Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

I don't mean to brag or anything, but we had a white Christmas!

Okay, so maybe I do mean to brag.  I think it is completely justifiable, though.

My first Christmas with the love of my life, in the most beautiful place on earth.  Life. Is. Good.

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Great Move

While it wasn't easy at first, this move has turned out to be probably the best decision we possibly could have made, and it's not just because of the beautiful scenery, although, the scenery is beautiful:

These deer were foraging not even a mile from our house.  It's not often you see a buck like that without a Cabela's neon sign hanging behind him.

I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful place, but I also feel very lucky for all the good fortune we've experienced since moving here a tad over two months ago.

Shortly after making the difficult decision to leave the farm, I found out that the nursing program at the nearby university has an accelerated degree program, which shortens my education goals by an entire three years.  It's not often that you find exactly what you need for less money and less time.

Then I found out that the application deadline to the program was the day before we were set to move, so I hurriedly got the paperwork in and then waited...

...and waited...and waited.

Finally, last week, the letter I waited for FOREVER came: I was accepted!  So, come May, I begin my 14-month journey toward my Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Last month I resigned from two of my three jobs due to lack of hours in the day, but I will continue working the job I kept--GI Lab Technician--full time while finishing my prerequisites this spring.  As summer approaches I will be taking on less work hours and more school hours, so it works out perfectly.  I love my job and am learning so much there as well--it's an ideal situation!

Just when I think life can't get any better, that same week Clint got some well-deserved, long-awaited news of his own--he accepted a job offer from the city.  He had been working at a "pay the bills" sort of job that was way below his skill level.  I knew it wouldn't be long before someone recognized what he had to offer and nabbed him up--I'm just glad it was sooner than later!

I've lived long enough to know that when things go right, it's best to embrace and appreciate those times as much as possible, because life is not a climb up just one mountain; it has all the ups and downs of an entire mountain range.  However, I know Clint and I could not have gotten to this point without each other's love and support.  I may be experiencing a streak of luck right now, but I know, and will always know, the luckiest thing to ever happen in my life was meeting him.

Love and Luck to All,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tanner Trail

We live right up against the base of the Greenhorn Mountains.  Being native Kansans, this is very thrilling for both Clint and I.  I mean, we live in the freak'n mountains!!

Sorry about that....

Anyway, since living so close to the mountains is still quite novel for us, last Saturday Clint and I had the idea that since we are relatively fit, healthy, not-too-old people, we could tackle an "advanced" trail.  Luckily for us, Tanner trail, which goes straight up into the mountains of San Isabel National Forest, is only a few miles from the house.

We took Sophie, of course.

I mistakenly believed the trail was 7 miles roundtrip, but it actually was 7 miles UP, and then 7 miles DOWN.  We didn't leave early enough, so we ended up only going 4.3 miles up the mountains, then of course 4.3 miles back down.  Even only at a little over halfway, we still scaled up 2600 feet in elevation, offering spectacular views.

The land is nice-looking, too.

Clint took a picture of me as well, which fortunately does not show the exhaustion I felt physically after hiking over 6 hours.   I needed a horse!

For some reason Sophie wouldn't carry me.  Swine dog.

It was fun and quite an accomplishment for us, even though we didn't get all the way to the top.  It leaves us with a goal--one day we will get there! Until then, or at least until I get some sort of more cooperative means of trail transport, we'll keep working up to it.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Weight For It

Fair warning: this is a brag post.  If I had the technology I'd create a blatant bragging badge so you could prepare yourself by gathering your air sickness bag,  map of Indonesia, and a pair of swim goggles.

I have no idea what the goggles are for, but one can never be too prepared.

Anyway, here it goes: in the last year and a half I have lost 55 pounds, 3" off my waist, and 5.25" off my hips. 

I've gone from a size 16....

...to a size 10.

I'm not quite done yet.  I'd like to lose another 10-15 pounds, but last weekend we went on an 8.6-mile hike in the mountains, climbing over 2600 feet in the span of six hours.  I couldn't have done that (and lived) 55 pounds ago, so I'm pretty happy I've been able to make this change in my life.

Not only that, but I recently accepted a position as a fitness instructor at the local hospital.  Right now it is only as-needed but I hope the position will expand so I can combine a career in healthcare with my new-found passion for health and fitness!

How did I do it?  Well, I had to tell myself often to be patient.  The best changes take time, and anytime I tried to starve myself for quick weight loss it never lasted long.  So, this time, I didn't get in a hurry.  I made one small change at a time.  Like a very wise woman once told me, all you have to do is be 10% better each day, and in 10 days, you'll be 100% better!  In other words, small changes add up.  Remember, there is no such thing as small change!

The closer I get to my goals, the more strict I have to be.  Since my wedding I've lost another ten pounds thanks to having a wonderful husband who is as dedicated to a healthy lifestyle as I am (or wished I was at times)!  We support and push each other.  Once in a while we will splurge together, but then we help each other get on track so we can achieve our goals.  It's always an easier journey with support.

I've also recently found an app for my iPhone I highly recommend called "My Fitness Pal."  It is free and allows you to track your caloric intake and output and lets you know where you are at all times based on your weight loss goal.  After breakfast and my morning hike I was actually at negative net calories for the day--talk about motivation!!

Ultimately, though, I had to make a decision.  Anytime I think, "I deserve this bean burrito with extra cheese because I worked hard today," I have to stop and realize how ridiculous that is.  I never deserve to sabotage my health!  I deserve to feed my body good things because I deserve to feel healthy and energized.  I deserve to like how I look and I deserve to feel great!  I deserve the best and I need to treat myself accordingly.

Not that I don't have slip-ups now and then.  Heck, if it was easy everyone would do it, and with the national obesity epidemic, obviously, maintaining a healthy weight is NOT easy.  But I'm trying, and I'm doing.  And there it is, folks, my shameless brag, and a little public reminder to myself to keep moving forward so the scale dial keeps going down.

And by the way, I need an entire new wardrobe now, so if anyone wants to nominate me to "What Not To Wear," my ensembles resemble a bag lady at this point--I'd be great show fodder, I'm sure (hint, hint).

Mind over platter,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tunnel Drive Trail

A few days ago, Clint and I heard about a trail close to town that really peaked our curiosity.  It's called "Tunnel Drive Trail."  Is it a drive?  A trail?  Well, sort of both.

We followed the signs and found the parking easily enough. 

From there it was a steep climb by foot up a hairpin turn to the top, where the trail leveled out nicely to a pretty view.

Sophie enjoyed the view, too.

Soon enough we discovered the "tunnel" portion of our drive-trail.  Clint gave Sophie a reassuring pat before venturing inside.

After each of the three tunnels, our views improved.

Careful, honey!  Oh, why does he have to be so fearless?  Maybe it's because I'm fearful enough for the both of us....

Sophie soaked up the sun.

She really loves all this adventuring....

Why is it that both my husband AND my dog are daredevils?  I really don't need any more gray hair at this point.

The Arkansas River in this area is so much prettier than it is back in Kansas (where it's pronounced the Ar-KANSAS River, which is really weird when you think about it).

The two sweetest daredevils to ever peer over a steep cliff:

Did I mention the view?  Just want to make sure....  Sure is purty here in these parts.....

Clint and I both thought the striations in the hillside were very cool.

After a mile, we made our way back through the tunnels.  The trail is two miles long (one way) but we'll tackle that second mile some sunny day soon.

In the meantime, happy trails to you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


No one is more aware than I am that my life has changed VERY quickly over the past three months.  When confronted with significant change, it is only natural for people to ask questions.  Rather than leave these questions unanswered, and therefore open to speculation, I thought I'd just come right out and answer them here on the blog.  It isn't feasible to do a "town hall" format here, but it isn't hard for me to guess what your questions might be.  In fact, I'll start off with the one I'm asked most often:

1.  Are you pregnant?!
~I never realized that the number one reason for a woman to make any change in her life is because she is knocked up.  I do admit, while it would be a good reason, to me it certainly isn't the only one.  People don't ask, "Why are you making so many changes?"  They just assume, "Well, she must have a bun in the oven or things would always stay the same."  I find it all a bit humorous.  

Anyway, no...I'm NOT pregnant.

2.  Why did you leave your farm?
~As I mentioned a few times, I did not own my farm.  It is owned, and is still owned, by my dad.  Clint and I lived out there for a short time but were not able to negotiate something that would be beneficial for all of us to be able to stay there.  It is a sad fact that sometimes no matter how hard you'd like them to and no matter how hard you work at it, sometimes things don't always turn out how you would like them to. Fortunately Clint and I had a second opportunity come up where a little sacrifice and a lot of hard work now and in the next three years will hopefully make for a bright future for us and our family.

3.  Why Colorado?
~Why not?  Actually, the real reason is because this is where the opportunity brought us, but it turns out we have many more reasons to be here.  Clint has always wanted to live here.  I love it here and I am closer to my Colorado kin while not being that far from my Kansas kin.  Since we are in southern Colorado, I won't freeze to death--it's the best of both worlds: mild weather with a mountain view!

4.  Are you still going to school?
~Yes!  After we had already decided to move here, I started checking into school programs and I found out if I am accepted into the program, I can complete my educational goals in half the time I could in Kansas.  Yay!

5.  Will you give up your farm life forever?
~Absolutely not.  Our goal is to return to the farm life in three years, in the area we now live in.  On a daily basis we talk about the areas we like, how many acres we'd like, etc.  I am so fortunate to have a husband who understands my passion for my horses and fully supports that. 

6.  What will you DO?!
~I admit, it's a big change.  But I also firmly believe that the only way we grow is through change!  Soon I hope to be very busy with school, plus working part-time, plus when my adorable step-kids are here, I am sure my days will be very full and fulfilling.  I have already picked out a spot for a veggie garden next spring, so I do plan to bring a little of the farm life to my new suburban home.  I am also very much committed to being fit and healthy with Clint: we support and motivate each other.  Working out and researching healthy but yummy recipes takes time and commitment.  Of course I plan to continue to blog as we explore the area around our new home--there are so many neat trails and other things to do in and around these beautiful mountains!  

7.  How are you coping with all this?
~While it is a lot to take in, this isn't my first rodeo, and as I've reminded the people who have asked me this, in the past I have always had to do it alone.  Clint is amazing.  He is my rock--as steadfast as they come, and I don't even have to falter for him to be there to catch me.  He is always there for me, so I dare say there hasn't been much "coping" to do.  We've had trials but when you're used to always having to face obstacles alone, finally having someone to hold hands with and face them together makes any mountain seem like a molehill.  So...don't worry about me.  I'm in an amazing place in my life.  I feel so blessed.  

I'm sure there are other questions, so if you're dying to know anything either pm me or leave it in the comments.  I'm back online and settled in now, so I won't be a stranger, and don't you be one, either.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Such Thing as Small Change

You probably thought I fell off the face of the earth.  Well, not quite...just computer-less and in the midst of a huge, life-altering transition:

Yep.  As blurry as that photo turned out (my Blackberry is so old it's now moldy), I'm sure you can still read it, even if you can't believe it.  I have to repeat it to myself often, even after being here for two weeks now:

I. Live. In. The. Mountains. Now.

Of course there is a LOT to catch up on, and while the "funny farm" portion of this blog has been temporarily changed to "funny suburb," there will still be lots to share, including the occasional shot of my adorable hubby from behind.

Dear Lord, I apologize.

While I may have temporarily traded in my farm girl coveralls for a jogging suit and an obligatory accessory cup of Starbucks, it doesn't mean much of a change for the format of this blog.  There will still be lots of nature, lots of critters, and lots of mishaps courtesy of yours truly.

For now, keep checking back as I post daily (I promise) updates of our new adventures.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

High Above it All

A couple of days before the wedding Clint and I took the kids to the Royal Gorge Bridge.

In case you're not familiar with the Royal Gorge Bridge, it is the highest (at over 1000 feet) suspension bridge in the world.  It is located just outside of Canon City, Colorado.

Clint and I both had been to the bridge as kids, but we wanted the kids to have the opportunity to experience the bridge first hand.  While I had been to the bridge, I actually had never even walked across it before, so for me, it was like visiting it for the first time!

See that little suspended red car in the background of the above photo?  Yeah, we took that.  Yeah, I was scared senseless.  Yeah, he married me anyway!

Before that, though, we crossed the bridge and posed for a few pictures.

On the far side of the bridge there are all sorts of neat pioneer-day activities.  Of course the first thing Weston spotted was the giant tepee.

They also panned for "gold," or at least some colorful stones.

Nicole discovered what might have happened if she was a little too showy with her panning loot....

Then Weston found out what happens when he gets too lippy with the law in these here parts!

After we bailed Weston out, we headed over to the tram, which basically a moving cage that goes straight down the side of the cliff of the gorge.  Yikes!

I was scared.  I'll admit it.  But Clint and the kids have no fear, so I swallowed mine, put on a brave face and headed down with them.  

Once at the bottom we explored the river and took some fantastic family photos. First, father and daughter:

Then father and son:

Then me with the love of my life:

Even though we were at the bottom of a gorge, we felt like we were on top of the world!

High on life,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bishop's Castle

After the wedding, we headed back down the mountain to Bishop's Castle.  

The really cool thing about Bishop's Castle is that it was hand-built by a single man--Mr. Bishop--using local materials only.  

I've been to a few castles in England and Ireland, but this one is much, much different.  For one thing, I've never been to a castle with a big dragon head on the front of it!

Also, those castles were built centuries ago by many people.  This one is currently under construction, still, by a single man.  I have to say it is altogether mysterious and awesome at the same time.

Clint, the kids, and I all ventured inside.  Nicole and Weston posed inside one of the very large fireplaces in the main hall.

Past the main hall where large columns that held staircases that spiraled up towards only the imagination of the builder--they are incomplete and quite treacherous.  We carefully made our way to the very top, keeping the kids safely toward the middle of the column while Clint held onto me at the outer edge.  

Needless to say it's a very good thing I trust him so much! Here is our view from the top of the castle:

We made our way back down shortly after reaching the top.  Nicole was just as happy as I was to be heading back down!

We had such a great time there and it was a fitting beginning for us...

...to begin our tale with a castle,

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Mountain Wedding

On August 18, 2012 Clint and I decided to officially start our journey through life together.

It was the happiest day of my life.  I not only gained an amazing husband, but also two wonderful step-kids!

We had a very small family gather at San Isabel Lake in Colorado.  Everything about the day was beyond beautiful.

I have finally found the love of my life.  Simply put, he is wonderful in every way.  He has more heart than anyone I've ever met.

It was a perfect day.

Perfect...in every way.

I'm officially a step-mom now to two of the best kids in the world (okay, I might come off as a bit biased but honestly I'm not--they really are the best)!

Aren't these the dearest faces ever?!

We had a small, family-themed (aka sparkling cider) celebration.  We had a perfect site, perfect weather, and perfect company.  It was a memorable day!

I used my past horse-show-changing-in-public skills to change into something a bit more appropriate for our next stop in our travels--Bishop's Castle, which I will cover in my next post.  

In the meantime, thank you for accompanying us along the next phase in our journeys.  Life is really incredible--you never know what the next day, week, or month will bring. Sometimes it brings hardships, and other times your life can change for the better in unexpected and unimaginable ways.  I am thankful beyond words for Clint and his wonderful family--my life has truly changed for the better and we are looking forward to traveling through life together and sharing many adventures along the way.