The Flood That Took My Uncle’s Home: A Thanksgiving Retrospective


I penned these thoughts back in June, not long after a huge flood swept through Wimberly, Texas (between Austin and San Antonio), and swept my uncle’s house clear off its foundation. It felt too soon to post it then. Now that time has passed, I thought I’d share it, and Thanksgiving seems an appropriate time. We all read about disasters that happen around the world. They’re terrible. We feel badly when they happen. But we carry on with our lives. Well, this disaster struck personally and really illustrated that you just don’t know what could happen to you in a given instant.

I don’t really know how to write about the last few days, but I know I need to before the immediacy is gone. I booked my trip to Texas before the flood, not having any idea what was to come. I had just emailed with Uncle Gary days before mother nature changed the course of his life forever.

I am so, so glad I was able to be there, physically, to help. If you boil it down, I didn’t even really do all that much, but just being there to spend time with Gary and Sabrina was really cathartic. I feel this way every time I go to Texas, and this time maybe even more. Life isn’t really about the stuff you have; it’s about the people you build relationships with.

My family has always been at the core of who I am. Sure, jobs and career success are important, and all the material stuff in my life plays a role, too, but when you boil it down, for me it’s about the people. And the highlight without a doubt was just spending time with Snookie and Gary and Sabrina. Just really listening and being present. No phones, no social media. Just conversation. Lots and lots of it. And stories.

And so speaking of stories, here is “the escape” as told to me by both Sabrina and Gary. I hope one day they take the time to write down their firsthand account of things and of everything that’s followed. But in case they don’t, I can at least record what they shared with me.

They had both gone to sleep. Gary had had surgery a week or so before to remove a bone spur in his nose and so had to wake to take another round of medication. It was a little before 10pm. He walked into the bathroom and water was spitting and flying out of the toilet, almost like the toilet was upchucking all on its own. The toilet in the other bathroom was doing the same thing.

Gary woke Sabrina up and they both knew they had to get out. They could see water just feet from the back of the house. They both had bug-out bags that were packed and sitting by the door for just such an emergency. They grabbed those, an extra pair of shoes and their dog, Duchess.

By the time they tried to open the front door the pressure was so strong they could hardly do it. Gary actually got a bad bruise along his forearm from fighting with the front door.

By the time they got out the water was up to at least their knees. As they waded through it they made split second decisions. They considered trying to get in a car and drive out, but ultimately one of their neighbors was also evacuating and they were able to climb in the back of his pickup. They made the journey down the road and toward higher ground – or at least farther from the water.

One of the ranchers down the way had opened his home to people evacuating. So many people showed up that he called his neighbor, who was out of town, and got permission to house additional people there for the night. That’s where Gary and Sabrina ended up. As they walked in, it was pitch black (since the electricity was out). Sabrina bumped right into something hard at hip height. Turns out it was the family’s pet deer! They had domesticated it so much it had become a pet (its name was Venny – ha). How about that for surprise, after everything they had just gone through.

Of course, it’s impossible to know what would’ve happened had Gary and Sabrina stayed in the house even another minute – whether they would’ve gotten out. Ultimately the water surged so high that it reached the height of the flood light on the outside of their garage, probably 15 feet off the ground [see picture below]. Official estimates are that the river itself surged to over 70 feet; flood stage was 33. So to say it was quite massive is an understatement.

Gary and Sabrina’s house was washed clean off its foundation. The house next door (Rem’s old house – his name was still on a sign at the end of the driveway even though he apparently passed away a few years ago and had sold the house) was badly damaged. As Sabrina says, the new owners “took a bath on it.”

Just the day before I arrived (the two days prior, actually), a team of 40-50 volunteers, many of them military, had come out and dismantled what remained of the house, by hand. Sabrina estimates that the cost of having brought in equipment to do that might’ve been as much as $20,000. They piled all the structural house debris by the end of the driveway.

Before we headed to the “house” on Saturday Gary and Sabrina and I drove into Wimberly to get supplies and gift cards from volunteers at the high school and junior high. There are so many donations that have come in – everything from clothing and shoes to bath towels, laundry detergent and trash bags. At this point Gary and Sabrina are still in cleanup mode. They don’t have any need for “stuff”; instead, what they need are trash bags and towels – things to help with the cleanup effort.

One of the things I noticed was that, while there were a lot of donations and a lot of organizations that had volunteers and representatives physically present, there wasn’t a lot of coordination/communication between them. I can see how that would be/is one of the bigger challenges in providing disaster relief. It’s one thing to gather supplies and manpower; it’s another thing to coordinate it all and communicate its availability to the people who need it.

Interestingly, both social media and word of mouth have played a huge role in the assistance Sabrina and Gary have received so far. The volunteers from Team Bravo [I think that was the name] are from all over. I met two of them on Saturday; one was from Michigan and the other from Pennsylvania. They found out about the need/opportunity via social media. And, of course, a lot of the immediate physical lending of hands has come from locals right there in the community – people who have ranching equipment and trucks that have been able to help haul stuff away and pick things up.

For example, Gary was having trouble getting the insurance company to come move the cars. A neighbor with the right equipment was able to just come in, pick them up, and move them out of the way. So it’s been a multitude of acts of kindness from many sources. We hadn’t been there long Saturday when a neighbor and her friend just happened to stop by to bring some lunch. It’s one thing for a neighbor to do that in a “normal” neighborhood; it’s another thing entirely where Gary and Sabrina live. First off, it’s way out in the country, and it’s literally inaccessible by the “normal” way in because the bridge at the end of the road was decimated. Secondly, most of their neighbors don’t actually live there full-time like Gary and Sabrina. For many of them, those are their weekend/vacation homes. So it’s really been neat to see how an event like this pulls people together. And, of course, it helps that it’s in Texas, where people are naturally friendly.

At this point, with the structural remains of the house out of the way, the task at hand is to go through the personal effects that remain. And it’s a highly personal process. I was able to help, in part, because I’m family. And even I tossed things that Sabrina went back and rescued out of the garbage bags – in part simply to document for insurance purposes. But also because only she and Gary can really decide what they want to do with some of their things.

It is so random the things that survived. And they’re all jumbled up in big piles under the trees – haphazardly stacked and caked with mud and dirt. Sabrina said it’s been really hard to have your life on display, destroyed as it is, amongst perfect strangers coming to help. I think that’s been one of the hardest parts.

I started sorting like items and placing them in boxes where they could be salvaged. Kitchen equipment, especially Corningware baking dishes, survived perfectly in tact; I simply had to scoop out the mud and stack them up. The Kitchen Aid mixing bowl made it but not the mixer itself. The ceramic crockpot “bowl” survived in tact, but the heating element, while there, was ruined. Tons of canned food survived, even if the labels were mostly gone and some of the cans were pretty dented. Lots of vacuum sealed food and jars of spices were perfectly fine – covered/caked in dirt and mud, mind you, but their internal contents otherwise untouched.

But books and magazines, including Grandad’s collection of Forbes magazines from 1940/1941 that Gary had carted around through move after move were completely destroyed. Picture frames, socks, shoes, shirts, Christmas decorations, 4th of July decorations, and flags were all mixed up together, many of them unsalvageable. Sabrina found a pair of flip flops and was in heaven. She said after working all day every day, particularly in the heat, her feet hurt so much at night that all she wanted was some flip flops.

I found a 1987 Houston Astros divisional playoff ticket. There were Lincoln logs. Some of Gary’s coin collection has been found. Bathroom products, prescription drugs – some are okay and some are not. It’s all just jumbled up together. A bathtub and both bathroom sinks were there, along with one of the toilets. Ironically, I found toilet cleaning supplies not far away. And yet all the big furniture is gone, the electronics (not that they’d be functioning anyway), too.

It was emotional even for me to try to sift through it; I can’t really imagine how Gary and Sabrina are processing this emotionally.

That said, they both looked really good and were in good spirits. They’re understandably exhausted in every way. But they’re taking things day by day. There’s no long-term plan at this point. I don’t think they’ll rebuild, but they’ll probably use the garage as a sort of sophisticated campout structure. The land has lost a lot of its value at this point, so they can’t sell it right now.

It’s weird seeing the foundation just naked/exposed in the sunlight. You can see where the kitchen and bathrooms were; the flooring is sort of still there. You can see the remnants of the fireplace base. You can see where the patio was in the back. And the garage is perfectly fine. In fact, they’ve power washed the inside and you’d never know by looking at it that it was just in a major flood. To save it, though, they’re going to need to pull off the hardiplank siding to expose any trapped moisture so it doesn’t grow mold.

In between sorting personal effects Sabrina and her brother, Raleigh, and I sat in the garage and talked and talked. Mostly I listened to all sorts of stories. It was almost like we were sitting around a campfire, only it was daytime in 95-degree weather with tons of humidity. But the sentiment was one of being around a campfire and it was amazingly relaxing to just be present in the moment.

Click the photos below to see a larger version.

Halloween in Estes Park


We did something a little different this Halloween. We went out of town and it was awesome! We figured that before long the girls will have friends they really want trick-or-treat with, but since that’s not the case yet, we had freedom to try something different. Also, Halloween this year was on a Saturday, which afforded a lot of flexibility.


We had been wanting to get back up to the YMCA of the Rockies and just hadn’t been able to make it work. The week of Halloween I looked up availability and it was wide open — there were even cabins open (usually those are booked way in advance, at least in the spring and summer months). Woot!

We didn’t want the girls to miss out on trick or treating, so I Googled “Halloween in Estes Park” before booking. We were sold immediately. The town blocks off the main street and all the shops hand out candy. It’s like a big block party. How cool is that?!

We stayed Friday to Sunday and the YMCA property was so quiet you’d have thought it was the dead of winter. We got our pick of cabins and we stayed in Pine, which was close to the “center” of the property but off on its own and not right next to another cabin. We loved it. The girls shared a room and each took turns sleeping on the bunk bed, a first for them.

Halloween day was fairly low key, but the girls were sure to put on their costumes/dresses right after they woke up. Late morning we ventured out to do some crafts, and then in the afternoon Chris took Shelby swimming while Natasha napped and I relaxed. A little after 4pm we got the girls dressed and headed into town. They closed the main road at 5pm, so we wanted to make sure we got parked and situated beforehand.

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People started coming out to celebrate right at 5pm, and it wasn’t just kids in costume. Grownups were dressed up, too! People even set up displays in the middle of the road — old cars decked out with skeletons in the driver’s seat and other Halloween decorations. There was also an ambulance decorated on the inside like a morgue. Morbid, for sure; Shelby was brave enough to walk through it.

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Before long the sidewalks were full and people were spilling into the street. Many of the shop owners were dressed in costume, and Shelby and Natasha scored some major loot. More than the candy, though, it was  good hometown fun — and we weren’t even locals! Usually we’re not big fans of crowds, but this was (dare I say) an upgrade to the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. For one, you could actually admire everyone’s costumes because it was still daylight and two, you really felt the festivity of the holiday since so many people were dressed up and gathered together. In fact, Chris and I felt a little out of place not being in costume!

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At one point we went down an alley with a scary witch at the end. Her shop was decked out and she was cackling like it was her day job. Basically, she was just about the real deal. Even so, the girls waited in line to see her but then, before they even made it to the front, ran away screaming. Natasha was so scared she was crying hysterically. “I don’t want to see that scary witch again,” she sobbed. She talked about it all night and into the next day. Poor kid.


One the local traditions we stumbled upon is the serving of free caramel apples from a candy store named Laura’s. Apparently they give away several thousand each Halloween (wow!). When the festivities started the line was down the block! No way we were waiting in it, but later when the demand wasn’t quite so high we went back and got a couple. They were soooooo good. The girls were in heaven (as if they hadn’t already had enough sugar!).

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Bottom line: I’m so glad we tried something different. It was one of the most fun Halloweens we’ve experienced in a while.

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Dear Natasha: 3.5 Years Old!


IMG_4866Dear Natasha,

You’ve hit a milestone! This is the first half-birthday you’ve been super excited about. And why? Because, “When I’m three-and-a-half I get to read the first Harry Potter!” You’ve been telling everyone for months, even strangers. I’m going to bet you decide it’s too scary (or just too hard to follow). You don’t quite have Shelby’s penchant for adventure stories. But we’ll give it a go since your daddy promised you and that’s when Shelby got to start reading it.

In other news, you are really coming into your own. You have blossomed at school and made friends with just about everyone, despite you telling us that you play by yourself (you don’t). You LOVE swimming; Mr. Travis calls you his little fishy; apparently your specialty is head bobs.

I still wouldn’t say you have specific friends of your own. Sadly, you still suffer from second child syndrome. On the weekends when we do social things we still mostly plan them around Shelby’s longtime friends, in which case you play with their younger siblings. I should probably try to connect with some of the parents in your preschool class to invite some kids over. Or we should try to play more with kids in our neighborhood. This is one of the perils of having two working parents; it’s tough to coordinate the fleeting moments of free time we all have (mostly just weekends).

In terms of learning, you can count into the 30s without help, and with help (transitioning between the 10s) you can get quite high. You know all your letters and like to point them out when we’re reading. Sometimes you “help” Shelby with her math homework, which is to say you recognize all the shapes and colors and combinations thereof on her worksheets.

You and Shelby love to do pretend play. Usually Shelby is in charge and you complicitly follow her lead; however, that is starting to change some. You’ve been really into playing “horse” and “mermaid” lately, which basically means you scamper around the house on all fours neighing (I’m not making that up) or dress up and twirl. You still love to color, do Play-doh, go to the park and swing (your favorite), jump and hop and skip, play with magnets (you have a couple of sets), have books read to you and get your fingernails painted — Miss Joy does this when she babysits and it makes you and Shelby so happy.

You love TV, especially Sofia the First, but really any princessy show will do. You have an absolute fit when I turn it off, which then makes me want to not turn it on again for a week (if only). The same thing happens with the tablet.

You are impatient as all get-out most of the time and will ask for the same thing at 30 second intervals over and over until I lose my cool. On the flip side you’re a rule follower and will usually do what I ask straight away. I almost never have an issue with you being ready to go somewhere; you’re usually standing at the door asking if you can open the garage door about 15 minutes before your sister is anywhere near ready.

You still wake up early, although for the most part now (70+ percent of the time?) you wait till your time clocker goes off at 6:30am to come get me. (The end of daylight savings time threw things for a bit of a loop.) You still get dressed the second your feet hit the floor. I don’t know why you don’t like staying in pjs!

We have to make sure your clothes are set out each night or you freak out. Your favorite outfits to wear are dresses — fancy dresses. I’m not sure what we’re going to do as the weather gets colder. You’re not at all interested in wearing pants or t-shirts. I can’t even bribe you to wear them. Silly girl!

Your facial expressions are hilarious, you love have the sweetest laugh (and the loudest scream), and you love to give hugs — what a change from when you were a baby! We’ve still never cut your hair, although I’ve been vacillating for months now about this; it’s the curls — I just can’t bear to part with them! And yet the tangles are getting worse. :/

You’re still on the petite side, at least compared to Shelby at the same age (well, maybe just skinnier); you’re about 31 lbs. You’re in 3T clothes and can wear 4T dresses. You go through phases of being a really good eater and then phases of hardly eating anything. Nearly every morning you ask for breakfast before I’m even out of bed, but once I get it for you you only eat a few bites. For a while you were asking for turkey and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, but usually you start your day with cereal or turkey bacon and toast with jelly.

You also love bagels with cream cheese, yogurt, milk and smoothies. Overall you’re still my fruit and vegetable girl and will eat mostly anything in that genre. You continue to not really like meat a whole lot. You love, love, love ice cream, especially chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cheesecake (Ben & Jerry’s). You also love to eat your boogers. I wish I was making that up.

For the last week we’ve had you on a dairy-free diet, mostly to help your gut recover after your third tummy bug in a month, but also to see if it helps clear up your skin issues. So far no dice, but supposedly it can really take a full two weeks of eliminating it to see a difference, so we’ll keep it up until next weekend. It’s sort of like when we eliminated eggs because of your allergy — you don’t realize how many foods those ingredients are in until you have to take them out! On the one hand I hope it makes a difference and, on the other, I hope it doesn’t!

Health wise except for your tummy bugs you’re pretty solid. You kind of have a persistent cold, but to a degree it comes with the age and season. And on the bright side, you’ve become quite good at puking in a bowl. It’s just the first round that catches us all off guard and requires several loads of laundry, usually in the middle of the night. (I typed this too soon; you spent the whole day with a low-grade fever and felt pretty miserable by the end of the day; you went to be super early.)

You don’t like to be snuggled at bedtime other than on rare occasions; you even tell me, “Okay, can you leave now?” That said, you’ve started having nightmares more frequently and you like when your daddy snuggles you afterward. At night you must have your froggy, ducky, and elephant to sleep with — all were the animals on your Wubbanubs as a baby.

You still pronounce certain words with your own flair. I’ll be sad when these disappear from your vocabulary:

  • Patterens
  • Guzzurt (dessert)
  • Pupcake (cupcake)
  • Goo-yuhl (girl)
  • Lellow (yellow)

My dear, sweet girl — it has been fun watching you flourish these last few months. I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and become your own person!


Fall school pics (picture of the proofs); will post the actual digital files once we get them!

Fall school pics (picture of the proofs); will post the actual digital files once we get them!

Hair for days

Hair for days

















Our New Favorite Family-Friendly Colorado Destination


For years we didn’t venture much outside of a 30- to 45-minute radius of our home, at least not very often. Staying close to home just worked better for us with two small kids. Plus, enduring traffic up into and back from the mountains isn’t really our idea of fun.

However, we’re past the point where we have to be home for nap time (Natasha still naps but can take an abbreviated version in the car and be fine) and, based on our California trip, we now know we can do a night or two away in a hotel room together and survive.

So, we’ve branched out. And we’ve found what for us is a perfect Colorado destination: YMCA of the Rockies. It’s a family-oriented retreat center nestled just west of Estes Park and east of Rocky Mountain National Park. That makes it 1-1/2 to 2 hours away (depending on traffic and weather), a very reasonable distance for a weekend getaway. And it doesn’t involve driving on I-70!

The property is amazing. It’s acres and acres of forested land. At the center is, I guess for lack of a better way to describe it, a village. There’s a main lodge (it’s spacious) and general store, a couple of dining halls, a rec center complete with roller skating rink, an indoor pool, an arts and crafts center, a playground, a mini-golf area, tennis courts, and a baseball field among other things. Not far away are horse stables and an amphitheater. There are also several big residence lodges (hotels, really) and then all throughout the property are cabins of varying sizes. There’s really no reason you’d need to go off site; everything you need is there. The views are amazing and the mountain air refreshing.

During our first visit in August the girls got to go on a hayride, pulled by Belgian draft horses, and roast marshmallows over a campfire. While we were roasting them a deer walked right up to our group and ate out of someone’s hand!

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we went up again for Halloween weekend. Stay tuned for a recap!

Fall Break in Georgia


Now that Shelby’s in school we’re basically limited to taking vacation when she’s on break. Fortunately (or not, depending on how you see it), she had a week-long break in October, so I took her to Georgia for part of it to go see Thatcher. We spent the weekend both hanging out and doing fall fun activities, including decorating for Halloween and picking out and carving pumpkins. We also went to hibachi dinner, just like in March. (Lots of pictures and commentary below.)

I had to work some that Monday and Tuesday (because, alas, I don’t have fall break) and the boys had school, so Shelby had some down time. I ended up running her to the park in the afternoon for some exercise and fresh air. She created obstacles for me to do (on top of my run!), and if I didn’t do them right she corrected me — ha! Then I created some for her and she scolded me for not thinking of the next obstacle ahead of time, while she was still completing the current obstacle. It was pretty hilarious — I got schooled by a five-year-old!

On one of her obstacles she discovered a whole pile of apples on the ground, only they were under pine trees, so we have no idea where they really came from. Shelby insisted on bringing them home, piling them in her skirt and carrying them to the BOB. Miss Kara later surreptitiouslly replaced them with apples whose origin we actually knew. :)

One of my favorite moments of the trip was watching Thatcher and Shelby and Callister fly paper airplanes around the living room (after some consternation over how to make and decorate them “correctly”). They were intent on trying to hit the ceiling fan and had so much fun trying!

One night after the boys were in bed (they’ve always gone to sleep earlier than S) we took out Thatcher’s BOB books and S started reading them! It was so awesome. She also had a great time watching Miss Kara embroider some baby gifts. Thanks for having us, Kara and Todd!

Took us 40 minutes just to get through security! Never thought I'd be happy to have a delayed flight, but I was.

Took us 40 minutes just to get through security! Never thought I’d be happy to have a delayed flight, but I was.

On the train at DIA

On the train at DIA



Kara got the kids harmonicas, which were quite a hit

Kara got the kids harmonicas, which were quite a hit





Love their expressions -- super candid! (I think they were yelling

Love their expressions — super candid! (I think they were yelling “Happy Halloween”)

Trying to push the gigantic pumpkin

Trying to push the gigantic pumpkin








Absolutely love this photo of them. Hilarious!

Absolutely love this photo of them. Hilarious!


Bear insisted on wearing a bike helmet; you know how dangerous pumpkins can be!

Bear insisted on wearing a bike helmet; you know how dangerous pumpkins can be!








My best effort -- I'm decades out of practice!

My best effort — I’m decades out of practice!

Obstacle courses at the park!

Obstacle courses at the park!



They honestly look store bought to me, but how/why did they end up in the park?!

They honestly look store bought to me, but how/why did they end up in the park?!

S was fascinated with Miss Kara's embroidery machine. I told S maybe one day Miss Kara could teach her to sew. Goodness knows I missed out on that gene!

S was fascinated with Miss Kara’s embroidery machine. I told S maybe one day Miss Kara could teach her to sew. Goodness knows I missed out on that gene!

On Tuesday while I worked S played a Team Umizumi math game on the tablet. She unlocked all the levels and got all the prizes and so SO! EXCITED! that she did it twice.

On Tuesday while I worked S played a Team Umizumi math game on the tablet. She unlocked all the levels and got all the prizes and so SO! EXCITED! that she did it twice.

Off to catch the MARTA train to the airport. :/

Off to catch the MARTA train to the airport. :/

She fell asleep on me with less than five minutes to go on our metro ride. Of course!

She fell asleep on me with less than five minutes to go on our metro (MARTA) ride to the airport. Of course!

Waiting at the airport. She was very concerned that we were not at our gate (we were at the one next to ours -- within eyeball distance -- so I could charge all my electronics)!

Waiting at the airport. She was very concerned that we were not at our gate (we were at the one next to ours — within eyeball distance — so I could charge all my electronics)!


Arrived 30 minutes early! LUV Southwest.

Arrived 30 minutes early! LUV Southwest.

On the DIA train. And that's a wrap!

On the DIA train. And that’s a wrap!

Fall Fun: September


I’ve been remiss in documenting any of the fun things we’ve done this fall, so I thought I’d do a recap, starting with September.

We took a trip to Glenwood Springs with the DeSairs over Labor Day weekend, stopping in Silverthorne on the way to play. It was fairly low key, with swimming at the Glenwood Springs pool and some park time. Shelby was big enough to go down the waterslides and jump off the diving board, both of which she loved! Natasha, meanwhile, hardly wanted to be separated from me.

We celebrated Sophia’s birthday and stayed up playing games. Apparently I misread Catch Phrase words in the heat of the moment, so be forewarned if you play with me!

I managed to get in a run the last morning we were there in between the raindrops. It was one of the sketchiest runs I’ve done in a while, though. I started out by the river, which was picturesque on one side but paralleled the railroad tracks on the other. And at 7am under darkish skies with no one else around? A little isolated. So I looped back and finished my run on the main road. It was the fastest pace I’ve run in a while!



Chris’ car hit a milestone on the way home — almost exactly 7 years to the day that we bought it! (No, he doesn’t drive much, and this includes two drives from CA-CO and one from CO-CA!)

Later in the month we drove part of the Peak-to-Peak highway, which we’d never done, and ended up at Brainard Lake. It was really beautiful, although the lake was much smaller than I thought it would be. We played outside for a little bit, but it was windy and, as we were at 10,000 feet elevation, it was quite a bit chillier than home! It would be a beautiful place to do an easy hike in the summer months.

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Chris took his quarterly trip to California at the end of the month (a little early to accommodate the conference I went to the first week in October, when he normally goes), so the girls and I took a day trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park, another place we had never been. We took the scenic route up so we could complete (or nearly complete) the Peak-to-Peak highway drive. It’s not fall in New England, but it’s quite pretty with all the pops of yellow from the Aspens!

It was a gorgeous day and traffic was unreal getting into the park. I nearly lost it with the girls asking over and over if we were there yet and if they could get out of the car. But we made it! We parked and took the bus to Bear Lake, which was pretty cool. Shelby was both nervous and excited that she was riding without a car seat. :) Getting her to actually stay seated was a challenge.

We “hiked” all around Bear Lake, which is only a little over a mile, I think, but it took us ages because the girls stopped to climb rocks, draw in the dirt, watch wildlife and throw rocks in the water. Shelby had to poop partway around (despite having stopped at the potty before we started off), so she left a little gift to nature. So very Shelby.

On our way out of the park later that evening we saw a whole heard of elk, which stopped all the cars. Apparently we timed it just right, as 6pm-ish is when they come out. So that was fun. And then as we were driving through Estes Park heading to the main road/highway, we got caught in an elk jam, or traffic jam by elk! Just watch the video below. It was a trip!

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Super dirt face!

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Weekend in the Life, Part 2: October 4


This is a continuation of my Weekend in the Life post. You may want to read part 1 first.

I left off on Saturday night with going to bed early — much earlier than normal.


5:15am: My alarm goes off and I’m pretty sure I curse at it. I know I hit snooze, but I’m paranoid about being late, so I get out of bed anyway.

5:25am: I’m dressed, sort of. I decide to wear my tried-and-true Adidas boot cut pants, a dri-fit tank, my Colorado half-marathon race shirt (it’s super comfy), and my new long-sleeved top I got from Costco. It’s going to be about 50 degrees and completely overcast for the race.

IMG_40635:35am: I head downstairs to finish packing up what I’m taking with me, including my breakfast. I don’t want to risk turning on a light (the girls are asleep around the corner in the living room), so I open the fridge and use its illumination. As I go to make coffee I realize it’s going to be loud. Hmm.



5:45am: Problem solved. I move the coffee maker across the house to my office. Whatever it takes, just get me coffee!


5:50am: I put my stuff in the car and get ready to head to Nicole’s. She’s offered to let me carpool with her and her mom. Woot!

IMG_4074IMG_40765:55am: My race bib is waiting for me at Nicole’s house (many thanks to her mom, Cynthia, for picking it up for me!). I attach it to my race belt while Nicole finishes braiding her mom’s hair. (I’ve never looked that cute before a race — jealous!)


6:00am: We head out! I eat my oatmeal-and-yogurt on the way to Denver. It is dark o’clock. I can’t believe we’re up this early to go run a race. Then again, I probably would’ve been awake at 6am if I was home, since that’s when Natasha usually wakes up.

6:30am: We find parking without too much trouble. It’s just starting to get light out. Nicole takes off so she can make it to the start of her race at 7am. Her mom and I wait what seems ages to pay; the line is long and the machine is slow. At least our race starts later.

IMG_40786:55am: We make it, crossing the street in front of the race start merely seconds before the gun goes off and runners in the 5k pour out of the first corral. We have almost an hour till our 15k starts, though, so we head over to meet up with Cynthia’s coworker, Sydney.

IMG_4079IMG_40827:30am: We make multiple trips to the port-a-potty (a necessity!) and check our gear. We chat as we wait.

IMG_4083IMG_40847:45am: We head to our corrals. Mine is so packed I can’t even get into it. I know once people start moving there will be room, though.

IMG_40857:50am: The 15k starts! I inch my way toward the start, waiting for the corrals in front of me to go.

7:55/8:00am: I’m not sure exactly what time I begin, but I finally cross the mat. I go out a little fast and make a mental note to slow down so I don’t hit a wall later. Three miles in I can’t bear to have my long-sleeved top on anymore, so I very carefully peel it off. It requires tucking my water bottle between my chin and chest, slowly removing my arms, pulling the shirt over my head and tying it around my waist — all while running and not knocking anyone in the face or dropping my water bottle! It probably takes a quarter mile and definitely exhausts me.

Note to self: Next time, check the long-sleeved shirt in the gear bag before the race starts.

I’m feeling tired and the run is anything but scenic. I decide I’m done running races through Denver. I keep plodding along, feeling a little unenthusiastic and a bit tired. I wonder if maybe I’m running too fast still. I’m in front of the 10 min/mile pacer but behind the 9:30 pacer. I try not to look at my watch except at mile markers.

Hot Chocolate

Around mile 7 I start talking to a woman I’ve been running in proximity of for a bit. Deborah, I think? Shoot, I can’t remember for sure now, but I did ask her name. So often I run races, talk to people and never even know their name! We talk about our kids, where we live, how much work it takes to train for anything around kids and work. Talking to her really lifts my mood and we run together for two miles.

At mile 9 she gives me the green light to “sprint” to the finish (ha, as if!) and I move out ahead of her, eye on the prize. I can see the arch in the distance. Somehow, I still have gas in the tank, so I give it all I’ve got.

9:30am: My official time (and the exact time on my Target watch, incidentally) is 1:31:05. Not bad! I was hoping for 10 mins/mile overall and I came in a little under. I am tired, but I feel pretty decent.

9:35am: I grab my post-race food and medal and meet up with Nicole, her mom, and several of Nicole’s coworkers. I down my hot chocolate and inhale the pretzels and banana, dipping both in chocolate. It’s an amazing post-race snack. We hang around for a little bit and I get my gear bag and change clothes. I hate being covered in wet, sweaty clothes, so even though I’m pretty gross, it helps a lot to put on clean yoga pants, a new t-shirt and new underwear and a regular bra. I even change socks.



10:10am: We head back to the car and decide to go to breakfast. We definitely earned it! We call ahead and get our name on the list at Racine’s.

10:35am: We arrive and get to go right past everyone in line. Woot! It takes a while to get our food because it’s packed and the restaurant is huge, but there’s plenty of coffee in the meantime. I get avocado eggs benedict. It is delicious!



11:30am: We head out in search of Sydney’s car. She can’t remember where she parked it, and she even took a picture of the cross street, but somehow we drive in circles trying to locate it. It’s hilarious because apparently the same thing happened last year! We eventually find it and all is right with the world, so we head home.

12:30pm: I pull into the garage; before I can even get inside Chris pokes his head out to say Natasha is napping and to be quiet when I come in. Check! Shelby is playing on the tablet and immediately asks me if I brought her something. Hey, wait a minute — who ran the race?! But yes, I did save the rest of my goodies for the girls.

12:45pm: I head up to take a long, hot shower and then put on sweats. I am going to be nothing if not comfy the rest of the afternoon!

1:15pm: Sadly for me, I start working. I have a project I have to have deliver the next day and, because of side projects the week before, just didn’t make as much progress on it as I needed to have. That means: Working on Sunday! But at least I have fun fuzzy slippers.


2:15pm: Shelby comes in with her little spray bottle asking me if there’s anything she can clean. Are you kidding me? Yes! She sprays and wipes my desk, the window sill, the TV and the TV stand. She’s super cute, even if she is distracting me.

IMG_4099 IMG_41004:45pm: Shelby comes back to my office do her homework. It’s part of her weekly packet that comes home and is due on Monday. Of course, it’s Sunday and she hasn’t started  yet. I give her moral support while she cuts and sorts and I keep working.


6:30pm: Done for a while. I take a break and go upstairs to see everyone. The girls have just set up a game (Sorry), so I agree to play with them. They do great for a few rounds and then they start to get wiggy. We have to constantly remind them not to move around so much (at least near the board) or they’re going to knock all the pieces off. Before long I send one of Natasha’s pieces “home” and she gets very upset. After that it’s a roller coaster of highs and lows based on whose pieces are actually in play. We do finally finish the game. Natasha wins!


7:30pm: The rest of the evening is uneventful (as far as I remember!). Chris puts the girls to bed and I go back to work for a couple of hours.

9:30pm: I make Shelby’s lunch and pack Natasha’s backpack for the week. I’m going to be out Tues-Thurs at a (local) conference, so I’m it for school dropoff and pickup the next day. It’s always easier to get things ready the night before.

10:00pm: Bedtime!

Postscript: Wouldn’t you know it? Natasha woke up puking at 5:30am on Monday and continued off and on for several hours that morning. Good thing I worked on Sunday! (Fortunately, she didn’t share it with anyone else in the family. Whew!)

IMG_4114 IMG_4116And that wraps up another Day in the Life!