Friday, December 30, 2011

The Floridans are Cold!

It's amazing what a couple years of living in tropical paradise will do to two native Coloradoans. Just a few minutes into our photo shoot and my twin sister and her fiance were freezing their rear-ends off. They've spent their entire vacation wrapped in quilts, huddled together on the couch. I think they're secretly looking forward to when they feel the warm humidity on their skin in a few days. 

I love how these pictures turned out. The red against the white world looks so beautiful. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scenes from Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I've been enjoying my days off from teaching, spending every waking moment with my twin sister before she heads back to Florida. I loved being home this Christmas with my whole family together.  We spent hours staring at my nephew, eating our favorite Christmas foods, and enjoying each others company. 
My mom has her original santa stocking that her mom made for her when she was born and has created her families stockings from the same pattern. The past few years we've added more stockings to the mantel as each of us has gotten married and now even the first grand baby has his very own santa stocking.   
It's hard to believe that Christmas is already over and in just a few days it will be a brand new year. I always feel a little sad when the year ends. But then again we have a fresh start to look forward empty calendar with days that will be filled with more happy memories and new adventures :) 

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Family Tree

My parents started a Christmas tradition before any of their daughters were born and now my sisters and I have continued this traditions with our own families. 

Wherever the year would take us, whether to our yearly summer vacation to Vail or my dad's worldly adventures to Hungry or China, we would make sure to find something special to hang on the tree to help us remember that time.  But the thing I love most about our tradition is that it doesn't have to be your typical Christmas tree ornament, although we do have plenty of those.  We love finding the most bizarre representations from our trips, gluing a ribbon to the top, and hanging it on our tree. 

Each ornament that comes out of the bag has meaning and so many memories attached to it. And we love looking at our odd collection of ornaments, laughing and saying, "You won't find that on any one else's tree!" 
Today I stayed and helped my family put up our tree. We untangled the strings and ribbons and began filling the empty branches with our old memories.  
When we were little, my parents made decorating the tree into such a special evening. I remember helping my mom pour eggnog into the vintage santa mugs. My dad would turn on the stereo and we would listen to our favorite Christmas songs as we began the process of decorating the tree...something we had been waiting anxiously all year to do again.
When we were finished, we would turn off all the lights and the let the tiny colored bulbs fill the room with that warm Christmasy glow. We would sit around the tree while my parents read Christmas stories and on most nights we couldn't wait to play our favorite family games, Parcheesi and Uno. 
Even today I can close my eyes and I can remember exactly the way the house smelled just like Christmas. How the lights on the tree and in the windows made me feel safe and comforted. And how excited we were to be together as a family. 

This Christmas we have a new family member to share all of our traditions with. I know my nephew is still too small to join in on the fun, but I think he'll enjoy laying under the tree looking up at the lights while his family around him laughs, reminisces, and pulls out the old board games. 

Only two more days of school and then I am on my way home to fully enjoy this special time of year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


My twin sister, Kate, and her fiance, Bobby, are HERE! They made it home to Colorado Friday afternoon and I don't think I've stopped smiling since. Now it feels like Christmas, now we can be a complete family once again. 

This weekend my sister had her bridal shower. It was beautiful and so many of her friends and soon to be new family members were able to come together to help her celebrate her upcoming wedding. 
The groom made a special appearance during one of the games
And of course a Redente shower would not be complete without a beautiful handmade quilt from my mom.

My sister is getting married on Sanibel Island in Florida.  It will be an intimate ceremony on the beach with just our immediate families.

I cannot wait to be a part of her special day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Did You Know I Had a Birthday This Year?

I did.
I turned the big 2-7 last month along with my twin sister. We seem to be edging closer and closer to 30 every year.  Funny how that works. 27 always seemed so far away, but here it is.

Year 26 was great. I spent so much of my year truly soul searching.  I wish I could say that when the clock struck 12 on my birthday I magically had all the answers...but I didn't.  I do however, feel more at ease with where my life is at this moment in time. 

I was listening to one of my favorite songs the other day...Dream by Priscilla Ahn. I love this song and every time I listen to it I feel like the song was written for me.
I know my soul searching isn't it ever really?  I know that year 27 is going to be filled with incredible things, people, places. I'm excited for this next year of life. I'm always striving to be a better person, a better wife, friend, sister, daughter.  This will be a year of big changes and I'm ready with my new perspective to take on all the challenges that are coming my way. And I might still have to ask occasionally if this is where I'm supposed to be...but that's okay. I know if I take a moment, close my eyes, and take a deep breath things always look clearer. 
I think I'm liking being 27... 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love Story {Part III} Fate is in Charge

Do you believe in fate?
I do. I absolutely do...looking back at all the events in my life that have brought me to where I am today, there's not even a question about it. 

When I started my freshman year at the University of Northern Colorado I was ready to be bold, brave, and meet new friends. But before I did any of that I went and found my best friend in the dorm next door. 
I walked up the creaky wooden staircase and down the narrow hallway and knocked softly on the door that had "Wolfe" written on it in R.A. handwriting.  Martin opened the door and his face lit up. My face lit up. I was so happy to see him.

We were inseparable.  It was like nothing had come between us. He didn't act like I had broken his heart a few months earlier, and for that I was so thankful. 

Our freshman year we did everything together. We ate every dinner together at 4:30 sharp.  Martin knew that being in a crowded dining hall made me anxious, so he made sure to meet me for dinner right when the doors opened...e v e r y day. We walked across campus and found quiet study corners in the library. We went for late night runs. We spent hours in the practice rooms.  I listened to him practice the violin, he listened to me play the piano.  On warm days we found trees with lots of shade and laid out our textbooks underneath. We talked instead of studied. We laughed until we couldn't breathe. We had connected again. We were falling in love again, but for some reason I couldn't recognize that.
I remember talking with my roommate during a late night get to know you session. We sat across from each other on our tiny beds. She asked me if Martin was my boyfriend. I immediately said, "No! We're just friends." She smiled at me and said, "Well you never know. Sometimes those are the ones we end up with." 
"Uh, huh, yeah..." I said. She wasn't the first to ask me the status of Martin and my relationship. Couldn't people tell we were just friends? "Just because you spend every moment with someone doesn't make them your boyfriend!" I thought defensively to myself.

Everybody could see it but me. It was so clear to those around us. My family and friends. Even to Martin. 
.  .  .  .  .

It was spring and we had been at school for almost a year. 
We were hanging out in Martin's dorm room listening to Van Morrison when he looked at me and told me he loved me. I remember exactly where we were sitting, the way his voice sounded. I remember looking at him for a long time, then I put my head down and quietly said with a smile, "I love you too."  He wrapped his arms around me and I sunk into his hug. It felt felt perfect.  This was who I was supposed to be with. I didn't know why I hadn't admitted it earlier.
We spent the next three years growing in our relationship...surviving the stresses of college, surviving life altering moments, growing more and more in love each day.  I never wanted to leave his side.  But I knew that in a few short months I would have no choice but to leave as I finished my student teaching. I was positive I would be placed with my first choice.  That I would get to move home to Fort Collins...a short 30 minute drive from Martin. 

As I opened my placement envelope the words Aurora, CO seemed to jump from the page. I was in utter shock.  I hadn't even chosen this city as an option. Didn't the placement committee know I had a serious boyfriend!? Didn't they care that they were separating to people destined to be together?

They didn't. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love Story {Part II} A Mild Lapse in Judgement

Our senior year of high school was coming to an end. It was coming too fast and I wasn't ready for everything I had always known to be gone forever. At least that's how I felt being a dramatic teenager. My friends, my home, my family. Everything would soon be very different.  

Change is incredibly hard for me. I become an emotional roller coaster wishing that I could hold onto the way things were for just a moment longer. I pull away from those I care about...I become consumed with my own thoughts trying to accept the changes that are occurring around me.  As the weather grew warmer and our senioritis became stronger I began to pull away from my first love.  
I remember it was the last day of our senior year, a day that should have been filled with celebrations and excitement. But inside Martin's car we sat in silence. It was late and my family was already sleeping inside as we sat awkwardly in front of the mailbox. I kept my head down as I tearfully explained that "It was me! Not you!"  This had come out of the blue. I hadn't given him any warning. He put his head down and wouldn't look at me. I apologized over and over and knew it would be best if I left him alone. I couldn't handle our relationship when my life felt like it was spiraling out of control.  I wanted my last summer at home to naively be just like it had been when I was cares in the world, not packing up my life to fit in a tiny dorm room, not getting ready to say goodbye to my twin sister. 

I shut the car door quietly and walked the walk of shame up the driveway not looking back. I had hurt my best friend...I had hurt myself.  

.  .  .  .  . 

When fall arrived I started at the University of Northern Colorado as a single college freshman. I was excited that a few of my good friends were attending the same school, but the person I was secretly the most excited to see was Martin. 
just call me Mary Tyler Moore...

Coming Soon: Love Story {Part III) Fate is in Charge

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's Here!

Sanford Edward Backos

My sweet little nephew was born this morning at 4:01am.  An early bird, just like his parents.  
He is perfect. 

When I walked into the hospital room today there was my sister, with her son against her chest.  
She's a mom. 
What an amazing journey that has just begun. 

I held him for a long time, just starring at his little features. His tiny little nose, soft baby skin, and wrinkly little toes. I can't believe he's finally here...after waiting to see who this little person would be for 9 months.  He was the little one we talked to and made plans for for so long. And now he has finally joined our family. 

Congratulations to my sister and her husband! They have brought a beautiful life into this world. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love Story {Part I}

I know I have shared lots of bits and pieces of my love story to my husband, but I've felt inspired by other bloggers to document our journey together in a series of posts. If anything, for me to remember, and an excuse to find really embarrassing pictures of my husband from yesteryear. 

Our story starts like so many before us and so many stories that are still to come after ours. It started with curiosity...and bugs. 

My favorite class in high school was orchestra. It was my first two classes of the day. I loved the way the light came in through the windows in the morning and I loved sharing hours with my closest friends playing beautiful music.  Seriously, what could be better? It was my junior year of high school and I had the privelage of being in a small chamber orchestra...don't ask why or how...let's just say playing the violin wasn't exactly my forte.  But I blended in well and learned how to let the more experienced players play loudly over me.  More experienced players like Martin.  He great musician. His violin had a little carved head at the scroll with red eyes. It was awesome. He had a Sponge Bob Square Pants sticker on his violin case. He was so cool. Everyone laughed at every joke he told. He was friends with everyone. He was creative...artistic.
I had to get to know him better.
One of my first memories of this mysterious renaissance boy was during a free period at school.  We were all hanging out in the commons talking about really important high school things.  Martin was intrigued by a moth fluttering against the closed window. He walked over, wacked it with his palm, picked it up, and stuck it in his mouth. I'm sure it was some sort of male courting ritual of some sort because I was so grossed out that I felt the need to hang out with him even more.  What crazy thing would he do next?? 

There had never been a point in my life until that time where I felt more spontaneous and care free. I ate my first bug that next summer (a mealworm in a sticky green sucker). I remember dancing on picnic tables under the stars, opening confetti cans in the car while we blasted the air conditioning...finding little bits of colorful paper months later stuck to our rear-ends by static.  

We taught each other new things...we filled the empty gaps we had in our lives. I remember feeling safe and more happy then I ever had in my life.  I would listen to the mixed CD he had made me over and over and over. Every song reminded me of him, every song made me want to be near him.  Even today when I hear Coldplay's song Yellow, I get butterflies in my stomach. When I hear Norah Jones sing, I'm taken back to the folk festival we went to. Sitting in the blazing heat, just to hear her sing Come Away With Me. It was magical to say the least.

 I was only 17, but I had met someone who loved me for exactly who I was. I could be exactly who I was when I was with him.  That was the greatest feeling in the world.

Coming Soon: Love Story {Part II) 

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The last of the snow seemed to melt away today leaving lots of mud and dried crispy leaves.  We had another big snow storm this past week which resulted in a teacher's miracle...a snow day! I'm thinking the district probably felt a little silly calling it because by lunch time the sun was out and the roads were clear.  Oh well, I'm not complaining.   
Things are starting to get busy around school as we begin our decent to winter vacation.  I get to start slowly teaching again after having my student teacher teach solo for the past three weeks. It's been a nice little break, but I'm ready to jump in again. 
As we all keep moving busily forward it seems my older sister's life has slowed down as she is waiting patiently for her little boy to make his appearance.  Maybe this week's snow storm will bring with it my little nephew.  
Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Engagement Session

One of the sweetest and nicest couples I know! Kate teaches at the same school as me and I was so excited when she asked me to take her engagement pictures! Her fiance, Erling, asked her to marry him on the first day of school over a homemade sushi dinner :)
Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!