We kicked off September with a Labor Day trip to Maroon Bells. This was a trip we’d planned 6 months in advance because that’s how far in advance you have to reserve campsites.
I’d gone to a BBQ at Noel’s work the day before where everyone was talking about their Labor Day weekend plans. (Noel and a co-worker host BBQs when the weather is nice. Everyone pitches in a little money and they have a lot of fun. I usually do the bulk of the shopping for these events, so it seemed appropriate I should be invited.) Everyone kept telling us I-70 was going to be a nightmare. It freaked us out enough that we checked the kids out of school early to hopefully beat traffic. It actually worked and we only ran into a few slow downs on our way.
When you stay at the Maroon Bells campground, you feel like a VIP. Everyone else has to ride the bus (or get there before 7am when the ranger station opens), but campers can drive their own cars up to the Bells’ trailhead. To get a good view of the Bells, you hardly have to hike (it’s about 1/4 mile from the parking lot) so there are always tons of people, but it really is a good view.
We saw the Bells early in the morning and then moved on to longer hikes that got us away from people. We hiked and enjoyed slightly cooler temps (Denver was having record breaking highs, so was Aspen really, but it was still cooler than Denver.) The kids frolicked in the woods and we mostly just enjoyed being away and out of cell reception. Sometimes I feel like I can hardly think or dream in regular life, so it’s nice to get away, clear some headspace, and renew our perspective.
We headed home Monday and DID hit traffic despite our best efforts to pack up early. We were all a little grouchy by the time we got home, but decided to pull ourselves together and enjoy our last hours of vacation before heading back to work and school. A Cafe Rio picnic while watching a movie seemed like the perfect thing.
The rest of the week was filled with work, dentist appointments, and PTA meetings. The most exciting thing that happened was Cooper had an “eval” at a local karate studio. He’d been asking about taking karate and they had a really good special for a month so we thought we’d try it. He was super excited.
That weekend, Noel snapped this lovely picture of me running with squash from the school garden. The sprinklers had been acting up and getting stuck on, so we stopped by the school to make sure everything was okay over the weekend and I had to pick these squash before they turned into the size of baseball bats. My new workout program – Working Out with Vegetables – will be out soon.
The kids also had a birthday party for a neighbor kid that afternoon. They had a blast at the park while we made awkward conversation with the other adults. Everyone there went to the same church except us. I suppose it was a good insight into how our non-church friends must feel at our parties, ha, ha.
It rained on Sunday and we had to take advantage of some puddle jumping.
Cooper officially started karate the next week. He really enjoyed it, although Noel and I weren’t so fond of the studio. The program was ingenious (promising parents better behaved kids, they spent half their time giving out awards to kids who cleaned their rooms without their parents asking), but gimmicky and expensive. Cooper finished his four weeks out and then we found a cheaper, less gimmicky program at a local Rec Center.
I helped the first graders in the garden several times during September. They held Farmer’s Markets every couple of weeks where they bled their parents’ wallets dry. (Seriously, the teachers let them set the prices and they’d ask for a $1 for a cherry tomato.) I enjoy running the school garden for the most part, but it’s also a lot of work. The most successful thing I did in September, was a plan a weeding day on one of the school’s flex test days. On flex test days, kids sign up for a slot to go take beginning (or end) of year tests. Parents usually just hang out looking at their phones for 30-60 minutes while they wait for their kids, but given the opportunity many of them chose to weed. We got so much weeding done.
One Friday, we went on a mini backpacking trip at a local open space park. Once again, it was nice to get away. The views were gorgeous and the Boy Scouts camping one site over saved our dinner when our backpacking stove wouldn’t light. (They also ended up being members of our church.)
I don’t have many pictures of the next week. We had a trainer leave (she was young and moving on to a “real” job) and she asked if I would take some of her favorite clients. A major part of my week was figuring out how to squeeze them all in. I’ve slowly picked up more classes and clients during the two years I’ve worked there. When I started this was sort of a side thing that got me out of the house once in awhile, but now it’s a legitimate part time job. I also had a couple of other things going on like canning 40lbs of pears from our CSA and helping plan a blacktop makeover at the kids’ school. On Saturday, I sprained my ankle on mile 7 of an 8 mile run. It was more frustrating to me than anything. My ankle has felt so strong (I mean it got me through a 32 mile trail race), but one careless moment and it buckles. Fortunately, I know how to bounce back from this. The minor injury didn’t stop us from going to Loveland to visit our good friends the Lewises. We split a babysitter and went to the Fort Collins temple with Josh and Emilie. Afterwards we all had dinner together. None of us are really good at taking pictures, plus we were enjoying ourselves too much. I have a ton of acquaintances, but only a few close friends and Emilie is one of them.
On Sunday, we built a fort to go along with our family lesson. Noel is an awesome fort builder and we’re both amazing parents as we let the kids keep the fort up all week.
One afternoon coming home from work, I got pulled over ON MY BIKE. There was a lot of traffic on the street and I needed to make a left hand turn. I signaled and cut into traffic so I could get into the turn lane. Traffic was backed up so I entered the turn lane before it was wide enough for cars. As I cruised into the turn lane a car decided they no longer wanted to go straight and cut into the turn lane almost hitting me. I swerved out of the way and we all continued on our way. A few blocks later, I got pulled over for “numerous lane violations,” but was thankfully let off with a warning. I did my best to not be sassy, but have many opinions on how our society is sort of a hostile towards bikes. I will not rant about it. That same day, Ellen had a bit of a kerfuffle with her teacher when she touched a wall in the hallway. We were both feeling a little burnt by the system so we went for a ride on my e-bike while the boys were at scouts. We rolled through stop signs and hooted and hollered like the menaces to society we are.
The final weekend in October we got to see the Lewises again. We went camping up in the mountains to see the fall leaves. Fall was a little late to the game this year, so the colors were only halfway changed. We still had fun with the exception of it pouring rain that evening.
This is picture from one of our practices, but the last Sunday of the month was our ward’s Primary Program. The day of our last practice, the Primary president asked if I could print out the program with some new revisions because her printer wasn’t working. I went to print the program with plenty of time to spare and discovered we were out of ink. This did not phase me because I had wisely bought extra ink cartridges for such an occasion. I changed out the cartridges and printed again, but the program still kept coming out stripey and not with good enough quality to copy. I changed numerous settings and tried pulling the cartridges out, but nothing seemed to be working. A couple of times, the pages even printed out blank. I was getting really frustrated because I felt like this was a good cause and I had been prepared. The thought crossed my mind, “Have you really asked for help?” I bowed my head right there next to my printer and said a silent and very sincere prayer. I tried printing again and the program came out perfect. I hate to admit it, but I was actually kind of surprised. I don’t feel like I’m one of those people that has regular experiences with everyday miracles. I often don’t like to ask for help and just try to muscle through things (both spiritual and non-spiritual) to get them to work. It was a little lesson on to me on miracles and asking for help. The program itself went really well, as primary programs often do.
I’ll sum up September with this last fun series of pictures. On picture day, Ellen and I negotiated the outfit on the left. A few weeks later, we got her pictures back (the pics on the right). She is such a spunky, funny girl. Honestly, the pink running shorts with the fabric she stole from my sewing stash is much more telling of who she is at age 7. I think we need to buy the pics just to remember this.