confessions of a packaholic

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Ready for the weekend!

Ready for the weekend!

We just returned from a spontaneous four-night trip to Arizona, planned just two days before we left. As we were getting ready to leave, the differences in our packing styles and thought processes were pretty entertaining.

It was snowing as we left Colorado and headed to Phoenix, where record-high temperatures were supposed to be near 90. Our plan was to have a nice Valentine’s Day dinner in Phoenix, then head out the next morning for the Grand Canyon, which meant higher elevations and hiking.

If you’re keeping track, that means we were packing for snow, sunshine, hiking, a night out, cold temps, warm temps, hot temps and several long drives. Not counting toiletries or what we were wearing when we left the house, here’s what we each ended up bringing along.

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a few of my favorite things

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A snowy Christmas Eve at the Pine Creek Cookhouse.

A snowy Christmas Eve at the Pine Creek Cookhouse.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it: the music, the movies, the decorations, the hustle and bustle, even the bell ringers. I love the spirituality and kindness that spread throughout families and communities as people come together to celebrate and to help each other. I love the traditions and the memories it brings up of holidays past.

In addition to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, here are a few of my favorite things about the holidays: Continue reading

the bucket list

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Blarney Castle: Check!

Blarney Castle: Check!

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately checking things off of a non-existent bucket list, so it seems like a good time to get one started. Like all good list makers, I’m including items I’ve already checked off. There’s no shame in that.

These are in no particular order, and the list is subject to change:

— Visit all 50 states

✓  Ride a Harley-Davidson

— See wild horses with manes and tails blowing in the wind

— Drive or ride Highway 101 from Los Angeles to Tumwater, WA

— Watch bears catching salmon in Alaska

— Never get caught twerking on video (so far, so good) Continue reading

three things that i have learned

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Leaving, on a jet plane.

Leaving, on a jet plane.

They say that with age comes wisdom. Since I turned 50 over the weekend, I thought I would share three of the most important things I learned during my first half century.

1. There’s no such thing as a small tear in the seat of your jeans. Throw them away. Think you’ll keep them and just wear them around the house? You’ll forget. Throw them away. Think you can sew and that you’ll get around to fixing them? You won’t. Throw them away. Throw them away before you wear them Christmas shopping.

2. I should not drink wine and attend an auction of any sort. At a live auction, I will drink wine and bid against myself. It’s true. I’ve seen me do it. At silent auctions, I will drink wine and become so fixated on something that I lose perspective and try to keep other people from the bid sheets … without being obvious. I often succeed on obtaining the item, sometimes at a cost that far outweighs its actual value, but I rarely succeed at the not being obvious part. Continue reading

when the chicks fly far from the nest

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Learning to Fly.

Sending a son or daughter off to college a few hours from home is challenging, but manageable. Sending one to Ireland for four months, now that’s a different story.

I’ve lived in nine cities in six different states, went to college 2,000 miles from my parents and I love to travel and explore. We’ve always encouraged our kids to have a sense of adventure, and both considered colleges far from home. But when they both chose to stay in-state, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Living three or four hours away gave them the freedom and independence they needed. It gave me peace of mind knowing that if there was an emergency, I could get there pretty quickly. That changed this week.

On Monday morning, we drove our daughter to the airport in Denver to begin a four-month study abroad program in Cork, Ireland. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I am so excited for her … but it was a long drive home. It was also a long and awkward elevator ride back to the parking lot after we said our goodbyes in the airport. I only cried for a couple of minutes, but it probably seemed much longer than that to the man who stepped into the elevator with us at the last minute. Bet he won’t do that again without taking a closer look at the occupants first. Continue reading

nesting, nesting, one … two … three

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Empty nest camping!

Empty nest camping!

Ready or not, here it comes! The last year of high school passes so quickly and there’s so much to do, particularly the last couple of months … graduation announcements, senior pictures, college visits, prom, senior boards, the last track meet (or soccer game or concert), end-of-season banquets, scholarship applications, choosing a college. Before you know it, you’re buying extra-long twin sheets, mini refrigerators and more storage bins and closet organizers than will actually fit in a dorm room, and dropping your baby off at college.

What now? I have several friends getting ready to enter the empty nest world, some with a sense of accomplishment and some with a good deal of trepidation. Here are three things that helped me during year one. Continue reading

yes, i am that cool

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Unintentional self portrait.

Unintentional self portrait.

You’re probably asking yourself, “How does she stay so hip?” I know my kids ask themselves that all the time. The secret to my success: mastering technology. Specifically, my cell phone.

Personally, it allows me to stay in touch, and in step, with family and friends. I remember my first text. It was to my daughter and said something along the lines of, “let me know when you need a ride home.” It took me an hour, and she almost fell out of her seat on the bus when she realized she’d gotten a text from her Mom. Coolest Mom ever! I’m sure that’s what she was thinking. Continue reading

burnin’ rubber

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A stop at the Redstone General Store for ice cream on our first ride.

A stop at the Redstone General Store for ice cream on our first ride.

Another item on the “someday” list: learn to ride a motorcycle. Scott has ridden most of his life and lives to ride. I  tried riding on his bike with him, but, as Austin Powers would say, “that’s not my bag, baby.” Control issues: Check.

For our anniversary last year, my gift to Scott was a promise to take the Learn to Ride* class to find out if I like riding my own bike any better. Fast forward to April. I took and passed the class and got the coveted “M” endorsement on my driver’s license. And a crappy new driver’s license photo to go with it.

Long story short, I practiced riding Scott’s street-legal dirt bike for a while and then I bought my own bike. Not a little girly bike, either. A big, bad Harley Davidson Heritage Softail. It’s awesome. It’s still a little scary, but I’m definitely walking with a little more swagger these days. And learning a lot about motorcycle etiquette and rules of the road. Here are some of the things I’ve learned: Continue reading

someday has arrived

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Enjoying a walk on the beach in Oregon on our first empty nest road trip.

Enjoying a walk on the beach in Oregon on our first empty nest road trip.

Last fall, after 20 years of diapers and daycare, car pools and packing lunches, and worrying about who was where and why, I found myself in that worrisome place that many parents dread: the empty nest. My evenings and weekends, once filled by driving all over the state and cheering on the sidelines at track and cross-country meets, soccer and volleyball games, were suddenly free. What’s a mom to do?

Week 1: Overcompensate. That’s what I did, anyway. I registered at Colorado Mountain College and signed up for cooking, baking and yoga classes. That took care of Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I added in breakfasts, coffee meetings and lunches until I barely had time to work. Or think, which was the point.

Week 2: Play catch up because of all of the stuff I crammed into week 1. Continue reading