Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Giving Thanks in a Gorgeous Place


I love to travel. It feeds my soul. I knew that we needed to get our bunch out of the last few months of funk, so we decided to travel this Thanksgiving. Looking at our options, we chose to go to Sedona, AZ . Joel and I had visited there many years before, and Joel had gone with some buddies a few years earlier on a mountain biking trip. So we knew that there were lots of things to do, and the kids would love it. Finding a place  to stay was a little harder, but thankfully the week before Thanksgiving a nice house , that allowed the super pooch to travel with us opened up. After we booked it ,I started looking at how many people the house could hold - and it was large :). So I decided to see if Mom and Dad wanted to come too, since I get my travel gene from my Momma! And they also knew they needed to get moving again. So the weekend before Thanksgiving we headed out to New Mexico.... which I have never been too before.  The drive to Sedona is about 12 hours, but we decided to break it into two days, staying in Santa Fe Saturday night. It was interesting. The state has been shut down in a very harsh way. It was like a ghost town when I was walking the dog, and finding food became a challenge. My heart hurts for the people in the town being locked down so harshly. I pray daily this pandemic will be defeated soon.  

So the next morning we started making our way to Sedona. Since we only had a 6 hour drive I thought we should stop somewhere and hike. We saw on the map the Petrified Forest National Park, and thought that would work. We were able to get out and stretch the legs for about 45 mins. It was interesting to see the buttes and it was a beautiful place in it's on way.

Lauren (9), Jill, Cooper (12), and Obi (4) at Petrified Forest

 After getting the kinks out we headed on the Sedona.  Joel started looking for something on the map. We were passing right by Winslow, AZ. So now we had to stop. And I must say our kids did not know the song, so we need to work on our musically history lessons.

Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona 


 A few short hours later we make it to Sedona, and the rental house was lovely with a big yard for the kids and dog. The next morning we decided to hike at Cathedral Rock. It was beautiful and crowded. I personally was thrilled to see everyone getting out a living life.

Cathedral Rock - we hiked about a third of the way up - was too rocky for Obi

All three little ones enjoyed scrambling on the rocks

   Mom and Dad arrived Monday night and we grabbed some take out.  The next day we rented bikes and the kids and I rode about 12 miles. (Joel might have done a few more). It was fun and challenging. Cooper rode really well with the years of Boulder Junior Cycling proving their worth. Lauren's rental bike was not as nice as the rest of ours, but she rode it like a beast.  I, of course, fell and are still sporting a bruise on my leg, but it was a great day.

All Smiles
This is Bell rock - we saw people BASE jumping off it.

What a view

 My Dad nor my kids have ever been to the Grand Canyon, so since it was less then 2 hours away we had to make the trip. It is a spectacular place and no real words can describe it. It was amazing and well worth the drive.
Cooper, Lauren, Joel, Judy, and Jim with my shadow
Grandpa with the Girl
Even Obi made the trip
Lauren with her Daddy

Thanksgiving day was lovely and calm. Short hike in the morning and then we stayed around the house and played lots of games , enjoying the beauty. Mom and Dad had brought their Corn Hole game and the kids played many, many games. We had picked up some easy groceries and had ham with some other pre-made sides. As all know, I still hate cooking, but it was a passable meal, with amazing company. 

Really Nice Turkey Trot

Enjoying the fire pit
Our View at Lunch

Friday came too soon and we had to head home again.  It was a lovely trip and so glad we made the effort, and believe me trying to get my hubby to travel is an effort.  I am so grateful for the amazing world and wonderful life I am blessed with. It was a Gorgeous Thanksgiving.



Saturday, August 08, 2020

Cooper is 12!!!!!

   My first born son is really a great kid. We have been so blessed to have him in our lives. He is super funny, smart, caring, and easy to get along with. I can not believe that we have already made it to middle school and age 12. We celebrated with our tradition streamers, and then Topgolf with some friends. 

Day started with a HUGE cinnamon roll

Where did my little kiddos go??? 

We love Topgolf
                                            Friends-Dylan, Cooper (with his new Octopus t shirt) and Henry
Mom and Lauren enjoying the celebration
Freddy's Steakburgers where a hit .... I think they ate hot dogs :)
1st birthday Cake and 12th Birthday Ice Cream Cake
His gifts were games, a few t shirts and cash. I am sure more video games will be purchased. Cooper is growing up really fast, and it is such a joy to see. We love you, Cooper Clay!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Summer Fun

 This summer has been flying by, as is just life in general. Every year comes at me faster and faster. (Coop is almost 12!!!!) So we need to get busy livin'. Our summer has been filled with swim and biking and thankfully a trip to Idaho(I will post separately). So I thought I would post a few pics from our enjoying God's beautiful world.
Lauren started taking horseback riding lessons - Riding Molly

We seriously live the the most lovely place - Ren riding the trails near our house

Driving range - not sure how many balls were hit correctly, but it was fun
Floating the river near Longmont
Mountain Biking in Summit County - Thanks again Kenkel - Kennedy's! - That is the Dillon Reservoir behind the kids.
Cooper riding - he did also ride with Boulder Junior Cycling this summer - Had a few crashes, but continued to improve
Lauren and Jill enjoying the ride - We made it about 10 miles this day
Chalked the driveway
Playing football - not always with a great attitude
Hikes with Obi
        I have still been struggling with the world, that some days seems to burning down around us. So I am holding on to these great memories and keep on praying about the rest.

Monday, July 06, 2020

In the times of the Rona

  As we are living thru this historic time, I have been thinking about documenting what my little corner of the world has been going through.   Just so my kids can look back on this and remember. We entered March thinking we were going to have a very busy spring, as most do with little kids. The end of the school year is always fast and filled with lots of projects and final concepts to learn. Cooper was going to play in two flag football leagues and Lauren working hard in her gymnastic classes to improve her skills. Cooper was also in the final weeks at his elementary school before entering middle school, with many of his classmates going elsewhere, so it was a very interesting transition time.  I also work at the school, so my job was also up in the air.

Crazy Hair day at school - Mr Cruger did a great job of keeping us connected

   School was sent into home learning on March 13. Sadly Cooper never got to go back to Superior Elementary.  The teachers made herculean efforts to complete the year as best as we could, but it was HARD. Lauren is not self-motivated in her school work, so my days were filled with "What are you doing?", "Have you finished that yet?", "Do you need any help?"(with NO, sometimes yelled, being the answer always). Cooper being the nerd, was always on task, but being an 11 year old boy, was always finding ways to cut corners."I already know that" being the response I got when I asked if he completed things.
   My job became mostly to keep my two students on task and learning, but I also did run several groups with the 1st and 2nd graders. Not lessons, but more just checking in, and allowing them to talk to friends, and keep in touch. I was able to help at the end of the year, by helping pack up and pass out the work that had been left at school that last day back in March.
 Lots of reading
 Thankfully once school was out, Cooper was able to go back to  Boulder Junior Cycling mountain biking and Lauren's swim team started training again. Sadly no races were allowed, but we were in the pool. Our local community pool opened on a limited capacity and mandatory reservation basis, and Joel has been diligent in signing up for times. Hiking and biking are still happening and we try to get out when we can. We also have been baking cookies and cakes, making summer clothes tighter.
     I must confess that I have not been the best at, as I tell my son "embracing the suck".  I have dealt with my issues, but I must say that I have been angry a lot. I feel as though I have lost so much of my life, and all that my kids lost is what makes me the most angry. I pray( and believe me I have prayed A LOT) that in a few more months this will all just be a memory and we can move forward to the full lives that I want for myself, but mostly my kids. Thankfully we are still blessed to live in a wonderful country and one of the most beautiful places. Here is the pictures of survival mode we have been in the last few months.

Cooper was supposed to sing the National Anthem at a Rockies Game -(note we had to finally order hair clippers from Amazon to get rid of that mop)
This was a school project - not quite sure what we were going for, but Lauren liked it,

Hiking helped keep us sane (or at least more sanity than we would have otherwise)
Obi was glad we were home, but not really happy to share the couch
On pretty days we would do our homework on the deck.

More of Obi helping
Still made time for last day of school pictures

I feel like I have aged 2 years in the last few months - and with lots of baking, maybe added lbs

Handsome Joel still looks the same

The 5th grade parade, which made me SO grateful for our amazing community. Tons of people came out to cheer on the kids as we drove through the neighborhood

  We are not out of the woods,  but I see glimmers of hope. School has not officially been called, but we keep praying and our hopes are up that we will be back together in the fall. We are headed out to Idaho next week, and hope to have a great time hiking, biking and playing in some mountain lakes. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Everything is bigger in Texas

        So it was long weekend time, and I love to take quick trips. We can see new cities and sights without to much fuss and muss. So the kids decided they would like to go to Texas. Which for February is a pretty good choice. So we got the kids out of school just a few  minutes early and headed to the airport Thursday afternoon. Landing in Austin around 7, we found a local flavor burger, which was delicious.
    The next morning we headed south towards San Antonio, and the Natural Bridge Caverns. We as a family have been to quite a few cave tours in our lives, but this one was pretty great. It had several large rooms, and lots of stalagmites and stalagmites, with underground water. We enjoyed it, and as a bonus they had just opened last fall a ropes course which the kids loved.

The Fam in front of a large tower - Note I am not that short - I am leaning over and down to get Coop in the pic :)

                          Jill, Cooper (11yrs) and Lauren (8yrs) in Natural Bridge Caverns
                                                    Lauren In front of the Watchtower
Happy Campers
  We had a great time and then had some Lupe Tortilla's for dinner.  The next morning we arrived at the Doseum in San Antonio. This was a great children's museum. They had just opened an Spy Academy exhibit, which had the kids solving puzzles for about an hour and a half. It was very well done and interesting even for the adults. Lauren loved that they had a small laser room, that if you hit a laser you set off a buzzer. She spent about 30 mins in that room alone.
   After Shake Shack for lunch we headed to The Alamo. We did the audio tour and it was nice, but I feel like to tour Joel and I had taken years ago was a little more informative. This tour was more about the other people in the Alamo then those who actually fought in  the battle. Still I love my history.
Here is Lauren's code name - Ms Pineapple - ready to start her first mission
Our Agents
The Alamo - 1836

    I decided we need a little more history, but this was much more kitchy. We visited The Buckhorn Saloon Museum, with had Texas Rangers history, along with outlaw history. It was cheesy and a little silly, but the kids seem to like it okay. Lauren found some saloon swinging doors which she has to try out about 15 times.
I'm innocent
Illusion of water going uphill - and big brother not being sure about his sisters hug
 On our last day in Texas we went to the Austin Aquarium. It was so cool. This was more like a Science hands on aquarium, where you are encouraged to touch the animals. They had lizards, coy, lemurs, the small shrimp that clean off your skin, and the be all end all of the octopus. Cooper had been fascinated with octopus for years, even writing a paper in 4th grade about a fictional field octopus.  We did have one misstep with when Lauren was bit by a ring tailed lemur. We were warned that they had had a long day the day before and it was a juvenile female, which saw Lauren as a threat. She was not hurt, but sad since it happened a few seconds from entering the enclosure. She did later in the day get to meet the Ruff Lemurs, which was great experience. Joel and I both think it is a great story. She was happy to tell all her friends when she got back to school. Then with the persistants of wonderful Joel we were able to feed an octopus. We also fed sand sharks and stingrays. It was the coolest experience, with being able to feel it's tentacles, and him blowing out water.  It was great.
Cooper Pus
Watch out Lauren
Lauren holding a bird
Otto the Octopus !
The cute lemurs before the bite - Again not the fault of the animal   
Not a happy camper, but has a really great story

Not a great pic, but the kids with the ruff lemurs - had a really neat experience
Neptune and the Mermaid

Shrimp cleaning the skin - felt very interesting

    We had a good trip to Texas, and as always am thinking of the next place we can go. My kiddos are getting older by the day, and want to have as many experiences as possible before they go.