Sunday, May 13, 2012

Colorado Craft Beer Week

Matt and I decided to join some of our favorite local breweries yesterday at a craft beer festival to help kick off Colorado Craft Beer Week. It's no secret that craft beer is a huge part of the Colorado economy. Everybody just does it so well out here. It was nice to go to a smaller festival than the Great American Beer Festival where there are too many breweries to even get to every booth. Yesterday's festival felt more like a back yard barbecue. I even got to meet the hosts of the Craft Beer Radio show on AM760. There is a picture of me with Turk and the "Gubna" below.
In addition to some good beer sampling, our tickets also included a meal of either beer can chicken roasted for hours on the grill (my choice) or a spicy brat (Matt's choice). The chicken was amazing. I even let Matt try some. :)
I also had some fun and took some pictures at the light rail. (We were responsible and walked/rode the train to and from the event.) What a fun day! Even better was coming home to a mailbox which contained a letter of acceptance to Northeastern University. I should be finished with my Master's in a year or so now that I finally found the right program. Third time's a charm! :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Millards meet Mallards

We've had some neighborhood visitors recently. This Mallard duck couple has made our yard its home for about a week now. They showed up right before our camping trip and have been around ever since! We can't find a nest but they seem to like prefer our yard, none the less. Maybe it has something to do with the name?
My hope is that they really do have a nest nearby and one day I will wake up to little ducklings wandering around our yard!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sand Dunes Camping

If you are reading this for the second time, you will notice that I have re-written this post. It seems even my Apple technology is not foolproof. I tried to create a new blog post on my iPad and instead I inadvertantly typed over this original post. Argh. But I want to remember this camping trip, so here I am typing it all out again.
As indicated in the title of this post, Matt and I decided that a camping trip in Sand Dunes National Park would be a great way to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. Matt has never been and I have been eager to get back there ever since a trip I took with the KU Geography Field Campers in 2006. So last Thursday, we packed up our camping gear and our dogs and headed out to the Dunes.
We arrived at the park's campsite around 1:30 pm which was great timing. We had our pick of campsites but the entire thing was full within a few hours. Our site was great...not too close to any others and offered plenty of shade over our tent all day long. We set up our brand new tent right away. It is so nice to finally have a tent we can stand up in! After that, I had just enough time to go get some firewood and ice for the cooler before the visitor's center closed.
One crazy thing about the sand dunes is that it is windy all day long. It made cooking very difficult. We had kabobs and diced potatoes for dinner, but it took forever before this simple meal to be fully cooked. Thursday night was pretty sleepless. The moon was super bright and our air mattress was leaky, so it deflated as the night went on. Add to that the fact that the boy scouts in a nearby campsite got up at dawn and started making a ruckus.
Things got better on Friday. We successfully cooked breakfast (eggs, bacon and toast) and then set out on a 6.5 mile out-and-back hike over Mosca Pass. The hike was beautiful and we only encountered one other group of hikers so it was also nice and quiet. I was starting to wonder when we would get to the top of the pass, but we made it and had a nice picnic lunch. It took some major encouragement to get the dogs back down the mountain. They were so tired when we got back to the car that Perdi fell asleep immediately and was out for the rest of the afternoon. Apparently she needs more 6.5 mile hikes because she still keeps us on our toes most of the time.
After the hike, Matt drove in to Alamosa to get us a new air mattress (I know, talk about "roughing" it!) and he came back with hot dogs and potato salad as well. Made for a way easier supper and a better night of sleep.
Saturday we again woke up at dawn, but this time on purpose. We needed to get an early start on our dune hike before the sun got too hot for the dogs to walk on. Our early morning paid off, as we were the first hikers up to High Dune. I got a little height sick up there, so we didn't make it to the absolute top. I believe that having the dogs with me on hikes like that makes me become afraid of heights. I guess that I am scared that something will happen to them, although what could possibly happen on a massive pile of sand?
Anyhow, I managed to forget my camera on that morning hike, but we did to another mini hike in the afternoon, which are when we snapped the sand pictures below. Between the first and second dune hikes, we did a lot of reading and relaxing. I decided to get some sun on my legs while I read so I sat outside in a camping chair. I got completely engrossed in my book (hello, second Hunger Games is amazing!!) and when I looked down, my legs were already getting red. I headed straight inside the tent, but an hour later I was as red as a lobster.
Sunday, we pretty much headed out right after we woke up. My legs were uncomfortable and we both were craving some Starbucks. But it was nice to have the rest of the day to unpack and relax around the house before heading back to work Monday.
Overall, the trip was awesome despite the minor hiccups i mentioned. Sand Dunes National Park is way better than Rocky Mountain when it comes to dogs. I had a straight up conversation with a park ranger when we arrived just so that I knew where the dogs were allowed. He was pretty much okay with anything as long as they were leashed and we picked up after them. When we took the dogs to Rocky Mountain National Park a couple years ago, we couldnt even get out of the car with them, even on leash.
The campsite was really nice, albeit a little loud. There were lots of families and boy scouts as I mentioned before. However, this did provide us with some amount of humor. One mom was yelling at her kids so loud and so often that we learned all four of the first and middle names. The dad from the same family yelled at his daughter one night because she wanted to go in the tent but he thought she was "too stinky" to go in. That got a good chuckle out of Matt and I. Hopefully that will be us someday. :)
The pictures below are just a sample of the ones we took. If you double click on one, a slideshow will pop up and you will be able to see the landscape oriented ones better because they are still not displaying properly. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cards Are Officially Stacked

**I wrote this post last week. It has just taken me a couple weeks to get up the guts to post it.

Once again, it's time for my once-monthly blog update. I honestly didn't intend for my posts to become so infrequent, but it seems that I can only motivate myself to blog when I really have something to say these days. Sure, I have plenty to blog about lately, with all of the wonderful weddings and other events we have attended in the past month and a half or so. I have a few pictures too! And I fully intend to write a big long post about all of our wonderful trips to Kansas. But that's not REALLY what's been on my mind lately.
Matt and I have decided that it's time to open up about what's going on with us in the past couple months. A peek into a very personal issue that has taken a while for us to fully accept and be open about. Basically, we are at the beginning stages of infertility "investigation." About a year and a half ago, we decided to start unofficially trying to have a baby. We knew we might experience some difficulty with this, mostly because of the possibility of negative side effects from chemo and radiation Matt was given during his childhood fight with cancer. Both of us were not 100% positive that we were ready for a baby, but we figured if there was even a chance that we would have problems, it would be better to figure it out sooner rather than later while we have age on our side.
Fast forward to a few months ago. It had been over a year, and no sign of a baby. Not even close. So we went to see my OB/GYN and had a few tests run. A few days later, she calls and asks us to both come in to her office together. Not a good sign. She suspects that the side effects of the drugs are at least part of the reason we havent been able to conceive yet and refers us to a local reproductive specialist.


Have you ever felt like maybe you are in the right place at the right time? Even though we don't know much more at this point, I certainly feel like we are where we need to be right now. It turns out that the reproductive medicine clinic we were referred to is located approximately 10 miles south of our house. It also happens to have one of the highest success rates in the country. In fact, infertile couples come from all over the world to seek help from this office. Ironically, I was watching one of my favorite reality TV shows, "Giuliana and Bill" about two weeks after I booked our fist appointment with our specialist, Dr. Schoolcraft. Out of the blue, G & B (who are also struggling with infertility) started talking about travelling to "a clinic in Denver" and then ended the episode sitting face to face with our exact doctor! Maybe I am naive, but I took great hope and comfort away from that episode, even with all of the questions that we have yet to answer about our own unique case. I felt even better after own meeting with Dr. Schoolcraft. He ordered us both to have some more tests done and then suggested that we "re-group" when we know more. But he never ever made us feel like we didn't have hope. I know most doctors would never say anything so extreme right out off the bat, but it was nice just the same.

I went in for my tests a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, Matt and I both bring our own set of issues to the table. Nobody I spoke with really seems concerned about my particular case. But this afternoon I still couldn't help feeling that the cards are officially stacked against us. It is, after all, just one more thing to be concerned about.


So how do we feel at this point? Despite what we do and don't know right now, we are still optimistic that we can still have a baby between the two of us. And even if we can't, we still have many other options. We don't mind talking what we know so far (hence the blog post), so we won't be offended if you ask. And of course, we are still over-the-top excited about baby/kid news of any sort. New pregnancies, pregnancy stories, the birth of babies (see previous post), stories about infants and kids growing name it. Bring it on! The last thing we want is for anyone to feel like we can't deal with their happy news just because we are having our own struggle. Yes, we have baby fever. But that just makes us want to cuddle your kids MORE (and read any blog or Facebook status you happen to want to share as well. :) )

Thanks for stopping by the blog and listening to this difficult post! Love and *blog* hugs to you all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's A Nephew!!

I just thought I would take a moment to share a few pictures of the newest addition to the Millard family.

This is our nephew Tate William Millard, born on Sept. 10, 2011. He is such a sweet and precious (and very happy) baby! He was not even 24 hours old in this photo.

Proud parents, Mark and Talicia. What a beautiful family!

Matt and I were thrilled to get to meet this little guy while we were in Kansas last weekend.

I could have held him forever!

Congratulations to Mark and Talicia!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Advice For My Brother

A monumental event has occurred. My little brother is officially a college student! He moved in to the K-State dorms this weekend and ever since, I have been re-living MY Freshman year (via some MAJOR stalking of his Facebook page.) :)

The thing about having a brother who is 10 years my junior is that every time he does something momentous (like go to college), it reminds me of how long ago those events were in my own life. I know I say it over and over again, but time has seemingly FLOWN by since my own move in to this glorious building.

Ahh yes, Ellsworth Hall: my first of many homes away from home.

This is me ten years ago during move-in day at KU.

When I look at this picture, I am amazed how much has changed since then! And I wondered what advice to give to my brother to prepare him for such an amazing period of his life.

Sure, I have been handing Brennan bits and pieces of my infinite wealth of knowledge when I can. For example:

"Don't wait until after classes start to buy your books or you will get way behind on your reading."
"If you and your roommate both loft your beds, you will have WAY more space in your room."
"Don't buy the 21-meal plan unless you really think you will eat in the cafeteria for every single meal of every single day." (The KBSI refrigerator full of leftovers is ALWAYS an option if he gets hungry.)

But all that is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Now, I know Brennan and I are not going to have the exact same college experience. For one thing, he's a GUY. For another, he is at a completely different university. (One that is, well, really close to home).

But here's what freaks me out. Ten years ago at this time, I was:
-Realizing the amazing and scary feeling of being (almost) completely independent and on my own.
-Making awesome new friends and realizing how much my "old" friends meant to me at the same time.

-Unknowingly (at the time) meeting the love of my life.
-Finding out that studying in high school and studying in college were two entirely different concepts. (And subsequently emailing my high school English teacher to thank her for preparing me to write for college so well.)
-Realizing that my metabolism was no longer made of steel.
-Realizing that I still needed my mom and dad to take care of me when I got sick after spending a week at home with mono.

It is crazy to think that Brennan will be experiencing some of these things in the next few days, weeks and months! (Hopefully, he will avoid mono!)

After all of this reminiscing, I came to one conclusion. The best advice I think I can give right now, is for him to recognize that this is a momentous time of change in his life and embrace it!

I can't wait to see what lessons he takes away from college, and the person he is 10 years from now!

And now, I will leave you will a couple other 10 year old moving day photos. :) Thanks dad!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

June Recap in Photos

June was a busy month around here! I managed to snap a few photos here and there. That's better than I have been doing this month.

*I apologize in advance for the spacing of the photos as captions here. Does anyone have any tips for better photo settings in Blogger??
At the very end of May, we drove to Manhattan for my brother's high school graduation. I can't believe he is a college student now!! He will be attending K-State this fall. I guess you could consider us a house divided, except for the fact that I am the only one in my immediate family who ventured out down the road to KU! :)

The first weekend of June, Bill and Barbara came out for a visit on their way down to Santa Fe. We took them for a hike near Clear Creek.
There has been so much snowfall and rain this year and Clear Creek was gushing water. I had never seen it moving so fast.

My friend Liz has been bring out my inner artist. She discovered a place downtown called Sipping and Painting, where they literally walk you through a painting. My first one was "Colorado Wildflowers."

We went back a week later and did this one as well. I can't remember the title, but it turned out well except for the bench, which i goofed up pretty badly!

For Matt's birthday, we went up to Ft. Collins to see one of our favorite bands, Jack's Mannequin. Since Susie's birthday was so close as well, we all surprised her with the tickets. The four of us had been wanting to see them perform for a long time, so how perfect was is that they were in Ft. Collins for Matt and Susie's birthday?

At the concert. My head is cut of my more flattering pictures! :)

Later that week, I finished one of my stressful classes. I had to present my project to the class conference-style. Pongo was a fan of my presentation! :)

As you can see, June was a fantastic month, filled with many of our favorite people. It's hard to believe half of July is already gone as well! We have spent much of our nights and weekends bumming around, watching the seasons of Lost and just preparing for our busy busy fall. We had a fun 4th of July weekend, most of which was spent at Coors field watching the Royals take on the Rockies. We went to two of the three games, and ironically the Royals won the one game we DIDN'T see on Sunday. Last weekend, we finally made it up to the mountains for a camping trip with Nick, Carlene, Becky and Jim. Becky and Carlene were both roommates of mine in college. If Anne had been here, we would have had the whole group! I didn't get any pictures during camping because my camera battery was dead. But good times were had by all!

I think that's all for now!