An Old Pair of Hanna’s

I am never much of a sentimental person when it comes to things. When my sister passed away suddenly in August 2005, my middle sister wanted so many things of hers while I only wanted a few things I have strong personal memories about.

The holidays have always felt different without her (she was big on celebrating, decorating etc.), and I’ve always struggled with trying to keep her memory and spirit alive during this time of year.

Now 4, Emma is beginning to understand more when I talk about my sister Laurie to her. She even seemed to understand the importance of seeing Laurie’s gravesite when we were back in Illinois for Thanksgiving.

Last year, I got Emma a pair of Peanuts Hanna Anderson pajamas that featured the gang skating on ice like the scene from the beginning of Charlie Brown Christmas (and somewhat the Peanuts movie). The scene was always my sister’s favorite because the song “Christmas Time is Here.” My thoughts turn to her and her love of the season when the song comes on.  Even Emma recognizes the significance always saying, “Mom, it’s Aunt Laurie’s favorite song,” when I can get her to tolerate the Christmas XM stations versus Kids Bop and Radio Disney.

I’ve been slowly purging through Emma’s clothes, the baby toys etc. In October, I pulled out the pajamas along with some other too small now holiday clothes. I originally promised the pajamas to a friend, but then realized that they weren’t in the greatest condition. Emma has a habit of wrecking her pajamas for some reason.

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The pair of Hanna’s next to Emma’s tree

Pajamas that were now dingy, stained and way too short in the arms and legs would typically go in my throw away pile. But looking at them up close, I just couldn’t part with them. I’ve searched on eBay and Craigslist. I put out requests on Hanna buy and sell Facebook groups to no avail to find a larger pair.

I’m grateful that Emma humors me and still wears them even if they do look a bit ridiculous! When I see Emma in them, I can’t help but feel Laurie’s presence.

For anyone missing loved ones this holiday season, may memories (and maybe a pair of pajamas) give you comfort.

Happy Holidays,

Courtney

 

 

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The Season of Giving

A long time back, I did a post with the message that gratitude starts with attitude. At Emma’s age, it is hard to teach about gratitude. Kids at this age are naturally self-centered and sometimes it is hard to break through. Here are two things you can do to help your kiddo. It might even help you be a bit more grateful in your own life too.

Demonstrate Gratitude– Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to show gratitude in your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be a big production. A simple thank you to someone for holding the door, sending thank you’s, pointing out things to be thankful for…… Try to be natural

Talk About Gratitude in Daily Life– while this one isn’t the easiest to apply, I have found it has had the most impact on Emma. The dinner table is a great place to add this to your daily conversation.

My post from back in February on Random Acts of Kindness Week Random Acts of Kindness Week might also help. These are also great ideas for Elf on the Shelf if you have chosen to do a Good Deeds Elf.

Speaking of Good Deeds Elf, Olivia made her return to Erie, CO before Thanksgiving. I need to get some creative juices flowing (and my Pinterest research skills) and find new ways for Olivia and Emma to give back this holiday season! Here are some of our favorites from the past.

  • Pay for the person behind you in the drive through line and tell the checkout person to tell them Happy Holidays.  Emma loves doing this!
  • Buy some large candy canes from the store and secretly place them on strangers cars (we call this candy cane bombing). Be sure to include a note to say Seasons Greetings. This is Emma’s favorite! 
  • Donate some new toys to Toys for Tots. Emma likes to be part of the selection process and always has the biggest smile when we place the toys in the collection bin.
  • Tell 5 strangers Happy Holidays. It instantly brings a smile to their faces.
  • Leave change on a vending machine or a popcorn surprise on a DVD rental machine.

Some new ones we are going to try:

  • Stash dollars in random places in a store for people to find.
  • Be a helper by picking up five things around the house that aren’t yours.
  • Pick up trash at the park or in the neighborhood.

I created a Pinterest board with great ideas too.

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Picking out toys for Toys for Tots!

We had a great trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving. It was quick, but we maximized our family time. Emma even did a task from Olivia that was delivered by a Charlie Brown stuffed animal my parents had since Olivia went back to Santa’s Workshop for Thanksgiving.

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Making pies with her cousins as one of her tasks from Olivia

I am pitching new outlets this week while also working on an article for coloradoparent.com on drop off date night places in the Front Range. I wrote a piece on running in Philadelphia for motivrunning.com that is live now. And, I am always working on my big project.

Enjoy the season and adventure on,

Courtney

 

 

Work Balance

I’m not good at working at night. I am much better getting up in the morning to get in some writing. I don’t like always having to spend the time Emma is in school and in classes always writing. Sometimes, I have to run errands, want to get in a workout or just plain sit in the couch and watch TV (a rarity but especially difficult during the holidays where those cheesy Hallmark movies call my name).

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My morning view

Right now I am trying to find a good balance between working on a project that in the future will make me money or focusing on writing articles that will bring in money in the meantime. It’s a tough balance that I feel myself struggling with.

I’m trying to make better use of my time, but I’m not always the best at it. Through this, Emma has had to have a bit more of independent play time as I try to sneak in twenty minutes here and there writing copy, sizing photos, emailing questions or seeking out sources.

I had intentions of really focusing this past week on my big project, but I found myself saying yes to two last minute article assignments knowing that it’s approaching the slow season where freelance budgets are maxed out for the year. Another outlet I occasionally write for is coming to a halt. That makes saying yes to any assignments that come my way even more important. It’s a tough business pitching, endless follow-up emails and sometimes even begging for payment. An article could be a go or not a go based on whether a source or interview subject responds.

I think balance is a key to life whether its work, play or combination of both. Sometimes it is an easy find. Other times not as much. Just yesterday, Emma wanted to play outside in the amazing weather. I had an article subject finally get in touch with me that afternoon- literally the day the article was due. I told Emma that I would play with her for twenty minutes, but then I needed twenty minutes to dictate my interview while she put together a puzzle. Thankfully this isn’t a typical scenario and I usually have more time to get articles done. While the money is needed, my thoughts turned to next year and how Emma will be in school all day. That time I will never get back.

How is Thanksgiving like a week away? The time is just flying by. Last week, AJ came home from dropping Emma off at school with information on registering for Kindergarten. Yes, registration starts Dec 1st for us- insert huge tearing up eyes.

My latest articles for ironman.com are live now on 13 x Hawaii Ironman finisher Simon Butterworth as well as my last minute article on Journey for Smiles Foundation athlete Declan Fox.

Olivia, Emma’s good deed elf, made her return this week, so we can do a few good deeds before we are off to see family for Thanksgiving. Emma was so excited to come out of her room and see Olivia sitting there. I hope that even when Emma is old enough to understand it all that she will still want to do good deeds with Olivia. It is truly my favorite holiday tradition.

Stay tuned for my post on gratitude and giving back.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

In Loss and Life

A few weeks ago, my mother called to tell me that a very close childhood friend of mine lost her son at 18. This friend and I had grown apart some time around when middle school started. Distance, interests, life choices etc. really led us to not talk unless we saw each other at “family” celebrations and gatherings.

Her sons age, the manner in which he passed away- the whole thing is hard to still comprehend. Life can be incredibly cruel. A few bad choices and some difficult life experiences and he was caught up in the world of drugs looking for an escape.

My thoughts have been with my childhood friend since I heard the news wondering how she can find the energy to get up in the mornings, to do the simple tasks and to stay strong for her other children. How are his four siblings feeling right now? At their young age, how much can they really comprehend?

I never understood why my sister is gone and I was almost 29 years old when she passed away. The same week, a friend’s sister had her first child- a baby girl. When one life ends, another is beginning.

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I can’t believe how fast October came and went. We only have a few things left on our fall bucket list that includes playing football on Thanksgiving (a neighborhood tradition) and showing our gratitude.

We are doing our 30 days of thankfulness challenge again. It might be called a challenge, but it is really easy considering all the blessings we have in our lives. I’m the first to tell you that I have trouble showing gratitude on a consistent basis. It’s something I have struggled with demonstrating to Emma at times. But my overall goal is that Emma finds gratitude in her heart as she continues to grow up and that helping others is important to her in all stages of life. She has a heart of gold. Sometimes, you just have to bring it out. Look for a post about helping children (and yourself) find more gratitude in your daily lives to be posted soon.

I finished two listicles for motivrunning.com and just sent off another article for ironman.com. I am writing a second piece for parksandpoints.com on our recent trip to Goblin Valley. My focus this week will be finishing that, pitching outlets and taking in all the things to be grateful for around me.

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

 

Mission to Mars

Since Emma had a four day weekend, we headed to Green River, Utah to get in some hiking and exploring two weekends ago. It was a quick three day trip and included some time in Goblin Valley and searching for the Black Dragon petroglyph in Black Dragon Canyon.

On our way to Green River (the only real city close to Goblin Valley), we stopped in Grand Junction to do a little apple picking at a place called the Fruit Basket. It was the end of their picking season, but we were still able to find a bag full of delicious Granny Smith and Red Delicious Apples.image_01 (1)

We got to the hotel a little past 3 p.m. Emma and I headed to the John Wesley Powell Museum to check out the dinosaur bones while AJ hung back working and watching the live coverage of the Ironman World Championships. I haven’t been to the race in a few years (since Emma came along), but for AJ it was the first time he hasn’t been in 14 years give or take a few. I know it was strange for him to not be there. I could tell at times he was missing it, but I know he is excited for his career change.

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I titled this blog post “Mission to Mars” because Goblin Valley is often referred to as Mars on Earth. The goblin and mushroom like formations make for some martian like landscape. After a nights rest, we hit the Green River Coffee Company on the way to Goblin Valley. It was a blue bird but windless day and a perfect mid 60’s.

We went for a hike on the Entrada Canyon Trail- a narrow slot like trail down in the valley. After that hike, we had lunch and enjoyed playing in the Valley of the Goblins. We finished our trip with a hike along the Curtis Bench trail that offers views of Three Sisters, the Henry Mountains and other landmarks in the area.

On Monday morning, before heading back to Colorado, we went searching for the Black Dragon and other petroglyphs in Black Dragon Canyon. The petroglyphs are truly amazing to look at thinking about what the Native Americans saw and used them for. It was sad to see the amount of graffiti in and around the historical site.

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The next planned stop in Utah is to hit the St. George area after spending Christmas with AJ’s family in Salt Lake. We have Vernal, Utah in the plans and probably the Moab area for spring break. There is a lot of territory to cover!

Leading up to the Ironman World Championships, my article on Kirstin McCay second attempt on the Big Island was featured on ironman.com. I just sent off a story on 13 time Kona finisher Simon Butterworth for the website. An update story on Marcus Cook is also in the works as his inspirational video about his Ironman Texas race in 2017 is due out in December.

I am also working on two listicles for motivrunning.com– 10 Things Mamas Should Know About Running After Pregnancy and 10 Worst Things To Avoid Race Weekend.

Halloween is just around the corner! I hope you’ve been enjoying the fall!

Adventure On,

Courtney

 

The Year’s Last Loveliest of Smiles

“Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile.” -William Cullen Bryant

My favorite time of year has officially arrived according to the calendar. It’s the time of year I get homesick, and the time of year I can’t say no to anything fall related on the to do list. Emma and I brought in the start of fall with a trip to Mud Lake to ride through some Aspens. Emma did amazing over the rocks and roots. Unfortunately, her single gear 16 inch bike is hard to get up the hills. But, she took it like a champ and got off and walked when she needed to. That is what I love about her. Obstacles don’t stand in this girls way! We ended our trip with a few rides on the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland.

 

Last Friday night, we celebrated the first day of fall fire pit side at Anderson Farms. We started this tradition with Emma’s birthday buddy friends last year.

 

It’s fun to see the kids run around the farm, ride the train cars and race their ducks. With the kids in school, jobs etc., we don’t see our old friends as much. Stephanie, AnnMarie, Lyndi and Meredith are my tribe of mamas that I don’t know where I would be without. We can not talk for a week (and not see each other for months- insert sad face) and then text to vent or ask advice without question.

 

Emma and I took a quick trip to Cottonwood Farms last Saturday before the rain came in to grab cornstalks for our front porch ( a tradition passed down from my parents). We got seriously lost in the corn maze, but we had fun and couldn’t help but laugh every time we found a dead end (there was a lot of them)! I am savoring this fall with her as next fall she will be in school M-F (maybe even all day).

This past week was rainy meaning we spent a lot of time inside. AJ has been at real estate school all week, so at least he hasn’t missed much! Emma went to her usual classes, school and we had a few playdates.

Spooky tours are a great way to get into the spirit of the season as you can read in my latest article for Colorado Parent. 70.3 Augusta racer Carrie Worth broke out of her shell  because of the sport of triathlon.  I’m working on winter pitches, a few Ironman World Championship stories, but my main focus is on my major one year project.

Looking forward to next weeks better weather, AJ’s shortened school days and more fall happenings to come!

Adventure On,

Courtney

P.S. Did you know that every fourth grader in the U.S. can get a free National Parks pass good through August 30, 2018? Click this link to learn more!

Outdoor Adventure Bucket List

As you already know, I am a lover of the outdoors and bucket lists. Nothing beats fresh air and time in nature. Bucket lists are fun ways to explore the world and challenge oneself.

Our family doesn’t have any trouble getting outside. But, its always nice to find new ideas to keep it exciting. Generation Wild, a non-profit in Colorado dedicated to connecting kids with nature, along with GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) came up with an excellent list of things kids should see/do/experience before they are 12. They have suggestions including going on a horseback ride and spotting a shooting star to making mud pies and going sledding on a cardboard box.

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You can download your own copy of the list in PDF format.  Even if you don’t live in Colorado, most of these can be done no matter where you live.

One of the items happens to be hear an Elk bugle- something we just completed last week. Here is a photo of all that we have completed on our list!

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I picked up a few additional assignments leading up to Kona for ironman.com. My first parksandpoints.com piece on the Great Sand Dunes is live as well as a story on Marine Vet Mike Mendoza who lost his bike on the way to 70.3 Worlds on ironman.com. And work is just beginning on my big project…… exciting things are in the future.

Adventure On,

Courtney