Today you are lucky to meet Betsey from Grand Junction, Colorado. Something I appreciate about Betsey’s life philosophy is her love of adventuring. Colorado is well known for its outdoor activities, and Betsey and her family have loved taking advantage of them, even when their son was practically a toddler. That love of getting out of the house and trying new things has served them well during the pandemic when so many of us got stuck inside. Her home is warm and comfy, and you can tell she has a pretty easy going attitude that has helped her family make sense of all the ups and downs of this year. Welcome, Betsey!
My husband, John, and I actually went to the same high school, but weren’t in the same grade or social circle. We started dating in college after he reached out on MySpace (the days before Facebook!) after a mutual friend introduced us. We dated long distance while I was away at a different college until I moved closer to him and switched schools.
In college, I dreamed of being a graphic designer with a cool office where I work from home and here I am, 12 years later, working from home in my somewhat cool office. Ha! By day, I man the content, sales enablement and high level presentations for a staffing and solutions firm, and by night, run the design side of Next Cube Over, our creative agency.
My husband sits across from me and handles all the business things I hate, and jokes that he earns his keep one good idea at a time. Our son Gabe, 10, is a readaholic, but I think he got that way from avoiding chores — “can I read instead of emptying the dish washer!?” — sure kid. He loves Harry Potter and is as competitive as his Mama when it comes to school and trying his hardest. Workaholic apple doesn’t fall far from the workaholic tree.
Last, but definitely not least is our Goldendoodle, Beau. He likes to be wherever his humans are and is the cuddliest guy in the world — watch out for him in our photos, he LOVES having his photo taken.
We moved out to Grand Junction, Colorado almost 6 years ago, which still feels a little surreal to say. After both of us had grown up in Florida we were ready for a change and wowza — it is like night and day from the Tampa Bay Area we grew up in to the Grand Valley of Colorado. The drive out to Colorado was terrifying for both John and I as we left everything we knew and drove across the county with Gabe, oblivious to our fears.
I absolutely love where we live and I feel so grateful for the beautiful outdoor adventures we have at our doorstep. I like to remind my family on a daily basis of how beautiful it is as we drive out of our neighborhood. I think it is so neat that when we moved out here our neighborhood was just a giant empty lot and now we live here! We don’t necessarily love the neighborhood itself, since the lots are smaller than we would like, but we wanted to stay in the same school zone for my son.
We decided to rent since we’re planning to move when he graduates out of his current school. Housing prices in our area are pretty average overall, our neighborhood actually ranges from about 300k to 400k, but as more and more people leave the big cities and move out here, we’ve definitely seen the housing prices rising, as well as more and more new neighborhoods being built.
Having access to so much outdoor recreation makes the Grand Valley so appealing. We love that you can ski our local ski resort, Powderhorn, mountain bike the lunch loops trail system, and take an in-town float on the Colorado River, all in the same day.
Finding this home was a bit serendipitous. We knew we wanted to move from our old home and I had been walking this neighborhood as it was being built (I LOVE watching housing being pieced together!). It was right across the street from our old neighborhood and still in the school zone we wanted. We had been casually looking for awhile, but as a self proclaimed picky person when it came to homes, hadn’t found anything that fit the bill.
When I saw it on Facebook Marketplace I thought it was too good to be true. I messaged immediately and we went to see it that week. Because of so many people moving to our area, rentals (especially good ones) move really quickly and I didn’t want to let this go. We turned in applications and moved in the next month.
I feel that the process of making a home yours is never-ending, and the older I get, the more I’m okay with rooms being in process. My father-in-law likes to joke that I should put something on my bare walls, to which I always answer that I love a few bare walls because it feels like breathing room.
I absolutely love a good adventure. Whether it’s down the road or across the sea, I feel like life is built on adventures and getting out of your own comfort zone. I grew up in a family that didn’t really take road trips — neither of my parents liked being in a car very long and it took 4 hours to get out of the state of Florida anyway. Road tripping felt very exotic to me.
John, on the other hand, grew up driving the east coast to and from the north east to visit family. What spurred our love for road tripping together was really the first car we bought together, a used Subaru Forester. We drove out to visit my brother in Albuquerque from Florida a few months after we bought it, and that car has now been from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
Besides buying a reliable car, our son, Gabe, really pushed us to adventure more. We had so much to show him! The world felt so big! After the road trip to Albuquerque in 2014, we started the wheels turning on our Colorado move. Once here, we started going on day hikes and planning other road trips. As a Floridian who had never driven off a paved road, the paths to trailheads were terrifying and felt waaaay out there.
Of course, in time, that became a norm in our lives. Hearing coyotes howling while snuggled in our tent put Gabe to sleep in between John and I, and places that seemed exotic became our everyday. When we first moved here, it was terrifying to take a trip on the Colorado River, not only was Gabe just a little guy (4 at the time), but this river was like nothing we had in Florida.
Our first time we totally flipped right around the corner from the take out location, all our stuff went everywhere, and half of it down the river. That really showed me that wow, the worst that could happen did, and we were fine! Gabe bobbed along and up to me in his life jacket, but we were okay — we could do this!
My advice for those that want to adventure more with their family is to just jump in! Of course, be prepared and find a guide if needed, but there are so many great activities close to home that you can do with your family to really foster that sense of adventure. Your kids will be begging for more!
When the first lockdown came during the pandemic, I took it in stride. We lived in an Outdoor Mecca, we could at least get outside in our beautiful valley every day and it would be lovely. That is, until I broke my ankle, requiring a plate and no weight on it for 12 weeks. As a person who loves to get out each day, it was HARD to say the least.
After I was able to walk again I scheduled camping trips for the rest of the summer so I could hopefully make up for the hours of couch sitting we all did. It felt great to be back out! We continue to avoid busy trailheads and have kept our adventures to Colorado. I am very grateful that where we live gives us the opportunity to get outside and we’re not stuck inside. We bring masks on hikes in case we come upon other hikers, but try to find trails further out with less people.
Camping looks different with necessary safety regulations, and many state and national parks have been limiting the number of people they let in every day. Our local ski resort is only allowing a certain number of people in every day, which is actually pretty exciting — no lift lines!
We really miss flying — not the actual airplane itself — but the adventure that awaits. And we miss getting to see family and friends that live out of state. My Dad lives in Florida and not being able to see him has been really hard. On the bright side, we have been able to check off more items from our Colorado bucket list!
Now that our schools are open again, our life is not that different from before the pandemic. Working from home for the last 6 years has made me a hermit, so no difference there. I am VERY exhausted with trying to read signs in stores without my glasses because they fog up when wearing a mask. Oh vey, who would have seen that coming!?
I get up and start working and then John or I wake Gabe up and out the door for school, come home to a quiet house and dive back in to the grind. One of the biggest changes has been not being able to volunteer or go eat lunch at Gabe’s school. John and I both loved visiting, and with the restrictions right now, no parents are allowed in the school. However, I’m just so happy the kids are in school, it evens out. When Gabe’s school was shut down and through the summer, I wished for a bigger yard with more outdoor space!
I learned that I should NEVER be a teacher, as I’m sure other parents found out as well. At least for my own child, it was hard to figure out how to motivate him to work, truthfully. There was A LOT of fighting at our house and I beat myself up for not being able to juggle all the balls. The hardest part was feeling like I wasn’t able to give all my focus to one task. At the end of every day I was completely depleted. I was so grateful to have John home as well, because I couldn’t have done it on my own.
Getting to spend more family time together was the silver lining to 2020. We watched daily movies and just tried to break up the day with fun games and puzzles. I wish I could have known how long it was going to last (I guess we don’t know that now either!) because I thought Gabe would be going back to school after spring break. *Insert face palm*
Wrapping my head around the schematics of everyday life now — wear your mask, stand 6ft apart, use your hand sanitizer! — is mentally exhausting.
Designing a house that is both parts beautiful and functional and works for my family is a delightful challenge to me. I love choosing pieces that are multifunctional and hide all the xbox games, but also look super cute in our tv stand. Ha! Making a house work for us is really important for us, because living AND working from home can take a toll if it’s not a place you love. We love our space and find great solace in coming home from a camping trip and slipping in to our cozy beds.
I hope Gabe remembers how much love was curated here. How many movie nights and bonfires, how much love we poured into the little details of your room or choosing couches that we wouldn’t mind ruining so you and your friends could play unbridled. Playing with Beau as a puppy in the backyard and drawing an obstacle course of chalk in the driveway. Garage hangouts during the pandemic with friends and outdoor movie nights on the garage door so we could all be socially distanced.
I hope Gabe remembers how much we love experiences over things and curating a life that reflects that. I hope he forgets how frustrated I would get when he wouldn’t just GO TO SLEEP, KID! Ha! My biggest desire is that he will remember this home as a safe and cozy landing pad for all our adventures, past, present and future. That he will continue to see John and I as safe spaces, loving him endlessly.
Oh man, I love a million things about living with Gabe. He is so fun and thoughtful and inspiring. He makes me want to be a better parent and I am constantly challenging myself to think of ways to connect with him more.
Kids live so much more in the moment than adults — I’m going to build a cool fort, I don’t mind that it’s going to make a huge mess that I’ll argue with my parents about later. As adults we try always think of what’s next and it’s tiring and makes us boring! When we have the opportunity to fully play as kids, our hearts are so happy to just be.
I already miss him wanting to tell us EVERYTHING. Gabe has thoughts on just about everything and loves sharing it with John and I. It makes me feel pretty darn lucky that our little guy loves hanging out and talking with us. I don’t want to think about the day he won’t want to share thoughts with us, so for now, I always ask for more details and hope that he’ll continue to give them to us.
I wish someone had told me (and I had listened) just how fast the years go, how small and inconsequential the stuff you thought was important feels. My Mom passed away suddenly last year and every day I think of something I wish I could ask her or tell her. How tall Gabe has gotten this year and how much he’s reading (as a retired teacher, that would warm her heart) or that I eat tomatoes on a regular basis (one of her favorite foods, and something I wouldn’t touch as a kid).
I count down the summers we have left with Gabe until he goes to college, trying to make each one special and man, they are flying by. My grandmother used to say that the older you get, the faster time goes, and wow, that feels so real the last few years.
Thank you so much, Betsey! I really loved when Betsey was talking about their river rafting trip that took a dramatic turn. I know for me, that would have been the end of that rafting trip. I’d be in the nearest Hilton Garden Inn to finish out the trip. But I loved Betsey’s perspective that the worst thing that could happen had already happened, so why not just keep going? What a refreshing way to look at things.
So many of us recharge and reconnect by getting outside, and I think that has become even more important during the pandemic. When it’s not as easy to go to a store or a restaurant, when there are no movies or concerts, sometimes the only place though can go is outside. And I’m grateful to Betsey for being such a good reminder of how important that can be.
Have you found yourself spending more time outside since the pandemic started? What kind of activities are you doing now that you didn’t do as much before. How are your plans changing as many of us are moving to colder weather?
Bedroom side table
Quilts in Gabe’s room
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.