Tag Archives: memories

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…

IMG_2529 (Large)

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.


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…

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

Memory Book and Goals

4 Apr

As I was driving to work yesterday, I realized that March was over and I had not yet completed my goal of trying Bikram yoga. Whoops. So I penciled it onto my training schedule for Sunday, April 22. (Next Sunday is Easter and the next Sunday is the Platte River Half Marathon!)

Since April is here, I need to start working on my April goal – finishing a memory book of our first 5 years of marriage.

Just last Thursday on our way to the airport, Travis and I were trying to remember the last time my parents had been out to visit us in Colorado. It took some digging around in our brains but little by little, we pieced it together. I had shown them our new bedroom curtains… we had Charlie… we spent a lot of time cooking and baking… Travis and my dad thought about fixing the car but decided against it… oh, they were out here for last Thanksgiving!

That happens often. Holidays and vacations blend in to one another and it’s hard to remember what you did one year. Or if you do remember what you did, you can’t remember which year it was!

Enter the memory book. I envision this being similar to the race memory book I created. I don’t have a picture but it’s pretty straightforward: I print out my race report from the blog, three-hole punch it, and stick it into a binder labeled “Race Memories”. I slide my race bib into a sheet protector and stick that in after each race report. Easy.

For the memory book, I’m going to include all of the big holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day – plus other special times like our wedding anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, vacations, etc.

Once I copy the blog posts, I’m going to read through each blog post and add any extra details I can think of, then go through my boxes of sentimental keepsakes and add any that pertain to the specific holiday/trip/day.

After all that hard work is done, the trick will be to keep updating the book. I am already failing on this account for my race memory book so the odds aren’t good. But that’s why having a blog is so handy! All those fun trips and times are recorded here on the interwebs, just waiting for me to put them in my book.


On another note altogether, I have decided that after the marathon is over, I am going to free my weekends up from workouts. I have so many projects and things that I want to do around the house, and to the house, that it’d be nice to not have weekends dominated by running and recovering. I do still want to keep running and biking (have to, if I want to accomplish my goals of climbing a 14er and biking 50 miles at once!) but I’ll try to confine that to after work during the week, so I can get stuff done on the weekends.

Running is fun, but it takes up so much time!


Quickly, an update on my other goals:

…get pregnant.

…run 700 miles.

  • As of March 31, I was at 179 miles. With marathon training, I think this is totally doable.

…finish writing my nonfiction book.

  • I’m still slowing chipping away at writing my book. It’s hard to get up early because I’m so tired in the mornings but I’m really trying to go to bed sooner.

…read 27 books (one more than in 2011).

  • I’ve been really slacking on the book reading (I’m only up to 5 completed, thanks to copious re-runs of NCIS) but I am still listening to Harry Potter audiobooks and am about halfway through the fourth book. I am also currently reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which is really interesting. I want to read Blink too!

…consistently track my workouts so I have accurate totals on 12/31/12!

  • I have been obsessively tracking my workouts on MapMyRun.com but am contemplating switching over to RunningAhead.com. MMR has been stupid lately with not loading or mapping courses correctly so I’m kind of over them. But… I want all of my training records to be in one spot. So what I’ve been doing is continuing to track my workouts on MMR but mapping courses using RA. Whatev. It works for now.

…grow in being a loving, supportive wive to my amazing husband.

  • I helped Travis with yardwork the past two weekends so I think that counts as being a loving, supportive wife. 😉

{Sidenote: I also realized yesterday that I was quite ambitious when making my goals at the beginning of the year. Especially with wanting to get pregnant, I need to be open to the fact that some of these may or may not happen (ahem, 50 mile bike ride and 14er hike). I’m going to give it the ole college try but I’m also aware that things change and I need to adapt.}

Are you sticking with your 2012 goals/resolutions?

Happy Hump Day!

Minnesotan Nostalgia.

4 Oct

I’m back to work today after my wonderful (too short!) trip to Minnesota.

My flight out Thursday night was uneventful and I arrived in Minnesota at 10:30. My parents and oldest brother, Jeremy, and his wife, Jennifer, picked me up from the airport and we drove down to Rochester (where I grew up). After talking a bit, we all called it a night around 1:00 am.

We spent the first part of Friday eating breakfast, getting wedding and baby gifts together, and I went through a bunch of stuff I had stored in my old closet before going to college. I threw away a bunch of stuff – old pictures, old notes, old boyfriend memories, etc. I am not a keeper. If I don’t think I’ll actually use it or look at it, I toss it. Done!

After some frantic rushing due to a car malfunction, we made our way up to Minneapolis for the rehearsal and groom’s dinner – my mom was a reader and my brother was an usher in the wedding. We were about 20 minutes late to the rehearsal because of traffic but other people showed up late as well so all was well. After we checked in to our hotel and I changed, we headed over to the rehearsal dinner at Loring Kitchen + Bar. It was a great time – perhaps because it was an open bar and I probably had the equivalent of 4 glasses of wine (they kept refilling it before it got empty so it was hard to keep track). We returned to the hotel and went to bed around 11:30.

We stayed downtown at The Hotel Minneapolis. The cousin of mine that was getting married is actually part owner of the hotel and was involved in the development of the hotel. We got to see the inside when it was just an empty space with carpeting over the gorgeous marble floors!


Before going to bed on Friday, I discovered St. Anthony Main was only 3 blocks away and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go for a run on my old stomping grounds. So many memories!

The trails I used to run on.

The lab Travis worked at.

The Panera we ate at every Sunday morning.

The building I lived in my junior year of college.

Ahhh… Minnesota.

Even though it was only 47 degrees out and I had only brought a t-shirt and shorts to run in, and I could tell I had drank a bit too much the night before, and I didn’t have anything to eat beforehand, I enjoyed every minute of that run. And I finally got to take advantage of the lower elevation without humidity! I ran 3.93 miles in 39:05 – a 9:57/mile pace. Heck yes!

We went out for brunch at Key’s Grill & Bar (delicous cinnamon french toast!) and then it was time for the wedding. Josh and Laura got married at The Basilica of St. Mary. This cathedral is gorgeous.


Their ceremony was a very traditional Catholic one and was very nice. I’m not generally a fan of Catholic homilies but it’s not my wedding.

After the ceremony, we went back to the hotel (where the reception also was) and ate some snacks in my cousin Colleen’s room (she’s actually only 9 months younger than my mom so it’s weird to call her my cousin). Then we headed over to Nicollet Mall to walk around and look at the shops. I had only brought 2 pairs of boots with heels + my casual slip-on sneakers (which would’ve looked very weird with my wedding outfit) so my feet were very unhappy by the time we were done walking around.

When we got back, the wedding reception had started. We retrieved our gifts and headed downstairs to the open bar. I had a “Laura’s signature cocktail” made with black cherry vodka, ginger ale and some other stuff, plus two glasses of wine. The cocktail hour was held in the lounge area of the hotel and the dinner was in the restaurant – perfect space for a wedding reception if you can swing it!

At dinner, I got to sit with all my brothers, 2 sisters-in-law, my cousin-in-law, and my brother’s and cousin’s girlfriends. Fun! Everyone missed Travis and wondered where he was. I wished he could have been there too but when you live 1,000 miles away, you miss out on a lot of things. I was just thankful that I could make it.

Since my dancing partner was missing and no one else from our group seemed particularly interested in dancing, I didn’t dance at all. We just sat around talking until we all went to bed around 11:30. I actually went to bed before my parents! I felt like such a loser. But when I get exhausted and want to go to bed, I am absolutely worthless so it’s no use trying to stay up.

Sunday morning, I got up early again to do 20 minutes on the elliptical + some strength training in the hotel gym. Then we went to breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels where I had an egg + cheese on a pumpkin bagel (not as gross as it sounds) and a pumpkin coffee. I miss Bruegger’s. (Although I have to admit that Panera’s breakfast sandwiches are way better because they use real eggs, not egg patties.) And then we went to church at Bethlehem Baptist! It was so fun to be back there, even though I didn’t see/get to talk to anyone I knew. Piper’s sermon on sharing yourself with others was great – you can listen to it here.

After church, we hightailed it over to Roseville to pick up the food for the baby shower and then hightailed it back downtown Minneapolis to Colle + McVoy where my brother, Chris, works. They have a cafeteria space that people often use for wedding receptions and parties and it was perfect! Best part, it was free. We were running about 30 minutes late but luckily, so was everyone else! We ate a bunch of food, played some games, and opened gifts. It was a great time (I don’t have pictures yet, but when I do, I’ll post them – my SIL is so cute with her baby bump!)

The shower was only supposed to last until 2 but we didn’t leave there until 5! After we cleaned up and loaded the car, we drove back down to Rochester. We ate some burgers and fries at Newt’s and then got the tour of all the new additions/renovations around Rochester. I really think Rochester is a nice town. If I didn’t have this weird thing about not wanting to move back to the town I grew up in (and if Travis didn’t consider southern MN to be only one notch above Iowa), I would be tempted to move there. It’s changed a lot since I was in high school (for the better). Back at the house, we looked at old pictures of Jeremy until it was 10:45 and time for bed!

Monday morning, Jeremy and Jen took off after breakfast. After I packed up, showered and went through some more old stuff, my dad, mom and I went out to lunch at a new restaurant called Pi Pizza. I had a veggie pizza with red onions, sweet corn, green peppers, tomatoes and goat cheese. It was so good that I ate the entire thing!

Then my dad headed to work and my mom and I went on a walk around Silver Lake, looked at the U of M’s Rochester campus downtown and had some Italian gelato. I ate so many sweets this weekend! (And it hasn’t ended because I ate a cookie after lunch today. But no more! Time to get back on a normal eating schedule/diet.)

At 3:00, it was time to head to the airport and by 4:30, I was inside the airport, waiting at the gate for my flight that didn’t leave until 7:30! I had gotten the time change mixed up and thought my flight left at 6:30. I bought a newspaper, read every article I was remotely interested in, and then did the crossword. Then I got a sandwich and a latte, called Travis, and read some posts on Google Reader. Finally, my flight was boarding.

As we took off, I looked out on the lights of the Cities and was sad to be leaving. For some reason, Minnesota just feels like home. Bugs, snow and humidity notwithstanding, I love Minnesota. And even though we enjoy Colorado and have great friends, a great church and good jobs, it just doesn’t compare.

I can’t wait to move back!

The love of family

17 Jun

Tonight, I finished the book I was reading called The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond. It was a very good novel about a little girl who goes missing and the ensuing panicked search for her. The book was a little slow moving in the drama at times but it was nonetheless very insight and interesting. It said a lot about the nature of memories and human desire to preserve moments that are, by definition, passing by.

Which led me to look through old picture albums – first, the one with pictures of Travis’ and my engagement, wedding and honeymoon. Then, my study abroad trip in Venezuela. And finally, pictures of my childhood.

And it was in looking at pictures of my childhood that I realized what a blessed childhood I had. I was surrounded by loving adults – my parents, of course but also aunts, uncles, grandparents. I didn’t realize how good I had it – of course, children never do.

My mom’s mom is who I get my middle name from – Ruth. Grandma Ruth. She lived in Hendrum with my Grandpa Ralph, in a small house on the corner. I can remember exactly what the house looked like inside – you entered into a small mud room, where you could either go down into the cellar (which I never did) or into the main part of the house. Through that door, you came into the kitchen. Straight across the kitchen, there was a cold, mysterious room. The door was always shut because that the kids were not allowed in. Once, we went in and discovered the entrance to the attic but were so nervous about getting caught that we ventured no further.

To the left of the kitchen was the dining room. The right hand wall was lined with windows and the wall to the right of that was lined with cabinets. In the middle of the floor stood a giant table – so big that it took up most of the room. On the left wall, there was first the door to a small bathroom. Then there was an armoire that took up what little wall space there was. Then, the door leading out to a landing that led to the next floor.

Straight ahead through the dining room was the living room. In my memories, the furniture was never quite arranged the same when I came over. But I do remember a TV, a couch, some lamps, a bed perhaps (for when my cousins slept over) and a card sorting machine that my Grandpa liked to use when playing cards.

On the way to the upstairs, you passed by another room, one step down from the stair landing. That was the den – I’m not sure I ever went in that room. It was Grandpa’s room.

There were two flights of stairs – halfway up the second, there was this opening in the wall. It had a door and a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. I think we called it the Fort. It was big enough for 3 of us kids to fit in there at the same time, 4 if you really squeezed. Whenever we went over to Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Ralph’s house, we would race each other to that little room. There was a latch on the inside, so you could allow others to enter (or not allow) at your own discretion.

At the top of the stairs, there were 2 bedrooms – 1 had several beds in it and the other just 1. The room with just 1 bed was Grandpa’s room. We hardly ever went in there either. The other room was fun because there was a hole in the floor that looked down into the living room below. It was entertaining to listen to the adults down there, talking, when all the kids were upstairs.

But I digress. All these memories came flooding back into my head as I looked through my photo album tonight. My Grandma Ruth died when I was only 12 or 13 – I was old enough to understand what had happened but not old enough to really understand. Growing up, I had thought of her as a little bit weird – she had a back condition that made her slightly hunched over. The pictures in my album don’t disclose any animosity toward her but I can’t help but think… how did I act toward her? Did I love her? Did I thank her for the gifts she gave me, as they were sacrifices on her behalf? Or did I act like a stupid child, ungrateful, only focused on superficial details?

These thoughts so overwhelmed me as I looked at those pictures tonight that I started crying. I wish I had known her. I wish I could have told her that her love and generosity mean the world. I wish I could’ve gotten past the outward appearance and seen her for the amazing person I hear she was. Even if I had been older, if I had known her better and been more mature, I don’t know if I could have put into words that kind of emotion.

The same kind of emotion that I feel for my mom. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by how much I love her that I can’t bear the thought of this world existing without her in it. How does one go on without your beloved parent? And I know that I fail to express how much I love her, that I fail to show her how much she means to me. I don’t call her all that often, I don’t say in words how much she means. And I realize that I’m losing precious moments – they’re floating away on the winds of time – but I get too engrossed in the minute details of life to remember these truths. WHY?!?!?

The same goes for when I’m looking at pictures of my dad and me growing up – all the memories we created together. That man has a heart of gold. I know that I am precious to him and that he loves me more than words. Knowing that makes me love him even more. How do I communicate that kind of love back to him? How are words adequate for that kind of love?  The truth is, they just aren’t. And they never will be.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to communicate those feelings and that is where, I fear, I fall very short. I have found myself looking at gifts lately and wondering, “Did I thank that person for this?” Remembering that Travis’ parents paid for the groom’s dinner, I wondered “Did I ever tell them what a huge blessing that was?” I think I did, but I can’t remember. And what if I didn’t? I can barely stand that thought!

Every time I feel like this, so overwhelmed at how much I love my parents, I wonder why I live so far away from them. Why did I choose to move, so that I only see them 2-3 times a year? But I have to remind myself that Travis and I chose to follow the Lord and no matter how much human love consumes one’s heart, devotion to and love for the Lord always have to come first. He is ultimately the one Person who matters. And I have to entrust my heart, and all the love therein, to Him.

But I do pray that it is in the Lord’s will to let Travis and I move back to Minnesota to be near our parents when we start having kids (in a couple of years). I want my kids to know their grandparents, because they are the coolest people ever.

I love you Mom and Dad!