Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Best Highest Selves

So I started writing a post Friday morning on our last day in Breckenridge, but the chilly mountain air wooed me and forced me to sit all cozy with a hot cup of tea and google Denver legal jobs and good school systems instead of writing and I couldn't finish.

Then we got home Saturday night at 9 p.m. after driving for 13 hours in pouring rain while semi-trucks rushed all around and I jumped in my seat every single time one got near us because I no longer trust them to stay in their own lane and James was like can you please just close your eyes for a little while and stop doing that and I said no but I can read about a romance novel about a demon-possessed lord (actually, lady) of the underworld so I did. We got home safe and sound ("barely," I mutter, while side-eyeing semi-trucks) and had the kids in bed and the car and all suitcases and million bags unpacked by 9:45 (I am a terror at unpacking; my soul is only settled when my house is back in order) and decided we would gift ourselves with the Game of Thrones episode we missed the Sunday before and went to bed terribly late.

Also on Saturday, and also making it different to do a my usual cheerful vacation recap, a woman my age was killed while peaceably protesting Nazis who were marching and shouting about Jews, in America in 2017, and our temperamental, morally bankrupt, will-do-ANYTHING-for-those-who-praise-him president who blanket-rages at Mexicans, Muslims, and every member of the legitimate media, basically shrugged his shoulders and was like "eh, who can say the Nazis are the bad ones?". So I just couldn't quite vacation-blog through my renewed horror that I know people who voted for this horrible man. I mean maybe you didn't vote for him because he's a racist, but his birtherism and inflammatory and racist campaign rhetoric (not to mention sexual assault and related bragging) were also not a deal breakers for you and I really still struggle with that. And as for his unhinged remarks today defending our neo-Nazis and white supremacists ("some very fine people"), there is simply no equivalence between those who march for white supremacy and ethnic cleansing and those who stand against it. None. And an American president pretending otherwise is an outrageous moral failing for the country in a way that goes beyond his usual (also terrible) outrages. I was talking with the kids tonight about Charlottesville and racism and Landon was like, I know who the Nazis are! They're bad! I read about them in my I Survived book about WWII! And I thought yes, wouldn't be nice if our president felt the same.

So now it's Tuesday night and I have to finish blogging about our vacation because life has continued and I'm behind and I am SO TIRED and keep canceling my workouts and drinking extra wine to drown my disappointment that I don't live in the mountains, so I need to wrap it up and go to bed early, but it's weird to just skip back to the mundane. I need to and I will- I like reading my life recaps years later when I can't sleep at night, and I accidentally "met" three law mamas through comments on my favorite facebook group today who read this blog and now I feel guilty that I haven't updated it, but while I know no one comes here for political commentary- and I don't come here for that myself when I re-read my archives later, it feels deeply dishonest to not stumble through some of it in writing my story. Because my occasionally overwhelmed reactions to the news and press conferences of the day are a part of that story and since nuclear threats and racist violence inserted themselves into my vacation, it would be fake to not reflect that spillover here as well.

But back to last Friday ---

~ ~ ~

Our quirky huge rental house is empty except for us and suddenly 5 people seems so quiet.

We've had such a great trip up here with our group of 18 (pro tip: most group discounts start at 20; bring more friends). We've never vacationed with friends before, much less a whole gaggle of them. Our trips are usually about us getting away and being together and I love them more than I love any other minutes all year times 10, so I wasn't sure what it would be like to add 13 non-LagLiv-persons to a 6-day getaway, but it went SO well and so smoothly and was SO much fun. I'm not even saying that because most of them will read this blog post later... it's just- it was easy, easy and fun, and that is exactly what vacations should be.

The kids- all 10 of them- got along great (I mean, like 98% of the time) and everyone was involved in the cooking, cleaning, and parenting, like we were just a nice, smoothly-running commune who decided to spend a week in the mountains. I'm ready to go again with the whole crew, assuming they'll have us.

~ ~ ~ [Now writing in present-day which is 11:40 p.m. on Tuesday night which is clearly not going to bed early like I promised myself but whatever I'm finishing this] ~ ~ ~

When we last left off it was Tuesday night and we had lost Landon for over 20 minutes and several hundred vertical feet next to a roaring waterfall and my voice was still breaking any time I talked about it. Wednesday dawned, bright and full of the possibility of always knowing where your children are, and 3 of our men (James included) had already left the house to go hike Quandry, a nearby 14,200 foot high peak. James didn't even pack a jacket on this trip and we've never hiked anything over 12,500 feet, so he was a little unprepared for the physical demands of his first 14'er. But all three of them made it and he sent me pics along with a text that read "Cold as f$&@."

I think they round-tripped it in less than 5 hours, so they were feeling pretty shaky-legged and proud of themselves when they met up with us on the Blue Lakes hike later that morning.

basically on top of Everest

Our hike was much simpler, which is good since we had 10 children we couldn't lose eye-contact with. Blue Lakes was right at the base of Quandry and wound around a beautiful lake surrounded by boulders to climb and a waterfall to go explore.

The tutu-wearing toddlers hiked like newly minted experts, scrabbling over rocks and discussing princess fashion. At one point Cora had had enough (of what, I'm not sure) and decided to let out a few screams, and sweet J turned to her and said to her in her most reasonable 4-year-old voice, "Cora, you do not have to scream. You can just cry."

Really the kids were all great, scrambling over the rocks like excited puppies, but we were happy when our manly mountain climbers joined back up with our group. 10 is a lot of kids.

After some water-logged detours, we made it to the waterfall and got a group shot before climbing all around and then back to the cars.

We rounded out the rest of the day with movie-watching, tea-drinking, wine-drinking, and shopping/cookie-buying in downtown Breckenridge.

We had a great home-cooked dinner by one of our friends and that night I introduced everyone to a beloved group camping tradition from my childhood- Pass the Pigs! Shockingly no one had ever heard of this amazing game, but the group quickly caught on and the pigs were hot! I think one of the best things about a group vacation, besides basically everything about it, is getting to play games and learning new ones to bring home.

On Thursday, our last full day, we headed to the Epic Discovery park on Peak 8 at Breck. You take a gondola up to pay near-lift-ticket prices for rides, slides, and a multitude of mountain activities on the summer ski slopes. It was our only activity that cost any money and it was super fun.

We rode the Alpine Slide (James's favorite) and Gold Coaster (my favorite; also Cora's, who is a tiny little SPEED DEMON), climbed up giant rock faces, ran around in a maze, and watched the kids to a ropes course and zipline.

Cora did everything and delighted in it all.

On that last night we hired a local sitter to watch our brood while we went out to dinner with just the adults and it was an excellent decision for everyone. The kids had a blast, the sitter (a lovely local daycare employee) made a bunch of money and promised our kids were good, and we got to eat a seriously delicious meal and drink adult beverages in giant cups made from canteens. Winning!

Our friends all cleared out Friday morning and we hung out to savor the mountain air and then slowly made our way over to Denver to eventually stay the night with my sister.

We had 85 miles to drive and managed to stretch it out for 6 hours, stopping in all our favorite places- Lake Dillon! Keystone! the Continental Divide! Idaho Springs! Every beautiful climbable rock along Highway 6!


I really feel like we're our best selves in Colorado.

Like we're all operating at a higher, happier, admittedly less-oxygenated level.

Climbing rocks.

Enjoying the views.

Beach combing barefoot in freezing mountain rivers.

Jumping over water while holding two children after giving up on continuing the tradition with all 3...


We made it to Denver and picked up not-so-baby Skyla from daycare. I was on the approved list, but she wasn't so sure... Luckily her skepticism about me vanished once she got to the chaos that had taken over her house. My kids play-tested ALL of her toys and wanted to talk to her ALL about them and she was like, you! kidnapper lady! hold me!

And I did.

We enjoyed a lovely meal and night with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and then left early in the morning on Saturday for our long haul home.

It was a wonderful trip. Unexpected and unplanned- I'd just recommitted to NOT going on a vacation this summer when our friend was like hey, want to go to Colorado and I accidentally immediately yelled YES!, but it ended up being very inexpensive and totally was worth all the pennies. I love that state. I love the mountains. I'm still googling neighborhoods.

This week is crazy and chaotic and I'm still vacation-hungover, so I'm going to save Texas-based-reality for later and just soak up my memories of that cool air and the spectacular views from what already feels like a long time ago.


  1. Sandra Landtroop8/16/17, 1:16 PM

    Please NEVER hold back your political observations. They resonate so keenly with me, and I need the reinforcement big time. Coach and I almost hit despair once a day it seems. (Good martinis help a bit.) Your Colorado travelogue was also a great distraction from the wretchedness of watching our country slide further backward. Longing for a rebirth of sanity, statesmanship, kindness, and hope. Love your writing. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Mrs. Coach - love you both!

  2. Thank you for continue to post about what is going on in the world and how your family is reacting to it. I don't have any kids yet but I truly enjoy seeing how you explain to them what is going on and how they can make a difference. It is refreshing to see a blogger not shy away from these topics.

    1. Thank you Laura! I really appreciate you writing that - navigating these things with kids is so hard! We've made a concerted effort not to hide the bad, but rather to frame it in an age-appropriate way and always assure them that our house is safe and we will always try to do good. I'm always amazed at how much they pick up from the world around them, so I've really learned the value of providing our framework first to help them view it.

  3. I love your political commentary! Seriously! You write so well about political issues. Don't stop. And I still think you should run for political office. :)

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! (And lol on the running for office, but I'll vote and campaign within the limits of my federal employment should you want to run!)

  4. Fellow LawMa...I've almost outted myself as a blog reader several times on that group but always lost my nerve...but since all the cool kids are doing it -- hi! ;)

    1. Hi!!! It was such a thrill for me to learn that some of you kick ass women actually read my humble blog!

  5. Your vacation looks amazing, you always make traveling with three kids look way easier than when we travel with just one - and she's pretty easy!

    Thank you for the political commentary. I'm constantly trying to figure out how to approach this with my 4 year old. For now, I've settled on stressing that kindness to everyone is what is most important in life (though she's having a hard time with it, she keeps saying she'd rather be beautiful than kind). We're also working on changing our local community with our actions, making a difference where we can see the impact.

    For myself (and probably for my students next month), I keep coming back to the speech made by mayor Mitch Landrieu when New Orleans took down the statues, I truly believe it's one of the best speeches of our time, spoken in the heart of true public servitude. It gives me hope.

    1. Yes, that was one of the best speeches I've ever read. I've actually been meaning to print it and read it with Landon, thanks for reminding me. I also think actions speak so much louder than words to kids (well, to adults too!) and we're working on finding a good place for us to serve our community locally, since our charitable donations are a bit more abstract for them now.