A different shade of pink

Moving out of our rental house.
Moving out of our rental house.

Well, it’s happened… Kelly and I are now both working since June.  That means that Project Pink Day is over… well, sort of.

Although we are back to work, we don’t feel like it is the same.  Kelly has a job that doesn’t allow her to work a minute over 40 hours.  I have a job that is 100% work from home.

This means we will be able to stay in Breckenridge, have the time and flexibility to be with our kids, and Colorado’s playground is right outside our door.  We will continue to enjoy Breck, build upon our new friendships and enjoy mountain living.

So, we are looking at is as a “different shade of pink” for our days ahead – a shade that allows us to live life the way we want to.

What have we learned exactly?  Here are a few final thoughts…

  • grandlake
    Family reunion in Grand Lake, CO

    Life is happening right now. – As much as we are future planners, we have come to realize that no matter how badly you want your kids to stop growing or the beach vacation to never end or for the ski season to last forever – the fact is time doesn’t stop.  So, get out there – do the things you’ve always wanted to do now.  Be happy.

  • Find your happiness and go for it.  – We realize it is not the same for everyone.  We all have different ideas and reasons for what makes you happy.  Discover what that is and make it happen for you and your family.
  • Don’t let a job or the money be the reason you stay put. – Now that we are back to work, it is for a fraction of what we used to make.  But, we like the work we are doing and although the cost of living here in Breck is just as high as it was on the Northshore of Chicago…we are making it work.  So can you.
  • Kids are resilient as long as they feel loved. – To be honest the first few weeks of Pink Days on the beach were rough!  We were adjusting to being with the kids all day and them to us.  Tantrums and bad behavior we’d never seen became daily occurrences.  But, by showing them how much we loved them, making
    Family Golf Night in Breck

    amazing memories together and spending quality time soon led to a deeper connection than we could have ever imagined.

  • Make time for the #1 person in your life. –  Although it seems impossible with two young kids, it can’t always be about them.  Make sure you connect with your spouse or significant other.  Have the date nights and the occasional day dates.  It is healthy for you, your spouse and even the kids.
  • People who matter most will always stay connected. – We’ve made amazing memories with some of our closest friends during this time – largely thanks to them visiting us in Ft Myers Beach or in Breck.  But, equally we’ve reconnected with those who haven’t visited through texts, phone calls and even this blog.  True friendship means you can pick up at any time, right where you left off.

Kelly and I sincerely thank you for following us on our Project Pink Day journey.  We have treasured every moment, every phone call, every email, and every comment from each of you.

A ski season in review

IMG_4878It had to end some time and this year “some time” was on Sunday, June 12th.  That’s right, my ski bum season is finally over.  It was a good run – starting and finishing at A-Basin, which has the longest running opening ski time than anyone else.  This year it went from opening day on October 29th through closing day on June 12th meaning there were a possible 228 ski days.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t ski them all no matter how hard I tried.  I did however manage 107 ski days + 21 more days where I skied with the kids for a whopping total of 128 days on the mountain.

Now, those of you who know me well enough realize that I love spreadsheets and I kept track of all my 128 exploits on the mountain.  So, here is the geekiest way I could possibly share my ski year recap with you.

Ski1 Ski2 Ski3

But, to prove to you it wasn’t just about the numbers here are my top memories from the 2015 – 2016 ski season.IMG_4649

  • Opening Days at A-Basin, Keystone & Breck – the energy and excitement is something you just have to experience for yourself.  A-Basin started it off in October.  Keystone a couple weeks later, which was exciting because this was the mountain I learned to ski on as a kid.  Breck is, of course, the home mountain was finally open with a DJ bumping music during the long lift lines on Peak 8.
  • First Big Powder Day – 13 days into the ski season and we got our first big storm of the year.  So, I got up early and was the first few into Keystone’s Outback and first one down a couple of the runs.  My legs were burning, I was freezing, but smiling from ear to ear!
  • 30k vertical feet at Keystone – I was out by myself so decided to explore all of the mountains that Keystone had on a perfect snow and weather day.  Ended up with over 30,000 vertical feet in one day.
  • IMG_4432Breck 6 Chair Opening – The chairlift named 6 Chair in Breck gives access to some of the best terrain in the resort  I was about 20th person up the chair and had a few good runs with untouched powder from top to bottom.
  • First Ski Onesie Day – Just after Christmas (when we all got our retro ski onesies) we had to try them out on the slopes.  Only issue was when I fell into a deep ditch full of powder and took me 20 minutes to climb out in non-breathable materials.
  • Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 1.55.51 PMTeaching Zoe and Alex to ski – Throughout the ski season, seeing Zoe and Alex get better and better was probably the most fun I had on skis all year.  We started them at the top of Keystone where they had a magic carpet learning area.  They quickly progressed to using straps and going down the bigger hills.  By the end of the year they were ripping it up in Spooky Forest runs, going in deep powder (at least for them up to their knees) and genuinely having fun on the mountain.
  • Timing on Powder Days – Locals understand that you need to be at the right place, at right time to get fresh tracks in the resort.  After a foot of new snow, I was one of the first few who were coming up T-Bar and got fresh tracks in North Bowl.  Pure heaven!
  • First backcountry ski day up Baldy – Bald Mountain (aka Baldy) is a mountain opposite the valley from Breck ski resort and a popular place to do backcountry skiing.   With my new buddy, Brad, I met in Avalanche Safety class, I was able to summit what is called “the nipple”, which is a peak in middle of mountain.  Can’t beat the views from up there!IMG_4390
  • Crazy Ivan 2 – There is a list I came across that named the steepest runs in Colorado that are in-bounds of resorts.  One of them is in Breck called Crazy Ivan 2.  It’s not even on the trail map, which made it even cooler to tackle.  It was the steepest run of my life so far, but so much fun!
  • Mid-March Powder – There was a series of storms that brought nearly 3 FEET of snow in only a couple days.  Long time locals said it may have been the best powder in nearly 20 years.  I enjoyed it as much as my legs would let me.
  • IMG_4614Day 100 – On Saturday, April 23rd I hit my goal of skiing 100 days in a season (not including kid days).  I debated how to celebrate, but in the end settled on a family day with our onesies on to make it official and fun.  Of course, had to have wings and beers at T-Bar too.
  • The East Wall – A-Basin resort is called “The Legend” and it’s reputation is for extreme terrain mostly thanks to what is called the East Wall.  It is a series of hike up only terrain that includes chutes, cliffs and rock bands – oh and is about as steep as a wall, hence the name.  I’d always wanted to give it a shot so finally did late in the season.  I had perfect conditions for hiking up and skiing down Willy’s Staircase.  Now I’m addicted and will definitely be doing it some more.
  • IMG_5844Closing Day at A-Basin – I had almost given up on going to closing day at A-Basin, but because of late spring storms they had a bonus weekend.  Kelly’s Aunt Pam wanted to also get some skiing in at “The Legend” so I took advantage.  Skiing was surprisingly pretty good with small crowd.  It felt good to get just a few more runs in.

Well, there you have it.  My ski bum season is over.  I’ll be spending the next few months dreaming of snow days.  Only 4 months until next ski season!!!

Quality time with family

It has been nothing but a stream of visitors since we started Project Pink Day.  We’ve loved connecting with those we care about most.  Lately it has been our families coming to visit us again.

The Engagement and Grammy’s Extended Stay

FullSizeRenderOn Mother’s Day weekend my mom and dad came for a visit and NOT because of Mother’s Day.  My brother was proposing to Lara and he wanted everyone to be there to celebrate.  Our parents and Lara’s parents were all able to make the trip.

We surprised Lara by being at their home in Denver when they came home after popping the question.  Later we all celebrated that afternoon with their friends at Ratio Beerworks and then a nice dinner with the family again.  We are very excited to officially have Lara become Aunt Lala (as the kids call her).

On Mother’s Day we had a great breakfast at cousin Kim and Mike’s place, where we had stayed that night.  Then we headed up to Winter Park to see the new condo that Dustin and Lara had purchased.  It is a great place and after they do a little bit of refreshing the paint, etc. we will have a great 2nd mountain option for ski weekends!

13256042_10206679472327413_6992146591533026157_nThat afternoon we all said our good-byes to Grandpa Kev and Lara’s parents and took Grammy with us back to Breckenridge.  The plan was for her to stay until the following Saturday.  This meant Grammy got to come to Zoe’s Spring Concert where the kids put on a show about Mozart and most of them were cute, little mice.  She also got to go to the Muffins with Mom event at Zoe’s school with Kelly.  She even brought the kids the Pie Face game.  We all were cracking up when playing – a new favorite!

Something changed with Grammy’s work, so she was able to stay an extra week.  She took advantage of the time to go spend the weekend in Denver with Dustin and Lara and came back for another week.  With her extra time she got to take Zoe for some “secret shopping” (they said the were just going for a walk) and all the girls went for some pedicures one morning.

Alex took her on tours of the construction sites to tell her all about the trucks he has become obsessed with.   Kelly, Grammy and the kids went around town looking for the baby foxes and finally saw them playing outside their den one night.  They all came home excited to tell me about them.

Since we had to take Grammy to Denver to catch her flight anyway, we decided to stay at Dustin and Lara’s one of the nights and headed to The Big Wonderful event she had gone to the weekend before.  It is part flea market, part food truck and part live music event and the kids had a great time playing in the sand, climbing to top of the double decker bus, and enjoying the music.

It was an action packed couple of weeks, but we had a great time, will be adding another Opheim to the family and spent some quality time together.

Trip to Colorado Springs

IMG_5315We decided to leave Summit County (something we rarely have done since moving here) and head to Colorado Springs for Memorial Day weekend.  We planned to basically re-live a trip Kelly had made there when she was younger with her parents.  On the agenda was the Garden of the GodsCave of the WindsSeven Falls waterfall and just exploring the area.
Kelly’s Uncle Ken, Aunt Mary Beth, cousin Kim and her husband Mike were also planning to visit the sites down there too.  So, we all met up on Saturday morning at Garden of the Gods.  Parking took some time to find, but we eventually got to walk around this amazing place with big, jagged, red rocks all around you.  You could hike up onto some of them and see the expansive views.

We grabbed lunch and beers at Bristol Brewing Company afterward.  It was a cool place that had turned an elementary school into a microbrew pub.  It was a perfect day, so we all sat outside on the large deck.

IMG_5436Afterward we parted ways and went to check into the Buffalo Lodge.  Now, this is where Kelly stayed with her folks over 20 years ago.  Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a 5 star place then and not sure if many updates have been made since.  We settled on the word “rustic” in the end.

That night we had some amazing Mexican food at Crystal Park Cantina (seriously go there if in the Springs) and then grabbed a beer at Manitou Brewing Company.  Kids had a great time playing in the courtyard.  Afterward we did some shopping and let the kids get a souvenir at a local shop.
The next day we were busy.  We started with breakfast at a place called Mo’s Diner and Lounge.  Again, it is where Kelly had eaten with her parents years ago, but unlike Buffalo lodge, this place was great!  Afterward we headed to Seven Falls.  We had unbelievable weather again to walk through the canyon leading up to the waterfalls.  The kids and I decided to hike up the 224 steps to the top and look back down.  It was cool being that close and hearing the water roar.

In the afternoon we headed for an hour long tour of the Cave of the Winds.  It was amazing to see the surrounding canyon and to think of how people used to do the cave tour by only crawling and by way of lit candles.  Of course, now there are walkways and electricity, but on the tour they turn our the lights and light a single lantern.  Spooky for a minute but the kids were brave.

It was a great trip and was nice to share some of it with family.  It felt good to be out somewhere new and exploring more of Colorado.  Something we will continue to do while living here.IMG_5579

Mema and Bumpa return!

Our next visitors were Kelly’s parents Karen and Dan.  Or, as the kids call them… Mema and Bumpa.  I picked them up from the Denver airport early Thursday morning.  Timing was perfect because Zoe’s Kindergarten graduation was that afternoon and it was Zoe’s last day of school.  The kids sang a couple of songs and then they called out their names to come get their “diplomas”.  Super cute!

During the weekend we headed over to a town called Leadville.  It is an old mining town and is the highest town in Colorado at 10,152 feet in elevation.  We walked around the town a bit and went on the Leadville Train tour.  It was a nice slow train up the mountain with great views down into the valley.  Weather was perfect so we sat in the open car and enjoyed a day in the mountains.IMG_5722
Mema and Bumpa also happened to visit the same weekend as the BreckCreate’s WAVE: Light + Water + Sound art show.  There were cool displays all over time using these elements to create unique, interactive art shows.  The kids’ favorite was called The Pool.  It was these colorful discs on the ground they could jump on and they’d continually change colors.  We all really liked the Light Origami, which felt like you were inside a kaleidoscope.

The weather was perfect all week long.  We spent our time feeding the trout by the dredge, walking by the construction sites to look at the construction trucks, watching t-ball practices (Zoe and Alex are on the same team) and enjoying daily trips to get ice cream from Clint’s.

IMG_5660We were all sad when Mema and Bumpa had to leave the following Thursday.  It was an action packed week.  The kids loved their snuggles, ice creams and kisses.  We’ll see them all again in September!

Konraths come to town

Uncle Mike, Aunt Pam and cousin Meghan arrived on Friday, June 10th, which was Kelly and I’s 10-year Wedding Anniversary!  Once we got them settled in, Mike and Pam were kind enough to let us sneak out for a celebratory dinner at Briar Rose.   We had a fun night reminiscing over steak and wine.

IMG_5808Saturday morning Zoe and Alex had their first T-ball game in Dillon just below the dam.  Their team name is the Hot Rods and all the kids had fun in their new yellow jersey’s.  It was also the Dillon Air and Water Show.  The team didn’t need any further distractions to stay focused, but with planes doing dive bombs everywhere I think we all were more interested in that.

So, after the game we went to the Dillion Amphitheater to get front row seats at the action.  The tricks, weather and fact that the backdrop was the Rocky Mountains was all amazing.  But, I have to say it was not nearly as impressive as the Chicago shows we used to see.  What was nice… the ability to show up in middle of show, find parking a block away and even got seats for us all at a picnic table.  The show ended with 3 F-16s doing a flyby and we headed back to Breck for lunch at Canteen.  The next day was Sunday and the last day that A-Basin ski area was going be open.  Since Aunt Pam is a big skier we decided to head over to ski – just to say we did!  Pam borrowed all of Kelly’s stuff so it wasn’t going to cost a thing.  Mike and Meghan came along too to watch.  We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too crowded, the snow at top still skied pretty good and now Pam can mark “The Legend” off of her bucket list!  On the way home we decided to drive over Loveland Pass and stop for the mandatory photos.IMG_5847

After a quick lunch we got back to Breckenridge, grabbed Kelly and the kids and we all headed up to the Peak 8 Adventure Park.  Mike was nice enough to treat us all to some all access passes.  We took full advantage by going down the alpine slide, roller coaster, scenic chair lift, panned for gemstones (a kid favorite) and even did the kids base camp.   Zoe and Meghan chose to do the kid’s zip line.  Alex did the ropes course.  It was such a great time!

IMG_5914Our Sunday fun day wasn’t done yet.  We decided to grill a feast of steak and salmon back at our place.  After the long day, it was probably a good choice since the kids were tired after all the excitement.  Mike, Pam and Meghan got up early the next morning to head to Colorado Springs.  We are so glad they were able to make the trip and make some lifelong memories as a family.

It has been another incredible run of visitors.  We’ve started to realize that living here in Breck means we will likely have people visit all the time… just the way we like it!

Travis’ Year is Up!

IMG_9810-1Well, it had to happen at some point. April 10th marked my one-year off since leaving Mondelez and what a year it has been!

It truly has been everyting Kelly and I were hoping for when we came up with this crazy scheme. And, as she said in her one-year post… we really did need all that time.

Perhaps if we hadn’t uprooted from our home and managed moving to two different cities in two differet states we could have done it in less time. But, since we wanted to chase our dreams one year has been perfect.

So, what happened? Where did the time go? Why does it have to be over? Well, not sure I have all those answers, but here are a few things I learned along the way.

  • Our family is closer than ever! Alex is my best friend. We are constantly playing (mostly trucks lately) and cuddling up. Zoe is my little princess. She is growing so fast and has such a big heart. Kelly and I are still crazy in love after nearly 10 years of marriage. I’m a lucky guy!
  • I AM an outdoors guy. I’ve never felt that way before, but maybe that was because I never had the chance? All I know is I loved living at the beach, being outside in the sun, sand and pool. Once we got to Breck, we started hiking, walking everywhere, and, of course, the skiing. Who knew!?!Travis1
  • Skiing 100 days won’t be enough. As of yesterday I’ve hit my 100th ski day and I likely will end up with a lot more by the time the last resort closes. But, it won’t be enough because I know I’ll miss it right away. Don’t get me wrong, it has been an amazing season – I’m just that addicted to skiing.
  • Giving back is important. Kelly and I both wanted to get involved in the Breck community once we got here. We both help out at Zoe’s school. Kelly has found her time at Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) very rewarding. I’ve started mentoring a local kid through Mountain Mentors. It’s true that you get so much back when volunteering.IMG_9443
  • I don’t need to work. Well, I guess I do for the money, but many people said I’d be bored after a few weeks of leaving Mondelez. That hasn’t been the case at all. There is so much going on in our lives outside of work at this point that working isn’t needed to fill the time or fill my need to contribute.
  • Living with less is easy. We left many of our material things behind when we left our home in Highland Park. We haven’t missed anything. But, we are far from true minimalists. Now that we are looking to buy our next home, we will be happy to furnish it with nice things again. We just won’t go as overboard as we have in the past.

There are a few other things that come to my mind, but those are the big ones. So, what’s left to do?

  • Finish off the ski season. Kelly’s got 5 more days to reach her goal of 50 days.  I’ll be out there with her and I also hope to get some more days in the backcountry.
  • Find my dream job. I have been networking for about a month now and applied for a few different roles. Nothing solid yet, but my dream is to stay living here in Breckenridge and continue to work in IT.
  • Buy a home. After sleeping on our friend’s couches and being in furnished rentals the past year, we are ready for a place to call ours again.

Kelly and I will continue to update the Project Pink Day blog until we have fully resettled into “normal” life again. Hope you are all still enjoying following our adventures!

When our skiing friends come to town

Throughout our time off we’ve been lucky to have so many friends and family come to visit us. Ski season has been no exception as our ski and snowboarding friends and family headed to the mountains.

Here is a brief recap of all our visitors, which in total is quite long. Enjoy!

IMG_4167Andrea and Markus

Our first visitors after the snow began to fall were Andrea and Markus. Kelly and I worked with Andrea in Zurich and in Chicago during our Kraft / Mondelez days. They were here over Thanksgiving, so we invited them over for the traditional American feast.

It was a fun night with friends, my brother Dustin and his girlfriend Lara. Especially since Dustin can make a mean turkey and Lara cooked most of the sides. My job was to bake the rolls (Pilsbury crescents) and I burned them. Oops!

IMG_4175Zoe and Markus were fast friends and played with the toy kitchen. Andrea and Kelly were able to catch up. We all got to relax.

Opheim Christmas

After we came back from Christmas with Kelly’s family in Wisconsin, we hosted Christmas for my family in Breck. My mom flew in from Charlotte, my dad drove in from Iowa and brother Dustin and his girlfriend Lara joined us from Denver.

It was a nice relaxing holiday with time spent around cozy fires, some skiing (of course) and even took my dad out for a snowmobile tour. The snowmobile tour was with Good Times Adventures. We cruised through the trees and climbed a couple thousand feet up to a cool lookout point.IMG_4153
We really enjoyed having everyone together for the holidays. It was a good reminder that we need to value time with family above material things.


Zoe’s friends come to visit!

Another great thing about living in a resort town is that tons of people love coming out here to ski… even some of Zoe’s friends (and their families of course) from back in Illinois.

IMG_9164Just after Christmas, one of Zoe’s former pre-school friends Sabrina was in Vail for their holiday. We setup a playdate for the girls to reconnect.

A couple of months later another one of Zoe’s friends (and first crush) Michael and his family were skiing in Breckenridge. We didn’t realize it until their very last night in town, but we were able to meet for a quick drink so they could see each other.

We think it helps Zoe realize that even if we move to new places, that she can keep her friends from anywhere.

Michelle and Olivia

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.06.20 PMA former co-worker, Michelle and her daughter Olivia came to visit in January. Michelle had skied for years, but this was Olivia’s first time out on the slopes. She did great and all of us had a blast on the mountain together.

We started Olivia out in the learning area with the “magic carpet” and she and the kids had fun going up and down. Zoe and Alex even thought it’d be funny to try going backwards – riding switch! Surprisingly they did ok.

Olivia is Alex’s age and both Zoe and Alex loved her – they played really nicely, which helped Michelle and Kelly sneak away a couple of times to grab a drink and catch-up. Good times!

Zurich ReunionIMG_9472

Our good friend Kirsten and daughter Bea made the long flight from New Jersey to Eagle-Vail for a ski weekend trip. So, we all hopped in the car and picked them up at the airport.

They had been to Breckenridge just last year, but came back now that we were here. The first day Bea took a ski lesson, which allowed Kelly, Kirsten and I to hit the slopes hard on the first day. We got to ski with Bea the rest of their visit.

Zoe and Alex loved having Bea back to play with. She is a bit older so they have always been a bit enamored by her big kid ways. They loved showing her all their new things in our new home.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.59.21 PMA couple days after Kirsten and Bea arrived, so did Jeremy and Davilynn. It was perfect that they overlapped as we all lived in Zurich at the same time. They left their two kids at home, so we got a babysitter and headed out to our new favorite restaurant in town, Twist.

Unfortunately, Kelly twisted her knee skiing on the first day Jeremy and Davilynn got here. But, of course, she could still hold us a table at the bar while we got in some runs. I took Jeremy up to the top of Imperial (highest lift in North America). The snow conditions were good and the sun was shining.

Jeremy and Davilynn stayed a coupled days after Kirsten and Bea left and we headed to a fondue dinner at the top of North Peak IMG_9490in Keystone.  It was really cool to travel to the top of a remote mountain for dinner.  It takes two gondola rides to get there and the views are spectacular.  It was something I always had wanted to do since I
was kid and was great to share that experience with my family and such good friends.  Zoe even became a little famous at the restaurant when she joined the 2-person German band as their tiny dancer as they went table to table!

It was great having the gang back together again. Reminded us all of how much fun we had running amuck in Zurich, Switzerland and across Europe. Just wish Helen, Richie and Katy could have joined us too.



Cousin Week

Kelly’s cousin Kim and her husband Mike live down in Denver, but we hadn’t skied with them yet this year. Kim’s brother, Kyle (and Kelly’s cousin of course) came to town and they rented a place at the base of Peak 9 for a ski week.
We enjoyed our time with them catching up over drinks between our ski runs and on lift rides. Kim had some really good one liners – just ask her what part of the peacock she is.IMG_4516

It was also nice having access to a pool and hot tub. Zoe and Alex swam like crazy in the pool that was indoor/outdoor so they could swim under the wall.

It was a sunny week with a little bit of fresh snow mid-week to keep things soft and covered. It was great having them all here, except poor Mike had to head back to Denver during the week for work. At least he got to visit on the weekends.


Brunners come to town

IMG_4568A former Kraft / Mondelez colleague of mine, Michael, and his wife Ruth decided to trade the Swiss Alps for the Rocky Mountains for a two week vacation and chose Breckenridge as their hub.

With so many other visitors in town at the same time, it took until his last day in Breckenridge for us to connect. But, we were able to have a drink at his hotel one afternoon and catch-up. It was the first time meeting Ruth too.

It was nice catching up on life and how things were going for our other colleagues back in Zurich. It just goes to show that we have some pretty great former colleagues that we will keep as friends forever.


Rasmus Brothers


I went to college and was in the same fraternity as Chad and Dusty. I was even roommates with Dusty my (first) senior year. We hadn’t seen each other in years, but when they said they were coming out to Breck we knew we’d have to meet up.

Chad brought his oldest son along too, as he was in ski school a couple of those days, we got to get some runs in together. It was fun to cruise the mountain with them and catch-up.

We even got Chad, Dusty, Kelly and the kids together and headed out for dinner and then to Broken Compass for some good beers. The three guys then put the woman and children to bed and headed out for what ended up being a late, but really fun night. Hope to see them back next year!

The Courtneys

While Zoe and Alex were down with the flu, Kelly escaped the sick nest to meet up with her friends Jareb and Georgia from her college days at UW-Madison.  She enjoyed meeting their cute kids as well and hearing about their awesome ski week at A-Basin. We would have loved to spend time on the mountain with them.  Darn flu!

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 2.38.15 PMPuls Family Visits again!

Kelly’s brother John, Mandy and our nephews Jack and Charlie braved the 16+ hour road trip from Slinger, WI to Breck. It was the 2nd time they’d visited us since we started Project Pink Day. First time was when we were in Ft Myers Beach.

We were thrilled we got to share our new home and town with them. Neither of the boys (nor their mom, Mandy) had skied before, so we decided to go easy the first day and stick only to the learning area and magic carpet. Besides it wouldn’t cost them a lift ticket!

IMG_4754It was a pleasant surprise how quickly they picked it up. By the second day we had them out on Peak 9 beginner runs, Spooky and Ripper Roos forests.   Our proudest moments were when they just wanted to go again and again! Charlie especially got the ski bug!

Zoe and Alex had school and Travis was meeting a friend in Keystone on Tuesday, so the Puls fam and Kelly tried out cross-country skiing. Something that she’d been wanting to try all season long. It was a really nice day and everyone had fun. And, Kelly realized that going downhill on cross-country skis is a bit different than alpine skiing.  She has the bruises to prove it!

The rest of the trip was very relaxing with Zoe and Alex loving having their cousins around to play with. Miss them already and was another reminder that living away from family has its downside too.

IMG_4772Graczyks in Vail

Our friends from Evanston were vacationing in Vail for Spring Break this year.  We worked with Amy at Kraft years ago and have been friends with her and her husband Matt for years.  They brought out their three adorable kiddos Nicholas, Sam and Isabell who were great skiers.

It was the first time that Zoe and Alex had ever skied in Vail, so they were excited to try out a new mountain and see some old friends.  It was also Pink Vail Day where hundreds of people dress up in pink to raise awareness and raise money for cancer research, so we fit right in!

It was a beautiful, warm day so we did lots of runs with the kids and grabbed lunch.  We actually found a table, which was impressive considering how busy it was for the Pink Vail event.  After a few more runs we grabbed a drink in Vail Village before heading home.  It was a lot of fun to catch-up and see our kids playing in a mountain town.

IMG_4442The repeat visitors

Of course, one of the great things about living near Denver is that my brother Dustin is close by and visits every weekend possible.  We’ve gotten to see him, his girlfriend Lara and their dog Maverick (Mav) a lot since we have moved here and it’s been so great spending time together.  Just another reason why we feel like Breckenridge is the right home for us.  Plus, we don’t need to get a dog – as Mav is our adopted pet that Alex has been known to have snuggle-fests with.

They also bring some of their friends along too.  It’s been great getting to know Lama, Steve, Dusty and many others.  They’re all fun to hang out with and are really great with the kids too.

Who’s next?

Now that the ski season is coming to an end, I’m sure the visitors will slow down.  Then again, we have said that for months.  Guess time will tell!

One last hurrah before (Kelly’s) repatriation!

IMG_4853Greetings from the beach! We are spending the kids’ Spring Break back in Fort Myers Beach at the condo we lived in all summer, owned by our lovely friend Helen.

We’ve spent the week in proper beach fashion – morning walks on the beach, making and breaking sandcastles, swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, grilling, tropical drinks, a trip to our favorite restaurant (SOB’s), amazing library and Sanibel Island for sea shell hunting. No dolphin sighting yet – but we have another day left!

We are slathering up with SPF 30 and 50 every morning and watching our tans come back to life. Alex looks in the mirror every morning to see if his hair has turned back to blonde. So far, he’s got some good-looking highlights!

The weather here in April is pretty spectacular… not as HOT and HUMID as it was in summer. There’s a nice breeze off the ocean and we haven’t even needed to turn on the air conditioning in the condo once! The real measure of comfort is the fact that Travis still has his mountain man beard!

IMG_9848-1Beach week is happening at the perfect time, because as of Monday… I will go back to work. Yes, I am going to have to set an alarm, shower daily (a rarity lately), do my hair and makeup (also rare) and use my brain!

My job title is “Administrative Specialist” and I will work for the Town of Breckenridge at the Recreation Center. The work is primarily recruitment and onboarding of new recreation center employees – so still in the world of HR, but nowhere near the level where I came from.

Case in point – it’s a non-exempt role and I am literally NOT ALLOWED to work over 40 hours without advanced approval.  No laptop, no email on my phone. Therefore, all work stays at work.  So basically perfect for me at this point of my life and re-entry into the workforce.

I have to punch out for a 30-minute lunch period, so I’ll take some fitness classes.  Gone are the days where I can say, “I simply didn’t have time to go to the gym today.”  I work at the gym!  I just may actually get fit!

IMG_9846-1Travis has started his job search – focusing on something bigger that fits his skill set where he can work remote from Breckenridge. He’s been networking like crazy. If he can score this unicorn, we start the house hunt! The repatriation of the Opheims back into the workforce and real life has begun. Wish us luck!

While Travis continues his job search, you will hear more from him. He’s going to catch up the blog on all of our wonderful visits from family and friends as well as a ski season recap when we are done skiing – which may not be until June as we are still at it!


Kelly’s One Year Off… and counting

Today marks exactly one year since I left my job.  I’ve thought about my year off a bit. As you know I love my lists, so here are some reflections about my career break thus far.

IMG_20461 year is the perfect amount of time for a break! After working 16 years since graduating college, I am finally feeling antsy to do something productive after the year off.

Why did it take a year to feel ready again? Well, it took the first month to just get work out of my system, out of my dreams, and out of my subconscious. The next month was spent selling all our stuff and house in Highland Park, visiting family/friends and moving to Florida. The next 3 months we played at the beach decompressing. Then we moved to Breckenridge and we spent 2 months getting settled into 2 different houses and getting the kids started at their schools. The real break happened in the past 5 months.

So what did I accomplish?

  • IMG_8571Bringing our little family of 4 much closer together.  This was our number one goal and accomplishment.  We now function as a team and know each other so much better. Pickles and all.
  • Learning a few additional recipes and cook more (and better) thanks to my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, Lara. He’s one lucky fella.
  • My skiing has improved! I am no longer scared of fresh powder skiing and have even skied a couple double black diamond runs.  I’ll hit my goal of 50 ski days this year no problem.
  • Travis and I actually taught Zoe and Alex how to ski! It’s now our favorite thing to do as a family. I wish I had learned how at age 3!
  • I’ve learned that I love hiking! Sure, it’s mainly glorified walking with a beautiful view, but just try doing that at 11,000+ feet above sea level and tell me how your lungs burn!
  • I need yoga for my soul. Travis will tell you that if I go too many days without yoga I become a bit cranky.
  • I read a bunch of books and some of them over 700 pages! This is a feat for me.  While I was working I never made IMG_8359time for reading or if I tried I would fall asleep.  The Kindle app and virtual library check out feature is my new best friend. The two books that stuck in my head this year were The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
  • Babysitting is a good way to get a “fix”.  When I think I want another baby, I just babysit and get my “fix” and get some guilt free spending money for new outdoor gear or spa days.
  • I enjoy volunteering! Every other Friday I help in Zoe’s classroom and afterwards I thank God that we have teachers that do what they do every day.  I don’t have the patience for that! Also, every Monday since November I have volunteered at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) adaptive ski program in the office.  It has been really rewarding and fun – and I’ve met some really awesome people.
  • We’ve gotten really good at hosting guests!  Similar to our time in Florida, living in a tourist destination has attracted many friends and family to come and visit us. We’ve loved seeing everyone, skiing together and sharing Breckenridge with our favorite people. Plus, it forces us to keep the house clean!FullSizeRender

What’s left to do?

  • Gotta get fit.  One of my goals when I started the break was to get into super duper shape. Although I am much more active in Colorado, I also am not stressed. I used to be a “stress starver” – opposite of a “stress eater”.   So, now I guess you could say I am fat and happy! Nevertheless, this is still an area I need to do better.
  • Start Ski Touring.  Next season I would like to get sorted with backcountry skiing gear, knowledge and energy to be able to tour with Travis.
  • More outdoor activities.  I want to learn how to snow shoe, mountain bike and cross-country ski.IMG_8539

So what’s next for me?

  • Travis and I would love to stay living in Breckenridge. Housing is ridiculously expensive here, so in order to live this dream we both need to get on the job hunt! I can tell you I won’t go back into a similar level of job that I left. I’ll leave the big job to Travis and I’ll go for something more local and less round the clock.
  • Stay involved in my kids’ education and will try to get on the board for Alex’s school and look for ways to volunteer with Zoe’s class next year.
  • Another graduate degree may still be in my future in counseling psychology. This has always been in my heart and mind and some day I’d like to make it happen!IMG_6996

Until I get a job, I will enjoy every moment left of my time off.  This week, I spent cuddling my little Zoe; she’s been sick at home from school.  It’s been a luxury to be able to be home with her without the pressure of work mounting up and trying to juggle both.  I’ve enjoyed guilt free cuddles from her on the couch all day, even though I hate seeing her sick and sad.

We’ll hit up Fort Myers Beach one more time in April over spring break and then get ready for whatever happens next on our amazing journey!

Skiing like it’s our job!

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 3.22.34 PMObviously the big reason for us moving to Breckenridge was to take advantage of the mountains – specifically skiing. It has been a dream of mine to be a ski bum (even if for one season) since I was a teenager.

There is a ski filmmaker named Warren Miller who has a famous saying… “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”  That quote has been in my mind for nearly 20 years.  Well, we finally did it.

Kelly and I set “ski day goals” for ourselves – 50 days and 100 days respectively. So far we are on track to meet those goals in the remaining weeks of the ski season.  I’m at 73 and Kelly is at 36 days.

What has been just as exciting is getting Zoe and Alex out with us as much as we can. Both kids have over 20 days of skiing in already and are cruising down the “blue” intermediate runs with us now. I never thought I’d have that much fun on the groomers again!IMG_4389

It has been a great season in terms of snow for Colorado resorts. Not that many powder days yet, but March is traditionally the snowiest month of the year. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Also, we have come to realize that skiing in the resorts and on groomed runs is not enough for the “true locals”. Almost all of them are taking it to another level – they are telemark skiers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, etc.

So, wanting to be a true local I have started doing backcountry skiing. This is when you hike up the mountain before skiing back down. It is an incredible feeling and an incredible workout too!

Coming from the mid-western states of Iowa and Wisconsin, we are more known for our pork and beer intake than anything else. So, I guess we will just have to keep pushing our limits and keep our mountain adventures going to become true locals.

What We’ve Learned About Our Kids

By far the favorite thing that Kelly and I have experienced during Project Pink Day is getting to know our kids better. In spending all this time with them we have noticed a few things that we thought we’d share with you…IMG_3941

  • They always poop at inconvenient times – Or, as we’ve grown to call it “going pickles” because Alex at age 2 looked down and exclaimed to us, “look I made a pickle!” But they need to “pickle” at restaurants, while at the park, during a hike, just after we passed the rest area – anytime that involves mom or dad to go through the most inconvenient process to get it done.
  • When Alex wakes up, the first words out of his mouth makes us laugh. Some of our favorites –
    • I saw a pelican! (which he didn’t)
    • I want a red convertible!
    • Where’s kitty?  I think he’s the one making that crazy noise.
    • (while standing on our bed)… Look mom! I got so tall. I must have “growed” in the night!
  • For them, nothing beats outside – They constantly want to be outside playing in the snow, going for a hike and now skiing. We love experiencing it all with them all for the first time. It is creating strong bonds we know we would not have had otherwise.IMG_3904
  • They suffer from FOMO – Just like their parents they have a Fear Of Missing Out.  If we leave to go skiing without them, they throw a fit.  If we put them to bed and hear laughter, they’ll peak their heads out.  Just last night we were watching episode 3 of Star Wars and they were yelling from their room “we can hear the light savers”.  Yeah, they say light “savers” instead of sabers.
  • They have big hearts – Alex gets all sweet when Kelly starts crying when watching a sad movie.  He’s been known to say that there is “water in his eyes” when it happens.  Zoe says she misses us while she’s at school, likes to tell us that we “melt her heart” and she is the best snuggle bug in the world – always creating little nests to cuddle in right by us.
  • They’d rather sleep in our bed – Apparently we now have a “family bed”.  Guaranteed even though we put them to bed in their own room, we will get 2 little visitors in the night that crawl into our king sized bed.  Not the best for Kelly and I to get sleep, but we are rewarded with the best snuggles.  We are just going to enjoy it because one day it won’t be like this anymore.

Of course there is a lot more we notice on a daily basis, but these are the ones that really stand out.  We are very grateful for this time with our kids.