Peter Goes to England and China

It has been a very busy last two weeks for me. After returning from Iowa I had three days in Keystone before heading to London for work. I stayed over the weekend to head down to Dover where my good friend from college, Scott Miers, was attempting to swim the English Channel.

It was great to be able to catch up with Scott and his family, who were all over in the UK supporting him. He had trained for several years for this swim and was excited about joining the elite group of channel swimmers. Every morning all the channel swimmers gather in Dover Harbour for a short swim (just 1-2 miles is short for these guys). I joined in despite the freezing temperatures. I lasted about 150 yards.

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Me, Scott, Emily and Murph (Scott’s mentor) before a practice swim in Dover Harbour

Scotty ended up swimming the channel a couple of days after I left and he did it in 9 hours and 59 minutes which was two hours better than his goal. He crushed it – very few swimmers do it in less than 10 hours.

After London, it was back to Denver for less than a day before heading off to Beijing. I was invited to speak at a conference this past weekend and they paid for me to fly business class the entire way. We also have some potential clients for our company in Beijing so I was able to visit some other people as well. Didn’t get much down time but I did manage to get to Tiananmen Square one evening.

Me and my buddy Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Me and my buddy Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square in Beijing

While I was away Marcy was left as a single parent for 10 days. They went to Glenwood Springs and stayed right by the hot springs there. The kids loved it, as did Marcy. The pool in the background is fed by natural hot springs so it is a very warm temperature year round.

Jude and Anna at the Glenwood Springs pool

Jude and Anna at the Glenwood Springs pool

While I was away Marcy’s bike broke. She has been complaining about this bike for a while now so she went out and bought a new one. And she rode it all the way up Loveland pass – nearly 3,000 feet of elevation change from Keystone.

Marcy with her new bike after conquering Loveland Pass

Marcy with her new bike after conquering Loveland Pass

The kids have enjoyed their last two weeks in Keystone. They had their third week of camp at the Keystone Science School, tennis lessons, bike riding, soccer, played lots of Uno and even went bowling. It has been a great summer in the Rockies.

Jude and Anna at the Dillon Lake playground

Jude and Anna at the Lake Dillon playground

A Great Week in Des Moines and a First Triathlon

Lily, Peter, Marcy, Anna and Chloe enjoying the pool in Des Moines

Lily, Peter, Marcy, Anna and Chloe enjoying the pool in Des Moines

We have had a very full last two weeks. We left Keystone on Wednesday, July 30th and we stopped in Denver to go and check on our house and meet with our contractor. Then it was off to Iowa although we decided to split the trip on the way there with a night in Lexington, Nebraska.

The kids were so excited to get to Baba’s house that they could hardly contain themselves as we drove on to their street. As is typically the case on these trips, it was a quick hello to everyone and then straight to the pool for a swim where they would spend a good deal of their time over the next 8 days.

Jude getting thrown in the pool by Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mandy

Jude getting thrown in the pool by Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mandy

The movie Frozen is a big hit in the Dahlen family so when they found out there was a Frozen night at the local Barnes & Noble the girls all got dressed up to go. Jude and I went to play tennis – he is not much of a Frozen fan.

Ella, Chloe and Anna dressed up in their princess outfits to see Frozen

Ella, Chloe and Anna dressed up in their princess outfits to see Frozen

Jude had been talking about getting a haircut like Uncle Nathan’s for some time. When we suggested Nathan could even do it for him Jude thought that was a great idea. So, one day Uncle Nathan came over with his clippers and shaved off most of Jude’s hair, leaving a subtle mohawk in the top. Jude loved it.

Uncle Nathan attacking Jude's hair

Uncle Nathan attacking Jude’s hair

We brought all four bikes to Iowa and we all did some rides while we were there. We have known for some time that Anna’s bike was getting a little small for her – she has had it since she was two. So, while we were there Marcy went and bought a new bike for Anna and we left her old one for Ella and Chloe. Needless to say Anna LOVED her new bike.

Anna on her brand new bike

Anna on her brand new bike that Marcy bought for her

From bikes to triathlons. Lily has done several triathlons and loves them. Jude and Anna had never attempted one. So, it was decided that they would have a practice triathlon with two laps of the pool, a ride around the block and then a run down and up the hill. Lily set up the course and did a great job getting Jude and Anna ready. She walked the course with them, and helped set up their transition station. They all loved it and even Anna was able to finish unassisted.

Jude finishing their practice triathlon

Jude finishing their practice triathlon

So, after the kids did their practice triathlon talk turned towards doing a real one. It just so happened that a kids triathlon was happening in Omaha on Saturday. Lily was already registered to participate so after a successful practice run we all decided to leave Iowa a day early and head to Omaha with the Dahlens for a night.

And we are very glad we did. This was Jude and Anna’s first triathlon, as I said, and we didn’t know what to expect. This event was very well run and they had three different levels that was split into age groups. Lily was in the intermediate group so she went off first and we all cheered her on.

Then it was Jude and Anna’s turn. They were both in the junior race which was good but Jude was one of the oldest in the division and Anna was the very youngest. And since they started the swim in age order Anna was the last person to swim.

Both kids did really well and we were very proud of them. Jude was strong on all three legs and finished the run strongly. Anna struggled a little on the swim but did great on the bike and also finished strongly. Even though Anna was the last person in and out of the water she passed another girl on the run. And at the very end it was really cool with the other kids forming a tunnel for Anna to run through. The commentators also made special mention of Anna.

The most important part of all this is that Jude and Anna both enjoyed themselves and want to do more triathlons.

Jude starting the triathlon

Jude starting the triathlon

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Anna is the last one in the water

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Seconds after Anna finished her triathlon

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Team Renton sporting their finishing medals after a successful triathlon

Anna Goes to Skateboard Camp

Anna with her instructor at skateboard camp

Anna with her instructor at skateboard camp

Ever since Marcy first mentioned the idea to Anna about skateboard camp she has been very excited about it. And the camp lived up to her expectations. It was just two hours a day but Anna had a blast. Even when she had a bad fall one day she still loved it and wanted to go back for more. Now, I guess, we will have to get her her own skateboard.

Jude decided not to do skateboard camp – instead he kept his tennis lessons going which he is really enjoying as well. Jude has become quite the sports kid this summer. We play soccer in the driveway every day and then Jude does tennis and golf lessons pretty much every week. And being in the mountains we have thrown hiking into the mix as often as possible.

On the Tenderfoot Mountain trail overlooking Lake Dillon

On the Tenderfoot Mountain trail overlooking Lake Dillon

We have done quite a lot of hiking here this summer and once they get going the kids love it. But sometimes convincing them to go for a hike or even to keep hiking once we have started can sometimes be a battle. Today they both complained they were tired after about 10 minutes but then proceeded to run for a lot of the next 90 minutes. They are certainly getting stronger with all this exercise.

A roaring fire in our driveway

A roaring fire in our driveway with wood collected by Jude and Anna

We got out the fire pit this week for the first time in Keystone. Marcy had the kids collect some wood. We cooked some hotdogs and then, of course, roasted marshmallows to make s’mores. Always a big hit with the kids.

I had a “Jude and Daddy date” this week and Jude wanted to do the exact same thing that I did with Anna. Head to Breckenridge and go on the roller coaster there. So, we did that and then went out to dinner for a burger and strawberry shortcake. While we were doing that Anna and Marcy headed down to Keystone Lake for some Stand Up Paddle boarding.

Marcy and Anna on Keystone Lake doing Stand Up Paddleboarding

Marcy and Anna on Keystone Lake doing Stand Up Paddleboarding

Discovering Lily Pad Lake and More Lost Teeth

Jude trying to catch something in his net at Lily Pad Lake

Jude trying to catch something in his net at Lily Pad Lake

After two previous attempts we finally made it to Lily Pad Lake. It was a simple one hour hike to the lake from the correct trailhead. What a place. The kids loved the lake we came to because it had thousands and thousands of lily pads. The main Lily Pad Lake had far fewer lily pads but was great for swimming. Both Jude and Anna gave it a try.

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Jude and Anna take a dip in Lily Pad Lake

Jude and Anna had their second week of camp this past week and they both loved it. They seemed to enjoy it even more than their first week of camp. They both asked if they could go to camp again this week. The Keystone Science School, where the camp is located, do a great job and there were never any complaints about going in the mornings.

The tooth fairy was busy this week. Anna lost her second tooth one day at camp, she proudly came home one afternoon clutching it in a little baggie. Then nonchalantly at dinner on Friday night Jude announced that he lost a tooth that day. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to save it but we could see the gap in his mouth as plain as day.

Anna loses her second tooth, just two weeks after losing her first

It has been months since the last Anna and Daddy date. So, I decided to do something about it this weekend and took Anna on a date to Breckenridge. They have a great kids area there, more extensive than Keystone’s, and being Sunday afternoon it was not crowded at all. Anna did the bounce house, the maze, the climbing wall and the bungee, but the highlight was definitely the roller coaster. It is a pretty cool ride – you can go in pairs and you get to control how fast you want to go. Of course, Anna wanted to go as fast as possible. We topped the afternoon off with a lovely dinner at Seven’s at the base of Peak Seven.

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Going up the hill on the roller coaster at Breckenridge on an Anna and Daddy date

A Sporting Week in Keystone and Denver

Anna in the sandbox at the Mexican restaurant - buried by her cousins

Anna in the sandbox at the Mexican restaurant – buried by her cousins

This week started off with the Dahlens still in Keystone. Nathan and I squeezed in one last round of golf and then it was off to the Mexican restaurant for the final dinner before they headed back to Des Moines. This place is great in summer because they have an outdoor area for the grownups to sit and chat while all the kids play in the sandbox.

Anna and Chloe both just fit under the counter in the kitchen still

Anna and Chloe both just fit under the counter in the kitchen still

When the Dahlens left on Tuesday morning it was back to our normal Keystone routine. This means tennis lessons on Tuesday, golf lessons on Wednesday and then tennis lessons again on Thursday. Then, of course, there was the world cup soccer happening on TV. Jude is so into sports these days – we spent some time every day playing with the soccer ball. We have made a goal in the driveway and we have these epic “World Cup” matches where he chooses a team to play for and I usually play for Australia.

Keeping with the sports theme this week we came down to Denver on Thursday afternoon to check on the house (not much progress unfortunately). I worked all day Friday and then Friday night we all went to a Rockies game. Jude wanted to stay to the very end and he was delighted that the Rockies won.

At the Rockies baseball game

At the Rockies baseball game

We made it back up to Keystone on Saturday afternoon. Marcy and I both commented about how glad we were to get back up here. It is so nice and relaxing here in summer, and Denver felt hot and dirty, particularly staying downtown. It is cool, clear, uncrowded and quiet up here. We have resolved to spend as much time as we can up here every summer.

It gets dark so late we decided to light the sparklers even though it was still light out

It gets dark so late we decided to light the sparklers even though it was still light out

The Des Moines Family Visits Keystone and Anna Loses Her First Tooth

The kids love driving around in the Mini with Grandpa

The kids love driving around in the Mini with Grandpa

We have had quite the full week here in Keystone. Jude, Anna and Lily had camp this week at the Keystone Science School. It was a gold mining theme at camp and all three kids enjoyed it. Anna was a little disappointed because Jude and Lily were in the same camp group and she had to go by herself with people she did not know. But she didn’t complain after the first day and was happy going off to camp each day.

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Anna, Jude and Lily on their last day of camp at the Keystone Science School

We had a major milestone occur this week that none of us were quite expecting. Anna lost her first tooth. She was opening something for Lily with her teeth when it just fell out. She was so excited and proud, particularly having her extended family there. Anna carried her tooth around everywhere that evening and unfortunately lost it somewhere in the thick carpet of our bedroom. We looked and looked but couldn’t find it. Lily had the great idea of replacing it with a little pebble about the same size and then writing a letter to the Tooth Fairy explaining what happened. And sure enough there was $2 on Anna’s bedside table in the morning.

Anna losing her first tooth

Anna losing her first tooth

This week, of course, was July 4th and we did the usual kids bike parade at River Run at Keystone. We all rode our bikes over and got them decorated in red, white and blue. The kids were raring to go by 11am and they did many laps of the bike circuit.

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Lily and Jude ready to go in the July 4th bike parade at Keystone

Before the bike parade Marcy took the kids down to the Dillon Farmer’s Market for some yummy crepes.

Anna and Chloe enjoy their strawberry and cream crepe

Anna and Chloe enjoy their strawberry and cream crepe

One of the themes of this week as far as Jude is concerned was soccer. He is really into the World Cup and he watched a couple of games with me in their entirety. Then every morning he would ask who was playing that day. And he would ask for scoring updates throughout the day. Then we would go outside and play our own game of soccer. We would use the garage as one goal and then we placed two stones at the end of the driveway to mark the other goal.

Jude showing his style and focus during our driveway soccer match

Jude showing his style and focus during our driveway soccer match

We also took advantage of some of the Colorado outdoors this week. Nathan and I played several rounds of golf and we also enjoyed some hiking in the mountains.

Hiking on the Lily Pad Lake trail near Keystone

Hiking on the Lily Pad Lake trail near Keystone

It has been quite the busy week and the kids have all gotten along really well for the most part, so it was good to end the week with a quiet movie.

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Anna, Chloe, Lily, Ella and Jude enjoy a movie in bed

Fishing & Hiking in Keystone

Probably the most scenic kids playground in Colorado - by Lake Dillon

Probably the most scenic kids playground in Colorado – by Lake Dillon

We have settled in now to Keystone. We have been here two weeks and we are all enjoying the extended stay in the mountains. This past week Jude and Anna did tennis lessons and golf lessons which they both enjoyed. They had a couple more visits to the kids area for some bungee jumping on the trampoline and mining for minerals. We have been riding our bikes around, we also did some hiking and Jude and Anna tried their hand at fishing.

Jude trying his luck fishing in Lake Dillon but the fish weren't biting

Jude trying his luck fishing in Lake Dillon but the fish weren’t biting

Yesterday we went on a long family hike. After watching some World Cup soccer in the morning we had a hearty lunch before heading up Angler Mountain. This was a 5-mile hike up and back with 1,200 feet of elevation gain – it was rated moderate. Jude and Anna did great, making it past the two-mile mark up the mountain before we turned back. They were both troopers, particularly Jude who ran the last mile back to the car with Marcy.

Anna looking good on our hike yesterday

Anna looking good on our hike yesterday

Halfway up the Angler Mountain hike near Silverthorne

Halfway up the Angler Mountain hike near Silverthorne

Yesterday was very exciting for Jude and Anna. They had been talking about it for weeks. It was the day that Grandpa, Baba and Lily arrived in Keystone. By the time we arrived back from our hike they were already in our driveway having just arrived before us. All three kids were thrilled to see each other and have been playing together almost nonstop since then. Lily came out early with Baba and Grandpa so all three kids can go to the Keystone Science School camp next week.

Jude and Anna were very enamored with Lily's iPad

Jude and Anna were very enamored with Lily’s iPad

Transitioning to Summer in Keystone

On Father's Day we went for a hike along Cherry Creek - an urban jungle

On Father’s Day we went for a hike along Cherry Creek – a jungle in the heart of the city

It has been a busy last two weeks. We are getting some major renovations done on our house, so in the last two weeks we have moved most of our furniture out of the house and into a storage unit. We spent two nights in a hotel in Denver before heading up to our place in Keystone where we will be spending most of our time this summer.

One of the kids’ favorite things to do in Keystone is the bungee trampoline. We have bought them a season pass for all the activities and we have probably already got our money’s worth. Jude is now doing triple back flips on the bungee and Anna has mastered the single back flip.

Anna and Jude on the bungee trampoline in Keystone

Anna and Jude on the bungee trampoline in Keystone

Every Friday afternoon Keystone provides free gondola rides to the top of the mountain where they have a live band, games and dinner. It was a glorious afternoon this past Friday so we took advantage of it. Jude and Anna were not into the band or the games – they loved playing on the snow despite the fact that Jude was wearing his crocs and Anna her flip flops.

Anna and Jude on the top of a snow bank at the top of Keystone mountain

Anna and Jude on the top of a snow bank at the top of Keystone mountain

One of the things that both Marcy and I like to do is go for hikes. We both intend to take advantage of this a lot while we are in Keystone this summer. We have a great short hike directly behind the condo which we will be taking turns to do on many days. Then we also want to get the kids out hiking as well. Marcy took them on a 5-mile hike this past week and both kids were strong the whole way, with snacks along the way, of course.

Jude stopping for a a berry snack wile on a hike this past week

Jude stopping for a a berry snack wile on a hike this past week

This weekend we had the Fergusons visiting us in Keystone. The kids had a blast together, it was a good break from hanging out with just the two of them. All four kids were very sad to say goodbye this evening.

The Ferguson and Renton kids playing by the lake in Keystone Village

The Ferguson and Renton kids playing by the lake in Keystone Village

School’s Out for Summer

Anna outside her school on the last day before summer vacation

Anna outside her school on the last day before summer vacation

Summer vacation has officially started. Anna had her last day of school on Thursday and Jude on Friday. The whole family went to the school Rose Ceremony on Friday that marks the last day of the school year.

First grade has been a big year for Jude. For the most part he has loved his school and his teacher and he has made some fantastic progress this year. To mark the end of this big year the first grade play a major role in a Rose Ceremony that is attended by the entire school.

At the beginning of the school year every first grader is paired up with an eighth grader to help them navigate this new world. The eighth grader presents their first grade buddy with a rose. They have a sit down lunch together every week and form quite a bond over the course of the year. Then on the last day the first grader presents their eighth grader with a rose as a thank you for all they have done this past year, and to send the eighth grader off to high school. It was a cute but also a moving ceremony with lots of tears flowing.

Jude playing in the new kids area at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Jude playing in the new kids area at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

We have been going to the Museum of Nature & Science for over five years now. Both kids still love the place and they have just opened a new wing with a great new kids area. They had a member preview earlier this week so Marcy took both Jude and Anna along to check it out.

Anna getting some pink highlights in her hair

Anna getting some pink highlights in her hair

Anna had a haircut this week, going to Marcy’s regular hairdresser Shannon. She felt so grown up going there particularly with some pink highlights Shannon put in her hair. And then the next day Marcy reapplied the pink highlights for a birthday party Anna attended.

Speaking of being grown up Anna really wanted to get some regular shoes with laces. These are her new favorite shoes now, wearing them everywhere. She loves to tie her shoe laces now, she even showed Jude how to do it. Although he still shows little interest in such things.

This is the last week in our house before the builders come to do some major renovations. We are moving out on Saturday as the movers come to put all our furniture into storage. We will stay in a hotel in Denver for a couple of nights before heading up to Keystone.

Feeding the Rainbow Lorikeets at the Zoo

Anna feeding the rainbow lorikeets at the Denver zoo

Anna feeding the rainbow lorikeets at the Denver zoo

When we were living in Sydney in 2012 we had rainbow lorikeets visit our balcony all the time. Jude often enjoyed feeding them. Being native to Australia we don’t see these birds in Denver….except at the zoo. So, in our trip to the zoo yesterday both Anna and Jude spent a lot of time feeding these beautiful birds.

Jude, partially hidden under his new hat, giving the lorikeets some lunch

Jude, partially hidden under his new hat, giving the lorikeets some lunch

After all the rain of the past couple of weeks it was great to have a fine and sunny weekend. And we had quite the busy weekend. After tooling around the house on Saturday morning Jude said he would really like to go to the zoo. It was such a beautiful day we decided to ride our bikes spending several hours there. Then in the afternoon there was an end of school party at a friend of Anna’s house so we all went to that. They had an inflatable water slide and a trampoline so both kids went non-stop the whole time we were there.

Today Jude had football at noon (one hour practice then a game) so we decided to head out for Sunday brunch. Again, we rode our bikes to Solera, just six blocks away, and had a delicious meal. Then it was off to football, still on bikes. Jude is still loving it so much. And today, he scored on a pass play for a two-point conversion – he caught the ball from the quarterback and had to evade two defenders to score. He was thrilled.

Then, as has become customary after football, we went to the museum. The field is directly across the street so it makes it a very easy trip. Then it was back home to fire up the grill and, of course, more football. Not to be left out I played some softball with Anna and then after dinner we went riding around the block.

A big weekend – they should sleep soundly tonight.

Last Monday, being Memorial Day, we went to Elitch’s for the first time this year. It was crowded but the kids enjoyed the rides and were so well behaved they earned themselves some ice cream.

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Enjoying their ice cream at Elitch’s