Our hearts are full. Melody and I spent the six days between Christmas and New Year building a house for a single mom in Reynosa, Mexico. Brenda has four children ages 7 down to 11 months, and her husband has been missing since April. He went to the store, she said, and never came back. It’s suspected that the Cartel took him but whatever the case, her family and teen sister have been living with his mother, Juani. And as it was, the mother-in-law had recently broken her ankle on a steep bank near her house, requiring six screws, a cast, and a wheelchair.

Seventeen of us from Resurrection Fellowship flew to McAllen, Texas on the day after Christmas and met another group member from Providence Church there, as well as two from Resurrection who had driven down a van full of tools. Our 20 crossed the border in a string of numbered white vans all partnering with Homes for the Homeless, a ministry of Strategic Alliance. The organization has built over 1000 homes in the Colonia of Reynosa, Mexico since 1993. The week we were there, seven churches had sent teams for a total of 140 people building 10 new homes.

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De-icing the jet before leaving Denver

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Leaving McAlllen to cross the border

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Arrival at El Camino Hotel

Indeed that is a lot of luggage. We brought one carry-on per person for our own things. Then each of us checked one suitcase containing gifts and household items for the two houses and families. We packed those suitcases together one Sunday and added rice and beans until they were at the 50 lb limit. We also brought a wheelchair to leave with a disabled child. I wheeled our team member Lori in it through every airport. She is challenged with cerebral palsy but felt in her heart that she was supposed to be a part of this service trip. She made a fun roommate too!

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Comfortable accommodations, although noisy

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A government official owns the hotel and allows the Federal Police to stay for free

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Officer Melody reporting for duty

We felt quite safe at all times. We were at the work site around 9-5 daily and the hotel was always full of police in the evenings. Nothing of concern happened while we were in the Colonia.

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Every day we squished 16 people into a 15-passenger van and the other four rode in another van containing mostly tools

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“Team Gonzalez” arriving on site, with Brenda and two of her kids plus cousins. The house with pink window frames was built by Strategic Alliance in the past.

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“Team Galvan” at their site. The green house next door was also built by Strategic Alliance.

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A single mom brought her two boys on our team

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Our site was surrounded by an unfinished fence or wall

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Our building materials needed to be hauled up from the mother-in-law Juani’s driveway

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The cousins built these steps on the last day but we carried paint and lumber up and down this steep bank many times before that. This is where Juani broke her ankle.

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Foundation stones set and floor framed. Cornelio came by each day and helped us work. In return he was welcome at the lunch station. He received a house from Strategic Alliance some years ago.

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Two of Brenda’s children

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Nailing the floor. I’m actually pretty good with a hammer!

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Melody pounding nails

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Lots of help from the neighborhood kids

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I completely underestimated the role of painting in this house-building project. We tried to paint a lot of the wood before it was used but weren’t fast enough, even with all the “help.” The first day we had carried all the materials up to the work site and then we found most of the wood back down under the covered driveway the next day. The family had moved it all back overnight. We were fortunate to have this area to work. The family’s dog, Negra (“Black”), kept walking under the boards and painting herself. I joked about renaming her Blanca.

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Painting in the rain in front of Juani’s home. The steep (and muddy) hill is to the left.

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I may look silly but my ears are warm! That’s Lori in the center.

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First wall going up on day two

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Second wall is up

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Raising the last wall

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All the church teams gathered morning and evening for worship, encouragement, and testimonies.

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Driving after the rain

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Our site was along the main levy road

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Typical street in the Colonia

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Daily lunch at the Dispensary. Some of the team also put on a kids’ carnival here with coloring, face painting, crafts, and games while I kept my hammer busy at the work site.

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Melody with some new friends

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Neighbor girl named Lady who loved being with Melody

One of my greatest hopes was that Melody would have a good first experience with missions. It was awesome to see her painting and communicating with other girls her age. The first night she told me she had fun and shared a whole list of Spanish words she learned.

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View from the loft while I helped with the roof. The blue building is a House of Prayer.

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Armed and dangerous!

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The unfinished roof in the center is the house being built by the other half of our group.

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Las Noticias (local news) stopped by. Since I spoke the most Spanish on our team, I was interviewed on camera.

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The family brought chicken and tortillas to share with us on the third day.

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Juani watching her daughter-in-law’s house take shape. That’s her yellow house.

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She wanted to help paint window frames.

I made a special connection with Juani. Before the trip we had only received information about the mother, her 4 children, and her teen sister. We didn’t know they all lived with the mother-in-law. She offered us the use of a toilet (a tank with no lid or lever and a bowl with no seat) inside her dim house, and to get there we passed through a hallway with a broken tile floor right past her bedroom door. On the first morning, the door was open and she called Melody and me inside. Lying on her bed, she made small talk and then told us that her ankle was hurting a lot. Immediately we were able to pray for her. She kept telling us that God loves us. Later that day, after another bathroom break, I noticed that her door was cracked open so we knocked to say hello to her again. This time she started talking about her son, Brenda’s husband, who was missing for 8 months. She had one of the grandchildren fetch a photo of him, and she began to cry and kiss the photo as she spoke of how much she loved and missed him. And so we had a poignant opportunity to pray with her again regarding her son.

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Jonathan (one of the cousins) painting the loft

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Looking good!

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Behind the house

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Painting inside

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Dedication before lunch on the last day. We built a house in 3-1/2 days!

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We decorated inside and brought gifts for each family member. I had sewn curtains and room dividers for both houses.

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Brenda’s Cross

Back in June I heard about the Reynosa family missions trip and felt a spark in my heart. I went to an information meeting and knew 100% that I would go whether Melody joined me or not. Two days later, before I even turned in my application, I went shopping for a wall cross to give to our Mexican family. I found this small cross and bought three in various designs. I wasn’t sure why I got three, but I knew I would find someone to give them to. Our team began meeting weekly in September with about a dozen people. Eventually the group grew and we were told that we would be building two houses. I realized one of the crosses was for the 2nd family. And then we went to Reynosa with gifts for Brenda and her sister and four children, every member of the 2nd family, and absolutely nothing for Juani because she was a complete surprise. I bonded with Juani in those four short days and she did not go without a gift at the end. The last cross was meant for her all along.

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Food and household items

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The kids were excited about the loft

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A happy mom!

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The house built by the rest of our group, “Team Galvan”

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Inside the Galvan house

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Restroom at the Galvan house

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Celebration lunch at the church on the last day

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Tamales (yum!) and hot dog soup (yeah don’t ask…)

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After the celebration we followed a truck loaded with rice and beans to the city dump

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Distributing bags of rice and beans at the garbage dump

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Garbage dump

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The air is smoky from toxic garbage burning

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Power cords and Christmas lights

Honestly I didn’t want to go to the dump. Originally souvenir shopping was planned as an alternate activity. But the shopping was pushed back, leaving the dump as the only group option after lunch other than the hotel. It was a lot different than I had imagined and something I think I needed to see. An old woman missing all her front teeth came up to me toward the end. I knew she had gotten rice and beans but I offered her more. She said she didn’t need them but wanted a shirt, which we were also giving away. So I took her to the truck to get a shirt. They asked her what color and she said it doesn’t matter. So they gave her one of each. Her toothless smile was huge as she walked away with three new t-shirts. It’s fulfilling to see the joy a simple gift can bring.

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Random dog house in Reynosa

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Roland Ashby from Stragegic Alliance. The man in charge!

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Coming home through Houston

“And if you spend yourselves  in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs  of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10

Photos by Trina McDaniel, Cathy Brendemihl, Dave Tiffany, Lexi Bauer, John Park, and Kristina Lim.

How To Make A Curious George Birthday Cake

When Trevor turned 4, he was so excited to have a Curious George birthday party. I figured a monkey-face cake couldn’t be *that* difficult… but all it takes is a Google search to prove me wrong! I found “George” cakes that looked like pigs and dogs and bears. Big ears, no ears, Oreo cookie eyes. Some did look like monkeys, but finding a true likeness of the one-and-only Curious George was decidedly hard to come by. I’ll take the challenge!

The very best Curious George birthday cake I came across was on My Blessed Mess. And so, careful to keep the frosting off my open laptop, here’s what I came up with. You need one batch of cake, white frosting, chocolate frosting, and a black or very dark brown frosting in a bag with a small round tip. You could also use a writing gel or similar.

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With one yellow cake mix, I made a 9″ round cake, two regular size muffins, and a dozen mini-cupcakes. Flour the round pan well or use a parchment round on the bottom. I could have put a little more batter in the round pan and a little less in the two muffins.

The mini-cupcakes were basically using up leftover batter since one mix makes enough for 2 round pans. Bake the extra however you want.

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Yay, out of the pan without sticking! You want to cool the round cake with the rounded “top” facing up.

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Next, use globs of frosting to glue the ears on George. You’ll need to cut the muffins down to size. I cut off the rounded muffin top and some off the side of each one. Not pictured: scraps I snacked on. Take your time with placement. They are not exactly centered on the sides of the face but rather slightly below center. (See finished photo at the bottom.) Honestly I think mini-size muffins would work fine here. My George’s ears were on the large side.

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Time to mix up some face paint. Take a scoop of vanilla frosting out of the tub and add a scoop of chocolate. Stir stir stir.

Before you get crazy here, take a toothpick and gently draw the face outline in the top of the cake. Notice that the sides dip in very close to the tops of the ears. This photo is angled slightly so see the next photo for a better look. Ok, now you can frost the tan center of the face.

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Frost the dark chocolate next and the ears last. Be careful with the ears. You don’t frost dark brown to the edge of the round cake. Better take a toothpick and draw part of the ear onto the top of the round cake first.

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So far so good, but so far yet to go! Here’s where I started feeling uncertain of my novice cakery skills. Deep breath. Use the toothpick to draw if you need to. Take some reserved white frosting for the whites of the eyes. Many cakes I saw had horrific eyes. Mine turned out slightly different from each other but I claim it added character. Whatever you do, don’t make them too big, and please don’t use Oreos!

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I practiced my black piping on a saucer. Ok, it wasn’t actually black but very dark chocolate “brownie topping” I picked up on clearance one fine day. Been in the pantry for ages, gooey and hard to squeeze. How nice that my round frosting tip fit perfectly.

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Did you catch the outline of the eyes? Don’t complete the circles. Notice where the nose lines up with the eyes and ears. See how low and wide the smile is. Have fun, George is smiling at you!

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I was so pleased with the result that I took a picture to show off all the fingerprints on the plate. Anyway, the Birthday Boy was very happy with it.

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Happy Birthday Trevor!


Granola 777

The 777 represents the bake time combination, flavor perfection, and infinite variety possible.


  • 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 2 T brown sugar


  • 4 C rolled grains (oats and spelt are good)
  • 1/3 C wheat germ
  • 1/3 C oat bran

Choose a few or think up your own…

  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T raw sesame or flax seeds
  • 1/4 C raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  • 1/2 C wide coconut flakes
  • 2/3 C puffed rice
  • 1/2 C raisins or chopped dried fruit
  • 3 oz bag Apple Chips, gently crumbled


Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter, vanilla, honey, and brown sugar over
medium heat and set aside. Mix the rolled grains, wheat germ, oat bran, and
optional add-ins except raisins/fruits. Pour syrup over cereal and mix well.
Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan. Bake 7 minutes,
then stir. Repeat twice for a total of 21 minutes. It’s done when it starts
to brown, so watch the last few minutes. Cool the pan on a rack. The granola
will get crunchy as it cools. Add optional fruits and store airtight.

Aspen Vision

heart-leaves drying, rustling
in filling wind, falling to earth, grounding
of course I love you

I love you like sunshine
makes my closed eyelids glow red
warms the air and my forehead
defines the dancing shadows of the aspen branches
their shaky leaves, ready to fly

Jesus, what do I need?
Red. Close your eyes in the sun.
Red – Blood Red.

flowering red, fractal red
sometimes the truth is hard to hear
sometimes hard to see through

Lord, shine your blood-red sunlight
into the deep of me
the hidden heart
the rock-shaped part
where will set the Stone that bears my
True Name
known only by you

lucent ruby in a gold coronet
revealing my worth:

I am Beloved.

Black Hills Gold

Camping in South Dakota – pics only until I have more time…
click any image to view larger

July 5-8, 2012

Mount Bierstadt, Been There, Done That

I climbed my second 14er at the end of June: Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,060 feet. Wow, what a beautiful ascent with a great group of hikers from Northern Colorado Adventurers. We started hiking at 6:43 am.

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Mt. Evans, The Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt

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There were a mother and baby moose sighted at the parking lot (which I missed) and then five more shortly after we got going.

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Boardwalk through the “willows”

Roach calls this “the willows” in his quintessential guide book Colorado’s 14ers and I see the same description online, but isn’t it manzanita? (Go ahead and set me straight in the comments.)

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Moose at Lake 11510

The topo maps I consulted labeled this pretty pool merely “11510” which I presume to be the elevation. I shall henceforth call it Moose Lake. Can you see all five moose in the photo?

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Still far away

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View across the willows

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Final pitch to the summit

We reached the summit in 2 hours and 21 minutes, the last 20 of which were spent climbing the final pitch above.

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I made it! Bierstadt summit with Mt. Evans behind

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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Not too cloudy but very crowdy on top

This time I remembered to sign the summit register. However, I couldn’t locate the geo marker despite being told I had hiked right over it.

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Mt. Evans & Abyss Lake from Bierstadt

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Another flattering Bierstadt summit shot

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Dave, who hiked with me most of the way

In our group of eight attempting Bierstadt, Dave & I ended up pacing ahead of the rest on the way up. We were on the summit nearly half an hour and ready to start down when the rest of the group arrived (minus one who had turned back early).

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Northern Colorado Adventurers on Mt. Bierstadt

So our summit stay clocked in at 37 minutes. I felt great and didn’t want to leave. I checked my step counter before heading down at 9:41 and it said 12,025 steps.

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Sawtooth between Bierstadt & Evans

Six more Northern Colorado Adventurers had hit the trail earlier than we to climb Bierstadt, cross the Sawtooth, and claim Evans as well.

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View toward Guanella Pass & parking area

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Headed down

I’ll be honest, my knees weren’t happy by this point. Thank God for trekking poles and ibuprofen, but still. I’m a very slow descender. If this tested Dave’s patience, he was extremely good natured about it. Several from the later summit group passed us on the way down, and somewhere I traded hiking partners.

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Looking back at the Sawtooth as clouds gathered

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Dog crossing Scott Gomer Creek

Scott Gomer Creek was easy to cross on stepping stones. This dog was happy to frolic a little in the cool.

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Final view of Mt. Evans, the Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt, and Moose Lake

I returned at 12:17 for a total time of 5 hours, 34 minutes, step counter boasting a whopping 23,498 clicks. The round trip is officially 7 miles, plus summit exploration. (Math trivia: coming down took me 15 minutes longer than going up, courtesy of creaky knees.)

The flashing lights of two emergency vehicles greeted us. We deduced that a search had been initiated. It began to sprinkle as we all waited in line at the outhouse, and just as we were leaving the parking lot, a brief hailstorm ensued. Winding down Guanella Pass, we passed two more emergency vehicles going up with sirens howling, and then an Alpine Rescue van.

From a news release and the Alpine Rescue web site I pieced together the story that a 15-year-old boy had taken a fall from the Sawtooth but was not found, leading rescue teams to believe he was able to hike out by himself.


Update: Nineteen days later a 32-year-old man had a fatal accident crossing the Sawtooth. It seems more personal being a place I so recently visited.


Jackson Lake vs. The Big Tent

P1050511 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentWe took our first camping trip in the big “new” (garage sale) 10×16 Coleman Oasis cabin tent at Jackson Lake State Park last weekend! I’ve never had a good time camping with a three-year-old… until now. We went overnight when Melody was three and Jaron was an infant. She fell off a rustic wooden play structure and badly scraped her knee. That night she woke up at 4am to go potty and stayed up for at least an hour talking about the stars and how stinky the tent was. Baby Jaron woke once, nursed, and fell right back asleep. Jaron was three on our next overnight trip, and Trevor was one and a half. This time Jaron was the one going potty past midnight, only his version was to cry during the whole trek across the campground to the outhouse, then cry all the way back to the yurt, whining the entire time that he wanted to go home right now. He was so noisy that he roused Trevor in his port-a-crib, who fussed until Richard tucked him into his own sleeping bag. Nobody but Melody slept much after that. So, it was a calculated risk to try camping with another three-year-old, and two nights to up the ante. But the third time was indeed a charm! The trip was, however, memorable for other sleep-disrupting adventures. And ironically, the three-year-old was the only one who slept through it all!

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Soup & cornbread

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Nature walk

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We’ve never camped anywhere except mountains, so Colorado’s eastern plains were quite a different environment. The pine forest smell was obviously missing, but there were plenty of shady trees, wildflowers, and  small rabbits bouncing through the underbrush. It was hotter than hot (even at night), but all the better for enjoying the swim beach! That was the main draw for the kids this time around. Well that and the s’mores. The other major difference was the weather, specifically the wind. The first night it made fire-starting a challenge, to say the least. The second night’s wind was off the charts, but more on that later.

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Jackson Lake, first evening

Ok, let me digress here about the campfire thing. It’s always a challenge, independent of the weather. See, the man of the house has got it into his head that starting a fire is the man’s duty to conquer for the sake of his family. It proves his manhood, I think. The problem is that I was raised building fires not only in summer after summer of campfire rings, but also as our primary source of winter home heating, and he… well he wasn’t. So every time we camp, he asserts his right to build the fire, and the struggle is painful to watch. Inevitably I take over, ending the suffering yet wounding his pride. At last, fire!

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Time for s'mores

P1050529 e1341889939418 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentHere it is, the 10×16 Coleman Oasis. It has two “rooms” divided by a center curtain, and both ends open up as doors. The kids loved having their own space, and bed time was surprisingly easy. Maybe it’s because we all stayed up pretty late roasting marshmallows. I thought the excitement of camping and their very first night in the tent would mean another hour of kid-commotion, but it only lasted 15 minutes until they crashed out. They didn’t wake unreasonably early either, considering the sights and sounds of morning in the great outdoors. The tent apparently survived a little drizzle overnight. Time for some hot chocolate and the ubiquitous camp-style fried potatoes with peppers and sausage for breakfast.

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All tucked in

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Jaron, first to wake. See TJ and Melo?

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Bed head

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Hot chocolate & fried potatoes

P1050540 e1341891215587 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentThe day of adventures included swimming in Jackson Lake (happy, happy kids!) and an afternoon drive to Riverside Park in Fort Morgan a half hour east. The park was full of ducks and geese, and although the air-conditioned drive was a welcome reprieve from the heat, unfortunately the playground equipment was too toasty to enjoy. Oh well, Dairy Queen can fix that! Incidentally, it was in the DQ parking lot that we noticed a good long crack at the top of our windshield starting from a previous chip. Richard blames the scorching heat. I don’t know. Anyway, back at the camp site, we had dinner, attended a Ranger-hosted faux-campfire storytelling session, and took a sunset walk to the marina and out to the end of the dock to watch the boats going in and out off the boat ramp.

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Swimming with Daddy

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Back to camp

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Riverside Park, Fort Morgan

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Riverside Park

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Sunset at the marina

Ahhh, sunset. It was much redder in real life than the photo shows. It was beautiful and a fine way to end the day. We strolled back to camp in anticipation of another round of s’mores, but alas, a breeze started blowing at dusk and we had to ditch the campfire idea. Raw marshmallows placated the kids and bed time was again very easy although Melody didn’t much care for tramping to the restroom by flashlight. I was just happy for flush toilets out in the sticks.

Clink. Swish. The wind grew. The tent swayed and old aluminum-pipe poles rattled. Ear plugs. Restless sleep. The tent heaved and rippled as the wind picked up. A loud bouncing clank roused me at 2 am. I looked up at a corner of the tent roof caving in. Out of bed in a flash, I held up the roof rail from inside the tent while Richard went outside to re-attach the side pole in absolutely gusting, roaring wind. Good thing it was on our side and not above the kids. Ha, an hour later we were doing the same thing on their side of the tent. Melody awoke fearful of the noisy gale and slipped into the airbed with me. She slept through the third collapse, again on the kids’ side, but Jaron did not. Trevor, my dear three-year-old camper, did open his eyes when I stepped over his bed to push the tent roof up, but he was instantly out again and had no recollection in the morning. The wind was unrelenting and between its roar through the trees, the constant whipping and crinkling of the tent, and the nerve-wracking rattling of the poles, sleep was elusive.

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Big tent billowing in the "fresh morning air"

Morning did arrive, eventually, though the blasting wind did not let up. Tarps, bags, even camp chairs from neighboring sites littered the landscape. We heard reports that the weather wreaked havoc with boats anchored for the night. As for us, there would certainly be no scrambled eggs nor hot chocolate. We threw the “no food in the tent” rule to the wind (literally) and huddled in a circle on rolled-up sleeping bags feasting on bagels and grapes. Under great duress, we set a personal record for breaking camp quickly that I expect may never be broken – unlike one of the tent roof poles, unfortunately. Drama, drama, yeah I’m exaggerating a little, but I do so hate wind. Too bad a morning dip in Jackson Lake was out of the question. The early departure did provide perfect timing for lunch in Loveland at “the restaurant with the horse on it” (Palomino) that the kids have been begging to visit since it was built last year.

All things considered, I call our first big-tent camping trip a success! Two marvelous days were followed by some memorable family bonding and we made the best of it. Plus I’m much more confident about planning our next adventure: three nights in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Next time I promise not to forget the toothbrushes.

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Jackson Lake State Park

Stone Mountain Fog

I joined Northern Colorado Adventurers to climb 14ers. Booyah. Each spring they warm up with several “training hikes” like this one, which was posted as a hike to Sheep Mountain on the Round Mountain trail. I’ve had my eye on that mountain for two years, as it rises basically across the highway from my enchanting pet icon, Palisade Peak. I was in.

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SAR training

It was a damp and foggy morning. Search and Rescue was just kicking off a group training session as we found the parking lot. Due to the weather, we changed our objective to Stone Mountain to cut a little mileage off and add a fun rock scramble at the summit. I’d never heard of Stone Mountain, but considering the lack of visibility in the fog, I was happy with the decision. Since I’ve wanted to hike Sheep Mountain for two years, it would have been disappointing to get to the top and not be able to see anything. (The thunderstorm at the top of Horsetooth Rock last fall comes to mind.) Save that one for a better day.

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Starting up the Round Mountain Trail

I figured out soon enough that I wasn’t going to keep pace with the front end of the group. I tried. Anyway we hiked through fog under trees lightly dripping with snow melt. Half way up there was a meadow where we needed to diverge from the Sheep Mountain route and head toward Stone Mountain, but since we couldn’t see the mountain through the fog, we got lost and relieved the tension by joking about the Search and Rescue team nearby. We wandered around through burnt underbrush dotted with blackened pine cones and surmised that lightning may have started a smoldering ground fire which rain may have squelched.

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Somebody finally consulted a map and compass and eventually found the correct trail some hundred yards away, which was not easy for the untrained eye to follow save for small cairns at odd intervals. The stony peak was indeed a fun little climb. The views were nil but the fog added an air of intriguing mystique.

Repeat in reverse, except we didn’t get lost. That was the last mountain those boots will ever hike on my feet though. Five hours of footwork blew out my knees and gave me a blister and two black nails. One is still black and I’m breaking in a wide new pair of Keens a half size larger. That’s right, I wasted no time in shopping for new footwear, which to my good fortune coincided with REI’s anniversary sale.

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I got those less than a week before my first scheduled 14er of the season, Mt. Sherman, convinced that brand new shoes could not be worse than those dozen-year-old leather boots. In the end, the weather on Sherman turned cold and fiercely windy and I bailed out last minute. I was looking forward to putting my Keens to the test on a full moon hike up Horsetooth Rock last night. Unfortunately I got sick and couldn’t make it, although the moon looked amazing out my upstairs window. Last week the group climbed Mt. Elbert without me but that’s a mountain I need more training to attempt. Next up is Mt. Bierstadt at the end of June. Some will do a loop across the Sawtooth to Mt. Evans but I think I’ll not push my luck.

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Ascending into the fog

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Stewing in a stone pot


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Trail between rocks

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Stone Mountain summit scramble

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Summit scramble

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Snack on the summit

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I climbed further across the top

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Another view across the top

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Further outcrop

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I made it!

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There's that err... stone pot again

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Foggy "view"

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Another view

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Leaving, actually

Emergency Exit

Emergency exit sign2 150x150 Emergency ExitYesterday I published Emergency Exit, my first guest post for the “honest moms” blog, Get Born. Be warned, it isn’t pretty. It’s a remake of Escape, an account of a climactic exit from an abusive home which I posted two years ago for Reality Writes, though I doubt more than a dozen people ever read it. That was the writer’s group I joined when TJ was just six weeks old in a desperate attempt to connect with my pre-mom intelligence. After years on hold, writing came alive again. Though the group is now defunct, its purpose for me was well-served: a passion reawakened and a piece of my identity restored.

My First WOD

WOD: Workout Of the Day.

I did my first CrossFit WOD today! Rowing machine 2K, 40 wall balls (12#), row 1K, 35 wall balls, row 500m, 25 wall balls, all this in just 34 minutes and 32 seconds. CrossFit is an exercise methodology and posts a new workout daily.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be drinking Valentine tea with my daughter’s entire 2nd grade instead of getting my butt kicked in my strength/cardio interval class. So, last minute decision, I hauled myself to the gym at 4pm. Lacking skill in structuring my own workouts and deeming this WOD fairly non-intimidating for a first attempt, I enlisted a staff trainer to demo the rowing machine. Yes I’ve been working out for a year and a half and never touched the rowing machine. Anyway it’s not hard and I was soon 2K into the WOD. Then wall balls. Also new. The instructions said 20lb but I was smart and chose 12. Squat, then hurl the ball about 10 feet up the wall, catch and repeat. Sounds simple, but oh no no. Only the first five are simple. The initial set was supposed to be 50 reps and I was dying after 25. My heart was pounding and I felt dizzy. Eventually I made it to 40 but that was with some resting moments. The rowing machine felt super easy after that. When the workout was done I felt shaky for a whole hour. Even if I never do another WOD (which isn’t likely, it was torture but it was fun) I still gained two new workout skills.

Perhaps a little history? Around New Year’s I had some shoulder pain that my chiro Dr. Higgins couldn’t fix, and he did some abdominal palpation to diagnose a gallbladder issue. Ouch, that thing is tender when it’s not happy. It can also cause referred shoulder pain. Higgins told me to cut grains, dairy, starches, sugar, and most red meat out of my diet. It’s not that fun for someone who was eating homemade granola for breakfast and sandwiches on homemade bread for lunch and afternoon pita chips nearly daily. In trying to figure out what I could eat, I came across the Paleo diet. Now for anyone who knows much about that, I’m not strictly following Paleo primarily because I need to stay low-fat while the gallbladder heals, Higgins approved beans as tolerated, and I have chosen to cheat with rice when I’m too hungry to think of something better. However it’s been a great source of research on grain problems and ways to substitute wholesome foods, and I soon discovered that there is an entire fitness community that embraces the Paleo kitchen: the CrossFit camp. Which led to researching the CrossFit ideology. Which led to the WOD above. Which led to immense pride in myself this afternoon!