Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Busy Summer Days

Thanks to all of you who came over to celebrate my fifth blogging anniversary. You loyal friends make it all worthwhile to hang in and keep writing. And visiting you as well. It was rather like a family reunion, hearing from so many at once. Some I haven't seen in a long while. Many mentioned trying to write more often. That would be wonderful.

The one really great thing about Facebook is finding out what everyone's doing in real time - especially the weather. And I feel so bad for those of you who are suffering with such overpowering heat. And flooding. And tornadoes. Ant drought. And possibly upcoming hurricanes. At the moment, we seem to be living in a bubble - it's been 91 once or twice, and it's supposed to heat up later this week, but so far we haven't suffered at all. Oops, maybe I shouldn't say that!

We've always had a resident squirrel for the summer in our trees, but this year there is a pair who is having the best time running up and down, chasing each other through the trees, on the fence, in the bushes. It's fun to watch. The other day, when I went to pick up Kristen and the girls for some reason, everyone in her neighborhood was standing looking up. Made me wonder if we'd all missed the Second Coming! But there, up in her neighbor's huge spruce tree, was this baby visitor from the mountains.

It was in the newspaper the next morning, but never a story on when it came down or what they did with it. I really needed "the rest of the story!"

The summer is flying by - soon it will the the 4th, and that is when it slides downhill for me. The big girls have been going to Bible school whenever we can find one that fits the schedule. They'll both be going to camp in the next two weeks. The littles get to go to our church's VBS, so they're looking forward to that. It's at night, though, and doesn't help the daytime "boredom." They love to get someone to take them swimming whenever they can.

And - swimming lessons. Hayley is an amazing little swimmer - we need to get her into Swim Club so that she can advance more quickly - I see a swimming scholarship to college in her future!

Miss Livi overcame a lot of her fears this year and had a wonderful time in the water - mostly proving that she could put her head totally under the water -- I hope we can get them into another session yet this summer.

The twins were sitting on the bleachers watching their sisters and saying, "I want to go swimming." We checked, and were able to get them into the preschool lessons, but not until Wednesday. They actually only had room for one more in the class, but made an exception because that wouldn't have worked out very well with one in and one on the sidelines! Oh, my goodness, they were excited to get into their "swimming soups" and get in with the big girls. They literally grinned every minute of every day. Such a joy to watch.

Emma, especially, is such a little peanut that the two foot level just left her little head above the water.

One day Kristen had some business at the courthouse in the county seat, so the girls and I spent the time outside waiting for her - little knowing that they have a wonderful set of fountains spewing out of the patio area in the courtyard - what fun! It didn't matter that they were fully clothed - they took off their shoes and commenced the joy. Many folks walked by and wished they could join in - it was one of the really warm days we've had.

Warming up on the rock

It turned out that Miss Katie enjoyed climbing the rocks, barefooted, like a little mountain goat more than running through the water.

Well, I have a lot more to catch up on, but will cut it off here so it doesn't get outrageously long and boring. I have a bit of a rant to share with you, and some pictures of the "Dwight Carlson Park," otherwise known as our back yard. Talk to you later!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Five Years of Blogging - And Counting

It was June 20, 2006 that I published my first blog post. At that time, I had at least 11 family members who were blogging as well. Kristen was encouraging me to blog, but I thought it was a foolish waste of time. Then she introduced me to Diane from Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals, telling me I had to read her posts, we had so much in common. We soon became kindred spirits. We have actually MIRL (which I soon learned means Met In Real Life) on two different occasions.

So, here is my first post:

"I have entered blogland with fear and trembling. Feisty is sitting on my lap and Care Bear is here too. I don't have time to think or write, but just wanted you all to know that Kristen has launched me. There have been so many great messages in the last two days that I feel I need to do some explanations. I will do that as time goes on. I just wanted you to know I'm here. Just Call Me Grandma Dawn!"

Blogging soon became very important to me, much to the delight of those who knew of my original opinion. I seldom get more than one post done a week these days, but I used to average 3 per week. I never had a huge following of dozens of commenters, but I have made so many special friends. Dwight has become so accustomed to my quoting my blog friends that he even asks me how they're doing. I have also been privileged to meet 11 of these awesome women in person. Two of them have provided us with lodging when we've visited Kevin in Maine. What a blessing!

Blogging was so much fun back in those early days. We all seemed to have so much to say. There were lots of "memes" which were fun post prompts which went all over blogland, and helped us get acquainted with other. I didn't participate in those too often, but some still do on a regular basis.

There were contests,weekly themes which linked us to each other, and such things as "Christmas Home Tour" and "Home Town Tour." This is how many of us met each other. We've celebrated each others' "Bloggiversaries" with giveaways. We've celebrated 100, 200, 300, 400 posts, etc. I just finally reached my 600th post, which is far fewer than many friends have written in 5 years.

I often try to remember how I connected with each of my blog friends - if you remember how we first "met", please let me know.

Many of our friends have quit blogging, and I miss them very much. Facebook has taken the place of blogging for quite a few of my friends. I love Facebook, too, but the writing piece of blogging was so special. I am in awe of the writing of some of these women. I keep telling some of them that they need to publish.

We have shared good times, bad times, happy times, sad times with each other. Blogging buddies and many we didn't even know prayed the little preemie twins to a healthy delivery, and have enjoyed watching them grow up through my many pictures and stories. There are so many amazing prayer warriors out there in cyberspace!

Sometimes I get to the point where I can't think of anything to write about, and I consider being a blogging drop-out. Then I think of all of the friends I would miss so much, and I keep going.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Week in Review

Well, actually, it's a review of the last couple of weeks -- we've had one really hot day, two or three perfect days, and several wet and cool days. Never a dull moment around here. The Big Thompson River is running really high and fast, but so far no flooding down here.

I've actually been up to Estes Park twice this week - really quite hard to believe. The first time was with my two dear friends from high school in Nebraska. These two are like extra sisters to me, and we've seen each other through a lot in the last 25 years since we've connected here in Colorado. One is back in Nebraska, but has a cabin out here in the mountains. The other one lives about 20 miles from me. We get together as often as we can.

Monday we spent about 6 hours catching up, and had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite places above Estes Park called The Bald Pate Inn. It has a fun history, so check it out if you're interested. They have the most delicious soups, salad, muffins, breads, and pies.

The inn is old and rustic, made of logs, and has sloping wooden floors which add to its charm. They employ several college students every summer from all over the country, in fact the world, who are majoring in Restaurant and Resort Management. It's always fun to visit with these young people who are enjoying their stay in the mountains for the summer. I just learned that the book and Broadway play on which the name of the inn is based is inspiration for an outdoor drama they do each summer in their amphitheater. I'd love to go back up there and see it, but it doesn't look like it will happen this year.

A couple of days later, DC and I headed back up there with his sister who lives here and his brother and SIL who were visiting from Georgia. It was one of those cold, wet, gray days down here. But as we headed up, we broke through the clouds and in fact could see them below us as we climbed. The elk were out in great numbers on this day - we even saw one at the top of the mountain, which is highly unusual this early in the season - he was eating brown grass when the ones down below were dining on succulent greens.

You can see brown trees in this picture - they are victim to the pine bark beetle, which is destroying so many of our forests. It is very sad. They haven't figured out a way to stop it yet.

As we got higher, we found our picnic spot and enjoyed a bit of sun and warmth (if you sat right in the sun). This was in the Lawn Lake area, where a devastating flood roared through in 1980, due to the failure of a dam. It did great damage to Estes Park, just 4 years after the Big Thompson flood, which started below Estes, but caused tourists not to be able to get there for a couple of years. So they suffered about 6 years or more to their tourist economy. Here you can see reminders still evident.

But the area was beautiful and we enjoyed ourselves, along with many others who were out with the same idea. Many of them were spotting big horn sheep up on the rocks in the trees, but I never was able to locate them.

We proceeded to the top of the world via Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the US. There was so much snow up there this past winter that the opening, which is usually around Memorial Day, was the latest in 20 years. Driving between the plowed banks felt as if you were going through a tunnel.

I took this one outside my window. I love the puffy cloud and deep blue sky above the snowbank.

The road had only been opened for 5 days, the first several were so the workers could get up to the gift shop at the top and get it ready for the onslaught of tourists. When we got there, the shop was doing a booming business in souvenirs and lunch. It was SO cold, though sunny, up there. The wall of snow that had been scooped off the parking lot was amazing.

I stayed in the car and "let" DC take all of the rest of the cold pictures - I seriously thought the wind was going to whip him off the edge of the world at one point. I just love the shadows of the clouds floating above the snowy peaks.

Two weeks ago, we went into the mountains at the southern part of the state, up to our church camp. The occasion was especially poignant for our church, for it was the groundbreaking for a new chapel which will be named after the young man, Dan Walker, who died three summers ago while he was working there for the summer. The chapel will be so beautiful and in a setting unparalleled in its beauty, facing Pikes Peak.

Dan was a wonderful young man with a huge future. Though he is gone from us, the ripples of the impact of this chapel will be even more huge.

Dan's family turned the first shovels - mom, dad, and 3 brothers.

Kevin and Angie had quite an adventure getting to Maine. Thirteen states, 2500 miles, 45 hours in total - all driven by Kevin. Just a few miles down the road, their brand new wheel alignment proved to be inadequate - they turned back around to Cheyenne and found that the company in Fort Collins had done absolutely nothing - $168 worth of nothing. Amazing. The same company in Cheyenne did the right thing and fixed it for them, and were very kind in the process. They hit lots of construction, causing big delays. Trying to make up for lost time, Kev got a speeding ticket in Lincoln, Nebraska. They finally made it to their destination where I'd made them a reservation (they had no phone bars throughout the day) until 1:00 a.m. The second night they made it as far as Cleveland and stayed with the parents of one of the TC students. It was such a blessing to spend time with these neat people, and very refreshing to them - all of them. When the phone worked again, Angie found out she had 3 calls from the jobs she had applied for - all asking her for interviews. A fourth one came later, so she had 4 interviews coming up on that Monday. I loved the way they took it all in stride and just enjoyed being together.

On Thursday they made it to Utica, New York and had a good night's rest. The next day they got to see Niagara Falls on the Buffalo side - such a treat. They enjoyed the beauty of that part of the country and felt like tourists rather than weary travelers. The friend with the truck had gone ahead, because he had to be back at work.

They finally arrived at TC in Winthrop, Maine Friday afternoon and spent the week-end with the pastor in whose home they are staying until they can get into a place of their own. This is wonderful except for two things - ticks and black flies - oh, and no bars on her phone. But it's all sorting itself out. She had 4 interviews on Monday and one more on Thursday. Three of the 4 on Monday offered her positions - I don't know if she's heard from the 5th one, but she accepted the one on the Ob/Gyn clinic in Lewiston, Maine. It was a tough decision for her - several of them were very inviting. Talk about feeling desired! We are so proud of both of them. Keep them in your prayers if you think of them, because there's a lot of "settling in" ahead of them.

I know this is way too long, but just a little update on the kiddoes -

Miss Emma is on her second round of pink eye, and miraculously none of the rest of us has caught it. She had it in both eyes and kept saying, "I have a pink eye." Katie would then say, "I don't have a pink eye," in the tone of voice that indicated she couldn't figure out why she didn't, since they always do the same thing together.

I love listening to them when they don't know anyone's listening or watching - they love to sit at the table for a long time after the meal, making games with their toast, their silverware, and anything else they can make into a toy. They also make a huge mess in the process! That hot dog bun ended up into about 100 pieces on the floor. Oh, well, that's what brooms are for.

And just for the pure fun of it ---

Monday, June 06, 2011

Perfume is Not My Friend

I know this is a rather frivolous blog topic, but it is a big part of my life. I was standing in the shower the other morning, working on controlling my crazy frizzy perm with some fairly pricey, very perfumed conditioner. I instantly got a headache. Perfume does this to me - a tight band feeling that squeezes the back of my head like a vice grip.

I remember when it all started. I had caught whiffs of Estes Lauder perfume and thought it was nice. My freshman year boyfriend got me some as a gift. I doused it all over one of my sweaters. I began to get headaches whenever I wore that sweater. Then I realized I was getting headaches when I came in contact with English Leather, which I had loved at one time, so my poor hubby (when that time came) couldn't even wear what he liked.

During college, I was singing in choir at a local church and was placed behind a lady who wore a very popular, very intense, very heavy perfume that just killed me - I ended up quitting choir because I couldn't bring myself to tell this lady I didn't know that her scent was making me ill. I worked with a lady whose deodorant, believe it or not, made that band appear first thing in the morning. Have you any idea how hard it would be to tell someone that their deodorant is making my life miserable??

When DC discovered my sister wore Windsong, he informed me that was his favorite perfume and couldn't I wear it, please? I asked him to keep his nose away from my sister's vicinity, and I was sorry, but since I couldn't smell good, he'd have to content with my not smelling bad!
There was a time when I was able to smell good, when Avon sold Hawaii White Ginger After Bath Splash. It was light and airy, and just enough. For some reason it worked for me. But as in all such things, they discontinued it and I was back to just "not smelling bad."

I can't stick my head inside Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I received a gift from Bath and Body Works, which I had to return. Unfortunately, I had to go all the way through the store to the counter in the back in order to exchange it for the only unscented product they carried. Even Hallmark is off limits. I love to buy "first Christmas" ornaments for baby showers, but the last time I did so, I had to ask them to please hurry with the gift wrapping as I stood outside the door. I remember the time I was looking for some candles for one of my Christmas decorations - again, the counter was in the far back of the store. I had to ask someone if I could skip to the head of the line before my head exploded.

There was a time when everything seemed to be scented - Kleenex and toilet tissue to name a few necessities that made life very difficult for me.
I'm glad someone talked them into stopping that nonsense. Shampoo and conditioner are two of the worst offenders. I have often times opened a magazine to read an article, only to immediately have to put it down and wish I'd never opened it - the perfume samples (usually more than one) not only permeated the pages of the magazine, but they ended up staying on my fingers the rest of the day. I think I wrote to one of them and learned that they have a special database for people who can't handle perfumed magazines. You'd think if that many people have the problem, they could leave the perfume out for everyone. But I know - it's all about the advertising income.

When I finally decided I needed a bit of makeup to "enhance my natural beauty" I ordered some very expensive stuff, only to discover that everything was scented. Fortunately, they did make it unscented, so they had to replace everything.

When my kids were in high school, when I drove them to school, they would get in the car in a rush, putting on the finishing touches with their spray colognes - I would remind them of my problem - they could never believe it could be "that bad." Kevin now knows exactly how bad "that bad" could be - unfortunately, he is plagued with the same problem.

And then there was my dear FIL, who loved to get his sweetie a spray bottle of some strong scent every Christmas. He'd be so proud that he wanted to share a squirt with everyone - no matter how many times I asked him to please not do so, as it would ruin the rest of my Christmas Eve!

What's really sad - I always thought it was only man-made scents that bothered me, until I realized when I brought them inside one year that I can't even have lilacs, Easter lilies, or daffodils in the house. So far roses and tulips are okay.

I had to leave the church nursery the other night and stand in the hall when I was sitting in there with the twins because they have put a Scentsy warmer in there - to mask the "aromas" inherent in a church nursery!

There is ONE plus in this sad tale - I have a built in excuse to not go to parties that sell scented things. I know - I should not be such a party pooper and be sad. But it saves me so much time and money! Or guilt.