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Showing posts from June, 2013

June 29, 2013: Proceed with Caution

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I wanted to title this blog "Reckless Abandon", but after further reflection, thought it too harsh. "Proceed with Caution" was my compromise.

We went on a bike ride today up High Grade Road. This is not a ride for the faint of heart; definitely not for a girl who typically rides in a very flat Nebraska. What makes this ride difficult you ask? As the name implies, it is a steep climb (see GPS map to the right)

If you carefully review the map, you will note a steep decline at mile 25. Thus the title for this blog. Garrett goes fast down hills and mountains. I apply my brakes intermittently and pray I don't fly off the front of my handle bars. He would like for me to go faster.

I have explained to Garrett that climbing faster is more important than going down faster (cardiovascular purposes). I have explained that I have a fear of falling down mountains and hurting myself (looking for pity here). And I have explained that I just don't have the biking experien…

June 28, 2013: Play Ball

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Baseball is a big deal in my hometown of Remsen.In fact, it's a really big deal and rightfully so.Our little town produced State Championship baseball teams and Professional League baseball players. Young boys played Little League ball in preparation for high school.

The boys played at a baseball diamond strategically placed next to our public swimming pool.There was no girls’ softball program. Our role was to cheer on the baseball boys while juggling our time with laying out at the pool. Our laid back days as onlookers took a dramatic turn the year Kim Schorg was recruited to the boys' team. Kim was talented, athletic, and a girl.She was as good a ball player; as good, if not better, as her male counterparts. Coach reveled in this crown recruit of his team. What Coach didn’t anticipate was the reaction of the other Remsen girls.

Previous to Kim’s recruitment, it had never crossed our minds that we were being slighted. Not having the opportunity to play a summer sport was not vie…

June 27, 2013: A New Pair of Shoes

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I have a problem. I love shoes. But the good news is that my problem isn’t to the extent of Amelda Marcos. With restraint, I keep my inventory below the capacity of my moderately sized closet.
My problem lies in the immense joy I receive from the purchase of a kick-ass pair of boots or flashy heels. This joy should be reserved for more spectacular events. Instead, my rainiest of days are brightened by the addition of colorful pair of wedges to my collection.
Yesterday I had to reduce my inventory by one. A pair of black sandals saw their final hours. I also noticed a couple of dress sling-backs showing irreparable wear.
"I need to go shoe shopping" was my declaration to Garrett.
"Yea, right" was his response. "JUST what you need."
No, not what I necessarily need. But I something I definitely want. Some wedged Toms in bright fuchsia? Black dress shoes with a high heel and an animal print? The options are dancing in my head.
As I find myself checking out a…

June 26, 2013: Guest Post on Grandma Marvel

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Meandering Mary by Mary Hahn Printed in The Chronicle, Cherokee, Iowa newspaper, Thursday, December 7, 2000 “Always a Lady”
Husband Bob’s oldest sister was born on Dec. 7.  Today I dedicate my column in her memory.
Unfortunately, after a three-year illness, her life’s legacy left us last month.  She lost her husband of 57 years this past summer. They were a devoted couple, he the more strong-willed of the two and her the quiet, dignified one. They worked hard, she being his helper in establishing a lucrative veterinarian business. They were dedicated to their work and family and both worked many long hours, with her being the mainstay of the family, raising nine children.
Bob and his sister didn’t really know each other in their young years since she started high school when he started kindergarten. Since there was no school bus, she spent her high school years boarding out. Upon graduation from high school, she left for nurses training and then went on to work in hospitals, subseque…

June 25, 2013: Breaking up is Hard to Do

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My youngest sons have a love/hate relationship. They remind of the couple we all know who date, but we wish didn't. They fight when together, but can't stand being apart. And they make most everyone else around them crazy in process.

With four years between Son #2 and Son #3, I always thought this too big of a buffer for them to enjoy a relationship together. I was wrong. They have been fast and true playmates in all sense of the word. But it truly is love/hate. They bicker over the most meaningless things when together, but are lost when left without the other.

Our home life is filled with these two brothers constantly playing games and battling on the trampoline. They go from the tramp to the basketball hoop to the video games. Always together like a couple of carefree children. But while they play, they fight like a couple of wild cats.

Recently I decided to follow my mom's influence. As children, my brothers and I would fight. We fought a lot. Mom's continual resp…

June 24, 2013: ordinary-people-doing-extraordinary-things

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I admire extraordinary people. Let me clarify. I admire ordinary people who have accomplished above-ordinary feats. Extraordinary.
Many types of admirable qualities fall within this class of people:  Showing perseverance in conquering a fear or quest, accomplishing great things with the blessing of a second chance, or overcoming obstacles with courage. All of these qualities exemplify the best in class.
I do have dreams of writing a book one day. I want to write a collection of stories on extraordinary people. True stories about real people who fit my vision of extraordinary. I make mental notes of special people I have met along the way in this fun journey of life. Some are chance encounters and others, lifelong friendships. Their life stories are those I want to share.
A friend who grew up with nothing, but accomplished great things; both in her professional life and in her long lasting marriage. I tell her story often as a comparison to those born with a silver spoon; access to ev…

June 23, 2013: Fear

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A friend's daughter was seriously injured in an accident last night. As I pray for her recovery, my heart fills with sadness for her parents. The call that every parent dreads. My biggest fear.

My morning started with a five minute panic attack in trying to locate my seventeen year-old. For that five minute span, I tried to remain calm and not think about him in a ditch. He called. All was well in the world. My brief fear turned into an afterthought. Based on the news headlines of the morning, many other parents weren't as lucky.

No matter the age, the worry doesn't go away. From checking on them as babies to make sure they are still breathing  to worries on their decision making Friday nights at the frat house, the worry is there. With every blaring ambulance and fire siren, I say a prayer. I think of my kids and hope that it wasn't intended for them.

My biggest panic attacks to date revolve around the well-being of my kids. I vividly remember the panic of losing a c…

June 22, 2013: Raincheck

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Do you remember the opening to the book, The Cat in the Hat? The kids stared out the window to a wet and cold day. What to do? What to do?

That is how I feel right now. The best made plans can be overturned by Mother Nature. My planned bike ride with friends is out, so what now is in?

Last night the boys and I went to see World War Z in 3D. It was actually quite good. Very entertaining. Home by 9:30, I carefully planned for a much anticipated Sunday morning.

Bike down and tires filled with air. Check. Helmet, gloves, clipped shoes in car. Check. Water bottle open and left on island for filling beside power bar. Check. Money, ID, and ear buds set by charging phone. Check. To bed by 10:30 with dreams of a long morning bike ride dancing in my head. Check.

Reality check. The sound of thunder and heavy rain outside wakes me at 6:10. A check of hour-by-hour weather and a flurry of FaceBook posts from cycling friends concludes with a cancelled ride. And now I stare out my window like the ki…

June 21, 2013: A Sentimental Backyard Journey

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I spent the last couple of hours in my yard. The high winds and heat required an extra drink for all of my flowers, plants, and bushes. I love my garden haven, but it does require some tender loving care.

Tonight I found myself taking several trips across the backyard to accomplish my task at hand. I was in every corner of sacred space tending to all things green. My watering journey caused me to pause and reflect on the life journeys that have run their happy feet through this grassy backyard retreat.

The swing-set stared at me as a lonely reminder of days past. I have been asked on numerous occasions to part with it, but I can't. It's a piece of my backyard and our life. The Little Tikes airplane is now gone and disk swing; long thrown away.

The hours spent on this playground which spanned two homes and fifteen years seems insurmountable. Ben loved to swing. With a permanent smile on his face, he would swing for hours with intermittent breaks to the fort or sandbox. He woul…

June 20, 2013: An Old Irish Blessing

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Traditional blessings and old wives tales are carrying more meaning these days. They continue to be proven out with each aging year. Maybe it's because I actually take time to think about things now that I'm older. I am quite sure my circumstances haven't changed dramatically, but the way that I view them has.

An Old Irish blessing... "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face." A true blessing when you experience this.

I went on a long bike ride last night. I followed the Big Papio Trail for an out and back; straight south for 16 miles and then back the same way. It felt breezy when I left. I have found in my biking adventures that what feels windy on your feet, feels much windier on your bike. This was the case last night.

The first half of the ride was tough. I kept reminding myself that the level of difficulty was due to outside elements and not my ability. The result of this obstacle would b…

June 19, 2013: Haircuts Run in our Family

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I saw a post on FaceBook last night about two sisters, ages 5 and 3, who decided to experiment in haircutting. Their guilty dialogue with their father was hysterical.

A classic line from the 5 year-old (culprit with the scissors) was "cutting hair takes a lot of concentration" (with special emphasis on the word, concentration). She obviously was lacking in this department based on her sister's 10+ inch resulting hair length variation.

A similar experiment was had in front of 119 Harrison Street, Remsen, Iowa in the early 70's. Fortunately the heads of hair of my brothers and me were left untouched. The neighbor kids weren't as fortunate.

Russell and Brenda lived across the street. Whereas my brothers and I were given a long leash by our mother, their parental leash was much shorter. An allowed outing to our house was rare. The last of these outings was the day of our little haircutting event. Matt and I were allowed to play with them in our front yard that fatef…

June 18, 2013: Adventures in Adult Parenting

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I spent the night grocery shopping with Zach. My twenty year-old son is a man on his own. He rents a house with buddies, has a full-time job and a car payment. Between my explaining how to prepare baked potatoes and the shelf life of lettuce, we discussed the liabilities associated with car ownership. Gas is expensive; especially when your house is halfway across town from work. The cost of licensing a car? He hadn't a clue on this extraordinary expense.

No complaints from my eldest, just a lot of questions and life lessons during his journey. And it's only beginning. A challenging role as a parent is explaining that we too have been down these same roads. There actually was a day when I was twenty; trying to figure out who FICA was and why he was taking money out of my paycheck.

As we scrounged the dollar aisle for bargains, we talked about the current state of his life. He loves his independence, but expenses and obligations make him nervous. Frugal by nature, this next yea…

June 17, 2013: Elementary, My Dear Watson

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I think I'm a nerd. There, I said it. Since I was a small girl, I've always had interests a bit different from the typical girls. While other teens were reading Harlequin romance novels, I stayed up all hours of the night reading Sherlock Holmes.

I found Agatha Christie novels divine as well. I owned most of her murder mysteries in paperback. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was held in higher regard. I owned his collection in a huge hardback special edition. It took weeks of babysitting money for me to afford this coveted purchase. Sherlock Holmes was the bomb in my eyes. Obviously I never outgrew this obsession.

Halloween 2007 was the year of my favorite costume. It was this year that I splurged and dressed up as Sherlock. While other middle-aged females paraded in their most fantasized sexy costume, I was in old-man smelling heavy tweed. And I was thrilled.

Any non-nerd female would have found a way to make even Sherlock a blonde bombshell. Not me. My goal was to duplicate Sir Conan…

June 16, 2013: Paternal Influences

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My mom tells me she sometimes feels like I'm eulogizing her in my blogs. Take it as a compliment, Mom. It's way too easy because you are so awesome. But I will listen (always slow to do so, but it eventually sinks in). My ode to the wonderful dads I admire will be brief and non-specific. Very non-eulogistic...right, Mom?

The sermon at church today centered on the great role of the father. The traits discussed made me think fondly of the dads who have impacted my life. My memories are full of laughter and sharing life with these great men.

But life isn't all smiles. Life is tough. Parenting is tough. Leading by example and doing the right things for the right reasons is not easy.

Delivering the hard messages and being the perceived "bad guy" is many times the paternal cross that dads bear. I have been the recipient on many occasions of messages I didn't want to hear. It took me years, many years, to appreciate the lessons learned. Unconditional support, stead…

June 15, 2013: A Trail Run

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I got to run yesterday!! For me this was big. The last time I ran outside was February 21st; two days before my ACL injury. We had a snow storm that day. As I traversed over the fresh powder (picture below), I hadn't a clue that I wouldn't be back on this trail for nearly four months.

My run was only two miles and broken with a half mile walk in the middle. It will be a slow road back to my old usual. But such is life. One day at a time. One step at a time.

I just feel blessed to be back on the trail again and with two functioning knees. I am growing accustomed to my new hardware that now secures a hamstring tendon replacing my ACL. Genius invention. I will take better care of my new knee this go around.


June 14, 2013: CWS Bliss

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The College World Series is back and Omahans are loving life. Anyone who lives here or comes to our city to enjoy the college baseball games knows exactly what I am talking about. There’s excitement in the air when the CWS is in town. As we wait with open arms for athletes and fans, they in turn embrace our city. There’s something to be said for the athletes who play absent distractions of agents or endorsements. To watch these young men play from their heart, for their team, and for the love of the game is pure bliss. Out-of-towners pour into our city to support their favorite team and watch the “best show on dirt”. Among them are celebrities — everyone from U.S. presidents to dignitaries, professional athletes and actors. A common celebrity visitor of years past was Kevin Costner. My boys’ father, Scott, was Costner’s bodyguard for a couple of those years. He went on outings with Costner and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Christine. Scott even got a picture of his family with Costner (p…

June 13, 2013: My Boyfriend's Back and...

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My boyfriend's back and we caused a lot of trouble...hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back.

We celebrated his birthday a day late. Mr. Brucker turned the big 4-8 on Wednesday. Our schedules did not allow us to be together on the actual date, so we celebrated last night instead. Garrett did remind me that he flew in on my actual birthday. Although not as worthy with the 24 hour delay, I made it up to him. We had a lot of fun.

After a delayed flight, we were able to snag a couple of over-sized Roja margaritas with our favorite Mexican fare downtown. We enjoyed a windshield sunset on our drive out West and then closed out the night with a patio Corona for gift opening. Welcome to Omaha, my handsome boyfriend.

And BTW...Ben says we need to get married because he doesn't like me to refer to a "boyfriend" in front of his friends ;)

June 12, 2013: Summer in Full Session

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My idea of a night at home was dinner with the boys and possibly watching a movie together tonight. It didn't quite work out that way. Ben's response to my great idea was "Mom, but it's summer".

Yes, Ben, it is summer. The definition of summer per the under eighteen crowd is having lots of friends over, shooting endless hoops outside, and staying up late. Too late per the over eighteen crowd.

Tonight was the Stanley Cup game. My kids love hockey and so do their friends. The house was rocking with cheers and boy commentary throughout the night. There was a pizza run and another break to the closest gas station for drinks (the under eighteen kind).

As Ben's friend chronically text (and Vine and Snapshot), Grant just wanders around the excitement of the house with a permanent X-Box headset attached to his head. The boys of summer.

While there was talk of summer jobs, bonfires, and early morning football practice; Grant was organizing yet another sleep over. The…

June 11, 2013: Pool Party

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Life is busy. Sometimes too busy to stop and smell the roses. Tonight some of my favorite girlfriends planned a pool party. I would have every excuse not to attend...too busy...kid commitments...work obligations. But my instinct told me otherwise. I wanted some down time with girlfriends. And the decision paid dividends. A good choice.

We sat around the pool. In the water, out of the water, by the pool...good times with good friends. Margaritas were a plenty and chips and salsa within hands reach. The humid Nebraska summer night showed its face again. Perfect for a pool party.

We shared life. We caught up. We laughed and we smiled. I observed something with this group of women. Positivity. No negative comments. No gossip. We lift each other up. The way it should be. Life is stressful enough. We don't need drama. Encouragement is welcome. Sisterhood and acceptance...<3.

A friend once told me that we all need balcony friends; those who cheer you on from the balcony and pull you …

June 10, 2013: Minister Flunky

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There are tasks in life that I have always thought to be automatic; like driving a car or cooking a meal.After watching a repetitive task performed weekly for 40+ years, one would believe this a cinch to duplicate for the steadfast onlooker.Unfortunately I found out in front of a full church that this is not always the case.

My designated role was Eucharistic Minister for a cousin’s wedding. But even with confidence going in that Fourth of July day, this function did not come automatic to me. My typical success strategy of “winging it” was a fail. I was asked by cousin Jennifer to serve as EM at her wedding. Excited for this role, but not having the required credentials, I called my parish priest, Fr. Mel.  Father quickly apprised me that the process with a length that surpassed the wedding date. But with my position as Church Trustee, he granted me a dispensation of sorts and communicated the same to the Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese.

Father passed on some verbal guidance, gave me bl…

June 9, 2013: Hidden Treasures

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After spending a chunk of Sunday afternoon in my basement, I now know why I keep dreaming about endless attics and secret spaces full of treasures. I absolutely love these spaces. The accompanying memorabilia and fun escapes stored there bring me great enjoyment.

When I do find the time to create and explore in my basement, I'm in heaven. I have a collection of vinyl records that produce a constant background hum as I poke about through my various on-going projects. Yesterday's music choices included Three Dog Night, Don McLean, and Queen. Ben requested American Pie three times. It gave me a smile to listen to him tell Grant the story of Buddy Holly as the two of them organized the game table.

Goodwill piles were created and storage rearranged. I spend most of my time in an area that serves as my art room. It is fully equipped with bins stocked with paper and every craft accessory imaginable. I have an art table with side bins for pencils, stencils, scissors, and journals. Tw…

June 8, 2013: Midnight Conversations

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This should be called "Middle of the Night Conversations"; 3:30 a.m. actually. But the title is too long for a blog. You get the drift.

3:33 a.m.: A knock at my bedroom door with words of a stomach ache from a young house guest. The intended over-nighter with Grant had turned into a half-nighter. With a call from his personal cell phone, a tired father was already on his way.

With windows open and a cool breeze filling my room, the interruption in sleep seemed minor. Back in the day there were many broken nights like these; some that required my driving across town to pick up my own child. More often it was kids leaving my house in the middle of the night. Not sure on the message behind this theme.

3:55 a.m.: As our house occupants had decreased by one, the silence of the night was broken by a blaring car alarm. As is typical with middle of the night noises, I first laid in bed wishing it away. Then I got up to investigate through my opened window. Definitely coming from my p…

June 7, 2013: Tilt-a-Hurl

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Last night was a great summer night. Cool weather, great company, and fun Downtown events all rolled into one. The start of our mini-adventure was the Old Market and the end, the Santa-Lucia Festival on the riverfront. In between was a stroll through the Summer Arts Festival. A very nice walk enjoying all of what Downtown has to offer.

As we came upon the Santa Lucia Festival, Grant was pleasantly surprised to see a small carnival going on. Rides of all shapes and sizes were in full motion. As I eyed a spinning mechanism in the horizon, I wondered if this was the Tilt-a-Whirl. The machine equipped with spinning cars rolling around a joint spinning track.

The Remsen Kids' Days annually produced this fanciful machine. Not one to endure motion well, my riding it was typically the result of my brothers' prodding. I would ultimately join the spinning fun. As a result of my brothers extra effort in creating the fastest spins, I would endure for days of feelings of uneasiness. I viv…

June 6, 2013: Kiddie Parade

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We all love a parade. In Remsen, we especially loved the Kids' Days parade. My brothers and I would decorate our bikes in colored streamers with clothes pinned wheels for added noise. The kids of Remsen would parade down the closed streets with the many enthusiastic town residents viewing from the curb.

In 1976, the parade was even more special as this was our country's bi-centennial year. The kids were recruited in masses with costumes encouraged. It was a grand celebration that year. One that we wanted to highlight as special during our Kid's Days activities.

My brothers along with our neighbor, Tommy Bunkers, dressed up as the Three Stooges. Wigs were created with caps and yarn with appropriate clothes scrounged out of the attic. They were followed by many kids costumed as past presidents. There were George Washington's and Abe Lincoln's abound in the streets that day.

My best friend, Bev, and I dressed up as Miss America and Miss USA. We made our roses out of…

June 5, 2013: Another Day

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Days come and days go. Fresh starts. Bad starts. Time that flies and time that can't go by fast enough. Life really is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're going to get. I have always loved that Forest Gump quote. So true.

For the record, I still haven't fixed my air conditioner. But life has been in my favor on this one. The unseasonably cool weather has been refreshing. My hot tub is back to being hot and my house is staying cool. A good combination. At least for the day.

Busy is my new norm. But a new busy. Not one full of planned naps, play dates, and days at the pool. Instead my busyness is less kid-related and more me-related. I'm still not used to this life switch. It happened quickly and quietly. One day I was taking three boys to baseball games and the next, I'm simply trying to keep my head above water. I underestimated the size of this chore.

The boys are busy with summer jobs and their own summer social calendars. Few of these tasks invo…

June 4, 2013: Dream Weaver

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I dream in color. There is no doubt about that. Last night my dream revolved around Crayolas. The whole dream did, in fact. I typically have very vivid dreams. Immediately after awaking, I can remember them in great detail. As the hours go by, they become more foggy.

I wish I knew a dream reader who could tell me what they mean. My dream last night was about a house full of Crayolas. The house was owned by the original Crayola family (is there such a namesake??) and I spent the dream wandering around; exploring and meeting many people along the way.

There was a dog, a brown lab, who was my constant companion. He was my dog; as though I owned such a dog in real life. I would go from room to room, climbing many flights of stairs, and chatting with a variety of people. The people included a couple of my kids, a tour guide for the Crayola family house, another visitor and a neighbor (in real life). And then there were many people who were familiar to me in my dream, but unfamiliar faces …

June 3, 2013: Purple Pleasure

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The rains paid off in Omaha. At least for my lawn and flowers (not bad for house without functioning air either). My pleasant welcome home was the purple pleasure that greeted me by my front door. The red roses are poking out as well.

Dead tulips have been replaced and overtaken by the new seasonal color. Landscaping is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I am anxious to see if the colorful cannas have sprouted in my far back yard yet. They are a new addition and should reach a six foot and full of color by the end of summer.

After a long day of airports, work, and meetings; the initial greeting from my silent greenery friends was welcomed. The voices waiting for me in the house were even better. Grant, you are definitely better than my tulips; hands down. His smiling face with newly installed braces was actively conversing with relatives as they prepared a celebration for Aunt Joan's birthday.

Cake, ice cream, and conversation at the table was a perfect way to be reminded of a hous…

June 2, 2013: Milestones

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Mission accomplished. It was a good day. 62 miles logged in and some milestones met. I like milestones and I love meeting them even more.

Milestone 1: I logged in my longest bike ride; ever. My previous high was sixty. Those serious riders are shaking their heads. But to a newly minted rider (not quite three years into owning a road bike), this was a milestone. And it wasn't an easy feat. The first thirty miles were into head-on high winds. Thanks to Garrett for pulling me (bikers lingo for blocking the wind...thanks). Once we made the turn after 30 with the wind behind us, I knew it was all "downhill" from there.

Milestone 2: I completed my first official Colorado sanctioned cycling event. For the last three years I have been envying every rider promoting their favorite Colorado ride on their jersey. I have been longing to join the fun. Now I that I have done it, I can chime in "Yea, I did the Elephant Ride last year."

Milestone 3: This was my first sanctione…

June 1, 2013: Anticipation

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Tomorrow we're doing an organized bike ride. I'm excited. It's the Elephant Rock Cycling Festival in Castle Rock, Colorado. We're doing the 62 miler. Garrett says it's a good ride. Of course, he is a snob. Accustomed to being surrounded by the beauty of Colorado, this is a typical day for him. For me, it's a treat.

"This course traverses the high plains between Denver and Colorado Springs. On a clear day, cyclists will enjoy the views of the Front Range from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak" is what the website reads. The weather report calls for clear skies, 0% chance of precipitation, and high of 81; 60's during our morning climbs. Perfect.

I have to add that Garrett is sitting next to me while I write this and I feel a bit censored. He believes I took liberties by taking a picture of the back of his vehicle (without prior authorization) and had me remove the word "stunning" from a previously typed Garrett quote (without prior authorization).

May 31, 2013: Broken

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The caption of this picture should read "flat tire and great boyfriend". I blew a tire yesterday. It seems like I've been blowing a lot of tires lately. My "tires" have been coming in a lot of shapes and models. I had the good fortune yesterday of having Garrett by my side to save the day. And we finished our ride without issue.

My air conditioner is broke. Another blown tire of sorts. Although my ever-resourceful brother-in-law thinks I may bypass purchasing a new unit, I need to be in Omaha to resolve. On the list for Monday is a call to the air conditioning company to schedule a visit. At least the cool Omaha weather has been cooperating on this front.

I have a mess in my basement. Zach overflowed the main level toilet on Wednesday. With Stefano in the upstairs shower, Zach wasn't able to quickly access the correctly sized plunger or towels. By the time the water was turned off, basement ceiling panels were soaked. Several panels collapsed leaving mirag…