We had a bug with our websites that made it so we couldn’t log into the blog, which made updating very difficult. It’s all fixed now and I’m on a mission to get up to date, if only for my personal satisfaction. Let’s visit that long ago month of December.
At the beginning of December, Noel went to an Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas. Most of us know Amazon as that place where we buy things and get them shipped quickly to our house. What most of us don’t know is that a large portion of the internet runs on AWS. Noel goes to a couple of conferences a year. They’re typically pretty traditional and sound like a snooze-fest (I feel I am allowed to say that as I used to work on the event staff for a small satellite conference) to anyone outside the industry. The Amazon conference was a whole different type of conference. They had wait lists for conference sessions, dodgeball tournaments, and bouncy castles. Noel learned a lot, caught a bad cold, and felt old since dodgeball wasn’t exactly his scene.
While Noel was away, I held down the fort and made preparations for me to join him out of town on a separate, unrelated trip. One of the things I did before leaving town was paint the main bathroom. We’d swapped out the pedestal sink in November (it was cracked) and decided to repaint and give it a small makeover.
Later that week, Noel left the Amazon Conference early and I left Colorado so we could meet up in San Francisco for the R&D 100 Awards Ceremony. In November, Noel found out that he and a few team members had won an R&D 100 Award for a building analysis tool they developed. At first, we weren’t going to go. Noel already had other plans (AWS conference), we didn’t know what we would do with the kids, it was going to be expensive for me to go, etc. But, the longer we thought about it, we realized this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I booked my plane ticket without yet having childcare and we decided we’d just make it work. Noel’s aunt, Marsha, ended up being in town and she kindly watched our children. Marsha is a real gem of a person and an almost grandma to our kids.
Noel and I met up in San Francisco and headed to the hotel where the conference and award ceremony was being held. We don’t do a ton of fancy things, so it was really fun to get all gussied up. (Noel’s work paid for part of his tux rental and I brought out a dress I’d bought for our 10th anniversary.) There was a fancy cocktail social followed by dinner and the awards ceremony. I’m not going to lie, the ceremony itself was pretty boring (which I suppose is true of most celebrations of accomplishment) and quite long. It didn’t end till 11pm, which was hard for me as I am not a night person. But, it was still really exciting and I’m glad I was able to be there. I don’t talk a lot about Noel’s work, but he’s quite good at what he does and it was nice to see that be recognized in an official way.
We had a full day in San Francisco and we decided we wanted to do as many touristy things as possible. Before I flew to San Francisco I had a conversation with my friend Allison who I admire for her free spiritedness. She was telling me about the word “horbgorble” (to wander aimlessly) and how we don’t do enough of that in life. Noel and I had some ideas in mind of what we wanted to do in SF, but no clear plans of how to do any of them and we left our hotel that morning without a lot of direction. As we went through our day making one decision after another I thought about horbgorbling and how proud Allison would be.
One of Noel’s co-workers had rented a car and we all wanted to go to Tartine bakery, so we hitched a ride with him. I’m such a sucker for baked goods. I wanted to eat literally everything there. Noel’s co-worker was heading onto another location for a concert, but kindly dropped us off at the Golden Gate Bridge on his way. After looking at the bridge, we walked down to the beach and just started walking. We’d considered taking an uber to the warf, but after we’d walked for awhile we decided to just keep walking. We pulled up Google maps and wondered what the Palace of Fine Arts was, so we wandered over there. The buildings were really cool and we were glad we’d detoured. Next we hit up Ghiradelli square for cocoa and then headed to Lombard street. We were headed to the wharf when we noticed the Norwegian Seaman’s church and we decided to check it out. I draw from a deep Norwegian gene pool which added to the decision. We talked with a very friendly Norwegian. He and his wife were there on a mission for their church. We talked about Norway, family, and church. It was a lovely chat. He showed us the church and then we bought some Norwegian candy. We headed to the wharf for dinner at Boudin. Noel had a cold and was starting to feel pretty crummy at this point so we decided to head back to the hotel. This involved a trolley ride and a train ride. Both of which were more adventure than we were looking for. The trolley was really late and the train station we were at only accepted frequent user cards so we had to walk four blocks to another train station that sold individual tickets. We were very happy to make it back to the hotel and just chill.
The next day we flew back to Colorado. At this point, Noel had completely lost his voice. Noel and I were on different flights so he had to type his drink request into his phone to communicate with the flight attendant. It was a really quick trip, but I’m glad we were able to make it happen.
That next week, the kids had their school art gallery. They always love creating pieces for the show. We had double booked ourselves so we made a quick appearance at the show and then had to leave so Noel could go to a Board of Review for one of his former scouts.
That week, our order for vinyl plank flooring also came in at Home Depot. This purchase would would kick off a lot of work for us over the next few months.
We also celebrated Noel’s birthday that week. His voice was still pretty sad even a week later.
That weekend, we were booked in true holiday fashion. We had tickets to the Christmas symphony matinee. I’d bought our tickets during their “Christmas in July” presale and had forgotten that I’d bought such great tickets. We were on the second row! Afterward, we went and checked out the Giving Machine. Ellen was in a crabby mood, but Cooper was enthusiastic and chose a very sensible gift: 10 days of groceries. The Denver giving machine has kind of a unique story. Generally, our church puts the machines in areas with high church membership, but the Denver giving machine was a request by Denver’s mayor who loved the idea when he made a visit to Salt Lake City the year before. The machines got a lot of press and raised a lot of money. We were glad we could participate. After all that fun, we still had one more event: our church Christmas party.
The next day, Noel and I spoke in church about focusing on what matters most with a little bit of a Christmas bent. Noel almost had his voice back. I don’t know that I had brilliant things to say, but preparing was a good reminder to me to make time for what matters most. One of the things we do during the Christmas season to help us focus on what matters most is “25 Days of Christ.” We often are behind and have to do multiple ornaments on the days we do it, but it’s easily one of our most successful and meaningful traditions.
As we got closer to Christmas life started to slow down a bit. The weather was really mild and we took advantage and went on hikes. When the kids got out of school, they spent a lot of time at the pool while I worked. Ellen is now tall enough to go down the slide by herself which was a HUGE deal for her.
We spent Christmas at home. Danielle, Noel’s sister, came to visit. In the morning, the kids tore through their presents and then we went on a walk to get out our wiggles. Danielle arrived in the late afternoon and we enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by our traditional walk through the lights in Golden.
During the rest of Danielle’s stay, we watched the final Star Wars movie. (It wasn’t my favorite of the last three, but it was nice to see it wrapped up.) We also went to the Denver aquarium. It was really busy. It was fun, but not better than the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is something one of my friends claimed).
My parents also came out for a visit during the break. They had to time their visits around snowstorms and thankfully arrived all in one piece. Their visit was short, but the kids thoroughly enjoyed their time with grandma and grandpa.
After everyone left, we began tearing up the basement. I’ll do a separate post once the basement is finished, but this project involved a lot of drama.
The last thing we did in December was celebrate New Years. One of the ladies that comes to my classes mentioned that Denver does a fireworks show at midnight, but they also do an earlier one at 9am which caught my interest. The trains are free on New Years (to cut down on traffic and drunk driving) which was an added bonus. The kids were really excited to ride the train and watch fireworks. It was fun to be part of something larger than our usual stay at home and be a hermit ways. The train ride home was pretty packed, but everyone still had fun and the kids were in bed long before midnight which is what I really care about. 2019 treated us well and we were glad to honor it’s end with pizazz.