The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


Minnesota Bound for 2012

October 16, 2014 - 4:46 PM

Travel Log: 27 June 2012

I love to visit northern Minnesota, specifically along Lake Superior and in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Love it. I am so thankful I married a Minnesotan who actually traveled up to this area during his youth. Over the years, I've learned that most Minnesotans go to the lakes in the middle interior, a few may get as far north as Gooseberry Falls, and fewer still have had the amazing pleasure of going into the BWCA. Tis a shame, but also, keeps it a special secret for those in the know, the lush forest, the ocean-like lake, the rocky shores, the rolling hills, the steep cliffs, the dense chain of lakes and forested portages... it truly is an amazing section of country.


My first introduction to this area was on our honeymoon. In late November we were married and Josh had kept our honeymoon destination a secret. He told me to pack for hot or cold weather and then, as we loaded up the Rubbermaid tubs in the Lowe's parking lot, he had me flip a coin - heads we go north on I-35, tails we go south on I-35. It landed on heads and we traveled north. We first stopped in Duluth, where Josh had reservations for the night. Then we traveled further north, stopping at the grocery store in the town of Grand Marais, where Josh told me to buy enough food to last for 4 days. Then we traveled up the Gunflint Trail for another hour, through the dark and the snow, when we finally reached the end of the road, turning into the Gunflint Lodge parking lot. We were then directed to a beautiful, enormous cabin (I mean, huge! With its own hot tub room and sauna rooms!) located right on Gunflint Lake, across from Canada.

We were given complimentary champagne and chocolates, and as we thanked God for our safe travels and toasted our arrival and new marriage, Josh revealed to me the rest of his honeymoon secret. There were no plans had the coin landed on tails. He only had made plans, reservations, and deposits for going north. This cabin is normally hundreds of dollars a night but being the "off" season, we got it for a couple hundred dollars TOTAL. What an amazing gift to the start of our marriage! 


It was 4.75 years later, in 2004, that we were able to make the trip to this beautiful part of the country again. This time it was with our 4 year old, 2 year old, and me 7 months pregnant. Our plan was to drive around Lake Superior, but that was the only thing we had "planned." We had packed our camping gear and the boys in our little RAV 4 and made our way north. We stopped somewhere between Duluth and Grand Marais to camp for our first night. While reminiscing about our honeymoon, and since we had not set schedule or plans, we decided to spend a little more time in the area. Due to the rain, Josh suggested and somehow found a little cabin a little further north of Grand Marais. We were in love.


The tiny cabin was perfect. It was located right on Lake Superior, with its own secret trail to the point and endless rocks for the boys to throw. The huge picture window, that took up the entire tiny wall, gave the most beautiful view of the lake. It had exacly and only what you needed, too. It had two bedrooms just big enough for the full beds in them, it had a living/dining room no bigger than the bedroom, it had a kitchen with only enough space for the tiniest appliances, and it had a bathroom no bigger than the refrigerator. Add into that, the radiant heat smelled like my grandmother's house, the furnishings looked like my grandmother's house, and when we checked in the tiny, eldery woman who owned the cabins greeted us in her mu-mu, looking like my grandmother.* We were in love.


Like I said, "somehow" Josh found the cabins, because this was back in the day of pre-cellphones with internet (heck, even internet every/anywhere period), and it wouldn't be for another 5 years before I actually found them again. The elderly woman had passed away but the cabins that bore her name remained in the family and were the same adorable dives we dreamt of for years. Since then, we have made it a yearly family trip to this stretch of shore. Sometimes we get to stay in our favorite dive, sometimes a little nicer set of cabins, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes we have shared the secret with family or friends.

The beginning of the summer of 2012, we scheduled our trip to the North Shore to correspond with our yearly trip to Josh's dad's cabin. We would get away, just the 5 of us, for 5 nights and then go to his cabin in northwest MN for (what was to be) 4 nights. We headed out on a beautiful summer day and, for variety, decided to make the drive north through Wisconsin to Duluth. Our new route took us through what is called the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Driftless means that the land was never touched by glaciers making the topography that of forested, rolling hillsides, deep rivers with steep rocky cliff edges, as well as prairies and wetlands. It is beautiful country, marked with an adorable cafe halfway through our journey. While we soaked in our new surroundings, we failed to take any photos but came away from the area with our bellies full of yummy food and a speeding ticket warning for me. It was definitely worth the extra time. 

We arrived to, what we all five consider, one of our favorite places in the world late that first night. Even though we rushed to the shore upon our arrival, we couldn't wait to fall asleep and wake for a full day.


*I know at one point in my blog's history I wrote about my grandmother, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Nevertheless, I think I will write about her again sometime because that woman was amazing and her impact on us, her grandchildren, was life changing. At my cousin's wedding recently, we all recounted Grandma stories with tears in our eyes and a little shakiness in our voices. 


4 Highlights of Spring

October 16, 2014 - 10:47 AM

Travel Log: Spring 2012 - In random order, :)!




1.) Our constant trips to the local skatepark were paying off and the boys learned to "drop-in." Whenever I've watched a skateboarder drop in, they seem to do so with ease, they are usually already in motion on their board, when they get to the edge and go over and down. Or they are running with their board in hand, jump up and onto their board, then down onto the ramp or into the bowl.

I remember so clearly, standing alongside them at this point, on the verge of dropping in for the first time. A friend had coached us in how to do it. I stood on the board, like the boys above, showing them how we had been taught to keep our weight, feet, momentum on the board. I stood below them, in the bowl, ready to catch them if when they propelled too far forward or backward. A mere drop of 4 feet was intimidating at the time and we spent hours simply staring down, standing in this position. 

Today, they do more extreme stunts but having been right there alongside them through it all, it warms my heart to watch the videos of their first times. It is not unlike their first step videos. I cherish the videos of their first time riding their boards down a slight hill, their first time doing an ollie, their first time dropping in, and all the fears that came with those acts. 



2.) While I do not talk too openly about the life of a business owner, anyone who has been one knows that it is a time/thought consuming lifestyle, that has countless weights of responsibility and countless curveballs. On one particularly wild day, the kids and I sent Josh goofy photos of us. On another particularly wild day, I made Josh pose in cheesy photos with me. The gestures were small, but like the first Proverb we had the kids memorize, the sentiment rings true for us during those wild times: "A cheerful face makes a joyful heart." 




3.) After having had the most amazing trail run in Moab, I was re-energized in my "running." I say "running" because I have never been, nor will ever be, a runner. I am more of a speed walker or jogger or shuffler. When we arrived home from Moab, my recent Runner's World magazine had a 5-week plan for running a 5K in 30 minutes. My previous fastest time was 32 minutes, so I decided to tackle the plan as a way to have a goal in my "running." The kids were (mostly) happy to either run or ride alongside me on my road and trail runs, and I used the gym indoor track while the boys were at swim practices for speed work.

The next month when my Runner's World showed up, it had a 10-week plan for running a half-marathon. The thing I realized when looking at it was that the two plans overlapped in mileage. Intrigued, I started looking around for a half marathon to train for and started talking to my friend, Molly from EP, who was already planning on doing the EP half marathon in June. Since we were going to be in Boulder for the month of August, she agreed to run in her second half marathon that summer with me then/there.

4.) Wait... Boulder in August?

When I was growing up, we went on only a handful of "yearly" family vacations, (that lasted between 12 and 48 hours long). 4 to be exact. Chicago (for a wedding), Adventureland (for one day), Wisconsin Dells (to the cheapest/smallest waterpark there for one day), and St. Louis (to Mark Twain Cave & zoo only). Growing up, we didn't have much money and my dad didn't like traveling, but he sacrificed time and money to squeeze the six of us and our luggage into our little Ford escort station wagon to take us on, what were for us, once in a lifetime trips. It was while driving home from one trip that my dad would suggest the next year's trip. Admittedly, it was a sad day when after four years the trips abruptly stopped. I remember it was plans to go back to Chicago and visit the Museum of Science and Industry. Le sigh. 

When we were driving home from Moab, we, too, were already planning our next month long get away. This time we chose to go to Boulder for a month. Boulder was another great hub of the tech industry that we are in and we wanted to research and pursue client relationships in the area. Because we had just returned for one trip, I was slow to getting on VRBO to look for a place to stay or figure out time frames. The decision was finalized very quickly for us when late one night, Josh came to me and said, "I found a beautiful house that looks like an art museum near downtown Boulder on AirBnB that is available for the whole month of August. They say they don't want kids under the age of 10 because she has so many fragile things in her house, so you'll have to convince her to rent to us. You should contact them and try to rent it right now."

AirBnB had only been mainstream, finalizing a massive funding round and expanding throughout the country, for a year prior to this time. (At that time, they also were trying to recover/solve a scandalous robbery situation. Remember that one?) I was still under the impression that it was primarily for renting out one room in someone's house, but Josh found a whole house for rent. However, at this point in time, AirBnB was set up so that you could not make simple inquiries on places to stay, like VRBO or FlipKey, etc. You had to put your money where your mouth was and fork over the full amount to AirBnB with your inquiry. I used my "three well-behaved children" line and hoped for the best. Within 12 hours, our money was taken, she accepted our request, the confirmation was set, and we were now staying in Boulder for the month of August.

Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. Here it was, only April, and our summer was set.


Back to Denver & Back to Home

October 8, 2014 - 2:47 PM

Travel Log: 28 March 2012 - 31 March 2012


It was time to have breakfast at the best Moab breakfast joint and hit the road for the "quick" 5 hour drive to Denver. Josh had more work meetings to take care of in Denver so we scheduled to stay 3 nights in Denver at the same hotel we stayed at for the beginning of our trip. The hotel once again proved to be a perfect business location as well as a great storage setup for our bikes and gear-filled car. We filled our days in the city with work and school and Thai food, but in the afternoons the kids and I got out to experience Denver's amazing downtown skatepark. 

At the time, at 11 & 9, (yes, I accidentally called Max 10 earlier, oy, my mind!, she fails me!) our boys were definitely noobs to skateboarding. They had bought "cheap" Target skateboards with their Christmas money and, within a month, by the end of January 2012, they had each busted those boards and wheels from their constant use. Then they saved their money and bought the least expensive boards from the local skate shop just before leaving for Moab. Even though they couldn't do many tricks other than an ollie, they LOVED skateboarding and were at it constantly.


The Moab skatepark is incredibly tiny and tame (I'd guess it's 2,000 sq ft?) compared to our local skatepark (11,500 sq ft) but the Denver skatepark was huge and filled with steps and jumps and bowls and ramps (boasting 60,000 sq ft of skateable concrete!). For our boys the Denver skatepark was a huge eye opener into the skateboarding world they were entering. At the skatepark there were little kids younger than them doing amazing tricks, jumps, and flips. Each of our boys had quite the crashes over our two days at the Denver skatepark, a combination of slippery concrete and their noob status, but nothing that made them want to quit skateboarding anytime soon. If anything, it just made them want to practice all the more.



What seemed in the blink of an eye, it was time to go back home. Our time in the desert and mountains was over and it was time to drag ourselves back across Nebraska. But the welcome into our home state was filled with life. Spring had begun, the grass was green, the trees were starting to bud, our lilacs were flowering early. 



Coming home after "only" 2.5 weeks away was not as traumatic for me as when we returned from our CA adventure. Even though there were other things in our life that were spinning out of control, the act of traveling and living/working for the second time worked better than we could have hoped. Once again, after this adventure, our family was drawn closer together. This time it wasn't that we were only with ourselves, but it was that we went on a wide variety of outdoor adventures that everyone could participate in with our varying skill levels. Once we were back home, the kids were excited about biking to the skatepark or biking for fun as a family or running with Mom on trails or biking alongside while Mom ran, etc. It wasn't that we had never done those activities before as a family, only now everyone could hold their own, the combination of age and time benefited from our togetherness.

It gave us as parents hope that maybe now there wouldn't be AS MUCH feet dragging out of 2 of 3 of our kids. One can always hope. :)!


Eighth Day: Work & the Canyon

October 7, 2014 - 9:53 AM

Travel Log: 27 March 2012

Today, was our final full day in the desert and, for our final desert excursion, we wanted to drive up to Island in the Sky, part of Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is a national park of almost 340,000 acres (compared to the more popular Arches National Park which is 76,000 acres). It is divided into 4 distinct areas by location and geography: Island in the Sky (a lush mesa), the Needles (an amazing area of sandstone pinnacles), the Maze (a remote labyrinth into countless canyons), and the 2 rivers: the Colorado River and Green River. The rivers' deep carving of the canyons brings the views to near Grand Canyon proportions as they divide the park's three areas and make it so that by car there is no easy way to travel between the three. The Needles to Island in the Sky is a 2 hour drive, while Island in the Sky to the Maze is a 7 hour drive. 


The Island in the Sky is a expanse mesa. Though it feels like it is shaped like a land peninsula rather than island, it does sit nearly 2000 feet higher in elevation than the city of Moab and the rivers below. To get to the Island in the Sky, you drive northwest of Moab for 9-10 miles then take a left. From here, over 14 miles, you rise up the 2K to reach the mesa top. Desert greens cover the mesa floor for miles in every direction and while looking across the flat, lush, vibrant landscape you begin to wonder, "Where are the canyons?"


But then, the Navajo and entrada sandstones begin to peek up their heads and the flat mesa begins to cast eerie shadows into the landscape. The view is similar to what one would expect to have seen on Columbus's maiden voyage, you have reached the end of the world, you are about to go over the edge like a waterfall, but here the green sea disappears into the depths of reds. Island in the Sky may be a dead end but the view is uninterrupted. It's no wonder that Edward Abbey called the Canyonlands, "the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth - there is nothing else like it anywhere."



One of the things you will notice if you look into the canyon is an area that almost resembles a lower tier. This area is called the White Rim and wraps around the three sides of Island in the Sky. It is a natural sandstone bench located 1000 feet below the mesa top and 1000 feet above the rivers. The White Rim Trail is a dirt road, generally one car width wide, that travels a 100 mile loop around the White Rim. It is a favorite trail by 4x4 enthusiasts, motorcross motorcycles, and mountain bikers. We did take our Volvo on part of the trail, called Schaffer Road (pictured below) but for Josh the drive and the view of it from above, would only make him long to tackle the 100 mile ride one year later. (I also love the below photo because the flat green mesa top and the sharp drop is definitely noticeable.)


Matrimony Spring, a natural spring right at the intersection of the main entrances into Moab, has a legend that the newly married couple who found it drank from it and vowed to never leave Moab. While we have had to leave Moab, for us the legend has become every time my husband leaves he declares his famous words about Moab, "I still have unfinished business in Moab." It happened after our first 2 day visit, it happened now after a week and a half visit, and he has said it after each of our future one month visits. (I'll get to those, don't worry! :)!)

my love


Seventh Day: Work & Play in the Desert

October 6, 2014 - 12:14 PM

Travel Log: 26 March 2012

Once again, getting back to work after an amazing week vacation is hard for everyone, adults and kids. But, once again, the beauty of living anywhere, specifically living in a playground like Moab and living in a different time zone, means you can still pretend like you are on vacation when the work day is done.

Since our attempt to go skiing was a bust, we decided to rent suspension mountain bikes for the boys so they could ride on the infamous Slickrock Trail. Josh would ride with them on his fixed frame bike, even with his wrists still reeling from pain (strongly probable stress fractures) received during the Porcupine Rim trail ride.

The 10.6 mile, one and only, Slickrock Bike Trail is world famous, requires high technical ability, and is highly aerobic. The trail is made up of beautiful, buff-colored Navajo sandstone and is more of a sandpaper texture than slick rock. It was formed ages ago by petrified sand dunes undulating across the landscape. 


On the day we were there, someone was taken away in an ambulance for a broken leg received on the trail. Heeding the warning, we opted to have the boys try the 2.3 (tho, actually 3) mile practice loop located next to the official trail. Though it is not as long or extreme as the real trail, the practice loop is designed to be a challenging introduction for any rider considering the real trail and it was perfect for our boys. Josh took Zeke out and I walked behind Max (carrying Miriam on my back the whole time).




A 9-second video of Max riding an easy section on the practice loop. Click on black rectangle to get it to start. :)!


This is our 10 year old Max in the middle of the practice loop. It was incredibly difficult (it boggles my mind to think the real trail is harder!), he was working harder than ever (the ups and downs were no joke), it was crazy windy (see previous day's Looking Glass pics), but at this point he exclaimed with a beaming smile, "This is the best bike ride of my entire life!" 

happy boys

During our visit to Slickrock Bike Trail, Josh ended up going out for part of the real trail then I borrowed Zeke's rented bike and did part of the practice loop. If you couldn't gauge by the above elevation map, the aerobic aspect is intense and the undulations are extreme even on the practice loop. It wasn't their first ski resort trip but it was an extreme sport day, one that has never been forgotten and they are counting the days to recreate.

14 as of today.


Sixth Day: Looking Glass & Mama's First Trail Run

October 1, 2014 - 10:41 AM

Travel Log: 25 March 2012

Climb ON!

Today, our, *sniff*, last day of Spring Break, we planned to climb a new (set in 2010), yet increasingly popular rock south of Moab called Looking Glass Rock.

looking glass

Photo credit. Would you believe I forgot to step back and take a photo of the whole, breathtaking amphitheatre that is Looking Glass Rock? The sandstone rock sits alone in a flat, desert field, surrounded by small brush and no other rock formations. 


We planned to climb up the east rib (seen on the right), a 5.5 PG13 sport route, that is 400' long, and required 3 pitches. (A pitch means the length of rope usually will run out at that point. At the top of one pitch you have to stop and collect all your rope and then start again.) In reality, you can scramble up the east rib and free climb it without a rope, because it is not technical and doesn't even require the use of climbing shoes. EXCEPT for the fact that it is PG13. PG13 stands as a type of warning about a climb and the warning for this climb is that it has a 135' free fall rappel in order to get down. It is important to have a rope and have the rope long enough to be folded in two and still reach the ground. (Tho, in reality you could simply climb back down the rib or, as we've seen, be crazy enough to base jump a dangerously short distance.)


Amos teaching us how to climb 3 people at a time. Make mental note of the horizontal crevice at his knee.


Amos, Josh, and I climbed as three roped together, meaning once Amos was to the first pitch he would belay both Josh and I climbing at the same time. Next, Joe and his 12 year old son Isaac would climb together. Third, Amos would go up again with Molly and Kari as three roped together. We didn't let our three kids climb this route because they had never rappeled by themselves before and we didn't think learning to rappel on a 135' free fall was a good idea. (Tho, little did we know one year later we would have all 3 of them learn to rappel on a 120' free fall, whoops!)


Joe and Isaac beginning the second pitch.

The day we chose to climb this route it was INCREDIBLY windy. Winds were steady at 27mph with forceful gusts between 40-50mph. Even though I cursed the wind, the climb was as easy as scrambling and incredibly fast moving. We hung out at the top for a while, took in the amazing panoramic view, I even happened to *cough* find *cough* a restroom up there, and we waited for Joe and Isaac.


Directly above the hole you can see Josh and my orange helmets looking over the edge.

In order to begin the rappel, you have to climb down into a crevice and find the rappel bolts at the top of the eye slit. Thankfully, we had incredibly experienced Amos to set up the rappel. He then threw the rope down to Molly who would act as our "fireman's belay." A "fireman's belay" means that, heaven-forbid, the person rappeling loses control, the person at the bottom of the rope can pull both ends tight, thus stopping the person from falling along the rope any further down. 


Amos, our amazing friend and experienced guide, and his equally amazing & experienced wife, Molly, waiting to start the rappel.


The view down to the bottom.


Molly getting excited in the wind to do the rappel. You can see how strong the wind was by the effect on her ponytail. Oy!


Kari, backing up and dropping into the free fall rappel.

It's probably just me, but when I was a little kid playing hide-n-seek or jailbreak, once I found my hiding spot I would immediately find myself "holding it." I was simply too excited and too scared all at the same time. The anxiety of wondering when or if someone would find me got me all riled up inside and I, well, always needed to find a restroom as soon as I was hidden! I experienced a similar situation when I was waiting my turn to rappel. Even though I had just used the restroom minutes before, once I was waiting in line for my turn to do my first rappel in 15 years (my previous one only being 15' at a day camp), I was too excited and too scared and found myself "holding it." Hahaha! :)!


Me, coming out of the eye slit.


You can see the boys playing at the bottom of the face, above the boulder field inside the amphitheatre.


Molly acting as fireman's belay for Josh as the younger kids watch. Another good reason for a fireman's belay this day was the wind. Oh!, the wind!


It wasn't until later that I would be told about how the start/base of this climb (that area I mentioned above by Amos's knee) and near the area that these two are sitting, is a favorite hangout of a number of rattlesnakes, 6-foot long rattlesnakes. Ignorance of that information is not bliss, we were really lucky this day nothing happened.

The entire climbing experience at Looking Glass Rock was not incredibly tiring and it did not take long except for the fact that we had multiple groups of climbers. We were back to our condo area mid-afternoon and made plans to run/hike Negro Bill Canyon with our group of other friends in town. 


This is O & M at the beginning of the trail. It soon narrows to a 1' wide trail winding around trees, bushes, boulders, etc.

You may remember this trail being the ending area for the Porcupine Rim MTB trail. Porcupine Rim swoops around the top edge and the north side of Negro Bill Canyon, while this trail goes into the canyon itself. Negro Bill Canyon is named after the first non-caucasian to explore the canyon back in 1877. At the end of the trail into the canyon is Morning Glory Bridge. Though often referred to as Morning Glory Arch, it is considered to be a bridge because a natural spring runs underneath it. There are hiking/biking trails that go across the bridge as well as bolts for groups to rappel down into the canyon at the end of their hike. Rappelers can also do a simul-rappel on the bridge which seems like a bit much for me, oy!


Josh took the kids along the trail and I ran with 5 others. For me, this was not only my longest run since I broke my foot (4.8 miles) but also my inaugural trail run and I was definitely hooked. The trail into the canyon criss-crossed back and fourth across the stream countless times and has a wonderful mix of gradual climbs and steep rock scrambling. It was exciting to experience the different terrains while running and exhilarating to go from normal runing on dirt or sand to high stepping and technical foot placement around larger rocks. Even though my ankle hurt like a mother when we finished the run, it also made me believe that running a farther distance, like a half marathon, would be possible for me someday.


This was the last day that everyone else we knew was staying in Moab. We were the only ones sticking around for 3 more days. Tomorrow was a Monday and Josh had to turn back on his email and get back to work and the kids and I had to get back into school as well. Just like in CA, we would be able to add play after school and work were done. But for tonight, the last night of Spring Break, we would party it up with our friends, with whom we had enjoyed countless adventures over the previous week. What an amazing experience it was!



Welcome! I am glad you're here! If you are new and would like to get caught up on what's going on, check out these quick links to get you started:

About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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