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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Day twenty in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Is this really the first microbrewery I’ve posted in this series? Well I’ve got some work to do to get ’em all in before we leave!

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We walked to Verboten this afternoon while the kids were at school. Happy hour over “Quaffee” – a coffee quad, “Belgian style Quad with an infusion of locally roasted coffee. Collaboration with SnowBank Brewing of Fort Collins.” This was a big beer, 10% ABV. Glad we were walking!

I’ve got some poignant memories of Verboten, which just moved to downtown Loveland from its former location in an industrial park about a year ago, and has quickly become a favorite spot. Sitting out on the patio with our Wisconsonian friend James when he came to visit; one very low moment for me crying into my “Music Maker” beer this past February, feeling depressed and homesick and purposeless (I wasn’t alone, I don’t drink alone – I was with Nathan); and then a few weeks later drinking a beer whose name I forgot with Nathan, after we decided to move to St. Paul, and talking about the future and our ideas for our new life back in Minnesota.

My favorite regular beer here is “Killer Boots.” “Angry Banjo” is very good too. In fact I haven’t had anything I didn’t like here!

Footnote: that cut under my lip is from an unfortunate music stand adjustment-turned-attack at my church’s Good Friday service. It looks a lot better in this photo than it did that night!

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Day eleven in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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Nathan and Cody and I hiked at Devil’s Backbone today. This place is just on the west side of Loveland, miles and miles of trails that connect up with other hiking areas north of here to Fort Collins. Nathan loves to go mountain biking here. One time he killed a rattlesnake that wouldn’t leave the path. Today we only saw birds, grasshoppers, and some mule deer.

Today was a perfect day for hiking here. In the heat of summer it’s scorching, because there is practically no shade to speak of. Today the sun was warming instead of withering. And since it was a Monday, the trail was pretty quiet, unlike the crowds that descend on the weekends.

I’m feeling a bit sick today so we didn’t go as far as we like to. If you continue taking the trail we were on, you’ll gain enough elevation that you can get some beautiful views of the bigger snow-capped mountains. (Or if you take the shorter Keyhole trail, you get those views much more quickly but you’re actually right at the Backbone formation so you can’t see it like you can in these pictures.) If you look closely at the photo above, off to the right behind the foothills you can see one snowy peak peeking out.

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There’s a line from a Rich Mullins song that has been haunting me the past year or so – “lonely even here in paradise.” Not that he came up with the “lonely in paradise” phrase, but the song (“Land of my Sojourn”) especially connects with me, with its images of roads and mountains and traveling and song.

For nearly four years our family of four has lived in what feels like paradise, where gray days are few and even many of those still have moments of sunshine. Where, when the trees aren’t fully leafed out, I can see snow-capped mountains from my back door. Where my man and I can walk to our choice of three really good microbreweries for a little after-work date and be home in an hour for dinner with the kids. Where we can get to world-class vacation destinations like Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park just by driving 45 minutes through the breathtaking Big Thompson Canyon, sometimes spotting big-horned sheep and elk along the way. Where winter doesn’t overstay its welcome, and snow melts in a day or two under the mile-closer golden sunshine. Where cars don’t rust from a six-month bath of road salt.

Yeah, yeah, you get the idea. It’s beautiful here. It’s been a four-year working vacation – emphasis on the “working” for my husband Nathan, who has worked full-time all four years we’ve been here in Loveland, something neither of us had done for nearly ten years before moving here – and something we are very excited for him to be finished with NEXT TUESDAY!! when he moves to part-time for a couple months while the kids finish school and we prepare to move back to Minnesota.

Yes, Minnesota. Oh, Minnesota. I didn’t know I’d miss you. Colorado has delivered on the rugged-yet-hip mountain man image it’s been given, but Minnesota, you are my boy next door. I just didn’t realize how much you meant to me, with your green growing everything and your ten thousand lakes and your rivers and prairies and woods.

Oh, I know about the snow – which becomes the slush and the chunks and the salty spewing splash on my car and my boots and my pant legs. And the mosquitoes. And the humidity. And the gray days, and no mountains to miss behind the gray anyway.

But I guess, after a lifetime of not really knowing where I’m from, I might just call you home. I might just say I’m a Minnesota girl after all, though I will always be eager to travel, even to leave you again and live somewhere else for a while. I’m an adventurous hobbit maybe, like Bilbo and Frodo, loving my cozy Shire, and itching for the road.

But the heart of it is, my people are in Minnesota, and I miss them dearly. It’s magnified because I have two children who are very close to their grandparents and cousins and it got harder and harder to feel so many hearts breaking each time we piled back in the car to drive 800 miles away from those people who make Minnesota home for us.

And I began to feel terribly lonely in paradise. Like living in a beautiful mansion all alone. No calling up my mom for a coffee date on the weekend, no possibility of grandparents attending soccer games or orchestra concerts. I know this is the reality for many families in our highly mobile society – it was my reality as a child – but I’ve decided to opt out, and I am grateful for a husband who is willing to leave this paradise even though he doesn’t share my feelings of homesickness. Maybe we’ll be back some day when the kids are grown. Loveland is a popular retirement destination after all! Or maybe we’ll go further west – all the way to northern California, where mountains and ocean converge.

For now we’ve decided to live in Saint Paul, because we have some good friends there, there’s more access to bike trails around the river, and we’ve already lived in Minneapolis (which was great, but why not try something new?!). It’s been eleven years since we lived in the Twin Cities (we were in our hometown of Owatonna for seven years before moving here to Loveland), and there’s a lot I’ve missed about being there. So I’m excited to rediscover the familiar, and explore the new.

But for now, I live in Colorado, and I’ve got at least two months left to enjoy this place.

Last year I wrote and posted a song a week on my blog. It’s been good to take a few months off, but now I’m ready for a new challenge, and this time I’m going for a DAILY one. I’m going to post a photo of something I love about Loveland (and surrounding area probably) every day starting today until the day we load the moving truck or unplug the wifi or whatever I deem the end of our sojourn here in paradise.

Obviously this will probably be the longest post in the series! But here we go.

Today’s little piece of Loveland is my own back yard. I just missed the full blossom, but here is our little cherry tree, next to the chicken coop (that’s our neighbor’s house in the background):

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Loveland has a cherry festival every summer – apparently there are a lot of cherry trees here! This one hasn’t produced all that much fruit, but we have gotten a few bright red handfuls each year, which never make it into the house – we just pick and eat!

I like to sit at that table on weekend mornings with a cup of coffee. It faces east so I drink in the morning sun too.

Our house is on a corner lot, so most of our yard is in front of or along the outside of the house, but I did make a small area between the garage and the deck into a more private nook (every introvert needs her private outdoor space!) I even dug up a spot and laid all these rocks down to make a little patio:

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And that’s blue-eyed grass, the first thing that flowers in our yard, the first bit of spring color we get to enjoy.

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Well, how about a little country flavor? Here’s my song for week 51 of #songaweek2016. One week left in this year-long challenge!

Today I don’t feel like a love song

today I just wanna be loved by you

today I feel somehow we’ve gone wrong

today I just want to be right by you

baby, baby, baby, baby mine

tomorrow feels already faded

yesterday holds all our lovers dreams

we’re cynical hardened and jaded

impervious to juvenile extremes

baby . . . mine

let’s take these scraps and scars

and start again for the umpteenth time

forever feels empty without you

so right now please fill up my arms with you

and cover my aches with your kisses

and breathe here with me in the space we keep

baby . . . mine

 

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A little dreamy ode to the simple life, here’s my song for week 33 of #songaweek2016. With Nathan Bloom on harmonica. Would’ve loved to add more instruments and fill it out a bit, but it was an extra busy week with a real live gig and kids going back to school. (That toddly baby in the picture is now a tall, soccer-playing fourth grader!)

There would be raspberries in our little yard
the sun would shine all the time
except when the rain came to help our garden grow
then we’d be snug inside

could every day be like a holiday?
could this be happily? (ever after)

We’d keep some chickens in a little coop
we’d thank them for the eggs
maybe a baby, maybe two
toddling on wobbly legs

some nights there might be tears on our pillows
some dreams just won’t come true
but all these broken parts of our hearts
make spaces for the light and air and rivers to flow through

out on our front porch we’d pass the evening hours
watching the branches sway
We’d smile at neighbors and strangers passing by
until we call it a day

 

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A long time ago in Copenhagan, I walked out on my husband.

We were young, and hadn’t been married more than a couple years. We were traveling with his best friend, and I don’t need to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I was insecure, he was insensitive, and I felt angry and desperate. So I said some things I don’t remember in our little hotel room and stalked out, not sure where I was going or if I would come back.

I made it to the lobby, where I sat with a book and waited while I imagined him imagining the worst.

The next thing I can remember is the three of us – Nathan, Chris and me – happily sharing a pizza at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant walking distance from our hotel.

That wasn’t the first or the last huge fight we had, but it’s one of few moments that stands out for both of us as larger than life, a bold dot on our timeline where everything could have gone very differently.

Marriage is one of the absolute most difficult endeavors any soul can undertake. Parenting is another, and it compounds every stress fracture in a marriage. Somehow, through grit and grace and multiple layers of privilege and support (I connect with so much of what Mrs. Frugalwoods wrote about her own privilege in this post), Nathan and I have arrived at yet another yearly celebration of our wedding, now eighteen years ago.

It takes two to keep a relationship alive, two people who choose one another over and over again, and I am grateful that through a constellation of factors much larger than my wisdom, I ended up with Nathan, who continues to choose me, just as I continue choosing him.

Here’s my song for week 17 of #songaweek2016:

Now that we’re eighteen I guess we’re old enough to vote

But I don’t need a secret ballot, I want the whole world to know

I choose you

I choose you

Each moment and always

election year or not I choose you

There’s always been other fish in the sea, sometimes they catch my attention

but you are the only one I want to cast my lot with

I choose you

I choose you

Each moment and always

election year or not I choose you

Let’s be president of one another’s hearts

Let’s take precedent over all others

there must be fifty ways we could split apart

but only one life we can share

So let’s go four more years and then forty times forevermore

So many miles we’ve gone together and the road goes ever on

I choose you

I choose you

Each moment and always

election year or not I choose you

 

 

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I wasn’t planning on having children. Actually, I was planning on not having children. Until my now-firstborn, now-twelve-year-old, first made herself known. That extra pink line on the plastic strip might as well have been an angel, and I would have benefited from the routine angelic greeting, “do not be afraid.” I admit I cried myself to sleep that night, but it seems I always take a night to freak out before changing my plans in any major way. Sometimes even the sweetest surprises are first met with salty tears.

And now, we are two-thirds of the way to that tiny baby’s high school graduation.

Week 15 of #songaweek2016 included an extra challenge, to write a song in the form of a recipe. I already felt like writing a song about my daughter, so I found a way to squeeze it into recipe form too.

Take a smidgen of him and a dash of me
Bake for nine months at ninety-eight point six degrees
Then when my body feels like it’s about to break
It’s time to open up and meet my babycake

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

Give liberal breastfuls of milk to my sugar and spice
Try not to scream the first time she bites
Blend up some squash and put it on a teaspoon
Pretend it’s on a mission and she’s the moon

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

In a medium class combine her with twenty kids
Sift through all her papers and art projects
Roll out chores and charts so she gets her work done
But ditch the cookie cutters, let her make her own fun

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

Sometimes my little sweet gets a little saucy
Sometimes she flames up like bananas foster
Then I let her settle

Let her sweetness age, let her take her time
Gotta wait patiently for the finest wine
Then however she decides to pour herself out
She’ll outsparkle all I’ve dreamed about

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

 

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