Sunday, September 30, 2012

our last fall in Colorado

Fall in Colorado is pretty spectacular.  The aspen trees turn golden and buttery shades of yellows, oranges, and hints of red.  Pockets of these colors are peppered all over the mountainsides in the Rockies, bringing flocks of photographers of all kinds to halting stops alongside the narrow and windy roads.  Each year, tons of photos pop up on the internet and news, boasting the beauty of the Rockies.  Each year we've lived here, I've wanted to drive on the well-known scenic bypass known as Peak to Peak.  Each year, we've either not been able to, or have missed the window of time when the colors are at their best.

That is, until today.  I *made* the family take a drive today to check out what I've only seen on tv or computer, or have heard from friends who tell me that I 'simply must go'.  For the most part, it was an enjoyable day...a few tears and whines, a few short tempers and not-so-nice tones of voice, and possibly a little pee on Brynn's jean leg from an awkward outdoor squat gone awry...but all in all, a nice day.  My body aches, my head aches, and my eyes are rather than talk (type), I'll let the photos do the work...

tossing rocks into Boulder Creek

most everyone liked the rock...

Estes elk...intruding on a lawn, or showing their political affiliation?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Everything's Bigger in Texas

When Randy and I moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado in 2005, we didn't know much about the state (read: nothing, except that there were mountains, the Broncos, and it was 1800 miles away from the only state I'd ever called home).  We were newly married, after spending the great majority of our relationship in a 'long distance' status.  Soon after moving here, we found out we were expecting our first little one.  The family we wanted to start (eventually) was starting right away.

Learning how to be married, how to live in a new state, how to own our own home, and how to adjust to parenthood presented us with a lot of ups and downs, tears and smiles, sacrifices and opportunities.  Randy and I had to band together to face adversities, lean on one another during times of stress and sadness, and celebrate our happiness as a smaller familial unit than I was used to.  This isn't to say that we haven't made ** friends while living here.  We have enjoyed many holidays (as well as 'regular days') with probably the sweetest and most genuine family to ever grace this planet.  They have truly become our Colorado family, and have been so generous and caring.  I have been blessed to teach in an awesome school in a fantastic community, where I have met some of my absolute dearest and best friends and greatest families. 

And then there's our child care.  We have been so, so fortunate to have had our children cared for by the sweetest people; in-home daily care, occasional care on as-needed basis, pre-school, and now elementary school.  Everyone who has taken care of our children when we were not able to has loved and cared for them dearly, and for that care we are beyond grateful.

Colorado has been an absolutely amazing place to begin our marriage, begin our family, raise our family, and strengthen our marriage through all of the joys (and tears) that come along with three young kids, two dogs, two demanding jobs, and a household.  I honestly can't put into words how happy we have been living in this state.  I'd never pictured calling any place besides Pennsylvania 'home', but my heart has a tender spot for the purple mountains majesty to the west, the amber waves of grain to our east, and the loving circle of friends we've adopted as family over the years.  Colorado definitely has taken over as 'home' in my heart.

But, as one of my favorite icons, Marilyn Monroe has said, "sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together".  

While Colorado has been so, so good to us, the challenge of Randy's obscure schedule has always put an asterisk on our otherwise ideal life.  It's a tough thing to have someone working an on-call schedule in your household.  It is exhausting for the person working the schedule, as well as for the parent who is left behind to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the household.  The fact that the phone can ring at any given moment is a grey cloud hanging overhead the spontaneity of life with young kids.  Scheduling--nearly anything--proves to be a huge challenge.  In general, it's not ideal for family life.  

Which is why we've been looking for a change.  Randy's known for some time that he needs (wants) to get out of the field, chart a different career path, and find other opportunities that will broaden his horizons within the oil and gas field.

Enter GE.  A few weeks back, Randy flew down to Houston for an interview, and came home with a good feeling that things went well.  Soon after, he received news that indeed, things went well, and they were going to make him a formal offer.  We had been discussing the possibility/probability of our family making this giant leap in the southeast direction, so when the offer came in, it didn't take a lot of conversation for his signature to appear on the line.  Thus, the decision to move our family to Texas was made.

I'm not going to lie.  When Randy called me at work to tell me he'd been offered the position, I cried.  Here I was, sitting in my classroom (empty, as my class was in P.E.), looking around at the little desks soon to be filled with the sweet little children who would soon find out that their teacher was moving away.  I was in the place I've been blessed to work for nearly 8 years, where I was able to pursue my passion for a career I'd chosen at the age of 5.  The connection I have with the school community is so rooted, and it is going to be so hard to leave.

But, the opportunities that lay ahead for my husband and are family are so wonderful.  I am so proud of Randy's dedication to making life exponentially better for our children.  His confidence, excitement, and commitment give me such pride and optimism as we face new changes and adjustments in our lives.  We're looking forward to life outside of Houston.  Brynn can't wait to live closer to the beach (Galveston Island), while Raegan is aloof to the situation entirely.  Gavin, well, he's excited for sure, but I think his personality leaves him with a little trepidation at the uncertainty of school/friends/sports.  But, we reassure him, often.  

As for me?  I'm going to spend a little time acclimating our family to the new surroundings and lifestyle before jumping back into the classroom.  The idea of having a short time being away from teaching scares me a little, because I know when I go back, it won't be to a place I've considered a comfort zone for so many years.  But, I'm always up for the challenge, love the idea of meeting new people, and having adventures in my own sort of way (definitely *not* in the way of climbing 14'ers, skiing, and camping, like so many of our fellow Coloradans!).  I'm going to try to get a position in a bakery for the time being, so I can bring some money into the household while pursuing a beloved hobby, and give myself time to learn the area so I can decide what schools/districts I'd like to pursue once I am certified in Texas.  This hiccup in my teaching career will be a small one, but it feels strange because this has been (and still is) my calling.  Somewhere, someone will hire me ;)

So, that's our big family news for now.  We're in for big changes, big adventures, and a bigger house.  Everything's bigger in Texas.

Until next time...bye, y'all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am a zookeeper

Kids being kids, the game of 'pretend' seems to be an ongoing event that brings us into the world of princesses and army guys, professional sports figures, jungles, restaurants, and pirate ships.  All from the comforts of home.  Or the car.  Or the aisles of Target as I attempt to run errands on the way home from a long day of work.

Recently, the game that's dominated the world of 'pretend' transforms my sweet little children into a variety of animals.  They range from the domesticated dog or cat to the ferocious shark and extinct t-rex.  Today, on the way home, the decision to play 'zoo' was made, and soon the animal assignments began.  The easiest choice for Raegan was the obvious giraffe.  Hemming and hawing permeated from the back seat when Brynn was asked what animal she'd be.  She began with a butterfly, but then Gavin reminded her that's what she wants to be when she grows up (!), so she should choose something new.  The list of options included a tiger, a lion, a polar bear, and a monkey.  Somehow, she settled on an elephant.  Gavin, who typically loves gorillas, sharks, dinosaurs, snakes (and other animals very opposed to mom's views of 'awesome animals'), chose to be a squirrel.  I pointed out the irony that all the other animals he loves would make a squirrel into a one-bite meal...but he didn't care, a squirrel he loves, and a squirrel he shall be.  At least for today ;)
The older two chattered along about the 'rules' of pretend.  Randy and I always find humor in the set up stages of pretend.  They spend so much time debating the technicalities and 'what if's', that it seems more like a job than a game.  As I drove home, I tuned out the rules and thought about connection between the kids' alternate egos and the actual animal behaviors and mannerisms

Gavin, the squirrel.  Skittish, cautious, always busy seeking out something to do (or eat).  Quick moving, warms up to people when he feels it benefits him (food, attention, etc).  Makes nests to keep warm, does not hibernate (Gav's definitely an early riser!).  Quirky mannerisms that make them intriguing, but hard to pinpoint his mood.  Secretly, pretty fiesty...pretty bad a**.

Brynn, the elephant.  Social, loyal, seeks relationships/attention from those who surround her.  Intuitive and intelligent, the elephant (and Brynn) are known to deal with concrete situations in a non-schematic manner.  Problem solver, goes with the flow of life, loves to play and have fun.  Both elephants and Brynn exhibit a wide range of feelings, including griefmimicry, altruismcompassion, art, play, cooperation, self-awareness, and memory.  A brut force, will stampede and run you to the ground (she wears me down mentally nearly every day).  Anyone who knows Brynn well can see many parallels.

And then there's Raegan.  The poor girl has been associated with a giraffe since before she was born, however the influx of giraffes that surround her on a daily basis has been a positive learning experience, and, as we're discovering, an ironic correlation the more we learn about the spotted giant.

The other day, Gavin was sick, so I stayed home from work.  Randy sat with him while I took the girls to preschool, and when I came home (coffee in hand, thanks to the 4 solid hours of screaming courtesy of Raegan the night before), I found the boys engrossed in a science show.  We  flipped a few channels and found a show on National Geographic entitled "Inside Nature's Giants: The Giraffe".  The scientists on the show were discussing how the tallest animal on earth has adapted over many years to overcome the physical challenges of an abnormally long neck.  We only caught the last 20 minutes, (although it's on again Sunday so we've set the DVR), but it's so amazing to hear some of the key aspects of a giraffe's persona and relate them to our sweet baby girl.  Allow me to highlight just a few...

--Showing signs of dominance by swinging their long necks and using their heads as 'weapons' of sorts.  (Many  fat lips, bumped heads, and random injuries as Raegan catapults herself across the couch to land on her brother/sister/parents.  Additionally, long arms (as opposed to necks) used to smash, smack, smear, or smoosh anything and everything in her path as she sees fit).

--Legs that are disproportional to the body but serve as a way to help them as they keep up stride for stride with their parents (siblings).  Ok, we know she's going to have long legs with her super tall mom and dad, but I wouldn't necessary say she's disproportional.  I will however say that she's got the idea of how to keep up with mom, dad, brother, and sister down pat.  Gone are the days of my cuddly baby who watches Gav and B play, observing their every move.  Sure, she still observes, but usually it's from the bird's eye view of the dining table (her favorite place to try and *perch*), or right in the midst of the rough and tumble of brother/sister interactions.  While she might still have some growing to do to catch up to her daddy's long strides, she sure as heck tries her best to shuffle her way right along with him.

--These animals are spaced far apart from each other within their herds and are largely independent, transient animals that do not develop a particularly strong sense of loyalty to an individual herd.  Umm...hello?!  This girl is the master of schmoozing whomever she needs in order to get what she wants, and then she's on her way.  Lil miss independent is absolutely a love bug, but she isn't partial to one particular member of the family.  She gets along with all of us (when it's convenient for her!)

--And, perhaps the most interesting fact we learned while watching was that giraffes rarely sleep.  They don't want to spend time lowered down onto the ground, as it makes them vulnerable to their predators, therefore, they'll typically only lower to the ground for small pockets of time, and the majority of their 'resting' occurs while standing.  If you've lived in our house for the past nearly 18 months (or, spoken to me on any random day during said time period), you'd know fact alone seals the deal.  Randy and I are the proud parents to a boy, a girl, and a giraffe, disguised as a sweet and adorable baby girl.

I officially am a zookeeper.

Gavin, my super squirrel...meek and quiet on the outside... feisty and loyal on the inside

Brynn, my multi-intelligent and creative elephant.  A gentle giant.

My sweet baby giraffe...eternal adoration,  unique personality traits