon to climb Mt. Elbert in the cold with some friends. Not surprisingly, I wasn't able to be coaxed into venturing out into the wind and snow to summit a peak that we already summited in beautiful weather. So, while he headed up to Leadville for the night, I stayed home and watched Turbo and my brother's dog, Sydney, play in the newly fallen snow! It is nearly December and this is the first actual snow in Denver this season. The dogs LOVED getting to go out and play in the snow.
Happy late Thanksgiving to everyone out in bloggerland!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yay for Tuesdays that are Fridays!

Can't wait for Thanksgiving break!

I keep meaning to post this story, because it was funny...

Everyday I sit on the floor to do my reading groups. Everyday. The other day I sat on the floor to stretch with my kids (I make them stretch to "get their brains working" but in fact I just need the stretches and it gives me a good excuse to do it daily). One of my little girls looks at me funny and exclaims: "YOU sit on floors too!" too which I nodded "yeah" and she clarifies: "YOU sit on floors AND chairs?!!!!?!!!"

Happy Friday/Tuesday to all of those teachers out there!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A great weekend

As I sit here, soon to be heading to bed, I have to look back and think: This weekend was wonderful.

I'm not sure whether it was the fun activities that we did this weekend, or knowing that there's only a two day work week to look forward to.

Most likely it was a bit of both.

Our fun weekend started with a delicious dinner at Pei Wei (no Shaina and Karen, not pay raise). After an incredibly rough day at work on Friday, Chris humored me by letting me vent and rant about the children all dinner long. The best lesson for that dinner, that I need to repeat to myself throughout the day? "You need to remember, at the end of the day, they are still five." Chris is always wise beyond his experiences, and he always makes me feel better and put everything back into perspective. Following our dinner, we had a great night of playing hearts and drinking beers with Stephan, Sheryl, and baby Sebastian. It was fun to hang out with another couple who understands all of the crazy things that we do... a rare and wonderful experience.

Saturday was comprised of our Marshal Mesa adventure, while Saturday night was mostly me hobbling around on my sore knees. We watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshal" (hmmm, Marshal theme?) and I even squeezed in a bit of knitting... another rare and wonderful experience these days.

This morning we slept in pretty late and drove to Boulder for some bagels before climbing at The Amphitheater. I made it up my hardest route outside (5.7), only falling once in the process. In fact, it was my first "real" fall. Luckily, while rock climbing, you only fall a few inches before being caught by your partner on the rope. I was nervous to tackle this particular overhang, as it seemed very big and hard once I climbed up to it. As I pondered coming down before even trying, Chris yelled up "at least fall trying!" To which I burst into tears and stood on the side of the rock hyperventilating for a minute or two. He's a smart guy, and knows me all too well at this point, and he knew that this would be just the right amount of "tough love" to get me up and over the ledge. I got mad and made it over the ledge with shaking legs and cold-numb hands after one quick fall. It wasn't pretty, but I made it and I'm glad I did. I then got the privilege of watching Chris tackle his own personal hardest route outside. He climbed up a 5.10a pitch like it was nothing. He also had one "real" fall where I was able to catch him quickly on the rope. He was nervous, perhaps a little scared, but he persevered and did an awesome job. I'm so proud of him! He also has a great write-up on his blog!

Tonight we shoved ourselves full of homemade pizza, salad, and soon some peppermint ice cream. Ahhhhh, deliciousness.

I am glad there are only two days of teaching this week. I really really love my job, but I also really really need a bit of a break. 28 Kindergarteners is a lot. I have a great class, great kids, but lately their needs and struggles have been overwhelming. I know I can't help all of them, solve all of their problems, but that doesn't stop me from feeling like I must.

So here's to another week. A short week for all of us. My stomach is ready for whipped cream with a bit of pumpkin pie beneath.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ride Marshal Mesa from home? Check!

This summer and fall have been full of checking activities off an unwritten list of things that I never thought I'd be able to do.

(Ok, well, never as in the last few years.)

Today, Chris and I took advantage of this continually warm weather and took care of one of those items. Fall is sticking around in these parts and seems unwilling to give way to actual winter-like weather. This week Denver hit 78 degrees. At the end of November. It's crazy.

One item on my list of things I've been wanting to accomplish, is riding the Marshal Mesa trail from home and back. Marshal Mesa is a pretty easy ride that we've been riding since back in our Boulder days with GhettoBike. Chris likes to make this relatively easy trail into a more substantial ride by riding from home. He makes the trip fairly often, but I've always thought it was too far away for me to ride and still enjoy the trail in the middle.

So we tried it.

In the end it turned out to be my farthest single speed ride yet... around 31 miles, 2000 ft of climbing, in about 4 hours.

We (as in I) started out pretty bundled up, but quickly stripped off layers. The high today was in the upper 50s and it was almost too warm for knee warmers. We enjoyed the cruise down The Wall over to the Colton trail and rode that up to the regular Marshal Mesa parking area. I was surprised at how quickly this part of the ride went, it really wasn't that far to get to the trail! Zooming down the Colton trail was fun and I even went fast enough to get some air off of some little jumps. Once we reached the lot where we normally park our car, we crossed highway 93 and rode the Dowdy Draw trail. The views of the Flatirons and Eldorado Canyon were spectacular. The trail itself was really fun and in great shape. In the past we have ridden up this trail, but this time we got to go down it. Much more fun that way! We stopped for a few snacks and hit the normal Marshal Mesa trail on our way back to the road behind Superior where we turned back toward home. As seems the norm for big rides around here lately, we had to cruise up The Wall before getting to spin home. I was nervous about climbing The Wall on my single speed with giant heavy wheels when I know I usually suffer up it on my speedy little road bike. At this point my knees were really bothering me as well (URGH!!!!!) but I made it up.

A few random thoughts from the ride:
1) Chris is a badass. 30 miles on the single speed really is hard. Harder than I expected. And he does that on his rest days. Dang.
2) Prairie Dogs right now are really fat. And apparently suicidal.
3) Having not really ridden except for once in the past month, and not that often for the month prior, I don't feel that I've lost a lot of fitness in my legs and muscles. I do, however, feel like I have lost lung/heart fitness. I had to stop for too many breaks. That was annoying.
4) I need to fix my knees. The foam roller of pain is helping, but not enough. I need some serious strength exercises to make them better. Any suggestions for IT Band exercises?
5) It does not feel like the end of November. I hear it may snow over Thanksgiving. I hate driving in the snow, but really, it's about time.

We had a great time, on a great day, on a great ride.

Now I'm sore and tired. As usual.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Teachers make the best...








An awesome weekend has come to an end, but the stories and memories will last a lifetime.

I love my friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Super slacking

I haven't ridden my bike in a long time.

Since Fruita I think.


I haven't gotten into cold/windy/darkness riding mode yet. I'm seriously itching to take my single speed out on a fun spin though, but I haven't been able to actually make it happen. I have a date with the kitchen tonight to make some "Muddy Buddies" (yeah, you know, the delicious chex/peanutbutter/chocolate/powdered sugar miracle...mmmmmm), but when I'm done I am going to make a serious effort to get on the trainer.

I haven't been totally slacking though.

My parents, hubby and I recovered our couch. That was no small undertaking. When I get the pictures from mom, I will make a post all about it. It truly was a learning experience, and fun to see my parents a bunch, but not an activity that I'm looking forward to repeating any day soon.

We've been climbing in the gym a few times lately, and it's surprisingly fun. This week I made it up a 5.9 with an overhang which was really hard and basically toast me for the next two days. I'm sure it'll get easier as I gain some upper body strength, but at the moment it's an incredible workout. As I type, Chris is climbing again with some friends while I work on homework.

Boooooo, homework.

One day the masters will be worth it.


In fun news, I'm heading up to Breckenridge with my best teacher friends from college for the weekend. We are going to be living it up, relaxing, and drowning our mid-November sorrows in snacks and "beverages." We never fail to have a great time when we're together, and two uninterrupted days of laughing is totally needed right now. I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it.

Off to the kitchen for my date with deliciousness.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Happy Propose-aversary!

I wanted to wish my sweet hubby a happy 5th propose-aversary!  

Five years ago from Friday, Chris took advantage of my one major clueless day and proposed.  

In celebration, we are currently drinking our second-to-last bottle of propose-night-wine.  

Want to read the story from back in the day?

Happy proposeaversary wonderful husband.  Five years ago, I never could've imagined a future as wonderful as this.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Vote Day!

Yes, I voted.  

I rushed home from a busy day at work and walked to the high school to vote.  It went quickly, I put in my vote for prez.  

We'll see what happens with the night.

I have my opinions.

Luckily for me, I don't talk politics.  

Ever, really.

So instead, just assume I voted for cake.

*In other news, we went to the zoo today for a field trip!  Chris came to help, as he's quickly becoming accustomed to doing, and we had a great time.  The weather was warm, most of the animals were out, and I got to spend some good quality time with four of my kids that I am most concerned about for one reason or another.  I liked the donkeys. 

Chris is the best help in the world.  He is so patient and sweet and great at teaching the kids stuff that I would never think to do.  He knows the most random information about everything and that really came in handy at the zoo.  In fact, the two of us have plans to return on our own personal field trip just so we can spend quality time at each animal so I can learn more.  Working with kids comes naturally to him and the kids adore him.  This particular group needs as many positive male role models as possible and I can't think of anyone better to do that.  I know that one day he'll go back to work and not be able to help me out in the classroom as much, but I am taking advantage of him while he's available!

*We've also started recovering our couch with my parents.  It is a really tough project but we're getting through it!  It'll look great when it's done!  

*Chris kicked my butt in fantasy football this week.  

'Tis all for now.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I vote for...

I keep meaning to post this, because it truly is a great Kindergarten moment...

We were studying the letter 'v' and the speech teacher (who does a weekly phonics lesson with my class) used the word "vote" as an example.  She explained to the kids what "vote" means and said something to this extent:

Teacher:  "Voting is what grown-ups are going to do on Tuesday.  They will pick who will be the next president of the United States.  It will either be Barack Obama or John McCain."

Then one girl shoots her hand in the air: "I vote for Barack Obama!"

One other girl: "I vote for John McCain!"

Then, one of my more innocent babies shot his hand up:  "I vote for cake!"

You know what honey, I vote for cake too.

Go vote...

Go cake!!!!


Yesterday, Chris and I took advantage of the beautiful summer-like weather and hiked another 14er. After some contemplation and planning, number sixteen ended up being La Plata Peak. We tried to wrangle some friends into coming along, but no one took the bait and we ended up enjoying the PERFECT weather all by ourselves.

For once I'll shut up (sorta) and I'll let the pictures tell the story (sorta).

Chris signing into the register. Good thing I left my hang glider at home!
The view of the Sawatch Range was breathtaking the entire day.
The main snack for the day? Homemade banana-nut bread. YUM!
This high meadow was unbelievable. 360 degree views, different in every direction. As close to heaven-on-earth as it gets. Chris and Turbo, being training partners lately while I earn the bacon, seriously kicked my butt all day in the stamina and speed department.
I heart banana bread.
"Did someone say banana bread? I guess I'll wait for you slow humans since you are the keepers of the banana bread."
Chris and pup scrambling up the talus field leading to the part that finally leads to the summit. Most of the rocks were stable, which made it easy. Some were not, which made it interesting.
My boys waiting patiently while I found my way up the talus. Just above this point I felt dumb and clumsy from the altitude. That's the first time I've ever had an issue with altitude, although it wasn't tooooo bad. I felt fine, just felt clumsy. I started quizzing myself on math problems to keep my mind off the scree-slog and took way too long to figure out what 12x12 is. I had even convinced myself, for several hundred yards, that 10x10 was 1000. When I mentioned this to Chris he continued to talk to me and ask me questions. Had it stayed bad or got worse, he would've immediately taken me down. Luckily for both of us, it didn't get worse, and even seemed to improve with some conversation. Perhaps I was not breathing well and talking made me take in more oxygen? Who knows. It was very strange. 10x10 is NOT 1000 and 12x12=144 :D
Summit at last! For being November 1st, it was surprisingly beautiful, windless, and warmish. We met two guys at the top, enjoyed a snack, and then headed back down.
"Where's the banana bread? I'll give you my cutest face if you give me your banana bread!"
As we sat around, we both put on our puffy jackets and stood by the summit stick. Turbo tried to eat it.

Perhaps the greatest part of the hike was Turbo rediscovering the glorious white stuff that falls from the sky. When he saw it all around, he could hardly contain his excitement and rubbed in it every chance he got. Every season it is the same innocent joy: "Hey guys! Remember this stuff? I didn't think it would come back! It's great! Let's roll in it!" We got a video of him flopping around in it like a puppy but it the camera apparently went hay-wire at 14,000 ft and it didn't save. Sad. Another time though. It's classically cute.
More view. I love the view from a mountain when they are dusted with snow. Unfortunately, I didn't snap many more pictures on the way down. My knees hurt to the point of tears some of the time. I really need to find out what is wrong with them and how to fix them. I am very tired of my fun adventures being ruined by pain. That's so not okay.
If you know an Element, it certainly is a far cry from a "high clearance vehicle" as it is basically based off of a car chassis. We made it most of the way down this road though, before pulling off before a big stream crossing. Chris is an unbelievable driver. One day we will get a proper vehicle for these roads. But until then, the E + Chris at the wheel never seems to disappoint.
As I got out to snap the above picture, Turbo decided to get his extremely muddy self onto my seat. As I returned and yelled at him for getting my seat so muddy, he simply looked forward like this like nothing happened, I didn't exist, he was ready to drive home with daddy. Silly, naughty little puppy.

So there you have it. Our sixteenth 14er as a couple, and Turbo's 14th 14er. The day was awesome, the views spectacular, and the company unrivaled.

La Plata in Spanish means silver, but to me, this hike up the 5th highest mountain in Colorado was pure gold.