Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year

Happy New Year!!!!!!

We rang in 2017 the best way we three know how - on the slopes!
Looking forward to a good, long ski season this year. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas cousins

We spent a week in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with the Hightower family for Christmas vacation this year - mostly to be introduced to the newest cousin: Charlotte Rose. She was born the Monday after Thanksgiving so this little 3-week old spent some time in my arms while the others slaved away in the kitchen or played with the kids! I dare say Miss Charlotte was very happy to meet her Aunt Moo and even wanted to come back to Colorado with me and her big boy cousins... but she couldn't manage to sneak away. There was much discussion about how much she will grow between now and the next time we see her... so I cherished these moments with my teeny-tiny niece! 
I wasn't the only one who thought she was pretty special!!!

As for all the big Hightower cousins, they resumed their sweet friendships - picking up right where they left off last time they were together. The 'littles' (in a month they will be 8, 9 and 10 years old) spent hours dreaming up plays and building a bamboo raft and making musical instruments and forming a band...

Meanwhile, the 'bigs' (in a month they will be 12 & 13.... yikes!) would only take enough time away from their video games or social media accounts to either play soccer, terrorize the littles, or chase me through the neighborhood in the golf cart!

These five have always been so fun to watch and such sweet friends...
ALL the Hightower grands!!!
Once the gifts were all appreciated and everyone was full on Christmas ham and we had seen the Broncos lose to the Chiefs, it was time to plan the trip home. This time we took a different route which was no more or less interesting or exhausting.
It just got us home...

... and it was good to be home!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Travel karma

We have all at some point in our lives been subject to some bad travel karma. Flight delays, bad weather, traffic, missed connections, obnoxious travel companions, etc. In fact, easy and effortless travel has become something many of us take for granted. So when travel plans go awry, I tend to respond with the the reaction of "oh well" and "it's an adventure!"  While this can be annoying to the adult who just wants to get mad and place blame on the nearest, under-paid service provider, when said to children it can set a tone for positive and grateful travel adventures to follow....

For example:

Our Christmas travels plans were originally pretty straight-forward: drive to Denver, fly to Mississippi. But to add a little excitement to the journey, we left early enough to visit the Denver Art Museum, where a special Star Wars Costume exhibit was showing! Soooooooooo cool.....
Paired with some time at Dave & Buster's for dinner and games - we were already enjoying a great travel experience!

We have flown in/out of Denver airport a million times. This was another ordinary day. All was well with the morning - shuttle on time, lines manageable, security easy - until it was time to board our flight. As the gate attendant picked up the microphone, I got ourselves ready to board..... except her spiel was a  little different than I had heard before. Instead of "now boarding zone 1" it sounded more like "your flight is cancelled". 

Huh. Oh well. It's an adventure!

So here's what we did:
We got our cancelled flight refunded.
We waited for our checked bag to be returned. 
We went ice skating at the Denver Airport:

And then, we got in the car and headed east. 
Through Kansas, Oklahoma (boys were sleeping!), Arkansas, and finally Mississippi!!!!!!

And the gaggle of cousins we found waiting for us (including a brand new one!!!!!) was worth all the adventure!

Saturday, December 17, 2016


The boys have spent the past 2 weeks in performance mode of some kind - either on the court or on stage (or in their head!).

Hamp played Junior High Basketball from Oct - Dec - a big milestone!
Once kids in Meeker get to 7th grade, they graduate from Rec League ball on to the school teams. That means three important things:
1) We get to cheer for the Meeker Cowboys!
2) things just got real. Jr. High sports start to kind of count! (no offense Rec League)
3) He gets to take the team school bus to and fro away games! That was Hamp's favorite part... and mine, quite frankly. No stinky, sweaty boy in the car all the way home from Rangely! Poor bus drivers....

It also means that all the kids are on the same team - no splitting up due to numbers - so they all support each other instead of compete against each other. It was so fun to watch, and I was really impressed with Hamp's hustle and skill. It will be great to see these boys grow together as a team through the next few years!

Sam took a little hiatus from gymnastics in December and has enjoyed spending time learning, perfecting, and memorizing a Christmas song which he played for the local nursing home. He seems to really enjoy making music - whether on the piano, on the Marimba at school, or on his ukulele. In fact, he is hoping Santa will bring him a xylophone for Christmas this year....

Hamp has stuck with the saxophone for a second year in the middle school band. It isn't always his favorite thing - he never practices and doesn't exactly come home exclaiming how great band class was. But when no one is looking I think he secretly enjoys making music... as long as he doesn't have to work too hard to do it! In fact, he is pushing to move from woodwinds to percussion so he can bang on the drums!

Sam had his 4th grade Christmas musical presentation as well this week - and he took it very seriously! He sang every song and stood very still and each kid got a chance to shine with a solo or speaking part.... so we spent the whole show wondering when he would step off the risers and have a shot at the microphone, too. And then at the very last song, he had a beautiful solo and I could not have been more proud of his moment!
ready for his solo - in the Santa hat and snowman sweater!

As proud as I am of both these dude for all that they do and how well they do it.... my favorite performances to watch are ALWAYS the ones they create themselves, unsolicited and for no one else's enjoyment than their own!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

dashing through the snow...

With the first big snow of the season there is always (in our house, at least!) jubilation!

We dig deep for stowed away snow clothes, hats, gloves, and dust off the boots. We pull the shovels out of the shed and the rack on the driveway makes the exchange of bikes for sleds.

When the snow finally came the weekend after Thanksgiving, the boys spent all afternoon making snow forts, having snowball fights, building snowmen and  shoveling the driveway for me. Gabe prances around like a puppy when we take him on walks and the whole town feels cozier.

We have so much fun in the snow..... especially when we go hunting for our Christmas tree! Gabe gets to run amok, the boys have grand adventures through the forest, and Mojo & Dado went with us this year to help us find the perfect tree. (although Sam had a little trouble holding it up by himself!)

I only hope the snow keeps coming so we can have a whole season of adventures - especially on the ski mountain this year!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


It is always nice to have a long weekend to rest, play and be with family.

This year we stayed close to home and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Mojo & Dado.
We watched plenty of football, several movies, played with friends and even did a few chores.

The only regret is that we didn't get to personally wish Grammy in Knoxville a Happy 92nd Birthday, or wish cousin Graham in Mississippi a Happy 12th Birthday,  or be with Yaya & Papa in Mississippi or be with Alec & Jei in California.

But we were grateful to have great friends and family here in town to be with and grateful for good weather to enjoy being outside.

I am thankful that I was able to hike the town trails...
 I am thankful for waking up to new snow...

I am thankful for wild turkeys...

I am thankful that we were able to hike Hanging Lake with friends...

I am thankful that Hamp didn't choke Sam and throw him in the lake...

I am thankful that I caught Sam in one of his contemplating the universe moments...
(and obviously I am thankful for sun flares in my photos!)

and I am so thankful for a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in Meeker as the #1 ranked Meeker Cowboys hosted the Strasburg Indians in the 1A State Championship Football Game...
Cowboys 14 - Indians 34
Such a good game and an amazing season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Remember this?
Well it has been easier said written than done!

At some point this summer, a friend caught up on my adventures and their first question was "Have you found more joy?" and I was saddened to say that I had been overlooking much of it.

So I sunk deeper into my head and my heart and tried to figure out how to make better choices.

Fast forward to today. I am still high off a weekend trip to the city to visit a very dear, old friend. Initially I was just excited to get away for a couple of days - away from the responsibilities of life and parenting and work and home, etc. - but what I left excited about was being able to realize that joy was surrounding me at every turn.

As I sat on a park bench in the sunshine waiting to meet up with my friend, I had time to finally listen to the questions that my head and my heart had been asking all year:

My head needed to know that I was capable and worthy of being connected to the ones I love.

My head asked for permission to stop worrying about whether I was doing it right, or giving enough and to just be.

My head wondered if it was ok to begin searching for my own passions.

My heart needed to know whether it could be full again... Jason's death left a hole that I thought might be irreparable.

My heart asked for reassurance that loving life now was not a disservice or a disloyalty to the love that I will forever have for Jason.

My heart wondered if it was ok to feel light and love even in the shadow of loss. 

I received a resounding yes to all of those questions - I just needed to accept that answer. I fed off the energy of millions of passers-by as I wrapped up my existential moment on that city park bench. I realized that joy was in me, trying to resurface if only I would get out of my own way and appreciate the legacy that Jason left: Choose Happiness.

Then this morning I saw this interview with one of my best friends... she talks about how she chooses (or in her perfect terms, chases!) her happiness and how it fuels her life. She talks about many great things actually, because she is great! - but she also mentions "the why". I love the idea of how knowing why creates a deeper connection to everything around you.

I hope to avidly spend the next months feeling connected to the love and joy around me. Since getting home, I have already started by taking a hike with a friend (and Gabe, of course!) and listening to some of my favorite music from my youth (The Smiths... ahhhhh) and committing to the local Christmas Choir and laughing at with my boys. It shouldn't be too difficult to find the joy around me during a time of year when it is abundant... heck, I even ordered Christmas cards to send this year!? Seemed like a nice we to stay connected...