Category Archives: travel

Home Front

Can I just start off this post with something I just overheard at my neighbor’s house? In the midst of some argument about something with his mother, my neighbor’s son said, “I’m tired of being broke. I need to grow weed.” 

Right.

Anyway, what’s new! Lots. This last weekend we added two more states to the Bean’s map-o-places-I-been. Kansas and Missouri, so nothing super exciting, sorry Kansas and Missouri. We trucked off there last Thursday and stayed the weekend to go to a wedding and spend time with Cameron’s step-sister and her husband. Bean did pretty well all things considered, I mean, nobody loves being in the car for 9 hours, but she handled it better than I expected her to.

Back on the home front, fall is on the way! With the exception of today (with a high of like, 91), the temps are dipping down into the mid-70s and it’s been awesome. Cool at night, warm during the days, damn perfect. I put out my fall decor yesterday, and was super pleased (read: not pleased at all) to find that at some point between last Thanksgiving and yesterday, a mouse or some small rodent has taken up residence inside the tote where I keep the fall and Halloween decorations. I have no idea if it’s still in there or if it…starved to death…and I kind of abandoned the whole thing once I realized it was in there. Aside from the classic sign (droppings), it had clearly burrowed inside a hay bale and those fake spiderwebs and even ate the burlap wrapping off of my wedding bouquet, which I use as a centerpiece on our table every year. Anyway, I guess in the next few days I’ll don gloves and work up some courage and pull the whole thing outside and likely take the entire thing to the trash so I don’t have to go picking through it. Luckily it doesn’t seem that there was anything damaged, though I have yet to pull out the Halloween lights and see if those got chewed. 

What else. Work! Yes, work. Cameron started his new job this morning as a personal banker. Yahoo! I know I mentioned a little while back that he left Starbucks some time ago, and had an interim job for a short while, but when he got interviewed and hired on the spot to work at the bank, it was too good of a position to pass up. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work banker’s hours when you have a family at home? So, it took a little while for them to let him come on board because you have to get background checked and all that, so he’s been home for the better part of three weeks now, and I know he’s glad to be back to work and getting back to a routine. (And I’m happy to have some income coming in soon.) 

Also, I am going back to work too! Also at a bank! The same bank I used to work for in fact, though at a different location. It’s part time, more than likely 3 days a week plus the occasional Saturday morning. I thought it would be good for me to have a couple days a week when I could get out and talk to adults, plus make a little extra income to help cushion us (we really need to get back on track with our savings because unfortunately we got capital-F Fucked on our health insurance for the last two months)…and possibly help support my IKEA addiction. Anyway, I’m pretty excited. Bean will get to spend a few days a week with her Papi, and I know he’s pretty glad for that. I don’t start till the 22nd, but I’m excited. 

I also decided over the weekend it was high time for me to get my body back in shape and be nicer to it. I’m definitely carrying around a considerable amount of weight that I don’t want to be hauling around, and it’s becoming more and more obvious at least to me. I’ve never been really good at sticking to (or figuring out) diets, but we are making an effort to eat more cleanly and really stick to our meal plans instead of eating out or eating badly. I also plan to start going to the complex gym a few days a week (since it’s, you know, free) and get back to doing Pilates when the baby is sleeping. I need to be better about drinking water which I know is a key factor in good health and I am unbelievably bad at it. What are your tricks for keeping in shape and feeling healthy?

So yeah, lots going on here lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time devoting energy toward making our house more of a home, which has meant a few purchases of furniture to help store things and display family items, things like that. I’ve always felt like our house(s) has(have) not really been homey, more just…functional. But I want to enjoy where I live, I want to feel comfortable here, and I want to take pride in showing it off to friends and family. I am making an effort to find better ways to keep things organized because I feel like it is ALWAYS getting cluttered in here, way more than it should for only two and a half people living here. But it’s getting there for sure. 

One of our new setups in the living room…and the Bean trying to pull up on it.
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Home is Where the Bean Is

We got home late last night from the Bean’s first trip. We didn’t get her to bed till almost 11 but she was still wide awake at 5:30. Curse you time zones! 

As I mentioned last time I posted, we traveled back east to send my grandmére’s ashes out to sea and settle her estate. We had the mother of all flights going and coming–Denver to Orlando to Hartford and Hartford to Tampa to Denver. Lordy. In addition to the flights, we had an hour’s drive to Montague, MA, to stay a few nights with my Grandma Linda, and then another 6 hours up to Maine. 

Oh yeah, and the Bean was teething hardcore the entire time. 

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It wasn’t all bad. She was actually quite the trooper. She only fussed a little bit on the flights out there and got frustrated toward the end of the long drive to Maine and back, but really, who wouldn’t. The flights home were a different story, especially the Tampa to Denver leg. Her upper tooth either came through or was mighty close to because she woke from a deep sleep on Papi’s lap and screamed bloody murder for 45 minutes. Needless to say I’m happy to be home.

Overall, the trip was good and I’m glad to have gone. We visited with a lot of family I haven’t seen in a really long time and spent time in the place we had gone for many summers when I was a kid. The Bean tried lobster for the first time and dipped her toes in the Atlantic Ocean and met the biggest Newfoundland I have ever seen in my life. In addition to sending my grandmére’s ashes out to sea (along with her dog’s, Cappy), her sons also settled her estate and decided who would take which of her antiques and family items, since she only specified in her will that everything would be split four ways. She had a good number of very old antique furniture items, a lot of jewelry, and many pieces of sculpture and painting that she had done. My dad graciously gave me out of his share of the inheritance a large hallway mirror built around 1820 in France that we assume has been in the family since then. I also received a few pieces of her jewelry including a silver cuff bracelet with two whale tails, which I was really happy to get because I remember her wearing it often and it matches the whale tail pendant that Cameron got for me in Hawaii. 

And Bean almost started crawling while we were away.

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Crafty Mama!

I like crafts. I like making stuff. Lately I have had a little less time than I’d like to make stuff. Go figure. But, I was trolling around Instagram the other day and came across one of those signs you can have made with your baby’s birth stats on them. They seem to be all over sites like Etsy and for a wild second I thought, that would be a cute thing to have. And then my mind came to a screeching halt and I went….wait a minute! I don’t need to pay all that money for one of those! I can make that myself!

So after our early morning walk in Wash Park last week we trucked off down the highway to the nearest Michael’s (since we don’t shop at Hobby Lobby anymore) and picked up supplies for my project. I spent a lot of time wandering up and down the aisles looking at things that the Bean and I will be able to do soon–chalk and crayons and foam letter projects…oh I’m so stoked. I found these crayons that are egg-shaped and meant for toddler hands, so can you say stocking stuffer?! Oh boy.

Anyhoo, we escaped without anything other than what I needed (what a shock) and I got to work. I decided to stencil the whole thing because I am lousy at free-hand, so while it came out looking better it also took forever because I had to let the previous letter dry before I could lay down the next stencil. Anyway, here’s my finished product!

I’m pretty proud of it. I guess I could have done better at centering the lines a little more but whatever. I like it and it’s made by hand by ME! 

In other news, we are getting ready for Bean’s first trip and first airplane ride. We are going to Maine for a week to help settle my grandma’s estate (she passed in February) and send her ashes off to sea. Cameron won’t be able to come because he is about to start a new job, but I’ll be traveling with both my parents which eases my mind a little bit. The flight situation is less than ideal because we fly very early from Denver to Orlando and then to Hartford (yuck) where we’ll be picking up a rental and driving up to Montague, MA to spend a couple nights with my grandma and grandpa before driving the rest of the way to Maine. Luckily, this means we’ll get to see all our family still in Mass and the Bean will get to meet her Nana and her great uncles. I’m excited to go back to my second “home.” My mom grew up there and almost all of her family is still there so we spent a lot of time in the summers there, and I lived there for a year during my freshman year of college. We visited two years ago for an afternoon, but I haven’t been back to Maine in almost 10 years. Can you say…..lobster!!!

We are also super close to crawling. Bean will lean way forward on her legs and rock her butt back and forth and has recently been holding her belly off the floor too, so I know she’s getting close to getting it. Everyone said to put toys just out of her reach to entice her but weirdly I’m having better luck with food. Apparently she, just like her mama, is highly motivated by food.

Bean has been an absolute chatterbox lately and has been very close to “Dada” and “Mama” though I don’t know if she has actual association with them yet or is just repeating what we say. She says “baba” pretty regularly. She has the sweetest voice and I am so happy to hear her talk to me. 

Escape

This last weekend, Caroline and I (and my parents) went to Santa Fe. It was a very much-needed escape from Estes Park. Cameron had to stay behind to get his store opened back up, but since he was busy and there was a road out of town, I figured I would take advantage of it and got out of dodge.

The reasoning was mostly emotional. The last week had been such a wild roller coaster that I really needed a break. I have, just like everyone else up here, been going through a sort of grieving process after the floods. Nobody here was left unaffected in some way, whether big or small. I saw so many people going through the different stages of grieving last week and it was getting hard for me to handle because I still wasn’t coping myself. Town is opening back up and people are getting back to “normal” but there’s still a LOT of people who are displaced, without running water, electricity, phones, their houses…it’s a lot going on. Cameron’s Starbucks reopened on Saturday, which I think will be a help to a lot of people because it allows them a place to be if they need some normalcy. Anyway, after last week I was emotionally wrecked and exhausted and when the opportunity to get out presented itself, I took it. 

My parents and I go to Santa Fe every September to attend the yearly renaissance festival there, so that was the primary motivation for the trip. I was hoping to be able to go to the faire both days as is the norm, but I found out pretty early on Saturday that it just wasn’t going to happen. My endurance in the last few weeks has really tanked, probably another side effect of all the emotional upheaval I’ve gone through lately. By 11 that morning my feet were just killing me and I was not doing great in the heat (even though it was only in the low 70s). I actually went back to the hotel around 2 and had to lie down and go back to pick up my parents later. It was just harder than I thought it would be, so clearly I under-estimated this whole eight-months-pregnant thing!

Sunday I opted not to go back to the faire because I was really concerned about overdoing it especially being so far from home. (It’s about a 5 1/2 hour drive from Santa Fe to my parents’ house, and now because of the roads, another 2 1/2 hours to Estes.) I took my parents back to the faire and then spent the rest of the morning on the old town plaza. If you’re not in the know, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the country, and some of the buildings there date back 400 years. So it’s pretty neat if you’re a history nerd like myself. I spent some time in the Palace of the Governors and the New Mexico History Museum where I was really intrigued by a display called “tesoro de devocion/treasures of devotion” and it was full of sculptures and paintings of Jesus and other important Catholic figures done by Hispanic/Spanish artists all the way back into the 1500s. I’m not religious at all but the mythology of religion at large interests me, so it was cool to see a different spin on the traditional Christian figures. After that I walked over to the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi and the Loretto Chapel. Again, not religious, but church architecture amazes me and the Loretto is sort of the holy grail of amazing design. Inside this (relatively) small chapel is this spiral staircase that they call the “Miraculous” staircase. Basic rundown of this story, in the late 1870s there was no way for the sisters to climb from the chapel up into the loft, so they put out a call for a carpenter to come and build them a staircase. No one came, so finally in desperation they did a novena (or however that goes, my knowledge of Christian rituals is fairly limited) and on the last day of the novena, a carpenter arrived with nothing but his tool belt and a donkey. He proceeded to build this amazingly beautiful spiral staircase without a single piece of “hardware”, no nails, nothing. It makes 3 360 degree turns seemingly without any support whatsoever. He refused any offer of payment and when he was finished, he left without a word. Naturally I’m sure you can see where the idea of the “miraculous” comes in, and the whole thing really is spectacular however it came to be built. The railings have since been added because the sisters were afraid to walk up it without them, and today it is only used for photo ops for weddings and things like that, and the chapel itself is similarly only used for weddings and special services, which allows it to stay in pretty pristine condition for being well over 200 years old. It was pretty remarkable.

I spent the rest of the day taking advantage of the WalMart there, since Cameron needed some new shoes and unless we order things it could be weeks until we get down the hill again. I ended up picking up a few pairs of leggings (thank you thank you thank you fashion gods for deciding leggings are still popular) since it has been quite chilly at home and I needed something warmer than skirts. I also went to Home Depot and bought another sump pump, since it would be stupid not to have a backup (ours has still been running constantly for nearly 2 weeks) and I’m pretty sure no one in Colorado has any right now (again, unless we order it we’d have to wait to go get it anyway) it seemed like a good time to take advantage of the opportunity. Monday morning we packed up the hotel room, had breakfast, and went back up to the plaza to visit 2 of my parents’ favorite stores, a Christmas shop and a super-hippie store, neither of which I’d ever been to. I picked up a couple doodads at the Christmas store and a bumper sticker at the hippie store that reads “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” (Every year my parents bring me back a good one; the last few years it’s been the quote “Well-behaved women rarely make history” or whatever the actual quote is, I think I might be paraphrasing that.) Anyhoo, after that we headed up north. The ride back was a lot more uncomfortable than it was going down, I think in large part to Caroline shifting down lower than normal. I also think the leggings I was wearing were a little too tight because by the time we got home my feet looked like massive sausages…

I waited till this morning to come back to Estes since the drive is so long these days. It meant leaving really early so I could get to work at a semi-decent time, but it’s good to be home, or at least in the same location as my husband. I’m not necessarily crazy about being here still, but it’s with him and that’s good enough for me. I pretty much came straight to work, so I still have to unpack and go to the laundromat (because of the sump pump our washer is still out of commission, since we don’t want to overload the pipes) and go grocery shopping after work today. So much for vacation right? Maybe if I’m lucky today I will get some writing done before I totally poop out. I have to go back down on Saturday for my baby shower, though it seems with the floods the majority of the people (who are in Estes) won’t be able to come, so it looks like it will be a pretty small affair, more family than anything. I think I’ll be staying down there since nearly 6 hours of driving in one day to attend a 3-hour party sounds lousy, but Cameron will probably come down Sunday to watch football with us and then we can caravan back home together that afternoon. Having to take such a circuitous route out of Estes is going to get really old really fast, so I hope some other route might open up soon…the earliest we’ve heard for Highway 36 is December 1, and I doubt we’ll be going anywhere at that point no matter how long it takes to get there.

But at least for the time being, I have this outside my window….

I’m Feeling Fine

Seriously, I’m gonna start coming up with stupid, sarcastic responses to that question. How are you feeling? I know this is apparently one of those things pregnant women have to put up with (preparing me for the touching stage? who knows) but I swear I get asked that a dozen times a day. Always the first question right off the bat. And then the conversation stops when I say I’m feeling fine. Did that answer disappoint them? Were they expecting me to say I feel like shit? Maybe a pregnant woman who feels great is too boring or something. Sometimes I feel (and I should point out that I’m not directing any of this at anyone in particular, this is just a completely generic pregnant lady vent) like the rest of my life and what’s happening in it is now irrelevant because of the baby. Nobody seems to want to talk to me about much except how am I feeling. So, yeah. That’s fun.

18 weeks

However, on the positive side, we have our ultrasound on Tuesday! So excited. Assuming we do find out the gender (because I’m prepared for the possibility that we might not be able to get a clear enough picture), I will not be announcing it until the shower in late September. My mom doesn’t want to know till then, and I want to respect her feelings, but it’s also our baby and I frankly have to know who’s in there. So if I don’t let you know–nothing personal. I don’t want to tell too many people (i.e. anyone outside my closest circle of girlfriends because let’s face it, someone’s gonna have to know) because it will inevitably get out on Facebook and mom will hear via third party and that will be a situation I don’t want to get into. So, tight lipped till the shower reveal. Which will be more fun anyway, I think, because that way we can play gender reveal games and have the cool reveal cake and–my biggest reason for waiting–not end up with 5 million pieces of pink/blue clothing, etc. Today our neighbor had a yard sale and they had some baby stuff, so we made out with a nearly brand new Pack n’ Play with a changing table, a toddler stroller, bath toys, and a couple boxes of clothing all for $20. Major score! It just doesn’t make sense to buy everything new because let’s face it, baby stuff is expensive and most of the time you don’t use it for very long (especially clothes), which is why some baby things are just fine second hand. I saw the Pack n’ Play out in the yard this morning when I went to work and when it was still there when I got home I knew I had to grab it. Definitely will come in handy when we visit MeMe and Papi. 

Cameron and I are going to North Carolina tomorrow to see his uncle Scott and girlfriend Denise get married. They recently moved out to Wilmington from Colorado. I have never been to that part of the country (well, I was there as an infant, but I’m not sure that counts) so I’m excited. We get in late on Thursday but have almost all day Friday to ourselves, so we are planning to spend the day driving out to the coast to see some of the sights, hopefully including some Civil War sites. The wedding is on Saturday and unfortunately we have to leave very early on Sunday, so it will be a short trip, but it will still be nice to get out of town for a while. The craziness has officially descended upon us and I am at that stage when I would rather drive 40 minutes down the valley to go grocery shopping than brave the Safeway here. I will do anything to avoid going to the grocery store here right now–which usually means sending Cameron. Sorry hun. 

In parting, check out this big guy who was outside my office window at work today! 

 

Hawaii pt. 1: Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, & North Shore

First Sunset on Waikiki
First Sunset on Waikiki

Before I begin, can I just say how much I hate this new WordPress layout? It is so hard to figure everything out! Put it back, please!!!

Okay, now that that’s off my chest….

I’m still at a bit of a loss on how to post about Hawaii. After going through all the pictures and deleting any that were blurry, or doubles, or just plain not good, I still ended up with roughly 6 or 7 GB worth of photos. Great to have, but makes it extremely difficult to decide which ones are good for telling the story of our trip and even more difficult to pick only a select few to have printed to put in the cute photo album we bought while we were there. Too difficult!

Another thing hindering me is the fact that Waikiki was not nearly what we expected at all. Not in a bad way necessarily, but not what we expected, so it wasn’t particularly picture-worthy. The first couple of days were new and exciting, but we quickly realized that the majority of the things to do in Waikiki have to do with shopping (at incredibly expensive luxury stores) or sitting on the crowded beach, neither of which is very exciting to us. We prefer to get out and do things and explore. Our first week, we didn’t have a rental car, so we tried to get out via bus as much as we could, but it took forever to get anywhere. So our best days that first week were probably the days we spent at Hanauma Bay and the day our friend Keely came to pick us up and take us to the North Shore.

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As it happens, we don’t actually have many pictures of Hanauma Bay, because we spent most of the time in the water. Go figure. We had a lot of fun there. Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve that is home to sea life like sea turtles and an assortment of tropical fish as well as a huge reef. The water is shallow and very clear so it’s perfect for snorkeling–too bad I am HORRIBLE at snorkeling! I had never done it before, but the concept is generally pretty simple, you would think. Every time I tried, though, my brain freaked out and couldn’t get over the fact that I was essentially putting my face in seawater with my mouth wide open. Needless to say I ingested quite a lot of water that day. Eventually I gave up on the snorkel and just held my breath, which worked decently well. The other problem I have is that open water scares the shit out of me. Hmm. I never got to be around much water when I was a kid, so even though I’m a decent swimmer, I get nervous when there’s actually a current. I also have a fear of putting my feet down on the sea floor if I can’t see what’s down there. So I’m kind of awkward in the ocean. I did get to see a lot of fish, though no sea turtles. The day we visited, the ocean was pretty choppy so in the end it probably wasn’t all my fault that my first time snorkeling was difficult. In fact, the Bay was closed for several days in a row while we were there because of high surf and choppy water. Just that season of rough seas.

Our other favorite that first week was visiting the North Shore with our friend Keely. If you’re not familiar, the North Shore of O’ahu is one of the best and most famous places in the world for surfing. This time of year is particularly good for surfing because the waves are just bonkers. In fact we passed by quite a lot of surfing competitions while we were driving through.

Keely got stuck in a bit of traffic coming to pick us up, so in the meantime Cameron and I explored the east end of the strip and bumped into the Honolulu Zoo. Outside the zoo is a gigantic banyan tree–crazy as this picture looks, that is all ONE tree. Basically, the tree grows new trunks out of its limbs in order to support itself from the tsunami winds.

Cameron in front of the tree
Cameron in front of the tree
Inside the tree
Inside the tree
Me in front of the tree
Me in front of the tree

We thought the North Shore was amazing. It was so different from Waikiki and it was hard to believe that it was only on the other side of the island, let alone less than an hour away! It was just a completely different world up there. It’s no surprise we spent several days up there when we came back from Maui and rented a car.

Keely was a great tour guide. She had an entire day mapped out for us and it was spectacular. We stopped first at the Dole Plantation.

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The delectable dessert in our hands is a Dole Whip, and it was amazing. Sort of like a pineapple soft serve--but better.
The delectable dessert in our hands is a Dole Whip, and it was amazing. Sort of like a pineapple soft serve–but better.

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Estes Park Represent!
Estes Park Represent!

After the Plantation, we stopped at these food trucks just outside Haleiwa which had the most amazing shrimp plates you’ve ever had in your life. Absolutely incredible. We ended up going back a second time when we came back from Maui and we are already craving them again. So good. For dessert we popped into Haleiwa and had some shave ice (similar to a snow cone) and got to watch some killer waves at the beach.

After lunch we took a tour up the coast and passed by several of the big beaches and surf spots, including Waimea Bay, which was gorgeous.

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After Waimea Bay we continued on through the North Shore and explored some of the coastline, stopping on the way at a Macadamia Nut farm and finally ending in the town of Kailua to have dinner with Keely and her family. While we were there we got to stop in at President Obama’s favorite shave ice place before Keely took us home via the Pali Highway. What fun!

Next up: Pearl Harbor

We’re back!

Wow, talk about time flying. It feels like just yesterday we were embarking on our grand adventure and now here we are back again! 3 weeks flew by. I know I know, time flies when you’re having fun and all that, but seriously! Hawaii is like the Land Without Time…did not seem to be going by at all!

Anyway, we had a marvelous time. By far the most fun was being on Maui–but I really haven’t been able to compress the whole trip. When I get some time over the weekend, I’ll be able to go through all the pictures and start mapping out a way to break it up into segment posts so you don’t have to muddle through a huge photo-laden post. I’m eager to get going on that but the house desperately needs to be cleaned and we finally received our new sink for the master bathroom and I’m dying to install it. Ahh, domesticity calls.

In the meantime, I hope this will suffice…just imagine the waves and drift away….