Monday, November 16, 2015


Our life over the past 2 months has been split between Hamp playing soccer, Sam doing gymnastics, and Sam rehearsing for the 3rd - 8th grade musical. With a little "training" to run a 5K trail race in Moab, UT thrown in the mix, I have stayed sufficiently occupied... to say the least!

The decision to participate in a competitive soccer league did not come too easily - we traveled 45 miles one way twice a week for practices... and once even as far as 150 miles one way for a single game! But I couldn't help but feel a little proud of Hamp for choosing something he really was passionate about and for joining a team of complete strangers... only to end up as new friends!

And I'd be lying if I said I wan't excited to spend my Saturday mornings at the park, in the sunshine, with beautiful scenery everywhere we went, watching Hamp play!

The Rifle Under 12 boys team - with a 6-1-3 record


Sam continued with twice-a-week practices at a gym out of town and truly loved the acrobatics of it all and the progress he was making. This quick video shows just a highlight of what we were invited to see at the expo in October... super smiley face included!

In the midst of it all, we signed up to join our gang for an adventure trail race in the beautiful red rock desert of Utah... and while our more athletic and endurance-prone friends committed to running either a half or a full marathon, the boys and I enjoyed a mere 5K (3 miles) on a gorgeous, cold but sunny desert morning.

the Little Mermaid
A week later Sam made his theatrical debut as Flotsam, the electric eel and evil minion to the sea witch, Ursula... he rehearsed tirelessly for 2 months and had a fantastic 3-show run in which he sang, acted and puppeteered his way to stardom! (a little dramatic, yes... but it was a great show.)

Once the house lights went up after that last show I realized that our fall activities were officially at an end! It was bittersweet indeed - I LOVED watching Hamp play soccer and I grew to enjoy my time in the car driving back and forth to practice and gymnastics and Utah! But we are all a little worn out and ready to switch gears....

The next phase will be so exciting: we will help as much as we can getting Mojo & Dado settled into their new home in Meeker!

... and we look forward to Thanksgiving in California with family, Christmas in Knoxville with family, and of course.... ski season!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Yin & Yang

Hamp is 100% into whatever he is doing at that very moment - he plays hard and sleeps hard. He does not take time to consider or think or wonder or deliberate. He is in, or he is out (and he is almost always 'in'!) He is black and white. He is passionate and enthusiastic and active and volatile. He is quick to forgive, and quick to love - and when he does it is genuine and honest and sweet.

Sam is constantly deep in thought. He is creative and pensive and thoughtful and conscientious. He is particular about who he loves and who he shares his thoughts with. He enjoys working and creating and thinking and reading.  He is careful and kind - and because he is more cautious to give his heart, when he does it is loyal and sincere.

I have always known these things about these boys... but the other night at bedtime I caught this moment and realized just how well it captured the essence of Hamp & Sam:

Hamp is sound asleep - within seconds of his head hitting the pillow.
Sam stays up and reads.... the dictionary.

And I sit back and am grateful for them both!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

a day in the life

We woke early Saturday, and were out the door by 6:30am.
We hit Starbucks about an hour later and the coffee (and donut for Sam!) helped.
By 8:15 we were enjoying a cold morning in Basalt - at an expansive soccer complex with an excellent playground framed by bright green grass, golden aspens and my favorite deep blue Colorado sky.

Hamp's team eked out a victory and the sun finally did it's job so we could take our sweatshirts off.
By 10:45 we were back in Glenwood Springs.
We browsed a couple of retail places, a consignment shop, the book store and the candy store... making purchases at the last three!
Then we felt quite lucky to get the best, rooftop table at Juicy Lucy's Steakhouse for lunch!

With time to kill, the boys talked me into stopping for Mini Golf... and why not?
They sped through 18 holes and I wonder if the real motivation behind Mini Golf is getting to spend $.25 at the end for Skee Ball?!?! I can't blame them... they earned enough tickets to win little whoopee cushions, so that made the drive home pretty comical.

By 4:00 we had made our way to Rifle.
We stopped in to Synergy Gymnastics for the big pre-comp/team gymnastics fundraiser and expo... it was amazing to see Sam's progress in both skill and strength.

And then... what better way to end the day than dinner with friends?

We made it home by 8:00pm.
Gabe was so happy to see us, and we were happily exhausted.
It was the best mix of scheduled activities and spontaneous adventures that we could have hoped for - and it was good.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


It was a crazy-busy week... more so than usual because of High School sports and Homecoming festivities, which in a small town are full-on community events!

So beyond the regular soccer practices, play rehearsals and gymnastics lessons... we saw a "Peach Fuzz" (boys volleyball!) game one night, a Varsity softball game one night, a "Powder Puff" (girls football!) game one night, a bonfire/pep rally one night, and then a full Homecoming parade followed by Varsity volleyball games and Friday Night Lights!

Needless to say... by Friday we were all in the Meeker Cowboy Spirit - Go Gold!!!

Sam rode the parade float for the Jr. Musical production of 
The Little Mermaid - Nov. 12-14!!!

October has come in like a lion... and I imagine it will go out just as ferociously.

In the meantime, I cherish a walk in the woods when I can get away and I try to savor the energy and verve with which these boys (and all their friends!) go about their everyday.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Busy boys

Without even a wave goodbye, Summer left and Autumn took over. The nights and mornings are chilly and days are hot. Leaves are turning and starting to fall already, and football season is in full swing!

This fall is typically busy, with the boys going a mile-a-minute all week between school, soccer practice, homework, gymnastics, play rehearsals and of course just enough time to hang out with friends or go for a bike ride!

And despite my feelings to the contrary sometimes, we must be doing something right...
... because our weekends always seem to have a good balance of lazy and adventure, planned and spontaneous. 

This weekend provided us with enough free time to unwind so much that I heard my least favorite 2-word phrase: I'm bored.

Well, I reacted to that right away with a list of activities... ANYTHING that the boys could do!
(note that any 'screen time' - aka tv, movie, internet, video game, ad nauseum - was not included!)

And much to my delight, the boys took heed of either my suggestions or my annoyed expression and spent a day together that I cherished - they played imaginatively, without picking and whining! They rode bikes to the pool, ran errands for me, helped each other and laughed at one another. 
They set up an elaborate Playmobil city in the living room:

And when Hamp took a minute to do his weekend homework, Sam sat down and wrote a poem:

My Belly Ake (sic)
by Sam - age 8.5

I was at the lake
I had a belly ake
I needed it to brake
I ate a lot of food
but that made me in a bad mood
then I pood
(I know that sounds rude)
I jumped into the lake
and ate some giant carrot cake
and that fixed my belly ake

Really, we have been enjoying our busy fall days - hoping that they don't go by too fast. Even though Hamp has already exclaimed on more than one occasion that he is anxious for winter to arrive so he can hit the slopes (hmmmm, must take after his mother!) we are all appreciating the beautiful weather and getting outside...

Hamp is loving his soccer season and with games every Saturday he is getting better and better:

And when he's not practicing his back handsprings at the gym, Sam is practicing at the soccer field after games! He's getting stronger and better at his gymnastics... it's so fun to watch!

But like I said, we have managed some kind of balance with all of the busy - we have thoroughly enjoyed several impromptu back yard parties with friends in the past couple of weeks...

And best of all hosted my dad for a Labor Day week visit! (literally not a single photo from his visit - I can only attribute that to the fact that we were having so much fun together!)

So these busy boys keep me afloat either with their activities or with the way they love to play. I am so grateful for them and who they are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Our little family had a pretty cool week last week:
First Day of School 2015

Sam cruised easily into 3rd grade with the same excellent and well-loved teacher as last year and the only 'new adventure' he experienced was moving up to the second floor of the school building (the big kids' floor!) and using a daily planner...

But Hamp moved all the way up to the Middle School and has been loving his transition to 6th grade! The new building and new staff didn't phase him - he totally digs his team of teachers and is thrilled to have a locker near some of his favorite classmates! A couple of 'new adventures' in Middle School include a real gym class (with lockers and stinky gym clothes and everything!) and starting band. Hamp decided he wanted to play the saxophone...

And while I managed to make it through the first week of chaos High School, it was the weekend that brought me to a very special place, with some very awesome friends!

Ever since Jason & I tried unsuccessfully to summit Mt. Sopris in 2008, reaching the top has been on my annual 'To Do List'.

The mountain is a Roaring Fork Valley icon, standing beautifully at the north end of the Elk Mountains like a greeter to people seeking the majesty and allure of Aspen's Maroon Bells and calling out to everyone (ok, maybe just to me!) to come hang out at 12,953 feet!

The first 4 miles takes you on a lovely mountain forest hike through meadows of wild flowers and aspen forests and across creeks up to the beautiful Thomas Lakes.

Then the real work begins!
The next couple of miles is nearly straight up the mountain, over rocks and up a vertigo-inducing ridge.
While my mantra was 'one step at a time' it felt a little like 'holy hell, I am never going to make it!'

But then the next thing you know, you're at the top!

The final climb (500 vertical feet!) to the summit!
Just for perspective, you can see a small figure on the left side, middle of the photo - that's a person!

Of course the summit was awesome - the views were amazing, but more exciting was the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment in literally having no more to climb! I was with such a supportive and fun and amazing group of friends, too that I attribute much of my success that day to their tenacity and encouragement! It wasn't until we began our descent that we realized we had not taken into account one thing: the way down was equally as taxing and difficult as the way up! Consequently, we were extra proud of ourselves when we did finally (9 hours later!!!) reach the parking lot.

It was a good way to kick off the school year - with friends on a mountain.
Now I just have to figure out what to put on next year's 'To Do List'!!!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

journey on

It has been a FULL summer...

we have baseball'ed, gymnastic'ed, Meekerpalooza'ed, and mini-golf'ed:

there have been various entrepreneurial adventures such as lemonade stands and carwashes...

we made time for ice cream when it got hot...

we made the annual trip to the Craig Wave Pool with friends...

we hiked in and camped at Mirror Lake...

we took a horseback trail ride to Slide Lake...

we made several afternoon trips to Avery Lake...

And that's just the little things... more monumentally:
 ~  Hamp spent 12 days in June on a European tour with the High School Travel Club
~  all 3 of us went to the beach for a week in July
~  and best of all, the Hightower extended family spent a week with us in Meeker in July, where we were then joined by the Etheridge family and so many friends to celebrate in fine fashion the life of our beloved Jason

photo credit

And so tonight, on the eve of the first day of school with the lunch bags at the ready and the boys scrubbed clean and in bed before 9pm for the first time in months, I think about what an eventful and joyful summer we have spent - despite the nagging feeling that something is missing, that something is not quite right. That constant feeling of loss accompanies me everywhere we go, but it also pushes me to continue making life an adventure for Hamp & Sam and cherishing every moment, monumental and mundane.
I can't help but wonder what the road ahead will be like...
Miller Creek - Sunday, August 16th