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Getting Close to Nature

Getting Close to Nature

Screeeeech! Crash!

I was torn from a restful sleep instantly. Whatever that was, it sounded heavy. It wasn’t someone tripping over a lantern on the way to the bathroom.

Beep! Honk! Beep! Honk! Beep! Honk!

Audrey stirred next to me looking a bit annoyed at the ruckus. We lay frozen in our sleeping bags listening to car horns blaring throughout the campground. After a few moments the car horns stopped and it was eerily silent. Outside the tent I could hear what I thought was a stick snap and some snorting noises. Oh, wait, that was Ellen snoring. Somehow she and Cooper were miraculously still asleep.

Another crash erupted nearby quickly followed by hurried footsteps and someone banging furiously on a door. Our muscles tensed and we alternated between praying and making mental plans of how we’d scare a bear away from our tent by yelling and flashing our headlamps. The chorus of Beep! Honk!s started up again and a few cars and their passengers drove away into the night. As the sound of honking horns gradually got quieter and further away, our muscles slowly relaxed.

I whispered to Audrey, “I have to pee.”

“I don’t think now is a good time.”

I pushed the Indiglo button on my watch. 3:40am. I laid there on my partially deflated REI knock off ThermaRest trying to get comfortable with a full bladder and frazzled nerves. After quite some time the pre-dawn gray began to lighten the sky and I ventured out to make a cautious trip to the bathroom.

No bears in sight. Good. The car was also still in one piece. Also good. The dumpster by the bathroom had been toppled, but the bear proof lid remained closed. This made the chipmunk jumping into our car earlier seem like no big deal. I reported back to Audrey and finally fell back asleep.

* * * *

Camping has long been the ideal vacation for us. Cheap, plenty of fresh air, and the harder things you do the less people you have to deal with. One of our favorite vacations was a backpacking trip to Escalante, UT where a flash flood chased everyone away and we slept in a cave. (Don’t worry, it was a wide canyon so our lives weren’t in danger, it was just really wet.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether we’re super awesome or just plain crazy.

We’ve made a point to go camping with the kids several times each year. Every time we go people tell us how brave we are to take such young kids camping, but we’re sure cultivating a love for nature in them. Camping with tiny ones can definitely be trying. Bedtime can be a nightmare and any unexpected event of nature (rain, bears, chipmunks eating food in your trunk, getting stuck in a traffic jam at the end of a very long weekend, etc) can make things quickly unravel as epic whining ensues. However, it can be fun too. I guess you can say we’re beginning to understand what it means to “Come What May and Love it.

In spite or maybe because of all the crazy stuff that happened this weekend (and the bear was only part of it) we had some good laughs and enjoyed some of this beautiful world we live in. Photographic evidence to follow.

 

My Newest Gear Acquisition, Ergo My Favorite

My Newest Gear Acquisition, Ergo My Favorite

I’ve tried to keep things fairly simple with my baby gear. The nurseries have been free of bells and whistles and I’ve even forgone a lot of things that I’ve heard make motherhood more convenient. (I mean I didn’t own a Boppy pillow till Baby #2 and even then I DIYed it.)  However, when it comes to actual baby gear, you know the things that help me haul my baby from point A to point B, I don’t scrimp. I’m a momma on the go, so I need my stuff to be effective and reliable.  With great care (and sometimes plain old luck) I’ve curated my collection: my beloved Maclaren that’s traveled all over the country (literally), the versatile and trusty Chariot, and the handy Kelty child carrier that’s seen more 14ers than your average Coloradan. My most recent acquisition is one that I wish I had purchased three years ago.

The Ergo makes me feel like Super Mom. (And no the baby isn't mine.)
The Ergo makes me feel like Super Mom. (And no the 2nd baby isn’t mine.)

I’ve been coveting an Ergo Baby for quite some time, but haven’t been able to talk myself into buying one because I’m cheap and it seems silly to get one this late in the game. However, my growing distaste for our second child carrier (an off brand thrift store find), a little extra Etsy shop cash lying around, and my smooth self-talk about how even if I don’t use it for very long and never have any more children my sister will be very appreciative of it some day  were enough to persuade me. (Are you reading this, Hope?) Noel’s plea for me to just buy it so I would stop talking about it may have also been an influencing factor 😉 I of course found a pretty good deal and have fallen in love with my Ergo Baby. It’s way more comfortable for hiking than our off-brand pack and will be perfect for our trip to Alaska later this year since it folds down compactly. Even though Ellen is almost a year-and-a-half old, I use it all the time around the house. I’ll put it on so I can make dinner when she’s grumpy or so I can mow the lawn without her under foot.

Noel hauling Ellen up a mountain.
Noel hauling Ellen up a mountain.

My main motivating factor in writing this post wasn’t just to brag about my Ergo Carrier, but really to let you know that if you want one Zulily is having them as one of their deals for the next three days. (They even have a few organic ones!) At first it made me sad because even though I got mine on what I considered a killer deal, this one’s even better, but I decided to stop being sad and share the info so maybe someone else could be happy. If you’re in the market for a good baby carrier I’d highly recommend this one. And no Ergo Baby isn’t compensating me for this; pretty sure the blog isn’t popular enough for corporate freebies.

Even Cooper isn't too big for the Ergo.
Even Cooper isn’t too big for the Ergo.

 

6th Anniversary Trip

6th Anniversary Trip

In the “early days” of our marriage, we always went on a trip for our anniversary. Our Spring Break wedding and our continuing student status aligned our first several anniversaries to fall within close proximity of Spring Break, so a trip was always in order. Once we graduated, there was always a baby to nurse so we had to take a two year hiatus, but now that both those babies are weaned (Don’t worry, Cooper much sooner than Ellen) we are able to bring that glorious tradition back, and it was glorious.

Back in 2010 we went to Monterey, CA. We had a grand time, but since I was seven months pregnant we knew we hadn’t reached our full potential of fun and vowed we would come back. That’s exactly what we did.

We rented a cute house in Pacific Grove as our home base. Then we hiked without wearing children, ran without pushing a jogger, boarded planes without car seats, read books without anyone touching us, ate delicious food without anyone screaming, visited good friends way past bedtime (although we may have messed with their kids bedtime, sorry!), saw a bunch of really cool things without worrying about anyone throwing a tantrum, and slept all night long every. single. night. It was pure bliss. Allow me to invite you into our virtual living room for a viewing of the slideshow of our adventures. Pull up a chair, stay awhile. I swear we took out the most boring ones . . .

What I Learned about Happiness from my dishwasher, a catalog, and YouTube

What I Learned about Happiness from my dishwasher, a catalog, and YouTube

Update: the original video was removed from YouTube, but someone posted a better one on Vimeo. Here it is.

Update again: the Vimeo one is gone now too. But Daily Motion has it.

“Everything is amazing and nobody is happy” by Meowbay

So true. I see myself being like that too. I get all irritated with the dishwasher when something won’t fit in there or a bowl has a few specks of food remaining after the cycle. Somehow I forgot that just two short years ago I had to wash all of my dishes by hand and it took forever. Now I have this magic box that I put the dirty dishes and some soap into, push a few buttons and, tada, clean dishes.

It turns out there’s a name that people in lab coats made up for this phenomenon: Hedonic Adaptation. The rest of us call it taking what you have for granted.  I’ve been thinking about this lately.

So, on Saturday morning I noticed we had a new Patagonia catalog that came in the mail. They have the coolest outdoorsy clothes and people that looked like they were having such fun in exotic places. The marketing was working, I started to feel bad about myself for not having those things. Then it occurred to me that what I really wanted was to be outdoors enjoying myself like those people appeared to be. The clothes were merely incidental. So, we packed up the kids and the backpacks and headed for some trails near our home.

It was a beautiful day. We forgot to bring the camera. I don’t even remember what I wore.

The New Hardcore

The New Hardcore

Being outdoorsy gets sort of complicated when you have kids. Long hikes tend to turn parents into pack animals, backpacking is impossible, and even car camping becomes increasingly difficult with all the paraphernalia kids seem to require. But, because we don’t want to take a 10-15 year hiatus from the things we love, we absolutely refuse to give up just because things get more difficult. With Noel’s sister, Danielle, in town this past weekend we decided it was the perfect time to go on a pilot camping trip as a family of four. We loaded our car and rocket box to the brim and headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. It certainly wasn’t like the weekend trips  of our pre-kid days. There was considerably more crying, bedtime was a disaster, and everything took four times as long as it used to. By the time Cooper had skinned his knee tripping over a tree root and Ellen had spit up on her last outfit and leaked poop all over the car we were about ready to give up and go home.  Instead, we cleaned up the best we could with diaper wipes, strapped the protesting kids to our bodies, hid the diaper behind a tree to retrieve later so our car wouldn’t stink up while we were gone, and hit the trail.  We may not be able to go as far or as fast as we used to, but we still got to enjoy fresh air and beautiful views. Sometimes I feel sad when I think of all the awesome adventures we used to go on, but really I think we’ve just made it to a new level of hardcore. For now, just getting out there is impressive enough.

Special thanks to Danielle for taking this picture and lending a hand with the kids. Are you sure you don’t want to stay forever 😉

 

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Yesterday, we took our little family out on a much needed hike.

We packed the kids around (freeloaders) and wore crazy shoes.

The boy kicked up dirt and climbed on rocks. (Supervised of course.)

And Ellen enjoyed being in the wrap for a couple of hours. (Probably brought back fond memories of  her former home.)

Hope you didn’t get too bored of all our green posts this week. We’ll be getting back to normal posts again, but don’t be surprised if we pull out the green soapbox now and again 🙂

Work Hard, Play Hard

Work Hard, Play Hard

Last week we were lucky to have a visit from my parents and my brothers. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t much of a vacation because we had a long list of projects for them to help us with. Still, we managed to squeeze in some fun celebrating my Dad’s birthday (Happy 50th!) and showing them some of the local sites they missed out on the last time they visited Colorado. In less than a week we managed to drive on the highest paved road in North America, “climb” a 14-er, light up one closet, eat at a delicious Italian restaurant, shop at a giant outlet mall, dig a giant stump out of our yard, check out the historic Boettcher Mansion (at least the outside),  prune the dead limbs out of our trees, and walk around historic downtown Denver.

 

A Camping We Will Go

A Camping We Will Go

We decided it was about time we escaped the urban scene once again, so Thursday night we drove up to the National Forest just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and snagged the last campsite. (I always feel a little bad when we do that; I hate seeing people driving around with cars full of gear looking disheartened.) We didn’t do anything terribly hardcore, but managed to squeeze in some hikes, s’mores, dutch oven goodness, star-gazing, and some general chillaxing. We kept wishing Cooper would decide to take up walking full-time so he wouldn’t get so dirty, but the kid had his own plan and wasn’t open to suggestions (see picture of filthy boy below). It was only a two day, two night trip, but we like to think that’s the beauty of living so close to beautiful places.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Back in January we pretty much planned all our family vacations for the month of June – a vacation to Alaska to see Noel’s parents and a camping trip to Southern Utah to rendezvous with my family. The hard thing about planning trips in January (other than not being able to foresee that you will buy a house the same month you plan your vacations) is that heat sounds like a good idea. Well, last Friday when we were packing our stuff and moaning over a forecast of high 90’s and low 100’s it no longer seemed like such a good idea. Still, the plans were made and we set off for Green River, Utah.

Despite being constantly sweaty and nearly eaten alive by mosquitos we had a grand old time visiting Goblin Valley, Arches, Moab, and a few sites near Green River (my hometown between the ages of 3-5). Everyone of course loved seeing Cooper and we of course loved having people around to share the burden of carrying him. We pounded gallons of water, enjoyed wearing Chacos, and had our own three day dutch oven cook-off with food that never disappointed. The shady campground and showers at Green River state park helped us avoid wilting and I believe our newly fixed car A/C was mentioned as a source of gratitude in every nightly prayer 🙂 Southern Utah will always hold a tender place in my heart, but I think from now on we’ll try to pay our visits in the fall or spring and visit the mountains during the summer.

 

Visitors

Visitors

My parents and my two brothers sacrificed their Fall Break to come and visit. We loved having them (especially Cooper, who never had to complain for lack of attention). Their visit started with a giant birthday bash for my now 17-year-old brother, Spencer. We were unable to find him a suitable girlfriend online, maybe next year. We took everyone on the famous brewery tour. We were part of the 5% of people that listened to all of the audio guide’s stories instead of racing to the end to get the allotted three free beers.

I don’t think the bartender had ever seen people so excited about free root beer and pink lemonade. We had fun hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park, Staring at the baby,taking advantage of my mom’s amazing photo skills (Here’s a sneak peak of our first ever Christmas card, I know you can’t hardly sleep at night you’re so excited for it.),

and just enjoying the good company. If you want to be the next person to have this much fun, let us know 🙂

Here’s more pictures if you’re interested (which probably means you’re my grandparents :)). All the good ones are taken by my mom.