A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

Lazy Days of Summer?

In looking back at a recent email where the sender had asked what I had been up to this week, I thought long and hard.  What have I been up to this week?  Here it is already Thursday and even though the days seems to pass by in a blur, I couldn’t actually say that I had done much.  Well, I did go to a baseball game with all 3 of my kids on Monday night (hey, $1 tickets through KwikShop, couldn’t pass it up!), ran track night Tuesday night (my awesome running group), church group Wednesday night (DivorceCare), did some baking (banana muffins and brownies – yum!), cleaning, watched the latest episode of Zoo, and finished an entire library book (they’re due on Friday) so I did do something, just not as much as I would usually accomplish.

This morning I made sure I was going to do better than that.

So, I hit the weeds.

This was supposed to have been a vegetable garden.  Although I didn’t seem to get around to it this year.  I meant to.

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Instagram caption: “My vegetable garden. Hey, at least the weeds aren’t too crazy – yet! #keepingitreal #haventgottentoityet #notenoughtime

Geesh, it had gotten ridiculously crazy.

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A third of it was already weeded by this point. And I had a huge blister on the palm of my right hand to show for it!

The dogs were chasing around a humongous wasp the entire time, which was like, 2 hours in the semi hot sun, that seemed to think I was disturbing its area.  It kept landing on the fence around the garden but, fortunately, never on me!  I never found a nest so hopefully it just moved away but it certainly kept my fur boys busy!

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Cooper finally gave in to the heat and wasp chasing and collapsed in the cool earth under the bay window in a section that I hadn’t weeded yet.

I had some potted plants that weren’t fairing too well in the heat, despite the constant watering and their location, so I planted them in this really-next-year-it’ll-be a vegetable-plot.  They’re likely going to die anyway so at least it’ll look nice for a day or two. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m hoping they’ll last longer than that since it took me so long but I won’t hold my breath. At least my neighbors will be happy not to have to look at the overgrown mess that was there before! (You might be asking why is there an old tire in the garden? I saw somewhere on Pinterest that they made a planter out of it so I thought I’d give it a try. I may regret it later . . . )

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The finished product, including the fence, to keep the dogs out of it! Granted, Cooper can jump it in a single bound but it does slow him down.

I worked very hard this morning to accomplish this, then went inside to change clothes and headed to the Y for a treadmill workout with my daughter, who had missed her cross country conditioning this morning (likely on purpose because it was early!).  After getting in my miles (our group run was scheduled for 6 pm tonight, but I haven’t been doing well with the heat/humidity and the heat advisory was brutal today – 108 degrees – so the treadmill had to suffice), a quick drive to MacAlister’s for their free iced tea day (free drinks! Yay!), lunch at home, then preparing for book club. Book club is always fun (a post on that coming up soon!), then dinner, which my son didn’t want to eat.

I feel quite accomplished with today. Is it time for bed yet?

 

Escaping on Spring Break

It’s been long awaited – the joy of a full week off – SPRING BREAK!  I had decided to split up the week to have time away and time at home,  a win-win situation, right?! The teens seemed to think so. Time away, time with their friends and time with their Dad. Too bad my eldest just got a new job and couldn’t come with us.

I put in my mandatory 3 1/2 hours at work on the Friday, packed up the kids and the dogs, and began the trek to Keystone, CO, where the mountains were beckoning. We did a couple of hikes, tried tubing (1st time in 13 years we actually couldn’t slide due to accumulation on the slope!), and walked in the snowstorm that dumped approximately 40″ in about 4 days.

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The morning after a few inches of snow fell – glorious, breathtaking, God’s handiwork scenery.  The pic on the left is Buddy and Cooper on a hike through an overlook by Lake Dillon. They love galloping through the snow and didn’t mind sinking belly deep! I sank in thigh-high deep at times but it was a  very enjoyable hike.  There’s just something about being in the mountains surrounded by such beauty that I feel at home, in peace, and so close to God. It clears the cobwebs and stress from my life back home and I feel so. much. better about EVERYTHING. What a wonderful emotional/mental break from life. And great cross-training, too!

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Brother and Sister did some great bonding on this trip. Lots and lots of laughter and memories made.

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Can you see how beautiful it is? In fact, my son got burnt on this 6.18 miles hike!

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This was our destination – La Bonte’s Cabin – and ski area! 

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And then the snow began in earnest. We took a walk when it tapered a little (my daughter coordinated her walrus socks with her Grandma’s jacket!) but it was snowing sideways and actually wasn’t  very pleasant. I came back with my hair soaking wet but I was plenty warm enough, despite the dropping temperatures.

We had planned to drive back on Tuesday and despite the hazardous warnings and the first time I’ve ever seen signs requesting  passenger vehicles have chains, we braved the I-70.  The highway wasn’t as bad as it could have been and some blowing snow caused some issues but we did just fine.  By the time we got to Genesee Park on the west side of Denver, you couldn’t even tell there was any weather! How bizarre . . .

As always when I leave, my soul feels fulfilled and although I didn’t want to go, I knew I had to. I’ll plan another trip soon.As it turned out, if I hadn’t left when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave due to the additional inches of snow!

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Mid-mountain on North Peak – Elevation: 11,237 feet – The official snow stake!

 

 

 

Goodbye 2015

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The end of the year makes me sad. I’m really not sure why, as I enjoy new beginnings such as a new school year and a new calendar year.  It’s like a fresh page of a notebook or a newly sharpened pencil, crisp and new. So why am I so sad?  One may say it’s the year that I have endured. Yes, this one has been particularly challenging, but no, I feel the same way every New Year’s Eve. I was trying to explain to my daughter when she asked why we always came back from Colorado on New Year’s Eve day. I didn’t want to start the New Year without my husband. Strange, particularly since we never really had any plans and I was usually so tired from the long drive that I never stayed up until midnight. But I meant well, and at least we started the year off together since he didn’t enjoy the trip. Although this is now the 2nd New Year I’ve been alone, well, except for my fur babies and (some) of my children.

My sweet, ever faithful fur babies, Cooper & Buddy.

My sweet, ever faithful fur babies, Cooper & Buddy.

But no, that’s not why I’m sad. I love the above Bible verse where I, personally, will run with endurance the race that God has set before me. I don’t know what plans God has in store for me in 2016 – or beyond, for that matter – I just know that I will rely heavily on His love and strength. I will embrace the New Year with a grateful attitude and know that I am in control of my next thought. I will hold tight to Jesus’ hand knowing that I am loved. This trust will give me the necessary strength to take whatever life may deal me.

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Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed 2016!

 

Miles, Moose & Memories

I think my Honda Odyssey knows the route to Keystone, CO, where I love to spend as much time as I’m able.  I saw the weather forecast for our fair city and thought, uh-oh, I can’t be stuck for a miserable sleet/ice-y long weekend! I made it out before the weather came in and back in as it was over. Perfect! Food was prepacked so our only expense is gas and hot coffee while traveling. (Yummy Mighty Mocha Latte from QuikTrip set the trip off to a great start!)  Oh, and Adele’s new CD – 25.

So we left early - 6 am - but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So we left early – 6 am – but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So, there’s no back yard where we are when we’re in Keystone which means when the dogs need to potty, we have to take them out on leashes.  I was up early Thanksgiving Day, maybe due to the time change, maybe due to the fabulous silence of being in the mountains or not wanting to waste a moment being inside in Colorful Colorado and God’s gorgeous mountains. I leashed up Buddy and Cooper and headed out.  I was walking through the parking lot when a large shape caught my eye by the tennis courts. By golly, there were 2 HUGE moose meandering up the walk!  I fumbled for my phone in an attempt to get evidence but alas, for such large animals, they move quite quickly. I went in search of them to be sure my eyes had not deceived me and saw them again by the townhouses before they likely headed back up the mountain as a loud bus taking skiiers to the slopes rounded the corner.  WOW.  Majestic moose were the words that came to mind as I marveled at their sheer size.  And the fact that I’ve been coming here for YEARS and only just saw this by the homes!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts! (center of the pic kind of by the brown house)

Our first full day there consisted of a Turkey Day Fun Run in Frisco, supposedly a 5K.  My Garmin measured it at 2.68 miles. No timing, just for fun (really!). I ran with my daughter. We did it for the first time last year.  Fortunately there wasn’t anywhere near as much snow as there was last year (knee high and mushy. Think mashed potatoes!) and only some ice. We enjoyed watching all of the dogs dressed up and running with their owners. Dogs are so accepted everywhere there.  LOVE.

By the "start" line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

By the “start” line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

The Finish Line banner - perfect for Turkey Day!

The Finish Line banner – perfect for Turkey Day!

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Our "official" finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter's hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

Our “official” finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter’s hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

A Thanksgiving tradition we've been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

A Thanksgiving tradition we’ve been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the "Back Mountain".

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the “Back Mountain”.

We took the dogs out several times a day to run and we hiked the “Back Mountain” several times as well, almost getting caught in the dark once! Cooper scared me on one of these hikes as he came toward me, crying, then trying to bury himself in the snow.  Great, I thought. He’s having a stroke of some kind and I’m going to lose him. Not to mention we’re over a mile up the mountain! Fortunately, he had a drink from my water bottle, cooled down in the snow, and then took off like nothing had happened. Geesh. Now to calm my beating heart.

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

We left to go home very early Sunday morning as not only did I have to go back to teaching and the kids to school, my two sons were back home. My youngest hates the long drive so we compromised this trip.  I can’t help but feel sad each time I leave there. I feel so at peace and more in-tune with my body, feelings and spirituality. Maybe some day this will be my home. In the meantime, I’ll visit as often as I can.

Bucket by Bucket of ROCKS!

With the trees and all of the grass!

With the trees and all of the grass!

Another project that I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS. . . The back corner of where 4 yards meet can get mushy and add that huge green electrical box and that equals some serious ugly.  This past summer our neighbors decided to put in a wooden fence within a few inches of our wrought iron fence, giving me a sort of a back drop.  Finally, a chance to do some work!

It only took A LOT of back power and a few days of work to get it done.  First, I had all of the lines marked.  Couldn’t risk “accidentally” digging up a power line!  Next, I put in the trees prior to a rain storm to capitalize on the good moisture. I only added two that should get quite large, which is why I gave them plenty of growing room.  I have a mum in a bicycle planter and a lavender plant and then transplanted two lilies that Cooper has enjoyed sitting on.  One damp morning I put in the trim.  I had bought it a few years ago when I first had the idea for this project only recently my oldest son decided he was going to cut it up to make an outdoor guinea pig pen.  Oh well, I took it back and used it along the side edge.  After a Pinterest tip of using newspapers as weed block (yeah for more $ savings!), I commenced moving buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets . . .  of rocks from underneath to the deck to this area.  The only cost I incurred on this project was the trees, approximately $20 after my Lowe’s discount.

Cooper was "helping".

Cooper was “helping”.

The lighting wasn't so great when I finally got around to finishing the last few bucket fulls. And Buddy photo-bombed the picture, too!

The lighting wasn’t so great when I finally got around to finishing the last few bucket fulls. And Buddy photo-bombed the picture, too!

The next day final shot. So pretty!  Looking forward to watching the trees grow! (cross fingers hoping my lack of a green thumb doesn't make them all DIE!)

The next day final shot. So pretty! Looking forward to watching the trees grow! (cross fingers hoping my lack of a green thumb doesn’t make them all DIE!)

I finished up by moving my plants and ‘Love’ frock from the deck into this area as well as a bird bath we’ve had for years that’s so old it doesn’t even hold water anymore. No worries! I can always put something else on it!  I’m sure it’ll be a work in progress until the trees grow and with seasonal flowers but for now I’m enjoying the lack of soggy, muddy dog paws and not having to edge around that stupid green box!  And some even better news, although I knew I would be sore the next day, I didn’t injure my back (my legs were sore from proper lifting techniques) and I got an awesome cross-training workout!