Monday, March 5, 2018

Skunk Tales

Friday morning I spent with my kids before taking off for the weekend. We eventually put on coats and shoes to head out into the March sunshine for a few minutes. We headed out the front porch and rounded the side of the house to a stinky smell: skunk. I quickly herded the kids in the mud room door and insisted we couldn’t be outside with a skunk in the area. A few hours later when my Love returned, he assured me the dog simply smelled from an encountered with the skunk.

I left for a weekend with friends while Damon put the kids down for naps. When I called him later in the evening, he reported a skunk sighting. While my son rode his trike all around the loop in the canyon, my Love pushed my daughter in the stroller when they spotted the skunk across the creek looking for water. Well, that made for an exciting evening.

While I did my shopping and attended a baby shower the next day, the kids played, napped, and visited with their grandma. On my way to an orchestra performance of West Side Story, I called the Love of my life to check in our kids. Another skunk encounter! In fact, I could hear the kids stomping in the background. Apparently, the skunk came back and entered the cellar looking for food. The trusty dog Dok accosted him and ended up retreating to the mud room. Stink followed him. The kids wanted to help get the skunk by grabbing my ski boots and clumping them around on the kitchen floor outside the mud room.

And I thought leaving him for the weekend in a blizzard to wean our daughter was bad...I think he may never let me go on a trip again!

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Four years of adventure with this sweet guy! He still loves all things truck, train, tool, and tractor. We celebrated with family, opening gifts and eating cake and ice cream. He continues to amaze us with his ever growing vocabulary and his inventive imagination. Every cuddle and every kind word reminds me I must cherish the short time I have him so close under our roof. Stretching up every day, he can ride his bike with training wheels, shoot a basket, hit a baseball, and climb up any obstacle. His delighted giggle when playing with cousins would let you know that he adores them (both the boys on my side and the girls on dad's). Going along with dad to feed cows means an extra helper at the wheel. Books fascinate him from the details of trains to the power of volcanoes. Every morning he wakes up asking, "Who are we going to see today?" and he does love a social outing, even if it is as simple as visiting grandparents which he does most every day. Little sister obliges to chase him around the house squealing when they should be getting ready for bed. She continues to be his best play companion. Their sweet morning hugs still make my day. He sings along in the car these days, knowing most of the words for all the kids CDs I play. We just couldn't be any more delighted in our sweet son.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Katy turned two this year and we are doubly blessed to have a second little one in our life. She continues to add the smiles and giggles we were missing before she arrived. We celebrated the day with some cousin time, hiking in the canyon. Then both sets of grandparents came over for a cupcakes and candles. She clapped in delight and wanted more when she realized we sang the birthday song for her. After licking three cupcakes, she got a few spoonfuls of frosting. She's definitely my kind of girl. We spoiled her with a special treat--a spring horse named Blaze. So far, brother thinks it is a great ride (and here I thought he was a tractor man!) but Katy simply brushes his hair and feeds him the plastic carrot that came in the box. She adores the bouncy horse and doll from her grandparents.
She's saying more every day and sleeping more every night. She adores her brother and tries to say and do just what he does. Her dolls are often neglected as she plays trucks with him or they sit on the piano bench for the first of many duets. As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she wants her blueberries and oatmeal with peanut butter. I have to stall on getting her dressed because as soon as her clothes are on, she wants to head out the door to see someone. She is simply heartbroken if I exit without her.
Amazingly, she still naps but takes more coaxing these days. A stroller ride will do it but she knows then and often protests a walk in fear of falling asleep. We can haul her from the car into the bed for naps on the way home from church.
She loves broccoli, hot dogs, banana bread, rice, noodles, applesauce, and turkey. Every day for tea, she has a preference for purple cups and plates so we deck her out in this favorite color as much as possible. Recently, she threw a fit at a volleyball game because she wanted to be out on the court playing with the girls.
Every stuffed animal gets a loving hug and she rocks her baby dolls in the cradle that still fits her too. In the middle of playing, she will drop everything and hug--literally come over, climb in my lap, throw her arms around me, kiss me and then climb back to play. Grocery shopping has become a Katy chase these days so as parents, we volunteer to go alone rather than get the exhausting workout of following her around the store saying hi to strangers (who always remark on her blonde curls). What a cherished daughter we have!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cousin Time

When we attended my youngest nephew's seventh birthday party last night, I had visions of my own days with my cousins. Most of these kids are second cousins but they spend time together and play, making memories like we did years ago.
Every summer, one set of cousins came up to grandma and granddad's house for a couple of weeks so we headed over there as well. Within five years of each other in age, we found endless adventures walking through the hills and creek beds around my grandparents hay meadows. Each little batch of trees became a hotel. We had a particular watering hole marked out as Alaska (freezing cold!) and a little pool nearby as Hawaii.
When we weren't out climbing around, looking for fossils or using our imaginations, we retreated to the cool basement to listen to the old records our aunts and uncles left when they headed off to college. For some reason, we started holding concerts for our parents and grandparents--lip syncing concerts. We set up decorations and used the ping pong table as a stage. I know we did this more than one year because I remember a particularly cute little cousin with curls stealing the show one year when she danced in front (as the oldest cousin, I expected applause for our amazing show not for this little cute girl who hadn't practiced with us at all!).
I'm so thankful my children now get to grow up around cousins. There is something about the older kids looking out for the younger kids--getting them plates of food, making sure they feel included in the football game, catching them at the bottom of the swing set slide, or just pushing them around on the concrete shop floor--makes my heart happy. In small communities, sometimes it is hard to have outside-the-famiy friends because everyone already has a whole set of friends in their enormous families. We have had several family get togethers for meals in the past few weeks and with the holidays approaching, I anticipate several more. To grow up being cared for, known by your clan: there's not another feeling like it. Thankful for cousins to grow up with and to share kids with!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomeroy

Last spring, with my daughter turning a year old and being firmly footed in my forties, I decided I could no longer make excuses for the scale number I saw. I had to get serious about losing the baby weight. I started making sure I walked 10,000 steps a day by walking to school every morning and evening as well as walking around the halls between classes. I expected immediate results. I gained 10 pounds. Horrified, I realized I would need to get more serious about my health over the summer. I started walking for exercise with my daughter in the running stroller. I had salads for lunch. I felt pretty optimistic. However, when school started in August, to my horror my clothes did not fit. Aghast, I decided for the first time in my life, I would be willing to try a diet for my health.
For the last eight weeks, my love and I have been losing weight on the Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomeroy. We first heard about it from a family member who read the book and successfully tried it out a couple of years ago. The claim is to lose up to 20 pounds in 28 days and to reset your metabolism so it handles food better even when you go off the diet. After eight weeks, I have finally hit the 20 pound mark and I have no intention of returning to my old eating habits. Here are some of the tips I found most helpful in keeping up this new lifestyle.
1. No sugar, no flour, no corn, no soy, no dairy, no caffeine (I cheat on this and drink a cup every morning with breakfast). I know what you’re wondering—then what do you eat? Lots of great stuff! Wild rice, steel cut oats, sprouted grain bread, quinoa, hummus, and Stevia.
2. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water. Basically, I drink a full glass with meals and then another water bottle full before lunch and after lunch.
3. Eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up (I basically eat as soon as I get up!) and snack every three hours.
4. Eat in Phases—one (two days) is grain and fruit emphasis; two (two days) is veggie and protein emphasis; three (three days) is back to everything including good fats like avocados and hummus.
5. Though she claims you can lose 20 pounds in four weeks, my loss varied from week to week. The first week I lost 8 pounds (going off sugar will do that to you!) and week three I lost nothing! At the end of four weeks I was at 14 pounds and it took a couple more weeks to shed the first twenty. She encourages folks to keep going until they reach their goal. I would like to lose another 10 pounds but I am sure my body will eventually tell me when it is ready to stop weight loss. Then I will stop the particular phases of eating and just enjoy healthy foods!
6. She is adamant you not cheat the first 28 days so you can reset your metabolism. I stayed on track, but have since had a few days of lapses but nothing has stopped my weight loss so far.
7. Soups are the key to surviving Phase 2 every week. Haylie suggests getting your crock pot going on the weekend so you are ready.
8. Snacks—beef bars, hummus with cucumbers, almond butter on celery, apples. I love that I never get hungry on this diet. In fact, her mantra is eat more to lose more (of course sticking to her parameters on the phases).
9. Exercise lights the fire on weight loss she says. I do the cardio on Phase 1 days by riding the elliptical for 20 minutes to get my heart rate up. On Phase 2 I do weights by lifting at the gym one day. And finally, I may not have access to yoga class or massages as she suggests for Phase 3 but weekend walks in the country make up for it!
10. I weigh in once a week. When I weigh more often during the week, I get discouraged by the fluctuations but I have seen nothing but decreases over the eight weeks.
11. Menu planning is my newest health tool. We used to wonder what to eat in the evening after a long day of work and resorted to frozen pizza or waffles more than I care to remember. No wonder our poor bodies suffered! And now that I have a plan, I don’t worry about lunches either. It’s super easy to pack leftovers!
12. Week one is amazing and it was the only week I felt hungry. I began to notice that every thing I ate tasted sweet (maybe because I didn’t have sugar to dull my taste buds?).
13. I love Phase 3–nothing better than having good fats after four days without it. I love almond butter on sprouted grain bread with raspberries. And I make my own hummus every weekend which we eat in copious amounts for snacks and meals. Turkey lunch meat around a dollop of hummus? Yum!
14. Grocery shopping has actually not increased our bill—we don’t buy sugar or chips so the fact that we spend more on nuts and frozen berries doesn’t kill our budget. Every week I buy two bags of spinach, frozen cherries, blue berries and raspberries, four cucumbers, apples, oranges, onions, peppers, cabbage, lunch meat, Ezekiel bread, and chicken breasts (we have all the beef we need). Every few weeks I have to stock up on Amazon for Epic beef bars, wild rice, quinoa, almond butter and  a can of nuts (pecans or cashews).
15. I have found her Master List of food helpful when menu planning. I do love her recipes (on her website, blog and in her book) too. We have found favorites: Italian Chicken and Wild Rice, Spicy Beef and Cabbage Soup, Sesame Chicken, Coconut Curry Chicken, and Chili Soup. Our default meal is always taco salad because we have the hamburger and spinach!
16. My clothes fit! I have noticed I am really seeing a change in my tummy even on the weeks when I am only losing a pound. People notice my face has thinned out too. If this pace keeps up, not only will I be back in my clothes, I may be buying a size or two down! Right now I am back in all my pre-pregnancy clothes and anticipating more loss to come.
17. She suggests doing the 28 day cycle a couple times a year to reset your metabolism or to do it one week every month. I think we will officially stop the diet after Christmas and just do the once a month phase rotation to keep the metabolism firing and weight at bay. We feel so great!
18. Stress really impacts weight. She encourages people to find outlets or ways to manage stress so that it does not hinder weight loss. For me, lack of sleep also really contributes to weight gain so I am not sure I would have had much success with this diet before my daughter started sleeping through the night (which was only six months ago!).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Branson Belonging

*I wrote this article with my 8th grade class today and loved it so much I wanted to share it! The prompt asked us to write a narrative about belonging and relate it to one of the readings.

As a kid, I moved around a lot. At one point, I counted eleven different houses. That had an impact on me as a kid. For one, we had boxes always ready and very few things we didn’t need. Mom never saved my art projects and outgrown toys were sold at yard sales. More than material things though impacted me: I wanted friends.
                Moving to Branson, Colorado in October of my sixth grade year changed my life. For the first time I felt like I belonged. My grandparents and my dad had graduated from this school and I felt as if I belonged long before I met a single student. We visited my grandparents frequently and everyone knew them. My dad’s former classmates had kids in my class and my brother’s class. I made friends with April, Amy and Melissa. Still today Melissa and I trade stories of our kids as we have launched into our own families. Finally, I also stored material things when we moved to Branson because we had out buildings that provided storage and we lived there for nine years.
                My sophomore year of college, I experienced an uprooting of sorts. My parents moved to Greeley so my mom could do her master’s degree. They ended up staying for the next 20 some years. However, Greeley never felt like home to me. I belonged in Branson. In fact, twenty years after graduating, I moved back and started a family of my own in nearby community.

                The article “Study Finds Americans Increasingly Rooted” seems to indicate the opposite of my experience. While most families stay put, mine always moved. Perhaps having a stable community like Branson where we could belong without even being there allowed us to move around with out losing the quality of belonging. I would not change my family experience. I loved all the new friends I met and the places I lived: Indiana, Arkansas, Texas and Colorado. However, I will always belong to this little ranching town in southern Colorado.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Canyon Fall

The school year started off with a family down with colds. Looking back over my question a day journal, I realized this happens to us every year. I spent Labor Day weekend resting and even took off a day. The kids and Damon caught it the next week which kept us sniffling for a full two weeks. The kids soon adjusted to riding into town three days a week because it meant playing in the sandbox at Ema's and on the playground at school. The elementary teachers have a front row seat to the entertaining duo every morning. When they stay home with dad, they fall asleep in Punkin, the old orange feed truck, as he checks cattle and water every morning and ends up stopping by the grandparents for a visit. Weekends I entertain the kids by having them help me hang up laundry (they especially love running through the pants as they flutter in the sunshine on the clothesline) or by heading down to the shop to ride trikes and tractors.

The creek has mostly dried up though we did have a week with over three inches of rain. In the big mud puddle in the driveway, John David started making up a fishing game. He found twigs, threw them in the water, sat down to wait, then jumped up declaring he caught a fish! Katy quickly mimicked her brother, throwing her hands up in delight and finding sticks and twigs to use too.

One weekend we headed over to see great-grandma Doherty, playing in her basement on the old sawhorses holding saddles and with all her fifty year old toys. After lunch, the kids slept all the way home on a sunny fall afternoon.

October brought our first junior high football game to watch my oldest nephew play. Surprisingly, the kids sat on a blanket eating snacks and cheering on the team. Katy immediately caught on to the cheerleaders role and joined by smacking her little palms together and shouting in glee. After the game, my nephews took John David over to the playground to play on the slides just like I did as an elementary kid. Katy stayed back, turning rocks into "babies" and covering them up with grass. She hugged on my cousin's girls and walked up and down the sidelines waving to everyone.

As usual, October gave us a little taste of winter. On our day off for Columbus Day, the clouds came in and dusted us with snow for a few hours. The kids delightedly ran outside, Katy yelling "noing!" at the top of her little lungs, throwing her face up to catch crystal flakes. John David found the amount of snow disappointing since we couldn't make snowballs or snowmen. Soon I am sure we will have plenty of snow but thankfully not in October!

Our most exciting news has to do with our health! We started a program in mid-September and have experienced amazing results which I am sure I will blog about soon. We feel and look better these days and expect to have many more. What treasured days to watch our little ones grow and interact with the world both at the canyon and beyond.