Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Split List

How many of you out there have seen "The Bucket List"? Those of you who have, you already know what a fantastic movie it is. Those of you who haven't, you REALLY need to see this movie. It was one of the best movies I saw all summer. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I'll give it to you in a nutshell: It stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nickelson, who play two old men who come up with a bucket list- a list of all the things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Fabulous movie!

As most of you already know, Aaron and I are planning a huge move back across the mountains to be closer to family just as soon as he finishes grad school. We are both super excited about being back "home", (although not so excited about the moving part). However, it occurs to us that we live out here on the front range, where there is TONS of great stuff to do. Stuff that you can't really just hop in the car and go do when you live 250 miles west of Denver. Yet we are taking advantage of none of it. I mean, really, we have been here a year and the only thing we have really taken advantage of was the Budweiser Center last spring. (Aaron took me to see Finding Nemo on ice, but don't tell him I told you. He was so embarrassed to discover we were the only people there above the age of 5 that didn't have a kid in tow.) Knowing that we have limited time left on this side of the Rockies, we have decided that it is time to start taking advantage of the wonderful area we live it.

Okay, by now you are probably wondering how in the heck "The Bucket List" and moving back to the Western Slope are even remotely related, right? Well, my friends, I give you ... (drumroll)...

The Split List!!!( all the things we want to do before we "split"- or leave the front range)

1. Estes Park
The last time I went to Estes Park, I was a little kid. My parents used to take us there. Honestly, there are only two things I remember about Estes Park. There was the BEST toy store there, full of hand-made toys, and they sell the world's best salt water taffy. (Yes, Mom, I will get you some when we finally go. What's your favorite flavor? I'll mail it to you if I have to.) Oh yea, and that creepy hotel from "The Shining" is there, too. My husband loves the outdoors, and there is so much more to Estes than shopping and taffy, and really, it's just dumb that we haven't gone- it's less than an hour from where we are.

2. Casa Bonita
Casa Bonita must be one of the best Mexican restaurants around. Not necessarily because of the food, but because of all the stuff they have there: an arcade, a haunted cave, cliff divers, dinner shows...My last memory of going there was when my Aunt Bev brought my uncle and cousins down for one of their Colorado trips. Leslie and I must have been about six, and they had a pinata there. When it finally broke, we each only got one piece of candy, and we cried and cried! Then, Leslie went through the "haunted cave", and when she got done, she told me all these terrifying things about it- eyeballs and a bottomless pit. Of course, none of it was true, but I actually remember her version of it better than I do my own experience. She was quite the story-teller!

3. Ocean Journey
This is the new aquarium they built in Denver. They built it one year after I left for college, so I have never been there. My first and only experience with an aquarium was in Maui on my honeymoon, so I have been dying to get to Ocean Journey since it was built. It would just be heartbreaking to live an hour away for two years and never go.

4. Denver Zoo
I think I went to the zoo on a field trip when I was in elementary school, but I hardly remember it. I do know that many of the pictures I posted on my old blog were taken at the zoo when my sister and I were very little, but I have few memories. But as a lover of penguins, how can I not take the time to go visit them while I am here? Krissy wants to bring her kids to the zoo someday. Maybe we can talk her into making that someday be in the next 11 months. Preferably one of the warmer ones.

5. Camping in the Poudre
I am not a big fan of camping. I typically don't like bugs. I don't really enjoy sleeping on the ground. I especially don't like large animals that want to eat me. But, my husband loves camping, and thanks to me, he hasn't gone in four years. We live, literally, right by the Poudre Valley and the Poudre River. It would break his dear, sweet heart if we didn't go camping- or at least hiking- while we are here. I suppose if he can stomach people skating around in sparkling fish costumes, I can stomach camping.

6. Broncos Game
I have never been to a professional football game. My husband has never been to a professional football game. We were both born and raised in Colorado. Do I need to say more?

7. CU vs. CSU Game
I guess if you are not from Colorado, or from the Eastern slope, maybe, you may not know about the rivalry between CSU and CU. Or maybe everybody knows about it, and I am just the sweet, oblivious girl. Either way, I had no idea. Apparently there is a huge rivalry between these two schools, and this is one of the biggest games of the year. Actually, I think it is the biggest game of the year. I don't know- I am really just pretending to know what I am talking about. Either way, it's supposed to be way fun, and way wild, and we have tickets to go at the end of August.

8. Dave & Buster's
I had never heard of Dave & Buster's until we moved out here. It is a bar and grill, and it is a lot like Chuckie Cheese's, only it's for big kids. Like the over 21 kind of kids. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I know they don't have them back home, so we figured we should check it out while we can. Surely we can round up some big-kid friends to go with us.

9. Skydiving (Aaron only- so Mom, calm down! Jan-help! Talk to your son about this!!)
Okay, there is no way I would ever jump out of an airplane. Maybe if it was on fire and about to crash into a very big mountain, but even then it's iffy. My husband, on the other hand, would love to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It turns out, my friend Stephanie's husband would also love to do this insane thing. Even better- he got a gift certificate for his birthday. From Stephanie. (Her and I will talk about this later!) Who should her dear husband invite to go with him? My dear husband! I, personally, wonder about my husband's sanity. But who am I to break his heart? Besides, I figure he'll owe me big time! I sense a HUGE teacher store shopping spree in my near future. Unless some more disney characters decide to slip into some ice skates!

10. Armadillo
The Armadillo is a Mexican restaurant in Longmont that I practically grew up at. This is where my parents took us when we were kids. This is where my homecoming dates took me when I was still a kid but didn't think I was. This is where my date's parents sat on the other side of the restaurant at Homecoming, because they were our ride. This is where we went on Senior Ditch Day. There are so many memories at this restaurant- I just have to pay it a visit before I go.

11. Avalanche Game
I am really not all that interested in hockey. But my husband wants to go to a NHL game, and what better time to do it? Krissy and Andy usually manage to make it out to at least one game a year, so we are hoping to coordinate with them.

12. Rockies Game
Last year would have been a good time to go to a Rockies game, but the tickets were like a million bajillion dollars and totally sold out. So maybe we can make it this year when they are playing more like themselves. Rockies games can be way fun- I went to a ton of them in high school, so why not?

13. Breckenridge Brewary Tour
Of course, I am hoping to be pregnant soon, so I assure you that this is not about the free beer. It is about the learning experience, really! Almost all of my friends have done this tour, and they said it was way fun.

14. Budweiser Factory Tour
I just want to see those horses! I swear that's why I want to go. (See above paragraph if you doubt me even a little).

15. Cheesecake Factory
This is where all my prom dates always took me. I wouldn't have put it on the list, but my husband and his mom went to dinner here a few weeks ago, and he loved it so much that he said he HAS to take me on a date there. Who am I to turn down a romantic dinner?

16. Boulder Dinner Theatre
When I was a teenager working as a lifeguard at our little rec center, we went here for our staff Christmas party. We saw "The Will Rogers Follies". It was the very first time I had ever seen a stage production, other than those put on by our high school drama club. I fell in love with theater. I also came here with my parents when I was home from college once, but I don't remember what show we saw. Mom- do you remember? We went with Mike and Mike, if that refreshes your memory at all. Anyway, the only theater Aaron has been to is the Cabaret in Grand Junction. Don't get me wrong- it's a great theater, but I am dying to take Aaron to the first theater I ever went to. Now, if they would do "Annie" sometime in the next 11 months, I would think I had died and gone to Heaven!

17. The Denver Museum of Natural History
Okay, so this isn't on our list, but I am adding it now. (I'll tell my husband later). Writing about the zoo and field trips reminded me of our field trip here. And it was the coolest! They have the best dinosaur exhibit!! We gotta go here.

Okay, I take full responsibility for being the second biggest dork on the face of the planet (my husband being the actual biggest- the list was his idea). But this was fun, and it gives us stuff to look forward to, and stuff to help pass the time until we can get back home.

So there you have it- the "Split List". I promise to do my best to actually accomplish the things on the list. And I promise to give you updates every time we check one off! If anyone out there is from the Front Range of Colorado, please feel free to add suggestions. I am a little worried we may get bored with only 17 major events planned in the next 11 months!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Scary Skies...and a Fun Distraction

I hate the weather in Northern Colorado. Okay, so we have had some beautiful summer days this year. When the weather here is good, it is very very good. But I'll tell you what- when it is bad, it is HORRID! You know that airline advertisement: "Come Fly the Friendly Skies"? Well, every time I see that commercial I laugh, because trust me, they're not always all that friendly!

Maybe I should start at the beginning...

When I was a kid, growing up on the Eastern slope of Colorado, I was terrified of storms. And it wasn't because I am a sissy lala- it's because every day in the summer the stupid tornado sirens would go off. And every time the stupid tornado sirens would go off, we had to go down into the crawl space. Not a nice basement, with carpet and a TV. A crawl space. It was small, cramped, dirty, and full of spiders! And don't even get me started on my fear of spiders- that's a whole different post. As a matter of fact, I don't know if those stupid tornado sirens forcing me to hide out in the crawl space caused my fear of spiders, or if my fear of spiders caused me to fear that horrible siren. Either way, I don't like them. Either of them. Anyway, just about the time that I was convinced that there was nothing to be afraid of, that tornados never really happened, and that I could just hang out upstairs while my paranoid family huddled under ground with the spiders, my mom took me to her bedroom window and pointed. And what should I see? A nice, big, scary, threatening funnel cloud. I never recovered.

Then I moved to the Western slope of Colorado to go to college. Because it is right smack dab in the middle of the mountains, tornados just didn't happen there- much to my pleased relief. Eventually, I forgot all about them. Unfortunately, spiders do happen there. Black widows and tarantulas, if you want specifics. But I digress- again, that is a whole different post.

Fast forward about 9 years, and here I am, back on the good ol' front range. Since we didn't spend much of last summer here- it was August before we actually made the trek- we didn't experience any summer weather. Until May. Those of you who watch the news, do you remember what happened in Northern Colorado on May 21st? Well, if you don't know what I am talking about, I will show you:

A lovely, mile-wide tornado paid us a visit. This happened about a mile from where I was standing that day in my classroom.

I'll tell you what- any memory lapse I may have been suffering about the kind of weather we get in this part of Colorado went right out the window. I have not been the same! Every time the wind blows even a little bit harder than usual, or if there are any clouds in the sky that don't look cute, white, fluffy, and innocent, I totally freak out. I even called Aaron at work one day because I was home alone and there was a terrible storm, and I was sure there was a twister hiding right around the corner waiting for me to get too close to a window so it could suck me out! It's that bad, really. I am a big baby.

So the other day I looked out the window, and this is what I saw:

I know! Aren't they terrifying?!!

And as if that isn't bad enough, a few minutes later, it started doing this!

And this!

I have to admit, even I, being the brave girl I am, was starting to feel just a little nervous about this. And when the thunder, lightening, and pea-sized hail came (Yea! PEA-sized if you can believe it!), I just about lost it. I guess my husband, as cute as he thinks the whole fear of storms thing is, must have thought it was time for an intervention. Of all things, he suggested that we play some games. Games? Okay, whatever! Like that's going to make me forgot about the monsoon outside!!! But I decided to humor him anyway.

The first game he suggested was BackGammon. This is some silly old thing that he got at a garage sale this summer. I had heard of it, but I had never played it. Locke plays it with Walt on Lost, so it can't be that bad, right?

Oh my gosh! This game was so fun! The object of the game is to get your pieces all the way around the board into your "home zone" so you can start removing them from the board by "bearing off." It sounds really easy, and it is, until your opponent starts landing on your pieces and "hitting" them so you have to start all over, and then blocking them in so you can't! It was so so fun! You're supposed to play with betting and stakes and stuff, but we're just beginners. That's all for like, Backgammon experts!

I am so good at this game!

Oh yea- my husband got kind of mad at me. He really doesn't like to lose! Oh well!

The other game we played is called Twixt. This is a game that came out in 1962, that Aaron used to play all the time with his dad. He has been dying to teach this to me forever now, so I finally decided to humor him.

Oh my gosh! This game was SO fun, too! In this game, you have these little pegs with connectors. Any time you place a peg you can use a connector to make a link. The object of the game is to build a continuous link from one side of the board to the other, at the same time blocking your opponent from doing the same. It's a lot like a mix between Battleship, Tic Tac Toe, and Connect Four. Okay, so it's nothing like Battleship, except for the little peg thingies, but that's what it reminded me of when I first saw it, so I had to throw that in there.

I totally sucked at this game!

Needless to say, I completely forgot about the storm, and by the time we were done playing, everything was clear and dry and safe again. See how wonderful my hubby is? He always knows how to fix things. Even when he can't go outside and lasso the tornado like Sallie Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, he still knows how to make it all better!

Speaking of Change...

Do you remember my first post ever when I explained the name of my blog? If not, then you can read it here. If so, then you remember the lyrics that inspired the name of my first blog:

"In a moment, everything can change..."

Well, these words couldn't ring any truer! So many things have changed since my "old blog" days, I thought I would take a minute and catch everyone up. (disclaimer: if you read my mom's blog, A Chelsea Morning, feel free to skip this post- I'm sure you're pretty well caught up already!) Even though all these changes happened over the course of two years, they still feel like they happened "In a moment's time..."

My Age
(Duh!) Okay, that was a silly one. Let's move on...

My Marital Status
Yup- I went through with it. On June 23, 2007 I said "I do" and Aaron went from being my wonderful fiance to being my wonderful husband.

So, I went from being engaged, to being married. As if that wasn't a big enough change! I had no idea how many changes start happening once you sign the marriage license!

For one, my name! (Of course, when you hear your last name a million times a day, "Mrs. V!" Mrs. V!" , you get used to it pretty quickly! I also had to change my driver's license, my social security card, my bank account information, my magazine subscriptions, my blogger information...wait...I kind of didn't get around to that one, did I? Anyway, you get the picture. It felt like I was taking on a whole new identity! But, it was the best change I ever made, and I love my new identity as Aaron's wife, so it's all good!!

My Address (Twice!)

Not long after the honeymoon, my new hubby and I packed up everything we owned and moved across the state so he could pursue a Master's Degree. We moved into the married housing right off campus. And with that BIG change came a million little ones - again. My bank account information, voter registration, magaz...okay, okay, you get the picture. The biggest change for both of us was being 5 hours away from the family we were used to being 5 minutes away from. (I still haven't gotten used to that one, by the way!)

We stayed in that apartment for a year, and then we moved again- at my pleading- into a cute little condo an hour south of where we were. This put me closer to my job (within 5 minutes!!) and - as I like to think of it- an hour closer to our family. In a year we'll do it all again, to move back to where it all began. I don't even want to think about how big that move will be! But, we're settled and happy for now, so it's all good!

My Job
Before I got married, I taught third graders at a cute little elementary school in Southwestern Colorado. Now I teach fifth graders at a K-8 school in Northeastern Colorado. So, my school district changed, my school changed, my kids, parents, and co-workers changed. You want to know what the biggest change was? The surprisingly enourmous leap from third grade to fifth grade! It is unbelievable how much kids change between the ages of 8 and 10! Especially the girls! You don't even want to know about some of the notes I confiscated! Goodness gracious! But, fifth graders, over all, are a hoot, and I love the adventures they provide for me every day, so it's all good!

My Car
I know, people get new cars every day, right? Whereas I love my new car, I don't love how I got it. It all started on a Monday morning in November- the first day back to school after Thanksgiving Break. I was just driving along minding my own business, when out of nowhere a little blue car (and its oblivious teen driver) pulled right out in front of me! I knew I couldn't stop in time, so I did the only other thing I could think of in a split second. I slammed on the brakes and cranked the wheel HARD to the right. The good news is that going right allowed me to barely clip the front of him and avoid oncoming traffic. The bad news is that going right took me right off the road. WAY of the road. To be more specific, through-a-ditch-through-a-fence-into-a-tree-in-someone's-yard off the road. Okay, so I am probably making it sound way more dramatic thatn it really was, but it sure felt dramatic when it happened! The Lord was with me that day, though, because despite my car being completely totaled, I didn't even suffer a sore muscle, scratch, or bruise! So, here I am, unharmed!

And two months, a hellacious insurance company battle, and one attorney later, I have a beautiful new silver Jeep Grand Cherokee that I adore. (I call her Belle, as in Silver Belle). So, it's all good! Now, if I could only get up the courage to drive again.... I'm kidding!

By the way, it's worth mentioning that my husband got a new car, too. This is his new beauty. (I call her Hailey, as in Hail Damage - another story for another day). He got his a much more pleasant way- by selling his truck and using the money to buy a car. Great concept, don't you think?

So, there you have it- my life update in a nutshell. A very long and wordy nutshell, I know, but I did the best I could. I am sure there are more changes I will think of (don't even get me started on how different the weather is on this side of Colorado!), but for now I think you're all caught up!
I just hope something interesting happens soon, so I have something to write about!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm Back...

You're probably wondering what I'm doing here. I know, it's been well over a year (okay, almost two years) since the last time I posted. So why, after so much silence, would I suddenly return with a new blog? Well, it's NOT because I am any less busy than I was last time dropped off Planet Blog. Ok, so most of you know I am a teacher on summer break. But that doesn't mean I'm not busy! Did you know that Desperate Housewives has four seasons out on DVD? Four! And I have only until August 14th to get through them. And do you have any idea how many books Jodi Picoult has written? Well, it's a lot! Seriously, I have no heart-felt, lengthy explanation at all. I just missed it. I read my mom's blog daily, and I realize how much that makes me feel connected with my family now that I only see them every few months. So, I thought I would give it another try. That's all.

However, before I go any further, I have to add a little disclaimer for all who choose to view my blog:

I under no circumstances promise not to disappear again from time to time. If for some reason you become concerned about my well-being or current vitals, please check a calendar (or ask my mom- she'll know). If it is report card time, conference season, or the CSAP testing window, do not be alarmed or surprised. Rest assured that I am simply nowhere near a computer that doesn't belong to Weld County Schools.

Also, please do not be alarmed if the content of my blog is nowhere near the current standards for excitement. I spend a majority of my time in a fifth grade classroom. Don't get me wrong- my days are filled with excitement (not always a good thing with fifth graders, if you know what I mean). It's just that I can only say and post so much about children that don't belong to me, you know? That being said, I will try to be as exciting as I can.

One last thing.... In my defense, I did say in my very first post ever on my old blog, that I tend to put things off from time to time. Remember? It is part of the reason I named my first blog what I did (In a Moment). Well, let's just say that I REALLY procrastinated this post, and leave it at that!