A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

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My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home

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Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦

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Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

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Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!

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The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.

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I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 

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A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.

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Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.

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This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.

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?

 

A Little Ink

When I was in high school, I had a friend that had this small, red heart tattoo on her ankle. I never asked her about it, whether it had any significance or why she wanted it, but I do remember that I was in awe of it and that it would be something I would like to have.

Fast forward 30+ years. I continued to admire others’ ink so about a year ago I started a new category on my Pinterest account and called it “Hmmmm”.  My ex didn’t like tattoos so I hadn’t ever done anything about wanting one.  After visiting a tattoo shop with my daughter while she was getting a piercing, I realized that it wasn’t as scary as I thought.  I am my own person and I wanted something that would represent my strength, regardless of what life has dealt me.  Does that mean it would be a constant reminder of what happened in my life?  No, as it depends on the perspective of the situation. Was I doing it out of spite?  Absolutely not. This was 100% for me. I started small and a few tattoos that focused on strength caught my eye.

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And then I saw this one.

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I did some research and found the Story of the Lotus where it explained that the lotus flower begins to sprout underwater, surrounded by mud, muck, fish, insects . . . you know, basically a dirty and rough environment.  But despite its living conditions, it pushes to the surface and, as the article says, “rises from adversity.”  It goes on to talk about Buddhism and says this:  “… the bud of the lotus symbolizes potential. The lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth, and enlightenment. Just as the lotus flower emerges from the water clean, the lotus also represents purity of body, speech, and mind. The lotus could be thought of as an awakened mind, which grows naturally toward the warmth and light of truth, love and compassion. The lotus may appear fragile on the surface, but it is flexible and strong, securely anchored under the surface of the water.”   Cool.

Then I found this article on Lotus Flower Meanings.  I love this part:  “Let’s face it. Poop happens. It’s what we make of a poopy situation that counts. Sure… we can crawl under our misery, never lifting our heads to the light that beckons us. That’s always an option. Or, we can be like the lotus. We can make the best of our crummy environment and rise above. Lotus flower meanings are all about aspiring to express, to live, to share beauty.”  Wow — I had plenty to hide my head about and the rejection I had experienced certainly made me want to never lift my head again.  I am embarrassed that my marriage failed, but marriage takes a partnership and that didn’t exist anymore in mine (not by choice, I might add).  I have decided that I wasn’t going to let that situation in which I had no say define who I am or what’s going to happen for the rest of my life.  I can relate to what this beautiful flower represents and I wanted this symbol permanently etched upon myself.  So, on March 7, 2015, I walked into that tattoo parlor and in about 15 minutes, it was complete.

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My lotus flower – 3/27/2016

It’s been over a year and I still love my flower.  In fact, I’m going to get another tattoo on my wrist but I’m going to let the artist design it using the elements I want.  We’ll see how that turns out!

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A picture of a lotus flower, taken by someone’s OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.

 

 

Home Improvement Rush!

In refinancing my mortgage I’ve had to make a mad dash to get things fixed around the house due to an upcoming appraisal. I am not the handiest of women doing these but I did manage to get some things off my to do list before the inspector came this week.  It might have helped that I explained to the appraiser that my teenage son had his bedroom door taken away from him. That’s still on my to do list, cut it out and mount it.  When he earns it back, that is! (Maybe I’ll give an invoice for the costs, too, while I’m at it!)

Ah, teenage temper tantrums.

Ah, teenage temper tantrums.

These closet doors were the easiest to fix, once I figured out where the hardware went! My dad helped me get them level. Set-back $120 from Menard’s. I did, however, get an 11% rebate that I promptly mailed off for.

Next up, holes in the wall and ceiling, also due to teenage temper tantrums.  I had searched on Pinterest how to fix some of these and it wasn’t as hard as I thought.  Not a professional job, by any means, but it’s fixed!

This hole was created when my 13 year old got mad and flung his chair across the room.

This hole was created when my 13 year old got mad and flung his chair across the room.

I used this to help fill the hole - about $2.80 from Lowe's.

I used this to help fill the hole – about $2.80 from Lowe’s.

Cross fingers - I hope this works!

Cross fingers – I hope this works!

So far, so good! I sanded it down and repainted the wall with leftover paint and it's looks fabulous. So proud of myself!

So far, so good! I sanded it down and repainted the wall with leftover paint and it’s looks fabulous. So proud of myself!

This hole was created by the 18 year old when he got mad going down the stairs. That one section where the slope is before you get to the basement? Yep, that's where it was. My eyes went to it every.single.time I went down the stairs.

This hole was created by the 18 year old when he got mad going down the stairs. That one section where the slope is before you get to the basement? Yep, that’s where it was. My eyes went to it every.single.time I went down the stairs.

Hmm, will this work on popcorn ceilings? Guess I'll find out!

Hmm, will this work on popcorn ceilings? Guess I’ll find out!

I used this leftover stuff from fixing the hole in the bathroom ceiling and then I did the Kilz paint.

I used this leftover stuff from fixing the hole in the bathroom ceiling and then I did the Kilz paint.

After - not too bad! The color is a little off but my eyes aren't drawn to it now.

After – not too bad! The color is a little off but my eyes aren’t drawn to it now.

Other than the doors, I’ve been staining the deck and have bought the materials to rebuild the screens for the downstairs windows.  I’m wanting to do some fun stuff this winter like replacing the bathroom faucets, redecorating the master bath, and (cross fingers!) redoing the kitchen.  I’m super excited that my mortgage is only for 15 years and I got a wonderful rate. It definitely pays to have good credit!

Nutella Goodness

I have really been enjoying Pinterest lately and pinning to my heart’s content on my boards labeled Inspiration, I Run, Hmmm, For My Home, and Yummy Recipes, just to name a few.

Last night I stumbled across an incredibly easy recipe with only three ingredients. My daughter LOVES Nutella so this afternoon I thought I’d give it a try. Besides, there was NO ADDED SUGAR in this recipe so it must be semi-healthy, right?!

1 cup Nutella
1 whole egg
1 cup flour

Bake 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees.

Yes, peeps, that was IT! The mix seemed a bit crumbly, particularly the 2nd batch, so when I used my cookie scoop I used my hands to compress them a little more.  These cookies were delicious and all of my children (and yes, ME!) liked them. Definitely an easy recipe and one to have on hand since it doesn’t take long to bake and very easy to just pop in the oven for a quick dessert when the oven’s already on! This recipe made 24 small cookies, about an inch in diameter. Yum, yum!

Nutella cookies

Nutella cookies