Rocky mountain high

We spent this past week in the Rocky Mountains and Denver. We flew out on Wednesday and spent time with Barry (my brother). Barry is a lawyer in Denver and cleared his schedule for our visit. He took us to the Denver museum of nature and science. The kids loved it as we all did. We ate lunch in Cherry Creek at the Cherry Cricket (best burgers in town).

We spent day 2 in Boulder. We took a tour of the CU campus. When we got to the football stadium, I thought it’d be neat to take my JD and Ellie out onto the field. We walked into one of the gates only to find that the whole place was gated up and locked. Dang. As we were sitting there contemplating our next move, a guy walked by us to enter a door marked “women’s restroom.” He stopped and looked over to us and said, “do you guys want to go see the field?” Of course we took him up on it. The women’s restroom was actually a hallway to the sports information office. From there we took a passageway through some back halls that took us out into the stadium. He gave us a tour of the place. As it turned out, this gentleman was an ex-player who played against gale sayers (KU great) and he’s now an assistant athletic director. Neat stuff.

We had a big go-cart race with Ellie and I destroying JD and Barry. They had us in the early going, but eventually Ellie and I made it around them and left them far behind to eat our dust. Just as you’d expect.

That evening, we drove up to Fort Collins and had dinner with my aunt and uncle and their kids (Pete, Barbie, Mallory, and Bridget). The next evening, we had dinner at my cousin’s, Laura, house. She is soon expecting twins with her husband, Joe. We also visited the Children’s museum and went swimming at Barry apartment complex — very nice facilities.

Early Saturday morning, we left for the Rockies — Estes Park. We arrived and spent time exploring the YMCA of the Rockies. We played miniature golf. We then went on a long horseback ride. Ellie was able to ride her own horse and was the first horse in the line. JD rode with Paula and chatted the whole time. At one point, Ellie’s horse started eating grass and Ellie had to pull back on the reigns and get the horse back on track by kicking her heels into the horse. She handled it like a champ.

Our cabin was a beautiful 3-bedroom cabin located about 1 mile up the mountain from the YMCA. It was secluded enough to feel like we were roughing it. No television; no internet — I’ll say that was roughing it. I woke up pretty early every morning (around 6 AM — we live in eastern standard time, so it wasn’t hard). On our last morning, I spotted a male and female deer. I used my telephoto lens and got some neat shots from our balcony. Speaking of our balcony . . . it had the most incredible view. Mountains all around and nothing to obstruct our view. Spectacular, to say the least.

On Sunday, we spent the WHOLE day in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove up Old Falls Road (1 way — up) to the top of Trail Ridge road and over the 12,000+ foot mountain. We ate lunch on Grand Lake. We spent mucho time stopping along they way to see marmots and elk and to hike and climb rocks and boulders. The kids loved climbing. We even spotted the most beautiful rainbow as we had a picnic in the park for dinner. After dinner, we found a rocky waterfall area and climbed once again. Fun, fun times.

Nobody wanted to fly home, but the fun had to end. We can’t wait to go back again and explore more hiking trails.

here’s a pic from high on a cliff in Rocky Mtn National Park (I am wearing my new contacts):

and a photo from a waterfall area down the side of a mountain:

July and summer

I wrote this on July 21, 2006, but it took me until now to get it uploaded. Sorry.

I’m in the airport in Kansas City where I’ve been for the past five hours. Not a bad thing as I’ve edited several thesis and read through documents from the conference in Lawrence I had the great pleasure of attending. I just amused myself by looking at photos of the kids that I’ve already seen a couple dozen times. They’re currently on the website and make me enormously happy every time I see them. Ellie and Josh (currently known as JD) are mugging for Sean’s camera and doing a darn good job of it too. I especially like the one in which they are resting on Ziggy. Ziggy is facing away from the camera, and Sean has captured the kids in expressions that we get to see so frequently that I forget how perfect they are.

We’ve been having an absolutely wonderful summer. We’ve been to the beach a couple of times. Ellie would be a beach bum if she could. She’s very comfortable in the water whereas JD stills stays pretty close to the shore. For the first trip we met my parents at South Haven. It’s a great town, particularly for kids. They have a large park directly across the street from public access to the beach. We had a picnic with my parents, played on the playground, then went over to the beach. We also snuck in some time to play a couple of games, a new favorite past time for our children. It was a glorious day.

On our last trip to the beach we went to one of our favorite towns, Saugatuck. We hiked through the dunes with our good friend Brett Godsey, who was visiting from Chicago. I’m sure his back was sore from having the kids hanging all over him, but at least they weren’t hanging on me – hee, hee! Ellie kept asking JD to come out into deeper water. I tend to think she knew he wouldn’t do it and so was asking in an effort to brag a bit. He got tired of the prodding, lost his temper, and through some sand at her. Ellie went a little crazy. She stood up in the water with fists clenched and yelled, “You want a piece of me!” I couldn’t believe it. I asked where she heard that saying, and she didn’t know nor did she know what it meant. I guess it just fit her level of anger, so she let it out.

The kids are taking tennis lessons through our parks and rec. JD is much more comfortable with a tennis racket than Ellie is, so things are pretty even. He has a great time and has recently asked to learn to play golf. I hope the interest continues because Sean and I both enjoy these activities too. JD is still my cuddle-buddy. He often has a hard time falling asleep and will ask me to come and “cuddle” with him for awhile at night. One night he kept calling me in for things like a drink of water, a trip to the bathroom, a special bathroom. The last time he was yelling, “Mom, I need you!” I went him to ask him what he needed and he asked, “When are you going to buy some Cheetos? I love Cheetos.” Another night I was laying with him explaining various techniques for falling asleep. He rolled over, put his head on my shoulder, and said, “Oh Mom….I love you.” I said, “Thanks Josh, what a sweet thing to say. I love you too.” To which he replied, “Yeah, sometimes when I say, ‘Oh Mom’ and I can’t remember what I was going to say, I just say, ‘I love you.’” “That’s alright Josh, I guess it beats, ‘I forgot what I was going to say.’”

Ellie is growing up. She reminds me of this on a regular basis. Some of the things I say are met with eye rolls from her. When I question her about this practice she informs that she does it because she is growing up. I have told her growing up doesn’t mean she can be rude, to which she counters with, “Well, it’s just that I know all of those things you are saying.”

She participated in a theater camp this summer and fell in love with the stage. After the first day I asked her what she thought. She said, “Mom it was awesome! I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a superstar.” Of course you are dear. I’m not sure how she’s going to split her time between being an actress and an environmental scientist, her latest career interest, but somehow she will do it I’m sure. We’ve had quite a few “plays” in our house this summer, and some of them have been really good.

Ellie’s also developed a taste for fashion. Gone are the days when I could pick up cute little outfits without her being there. If she doesn’t okay the purchase first, there’s a good chance I’ll be taking it back. Last week she told me she wanted cowboy boots for school shoes. I told her I needed to think about it, which I do. I’m working on the explanation for why cowboy boots are not a practical school shoe purchase.