Happy Father’s Day

On Father’s Day four years ago we found out we were pregnant. We didn’t know what our future would be like or who exactly would be joining our family, but we did know that we were excited for the adventures ahead. Adventures like we had today exploring beautiful Colorado, our new home, and enjoying time as a family.

We almost stayed home to work on putting up a new fence for our backyard, but temperatures were supposed to top out in the upper 90s F so we decided to go exploring in the mountains instead.

It was only a 45-minute drive and a short 3/4-mile hike before we were able to spend time hanging out and snacking by the alpine lake at the base of St. Mary’s Glacier.FD_2

And it wasn’t too much longer before S stripped down to her underwear to go swimming with Matt.FD_3

The water was cold, but S kept trying to get in until her feet slipped and she actually fell over in the water, basically dunking herself up to her chest. Matt went swimming and later jumped off a small cliff into the lake despite the fact that the water was literally ice cold. I stayed dry and watched the two of them enjoy the water, I had no intention of voluntarily submerging my body in freezing cold water.

We planned on just going to the lake and the base of the glacier, but when we got to the snow we kept right on hiking up and across the glacier. S got plenty of dad time since she didn’t want to walk and instead rode the whole way up in the carrier.FD_4

After quite a few false summits (you know, the ones where you think you see the top, but when you get there it is nothing more than a little rock pile) we finally reached a plateau with amazing views and an alpine meadow where S could eat lunch.FD_5

And where S and Matt could spend some time enjoying Father’s Day together just relaxing and being goofy.FD_1

When it was finally time to head back down the mountain we discovered that going down came with its own challenges. While other people skied and snowboarded down, we ran and slid down across the snow pack, S laughed and shrieked the whole way while I fell on my butt over and over again (sorry, no time to stop and take pictures of that one).

So four years ago we were trying to imagine what our future with a child would be like. Today we were enjoying it as best we know how; showing S the world around us and all the adventures it holds. As I put S to bed tonight she said her “peach” (favorite part of the day) was climbing to the top of the mountain and sliding down, I guess that means she had a pretty good day.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Summer Fun Meals

Meals with a three-year-old are unpredictable to say the least. They can be full of fun and laughter while healthy foods are eaten in unbelievable quantities (did my toddler really just eat more bean burritos than I did?) or they can be full of screams and little feet stomping off to the other room while ant size portions of food are eaten between tears (hopefully only from the three-year-old). Luckily for the most part S is a relatively good eater and is pretty good about sitting down at the table with us, but I get it, sometimes sitting still and eating just isn’t fun.

I know some people live to eat, but I am not one of them. I usually eat to live. Matt used to say when we were traveling that he would wait for me to remember it was time to find someplace to eat, but often he would get too hungry and would give up and decide we had to stop to eat. When we were traveling I would get so distracted with all the new things to see and do that eating was just not a priority for me. I try to keep that feeling in mind on days when S is not into sitting down and eating. While I know not all meals have to be full of laughter and good food, I have been trying to find ways to have “fun meals” once in a while, which it is a lot easier now that summer is here and we can eat outside.

We live within walking distance of quite a few different City parks with playscapes and only a short drive from many more. One day when S and I were at the park this spring I looked over at the expansive green lawn and thought how nice it would be to just spend an evening at the park as a family. So we did. I packed a picnic dinner of sandwiches, chips, and cut up veggies and we went to the park. S had a great time and we got to spend time relaxing outside with minimal post-dinner cleanup. I might have to rethink the menu a bit because S wasn’t really into the sandwiches, but I’m hoping to make picnic dinners a summer tradition for our family.picnic_s

We also set up a fire pit in our backyard recently. We have a little propane grill I want to start using more often too, but there is just something fun about roasting hot dogs over an open fire. Sure it takes a little time to get the fire going and everyone smells like smoke afterward, but it is an easy way to get that camping feeling without leaving our backyard. It also never hurts to have a few marshmallows to roast for dessert.Fire_350

So this summer I aim to make meals a little bit more fun for everyone, especially S. When it turns cold again I might have to come up with new “fun meals” but for now we are going to enjoy the warm sunshine, green grass, neighborhood parks, and even our own backyard at dinner time. What do you do for fun meals with your kids? I would love some more ideas.

No Sweetheart, You Can Be a Farmer If You Want To

Skate_Park_BW_350My little girl is three and starting to notice all the differences between boys and girls. As with everything else, she is full of observations and questions. With the exception of the obvious physical differences, I try not to emphasize a lot of difference between boys and girls, but she notices. We read a book just the other day where there was a female farmer and she said “I though farmers were men”. No sweetheart, you can be a farmer if you want to, anyone can be a farmer. You can play in the dirt for the rest of your life if you want (although, if you are a farmer you might prefer I call it soil). In her three short years of life she is already picking up stereotypes that I try so hard not to teach her.

When we took her to a skate park to ride her bike she asked me why she was the only girl there. When I looked around the park it was full of young boys, teenage boys, and men, but no girls, surprisingly there were not even any high school girls just hanging out there. What do I tell her? Is it just because of the norms of our society or do girls genuinely not want to ride bikes and flip ollies on skateboards? I want to raise my little girl to know she can do whatever she wants; she can ride a bike at the skate park or be a princess in a make believe castle, or she can even be a skateboarding princess if she wants to. She doesn’t care right now that she is the only girl, it doesn’t faze her, but how do I help her hold onto that so that at age eight, or twelve, or sixteen she still doesn’t care if she is the only girl riding her bike at a skate park.

“Why don’t boys wear dresses?” good question, but what is the answer? Because our society has determined that girls can wear dresses but boys can’t? Is that why? Maybe I should look up the history on that one, but what answer can I give her today, right now? “Mom, can boys wear dresses?” Another good question from my always aware, always questioning three-year-old. Once again, I don’t have an answer because it isn’t black and white. I say sure, a boy can wear a dress if he wants to, but I know there are little boys who are told they can’t wear a dress, so what is the answer…yes some boys can, but others can’t? I always want to be honest, but some of these things are hard for me to understand so how do I explain them to a three-year-old?

When it comes to gender roles and our society, I often ask myself how do I teach my little girl to reach for the stars, her stars, not the stars society has deemed appropriate. How do I teach her she can be who she wants regardless of whether she is the only girl or one in a thousand? I want her to know that she can wear pink and play in the dirt or wear jeans and dance like a ballerina. I want her to enjoy life, her life, and not let others decide who she should be or how she should wear her hair. I want her to continue to put on her dresses in the morning and then tuck them into shorts in the afternoon when she rides her bike. This is what I want for her. I want her to see the world as open and full of opportunities, not limited by gender and stereotypes. This is what I want for her, I just need to figure out the answers to her questions today so that tomorrow she knows she can be whoever she wants to be and do whatever it is her little heart desires. And tomorrow, if she is comfortable being herself, maybe she can help find the answers to why there aren’t any girls at the skate park and why boys don’t wear dresses.

Saving Money and Time (I Hope)

Two things I always want more of are money and time (don’t we all). I am hoping our most recent purchase will save us some money in the long run and allow us to have more time in the evenings to do the things we want to do. It really isn’t a very exciting purchase, but anything new is exciting to S, especially if it comes in a big box like our new chest freezer did. I found a little chest freezer on sale at Best Buy (this one, but it looks like the price has already gone up) and was able to use gift cards we earned through our health insurance (more about that later), making our out-of-pocket cost about $80 for the freezer.Freezer_350

In our last house our refrigerator had a top freezer and we always struggled to fit everything in. In our new house we have a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and space wise It think it is only slightly better. We decided since we have plenty of room in the basement that having extra freezer space would be a good idea. Now when I see a good deal on frozen items I can stock up and we can make freezer meals, something we have talked about for a few years now, but have never done. This afternoon I am made three spinach lasagnas and two frozen crockpot meals, hopefully they are S approved when it comes time to eat them. She walked in when I was making the lasagna and asked what I was doing. I told her I was making lasagna and she said “your making lasagna, like all the ingredients? You didn’t buy it from a store?”  I guess she thought lasagna could only come in a box.

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the reasons we were thrilled with the opportunity to move to Colorado was because of the amazing places that are within a few hours of Denver, places like Rocky Mountain National Park. We were a little hesitant to go with S this winter because we weren’t sure how much there would be to do in the winter without tons of extra gear or how easy it would be to get around the park; however, when my parents came to visit we decided to take a day trip to the park to check it out. As it turns out, some of the park roads are open and well maintained, allowing easy access to many spectacular views as well as some easy winter hikes.

The snowcapped Rockies are amazingly picturesque and if I didn’t have a toddler to keep my eye on I could probably spend an unmeasurable amount of time watching the wind whisk clouds of snow off the jagged peaks. Even brief glimpses of the snow-capped mountains when you first enter the park are impressive. The picture below was taken from the visitor center parking lot.

And the scenery only gets better as you drive through the park. While summer may offer some great camping and hiking experiences (and we are excited to check those out as well), I don’t think I would have wanted to miss seeing the park in the winter.

After a stop at the visitor center where S enthusiastically watched a video about the history and ecology of the park, we drove to Bear Lake. Photos cannot do justice to the scenic views that greet you when you pull into the parking lot for Bear Lake, but I had to try to capture a piece of the beauty to bring home with me.IMG_0651_edit











While I marveled at the scenery because it really was like something you see in the movies, S of course just wanted to play. A short hike across Bear Lake was perfect for her.

I think if she could have she would have eaten all the snow on the Bear Lake. Maybe she is a snow connoisseur or something because while she always enjoys eating snow, when we were out on Bear Lake she just couldn’t get enough of it and was running around everywhere with her mouth open and her tongue sticking out. It must have been some really good snow, maybe I should have tried it.

While getting the snow gear on S isn’t always easy, I love to watch how much she can enjoy the snow and how little the cold usually phases her. As an adult I worry about wearing enough layers, keeping my mittens on, if my toes will be warm enough, if snow will get in my boots, etc. S just plays.

Next winter we will definitely be returning with snowshoes so we can explore more of the park in its snow covered beauty. I will also remember my sunglasses cause it sure is bright!

On the way out of the park we stopped and saw some bighorn sheep grazing next to a small pond which was an unexpected treat at the end of our quick trip through the park.

Our first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park was pretty short, but I’m still amazed that we only live an hour and a half away from such an incredible place. We will be returning in the summer to hike and camp, but even in the winter we hope to spend more time in there, even if it is just to take a few moments to relax in the snow and turn our faces toward the sun that feels just a little bit warmer at almost 10,000 feet above sea level.

Conversations with a Two-Year-Old

I started writing down funny conversations with S when she turned two, now that she is three I guess I better go ahead and finish the post and start a new one, it is amazing the things that kids say!


Hurt feelings

One night S woke up earlier in the night than normal. Usually if she wakes up before 11:00 PM or 12:00 PM Matt goes and puts her back to sleep. This time she was pretty upset and insisted on finding me in the living room. I picked her up and took her back to bed. I thought maybe her teeth hurt since her two-year-old molars are coming in.

Me: Sweetie, does anything hurt?

S: (still sobbing a bit) Yeah.

Me: What hurts?

S: still crying so I didn’t understand her response.

Me: What is it that hurts?

S: My feelings!

I guess we have been having a lot of conversations about feelings lately.


When I grow up…

One morning S told me she wanted to drive a mail truck or a garbage truck when she grew up. That night at dinner she wanted us to tell her about when she was a baby and we took her to the doctor (a story she asks for all the time). I told her maybe she could be a doctor when she grows up. S replied that she wanted to be a “drug lord“. I looked at Matt and said “did you teach her that?” When he said no I asked S “what do you want to be?”. Her response: “a drugger” followed by some rapid hand motions. Finally, I caught on “oh, you want to be a JUGGLER”.


Stinky Dinosaurs

Lying in bed one night S randomly started asking about eating dinosaurs:

S: How do big girls eat dinosaurs?

Me: Well, no one eats dinosaurs because they are extinct.

S: They are pew-eee? (meaning smelly)

Me: No, extinct, not stinky. It means they no longer live on earth.

The conversation continued for a while with her asking me about something to do with “gusts” that I couldn’t quite figure out. I finally told her that we will have to talk about dinosaurs in the morning because it is getting late, but she had one last question.

S: How do you eat them when they get… (struggling to think of the word) …stinky

Followed by instantaneous laughter from both of us and me promising to talk about it with her in the morning.


A dentist ate Colorado!

I was showing S photos with scenic views of Colorado before our first trip there, she excitedly told me “I see Colorado in the dentist!” (she meant distance).



Me: S, next week we are going on a little trip and are going to fly on a plane!

S: and the man who flies the plane is going to say OVERBOARD!

I sure hope I never hear a pilot say overboard, I think she has her plane, train, and boat references a little mixed up there.


What do you love?

S: In her sweetest voice, Mom, I love you.

Me: Aw sweetie, I love you too.

S: I love your shirt, I love your pants, I love your shoes, I love your hair.

Me Thank you sweetie .

Mean while, I’m  thinking to myself, does she love me or just my clothes?


Looking for the obvious

I took S into a greenhouse and she asked “where is the green?“, I love how literal she takes everything.


Mary’s life is a butter dream

S’s version of Row Row Row Your Boat:

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, mary, mary, mary, life it butter dream“.


Wobble well before using

While watching me shake a carton of almond milk:

S: “why are you wobbling it?


Don’t forget to put up your zombian decorations

After a walk around the neighborhood with her dad a couple weeks before Halloween S tells me “some people put up zombians, have you seen the zombians mom?” Why no, no I haven’t. I actually hadn’t seen any zombies either, but I decided it is too cute to correct her so for the next two weeks there were lots of zombians to be seen in our neighborhood.


Bras are the best

One day while S was in my room while I was getting dressed she told me “when I’m a big girl I want a bra because they are my favorite thing in the whole world, k mom?


Strong coffee

S: Handing me a cup of pretend coffee, here is your coffee mama.

Me: Mmmm, that is some strong coffee.

S: Yeah, to make you strong and have big arms like Dada.

I can’t wait to have big arms…IMG_7596


Arches National Park and Moab, UT


Obligatory photo in front of the national park sign, you can tell by S’s face that it was taken after a long morning of hiking.

A few of you may remember that one of my “bucket list” items is to visit all of the U.S. National Parks with S (you can read my original post here). Now that we are living in Colorado and are closer to a few more National Parks than we were in Texas, we can start checking off parks on the list. Last weekend we visited Arches National Park with S’s preschool. It was a fun weekend and our first big camping trip with S. The Park is located in Moab, UT, about five hours from Denver so not only was it our first big camping trip, it was also a bit of a road trip.

If you are going to be stuck in traffic this is probably one of the best places to be... until your toddler announces that they have to pee and CAN NOT WAIT.

If you are going to be stuck in traffic this is probably one of the best places to be… until your toddler announces that they have to pee and CANNOT WAIT.

S was quite a trooper for the most part although I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few rough, tired, moments for all of us. Despite the fact that most of the planning and organization was done for us by the director of S’s preschool, I think the hardest part of our trip was balancing our expectations of what a trip to a National Park should look like. Matt and I are still learning how to travel with a strong-willed three-year-old and are constantly figuring out how to provide her with a fun experience while creating opportunities for ourselves to enjoy the National Park (or where ever it may be).

While our camp site was in a beautiful location, the proximity to a well-traveled road and the Colorado River made it slightly less than ideal for a group of preschoolers. I have to say though, they didn’t seem to care and, for the most part at least, time spent at the campground seemed to be enjoyable for everyone. S loved playing with her friends, joining in whatever game was presented to her by the older kids, eating hot dogs, trying s’mores for the first time, and sleeping in a tent (I have to admit, she slept quite well overall and the last night even slept for 12 hours straight which is unheard of for her).


S’s first s’more. Mmm-mmm good, but then she just wanted more chocolate, and more chocolate.

Our first morning in Utah we went to Arches National Park where we got a stamp for S’s National Park Passport book before heading on to hike to Delicate Arch, the iconic arch you see featured on Utah’s license plate. Pre-S Matt and I wouldn’t have thought too much about going on a three mile round trip hike and to be honest, I didn’t think too much about it with S until we got there. S was tired and we had some struggles getting going, but a few cuddles on my back in our trusty Ergo and she cheered up.

We all had some great hiking moments and enjoyed the scenery; however; the hike was over some steep rocks and there were many places where I had to watch S very closely. This provided for many more “no, don’t go there”, “stop”, ” be careful”, “watch your feet”, “no running” moments than I would have liked. At the end we were hot and tired and I had carried S quite a bit so there were also many more “hurry up”, “let’s go”, “we can play later” moments than I would have liked.IMG_0695_e

The hike to Delicate Arch made me think about what is more important: visiting scenic vistas that Matt and I want to see and reaching predetermined destinations or providing S with opportunities where she hears “yes” more than “no” (or better yet, she plays uninterrupted with input from me only at her request). I think this will be an ongoing challenge for us throughout the next few years and definitely one that I will think a lot about when planning future hiking and camping trips. I also struggle with photo ops since I love taking pictures and S, well, not always, although sometimes she is a pretty good sport about it.


















While many of S’s friends took car naps, S chatted away on the drive back to our campsite, I wouldn’t have expected anything less since after all she is my little chatterbox. That afternoon she had the opportunity to play on a sand beach where she wished she could jump into the Colorado River, but it was just a bit too cold. It was also a good opportunity to just let her play and enjoy herself while I enjoyed the beautiful location, although with S’s love of water I always have to make sure she doesn’t just decide to jump in and go swimming.IMG_0752_e

The next day S’s preschool director knew just what the kids needed. We went on a hike away from the crowds of Arches National Park along a little stream perfect for wading. A storm threatened, but passed over, and while there were no arches to view, there were still many beautiful vistas for us (the parents) to take in.IMG_0762

S ended up loving our new backpack carrier we recently picked up at a consignment sale and didn’t even want to get out of it for lunch so we hiked a little further than I had planned. The best part of the carrier was that Matt could carry her;  usually she only wants me to carry her in the Ergo.IMG_0771

After the hike the kids played, and played, and played. Red dirt, running water, sticks, rocks, a few buckets and shovels, it was great. S loved playing, I loved watching and relaxing with the other parents in our group. I think it was the best part of the trip.

















S was covered in dirt and happy. Matt struggles with letting S just be dirty so again, we had to work on balancing our expectations with just letting S be a kid. How much dirt is OK when camping? In the dessert there is fine dust, dirt, and sand, everywhere, there is no escaping it, but there are opportunities for cold stream baths and quick (cold) wipe downs at the end of the day. While getting dirt off of S wasn’t always fun, by the time we got home it had become a family joke that we were laughing hysterically about at dinner time.IMG_0811

Overall, it was a great trip, how do I know? S wants to go back to the same place, with the same people, and go camping all over again “right now”.

We Moved, but I’m Still Here

Eight weeks to go and I didn’t make it through my Year to Clear project or 52 Weeks of Saving. Life got in the way. Mid-November 2015 we finished packing up our lives and we moved from Austin, TX to Colorado. My husband’s company has an office in the Denver Metro Area and he was given the opportunity to transfer there (well, here  now). We decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live only minutes from the Rocky Mountains and all the opportunities that they have to offer. Saying goodbye to Austin and some great friends and then moving with a two year old was challenging (and still is at times), but we are so excited to explore Colorado. I’m not kidding when I say I have a list of over 150 things to do/places to go both in the Denver area and in Colorado in general. I am thoroughly amazed by all the opportunities here, especially all of the kid-friendly ones.

So, amidst the chaos of moving I gave up on my two blog series. While I’m sure we spent a lot of money in the moving process and I’m not sure that I really saved any, there were also a lot of things that got cleared out of our lives at the last minute. So some failures and some successes I would say in terms of my goals for 2015. While I have not been blogging about saving money weekly or getting rid of stuff, I am still trying to live a lifestyle with minimal clutter (somewhat challenging with a three year old) and I am trying to save money whenever possible, especially now that we have a mortgage again (boo) and are not 100% debt free like we were.

Four months after leaving Austin, we are settling into our new house and our new lives. I contemplated if I wanted to keep my blog going, but once I bought a new computer (yay!) I decided that I would start my blog posts back up since I can edit pictures in a timely manner now.

We are all about exploring these days and S is starting to really enjoy hiking so I expect most of my posts to be about all our adventures in the Denver area; however, I will also try to share some posts about saving money and I will definitely share any good deals that I find at least on my Facebook page. I will also occasionally write about steps we are taking to live a little greener as well as about my journey as S’s mom, and what a fun journey it is.IMG_9745

Older posts «