Tag Archives: Colorado

Elk Camp 2014

26 Oct

Life is finally returning to normal after the craziness that was September and the beginning of October. Travis and I are both so ready to be homebodies and not make any plans for a while! (Though as you know, weekends just have a way of getting filled up anyway.) It has been so nice to just chill at home this weekend though and get some stuff done around here.

Elk hunting in Colorado went well again this year, though it looked different than in past years since Travis and I no longer live there. Travis’ parents and nephew left on Wednesday afternoon and Travis had planned to meet them about an hour into the drive, but I had debilitating pregnancy heartburn that day so Travis stayed an extra couple of hours to help me get packed and drive me to Papa Murphy’s for dinner. He met up with them at the hotel that night. They arrived in Denver the next afternoon, went grocery shopping and loaded up Travis’ friend’s truck with gear. They headed up to camp on Friday morning – both to get the spot they wanted (they’re first come, first serve) and because it takes all day to set up camp, chop firewood, etc.

Meanwhile, I had driven down to Rochester to my parents’ house on Thursday after Emma’s 18-month well baby appointment. The drive is 3.5 hours, which is totally doable in one stretch – unless you are 14 weeks pregnant and have a toddler with you. I stopped a little over halfway in Minneapolis and spent a couple hours with a college friend, got coffee and browsed the kid’s section at Barnes & Noble, and then continued on my way. I arrived at my parents’ house around 7 pm. We hung out and ran errands on Friday, and then on Saturday, it was back up to the Cities for me to catch my flight to Denver. I cried as I hugged and kissed Emma goodbye, and I was a mess of emotions for the rest of that day, but after that, I was actually able to enjoy having a break. It helped that Emma did really well with my parents, and I was able to get updates from them every day, even up at camp.

My flight to Denver ended up being delayed a couple hours though (boo) so I didn’t get to Denver as early as I had hoped. My good friend Cathy drove me up the mountain to Silverthorne and my mother-in-law picked me up there. Cathy and I had planned to hang out up there for a couple hours, but she ended up just dropping me off and heading back. It was nice to chat with her anyway. We got up to camp around 7 pm and Beth got to work on dinner. Al was already back from hunting and had a fire going, and one by one, the other hunters (Travis, Drew, Matt and Aidan) trickled back in (shooting light was over by 7 pm each night). Each night followed a similar pattern – the hunters got back by 7:30, we ate dinner, hung around the campfire for a bit and called it a night around 8:30/9. But when you’re getting up at 5:30 in the morning, it doesn’t seem that early!

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20141012_125404 20141014_053956The next day (Sunday), it snowed 4-5 inches so Beth and I stayed hunkered down in the nice warm wall tent, except for a walk up and down the road during a brief respite. And we made a snowman.

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Meanwhile, Travis had shot a bull elk and they had to quarter it and pack it out in the snow. Not ideal, but he was pretty excited about it anyway.

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Monday, Beth and I headed to the tiny mountain town of Hot Sulphur Springs where there’s a resort that has about 20 pools filled with natural hot sulphur water that you can soak in. Since I’m pregnant, I made sure to not get too hot but I was still able to enjoy almost all of the pools (I sat halfway out of the hotter ones). It was nice and sunny, and the pools were outdoors, so it was very enjoyable. Afterward, we ate lunch in Granby, bought a few things from the grocery store and headed back to camp.

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Tuesday was a really nice day weather-wise – so much so that in the afternoon, we read our books outside in the sun and I even got a little sunburned. After lunch, while the guys took their usual after-lunch nap, Beth and I went on a short 2-mile hike on the South Fork Loop. The trail went along the river, so it was pretty flat – exactly what I was looking for because I haven’t been on a real hike in 2 years!

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Wednesday, it was time to pack up camp. None of the other guys in the hunting party saw or shot anything the rest of the week – but that’s pretty typical of elk hunting. We’re always happy to get at least 1 animal. We arrived back in Denver around 3 pm, took showers and headed out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings – our post-elk hunting tradition of the past 5 or so years. It was only 7 pm when we were done eating and we all just wanted to go to bed! But we forced ourselves to stay up until 9 pm.

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Thursday morning, my flight left at 10 am so Travis brought me to the airport right after breakfast. True to form, I had totally forgotten to check in to my Southwest flight 24 hours in advance (and not sure if I could’ve even, because we were still at camp) so I ended up checking in just 2.5 hours before the flight. Somehow though, I was assigned A16 for boarding – which, if you know that Southwest only assigns boarding order and has open seating, you would also probably know that A16 is the first boarding position after their version of first class. I have no idea how I got the first position for a completely full flight that close to takeoff, but it was totally awesome!

My parents and Emma picked me up at the airport, and her face was absolutely priceless. Her eyes were wide, her mouth gaping, like she was just in shock that I was back. She didn’t smile or cry or anything – just stared at me. We ate lunch at Q. Cumbers and then played at a park for a while so the dogs could get out of the car (my parents watched them that week too). We decided to have dinner with my brother and sister-in-law so we went to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America for a couple hours. Emma played with the Legos for a while and then we took her on some of the tamer rides. I think she enjoyed them…? I tried taking a picture of her on the carousel with my dad (she rode a rooster) but they turned out super blurry. Bah.

For dinner, we went over to Chris and Meg’s and then walked to Lund’s, where we got food from their deli. I had a craving for sushi (of the cooked kind) so I got aPhiladelphia Roll. For grocery store sushi, it was decent and it satisfied my craving. I didn’t end up leaving Chris and Meg’s place until 8:45, which meant I got home around 11 pm. It was a doozy of a drive home, but we made it!

We’re still cleaning and putting stuff away from the trip (camping is so.much.work.) but we got all of our meat processed with Travis’ parents last Sunday. Between the new meat and what we had left from last year, our freezer is completely full of game meat. And deer hunting is still coming up! We’re set for the apocalypse.

Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 3

22 Mar

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

………………………..

Continuing on with my top 15 Colorado memories (in no particular order)…

11. Climbing Grays and Torreys

These were the only 14ers I climbed in Colorado, and it’s easy to do both in one day because they’re connected by a saddle. We camped out at the base of the mountain with our friends, Michael and Amy Leon. Unfortunately, it rained that night, and the seams on Michael and Amy’s tent were no longer waterproof. We ended up getting out our extra rainfly in the middle of the night to put on their tent.

DSC03402Early the next morning, we hit the trail. My back has never hurt so bad as it did on that hike – and I wasn’t even carrying a pack! I learned time and time again that being in good running shape does not equate to being in good hiking shape – that’s its own beast. But we made it to the top of both peaks and on the top of the 2nd mountain (Torreys?), the clouds cleared enough that we could see the amazing view.

DSC03424 DSC0340412. Camping with the Normans

Mark and Sarah were the first friends of ours from back home to come out and visit us in Colorado. We, of course, took them camping and hiking. There was still a decent amount of snow up where we were hiking, and on the way down the mountain, we slid down the snow on our shoes/butts – if you’ve never tried it, do! It’s really fun. We also gorged ourselves on Beau Jo’s pizza in Idaho Springs – something we did fairly often when coming home from the mountains.

DSC02427 DSC0242313. Christmas with the Brehenys in Estes Park

For Christmas 2012, Travis and I stayed in Denver instead of going to Minnesota. Our friends Paul and Carrie graciously invited us to join them at a condo in Estes Park with their 2 kids. It was so much fun and a nice change from spending the holiday by ourselves.

blendsgiving 021 (Large)14. Camping at Lutheran Valley Ranch

For Memorial Day 2011, our friend Randy let us camp on his property down at LVR near Colorado Springs. We did a couple of really nice hikes while we were there and the dogs unfortunately got quilled by a porcupine. They survived though.

memorial-weekend-2011-033-large1 memorial-weekend-2011-023-large115. Hiking Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak

Bear Peak is really close to Boulder. It got pretty steep near the top but it was so worth it for the view! The worst part of the hike was actually the way back…it was downhill the…whole…way.     Distance: 7.6 miles roundtrip     Elevation Gain: 2,461 feet

We hiked South Boulder Peak (separated from Bear Peak by a saddle) on July 4, 2008. It was a gorgeous day for a hike and a lot of the trail was in the shade. But this was by far one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done–not the longest or the highest elevation but the most straight up (1,800 ft elevation gain in about 1.1 miles, to be exact). I didn’t think I would make it – I started getting dizzy and nauseated. But I made it to the peak, which I was able to enjoy for about 30 seconds before all the bugs at the top forced to me to leave.      Distance: 7 miles roundtrip    Elevation Gain: 2,949 feet

DSC02107 DSC02462 DSC02114And that’s all 15! Of course, we have many other great memories so this list is by no means exhaustive. Colorado is a great state, and I feel like we did a good job of enjoying what it has to offer. We didn’t get to everything on our ‘bucket list’ but hey, Colorado isn’t going anywhere!

Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 2

21 Mar

If you missed Part 1, read it here.

………………….

Continuing on with my top 15 Colorado memories (in no particular order)…

6. Elk hunting (20082011, 2012, 2013)

We have gone up to the mountains for elk hunting every October, except for the fall we moved out here (I didn’t blog about it 2009 and 2010 for some reason). Unfortunately, with work and now Emma, I have only been able to be there for the whole time once – in 2011. That was also the year that Travis shot his big bull (and boiled the head to make a European mount!?!?) so I’m saying that was our favorite trip, but they have all been enjoyable in different ways. We haven’t camped in the same spot twice, and camp set up is always a little different, but good! It’ll be interesting to see how elk hunting goes in the future (yes, we’ll be returning to Colorado every year for elk hunting… or at least, Travis and his family will be. Emma and I are still on the fence.)

img_17127. My Olympic triathlon and marathon

In 2011, I completed my first Olympic triathlon in Steamboat Springs. In 2012, I ran my first full marathon in Anchorage. Ok, so that race wasn’t in Colorado. BUT all of my training was, and those are memories that I will never forget. I spent hundreds of hours running, biking and swimming in preparation for those 2 races. I biked to work. I ran 18 miles at 9,000 feet. I purposefully re-ran the half marathon course that had kicked my butt when running it the first time in 10-degree weather. What was Travis doing during that time? Playing hockey. Studying for the PE. Finishing his Master’s degree. You know, stuff.

318235_256197047743958_5830935_n8. Care group camping trips (2012, 2013)

This became an annual camping trip with our small group from church starting in 2010 (again, I didn’t blog about it in 2010 or 2011). While all the years were fun and different because of the location and people attending, I’m going to say that my favorite year was 2012. Most of our friends were there, for the same days, and Travis and I accidentally brought our smallest tent so with the 2 of us and our 2 dogs, we were not cold at all. It was so nice! That’s my main complaint about camping – I’m usually cold a lot. That year, we also did some hiking and skipped rocks. But I mustn’t forget the year (2011) that Charlotte, Sheri and I braved swimming in the mountain lake. Brrrr…

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300562_251345134895816_1309176_n9. Emma’s birth and first year of life

Emma will never remember living in Colorado, but we will. We’ll tell her about it. About how crazy Colorado weather is – it snowed 3 times after Emma was born on April 7. The day we went home from the hospital, it was snowing. About how she went camping when she was 4 months old. We’ll show her the pictures of our house. When we think of Emma as a baby, we’ll think of Colorado.

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10. Our Wedding Anniversaries

Ok, I realize this is broad but our anniversaries were nice in different ways. For our 1-year anniversary, we rented a secluded cabin in the mountains and went hiking. For our 2-year, we saw O.A.R. perform at Red Rocks and went hiking up in Leadville, which involved fording an ice-cold mountain stream. For our 5-year, we spent a weekend up in Frisco, where we ate breakfast at the awesome Butterhorn Bakery. I can’t remember what we did for (and I didn’t blog about) our 3rd and 4th anniversaries, so they must’ve not been that exciting. 😉

dsc03370Stay tuned for Part 3…

Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 1

18 Mar

Travis and I were married for only 3 months before we moved out to Colorado, so this is pretty much all we’ve known as a married couple. We lived our first year in a 750-square-foot apartment in Boulder and then bought our first house, where we’ve lived for the past 5.5 years.

We have created so many memories here – so many that I was only going to choose 10, but ended up with 15 (and still have more!) But if I had to choose, here are my top 15 (in no particular order).

1.  Valentine’s Day 2009

This was one of the only years that we’ve actually done something really special for V-day, and it was just such an enjoyable day. We drove up to Glenwood Springs to go snowshoeing, and then had a mineral bath and natural sauna time at Yampah Spa. The bath water was from the natural hot springs and just about burned our skin off. We had to drain half the tub, replace it with freezing cold hose water and then it was just bearable. The natural sauna was really cool too – like being in a very humid, wet cave. I would definitely recommend the experience.

DSC031332. Skiing with my brother Chris and SIL Meg 

We bought a 4-pack of lift tickets to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin the first year we were out here and then 2 years later. We enjoy skiing but aren’t passionate enough about it to spend all the money on lift tickets and then rent skis, fight traffic and make the God-forsaken walk in ski boots from the parking lot to the lift very often. But we did go skiing with my brother and sister-in-law when they came out to visit us (in 2010?), and it was the most fun we had skiing. Thanks Chris and Meg!

3. Backpacking with friends for 4th of July 2011

This was the most intense backpacking trip I went on (and it  still wasn’t that intense…). Camping is one of those things that I’m tempted at times to wonder why I like it (and backpacking is camping on steroids) because it’s just so. much. work. But this trip was really fun and we enjoyed it. Unfortunately, even though we hiked to a remote lake, there were other backpackers camping across the lake. They also happened to have a very friendly nosey dog who came to visit us a lot and instead of walking over to fetch his dog like a good owner, the guy would just yell at the top of his lungs, “Slim! Sliiiiiiiiim!” Yep.

20110704 Eaglesmere Trail 0544. Almost getting stuck in Golden

Before we moved, we sold Travis’ car so we only had my little Ford Focus for about the first 5 months we lived out here. My Focus worked out fine in Minnesota but it was dicey in Colorado. When we lived in Boulder, we drove to and from Golden everyday for work. One snowy night, we were headed home to Boulder on Hwy 93 (that runs along the foothills between Golden and Boulder) and stopped for gas at the north end of Golden. There are 2 stoplights there, both of which are at the top of a hill. When driving on a snowy hill in the Focus, you don’t stop – or else, you won’t get going again. We couldn’t make it to either stoplight at the right time without our tires spinning. In the end, we waited at the bottom of the hill until the light turned and then gunned it. And never stopped for gas there on a snowy night again.

5. Colorado Springs trip with my parents

My mom had a work conference at a hotel in Colorado Springs in 2008 so they came out early and we saw some of the sights in Colorado Springs, including Garden of the Gods, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, Royal Gorge, and Phantom Canyon Road. I would definitely recommend touring a gold mine! They’re crazy. And the Phantom Canyon Road was ridiculously narrow. My parents drove another road after Travis and I left that they said was even narrower – even my dad was a little scared!

DSC02233Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3…

A Bittersweet Farewell

11 Mar

We got word a few days ago from our Realtor that our house appraised! So now we are in the final stage of closing.

Which means we’ve started packing. The easiest thing to pack right now are all of the house decorations so yesterday, I took everything off the walls and boxed them up.

Looking around Emma’s nursery at blank walls and bare shelves, I felt sad. I love her nursery. And even though we’re taking all of the decorations with us, and can paint her new room the same yellow if we want, it won’t be the same.

Last night, as I lay awake for a bit in bed after getting Emma down… again, the full weight of reality hit me: We’re leaving. We’re going to drive away from this house and never come back. It will never be our home again. We will never belong to our church again. We won’t shop at this Target. We won’t check out books from this library. We won’t see mountains on the horizon.

Sure, we’ll come back to visit. But it will never be like this again.

We knew that leaving our life out here would be hard. But I think I underestimated it. We’ve been having dinner with the families in our care group one by one. It has been so good to connect with them and I’m sure we’re all wondering why we didn’t do this more often before we were leaving the state. Our going away party is this coming Saturday and even though part of me thinks it’s weird to entertain when your house is bare bones and near-empty, it also feels very fitting.

I am grateful for the sadness though. It means we’ve connected and let our hearts be engaged here. We didn’t stay on the sidelines or watch from afar. We take with us memories that will last for a lifetime, some of which I plan to share on the blog in the next week or so.

Though this transition is laden with sadness, we are also very excited for the next chapter. I know that for things to change, they can’t stay the same. Even if we were staying, things would change. So we have to press on in faith. That’s the great thing about having an omnipresent Savior. Wherever we go, He goes with us. He’s been faithful to us in Colorado. He’ll be faithful in Minnesota.
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71dea5b44f335fc9c5ca4323eacc0f2c“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5)

Our house is under contract!

25 Feb

Our house is under contract! It was only on the market for a day before we received a full-price offer. We accepted the offer with a 30-day closing and right now, are in the midst of inspection items and a looming appraisal. If all goes well, our closing date is March 20, and we give possession on March 22.

I can’t believe it’s actually happening!

I finally told my boss and co-workers that I’m moving to Minnesota. Most of them were not surprised. Hmmm… guess I’m not that good at keeping secrets. But they were all happy for me, and sad to see me go. Our departure is definitely bittersweet.

Since my mommy brain is mush, and I won’t remember this stuff next month, let alone a year or more from now (I’ve probably already forgotten stuff!), here’s what we did to our house to get it ready to sell:

  • Packed up and filled a storage unit with about 75% of our stuff
  • Repainted our kitchen cabinet doors
  • Removed all closet doors and treated with Liquid Gold
  • Replaced all family pictures with landscape scenes
  • Puttyed, sanded, spackled and painted the office ceiling, and spots in the hallway, kitchen, master bedroom and laundry room
  • Scraped, washed and painted the exterior soffit and fascia
  • Hung small piece of wood between roof and fascia for new gutters to be installed
  • Had new gutters installed
  • Painted:
    • The hallway and one wall in the living room
    • Both bathrooms. Twice. (FYI, pastels are not in.)
    • Two walls of the master bedroom (We used a color that we had a full gallon of, but no idea why or who bought it)
    • Half of the laundry room (Half was semi-gloss, half was flat – we have no idea how that happened)
    • The laundry room doors and trim
    • The bench in front of our house
    • The china cabinet in our kitchen
    • The master bathroom vanity
  • Finished the windowsill in the master bathroom and added a piece of white trim above the tile
  • Replaced the front exterior light fixture and house numbers to be more modern
  • Had the carpet replaced (which involved removing everything not attached or contained within a piece of furniture – including our closet organizers, pictures on the walls, bed headboard, file drawers, and low closet shelves – and then putting it all back; we hired them to move the furniture itself)
  • Replaced the toilet seat in the main bathroom
  • Spent 3 whole days deep-cleaning our house with a toothbrush and bleach (I actually took work off to clean our house.)
  • Bought new throw pillows for bed and rug for kitchen
  • Bought new nightstands to replace our crappy makeshift ones: a nightstand we rescued from the curb, and a garden table

This is what happens when you leave many house projects only half finished. And totally slack on cleaning.

And that list doesn’t include all of the ‘re-dos’ we had. Our house project mantra was, “Two steps forward, One step back.” For example, when staining the windowsill in the master bathroom, Travis taped off the vanity. When he removed said tape, part of the fake wood veneer came with it. So we had to remove the vanity and paint it. After painting said vanity, we tried to hang it back up. Somehow, we didn’t get one of screws in the right place and it literally busted out a 3-inch chunk of sheet rock. The vanity is now held up with 3 screws instead of 4. In the midst of that debacle, we scraped some of the new paint off the vanity. OMG!!!!

Another instance: Travis and his dad redid our main bathroom last February. In the course of that project, Travis repainted the door trim. We didn’t even know it was possible but that extra coat of paint made the bathroom door no longer shut. So Travis pounded on the trim, busting it loose from the wall. After a few finish nails, the trim was anchored and the door shut, but now the trim and surrounding wall needed to be painted. Again.

Those were the worst things, but there were other little ones like having to repaint a piece of baseboard that was now uncovered by shorter carpet. Or touch up trim in the hallway that had had paint seep on it from underneath the painter’s tape when we painted the walls. Or another one of my favorites, having to repaint the kitchen drawers because someone dripped red wine all down them, and it wouldn’t come off without removing the paint along with it.

But it was all worth it to have our house sell so fast. It was really helpful to have a Realtor with an eye for decorating and staging.

The buyers are a young couple buying their first home. I like to imagine that they’re newlyweds and just starting out like Travis and I were when we bought this house, our first home. I hope they build lots of memories in it – that they host barbecues on the deck in back; play horseshoes and narrowly miss hitting the neighbor’s shed; climb up on the roof to watch the Carnation Festival fireworks; get their hands dirty doing landscaping and gardening; have fun decorating the inside; rock out in the garage while working on their cars; spend cozy winter days on the couch watching the snow come down thick; run hundreds of miles on the neighborhood greenway; walk to Dairy Queen on summer evenings; and so much more. I love this house. And even though it has been a bugger at times (ripping windows out with sawzalls and having the heavens open while half the house is sans shingles), I will always remember it. Actually, those bugger things are some of the best memories.

Now that I’m crying, here are the pictures posted with our listing. (If you’re interested in what the house looked like before, click here.)

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Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.

– Arnold Bennett

A Chilly Weekend

10 Dec

This past weekend was a busy and chilly one! On Thursday, I ducked out of work early to get my hair cut! I chopped off 4-5 inches.

haircutI really like it BUT I haven’t had my hair this short for several years, so it’s taking some time to get used to it. It’s too short for a ponytail now, but still long enough to get in my face so exercising and brushing my teeth are interesting. It also requires a lot more work to look presentable – with long hair, I often blowdried it halfway and then put it up in a messy bun. Not anymore!

Friday, my work had our holiday party at a bowling alley, and I took Emma along. She was a hit! I was able to have one of my co-workers hold her while I was bowling and she was happy and content for almost 2 full games. I didn’t take any pictures though… *fail*

After the party, I went over to my friend Charlotte’s house to watch her 2 kids while she and her husband (also named Travis) went to his work Christmas party. They’re going to watch Emma this Thursday night while we go to (my) Travis’ work party. It was really fun watching her kids. They’re 4 and almost 2, and they were very obedient and fun! Emma was having a rough night though because she is very congested right now, and I think she’s getting her top 2 teeth. Poor baby.

On Saturday, Travis and I got up at 4 am to help out with our friend D’s Fa La La race. I took Emma up to my friend Carrie’s house, who graciously agreed to watch Emma at 6 am even though she isn’t a morning person! Fortunately, Emma was very happy and easy all day – and majorly cute.

emmatripleThe race went well, and even though it was only about 1 degree out, I stayed warm in my many layers as long as I was moving around. After the race, I picked Emma up and we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with some of the race staff – our post-race tradition.

Once we were done eating, it was already 4 pm! Emma took a little nap on the way home, and stayed asleep long enough for me to get all our race stuff put away, which felt good to get done.

Sunday, Travis and I were on projection and lights so we had to get to church an hour early. I also forgot our gifts for the foster children that our church ‘adopts’ at Christmas so in the middle of church (when Emma was fussy because she needed a nap), I ran home to get them and Emma napped in the car. After church, we went straight home, ate lunch and then I took a 3 hour nap! I got up a little over halfway through to check on Travis and Emma, and Emma was still sleeping too! She slept for 2.5 hours, which happens fairly often on Sundays, but not any other day. Apparently, church is exhausting!

Even though I enjoy the chilly weather because the snow doesn’t melt, I do miss being able to be outside. I’m glad it’s finally warming up around here.