Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Denver is Bi-Polar

I was reminded this week that I live in Colorado. I almost forgot. In Colorado, weather is unpredictable. People literally say if you don't like the weather here...wait 10 minutes. It will change. And it's so true! One minute it's 60 and sunny and the next...not so much.

With that - I bring you SNOW! We got our first snow on Wednesday (Oct. 26th). 10-12 inches of snow. Bigger than any snow we saw last spring! Which makes me a bit antsy and also excited about the upcoming winter! But remember...Denver is bipolar so who knows what the winter will really look like. Seriously, 48 hours after this winter wonderland arrived, it was gone again. Perfect combination for a cold natured girl like me!! Get enough snow to enjoy a real winter, but know that it won't stay!

As I was leaving for work, we probably had about 5-6 inches going already.
By lunch time? This was the view from the cafeteria at Childrens...

This is what my backyard looked like when I got home from work. 
Downside of living where it snows a still have to go to work when it snows. 

The upside? Work is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful when it snows.

Sage was excited to see her first snow of the season also!
I got my stylish pup all dressed in her coat and snow shoes ready to play! She did donuts in the back yard for half an hour straight. It was hilarious.
This is the first time she's worn her "shoes" without pulling them off!

And what else did I learn about snow in Colorado? It's a great tree limb trimmer! Who needs to pay a human to trim the branches of our 100 year old tree when the snow will do it for us?

Here's one of the TWO huge branches that fell in our front yard! 
Thankfully, the branch decided to fall during work hours while Austin and his rental car were no longer parked in front or he'd have one very crushed car! 
Thanks to Jason for moving these huge branches for me! Hooray for more firewood!

And for more good news? I didn't die and/or kill anyone else as a Texan driving in the snow! 
Success all around!

The good thing about snow melts. :) By Thursday afternoon there was nothing white in sight. And Saturday it was back into the 60s. But there's something about Wednesdays I suppose....because today, as I write this post about last week's snow...we have round two on our hands.
 7 inches this time and a very nasty commute!

Crazy weather around here! And so far...I'm loving it!

Estes with the Usrys

The Usrys came back for more! You just can't get enough of Colorado right? What they didn't know they were in for was SNOW! Wayne, Carin, and Goggy (Grant's Grandmother) came in town for the weekend a few weeks ago to visit Estes Park. We rented a cabin at the YMCA of the Rockies and had grand plans to enjoy leisurely hikes in and the outdoor activities there.....and then the snow came.

Saturday in Denver it was 50 and raining. And as we made the hour drive to Estes, the rain become snow! It was the first snow of the season up there! Not what we planned for the weekend but we still had a great time! We drove through the National Park, saw the Elk and stopped to take pics and enjoy all the beautiful viewpoints. We shopped downtown and sat in a cute bookstore/coffee shop enjoying coffee and hot chocolate. Instead of short sleeves and the great outdoors, we enjoyed winter wear and the great big fireplace at the YMCA resort. And Sunday, we visited the Stanley Hotel - home of lots of history and also where they filmed parts of Dumb and Dumber and all of The Shining. It reminded me so much of our wedding and the "haunted hotels" in Eureka Springs! We didn't do the ghost tour, but of course they had one there!

Sunday night we headed back to Denver, which was simply wet and not near as cool. Church, dinner, and hangouts with our dear friends across the street, and then the Usrys were back on a plane Monday morning. What a great quick trip to Estes and a great example of Colorado's VERY unpredictable weather!!

Walking with the Elk

Stanley Hotel 

with the Gog

YMCA of the Rockies!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Woo Pig!!

We have been busy! Grant is traveling full force - usually Monday through Thursdays every week. I have been spending my spare time without him studying for my certification exams and trying to get established in my new job. I LOVE my job already by the way! As weird as it is, I think I was meant to be a Wound and Ostomy nurse! My boss is great, everyone is so supportive, and in a few weeks, I will be all set up to take consults, change dressings and wound vacs, and do ostomy teaching for a living!

Although work has been busy getting the WOCN program going at Children's Colorado and Grant has been more than busy traveling back and forth and working 24/7 in Milwaukee, we absolutely made flying down to Dallas for the Arkansas/A&M game a MUST DO! Grant and I have a big rivalry invested in this game. Since he is an Aggie and I'm a Razorback, we have gone to the game every year since they made the 10 year contract with Jerryworld. And we don't plan on missing one now just because we live in Colorado! So glad we got to do this again with my favorite friends! We've gone to the game with the same people every year as well, which makes it all the more special. Fortunately for me, we alternate years sitting on either Arkansas or A&M's side and this year it was Hog country's turn!

2009: Arkansas Victory!

2010: Hog Victory Number 2!

And this year....I do believe we've won again!

I must admit, I was a tad worried this year (for the first time) since A&M had played so well against OSU the week before. But the worry was in vain. Halfway through the third quarter, my mind was at ease. Not sure I can say the same for Scott, who was pacing up and down the stairs and disappearing frequently to be relieved from his angst. I can't say it was the prettiest game, but Arkansas was victorious again - third year in a row! And what did this mean for the Martin/Usry rivalry? The first year it meant a hog nose out of the stadium worn by my redheaded Aggie. The second year, a gourmet dinner cooked for Andrea and I by Nate and G. This year? My favorite I think. Grant had to wear an Arkansas shirt on the plane ride home. Oh the joy when multiple people stopped him in the airport and on the plane to congratulate him on "his win". I LOVED IT! 

Here's some pics from our perfect day with the perfect crew!

And just listen to the beautiful sound of victory - heard as we were leaving the game (over and over I might add!)


Martin's come to town!

So I am WAY behind on blogging. I am getting terrible at this! Someone reminded me the other day that it's been forever and there have been several events I've missed. Guess finishing school and starting a new job have done me in. BUT NOT TO WORRY! Today will be catch up blog day! :) It's a lot easier to do when your hubby works in Milwaukee so I'm sitting down and letting everyone in on updates in Colorado!

My parents and "baby" brother came to town a few weeks ago! Their first time in Denver and to see our place and our life! I must say...I was a little surprised to find they didn't fall in love with Denver right away and announce that they are moving up immediately (there might have been tears in a conversation with Grant regarding this right after my parents left) As silly as that sounds, I was hoping it would happen. It would make our life perfect here if I could get some family to move up. BUT - I'm still hopeful that this announcement could still occur at some point regarding Vail. The mountains and river can be pretty addicting and they loved the time there!

It's sometimes hard to appreciate the hippieness/artsy/eclectic group of people that surround downtown Denver. We showed the fam around our neighborhood - took them to our favorite breakfast spot on Tennyson Street and walked the shops nearby. What did us in in the first impression department was HiLo and Downtown. I think the trip to Little Man ice cream was appreciated, but the man walking around with a giant live snake around his neck and an American Flag on his shirt may have been a bit much. Downtown is full of cool stores, buildings and architecture, all appreciated by the folks. But, the homeless people frequenting the area may have dampered the atmosphere somewhat, as well as the live music everywhere on street corners and the multiple types of people seen in either dreadlocks, with multiple piercings, hippy clothing, or what have you. Probably somewhat of a culture shock from the south. What's funny is, it's an environment I'm growing to love. An open mission field full of tons of people searching for something and finding all sorts of ways to fill the void. A city full of authenticity. Whether that be an authentic dreadlocked, pot smoker, an authentic emo styled artist, an authentic family who might not do family like the south does. These people are real. And proud of it. No climbing the corporate ladder, no designer clothes, no stiletto heels in the grocery store, no materialism. People work so they can play and play hard. Although writing this blog about time with my family makes me miss being home, I also am more confident every time I think about Denver that Denver is where Grant and I are supposed to be.

OK - got off on a soap box tangent there. So Denver proper may not have been my mother's favorite place, but there's still hope in them moving here if you ask me! Cuz we had a blast in the mountains! On Friday we headed up to Vail for the weekend. Dad of course immediately headed off to fish. We stayed at a Marriot resort in West Vail right on the river, which was gorgeous and the weather was perfect for just sitting out and enjoying the mountain air. Saturday, Jonathan, mom and I headed over to Lionhead and Vail Village to explore while Grant and Dad hit up the fly fishing again! Those boys could fish for days....and did! In Lionhead, we stumbled upon Octoberfest! So we got to hit up all the vendor tents, enjoy live polka music and dancers, and snack on German delicacies. We then decided to go on a hike. If you know my mother, you know she's not exactly a hiker. It was hilarious and fun! We decided that heading back to the car to put up our purses and shopping bag was a hike of it's own so on we went, up cherry picker trail (a nice easy hike per the man at the directory, who is still laughing to this day about the fact that we believed him on that).

If you weren't aware, Vail's hiking trails are the ski hills converted. This means we were hiking up steep inclines at 11,000 feet. Altitude can be a shocker compared to Texas air. It still gets to me and I've been here 8 months! So about an hour in of still hiking the "short little incline" per the little man who advised us to take this trail, we were slightly delirious from altitude and very tired of climbing only up. After looking at the map, Jonathan and I decided we would take a shortcut by walking part of the mountain biking trail to cut across and catch back up on Cherry Picker. That was a joke! We ended up lost, hiking our own little trail and probably walking farther than we would have originally. But they were troopers and we made it down one way or another! It was definitely one of my favorite hikes in Colorado yet. Laughing all the way!

Time in Vail was so fun and too short. The guys fished like crazy on Gold medal waters and had a great time, and I so loved being outdoorsy with my not so outdoorsy fam. Makes it so much more fun than hard core outdoorsmen. :) I can't wait for them to come again in November and bring Meme and hopefully Jay and Danita too! Maybe we can snow shoe hike that that will be a sight to see!

First day in Vail. 

Cherry Picker Trail here we come!

Up high already and looking good! 
We were oblivious at this point at how far up we still had to go!

This is about the point we decided to find a shortcut!

Not exactly on the trail anymore....

And...we are definitely lost in the mountains.

We made it back down back to Octoberfest!

Polka dancers. Who knew we'd see that in Vail?!

The river by our hotel. We were killing time before dinner because Grant and dad were STILL fishing!

Love my fam and miss them tons. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Updates and Life Turned Upside down

Ok. I haven't posted in a LONG time. There have been lots of changes in our world that I've been totally consumed with! I took a new job as the WOCN at Children's Colorado! It's going to be a BIG job to fill but I am so excited! I have been pretty busy in finishing up school to become certified. I have passed my finals, am finishing my clinicals next week, and will sit for the certification exam sometime in the next month! What did I learn from all this work? I LOVE Wound and Ostomy nursing...but I didn't love going back to school! It's just not as fun without football games, track meets, sleezy mart, the Cali house, and late night watch parties of The Office.

Grant's had a lot going on too. He has accepted a new position within his company as a national rep!! This is great for us. He is so excited! But what's not so great? He is doing training in Milwaukee for the next 8-12 weeks, traveling back and forth from Denver weekly.  So you might be hearing from me a lot more in the next few months since I'm not cooking and entertaining a husband as much. :)

We also had to find a new church, as Watermark Denver decided to close their doors. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster with that news - since a lot of why we came here was to be a part of that church, but God always has a plan. Park Church Denver is in our neighborhood and the perfect fit for us. They have been such a great find and it's so nice to jump back into community with other believers. They are also very service oriented and theologically sound - two things pretty hard to find in Denver we've found. We are so thankful to have them to help us through all the madness we've had going on!

So here's some pics for all that's been going on aside from our crazy second start with jobs and church! We might be busy with work, but in Colorado, there's a new adventure every weekend awaiting us!

We went to the US pro cycling challenge that ended in downtown Denver! Rode our bikes down to watch the finish and enjoy all the festivities for the day! There were live concerts, a big bazaar with tents and tents of vendors, and about a million people there!

We went camping in Aspen with some friends from our new church! It was FREEZING and rained a bit, but we still had a great time!

We hiked Saturday up at Maroon Bells. IT WAS GORGEOUS!
It reminded me why I love living here!

Sage immediately went for the water and took a swim. She was literally shivering it was so cold!

Since Sage is such a swimmer, we took her swimming at the "Dogapoolooza" in our neighborhood!
People seriously treat their dogs like kids here! I think we are guilty of falling into that pattern as well. :) It was PACKED! 

She swam for 45 minutes straight and wouldn't get out! 
My favorite was the Lifeguard for the dogs! Haha!

We also went home for Labor Day and I got to see my girls! I miss them so much.
 Not only that, I got to see Cherry too! 
She is in town from Asia to have her second little one. :) Can't wait to meet him!

And of course - We have been trying out our green thumbs! Our garden is doing amazing! Which is impressive since I haven't been great at watering or weeding it.

We have tomatoes....


TONS of grapes...

Cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, and jalapenos...

And I've been trying tons of new recipes to use them all!!

We are having one heck of an adventure here. 
But we would love to have family and friends come share the adventure with us!
 Love you all and miss you Texans!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Sings to my Soul

It's been a rough couple of months for the Martins. With trials, tornadoes, and torment. And a very rough month for the Usrys. With losses of loved ones. And a huge struggle for Grant and I to be here, helpless in Denver amidst it all, traveling back and forth the best we can on a very limited budget. I sometimes feel stuck in the middle of all these emotions. Emotions about life, about jobs, about Denver, about family, about illness.  Lately I find myself treading water often, trying desperately not to drown.

I find God has always spoken to me best through song. I feel him the most in music, whether it be instrumental, Christian, or secular. He speaks to my soul through the lyrics, sometimes even more than through His word. Here's some lyrics that have been good to me this week, and some pleasant reminders that we don't have to swim alone.

How long have I
been in this storm?
So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form.
Water's getting harder to tread
with these waves crashing over my head

If I could just see You
everything will be alright
If I'd see You
the storminess will turn to light

and I will walk on water
and You will catch me if I fall
and I will get lost into your eyes
and everything will be alright
and everything will be alright

I know you didn't
bring me out here to drown
so why am I 10 feet under and upside down?
Barely surviving has become my purpose
cause I'm so used to living underneath the surface.

If I could just see you
everything will be alright
If I see you
the storminess will turn to light

and I will walk on water
and you will catch me if I fall
and I will get lost into your eyes
and everything will be alright 

I know everything is alright
Everything's alright 


And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, No I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we live for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold,
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
And God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

-Mumford and Sons

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

It's been awhile since I've experienced death. Now that I live in Denver and work outpatient I don't see it regularly. In my job at Children's Dallas, I experienced it first hand too many times in children way too young. It's difficult to watch. Difficult to experience. Full of struggle and pain. Something you never forget if you've seen it. But one thing I must say about death. Every time I've witnessed a patient or loved one take their last breath, it's a firm reminder that the afterlife is real. That there is more than this cruel, unfair, messy world. When you see a person pass away, you see their body become instantly just a vessel. The spirit within it is gone. It becomes instantly cold, stiff, colorless. Spiritless. And I am reminded of Jesus' words so long ago:

"Truly Truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come to judgement. He has passed out of death into life." -John 5:24

Witnessing death on yesterday was witnessing a passing into life. Butch is rejoicing with angels right now. And we rejoice with him. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Russells Come to Town!

Best week of summer yet! Nate and Andrea came up to stay for an entire 7 days! We had a blast showing them downtown Denver, the Highlands, the Arkansas river, and the mountains!

We spent the first half of the week hanging in Denver, showed off downtown one night, biked to the Highlands for dinner and drinks, hung out on Tennyson street and Berkeley lake, and a visit to Boulder. I tried to convince Andrea to visit Lakeside Amusement Park while they were here, but no such luck on that one!

The second half of the week was more adventurous/strenuous! We camped out on Turquoise Lake in Leadville. A campsite at 11,000 feet elevation that sits right on a beautiful HUGE lake with a great view of the mountains. It was a bit cold at night, but we all survived, toes intact and everything. :) It was quite cozy sleeping all 5 of us and the dog in one big tent. I was actually quite warm sleeping, and would have slept well if it weren't for my snoring hubby who I kept having to nudge so as not to disturb the other 4 sleepers!

Mac and Cheese and Smores for dinner!

The beautiful Turquoise lake.

Yes, that is our pup swimming in the background! Crazy dog. The water was FREEZING!

On Thursday, we went White Water Rafting on the Arkansas River. I must admit...I was super nervous about this. I am not a fan of water, especially not 50 degree water, and everyone keeps saying the river is so high and dangerous right now due to snow runoff. Andrea and I both were a bit freaked out! Typical with this group that we would be the only worried ones. But turns out it was totally doable. We picked a class 3-class 4 part of the river and had a great time! No one fell out of the boat and we hit some really great rapids intermixed with some down time as well to offset the craziness. I may have been the only one on the water in a wetsuit in July, but I have no shame. It was a great decision for me as those rapids were COLD!

Browns Canyon - Arkansas River

Notice Grant is showing off for the camera man and Andrea's eyes are closed!

Only my husband...a lot of paddling help he was. He was too concerned with the 
camera man that the rest of us were oblivious to. 

But I think the best story of all was hiking the Fourteener. Poor Andrea. We may never get her on a mountain again after this one. It was her first big hike ever and not that great of an experience. We decided to hike Mount Sherman as it was only a half hour drive from the campsite and a fairly easy hike per If this was easy, I'd like to see hard!! Problem was, we took our time getting to the hike. We woke up around 7:45, cooked eggs over the fire, packed up, dropped off a car, and didn't hit the mountain until around 11am. For those of you experienced mountain hikers, this is too late in the day to start typically due to afternoon rain storms. We were hoping we were fine though due to sunny skies and no sight of rain clouds. So up we went. The mountain was pretty dang rocky. I guess when I think mountain, I think pine trees and meadows, not steep rocks all the way up. The bottom had streams and meadows and was beautiful! 

But about a mile in, it was straight rocks the rest of the way. 

An hour and a half into the hike, the rainclouds started rolling in. We let the boys go on ahead in hopes they would reach the top before the rain. 

The one thing I did know about hiking Fourteeners, you don't want to be at the top during a lightening, thundering rainstorm. It's really dangerous since you are the only tall thing at the top - no trees or poles to attract the lightening. Which we learned first hand. After lots of hesitation about 80% of the way up, with the boys nowhere in sight, we decided we could try and make it up to the top prior to the rains coming. 

We were wrong. 

When we approached the last ridge with maybe 100 yards to go, the rain started. Not just rain - loud thunder and dark clouds. It was time to turn around. So we did. But perhaps we were a bit late. As we started our way down, moving rather quickly,  we started feeling electricity like I've never felt before. It started with our shirts and rain jackets making a buzzing sound when we moved them - like static electricity when you fail to use a dryer sheet. Then the rocks we were climbing started buzzing. And finally, a few minutes later, every time I put my hand on a rock for balance or took a step, I'd feel little static shocks. FREAKED US OUT. So at this point we weren't just hiking - we were RUNNING down the mountain. As were several other people. We were passed by three grown men running their way down as well. 

But our husbands? Where were they? Why eating a turkey sandwich and taking pictures at the top of course. In the sleeting rain and thunder. Per Grant, they felt the static electricity and figured "it was normal". 

After lots of prayer, a few good falls, and possibly a few tears, we made it safely low enough that we were out of the storm. The boys eventually made it down as well, unscathed thank God! No one was struck by lightening but after searching online when we got home, we did confirm that the static electricity and little shocks were the electricity gathering to generate lightening. Crazy!

We probably gave the Russells more of a Colorado experience than they were hoping for, but we were so glad they came! I'm not sure it was all that convincing for them to move here as I'd hoped though. 

Well, maybe Nate was convinced...Andrea was just cold, or is that - "I'm the opposite of hot" in order to refrain from saying cold - right A? :)