What is NORMAL, anyway?

March 31, 2013 at 6:31 pm

For the last month, I have been waiting for the clouds to part, the sun to come out and our lives to return to “normal.” But, instead of sunny rocks and climbing, each weekend seemed to bring a new illness and new snow.

Poor sick kiddo

Poor sick kiddo

Rather than adventures in the mountains, we’ve had adventures with sinus infections, stomach flu, trips to the emergency room and pink eye! Rather than starry desert nights in the trailer, we’ve been snuggled up on the couch watching movies while the snow blows deep drifts outside.

About 5 minutes after I took this picture, Mark started throwing up

About 5 minutes after I took this picture, Mark started throwing up

After the stress and seclusion created by the end of my degree, I was really hoping for a spring full of friends and fun. And we certainly have had some of each. I got out for an afternoon hike through the flatirons with a friend from work one day.

Mesa Trail behind NCAR

Mesa Trail behind NCAR

We visited friends with new babies, and friends with birthday parties. The Go-kid rode his strider around the neighborhood and played in the mud. We made the trip back to Fort Collins a few times this month, and it’s always worth the easy hour drive.

G loves playing in the mud!

G loves playing in the mud!

This morning, we all dressed up nicely for the fun of it, drove up to Fort Collins, and went to church with families and friends that we love. It felt kind of foreign to me, wearing nice shoes and putting a tiny tie on my son. On such a sunny, beautiful day, we might “normally” be out hiking, climbing or biking. But this year, we did what most people do on Easter, and it was wonderful.

My Boys in their Easter Best

My Boys in their Easter Best

After a month of “abnormal” for us, that looks so “normal” to the rest of the world, I have decided it is time to stop trying to categorize, label, and describe where we are. What is “normal”, anyway? In our lives, we have done some awesome things. Sometimes those are as big as climbing mountains, sometimes they are as small as sleeping through the night. What ever challenge we tackle, “normal” for us is to roll with the punches, make the best out of every situation, and enjoy the journey as we stumble along the paths of our lives.

For Axel

March 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

In the last few years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about climbing, hiking and camping on this blog. So you might not realize from reading about it here, but we are big fans of bicycling as well. In the past, Mark and I had mountain bike vacations to Fruita, explored mountain bike trails up and down the front range, and even rode (and crashed) in a mountain bike race a few years ago. Since G came along, we’ve embraced biking as a slow-weekend family activity, riding the paved paths around Fort Collins with the kiddo in the trailer, or chasing Go-Kid as he tears it up on his strider bike around our neighborhood.

These are all reasons why I have long enjoyed reading Velo Mom’s Blog, about her family’s adventures in mountain biking, strider racing and traveling around the continent. Their family embraces a spirit of adventure and passion for outdoor sports that is awesome and inspirational. But last month, the unthinkable happened. While traveling in Mexico, their youngest son, Axel, was tragically murdered in drug-related violence. Even though we have never met the family, the news of this death hit Mark and I terribly hard. We surely can’t even scratch the surface of grief that Velo Mom’s family is going through right now, and all we can do is offer support and kind thoughts from a distance.

Photo of Axel from VeloMom.Com

Photo of Axel from VeloMom.Com

I really wanted to write something to try and make some sense of this loss. I thought about the risks we take in adventures as a family, and about how many things happen to us in life that we have no control over. If there is anything I have learned as a mother, it’s that we are in less control of our lives than we could imagine, and that many things that happen are out of our hands and beyond our responsibility. But, as you can read here, these thoughts are confused, jumbled and not really appropriate for this terrible loss.

Photo of Axel from VeloMom.Com

Photo of Axel from VeloMom.Com

What is appropriate is a celebration of Axel’s awesome, though brief little life. Full of bicycling, adventures, sunlight, laughter and love. He was lucky to be born into an incredible bicycling family, and he lived an incredible and very full life. Axel started riding his strider bike just after taking his first steps, and riding was one of his favorite things. In honor of Axel, the Velo family has set up a fund to help get kids more active and riding bikes. They have partnered with Strider to help get kids on bikes who would not otherwise have access. If you want to donate, you can you can send a check made out to the Axel Charrette Fund, c/o Alpine Bank, 119 Liddell Drive, Ridgway, CO 81432, or call 970-626-4100 and reference the Axel Charrette Fund.

We have been inspired by Axel and his family to ride more, and getting G a strider bike was one of the best purchases we have made for him. I want to encourage everybody reading this to get out and ride this summer, for Axel.

There are a series of thoughtful reflections on fellow outdoor adventure family blogs today in honor of the memorial for Axel being held in Ridgway, Colorado, today. To read other parent’s thoughts on this tragedy, check out these links.

Cabin Fever

March 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

As the snow swirls and blows and flies outside the window, I dream of places to go and adventures to be had this summer.

I dream of tall cliffs and desert sun.

Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way

Penitente Canyon, May 2010

I dream of wide mountain vistas and thin alpine air.

Lunch with a view

Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, August 2011

I dream of raging waterfalls and calm montane lakes.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, July 2011

I dream of dirt in my food and sun on my skin.


Kokopeli Trail, April 2009

I dream of giggling babies and tinkling climbing gear.

Crag Baby

Lilly Mountain, July 2011

I dream of sweat on my back and miles on my legs.

Long's Peak Summit

Long’s Peak, August 2012

I dream of sore muscles, sun burns, laughter of friends, beer by the fire, and sleep under the stars. But the snow just keeps falling…