Tag Archives: fall

Our Fall Routine

29 Sep

mums.jpgWe’re almost a month into the school year now, which is a unit of time that hasn’t really mattered to Travis and I since we graduated from college over 10 years ago. But now we have a kindergartener, and our lives are ruled by the school schedule.

Which, as it turns out, has been really good for us so far. Yes, the arbitrary holidays that the kids get off from school but we don’t get off from work and spontaneous early releases are going to drive us crazy, I’m sure, but the overall structure of school five days a week has enabled us to do something we’ve never done before:

Stick to a routine.

When I think about how to describe the way our days are going now, I can only think of the trite, “It’s just so. good.” But it really is. I have been trying to stick to a weekly routine since we moved back to Minnesota and I became a stay-at-home mom four years ago, but I could not do it for the life of me. I’m one of those people who functions well with schedule obligations like bookends–something to reign in my “free time” (or should I just call it unscheduled time?) and give it boundaries. I can’t be all scheduled, but I also can’t be all unscheduled.

Enter our routine now. Emma needs to be to school by 8:25 AM every day Monday through Friday. She needs to be picked up at 3:00 PM each of those days as well. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:45 to 2:45, during which time Annabelle and Corbin go to daycare. Mondays and Fridays, Travis takes Emma to school so I can still have a few lazy mornings.

Those scheduled things have taken up just enough of my week that I have felt the need to get more intentional about my unscheduled time. I also just recently realized, after lamenting for years how chaotic life felt, that I was a main culprit in making it chaotic by not sticking to a routine. So my routine:

I meal plan and make a grocery list on Sunday.

Mondays are reserved for grocery shopping and MOPS, and playdates or errands as time allows.

Fridays, I stay home to get stuff done (like laundry) and don’t change out of my pajamas until school pick-up.

At the beginning of the school year, I switched from working 9 to 5 two days a week, to working 8:45 to 2:45 three days a week. So I have an hour and a half with the kids every afternoon between school pick-up and dinnertime, and we’ve even developed a routine with that time. On Mondays, we go to the dollar store and buy Lunchables (at the girls’ request–they’re obsessed). Fridays, we go to a park near the school. The other days, we head home and play outside (while it’s still nice!) until Corbin needs to nap or nurse, usually around 4:45. Then they watch iPad while I take care of Corbin and start to make dinner. It’s not a ton of time, but it’s been so. good. to just have a slot of time everyday that I spend hanging out with my kids, doing what they want to do.

And Travis and I still have our scheduled workout times (M & W for him, T & Th for me), as well as our weekend hobby times. Sunday mornings, we go to church, and the rest of the weekend is fairly negotiable.

Something I recently read in an email from minimalist Allie Casazza was along the lines of “You may think routines make life boring and predictable. But routines actually provide the foundation for adventure.” She used the example of being able to spontaneously fly to visit a friend in need, leaving her husband in charge of all 4 kids, and feeling peaceful with the knowledge that their house was tidy, there was food in the fridge, and their schedules predictable because she had laid that foundation with her routines. I should’ve saved that email (why didn’t I?!?!) because that message resonated with me so much. I am loving our routine.

I should mention that the parameters of a school schedule aren’t magic. I’m not all of a sudden able to stick to a routine because I have a kid in school. My desire for and ability to stick to a routine have slowly evolved over the course of this Year of White Space. During which time I’ve learned that the main requirements of a routine are that you do it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it, and that you make time for it, which means guarding that time from other things. As a spontaneous and a Yes person by nature, I’ve had to learn how to stick to a routine.

For example, even when I forget about meal planning on Sunday until it’s 10 PM, I buckle down and do it so that I’m ready to go grocery shopping on Monday, instead of just blowing it off and saying, “Eh, whatever, I’ll do it tomorrow.” I keep telling myself, “If you want life to feel more predictable, you have to make it more predictable.” (Obviously, unpredictable things still happen but most of my strife with a chaotic life has come about through my own doing.)

Lest you think that our routine has made our fall a rainbow of mums and pumpkins, let me assure you that it has not. My job has been crazy busy and stressful, we’re in the midst of changing caregivers for Corbin, the girls have daily tantrums over everything and nothing, Travis’ work has been famine and now feast, and I’m staring down the barrel of another hunting season. But the routine definitely helps make things less chaotic. And that’s really all I can ask for.

Fall Fun at the Farm on St. Mathias

22 Sep

Last Saturday, Travis, Emma and I went to a fall festival with my mother-in-law and Trav’s aunt. It was a fundraiser for the Early Childhood Coalition here in Brainerd. We had a lot of fun!

The first thing we did was go through the corn maze.





There were 8 different scissors you were supposed to find and use to cut your ‘punch card’. If you got them all, you got a treat (which ended up being a sucker). I think we found almost all of them.


One of the bridges had a slide – that was fun (yes, I went down.)




After the maze, we checked out the llamas and alpacas, and then got some food. I had a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie that was pretty tasty.

Then we went on the ‘hayride’. I thought it took us out to the pumpkin patch but it just went in a circle back to where we started.


By that time, Emma was getting pretty tired so we headed back home for lunch.


{Unrelated side note: My laptop died so I will be blogging from my phone more often until I find a replacement. Please forgive any spelling or formatting errors!}

Training Recap: 11/7 – 11/13

14 Nov

Monday: Half mile repeats at Rec that almost made me throw up

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 mile run at Rec where I discovered that Treadmills are the enemy.

Thursday: 6.87 mile bike ride at Rec in 30:00, strength training

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Raked leaves for several hours, 6 mile photography run (1:12:33, 11:59/mile)

Sunday: Rest


For my run on Saturday, I followed my usual strategy – took the dogs for a 1.5 mile run around a lake and back, then dropped them at home and continued on for the rest of my miles. They’re just so much work to hang on to, especially when we see other dogs, that I can only handle them for 3-4 miles before I start to get really irritated.

I did the last 4.5 miles on my most frequented out and back route. So I thought I’d share pictures to show you what I see on my runs (and how ugly a Denver winter is without snow).

 I run south on our street.

East through a neighborhood that’s mostly apartments

I pass a nice little neighborhood park.

I connect to the Clear Creek Greenway.

I run on the trail behind houses, with Clear Creek a couple hundred feet to my right.

When I bring the dogs on this part, we always get barked at by some ferocious dogs that need new owners. Poor dogs.

Feeling good.

“Holy crap it’s windy out here.” There were actually white caps on the lake that I ran around with the dogs. Very windy.

I cross over Clear Creek.

In the fall, the creek is really low (and gross!) In the spring, though, this creek is ripping. Several people actually died several miles upstream this past spring because of the powerful runoff from the mountains (though they were trying to bodysurf or tube down the rapids). There are several underpasses upstream that end up completely underwater for at least a month or more.

Underpass #1 of 5. You can’t tell very well but this part of the trail goes up and down, then up and down – it’s an outlet for runoff (the creek is to the left). It’s fun to do on a bike, but not so much on a run.

This is the “jungle” part of my run. It feels a little sketchy so I only run this part when it’s broad daylight or Travis/pooches are with me.

I can see the creek through the trees. On the top of the ridge beyond the creek is a major highway.

Underpasses #2 and #3.

Underpass #4

Underpass #5

The beauty of the creek and trees is dampened by commercial buildings and truck yards. 😦

I turn around at the baseball fields.

The branch laying across the trail actually fell right as I was coming by. During this run, the trail was covered in branches like these – due to how windy it was that day, as well as the heavy wet snow that we got a couple of weeks ago that made our power go out.

Another branch down from the snow.

Finally, I’m on the home stretch again.

Another run in the {slow} books.

Do you have a favorite running route?

This is biggest thing I miss about living up in Boulder – they had AWESOME trails up there. This part of the Clear Creek Greenway is probably one of the less scenic but I like it because I don’t have to drive anywhere. As I do longer runs, though, I’ll probably try to switch things up, at least once or twice a week.





I got tagged!

28 Oct

Lisa over at Cow Spots and Tales recently tagged me with two awards: The Versatile Blogger and I Dig Your Blog Award. I feel honored! Thanks Lisa!

What follows now is that I tell you 10 fun facts about myself. I may have used them all up for my birthday post, but here goes:

1. My favorite TV show of all time is Bones. If DVD sets of television shows didn’t cost me the arm I use for the TV remote, I would totally own every season. The season premiere this year is November 3rd. Can. not. wait.

2. It never even crossed my mind to move to Colorado until I got engaged to Travis and that was one of the grad schools he looked at. I always thought I’d move somewhere like NYC or Chicago, since that is where a lot of magazines and publishing houses are. Colorado has treated us well!

3. My favorite season is fall. I love being outside on a sunny fall day, the leaves changing and falling into big piles, wearing a thick wool sweater and doing “fall” stuff – like picking out pumpkins, drinking apple cider, sitting on hay, going to football games, etc. I’ve been too busy to any of that this year! (Boo on busyness.)

4. I used to hate dogs. Like “Don’t come near me, you slobbery, disgusting, stinky mess.” Even before we got Katy, I was very picky when it came to dogs. I liked some dogs, but not all dogs. I prayed for a long time that God would recognize my weird phobias and give us the perfect dog. And He did. Katy has been amazing. Charlie has too, although quite a bit more work. Still, I love those two dogs a LOT.

5. I’m not quite sure if I like hiking or not. I like nature and I like beautiful views but getting to the top is not always pleasant. Regardless, I still go on hikes because Travis enjoys it and we can do it together. I just need to learn how to keep a good attitude!

6. I worked at a drug store in high school. On Sundays when I worked 9-6, the pharmacist would give me and another girl a little “quiz” with trivia facts like what temperature does water freeze at. Whoever won got to choose whether they wanted to vacuum or refill the vial bins (which was a lot of work). We were pretty evenly matched. I usually wanted to do vials.

7. My dream vacation is to go to the Mediterranean — Italy, Greece, Spain, France. A coworker just went to Slovenia and Croatia and said it was absolutely beautiful. If I could go nowhere else, I’d choose there. And if I had to choose a country, it would probably be Greece – why? Because I love Greek food and it just looks like it would be awesome to visit!

8. My favorite author is C.S. Lewis. I haven’t read nearly all of his books but I have re-read some of the classics (Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Weight of Glory) and they are even better the second or third time around. I can’t wait to meet him in heaven!

9. I dislike strength training and weight lifting. I would much rather do hours of cardio than spend 30 minutes doing lunges, bicep curls, and other various exercises I have heard about but would probably kill myself doing. I wish I liked weight lifting… but I just don’t. So that is the one form of exercise that I have to force myself to do because I know it’s good for me. The rest, I really enjoy doing!

10. I am obsessed with cereal. If I could eat a balanced diet of cereal for 3 meals a day, I totally would. Some people crave ice cream – I crave cereal. When I am eat for emotional reasons, I eat cereal. I just LOVE it. I don’t know why. My favorite kinds are Honey Bunches of Oats (best with peaches), Oatmeal Squares, Frosted Mini Wheats, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Kashi GoLean Crisp.

So there you have 10 “fun” facts about me.

And now, I need to pass the kudos on to 10 blogs that I (truly!) dig (and stalk) and find versatile:

B at B. in the Know

Ana Helena Campbell

Brie at Brie Fit

Kristina at Kristina J.

Jen at She Collects

Katie at True Things

Callie at The Wannabe Athlete

Sarah at Once Upon a (L)ime


Kate at Fitting Into the Windy City & My Clothes

If you don’t want to participate, I won’t consider you a curmudgeon. I’m sure your blogs have been nominated a lot more often than mine has!

Off to Minnesota!

29 Sep

I’m so excited to be flying back to Minnesota today. The biggest reason is to see my family at my cousin’s wedding and my sister-in-law’s baby shower. But I’m also excited about the (more) real fall weather that they’re having.

It’s still warmer than I’d like, but it’s better than Denver! Yesterday, it was 90 degrees here. Blah. And although today’s high is only 68, the temperatures are supposed to get back up into the 80s again over the weekend. Quit it Mother Nature! I’ve already put away my flip flops, put our comforter back on our bed, and lit the pumpkin candles. No more harking back to those bygone summer days – it’s time to be fall for real.

This is fall. {source}

Anyway, I almost got everything done that I wanted to before leaving. Tuesday night, I made chocolate chip banana bread while Travis grilled dinner (both turned out delicious!). Then I did the dishes, finished the laundry and got out the outfits I knew I was bringing to Minnesota for the wedding, the groom’s dinner and the baby shower. I came home from my book study to find that Travis had read my blog and cleaned the bathrooms for me. What a sweet husband! I LOVE it when he does things like that for me. Such a load off. So with that, I was able to go to bed and finish reading Managing God’s Money (thoughts to come later). The only thing I didn’t get done was go to Walmart to buy cards, coffee and face lotion. But no biggie. (For me, at least. Travis will probably go berserk when he discovers the coffee is gone.)

Yesterday morning, I got up early again to go run repeats on the track at the gym. Besides one other time when I ran half-mile repeats, this was my first real track workout. The other times that I’ve done speedwork, I’ve either done tempo runs, done .1 mile sprints, or ran fartleks outside using trees as my measurements. It was a great workout – very challenging. I ran 8 x 400 – 400 was 2.5 laps around the track. I did the first 400 in 1:55 but I knew that I couldn’t do another 7 at that pace. So I slowed it down a bit and ran the others anywhere from 2:05 to 2:15. Based on the McMillan Running Calculator using my most recent 10K time, I should be running 400s in 2:05. So I was right on pace!

Since my speed work usually consists of me going as fast as I possibly can for only 1 lap around the track, I found it a little bit of a challenge to gauge how fast I could go for 2.5 laps without either slowing down at the end of the repeat or getting so tired during the first repeats that I couldn’t do the last repeats. I think I did ok for my first time but there is definitely room for improvement.

I also made sure to stretch really well before heading home.

This morning, I went swimming. The pool was abnormally busy for the early morning but I was able to have my own lane for the majority of my workout. I swam my good ole trusty pyramid – 100, 200, 300, 200, 200 (I added an extra 100 on to the last one because I couldn’t stand swimming 900 and not 1,000). I swam about 65% front crawl and 35% breaststroke. I think I’m going to try to learn to breathe every other stroke during the front crawl – maybe that will help me swim faster? Even if it doesn’t, it will keep me distracted during my swims and get my heart rate elevated higher than just a normal swim.

Since we’ll be staying at a hotel in the Cities this weekend, I’m hoping to get a few workouts in but we’ll see. I’m not a workout nazi and would rather spend time with my family so if it doesn’t fit in our schedules, it doesn’t fit. Plus, I had planned on these days being rest days so if I do exercise, I get bonus points.

I’m very proud of my packing job for this trip – I fit 2 outfits per day + running clothes + running shoes + 2 pairs of dressy boots + hairdryer + straightener in my carry-on suitcase. I was apprehensive if I could make it work but I did! I always show my suitcase to Travis like a little kid – look at what I did! – because he always makes fun of me for bringing back our ginormous suitcase (with only my stuff in it) for Christmas vacation. I tell him that it’s because I bring my winter sweaters along and they take up a lot of space. I’m not sure he buys it.

Are you a light packer or an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink packer? Do you carry on or check your bags when you fly? 

Happiness is from God.

18 Oct

Yesterday, I would have had reason for being frustrated. Travis’ mom, dad and brother are out here for elk hunting and I, for the 3rd year in a row, have to miss the majority of their stay because of work. This year, I had to leave on Sunday morning in order to leave for Vegas – we’re putting on our last race of the season, Pumpkinman, this coming Saturday. I am SO ready for this season to be over and to have some time to relax and not feel the temptation to be stressed out.

But yesterday, as we were driving through the mountains on I-70, I couldn’t help but feel joy at the beauty and freshness of the fall day. Granted, it’s still in the 60s, even in the mountains, but it’s about as near fall as Colorado gets at this time of year.

As I felt that joy, that lightness of spirit, that hope in the future and rest in the present, I realized that I had not had that feeling in a VERY long time. And it dawned on me: joy is from the Lord. I do not have joy in this life, I do not have rest, peace, or hope, without Jesus working it in me. I can finally thank the Lord for all the trials and dark nights I have gone through in the past year because I see now that I do not have hope or joy in this life if it isn’t in the Lord.

A similar thing happened to me in my marriage. During our first year, I grew very bitter toward Travis due to a long stretch of misunderstandings and different affection styles. I was often dismayed and broken over my lack of love for Travis. What I had though would be an exciting time of life was really just… HARD. And while I remained committed to Travis and our marriage, I didn’t feel love for him.

Thanks to God and His work in my life, that has changed immensely. I am more in love with Travis now than I was when we got married and I now recognize that the love I feel for him is totally a gift from God. I do not have love in my heart naturally, not in the face of trials, struggles, frustrations and annoyances. Like in the song, Jesus My Only Hope: “Though I am dry and barren, By grace this love springs forth.” But it took me going through that period of dryness, of lovelessness, to recognize that my love for my husband is totally from God.

It’s good for God to redirect my focus like this – from looking into my own heart and wondering why it’s so barren, from looking at my circumstances and wondering why they don’t make me feel blessed, from looking at others who seem so happy and wondering why I can’t be more like them – to HIM. God is my joy. God is my meaning and reason for living. God is my strength. God is my help. God is my planner. God is my life.

I can finally notice the changing colors on the trees and bask in the sunshine and crisp fall air while finding joy in the little things of life because I am trusting God with the bigger things. Like my friend Katie Stromwall said, “He gets glory through our trust.” If I am truly desiring to glorify God with my life, I will trust Him.

An anomalous day

5 Oct

Today is strange. I don’t have anything that I have to do…and yet, I feel like I shouldn’t just spend my time lying on the couch watching TV. It’s a weird feeling really. This doesn’t usually happen to me… usually I have lots of stuff to do or I don’t want to do anything but lie on the couch and watch TV.

So far, since coming home from church, I have cleaned out the coffeemaker with vinegar (something that was LONG overdue!), watched our wedding video (for old time’s sake), painted the wooden box I’m going to hang in the bathroom when Trav gets home, and folded the laundry. I have a canvas that I want to paint our wedding vows on but I feel like I should have a stencil instead of just doing it free hand. I could work on my memoir but I just really don’t feel like it. I think I will read…and possibly take a nap 🙂

Meanwhile, here are the pictures of our wonderful new patio furniture–that we have yet to use since it’s cold here already! We also have an orange umbrella that goes with it but we haven’t taken that out of the box yet…

We chose the lowest maintenance furniture we could find.

We chose the lowest maintenance furniture we could find.

But the chairs are actually really comfy!

But the chairs are actually really comfy!

The chairs rock--literally

The chairs rock--literally

The lone tree in our backyard is finally turning yellow!

The lone tree in our backyard is finally turning yellow!

That’s it for now. I’m off to read The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever.