My mom adventures in Fort Collins


I just love my pool

In my childhood, nearly every pool that I swam in was indoors. I took lessons indoors, and  any “pool parties” took place at the local high school. The occasional trip to a hotel was made that much more fun by the exciting prospect of swimming in an indoor pool. Outdoor swimming? You did that kind of stuff in a lake, not a swimming pool. The Wisconsin of my youth was not the place for outdoor pools.

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This girl can get awfully brave at the pool!

Now, I’m living in Colorado, where summer is the season of nearly interminable sun. Neighborhood pools are commonplace and outdoor swimming is, for many, expected of a summer sun-bum.

I love it. We basically live at The Collindale Pool during the summer.

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In her “Puddle Jumper”–a lovely resource for the chronically sinking child

Don’t get me wrong. I hate living in my swimming suit, and I can’t stand schlepping our wagon full of supplies and snacks back and forth through the neighborhood. My laundry room is full of various stages of wet bathing suits and towels. However, this is a small price to pay for the exciting squeals when I say, “Whaddya think? You guys wanna go to the pool this afternoon?”

We didn’t join our neighborhood pool for the first two summers that we lived in our neighborhood. I had heard great things, but I was nervous that I couldn’t handle both kids by myself (that whole kids-can-drown-thing). Once we joined the pool (the kids were 5 & 2), it was great. It provided this welcome refuge from the heat, and a source of family fun-time. Suddenly, things started clicking for my older daughter and she was able to play, have fun and finally synthesize the many lessons that she had taken. My younger daughter is the lounger of the bunch, and it’s doubtful that she’ll ever request to leave her floaties at home. For every potty-training mom that thinks her daughter will attend the prom in her pull-ups, I’ve discovered the swimming equivalent: I fear my daughter will go on Spring Break as a college freshman wearing her beloved Puddle Jumper.

Our pool is private; you need to purchase a membership to swim. The membership is not cheap, but for us it is a convenient summertime activity and well worth the investment. Like anything of this nature–the more you go, the more cost-efficient the membership seems to be. I’m at an advantage, since the pool is walking distance from our home. In fact, the HOA we belong to owns the pool, though they do not financially support it (membership fees make up the bulk of the budget). This year, our HOA meeting was later than usual and in the notice letter were the words, “Show up at this meeting or we’ll fill this pool with pea gravel” or something like that. (Okay, maybe I didn’t get the wording quite right, but that’s what it might as well have said.) Turns out, my beloved pool had fallen on hard times and needed a bunch of concerned community members to bring it back to the thriving, vibrant place that it once was. There is a “Recreation Board” that had been working for years to run the pool, process memberships, pay the bills and market the pool to the public. These folks worked tirelessly (for free) and ran up against many challenges.

Ahem… Did someone say you needed a Volunteer for the Collindale Recreation Board? Although I never say to myself, “Gee, I would like to work for free any ol’ day of the week!” it does seem like I do. This is in my blood. And for a pool that I love and my kids love? I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.

When they're not in the water, they're lounging poolside

When they’re not in the water, they’re lounging poolside

While Katniss Everdeen’s words might ring in your head, it is actually the words of Margaret Mead that this whole situation brings to mind:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

I began my journey as a volunteer with the Collindale Recreation Board about two months ago. There is much to do, and I’m happy to learn. I’m a bit out of my depth, especially when it comes to marketing skills. I can’t market “Pick Up Your Room” to two children, so I could not fathom trying to convince people to join our neighborhood pool. This has been an adventure for me–along with several other amazing volunteers. I have met some truly lovely neighbors through this process, further proof that people of substance walk with us everyday. Together, we have beefed up our website, hand-delivered membership packets to all the residents of the Collindale neighborhood, started to use social media, hosted an “Open House” event, and reached out to our own networks to get the word out. Another volunteer has worked on handyman jobs like plumbing and painting and he even streamlined our parking situation (painting parking-lines in his free time!). We have a laundry list of things we’d love to do for the pool–plant flowers, purchase new chairs, save for a “rainy day” (or a supplemental boiler, as the case may be), but in order to do this, we need our financial situation to improve.

As one of the long-term board members put it, “I’ve got one goal: Keep the doors open.” For me, I can fall back on my old non-profit experience where I’d happily ask anyone anywhere to volunteer or give us money. (What’s the worst that could happen? They tell you “no,” and you move on.) I’m a chatty gal, and I’ll talk to anyone about this pool. I feel very confident that if the Collindale Pool is a good fit for folks, they will purchase a membership. I’m taking an If You Build It, They Will Come-Approach; however, I could certainly benefit from some expertise.

Do you have a story about a community entity that was brought back from the brink? Do you have marketing suggestions that might help? Words of encouragement?



A love fest for all the mommas
May 9, 2014, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Family | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This weekend is Mother’s Day and it’s a sweet holiday for those of us in mommy-land. My world of construction paper cards and hand-made gifts is still alive and active, and I’m grateful for extra squeezes or kisses that are thrown my way.

But this post is a love-letter to all the fellow mommas that are out there. I appreciate your wisdom and your hard work. When you model love & respect with your kiddos, it encourages me. When you laugh with your loved ones or tell stories about the humor in it all, it inspires me. When you show your grit and have to do the heart-wrenching dirty work (like leaving the grocery store with a half-full cart after an epic meltdown), you make me feel a sense of “I’m not alone.” Motherhood is a place where I readily acknowledge that I too am being stretched and squeezed in new and different ways. And it’s so nice to have such a lovely community of people to share in this hard work. Thank you, mommas.

If you are a mom, if you are a step-mom, an auntie, a “like-a-mom,” a kind & generous neighbor, a heart-warming church-goer that smiles at all the kids in your pew, if you are a grandmother or a generous caregiver, if you nanny or baby-sit, if you act as a surrogate mom, if you have a furry friend or a feathered friend that you are mom to, if you’ve adopted, if you’ve dreamed of one day having a child, if you tend a garden like a mother, and every possible Mom-like individual on the planet, I want you to feel the love on this holiday. Because this is a holiday to celebrate the love of a mother.

And I hope that each of us can think of a handful of “moms” that give this title a grand connotation–one of kindness, nurturing, support and unconditional love.

As you go about your work of mothering, I hope you feel camaraderie. I hope you feel a sense of something bigger. This tending of loved ones is hard work and the accolades can sometimes come infrequently. But for all of us out there, making lunches and matching socks (are there any of those kinds of moms left?), running herd and shuttling the mom-bus, let’s give each other a high five and celebrate all this parenting we do.

This is me, sending all of you gentle thoughts of love and community. Keep on doing this hard work, mommas. It’s inspiring!

Me and my littles, from last Saturday

Me and my littles, from last Saturday



Another Gratitude Post: 19 Things I’m Thankful For

Once I set out to accomplish something, it’s hard to get me to set down the baton and admit the race is over. Furthermore, I’ve publicly announced my goal, so there is no stopping me now–the fact that Thanksgiving has been over for 3 months means NOTHING to me. Two more posts about gratitude… after this one.

Since it is the nineteenth of the posts on gratitude, why not go for “Nineteen things that I am thankful for RIGHT NOW”?

1. Ruby is a bit sick, but she’s holding it together rather well. She keeps calling her cough a “Naughty Cough” which is mostly inexplicable but quite hilarious. I can only hope that we don’t all get Ruby’s Naughty Cough. But if we do, we will shame it into submission.

2. Cory did the dishes for me tonight. I have been trying to convince him for several years that he should get around to doing this a bit more, and lo and behold it is WORKING. Turns out nagging DOES work.

3. I am thankful for my friend Polly who took a very long walk with me in the sunshine today. Today was a glorious day, and it was made all the more lovely by the river, the sound of a meadowlark, and connecting with a good friend.

4. I am grateful to both Ruby & Scout for a good–I’d even say GREAT–morning around here that didn’t involve any yelling. Woohoo!

5. I am grateful for The Cellar, and I’m especially grateful to their employee Becca who directed me to a delicious red wine that I am sipping presently.

6. I am grateful for my health, and that of my family. My dad is healthy, my mom is healthy, and though they both have their issues, we are NOT where we were last year at this time.

7. I am grateful to people who have a sense of humor, like whoever took the time to make this:

8. I am grateful for a warm, safe house. After a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 50s, I find myself suddenly feeling chilled to the bone after the weather turned cold.

9. I am grateful to Mary Pope Osborn, and the great work that she does that has entertained my children so much in recent months. Jack & Annie are almost real people around here, I think Scout even asked if we could look for Frog Creek, Pennsylvania on a map.

10. I’m grateful for my Secret Sister. Secret Sister is this thing we do at my daughter’s preschool, sort of like Secret Santa but all year round. My SS gifted me Enstrom’s toffees. If you’ve never had such a delicious treat, check them out here.

11. I am grateful to my sweet hubby, who is currently gearing my kiddos up in the living room something like this:IMG_4718

12. I am grateful for good books. I read a lovely one recently called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It’s a story about a young woman who aged out of the foster care system. Also important to the story: this woman communicates in the Victorian-era “Language of Flowers,” where a red rose means romantic love and a thistle means misanthropy. If you’re at all curious, there is a great interview with the author here:

13. I am grateful for coffee. EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.

14. I am grateful for my sweet niece who turns 8 today. Years ago, on the day she was born, Cory and I drove up to Cheyenne, Wyoming so that we could catch a glimpse of her. Seems hard to believe that she’s now so mature, when it doesn’t seem that long ago I held her in my arms.

15. I am grateful for small favors, like when someone holds the door for you while you’re carrying something or when you find exactly what you’re looking for at the grocery store without having to wind your way back to an aisle that you inadvertently forgot.

16. I am grateful for The Mindy Project, which is not coming back until April 1st, but I can be patient a bit longer. PLEASE, please, please, Danny, DO NOT SCREW IT UP. You either, Mindy!

17. I am so incredibly grateful for the teachers at my daughter’s elementary school. Her kindergarten teacher returned today from a 3-month maternity leave, and the long-term-sub was such a gem in her absence. The other kindergarten teachers and the paras pitched in so incredibly well. I feel so fortunate that there are so many kind people who are out in the world working with these littles and teaching them about life and literacy and how to hang your snowpants up.

18. I am grateful for my church, a place of community and love. The pastor recently gave a sermon on “Faithfully Side Stepping Tradition”–about welcoming EVERYONE.

19. I am grateful for it all, this messy, imperfect, bittersweet life. I am not a person that exudes joy in every step, or pretends that all is well when indeed it is falling apart (as it often does in parenthoodland), but I think I can honestly say that there is nowhere I’d rather be than right here in this place.

Do you have something that you are grateful for RIGHT NOW? 



Judging Judies, you know the type

It’s all part of adulthood to make decisions based on what you think is best. I find myself having difficulty with people’s viewpoints that seem narrow and restrictive. When a person I know may consider herself open-minded and loving, and then shares an opinion that I find bordering on prejudice and mean-spiritedness, I think, “Wow.” What’s right, what’s wrong? I get so confused sometimes. I find myself wanting to judge people… for judging other people!

Here’s what I saw on Facebook last Friday. A “friend” posted:

So, it’s really okay to buy your Valentine’s chocolates wrapped in velveteen packaging with food stamps while purchasing your cigarettes with cash all while making me wait 10 minutes behind you in line to buy my groceries??? I must have this system all wrong.

And in my mind, I had a flash of what I would have LOVED to write under this person’s post to dismiss this self-righteous attitude. But I realized that her public opinion on poverty, nicotine addiction and welfare fraud were not likely to be swayed by my comment. In person, I guess that I would have said something like, “You don’t really know the whole story,” or something of that nature, but I don’t know that this would translate to something public like Facebook.

And then I remembered my friend Mama T’s words on the subject:

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

I want to try to think better of people who are judging others. If they judge others so harshly, just think of how hard they are judging themselves. Geesh, must be a hard gig to live under such scrutiny.

I think this just about sums it up:

I will try to love better, judge less, and allow others their moment with Jesus. Tell me what you do to get through your day when you feel like you’re surrounded by a bunch of Judgey Judies. I need some wisdom here.



A reflection: The week of April 15th
My snow bunnies on April 16, 2013

My snow bunnies on April 16, 2013

It’s been my experience as a stay-at-home-mom that some days pass like minutes and others pass like years. This week has felt like a little bit of both. Here in Fort Collins, we had a surprising spring storm. As a result, my little family was out of our regular routine due to school closures and house-bound days. When I’m at home more, I spend more time on the computer. This week was a rough week news-wise, and I was glued to the Google news feed.  I fell at the foot of any news about the bomb blast that terrorized spectators of the Boston Marathon and then the ensuing confrontation and capture of the alleged perpetrator of the attack.

What a week.

Almost 10 years ago, I spent nearly two years of my life living in Boston as a grad student. I have been back a few times to visit friends, and I still know many people who live in the area. I have so many fond memories of my time living there, and the impact has lingered: every once in a while on a bad hair day I’ll wear my Red Sox hat, a photo collage of Boston adorns a spot in my front foyer, and I occasionally sport some t-shirt or memorabilia of the school that I attended, Boston College. Truly, I don’t know anyone who has spent time in Boston as traveller or extended-visitor like myself that hasn’t fell in love with that city on some level.

This is me and two of my colleagues a the Duck Pond in Boston, back in August of 2004

This is me and two of my colleagues at the Duck Pond in Boston, back in August of 2004

My heart breaks for the folks affected by the attack. I have heard of three different BC alums hurt in the bomb blast, and these are links to their Give Forward campaigns. If you have a chance, click over and read their stories.

Help for Pat and Jess

Recovery for Liza

Recovery for Brittany

I cannot say that I know any of these folks personally, though I suspect that I may have overlapped with one of these individuals back when I was at BC. Here’s what I do know: When tragedy strikes, there is something deep within us that wants to reach out and help. I can’t say that I wish tragedy upon anyone, but it is comforting to see that crisis can build and strengthen communities. I can attest to the amazing outpouring of support that my own family has encountered ever since my father had surgery on April 2nd. Loving support during such trying times is a confusing gift–would I rather have not gone through this difficult time and not know how many people love and support my dad? I dunno. But I do know that it has filled me with overwhelming joy to see just how much love there is available to you when you need it.

That’s my prayer for everyone, all the time, everywhere: That love and comfort be available to you when you need it. My best to Beantown, and my best to all of us who are trying to extend compassion to others.



I’m not really a Wallflower, but I’ll try

Have you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower? I am not quite sure why, but I only recently read this book. Well, I actually devoured this book. In any case, I have been inspired. Also, I haven’t written a post in a long time. So, let’s see if I can merge these two things…

March 13, 2013

Dear friend,

I have had every intention of writing to you, but this is my first attempt. Time has been scarce, it seems. But when I think about it, time has also been plentiful. How is that? That time can seem infinite and also so limited?

Family is weird and lovely. But mostly lovely. I felt drawn to go visit my father for his birthday this year. He happens to have been born on Valentine’s Day, which is kind of weird but he can’t help it. The kids and I took a trip to Wisconsin for five days, and Cory stayed home because he doesn’t have the same kind of flexibility that I do as a stay-at-home-mom. I did enjoy the face time, and the kids enjoyed the toys my parents bought them.

My dad and me

My dad and me (self-held camera shot)

On the day that we left Wisconsin, my dad traveled about 60 miles to spend time at a hospital where he saw a ton of new doctors and had a lot of new tests. I kept waiting for him to call me, but mostly I called my mom to find out how he was doing. He spent 11 days in the hospital and came home with new medicine and new information. The new doctor suggested that he could have a heart pump, or an LVAD as the heart pump is commonly known. I read a bit about the LVAD, but mostly I can’t stop thinking about the plotline on “Grey’s Anatomy” where Dr. Izzie Stevens falls in love with her patient Denny Duquette and she cuts his LVAD wire so that he can be moved to the top of the heart recipient list.

Oh, Denny and Izzie... why'd it have to go so WRONG??? From greysanatomy.wikia.com

Oh, Denny and Izzie… why’d it have to go so WRONG??? From greysanatomy.wikia.com

My older daughter has been really anxious about school. Many mornings have been difficult these past few weeks.

“I don’t want to go to school today.”

“It’s hard to go to school when you don’t want to go but sometimes we all have to do things that we don’t want to do.”

“I won’t go to school. If you make me go to school, I’m going to steal all the jewelry out of your jewelry box.”

“That doesn’t make me want to keep you home from school.”

Acting not at all anxious with Papa

Acting not at all anxious with Papa

My younger daughter does not like to wear pants. She likes to wear skirts. The skirts have to twirl, though. She will wear the skirt all day and then put it on over her pajamas. She sleeps in a twirly skirt over her pajamas, and it’s probably not comfortable but she does not seem to mind. Other people think she looks nice, though, and they will comment. When they say, “Oh, how sweet!” I really just want to cringe and say, “She actually slept in that stupid skirt last night.”

But I don’t.

One of the "twirly" skirts

One of the “twirly” skirts

I am very annoyed with daylight savings time. I read a poster in a Jimmy John’s not too long ago. The sign was a list of some wisdom of Dave Barry. I really like Dave Barry. It said things like, “There comes a time in life when you stop making a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.” But one thing I remember is that it also says, “No one can ever give you a good explanation for why we observe Daylight Savings time.”

I agree with Dave Barry on that.

I have been leaving messages for a woman who works at our credit union. She is never there, but I keep hoping that she will return my message. I had my debit card stolen out of our truck two weeks ago. The first person I spoke with at the credit union led me to believe that this was no big deal. I’m pretty sure that $2100 should be reinstated on our account. I  didn’t spend $2100 at Target, but someone did. My husband filled out the card dispute form and he even turned it into a PDF, which I found pretty impressive. Why does the credit union need to take two weeks to reinstate the money?

Good thing I don’t actually need money to survive.

That was supposed to be a joke. But maybe no one even laughed. I don’t know why I’m saying this. I really just wish that I could write a post in order to move my blogging process along. I really hope that this post did accomplish that.

Love always,

Jayme



February 26, 2013, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Blogging | Tags: , , ,

Inspired by a fellow blogger (Hi Virginia!), I wanted to speak out on this social justice issue. Rhonda Fields is, by my humble estimation, a hero for our times. She has worked tirelessly to ensure witnesses are protected, after her own son, Javad Marshall Fields, was harrassed and killed for his eye-witness account of his friend’s murder.
Now, Rhonda Fields is a representative in our State House of Representatives, representing Aurora. She has spoke out against gun violence, especially after the massacre at the Aurora theatre last summer. Now she is being targeted by a man who opposes any gun restrictions. He has made racial, misogynistic, hateful threats against her. He has threatened her life.
And this just isn’t right. Not one bit. Watch and read then click to this: http://dlcc.wiredforchange.com/o/5752/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=130

FOX31 Denver

[ooyala code=”dzMXBuOTrYJpC6fYYESCjpvvWItQOqHY”]

DENVER — Rep. Rhonda Fields, addressing reporters for the first time since FOX31 broke news Monday of a man being arrested for death threats against her, said that she’s still scared for her life.

The sponsor of two gun control measures, including a ban on high-capacity magazines, Fields also told reporters that she’s taken out a restraining order against the man who emailed her and left voicemails threatening to kill her and using a stream of vile, racial epithets against her.

“I’m 58 years old and I have never been talked to like that,” said Field of the emails. “I was really shaken by them.”

Fields immediately compared the intimidation to that faced by her son, Javad, who was murdered by gang members he was set to testify against back in 2005.

“You all know my story,” Fields told reporters. “About nine years ago, my son was intimidated…

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