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Cody

Day 23 in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Not everything I love about Loveland has to stay behind when we move. One Saturday morning in November 2015 this sweet guy joined our family after we met him at an Animal Rescue of the Rockies adoption event at Loveland’s PetSmart. (He came from a shelter in New Mexico and was being fostered by a woman in Denver but Loveland brought us together!)

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Cody inspired a couple of my songs of the week last year (“Cody’s Theme” and “Black Dog Road“), and brings calm and play and warm snuggles to our little home. And I’m looking forward to turning him into a Minnesota dog!

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Day 22 in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Today Silas and I ran the Loveland Classic. We meant to do this other years, just never made it happen, so this year we had to do it since it’s our last chance. It’s a benefit race for early childhood education here in our Thompson School District, and it’s been going for 41 years!

Silas finished sixth in his division (males age 14 and under) and 28th place overall. His time was 25:14. I finished fourth in my division (females ages 40-49) and 53rd overall. My time was 28:07. (Silas asked me to include all of this, so my readers could be sure and understand that he crossed the finish line nearly THREE MINUTES before his mother did! That’s the first time we’ve run a race and I haven’t kept up with him. It’s only going to widen from here, I’m thinking!)

I have enjoyed running – and improving my running – here in Colorado. The altitude took some acclimating at first, but I’ve improved my pace and hope to bring all that momentum back to Minnesota with me! And it’s been fun running with my boy!

On a side note, next time I’ll be sure to bring my ID with me. I was denied my two free beer tickets because I didn’t have it. 😦  But then the sun came out this afternoon and our friend Braden came over and brought us a growler of “Widow Maker” Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout from Berthoud’s City Star Brewing, so all is well . . .

Special thanks to Nathan and Luthien for being our support team, holding our jackets, taking pictures, cheering us on!

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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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This week in the Christian church season of Advent centers on love. I didn’t even think about that when I wrote this song for my dad’s birthday, which also happened to be this week (and for week 48 of #songaweek2016). But here we have it, an accidental tie-in:

The road you walk is a pulsing clock
Each day you live shapes the world
we are all making
These things are relative
and it’s love that moves them on

Keep the fires of faith hope and love alive
and follow the giver of dreams

The faith you keep needn’t fear the dark
Each word you choose shapes the silence
we are all breathing
These things are relative
and it’s love that holds them together

Keep the fires of faith hope and love alive
and follow the giver of dreams

Each moment we are standing
at a gracious convergence
of who we were and who we are and who we can be

The rocks you climb hardly feel you there
Each hand you hold will eventually
let go
These things are relative
and it’s love that outlives them all

Keep the fires of faith hope and love alive
and follow the giver of dreams

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This past week was my son’s tenth birthday, so for week 45 of #songaweek2016, I wrote him a song and made a video to go with it. Now I have no more single-digit children!

Who could ever explain how a bald-headed bundle of joy
just by eating and sleeping and laughing and learning
grows into a long-haired long-legged ten-year-old boy?

I held you first
and right through the worst of those midnight crying hours
and I’ll be the last
to ever let go of the love you birthed in me

What a difference a decade of everyday days can make
first you’re reaching, then rolling, then crawling, then walking
jumping, kicking, running, swimming, climbing, never hitting the brakes

I held you first . . .

Be brave, be kind, be-you-tiful boy

I shouldn’t be shocked that you’ve been melting me from day one
cause chocolate bars and momma’s hearts
behave the same way in the light of the sun[son]

I held you first . . .

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These are my kids, seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time last summer.

These children are good red-blooded Americans. Which means their genetic code is a patchwork produced by immigrants. They are here because a religiously persecuted sect called the Schwenkfelders fled Germany in the 1700s and settled in Pennsylvania. And they are here because another group seeking religious freedom left Sweden and settled in Minnesota. Their immigrant ancestors also include English and Irish, French, Spanish and Scot; and one Austrian grandmother on my side who by family accounts remained an undocumented immigrant her entire life. My children also have at least one non-immigrant ancestor, from the Native American Choctaw tribe.

I don’t know what my kids are up to in this photo – I took it but I didn’t pose it and I don’t recall if I knew what they were doing (maybe trying to catch bird poop?!), but just now, I like to imagine that the immigrants who made them are rising up and reaching out through them, towards that hope of freedom, a new start, a land of opportunity. I like seeing the sun shining on their young hands, and I hold out hope that love and compassion and courage will flow through those hands as they grow up in this deeply divided nation and inevitably encounter suffering, unkindness, and injustice in many forms.

And I pray for their mother to let them inspire her, to speak up and stand up for the vulnerable, to help them make their way peacefully and bravely in this world, to not be afraid.

And for today’s immigrants, in so many ways so like my own ancestors and my husband’s, and those of my neighbors, of my friends, of so very many of my fellow Americans – I pray peace, safety, freedom, and opportunity. And I stand with them, on the legs I inherited from immigrants, their hopes and dreams still alive in me – and in these children.

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My song for week 39 of #songaweek2016 was inspired by photos and videos from my Aunt Marti, taken on her regular outings with her mother, my beloved Grammy. I’m not really sure which of them has more fun when they get together!
You can also download the song for free here: https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/you-wont-be-young-forever

Someday you can take yourself less seriously
Someday you can look the world full in the face
and smile like you mean it
because you do
and take no notice of
meaningful glances
uncomfortable silence
and awkward questions

You won’t be young forever
won’t always be stuck in these ruts
won’t be always a slave to fashion
or scared of bad haircuts
so if you’re feeling like your life is getting dull and sick and tired
just remember that you won’t be young forever

We won’t be young forever
won’t always be stuck in these ruts
won’t be always slaves to fashion
or scared of bad haircuts
so when we’re feeling like our lives are getting dull and sick and tired
let’s be thankful that we won’t be young forever
we can be thankful that we won’t be young forever
hey aren’t we lucky that we won’t be young forever?

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