Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from the Formans!

I've been struggling with my laptop and finally got a new one, so to celebrate both things, here are some pictures of our goings-on from the last few months:

Tapper girl - Claire put on a small show just before Christmas, showing us what she had learned in ballet, tap, and tumbling. She's no longer taking dance - she seemed a little too frazzled so we're taking a break.

Uncle Bart came to Denver to spend Christmas with us, and the weather was awesome on Christmas Eve, so we went to the park.

Growing girl - Claire at 7 years, 4 months

Big boy in his boots (a huge favorite) - 2 years, 6.5 months

Claire loves playing cards with Uncle Bart, any time and at all hours (this was first thing Christmas morning).

Sean got a strider bike and a basketball hoop from Mommy and Daddy...

...and immediately had to try them out...

...with a bit of help from Claire-bear.

Claire's big present from us was a big-girl bed and nightstand - she had a mattress on the floor for about 9 months and was very patient about it. (Photo progression: before, Christmas day, then later with the "Frozen explosion" from Christmas")

Sean still has a mattress on the floor as he tends to roll off his big-boy bed occasionally, but he's delighted with his new airplane wall decals.

After Christmas we went up to Keystone and Graham and Bart went skiing for a couple of days.

It was bitterly cold and Sean's a hair too young for ski school, so we rode the gondola up and down the mountain... 

...had the kids' faces painted, and generally stayed warm and had a good time. Our last day we went tubing, which the kids loved.

Bailey is doing much better - we now give her fluids at home every few days and she's put on a bunch of weight and has more energy. Yay!

I had a work trip to Boston in January (Brr! Pre-snow, though...) and got to visit the Cheers bar - appropriate for St. Patrick's Day.

In February, I went to Post Falls, Idaho, to see my lovely sister Lauri and spend some time with her and my amazing nephews (yes, it was Super Bowl weekend) - it was so great giving them hugs and just being with them! As a side bonus I got to see other family and even celebrate Tristan's birthday with him, which was special.

Also in February, Graham's brilliant cousin A.J. had his doctoral recital for his PhD in conducting at CU Boulder - not only did we get to attend, but we got to spend some fun time with family afterwards.

Claire drew some constellations for her science fair project (no help from Mom) since her class was studying space - she picked Ursa Minor and Ursa Major.

Sean still loves anything with buttons and really wants his own computer to smash (as you may have seen on Facebook, he didn't help with my laptop troubles).

We've had a good deal of snow, but nothing like Boston - Claire bought herself a shovel so helped Daddy with the sidewalk. Sean "helped," too, with a small sand shovel. We're enjoying the onset of spring and watching the lingering snow piles finally melt.

Claire was in a theatre Fun Club last trimester called "Play On!" and they performed their version of "Frozen" for us. It's here for the truly bold - it's hard to hear and total chaos, but she had fun. She plays "Medium Elsa" (there were 3 Elsas and 2 Annas, so expect to be confused).

Sean has taken to climbing into bed and sleeping with Claire (yes, I move him so he doesn't fall off), and he also prefers to sleep in his clothes for the next day rather than jammies - goofy guy.

Sean (a.k.a. Mr. Cool) started at a new preschool this month - we were sad to leave his Montessori, but his new school currently has him in a bilingual Spanish room, and then when he turns 3 he will move into a full immersion room (he should speak Spanish as a native Costa Rican, after all). He loves it so far and didn't have any transition issues, for which we were grateful.


My Mom came to visit this last weekend and we had a lovely time - she and I visited the Molly Brown House and Museum, which is really cool if you love history like we do.

The kids loved having Nana around and all to themselves...

Addendum to my last blog post about my new treadmill desk - after two days using it as it was (4 hours/day), my neck really hurt the next day from looking down. Adding an external monitor solved that problem and it has been fantastic since then. I use it about 3-4 hours every work day...

Ergonomics are a good thing

Thursday, February 19, 2015

DIY Project: Treadmill Desk for less than $15

I don't usually write posts like this, but then, I don't usually do DIY projects, and today I did.

Since I work from home, I've been wanting a treadmill/desk setup for a long time so I can walk and work at the same time instead of just sitting all day. When I looked online, treadmill desks run anywhere from $400-$4,000, and most are big and bulky. After a bit of Googling, I found this post on how to make your own for less than $20 and figured it was worth a shot.

I modified it a bit, so thought I'd share my process:


Here are the raw materials from my local neighborhood orange mega-hardware store:
  • Wooden shelf (I chose a white coating but there are lots of wood-type options), 11.8" D x 35.8" W - $7.48
  • 4 Eye bolts, 1/4" x 3" - $1.96
  • 2 24" bungee cords - $3.45
  • Drill with a 13/64 bit (not pictured)


I drilled two holes in each end, and screwed in the eye bolts. Done! It took about 15 minutes total.

One note on hole placement - I just randomly picked 3" from each end, since that was how it looked in the original  post. My treadmill has short, stumpy handrails, so that almost didn't work. Before drilling, put the shelf on your treadmill to check eye bolt placement.


I attached the bungee cords to the eye bolts in an X pattern, slid it on my handrails, and now I have a treadmill desk!


I spent my first day walking between 1.0 and 2.0 mph depending on what I was doing, and my Fitbit says I'm at almost 17,000 miles as of about 2:00 p.m. This is going to put a big boost in my daily activity level - yay!

My only note so far is that it would be nice to have my monitor more at eye level instead of looking down... Some DIY treadmill desks used bookshelves or wall-mounted shelves for that purpose, but I would have to face the wall for that, and I would rather face into the room. Personal preference - there's a lot can be done with this with not much money or time. AND I can actually take it off my treadmill if I want a heftier workout, which you can't do with the big, expensive desks.

Addendum:  After two days using the treadmill desk as it was (4 hours/day), my neck really hurt the next day from looking down. Adding an external monitor solved that problem and it has been fantastic since then. I use it about 3-4 hours every work day and put in roughly 6 miles/day. I happened to have a monitor that I wasn't using, but you can get a decent one for around $50-60 on Amazon.

Ergonomics are a good thing

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Formans!

It's been a busy year for the Formans, but in less international ways than in the past few years. Our big big change was that we moved from Costa Rica to Denver in January – quite a difference in weather! We do miss the tropical weather on occasion, and definitely the people, but we're also really enjoying living in Denver.

Saying goodbye to some of our friends in Costa Rica

In March we bought a house in the Stapleton neighborhood (Northeast Denver) – if you flew into Denver prior to 1999, you may have landed about where our house is now. We're about a block and a half from the old air tower, which is the only thing still standing. The rest of the airport has been turned into a fantastic, family friendly community with lots of parks, pools, shops and restaurants within walking distance, and diverse families with lots of young children. Come visit and we'll show you around!

Our bunnies in front of our new house

Our big trip this year was to Southern Idaho in the summer. Mindee turned 40 on July 4th, so we spent a week with her family, then drove home by way of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The kids loved spending time with family, and then seeing the mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife, and throwing rocks into the lakes.

In front of Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho, where Mindee's mom went to high school 

Throwing rocks into Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park 

Checking out the thermal activity at Yellowstone National Park

Sean and Mindee also made a quick trip to Northern Idaho in October to attend the memorial service for Mindee’s brother-in-law, Donnie Goecke. His passing has left a big hole in the lives of his family – please keep them in your prayers.

Graham and Donnie in Costa Rica, Thanksgiving 2012

Claire graduated kindergarten in May and is now a busy seven-year-old first-grader. Her week at the moment consists of a ballet/tap/tumbling class, swimming lessons, a "try it" music program where she gets to sample different instruments, and a theatre class where they’re working with the characters and story from "Frozen." Her absolute favorite thing this year is "Frozen," so the last one makes her very happy. There will be a performance on February 27 if anyone would like to come. She recently started reading chapter books and can’t seem to get enough, which makes her parents very happy.

When did she get so grown-up?

At two and a half years old, Sean is a non-stop boy of action. He loves airplanes, music, playing with his friends and Claire, and anything electronic with a button or switch. He has been at a Montessori school for almost a year now in a toddler program, but may switch to a Spanish-immersion preschool early next year to re-expose him to Spanish. He’s always open to new experiences, usually responding with, "Ooh, that’d be fun!"

Mister busy-britches

They've grown so much since last year:

 2013

Mid-2014 

Fall 2014

Graham continues to work with Netchemia as their VP of Business Development, and continues to grow his new company, Edovate Capital. He hopes to spend lots of time in the mountains skiing this winter and also hopes the kids will want to join him.

The Forman men in action

Mindee still works with the Kauffman Foundation, but is also increasingly doing more freelance editing work. She also does writing, formatting, social media, and web consulting if you know of anyone in need of such services. She also now sings with the Colorado Choir as a second alto and enjoys being artistic again.

With my babies on my birthday - I sure don't feel 40!

Bailey, our 13.5-year-old cat, has failing kidneys, but we now give her subcutaneous fluids at home every night, which helps a great deal. She's eating again, gaining back the weight she lost, and her energy level is coming back up. We're not ready to let her go just yet so are glad she's feeling better.

Feeling better every day

We wish you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah  and hope 2015 brings you joy and peace.

Love,

Mindee, Graham, Claire, and Sean Forman