Monday, December 13, 2010

the first half of december

The activities are underway! This year, I wanted the advent calendars to have more doo-dads than candy - except for mine, which is mainly Lindt, because I'm me. Some favorites: Max loves the dinosaur key chain that growls, the blue koosh ball and his Snoopy socks; Katie likes everything pretty much equally, but has YET to show any interest in the glitter glue!; Alex likes the cars and the croaking frog key chain. Now they aren't even interested in the candy. I might have created a problem for myself.

We went to the Christmas lights at the Botanical Gardens. FREEZING cold, but so fun! I love Christmas lights! The warming hut had a little craft for the kids and 3 live birds with their handlers to talk about them.

I loved the lights so much, the next night I went to the lights at the Botanical Gardens downtown with some friends. SO GORGEOUS!

AND I got the coolest glasses ever. These pictures don't do them justice, but they turn the lights into snowflakes, snowmen and reindeer. The snowflakes are my favorites. We keep them in the car for when we're driving around at night. Best $4.50 I ever spent.

We did gingerbread houses with some friends this year. They all had such different decorating styles. Most of the candy did actually make it onto the houses - well, at least 50%. Meringue powder is my new favorite cooking item - much tighter frosting than the batch I made with actual egg whites.
This past weekend we went to 'Santa's Workshop' one night and the parade of lights the next. Who knew Longmont actually had live reindeer running around? Katie wanted to visit Santa - the boys wanted mom to come along. There were tons of craft tables set up in the gym of the Memorial Building: Katie wanted to do them all, and the boys opted mainly for playing with the blocks. To each his own.

Lots of our activities so far from the ornament advent calender have been craft - making bead ornaments of various shapes, glitter snowflakes, and glue trees. The hot chocolate party has become a daily request. I found peppermint candy-cane straws on our trip to Hammond's Candies.

We finger painted some wrapping paper to cover our packaging needs.

Now, with any luck, this week I might get some dipping done!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanksgiving stay-cation

This Thanksgiving we WERE planning on meeting Roger's sister and family in Moab. And then Cynthia acted like a responsible adult and checked the weather. 22 degrees in the daytime made us rethink our plans. Instead of Moab, we ate an early Thanksgiving dinner and then checked in to the Holiday Inn half-way to Boulder for a night.

The perfect pool for our little friends! We spent at least 5 hours playing in the water.

We lived off of casadillas and cheese and crackers for the evening and any needed snacks. High class all the way.

We had 'Thanksgiving dinner' again with Oma and Opa on Saturday. Above is what Alex does/will be doing every minute we spend at Oma's house. He literally can run that train for HOURS.

We also drove down to Denver and took a tour of Hammond's Candies. FUN! Fun to see the old equipment, fun to watch them form the huge block of candy that would turn into candy canes. Fun for the kids to score big suckers. This place needs to become a tradition, although I need to control myself better in the candy store.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

yellowstone II

We spent Thursday night in Utah at Cynthia's house. The next day we met up with Kristin and her small friends and went to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point, which was EXCELLENT. So much fun!

The skeleton exhibits were amazing, but the interactive stuff for the kids was even better. They created their own dinosaur out of giant stuffed parts; there were plenty of creations to touch; they built dams and rivers in the 'flood area;' and they could dig for dinosaur bones in the huge sandboxes near the end. Oh - and they had fun with their cousins. :)

Friday evening was Grandma Kathy's birthday party. Man, there are a lot of Reeses and their derivatives! I was too tired to be very social and neglected to even get a picture of the birthday girl. Luckily my other family members aren't so socially inept and so I got to at least hear second hand what everyone is up to.

Saturday we went to the SLC Zoo - thank you Jordan - and Opa. And thank you Lizard for all the tie dye.

Highlights were the baby elephant, and of course the train - which is a really great train. Having ridden the Denver Zoo train over a dozen times, I'm qualified to rate it. (The two blond hippie boys got hair cuts shortly after we got home.)

Alex still can't get enough of baby Summer.
Saturday night we celebrated Max's 2nd birthday out at Amy's house. Oma and the Angels arranged all the food and Princess Kat just showed up with the birthday boy. Our baby's not a baby anymore! Poor Alex - many tear were shed over those construction vehicles from the cake . . .

Alex and Katie provided a lot of assistance with the presents, but then Max started getting into it.
Goodbye trucks, hello baby tigers!
This pretty well sums up how we all felt on the drive home. Totally exhausted from a crazy fun week. There's never enough time to play with everyone as much as I'd like. Next summer we'll have to figure out how to stay longer on our visits. That pesky job of Roger's just gets in the way of fun sometimes . . .

yellowstone I

In September - I know, I'm the Queen of slow these days - we took a trip to Utah for Grandma Kathy's 90th birthday via Yellowstone and Wyoming. We didn't make it very far out of the gate before we needed to stop for dinner. The troops played boccie ball while the pizza cooked - LOVE the RV!

We split up from Mom, Dad and Julie, and Uncle Tom traveled with us. Our first stop was the 6th crossing of the Sweet Water up in WY. I haven't (yet) had the pleasure of participating in 'Trek,' but holy smokes. I can't even imagine crossing the plains with all your possessions fit into that cart, let alone doing it in a WY winter. That water was bitter cold. The missionaries at the Visitor's Center were all getting ready to pack up and go home in a few weeks.

I read somewhere that Yellowstone has more geothermal features than anywhere else in the world. This fact was not enough to distract the kids from the smell of some of those features.
They did all like the 'bubble geysers' - Max in particular. He still talks about them. Although some of our friends did get a little tired waiting for Old Faithful to go.

We saw tons of wildlife - which Julie did a much better job of documenting. Tons of bison, a moose, elk, wolves eating something out in a field, but alas, no bears.

The kids did great walking down all those millions of stairs on the hike for the Upper and Lower Falls. Katie walked almost the entire way, scoring a piggy back ride from Julie only near the end.

So many boardwalks! I really liked the terraces.

Camping inside of the park = sardines. Camping outside in West Yellowstone = Best.Campsite.EVER. We made dinner in the parking areas for different geysers every night, and ended up setting up camp after dark. This was OK, except that we had to make peach cobbler for breakfast one morning because we didn't ever have the chance to make it for dessert. Uncle Tom slept with us, while Julie, Mom and Dad roughed it in a hotel.

Next time we go, it would be nice to spend more than a couple days in the park. It was great to go when there were so few people about. We took a few breaks on our way south to Utah, and the whirlwind tour continued . . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

baby tigers

Max is as obsessed with tigers as Alex is with excavators. Here's a picture I keep meaning to send to Pam, but I just haven't got my stuff together: Max and his tiger case. This case goes EVERY where with him. He sleeps with it. He puts his treasures in it. It comes with us on outings. Best birthday present ever. Total hit.

Everything else in his world echoes his love of the tiger case. He will only drink milk out of his tiger cup - which actually is a tiger. When I ask him to put on his shoes, he asks 'my tiger shoes?' Which are his red sneakers. But first he naturally has to put on his 'tiger socks,' which are whatever pair of socks he's going to be wearing.

We go check out the baby tigers at the zoo pretty regularly, and Saturday we were rewarded with getting to see snack time for the tigers and leopards. The answer is 'guinea pigs,' and no, kids, the leopard is NOT playing with a stuffed animal.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

camping in october

When you're looking for camping in October, is Wyoming the top of your list? We chanced the snow and headed up and north to the Sand Hills just outside of Walden. We did our traditional 'pull in and camp at 11 pm' move, so that when we wake up we're surprised by our surroundings. It turns out the road to the north of the sand hills ends up in mostly brushy trees. Our construction crew was a little worried. When we drove around to the other side, however, we found what we were looking for. Not nearly as big as the Great Sand Dunes, but still plenty of digging opportunities.

Katie headed straight up the hill. The boys were happy to start digging straight out of the RV.

I think we missed some excellent fall color by a week or two, but there were a few leaves left.

After we were good and frozen, we headed in for lunch. Just in time to beat the rain. It rained pretty steadily from noon Friday through Saturday morning. Luckily we were headed to the hot springs in Saratoga, WY. Population 1739.

Roger's folks told us about the Hobo pool there. Just behind the swimming pool is another free pool open 24/7. This pool drains out into the river.

Alex wasn't interested in getting wet, so he hung out up top under the umbrella. The pool was smoking hot, but there were some kid friendly spots just outside of it. We sat and watched the ducks for a while, and hopped out when we were sufficiently lobstered.

Rog found another great camping site at Saratoga Lake - which in the summer would probably be packed. We shared the campsite with a couple of hunters (I'm guessing).

Saturday morning we headed home via the Snowy Range and Medicine Bow National Forest. Luckily the plows had been out, because just a few miles out of Saratoga the rain we were showered with all night long resulted in a foot or so of snow!

Max has adopted Alex's favorite way to travel. That or he couldn't reach the sun shade on his own.

Friday, October 29, 2010

more halloween

A few more activities for Halloween. We're getting some great mileage out of our costumes!

Pumpkin carving - the haunted house lasted exactly one night before the pumpkin curled in on itself. Katie designed her own jack-o-lantern face.

One of Max's creations. My new favorite candy to use as a cookie decoration is Sour Spaghetti. It's great for whiskers and other lines, and of course DELICIOUS!

'Harvest party' with Alex's class.

Harvest party with Katie's class two days later. The boys got to come for the whole time, which was very exciting for big sister. Fishing, drop the ghost in the pumpkin, bean bag toss, stories, a ghost necklace craft, and trick-or-treating around the offices.