Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Evie and Lucy, Flower Children

Today both girls came home with their hair in beaded braids, palms covered in henna and wearing tie-dyes. They chanted "Om nama shivaya" on the car ride home, which they had already chanted one hundred and eight times this morning. No, they haven't stepped out of a hot tub time machine from Woodstock. They attended yoga camp at the Eldorado Mountain Yoga Ashram this week and absolutely loved it.

For any Boulder parents looking for camp for their kids next summer, I can't recommend it enough. They spent the week practicing yoga, making art projects, hiking and swimming in an artesian spring water pool (which is actually a fancy way for saying a cold and somewhat murky pool, but the girls didn't seem to mind). They came home every day covered in paint and dirt, with huge smiles on their faces.

And, while the girls were learning meditative practices on the yoga mat, I was enjoying my first week at home this summer with the older girls in camp. I will miss them both once school starts in two (two!!) weeks, but I have to admit that I was practicing my own mantra. Rather than "Om
nama shivaya", I would wake up every morning thinking, "They are going to camp! They are going to camp!" Ah, peace.

Some more photos from their week at camp:

The entrance of the camp
The bus the girls painted on the first day. You can see "Lucy" on the window.

Lucy and Nolan were in the Ganesh group

Another Ganesh

Happy campers

Born To Run

Glee and determination are usually antagonistic emotions, yet the Tarahumara were brimming with both at once, as if running to the death made them feel more alive - from Born to Run

I recently finished reading McDougall's Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen. I decided to read it after several people recommended it to me. Of course, I should mention that one of those people is currently preparing for the World Championship Iron Man in Hawaii and another had just finished sprinting up a 13,000 ft mountain wearing those weird barefoot shoes that are all the rage in Boulder these days. But, worthy of the book or not, I decided to give it a try.

I wasn't sure what to expect in a book about running. Turns out it's a page-turner adventure story that takes you from an ultra marathon in Leadville, Colorado to a crazy 50 mile trail race with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico.

The author makes two main points:

The first point is that the whole running sneaker industry is a load of crap. McDougall heads to the Copper Canyon in Mexico to study the Tarahumara Indians, who run extraordinary distances in nothing but thin-soled sandals. When he comes home, he researches the shoe industry. A few facts, according to the book:

- Since Nike introduced what we all know as the modern running shoe in the 70s, Achilles complaints have increased by 10 percent, while plantar fasciitis has remained the same.

- According to a 2008 research paper for the British Journal of Sports Medicine, there are no evidence-based studies--not one--that demonstrate that running shoes make you less prone to injury.

- Runners wearing top-of-the-line shoes are 123 percent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes.

Basically, the theory is that because of the heel cushioning in modern shoes (with the most cushioning found in the top-of-the-line shoes), we have changed the way that we run, and not for the better. Running in modern running shoes encourages you to land on your heel, rather than your forefoot, bringing all sorts of damage into the heel, knees, and other parts of the body.

(For another article, not mentioned in the book, but that I found interesting regarding the running shoe industry, click here)

It's a compelling argument, but I wasn't sure quite what to make of this point because when the author considers scrapping his own shoes to run barefoot, his coach tells him that his feet haven't been conditioned to run that way yet and that he'll end up with shin splints and who knows what other injuries. He ends up ordering some old Nikes online. But I keep seeing more and more of the "barefoot" running shoes around Boulder and am curious to see where that goes. For now, I'm sticking to my Mizuno Alchemy 8s, but I plan on doing a little more research before buying my next pair of shoes.

Tarahumara sneakers

The American version of running barefoot

The second point the author makes is that humans are designed to run and that the best runners have a true passion for running. I certainly don't have the passion of some of the people in the book--people who have shattered world records, run 100 miles in blistering heat, and who are always looking to push their running to the most extreme limits. However, reading about the joy and abandon with which the people in the book run made we want to put down the book and head out on the trails for myself.

Long before I discovered yoga or attended a church that integrates meditation into the service, I used running as a way to center myself. If I am trying to figure out a solution to a problem, my head is clearest when I'm out on a running trail. If I start feeling like I need a little space from the chatter of kids, I return from a run a much more patient mom. Lately, when I run, I write. Of course I don't drag the computer along with me, but I compose what I am going to write on the trail. For days I have been trying to think up a short story for my next writing group meeting and yesterday, on an hour and a half run, it all came together. I love that feeling.

While I'm not sure what to take from the book when it comes to barefoot running, when it comes to the author's descriptions of cultures with a passion for running, I simply enjoyed reading about the Tarahumara and the other ultra-marathoners in the book. I don't think you need to be an Iron Man or marathoner or even an occasional 5k racer to enjoy this book. As long as you are someone who occasionally finds yourself heading out for a jog, it's a book worth reading.

Noni's first race

A photo from my morning run in Boulder

Sunday, July 25, 2010


When we moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I figured our camping equipment would sit in the garage, acquiring dust. I had no idea that Los Angeles was surrounded by some of the best camping sites I've ever seen, and that all of them would be empty on the weekends. We camped more often than we ever had that year. On the flip side, I expected that in Boulder we might as well leave our camping equipment out in the living room, as we'd probably be heading out every weekend. It hasn't quite happened that way. It's not that we haven't tried. It's that every time we make reservations at a campsite for the weekend, a hail and snow storm heads our way. Even in June. And so, after living in Colorado for nearly a year, before this weekend we had gone camping once. And it was freezing. Actually, a few degrees below.

This weekend, we decided to fool the weather gods and didn't make reservations at all. We headed up to the trail head by the St. Vrain river, where you can pitch a tent pretty much anywhere. We set ours up as near to the car as we could, which still meant a five minute walk along a fairly rugged trail with the girls and a whole lot of camping equipment. The nearest site we could find was practically in the river. When I looked out of our tent, I felt like we might start floating downstream. It was absolutely beautiful though and the girls played in the river all afternoon. When it started to cool off, we cooked sausage and asparagus over the fire and then ate far too many s'mores. Then we walked down to our friends' campsite down the river and the girls spent the evening running around the woods with their friends.

All in all, it was a great trip. The best part of the weekend was that the weather gods were completely fooled, offering up sunny, 75-degree weather all weekend. I'm already looking forward to two more camping trips we have planned in August. Shhh, just don't tell the weather gods.

walking in the St. Vrain river

Friday, July 23, 2010

Leopard Print, Glitter & Peace

My least favorite errand with kids? Hands down the post office. No matter where I live, the post office is always a trying experience. There is absolutely nothing for the girls to do or even look at. There is always a line. And there is always a woman in that line who has a pile of 20 boxes. Four of them need tape, all of them need to be sent in different ways to different places, and she's going to pay for them in cash. In Boulder this experience is particularly excruciating because our local post office worker is dutifully taking her, um, medical marijuana and is so spaced out that she cannot for the life of her figure out the change for the inevitable woman-with-cash in front of me. I'm not even kidding when I say that three times this year I have finally just given up, left the line and the post office, only to torture myself with having to come back later.

And so, after a post office trip yesterday, I figured Target today was going to be easy. But Target offers the exact opposite problem of the post office. There is far too much for the girls to look at. Whoever decides the layout of the store is brilliant because even if I am in the kitchen appliances section there is something that my kids just can't live without. Today, after half an hour of please please PLEEEEASEs, I broke down and told the girls they could each pick out something from the 75% off rack. It wasn't the best parenting decision. I'm sure there are all sorts of theories about how I just reinforced the benefits of begging while at a store, but we're nine weeks into summer here and, what can I say, I'm weak.

At any rate, buying Evie and Lucy each a $4 dress isn't a big deal. (Noni made out with another mini Disney princess.) It's just that for the rest of the summer, they will be wearing this:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Importance of Why and Cardboard Submarines

"Why is red red and blue blue?" Lucy asked me this week, looking out the window at a stop sign as we were driving home from the grocery store. I told her that the color of light that is reflected from an object is the color we see. Then I rushed home and looked it up and was astonished that I was actually right. I couldn't have gone much beyond that, but still. They often ask questions that I have no clue how to answer. Usually, I love that they are thinking about the world and enjoy learning something new along with them. Sometimes, when they've already asked numerous questions and I've had a long day or have listened to the Glee CD on full volume 3,000 times already, I just want to reply, "No more questions! No more talking! Just let me think!" But, if I didn't think that was a bad idea already, a recent article in Newsweek has me worrying that they should be asking me more questions.

The article, titled The Creativity Crisis (click here to read it in full), explains that:

Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. Why, why, why—sometimes parents just wish it’d stop. Tragically, it does stop. By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking. It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.

The article lays out the disturbing facts about creativity in our children and its steep decline:

....after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance [creativity test] scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

A "most serious" decline in creativity does not just mean that kids are missing out on a few years of finger painting. A generation with declining creativity is a serious problem for our society, as "the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ." What is this going to mean if we are raising a society of non-creative thinkers? Especially when they will be facing problems and issues we can't even imagine - ones that desperately need creative solutions.

We are not currently suffering a creativity crisis in our household. As I write this, the girls are busy stringing pipe cleaners across their room; I can barely walk across the basement floor due to the cardboard submarine they built earlier this week; and we just got back from a friend's house, where they spent the afternoon making and selling lemonade. But they are only three-, six- and eight-years-old now and I have a real fear that they will lose this ability, that it will be squashed and reshaped into something more form fitting, that they will learn to color within the lines.

I feel fortunate we live in a neighborhood with good public schools. Evie's teacher this year worked hard to encourage creativity and individual projects in her classroom, despite the pressure that she must have felt for her students to achieve certain scores on standardized tests. But the bottom line is that public schools are overcrowded, teachers are overloaded with paperwork, and it is a lot easier for them to simply hand out worksheets than to teach an inspiring lesson.

And graded worksheets, where kids are asked to come up with one correct answer and fill it in the blank, could be exactly what kids don't need. According to Ken Robinson, whose video on Ted Talks explains why we need to rethink the education system we have now (click here to view.), "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. And by the time they've come to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity."

He goes on to say that "all kids have tremendous creative talents. And we squander them. Pretty ruthlessly." Robinson believes that "our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology. One in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way we have strip mined the earth for a particular commodity. And for the future it won't serve us."

As parents, we can be our kids' advocates at school, volunteer in the classrooms, and vote for leaders who prioritize creativity in education. But I realized from reading the Newsweek article that the first step for me is to make sure that I encourage their creativity, always. That means taking a deep breath and letting the basement get messy, which isn't always easy to do. It also means taking a deep breath and answering questions. A lot of them.

In the summer, it's easier for me to encourage creativity in our house. We have more time to start and finish a project, and maybe even clean it up, without having to worry about rushing off to school or piano or soccer. And because of that, I also have more patience to answer questions and encourage projects and experiments. But I hope that the lessons from this article stay with me after this summer. And I hope that, as a country, we can start thinking creatively and asking some more questions ourselves. Like, why is this happening to our kids? And what can we do to fix it?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see - John Denver

Yesterday Toby and I dropped the girls off with friends and headed to the Indian Peaks to climb Mt. Audubon, a 13,223 ft mountain whose peak offers spectacular views of Colorado's Gore Range, Never Summer Range, Rocky Mountain National Park and several lakes. We agreed that it was one of the best hikes either of us have ever hiked, which is saying quite a bit since we spent our first year together hiking all over Ecuador.

We started off walking on a trail lined by spruce trees and mountain flowers. (I wish I knew my flowers better, but all I can say is that we saw red, yellow, white, blue, and purple flowers. I did recognize columbines.) After about an hour, we passed the tree-line and found ourselves in the tundra, wide areas of grass dotted with wooly actineas (I looked them up. Yellow flowers), with a backdrop of jagged, snowy mountains. The trail became steeper as we neared the top, and we left the tundra behind as we hiked up to the rocky summit.

The flowers:

The top:

At the summit, we sat down to eat our peanut butter sandwiches, drink our natural Gatorade (see prior blog post), and enjoy the view. Then we noticed two guys behind us. They were hard not to notice because they were pounding beer and drinking shots of bourbon. At 10:30 in the morning. At the summit of a 13,223 foot mountain. They were also talking about how they were going to hike down the backside of the mountain instead of turning around and taking the trail back down. For some reason, we found them to be credible sources of information (hmmm, they're drunk so they must know that they're doing!) and decided to follow them. This turned out to be a simultaneously amazing and terrifying experience.

It was amazing because when we looked down, we had views like this:

And terrifying because when we looked up, we had views like this:

I kept thinking that it would just take one clumsy marmot stepping the wrong way on a rock above me and the whole mountain would fall on our heads.

Fortunately, we made it down, shins scraped up from slamming into rocks and missing the lens cap to my camera, but alive. Our reward was getting to hang out at this lake...

...which was beautiful but absolutely freezing cold. Of course Toby had to go in. Which made him feel like this...

After Toby's invigorating swim, we hiked past two other lakes toward the car. We arrived at the bottom with our legs heavy, heads throbbing slightly from the altitude, and huge smiles on our faces. It was a wonderful day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some Practical and (Mostly) Natural Products

Open up our fridge and you'll see a variety of all-natural food brands--Earth Balance, 365, Horizon, Wallaby. I love that I can rely on certain companies to leave out the high fructose corn syrup and the genetically modified ingredients so that I don't have to spend all my time at the store scanning the ingredient list. But I've found that sometimes the best natural products are made by companies that you don't normally associate with anything natural. Here are some products that are not only cheaper but work better than their natural brand competition:

Best find of the summer: Coppertone Kids SPF 50: Pure & Simple
Thank you Christine and Anne Marie for saving my kids' skin and our budget this summer by alerting me to this product. I cannot stand most of the sticky, way-overpriced, all-natural sunblocks, but even worse is the thought of spraying my kids with hormone-disrupting chemicals. I made the switch to all-natural sunblocks a couple of years ago, but you are supposed to use at least a shot glass full of sunblock every two hours, which means you're using about $10 worth of sunblock a day if you are using brands like Badger or California Baby. Plus, they don't work well if you're at the beach or pool--not to mention that they start to smell bad if they've been open for a while. Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple isn't as pure as some of the other brands (and make sure to get the Pure & Simple kind and avoid Coppertone's SPF 70 and all of their spray bottles), as it contains some chemicals and isn't organic. However, it does not contain retinyl palmitate or oxybenzone, chemicals that are known carcinogens. (According to Newsweek, these two chemicals, in 40% of sunscreens, have been linked to melanomas, allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage.) I love this sunscreen because it spreads easily, held up well at the pool yesterday, and is wonderful for our budget.
Want more information? Click here to read about the top 15 sunscreens.

Best New Product: Gatorade G Series
When Toby and I ran the Nashville Country Music Marathon together, he hydrated by drinking only water, rather than drinking a sports drink containing salt and electrolytes. He ended up in the ER tent, his entire body cramping up. Since then, I've been careful to drink sports drinks when I exercise and have always preferred Gatorade to other drinks. We also rely on it whenever the girls have the stomach flu--it seems to be the quickest way to rehydrate them. However, I have never felt right about giving the girls, or myself, a drink laden with high fructose corn syrup and red #40. So I was delighted to find that this summer, just in time for my 1/2 marathon training, Gatorade came out with the Gatorade G Series, using natural flavors like fruit flavors, sea salt and natural sweeteners. It tastes better too!

Favorite Cleaning Supply: green works natural all purpose cleaner... by Clorox
I love you, 7th Generation, for your Vermont roots and your admirable mission. But? You don't work! After a couple years of streaky mirrors and dirty counter tops, I discovered green works at Target. It's an all natural coconut-based cleaning agent that actually works! Not that my counter tops aren't still dirty, but at least it's not because of the cleaner I use.

That's my list for now. Let me know if you have any other favorite natural product with a brand name you wouldn't expect!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Our last stop on our trip back east was visiting my grandmother, Marjorie "Marge" Dearnley Helmetag, or, as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren call her, Tiggy. Tiggy is almost ninety-one years old. When I worry about her getting old, I always pause and consider her best friend and nightly dinner companion, Helen, who is over one hundred, and Tiggy's mother, who lived to be one hundred and four. Compared to them, Tiggy's still in the spring of her "old age" years.

I also consider her laugh, which is contagious and bubbles up quickly to the surface. Tiggy disproves the myth that old age turns people cranky and humorless. It's probably a good thing she had that sense of humor over the years. She had three sons who, even in their sixties, are some of the most energetic people I know. (On Thanksgiving at our house in Vermont, there was never any belly scratching in front of a football game. My uncles and dad would have us out and about -- first on a hike, then playing tennis, then playing golf or, if the Vermont snow and ice came early, skating and skiing. We'd finally collapse into the turkey dinner at the end of the day, only to have my uncle Keith announce that it was time for us all to go bowling. Which of course we all did.)

I wish that Tiggy lived closer. I know that she would delight in the girls' piano recitals and soccer games and just seeing us on a more regular basis. But I am thankful that we do have our summer visits. She's the only grandparent on my side that all the girls have met (Tiggy's husband, Pop Pop, died when I was twelve and my mom's parents died when Evie was still a baby) and it's important for me that they know her. From this summer, they have memories of dancing around her apartment with Pop Pop's old canes, eating key lime pie (seriously, the best I've ever tasted), looking through old photographs, and splashing in the pool with Tiggy watching.

I wonder what memories they will carry with them throughout the years. When I think of Tiggy's mom, I remember the blue and green floral print of one of her dresses, the pastel candies she always offered us in her apartment, and that she told me she had decided to only eat chocolate ice cream and french fries after she turned one hundred because, why not? When I think of Pop Pop, I think of his quirky sense of humor and how he always laughed about these skinny "Rabbity Rabbit" dolls they gave us for Christmas. I picture him in their house in Chestnut Hill, surrounded by the antiques he loved to collect, the house full of people, all drinking cocktails in crystal glasses. It's sad to think of whole people reduced to a handful of memories, but there are lessons even in those handfuls. Lessons about appreciating what you love and keeping a sense of humor and surrounding yourself with friends and family.

Hopefully there is still plenty of time for the girls to create more memories with their great-grandmother. We'll be back again next summer, ready for more key lime pie.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Noni And The Goose Egg

This blog post was supposed to be about Noni's first ballet class. How this afternoon's class was her first class on her own, how she beamed for the entire forty-five minutes, how my heart broke a little watching my baby dancing around and following the teacher like she'd been doing it for years. Except, two hours later, that seems like ages ago. The mood of the afternoon shifted between then and now.

Once, when Evie was a little over a year old, I watched her fall down the stairs. She had just learned to climb them on her own. She teetered at the top. And then I watched, horrified, as she tumbled down the stairs, head first, time moving slower that seemed possible and yet too quickly for me to stop her as I watched her painful descent. She landed in a heap on the bottom, crying, and I ran and grabbed her, forgetting anything I'd ever learned about spines and trauma and not moving someone, and sat on the couch shaking for the next hour. Fortunately, she was fine. And since then, I have been an incredibly lucky parent, thinking of hospitals as the places where my babies were born, not places they frequent needing stitches or casts.

And then this afternoon I experienced that feeling all over again. Time going by slowly and quickly at once, watching my child fall head first toward injury. When we parked the car at home after ballet, Noni stood up on Lucy's booster seat by the door. Then she tripped. Lucy, Evie and I all watched as she plummeted head first to the concrete road, landing on her forehead. No outstretched arms to break her fall. Once again, any of that practical lifeguard training went out the window and I grabbed her and held her tight. An egg sized lump and smattering of blood appeared on her forehead.

I came to my senses a little and checked her pupils, which looked normal. I thought about the ER. Then I thought about our neighbor. We live right next door to an ER doctor. This is lucky for us. This is unfortunate for him. Our poor, sweet doctor neighbor who, after a year of living next to us, has inspected two of Lucy's swollen bee stings, a rash on Noni's stomach, and now a head wound. I guess I should admit that this is actually why I haven't spent so much time in the ER. He looked at Noni's head, her eyes, asked her about other injuries, and then came over to check on her two hours later. Like I said, lucky for us. It turns out that she is fine. A little bloodied and bruised, but fine.

And so, rather than thinking about ballet and mourning the end of Noni's toddler years, I am just feeling incredibly grateful right now for three healthy kids. Especially for one who still manages an extra sweet smile, even with a goose egg on her head.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The July 400

A few years ago, some of our friends started the July 400. As they describe it: "The July 400 is a celebration of our Independence from Great Britain through running and camaraderie. Since the inaugural running in 2003, 250 people have strapped on shoes and ran, jogged, walked, and crawled 400 meters in honor of our Nation’s birthday. Time is not important; participation is. In the absence of a track, courses have been carved out of diverse landscapes ranging from fire trails in the mountains of Colorado, to horse tracks in Kenya, to the highlands of Mexico. The hottest head-to-head racing, and subsequently fastest times, have occurred on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky. The July 400 is a great way to get your holiday started so invite your friends, post your results here, and turn left and go hard–HAPPY JULY 4th!"

We participated for the first time this year, meeting up at the Frederick High School track at 8:00 AM on the 4th. It's a pretty brutal length - short enough to be an all-out sprint and long enough to feel like your lungs are going to explode. But the kids loved it and it was a great way to kick off the holiday. Next year, wherever you are, consider joining in! For more information, check out their website here:

Pre-race stretching, led by Stella Henson

The founders, Josh and Adam Henson, with Josh's son Charlie

Women's starting line up

Charlie Henson continues in the family tradition

Men's race

Kids' race line-up

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Weeks Back East

Right now, I am writing from steamy, hot Annapolis and feeling grateful for air conditioning. I'm also grateful that our four week trip has been wonderful so far. (We still have Philly to go before we head home.) Some highlights:


On our first stop of the trip, we picked up Evie and visited my dad and Diane in Rhode Island. The 70 degree weather and ocean breezes made me realize that it's been far too long since I spent any time in New England. It's also been too long since I spent time out on the water on a boat. Growing up in Vermont, we lived on the boat in the summer - our days were spent jumping off the rocks at Red Rocks or swimming in to a beach on Juniper Island or hanging onto a tube that was whipping far too quickly across the water. My dad lives right next to a boatyard and we took several rides on his boat during our visit. While my childhood didn't include salt water and jellyfish, watching Evie and Lucy dancing on the front of the boat brought back lots of memories of summers with my sister.


Some people might hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and think of the early 80s. Some might think of Glee's season finale. I will forever think of the week we spent in western Pennsylvania with the girls and their cousins. Every time we got in the car, the kids all requested that we listen to it, at full volume. Then, Jack's tennis racquet would become an air guitar, Evie's a microphone, and everyone else would just dance and sing the lyrics at the top of their lungs in the back. If there was a video definition for "joy" in the dictionary, I could make a submission. And if I could only figure out how to upload the video from my camera, I could include it on this blog too...


It goes without saying that Colorado is too far away from so many people we love. I was determined to see as many people as we could this summer, but with four parents living in four different states (well, three and a district), it was no easy feat figuring out how to fit it all in to four weeks. But we did it and I am thankful to have had the time to see as many people as we have. Along with our parents and their spouses/significant others, we've managed to see all of Toby's aunts and uncles on both sides of the family, Toby's brother and his family, my aunt and uncle, and all of the girls' cousins on both sides. I have lots of great memories of barbecues and pool days with family from the last couple weeks.


Our last stop was Frederick, which is always bittersweet. I love that we can come back after a year and I can feel like no time has passed since we last saw our friends. Their kids, however, with their longer hair and missing or bigger teeth, are a reminder that it has been far too long. But the girls jumped right back into the fray like no time had passed for them either. Thank you to all of our Frederick friends for making coming back so easy.

East Coast.

Until two years ago, I had lived on the east coast for most of my life. In all that time, I never gave much thought to the landscape. I would spend time out west and marvel at the snow-capped mountains and expansive sky, but the east coast just seemed, well, normal. After two years away, I have a new appreciation for the landscape I took for granted. Whether we were driving through the green, rolling hills of Pennsylvania or splashing in a creek under the tall leafy trees in Maryland, or looking out at the ocean in Rhode Island, it all strikes me now as uncommonly beautiful. I love the views and landscape we have in Colorado, but I will miss all of this when we go back.