Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

What mama didn't say was that there would be weeks like this.  I speak with hesitance because it is not yet Friday at 5pm, so I am running the risk of this black cloud over my head lingering for another day or two.
Let's start with Sunday.  My husband was making meatballs for himself for dinner and I hadn't helped him at all.  Since he is recovering from foot surgery, while the meatballs baked, he sat on the couch with his foot propped like the doctor had ordered.  When the oven dinged, I decided to do my best Wife of the Year impression and plate his dinner and bring it to him.  Being 5'1, I didn't have far to bend down to remove the steaming hot meatballs from the oven.  How did I know they were steaming?  Because I stuck my face thisclose to the pan as I pulled it out of the 400* cooking box, and was immediately pelted with hot, stinging, flesh burning steam.  And in a move of further brilliance, I promptly put an ice cube on my burnt face to numb the pain.  Which it did, as it also created a bright red blister.  ON. MY. FACE!
When I awoke on Monday, I briefly forgot about the meatball war wound from the night before until I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror as I ran to the bathroom for a tissue to try to stop the massive amount of snot running out of my nose. If it was just a face blister, or just a runny nose, I could deal.  But somewhere along the way, I also picked up some sort of virus that caused one eye to swell, water uncontrollably, twitch, and fill with goop.  I'm a fundraiser by trade and therefore rely on working with the public and being charming and put together enough to sell them on writing checks to my organization with multiple zeroes in them.  You don't charm too many checkbooks by sucking up your snot in an attempt to give your chapped, Rudolph impersonating nose a break while also sporting a closed-from-mucus eyeball and a face blister.
Tuesday saw me armed with concealer, antihistamine, and tissues, and cowered in fear.  And by 'cowered', I mean attacked in full force.  After having a complete meltdown on the way out of the house because the living room was dirty, I declared that I was going to have a better day. I drove to work, where I received word that I had 1900 pieces of mail to get out of a co-worker's car and shipped to my volunteers in another town within the hour, or I would have to fold, stuff, seal, and stamp them myself.  The co-worker and I went to her car to load up and bring the letters inside, where we were greeted by our ever persistent protestors holding disgusting signs and screaming sexual slurs in between quoting Bible verses and telling me that I need to get to know Jesus (if I wouldn't get fired for responding to them, I would LOVE to tell them all about Jesus and how I'm certain He doesn't condone their sick actions).  Awesome.  Back in my office with the sea of bulk mail and the clock ticking, I sorted the letters and logged into my database to get the lead stuffing volunteer's mailing address.  I wrote her address on a post-it  and stuck it on the top box, loaded up the minimum of 40 pounds of boxes onto my weak girly arms, grabbed my purse, and navigated my way through 3 badge pass doors. The moment I stepped outside, I was welcomed by 28* weather and 35mph wind as I watched that sacred post-it with the all important address tumble and toss on the breeze through the parking lot.  I rushed to my car, set the boxes down on the hood and ensued on a seemingly hopeless mission to catch that neon pink office supply with confidential donor information on it.  Oh and did I mention that I forgot my coat at home?  No less than 7,000 goosebumps and 5 failed grab attempts later, I found myself 23 parking spots away from my car, clinging onto that sweet, sweet post-it.  I breathed a sigh of relief, composed myself, walked back to my car, and tucked the address safely inside one of the boxes.  After digging through my purse for my keys, I hit the unlock button and tried to get into my Jeep.  Hmmm, it didn't work. I tried it again, and again, it didn't work, so I decided I would open the door the old fashioned way and put the ignition key into the door key slot.  It fit, but it wouldn't turn left or right.  I removed the key and tried the sequence again with the same result.  So I abandoned that idea and tried the backseat door.  Locked.  Passenger front?  Locked.  Passenger rear?  Locked.  Trunk door that I was prepared to climb through?  Locked.  Freezing, defeated, out of breath, and arms scraped from the boxes, I collected all 40 pounds of them and walked them inside where, through tears, I asked another co-worker to keep an eye on them while I tried to break into my car one last time before calling a locksmith.  They agreed, and I ran out the door, set my eyes on my car, and immediately turned back inside and grabbed my boxes of letters.  Still standing where I had left her 15 seconds before, my co-worker looked at me puzzled until I responded with, 'That's not my car!  Mine is 2 spaces over...' Try walking out the door with dignity after that whole display was caught on 4 different security cameras.
After some more tears and a much needed lunch with my sweet husband who can make even the worst day better, I had a pretty quiet day on Wednesday and thought that my run of bad luck was winding down right along with the cold I was starting to beat.  And then it was bed time.  It has come to my attention that I am a snorer, and seeing as how I have never been able to breathe well through my nose, I decided it was time to try some breathe-right strips.  After my nightly bath, I adorned my nose with one of the ever so attractive strips, kissed my husband, and went to bed.  What seemed like hours had passed and I found myself in a terrible nightmare.  A bad guy had shot his way through my place of work, killing all of my co-workers and looking for me as I hid under a desk in the tiniest ball I could get myself into.  I could hear his footsteps.  Closer.  Closer.  Closer.  And then he GRABBED me!!!!  I screamed and karate chopped him with all my might, and then I could hear a distant voice saying 'It's okay!  It's okay!  You're okay.'  I opened my eyes to see that it was my husband who was soothing me, and it was my husband who I had just karate chopped in my sleep.  When I have nightmares, he says my breathing gets very heavy and erratic, and during this particular nightmare he said that I started to hold my breath in between the gasps so he had put his hand on my chest to make sure I was still breathing, and my subconscious thought he was a murderer who needed to be chopped in half and screamed at.  I'm lucky to have a partner who not only makes sure I'm still alive in the middle of the night, but one who also comforts me after I attack him for doing so.  It took me a long while to settle down after that, and my sleep the rest of the night was minimal.
So that brings me to today.  Still tormented by a face blister, too much snot in my nose, scrapes from the bulk mail I had to carry way too many times, and the latest and greatest - a giant bruise on my nose from the breathe-right strips and a guilty conscience from abusing my husband in my sleep. 
Tomorrow HAS to be better, right?  Right??  RIGHT?!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wedding Diet 101

I've never had, nor will I ever have the perfect body.  Nobody does.  Well, except those people - you know the type...lean, muscular, less than 5% body fat, perky everything.  I have a few of those real life perfect body friends, and while in general I love and support them, today we are not friends.  For today is an ode to the not-so-perfect ones of us who had to work for 4 months to look fabulous in their wedding dress.  Today is a chubby girl party, and you are not invited.
It all started on June 17th, 2012 around 8pm.  It was approximately an hour after becoming engaged to the love of my life, and the realization that I was going to get married was starting to sink in.  I was getting married.  In a tight white dress.  In 4 months, 2 days, and 19 hours.  Game on. 
Having always been somewhere between average and chubby, and fluxuating often between the two, I made a conscious decision that I was going to shed those 10 annoying pounds that had been lingering on and off around my thighs for the past 6 years since I graduated college.  At 10 pounds lighter, I would look so svelte that I would probably get offers from bridal magazines to be on their covers.  But no more than that.  On my 5'1 frame, losing even as much as 11 pounds would probably make me look anorexic.  Now concerned that I'd have to answer endless "are you eating??" questions after my 10 pound thinner self debuted, I decided to look up my ideal weight on the BMI chart just to make sure I wasn't about to get too thin.
Oh. My. GOD!  That can't be right.  That CAN'T be right.  According to the BMI figures I had just googled, I was not only overweight, but I was 7 pounds from OBESE.  OBESE!  That has to be wrong, I thought.  Who came up with this equation?  Is there a glitch?  That's it, there must be a glitch.  Or maybe they're just bad at math...who among us hasn't been off by 23 in an algebra problem?  After re-examining the situation, and by re-examining I mean using every search engine ever created in hopes of finding a more favorable result, I came to the conclusion that perhaps I had put on a few more than 10 lbs over the last few years.
New plan: lose 15 pounds and don't look like the Michelin Man in a veil.  During my various seasons between average and chubby over the last 9 years, the only weight loss plan that ever worked for me was Weight Watchers.  Why?  1.) If you tell me I can't have carbs, I will eat pasta in my car at 7am just to spite you, 2.) Given the option, I would literally rather cut off a limb to drop quick weight than exercise for 5 minutes, and 3.) I call the shots - if I want french fries for lunch, I can have them as long as I ration my points for the day.
After deciding that Plan A (fattening Ryan up so I looked thinner by default) wouldn't work, I grumbled my way over to the weight watchers website (just the point counting - I didn't feel the need to sit in a circle and discuss why I give potatoes power over me) and started toward my 10 *ahem* 15 pound goal. For those of you out of the loop, the new Weight Watchers system, Points Plus, not only gives you more daily points to use, but all fruit is free!  Yes, I know it is a psychological ploy to make me feel like I'm getting away with something while actually making healthier choices, but I happily submit to the mindgame warfare if it makes me thinner.
The first 10 pounds seemed to melt right off of me, and the 15 pounds seemed more and more attainable. Once I hit 15, I decided I would stretch my goal to 20 lost, but that would be it.  At pound #22, completely pleased with my progress, I decided to treat myself to a day of eating junk food and then had ice cream for dinner.  The next morning, cringing as I stepped on the scale and nervously awaiting the results, I almost yelled with delight to see that I had lost another half pound the day before!  The euphoria of having lost weight while eating junk food was quickly replaced by the sinking realization that if you can eat junk food all day, have ice cream for dinner, and still lose weight, you're too fat.
So I continued my point counting and saw a dramatic slow down at pound #30, but pushed through to a final weight loss of 35 pounds for the wedding, landing me in my ideal weight range (the top of the weight range still counts as IN the weight range) on what I still believe to be the incorrectly calculated BMI chart.  And while I am certain that my sweet, loving, charming, wonderful husband would love me no matter what size I was, every uneaten french fry from June through October 20th was worth looking fabulous in my dress on our wedding day.  And I did look fabulous.  We don't have the original pictures yet, so please don't let the watermarks distract you from admiring how thin I am... 
Anyone else want to have some ice cream??

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bridezilla Doesn't Care.

It finally happened.  I cracked.  I became the bride I swore I'd never be.  A fuming, tantrum-throwing, at times sobbing, this-is-my-day-not-yours bride. And the best/worst part?  I still don't think I'm totally in the wrong.
While I was never the girl who dreamt about my wedding day, when I got engaged to the love of my life 3 months ago and it became clear that my vote to elope was being over-ruled, I quickly started making up for lost time.  I planned EVERYTHING.  And then I had to start defending my plan.  For everything.
Let me make a disclaimer.  A very large, heartfelt and 100% accurate disclaimer.  I am SO BLESSED to be surrounded by family and friends who care, and I know that everything that I have taken so personally was said/done without the intention of making me crazy.
Good intent or not, though, it IS making me crazy.  This day should be about Ryan and I.  Period.  Our love, our engagement, our life, our marriage, OUR DAY.  Where you sit should not be up for discussion.  Who I select to be in my bridal party should not be up for discussion.  How I wear my hair, what we serve at the reception, what color the silverware will be, and what dead relative's "something old" I will or will not be using should not be up for discussion.  They shouldn't, but apparently they are.
I never had any idea that so many people felt it was their place to question a couple's decisions, tell them they should be doing it differently, and/or make their own plans and expect the bride and groom to do it their way.  With all the love, respect, and maturity I can muster, I would like to scream at the top of my lungs that this is NOT YOUR DAY.  You either had your day already, or you will have a day some other time, or maybe you don't get a day.  That's not my fault, and I shouldn't be expected to change my wedding to please you.  Not. Your. Day.
If I want to wear a purple polka dot dress, put lipstick all over my face in the shape of unicorns, and serve cotton candy and peanuts for dinner, it is your role as a guest to tell me I look beautiful and get your own damn dinner on the way home if you don't like what we chose.   I have been to a lot of weddings, and there have been a lot of things at said weddings that I didn't love.  Did I feel the need to tell the bride or groom that I would have done it differently?  Nope.  Sure didn't.  I wore a color other than white, sat where I was told, brought a gift, and congratulated the newlyweds on their new life together.  Because aside from seating charts and cake cutting, I'm pretty sure there is a bigger point to this day.  What was it again?  Oh yeah - a marriage.  Our marriage.  MY marriage.
I have a dj who may or may not show up (don't even get me started on the e-mail I sent that resulted in a 20% discount!), I have people who mean a WHOLE LOT to me who can't be there, I have people who WEREN'T INVITED who have told me that they will be there, and I have spent a crap ton of money on this day only to feel like I am under attack for every tiny detail that we have decided about this day.  And the conclusion I have come to?  I don't care.  I don't care.  I DON'T care.  I. DON'T. CARE.
While it is not now nor has it EVER been my intention to hurt anyone's feelings, the fact that their feelings are imposed onto this day in the first place still baffles me.  It is our day and the ONLY detail that I even remotely care about is that when it is all said and done, I will walk out as a married woman.  So while I may seem like a self-centered, spoiled, monster of a bride right now, I can promise you that on October 20th, I will not stress over one thing.  The cake can collapse, the electricity can go out, and my hair can be set on fire, and if I walk out of that church as Mrs. Sloan, it will still be the happiest day of my whole life.
If nobody likes the music, or my dress, or the food, or any other detail that people so boldly invite themselves to be concerned with, I don't care. If that makes me a bridezilla, then I guess I don't care about that either.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


As Ryan and I prepare to take our vows in 32 days, our days and nights are filled with all things wedding - picking out decorations, ordering bridal party gifts, making a timeline (a mere 9 pages long), and calling my hometown newspaper and DEMANDING a re-print after they printed my father-in-law's name under Ryan's picture in our engagement announcement:

Some of these wedding tasks have been more fun than others, but the absolute MOST fun 2 items came courtesy of our super talented and awesome in general friend, Elisabeth.  Having a short (4 month) engagement (and NO, I'm not pregnant...we're just in love), we have had to cut some of the ordinary engagement activities, but we decided that we absolutely were not sacrificing pictures.  This was so important to us in fact, that we booked TWO different days with Liz to make sure that we had enough shots of our mugs to decorate the whole house with!

For the first day, we headed to downtown Cedar Rapids dressed in jeans and some super sexy shoes to showcase just how urban we are.  Here are some of my favorites:

Under the "City of Five Seasons" tree

Hugging my love

I love how intently we're gazing at each other.  And the shoes.  Of course the shoes!

Piggy back time!

Taking the plunge!

I know, I know, get a room...
And in the interest of full disclosure, here is the recap of my not-so-favorite albeit totally blog worthy moment.  Just before the above super sexy black and white kiss photo, I noticed that there was a spider on the column that Elisabeth was asking me to lean against.  My sweet protector of a fiance bravely knocked it down and as he spotted a second spider I didn't originally see, he said, "here, I'll get his wife, too." Smiling and basking in how wonderful he is to me, I didn't have thepresence of mind to realize that the second spider was spinning a very long piece of silk, which caught the breeze at the right moment, and sent the spider INSIDE OF MY SHIRT SLEEVE! 
                                     Me: "It's in my sleeve!  It's IN MY SLEEVE!"
                                     Ryan: "Calm down, I'm getting it."
                                     Me: "Calm down?!  CALM down?!  CALM DOWN?!  It's IN MY SLEEVE!"
As you can see, Liz didn't want to waste a single moment and caught it all on film. Unassured that Ryan would be able to save me (I could feel the spider crawling on my arm a half step ahead of Ryan's hands), I did what anyone in my position would...I LOST MY MARBLES.  Screaming, creeped out and no longer caring who saw what, I peeled my shirt off right there in the middle of downtown Cedar Rapids and shook it violently until I saw the eight legs of grossness land on the ground:
Luckily, I had opted to wear a tank top under my shirt that day, but honestly, it wouldn't have mattered to me in that moment of terror.  Again, thanks so much Liz, for capturing THIS for all of the world to see!  In her defense, she did step on the spider as soon as it was thrown to the ground, and shortly there after, I stopped screaming.
As if that wasn't enough excitement for all of us, we signed up to do it all over again the next weekend.  This time, in a park at sunset.  Unbelievably, we think she may have gotten even better shots there:
Ryan singing a love song to me...or a break-up song...hard to tell.

We're kissing and so are our shadows, or as Liz exclaimed, "it's Pinterest in person!"
Holding hands in a field               
Trying to be serious, but cracking up instead.  In our defense, our photographer told us to "think about dead puppies!"  Does this make us horrible people that we laughed instead of cried??  
I wonder who that pretty girl is.  I should go talk to her...


Let's pose together next to this really tall shrub.

How do you NOT get on the balance beam if it's right there?!

Doing what the sign says.

"Monkeying" around
This brings me to the high/low light of this shoot: changing in a port-o-potty.  It was too light out to change in my car and not get a ticket for public nudity, so into the blue toilet house I went.  Keys in my mouth and never putting anything down made for quite the interesting (and record breaking) wardrobe change, but the following shots were soooooo worth it:


Thanks again to Liz at Cloven Photography for making these shoots SO much fun, and for giving us beautiful pictures to help us remember this exciting time in our lives when we're 80. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Colorful Colorado

Four months ago when Ryan's family suggested a vacation to Colorado, it seemed like a great idea.  Four months ago, it was a great idea.  Four months ago, the entire state wasn't on fire.

Since we were planning on heading to the Colorado Springs area, Ryan and I had been watching the news coverage of the fire on Sunday night when he got a call from his parents.  They were in Kansas at Aunt Michele & Ed's getting ready to drive to Colorado and meet us there on Monday night after our plane landed.  They called to let us know that our plans were "slightly" changing...the cabin we were supposed to stay in was not accessible due to the fires, but they had found another cabin in a neighboring town.  Okay, we're flexible.  Next came the detail that the road Ryan and I needed to get from the airport to the cabin had been closed, making what should have been a 15 minute drive a 2 and a half hour drive.  In the mountains.  At night.  During a wildfire.  We debated for several hours whether we would even go, and against our instincts decided that we would, and just get a hotel for the night 45 minutes from the airport on a well-paved 4 lane highway and meet up with the rest of the family the next day.

Monday, June 25th:

After a full day of work and some last minute packing, we made our way to the Quad Cities airport about an hour and a half from home to begin our journey.  Once we got to the airport, we both got really excited and were so happy that we decided to join the rest of the family in Colorado.  Here we are waiting for our first of two flights:

This is the only picture that you will see from Day 1, because somewhere around 15 minutes before our second flight, I became violently ill and spent the next 3 hours with my face in a barf bag and/or on the side of the road until we finally made it to the safety of a comfy bed, some 7Up, and a good night of rest.

Tuesday, June 26th:

Rested, no longer puking every 5 - 10 minutes, and still convinced that we could salvage this vacation, we explored our small town of Canon City and waited for the rest of the crew to get there. We had to entertain ourselves a bit longer than expected because the rest of the family called to let us know that they had taken the scenic (read: gravel on the side of a mountain) route and had gotten a flat tire.  They also used this conversation to let us know that our new cabin had no air conditioning during this week of record breaking Colorado heat, and that we would be sleeping on a couch and a futon.  Awesome.

A few hours later, they finally made it to where we were and we had a really fun afternoon eating Mexican food, riding a train to the Royal Gorge, and walking across the bridge:

Mama Sloan, Papa Sloan, Ryan, and I

Rachel, Aunt Michele, Noah, Uncle Ed

By 8pm that night, we were all pretty tired so we grabbed some dinner and headed back to the cabin and were all in bed by 10. 

Wednesday, June 27th:

After a warm, but otherwise good night's sleep, we all got around, had breakfast, and started planning our day.  We saw a fox and a deer, took some cute photos, and the boys mapped out the best route for us to take to Cripple Creek for a day at the Gold Mine & town:



Ryan and I had been watching the news coverage on the fire all morning and suggested that we pack our suitcases and load them in the cars just in case we had to leave in a hurry.  Laughed at and told how ridiculous we were being, we caved to the peer pressure and agreed to leave our belongings. Our first stop was to get me some caffeine, and then we made the gorgeous drive to Cripple Creek:

Once there, the rest of the family took a tour of the gold mine, while Mama (not a fan of enclosed spaces, like mine shafts) and I (not a fan of dirt) took ourselves to the Heritage Center where we learned about the town, the wildlife, and the dinosaur bones that had been found there:

After the tour was over, the family drove over to get us...and tell us that our cabin was under a mandatory evacuation and that we had to drive back immediately and pack up.  Nobody ever listens to the pretty ones :).  In a rush, we all piled in and made our way back to the cabin.  When we had left that morning, we could vaguely see some smoke on the other side of the mountain.  When we came back for our things a few hours later, this is what we saw:

Safe, packed, and thankful that only our vacation plans had been ruined as opposed to the hundreds of people who had to watch their homes burn to the ground, we made a plan to separate - Aunt Michele & crew to the hotel where Ed's work conference was, and us back to Canon City where Ryan & I had spent Monday night - and meet up again the next morning.  During our drive, we noticed some rain clouds moving in and were so excited for the relief that it might mean for the firefighters.  Until it hit.  On a mountain.  During an evacuation.

While I freaked out and prayed for what I was sure was the impending tornado to just kill me quickly, Ryan seamlessly navigated the storm, the traffic, the side of the mountain, and the conflicting directions he was getting from the backseat helpers.   He was amazing!

Two hours later, we were safe and sound in one of the last remaining hotel rooms in the area, and we set out for some dinner and a drive.  Not quite ready for bed yet, Ryan once again showed off his awesome driving skills and took us up Skyline Drive, a one-lane dirt path on the side of a mountain with some stunning views:

Thursday, June 28th:

This is the day that the vacation started to turn around for Ryan...he was about to go white water rafting with the family, sans myself and Mama again.  While the rest of the group was unnecessarily risking their lives, Mama and I hung out in the hotel and talked about the upcoming wedding, when Ryan and I would be giving them grandchildren, and various topics Aunt Jeanie had told her were on my blog.  Side note: this blog may or may not become private in the near future so as to keep my place as well-liked future daughter-in-law.

After their safe return and group lunch, we again split off from Aunt Michele and Noah for the evening.  The Sloans and I grabbed some dinner and a photo op:

Going for the trifecta in Amazing Driving Skills, Ryan drove us the back way to the Royal Gorge bridge.  While the bridge was closed, we did get to enjoy some spectacular views, and because no day on this trip would be complete without one, a near death experience when some wildlife decided to run across the road in front of us.  Ryan navigated us safely through the herd, and they were kind enough to hold still for a few minutes after jumping the fence so that we could get a photo:

Friday, June 29th:

This day was my kind of vacation!  While we would be moving into our 4th dwelling of the trip that evening, there was no evacuating, no nature, and no near death fiasco.  And there was a pool!  Aunt Michele invited us over to their luxury resort, rented a cabana, and let us relax all afternoon.  I tanned, I swam, and at one point I was even talked into going down the deceptively fast and scary water slide.  The boys went first so as to show me how easy it was:




(I'd like to point out that while I may have screamed my head off the whole way down, I managed to keep every hair on my head dry and in its rightful place!)

After drying off, Ed joined us while on a break in between meetings and we snapped a whole family photo, courtesy of our cabana boy, Vladislav.

And a Sloan family photo after dinner at the Broadmoor:

Saturday, June 30th:

Since everyone else drove to Colorado, they had to leave early Saturday morning, leaving Ryan and I by ourselves until Sunday night.  We said our goodbyes and set out for our weekend.  Did we share a romantic breakfast?  Go for a quiet drive?  Order room service and lounge in our pajamas all day?  Nope.  We went to the gym.  The gym with the broken air conditioner.  In 102* heat.  At 11 am.  And we did cardio.  In the gym with no air conditioning, right next to the window with the sun beating down on us.  Don't ever tell your fiance that you want to lose 10 lbs. before dress fitting.  He will somehow convince you that working out ON VACATION is a good idea.

Having preemptively worked off our lunch, we drove to downtown Colorado Springs and discovered what very well may be our new favorite restaurant on the face of the earth, PB & Jellies.  An entire restaurant based on gourmet homemade peanut butter and jelly combinations.  If Ryan hadn't already proposed to me, I may have been at risk of losing him to this place.  I had a "Go Bananas" (white chocolate peanut butter with bananas), and Ryan had a "Young Elvis" (Crunchy peanut butter, honey, bananas, and bacon).  And because that wasn't nearly enough calories for us, we split a peanut butter and jelly shake!  If you're ever in the area, this place is a MUST!

Having gluttonized to the best of our abilities, we headed to the Olympic Training Center to walk off some of that peanut butter goodness.  This is also a must see - they have a huge campus that you can spend hours on, a gift shop, and a free tour guided by one of the permanent resident athletes who live and train there.  Our guide was Jason, an Ohio State alum who is training in Fencing.  He said they train 3 - 4 times every day, and that he loses about 5 pounds of water weight per every 2 hour session.  We did not tell him about the peanut butter and jelly deliciousness that we had just consumed for fear that he would make us work out with him.  We did spend a couple of hours there, and worked off at least a few of those calories in the midst of our shenanigans:

Sunday, July 1st:

Our last day in Colorado started off with yet another morning work out (I feel like this should earn me some ice cream or something!), three attempts at re-packing our suitcases, and church at New Life.  What an awesome experience that was! We had a special treat and Kari Jobe was in town and helped lead worship.  The whole team did a fantastic job of balancing a Sunday morning service while addressing the fires, victims, firefighters, and talking about how to help.  They had already given away 2 semi loads of supplies and had 2 more on the way.  It was pretty incredible to see a church in action in the midst of a crisis, and I was so touched that I bawled through about half of the service. 

After church and lunch, Ryan hit the batting cages to get some practice in for our church league softball team.  He has pretty great form if I do say so myself!

We (okay, I) decided that it was too hot for miniature golf so instead we drove up the highway that had been closed until that afternoon to where our cabin was.  I was almost brought to tears again as we passed too many signs to count thanking the thousands of firefighters who had been working around the clock all week trying to save the towns.  Some were professionally done and some were hand made, but all were sincere.

Now safe and sound at home after an exhausting day of delayed flights that ended with Mike from American Pickers nearly smashing Ryan's toes with his luggage at Baggage Claim, we are thankful for our time in Colorado. While the fires somewhat messed up our vacation, we still managed to have a great time together with a lot of laughs, and we were very aware the whole time that hundreds of people no longer have homes, or were displaced for an unknown amount of time.  Many people were only given 30 minutes to get what they could before they had to flee.  We found several businesses around town that were accepting donations to go to the victims as they rebuild their lives, and we felt compelled to contribute.  If you do as well, please visit the Colorado Springs Red Cross website.  I'm sure any amount will be appreciated.