The first notable thing to happen in September was Labor Day weekend.
We packed up our Subaru and headed out to do some dispersed camping in the Lost Creek Wilderness area. Noel has an app we use to find places you can disperse camp. The only problem with it is that most of the roads are generally described as 4WD. This description covers anything from a dirt road with a few potholes to steep roads with boulders in the middle of them. There were a lot of people dispersed camping so most of the easily accessible sites were already taken. We pushed the limits of the Subaru a bit, but found ourselves a very private camp site tucked back in the woods.
The first night, we set up camp and chilled. We watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the tent when it got dark. The kids were so excited to watch a movie while camping.
The next day, we carefully drove down from our ridge to do some hiking. We hiked 6 miles before returning back to camp.
At camp, the kids explored the woods, Noel and I lounged in hammocks, and I even did some writing. I don’t do a ton of writing these days. I was thinking about it the other day and it was making me a little sad because a lot of the time I don’t even feel like writing. On our hike inspiration struck and I enjoyed working on this poem I later posted to Instagram:
Love Away From Home
When they were toddlers
a mile stretched into eternity
Now their feet nimbly outpace ours
(as long as the vertical is minimal)
Sibling arguments punctuate
the solitude of the woods
dissipating into the vast space
instead of ricocheting off walls
Smiling sweet on every side is unrealistic
Miles and anger fall away with footsteps
The photo reel of our memory
captures smiles and views
Hearts knit together over trails and years, when
there is beauty all around
The next morning was Sunday. We decided we would head home on Sunday instead of Monday to avoid traffic. I think it was a good decision. It had been so refreshing to be off grid for a few days. I feel like every time we resurface in society something terrible has happened. This time wasn’t any different. When the texts and emails started to flood back in, we discovered that Cooper’s teacher had been let go due to budget cuts. This was heartbreaking news. It’s terrible that the district was cutting teachers after the school year had started. We also really were enjoying her as a teacher, she was passionate and genuinely cared about the kids. We were all heartbroken.
For Labor Day, we labored. Noel and I got up early to head to Home Depot to buy some supplies for working on our shed.
We worked our tails off to build the base. Yes, just the base. The next day snow was in the forecast, so we hurried about moving all the pieces of the shed kit onto the platform and covering everything with tarps. We also cleaned out the gutters, picked all the produce from our house and the school garden, covered plants in hopes that they might weather the storm, and made space in the garage for the car. It was 90 degrees and we were sweating. It was really hard to believe that snow was coming.
The weather forecast really was accurate and it did indeed snow the next day. Denver set records for both heat and cold within 48 hours. It was the first day for in-person school (not that it affected our kids), but what a way to start off. I had a Zoom call with a staff member for a committee I work on and she seemed really upset about how things were going in person. It sounded like things were not going well (not enough staff, space, etc) and the weather wasn’t helping. It was a pretty disheartening day. The best thing to come out of it was this Roasted Tomatillo Posole.
I’m going to be honest, that week was a bit glum. Cooper’s teacher got to say a quick goodbye to the class. The new teacher who had been thrown into the new role was spinning her wheels. The school was making all sorts of shifts to compensate from losing a teacher (one of the teachers is now teaching two small classes of 15 kids in adjoining classrooms). The weather sucked and there was some tension between the parents of kids in Ellen’s pod about what our goals were. Still, there were a few bright moments. I was spreading cheer by sharing fresh produce and flowers I’d harvested from the garden. Also, I ran into Cooper’s school speech therapist at Costco which really seemed like divine intervention. Let me explain.
Cooper has worked with the same team of three ladies in the special ed department since he transitioned from preschool. These ladies are fantastic and have truly helped us through some tough times. Over the summer, one of them decided to retire instead of dealing with COVID and another (the speech therapist) decided to take the year off instead of dealing with everything. I do not blame these ladies in the slightest and may have even made the same choices if I were in their situations. Still, it was a loss and it was really hard that we didn’t get to say goodbye to these great people who have been there for us for almost six years. I asked if I could have their addresses or have the school pass along a letter of thanks – the first request was denied due to privacy issues and the second was ignored. When I saw the speech therapist I practically stalked her to talk to her. Standing there I wanted to hug her so bad, but we kept our distance and I hopefully expressed our thanks adequately. I was so grateful that we had that chance run-in.
By the weekend, the snow had melted and it was hot again. Perfect weather for building a shed – ha, ha. We got all four walls built, which was no small feat. The shed is pretty sizeable and some of those pieces were heavy. It’s a good thing we work out.
We were working until the sun went down. The kids were kind enough to make breakfast for dinner for us.
On Sunday, I taught a Zoom lesson for all the Primary aged children at church. In the afternoon, we went on a hike on the mesa by our house.
The next week we persevered. Cooper and Noel started a “recess” of throwing a frisbee in the street. Noel and I burned off rage and angst through running.
On Friday, the kids didn’t have school and Noel took the day off so we could see some fall colors. We did 10.3 miles total with the turn around point being an alpine lake. It was a beautiful day and we only saw a few people thanks to the small trailhead parking lot and it not quite yet being the weekend.
It was nice to have another off-grid day. When we got home, we learned that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. This was sad news not just because there are a lot of things I admire about her, but because I knew that it would be one more thing to create division. I obviously have my opinions about many things (most of which I am not afraid to share), but I am really alarmed people’s inability to speak kindly and listen.
On Saturday, we did more shed building! We also treated ourselves to some almond croissants from Grateful Bread. I really like Grateful Bread, not only do they make delicious bread and pastries, but they have really excellent COVID protocol which I appreciate.
On Sunday, we had in person church and then Zoom Sunday school. Both were uplifting. In the afternoon, Cooper had us play this game he made up. It is very involved . . .
That week, Ellen had a STEM class via Zoom. She loved it. Her extrovert heart loved talking to new people. We put up our first ever political sign. 113 is a ballot initiative about the popular vote. I remember being crestfallen when I learned in AP Government class back in high school that the electoral college determined who was president and my feelings on it haven’t much changed. No matter your stance on the popular vote vs electoral college, I really enjoyed this podcast on the history electoral college.
On Friday, Noel took Cooper on a father-son date and I did a mother-daughter date with Ellen. The boys did a scavenger hunt and Ellen and I painted some kindness rocks. We had seen some rocks on a hike over the summer and Ellen thought they were cool. (I read way too many articles on how this can violate Leave No Trace and thought about not doing it at all, but decided to go through with it as responsibly as possible.) Ellen loved the creativity, the one-on-one time, and zipping around on my ebike.
On Saturday, we ate more pastries from Grateful Bread and did more shed building. Is this starting to sound like we’re stuck inside the plot of Groundhog Day? Because it certainly feels that way sometimes. Although, I suppose the progress of the shed is concrete proof that time is marching on – ha, ha.
On Sunday, we had Zoom primary again and Noel had Elder’s Quorum on Google Meet.
On Monday afternoons, Ellen has a play date with her friend Lena. (Lena is part of her pod which is why they don’t wear masks or social distance.) We’ve started calling it mac n’ cheese Mondays because that’s always what they eat for lunch.
That day, we got our Biden Harris sign in the mail. I posted a pic with the sign along with this text on Instagram:
I have never had a political yard sign, but I want to be very clear about who I’m voting for this year. At minimum, I want a president who doesn’t want to inject you with bleach, listens to experts and values all Americans no matter the color of their skin or country of origin, and can give a press conference without calling names. If you’re a conservative friend who doesn’t like Trump, let me know if you need a pep talk about how you won’t get struck by lightning if you vote for a Democrat. (Church friends, guess what? They’ll even still give you a temple recommend! 😉 ) And friends who genuinely like Trump, I guess this is a great opportunity for us to mutually put Christian love in action.
Out of curiosity, I checked how many followers I had on Instagram when I posted this. I actually had two people unfollow me and they were both people I know through church. One of the unfollows was personally hurtful. I reached out to talk about it because I really wasn’t trying to be offensive. I wish I could report that it was like a Hallmark movie, but we’re still awaiting that blissful happy ending. (I know time is often helpful.) We were cordial, but there were some hurtful insinuations about where faith falls in my priorities and I began to seriously wonder if me sharing my political opinions was inappropriate. Ultimately, I don’t think I was in the wrong. It’s important for us to voice opinions in our communities about things that matter to us. It’s also important for us to be kind to those that disagree with us. I truly believe in the Christian love I mentioned in the IG post and am striving daily to love others that disagree with me on politics, Coronavirus, and grammar. I am not perfect at it, but I’m trying.
I also had a lot of friends say they appreciated me speaking up as well as people that held their tongues even though I’m sure they disagreed. I’ve also been really lucky to have a couple of church friends who don’t like Trump and are taking Coronavirus seriously. We have a “text support group” that has brightened many a rough day.
The next day, we got our flu shots. Our HMO had a drive-up flu clinic which was really handy. I’ll end with a few random pics of events from September.