noodles faceNoodles joined the family a month ago. She is a teacup mini pig that we got from one of Steve’s coworkers who raises them. She has endeared herself to everyone except Mojo and Zoe. They do not understand what the pig deal is about the noisy little thing and wonder what in the world we were thinking? . She is a bit of a drama queen and can really throw a fit if she doesn’t get what she wants when she wants it. She is affectionate, independent, curious and makes us laugh a lot. I love her.

Here are a few videos of Noodles first month with us.


Happy Anniversary

We found out May 21 that we would be going to England on June 3. Friday May 23 we went to the bank to get my passport out of the safe deposit box.


My flight was booked under Michelle Cox. My passport still read Michelle Ray.

Three hours of phone calls later we were resigned to the fact that the airline would not change my last name and I would have to bring my marriage license with me and hope that would work.

Then Steve did some research (does that surprise anyone that knows him?) and found out about the expedited passport office in Denver.

So Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day I drove to Denver, turned my paperwork in and crossed my fingers.

The passport arrived Friday. Big sigh of relief!

Tuesday at 5am we were on our way to Denver. Tina agreed to get up at 4am to take us to the airport. Well, she rode in the back seat while Steve drove, but since she drove the car all the way back to Penrose that counts as taking us to the airport don’t you think?

Denver to Toronto. Toronto to Heathrow. Steve got some sleep. I didn’t. Par for the course I never ever sleep on planes.

We got to the hotel, which is very slick and modern around 8am Wednesday. Dropped our luggage with the concierge and went to the Tube station. Victoria station is a block from the hotel. Got our day passes and then took a while to figure out the subway system again.

This is my fifth time in London, Steve’s second. It still takes a bit of time to figure the system out.

But there is an app for that!

I downloaded an app that allows me to enter the name of the station to and from, then it tells me what line to take, where to change, and how long it will take.


We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum to kill some time as our room would not be ready until 2pm.

I was doing pretty good with the jet lag, fueled on caffeine but with zero sleep. Steve was a walking zombie and I think the V&A was pretty much a blur for him. When we stopped for coffee he almost went to sleep sitting at the table. Wish I had gotten a picture.

Back to the hotel. The room is awesome.we took a two hour nap then walked down the street in search of a place for dinner.

We found a Mexican place and were able to get the last available table. The staff wore cheesy straw cowboy hats but the food was acceptable and we could watch all the people rush by in the rain.

So our one year anniversary dinner was in a Mexican restaurant in London.

Pretty cool.


Whole 30 (paleo) first dinner in the middle of renovation

My friend Patti Hickham told me years ago that we were “dirty house friends”. Translation: a friend so accepting and understanding that they can come over to your house when it is dirty and not think you are a failure.

You know how some people have theme parties where everyone dresses up in Hawaiian clothes and they sip piña coladas and wear leis?


We had some really good friends over last night for a paleo (whole 30 compliant) dinner in the middle of a construction site. Tanya and Monte Zimmerman along with their granddaughter Gwennie, and Tina Heffner are now officially my “renovation friends” which is a higher level of “dirty house friends”.





We started with sausage balls. Mix a little red pepper flakes with sausage, encase green olives with sausage brown on all sides until done. Those little guys disappeared pretty quickly. Recipe from Every Day Paleo.

Dinner was sliced cucumber salad from Well Fed 1. Sweet potato spears with chipotle dipping sauce from Everyday Paleo (I think)
Citrus Carnitas from Well Fed 1 and cold steamed asparagus with our family recipe garlic vinigarette .

Tina brought a yummy fruit salad with whipped coconut cream to top it off.

Great evening with very understanding friends!

Heath Marshall Rattlesnake Slayer

We headed out around 9am. The sun was shining and there was a cool breeze. A perfect day to ride Beaver Creek. There were four of us riding out that day, Sara on Jacks, Heath on Ricky Bobby, Dee on Playboy and I was on Aliente.

Heath and Dee watched in amusement while I tried to get Ali to stand still as we waited for Sara to saddle Jacks. Aliente is a green eight year old Paso Fino. Pasos have a reputation for being “hot” which Heath loves to remind me of every time my boys act up. Heath did point out that while I was spinning and circling my guy the two mustangs were standing perfectly still and watching in what I was sure was amusement .

There was the usual conversation with long gaps of silence as we meandered along. Heath was recovering from some mustang injuries, Ali had bucked the previous two days so I don’t think either of us were in the mood to do much other than enjoy riding. Sara and Dee seemed to feel the same way.

Sara had moved ahead of me on the familiar trail, Jacks was in a hurry to get wherever we were going. Ali and I were a couple of feet behind her when I heard here scream “oh shit a snake!” I looked down at Jacks feet as he jumped to the side and the snake beneath his hooves curled into a circle. And started to rattle.

Ok. I admit. I screamed. As I screamed I kicked Ali and turned him AWAY from the snake. I don’t usually scream while I’m on a horse, in fact this was a first for Ali. He did a pretty good imitation of a grasshopper jumping sideways. But that maneuver got us well away from the snake.

And oh shit it was a rattle snake.

We were amazed that Jacks had not been bit. I don’t know how he didn’t because I saw that snake between his front feet. Sara thought she heard his foot hit it, so maybe he stunned it long enough to delay the striking. It probably would have been a death sentence for him, because we were in an isolated area with limited vehicle access. But he was ok.

Having been semi educated by Steve (who calls snakes “critters and thinks they are cool) I thought we would just leave the snake alone and ride on.

Heath Marshal had other ideas. Now you have to understand that Heath is a World Famous Mustang Tamer. And he was riding The Legendary Ricky Bobby.

They compete in mounted shooting, where Heath fires at targets while riding at a full gallop.
More about mounted shooting:

Heath was going to get a rock to kill the rattler when I yelled “Heath, I’ve got a gun!” He galloped over on Ricky Bobby, I grabbed my Keltec out of my saddle bag and tossed it to him. He caught it in mid air at a full gallop. We all watched in amazement as he pounded towards the coiled snake and started shooting. The first pass he got off three shots to the body. As he pivoted and headed back to the snake he fired his last shot that blew the head completely off the viper.

Wow. It was amazing. It was unreal.

Well, it really was unreal because that is not the way it happened but I thought it made a fun story!

Here is what really happened.

Heath got off Ricky Bobby and was going to find a rock. I told him I had a gun, rode over and handed it to him.
He looked at it and asked “what is it?”
“A gun.”
“I know that! What kind of gun?”
“A Keltec. ”
“Is it a 45.”
“No, 380 and one is in the chamber.”

So Heath took the gun, handed Ricky Bobby’s reins to Dee and approached the snake.

As you will see from the video he got him.

Ricky Bobby, the champion mounted shooting horse evidently does not like to have shots fired when they are not from his back. He went a little bonkers. Which got Jacks and Playboy excited. My “hot” Paso Fino Aliente just stood there looking back and forth between Heath shooting the snake and the other horses circling around.

Heath wanted to get a head shot. So he took Ricky Bobby from Dee, walked over to the snake and got the headshot. We all got a little excited when Ricky Bobby reacted to the shot and started backing TOWARDS the snake.

During this excitement my green “hot” Paso Fino, who is a palomino and does have “blond” moments stood still so I could video. His head was swiveling back and forth and I could hear him saying in his surfer guy voice “dude! What’s happening?! Dude?”

With the snake thoroughly and completed dead we proceeded on our ride. With Heath Marshall The Rattlesnake Slayer in the lead. Every. Step. Of. The. Way.

Renovation Almost End Of Week 5

It’s Friday morning. The granite was installed yesterday which took several hours. After the install Mike and Pat laid more of the flooring.

Renovation Week 4.5


Lots more behind the scenes kind of stuff this week. Rather than go through the details I made a video.

Big news is granite will be installed Thursday. I picked up the rock for the fireplace and the backslash tile so Mike can start those projects after the countertops are put on

This is the fun part.

Sleep Together

Waking up is hard. Especially at 4:00 am.

Steve and I have been getting up at 4:30am ever since we started living together.

This week he voluntarily changed his wake up time to 4:00am. The earlier time allows him to get to work without any traffic (no surprise!) and most importantly spend some time with his other crew.

It was tough when I had the Taekwondo school in Little Rock. Steve would come to the school after work and hang out in my office while I taught class. Many times I’d walk by and he would be asleep, head tilted back, in the chair. He could easily have gone home and been in bed by the time I got in at 8:30 or 9:00. I could have stayed in bed when he got up. We both sacrificed sleep to be on the same routine.

I realize some couples work different shifts and have to accommodate childcare, and getting up and going to bed at the same time is impossible. Since I’m retired, I have the luxury of adjusting my schedule to my husbands. But I know other couples that seldom go to bed or get up at the same time. By choice. And I’m just going to say I think that is a very bad thing for a relationship.

Here in Colorado our family has a routine. Steve and I both go to bed at the same time. Once we are settled, Keely does her special knock on the door. Even if the door is open she does the special knock, because that is part of the routine. Then she comes in and lays her head on Steve’s chest and we talk a little. They exchange “I love you” and “goodnight” then she comes around to my side of the bed and repeats the process. Next she stands in the doorway and we start the recitation of “night, night, don’t let the bedbugs bite, if they do, take a shoe and hit them til they are black and blue,”. One more “goodnight, I love you” all around and Keels goes to bed.

Steve and I usually read for a while, feet and legs intertwined. The important thing is we make contact, we touch. We might talk a little, share something with the other from Facebook or email, or just read. Its a time when we reinforce the fact that we are a couple, that we love each other, that we want to be together. This is not about sex, this is about our need to feel loved and wanted. Sometimes one of us continues to read while the other one sleeps.

Once, early on in our relationship, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and went into the other room to read so I wouldn’t bother Steve. A few minutes later he came out and said “what are you doing?”
“I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to bother you”
“Michelle, I can sleep while you read. I can’t sleep if I don’t have you in bed with me.”

That was a pivotal statement for me. We have since talked a lot about how important that touch and sense of comfort during the night is to each of us.

In the morning, the alarm goes off and we both stagger out of bed. Steve heads to the shower, I pack his lunch and make our coffee. There is always a hug and kiss, “I love you babe” then he is out the door.

Ok, so why in the world am I telling you all of this?

I think going to bed and getting up together reinforces that we care about each other and WANT to be with the other. I’ve been guilty in other relationships of living a schedule different from my partner. Pretty soon it seemed like I was living a different life.

A friend talked to me about her resentment of her husband who stayed up for hours after she went to bed , he was playing on the computer. He of course was still asleep when she got up for work and she had to take care of kids breakfast and getting ready for school. She would ask him to come to bed and he would say ” in a minute”. She would wake hours later and his side of the bed would still be empty. And she would get angry. Then she would be more angry when he was still asleep when she got up. Think that resentment filtered into their relationship?

Another friend told me yesterday that he felt he had all the childcare burdens because his wife got up at 4:00am for work. He was responsible for the morning routine and getting his little guy to daycare. His wife went to bed earlier than he did so he had the bedtime routine also. My advice? Get on her schedule. Why? So you will have a marriage.

Take a look at this article by Psychology Today. “10 Habits Of Happy Couples”

Number One is Go To Bed At The Same Time.

So yes, we go to bed when the sun is still up during the summer. Our 11 year old stays up later than we do. Our guests are told that we have dinner early (6:00pm to 6:30pm) because 8:00pm we head to bed. My friends have figured out that I don’t respond to texts after 8:30pm because I am snoozing away. Of course they don’t respond to my texts at 4:30am either!