Friday, February 13, 2015

I have no title. But I redid my kitchen last year, so there's that.

Whoa - what happened?! Work, that's what. I've had the distinct honor of conducting a bunch of interviews (like, I'm up to 26 - each of those has been at least half an hour, and most of them more than that) for some articles I'm writing and have met some really cool people. For the first time in a long time, I actually almost started hyperventilating before a call. Once we get talking, though, I'm fine. And, as it turns out, people who have risen just about as far as they can within their industry can still be incredibly gracious, humble and fun to talk to, not to mention that they are inspiring. This whole experience even motivated me to create a LinkedIn profile - I'm so serious about my career now. Also, look forward to obnoxious name-dropping as the opportunity presents itself.

But actually what I wanted to document was the kitchen remodel we orchestrated last fall. Joel and I talked about doing granite in the kitchen when we bought the house. And then we blinked and it was seven years later! It's fun to have grand plans and pin all sorts of great ideas but, turns out, it actually takes money to make those plans a reality.

Over the summer, probably on one of our long bike rides, Joel and I talked about things we'd like to do around the house. When he said, "Well, I think doing the kitchen counters is going to be the best investment," my heart beat a little faster (not just because we were probably climbing) and I had to tell myself be cool, Sarah, be cooooool, before saying, "Oh yeah? You think we could?" like I wasn't also sort of holding my breath and mentally demolishing our island.

I decided to do NO research until the kids went back to school, but the day after that, off I went to the granite fabricators with my mom in tow (she just happened to be in town and has done her own kitchen remodel, so she's kind of an expert). People who know me well know that I love a good research project, comparing and contrasting companies, their offerings and customer reviews. Soon I had a lovely spreadsheet and all sorts of appointments booked. As anyone with a home improvement project knows, simply replacing the countertops quickly ballooned into leveling our island (requiring moving some electrical); replacing the ovens, dishwasher and cooktop; piping and venting for gas; painting the cabinets; replacing our light fixture; and, of course, replacing the countertops. (sidenote: I hired most of this work out - I know my limits as a diy-er and I also know that such a high-traffic area requires professional work)

It was a whirlwind of activity and I loved it. I also really really really love my new kitchen. We knew we wanted to do a lighter granite with darker cabinets and I'm so glad we did. As my friend said, "This granite is great - it hides all sorts of things. Just think of all the time you're saving by not wiping them down eight times a day." Wait, was that passive aggressive? I just got that...

But seriously, I'm in love with my gas cooktop, I'm in love with my new ovens, my counters are so fun to use (and they're BIGGER now that I don't have that stupid raised non-functional bar part) and my dishwasher actually *GASP* cleans my dishes. It's a miracle.

Friends have asked me who my general contractor was and I have to laugh because, ahem, have you MET ME? Type A personality, I'll be my own GC thankyouverymuch. I arranged for everyone and most of the work took place within a week and a half. Also, I wired the pendant myself because I neglected to notice, when ordering it, that it plugged in. Who makes a pendant that PLUGS in? For future reference, check that out. Unless you like to narrow your eyes, purse your lips, and vow to go all Bob Vila on the thing. Which I did. Is there anything that makes you feel like more of a rebel than pulling out wire cutters and, literally, cutting the cord?! Probably. But still, this was about as mutinous as I get.

Let's get to my super high-quality phone pictures. From the side, you see the dumb raised bar area which isn't really usable. Also, whoever thought edging the counters in wood should get the architectural equivalent of a Razzie. Or at least lifelong mockery. I can see no purpose for it.

After:
Ahhhh - this is so much better, right? It's so smooth and calming. I like to pet it. Also, the sink is so nice and deep. See that tiny little faucet next to the actual faucet? No, it's not a soap dispenser. It's an instant hot water dispenser! Hot chocolate, teas or, my new favorite, brewing chocolate at the touch of a button/lever. It's beautiful. Oh yeah, I also installed that. For anyone who claims they can't get help at Home Depot, I know the key: do your hair and makeup, then walk into the store holding two pieces of plumbing (washers, copper tubing, a wrench, take your pick!) with a giant look of confusion on your face (not difficult, given the location). I'm all for advancing the rights of women, and I'm all for using womanliness to get what I want.

From the family room, so much wood-colored wood:

After:
Ahh. See my pedant? I love the soft light it emits.

From my computer corner, why does Albus look guilty?
I think he's embarrassed by how shaggy he's become.

Since we took out the built-in microwave to install a legitimate hood, we had to put the microwave somewhere. We chose the corner counter that collected junk. It's working out nicely. The flat island really opens up the kitchen into the family room. Please disregard how messy the fridge and bookshelves are - this is the house of a family. And we LIVE in it.
Also, rest assured that these pictures were taken after I had cleaned the kitchen. It is rarely this clean. In fact, I think the sinks are actually full of dishes waiting to be washed, and I probably went to bed deciding to do it in the morning.

So that was my fall project. I'd love to do something in my bathrooms but since that also takes, you know, money, that will have to wait. Plus, I've got more interviews to conduct and articles to write.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (New York City edition)

Allison, Becca and I have birthdays within about a month of each other. Our husbands, looking to give us an "experience" rather than a "thing," banded together and decided to send us to NYC in November for Laura's birthday since she was celebrating the big 3-0. Also, because NYC is cool.

Austin came along to be the trip photographer and navigator, meaning the rest of us didn't really have to figure out the subway system. So here we were, on the airplane (Becca and Austin connected in Denver so we could sit together) and Austin tried to avoid the picture. 

We arrived in NYC and after a couple shenanigans, joined up with Allison. Then we were crammed into a taxi and decided to take selfies instead of tell Laura we were on our way. All the while, quoting Jerry Seinfeld from his whole taxi bit about anybody else driving like this would be considered a lunatic, but this man was a professional.
Sisters reunited and heading out on the subway.
That first night we made signs to take to the NYC Marathon the next morning. We were really looking for some positive reinforcement. Since the weather forecast did not look lovely and peaceful and warm-ish like the year Laura ran (and I flew out and carboloaded with her - I'm such a good sister).
Our efforts paid off as we got tagged on a Buzzfeed "best marthon signs" list. We'll take whatever fame we can get. I also brought my cowbell. I considered bringing my vuvuzela and blowing it on the airplane any time I was bored/annoyed, but then decided I didn't want to get kicked off the plane. So it stayed home.

Just walking around looking so natural. We ended the evening watching Idina Menzel perform and it was just so incredible. Her voice makes me want to laugh and cry and punch something and swear all at the same time because she's just so GOOD. I hope to see her again soon.
 Then we got on the Subway and saw this super warm and welcoming person. Classic:
Next morning, the obligatory Waffels & Dinges stop. Becca was obviously inspired because her wardrobe seemed to coordinate perfectly.
This was Allison's first trip to the Waffel truck. No, she didn't eat both waffels. Yes, her face depicts the bliss one feels upon finishing their breakfast.
Walking burns like a billion calories, right? That's why we had Shake Shack for lunch THAT SAME DAY. What I didn't take a picture of was our stop at Levain Bakery where I loaded up on cookies. I was too distracted by the people protesting the Dalai Lama. Really? The Dalai Lama? You've got to be kidding me. And yet, they had a very catchy chant which we proceeded to "sing" for the next couple days. Becca loved it.

And have I mentioned lately that Laura works at The Tonight Show? So yeah, we got VIP tickets to the hottest show in New York. No biggie. I was pretty sure we'd be best friends with Jimmy but Anne Hathaway got in the way. After that we had pizza with Patsy Grimaldi. Well, we had pizza at his restaurant called Juliana's (which is right next to Grimaldi's, which he sold to someone else in 1998, but then decided retirement was lame or something). It was, by far, the best pizza I've ever tasted and he was charming and chatted everyone up and tossed dough and kissed me as we left. All in a day's work.

That night we returned to our hotel room and I began looking at pictures, only to see that this one looks like we took Allison's head for a walk, leaving her body to rest at the hotel room. So creepy. And at 11pm it's hysterical.
The next morning we hit the top of 30 Rock to behold the views of Manhattan. There was also a family there speaking french and they had a little girl with red hair who I may have followed around for a little while, pretending she was my (bilingual) child. Apologies to the family if they thought I was going to kidnap her. (I might have considered it.)
Then we headed down to Ground Zero. I've seen pictures of it before and thought it looked nice, but let me tell you it was very ... hmm... I can't quite think of the word. Sacred? Awe-inspiring? Moving? All those, and then some. The monument with the waterfalls is genius. The area is just so serene. Such a difference from that day over 13 years ago (and then for months afterward).
We decided to pay our respects to Lady Liberty, so we boarded the ferry and away we went. Allison and I were having a great time taking pictures of ourselves.
Then I decided to try to take one of those pictures where people "hold" what's in the background, except I wanted to be totally off. This wasn't hard. "Did I get her? Did I get her?" I'd ask like an eager puppy dog (if puppy dogs could talk, of course) and Allison would respond in an impatient/irritated tone, "Um, NO. You're TERRIBLE at this!" And then we'd both giggle. I love looking ridiculous when it's part of a plan.
On to Ellis Island to pay our respects to the place through which our great great great Grandma Martine walked many years ago. 
Then to a showing of Matilda. I originally thought, "Yeah, ok, we'll see Matilda," but I tell everyone, "SEE MATILDA!" The music was wonderful. The set was spectacular. The children were DELICIOUS. Also, they were in danger of being kidnapped. I might have texted Joel, "Might stick some children in my carryon if I can manage it."
The next day we convened to wish our birthday girl farewell. I gave Austin my phone to take some pictures and he managed to take some candids that I think are lovely.
If you can believe it, there are a gajillion more pictures that I am not including (you're welcome) including a variety of food pictures and other nonsense. In short, however, we all left happy but exhausted. We walked all over the place and my calves were sore for days. But I don't regret any of it. In fact, we immediately began talking about plans for our next trip. Maybe our Moomsie-Daisy will come, too. We promise we won't make you pay for our stuff!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spending time with Donovan

Recently, Donovan was moaning about how his lips were chapped because he wasn't drinking enough water at school. I pointed out that this could probably be remedied if he, you know, remembered his water bottle. He claimed it would still be too hard. We talked about ways he could remember (take 5 swallows before you switch subjects, take 5 swallows on your way out to and back from recess, etc.).

Then he said, "How about if I remember to drink my whole water bottle two times at school for like a month, I get two hours of just Mom/Dono time?" I asked if that was really what he wanted. He said that he really did.

A few things ran through my head:
1. A whole month was a long time to work on something that should just be natural -it's DRINKING WATER.
2. My kids get time with me a fair amount, it's not like this is the Shangri-La of rewards.
3. We were having an hour of just Mom/Dono time AT THAT VERY MOMENT.

What a weirdo. But he's MY weirdo. We recently had the elementary school's MotherBoy night. Ok so they call it "Mother Son Night" but in a nod to my third cousin once-removed work on "Arrested Development," I always call it MotherBoy. As usual, I came away thinking it was pretty low-key and unremarkable as far as events go, and Donovan came away skipping and exulting in how it was the best night ever. Just goes to show it doesn't matter WHAT you do, but that you are together.

This is our photobooth picture. I was trying to go for a version of American Gothic at the top. Donovan didn't get my vision until we got home and I showed him the actual artwork and then he thought it would have been hilarious. Oh well, maybe next time.

Yesterday at Costco, with the lad, while the girls were in ballet, we strolled the aisles and ate as many garlic-butter-bread samples as we could. That's the upside to going right before the samples close down - they don't care how many you eat. Donovan pushes the cart and insists on loading the cart. As we left, I proposed that he be my legs. He is always game for my ideas (hence how he sampled both sardines and picked beets one time - the sardines weren't bad, according to him, but the beets tasted like mud) so imagine him giving me a piggy back ride while I pushed the cart. It was bizarre and we didn't make it more than 15 feet before we were both giggling too hard to go on. I think the guy checking receipts at the exit was relieved to see us resume normal walking because I don't think he knew what to do with us.

I came into the family room one day to see the above scene laid out - stuffed animals, warming themselves by the fire, with nobody else around. I shake my head at how weird it is but also take a picture so years from now when stuffed animals are collecting dust on closet shelves, I will remember these days.

At church, once a week they spotlight a kid in primary (Sunday school for 3-11 year olds, and it's divided into junior and senior primary). Last year, when I was filling out the form for Gemma, we got to the part, "How tall are you?" Having sat in primary and listened to them reveal, "This child is 43 inches tall," as the kids tried to guess who it was, it occurred to me that saying inches doesn't mean anything to these kids. This was particularly evident one week when it was revealed the child was 67 inches tall. Which...no. I'm looking around wondering if they're spotlighting a teacher. I mean, this was junior primary, so the oldest kid was 7. Turns out the 6 was a 4. But you get my point, right? So I asked Gemma to think of what animal she was as tall as, so we ended up writing, "As tall as a lion." That might also be incorrect, but at least it was a visual.

It's like saying the shuttle has 100,000 horsepower. I have no idea what that means. I guess that's good. Pretty sure horses aren't going to make it very far in space.

I let Donovan fill out his own form because he's in senior primary and fully capable. I glanced over his sheet before we turned it in and saw that he had finished the phrase, "If I could travel anywhere, I would travel..." with "in time." I looked at him with pride and nodded. Good job, buddy. Way to think outside the box.

Later, the woman who read his spotlight to the primary, approached me to share what happened. She said that answer kind of took her off guard (naturally) so she asked him what time he'd like to visit, thinking it would be some cool event or place. Donovan simply said, "I'd like to know where I'm going to go on my mission."

I love this kid. I love that he wants to spend (more) time with me. I love that he wants to bring happiness to others. Hopefully he'll remember to drink his water through all of this.







Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (part 5)

I'm almost finished with this whole wrap-up bit. Maybe two more parts because one devoted to my SISTERS TRIP to NYC and one for everything else. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First things first.

Not only was BYU in town for a couple soccer games, but they were playing at the local stadium so of course we went. Donovan was super excited to go and the whole thing really opened his eyes to what soccer could look like. The next morning he attended a free soccer clinic the players put on and he came home totally pumped about his future career. And THEN we went to the second game that night and Donovan got to be a ball boy. If you ask him what was his favorite memory of 2014, he may very well say that over Hawaii and Disney. But he's also not so smart...kidding. But seriously, he asked if he could be a ball boy and I said we'd have to ask the head ref which he, awesome type-A personality that he is developing into, took to mean, "Go ask the head ref yourself." Because the next thing I knew, he was marching up to the head ref, I see him gesturing and his lips moving. I see the ref kind of look over the field and then respond and then suddenly Donovan is walking quickly back to me, a grin spreading across his face. 

Although the ref told him he didn't have to run a ton, he ran the entire length of the field along with the ball for most of the game. By the end of the night he was exhausted and elated. We've had him try out for a more competitive team and he's doing fairly well so if this goes somewhere, we'll point to this event as the genesis of his career.

But he always has his law career to fall back on, right?

Part of being a well-rounded person is getting an education in all areas of life. So I saw it as my duty (no giggling) to introduce the kids to the beauty that is "The Three Amigos." I figured they'd enjoy it, but within the first seconds, with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short singing their Anthem and then holding "Threeeeeee" for a freakish amount of time, Donovan nearly exploded from laughing so hard. He was wiping his eyes and shaking his head, saying, "I can't take it!" Comedic brilliance.
And then Ainsleigh got braces. She was super pumped because all kids who haven't had braces want braces. Within a couple days the novelty had worn off. No surprise.
Always count on Donovan and Gemma to be weird. Also, have we talked about the length of Gemma's tongue recently?

Then we had some sad news that my sister Becca's dog, Lily, had gotten really sick. She was a young dog, almost a puppy, and she got a rare/fluke disease. My kids were very sad since they have met and played with sweet Lily. Gemma made Becca and Austin a card. On the left: Dear Becca, I am sad that Lily is sick. What does she have? On the right: Lily in between Becca and Gemma. All you can see of Austin in the background is his mustache. I guess this makes sense.
Sadly, Lily passed away. We will not forget her and her pillowy silky fur. We were happy to hear that after a few months, they have adopted a new puppy. My kids love asking to see pictures of Ava. And who doesn't love puppy pictures? (hint, hint, Becca)

Gemma is loving first grade and having homework like a big kid. I love that she tries to do it by herself. One day, in the parking lot of the ballet studio, where we wait the half an hour between the start of Ainsleigh's and Gemma's class, I looked over to see Gemma doing this:
 I love her "I'll do it myself" attitude. Most of the time. A new school year calls for a new haircut. If only it looked this good all the time.

Over fall break we went to Estes Park to see what we could see, hoping for some elk. We hadn't even checked in yet and there on the front lawn were five enormous elk just grazing or waiting for us or something. It was so weird. My initial thought was, "That's a nice touch," and then I had to remind myself that these are wild creatures and this is not DisneyWorld.

In the town, we saw a really cool glass-blowing demonstration. I know that makes me sound like I aged about three decades, but it's true! I have a new appreciation for blown-glass objects. And of course we did some hiking around.

 Donovan is the only kid who wants to have his picture taken with his parents. Fine.

Every now and then I see that my kids have taken pictures of themselves with my computer and left them on my desktop. Then one day I saw this:
So...that's awesome.

This is Gemma, showing that she is missing something like half of her teeth. Maybe not quite that bad, but it seems like it. She may have to go back to baby food for a while.

 Halloween! Secret Service agent, Arabian dancer, and Elsa.

Oh my gosh, I am never going to get behind again. But thank goodness for phones and the pictures we take, proving that we did something with our year.
Monday, January 12, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (part 4 - cycling edition)

Cycling has become a big part of my life. A big, important, happy part of my life. When I used to run a fair amount, I'd be driving around and see a runner and think, "Good for you. Keep at it!" But I'd also be relieved that I wasn't the one out (especially when it was like 90 degrees out which, here with our intense sunlight, feels like 110 on a sunny day - and how many cloudy 90-degree days are there?). Now when I'm driving around, even if I've just finished a 40-mile ride, if I see a cyclist I think, "I wish I was doing that." Only once have I shuddered at the sight of cyclists. But I'll get to that later. So, in preparation for our big season, we took to the open road.

This is Joel at the top of the hill I love to hate. I think I may love to hate it even more than the road here aptly named "High Grade" (which, as the name implies, is a high grade over a distance of about 6 miles. This after already having gone a good 8 miles uphill). This is not that road. This section of the road is shorter, but harder. This road makes me spit and think up combinations of colorful words. This road made my friend nearly puke. The upside is after summiting this hill, it's a blast to cruise down, winding through the mountains. We can always count on the skies to be gorgeous. I may or may not be taking a breather on the street here.
Then there's the Lookout Mountain ascent. I love this road. It winds all over the place and very quickly you can look far down and see how high your hard work has gotten you. Plus, I'm reminded of the Far Side cartoon where there are numerous signs of "Lookout ahead" up a mountain and at the top, cars are driving off the cliff which holds a sign that says, "Lookout!" That's kind of how you feel as you begin to descend. That part of the road runs alongside I-70, so you don't feel like you're going that fast even though you will quickly reach 45 mph. This is the ascent, however, where we usually see several deer and other mountain creatures.
We loved participating in the Denver Century so much last year that we knew we had to do it again. We even convinced my parents to join us so they drove their bikes out (stopping in Moab for some riding). And then we convinced our good friends Bert and Jen to also join us. She learned how to draft, something that had previously terrified her. You have a lot of time to figure things out when you're doing a century. It was a beautiful day and we were glad to cross the finish line about half an hour before the hail moved in. That was the one time I felt bad for cyclists. It's also another good reminder why you shouldn't spend too much time at rest stops. Keep moving!
My mom was a little nervous about the altitude and the Lookout Mountain ascent, or so she claimed. She killed it, though, and I was the one playing catchup. We had a great time and I kept thinking about how totally awesome it was to not only do such a physically demanding activity, but to have my PARENTS there with me, often leading the pack. Special shout out to Ray, the 70-something year old dude on a $10k bike who was an animal, doing most of the pulling between miles 70-84. Oh, and we only had one hiccup - at about mile 18 I was coming down a hill and some shade in the road hid a large rock which of course I hit. Hissing indicated I had popped a tire. Super. Luckily I had a good pit crew with me and we were able to change the tire quickly. My dad folded up a dollar bill to serve as a makeshift bandage inside the tire to protect the new tube from the visible hole. Worked like a charm! (so well, in fact, that I only took it out when I got a new tire about a month later)
This year, Joel and I (and Bert) thought of the Denver Century as kind of a training ride, though. See, back in January we had kind of sort of accidentally signed up for the Triple Bypass. It was full! There was a waitlist! So, like idiots, we signed up, thinking next year we'd do it for real but at least this year we could say we tried. Then, two days later, we received our confirmation emails that we were enlisted. I use the term generally reserved for wars/battle because that's what this felt like.

Besides a lot of hours on the bike (I won't say countless because I have a Garmin, so technically they were counted), we reserved one Saturday morning to ascend Loveland Pass. This was good for a few reasons:

1. The Loveland Pass ascent itself is not very bad.
2. The ride from Georgetown to the base of Loveland is very bad.

Just kidding - it's not very bad, it's just long. And uphill. It's quite lovely, though. A meandering bike path through seemingly endless forest. It's beautiful. But long. Still, it was doable. And the Loveland descent was epic. Probably the most fun I've had on a bike up until that point. So wonderful. The whole ride was lovely except for about 5 miles from our car when the path suddenly veered and, in an effort to miss a concrete divider, ended up going over the front of my handlebars and landing in some relatively soft underbrush to the side. Joel was ahead of me so didn't see/hear but a nice cyclist riding in the opposite direction called out to him before saying, "Whoa. I've never seen someone go over the top of their bike like that." I felt both foolish and totally awesome at the same time. Luckily my pride and my right pinkie finger bore the brunt. Oh, and my bike looked kind of wonky after that. But it's cool. See way down in the distance, that stretch of highway? That's the base. And then about ten miles to the right is where we started.
A couple weeks later Donovan was asking me if we have porcupines around here. I told him I wasn't sure, but that I thought so. Lo and behold:

We rode right past it and then we both made an abrupt u-turn. "I gotta take a picture of that," Joel said. Why yes we do! So that's me, being sad. What you can't see is how hundreds of his quills are strewn about the road. It was incredible. And then, about a mile up the road, we came upon ANOTHER, though smaller, one. Also dead. Was there some great porcupine migration the night before? Note to self: research porcupine migration patterns and bring crossing guard memorabilia.

So then we were ready for the Triple Bypass. This was one of those events where I thought, "Ok, I hope I don't die." I've really got to stop having that kind of attitude. Or signing up for things with that as my goal. So here we were, ready to embark on the most physically/mentally challenging physical activity of my life. And that includes childbirth (and please note I do not have easy/quick labors). But I was optimistic.

In case you don't recall, or are just willing to read it for yet another time, the Triple Bypass is a 120-mile bike ride that starts in Evergreen and ends in Avon, Colorado. You cross over three (but really more like four) mountain passes and climb over 10,000 feet. The pre-race packet instructs you to bring clothing for sun and snow, and promises you will encounter rainstorms. My only goal (besides surviving) was to not stop between rest stops. So we began at about 6am.

Look how happy we are! As you begin, you immediately begin climbing Squaw Pass. No matter, the scenery is breathtaking (and not just because you're working really hard). It is some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen and I tried to drink it all in. Bert rode along with his phone blaring music and quite a few riders joined our mobile party. It was a fun atmosphere. We hit the first rest stop after a couple hours and I was feeling good. We put on windbreakers and shoe covers to protect us from the frigid descent and away we went. Feeling great! We should totally do this every year! Then we began climbing to Loveland. 
By the time we got here, I wasn't feeling as great. The trek from Idaho Springs to Loveland was brutal. The bike path was crowded and riders were constantly jockeying for position. Plus, it was uphill. But we got made it to lunch and took a picture and I grinned so that everyone on Instagram would know I didn't regret it.

We were lucky to climb Loveland when we did because about 15 minutes after we started our descent, a torrential hailstorm moved in (see the ominous-looking clouds up there). I believe I had divine help at this point. That climb, which had seemed very manageable a few weeks prior, was now the home of some very colorful thoughts. The descent was almost scary, actually, with hairpin turns and ripping speeds. Keystone is a lovely place to ride but the organizers don't consider Swan Mountain a pass but after two mountain passes, it most certainly feels like one!

In Frisco, I began to feel the first rumblings of doubt. You're at about mile 82, so 2/3 of the way through. This is not inspiring. Yes, the hardest is behind you. No, this is not comforting. My feet were burning, my body felt weird, and I wasn't sure if I was enjoying myself any more. When I've done the Denver Century, I've loved every minute. This...not so much. My parents were wonderfully encouraging and I knew I'd get back on my bike, but first I felt like I had to throw up. Moving on!

I went into autopilot mode for the next few miles before we started to climb Vail Pass. This was supposed to be the easiest climb. And, had it been the only climb of the day, I'm sure it would have been. This day, it was just one foot in front of the other. I began chanting to myself, "Just don't stop. Just don't stop." Riders littered the sides of the trail like casualties. People pulled off shoes and limped around. Others just sat down in a daze. I kept going, but I began to feel woozy. Also, I began to feel angry.

I'm proud to say I made it to the top without stopping, though I came close a couple of times. Major props to Joel and Bert who hung with me, encouraging me, keeping me going. All I could think about was taking off my shoes because my feet felt like they were on fire. At the rest stop, I let Joel take a picture of me but I couldn't muster the strength to fake a smile. Bert could, though!
 
I think it was right after this that, involuntarily, I began crying. I could feel tears welling up and I physically could not restrain them. Sobs wracked my body and I told myself, "Ok, you can cry for 20 seconds and then that's it because fluids are a premium." A stranger approached me and asked if I was ok, then said, "It's ok, the worst is over. But yeah, this SUCKS. And we voluntarily signed up for this! I've done this a few times and it's always at this point I wonder why I keep coming back."

Joel brought me back the oranges I had requested. We put our shoes back on. We got on our bikes. The next 20 miles or so are a blur, mostly of me ripping down the descent and then drafting behind Joel or Bert the rest of the way. At one point I tried to pull out around some other riders and wind hit me full in the face and I was like, "Yeah no thanks sorry for thinking I could work harder - I'll just stay back here."

And then, the finish line. There it was, policemen ushering us home. I crossed the line and some lady put a medal over my head and I burst into tears again. She folded me into a hug and said, "You made it, dear. You made it! What an accomplishment!"

Then I was able to muster this for a picture:
I believe I captioned this, "A picture is worth a thousand words - most of them bad." Major props to Bert's Jen who brought the littles out and chaufferred us back to the start line. We stopped at Wendy's. Or some other fast food place. All I know is that after my post-ride meal, I ate a cheesy cheeseburger and it was heaven on earth.

It was a good learning experience - one I could go on and on about even more, if you can imagine. Someday, we'll do it again. Not this year. Not next year. Maybe after that. I had kids once every three years, maybe the Triple Bypass is the same sort of thing.

Then in September my mom game out for a visit so we went on an easy 40-mile ride. It was freakishly hot, but I think we looked good doing it. And, wouldn't you know it, we didn't even PLAN the coordinating shirts. We're just that good.
We also went to the USA ProChallenge in downtown Denver. It is a fun family day and the riders are RIGHT THERE. It's a thrill.
 (That's Tejay VanGarderen in the yellow jersey - he went on to win the whole thing.
We also saw Jens Voigt tearing it up in the breakaway - what a stud.)
Us out and about on a beautiful morning.

At our favorite funny farm - today it was relatively quiet, 
but it often houses turkeys, goats, cows, horses, llamas, etc.
We find it amusing.

Phew - that was exhausting! I'm not even going back to check for typos. Sorry.