A Recital, a School Camping Trip and the Last Weekend of Soccer

Jude warming up for his school recital

Jude warming up for his school recital

It was has been quite the eventful week. On Tuesday night there was a concert at the school for grades 3-12. Jude has been practicing his viola religiously every morning for many months. And the third grade got up on stage in front of the parents and the whole school and played three songs. Then for the grand finale the entire school played a song together which was really cool. Jude had a great time and looked like he was enjoying himself.

Jude finding some worms in the soil on the farm

Jude finding some worms in the soil on the farm

The very next day after the concert Jude was up bright and early for their excursion to Frog Belly farm. This was a trip that had been talked about for months – it was the first sleepover trip with his class. The entire third grade and many parents (including Marcy) camped on the farm on Wednesday and also did some work. They did odd jobs around the farm that included planting garlic, transplanting berry plants and milking the goats.

Jude massaging the goat's udder after milking it

Jude massaging the goat’s udder to assist the milking process

While Jude and Marcy were away I had a special midweek Anna and Daddy date. I left work early to pick up Anna from school and then we went for a hike in the foothills. We did the Red Rocks hike which is right next to where they have the big concerts. Then we went to Anna’s favorite place for dinner, Casa Bonita, where they have the cliff divers.

Anna hiking the Red Rocks trail

Anna hiking the Red Rocks trail

This weekend was gorgeous weather which was good news for the kids as it was the last weekend of soccer with both kids each having two games. Both Anna and Jude have developed into quite good soccer players and they have both had considerable success this season each scoring many goals.

Anna showing her kicking style during her last game of the season

Anna showing her kicking style during her last game of the season

Jude’s passion for soccer has really developed these past few months. It is the focus of his weekends. He wants to watch soccer on TV, he is constantly asking to pass the ball in the backyard and he absolutely loves the games. He has developed into one of the best players on his team in part because he just loves it so much and is practicing all the time. As long as he is enjoying it we want to keep encouraging him.

Jude in action during his last game of the season

Jude in action during his last game of the season

Finally, tomorrow Jude turns 9 1/2. But we celebrated it a day early mainly because I am leaving tomorrow for 9 days in China. Jude decided he wanted his treat to be donuts for his birthday, so this morning before breakfast we all walked down to our local donut place. We all sang happy birthday as Jude enjoyed his sugar and jelly donut.

Jude celebrates his 9 1/2 birthday with a donut

Jude celebrates his 9 1/2 birthday with a donut

Happy Mother’s Day

A Mother's Day movie afternoon

Snuggling on the couch on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day started early this year with Jude, our resident early riser, coming in at the stroke of 6am excited to wish Marcy a Happy Mother’s Day. Anna was up 30 minutes later but I made sure that Marcy could stay in bed as long as she wanted. After breakfast Marcy went to a yoga class and I watched soccer with Jude as Arsenal were playing.

This afternoon Jude had a football game and we went all to watch. They finished up just before some storms hit, which is better than they did for soccer yesterday when the games were all canceled because of rain. With crappy weather outside Marcy decided we should do a family movie. We ordered pizza for dinner and then went for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner – Anna was already dressed for bed but she came on the walk anyway, her remaining slice of pizza in hand.

Going for a post-dinner walk on Mother's Day

Going for a post-dinner walk on Mother’s Day

Saturday ended up being a quiet day with the kids soccer games canceled. The only other highlight of the week was the kids school assembly on Friday afternoon. Jude’s class recited a Russian poem in front of the entire school while Anna’s class did some dancing and movement. It was very sweet.

A Cold and Snowy Weekend

Ice skating on the main arena at DU where they play college hockey games

Ice skating on the main arena at DU where they play college hockey games

It was a quiet weekend. Actually it was a quiet long weekend for the kids. The weather was cold and snowy so all outdoor activity (including soccer and flag football games) was canceled. I got back from London late on Friday night so I was ok with taking it easy this weekend.

We stayed at home a lot this weekend. Our big outings were going ice skating at DU on Saturday evening and then a family yoga class earlier today. We watched the Sound of Music this afternoon and everyone really enjoyed it. The sun finally came out briefly this evening for the first time since Thursday morning so Jude and I went out to kick the soccer ball.

Speaking of soccer, Jude is becoming a little obsessed with the sport these days. We have a routine now that we will watch every Arsenal game together – they are usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings. After the games Jude usually goes straight upstairs to his table soccer game by himself. We have talked about this game before, we got it for his birthday last year and he still loves playing it. He setup the photo below himself of his little men playing their soccer game.

Jude takes a photo of his favorite pastime - his table soccer game

Jude takes a photo of his favorite pastime – his table soccer game

Anna’s Lemonade Stand

Anna all ready to go with her lemonade and cookie stand

Anna all ready to go with her lemonade and cookie stand

It started with an idea that Anna and a friend of hers had at school. They were going to make rainbow loom rings and sell them at home. Anna remembered that Baba had given us a lemonade stand a few years ago and so Marcy found it in the shed. (She didn’t have to look too hard; Anna knew exactly where it was and had been wanting to use it for quite some time).

That evening Anna sold a couple of rings to neighbors and a few passersby. Then on Sunday she decided to get serious. She and Marcy baked cookies and muffins and they had the stand all set up to catch the crowd after church. And while I wouldn’t say we ever got busy on the stand today Anna did make $15 from her efforts which she was quite pleased with.

Apart from that it was quite a busy weekend. We had soccer most of Saturday and then we hosted our quarterly “food group” dinner on Saturday night. Today, we had to wrap up the lemonade stand to go and watch Jude’s first flag football game of the season.

Baba Comes to Visit and a Trip to San Francisco

Anna gets her new glasses

Anna gets her new glasses

The kids have been back at school for a couple of weeks now but they had a bit of a treat this past week. I had to leave for my big annual conference and spent nine days away in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Baba came out from Des Moines last Sunday and stayed at our house so Marcy could come to San Francisco. So, right after the conference ended Marcy came out and we spent a few days relaxing in the beautiful city.

Before that, though, Anna had to get new glasses as you can see above. She went to the eye doctor and they recommended it – she loves accessories so she was excited about her new fashion statement.

Jude playing soccer in the backyard in the pouring rain

Jude playing soccer in the backyard by himself in the pouring rain

The soccer season started last weekend and Jude was so excited about it. They had a couple of practices and they had a successful first game. They won 9-3 and Jude scored a good goal. I didn’t get to see it unfortunately but got the full run down from Jude after the game. Then they came home and he continued to play soccer in the backyard despite the pouring rain.

We rode bikes to Sausalito from downtown SF - going back and forth on the Golden Gate

We rode bikes to Sausalito from downtown SF – going back and forth on the Golden Gate

When Marcy came to visit we had the LendIt team dinner so she was able to finally meet everyone that I work with. But then I took Thursday and Friday off so we had some time to relax. We decided to go for a long walk on Thursday – we walked around 15 miles around the city. Friday we had massages and had a relaxing afternoon catching up on our favorite TV shows. Then Saturday we rented bikes and rode to Sausalito, going back and forth along the Golden Gate. It was a beautiful ride, particularly going over the bridge, and the weather was perfect.

Having lunch on the water at the Trident in Sausalito

Having lunch on the water at the Trident in Sausalito

Baba brought the kids to the airport to see us as she had an afternoon flight. It was so great to see Jude and Anna again – I had missed them terribly after being away from them for so long. We had a nice reunion lunch and then Baba had to take her flight back home.

The crazy thing is that we left warm 80 degree weather in San Francisco and came back to 35 degrees in Denver and 6″ of snow on the ground. It meant all sport was canceled this weekend and we were lucky to make it home on time.

Spring Break in Des Moines

Jude with a kitten at Lily's friend's house

Jude with a kitten at Lily’s friend’s house

On Tuesday we all took an Uber ride to the airport (in a Tesla no less) and I went off to New York to work while Marcy and the kids went to Iowa. I then joined everyone when I flew from New York to Des Moines on Friday night.

The Iowa kids were in school so Jude and Anna got their grandparents to themselves through Friday. They went to the zoo, the Science Center, helped Grandpa work on his car and had many indulgences. On Friday night the big kids (Lily, Jude and Anna) all went with Uncle Nathan to see the Iowa Wild hockey team play and they stayed to the very end – not making it home until 10pm. They all had a great time.

Anna with one of the new kittens

Anna with one of the new kittens

On Saturday I took the kids to Glow Golf and then they went to a friend of Lily’s who had a cat that had just had kittens. They loved playing with the little kitties.

Today we had a wonderful morning at the park – the weather was warm and there was not a cloud in the sky. We played some soccer and before we knew it was time to have a quick lunch and be off to the airport.

The kids enjoying a goodbye hug

The kids enjoying a group goodbye hug

While there is always some arguing and bickering the kids all love to hang out with each other and are always sad when it is time to go. While we were at the airpot Lily sent us this sweet picture she had drawn for us.

Lily's love diagram of her family

Lily’s love picture of her family

An Epic Snowstorm, a Birthday and Easter

Our outdoor table is showing at least 18" of snow from this week's storm

Our outdoor table is showing at least 18″ of snow from this week’s storm

They initially said it was going to be a minor storm – just 2-4″ on snow. They they changed it to 6-10″ and finally as it was in full swing they said it would be 12-14″. The official total downtown was around 19″ and I think we easily had that much at our house. At one stage every major highway out of Denver was closed as we endured the worst snowstorm for several years.

The good news was that none of us had to go anywhere. The kids were on Spring break, I decided to work from home and so we rode it out here. In the afternoon Marcy took the kids to the museum which was open but closing early. I didn’t leave the house all day except to do some shoveling and to go for an evening walk.

Jude checking out the snow in shorts, t-shirt and boots

Jude checking out the snow in shorts, t-shirt and boots

The snow was thick and heavy, a joy to shovel… And many of the trees in the neighborhood suffered some damage with downed branches – we had a few decent sized branches down for the old spruce tree in our backyard.

Taking an evening walk in the snow

Taking an evening walk in the knee-deep snow

After dinner that night we decided to take an evening walk to enjoy the quiet and check out the snow. So, we all dressed up in our snow gear and ventured outside. The kids were really into it, literally diving into some of the snow drifts. It was certainly a storm to remember.

Jude on top of what we thought was a snow drift but ended up being some small trees.

Jude on top of what we thought was a snow drift but ended up being some small trees.

Our neighbors built an igloo in their front yard which the kids thought was very cool

Our neighbors built an igloo in their front yard which the kids thought was very cool

I had my 50th birthday the day after this big storm. I decided I didn’t want a big celebration, instead just a nice quiet dinner with the family. Marcy brought the kids downtown to the office where we enjoyed some birthday pie before taking a nice pre-dinner walk. Then we went to Ocean Prime, an upmarket steakhouse on the same block as the office. It was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time.

After a sumptuous 50th birthday dinner at Ocean Prime

After a sumptuous 50th birthday dinner at Ocean Prime

Today was Easter. The kids were very much looking forward to it and they woke up excited to find out what the Easter Bunny had brought. There were eggs all around the living room and throughout the backyard.

Some highly focused Easter Egg hunting on a cold Easter morning

Some highly focused Easter Egg hunting on a cold Easter morning

They received a nice Easter bounty of chocolate, candy, books and toys. Anna got a nice doll house cupboard and a miniature tea set while Jude got a new bike. He actually knew all about this because he has grown out of his old bike. And today was a beautiful sunny day, although it was a little brisk so he was able to test it out. We all went for a family bike ride this afternoon.

 

Jude taking a first ride on his brand new 27-gear bike

Jude taking a first ride on his brand new 27-gear bike

Spring Break Begins With a Trip to the Car Show

At the Denver Car Show in front of a beautiful Jaguar F-Type

At the Denver Car Show in front of a beautiful Jaguar F-Type

On Friday afternoon the kids began their annual two-week Spring Break. Both kids were excited to be done with school for a while. There are no major plans this week other than a day trip to the mountains for some skiing and then my birthday celebration on Thursday. But next week I head to New York while the kids and Marcy head to Iowa.

On Saturday I took the kids to the Denver Car Show. I have taken Jude a few times but this was only Anna’s second trip I believe. Jude has been really into cars lately so he had a blast naming all the cars and checking our his favorites. After a while, though, they both got a little crabby and were sick of it so we were out of there in under two hours. My favorite was seeing the Aston Martin while Jude liked the BMWs and Lamborginis. Anna liked the ride we took in a Jeep – they had an obstacle course setup and they took us around the “track” in a Jeep Wrangler.

Jude playing his beloved table soccer game

Jude playing his beloved table soccer game

Soccer has become a big part of Jude’s life. We begin each weekend these days watching the English Premier League. He is a big fan of Arsenal, and given that it is a very popular club, its games are usually on TV here. He follows along with the other scores throughout the weekend and he has memorized where all 20 teams are on the table. He has even started to take an interest in the Spanish League where one of his favorite players, Christiano Ronaldo, plays.

He also likes to play soccer. Today was a gorgeous sunny day, although it was a little brisk, but perfect for a game of soccer. Jude and I went to the local park to play for an hour. He then came back home and played with his table soccer game. Then before dinner he went outside to kick the soccer ball about by himself. As I said, it has become a big part of his life. And it will become ever more so when their Rapids season begins in a week or so.

Another Weekend in the Mountains

At the top of Keystone about to head down Diamondback , a black run

At the top of Keystone about to head down Diamondback , a black run

We left Denver right after school on Friday and headed up to Keystone. It was our first trip since January and it was great to be back up here. One of Jude’s school friends and his family joined us on Friday night and for a day of skiing on Saturday.

The three kids after their ski day on Saturday

The three kids after their ski day on Saturday

Saturday was actually not a great ski day. It hadn’t snowed here for a couple of weeks and it showed. Everything was really icy and our second run of the day, down Mozart, was the worst run I have had in over a decade. It was a sheet of ice the whole way down. By the afternoon it had softened a little but we were all ok with calling it a day just after 2pm.

Saturday night we had about 3″ of snow and we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Despite losing an hour to daylight savings we were on the slopes just after 10am and we had a great ski day. The snow was much better, it was warm and sunny and the kids did great. They have both now been on many steep black diamond runs and have handled them well. And on the blue runs Marcy commented this afternoon that they went as fast as she liked to ski.

Apres skiing with popcorn, Kombucha and a Star Wars movie. Life is good.

Apres skiing with popcorn, Kombucha and Star Wars. Life is good.

We decided to stay up here Sunday night to really make the most of the weekend. It has felt like a mini vacation.

Anna fits perfectly in the A-frame of our swing set

Anna fits perfectly in the A-frame of our swing set

A Graduation and Some Major School Activities

Jude proudly shows off his graduation certificate from vision therapy

Jude proudly shows off his graduation certificate from vision therapy

Jude started vision therapy a couple of years ago at the suggestion of his teacher. This was not so much because of poor eyesight, in fact Jude’s vision is 20/20. The problem was that his eyes were not converging properly onto one image. Marcy has taken Jude on the 30 minute drive on a regular basis for the past two years. The homework has been intensifying and when he took his test recently he passed with flying colors. We were all very proud of him because this was not easy for him.

Anna with her lyre at the class play

Anna with her lyre at the class play

Meanwhile, Anna has been working on her class play for many weeks. The play was the story of Snow White and Rose Red and the entire first grade class had to learn every word of the 5-minute play. Then, in front of all the parents they all recited the play while some students acted out characters, and others played the lyre. Anna really enjoyed the whole process of learning all the lines and acting out the story. She recited the lines to us one night over dinner as part of her homework. After the play they did some singing and some more playing on their lyre.

Jude working on his adobe house class project

Jude working on his adobe house class project

As for Jude he been very busy as well at school. He has been working hard on his first major class project. Everyone in the class had to build a shelter of some kind. After much discussion and research Jude chose to build an adobe house made of clay. We found a video online with step by step instructions and Jude went to work. Parents were not allowed to help do the actual work, it had to be the work of the third grader. Jude had to learn all about his dwelling so he could answer questions about it when they presented to the other grades. He worked hard on this and did a nice job with it.

Celebrating Sarah's first birthday in Sydney

Celebrating Sarah’s first birthday in Sydney

Unfortunately, I missed all of these major events as I was away in Australia for a week or so. The timing was disappointing for me but I was also very glad to get a trip in. We just moved my dad into a nursing home and he has not been well. And it just so happened that I was invited to Sydney to speak at a peer to peer lending conference so I jumped at the chance to go. Also, my little niece, Sarah, turned one while I was there so I was able to celebrate her birthday in person. It was also good to catch up with a few friends as well.

My old mate Enio and I at the Opera Bar in Sydney

My old mate Enio and I at the Opera Bar in Sydney