Thursday, May 30, 2013


My new meditation mat came in. So excited, in only the way a few people who are trying out new things can be excited. 

Next on my list? A singing bowl. I have a thousand and one uses for it already! One of my sons’ teachers uses it for transitions, and to get everyone’s attention. I’m going to do the same. But, my meditation mat, adored and appreciated by myself and Sir Cogsley, Husbear’s ridiculous cat. I’ll add a picture later, sans cat. I use Bear’s meditation bean bag chair, which he uses to play video games, so I have some work to do with him.

I read that if one person in a family is mindful, then the rest of the family benefits, because that person serves as a reminder to be mindful. See, I’m doing this for my family. Last night I told Turbo, who was very angry and slamming toys down,  that when he
was angry, he was anger, and did he want to be anger? 

He left confused. But not angry!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back patio views

For Mother's Day, my husband bought me (meaning I looked it up, picked it out, purchased it and then thanked him for my Mother's Day present after it arrived) a zoom lens for my camera. Not an uber zoom lens, this one is 55 - 200, just enough for me to capture those images that are just beyond reach of my standard lens. 

Things like, my squirrel friend here.

I see you, Squirrel, in your tree, playing high up in the branches.

I also caught this bird catching the early worm:

Mmmm. Yummy gummy worm.

These are two things I regularly see during my morning coffee on my back porch. I hope to capture the squirrel play time, the Hawk fly-overs and the occasional stray fox visit, as well.

I also hope to escape every weekend into the hills and trails with my camera.

If last summer was the summer of running and learning to explore, this summer is a continuation of that, with more writing, more photos and more trails.

Summer, the time when dreams seem to flourish, and winter is last night's rest, faded into memory by mid-day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

How a Butterfly can change a day... and Mud Lake

We did Mud Lake today. One of the places Bear's wanted to go for a while now. It's up just past Nederland at an altitude of about 8,300, for people who care about the altitude.

Before we go with the story about Mud Lake, lets explain how a butterfly can change an entire day.

It's out of order, I know, but after Mud Lake, we stopped by Boulder Creek.

This creek.

Hello, Creek.
We sat on a rock by the creek, watching the water roll on and on.

We stopped on the way down from Nederland to look at the creek.
Because, why wouldn't we? Creeks are awesome.

Then, the most amazing thing happened!

A butterfly!

A butterfly landed on the toe of Bear's shoe!

Bear and I admired the beautiful, white and blue butterfly. For a moment, anyhow. A beautiful, butterfly moment. I took a picture.

On the rock, by the creek, with Butterfly on his shoe.

Then, Bear decided it was time for Butterfly to fly along...

So he sorta flung his toe up, to help explain to the Butterfly that it was time to move along.

He flung his toe a little high, though, you see. The Butterfly did fly off.

Along with the shoe.

Sometimes, you lose a shoe, or two. (Just the one this time) this is where I explain that Bear's shoe wasn't secured on his foot....and just prior to this, he had said something to the effect of what if my shoe fell into the water...ha ha ha, he laughed.. well let me tell you, it's all funny until... a butterfly lands on the toe of your shoe...

So of course Bash was upset, and I had to promise I'd buy him the exact same shoes in the exact same color. Then we talked about all the amazing adventures his shoe must be having, what with getting to flow with the water... will a Beaver grab his shoe? Will it swim with fish? Will it hang out at the bottom with rocks? Who knows! But it's having an adventure, one it wouldn't have had if it weren't for one Butterfly.

If you look under the roiling, (is that a word?) rolling water, I ...think...
that may be his shoe, getting swallowed up and carried away...

But that was after Mud Lake. 

See, today, before we stopped at Boulder Creek, and with a mutual goal of getting past my wonky fear of winding mountain roads, I drove the whole dang family (Husbear and Drama Girl too!) up to Nederland, to Mud Lake, taking a long detour on the road circling the lake (we could see it!), because wouldn't you know it, it's hard to find Mud Lake because you have to take the road to Caribou Ranch open space which is closed until the end of June, so the sign says 'closed' so who would think, oh, take the road that says 'closed?' It's a bit unclear, that's all I'm saying here. 

Also, who actually lives year-round in Nederland? I'm now curious, because it's essentially a town in the middle of winding mountain roads without a grocery store, filled with winding long and steep driveways. Who lives in winding long road land? Where do they work? What do they do? It's a cute, teeny tiny town without any real access to a Brewing Market or Starbucks, or a grocery store. Plus, all the winding roads.

Oh, but right. Mud Lake.

Bear was hoping the lake was made of mud. It wasn't, but it was gorgeous, and he exclaimed, as he often does, that it was the Best Trail Yet. 

It was a lot cooler up there than down in the foothills. The lake was freezing, but clear and gorgeous. In one of the photos you can see the lake reflecting the shore! 

Here's the photos - the scenic views come out lighter than they actually were. Mostly, we were in shade.

It was one of the more interesting hikes, I'll agree with Bear, and I plan to take the boys back up. We will of course, stop by a creek on the way down, and of course, we will have our shoes solidly on our feet. Have  I mentioned yet, how much I love living in Colorado?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Button Rock, Lyons

We explored again! it's been a long time since our visit to the frozen Ann U. White!

We headed up to the Button Rock Dam and Reservoir, taking Sleepy Lion Trail. Perfect day for it, and though the parking lot was filled, we hardly saw a soul on the trail.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Smoothies and greens

Greens are good! No one ever eats enough greens.

That's why we should all drink them!

Husbear breakfast:

Spinach, chard, peaches and coconut milk

Turbo and Bear's breakfast:

Spinach, chard, peaches, blueberries and coconut milk.

My breakfast:

2 sugars and coconut milk.

Drama Girl:

Java chip frappucinno. What can I say? She's 16 and makes bad, but flavorful,  choices.

The boys and I went on a cool hike. Pictures soon. Highlights: water, rushing water, a gosling and ice cream.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Of cameras and journals and trails...

This is my summer.

It's blurry, I know. The lens has a smudge. It makes me sad.
I call him 'old faithful.'

Yes, it's a camera.
And a journal. See the bike? 

It's going to be a repeat of last summer, only with a few different trails further out - yes, this summer, I'm going to conquer my fear of  driving my big red Dodge down skinny, long, winding mountain roads. 

Feel free to pass me.

I've been googling some writing workshops over the summer, but decided instead to find a digital camera class, so I can expand my knowledge of good amateur photo-taking. I couldn't really find any writer workshops that appealed to me, and really, what I want to do is write after I go on the trails, to see if hanging out in nature has an impact on what I write. I'd like to capture some of what nature leaves. It's like that dream I had, where the frozen river left such a powerful impact on me,  I couldn't just leave it there.

My dream is to own a house close to the mountains, by a creek surrounded by trees, and a house surrounded by flowers and vegetables. I may not be able to get the house just yet, but I can have the mountains, the creeks, the trees and the trails!

My goal, this summer?

To get up and out of the house by 6 a.m. some mornings so I can actually be around when the wildlife is up!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just breathe

It started with a crazy lady saying crazy things last year, and my reacting to it in a less-than-calm manner. Well, i was calm. But I sent one of those text/e-mail messages people always say you shouldn't send (not to the crazy lady! I still maintained composure there). The response was, 'breathe.'

I took it rather literally.

I mean, I'm always breathing. We're always breathing. It's the fundamental indication that we're actually alive and not confused victims of the apocalypse who only think we're alive when really we're zombies who can't figure out why we like our burgers rare and why arms sometimes look tasty.

Do a check, now, make sure you're actually breathing, just to be sure.

So I took a breath, and read some blogs and books on mindfulness and such, and started trying to pay attention to the things I was actually doing at any given time. Try it. It's quite hard. Are you looking out a window? No. Of course not. You're reading my blog. But are you REALLY reading my blog? Are you drinking coffee? Has your head turned five times to track the cat, the kid, the dog, the boss, the memory that you just missed your deadline, the bill you haven't paid, the money you wished you still had but don't because of the bill you paid? Dinner? Snack? Don't you wish you had some chips? You can't eat the chips, you're trying to be healthier, also you gave up diet coke and chips make you want diet coke, or Dr. Pepper. Pick your poison.

See? You totally weren't reading my blog at all.

I play this game now. I'm not good at it, but I find it relaxing.

I have a busy mind. My mind is busy. It's an important mind, with lots of places to go, people to worry about, things to plan. It's a strategic thinker, constantly playing through  'what if this than that' scenarios up to, including and sometimes surpassing, apocalypse scenarios. I know, I know, I"m not alone in that. Who hasn't figured out their survival game plan once cats assert their rightful place as the world's masters and force us all to build pyramids again? We all know it's coming. I see it in my Bounder's big green plotting eyes.

I don't really want to hang out with my mind. It's too busy, too much of an A-type personality. It's probably got an ulcer and a slight alcohol problem. I imagine it's one of those overbearing women (I hope it's not a man, ewww creepy) with a heavy bossom, crazy gold jewelry and long manicured nails tapping impatiently as she barks orders at everyone around her, who, of course, she sees as personal minions, or assistants. It is one of those self-important minds that think it's all that and isn't afraid to tell me.  Blah blah blah, it drones on and on.

So I am learning how to let go of it, the same way one lets go of crazy, annoying friends. (Note to friends, I'm not the crazy, annoying friend you want to get rid of, trust me... I'm  totally going to be less crazy and annoying. cough.)

I just don't play with it anymore. Oh, we still hang, my mind and me. It's hard to get away from it fully, lets face it. There's a lot about my mind I kinda still love, oh the daydreams we've spun, the tales we've told, the grandiose fantasies of a life in a tropical paradise with turquoise waters and palm trees. It's a lovely mind, but dang it, it's not the boss of me!

And that is why, every morning and every night, for 10 to 15 minutes, I've got this little 'mindful' app on my iPhone with cool little bells that play at different intervals. And I just... breathe. I pay attention to the actual art of breathing, letting my busy mind natter on endlessly in the background blah blah blah inhale exhale... ignore the blah blah see it, let it pass.

I've been doing this for about two weeks. In two weeks, I've been a bit calmer, a lot less distracted and my mind is juuust now, finally, after two weeks, beginning to calm down slightly. It's because it knows I'm paying attention to it, so it tends to do what I would  rather have it be doing.

Natter natter natter on and on, but... not so much anymore. It's quieter, calmer, peacefuler...

All I do is...


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Onward Paradiddle!

Music soothes savage beasts.

That's the logic I'm using in insisting that my sons take an instrument, ANY instrument...

Drama Girl had taken Cello unhappily for three years, so we've got experience!

Turbo has wanted to play 'acoustic guitar, not the electric' since he was 4. He had an acoustic guitar when he was 4, and he loved it. 

But then, one day, Bear came along, and smashed it, like a rock-n-roll star. 

Because that's what Bear is going to be when he grows up. It's why he's growing his hair long. 

Turbo hasn't forgotten this, apparently, because when we were discussing the choices of instruments, Turbo explained to us, anyone who spoke to him in the guitar shop, and his new guitar instructor that he DID have a guitar that he loved, until his brother destroyed it, but this blue one is sooo much awesomer.

He's  now practicing on his blue acoustic guitar every day, while hanging out with his dad, without much fuss, because he genuinely wanted to play the guitar from the beginning, and is interested in getting better.

I'm sure he's going to stick with it and be good. I know he is. It's because he sits like I imagine folksy acoustic guitar players sit, all lanky legs crossed with quizzical expressions of curiosity and gentleness aimed at their audience as they prepare to sing out the truth of love, dogs, mothers and life in general. That's what I see when I see him attempting to fret without looking or strum without mixing up the strings.


Bear, Bear Bear.

Oh Dear. Bear.

He chose drums.

This is not a surprise, the idea of just taking two sticks and beating the crap out of some surface and making a lot of noise is very appealing. He is hoping for one of those drums with skin, like a djembe.

However, (can you believe I just started a sentence with however? I think that's horrid, I'm personally an anti-however-sentence-starting person) however, drums are one of the hardest instruments to start on. I got that from my band director brother who explained it's all repetition at first and not very exciting. It takes longer to get to a point where you can play an actual song or tune than most other instruments. 

There are also the exercises in holding the drumsticks right. 

And paradiddles, oh paradiddles.

Yes, yes I know the drumsticks aren't being held right. Just focus
on the tiny circle of despair and the lines that lead you there.
Also, note, this is not a djembe drum.

His homework consisted of 12 minutes of slow repetitions of holding the drumsticks right and making the 'drumming motion' from point 0 to point 1 or point 1 to point 0, I don't know, it's written in his book... and all he had to do was make sure the tips of the drumstick met in the middle of a circle. A circle... of doom, despair, and the collected tears of every child forced to do a repetitive exercise that held no instantaneous reward...

R, L, R, L or was it R, L, R, R, L, R, L, L or was it R, L, L, R, L, R, R, oh well, regardless, it was repetitive. Oh the tears, the woe of being forced to pay attention to posture (try to get any child under 14 to sit up straight for more than 30 seconds... it's not possible, they slump into themselves, like they have no muscular structure or spine at all) so I did what any reasonable mom would do.

I Tiger Mom'd.

"Son," I said. "You can cry through your paradiddle, but paradiddle you will."

"NOooo it's toooo haaaarrddd"

"I know, Bear, sit up straight."

"There are flames in the oven! I can't work when our oven is on fire!"

"No, Bear, that was last night. Paradiddle. Or I'll reset the timer and you'll have to start again." 

(To clarify:  It wasn't even a real fire, though technically, I suppose flames = fire, but this was inside a shut oven, and ovens are meant for fire, or high heat, close enough. Baking soda, okay, baking soda took care of it, and I didn't make him finish his work that night, because I can see how flames would be distracting.)

"It's too hard."

Timer Set: GO: Paradiddle. Tears. Paradiddle. Tears and Paradiddle. Paraddidle. Good Form! Posture! Ahhrgh now we have to start over! Paradiddle. Point 0! Point 0 wait Point 1! Pause Timer, Tiger Mom needs a drink. Timer, Go... You can doooo this.... look at your awesome paradiddling....

Thirty minutes later, we had a solid 12 minutes of practice (maybe 8, but it was solid man!) and Bear, though he collapsed in my bed from the sheer exhaustion, and suffered from a tired left wrist, did not spend time in despair, but merely explained to his brother how much HARDER drums were than guitar. I concurred.

Paradiddle on, peeps, paradiddle on.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Truth sometimes ends conversations

Big long discussion... and somewhere in it:


"It was weird, I was watching this weird, quirky British movie and in the ending..."


"There is nothing weird about you watching a weird, quirky British movie. You were probably in it."



Sunday, May 05, 2013

Laundry intelligence, aka Not much of a post

I had an entire post written about my typical night. Re-reading it utterly exhausted me, so I deleted it. Then I wrote a post about how one could successfully balance a life with a family of five, and then realized I had nothing.

Turns out I lack the organizational and executive functioning skills required. We're just living in utter chaos here.

The sentient intelligence known loosely as 'The Laundry' agrees. 

The Laundry is speaking to me now, mainly because it knows its won, and sees no point in pretending I have a chance. The Laundry tells me the cats also agree. Apparently, they've made great friends, The Laundry intelligence and the cats. All agree, though, that the growing horde of 'project materials' by one of the nine-year-old boys needs to go: it's an odd assortment of cardboard boxes and plastic empty bottles. He's going to 'be green' and 're-use.' I told him that's how hoarding starts.

Voice of The Laundry

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Friday Post

I came up with this great idea, that I'd update the blog daily. DAILY. But we know that is not true. By we, I mean, me, my alter-ego who lives in my head complaining to me that I don't live up to my potential as a writer, my faithful reader (Hi Auntie!) and my sister, who won't actually read this, but, would totally agree.

Today I'm home because Bear is having an issue with this Colorado weather and for the first time in a year and a half needed his emergency inhaler - not due to an all-out attack, he gets sneaky ones that build up slowly - but because breathing just wasn't really going all that well yesterday afternoon. Essentially, this:

Today is May 3, and the snow from the May 1st snow has just about melted. I mean, April is the second snowiest month in Colorado, and this isn't uncommon, but April in Colorado just feels confusing. Confusing weather is a trigger for Bear's asthma. So we're home today just chilling while Colorado toys with ending this spring winter.

Husbear suggested I need to stay home with him, because if we sent him to school, he'd last half a day before I had to take him home, and then there'd be judging on why I brought him in the first place, since I work at said school. Also, we want him to get better.

Here's a useful photo of my desk, because blogs should have photos:

I got a really useful memo that noted I only had 8 hours of vacation time left (thank you, children, aka vacation thieves) and also, could I post some things on the web. Of course, I'm being charged vacation time for being home, so why I am also expected to update things on the web while being charged vacation time is a bit foggy to me. It's one of those illogical expectations that only make people grumpy when you point it out, so you don't, because grumpy people make grumpy co-workers. Just take those extra-long lunches every now and again and call it even. Or you could do this:

"Why yes, I'd love to put these postings up, will Monday do, as I am currently being charged time for not working, and would hate to waste my charged vacation on working."

Then delete it and re-read the point about grumpy co-workers.

It's the problem with human resources today. They haven't adapted their policies to handle the modern world. We're so connected that a day off isn't really fully a day off - people can find you and expect things from you. You're not safe from expectations unless you protect yourself with an out-of-office message. "Dear Peoples, I am out today, and will not be responding to e-mails, or fulfilling any expectations given today. I will respond to e-mails, and fulfill all last-minute expectations on Monday. Thank you."

I'm totally going to do that the next time I take a day off. Except, next year, seeing as I only have one day left and I need to save it.

Also, I texted my sister three weeks (days) ago and she hasn't responded. You'd think a scientist would be more tech-savvy and plugged in. I think she's ignoring me. Someone should call her and tell her to call me. 

Also, also, I tried explaining to Husbear that my e-mails didn't automagically go to his junk folder. Automagically isn't a real thing. It's not even a real word. Clearly, he's evil.

Also, also, also, he didn't sympathize at all with my only having one day of vacation left because he is evil.