Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Things I've learned in Colorado part III (?)

I suspect it's time for another installment of things I've learned since moving here nearly six months ago. Wait, six months?! I guess that's true. It seems like just yesterday and years at the same time that we crossed the border into our new state! Anyway, I digress.

It is windy here. Like, really really windy. In some ways I shouldn't be surprised by this, given that Aaron's employer chose the space between Boulder and Golden to build a testing facility for wind turbines, but I've never claimed to be the quickest study. If you think I'm kidding, not only are there house shaking gusts of wind that will wake you out of a deep sleep, but the entryway to my work has a big red light and neon lights installed so that if it's deemed too windy you need to use the other entrance. Why? Because if not, the winds are so strong, they'll knock you on your keester!

We bought a house about a block from Coyote Gulch Park. Isn't that a nice name? The part I didn't think about is that it's named this because there are real live coyotes all over the place! While I've only seen them around the area randomly while in the car (on the way to Costco, on the way home from Target...) Aaron has had a few run ins that were enough for both of us to consult Google on what one does when they encounter a coyote. Apparently, it's a neighborhood joke that if you have an outdoor cat, you won't have a cat very long.

Growing up on the East Coast, I have always pronounced this state "Col-a-rod-oh". Since moving here, I have discovered that locals say it the way I only thought people who talked strangely said it- "Col-o-raad-oh". I'm not sure I can switch, and these same people also say "Nev-aaa-da". *shudder*

Some folks in the area have referred to Denver as the Iceland of America. Moving here, I knew the crazy statistic about sunny days (300+ a year), but I still assumed we were moving to SNOW country! Well. Even though this a pretty bad year in general for snow, I can say that the little nook of Colorado we live in has pretty awesome weather. See, the mountains just west of us get lots of snow pretty regularly and while we do see snow, it's minimal and gone fast! I've put on snow boots twice this winter and really? Both times I could have worn sneakers. I'm not saying we won't get hit with a good size storm before the end of the season, but so far the weather has been consistently 40-50 degree sunny days since October.

My list continues on strange things I've learned here, but I'll save the rest for a future installment!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

This appears to be the time of year everyone posts what they're thankful for and while I think one should take time on a daily basis to reflect on this, I couldn't help but jump on the bandwagon after such a crazy few months.
We took a pretty big leap when we packed up and left DC in August. We both had great jobs that were stable and a fantastic support network. This holiday, I'm not only thankful that everything seems to be working out (as I wrap week 3 at my new job), but also feeling pretty lucky to have the people we do in our lives. Friends in Colorado that I had never met (being Aaron's friends from college) have welcomed us with open arms. We've had more Thanksgiving invites then we know what to do with and Aaron's sister and her husband hardly wasted any time booking flights that have them arriving this evening. My parents arrive the week after next and our calendar is quickly filling with people coming to visit. FaceTime and Skype are making the distance feel not quite so far and daily texts from all over the country are making me feel a bit less lonely. I've left friends before and my bestie and I haven't lived in the same timezone in years and years, so I know we can do this, but I just want to take a second to say Thank You. If you're reading this, then you are a part of our tribe and have been a part of our cheer leading squad as we drove cross country into a bit of the unknown.

I'll leave you a picture of the person everyone really wants to see when they set up a Skype-date with us... He's all ready for tomorrow!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On breastfeeding

Unless you live totally under a rock (or don't check Facebook), you're likely aware of the social media frenzy happening right now concerning women posting photos of themselves nursing their little ones and while there seems to be an article weekly somewhere about breastfeeding in public, this one left me thinking a bit longer. Perhaps it's because I'm just starting to come out of the weeds of having a little one and I can finally start processing and thinking about what Si and I have been through the last eight months.

Chances are, unless you're a fellow new mom, a veteran mom, or someone I'm close to who was at our house in those early days back in March, I've never talked about breast feeding with you.  There's a good chance you probably haven't seen me nurse Silas, even though I've nursed in public from New Hampshire to Colorado, in bars, restaurants, malls and everywhere in between. I think there may be one photo somewhere of Si nursing and it's only because he was so teeny that Aaron and I thought it was hilarious. This isn't because I'm ashamed of it or feel it's something that should be hidden away, it's just not something I've ever felt the personal need to talk openly about or display.

Nursing was not something that was easy for Si and I and from what I understand, my Mom had a lot of the same issues. Those first few weeks were incredibly difficult for all of us. Silas wasn't quite sure what to do when first born and so we needed a lot of help. If it wasn't for Aaron, his Mom, my Aunt Deb, our ability to pay for a lactation consultant, amazingly supportive friends (both in person and via email) and my own shear stubbornness, I'm not sure we would have made it work. I still think the Guinness Jamie and I shared on St. Patrick's Day was really what got things going for me! Now, when we pause whatever we're doing for a quick nurse and I don't even think about it, trying to remember those early days that were so frustrating feels like a foggy, distant lifetime ago.

I wouldn't trade my quiet moments with Silas and the bond we have for the world and I can't believe just how judgmental Americans choose to be when it comes to things like this. People seriously take the time to complain about a woman nursing in public? And think it's inappropriate? Every week there's an article somewhere about a woman being publicly humiliated because she's chosen to feed her infant in a public place. Based on all I've read, I've been pretty lucky to have people do quite the opposite and have the most unlikely people say "Good oh ya, Mama!" when I've nursed Si in a restaurant. Do people not have anything better to do with their time than chastise a woman for doing something completely natural? I can only imagine how that must feel to a person who may be struggling with nursing as it is, is quite likely very sleep deprived and holy cow, may be feeling like she doesn't know what the hell she is doing with this small little creature at all! Shame on those who judge.

I should also note that I am well aware that women are not able to or choose not to breast feed. Many of my close mama friends have struggled and not had the same success Silas and I did, and it wasn't for lack of a LOT of trying.  I think they need to be supported and cheered on just as much as women who are able to exclusively breast feed. Being a mom is hard work no matter what route you choose and taking sides on this issue only further divides us when we really need to be all in it together.

And on that, I will hop back off of my soapbox.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom

Most people that know me are aware that I lost my Mom over 16 years ago to breast cancer. I was a few weeks shy of 17 and as an only child, I think it's safe to say we were pretty close. I realized, however that while losing her is such a part of who I am, most of the people in my everyday life didn't actually know my Mom and it's often so hard for me to explain who I am without having known her.

My Mom wasn't the warm and cuddly bake cookies type and was far from perfect, but she was mine. The few times I remember her actually baking cookies, I'm 99% sure she burned them. She did can some tasty jams and I regret not paying more attention to the process now that I want to learn to can myself! Born and raised in Cambridge (don't say Boston, you WOULD be corrected), it was best to close your eyes when she drove and her sharp, sarcastic tongue with a dose of salty language kept you on your toes. I'm pretty sure she made most of my friends nervous as she was not one to suffer fools and had no problem saying so. Her and my dad had me reading at an early age and I have great memories of regular trips to Cambridge and Boston not only to see my grandparents, but to go shopping in the city and explore museums, whether it was the Harvard glass flower exhibits or the grounds of the Isabella Stewart Gardner. 

When asked by some friends who have suffered some pretty horrific losses recently about how I coped and if it gets easier, I only can say that the pain never goes away, you just get used to living with it.  In the years since losing Mom, I have had an amazing support network of friends and family.  I have an awesome Dad that took me prom dress shopping (Betsey Johnson in Boston, naturally), an incredibly accepting and kind Step-Mom,  Aunts and a Mother-In-Law that have all stepped in when I've truly needed a mom's perspective and friends, good lord I have amazing friends. All that still doesn't stop the unexpected tears when a Grateful Dead song comes up on my playlist and to this day, a passing waft of Chanel 5 can stop me in my tracks.  With Silas, there are so many questions and stories I would love to hear that there was no way my 16 year old brain would have known to ask and that sucks more than you can imagine. 

As we move into our new house and start our life here in Colorado,  I wouldn't trade the life I have with a great Tall Guy and a perfect son for anything and I can only hope my Mom would be proud of the decisions I've made that has brought me here. 

All that said, on what would be her 63rd birthday, I just want you to know how much I miss you,  Mom. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yarn exploring

In a few moments between house nonsense, Silas and I have gone off in search of my new Local Yarn Stores.
When we were here in June, we checked out a few in Denver proper (here and here) and one in Boulder, but now that we're settling in, I'm exploring a bit more.  As luck and awesome friends would have it, a going away gift from "Compound" neighbors Emily and Michael was a gift card to the Recycled Lamb! 
It's a great shop that will only be a few minutes from our house and while this may not make sense to the average person I think it's a good thing that they don't stock Madelinetosh or my wallet would be a lot lighter! 
 Today we wandered further afield and checked out the Loopy Ewe's brick and mortar store in Fort Collins. I have no idea why I didn't take any pictures, but I can say the store was quite impressive. It was nothing super fancy and a ton of well thought out stock.  There was more Madtosh than I've ever seen in a store as well as  tons of Lorna's Laces, Swan's Island and Malabrigo to name a few. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has shopped on their website, but to see it all in the store was overwhelming. While there, Sheri wandered by and we ended up talking for a few minutes. As the Loopy Ewe was one of the first online yarn shops I found 'back in the day", to some extent it felt like meeting a celebrity talking to Sheri. Too funny! I managed to leave with only one skein of yarn in hand, knowing I'll be reunited with my stash that's in storage soon enough.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, Fall has arrived and our cool weather gear is mostly in storage. Over the course of a few days (a baby causes knitting to happen at a much slower pace!) I churned out a new hat for Aaron. I managed to snap this shot before it went straight on his head and haven't had a moment to get an "action shot" since!
yarn- Shelter in sap. About 90% of a skein
needle- size six (first time using my signature needles...whoa!) 
Easy, straightforward, no complaints! case you haven't seen it on Twitter or Facebook, we are official Colorado residents!

We closed on the house yesterday. The Tall Guy has been there pretty much every moment he's not at work since we got the keys ripping out carpet and getting the upstairs ready for hardwod floors to be installed tomorrow. We are still finalizing what we'll do with the bathrooms and hope to have the moving company drop our stuff off sometime next week. In the meantime, we're bouncing between the apartment and house. For the first time ever I'll have more than one bathroom, a garage and a kitchen I can actually move around in. There is a lot I'll miss about city living, but I'm pretty sure a garage and big kitchen more than make up for my former city-living ways. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Things I have learned in Colorado Part II

We're continuing to learn new things daily. This weeks highlights:

Every morning you can see hot air balloons in the air looking toward Boulder. I never thought about hot air balloons as being a normal thing to see. The two specks in the photo below are from earlier this week.  

There are neat-o neon signs, classic cars and sweet art deco type architecture in the most unexpected places. It stands to reason that the dry air which makes me itchy and constantly thirsty is also helpful in things not rusting out! 

After a bit of research, we found that Colorado does have apple orchards. Not quite up to Franklin Cider Mill in Michigan, but we were able to score some cider, doughnuts, pat a few horses (or shrink in fear like I do) and, can you beat the view? I think not. 

Everyone "in the know" warned us that while the climate is amazing here, Mother Nature is a fickle lady. The weather seems to have turned pretty quickly the last few days and Winter IS Coming! There was a dusting of snow on the roof this morning! Wouldn't you know, 99% of our cold weather gear is in storage, so I'm knitting hats up for all of us. Silas got the first one and doesn't seem too impressed about this. 

And... an update on wildlife:  In addition to the previously mentioned prairie dogs, we've also seen a few coyotes and I almost ran over a rather large tortoise crossing the street the other day. After a few trips into the mountains, I have yet to see any elk or bighorn sheep. In the meantime, I'm investigating all the other types of creatures we may see here

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Story of a Shawl

As a Knitter, there are 2 types of projects I work on, as do most Knitters with a capital K. There are the quick and dirty projects, like a hat, or mittens, or even a sweater you may knit because, well you want to be warm. This is thought of as the "product" knit. Then, there are the projects you embark on because of the experience, or enjoyment, knowledge building exercise or zen-like feeling you may get from just knitting. There is also more often than not, the combination of these two. The story of this shawl is  the biggest process knit I've completed, so I'll share the whole story with you which may be a little long winded, but, this piece has it has a lot more meaning in the stitches to me than most of my handknits. 

 I should probably start with the yarn itself. Last November, the Tall Guy took a trip to Denver to see friends. He went hiking, checked out local breweries and did other such things while I, at pregnant enough-to-not-feel-up-for-a-trip-to-Denver stayed home and relaxed. In addition to these activities, he took time to stop at a few yarn stores and brought me home a few skeins (yes, he's mine and I'm keeping him!) as a consolation gift. Neither of us truly had any inkling that less than a year later, these yarn shops he wandered into would now be my local yarn shops. The burnt orange yarn in this shawl came from Fancy Tiger here in Denver. (Madtosh sock, saffron). The brown is the same colorway on a different base I used for knitting my Best Friend's wedding shawl (rav. link) last year 
(Madtosh sock, twig). 
The yarn sat in my stash while I waited for just-the-right-pattern to come along.  About midway through my pregnancy, the entire knitting community was talking about the Stripe Study Pattern. Knowing, as any slightly crazy pregnant knitter does one must have a project when heading into labor and this is what I settled on and it came with us to the hospital.  When the time came, however Silas had other plans and there was no time for knitting.  

The day we came home from the hospital, I cast on and as we struggled to figure out the basics of being a family, the rows of garter stitch were soothing to my somewhat addled new-mom brain,  most often at 3am. 

 Little by little, I added to the shawl. Our parents came to visit, my best friend was in town, my step sister came and countless friends brought food, gifts and love.

Quickly my days were filled up with Silas and I was knitting a lot less.

In June, a trip to New Hampshire, with plenty of family wanting to hold a wee one allowed me to add a few inches.  This same week, my Tall Guy got a call and we were suddenly starting to think about a possible move.

A few weeks later, the  shawl stayed in my carry on bag the entire time we were in Denver, scoping out our potential new state.

As I returned to work in July, I rode the Metro once again and added a few more inches during what was a short six weeks back at work until I resigned and we loaded up and headed west.

I was packed tightly into the backseat of the Jeep with Silas (it's a long story) and I trudged through the border with it's incredibly long rows as rolled across the country.

Finally, we made it to Colorado and a day or so later I finished the shawl.

It was only about a week and a half later that we were boarding a plane for New Hampshire for our close friends, Rob and Meghan's wedding.  My goal, which in March seemed like a hilariously easy deadline was completed with just ten days to spare. I had a full size shawl for our friends wedding and damn, New England didn't let me down I needed that shawl!

(photo cred- Nick Polt) 

 Those ignorant to the world of handknits say time and again "Why do you do that?" or "Why waste your time when you can just buy such things in a store?" and this shawl is my answer. It is so much more than the wool on my shoulders. It will always take me straight back to the early days of Silas, our move across country and one hell of a dance-party wedding on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planes, trains and home inspections

Since we last spoke, the Tall Guy, Silas and I walked into about 35 properties for sale, the Tall Guy went to Florida for work for a few days, we found and put an offer in on a house, flew to New Hampshire for an awesome wedding and family/friend visit and had the house inspection on the above mentioned house.
It looks like we'll be settling in Lakewood, in the Green Mountain neighborhood for those that know the area. Basically, 20 minutes west of Denver proper, less than 10 minutes to Golden and for those interested in how far we are to skiing- an hour and a half to Breckenridge, an hour and 45 to Vail.

It is fair to say that we are tired. Also? I have no plans to travel for awhile now and I'm okay with that.

Silas agrees with me on that one.
As all homeowners know, it's never a done deal until the keys are in your hand, so send us good home-buying thoughts!!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Things I Have Learned

In the short time we've been here, we have learned some interesting, weird and useful things. I'll share a few random insights here and potentially in the future expand other things I've learned into longer posts if I see fit.

  • Altitude issues are a real thing. I had been here twice before moving here. Both times, I had a mild headache, but nothing major. This time, both Aaron and I had a several hour bout (at different times) with what felt like the flu. It was not fun and as quickly as it hit, it left. We are drinking tons of water, but still, adjustment is hard and locals weren't kidding when the best way to describe the feeling is like having a nasty hangover. 
  • People really are friendlier here. Small talk seems to be a given instead of a rarity and I'm finding myself starting to tell perfect strangers all about how I just moved here and have them be genuinely excited to talk. Some cynics have tried to tell me it's a "fake nice", but frankly, I think I'm okay with that. 

(one of our neighbors a few blocks from our current house)
  • We seem to have replaced City Rats with Prairie Dogs. It didn't occur to me  that "rodent life" would be different until I actually saw the little guys when we were out looking at houses on our first day here. They are all over! I pretty much had a giggling fit when I had to brake for one of these little guys who was not only in the middle of  the road, but was up on his hind legs staring at the car. If you get close enough to their colonies (burrows? dens?) you can hear them chirping. For some reason, I find them much more charming than squirrels, chipmunks or ground hogs. I also learned today that they have fleas and carry the bubonic plague. Bleck! 
  • Beer is a funny thing in these parts. If you buy it a a normal grocery store, it will only be a maximum of 3.2% alcohol. (Which for non-beer drinkers means this is NOT strong beer). If you go to a liquor store, it will be the "normal" ranges. Apparently this has to do with some old blue laws, which I hadn't dealt with since leaving Boston! We only found this all out when we brought beer to a friends house for dinner and I mentioned having purchased it at Safeway. After a good laugh, The Tall Guy and I also concluded we figured something was up when we didn't see many micro-brews at the store in a state known for their small breweries! Such breweries will often not make special batches for the grocery stores. 
I'm sure I'll come up with more as we go, I suspect that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Is this a knitting blog?

I suppose it used to be. I am indeed knitting, though not to the extent that I used to!
During our long cross country drive, I did manage to finish knitting a sweater for our new nephew

This is the Sunny Side Cardigan which I knit using Claudia's Handpainted in Celadon Dream. I ended up making it short sleeved because this newest addition to the family lives in North Carolina and it would be a good layering piece for the Fall. This was completed while we were in Michigan so, I've been most recently slogging (yes, I say slogging) away on Stripe Study. This is a great knit, seriously, but I cast it on the week Silas was born in March and have been working on it in fits and starts. As a result, I feel like I've been knitting on it for an eternity. I expect to bind off in the next day or so!
It still feels a little strange bringing this blog back from the dead, but it's nice to see others are doing the same. What are you working on?