Jude Gets Reading Glasses

Jude sporting his new reading glasses for the first time

Jude sporting his new reading glasses for the first time

We have taken Jude to the eye doctor for some tests and it turns out that he needed glasses. It wasn’t just because his vision wasn’t great, in fact the tests came back with 20/20 vision. But he has trouble focusing on the page when he is in school, his two eyes don’t bring an image into one line of focus, and the glasses should help with this. Not only that but he has about 15 minutes of eye exercises he needs to do at least 4 days a week while he attends vision therapy for at least a few months. We started them this weekend while we were in Keystone.

Speaking of Keystone we spent the weekend there again and the kids had their third Saturday of ski school this season. They continue to make great progress with both kids doing their first ski race this weekend and the instructor took Jude’s class down their first bump run.

We had a family ski day earlier today and there was a noticeable improvement from last weekend. Particularly with Anna, who is a real speed demon these days, she likes to race me down the hill.

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After their ski day Jude and Anna snuggle on the couch with a show

Back to Colorado Winter Sports

Jude skiing in Keystone

Jude skiing in Keystone

For the third year in a row we have put the kids in ski school every Saturday in January. While Jude was somewhat reluctant to do it Anna was very enthusiastic but both have ended up enjoying it and are making great progress.

Unfortunately, Jude has been under the weather this week with a bad cough. He missed two days of school but was a trooper on Saturday in ski school. He clearly wasn’t feeling 100% and when we went to pick him from his lesson he was lying on the snow completely spent.

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Anna showing her style on the Keystone slopes

We have stayed at the condo now two weekends in a row and this weekend we brought up our snowshoes. Anna discovered them right away and wanted to put Marcy’s on to walk around on the snow. She didn’t go far but she liked the whole idea of snowshoeing.

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Anna in front of the Keystone condo in Marcy’s snowshoes

For two Saturday’s in a row now Marcy and I have been able to have a several hour long date as we skied all over Keystone. It has been great even though the snow was a little thin for this time of year. Marcy loves doing the bumps these days and continues to get better at them. I would like to say the same for myself but my knees are getting weaker every year and I think my ability has plateaued. But I still really enjoy a couple of bumps runs every time I go out.

Today, we had a family ski morning. We all walked down to the lifts bright and early and took a couple of runs together. Jude was still nowhere near 100% but he agreed to give skiing a try today. But after two runs he decided he was done for the day. I still managed to shoot the video below that captured both Jude and Anna skiing albeit briefly.

This afternoon Jude and I stayed in and watched the Packers-Seahawks game while Marcy took Anna ice skating. They both have new ice skates and Anna was dying to give hers a try.

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Anna in her new skates at the rink at River Run in Keystone

Bringing in the New Year With the Des Moines Family

Anna bringing in the New Year in style

Anna bringing in the New Year in style

We have had a great week in Des Moines. Both Jude and Anna had a blast spending time with their Des Moines family. There were fun activities planned every day but the highlight was clearly the New Year’s Eve celebration. The Science Center had a special New Year’s Eve countdown for the kids at 12 noon that included a balloon drop as well as face painting. Then it was back home for the family celebration and countdown around 5:30pm that included a toast with “kids champagne” also known as sparkling apple juice.

Toasting the "New Year" at around 5:30pm on New Year's Eve

Toasting the “New Year” at around 5:30pm on New Year’s Eve

The incredible balloons the kids had

The incredible balloons the kids had made at the New Year’s Eve party

Marcy and I were able to catch a New Year’s Day movie but unfortunately I had to work every weekday. I tried to be around as much as I could and play with the kids and be social. We certainly watched our share of football, played cards, drank good wine and ate very well as usual.

While the weather was a little chilly all five cousins still enjoyed a trip to the playground

While the weather was a little chilly all five cousins still enjoyed a trip to the playground

It was very sad to leave on Friday afternoon. This really was the best trip the kids had ever had – they got along well pretty much the entire time and they just loved playing and spending time together. Normally, Jude is ready to go back home after a few days but this time he wanted to stay and for the first ever he cried when we left.

The mug shot - the entire family with their Christmas mugs

The mug shot – the entire family with their Christmas mugs.

The trip home was a little more harrowing than usual. The reason we left on Friday afternoon instead of Saturday was to avoid the snow storm that we could see was coming. But when we entered Colorado we hit the storm. It was a slow and sometimes harrowing drive and we made it home later than expected but in one piece.

 

Merry Christmas

Visiting Santa Claus on Larimer Square in Denver

Visiting Santa Claus on Larimer Square in Denver

This past week has been one of the kids favorite weeks of the year. They have been so excited for Christmas, counting down the days on their special calendar. On Christmas Eve we had our now traditional dinner at home with a smorgasbord of goodies and champagne.

Christmas Eve dinner at home

Christmas Eve dinner at home

As we put the kids to bed we told them that they had to sleep in until it was light and sure enough it was 7am before Anna came into our bedroom excited to go downstairs. We had left some milk and cookies out for Santa and some carrots and spinach for the reindeer. When we all came downstairs in the morning all the food was gone much to the kids delight. Then the present opening fiesta began.

Zoo lights on Boxing Day

Zoo lights on Christmas night

While we didn’t have a white Christmas, it did snow 6″ on Christmas night. The storm began as the sun was going down when we headed to Zoo to check out the lights. This has become something of a Christmas Day tradition and this year, with the snowstorm, we had the zoo virtually to ourselves, at least at the start of the evening. It was obviously very cold, so we didn’t last long, but it was magical with the lights and the snow coming down.

Anna with her birthday celebration in Des Moines

Anna with her birthday celebration in Des Moines

On Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed to Iowa. I think the kids were more excited for this trip than they were for Christmas. When we arrived at Baba and Grandpa’s house at 7pm the kids raced out of the car to say hi. Then, this morning when their cousins came they were deliriously happy.

After breakfast Jude and Anna had their belated birthday celebration with cake and everyone singing happy birthday. There was some exchanging of presents and then a day of play and watching football.

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Jude with his Santa hat

Jude with his Santa hat

This week started off with Marcy’s birthday. Marcy got a nice treat with her Aunt Wendy and Aunt Gail visiting. They spent the day together in Idaho Springs at the Indian Hot Springs before returning to Denver where we all went out for a lovely meal at a local restaurant.

While Marcy had put up some Christmas decorations I like to wait until after her birthday before we really get into the Christmas spirit. So, this weekend was very much focused on Christmas. Marcy bought us tickets to go and see the Grinch that was playing at the Buell Theatre downtown. We have read the book to the kids many times but this is the first time they had seen the play. It was really well done and the kids loved it.

Anna shining bright by our Christmas tree

Anna shining bright by our Christmas tree

This weekend we bought our Christmas tree. We got it from the local church and we (mostly Marcy) decorated it and put all the lights on. It looks beautiful and smells great as well.

Anna doing her knitting on the bus downtown

Anna doing her knitting on the bus downtown

Anna recently discovered some old knitting needles and has taken a real liking to it. With some lessons from Marcy she is really getting the hang of it now.

We also made it to the museum this weekend, at Jude's insistence

At the museum in the new kids area

We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the museum. Jude insisted that the whole family come along so we all went for the first time in several months.

All Anna Wants for Christmas is Her Two Front Teeth

Anna pulls her second front tooth out by herself one week after losing for other front tooth

Anna pulls her second front tooth out by herself one week after losing her other front tooth

It was one year ago when Jude was missing both his front teeth on Christmas. This year it is Anna’s turn. Her other front tooth has been very wiggly for days so we knew it was coming out soon. We tried to get it out on Saturday morning the same way as the last one by tying floss to the doorknob but it kept slipping off the tooth. After three goes at that Anna decided that she would wait.

She went to bed on Saturday night and came out half an hour later saying that she had taken her tooth out. She was very excited and she posed for the photo above so we could record the moment.

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Jude getting ready for the Santa Lucia celebration at school

There are lots of celebrations this time of year at the Waldorf School. We had Anna’s spiral walk on Friday night which was lovely as always. This is a special night for the kindergartners to walk through a labyrinth and light a candle with the help of a seventh grader. We were a little sad afterwards knowing that it was our last spiral walk after going to four years in a row.

Also on Friday the second grade did their Santa Lucia celebration. This is where they deliver and hand out special buns to the entire school. Marcy helped out with this and took the photo above as Jude and his class were getting ready.

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Anna with Neave, the star of the Nutcracker, after the show

Today was a cold and snowy day here. The only outing we had was to see the Children’s Nutcracker play. Jude didn’t want to go but Anna did so I took her along. She had a classmate in the play which she was excited about. But most of all she excited to see Neave who is one of our regular babysitters. Neave played Clara in the play, one of the major roles.

Anna Loses a Front Tooth

Anna’s front teeth have been very wiggly for quite some time now. So, this morning she announced at breakfast that one would be coming out.

The before picture: Anna getting ready to have her tooth pulled

The before picture: Anna getting ready to have her tooth pulled

Marcy tied some floss around her tooth and the other end to the door. Anna asked Jude to do the honors by slamming the door and the tooth came out. It did hurt some but Anna was so excited to have her front tooth out that she didn’t complain much at all.

The after picture: Anna proudly shows her missing front tooth

The after picture: Anna proudly shows her missing front tooth

This weekend was the annual holiday fair at school. Jude didn’t want to go so I stayed home with her and Marcy took Anna.

Making candles at the school Holiday Fair

Making candles at the school Holiday Fair

This being the first weekend of December Marcy got out a lot of our Christmas stuff and started decorating. Anna was so excited and was more than happy to help.

We also received a special package from Baba in Iowa this week including a countdown calendar. This calendar had chocolates which the kids have been enjoying every morning.

Jude and Anna love their Christmas Countdown Calendar

Jude and Anna love their Christmas Countdown Calendar

Thanksgiving Week in Florida

We had a great Thanksgiving week on our Florida vacation. The weather was good for the most part although it was a little cold and windy towards the end of our time in the Keys.

Anna checking out the tortoise by the side of the road

Anna checking out the tortoise by the side of the road

I had never been to the Keys before so I was keen to do a bit of exploring. We did a road trip one day down to Key West, stopping along the way at Big Pine Key and the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge where we did see a Key Deer crossing the road. We also saw an alligator in one of the freshwater lakes.

At Key West we spent some time on the main drag, Duval St and we tried to find a nice beach but didn’t have much luck. While the kids are happy pretty much anywhere there is sand and water the beaches on Key West had lots of seaweed and more mud than sand.

Back at our resort there also wasn’t much of a beach either although at least we had nice sand and the pool was excellent. They also had plenty of water sports with jet skis, kayaks and catamarans for hire. Anna was really keen to try the jet ski and Jude wanted to as well so we took one out and Marcy took the photos. The kids wanted to go fast so I had it up to 44 miles an hour at one point although it got a bit bumpy out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Getting ready to head out for the kids first ever jet ski ride

Getting ready to head out for the kids first ever jet ski ride

Our resort was right next door to the Turtle Hospital which is the #1 attraction in the town of Marathon. They give guided tours every day so we signed up for one on Thanksgiving Day. They had probably 70 turtles is various stages of rehabilitation and the kids got to get up close with them. There was no touching but they could feed the turtles.

Anna feeding the turtles at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon

Anna feeding the sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon

Speaking of Thanksgiving we booked dinner at the main resort restaurant where they had a buffet with all the typical Thanksgiving goodies. It was a delicious meal and our first ever in Florida or in any warm climate for that matter. Although at around 60 degrees with a wind it was a little on the chilly side.

After our Thanksgiving Dinner at the resort

After our Thanksgiving Dinner at the resort

All too soon our trip came to an end. While we had a good time Marcy and I agreed that we wouldn’t come back here any time soon for a family vacation. Mexico offers better beaches and nicer resorts with similar weather. And it is just as easy to get to.

On our last day we decided to check out the Everglades National Park where we had lunch and went for a short hike. Then it was on to Fort Lauderdale to a hotel close to the airport. We ended up with a nice room overlooking the cruise terminal.

Jude on the balcony of our Fort Lauderdale hotel room

Jude on the balcony of our Fort Lauderdale hotel room on the last night of our trip

While the kids loved the trip, they are also very glad to be back home. Today, we spent most of the day just hanging out at home with the kids playing with their toys they missed while away.

Jude Turns 8 in the Florida Keys

Jude's 8th birthday celebration in the Florida Keys

Jude’s 8th birthday celebration in the Florida Keys

This week has been very much focused on Jude and his 8th birthday. We started the celebration at home on Thursday morning, which was the day we left for our trip to the Florida Keys.

Jude opened some of his presents there – including gifts from Sydney and Des Moines. Then at lunchtime it was off to Florida. We arrived at Miami very late on Thursday night so it was straight to the airport hotel before beginning our drive to the Florida Keys on Friday morning.

Friday was a rainy day and we arrived at Tranquility Bay in pretty crappy weather. At least it was warm and rainy so we all braved the pool and the beach despite the weather. Yesterday was a better day and we stayed around the resort most of the day enjoying the pool and the beach.

They have lots of large iguanas on the property here and they are not shy at all. Jude and Anna have been excited to see them and even spent some time trying to stalk one by the pool yesterday.

Stalking the iguanas at our resort pool

Stalking the iguanas at our resort pool

Today was hot and sunny and it was also Jude’s 8th birthday. Jude wanted to go out for breakfast so we started they day at one of the local cafes. Then it was off to the Dolphin Research Center, about 15 minutes east of here.

Here they offered all kinds of dolphin-related activities. Jude decided he wanted to swim with the dolphins and Anna wanted to do the “dolphin painting”. This is where a dolphin takes a paintbrush and paints a unique design on a white t-shirt. Anna had the dolphin named Rainbow who liked to twirl around in circles as she painted.

Rainbow the dolphin painting Anna's t-shirt

Rainbow the dolphin painting Anna’s t-shirt

Jude chose the “dolphin encounter” which included getting up close and personal with the dolphins as well as taking a ride on their backs. He also got to help out the trainer by giving the dolphin some commands and also got to shake hands.

Jude gets a kiss from Luna the dolphin.

Jude gets a kiss from Luna the dolphin

Jude has been really into this show, Walking with Beasts lately. It is by the same producer who did Walking with Dinosaurs and Jude is a very big fan. He has watched several episodes on Netflix and needless to say the book, which was the one present we brought with us to Florida, was a big hit.

Jude with his birthday present, a new book

Jude with his birthday present, a new book

I was away in London for a good chunk of the last two weeks getting back on Wednesday night of last week. I helped produce our first ever LendIt Europe conference which was a big success.

Halloween and Getting Our Stuff Back

Jude doing some serious pumpkin carving

Jude doing some serious pumpkin carving

It has been a very busy last couple of weeks as I have been traveling a lot and Marcy has been completely focused on the home renovations. The kids have really enjoyed being back home and this past week we got all our furniture back that has been stored in a pod since the before the summer began.

Anna also putting in a serious effort into her pumpkin

Anna also putting in a serious effort into her pumpkin

But first to Halloween. Where Anna dressed up as a unicorn and Jude as a skeleton. I was really sick on Halloween night so I couldn’t be out with them unfortunately, but the kids enjoyed the trick or treating.

Enjoying the candy haul on the front steps

Enjoying the candy haul on the front steps

Anna was a cute little unicorn for Halloween

Anna was a cute little unicorn for Halloween

As I said, this past week we got the contents of our pod back – which meant we got to sleep in our own beds for the first time in nearly 5 months. Both kids have been sleeping well and enjoying “alone time” in their own rooms. After a summer and fall of upheaval it is nice to get some normalcy back into our lives again.

Back in their playroom with their toys - happy to be playing with each other at home again

Back in their playroom with their toys – happy to be playing with each other at home again

Both soccer and football seasons are now over. Jude says he wants to do both next year and Anna would like to continue with soccer. And today was their tap dance recital. Jude and Anna have been in the same tap class for several weeks and today they got to do a performance in front of all the parents. They both did well.

At their tap dance recital at Between the Bones

At their tap dance recital at Between the Bones