Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My chart, 1 month later.

So, I thought I was trying to be good and not overeat. You know, like 1 Swiss Cake Roll up with a tall glass of creamy milk at 10pm instead of both that come in the package.

But after 3 weeks, my chart seems to be stuck and reads like a broken record!

I know WHY I'm overweight, that's easy. I LOVE food.  I love creating it, cooking it, serving it, eating the left overs, etc. And on top of that I crave sweets at night.  I've made a lot of bad food choices over the years.

That fact was made apparent to me last week by my hilarious daughter.  She was over for Sunday dinner as usual.  I was cooking and she showed me a picture on her phone of 2 cuts of meat.  I knew if it was a cooking question, I had this. The picture on the right seemed to be a leaner cut of meat, but as a fat ass, I knew the one on the left would be the more flavorful one.  Just tenderize it with some seasonings and that would have been my choice of meat. Cooked slowly over several hours like a pig roast.

But I didn't have my glasses on yet and couldn't 
read the caption with the picture on her little phone. 

So I put on my glasses and this is what I see: 

I realized my heart looks like a pig roast.  

That is scary and I need to get serious.  So I've developed a hateful attitude with myself this week but it seems to be working.  Sorry if it's not healthy, I know it's not. But I'm almost 50 and nothing else has worked when it comes to denying myself tasty foods. No matter how far I walk, it doesn't matter if I wash it down with a Twinkee.

I've always been a visual learner and this picture has stuck with me this week.  I will no longer allow myself to lie to myself.

I've started talking to myself military style when it comes to eating. "Really, you need a piece of cheese on that? Your heart is freakin suffocating idiot.  You were born and raised in Chicago. Where is your Chicago girl endurance and will power!?!?! You're weak!!!" And that has made me very angry.

I realize it's a weakness that must be put in it's place. So I only eat small portions of healthy food when my stomach growls and I start getting a headache. Lunchtime at work it's scary trying to stay healthy.  They use to smile so big when they saw me coming at McDonalds & Burger King. I was spending $10 and probably eating 10,000 calorie lunch.  Now I'm the annoying one that just wants apple slices and a side salad.

One week later, although it's happening way to slowly, my chart is finally is starting to un-stick.  And hopefully my arteries as well. You do what works for you.  But for me, anger is working.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MY ____?_____ CHART

My sister is taking me and my daughter to London to visit her daughter/my niece and her fiance' for a VERY EARLY 50th birthday present (because there's no freakin way I'm gonna be 50 until WAY later in life, like, not until,..November.

So anyhow, I was going to start and try to lose weight right as soon as I found out... a month ago.  Instead I've went up.  

So my daughter created a chart for each of us.  This is mine above my scale.  We're going to weigh ourselves every Thursday until July 30th.  Hopefully I won't need 2 plane tickets... for myself.  So I decided to be honest and there it is, on my bathroom wall, my starting weight, 210lbs.  

I was done weighing in, sitting on the couch, feeling tearful, defeated, panicking, wishing there was more time.  Wishing I had started eating healthy Thursdays ago, a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago.  Now there's only 14 weeks left and here I am, back over 200, where I swore I'd never go again.  

Then Mike comes out of the bathroom and said, "Good job mom!"  
I was confused, he saw it in my face.  He said "Your chart, I saw it, good job!" 
 I was trying to judge his tone to see if he was making fun of me.  
Then he said, "Don't worry, I'm sure it will keep going up, you've got plenty of time, you've done it before!"  

Lorens walks in and was like, "What did you say to your mother, why does she look like she wants to smack you?"  
Mike said, "I don't know, she's saved up $210.00 already for her trip.  I know when she puts her mind to it she can do things, like save up for family vacations and she got all mad at me!"  

Now I was tearing up with laughter, thank God he's got a good job and still goes to school full time, knucklehead. I told him "No Michael, that's my weight chart hanging above the scale, not my savings chart." 

I remembered life's not that serious, I needed a good laugh.  I'll lose what I can and save what I can, hopefully my savings chart figure goes up and the weight chart figure goes down, and my figure comes back in time for London. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thanks for joining us winter, Love, Chicago...

It's February 3rd and yesterday was the first time we had a measurable snowfall in the Chicago area.  I don't like when it's below 20 outside but I LOVE SNOW, I always have.  Who doesn't like playing with kids and dogs in the snow?  I grew up in Chicago so there weren't that many places to find a big hill, we're pretty flat.  I've never skied in my life, had never even seen a mountain until this summer.  But making snow angels, having snowball fights, skitching on the back bumpers of cars, building igloos and snowmen were some of my favorite activities.

But my FAVORITE winter activity is SLEDDING!
I get it from my mom.  She loved sledding.  She kept my old sled in the trunk of her car for whenever the urge hit her.  She was 72 in January, 2010 when she was driving past the big sledding hill at Pasfield Golf Course in Springfield, IL and saw kids on the hill.  She pulled over and climbed up the hill, to the surprised looks of all who saw her, and went sledding.  She proudly told me all about it.  She died suddenly 3 days later.  She was young at heart to the end.  I hope to be the same way.

Yesterday it felt like Christmas morning when I looked outside before dawn and saw all the snow.  I had butterflies in my stomach. I could hardly wait to go sledding.  My kids are 19 & 20 now and refused to go with me.  I was sad thinking I couldn't go alone, and then I remembered my mom, and decided I didn't need anyone, but I should probably wait for the sun to come up.

So I played in the yard with the dogs. We have a new 11 month old puppy we adopted from Oklahoma who had never seen snow.  I let them in the yard to play right at daybreak.  This is Scout seeing snow for the first time yesterday morning:

Then I drove to the sledding hill with my daughters camera.  I have my old sled that my mom used right to the end.  It's gotta be about 40 years old.  My maiden name is written on it from my days of winter camping with the girl scouts.  

It was still pretty early and so there was only one kid there with her dad and grandpa.  I raced her down the hill.  It was instantly a competition to me, and I won!  I was really proud of myself for winning, even though it was against a small child, I didn't care, even raising my hands in the air in victory at the bottom of the hill.  Sledding will do that to you...or maybe just to me.  I did, eventually, feel bad, and so I told her I only won because of the extra weight in my backside so she wouldn't feel bad that I smoked her on that hill, tehehehe.  I probably shouldn't feel to proud, gravity took over and I kept ending up backwards with my ass leading the way down the hill each time.   

Here is the video I took of my 47 year old self with my left hand, while holding the sled with my right hand, sledding down the hill yesterday morning:

I had a blast.  The hardest part was climbing, clawing and crawling on my knees, up that hill.  I only went down about 5 times.  It took too long to catch my breath at the top of the hill after each time.  

This year has started off pretty bad for us.  But sledding down the hill it's easy to forget all of your troubles, if only for a minute.  At the bottom of the hill I was laughing a secret kind of laugh.  Snickering under my breath, embarrassed.  I was thinking people my age shouldn't be out here doing this, I have no business being this happy with all of our problems.  Yet I couldn't help laughing like a kid at the bottom of the hill. I was back there this morning, before any kids, sledding again.

The year I was born Frank Sinatra sang: "Don't you know that it's worth, every treasure on earth, if you're young at heart?  For as rich as you are, it's much better by far, to be young at heart."

Sledding down that hill, 
with butterflies in my stomach, 
I know, 
I still remain, 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas spirit, alive & well in Wisconsin...

My heart is filled with love, joy and the Christmas spirit because of what our friends, the Bullis family of Wisconsin, did last week.  I wish the world had more great people in it like them.  I'd like to tell you the story of a dog that is alive today because of them.

After my dog Princess died in February, I met many great people whose lives have been touched by our plight to remove pet treats made in China off of the store shelves in the U.S.  One of the ladies I talk to on Facebook, Debbie Davidson, lives in New York and posts pictures of dogs that are about to be put to sleep and need someone to adopt them.  I then cross share the pictures to honor the memory of Princess, hoping I can help another dog because I was unable to help her.

You just never know who may see a dog and feel compelled to save him.  That's exactly what happened last week with Bullis the PitBull from New York.  Below was his story attached to his picture that I shared on my Facebook wall after Debbie had shared it, after Montana Antler Chews & Dog Supplies shared it, and so on and so on.  You share it and ask everyone you know to share it hoping someone will adopt them.  This was his story:

I know it is late, but we have a CODE RED URGENT in New York!!! Please read all of Bullis' info below and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!!

Male (Intact) 
Pit Bull
Brown with white spot on chest and feet.
Estimated to be 3 years old.
Bullis was found as a stray two weeks ago. His stray hold is up and he needs a place to go ASAP. Since he was a stray he will need vetting and to be neutered.
Bullis is a very sweet guy, but is very reserved. Best guess is that he was a kennel dog or tied outside in the past, so he is not used to lots of commotion or everyday human interaction. He has been tested with other dogs...he did great, no issues seen at all. He actually seems more confident around them. Despite being scared and nervous, he has shown ZERO aggression. Overall great boy, just needs time to be able to get comfortable and come out of his shell. He does have scars on his face, chin, around his his, in his ears, and a few on his body. Not exactly sure where they are from, but like said above his IS DOG FRIENDLY!
Bullis's time has RUN OUT. He was supposed to be PTS last Friday (11/30/2012), but he has captured our hearts so we are TRYING to buy him some more time in hopes that someone can step up to help/take him.
Bullis is located in Marilla, NY. Email @, for more information. Please put "Bullis" or "Pitbull needing rescue" in the subject line, to be sure the email gets read.

I really didn't think any of my Chicago friends would be able to help but I posted his story anyway.  I also shared it with our good friends from Wisconsin, the Bullis Family.  I thought it was funny how this dog had their last name.  Elaine Bullis loves animals of all kinds.  More than anyone I've ever met.  They have many different kinds in their home and I always say their home is like Wild Kingdom.

Unbeknownst to me, THIS is what had been going on in the Bullis home the week before I sent them the picture of Bullis the PitBull from New York: 
  1. They had decided the week before that they were going to adopt a dog.    
  2. And not just any dog, they had decided they would adopt a rescued Pit Bull.  They would just have to save up the money for it first. 
  3. Mike Bullis' vacation at work was moved up a week, and so, unbelievably, here he was at home,  on vacation for a week, with what seemed like no plans.  
  4. They had saved up $500 for Christmas presents.  They realized with the Christmas money, they COULD rent a car and drive to New York to save him.  
All obstacles had been removed one by one making it all fall into place.  And, he literally had their name on him.  

Elaine Bullis read how this pit bull was a "Code Red", meaning his time had run out and he was about to be put to sleep.  She saw at the bottom it read, "if you're interested in helping, write Bullis, or Pit Bull needing rescue in the subject line."  So the story ended with words like "Bullis Pitbull needing rescue."  Elaine said she stared at his picture and story for 20 minutes.  Was this suppose to be their dog?

They asked their daughter Shayla, because all of their Christmas money would need to go to this trip to save this dog.  They'd have a new dog but not much else under the tree.  They all agreed it's what they wanted to do with their Christmas money.

So about a week ago, Mike Bullis rented a car and drove from Wisconsin to near Buffalo, New York and rescued Bullis the Pit Bull.  He is the sweetest most docile dog.  He loves all of them and their other dog Buddy already.  Here he is with Mike/his new dad his first day in Wisconsin.

The difference love makes is apparent in the pictures.  The before picture of him is below on the left, sad, about to be put to sleep in New York.  His after picture,below on the right, taken just a few days later, he is literally smiling for the camera at his new home in Wisconsin.  He has many cuts, bites and scrapes still healing on him.  It's obvious he was in at least one dog fight.  But he shows absolutely no aggression and just wants to be loved.

The story from NY said a few white spots on his chest.  
But when I saw this first picture (below) of him in Wisconsin,
I noticed that those white "spots" 
looked more like a Cross or Angels wings to me.
He WAS a perfect Christmas present!

I got to go meet "Bullis Bullis" the other day.  I cried knowing he would be dead by now if it wasn't for them.  But my tears turned to tears of joy because here he was, right in front of me, safe and loved in Wisconsin.

Buddy, me and Bullis Bullis at his new home in Wisconsin

The Bullis' family sacrifice to save the life of an animal has really touched me this Christmas.  They thanked me many times, said it's because of me.  They're wrong.  All I did was share a picture and a story of a dog in need of saving.  They did everything else.  They gave up material gifts for each other and gave the gift of life to this dog.

Everyone thinks they're nuts for doing this, for driving a thousand miles a week before Christmas, taking all their Christmas money to save a dog.  Not us. Their sacrifice showed true Christmas spirit.  They opened their home, their hearts, and their wallets to do this remarkable thing.  Now they have a beautiful new dog, with a home and hearts filled with love, as it should be at this time of year.

I'm proud to call Mike & Elaine Bullis & their daughter Shayla 
(and their dogs Buddy & Bullis), our friends. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

At least I woke up laughing....

I woke up at 5am to use the washroom and I saw myself in the mirror and started laughing.  I had forgotten about my mishap yesterday, and it caught me off guard.  Because I thought it was a good idea to buy hair color at the dollar store, on clearance.  I thought, what could go wrong?  Now,  I'm a red head.  My first day as a red head I proved I'm still a blonde somewhere inside.

I was born a blonde but my 40's have changed my hair to dishwater blonde and grey.  I thought, if I bought a  golden brown, instead of golden blonde, I wouldn't have roots from trying to go too light in color.  The box said light golden brown.  The box lied.  My hair is red, chestnut, auburn, orange, or something like that:

So that was good, to wake up laughing, I suppose.  Because I look ridiculous as a red head.  I'll be annoyed at myself every time I see it for the next month or so until it fades out but at least it brought me some laughter this morning.

I told Mike I'd give him a ride to school.  I left my P.J's on, grabbed my 2nd cup of coffee to curb my appetite until I could get home in 1/2 hour, threw on my Crock slippers and took the puppy with me.

I dropped Mike off at school, turned back onto the street and the car died.  I got it started again and pulled back into the parking lot with the car put-putting and turned the car off.  I figured I'll just let it rest, hang out here for Mike's 1 hour class, no big deal.  If it won't make it home at least Mike is with me and can help out.  Then Scout whined.  Oh yeah, I forgot, I had the dog with me.  

And I still had to wait 1 hour until Mike got out of school.  I had a small rope in my car I used as a leash and took her for a walk on the school grounds, in my slippers, with no bag. I was hoping no one would see me.  As my luck would have it though, it was grounds keeper day at the school.  Here I am, walking around with a puppy with nothing to clean up after her, in my PJ's, as about 100 workers are cleaning up the grounds, planting trees, getting ready for the holidays, giving me dirty looks.  There are obviously no dogs allowed on campus by the looks I was getting.  Or, maybe those dirty looks were because I was in my PJ's circling in the lawn, in a sea of nicely dressed college kids.  Maybe they were thinking I had just escaped from a state run facility somewhere, I'm not sure which.

Normally I would have brought several bags on a walk.  I felt so bad.  Then I felt something squishy in my shoe.  Turns out it was Canadian Goose poop on my foot and in the back of my slipper.  I see some of the workers smiling as I'm trying to wash it off in the cold grass, cursing under my breath, college kids staring at this scene too.  I said "Fine Karma, ya bitch, I guess I deserved this one" because I couldn't pick up after my dog.  
So I took Scout to the apartment complex across the street to finish doing her business.  I thought that was a good idea too.  Turns out, there's a no dog policy and about 100 condos full of old people who had been waiting their whole lives for this moment.  Seriously, they must have been waiting by their windows for this day in their dreams.  Because within 5 minutes, literally, 3 people came out, 2 with canes, 1 with a walker, flagging me down, walking towards me with such purpose and vigor I wanted to say, "Well look at you!  Aren't you the little speed walkers!  Good for you!"  But it was to tell me, there is a no dog policy.  The 2 ladies from the first building were nice about it.

The old man from the other building on the way out looked like he wanted revenge against us.  I knew what he was going to say so I kept walking.  As I was leaving and he was following us out, Scout took her number 2 right then and there, of course.  He started coming towards us faster.  So I started to jog out with my dog crouched like she wanted to go again and an old man running towards me.  I was running away saying, "Sorry, I'm so sorry."  

But he didn't want my sorry, he wanted me to take her deposit with me.  I had no bags and he had a look in his eyes like he didn't care, the poop was going with me.  
So I had to keep running....
from an old man....
in my PJ's......
with traces of goose crap still in my slippers 
and on my foot....
on a Monday morning.  

I know I'm suppose to "be not afraid" anymore, but he had a cane damn it, what's a girl to do?  Lucky for me I'm still faster than a 90 year old.  I told Scout she and I should have both went to the bathroom before we left.
I looked up "Angry old man with cane" on Google images 
for this story.  The options were endless, so many pictures of 
angry old men with canes in the world to choose from, who knew....

We went back to the car and waited another 1/2 hour for Mike.  I was looking over my shoulder for the old patrol like a wanted fugitive, ducking down when the groundskeepers from the college got near my car too.

My coffee was cold by this time and I was hungry.  I smelled something bad and thought my dog still had gas because she wasn't done going when we got chased out of the apartment complex.  I was afraid she was sniffing the floor of the car because she was going to go in the car.  

And then she started licking my foot...  
Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten about the goose crap. 
I realized, that's not the puppy that smells, 
it's my damn foot, and I can't wash it off! 
Happy Monday!

Once Mike got there, I tried the car and it started right up, of course, drove fine.  I told Lorens what happened and he said I should have just kept driving, probably just had some water or bad gas in the line and it just needed to backfire a few times and it would have been fine (it's 22 years old). So then I told Lorens I had a better idea.  He takes the 22 year old car to work from now on and I'll keep the better car here with me and the kids.

I am considering leaving Scout at home once in awhile.  I'm also seriously considering getting dressed before leaving the house now that it's November in Chicago.  Because next time, when I think to myself, what could possibly go wrong, I need to say EVERYTHING.  This is you Bev.  Pack for a disaster.  Remember your girl scout training, maybe bring a survival bag with me for trips over a mile, and some soap.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Colorado, minus the heights, I loved it!

Our vacation was fantastic!  No fires near us.  We actually had a camera and these are my pictures for once, not from Google images.  The only problem is that I'm afraid of heights.  I never realized I might have a problem going to Colorado for vacation.  I had never even seen a real mountain and I didn't realize it would feel like a non-stop roller coaster in my stomach driving up and down those INSANE roads.

I actually missed the flat roads of Illinois for once.  How they drive these roads in the winter is crazy to me.  My nephew said we have to come back in the winter for skiing and snowboarding.  Yeah......right.  Only if I could be transported to the resort on the mountain top and left there until it was time to be transported off.  Basically I would need to be air lifted in and out or unconscious.

There was such a steep grade up and down those roads, between Denver and Keystone, that on the way to our resort going down, the brakes were smoking and we had to pull off and pour water on them.
I went into the gas station to look around and calm down.  Everything that said Colorado had bears on it.
I was thinking.... Bears? 
But, but, but..... 
Lions, Tigers, Bears and Sharks eat people.  

I've seen National Geographic and Wild Kingdom T.V. shows...and was scared.  I've always calmed those fears by telling myself, I live in Chicago.  I'll just never go where they live and I'll be fine.  Now I'm beginning to realize there are bears in Colorado.

We got back on the road, I looked up into the clouds, trying not to look at the road and what do I see?  Maybe it's just me, but I see what looks like a friggin bear.  I made Jen snap this picture.  Does a bear poop in the clouds?  Obviously in Colorado they do.....

Once we got to our condos at about 9,300 feet, I just wanted to stay there.  It was beautiful, picturesque.  Condos had full kitchens and grills to save on food expenses, fire places, lots of room, great amenities.  Lodges with pool tables, saunas, a pool, two hot tubs, a little village with shops, bars and restaurants.  A gondola and a ski lift to the very top (12,400 feet) for lunch, hiking and snow tubing in the summer.

The bar/restaurant below on the left (The Kickapoo), is home of the Kickapoo Screw (2 kinds of flavored vodka, rum, orange juice, mango juice and a splash of cranberry juice).  Tip of the day: Altitude+those=you're screwed.  I'll leave those for the younger crowd next time.  The bar/restaurant on the right (The Spoon) had Mimosas, Reggae music, Hummus and fresh cut veges, much more my speed.

My sister was there with her 2 children, many of her friends were there for a camping/hiking trip as well.   We had adventures scheduled for each day we were there.  But I didn't want to drive anywhere and began to realize I'm not the adventurer I obviously thought I was.  Could this be a sign of old age?  I decided to try and face my fears.

Our first scheduled adventure was White Water Rafting on the Colorado River on July 3rd.  Below are pictures Jen snapped when I made Lorens stop the car 1/2 way down the mountain on our way there.  We had to drive 14 miles down a gravel road with thousands of feet drop offs and no guard rails at times.  I felt like I was on a 45 minute roller coaster ride again, falling, falling, falling.  I was shaking and crying and I told them they could leave me there and come back for me after rafting, in 5 hours.

Lorens stopped at this wildlife viewing spot 1/2 way down the mountain and reminded me we were at a "wildlife viewing spot" in the middle of nowhere and there were probably wild animals everywhere.  Possibly even bears.  That worked.  I got back in the car and we continued down.

When we finally got down to the rivers edge, I asked our guide, "So, there's no chance of seeing any bears in this part of the country, right?"  I was sure my family was just messing with me.  I was sure all those pictures of bears on the Colorado souveneirs was just so it looked wild here.  He said, "Oh yeah, there was a bear cub on the rivers edge yesterday during this rafting trip.  I was happy I was on the river and we were able to paddle away.  I knew the mother was probably nearby."

 So after he told me that, 
I knew I'd be staying in the middle of the river
no matter what
possibly forever.

We were paired with another family from Texas.  But my adventurous husband and kids opted for 2 kayaks for a bigger, faster, thrill ride.  I said I'll be in the raft with the family from Texas and the professional river guide.  The family from Texas were so nice and took all these pictures below for us and then e-mailed them to me.

It was sunny and HOT, about 90 degrees.  I assumed, because there was no rain in Colorado lately, the river would be low and slow.  Our guide told us the river water is melted snow from the mountain, it has nothing to do with the low rainfall so far this year.  He said it was very cold and it was at it's highest level today that it had been all season.  He said we WILL be going through some rapids.

This picture below was right as we were getting ready to go through the first set of rapids.  Then she put her camera away until we were through them so she didn't lose it.  So sorry, there's no action shots.  That's me and Marty, the river guide.  Notice the terrified look on my face (probably because I was terrified) and the wind from the approaching rapids blowing my hair back.

The river looked so calm after we went through the rapids (what I assumed were the only rapids we were going to go through) and I thought, look at me, ya big baby.  I'm missing having an adventure, a family moment, because I'm scared.  So I said to our guide, I wish I would have went with Mike in his kayak.  He said, sure, no problem.  He had Mike paddle over and I got into Mike's kayak.  It was beautiful scenery.  We saw a 6 foot round, bald eagles nest high in a tree on the rivers edge, and no bears.  We were all having a great day.

About 2 minutes after I got into Mike's kayak, we turned a bend and BAM.  Freakin rapids again.  And I was thinking, another GREAT idea getting into a kayak Lucy.  Kayaks move much faster than rafts in the rapids.  We were pushed far ahead of our guide.  

Mine and Mikes kayak was immediately caught on some rocks, sideways.  We managed to get off but then we hit a huge wave sideways.  We were both flipped out of the kayak into the rapids.  

The kayak was upside down on top of my head.  Mike pulled it off and said "Mom, I have to flip it over so we can climb back in."  I was swallowing 50 degree water and couldn't catch my breath.  The cold water was taking my breath away and I was also frozen in fear.  I forgot everything our guide told us to do if you fall in like DON'T drag your feet, DON'T face the rapids, climb back into your kayak quickly.   So what did I do?  I let go of the kayak and faced the rapids, scared of the rocks and undertow in the middle that were quickly approaching again.  Mike was busy flipping the kayak over and climbing back into it, like I should have been doing.  

I was bopping up and down, swallowing water, choking, racing down the rapids like a rag doll.  I lost our oars, they were already 50 feet ahead of me, near Lorens & Jen's kayak.  I was dragging my feet, swallowing water.  Everything our guide warned us NOT to do if we fall in.  

My eyes met Lorens'.  He knew I was in trouble.  He pointed to the shoreline.....WHERE THE BEARS LIVE.   So I stayed right in the middle of the rapids.  Lorens, thinking I didn't see the shoreline, literally jumped into the rapids, swam towards me and held out my oar to me, which he had pulled out of the river.  I grabbed on and he pulled me towards him into the slower moving water where Jen had positioned their kayak.  Jen pulled him into the kayak by his life jacket and then he pulled me 1/2 way in by my life jacket.  Mike got his kayak over there and then they did a hand off with me like a football by my life jacket.  They all seemed to have super human strength.

Our guide caught up with us and told us those were great "self rescues."  He told Lorens he was only a minute away from catching up to us and throwing me a rescue rope.  So my husband was a minute ahead of the professional.  A very important minute.  He said Lorens shouldn't have jumped in on purpose, it's against the rules.  Lorens said, "Dude, that's my wife, there are no rules."
My husband, 

Then we stopped at a natural hot spring along the river to warm up in after being in the 50 degree water.

About 20 minutes later, as I was still trying to catch my breath, Jen, Lorens and our guide each jumped off of an almost 40 foot cliff into the Colorado River.  THAT'S LORENS BELOW JUMPING OFF THE CLIFF, not me, I'm not to that point yet.  I was down there, looking up at him in awe.  Thinking, that's MY MAN and I'm a very lucky woman.  He saved my life and then jumped off of a cliff.  Yep, I married Superman.  Superman married Lucy Ricardo.  
My beautiful family:  Jen, Lorens & Mike. 

I'm so glad I faced my fear of heights that day and went down that mountain.  I thought that was the big fear I had to face that day, ha ha.  I'm so glad that in a life or death situation in the rapids we were there for each other, as family should be.   It was a great family bonding experience and the adventure was well worth everything.

The next day was Independence Day/July 4th.  I asked Lorens to make me a cup of coffee.  The first words out of his mouth were, "I pulled you out of the Colorado River and you want me to make you a cup of coffee?"  So I got up and made the coffee.  Great Lucy, you'll never live this one down.  But that's alright, he earned it in my book.

There was a nationwide heat wave except up on the mountain where we were.  There was even snow at the very top and we decided to go snow tubing, it was the last week it was open.  We got to the gondola (that I talked myself into going on, so that I could go tubing with my family).

They said "SORRY, the gondola isn't running today.
You'll have to take the SKI LIFT up. "
The open air, 
your feet are dangling,
 non-enclosed, SKI LIFT.
I froze.  
I told them to just go ahead without me.
They had reservations and no time to argue with me.

I went back to the condos where my sister and niece reminded me about how glad I was I went down the mountain for the white water rafting adventure.  I said you're right, I'll do it, I don't want to miss out on anything.  So about an hour later (after 2 mimosa's), I rode up on the ski lift with one of the nice workers, Nicole.  Nicole talked to me about her life back in Virginia Beach as I kept my eyes closed tight for the 15 minute ride to the top.

I missed seeing them tubing but got up there in time for lunch with them at a nice outdoor restaurant on the mountain top.  I had grilled salmon on a bed of greens topped with chutney sauce.  It was delicious.  They opted for the gourmet burgers with fresh fruit on the side.  My sister, my niece and their friend Alice joined us at the top for lunch as well.  I heard that the ride up and down was beautiful, I wouldn't know, my eyes were closed.  But it was postcard perfect up there.

That's them at the bottom.
Mike & Jen

Me, Mike, Lorens & Jen

Alice, Dawn & Aimee
Cousins Jen, Aimee & Mike
Me and my sister Dawn.

Below is the nice worker Nicole, on the left, who rode it up with me 
and my niece Aimee who rode it down with me in the cold rain.  
The rain was a welcome sight in Colorado with all the fires at that time.  
My teasing big sister Dawn was in the chair behind us saying things like, 
"Was that lightening?  Is that a bear?"
 I was saying, "Shut up Dawn.  Shut up Dawn, brat!"  

Later that afternoon we all went horseback riding through the mountains about 15 minutes away in Breckenridge, Colorado. The only part about the "trail ride through the mountains" I didn't like was, again, the mountains.  Don't get me wrong, mountains are beautiful.  I had never seen such natural beauty.  It just felt like a roller coaster ride all over again.

They gave me a good, gentle horse named Dakota.  They had green apples you could buy for your horse so we all did.  Before we got on our horses, we petted their noses as they ate their apples.  Dakota loved it and rubbed his face against me when he was done eating it.  I wanted to take him back to Chicago with me like a puppy.  I don't think my landlord would have approved.

Once we really started climbing up, up, up, the horses were sometimes slipping on loose rocks.  I was freaking out and wanted to jump off my horse and walk back down.  But we were 20 minutes up and into the mountain of our hour and a half ride and now I knew there actually were bears in Colorado.  I looked around.  There were small kids in our group.  I've seen the wildlife shows.  They always go for the little ones they can easily pick off.  The bears would surely eat them first.  Much safer than walking back by myself.  Yes, I would finish the ride with my family and the bear bait, I mean the small children from other families.

The guides were telling us all about the mountains around Breckenridge Colorado where we were.  I started listening and looking around me at the beauty of it all.  There were mountain streams we had to cross, trails through the trees, beautiful flowers and birds and the sun starting to set behind the mountains.  I had never seen such beautiful scenery firsthand.

There was an all you could eat dinner afterwards, set up western style with live music we all sang along too.  Again I was happy I pushed myself through my fear of heights and had another great adventure with my family.  I did cut my hand open, deep on a dead tree, but other than that, it was great.
My favorite picture

Our niece Aimee, Jen, Mike and my sister Dawn, 
who made this vacation possible.

Our nephew Tommy joined us at their condo too.  He went with some of my sisters friends on a camping trip/hike up a 14,000 foot mountain so we didn't get to spend enough time with him.  But when he was there there were billiard games at the lodge, long talks with his cousins and bonding time for all of them as well.  We usually only see each other at Christmas so this was a great family vacation.  We hope to save up for a  family vacation with them every summer.
Tommy & Michael  listening to Bill sing and play guitar
one evening in the condos.

Dinner Poolside.  
Lorens grilled beef kabobs, steaks and salmon.
Alice made a salad of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil
in a tangy dressing.  I made Basmati rice.
(Clockwise: Mike, Jen, me, Lorens, Tommy, Dawn, Bill & Alice)
 Bill, Alice & Mike

Mike, Terri & Jen

One day, Mike, Terri and I hiked about 1-2 miles from our resort.  That was another great adventure, walking through the woods, along streams, requiring no drive down the mountain.  I loved it.  But I was thinking bears would love it here too.  So I asked Terri, "There's no chance of us seeing any bears is there?"  She thought I meant I was hoping to find a place for some cold "beers" and said "yeah, I'm sure there's some up ahead somewhere."  I was stammering, frozen, trying to remember how to form words and walk forward (which my legs refused to do after she said there's probably SOME bears up ahead, as in multiple bears).  Then she realized what I meant and said no "bears" up ahead, only "beers".  We were all laughing hysterically (mine was a hysterical laughter of relief).  

Terri trying to be taller than me.

We walked to a little lake that's an ice rink in the winter that you can paddle boat on in the summers.  We rented a paddle boat and bought bags of duck/fish food.  Every duck and goose on that lake followed us around.  A few even tried to jump on our boat.  The giant fish were jumping out of the water too trying to eat every bite.  There were little shops surrounding the lake that we went and explored afterwards too.  

Michael snapped this picture of a rainbow over our resort when we were on a hike after a sun shower.  It stretched from one mountain to the other with our resort in the middle.  You could see both sides of the rainbow.  This picture doesn't do it justice.  It was gorgeous. 
Minus the insane, steep roads, almost drowning, 
the bad cut on my hand and the possibility of bears,
I just have to be unconscious for the driving parts next time.
Wake me up on the mountain top, 
it's beautiful up there!

UPDATE:  So, when I got back to Chicago, I was uploading our family pictures to the Keystone Resorts Facebook page (3 of which were added into the resorts photos) and I see pictures of a bear out in front of the resort.  The date stamp says 2011 but the resort commented that they need to change the date stamp on their camera, this actually happened June 7, 2012 (3 weeks before we arrived there).  I told you there were friggin bears, I knew it.  I can't believe I was hiking in the woods and streams around the mountain where they live.  Next time I'm bringing a taser gun.  
The entrance to our resort
I walked down this sidewalk.  Never again.
 Then he ran around to the back of the resort.
I would never think a bear would be in a tree above my head.
See, this is why I love Chicago, only squirrels in our trees.
We keep our Bears confined to Soldier Field.

 They said he was tranquilized and moved
to a less populated part of the mountain.
Wait.....what? Another part of the same mountain the resort is on?
He wasn't relocated to, like, Alaska?
Did I mention?  Oh helllllll no.  
N.E.V.E.R.  A.G.A.I.N
(but it was a great vacation)