Welcome Baby

December 12, 2010 at 10:49 am

G's Dark Eyes

Yes, internet friends, there is a reason why this blog has been so neglected these last few months. Mark and I are thrilled to report that we have been upgraded to parental status with the birth of our first child.

Tummy time

Baby G arrived on October 30th at 10:59am. He was, by the midwife’s calendar, exactly two weeks early, but by our estimations at least three! He was tiny at birth, weighing only 5 pounds and 9 ounces and was 19 inches long. We have not yet measured his ape index, but his finger are long and strong, perfect for climbing!

G on Day 2

It’s been six weeks now since his birth, and Mark and I are just now starting to feel like we’re hitting a groove. These past few weeks have been an incredible roller coaster of energy and emotion, with stress and worry, joy and love, frustration and breakdowns, peace and bliss, all in nearly equal proportions.


I know it’s somewhat customary to share the birthstory over the internet, and I’ve been wrestling with how personal and detailed I want to get here. Rather than get into the whole nitty gritty of the story, I think I’ll just share a few fun facts about G’s entry into this world.

  • Fun Fact #1: My water broke at 4:30p on Friday afternoon, October 29th. I’d had no symptoms of impending labor at all. Luckily I was on the potty when it happened, so there was no mess to clean up! I was just about to leave for yoga in 15 minutes, and I’m thankful that it didn’t happen in the middle of my yoga class!
  • Fun Fact #2: On Friday, Mark left his cell phone at home, his car was out of gas, and he was planning on being away from email and chat for a Halloween party all afternoon. He told me “Don’t have a baby in the next few hours, I might be hard to reach.”
  • Fun Fact #3: It took until midnight on Friday before my contractions were strong enough to feel, and organized enough to measure the time between them. Mark and I hung out in the hospital, ate Jimmy John’s for dinner and watched a James Bond marathon on TNT (corollary Fun Fact: G’s name was almost James Bond).
  • Fun Fact #4: My parents were leaving for a camping trip that night. I called them just before they lost cell coverage to tell them I was going to have a baby soon. They turned around and bought plane tickets on their way back to their house. They arrived at the hospital in Fort Collins about 45 minutes before G was born the next morning!
  • Fun Fact #5: There are no windows in the birthing suites at our hospital. Also, the only clock on the wall of my room was broken and said “10:00p” all night long. I was pretty sure that time had, actually, stopped.
  • Fun Fact #6: My labor pains were concentrated low in my hip joints. They felt like horrible, horrible muscle cramps in my hip flexors. I spent all of Friday night standing up, because that was the only position where the pain was manageable.
  • Fun Fact #7: You can’t have a baby standing up. Sometime around 8a on Saturday morning, my contractions were 90 seconds long, with only 30 seconds of break between them. I had no pain meds, and when they checked, my cervix was only dilated to 3cm. We decided it was time for the epidural.
  • Fun Fact #8: Epidurals don’t always get rid of all of the pain. Even after mine, I could still feel intense pain and pressure deep in my hips with every contraction. I also had feeling and control over my abdominal and pelvic muscles (though my legs were giant, limp, numb things that I couldn’t move at all).
  • Fun Fact #9: Sometimes all you need to do is lay down and “relax” a little bit. After the epidural helped get the pain under control, I dilated the last 7cm in about an hour and half. My midwife, who was wonderful, supportive and with us through the whole process, and who is not as hippy, new-agey, all natural as you might expect from that title, declared us ready to push and exclaimed “God bless epidurals!” Right on sister.
  • Fun Fact #10: Pushing was the most fun part of the process. I felt like I was finally able to help things along, and make some real progress. It took about 45 minutes, but G was born, healthy, pink and screaming, without much drama. He was so tiny that I had no tears or incisions, and was able to walk around without much problem the next day! We got to spend the whole afternoon cuddling and falling in love with our new, sweet, lovely baby.

New Baby!

So that is the beginning of his story in a nutshell. Even after only six weeks, the birth just seems like a prolog to what is destined to be a long and wonderful tale of adventure, love and happiness.

Fall in Colorado

September 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

It’s still a bit early for the true autumn glory in our part of the rocky mountains, but last weekend Mark and I drove up to Pingree Park looking for some great fall colors. And we weren’t disappointed.

Glowing Leaves

Yellow trees and blue skies

The poudre canyon was still very green in the second-to-last weekend of September, but as we climbed to higher altitudes we saw more and more color.

Aspen Homestead

Blue skies and yellow trees

Aspens in the breeze

We stopped a long the way for a little bit of hiking. As hunting season has recently started, Liv wore her “Please don’t shoot my dog” orange safety vest on the trail. At eight months pregnant, I’m actually feeling better (relatively) than I did in the first few months! But, I get winded when hiking up hill very quickly, and it’s rough not being able to take a full breath any more.

Liv wearing her safety vest

Eight Months!

It was a very nice afternoon, though, and I’m looking forward to making some more great pictures as the season continues!

Making Babies is Type 3 Fun

August 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm

In climbing and many outdoor pursuits, it is well known that there are, actually, three types of fun. Type 1 fun is the classic, smiling, happy, laughing, good times for all, fun. Type 2 fun can be painful, but you end up with a smile on your face. I think loosing skin in Vedauwoo and biking up Horsetooth mountain both fall into this category.

Type 3 fun, well, that’s a whole different animal. As Fitz Cahall once put it: “This is the epic. The suffer fest. This is collarbone breaking, giardia-getting, soaked-to-the-bone, carnage. If it sounds horrible, that’s because it probably is.”

I would like to posit: making babies is Type 3 Fun.

The most extreme sufferfest ever

So, you think your week in a snow cave in Patagonia was bad? Try throwing up every day for four months. Your legs and back are aching after your 20 mile slog out of the back country? Yeah, I’ve got a small person pressing and kicking against my spine and ribs, and it’s only going to get worse over the next three months. Feeling hungry after a week on a big wall? My Hunger has morphed into an all-encompasing demon, and it never rests or relents. I have even named it: Eddy. Eddy, my appetite, is my new constant companion. He makes most of my decisions for me these days, and not all of them are good.

Yes, I know pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful, hormone-fueled happyfest for many women. I’ve heard some ladies say they felt a little tired and had some heartburn, and that was it! This is much like some climbs that can be done in good conditions, with good route finding and good luck, and be perfectly wonderful days. Those same climbs, when the weather blows in, when the party gets off route, when a sling snaps and you watch your rack tumble into the abyss below, become a new and utterly excruciating experience.

If the stars align, you might have a perfectly happy pregnancy. You might barely notice the tiny life growing in your uterus. If, however, you’re like me (short, and possibly carrying a reptilian alien) then come prepared for pain.

What’s rough right now makes for great stories later

If it’s so bad, why call it fun at all? How can Type 3 fun even be on the fun scale? The surprising thing is, the worse your Type 3 fun is now, the better off you’ll be in the future. True suffering makes for epic tales around a bonfire, or, in my case, a babyshower. These are the stories that last forever, and the experiences that mark our souls, that change who we are and how we see the world.

A day out at the crag might leave you feeling warm and fuzzy for a while, but those memories fade, sadly. However, the limp you acquired on the sixth day of that adventure race might just last you a lifetime. A hard pregnancy lets you test the boundaries of what you can give up, of the aspects of your body and your life that you will lay down for the health and happiness of a loved one. It teaches you about sacrifice, selflessness, and devotion to a goal.

Plus, when you stop to vomit on the side of the trail and then just keep walking, everybody knows you’re a badass.

Want to compare scars?

One of the best parts of an epic climb is the clarity that you find afterwards. It puts life into perspective, and you learn what your real priorities are. It teaches you your limits as a human, and you may find yourself capable of greater things than you ever expected. This is Type 3 fun. And making babies fits squarely into this definition. It’s not something I’d do very often, but it’s something that I’m very glad I did.

And yeah, my episiotomy scar will trump your broken ankle any day of the week.

A Month of Vedauwoo

July 25, 2010 at 9:17 am

Our friends Dylan and Ann have adopted a permanently nomadic lifestyle, and spent the last 8 months traveling around the western US. In July, they lived in Vedauwoo for the month, and we spent every weekend with them.

Wyoming Sunrise

Mark cleans up the tent as cows wander through our campsite

Mark and Kate - that was my last climb

During the month of July, I entered into my 6th month of pregnancy, and officially grew out of my harness. My last climb was a 5.8 offwidth at 23 weeks of pregnancy.

Sophie and Mark getting ready to climb!

Hiking out through an aspen grove

Ready for Ved!

Vedauwoo is such a special place. It is a quite grove of rocks and aspens, but sometimes the wind howls or other campers party nearby. It is criss-crossed with roads and trails, cows and climbers, but still has a wild and free feeling to it that cannot be tamed. The rock is sharp, painful and unforgiving, but offers so many opportunities for climb and play. It is a place where you meet people, meet up with friends, and meet your real self.

Sean belaying in the afternoon

Vedauwoo crystals are lovely

Another beautiful morning in Vedauwoo

Thayers in Colorado, Part 2

July 3, 2010 at 6:10 am

Mark and I were not able to take too much time off of work to spend with my family, so while we were back in Fort Collins during the week, Mom, Dad, Kev and Andrew took off for a few days in Fruita, Colorado. They then drove leisurely southeast towards Wolf Creek Pass. They stopped to camp along high mountain reservoirs, and took the tram to 11,000ft above Monarch Pass.

Steep canyon walls greeted us on this wet morning

Due to a little mix up, we decided not to stay at the campground where we had reservations for the long holiday weekend. Instead, the fam headed west towards Pagosa Springs. We managed to score a great campsite at the base of Wolf Creek Pass (at the Bruce Spruce Ranch) for two nights, and then grabbed the last two rooms at The Springs Resort & Spa in downtown Pagosa Springs.

Ponds at Sunrise

Our two nights at Bruce Spruce were wet and rainy, but absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend this little campground and guest ranch to anybody looking at a stay in the area.

Kevin is riding a horse!

Kevin and Andrew had a great hour long trailride through the mountains. We found some beautiful geodes in a local rockhounding site. We hiked up to a great view of Treasure Falls. And we hung out under the awning at a rainy camp, eating mom’s great dutch-oven meals and enjoying vacation.

Mark at Treasure Falls

On our last morning in the area, we met up with a local guide outfit for a morning of fly fishing lessons. While my Mom and Dad have been fly fishing for years, and I’ve grown up around fly fishermen, I’ve never actually cast a rod myself. Neither has Mark. So this morning, we went out to a local stocked pond and learned the basics of fly fishing.

Everybody practicing their casting

It was pretty entertaining at first. Mark lost a few flies to the grass behind him. Kev and Andrew were both happy to be wearing hats every time the fly bounced off the brim. But we eventually got the hang of it, and even managed to catch a few fish that morning!

I caught my first trout! (at 5 months pregnant)

It was a really nice morning, and a great few days in the mountains.

The whole family had a great morning!

Thayers in Colorado, Part 1

June 27, 2010 at 6:26 pm

For summer vacation this year, Mom, Dad, Kevin and Andrew drove the RV out to Colorado for two fun weeks of camping, fishing and exploring. Mark and I were able to meet up with them twice: Once at Estes Park for the weekend, and then in Pagosa Springs for the long 4th of July holiday weekend.

Long Lake is surrounded by high, beautiful peaks

In Estes Park, we spent two nights camping at Mary’s Lake campground. We watched the US v. Ghana world cup game at Ed’s on Saturday, and then spent the afternoon Sunday hiking near Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Mark, Kev and Andrew heading into the mountains

The hike from Brainard Lake up to Long Lake was a good one for us. Not too long to make the pregnant lady or flatlanders too tired, but we were treated to amazing views of the surrounding peaks the whole time. We ate lunch next to the alpine lake, and watched Liv roll around in the deep summer snow drifts.

View of Brainard Lake

Also, there was a Tesla in the parking area. We never figured out who it belonged to.

A Tesla in the parking lot!

Pregnancy Gratitude List

June 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Pregnant Climbing

“Gratitude, that very specific feeling of thankfulness in your heart, allows you to see and absorb all you have, forgetting for a moment all you may lack. It connects your brain with your heart, and gives you the ground to be more giving, effective, loving human. Being grateful allows generosity to flow. And many believe it also makes us more receptive—as in, the more you love what you have, the more you get what you want.” by Valerie Reiss at BeliefNet.com

I’ve found adjusting to being pregnant a little bit difficult. While some girls seem to just love every minute of the experience, I’ve found it hard to make such drastic changes in my life. I’ve spent so much time complaining to people, that I thought I should take a minute to list out some of the fun and actually enjoyable aspects of pregnancy. They do exist!

1. Bigger boobs!
2. Eating ice cream – lots of it. (Hey, if I’m going to get fat anyway… !)
3. An excuse to take long afternoon naps.
4. Wonderful pampering from Mark.
5. Spending a little less time on work, a little more on massages.
6. A chance to feel sick so I can really appreciate feeling healthy.
7. Appreciating smaller victories (like climbing a 5.8 on toprope) instead of stressing over insane goals.
8. Learning about patience.
9. Incredible sense of smell and taste – food is a whole new adventure.
10. Making my whole family deliriously happy.
11. Feeling my baby wiggle around and imagining what kind of person he/she will be.
12. Crossing one more thing off of my “to do before I die” list (have a baby!)
13. Clear, pretty skin for the first time in years.
14. Learning about acceptance and giving up my usual attempts to white-knuckle control every aspect of my life.
15. Complements and smiles from so many people.
16. Starting out on a whole new adventure, one we’ve never attempted anything like before!

Kate’s Free Desktop Image 16 and 17!

June 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm

It’s been a long time since I put up a photo for a background image. My computer at work still has snow-covered pine trees! So, here’s a couple spring or summer-time offerings for your desktop pleasure.

As usual, I’ve saved the image as a few different sizes for the most common screen resolutions. Feel free to down load the one that works for you by clicking on the link to the correct size below each shot! These files can be a bit large, so be a little patient as your computer downloads them.

Blue Flax in the Morning
Fields of Blue
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Longtail and Thailand Sunset
Sunset from Railay
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