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

Back in our Home

Celebrating our first meal back at our home with pizza on the front steps

Celebrating our first meal back at our home with pizza on the front steps

After four and a half months away (including 54 nights staying in a hotel) we finally returned to our home on Friday this past week. The renovations are still quite a ways from being done but the house is now somewhat livable.

We are sleeping on inflatable beds in the basement and we don’t have any of our furniture back yet but we are sleeping here and having meals. It is good to be back.

Our first night back was somewhat eventful. Jude got really sick and ended up vomiting many times during the night. Luckily, Anna was fine and she slept through the whole thing. We don’t know what it was exactly but he had been feeling a bit off color the previous couple of days.

The real bummer for Jude about getting sick was that he missed his last soccer game of the season. He loves soccer so much, it is the highlight of his week, but there was no way he could have played on Saturday.

Anna actually played two soccer games on Saturday to finish off her season. She improved so much over the past couple of months – she is loving it and is now one of the best players on the team. And she celebrated with two goals in her last game.

Anna playing in her last soccer game of the season

Anna playing in her last soccer game of the season

Today was a perfect fall day so we spent a lot of the day outside. Marcy got a ton done in the yard and Anna helped out with the leaves.

Anna enjoying the fruits of her labor after raking a pile of leaves

Anna enjoying the fruits of her labor after raking a pile of leaves

By Sunday, Jude was feeling quite a bit better. Although he wasn’t up for playing football so he missed everything this weekend. But he was quite content to play at home. He played with Anna a lot as well as the neighbor’s kids and the only time he left the house was to retrieve an arrow that he shot over the fence from his archery set.

Jude felt a lot better by Sunday

Jude felt a lot better by Sunday

Anna’s First Hockey Game and Jude’s School Play

Anna at her first hockey game, the DU Pioneers

Anna at her first hockey game, the DU Pioneers

After taking Jude to a Broncos game as well as a Rapids soccer game in the past month, this past weekend it was Anna’s turn. I asked her what she wanted to see and she chose hockey. Rather than go to an Avalanche game, which is very expensive, I decided on a DU Pioneers game. Anna thought it was pretty cool although by the end of the second period she was starting to lose interest.

Also this past week was Jude’s school play. They did St Jerome and the Lion and Jude played one of the merchants. He loved it. He is so into stories that he naturally memorizes them quickly. So, by the time the production came around he knew not just his own lines but the lines for everyone else as well. Marcy and I both went and saw him perform and it was great to see him having such a good time with it.

Enjoying fall at the zoo

Enjoying fall at the zoo

We have had a gorgeous fall here in Colorado so far. With the kids on Fall break this weekend Marcy took advantage of the weekday and took the kids to the museum and the zoo.

Reed and Anna - quite the couple

Reed and Anna – quite the couple

Anna’s best friend at school (most of the time) is Reed. So, we had him over for a playdate at the hotel pool last week. Then we all walked to dinner with the youngsters going hand in hand.

Speaking of the hotel, we are FINALLY getting out of here this week. After checking in on September 1st and expecting to stay 2-3 weeks we are excited to be returning home after almost two months. The renovation project has been incredibly frustrating after being let down time and again by our contractor. Our house will not be finished, they are still at least a few weeks away from that, but at least we can stop paying for a hotel room come Friday.

Anna Turns Six

Anna Camera

Anna loves her first camera that she received for her birthday

Anna turned 6 on Tuesday, October 7. She has been excited about it for weeks and so we were quite surprised that she actually slept in until 6:45am. But once up she was raring to go.

She opened presents from us as well as her Iowa and Sydney families. She loved the clothes she received from Sydney, the purse and latch hook rug from Iowa and her camera that we gave her. In fact, she took dozens of photos with it on her birthday.

Anna's first photo she ever took with her new camera

Anna’s first photo she ever took with her new camera

Anna loves for new outfit courtesy of her Sydney family

Anna loves for new outfit courtesy of her Sydney family, with a tiara from Marcy

The Renton family birthday tradition is a meal out for breakfast. So Anna chose an old favorite, “Berries & Cream” also known as the Original Pancake House. Luckily for Anna it was her day off school so she was able to hang out with Marcy all day on her birthday.

I took half a day off work so I joined Marcy and Anna at the park in the afternoon. We went bike riding, flew a kite, played hide and seek and listened to Narnia on my phone. We had a little problem with losing the keys to the bike rack and had to call AAA to rescue us. But we were able to meet Marcy and Jude for a picnic dinner in a local park. Anna got to choose any small cake she wanted at Whole Foods. I let her choose two.

Dinner and birthday cake in the park

Dinner and birthday cake in the park

The birthday celebration didn’t end when Anna’s birthday was over. Anna had her first ever birthday party inviting friends over. Anna decided she wanted a cake decorating party with girls only. So, we had 13 girls and Jude at a bakery not far from the hotel where we are still living.

About to sing Anna Happy Birthday at her party

About to sing Anna Happy Birthday at her party

This week wasn’t all about Anna’s birthday. Yesterday, Marcy took the kids to a Harry Potter movie and fun afternoon at one of the museums. It was a dress-up affair so Anna dressed up in her unicorn Halloween outfit and, yes, that is Jude below in his werewolf costume.

Anna in her unicorn outfit and Jude as a werewolf about to see the second Harry Potter movie

Anna in her unicorn outfit and Jude as a werewolf about to see the second Harry Potter movie

Anna’s Birthday Celebration Begins and Jude’s First Bronco Game

Jude giving Anna a lift as we arrive at Anna's school birthday celebration

Jude giving Anna a lift as we arrive at Anna’s school birthday celebration

October is Anna’s birthday month and the celebrations have begun. We had her school celebration on October 1 which was great because Baba was still in town for it. Baba had come out for Grandparents Day at the school which was Monday. As always Anna’s teacher, Mrs Clark, did a wonderful birthday celebration and Anna loved it. Marcy and I commented we have now had four years of birthdays with Mrs Clark and we will miss how special she makes them.

This weekend was an active one. Yesterday, was the typical Saturday soccer day with both Jude and Anna enjoying their games. It is great to see them improving and gaining in confidence as the season progresses.

About to head out for our Sunday activities

About to head out for our Sunday activities (Anna wanted blankie in the picture, too)

Jude and I have both been excited about this day for some time. Today was Jude’s first time ever attending a Bronco game. The funny thing is he is not a passionate Broncos fan, he prefers to root for the teams that have not won any Superbowls like the Chargers and Bills. But today, with the Broncos playing the Cardinals he was happy to be a Bronco fan.

Jude and me at his first ever NFL game

Jude and me at his first ever NFL game

Jude had a blast at the game. He got caught up in the passion and excitement of the game. And it was a memorable one at that. Peyton Manning threw for the most yards he had ever done in a game and with a final score of 41-20 in the Broncos favor there was plenty to cheer about.

Marcy and Anna goofing around after the Odysseo show

Marcy and Anna goofing around after the Odysseo show

While Jude and I were at the game Marcy took Anna to see this show: Odysseo. It was a cross between a horse show and Cirque de Soleil with some amazing acrobats. Anna enjoyed it and decided to buy herself a stuffed pony to commemorate the occasion.