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Last weekend, though thoroughly unprepared, we moved out of our townhouse to our new apartment. When I say unprepared I mean way unprepared. I had full rooms that hadn’t been touched. I don’t know what we were thinking really but mostly it came down to lost time. It’s hard to pack up an entire house while you have a toddler to tend to who is either begging for attention or unpacking things as you go along. Fun. It took us almost 4 days to move everything to the new place, easily making it the most complicated move we’ve ever done.

Anyway, it’s over now and we’re here. That’s the long and short of that.

Saturday night, our first night here, Bean woke at 12:30 crying. I went to her and tried to comfort her, sensing that she was confused about her new room even though I tried to set it up as similarly to her old room as I could. While I was trying to settle her, I heard loud voices outside and realized that someone was downstairs below our window having a fight, and thought that must have been what woke her. We took her out to the living room and put on the television since I knew she was probably disoriented and scared about being in a new place. While she had some milk and watched Curious George for a few minutes and calmed down, we poked our head out the window to see what was going on. There were several women down below dressed as if they had just come home from the club, drunk, and were having an epic cat fight. I thought, great. We just went from a quiet corner of the complex to one where we hear drunk Saturday fights all the time. That’s awesome. It quieted down after a minute and we went back to sitting on the couch with Bean.

We were sitting on the couch watching tv when we heard…firecrackers? What sounded like them anyway. I thought it sounded like someone shaking a big piece of sheet metal and it was making this thundery noise and I looked at Cameron and said, “What the fuck was that?” I couldn’t believe someone was outside doing some construction at 12:35 in the morning. He said, “I think that was a gun.” If it was, it was not a handgun, because there was no definitive “pop pop” like you hear, and that’s what confused me. I said, no way, and went to look out the window. We couldn’t see anything, and it was quiet again, so I went back inside and put Bean back to bed. When I came back to the living room we could hear screaming and howling outside, so we stepped out on the patio. There were three people below in hysterics walking to a car parked below and there were police cars parked in front of the building next to ours. By now most of our neighbors were out on their balconies too, and someone shouted “shut up!” One of the people below was a woman and she was trying to convince her friend who was screaming to get into the car. “Get in the car,” I heard her say. “Someone (couldn’t make out the name) just got his head blown off.”

We still couldn’t see anything, but the whole thing made us nervous, so we went back inside in case there was still someone outside with a gun. We turned off the lights and went back to bed, but we were both restless and could hear sirens and a helicopter circling the building for about 10 minutes. I could only sleep till about 6:15 because I was really unsettled and didn’t know what had happened outside. I got up and there was police tape all over the parking lot and surrounding the building next to us. The news had finally picked up the story and was reporting that two people had been shot the night before and one was dead, the other was at the hospital. Throughout the morning the parking lot flooded with media (I got interviewed by the Denver Post while trying to go out to my car) and neighbors were talking about what they’d heard, what the real story was, etc etc. Later that day the news finally reported that the second guy had died too and that the shooting had been gang related and stemmed from a large party that was being held in one of the lofts that the complex rents out.

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Later that afternoon we went back to the old townhouse to pick up another load of boxes and while we were over there noticed all of our neighbors crowded around the carports where we all put our cars. There was a woman there who was frantically searching through a car parked over there and she was talking to one of our neighbors, who is a police officer. She was evidently the mother of the driver of that car, and she hadn’t seen her son since the night before. While we were standing out there she got the news that her son had been the second victim who died at the hospital. It was…awful. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the sound that comes out of a mother who has just learned that her son was shot to death. I don’t recommend it.

I told Cameron that if we hadn’t already lived here for a year, we’d be moving out. There is nothing so unsettling as a double homicide right in front of your apartment building the first night you spend there. We know that this complex is safe and that this was a complete fluke regarding location. It wasn’t a break in, it wasn’t the shooting of someone walking out to their car. Over the weekend there were 2 more gang shootings in the city, so obviously something is going on. But it still makes me unbelievably nervous. The whole thing rattled us hard. We might not have felt so “connected” if we were still on the other side of the complex and hadn’t heard it. But we heard it, we saw it, the body was lying in our parking lot below our balcony for 12 hours. We were a part of it whether we wanted to be or not. It’s put us both in a terrible funk that is finally starting to lift. It’s helping that we are finally almost done unpacking and sorting everything and we finally feel like we are home. It’s been stressful for Bean too, she’s been out of sorts and grumpy and clingy all week and I know she is feeling homesick and doesn’t understand this new place.

Luckily, she loves running up and down the hall and going to the elevator with me.

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In any case. Here’s hoping for a fresh week and a fresh start.

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Snow Day! Hooray!

…while the majority of North America goes, are you effing serious??

We’ve had a super mild winter here in Colorado. The last two weeks we’ve had temps in the high 60s and even 70s in Denver, and I don’t think we’ve seen snow for quite some time. We had about 8 inches on Christmas Day, but other than that we’ve just had a couple inches here and there. But we had a good snow fall today! Luckily, I found a snow suit for Bean in a box of clothes we inherited from a neighbor and it fits her just right, so we got bundled up and went outside. She’s seen snow so seldom that I don’t think she quite knows what to do with it!

She enjoyed having some playtime out in the snow, digging out the plants in the back yard and uncovering all her toys. Now we are back inside enjoying some cocoa and watching Curious George. And accessorizing with canvas bags.

The Worst

Who is? Yeah that’s right, me. I’m a lousy blogger. Basically it boils down to the feeling that our lives are not exciting enough to bother you with boring details. And also I’m lazy. So there’s that.

So far this year has been a kerfuffle of house-related…stuff. Crap. We planned to put the house in Estes on the market right after the new year so that we would have time to sell it and buy a new place before our lease here is up in April. Well, because the universe is apparently a douche canoe, that didn’t happen, because on January 2 a pipe burst in the house which has been vacant since November. (And I don’t remember if I mentioned that, but our renter moved out with no notice and our property management company completely dicked us over, so we’ve just been eating it on the mortgage in the meantime.) Luckily, the damage was minimal, unluckily, the insurance company is taking their sweet ass time paying us out for the work to be done, so we still haven’t started the work. Which means we haven’t been able to put it on the market, which means even if it does sell immediately there’s a very slim chance we’ll be able to get our financial ducks in a row and find a new place and purchase it before the end of April. And that leaves us in the rock/hard place position of having to determine if we can afford to stay where we are (not likely, since the rent has apparently been going way up) and bothering to move again with the possibility of buying later on in the year and breaking our lease so we can move AGAIN. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. We should hopefully know in a couple weeks what our rent situation is going to look like there if we renew which should give us more perspective on finances and whether we will be forced to move again.

Naturally, this all happened — literally — the day I quit at the bank. If I had known we’d be eating it on the mortgage for so long without being able to put the house on the market, I’d have stayed to help with finances. Like I said, universe = douche canoe. I’m having some small successes with the Jamberry gig, and I’m breaking out into vendor events like craft fairs and whatnot, so at least I have some small income coming in there.

I shouldn’t complain so much. We’re all healthy and happy and getting by, but money is one of those stressors you can’t really help but be stressed about. We have at least decided to buy a townhouse or condo instead of single family home, since we know we can get a lot more for our money that way and have a cheap mortgage payment. We really don’t need all the space of a house and since the family is not expanding any time soon (ie ever) we don’t have to anticipate needing a larger place for more tiny humans. Plus less square footage is less that I have to clean.

The one golden point of the year so far is that the weather has been fan-bloody-tastic which means Bean and I have been able to spend a lot of time outside, and as a result my SAD is exceptionally manageable this year. Hallelujah. I was keeping up with my new year’s resolution of dropping the baby weight and getting fit, and enjoying doing so, and then my little fitness bracelet charger went missing and the replacements still haven’t arrived. It’s stupid to say I was motivated by that dumb thing but I really was. So, as soon as the chargers get here I will jump back on that wagon with fervor since I really was enjoying myself going to the gym most nights.

Anyway. Enough of my yapping. Have some pictures.

And before I leave you, an exchange I had with Bean this morning in the grocery store. She was sitting in the cart rifling through my purse and found a dollar bill.

Me: Oh, you found a dollar bill. What are you going to buy with that?

Bean: Cookie.

Good girl.

Clan Carruthers is OK

Hi friends.

I just wanted to give a quick post to let my blogger friends out there who might not be connected to my Facebook know that yes–we are affected very badly by this Colorado flooding right now but more importantly, we are okay.

Flooding began here late Wednesday night in Estes Park as heavy rain raised the levels of the Big Thompson River and Fall River to critical stages. They both overflowed Thursday. Our main street and most major arteries were cut off by water and some evacuation notices in town went out; luckily we were not among these. Both canyons to Loveland and Longmont and beyond have been closed and evacuated and a lot of those roads have been washed away. Highway 7 is also heavily damaged and Trail Ridge Road was closed yesterday for all but essential travel, so we are pretty well cut off right now. We have no cell service, no land lines for anything other than local calls, and most internet access is also out.

The good news is that where we live, we are far from any riverbanks. Our crawlspace did flood on Thursday afternoon after groundwater backed up and we got about 4 inches of water in our laundry room. Luckily, we have a sump pump, and with the help of a very gracious neighbor we were able to set up a system that is draining all the water into our drainage system. It has been running pretty much constantly since then, but it is very effective in keeping us dry. We are very lucky that we caught it early and that we only have a small crawlspace. Our neighbors on all sides have been flooded with up to 3 feet of groundwater in their basements.

We still have power and clean water, and we have lots of food essentials to get us through at least the next 7-10 days. The hospital is only 2 blocks away and my OB is local and I saw him for a checkup Thursday, so there is no worry about any sort of emergency with Caroline. Cameron’s Starbucks is effectively underwater and closed for at least several more days, and I am still waiting to find out about my office though given its position I am assuming there was at least some flooding. We tried to get to it yesterday, but the roads to it were closed and flooded. I am about to head over to a town meeting to see if I can get some more information about when the cell towers and internet service might be fixed. I’ve been writing this on my phone and will post it once I get to some WiFi downtown.

Anyway, just wanted to update everyone and let you know we’re all okay, and I will have a more informative post when I have internet restored and I can share some photos with you. This whole event has just been insane and hard to imagine the scope of it.

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

Pondering New Years’ Resolutions

I feel like pointing out before I start writing this blog that I am using some orajel to clear up a sore I have on my gum (from a rogue pretzel stick on Christmas day) and the numbing agent seems to be going everywhere in my mouth except for on the sore. Go figure.

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. What I’m writing about today is New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them, don’t we? Either directly or indirectly, serious or not serious. We all think about the new year being the time to let go of the old and usher in the new.

And so of course I’m pondering what I shall make my new year’s resolution. I always think of new year’s resolutions as a way to set a goal for myself to achieve throughout the year. And I usually try to keep it specific–“being fit and healthy” is way too broad and personally I think that’s why a lot of people give that goal up within the first few weeks of the year. Keep it specific! To brag a little, I’m 2 for 2 as far as making resolutions and keeping them goes. In 2011, I resolved that by the end of the year, my novel would be completed and ready to start sending to agents. Check. In 2012, I resolved that I would find an agent by the end of the year. And that I did too! Now, obviously the next logical step would be to resolve in 2013 that by the end of the year my book would be on its way to publication or already published, but unfortunately that notion is somewhat out of my hands. If my experience with the effects of Hurricane Sandy on my agents has been any indication, there are a lot of factors that are completely out of my hands in the world of publishing. The revision process could be slowed by any and all factors and who knows how long it will take to get a publisher interested. So obviously I want to see it in publication by the end of the year, but realistically I know that’s probably not possible. But as long as I’m working towards it, I’m a happy camper.

(Thought break here–I forgot to post about the fact that I finally got in contact with my agent and we are having a meeting at the end of January when I come back from Hawaii to discuss starting revisions.)

So, where do I go from there? If having my book published by the end of the year is not a realistic or possible goal, what other goals for 2013 should I have? Continuing to write, obviously, is one of them. But that’s kind of a yearly (i.e. for the rest of my life) kind of goal and it’s too broad. Read more. Yes, that’s something I should always be doing. It’s been hard for me to decide on something I want to work on during the year! Here’s a few I’ve thought about:

  • Improve my French
  • Start sommelier classes (fancy word for wine snob)
  • Take a few culinary classes or find a way to go back to school
  • Complete a new novel (again, something that’s sort of out of my hands if the agents want me to pursue one thing or another)
  • Finish the Song of Ice and Fire series (I’m still in book 2)
  • Finish some serious home renovations (i.e. painting the rest of the house)

I’ve got a lot of interests! It’s going to be tough for me to decide. I get thinking about the things I want to do and then I come back to the fact that I really can’t plan for much because life changes so drastically sometimes. Obviously if I get pregnant this year, I’m not going to be starting sommelier classes. Life is always changing like that. You have to roll with the punches but still find goals that you can fit inside the ebb and flow of every day life.

Well, good thing I still have a couple days to think about it. Sometimes making resolutions is hard!

2012 Highlights

Well, we’ve come to the end of the world the year. The solstice is here and now the world begins to turn back toward the sunlight and the coming of spring. (Which is why I much prefer the notion of today being midwinter instead of the first day of winter!) Guess it’s about time to give a little recap of the year maybe!

2012 came in snowy, cold, and windy here in Estes Park. We spent a lot of time up in the Park snowshoeing and exploring. Here’s the highlights of the year!

In late January, we brought Sherlock home from the shelter.

In early February we went on a short vacation to Ouray (near Telluride) in the San Juans and it was AWESOME! We spent time at the hot springs and we got to go sledding and snow mobiling in the mountains (well, for a little, till Cameron dumped the snow mobile in 16 feet of powder). We also got to go on a zip line! It was so much fun.

Standing on the side of the Million Dollar Highway outside Ouray
Snow Catting in the San Juans before we took the most epic sled ride of our lives

Snowshoeing at Cub Lake

In March, Cameron shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s. Scary!

In July we bought a house! We were able to move from our 600-sq ft cabin into our very first, very own 1600-sq ft house.

Over the summer I got to see Florence and the Machine (birthday gift from Cameron) and Mumford & Sons at Red Rocks Amphitheater. AMAZING.

September brought a trip to Santa Fe to visit the renaissance festival there. One of my favorites!

In October, of course, we ate candy. Just kidding–we got married!

Right after the wedding, I got an offer from a literary agency to represent me and my book.

This year was my first Thanksgiving! It was nummy.

Mom approved.

Some other photo highlights, in no particular order:

Saints versus Broncos

Colorado Renaissance Festival

Hiking Lily Mountain

Christmas cookie party

Home renovations

Playing Lady Macbeth for an acting class (wish I’d gotten to do the whole show)

Samhain festivities

Sugar Skull Dancer and Queen of the Ravens

Singing with the Oratorio Society of Estes Park

My 24th birthday

Cameron’s 29th birthday

Hard to believe that 2013 is already upon us. We are leaving almost immediately as the new year comes in and heading to Hawaii for 3. Whole. Weeks. Good lordy I can’t wait to be a beach bum for a while. We are also hoping that 2013 might include a mini Carruthers joining the family–keep your fingers crossed for us!