Family Adventures

Bucket List Adventures By Family Unit Family

Great Balls of Fire: A Guest Blog


I am a great believer in the “Plan your Work and Work your Plan” methodology. I have followed these words most of my life, being an engineer, and most importantly during my training for an Ironman. I often see people who plan 75% and wing-it the other 25% of the time. This rarely works out well.
This holds true for those who are embarking on an exercise plan to get into better shape. They know what they want, they know what they need to do, however, they are just not disciplined enough to follow through to maximize their goals and reach their full potential.

Now, I must confess, I have wondered off the path of sticking to a plan and have been met with less than spectacular results. Let me share a story with you.
It was 2009 and I was training to run the St. George Marathon in St. George, UT. It was a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and I was set to qualify with a 3:20. They shipped us 26.2 miles out of town for the start of the race where large bonfires kept us warm in the cold morning air.

As the race was to begin, I lined up with the 3:20 pace runner. The gun went off and we all started to surge forward. Now the marathon is mostly downhill which you would think is a good thing. The problem is this will pound your quads.

Through mile 17, I was keeping up with the pace runner and feeling good about life. My IT Bands were starting to tighten, but not badly. I knew that I would have to stretch them out to continue at this pace.

Then it happened. At mile 18, there was an aid station with drinks, food and a medical tent. Outside the medical tent were several people with plastic gloves on rubbing a Ben-Gay type product on peoples legs. That was the ticket to help my IT Bands. I had never done this before, usually I just stretched a bit and ran through the mild pain. They rubbed the magical crème on my thighs and off I went. I felt great.

However, my running shorts were rubbing on my thighs. Soon, I noticed that not only were my thighs feeling that “hot” sensation, but so was my crotch. That was my “Great Balls of Fire” moment. The Ben-Gay had wicked its way up my thighs to my crotch via my running shorts.

Boy, did that sting. Luckily, I still had an extra shirt on. I stopped at a porta-potty, folded it in 1/3’s and put it inside my running shorts. It alleviated the pain somewhat, but my race was over. Bye, Bye Boston. I finished at a little over 4 hours and was glad to be done. I got my medal and ice cream bar and sat down in the park by the finish line. My pain had subsided, but running the last 8 miles with my crotch on fire was no bueno.
The moral of my story is, make your plan and stick to it.

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Red Solo Cup on a Wet Dog

We all piled into the Yukon, anxious to head to the lake to join my sister’s family for a weekend of camping, kayaking and dirt biking on this beautiful spring Mother’s Day weekend in Missouri. Loaded with coolers of drinks, sleeping bags, snacks and dirt biking gear, parents Dan and Jackie joined teenager Maggie and Golden Retriever Rowdy, ready for fun in the sun.




“Oh my, it smells like wet dog in here,” said Dan as he buckled his seat belt and scanned over his shoulder to back the Yukon out of the driveway.

“It sure does!” Agreed Jackie turning to give the hyper excited Golden Retriever a grin.

Are We There Yet? Are We??
The subject of the always welcome attention, Rowdy, glanced from owner to owner, his floppy ears blowing back in the wind from the rolled down window. His actions seemed to say, “Where are we going? Where are we going? Are we there yet? Are we? Are we?” Huh?”

In a mere 20 minutes we reached the campground and found the other half of the crew already riding dirt bikes in the light drizzle of a spring rain. Vicki, Kurt and five of their six kids greeted us with muddy but happy faces.



Mack, my sisters Yellow Lab, came bounding up to us as we pulled in. Soaked from head to toe but loving every minute of it, Mack wagged his tail like a windshield wiper on high, back and forth sending small spays of water here, there and everywhere.


Mud, Mud and More Mud
The kids were determined to enjoy this rare opportunity to be turned loose on dirt bikes to play amongst the trees and even though the weather refused to cooperate they rode in the rain anyway, slipping, sliding, mud flying here and there. With the wet Missouri clay dirt soaking in more and more rain soon the dirt bike tires were caked with sticky gooey mud, clogging up everything from gears and chains to brakes and clutches.


The boys, Ryan, 17 and Tommy, 15, channeled all their youthful energy into a dirt clot fight happily logging clumps of mud back and forth at each other while the girls, Ally and Beth, both 19 took their turn on the dirt bikes. Mom Vicki stood close by monitoring the innocent playfulness.

“Bombs Away”
“Bombs away!” yelled Ryan as he playfully tossed a clod Tommy’s way. Unfortunately, about then, Vicki, unaware of the incoming weaponry, turned her head to check on 10 year old Jay who was trying to drop rocks off the nearby benches into a small bucket far below. With her head turned the wrong direction Vicki had no idea what was about to happen next.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound
“AWWWWWWWW” she cried out as the perfectly launched dirt clod landed smartly on the left side of her head, instantly revealing a silver dollar sized knot covered in crimson colored red.


“Honey are you ok?” yelled concerned hubby Kurt.

“What was that?” asked a dazed and confused mother Vicki.


Kurt rushed to her side to examine the damage. The deep red showed dramatically against her medium blonde hair. “You got hit in the head with a dirt clod and I think it had a rock in it. Your head is bleeding! Are you ok?” he asked.

“I guess so” she replied rather unconvincingly. As I watched from my perch on the reclining lawn chair so my broken foot could be elevated I could literally see the stars circling her poor head just like in a Peanuts cartoon. I was pretty sure she wasn’t really as ok as she pretended to be.

As Vicki came and sat down by the camper to evaluate her status, the kids came in to rally around her. Poor Ryan, the guilty party, had certainly not injured Vicki on purpose and had no idea the dirt clod contained a rock, felt extremely remorseful, seemingly sheepish.


Like most healthy and yet slightly dysfunctional red-blooded American families, soon everyone was teasing each other about the recent mishap.

“Gosh Ryan, way to go, injure Vicki on Mother’s Day!” I chimed in but added a mischievous wink directed at him so he knew I was just teasing!


He grinned back at me. This kid felt bad but he also has a wicked sense of humor and that’s why I think he’s cool.

Wet Dog: Ummm Help ME!
About this point in the action, Rowdy walked back into the middle of the family mêlée completely soaked with rain, his normally pretty fur coat feathered but this time caked in dark tar like mud with his snout stuck in a red Solo cup. He entered the scene with perfect timing and his ever playful deep brown eyes looking up at us like “Ummm, excuse me, could someone help me with this? I have no idea how this cup got stuck on my snout but I can’t get it off!” The words to the song by Toby Keith suddenly started playing in my ears, “red solo cup, come fill me up, let’s have a party.”

The entire Vandy bunch, 5 teenagers and two parents, and our little family of three erupted in hysterical laughter.

Families that Play Together Stay Together
Don’t let it be said that you can’t have fun when life doesn’t go according to plan. We had planned a nice sunny weekend of camping perfection, all the way down to picnic lunches on the trails, dirt biking through meadows of green grass and s’mores over a campfire under a starry night sky. What we got was overcast, dreary weekend of steady rain caking the clay dirt all around us until even walking was hazardous to your heath. Of the 4 dirt bikes only one was still working by the time the two day weekend was over and Kurt’s repair shop was dealing with flat tires, bent rims, broken starters, bent handle bars, broken hand brakes and more. Vicki most likely sustained a very slight concussion, Jay had a cut on his foot, Tommy ended up covered in an impressive case of road rash from the nightly game of Ghosts in the Graveyard, Ryan’s thumb was jammed and Jackie’s broken foot fit right in. However, it was the wet dogs, Mack and Rowdy who showed us that no matter what you can always have fun with a plain old red solo cup!



The weekend was full of good life lessons:
1. Don’t throw a dirt clod at mom on Mother’s Day; it’s not cool if she starts bleeding from a head injury!
2. Hot dogs and burgers taste better over a campfire
3. If you eat all the marshmallows before campfire time you can’t make s’mores!
4. If you are going to go up a muddy hill on a dirt bike you have to make a commitment to it. Go, and go strong or don’t go at all!
5. Garbage bags around casts on broken bones work to keep the wind, rain and dirt off even if they aren’t very stylish.
6. Sometimes you have to go help rescue your sister, just grin and go do it.
7. Girls like to play in the dirt too.
8. Head wounds bleed-a lot!
9. Ball caps can cover camping hair, bandages and Neosporin
10. Learning to put oil on the chain of your dirt bike helps it run better
11. Always bring a spare pair of jeans and clean underwear when you go camping
12. Laugher is always the best medicine.

For ever more the smell of a wet dog will always conjure up memories of this sweet family camping trip, a perfect case study in Murphy’s Law whatever can go wrong will go wrong. The question is are you going to have fun anyway? We certainly did.


So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Simple is Better


My Quest
Lately I am on a quest to simplify my family’s life. I can’t tell you how or why it happened but somehow each and every one of us took on too much and the end result is that we’ve lost our focus and our sanity at the same time.

Everything we are doing is good when you look at it separately it’s just when you apply the laws of mathematics cumulatively we have too much on our plate.

What is the price to pay we pay for this? Stress levels are elevated, sleep patterns are disturbed, weight gain has increased, fitness levels decreased, and we’ve lost the simple joy of being able to hang out and relax together.

As mom, it’s my job to pull us together, keep us organized and make the day-to-day stuff happen. When I see my family unhappy, eating badly, not sleeping well and just all around cranky, it’s my job to step in as the referee and blow the whistle.

Time to reevaluate, eliminate all excess clutter in our world and get us back to the basics.

In a society where more is always better kids are encouraged and actually barraged with invitations to try new things. Birthday parties now have to be bigger and better than last years party was, kids are in multiple sports, and then take on dance lessons and band. Between school, sports, dance, cheerleading, soccer etc the list of possibilities goes on and on.

Parents are no better, we take on extra projects at work, stay late at the office to impress the boss or go in early trying to not to be the employee that gets laid off.

I see how this happens. To me the challenge is how to use our role as mom’s to center our families, reestablish some basic boundaries, manage the chaos and reclaim family time.

This mom’s plan of attack:

It may sound radical but the past year this is what I have done.


I led the war on clutter in my home. It was like leading the war on drugs or terrorism! I had to get serious! We’ve cleaned, sorted, purged, sold and donated all but the most foundational items. It was a painful project that took an enormous amount of time and effort but was surprisingly enlightening and empowering.

I actually found boxes that haven’t been opened for 15 years in my garage, even an unopened wedding gift from 28 years ago and a 9-year-old box of discarded junk mail! Why did I have all of that stuff? Because we collect this and then develop a fear of letting go. That or we just get overwhelmed with piles of stuff and put off sorting though it.

We get caught up in the crazy thought process, some family member gave this to me therefore I have to keep it or maybe I will need it someday.

I forced my little tribe to step back and get some perspective. It’s just stuff.


Trying to keep up with bigger and better is exhausting. Bigger houses, more bathrooms, bigger yards, multi car garages and excess toys all require physical and emotional support as well has a drain on your pocketbook.

Granted I took downsizing to an extreme recently but I think it is a healthy topic to at least consider. We sold the big house and downsized because we are almost empty nesting and just don’t need that much space right now. We took it pretty far by going from a large suburban house to a much smaller home but you know what? We love it!

Look at it this way, it takes me only a couple hours to clean now and with less stuff we actually know where to find the things we actually want and need! Wow!!

It was scary at first but I’m very glad we did it although it is a constant battle.

Eliminate Distractions

I took my quest even farther when I started to see positive results of a happier family. In fact, I was so radical I cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry and got rid of all the junk food that had accumulated over time. Yes, I said it, no more Cheetos, Duritos or sodas. Instead I stocked us up with vast amounts of lean meats, fresh and frozen veggies and colorful fruits! Insane, I know!

But wait there’s more! I did something else that few have had the courage to do- I turned off the tv and disconnected the house phone! While I have recently relented and we’ve restored tv, we are trying to keep a lid on it so it doesn’t get out of control again. Egad, you say!

I have watched my teen complain bitterly, crab and moan actually, but she feels better, is sleeping soundly, and has been reading more. Additionally, she is teaching herself to draw cartoon figures with a book she got at the library and is working on teaching the dog new tricks! She is learning to cook, spends a lot of time playing tennis and bike riding and has even discovered she likes beef jerky and fruit!

What’s next on my crazed quest to simplify? All organic cotton or tofu only meals? I probably will not go to those extremes but I do plan to try Gluten free menu plan for a month and see if that helps with some lingering health issues.

My point is simple

As moms we have to be willing to fight back against negative influences and we have to be able to help our families when they need it.

The fight goes on in my quest to simplify life. I believe the less bogged down with day to day life the more opportunity we have to explore our world around us and try new things and make new memories!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”


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8 Second Rule- Cowboy Up Girls!

8 Second Rule Cowboy Up Girls!

Mom’s Home

My mother grew up in the Sandhills of the midwest on a small ranch during the 1940’s to the 1950’s. Her parents both came from modest means but of strong European roots. My grandfather, William was from Ireland and grandma, Francis, a transplant from Minnesota originally from Czechoslovakia. A chance meeting at a midwest barn dance brought these two very different people together, love kept them together.


For my mother life on the ranch as one of five wasn’t always easy, but it was easy to develop a life long love of horses, cowboys and rodeos. Back in the day the local rodeo was the premier rodeo for aspiring professional cowboys aiming to win the big belt buckle and prize money. The late summer annual event would draw cowboys from all over the country rolling up in dusty trucks and trailers to compete at the competition to name the best all around cowboy.

Canasta by Kerosene
old pump

On the ranch the family shared memories, learned to read paperback westerns by kerosene on cold windy winter nights, and became experts at card games like Canasta to pass the time. William and Francis managed to teach these five children the value of family, instill a midwestern work ethic that would serve them well and most importantly, taught them what the meaning of unconditional love was. They did all of this despite hard economic times, rainy farm roads and no running water or electricity.

How do I know all this? Because as a child we would frequently visit the farm and somehow every time we passed the end of the county road and the neighbors family farm headed toward grandma and grandpa’s house something magical happened. It’s hard to describe, but I’m not the only one who felt it. Ask any of the other grandchildren or family friends who all seemed to line up to volunteer to accompany us on a weekend trip to the farm.

Time stood still at the old weathered white farmhouse. Others had telephones, electricity and running water with improvements such as indoor plumbing, while grandma and grandpa didn’t, but I have never been somewhere that felt so spiritual as their simple family farm.


Picture this, the county road ends with its well-maintained lane, turning into a simple rut filled lane. The fields on either side are a deep green hue as the Alfalfa seasons rolled past through the hot weeks of summer.

The road ends in the neglected yard at the farmhouse. Their house is the last one at the end of a string of more prosperous family businesses but this is where the magic began and my words will not do it justice but I will try.


The farmyard looked over and down a hill passing the barn and old house, which most recently served as home to the pigs! But beyond the weathered old buildings you could see the creek melting into the river, silver slices against the green fields and cedar trees!

old door

Screen Door Slapping in the Sun
In the house you entered through a weathered screen door that I can still hear slapping behind us kids a 1000 times a day, into the porch that had settled at a kilterend angle into the thick soil below. The kitchen was somehow the heart and soul of this simple home and as you entered you’d be wrapped in the warm aromas of cherry pie, cinnamon rolls or maybe roast, potatoes and carrots. The ancient cook stove in the corner radiated a glow to the entire room and pulled all who entered this home into the living chamber beyond.

The next room was the dining room but this is where grandpa sat in his old weathered leather rocking chair looking out the window at his land or at the TV in the corner. Old rabbit ears tentatively placed on top, to watch the nightly news or Lawrence Welk, the only two shows that ever seemed to come through the static.

The table was where grandma pulled us together in stitches of love through her meals. We ate together, we read together, we played and we prayed together right at this table, a circle of love for all times.

It’s hard to describe how such simple people, in their weathered farmhouse, could draw their family together like they did at this wooden table. Politics, history, crops and weather were discussed in detail, the world, while far removed from this place, was still very much a part of these lives. We read books by the dozen so even though exposure was limited we learned about the world through the words of many different authors.

This is where my mom grew up believing in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.


Whenever we’d go to the rodeo with mom she’d tell stories of how as a young girl she wanted desperately to compete as a barrel racer, or as a rodeo queen. She even confessed on many an occasion to me that she’d also wanted to ride the bull and how she’d always had a thing for bull riding wild cowboys!

I lost my mom a few years ago and while I’m still learning to live without her I am figuring out what to do with the lessons she taught me. I believe. I dream. I hold the ones I love dear. I love an adventure. I have a thing for cowboys.

The anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming up again, and every time this happens I am flooded with memories and longing to just hear her voice again. This year my sister and I met up at a country western bar for a healthy dosage of good music and cowboys, but we also rode the mechanical bull in tribute to my mom and all the lessons she and grandma taught me.

rodeo bull

As I faced the bull I closed my eyes for just a moment and imagined my tiny mom secretly longing to face the biggest, nastiest rodeo bull. When it was my turn and I prepared to ride the mechanical bull I could see the bull in my mind and hear him snort as he sized me up. Once on the steel beast, I grabbed the rope and squeezed hard with my legs. Why do I think my mom wanted to ride the bull? I think it has more to do with her adventurous spirit and her willingness to face the uncertainties of life and just try to hang on, giving whatever the challenge her best effort. Mom’s life had it’s ups and downs, but no matter what she never gave up on the values she learned on the farm, she believed in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.

The bull my sister and I rode was far friendlier than the real version but still not easy to ride. In true western spirit we climbed on, held tight, threw our left hand in the air and rode with all our might, trying to make it past the 8-second rule.

Strong women love fearlessly. They dream big and they know how to “cowboy up” when life gets tough!

cowgirl up

Thanks mom for the lessons in life and the love.

Love you.

So my friend I ask you what’s next on your list?

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A Taste of Love


I love this big ol crazy, nutty family. And everyone in this family has taught me something at some time or another. Aunt Mary taught me how to shop. Really.

Aunt Mary gave the best Christmas and birthday presents, no offense to all my other aunts and uncles. And of course the gifts always came from Uncle Dennis and Aunt Mary, but we all knew Uncle Dennis got the benefit of being married to the best gift giver ever and we well new where the gift had come from.

In fact, I think I was about 9 or 10 when I remember getting a birthday gift from Aunt Mary (and Uncle Dennis) that stood out from all the others. The year would have been 73 or 74 and my mom was still dressing me in little girl fashions but somehow Aunt Mary in her infinite shopping and motherly wisdom knew I was ready for more. She carefully picked out for me a bright yellow tube top type shirt and bell-bottom jeans! Oh my gosh! It screamed 1970’s and when I tried it on, for the first time in my life, I knew I had it going on! It was the most amazing outfit I had ever seen. It was smart, edgy, and swanky, and groovy and grown up and yet perfect for a little girl trying to be just a bit grown up.

See the lesson she taught me was not that shopping was the answer to problems or that gifts had to be expensive. The lesson I learned was that she loved me so much that she really put time and energy into thinking about the best possible gift for me at that time. It was the amount of love and thought that went into her gifts that made them a little magic.

Now I know she loved me but she did this for everyone with every gift they got.

I know this because you know exactly what I am talking about.

Like Forrest Gump said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” but when you got a gift from Aunt Mary (and Uncle Dennis) you never had to worry because your box of chocolates was going to contain the most mouth watering sweet milk chocolate covering decadent macadamia nuts from only one place in the world, Hawaii. Each box was hand selected and delivered with love to each and every one of us, every time. The only gift better than my bright yellow tube top and bell-bottom jeans was those boxes of chocolate macadamia nuts. Each bite was a little slice of heaven and I never felt so loved.

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A Lot Can Happen in a Year

A lot can happen in a year

What did you do last year that was exciting?



-Got brave enough to launch an Empower Your Estrogen Adventure, or two, or three! I was really scared for some reason; I think I was uncertain others would think this adventure stuff was strange or that if I invited others to join I was somehow then responsible for their happiness and enjoyment on the trip. I was really wrong, others were most definitely interested and the women that came made it clear to me that they were there of their own accord and were singly responsible for their own happiness. Several reported that it was life-changing experience. I am so glad I let go of my fear long enough to give this a try. Last year my sister and I put together three trips, we went rock climbing in Moab, Utah, mountain biked down Pikes Peak, Colorado and went on a back country camping and yoga trip in Omaha, NE. WE have more fun adventures scheduled for 2015!

BLB Button

-I persisted with a dream long enough to see it come true! I had been submitting articles to the editor of Max Sports and Fitness magazine for over a year and one of my articles was selected the year before but at the very end of 2013 she called and asked me if I would be interested in writing 9 feature stories as a contributing author! Again, a flash of doubt made me stop a question whether or not I could do it and then that bold inner child spoke up loud and strong and said yes! I am so glad I did! Nine feature stories turned into 22 feature stories in 2014 and a current set of assignments to kick off 2015! I can definitively say I am published!


-Rock climbed to new heights in Moab, Utah and learned to rappel! Not only did I rappel I did it off awe inspiring 120 foot Aches!


-Finally embraced mountain biking and not only went on adventures riding down Pikes Peak and Gold Camp Road and finally purchased a bike of my own.

-Got to see my son graduate from college! I am very proud of all of his hard work and it is a delight to visit with him about world issues and historical events, he has an impressive grasp of history and inspires me to learn more.

-Turned 50! Holy Cow how did that happen? In my mind I feel about 25 full of ideas for my future and yet somehow I now have a veritable lifetime of experiences to go with all those dreams. I am trying to embrace the woman I am, and all my imperfections and learn to understand what I can and cannot do!

-Sold our business and bought a house. Launched into yet again another career journey!

-Finally completed a 3-minute plank, 50 sit-ups and 1 real pushup! Fitness is forever something I am working on and this was a new level of achievement for me.


-Went 4 wheeling in my Jeep in the Rocky Mountains with a Jeep Group and got onto some very challenging trails requiring me to learn to embrace white knuckling some wild trails. It was nerve wracking to say the least especially when the Jeep tilted and I had a wheel in the air and the bottom of the Jeep was scraping the rocks below but I liked it!


-It wasn’t an easy year by any means, in fact, it was downright scary and beyond stressful. A lot changed in our world in a year and it makes me wonder what’s in store for us next year!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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The Lost Art of Pie Making

Lost Art of Pie Making

Lost Art of Pie Making

Grandma, Mom, my sister and me

Grandma, Mom, my sister and me

My grandma had the most amazing ability to take water, flour and lard and with a few strokes of her wrist, her farm strong fingers could whip up a ball of soon to be flaky piecrust. How she could create something so heartwarming and soul soothing with just these three ingredients always amazed me. As a young girl I took this for granted, as we so often do. I guess I just figured she’d always be there, in her apron, working in her farm kitchen and somehow I never saw the urgency of spending more time with her there or of learning her art. Instead, I would breath deep the soothing aromas emanating from the kitchen while I scampered by trying to escape with my cousins to the fields, barn, trees, creek and adventures that lay beyond the kitchen to make mischief and fight imaginary battles defending the castle on the hill or the fort in the trees.

Don’t get me wrong, I would not trade my memories of running free on the farm, creating imaginary forts under the shade of the trees, swinging on the lone rope in the long abandoned barn or laying in the alfalfa field smelling the sweet smells of summer and watching the birds fly overhead for anything, but I do wish that I had taken advantage of those treasured kitchen moments with my grandma and mastered the time proven art of pie making.

Now that my grandma and her beloved farm are only dusty memories in my mind I am forced to use my sensory skills to conjure up the sights of grandma working back and forth on bare kitchen floor, the ancient boards worn smooth but uneven with the magic dance of cooking, the smells of the fresh baked pie cooling on the counter in the summer breeze, or the sounds of grandma washing dishes, opening and closing the oven door or adding wood to the cracking fire in the wood stove. I remember so well the sound of her striking a match across the steel in such a quiet yet confident way as if to tell the stove I am the queen of this kitchen and I will show you what we must do.

Instead of living with my secret memories or with regret of lost grandma kitchen time I traded years ago for time spent running free and wild on the 200 acres of sand hills ranch, I have decided to proactively solve this with a creative solution. I added learn to make a pie to my life long bucket list. I turned a regret into a goal and have decided to give it a new twist so that I may create new memories with my youngest daughter. We are going to learn together!

After our recent move to a new state, I am taking advantage of the fact that my social teenager hasn’t had a chance to pack her schedule with friend activities yet and I signed us up for a class at the local community center titled “Making decorative pie crusts” What the instructor didn’t know, or falsely assumed, was that I already new how to make the pie crust I just needed to know how to make them decorative. It was a little like putting the cart before the horse so to speak by attending, presumptuous at a minimum. Nevertheless, we proudly walked into class and with false confidence claimed our spot at the cooking counter marked with a single rolling pin.

First attempt at Rolling my pie crust

First attempt at Rolling my pie crust

Thankfully the instructor, in an effort to save class time, provided each of us with a fist size ball of professionally done pie crust and then proceeded to jump into the art of creating fancy looking pies with perfectly done fluting and intricately woven lattice or braded edging!

We floured, rolled and cut our piecrusts and I was delighted to see my daughter proving she was a natural! While my piecrusts were uneven or rolled too thin hers seemed rather artfully perfect in their innocence!

Grandma wasn’t there to teach us but I am pretty sure she was watching down on us that day. I might get an A for effort, or for being a dreamer, but I think my youngest made it clear the art of pie making skipped a generation, I am just glad the family name will be said with pride at future family gatherings and Thanksgivings!

Making Memories

Making Memories

My youngest and I have been practicing all fall and while we don’t have it mastered yet our taste buds are enjoying the challenge! Inevitably, we are still confounded with crusts that are either too dry or too moist to achieve that look of perfection, and when we did get close to the right texture we were frustrated to realize our crust was too small for the pie tin, but like Grandma taught us, we just keep a smile on our face and worked with what we had. As I reflect back over the years and the many lessons learned on the farm, I am comforted by the realization that the best lesson Grandma ever taught me was to recognize and be thankful for the blessings in my life and to appreciate what I had. So many of the younger generation seem to never be satisfied with what they have, always wanting instead what everyone else seems to have. Like a dear friend of my mothers recently put it “Your family never seemed to have a lot of presents under the tree but they had so much love that no one seemed to notice.” Hopefully, in my own little family I have somehow managed to share that lesson also! Our pie crusts might not be perfect and we might not have all the newest and greatest material things in life but hopefully we have so much love that no one seems to notice. At least that is my prayer for my children.

So my friend, what’s next on your list?

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Bucketlistblogger Needs to Refill Her Own Bucket

Bucketlistblogger Needs to Refill her Own Bucket

sunset 1

It’s a simple pleasure, one that is far too often taken for granted, not even noticed in our busy lives, as we rush here and there, but a Colorado Rocky Mountain sunset can be as spectacular as anything I’ve ever seen. It can also help me refill my own energy bucket!

As a busy business owner, my daily quest to share my passion for health and fitness, and help clients in their own sports nutrition journey, takes a fair amount of energy. So does my greatest joy being a mother and wife. Sometimes I too, can start to feel overwhelmed with to do lists, grocery shopping, meal prep, work, and family obligations, not to mention my own fitness goals and training. Just because my husband and I own a sports nutrition store doesn’t mean we aren’t real people and deal with the same day to day challenges you do.

Periodically, when my own energy starts to feel low, I have to remember to pause and give thanks for the simple pleasures in life, like watching a Colorado sunset, somehow it helps me fill back up my own energy bucket.

This might sound strange, but I believe we give to others from our own “bucket of energy” and like a simple math equation, if you give away without refilling your own bucket you are soon going to have a problem and your bucket will be totally empty leaving you nothing to give to others. How we all refill our own energy buckets is a very personal thing. I’ve been a slow learner over the years with this lesson, but I am starting to get it. I have learned that if I stop every now and then and give to myself my bucket stays full and I have the passion and energy to give to others. For me, refilling my bucket can be as simple as an afternoon nap, a ride in the mountains with my family, a hike or simply slowing down to enjoy a Colorado sunset.

It may not be fancy, and it may not be large, but my patio is just big enough for two rockers and a cup of hot coffee in the morning or a small glass of red wine in the evening. My patio perfectly frames my front seat view of Pikes Peak and the front range. I really couln’t ask for more.

While rocking on my patio in the evening, I see the blue Colorado skies as the bright ornages, saucy pinks and teal blues mix against the black outline of the mountains, like a bright box of sun melted Crayons.

When the sun sets on a summer evening I love to watch the sky light up behind the mountains, casting a fast moving kaleidoscope of colors as darkness begins to fall. Soon the sky lights up in a spectrum of rainbow colors, blue as far as the eye can see. As darkness falls a calmness settles over me, allowing me to end my busy day with a simple ritual that always seems to set my day right, even if it went wrong! It helps me refill my bucket.

Simple, pure, peaceful. It helps me remember why I am doing all this in the first place! As night sets I retire knowing I am ready for another day.

Sunset 3

So my friend I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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“Baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise
Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with you
In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it
So baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise”

By Florida Georgia Line

547718_10200395442303340_350359057_nTyler and Brian

The boys captured the feeling I remember so well of summertime in the Midwest, cruising around in my little red Camero, with the music blaring and the windows down and the T-Tops off. My friends and I had no clue what growing up really meant, but all we knew is that we loved hanging out together, cruising around and singing to the tops of our lungs, in the heat of summertime. We savored our first taste of independence and freedom without the anxiety or stress that comes with real life. It was a precious time of my life and in an instant the lyrics took me back.

Recapturing that moment of my youth in the few lines of lyrics and a catchy tune made me realize what a blessed life I have led. Even though it’s been a long time since my cruising days of my teenage years, the song evoked pleasant memories. Suddenly my senses came alive, feeling the warm summer night wind through my hair, the feel of the leather steering wheel under my fingers, the twinkling stars and the red and orange Midwest sunsets. I could smell the farm fields and rich dirt mixed with the coconut in the Coppertone suntan lotion and the fresh air mixed with just a hint of bug spray protection from pesky mosquitoes!

The fun part is that the very first time I heard this song on the Highway on my car radio I found myself dancing in my seat and singing along even before I knew the words. When I realized my daughter knew the young men who sang these words and that this was their first hit, it was even more fun. When she called a few months later to invite me to their concert at The Rose I was purely excited. The fact that she managed to get us tickets, backstage meet and greet passes, and I got to give them a motherly hug and have my picture taken with them was pure gold. My chance to cross another item off my bucket list-meet someone famous! The fact that Tyler and Brian were not actually famous, yet didn’t matter. I knew they would be famous and it was a kick that I got to meet them on the brink of that fame, the actual week they won the AMC Artist of the Year Award. Suddenly, tickets were sold out, Facebook lit up, and their lives went from unknown to being the hottest country duo in the country, and they were singing my song!

The night of the concert we joined the a anxious line of fans lucky enough to have a meet and greet pass and soon Tyler and Brian were ushered into the meeting room and we were guided in an orderly fashion through the line until finally it was almost our turn. It was then that Tyler got a glimpse of my daughter, his friend from her freshman year at Belmont in Nashville! His face lit up in recognition and he gave her a friendly wave. Soon we were all posing for a fast picture and we used our few seconds of time to congratulate them both on the success of their debut album and recent AMC win. Even though the three young adults were interested in catching up we were told to move on time was up and they would soon be on stage.

As the lights of the bar and dance hall dimmed the crowd came to life with anticipation. Thanks to my lucky girl we had tickets in the VIP section, which offered substantially better viewing than the main dance hall, and we wiggled our way as far forward as we could. Much to my motherly delight Brian announced that the concert was dedicated to his father who was celebrating his 70th birthday! I watched as everyone turned to cheer for a handsome mature man standing next to me! The look of pride on his face was priceless and soon the boys led the crowd in singing happy birthday.

The actual concert was fantastic and the boys had that house rocking from their first song to their last. They worked the crowd of FGL enthusiasts and the stage like a couple of veterans and other than look of pure wonderment in their eyes, which I could actually see since I was so close to the stage, you’d have thought they’d been doing this for years and years.

The night ended much too fast and before I knew it, this soccer mom was feeling like Cinderella at the ball, and it was over. Back to reality, but it was so much fun to meet the young men of Florida Georgia Line, and sing along at the top of my lungs like a silly schoolgirl. Even better was the fact that we got to say hi backstage and get our picture as solid proof that this crazy mom actually got to meet someone famous, sort of. They might not have been exactly famous on that May night but they are quickly becoming a Country sensation and household word, even topping the CMA’s just a couple months later.

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Take the Plunge

If you are going to do it, then take the plunge and really do it-don’t hold anything back. “Go big or go home” as the saying goes.

This applies to almost every aspect of life, and it is much harder than it sounds, but it is worth repeating every now and then. Don’t do something halfway and then wonder why it didn’t work out. It doesn’t matter what the “It” is.

In the past 6 weeks life has left us with our heads spinning, but we have done some radical stuff around our house. We agreed to sell our house, sorted, purged, sold stuff, gave away stuff and then we boxed and moved/stored 25 years worth of family treasures. We dealt with the Colorado fires (which hit very close to home) and then I resigned my job so I could work full-time with my husband at our business. That’s an awful lot for just a few weeks, and we were appropriately exhausted!

I wrapped up my job, and then we headed on a week long vacation in Crested Butte with dear friends to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversaries. I have never needed a vacation as badly in my life!

I am now several days into my rejuvenating week long vacation, and I feel like a new woman! I am rested, relaxed, decompressed and properly chilled out! Even better, I have had the time to live out several bucketlist adventures!

The first adventure on the list for the week was to go white water rafting on the Taylor River in Colorado. We chose Three Rivers Outfitters to put our trust in and were very well taken care of and entertained!

When you white water raft in Colorado on a Class III, very technical river, you get assigned to a river guide, fitted with a dry suit (that was not very dry) equipped with a snug life vest, and then properly prepped with the “Safety Speech” where they terrify you with explicit details how to position yourself if you fall out of the boat, and how to rescue another rafter if they have the misfortune to fall out! Then you board the inflatable raft and go for it!

Our guide was a very friendly young man named Nick, who was a recent college grad, EMT, river guide and certified avalanche rescuer. I liked the fact hat we was so multi-talented and ready for any disaster-besides that he was fun!

Nick coached us how to paddle our oars together, taught us our commands: left 3, all 1, all back 3, right 2 and all 1, until the four of us fell into a rhythmic synchronized dance that would have impressed any Olympic team!

I guess 35 years of friendship and 25 years of marriage teaches you to work together well as a team! Anyway, Nick was impressed, and we proved to be an apt team of middle-aged rafters!

One of the biggest tricks to staying in the boat, I soon learned, was to wedge your toes under the seat in front of you as much as possible, so that if the raft took an unexpected jolt you could counterbalance yourself. I was terrified to get tossed from the boat and end up floating like an inflated blueberry Umpa Loompa (note the dry suit) so I wedged my toes in until I damn near hit my kneecaps! The first set of rapids tested my skill and I quickly learned to adjust to the unexpected and powerful flow of the river.

At this point, we rocked and rolled our way down the river with Nick at the helm, and the four of us providing the muscle power. It felt good to work together, and I learned we were good at anticipating each others’ moves, and we quickly learned to appreciate the combined power of our joined efforts.

White water rafting is all about learning to read the river anticipate its obstacles and go with the flow!

I quickly learned you couldn’t fight the power of the river. Instead, you have to learn to work with it. One person can’t row and guide the boat- it takes a team working together.

The huge rocks in the river were fascinating and intimidating also. We learned to read the river, from its smiley faces to its frowns. Smiles are good; frowns are bad; I liked the simplicity of that message.

Nick would direct us where to put our power in carefully coordinated and clear directions so that the raft worked with the river, not against it.

The rocks would divide the river forcing the rushing, frigid, snow runoff water to go around it, thus creating hazards, obstacles and dangerous pockets.

I was struck by the symbolism of this lesson. A river is much more powerful it its energy is not diverted, but instead channeled in one clear direction. It makes navigating much easier and your results are more powerful. The odds are much better you won’t crash and burn or end up going where you don’t want to go.

As I rafted down this gorgeous river I realized the potential strength in our recent decision to join professional efforts to work together to grow our business as a team. Alone we were vulnerable, divided and forced to navigate the dangerous waters of business separately, but together we would be undeterred, our efforts doubled by the combined power and singular goal. It was a leap of faith, but I knew there on the river we’d make the right decision for us.

As we paused mid-river for a break, Nick encouraged us to take “the plunge”; we decided to go for it as a team. Each of us stood on a rock in the middle of the river, guided by Nick, we leaned back into the unknown and took the plunge into the icy, powerful waters. It took out breath away as we hit the 58 degree water, but as we rose to the surface we were rewarded by the knowledge we had overcome our fears and we’d worked together to achieve our dreams.

Don’t be afraid to take your own plunge!

So my friend I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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