Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We Ski!

Back in August, yes August when we first moved to Colorado, we loaded up on skiing gear and bought season passes to Loveland. We decided that we were just going to commit the first winter or how else would we know if we really loved it or not?! This past week we finally got to go on our first adventure. It just so happened that cousin Alyson Fox was visiting us too and got to go along (we didn't really give her a choice). It was a little hairy finding room for everyone in the car...7 people and all that gear?! It was nuts. We definitely overpacked as we had no clue what the kids were really going to need but it all worked out and now we are hooked, already trying to plan the next day trip as quickly as possible.

It was almost like Joel and I were on a date. We drop the kids off at ski school at 10 and pick them up at 3. The instructors not only teach them, but feed them lunch, snacks, hot chocolate, and play games with them. Every now and then we would catch glimpses of them (since we were skiing the bunny slopes too) but for the most part they really don't want the parents around. I use to be a pretty decent skier (in high school that is), but haven't been in what 17 years?! I was hoping it would be like riding a bike but it did take me all day to finally feel comfortable on the bunny slopes. Joel was a dare devil with no fear and Alyson only knew warp speed! We shared many laughs between the 3 of us. 

 Joel was in heaven. I think he is ready to go to the "real" side of the slopes next time.

Alyson was all smiles and that is me inching along behind her...ha! I was definitely the old woman of the group. The comment from the ski lift operators at the end of the day to me "you are finally getting the hang of the lift!".  Every time that had to pull me forward or pull me back. I am sure they get a laugh out of us newbies.

 The kids can't wait to go back. They ALL loved it!

 The kids have to be 4 to be in ski school so we planned on putting Josie in the child care all day. I made a comment about her birthday being in a few weeks and they decided to take her skiing! I was so nervous about her making it 5 hours in the cold without losing her marbles but she was a natural! We couldn't believe it when we saw her at the end of the day going down the bunny slope by herself (instructor right behind her) and making a wedge to stop.

Jesse loved going fast! 
Asher decided on learning to snowboard so we couldn't quite get pictures of him in his group. Snowboarding looks way harder than skiing but he has the hair for it...he definitely has the spirit of a snow boarder! 

We seriously can't wait to go again! Although I am sore in places I never knew existed and had some bruises that sure made it hard to run the next day. Yes, not only did I run but I had a race the next day. Number 13 and my final race of the year! It was not my best showing for a 10K...eating bad every day, skiing the day before...I was not mentally in it but still had a blast running it with one of my new Colorado running buddies Aimee. 

The Santa Stampede in Littleton, Colorado: a beautiful flat course along the Platte River, a wonderful electric atmosphere of runners all decked out in their holiday gear, and hot chocolate at the finish. It was a super fun race and I hope to make this a annual one for me! I even ran in a Santa hat...that is about the extent I will go for a running costume. We finished in 49:58 (an 8:09 pace) which was faster than I was anticipating and a PR for Aimee (it being her first official 10K). My arms hurt to swing then while I was does skiing make your shoulders sore!?! But oh what fun!

Now it is Christmas Eve and we are following Santa on the "Google Santa Tracker", making cookies, and cleaning bathrooms. Isn't that what everyone does on Christmas Eve? Well my parents and sister (with her husband and 4 kids) will soon be en route to our house-our first time all being together in 3 years!!! 14 people and 3 dogs for 1 week! It is definitely going to be an adventure but we can't wait!!!  The cousins together are like 4 sets of twins. I hope all of you have many holiday adventures awaiting you as well. Merry Christmas to all and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

November Recap

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! November was such a fun and crazy month, which also included my fairy tale but also so much more! To start the month off, I ran a half marathon..yes another half marathon, bringing the total to 6 half marathons and 12 races total for me in 2014! Well so far (there is still time to squeeze in one more)!! The Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon was another local and beautiful trail run. I still can't get over how lucky I am to be running in Colorado...I am just surrounded by amazing places to run and awesome running/racing community. It truly is a runner's paradise! I know I keep saying that, but somebody pinch me so it will finally sink in.

 The course was the most challenging that I have faced yet in Colorado...very hilly! As usual for trail races here, I made friends on the course and enjoyed mountain views. The race itself is very young so the start line was a little chaotic...5 port a potties for 800 people, a bullhorn at the start on a sidewalk that only 3 people could fit side by side. The race itself however had a easy to follow course with great aid stations, and the post-race party was the one of the best (after to run straight up hill to the finish line...I kept thinking "how embarrassing if I have to walk this part" but I made it up to cross with a time of 2:02.28.

And I got the best race photo I have ever taken!!!!

The post race festivities included all you can eat pancakes from Flippin' Flapjacks (they were to die for!!), chocolate milk, free beer, and great music. I also have to say that the goodie bag included a long sleeve technical tee...with every race offering t-shirts my collection of tees is quite large-I loved getting a long sleeve this time! This was now the 4th race that my family could not be at in my running "career" and I missed them like crazy. I actually had to jet from the post race party to get to Asher's swim meet where he qualified for state's in the 100 fly!!!

Asher swims for "The Rock" swim team in Castle Rock. In Colorado, making states is what all kids shoot for and it isn't easy! They earn a black swim cap when they make a state cut and this was Asher's meet! Asher's specialty is long distance in breast and fly and is over the moon to have earned his black cap and a place in the state meet. We are so proud of him!

We were super grateful to have our first house guests in November! Grandma and Grandpa Thorson joined us to celebrate Thanksgiving in our new home. I am not sure it was a break for them as 4 kids were constantly fighting for their attention (and me-Grandma fixed a curtain disaster for me since the sewing machine and I don't get along-thank you Leslie!!!). But it was a GREAT time! We kept up with some of our Thanksgiving traditions which were...

 our thankfulness turkey...each feather has something that we are thankful for. We are so blessed to have so many feathers!!!

 Oreo turkeys...Asher could not be bothered to stop for a picture...too yummy to wait!

Anna is always ready for a photo op!

 The weather was so gorgeous all week that is was super easy for Joel to deep fry our turkey. This is the only way we roll now!

And the 60 degree weather was perfect for Asher and Jesse to help put lights in our trees!

I am truly thankful that we are so blessed with a loving family, a new home and adventure that the Lord is guiding us on, and all the blessings we have received by obeying him. But superficially I am really thankful that our furniture arrived so we had a table to sit at for Thanksgiving!! The house renovations are almost complete! I can't wait to share it all with you once we are there. Just don't look in my basement where all the "other" boxes are hiding!

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Fairy Tale

Today's post was going to be a running entry until the weekend happened to me. A weekend that I feel like was a dream and I have found myself now awake back to the Monday blues of swim practice, grocery shopping, and kid's fighting. Did it really happen? Yes, I  have the pictures and a ring on my finger to prove it! Seriously, sometimes a girl has just got to brag.

My husband has had this weekend blocked off for about 2 months now with no hints as to what was in store. I just knew that I was not allowed to take any shifts at to work, didn't have to plan meals, didn't have to think one bit about errands or real life. I just wasn't supposed to think about it! Friday night at 10pm, my mother in law walked in (from Minnesota-surprise!....I might have cleaned the bathrooms had I known). Joel had flown her in to watch the kids and dogs for the weekend so we could....could do I don't know but I was getting pretty excited!!  We hopped in the car Saturday morning after being I told I did not need to pack, and I did not need to do my hair or make-up (I still didn't believe him and put some make up on). An hour later we pulled up to The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa in downtown Denver, an historical high-end luxury hotel built in 1892. Just walking into this hotel felt like we were walking into a movie. It had the doormen decked out in fancy coats, the lobby was beautifully decorated for Christmas with white lights and a champagne tower, and a cascading staircase. Joel said "this is how the other half lives". He then promptly dropped me off at the spa with a "have fun and see you in a few fours!". OK! I had a massage, a mani-pedi, and my hair and make-up done. I was then handed a room key (after the lady told me she had worked here for 4 years and never seen anything like what my husband is doing....they are worth waiting for ladies!).

Me heading up to the room after my spa day!

This is what I found waiting for me in our room (minus Joel). An outfit complete with tights, boots, earrings, perfume, and instructions to meet him at the bottom of the staircase in the lobby at 6:30pm. and yes, the dress fit! I descended the staircase feeling like Julia Roberts, finding Joel beaming from ear to ear. He gave me beautiful necklace with was my engagement ring reset in a pendant. This did seem a little fishy to me....I am missing a ring as this point but was on such a cloud nine...who cares!?! 

We then went san enjoyed drinks and appetizers at the hotel tavern after taking some pictures in the amazing hotel lobby, and then moved on to a fancy pants restaurant The Palace Arms.

Honestly, I ate the best food I have ever had in my life with the best service, in the most romantic setting. The chef brought us "Amuse" and champagne on the house. They laid our napkins in our laps and brought us different wines to try with our food (which literally melted in our mouths). Then Joel got down on one knee and "proposed" to me again. I said yes!

Joel and I got engaged in college and married straight after. We didn't have a lot of money and I know  my engagement ring stretched him to the max, even at its size of 1/3 carat. I  have never felt the need to have a bigger diamond. It is not something I have asked for over and over again. But in his mind, he said it was something he always had planned from the day he bought me an engagement one day upgrade. His proposal also got a little screwed up as an wonderfully planned romantic gesture went a little wrong and he ended up proposing to me in a rest stop in West Virginia (the ring was literally on the back of a toilet after scavenger hunt in the rest stop). Its a long story but I would have said yes to him anywhere! So now we have another proposal story :).  No one in the hotel could believe that we had been married 13 years, had 4 kids, and it was no special occasion. I am really just that lucky!!! 

We stayed the night at The Brown Palace. Joel had new pajamas and slippers for me, plus a new outfit for the next morning. The next day included sleeping in, brunch, shopping, and the movies. It was so hard to go home! I am so blessed with such a thoughtful husband and to be madly in love still after 13 years. Thank you Joel for the magical weekend that we can hold close to our hearts forever. 
You are my hero!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tales of October

I know a lot of you are waiting for me to post pictures of our new house but here is the reason why you haven't seen any yet. It truly has been constant chaos since the day we moved in with no end in site. I kept telling myself it would all be together by the end of October but here we are in November now! I have to say it does look a little better than this at the moment (but not much). We still have no furniture on the main floor and no kitchen counters, which means no sink and no dishwasher, which means we are still eating out a lot. There always seems to be some delay: we ran out of painter's tape, a part was left off the order, a change in the counter template, the tile is on back order, and of course another run to Home Depot for some forgotten thing. There are truly some people at Home Depot who know us by name and the kids groan every time we pull into the parking lot. I will just cling to the hope that maybe (maybe) by Christmas??

 But life still goes on and Anna (who promised to stay 5 forever) turned 9 on October 27th. Anna has had no problems making BFFs here in Colorado and was ecstatic to invite friends Emma and Hannah out to see Dolphin Take 2 and then back to our house for pizza and cupcakes. Yes, we had to go store bought this year as we had no working oven at this point in the month. Anna was all smiles anyways! 

Since we couldn't make her dinner of choice, on her actual birthday she got to chose the restaurant to eat at and enjoyed all eyes on her as she walked in with balloons and flowers! We are pretty sure she had a pretty fantastic birthday! 

 The sugar rush continued as her birthday gets smashed together with Halloween. The kids went easy on us this year with their costume desires. Asher is Percy Jackson. He is absolutely obsessed with Percy Jackson and has devoured all of Rick Riordan's books. It is hard to believe that this boy never liked reading...we just had to find what he was actually interested in (such a blessing to see his love for books now!). Josie is a unicorn...her obsession at the moment and was the only costume we had to buy! Of course we had a plethora of VT cheerleader costumes for Anna to chose from (seriously one for every age she has been), and Jesse wanted to be a spy (suits his nickname of stealth boy perfectly). Our neighborhood was the bomb of neighborhoods to go trick or treating in and was a wonderful time chatting with some of our neighbors. Now we are still trying to get through all the candy! They wake up in the morning and say "Can I have a piece of candy?". 

 I may have not been able to put up any fall decor in our rehab house, but we still did pumpkins! I swear Anna's face looks like this every year when it comes time for pumpkins.

 The boys have no problems!

Jesse's mummy

 Then a time change was sprung on us. With that, the house chaos, and Joel traveling for work for the first time, this past week has left us all dragging. This is Josie asleep on the bleachers during one of the kid's swim practices. Life is so hard!

 And since 4 kids, 1 dog, and a house in rehab isn't enough for me I had to get a new dog! Actually, Joel and I together decided to add this darling to our family weeks ago. Meet Phoebe, my future trail dog. Running on the trails in Colorado has left me quite uneasy when I am alone and for peace of mind and safety, this was the result. I can't rely on Finn to save me from a mountain lion!

We were really worried about Finn taking to Phoebe but so far they seem to be getting along great!

All in all October has been a truly hard month but filled with many blessings. We are trying to take time to enjoy these moments and know that we have years and years and years to enjoy this house. What is a few months in rehab in the grand scheme of things. Joel actually said to me last week "I m loving my job" and that is such a huge answer to prayer, and a testimony of God leading us on this journey. His blessings abound.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Denver Rock n Roll Race Recap

This past weekend I ran the Denver Rock n Roll half marathon. So yes I am a little "half crazy" at the moment, this being my 5th half marathon this year (and I have another one in 3 weeks!). I truly just love the experience of races and if I am going to run that far anyways I might as well get a medal for it! I also LOVE the Rock n Roll series. They have the best race expos, awesome race course in amazing cities with bands that play every mile, and so much excitement that comes with big races. Don't get me wrong-I love the small intimate races too but they lack the excitement and energy of one that has 18,000 people running. Since moving to Colorado, I hadn't really seen the town of Denver so what better way to take a tour of my new city?!

I got to meet Dorothy Beal at the race expo (EEK). She is a marathon and all things running lover, and a mommy of 3 who is inspirational in the world of "mother runners". She lived in the town next to me in Virginia, we ran the same paths, and we had many mutual friends which is how she got on my radar. I started following her blog but seeing our connections it is funny how I never had the chance to actually meet her until being in Colorado. Check out her blog at! And of course the race expo itself was amazing (besides the fact that I had to corral my 4 kids there). If you look closely in the background of this picture you will see Asher playing in the Mazda booth "wind tunnel" and Josie behind us wearing my race t-shirt. There were booths after booths of running gadgets, energy foods, race info, and games to play in order to win prizes. I always spend a bit more money than planned but still happily left this expo with 2 new pair of pro compression socks, a flip belt, 2 Sparkly Soul headbands, and a new running water bottle (runner's retail therapy!).

 The start line with 18,000 other runners. There were 5 races to choose from in this event (all starting at the same time!): marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 10K, and 5K. I had originally wanted to run this marathon but backed it down to the half when I realized how long it was going to take me to adjust the elevation in the mile high city. It was a bit chilly but knowing what a beautiful day it was going to be I chose to wear shorts and t-shirt (with a pair of my new compression socks of course). I always scour the closet the night before a race for a "throw away" shirt to shed at the start line and stop myself from freezing while waiting in the corrals.

The race started and finished next to the town hall, one of the many beautiful buildings I would get to see along the course.

Photo taken by Katie Torrence (@katietorrenc on instagram). Thanks Katie!
The course was extremely hilly the first 6 miles but I was somehow distracted enough by these views. You had the mountains in front of you for a few miles and then went around Sloan's lake with a great view of Denver and crazy cool clouds. One thing I LOVE about Colorado (among many) is the sky. The clouds are always seem so close that you can touch them and always have cool shapes and textures. Then we got to cruise down some hills too!

Photo taken by Amy Zader (@runwritehike on instagram). Thanks Amy
We also got to run by Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies)...
Photo taken from
...And Mile High Stadium (home of the Denver Broncos).
Joel is a saint as he again corralled the kids (after a 5am wake up so we could leave the house at 5:30 to drop me off at the start line) and still managed to see me 3 times during the race! Nothing makes this girl run faster than high giving my kids along the course. Their shouts at the end always bring me home and are what spurred me to push that last mile even with an uphill climb to the finish.

And I finished in a time of 1:47.52 seconds (at an average of 8:13 minute per mile).  I had no idea what to expect of myself on my first road race in Colorado. I tried to enjoy the miles and not really obsess over my Garmin. At some point I knew I wasn't going to PR but said I was still going to give it all I had. I am SUPER happy with my results and think I just might be adjusted enough to the elevation now to start adding some speed work back into my running routine-YAY! I will be chasing my half marathon (and marathon) PR down in no time! BTW, don't you love my socks!?!?! I got so many compliments on them and I LOVE them. Bright colors make me happy.

The race ended at the Capital and I couldn't help but snap some photos with the crazy clouds! Thank you Denver and Rock n Roll series for a sweet race! There is nothing like a runner's high at a mile high!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pikes Peak Adventure

About a month ago I booked our family tickets to ride the Pikes Peak cog railway. The train trip takes you to the summit of Pikes Peak while enjoying all the gorgeous scenery along the way. Our reasoning for picking October 10th for this family adventure was because it was fall! Early October is the perfect time to see the beautiful fall foliage on Colorado's most famous mountain, right?! Wrong. Yes we are Colorado newbies. September is the perfect time to see the fall foliage. October is the perfect time to see 4 feet of snow. That was not a typo...Pikes Peak is currently covered with 4 feet of much that the railway crew has not had time to plow the track and we could only go 6 miles up Pikes Peak (which meant no summit for the Thorson family this time). We had a choice to cancel our trip but decided to take the discount and see where the adventure brought us!

Pikes Peak is in the enchanting town on Manitou Springs, CO. If it had been warmer maybe we would have walked around and explored a bit but we were still in snow shock. Isn't this train depot adorable?

It was "fall" when the train ride started but we quickly saw the snow getting thicker and thicker on the trees.

It was breathtaking.

 At mile 4, the train allowed us to get out and play for about 45 minutes. We were in tennis shoes....very unprepared for the snow but we didn't let it stop us from having a snowball fight!

A rare moment when Jesse actually allows me to take a picture of him (and he is smiling!!) Can you see his missing teeth...quite cute if I say so myself. 

 Family photo time. It was hard to get Josie to stop eating the snow long enough for a picture.

 Josie had to be carried as she was just wearing crocs and kept sinking in snow up to her knees.

A picture with the cool train.

A picture to prove that Colorado does indeed have a fall season! I was warned that my fall-loving spirit would be let down by fall in Colorado. Fall is my favorite season and I know that nothing can compare to our New England years of fall splendor but look at this?! My trail runs have provided truly gorgeous golden views that have made my heart sore. Colorado does not disappoint. Next year we will just make sure to book our Pikes Peak train ride in September!