The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Monday, August 31, 2009

The face behind the blog...

This is me. As the author of this blog, I should show you the "real me" a little more than I do, but over the past few years I realize I don't like to show you myself very often. All I tend to see are my droopy eyelids and uneven smile. The rest of me has plenty of flaws too. As each year passes, age has sure made me dislike more and more superficial things about myself.

When I start to see all those wrinkles and flaws, and ponder my own mortality, I think of my mom. I remember her great attitude and how she lived her life, not just at the end but throughout her 40's, 50's and 60's. Wrinkles and flaws were especially of no concern to her once she learned she had only a year to live. What truly becomes important in life isn't the outside part of us, but who we have in our lives and those we hold dear. I am so glad I was able to be a part of my mom living that concept first hand.

Since my parents both passed at age 67, I spend a lot of time thinking about the time I have left on this earth. How am I spending it and with whom? Do I invest in the relationships that mean the most to me? Is the way I live my life, true to how I want to be remembered? Maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis, or maybe I'm still trying to find my way. Either way, I'm trying to live more fully and embrace life more, just like my mom taught me to do during her lifetime. In doing so, I've picked up a new hobby. There are still so many things I want to accomplish in this lifetime...including learning how to knit! Although I haven't learned how to knit yet, I did learn a "lazy" version!

See this loom and yarn in the photo? I learned a new skill with Ashlyn at Girl Scout camp using the "Kniffty Knitter." I am now officially hooked on creating treasures with the Kniffty Knitter...This is what I have been busy doing in my free time!

Don't laugh, but I have made 6 matching sets of mother/daughter hats! Now if I could just learn how to knit for real and make matching scarves! I have no idea who will want to wear these works of art...Luckily we live in a state that sees snow, so I'm hoping friends will oblige me this winter! Doesn't everyone need a warm hat when they walk to their mailbox? :-)

Tom and I have also started excersing together! We have one of the most perfect settings to make exercise as pleasurable as possible. We have been jog/walking around our neighborhood lake on a 3.5 mile loop. There are prairie dogs, cottontail rabbits, egrets, wildflowers, fisherman, canoes, and wonderful views of the Rocky Mountains to enjoy as we get outside and get moving! Since Tom is home during his job search, we have been enjoying getting active and making positive life changes. I joined Weight Watchers last week and am hoping these positive changes will help me not only lose weight, but lower my cholestrol, etc...

Tom has also been growing quite a mountain-man beard since being home almost a month. When it is daylight tomorrow I will take a photo to share. He loves it and not having to shave like he did daily the past 20 years! I have a differing opinion about the beard, but will show you a photo so you can see for yourself!

I will say, "Goodnight" for now, and wish you all a good week! I hope you spend every day living fully!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School in Colorado...

Summer has officially ended for the kids, and today was back to school for the elementary school! Is this child excited to start 3rd grade? I think the pose says it all! She couldn't wait to start the day! A new backpack and fresh school supplies are just the way to start the new school year!

Ashlyn asked me a few day ago, "Mom, is it OK if I want to reinvent myself?" She said she wanted to be more "tom-boyish" and maybe it was time for all the fancy hair bows to go. Oh no, not the hair bows! I was hoping we could get one more year out of wearing all those darling hair bows I love so much! So, today she wore a headband and no bows, (bummer) and high top sneakers...definitely a new look for this new 3rd grader!

Paint-splattered pants...the "new" look! Gee, maybe we could make a fortune marketing our own version...wouldn't that be fun to make! :-)

Ashlyn waiting for the bus to arrive on our little bridge. Today was also a first as Tom was able to come to school on the first day, and take pictures! It sure is nice having Daddy home for all these special milestones!

Now that school is back in session, (Kyle starts tomorrow) I will hopefully have time to get back to visiting all my blogger friends, and real life friends too! I have missed you! We have sure been busy the last few weeks. Ashlyn and I went camping with Girl Scouts where we got to try archery, hike, put on skits, eat smores and sleep under the stars! There was "Groovy Goat Camp" this week where Ashlyn learned how to show goats, milk the goats, and make lots of groovy goat crafts! Kyle had a visit to the oral surgeon where he had 5 teeth removed and braces go on next week! Tom got his resume completed, played a few rounds of golf, and we accepted an offer on my parents home in Red Bluff! All in all, much is getting accomplished...but blogging!

I look forward to catching up on all of your lives, and hearing what the new school year has in store for you and your children! Happy End of Summer and Beginning of School!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

Whew...want to read a real tear-jerker? I didn't think so, but reading this book sure puts our current luxuries into perspective.

Tom has been hounding me for years to read one of his favorite books, "The Grapes of Wrath." I wasn't very interested, not because I didn't feel the story would be compelling, it was more for the reason that I haven't been interested in any sad stories, movies, or books describing human suffering. I guess I saw more than I ever wanted to experience first hand watching my mother's slow death from brain cancer. I didn't want to experience more, even if reading about it is easier than seeing it and living it with a loved one. After our last trip to the library and Tom's reading of the book again, I decided to plow forth and read.

Dust storms in the 1930's destroying towns and homesteads.
In the 1930's a devasting drought brought about a series of events that lead to terrible human suffering and death. John Steinbeck wrote, "The Grapes of Wrath" depicting what life was like during that time in history. The book follows the Joad Family as they leave their farm in Oaklahoma after the bank reposses it. Thousands of families were no longer able to grow crops after the drought which brought on horrible dust storms. The bank took over theses farms for lack of payment on the loans and the people had no choice but to leave their homeland in search of greener pastures and work in California.

Thousands of families sold all of their belongings, some getting only $18 for everything, and packing what they could on old jalopies purchased for $50-75.00. Setting out to cross the country with around $100 to their names, they experienced great heartache on their journey.

Once arriving in California they were told there would be work picking oranges and peaches. Unfortuantely, there were more families looking for work than there were jobs. Without water, shelter, and food, the migrant people starved to death. When work was found, often picking cotton, the land owners paid minimum wages knowing that someone would always work for less. If one man was willing to work for .35 cents a day, another would do it for .25 cents for any chance to feed his family. The hope of owning land, or a small farm to start fresh would never come for these people. They no longer worked for wages, but for a cup of flour and a spoonful of lard.

A typical cotton picker...some of the only work available...families would pick cotton in exchange for food for their starving families. The book ends with an example of true giving, but we are left wondering what happened to these people. I have been curious about how many generations it took until they were they able to sustain themselves. During one poignant scene a family couldn't afford a loaf of bread, but asked if the shop owner could cut off .10 cents worth so they would have something. I cannot even imagine what suffering these people experienced, but reading the book did make me appreciate every meal we are lucky enough to eat.

Tonight we are going to watch the movie made in 1940 starring Henry Fonda. Tom would like Kyle to read the book, hoping it will enable him to see how much we have as we live in a society that covets "more."

Have you read any great books this summer? We'd love your suggestions!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Last stop...Telluride, Colorado

We drove onto Telluride after our Mesa Verde visit and what a beautiful little mountain town this was! We stayed in Mountain Village, and took the gondola into Telluride which is an old mining town. We enjoyed all the history of this quaint town, and saw the bank Butch Cassidy robbed of $24,000 back in the 1800's. At this high altitude of 9,500 ft. flowers are gorgeous and mountain wildflowers are in abundance!

"Mountain Village" complete with an ice skating rink in the winter, (the empty space in the middle of the picture) rock climbing wall for the kids, trampolines, shopping, restaurants, and no cars necessary. The free gondola system takes visitors to shopping, restaurants, golf, and some of the worlds best skiing!
We had fun making S'More Memories! After a lovely dinner at "Onyx" the restaurant had all the makings for s'mores that the kids could roast over their open fire pits in the village. Once the sun went down, it was cool and brisk so even in Aug. s'mores were perfect!
Riding the gondola into the little town of Telluride. The town is situated right in the valley between the gorgeous San Juan Mountains.
We had a relaxing family road trip and it was wonderful to see so many points of interest in our state. Now we are home and moving forward with the last few weeks of summer...Girl Scout camping, sewing class for Ashlyn, a Green Day Concert for Kyle, job hunting for Tom, and as much fun as we can squeeze in before Aug. 19th and 20th....when school begins once again, and fall will be on the horizon.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summetime!

Sending lots of love from Colorado,
Denise :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings...

Hello again!

We drove home last night from our family road trip and had a few more sights to show you in case you ever want to come to Colorado for your own road trip! Of course we hope you will come see us, but then you won't want to miss these incredible sites! Besides the fascinating Royal Gorge and the Great Sand Dunes, we also stopped at Mesa Verde near the Four Corners area.

Aren't these cliff dwellings amazing? The Hopi and Puebloan Indians lived here over 1200 years ago! There are kivas, tunnels, "doors and rooms", fire temples, and these communities were home to over a hundred people at a time. They lived here for around a thousand years and then all vanished. Many speculate that once they learned how to farm they moved on to the Arizona area, or a catastrophic drought could have forced them to leave their home. Many things are a mystery as to how these people lived so archeologists are still digging and studying the grounds today.

We were able to walk into some of the dwellings and the kids enjoyed exploring how life might have been like a thousand years ago! Tom and the kids climbed into a "kiva" to experience how tight these ceremonial areas were. Just fascinating!
Ashlyn climbing into a reconstructed kiva. Life in AD 750 was not easy!

An area used to grind corn and this was hard work! And, I thought I didn't like to cook!
Ceremonies to cure the sick, pray for rain, and to stay warm were all held in these areas.
The remains of an ancient people....discovered in 1880 by cowboys traveling west. The blackened areas are smoke damaged from all the burning fire pits and cooking that the people did daily.
Hiking amongst poison oak...I sure hope we didn't bring any home with us! We visited the museum where there were baskets and pottery, and our kids were amazed at how hard the people worked to make the most basic of kitchen supplies! This was also a great opportunity for Kyle to see the ruins in person as he learned about Mesa Verde in school this year. (The teacher in me always likes it when a trip can be educational too!)
Beautiful canyons and cliffs as we drove down the mountains from 8,000 ft. These views were just stunning!

Now lets travel forward a thousand years to our next stop....Telluride!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Family Road Trip...

Greetings from the banks of the Animas River!

Never heard of it? Neither had we, but that's the fun of a road trip...adventures and sites unknown!

I am writing to you tonight from a hotel room in Durango, CO with the sound of the river rushing by outside our room. In the last 24 hours we have viewed the Arkansas River, the Rio Grande, the Piedre River and tonight the Animas River. I am typing away while the family sleeps, and it is such a peaceful time of night...a quiet hotel, the river waters raging over rapids, and the sound of my keyboard!

Since Tom is free from any work obligations, (for now a least!) we decided to enjoy some time together! We are on an impromptu family road trip through our state which we have yet to really explore after 2 years of living here!

Here are some highlights!

Waterfalls and beautiful green valleys in the San Juan Mountains...

Tom and the kids overlooking a gorgeous valley of wildflowers and water at 10,000 ft.

The Royal Gorge over the Arkansas River. This is the world's largest suspension bridge...and it shakes when the wind blows!

The Great Sand Dunes National Park...lots of sandy dunes right next to the mountains...what an interesting phenomenon! Tom and Kyle made it to the middle of the dunes while Ashlyn and I huddled together as sand blew and whipped through our hair. What a fascinating natural marvel; only lacking the use of camels to make the trek!

Next adventure? The Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings, Four Corners, and Telluride!