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Pinch Hitters

Pinch Hitters

Last week Noel’s aunt and cousin came to town to visit Glenna (Noel’s mom) and ease some of our burdens (as well as visit and dote on Glenna). We turned the baby monitor off for a week (we use it so we can hear her at night, when we’re in the basement, outside, etc) and took advantage of being able to leave the house at the same time. We were content to do exotic things like shop for pants and go to the gym together, but everyone insisted we needed a night away and we aim to please. We were kind of dubious that the excursion would actually happen. It seems like every time we plan something lately someone ends up in the hospital or deathly ill. (Sometimes both when we’re lucky.) In fact, Marsha and Jessie were actually in town for several days before they came over because Glenna didn’t escape the virus I mentioned we had. I attacked the house with the mindset of total germ annihilation because even though I usually believe in “good germs” too I just wasn’t taking any chances. Our getaway was going to take place on Friday the 13th which seemed somewhat ominous, but as it turns out, unlucky things are pretty lucky for us. (This really shouldn’t surprise me. I’m the kind of person that wins Loser’s Bingo. You know, where the last person to NOT have any of the drawn letter/number combos wins.)  We spent a night in Boulder where we ate Indian food and sat in the hot tub, then the next day we ate at Snooze and went snowshoeing at Brainard Lake.

Now, let me tell you about us and snowshoeing at Brainard Lake. We have been trying to snowshoe to the lake for years. We went once when our kids were young enough to be carried and when we got out of the car the wind was so strong Cooper got knocked over and everyone was crying. We ended up getting back in the car and going somewhere else. When the kids were older we tried taking them again, but only made it 3/4 mile before everyone melted down. Noel has also taken the Boy Scouts and they honestly didn’t do much better than the kids. This time it was going to happen though. The weather was perfect: sunny, 29,° and hardly any wind which is unheard of there. Without scouts or children holding us back, we made it to the lake and even further to the cabin just beyond the lake. When we were done we rewarded ourselves with cake from Piece, Love, and Chocolate. (Which sadly my body was kind of unhappy about because apparently I’m old and cake no longer constitutes a real lunch.)

We are so grateful to Marsha and Jessie for helping us out for a few days!

PS Right now Glenna is pretty stable and we’re hoping she’ll stay that way for awhile or even make improvements. It’s a day to day, week to week game so we shall see!

What Do April Snowstorms Bring?

What Do April Snowstorms Bring?

A. Lots of broken branches
B. Everything being cancelled or postponed
C. The cold season being extended
D. Decrease in morale
E. All of the Above

In case you were wondering, the answer is E.

Spring is always sort of an adventure in Colorado and this year was especially exciting. We’d hoped we’d gotten the worst of the snow out of our system in March, but it kept coming with a vengeance  in April causing everything from the Scout fundraiser dinner to a few of our long training runs to be cancelled. In between snowstorms though, we’d pull out our shorts and sandals as we’d get glimpses of beautiful weather. Some of the month’s highlights include:

  • The arrival of our apple tree we ordered a year ago. Cooper was extremely disappointed when I pulled it out of the box and exclaimed, “That’s not an apple tree, that’s a stick!”
  • Earth Day/Week – Noel got to drive a Tesla and Earth Day pulled through with nice weather.
  • Ellen going to work with Noel – She was so excited and made quick friends with one of the other kids.
  • The cat killed 4 baby bunnies and 2 squirrels in one week! He’s now on house arrest an indoor cat because the bunnies here carry a disease that can kill animals and make people really sick. Plus, his murderous frequency was a little concerning . . .
Best Groundhog Day Yet

Best Groundhog Day Yet

It’s pretty much universal knowledge at this point that I love Groundhog Day. (For the history, read this post.) But even beloved holidays can grow a bit lackluster and I’d say the last few years have been just that.* This year my enthusiasm was back. It was my turn to teach Joy School and I’d planned an awesome, yet age appropriate, lesson about Groundhog Day history with fun books, art, and shadow activities. I was pretty psyched. Then Groundhog Day rewarded my enthusiasm with something even better: a blizzard that closed school and warranted a late start for all government offices. For the record, I am not snow’s number one fan, but when it comes to this type of precipitation my attitude is go big or go home.

In my opinion, the whole purpose of Groundhog Day is to break out of the rut of winter (cue The Wintry Day) and remember that life is worth not just living, but celebrating. The extra family time made it so we were really able to bring an appropriate level of wackiness to our festivities. We carved a Groundhog Day jack-o-lantern,** properly educated the children on this important holiday with my Joy School lesson, snowshoed through the neighborhood (much to the amusement of many neighbors), ate our traditional Rice Krispies treats, and of course watched Groundhog Day after the kids were asleep. It was my favorite Groundhog Day to date.

*In fact, I looked back through the blog and the last time I blogged about G-hog day was 2013 – and it was a pretty lame post considering it was my 10th anniversary celebration. I’m so ashamed.
**Halloween was atypical last year and our pumpkin never got carved. When the New Year rolled around and the pumpkin was still in great condition we cheered the winter squash on in hopes it would make it to Groundhog Day.


Snow Days

Snow Days

The weather here in January and early February was nice, but it was also a little eerie. As much as I love 70 degree days and seeing my tulips poke their heads up, it makes me feel uneasy when those things happen in the dead of “winter.” So, even though I am not particularly a fan of cold and snow, when winter finally decided to hit in earnest I was honestly a little relieved. We had so much snow the last week of February (enough to break a 100-year-old record) that things were being cancelled right and left. Work, scouts, school, dentist appointments, and even church. It was like every little kid’s dream. (Except for all the snow shoveling, that part never makes it into anyone’s fantasies.) While I’ve done my best to embrace all of the snow (and frequently reminded myself that “hey, at least we aren’t in Boston”), I’m very excited to have a bit of a reprieve with sunny days in our forecast. Here’s to hoping the two feet of snow didn’t kill all of the emerging tulips.

Hardy Stock

Hardy Stock

Footsteps in the SnowI’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not your average preschool mom,  but my craziness rating hit new levels this last week. When temperatures dropped to single digits and we still kept walking to school people were flabbergasted.  I just shrugged off the incredulity and said, “It’s just easier” which didn’t seem to alleviate anyone’s concern. I’m expecting a call from Child Protective Services any day now and will save my pedantic rebuttals for that conversation about the distance not being long enough for my car to heat up anyway.

Ellen was happier than this photo indicates . . . really.

A while back, my book club read Global Mom where the author chronicles raising her kids in various foreign countries. As a mom of young kids, I found it equally intriguing (because of all her cool adventures with young kids) and annoying (again, because of all her cool adventures with young kids). The place they lived that fascinated me most was Norway. There everyone sent their kids to the local preschool/daycare where the kids played outside in the snow for hours.  At first the idea seemed so strange and dangerous, but it grew on her and after acquiring the right gear you couldn’t tell her kids form the native Norwegians.  I’m not actually a fan of the cold, but I do have some Finnish and Norwegian blood coursing through my veins which is maybe why I don’t bat an eye when I bundle my kids up Christmas Story -style and step out into the cold to brave the treacherous two block journey to preschool.  Or maybe it would just take a polar vortex before the daunting battle of loading and unloading the car for a .2 mile drive would seem worth it.

Uncle Mitchell Came to Visit

Uncle Mitchell Came to Visit

My brother, Mitchell, came to visit us last weekend. The kids love Uncle Mitchell, which is a good thing since he was almost like their surrogate parent the four days he was here. Mitchell watched them while we went to a class, hauled them around when we went snowshoeing, entertained them while we made dinner, helped load them in and out of cars, pushed them around in a heavy laden Costco cart, and also helped me decorate and buy groceries for a Relief Society activity. What a trooper. Thanks for visiting Mitchell,  you were a lifesaver!

Mitchell hauling Cooper around.
Mitchell hauling Cooper around.
Even with Cooper on his back, Mitchell still left us in the dust. Next time he can carry both kids.
Even with Cooper on his back, Mitchell still left us in the dust. Next time he can carry both kids.
Uncle Mitchell shared the coolest videos.
Uncle Mitchell shared the coolest videos.
Cooper insisted on wearing this fedora to church while Uncle Mitchell visited.
Cooper insisted on wearing this fedora to church while Uncle Mitchell visited.


Prepare yourselves for cuteness. Apparently they make snowshoes for little people. We made a day of it on Presidents Day heading up into the mountains by Winter Park. It was a beautiful sunny day with almost no wind, which is a rare thing these days.

Cooper All Suited Up
Cooper all suited up and ready to go
Let me at em!
Out little diva
Our little diva

Ellen wasn’t so sure about being in the cold snow, but we made her come along in the backpack anyway. Cooper did great out there and got the hang of the snowshoes in no time. He loved tromping through the snow and picking which way to go. The fact that he is so light made it so he literally floated on top of the snow. I even taught him how to make yellow snow. 🙂

Audrey and Cooper tearing it up
Audrey and Cooper tearing it up

Ellen enjoyed the free ride for a while, but eventually wanted to get out and have fun like Cooper. She dove right in head first as she is known to do.

Yay! Snow!
Yay! Snow!
Head First
Head First

When we got back near the car we let her have a crack at the snowshoes. She was super cute, but did struggle staying on her feet. When she toppled over and her boots popped off, it seemed like a good time to call it a day.

Ellen not so sure about the snowshoes
Ellen not so sure about the snowshoes
Boots popped right off
Boots popped right off

We didn’t cover an epic amount of mileage, but it was certainly enough to tucker Cooper out. I suppose if you were to adjust for difficulty and leg length maybe it was pretty epic. Either way, it was a good time and I have a feeling it won’t be the last time.

Ice Castles

Ice Castles

Originally, we were going to take my mom to see the Ice Castles on a quiet Tuesday for her birthday, but then life happened and plans changed. Instead, we ended up going to see the Ice Castles on a busy Saturday with just our little family. We generally avoid ski towns during the winter (especially since skiing hasn’t been in the cards for years now), but we were intent on having fun as a family no matter what. So even when it took an hour to find a parking spot (which was at a distant lot with a poorly advertised, but free shuttle) and we almost hit a snowboarder who stepped in front of our car, we persevered.

After all the trouble we went to I hate to admit that I felt slightly underwhelmed by the Ice Castles. Yes, they were cool, but I honestly thought they were going to be bigger and probably would have been put out if I’d had to pay for the kids too. (Kids under four were free.) Fortunately, the kids thought they were plenty big (guess that happens when you’re small) so they thought it was pretty awesome. As a bonus, the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships were happening right next to the Ice Castles so although that only made traffic worse, we did get to see some pretty awesome sculptures at no extra charge.

After we’d had our fill of ice, we hopped back into our car and took the long way home to avoid ski traffic. We’re glad we checked it out, but next time we think we’ll rent some snowshoes and find a place with less people.

Snow Day

Snow Day

Noel celebrating his snow day. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Clear skies the day we picked people up from the airport and a huge dump of snow that gave Noel the one day off his PTO didn't quite cover while family was here.
Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news
that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—
the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.
– Billy Collins
First Snow

First Snow

The snow

began here

this morning and all day

continued, its white

rhetoric everywhere

calling us back to why, how,

whence such beauty and what

the meaning; such

an oracular fever! flowing

past windows, an energy it seemed

would never ebb, never settle

less than lovely! and only now,

deep into night,

it has finally ended.

The silence

is immense,

and the heavens still hold

a million candles, nowhere

the familiar things:

stars, the moon,

the darkness we expect

and nightly turn from. Trees

glitter like castles

of ribbons, the broad fields

smolder with light, a passing

creekbed lies

heaped with shining hills;

and though the questions

that have assailed us all day

remain — not a single

answer has been found –

walking out now

into the silence and the light

under the trees,

and through the fields,

feels like one.

~Mary Oliver~

excerpted from American Primitive