Monthly Archive for July, 2010

If this isn’t a peek into my psyche, I don’t know what is.

This week, a friend from college has been visiting. The only week that would work in our schedule for her visit also coincided with my husband’s camping expedition.  He would miss out on pretending to be a tourist in our own state, but he was okay with that. He always drives when we go places, so I would miss out on having a chauffeur on our excursions, but I was okay with that.

…until I realized where we were going on Tuesday.

I’d gotten the bright idea to take my friend to the top of Mount Evans. It’s one of the 14ers in Colorado, and the “hike” is relatively easy. You drive to a parking lot at 14,134 feet and then walk up a rocky path to 14,264 feet…to the top of the world.

I’ve been to the top of Mount Evans a lot, and I love it. The views are some of my favorite in the entire state.

I couldn’t wait to share this with my friend, and I thought this would be perfect! Most everyone who visits us has been to the top, so we haven’t gone since Claire was a baby.

July 2006

Yes, even Claire has been to the top of Mount Evans. Granted, she was just over 6-months old (I can hardly believe it was four years ago!). She doesn’t remember, but she was there.  (The other photos we have of her at the very top with the grandparents and our little family of three are some of my favorites!)

This was going to be so much fun, and I couldn’t wait!

Then I remembered a tiny detail of my plan.

I’d be the one driving.  Me.  The one who hates driving on bridges, through tunnels, on winding roads, or even next to cement barricades.


I’ve been on the Mount Evans road many times, but I’ve never driven it. I’ve been the one in the passenger seat holding on to the door handle as if my life depends on it. I’ve been the one willing myself to take each breath…slowly…again and again…in and out…repeat. I’ve been the one telling myself that the incredible views are worth the hairpin turns and switchbacks. I’ve been the one ignoring the seemingly crumbly sides of the road that reach right out to absolutely nothing at all.

I have no problem standing at the top of Mount Evans and looking out over the world below us. It’s the road that scares me to death. It’s meeting other cars on those curves that nearly gives me hives.

And, it was my idea to do this.

So, I took my own advice, and I pretended to be brave.

I only gasped out loud a few times.
I didn’t even feel like barfing.

…and I remembered to keep my eyes open the whole time.

As it turns out, my friend prefers to be a passenger rather than driver when it comes to a road like this. She likes to look away from the vast nothingness, and there were times when she pretended to have really intense conversations with Claire in the back seat. For the most part, though, she handled the drive really well.

Claire was completely oblivious to the precariousness of our situation.

For me, there was something relatively calming about having control of the wheel and speed of the vehicle. I purposely forced myself to be relaxed and didn’t grip the wheel tightly. I laughed. I joked. I admitted to myself that I was absolutely terrified, but then told myself it didn’t matter. We’d be fine, and we were.

Who knew that I’d be more comfortable behind the wheel than in the passenger seat?

We made it to the parking lot at the top, and up the rocky path.

July 2010

Being at the top of the world should have been enough of a prize, but I knew what I’d gone through to get there.

That day, the views were even more magnificent.

The top of the world

An old college friend is visiting us this week, and Claire and I took her to the top of the world today!

JoAnn & Claire at the top of the world! Mount Evans, Colorado. 14,264 ft.

Oh, and it’s the college that’s old…not us.  Just to clarify.  😉

Writers write.

A long time ago, I wrote myself a note. It says, quite simply, “Writers write.” Part of me thought it was silly to state the obvious. The other part of me was shocked at how powerful it was in its simplicity.

Writers write.
I write.
I’m a writer.

I’ve always written, but I haven’t always considered myself a writer.

Slowly, as I started to focus more on my writing, I began to grow into the title. It became comfortable. It made sense. What I did started to become who I was…who I am.

I’m a writer.

Today marks a big day for me. A month ago, I gave my notice to my editor at Mile High Mamas, the Denver Post‘s parenting blog. Today is my last day as assistant editor.

I’ve loved my time at Mile High Mamas, and I’ll contribute writing pieces every now and then, but it’s time to shift gears. It’s time to follow my passion; harness this energy and see where it takes me.

It’s time to start the next chapter.


Yes, I’m writing a book! It’s a nonfiction piece, so I’ll be polishing my book proposal. I’ve been working on this for a while, but without the time to give it my full attention, it’s been left to simmer on the back burner for longer than I’d like. Rather than wanting to stir it all the time but only having time to stir it now and then, I’ll be able to focus.

I’ll still be writing here at The Casual Perfectionist, because this site is intertwined with my grand plan. This writing will feed that writing, and vice versa.

My husband is so supportive of me and my goals, that sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that my dreams are coming true. Claire has always been my full-time job, and I am so thankful to be in a position where I can focus on my daughter and my writing. I am so excited to see where this leads.

I’m a writer.
Writers write.
It’s what I do.
It’s who I am…

…so it’s time to do just that.


Claire has a crush on a little boy from her art class. A little boy from her art class has a crush on Claire.

The feelings are mutual.
The feelings are powerful.
The feelings are interesting to watch as someone on the outside of their circle.

Claire has had “boyfriends” before, ones that she’s pretended to “marry,” but nothing like this.

This is different.

The bond they have is undeniable. It’s palpable.

It’s intriguing to watch. It’s a glimpse at love and attraction in its purest form. They are coming at this from a place of such innocence and purity. The ulterior motives, tangled webs, and overthought that comes with being closer to an adult than a child hasn’t tainted these feelings.

Not that it always does, but it can…and that makes things confusing.

This is an amazing thing, and I’m so glad she’s getting the chance to experience it.

“Momma, I love you…” she said the other day. “…but I like him better.”

I told her that was okay. And, it is.

Claire at Claire’s Falls

In June, on our trip back to the Midwest, we had the opportunity to visit and explore Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. The Omaha Zoo is one of the best in the nation, if not the world. It’s incredible.

We’ve been able to stop by in the past, but we’ve never been able to spend more than a couple hours there at a time.

This time was different. We spent all of one Friday there and then came back the following Tuesday to see what we’d missed. It was fantastic!

When we visited the zoo in 2006, imagine our surprise in finding a waterfall with Claire’s name on it. Literally.  (In both photos, you can see the “Claire’s Falls” sign.)  In this photo, Claire isn’t quite a year old yet.

Claire at Claire's Falls in November 2006

This year, I knew that I wanted to get another photo of Claire in front of “her” waterfall.

Claire at Claire's Falls June 2010

…and this is one of my favorite photos from the trip!

Princess Diva Mudpie Maker

Yes, my husband got management approval to tackle another landscaping project. Yes, I plan on posting photos when we’re allllllll done.

In the meantime, here is a photo of our Princess Diva Mudpie Maker.

Note the knee-pads and tiara. It’s best to be properly attired when working outside.

Gone Fishin’

In June, we traveled back to the Midwest to see relatives, and we had a great time!

A highlight of our trip was a day we spent with my brother and sister-in-law. He took us fishing!

Claire has never been fishing, and I was trying to remember the last time I went fishing (and we decided it was sometime in the late 1900s.) My husband has gone fishing more recently than that while on various camping/hiking excursions with the guys.

Still, we couldn’t wait!

The photos we took during this excursion were awesome. They make me smile. Claire used to be deathly afraid of my brother (for really no good reason, other than he was male, and she didn’t see him often.) All of that has changed, and they were quick fishing buddies.

As you can see by her hair blowing straight out, it was WINDY. It was sunny. It was perfect.

I cannot even describe to you the excitement when she caught a fish!  I’m not sure who was happier: Claire or my brother.

Don’t let the hot pink shirt, skirt, and Princess Tiara fool you; she had no qualms touching the fish she caught, and she even helped throw it back in!

My husband proved to be the true Fish Whisperer, because he was catching fish left and right. Everyone caught a fish relatively quickly, except me.

Well, I did…eventually.

I could tell my brother was so worried that I’d be the only one who didn’t catch a fish! I told him not to worry about it. Finally, his responsibility as Fishing Host were off the hook, when I got a fish on mine.

A good time was had by all…well, except for the fish…but it WAS catch-and-release, so all was well that ended well for them, too. 🙂


I’m not sure which is better, the fact that Claire asked me to do her hair (I’ve been relegated to only doing her hair on Ballet Days…she can do her own hair herself, thankyouverymuch), or that she wanted her hair to be like Mary & Laura Ingalls‘ hair.

Either way, she looks like such a big girl in this photo. Like a girl…not a shred of baby left. Part of me gets a bit teary when I see her in braids…not because I wish I had my baby back, but because I’m just so excited to see where she goes next.