Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sinks & Beans

I'm an eternal optimist and I don't see anything wrong with that, in fact, I think that everyone should be. My husband, bless his heart, is not always as optimistic. He prefers to say that he's a "realist", but what that means is that he's really waiting for the sky to fall. Not me, I'm a silver lining kind of girl. So when our bathroom sink went from draining slow to really draining slow, I decided to fix it this morning. Now, my beloved, still on crutches from knee surgery, suggested that I wait until Friday, because he will be allowed to walk, and also, contort his body into weird angles to fit under the sink. But I figured that I could do it, and I did. I used a couple of doohickies and a wrench, and wrenched that thing apart. Really apart, as it turns out. Sure enough, there was a nasty clog in the drain pipe which I triumphantly held up as evidence of my do-it-yourself awesomeness. At which point my husband calmly congratulated me, and then also pointed out that I had broken something important. I personally don't think that there is anything wrong with this scenario, I did after all, accomplish something amazing, and the fact that the sink is no longer functioning really feels like a side note. And on the bright side, I hated that sink, and this was a perfect opportunity to get rid of it. So I unscrewed some more things, grabbed a door mat to put under that ugly vanity, and dragged it successfully out into the living room. Then I noticed that the sheetrock behind the sink looked weird, and got a little concerned that maybe there was mold back there. So I got a hammer and a razor and pulled it out. The good news is that there wasn't any mold! The not-so-good news is that now the sheetrock needs to be replaced. But, Chris can walk again on Friday, and I'm thinking that I may have helped enough, getting rid of that pesky clog and all. We can just wash our hands in the bathtub, plenty of people have to get by with less luxuries than a bathroom sink, and this can be a great learning experience for the kids, especially when they have to help put in a new sink.

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On another note, I'm getting a little tired of cooking. So I have a clever plan, and it involves cooking weird food until I get kicked out of the kitchen! I just thought of this at lunch as I was making breakfast burritos for Chris and Aidan (home sick), only we didn't have enough eggs. (The hens are free loading through the winter again.) So I threw some refried beans in there. (It was really bean soup left over from last night that I blended so it looked like refried beans.) That didn't really look like enough either so I grabbed some of the tomatoes that I had roasting in the oven and added those. (It worked in my mind.) The good news is that I think I'm well on my way to getting kicked out of the kitchen, AND the bathroom. See? Silver linings everywhere!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Black Belt Spectacular

If every picture tells a story, then these pictures tell a story of perseverance.
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The Black Belt Spectacular
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Signing the certificate
More than 4 years of training, countless hours at the gym.
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Introducing Chloe
A grueling final testing process, heaps of stress, sleepless nights, and training 7 days a week.
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The black belt candidates
And nobody gets a black belt alone. Chris and I spent countless hours in the car, ferrying her back and forth. Aidan made dinners, and sometimes accompanied Chloe on her bike to make sure she made it safely on days we couldn't drive. I coached her soccer team because then I could choose the schedule. Some days felt like a merry-go-round that strapped you and wouldn't let go. On those days,  friends and family stepped in various ways, taking over portions of the carpooling, bringing dinner,  coffee and chocolate.
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Our little warrior
And not because Tae Kwon Do is so important, but because Chloe is. And if she sets her mind to accomplishing something, then we are going to do our darndest to support her.
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There was a whole community to celebrate with her. Grammie flew in from Oregon and spent three days cleaning our house from top to bottom. (Including the oven that caught on fire while roasting tomatillos for salsa. I was shoveling burning chunks out of the bottom with a metal spatula while Chris and my mom looked horrified. Don't worry guys, it's not my first fire. So then Chris recommends dumping baking soda in the oven. Brilliant plan, worked like a charm..and also filled the room with chalky dust. That's the point when Grammie decided that our competency might be a little lacking and took over. )
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The knife edge strike
I think I'm going to show this picture to every potential boyfriend, that is, when she's 39 and allowed to date.
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Board breaking
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Hammer Fist
This is her instructor's daughter holding the boards for Chloe.
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The spinning Crescent Kick, which is kind of like Chuck Norris' Tornado Kick
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On a side note-Chris is thinking about doing his hair like Master Tran-there on the right
We had a party to celebrate our girl. We made lots of food, chili and hotdogs, bacon wrapped dates, guacamole and salsa (hence the fire), cheesecake, orange spice cupcakes with chocolate ganache, cider, and chai...and our people showed up, crowding our tiny yellow house, bringing more food, (smoked pork and chili, pesto in canning jars, cupcakes and brownies...) and laughter, and the presents of community who wanted to honor Chloe.

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There she is
Chloe went to bed wrapped in a cocoon of happiness. She was completely blown away that so many people loved her enough to show up. And that feeling of being surrounded by people who love you, is more empowering even than a black belt.
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All the black belt candidates from Muy Thai and Tae Kwon Do
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Black Belt Testing

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Step Defense
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Holds and Soles

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Fitness Test (100 jump ropes then 2 laps-x5)
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200 Step Ups (+200 burpees+200 push ups+200 air squats)
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Hopefully Chloe will get her board breaking stripe this week and then we are done! Four times a week since kindergarten! This kiddo has some perseverance.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Stitches and Teachers

I was supposed to go do a photo shoot yesterday evening for a company, but it got postponed and it was a good thing, because I spent the evening in Urgent Care. (Which should have been more accurately named Take Your Time Care, or Forget About The Patient and Gossip About Your Neighbor Care.) Aidan came home from school covered in blood from a gaping gash in his chin compliments of a post school bike crash. I'm not really squeamish, but I did have to avert my eyes while they were sewing it closed. Some things are better left unseen. Instead, I stared at the walls, but they were such an ugly depressing brown color, with hideous pictures that looked as if someone had pulled them out of the trash in the seventies, that I settled on staring at the white sheet instead. At least it was white with a comforting worn look. Unlike the rest of the room that looked worn, but in a way that made you feel like you might either be really sick or want to hurt someone, it was a toss up for me.

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Sunset from the top of the ski run in Telluride
Aidan has this group of friends at school, and often I spend the last few minutes of evening sitting on the edge of his bed as he describes stories of the day's antics. I laugh because I think they are witty and clever and funny. Sometimes teachers call me and share stories in their grown up teacher language which makes everything sound more stern and serious. Sometimes, I still laugh, just a little bit, because it still sounds funny, and then I remember that I'm a responsible grown up and try to think what would my sister do? and respond accordingly. 

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Sunset over Telluride

Clint Eastwood was our doctor at the non Urgent Care. He even talked with a sort of drawl, and carried his scissors in a quick draw little holster in the small of his back. I'm also sure he had a horse tied up out back.

They asked Aidan if he might be allergic to anything in the salve and he said, "No, just cats, so I'm pretty sure we are okay, unless that's a cat you are rubbing on my face", which seemed to confuse the nurse who launched into an explanation about it's really the protein in the cat hair that he was allergic to, not the cat. So if they were rubbing a hairless cat on his face, it would be ok?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A 12 Minute Fight

I know every year I go on and on about how much I love Fall. But I can't help myself, really. It's like a weeks long sunset, the earth preparing for a season of rest, and a master Artist has splashed everything in hues of colors that bathe me in joy. I keep hearing whispers to "Stop and Rest...Breathe". And I try. I leave dishes in the sink, and clean laundry waiting on the couch, and I go outside. But then the days strap me in and take me for another ride, and sometimes it's all I can do to keep up.  A few weeks ago, I took the kids out of school and we took an epic road trip to Telluride,  (14+ hours of driving in two days!) because we just needed to.

Yesterday, Chloe had her black belt sparring test. She's only ten, the youngest in her group of candidates, and skinny. Chloe dislikes sparring, and has been so nervous about her testing that she's crawled in bed with me at night to gather warmth and comfort like a blanket. She looked small and vulnerable on the mat, her only protection headgear and gloves. The rules were that she had to fight for 12 minutes straight, facing fresh opponents every couple of minutes, and at the end, two attackers at a time. The opponents were all boys, and two men. The boys danced on the side, chomping at the bit in eagerness, all of them towering over Chloe, wearing full safety gear, and obviously enjoying the idea of sanctioned fighting. And then they started, the boys in turn rushing out onto the mat, all swinging arms and kicking legs.

The two other girls fighting for their black belts took the onslaughts by backing away, and by the end, their nervous grins had turned into unshed tears, and we were all clapping and cheering, and straining for them to finish, to not give up, to keep fighting, whether they were our child or not.

I saw Chloe whispering to her instructor to please let her take her turn early, before I had to leave to get Aidan from cello. Chloe met the boys with a fierce rush of her own. She began spinning and dancing out of the way, dodging their flailing arms, then darting in to counterattack. Twice she nearly knocked a boy down with a hard kick to the chest, and their unbridled enthusiasm turned into a more cautious advance. My baby girl is a fierce little warrior. Her headgear was knocked off multiple times, and her loose hair began to cover her face like a screen, but she kept going, taking shots to the head and ribs, over and over again, but giving it all right back. She would dodge out and then come back in with a spinning back sweep to their legs.

Towards the end, Chris and I were standing, not caring that we were yelling loud enough to hear in Texas, only that we were loud enough for her to hear. As the final countdown began, Chloe ducked and weaved between the two attackers, then grabbed the boy's arm and used him as a shield to absorb the punches from the man. When she finished, standing there red faced and sweaty, she had earned the respect of everyone in the room and high praise from her instructors, who were proud both of her courage, and her physical conditioning. That's my girl.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Open Spaces

Wide open spaces speak to me. A few years ago when we moved to Texas, I was so excited for the Texas I imagined-huge yards, cowboy hats and horses. Only it didn't end up that way, Katy was urban sprawl on concrete. Ginormous houses on postage stamp sized lots and strip malls lining the congested streets. I used to take a round about way to the library through back roads because it led me through emptiness. The view wasn't spectacular, just wide open spaces with overgrown grass, and the occasional barbed wire, but it helped me breathe.

 Now, home in Colorado, just beyond my house lies a trail that winds through trees, alongside fields, and over the creek. I can see the mountains in the distance, and a few days ago, baby cows with their mothers in the pasture next to me.  Roscoe occasionally startles a rabbit and they quickly high tail it out of his lumbering reach. At night we can hear the coyotes calling and sometimes the low mooing of cows.  It smells like earth, and grass, and freedom.

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Friday, August 29, 2014


let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
 (Edward Sharpe)
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Picture a Day

Hey there. I've given myself the lofty goal of taking a picture a day. Mostly because I like goals. And lists. And keeping the goal, or finishing the list, is not nearly as important to me as having one. I know that's weird, but so is the fact that I like to turn almost any surface into a chalkboard so that it will be ready for brilliant ideas or thoughts or lists, at any time. I rarely write on them, but I have them. Just in case.

I took this photo yesterday, so I guess I'm behind already. Hmm, maybe I should just try and post a picture a day. See, that's the good thing about giving yourself goals, you can modify them at any time if they're not working out so great.

Anyway, here is a view of a sea of sunflowers. I hiked through waist high spiky plants in my cowboy boots with my tripod slung over my shoulder to take this photo. My socks were slipping off in my boots and ended up in a little puddle by my toes, and the spiky plants kept depositing little spiky seeds conveniently into the top of my boots. But it's technically impossible to feel irritated in a field of sunflowers.

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Happy Thursday.

Monday, August 4, 2014


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We had a brief sojourn in Jericho on the way to the Dead Sea. Someone had to use the bathroom. Our jelly bean mint green rental car stuck out, well, like a mint green jelly bean in a dusty brown landscape. We came out of the store, after politely disentangling from the gentleman who was earnestly trying to sell me the $500 Hebron glass set, to find our rental surrounded by a gaggle of Palestinian teenagers taking selfies. Aidan's appearance set off a flurry of whispering and giggling, and shy smiles beneath headscarves. But Chloe had eyes for one thing only. Because there, next to the man in the hut brewing Chris an exceptional cup of Arabic cardamom coffee- over an open flame, was, The camel.
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I sent Aidan over to ask how much a ride was-15 Shekels, they said. Chloe was seized with immediate camel-shyness though, and wanted Aidan to ride with her. So I trotted over to ask how much for the two kids. The guy looked me over and quickly replied- 50 Shekels. Chris was still happily discussing coffee with the guy in the hut, so I did what any good mom would do and forked over the extra shekels so my daughter could get her life's dream of a slow turn around the parking lot on a grumpy dromedary. 
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Elisha's Well

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And the water is still good

There was an archeological dig going on across the street. We didn't go in, but we bought some dates from a snazzily dressed young man at the gate. When he opened his wallet to give the change, it was stuffed with large bills in all currencies. Chris doesn't like to carry coins in his pocket, so I held out my hand for the change. At this, he sweetly chastised me telling me "No No no, the man should be the one to hold the money." And then he proceeded to see us safely across the (empty) street by standing in the middle of the road and grandly ushering us over.

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The archeological site
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Shepherd Boy and Aidan
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PS, the dates weren't very good, but the coffee was extraordinary, the hospitality was lovely, and the camel ride was bumpy.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crested Butte in July

A word about chickens first; they are a little like children. If they don't get out of the house enough to play, they start getting cranky and pecking at each other. Also, if I stick my head out of the house and holler how much I appreciate their effort when they start singing the "I Laid an Egg" song, they stop clucking and satisfied, move on to another activity. The moral of the story is that chickens and children need appreciation and sunshine, dust baths optional.

And if that's not enough to make your Thursday shiny, here are some pictures from our long weekend away to Crested Butte. Chris and I took advantage of Grammie in the house and spent a weekend away sans kids. Mountains, wildflowers, camping and sunshine fed our spirits. And since this was only the second time in 15 years that we have left our littles for so long, I can be forgiven for my constant checking in by text.

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Awesome Fence
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Awesome License Plates
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Crested Butte
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Awesome Scenery
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Awesome Wildflowers

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer's Begun

We are loving our summer. The mornings are still chilly enough for a cup of tea in the morning while the kids are still sleeping and it's just me in the garden, watching Mr. Darcy slink among the mint pretending that he is a wild tiger.

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The first flowers from the garden
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A Saturday hike
We've been spending as much time as possible in the mountains because it feeds our souls.

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Arapahoe Glacier trail

Across the way, we could see three tiny dots of skiers plowing down the mountain.
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The crew
Aidan slipped on a snowy ridge and went sliding down until it leveled out. (I sort of think he did it on purpose.) Roscoe immediately plunged down after him to make sure his boy was okay, which he was.

We've also been watching a lot of World Cup soccer. And because Chloe loves to celebrate, the house is decorated in pink streamers, and she spent the first USA game watching with full on face paint from a massive fort that engulfed most of the basement.

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We've been busy trying to get things ready for the first Art Night Out booth that I'm sharing with my beautiful, talented friend, Sarah. Sweet friends have chipped in to help, because no matter how prepared I think I am, it still seems like nothing is ready until the last minute. I had a brilliant idea that I was going to cut ALL my own mats, but that idea went down in a blaze of glory. I'm not so good with actually measuring things. Fortunately, I'm married to an engineer who specializes in coming to my rescue.

And, just because, here's a final picture of Chloe's crazed rabbit face. You're welcome.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Almost Summer

Summer came and kicked spring's tail this week. It's sweltering in my un-air conditioned house and the chocolate cake baking in the oven isn't really helping things either. Tonight my baby girl gets one step closer to the black belt she has been doggedly working on since kindergarten. She has a quiet confidence but shyly refuses to show off anything that she has learned. But every once in a while, we can talk her into demonstrating and after being thrown to the ground a few times, I've wised up and volunteer Chris instead.

Tomorrow is the last day of school and I'm not sure who is more excited, me or the kids. No more chauffeuring, packing school lunches and volunteering! But mostly, I'm just happy to have my little birds back in the nest full time.

Today is such a stick-your-feet-in-the-sand sort of day that I'm going to post some pictures of the beautiful Tel Aviv beach. (Which according to the taxi driver, has the finest sand in the world, imported from Egypt. And on secondary note, when you tell the kids to put on sunscreen, they might only think to put it on their faces...)

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We were sitting on some nice chairs, but when a surly young man wearing a hat telling us to F-off came over to collect payment for the use of the chairs, we begged our ignorance and dumped our things to the sand instead.

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Our totally awesome sand castle

I thought it would be fun to rent a boat, but apparently Chris thinks that being stuck in a boat is not at all relaxing and more like a kind of torture, which led to an interesting debate in which there were no winners, and we sort of agreed that it was okay to disagree.  (I don't really understand how he can't like raspberries either.) But the moral of the story is that we made a beautiful sand castle, and didn't rent a boat.