Chloe's 6!

At 3:34p local time, Chloe joined the 6-year-old cohort. And none too soon, either... had she had to contain her excitement another day for her birthday, Peggy and I were afraid what might have happened to her!

When I went in to her room to wake her up this morning, she was already awake – wide awake – and practically bouncing off the walls. I made her a special breakfast of french toast, and after she got dressed for school, Peggy put a "Today's My B-Day" ribbon on her. It was then off to school where she was greeted by the birthday puppet "Hairy" in her enrichment program, and in her Kindergarten class, she read to her friends (as all classmates are called) the "My Life Story" photo-and-caption-book she created.

After school, it was back home to eat some cake, eat some more cake, and open up the gift we got her. Over the last week or so, she's been pining for a camera and a pogo stick. Seeing that we just got her a RipStick for Christmas, we thought there would be ample time for skinned knees and bruised limbs, so we got her a Disney digital camera.

The rest of the night was filled with ethereal blue dots in the eyes for Peggy and I as Chloe was taking pictures of practically everything and the auto-flash was turning on. And we got off lucky... due to the number of photos she took of Chamberlain, we can't imagine what the world was looking like to him. (Picture to the right: Chloe's Disney camera has the ability to include add-ons in the photos. Her favorite thus far is the crown. In addition to being "placed" on me, it's been on Chamberlain, the kitchen table, and a chandelier.)


From the Hands of Babes

Chloe's been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. recently at school. For her one assignment, she and her classmates were instructed to begin with "I have a dream..." and then continue with what they thought MLK was dreaming about. Here's what Chloe wrote (followed by the "translation")
I hav a jem. Chret bran pepl lik pech pepl
I have a dream. Treat brown people like peach people.

She did a pretty good job, yes?


Revisiting an Earlier Post

Back in an August 2008 post, I posed the question, "Why is cycling in Pennsylvania better than cycling in Colorado?" The answer I gave at the time was "Because in Pennsylvania, you don't need cold weather gear when going on a ride in August!"

Well, I'm going to have to revise both question and answer.
Q: Why is cycling in Colorado better than cycling in Pennsylvania?
A: Because in Colorado, sometimes you don't have to wear any cold weather gear when going on a ride in January!

Presently in Boulder, it is 72 degrees. I got away with wearing "summer gear" for my ride earlier today. I never would have imagined being able to do that prior to moving out here. But, in fact, as I hear from neighbors and friends, it is not uncommon in winter for the Boulder area to experience a stretch of some very mild days.

This little gift from Mother Nature isn't expected to last though. The forecast is for one more day in the 60s, and then snow on Friday. Just in time for skiing on Saturday!


I'm on YouTube...

... but not in a Jerry Springer or Johnny Knoxville kinda way.

I signed up for an indoor cycling class at a local bike shop and had my 2nd session last night. Apparently, the bike shop owner (who also blogs on behalf of his shop) took a short video clip of the class to post on the shop's blog. Follow this link to see it... I come into the frame at about 8 seconds into clip (white shirt, not a lot of hair on the head, looking down and gasping for air.)


Christmas & New Year's Recap

All of the excitement from last week has passed, allowing me to a quick recap of what we were up to from late-December to early-January.

On the 30th, we got an early jump on the day as we needed to drop Chamberlain off at the "spa" before making our way to the airport to fly back East. For late December, it was a warm day (temps in the low 50s at 8a) but a particularly windy day. I didn't count how many, but I ran over several tumbleweeds on the way to the airport. The same winds that made the drive to the airport such a challenge proved to be pretty helpful once airborne — we took off about 25 minutes late, but the nice tailwind allowed us to land on time in Philly.

It was then up to the Lehigh Valley area to visit family and friends for the next several days. Some of the "friends" we had yet to see; namely, the 3 female beagle puppies from a litter born about 2.5 months ago. (Pictured to the right is Chloe holding TomBo Chloe's Princess.) Despite occasional pleas from some in our party, we came back to Colorado with the same number of dogs we went to Pennsylvania with. We did, however, come back to Colorado with well-founded hopes that we'll be getting more visitors out here in the months ahead... awesome! Come on out folks!

January 5th was notable for 2 reasons: 1) it was our last day visiting in PA for this trip, and 2) it was Peggy's last day of her "sabbatical." On the 6th, she became "Peggy Schrammel, Vice President - Registries and Post Approval Development, United BioSource Corporation." What's her job? I'm not 100% sure, but I think, based on the title, that part of it has something to do with helping soon-to-be-married couples pick out everyday stemware at Crate and Barrel.

On morning of the 7th, it was back to the routine for everyone: Peggy slapping the snooze once before going downstairs to get her cup of coffee and start work in her home office; me trying to dislodge Chloe from her bed so she can get moving and eventually/hopefully catch the bus; and Chamberlain following me around, anticipating a visit to the dog park.


Blazes around Boulder - part II

Well... we're back home.

After a so-so night and complimentary breakfast at the Best Western, Chloe and I ventured over to her school to get her school day started. Clearly, the wildfire was THE topic of conversation, and I was able to catch up with some neighbors to see how their nights were. Once the kids were in the school, a neighbor and I got back in the car to go see what the neighborhood looked like. And it didn't take long, though we were still about 1.5 miles away, to see that the fire had spread quite a bit since we left our homes last night. Thankfully, no homes were lost in our neighborhood, but fire did creep right up to the northern and western borders. Some homeowners will come home to charred grass right across the street from their home.

Once Peg checked out of the hotel and came home, we drove north out of town to see the extent of the fire and couldn't believe our eyes... about how much of the foothills and adjacent plains burned, and how great of a job the firefighters did in protecting homes, businesses, barns, etc. given the strong winds. (For a great video clip showing what the firefighters were up against with the wind, watch this.)

It was then back to the house to unpack what we loaded in the cars about 15 hours prior. At this point we had a lighthearted moment as we found out out some of the items Chloe thought were key to take along for our evacuation. In her backpack, we found these items: a couple of Chamberlain's chew toys, math flash cards, a miniature football, bracelets, stuffed animals, and lip gloss. (Peggy packed the other "essentials" for her... clothing, toiletries, etc.)

The latest news reports had these figures on the fire:
- Approximately 1,400 acres, within a 3,600 acre area, burned.
- One home and one large structure completely lost, one home partially damaged. Three barns and several other outbuildings and small structures were also consumed in the fire.
- One police officer and two firefighters have been treated for minor injuries.

To view pictures I took:
- click here (I posted them on shutterfly... you do not need an account to view them.)
- then click on "View Album" (near the bottom of the page)
- then click on "Detail View" (near the top of the page) and read the captions on the right.
- then click on the left/right arrows to scroll through.


Blazes around Boulder

I know I skipped right over the holiday period, but I promise I'll do a recap in the near future. The reason I can't do it now is that KnPnCnC are holed-up in a hotel room, evacuees from a wildfire that is burning at the northern tip of our neighborhood.

I heard earlier in the day about a wildfire several miles north and east of town that was started by high winds knocking down an electric transformer, and it catching the grass on fire. I didn't pay much attention to it since the westerly winds (gusting over 80 mph locally, and over 90 mph in the region) were fanning the flames away from us.

Then, when I picked up Chloe from the bus stop, I received a call from a friend asking me if I could take her kids back to our house because she's stuck in a traffic... the police shut down roads north of town. I thought that strange since the fire I knew of was pretty far away. When Susie arrived to pick up her kids, she said there's another fire, this one just north of our neighborhood and on the other side of the ridge.

After Susie left, I took a drive up to the northern tip of our neighborhood to see what I could see. There was plenty of smoke, and I could see some flames. But again the west winds led me to believe the fire would stay away. I came back to the house, and took Peggy and Chloe to see the fires, and in that short time, the winds spread the fire quite a bit. It was about 5 pm at this point.

Again we returned home, to see what news could be found online and on TV. It was about that time that we began to see evacuation notices for area neighborhoods, but not ours. We looked out our bedroom window to the North and saw A LOT more red and orange outside our neighborhood then we saw 15 minutes prior. We jumped back in the car to see what was going on, and what was a lot of smoke and some flames 45-60 minutes ago, was now covered in flames and inching slightly southward. It was then a Fire Dept. official came up to our car to ask us to clear the area as they are going to start evacuating the neighborhood... our neighborhood.

We drove back to the house and, within 30 minutes, loaded up what we think we'd need or - worse case scenario - want... photo albums, computers, important files, clothes, pet, etc. We took calls from friends offering a place to stay, and a reverse 9-1-1 call from the Boulder Sheriff's Office, officially telling us of the mandatory evacuation.

At about 6 pm, after a final glimpse around the house for things we'd want to take with us, we got in the cars and, before finding a restaurant for dinner, drove up to take another look-see at the fires. Thankfully, the winds had subsided substantially, and the flames had lessened in intensity. But by no means were they out.

After dinner, we found our way to a Starbucks for its wi-fi. Peg got on her laptop and read that our neighborhood was still under evacuation orders and that it would probably be so for the night. Though he is an easy pet, we thought taking Chamberlain into a friends house for the night might me problematic. So after two "no room at the inn" calls, we lucked out and found a pet-friendly room at a Best Western (which is where I am typing this now.)

We caught some news tonight, and here's the latest: 1,000 acres burned; 2 structures lost; 2 minor injuries to firefighters; the fire near our neighborhood is not officially contained, but officials are hopeful that once the winds die down after midnight, firefighters will begin to take the upper hand. The news reports cautioned viewers that there still is cause for concern... the winds, despite waning, still occasionally gust to 45+ mph, and utility poles that caught fire might topple, potentially putting live wires in contact with dry grasses and igniting another fire.

More updates and pictures later. Now go hug a firefighter.