Sunday, February 26, 2012

Laramie: Week 5

I don't know if you're keeping track or not, but finishing week 5 means that I only have 8 more weeks here! I really am enjoying my adventures and loving my job, but I really miss home. I miss familiar faces, familiar places, and friends & family calling randomly to hang out.

The Cancer Center brought me here so that I could help them develop and improve their practices and policies, and we've been doing a lot of that lately. I've been told that my input is very beneficial to them and was much-needed, and it's really nice to have that positive feedback when I feel so uprooted coming here. I'm glad something positive is coming out of it. [well, besides that huge chunk i'm taking out of my school debt...]

Triathlon training is ticking right along. It's been difficult getting into the groove of things. Without Kayla meeting me at the gym at 5am, it's been tough to tear myself out of my cozy warm bed for early morning workouts. My evening workouts have been fine, but by the time work and workouts are done, my evening is shot. So here it is: this week I'm working out before work every day. Now you'll hold me accountable, right??

Lent began on Ash Wednesday, of course. Though I'm not Catholic (yet), I really like the idea of giving something up for Lent. It holds me accountable for something daily, and I have to be more cognizant of my choices -- which I believe would do us all some good. In the past I've given up lattes, cookies, and the like. Those "extras" that make my days a little sweeter. It's been tough, but I wanted to do something a little more challenging this year. This go-round, it's meat that I'm giving up. Yes, meat. Steak, chicken, pork--all the good hearty Midwestern meal staples. It's something I have to think about with every meal, which will hopefully end up in me making healthier food choices all around. And maybe I'll even shed a few pounds and a few cholesterol points! It will be a challenging forty-four days, but Jesus resisted his temptation, so I'm confident that I can too. So I ask you: what is your personal challenge this year for Lent?

This weekend was my friend Kim's birthday, so I went to Denver [for a mere 24 hours]. I tell you what--they call Chicago "The Windy City", but I'm quite certain that any town in northeast Colorado or Southeast Wyoming takes the cake on that one. The drive to and from Denver was crazy windy, with constant 50 mph winds, and gusts even above that.  But I digress. Kim's birthday celebration was a lot of fun. There were four of us girls that went out to dinner to a fancy-schmancy restaurant in downtown Denver and then out for a glass [or two] of wine after dinner. We had fun giggling, gossiping, and hanging out like we haven't done for quite some time. It was loads of fun, and I do believe Kim had a very Happy Birthday.

Here is Kim with the bottle of champagne her brother sent from Milwaukee! 
Thanks Pat!

Anne and I after our four-course dinner. 
I swear, I looked nicer than this earlier in the day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Laramie Week 4: in review

Not much in terms of news from the past week. Working 8-5 doesn't leave a whole lot of room for fun. But I did start triathlon training, so I guess that counts for something. Kayla and I (and Kate???) have signed up for the Omaha Women's Triathlon the first weekend of June, so I'm trying to get back into shape so I can improve from last year's time. So far the altitude training has been very tough, but I'm hoping it will pay off.

Other than the workweek... What a fun weekend! My mom and Gary came to visit! They got to town Friday shortly after I got off work, and they didn't leave until today, so it was a weekend full of fun and familiar faces. It was so nice having someone in town that I actually know!

Saturday we went snowshoeing in the Snowy Mountain Range. We went about 3 miles in two hours, and only fell a handful of times. No one complained (much) and everyone was smiles by the end. I even made a snow angel at the end... when childhood calls! 

My mom and Gary snowshoeing

The trail. How pretty!

My mom and I on the top of the mountain!
I love these little critter tracks!

After a little rest, we went to a little pizza shop on the corner for dinner. It was de-lish, and I will definitely be going back to try some of their other food sometime in the next 8 weeks. After dinner, it was wine, popcorn, and an a-mazing Creighton Bluejays win.

Sunday we again strapped on the snowshoes and went for a shorter hike at the Happy Jack trailhead in the mountains to the east of Laramie. We did a lot more off-trail trekking, which wore us out much quicker. After about an hour, we headed back to town. We explored some of the little downtown shops, and had dinner at the one local Indian restaurant. 

Sunday night we relaxed, watched some tv, and just hung out. It was a comforting weekend with family around. It was refreshing to see some familiar faces and talk about some familiar things. But I'm not gonna lie... it does make me miss home just a little bit more!

Eight more weeks!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Laramie Week 3: in review

My apologies for not posting this on Sunday. I hope you didn't miss me too much. Just pretend it's Sunday.

Week Three was another great week. It was my second week *ever* working Monday thru Friday 8 to 5. I think I'm getting used to this! I'm getting along with my coworkers really well, and I'm getting to know my patients on a first name basis. It's pretty cool -- they're all accepting me into their little Cancer Center world. I don't feel so much like an outsider anymore; it's a great feeling.

It was officially a good week:  I made a new friend! Two actually.
Thursday night I met a friend-of-a-friend for dinner. We had never met before, but we got along well. She was welcoming and outgoing, and was easy to talk to. After dinner she showed me one of the town's hot-spots, where we went for a drink. It wasn't anything crazy.. I was exhausted by 8pm so headed home. I'm definitely losing any coolness I ever had.

E, my new friend from Thursday night, invited me to go snowboarding with her and another friend on Saturday. I warned her that I my snowboarding experience was limited to one winter afternoon when I was 12 that I attempted to snowboard down an Iowa hill with my brother. I failed at the time, but thought maybe I'd give it another shot. She was adamant that she and A were fine with my lack of experience, and she insisted that I go with them. So in the spirit of making the most of things, I joined them.

I was definitely not worthy of the Winter X-Games, but they said I really did well for my first time. I spent a good portion of the day on ground, but thankfully there were 7 inches of fresh snow, so it was pretty cushy. [or my rear was, i'm not sure...] I was very sore and extremely exhausted by the end of the day, but it was a great experience. 

Sunday was a little worse. I could hardly move.. hence the lack of posting. I have a few bruises and a sore knee left as battle wounds, but at least I reached my goal of the day:  No broken bones. Yay!

I also addressed all our Save the Dates this weekend. My hand was a little tired from addressing them, but it feels great to be done with them. As of today, they're officially in the mail!

Now that Week Three is in the books and I'm well into Week Four, I'm looking forward to a couple visitors from Home. Stay tuned for next week's update!

Sending warm wishes your way!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Laramie Week 2: in review

Week numero dos was another good one.

Fun fact: It was the first week in my life that I've worked 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday. No joke.

I now understand the reasoning behind Rebecca Black's smashing hit "Friday". Yes, I was indeed singing it when I went to bed Thursday.. even before Friday hit.

Work went really well this week. I'm getting to know the patients, I know nearly all the staff, and I even met the oncologist this week. [yes, singular. one oncologist.] Everyone was still wonderfully helpful and welcoming. Oh, and I got my first paycheck. Can't ever complain about that.

This weekend I had plans to go to Denver [again], but due to 7 inches of snow here, a whopping 18 inches of snowfall in the Denver area, and closed interstates, I decided that maybe wasn't the best idea. So instead I camped out in Laramie for the weekend. Saturday wasn't very eventful, but I was quite productive on the wedding front. 

Sunday morning I went snowshoeing with a girl from work and two of her friends. I had never been before so I didn't know what to expect, but it was great! We went one girl's ranch within the Snowy Range of mountains to the west of the city. We strapped on the snowshoes and headed for the trail. They had gotten 28 inches of show in the previous 36 hours, so the path was a little dicey! It had been trekked once the day before so we had a path, but it definitely wasn't packed down much. I learned the hard way that I had to pay attention to how I was walking... after I fell four times! 

During our walk over the river and through the woods [literally], we saw some exciting wildlife. We saw a few packs of antelope, two elk, the fresh tracks of a very large moose, and fresh claw marks from a mountain lion going up a tree. It was exciting for a little Iowa farm girl who's used to seeing white tail deer and rabbits!

Following the leader through the woods.

The snowshoeing trail.

The view from the top. Altitude: 8700ft.

All in all, week two was a successful one. I did a lot of learning, a little exploring, and a good amount of relaxing. I'm looking forward to my third week here, while at the same time counting down my weeks until I return home.... eleven weeks left!

**There's no place like home**