Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A slice of heaven

This past weekend we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (again!). Jen and Micah kept Roan for 4 days while we snuck away about 2 1/2 hours to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Yessss!

Arwen had made all the arrangements (a gift in itself!). The whole drive out there was stunning. It's out near the Collegiate mountain range and has gorgeous 14ers towering over the place. When we drove up we weren't quite sure what to make of the resort though. The main desk was under construction so we had to check in down a dingy hallway in someone's cluttered office. When we drove up to our room, the place was completely deserted and it looked rather like a motel. You are only going to say nice things I reminded myself as we went into the room.

Then voila! The place was gorgeous inside. Totally remodeled, all new nice furniture, a super comfy bed and an incredible mountain view. We both looked at each other and grinned. "For a second I was worried!" Arwen confessed.

We wasted no time. We went down immediately to check out the hot springs. All weekend we made use of the two large pools they have, one really hot and one comfortable for swimming. The pools were next to a large creek and surrounded by mountains. The weather was perfect all weekend. They have a couple of amenities we weren't able to make use of. Normally they have 30 creekside springfed pools available, but the snowmelt was so large that they cold creek was overflowing the hot springs. They also have a little waterpark with a huge waterslide that looked like fun, but it doesn't open till Memorial weekend. Nonetheless, we had a great time.

Just being able to do ordinary things I never seem to make time for or have become logistically impossible. Like sleeping in. Or wearing jewelry. Or continuing on in the same train of thought uninterrupted. I felt so pampered!

Over the course of the weekend we spent a little time in the quaint towns nearby, had some good meals, got massages (!), saw a doolie get pulled out of a creek, and went rafting in the Arkansas River. That was a bit of an adventure. What was supposed to be a moderately exciting Class 3 trip was made a bit more thrilling by the high water. Further stacking the deck against us, the occupants of our boat were made up of us, a somewhat inexperienced guide, and a very inexperienced couple from out of town. She was pretty useless with a paddle and he kept breaking his camera out right before every big rapid. The biggest rapid we did was Seidel's suckhole. Before hitting it, the guides (there were two boats traveling together) got us all out of the boats to scout it out. The high water made the large sinkhole feature of the rapid particularly challenging. They came up with what they thought was a good plan for getting through it in tact.

Instead, we managed to capsize the boat right as we entered the rapid. Which meant we went down the rest of it - including the sinkhole - outside the boat. It was a little sketchy. It's never a good feeling when you try to come up for air and get denied. By the time I saw the sky again I was panting hard. The entire trip up to this point I had really been hoping I wouldn't end up in the water because it was FREEZING cold. But what I found out is that a situation like that is so freaky that you get this huge rush of adrenaline, and you're so focused on not drowning that you don't even notice the water's temperature. Excellent!
To give you more of a feel for what we experienced, check out this video on YouTube of Seidel's Suckhole. No, none of these are our actual boat, but it gives you a good idea.

Our last night of the trip we camped out creekside. We had no reservations and showed up late, yet we still had our pick of creekside spots. It is wild to me that virtually any run of the mill place you go in Colorado to be out in nature, the setting is more spectacular than most anything I've seen outside the state. Except maybe Utah. And Maine. The point is Anywhere, CO inevitably ends up on my short list of Most Beautiful Places I've Been.
And in other news, here's a quick video of Roan from this morning. Wednesdays are our day together, and I like to let her sleep in, pick out whatever crazy clothes she wants to wear, and not fuss over her hair too much. It is also my day for running errands. We were getting ready to go to the grocery store and she insisted she needed her purse, two necklaces, and her valentine's day pink sparkly heart glasses.

Click here to see it

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Happy

What a weekend. This may turn into the world's longest post because I have so much to report!

Friday, as I mentioned, was our 10th anniversary. Coincidentally Roan's daycare had scheduled date night for Friday. And Jen and Micah agreed to pick Roan up for us, so we were able to go out for margaritas, dinner, ice cream and a movie! Arwen also took me shopping for a couple of things I've been pining for: a book and a big fat yarn gift certificate.

When we got home this is what we found:

All new dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, silverware, juice glasses, water glasses, wine glasses, champagne glasses, and serving plates! I guess had mentioned one day in passing to Jen that I wished you could re-register for dishes on your 10th anniversary, and sure enough she - with the help of our parents - made it so! She coordinated with my moms and dads to pitch in together for this incredibly generous gift. And then she ran around like crazy buying all this stuff, and setting it up for us to return home to.

The thing she couldn't have known is that I had just been online looking at THOSE dishes. But I was only hoping to get the salad plates and bowls, not every dang piece in the set! Much less new glasses! We've broken a ton of glasses over the past 10 years (we had still been using the ones we got as wedding gifts.) I've never even had champagne glasses! I am feeling so spoiled!! I once saw a bumper sticker that says "I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am." Well I aspire to be the person my family thinks I am!

I was so touched I was in tears. A lot of tears. At one point Arwen said, "Honey you have to stop crying! You're freaking me out." I was overwhelmed. The best part is, every single day we use those dishes (and you know we'll make em last a looooong time) we will think of this surprise and all the care and thought and love that went into it.

Saturday we slept in (wow!) and then Jen, Roan and I went to Lindsay's baby shower. (Lindsay, you may remember, is Roan's former nanny.) It was a lot of fun. I was so overdue for a haircut I cringe at this first photo. Oh well.

Saturday afternoon we hung out with Andye and McKenna.

Saturday was also G-Pop's birthday.

Then Sunday of course was Mother's Day. Arwen fixed me breakfast in bed, and I got to open some cards and a really sweet present from Roan. She made a handprint in clay, then painted it. She had obviously been well coached because she kept saying "It's your Happy Mothers Day today Mommy!" all day long. How nice to have a day that I get to pause to feel truly grateful to be her Mama.

Here are some videos of my little bookworm reading one of her favorites, The Cat in the Hat. I overheard her "reading" on her own in her room and went to see what she was up to.

"Come see the book. Come see the book. What him do? Him so sad. He so sad. He's so sad. So sad."

"Him standing on the ball. Having a birthday. Right here. Look at this page. No, no! No! Yeah! Want see the box? I want to see the box too."

Sunday night Arwen left for a business trip in Houston. It just doesn't quite feel like home when he's away, but we're keeping our chins up.

Oh, one other minor triumph to report. I had a major success in the kitchen that was especially gratifying for three reasons: 1) I was able to use up an entire bunch of bananas before they went bad, 2) It's my first real recipe to make up (usually I use existing recipes, and then purposely choose not to follow them), and 3) It's a baking recipe!!! I mean baking is, as everyone knows, chemistry. Though I consider myself a chronic and brazen recipe violator, it is with EXTREME trepidation that I would consider making changes to a baking recipe. I mean come on, this is baking at altitude; half the time even when you follow the recipe it comes out crappy!

And yet my little creation turned out. Really, it's super yummy. AND it has some super healthy ingredients. I wanted to take a recipe I knew was really good, and dial down the sugar a bit, crank up the bananas and throw in some wheat germ. You'll never even taste the healthy part. It is yummy, a coffee cake with some substance that will leave you feeling full (since it's high in fiber) and won't give you a major sugar crash. Enjoy!

Heather's Banana Oatmeal Crumb Cake

dry ingredients:
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c ground flax meal
1/4 c wheat germ (don't be frightened!)
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1-1/3 c rolled oats

wet ingredients:
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 bananas
1 t vanilla

2 T butter, melted
3/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine dry ingredients
2. In another bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, bananas, and vanilla.
3. Add flour mixture.
4. Pour into greased 8 in square pan
5. Mix topping ingredients together until crumbly and distribute evenly over top of cake.
6. Bake at 350* for 40-45 minutes.

Friday, May 08, 2009

10 freakin years

Today is Arwen & my 10th wedding anniversary. Can you believe that? Holy smokes. What a ride. Here are the last 16 1/2 years in review...

Langham Creek High School Prom, 1993

Huntsville State Park

Our first apartment together in Austin, TX

Florence, Italy, 1998

Our wedding, 1999

Honeymooning in Cozumel

Chillin in Miami

Our first day on the Appalachian Trail

The end of the trail: August 19th, 2004

Adam & Eve by Beryl Striewski

I had the hardest time picking out an anniversary card for him today. There were a ton of em. One of the runner ups said "Happiness is a choice." If I had gotten that one, I would have written inside, "I know I made the right choice in you, ten years ago today."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Our first triathlon

This morning we did the Tri-4-me, a sprint triathlon here in Denver. It involved a 500 m swim, a 12K bike ride and a 2 mile run. And we survived!

To get ready for the big event we did virtually no training at all. Neither of us had even been in a pool in a year, and then that was just holding Roan in her floaties, not swimming laps. I do not even own a bike, and on my one attempted training ride last week I got a flat tire 3 blocks from the house. The only thing we have been doing on a regular basis is running.

I have to say, it was a lot of fuss and hubub getting ready for this event. So many pieces of equipment and clothing to remember - bike, helmet, swimsuit, towel, gloves, bike pants, swim cap... And then add to that all the supplies necessary to keep a 2 year old fed, dry and occupied for 3 hours. We were up late last night getting everything together, and we were up by 5:30 this morning even though the race didn't start till 9.

When we got to the rec center we went to stage our bikes and gear in what they call the "transition area." This is where you keep all your junk, and it's the place you come back to before and after each event. This weekend Denver is taking a break from the gorgeous spring weather with dismal gray skies, highs in the 40s and rain. Ironic that in a place that gets 300+ days of sunshine, somehow we would be shivering in the cold barefoot in nothing but our swimsuits waiting for the race to start.

But before the race could start we got our RFID ankle chips for keeping your time, and got our bodies marked with our race numbers. It felt so official! All the while Roan was toddling around with her bucket of toys.

Our friends Kelly and Lee Ann joined us at the event. Actually they're the ones that suckered us into it to begin with. They run triathlons all the time, much longer ones too. They are gearing up for a half ironman this summer in Napa, which I think involves a 1 mile swim, 50 mile bike ride and 13 mile run. Yikes!

The order for all tris is swim - bike - run. This is mostly for safety reasons. Although at first blush it sounds "refreshing" to finish up with a dip in the pool, you'd probably drown if you did. Man, the swim sure took it out of me. I managed to swim one lap freestyle at what was a rather modest pace before I had to switch to backstroke for the remaining 9 laps. I couldn't swim without panting, and I couldn't pant with my face in the water. I realized I may not be a big fan of sports that make it difficult for you to breathe while doing them; I noticed oxygen is kind of useful when exercising.

They don't allow you to bring anything into the pool area other than your goggles (which we did not have) so that meant running wet and barefoot through a parking lot in 40* temperatures. Which would've been a lot worse had I not been so heated up from the swim. It wasn't actually all that bad.

Next we jumped on our bikes. Arwen was a couple minutes ahead of me in his swim time, so when I got to my bike he was just on his way out. I did a quick dry off and wardrobe change and was not far behind him. And then POOF just as I was getting going my bike blew a tire. Another flat! Luckily Kelly and Lee Ann had a bike to loan me, or else my race would've been over. As it was, after those few minutes scurrying around I was very nearly the last person on the course. I'm grateful to have had that bike to ride, but it felt like I was on a big wheel, it was sized so small!

After 4 laps on the bike course it was time for the run. That was the hardest 2 miles I've ever done! It felt like I was running on stumps. I had been worried a little about my left ankle, which I've been having a little trouble with (I'm getting a new pair of orthotics which should fix the problem) but it didn't bother me at all. Instead my right foot cramped up! But not badly enough to stop my run.

Kelly and his kiddos came out on that last leg of the course with Roan to cheer us on. That really gave me a boost! And then I saw Arwen coming the other way finishing up his race. Before long I was crossing the finish line too. I was pretty tired, but more than anything I was HUNGRY!! After enjoying a HUGE breakfast we were pooped! We headed home and the whole Vaughan family enjoyed a long nap.

I woke up at 4:30 PM and found that time had no meaning. I was fairly certain I could easily sleep another 5-6 hours. Alas, indulgent sleep schedules are no longer in the cards for us. Roan was awake but there was no way I could get out of bed. Luckily she was content to play with her toys while we summoned the strength to rejoin the world of the living. She recently got a new tool set, which she will immediately inform you is "like Daddy's tools. For to fix it." She would bring a little wooden screwdriver or wrench into our room, give it to one of us, and say "Here guys. This for you. This for you sharing. Ok guys." So cute, our little activity director.