The Broncos Win the Superbowl!

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Anna showing off her orange and blue hair

As we have done every year now for more than a decade, we hosted a Superbowl party at our house today. We were all very excited about the Broncos playing in it and Anna was excited about entertaining so many kids. She spent a lot of time putting up decorations and she even put in some orange and blue hair.

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Our youngest Bronco fan getting ready for the big game

It was a very exciting game and the basement at our house was jumping and loud. One of the visiting kids even requested ear plugs we were so loud. It was great to see the Broncos come out on top.

Other than that it was a pretty quiet week. I went to New York for a couple of days. We had a pretty big storm on Tuesday and the kids had a snow day. Yesterday the kids went to a birthday party and today we all went to church.

Jude’s School Play and a Weekend at Home

Jude getting ready for the third grade play

Jude getting ready for the third grade play

Every year at school each grade puts on their own school play. This year Jude’s class put on the story of Moses. It was quite a production with many rehearsals and performances. Marcy volunteered to be a helper for the play so she was quite involved. Unfortunately I missed the performance as I was away in London.

I arrived home on Friday night and we were going to head up to the mountains for another weekend of skiing. But they was a big storm up there and driving was going to prove hazardous so we decided to stay at home. We had no plans other than Anna’s ice skating lesson on Saturday. We made it a family outing as they have free skating for everyone after the lessons.

Anna helping me skate after her lesson

Anna helping me skate after her lesson

It was a nice day yesterday so we decided to ride our bikes to the zoo. Unfortunately, the cold front moved in a little earlier than we expected and it dropped 20 degrees very quickly. So, we rode home in the freezing cold.

Anna sewing her new dress

Anna sewing her new dress

We have been listening to more of the Little House on the Prairie books and been watching the TV series as well. Both kids are captivated by the stories. Anna was motivated to make her own dress, just like Ma does in the stories, and she has been hard at work on it this weekend.

A Visit from Grandpa and Baba

Grandpa reading stories to Jude and Anna

Grandpa reading stories to Jude and Anna

On their annual trip to Mexico Baba and Grandpa came through Denver again and stayed a couple of nights this week. The kids were thrilled to have them visit. As Anna said to me tonight on our walk to the store as we were discussing this past week: “I just love Baba and Grandpa so much.” It is a real treat for the kids to have them stay at our place and the kids get them to themselves.

On Friday morning they were off south to New Mexico as they continued their long drive from Des Moines to Cabo San Lucas. Then Friday afternoon we packed the car and headed up to Keystone for a ski weekend.

Jude and Anna go down a black diamond run through the trees on the Outback

Jude and Anna about to go down a black diamond run through the trees on the Outback

Along with what felt like half of Denver, we hit the slopes at Keystone on Saturday. It was the most crowded I had ever seen Keystone and so we spent quite a bit of time in lift lines. But the weather was gorgeous and the snow excellent so we weren’t complaining. Jude really wanted to do his first black diamond run so I took him down one on the second run of the day. Not to be outdone Anna wanted to give it a try. So, we did a long steep run through the trees on the Outback. Jude and I split off with Anna and Marcy halfway down this run but let me tell you, it was a challenging run. Everyone came through with flying colors albeit a little exhausted.

Anna about to do some snowshoeing leaving from our driveway

Anna about to do some snowshoeing leaving from our driveway

This morning Anna woke up with a nasty cough so we decided to not let her go skiing. I was feeling a little sore myself so I was happy to stay home with her. By mid morning, she was feeling much better so she donned the snowshoes and went “hiking” around the big snow piles in the parking lot. She enjoyed herself, even getting the sled out at one stage.

Jude and Marcy warming their feet by the fire at the Outpost Lodge

Jude and Marcy warming their feet by the fire at the Outpost Lodge

Meanwhile, Jude and Marcy were up the mountain bright and early. We wanted to leave before midday to avoid the storm that was coming and to watch the Bronco game. Jude had a great morning of skiing. Both he and Anna continue to improve every time they go out.

I had recorded the AFC Championship game so when we got home after unpacking the car Jude and I settled in to watch it. It was a very exciting game and even Marcy settled in to join us. It was a real nail-biter all the way to the end but we were all pleased the Broncos won and are heading to the Superbowl again.

Mary Poppins and Ninja Warriors

Anna with Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep

Anna with Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep

This weekend was a full one. I have been in China for 8 days so it was good to spend time with the family this weekend. Although Marcy and Anna did their own thing both afternoons this weekend. Today, they went to see the play Mary Poppins at the small Pace Theatre in Parker with some other friends from the gym. Anna absolutely loved it and came home singing and dancing to Mary Poppins.

Meanwhile, Jude and I had a weekend of football. Jude is a big Packers fan and they had a night playoff game on Saturday night so we watched the first half and then recorded the second half to watch in the morning. Sure enough at 6am this morning Jude came in to wake me up for the second half of the game. We finished it before breakfast and unfortunately the Packers lost but it was a great game.

Jude chasing the ducks in the park

Jude chasing the ducks in the park

I had to get Jude out of the house for some of the weekend. So, we went to the playground yesterday. Jude wasn’t into playing, instead he wanted to go and chase the ducks. Which was great for him to get some exercise, but not so great for the ducks who had to all fly off to avoid him.

Anna with real Ninja Warrior Meagan Martin

Anna with real Ninja Warrior Meagan Martin

While Jude and I were watching football yesterday Anna went to an event at a local gym with Marcy. Here there was an obstacle course and they spent time discussing goal setting and they got to meet a real female Ninja Warrior, someone who had not just been on the TV show, but was the first woman ever to complete the entire Ninja Warrior course, and she is a professional rock climber here in Colorado. Anna loved it and came home wanting to do pushups and all kids of exercises.

Anna and Marcy with matching outfits on their way to Mary Poppins

Anna and Marcy on their way to Mary Poppins. Anna chose matching outfits for them.

Finally, I spent much of the past two weeks in China with 4 days in Beijing and 4 days in Shanghai. It was an interesting visit, although the smog was really bad. And in Shanghai I got invited to have tea with the CEO of this pretty big company. They had a most elaborate setup for tea, complete with an ornate wooden table where they would prepare the tea. It was quite the experience.

Peter having tea in Shanghai

Peter having tea in Shanghai

The New Year Brings Time on the Slopes

Bringing in the New Year at the top of Keystone Mountain

Bringing in the New Year at the top of Keystone

We spent New Year’s Eve at home with a pretty quiet evening. We did a countdown with the kids at around 7pm and then they were up to bed as we all were getting up to go skiing the next day. On the first day of 2016 we drove up to Keystone for a day on the slopes. We couldn’t stay at our condo because we had renters so we just did another day trip, our second one in just over a week.

Anna showing her style in Keystone

Anna showing her skiing style in Keystone

Then today, with the renters gone we came up to Keystone again, this time to stay the night. The kids don’t go back to school until Tuesday so we are staying up tonight and will drive back Monday afternoon.

Jude doing great wearing Marcy's helmet

Jude doing great wearing Marcy’s helmet

Both Jude and Anna continue to improve. Jude was having a bit of a rough time, complaining of headaches, until we realized that his helmet was probably too tight. After switching at lunch time today with Marcy he was totally fine. So, we bought him a new one this evening because the kids and Marcy will head up the mountain again tomorrow but it will be a work day for me.

At Jungle Quest getting ready to go ziplining

At Jungle Quest getting ready to go ziplining

On New Year’s Eve day Marcy took the kids to Jungle Quest along with one of Jude’s classmates. It was an indoor climbing and ziplining place with lots of activities for the kids.

Anna acting out her puppet show

Anna acting out her puppet show

One of Anna’s gifts that she made for “the whole family” was a puppet theater. She made an elaborate cardboard theatre set as well as some finger puppets, then wrapped it all herself and put it under the tree to give to us on Christmas. Well, yesterday she set up the living room for her show which was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen. She was really into it and created a nice little story for all of us.

Christmas 2015

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner in the living room

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner in the living room

Christmas break began with soccer camp. We signed up both Jude and Anna for a half day soccer camp for two days at the place where Jude plays indoor soccer. Both kids loved it, which was good, because they have it again this coming week.

Going to see the new Star Wars movie downtown

Going to see the new Star Wars movie downtown

Then on Wednesday we surprised the kids by taking them to see the new Star Wars movie. Marcy got reserved seating for the matinee show and I took the afternoon off work so we could have a family movie day. While it was a little intense for Anna at times all four of us thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

After the first ski day of the season in Keystone

After the first ski day of the season in Keystone

On Thursday, Christmas Eve, we decided to go skiing. We have people staying at our place in Keystone so we just went up for the day. It was a bitterly cold day but we managed to get a few runs in. And by the end of the day, the kids were back to flying down blue runs.

Getting the goodies ready for Santa and the reindeer

Getting the goodies ready for Santa and the reindeer

We managed to get home by about 5:30pm and Marcy whipped together some dinner for our annual family Christmas Eve dinner by the tree. The kids were excited to get everything ready for Santa and the reindeer. Jude left his entire gingerbread house out and Anna left her gingerbread cookies and we left some carrots for the reindeers.

Anna playing with some of her toys on Christmas morning

Anna playing with some of her toys on Christmas morning

Christmas morning arrived with both kids up early and excited to see what surprises were in store. It was a cold and snowy day, yes we had a white Christmas, so we didn’t venture outside at all. Other than my trip to the Indian restaurant for our traditional Christmas dinner of Indian food – take out this time.

Jude playing with his football helmets - he

Jude playing with his football helmets – he arranged them for the playoff teams

The weekend after Christmas was pretty quiet. We spent a lot of time at home with the kids playing with their toys. In fact the only times we went out all three days was the trip to Colorado Ski & Golf yesterday for the kids skis and boot and then for a yoga class this morning. It was really nice to have an entire long weekend at home as a family.

A Snow Day, a Birthday and a Recital

Anna "snowboarding" on a sled in our front yard

Anna “snowboarding” on a sled in our front yard

This week we had the biggest snowstorm of the season with about a foot of snow in Denver. This meant school was closed and the kids had a snow day. They loved it. They played outside with the neighbor kids for a good chunk of the morning doing all kinds of things. Anna and Jude both tried their hand at “snowboarding” down the little hill in our front yard.

The snow day was on Tuesday which was actually Marcy’s birthday. It completely changed our plans for the day – Marcy was going to be spending most of the day at the school for her usual weekly volunteering and I was supposed to fly to Chicago that night. With the weather the way it was I decided to get an earlier flight and so Marcy was left to spend her birthday at home with the kids.

Jude playing the viola during their 3rd grade recital

Jude playing the viola during the 3rd grade recital

That night was supposed to be the third grade recital at school but the weather postponed it to the following night. I couldn’t make it but Marcy said it was very sweet and Jude seemed to enjoy himself. He is certainly progressing with the viola and he played some Christmas Carols for me this evening.

Celebrating Marcy's birthday at Jax

Celebrating Marcy’s birthday at Jax

Today, we had the last celebration of Marcy’s birthday. Part of what Marcy wanted was for the whole family to go to the regular Sunday yoga class we often go to. So, we did that and then we went out for lunch. We did not have a family meal on Marcy’s birthday because I had to leave town and we just realized that we had not had a proper celebration for Marcy’s birthday. So, even though we weren’t dressed for it we went to one of Marcy’s favorite restaurants, Jax, for Sunday brunch. It was delicious.

Anna decorating the tree

Anna decorating the tree

After lunch we went out to buy a Christmas tree. We got it home where Anna and Marcy, as is their tradition, spent the afternoon decorating it. By the end of the day we had a beautiful tree.

Another Visit to Santa Claus

Visiting Santa Claus at Zoo Lights

Visiting Santa Claus at Zoo Lights

We are not sure how many more years the kids will want to sit on Santa’s lap but both Jude and Anna were very keen to do so when we visited Zoo Lights recently. Our annual visit usually happens on Christmas Day but this year Marcy secured some free tickets so went in early December.

Riding the train at the school holiday fair

Riding the train at the school holiday fair (Anna is in the front carriage)

Last weekend was the annual school holiday fair. They have all kinds of crafts and activities for the kids and both Jude and Anna enjoyed it. Although Jude was not in to the arts and crafts as much this year as he was into playing soccer with his friends on the field.

In her Frozen outfit with her new Elsa gloves

In her Frozen outfit with her new Elsa gloves

Right after the school fair I took Anna to see Disney on Ice and their Frozen show. Anna, being a big fan of the movie, loved the performance with all the ice skaters. As always Disney did a great job. This was a full Anna and Daddy date, so we went out downtown for dinner afterwards. Anna has a favorite restaurant, the Vesta Dipping Grill, we had a lovely dinner there.

Marcy gets some skin cancer removed from her nose

Marcy gets some skin cancer removed from her nose

I was in San Francisco this past week but came home in time for Marcy’s surgery. She went in on Thursday to get some skin cancer removed from her nose. The procedure went quite well but Marcy was a little sore and tired afterwards and she has to take it easy for a few days. But they got all the cancer and Marcy should be good to go now. But wearing a bandage on your face is quite the conversation starter.

Anna had her last ice skating lesson for the season, so we all went to see her. I had not seen Anna skate since her birthday and she has really improved – she can skate backwards, on one leg and is so much faster than before.

A cold start to the swim meet

A cold start to the swim meet

Today was Anna’s last swim meet of the year. Anna and I were up bright and early to get to Westminster pool by 7am, Marcy and Jude came along a little later. It was a very cold morning after the snow yesterday, it felt a little strange for me going to swimming pool in such weather but it very warm inside. And as always Anna enjoyed her races and the whole swim meet experience.

Jude Turns 9 in Iowa

Jude's 9th birthday lunch at the West Des Moines Chipotle

Jude’s 9th birthday lunch at the West Des Moines Chipotle

The kids have been on Thanksgiving break this week so we made the trip to visit our Iowa family. Jude had a soccer game here on Sunday afternoon and he really didn’t want to miss it after missing the previous weekend’s game to see the Lion King. And he also really wanted to wake up Monday morning in Des Moines for his birthday. So, we decided to hit the road after his game finished, at 2:45pm, and drive through until we got to Baba’s house. We made good time and arrived right at midnight our time which was 1am Iowa time. The kids did well although probably only managed an hour or so of sleep before we arrived.

Jude blowing out his 9 candles with Ella looking on

Jude blowing out his 9 candles with Ella looking on

But Jude was very happy, albeit a little tired, when he awoke on Monday morning for his birthday. He enjoyed receiving all his presents as well as being the center of attention for the day. And he got to choose his birthday cake with Baba and Grandpa.

Jude brought his viola along so he could keep up his daily practice. Lily has recently taken up the cello so the two regaled us with some tunes before Jude’s birthday dinner.

A string duet with Lily (Jude in his Cristiano Ronaldo gear)

A string duet with Lily (Jude in his Cristiano Ronaldo gear)

The kids did lots of fun activities with their cousins: they went to the science center, played at the Dahlen’s house, and Baba hosted a special birthday party for Jude at a glass art studio where Jude made some lovely creations alongside Anna and all the cousins. They celebrated again with song and cupcakes.

One night we all went out to light the Chinese lanterns – these are like mini hot air balloons made out of paper and the kids love watching them rise into the air.

Anna about to let her Chinese lantern fly into the sky

Anna about to let her Chinese lantern fly into the sky under a full moon

The weather was so nice in Des Moines when we arrived. The grass was still green with the warm weather they had been having. On Thanksgiving day it took a turn for the worse with rain turning to ice. Luckily, we had nowhere to go as we sat inside and watched football and ate turkey. Baba and Grandpa cooked a delicious Thanksgiving meal with assistance from Marcy and Mandy.

All the kids decide it was time to pile on Daddy/Uncle Peter

All the kids decided it was time to pile on Daddy/Uncle Peter

On our last day in Des Moines, Baba and Grandpa took all five grandkids to see Disney on Ice while Marcy and I went to see a movie.

On Saturday morning it was time to go and we departed Iowa with many tearful faces. It was a great week and our kids really appreciate their time with the Des Moines family more and more. We made it back to Denver without incident and today has been a quiet day at home apart from Jude’s soccer match.

The First Snowstorm of the Season

Anna building a snowman in the back yard

Anna building a snowman in the back yard

Normally, by mid November we have had a few snowstorms, but not this year. It has been a warm and dry fall so far and it wasn’t until Wednesday of this week that we had our first storm. Anna was excited about it and decided to go out and build a snowman before school.

Jude jumping in to a pile of leaves he had just raked

Jude jumping in to a pile of leaves he had just raked

It was only a quick storm with 3-4 inches of snow and by Wednesday afternoon there was not a cloud in the sky and the ice began to melt. So much so, that by Saturday the snow was all gone and it was time to rake leaves. Jude and I did some raking and filled our compost bin.

The big outing this weekend was The Lion King. The musical is playing in Denver for the month and we bought four tickets for the matinee on Saturday afternoon. Jude was not happy about it, to say the least, because it meant he had to miss his indoor soccer game this weekend. After complaining about it bitterly he ended up being a good sport about it.

With two young actors of The Lion King musical

With young Simba and Nala of The Lion King musical

The Lion King was fantastic. It was the first show or movie we have ever seen where all four of us loved it equally. Even Jude who was so against going really enjoyed it. Although, he pointed out afterwards that we would have still rather gone to play soccer.

Anna in her 25 yard breaststroke race

Anna in her 25 yard breaststroke race

Today it was up bright and early for another swim meet for Anna. Marcy left at 7am to get Anna there in time for warmups. Jude and I followed a couple of hours later to see Anna’s last few races. Anna swam her heart out once again and she did well especially considering she is racing against girls who are sometimes 18 months or more older than she is.