Sunday Swim Meets

Anna has her coffee (decaf) and she is good to go for the swim meet at 7am.

Anna has her coffee (decaf) and she is good to go for the swim meet at 7am.

I have spent most of the last two weeks in China for our first LendIt China Conference, just getting back Wednesday afternoon last week. I was away for 12 days and I missed everyone terribly. Marcy surprised me by bringing the kids to the airport to meet me which was such a treat.

Both Jude and Anna are on swim team this summer and the past two Sundays there have been swim meets. Today, we were hosting one at JCC so both Marcy and I volunteered to help out. Both kids enjoyed the meet and it was such a nice day we stayed at the pool for a couple of hours afterwards.

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Jude enjoying a post swim meet Gatorade

On Saturday Jude and I went to the robot exhibit at the museum. Everyone else had been before and loved it and Jude was keen to go back and see it. It was pretty cool with a robot soccer game, climbing robots, self-driving cars, drones and more.

Jude gets up on stage at the robot exhibit and tries to blow a small drone away.

Jude gets up on stage at the robot exhibit and tries to blow a small drone aways

While Jude and I were at the museum Marcy and Anna had a little hairstyle and mani/pedi party at home. Anna painted Marcy’s nails and brushed and styled her hair, and vice versa.

Anna painting Marcy's toenails

Anna painting Marcy’s nails

Jude had no camps this past week but Anna had a half-day art camp which she loved. She would be happy to be on camps the entire summer and Jude would be happy to stay home all summer. We have come to a happy medium with some camps for both kids.

At the Peace Hotel on the "bund" in Shanghai with the 2nd tallest building in the world in the background

At the Peace Hotel in Shanghai with the 2nd tallest building in the world in the background

The Annual July 4 Week in Keystone

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Twister was a big hit with the kids this week

We have had a great week on the annual July 4 trip to Keystone. The Dahlen’s came out for the week, unfortunately Baba and Grandpa had to stay home, and it has been a wonderful time. The five cousins have all played really well together and for the most part the weather has been great.

Getting ready for the start of the Keystone July 4 bike parade

Getting ready for the start of the Keystone July 4 bike parade

The annual July 4 bike parade is always one of the highlights and this year all 5 kids rode their bikes over to participate. Ella decided to watch from the sidelines but everyone else rode in the parade. And after about we had to demand Jude stop otherwise I think he would have kept going all day.

Jude feeding the ducks at Keystone Lake

Jude feeding the ducks at Keystone Lake

We also spent some time at the lake – it is an easy ride on the bikes now for everyone. The fish and the ducks have been hungry, Jude and Lily went on a paddleboat ride and Anna went in a kayak by herself for the first time.

Anna going for her first solo kayak paddle on Keystone Lake

Anna going for her first solo kayak paddle on Keystone Lake

One of the highlights of the week in Keystone for the kids is camp at the Keystone Science School. This year, for the first time, we had all five kids enrolled in camp. They have all enjoyed it but it has also meant that the grownups could do what we pleased this week. This has meant lots of golf for Nathan and I with Marcy and Mandy doing yoga classes, walks, reading and relaxing.

All five kids on the first morning of camp

All five kids on the first morning of camp

Once again this year I have to leave a day early to head to China for our conference there. But it has been a great week that we have all enjoyed.

Anna and the twins playing by the river

Anna and the twins playing by the river

France and Iowa

Sunset in Paris

Sunset in Paris

The last two weeks have been quite something. Somewhat on the spur of the moment we decided that Marcy should accompany me to France on my latest business trip. I had a couple of days in Cannes on the French Riviera and then a few days in Paris that included a weekend. We had plenty of miles and work was paying for everything so we booked a ticket for Marcy. Then the kids got to spend a week at Baba and Grandpa’s house in Iowa.

Being spoiled by Baba with pancakes, cream and sprinkles for breakfast

Being spoiled by Baba with pancakes, cream and sprinkles for breakfast

Marcy flew to Iowa with the kids and I flew directly to Nice, France where Marcy joined me the next day. We spent two days in Cannes attending the incredible Cannes Lions show and spending some time on the beach. We also had a formal dinner to go to while we were there with some of my business associates. It was great to be by the beach again.

At the beach in Cannes on the French Riviera

At the beach in Cannes on the French Riviera

Then it was a train to Paris where I had one meeting Friday afternoon and then we had the entire weekend to ourselves. On Friday night we went for a walk from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower, about 3 miles. The sun doesn’t set until 10pm this time of year so we wandered around well into the night.

Saturday was our one full day together in Paris and we made the most of it. We got a day pass to their bike sharing program and rode bikes all over the city. We went to the Pantheon, a spectacular mausoleum where many famous French people are buried. We walked around the Latin Quarter, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, visited the Rodin Museum and then had dinner in a lovely cafe down an alley in the Latin Quarter. We finished the day in a pub watching soccer – as the European Championships were on in Paris.

Pool play with the twins

Pool play with the twins

Meanwhile back in Iowa this kids were having a blast. They were getting lots of pool time and with Lily away on camp they got to play with the twins a lot. Baba took Jude and Anna to the baseball game where Jude won a t-shirt that was thrown into the crowd. It has become his new favorite pajamas, he wears it every night.

The proud new owner of an Iowa Cubs t-shirt

The proud new owner of an Iowa Cubs t-shirt

Marcy flew back to Iowa on Sunday night and then on Monday back to Denver with the kids. They have had camp this week with Anna in Math Camp and Jude in a Money Matters camp at the local Young Americans Bank. Both have enjoyed it immensely. Now, we are getting ready to head up to the mountains for our annual July 4 week.

The First Week of Summer Break and Father’s Day

Anna shows off the new dress she hand made

Anna shows off the new dress she hand made

The first week of summer break is in the books and it was a good week. No major plans so the kids had lots of downtime which they appreciated. There were bike rides, a trip to the museum, ice cream outings, swim team, and library trips but the highlight was probably a day trip to Keystone.

At Loveland Pass (12,000 ft) and a chilly 41 degrees

At Loveland Pass (12,000 ft) and a chilly 41 degrees

The kids, especially Jude, loves the tennis lessons in Keystone. So Marcy made sure they made it to the 10am lesson and then it was off to River Run for all the fun kids activities there like bungee, bounce house, climbing, putt putt, mining for gems and more.

Anna puts on her game face for putt putt

Anna puts on her game face for putt putt

Today was Father’s Day and I had a really nice day. I got to choose the activities so we went to Commonground golf course and played on the kids Par 3 course there (where kids play free). While neither Jude nor Anna love golf they did pretty well although they were very happy to be done after nine holes.

Enjoying my Father's Day dinner

Enjoying my Father’s Day dinner

In the afternoon we went to the gym pool and then watched the US Open golf. It was a super hot day, almost 100 degrees, so I decided a sushi dinner was in order. After we got back the kids still had lots of energy so they played in the backyard to wind down the day.

Jude jumping off the swing in the backyard

Jude jumping off the swing in the backyard

Tomorrow I am heading to France for work where Marcy will join me and the kids get to spend a week in Iowa.

Summer Vacation Starts and the Nine Year Change

Hiking the Evergreen Mountain trail

Hiking the Evergreen Mountain trail

The school year ended for Jude and Anna at noon on Friday. At 11am we all gathered in the main school hall for the end of year Rose Ceremony. This book-ends the year because on the first day of school we had the opening Rose Ceremony. On that day the first graders are paired with an eighth grader who presents them with a rose to welcome them to the school. On the last day of school the first graders present the eighth graders with a rose and well-wishes as they move on to high school.

Anna loved her eighth grader, she has even come to babysit a few times. In fact, Anna was crying after the ceremony because she said she will miss her eighth grade buddy so much. They had lunch together every two or three weeks and formed a bond during the year. It was a really sweet ceremony and a great way to end the school year.

This weekend we went for a hike at Evergreen Mountain. This is a popular trail about 45 minutes from our house that is a 5-mile roundtrip that goes up to 8,500 feet. Saturday was hot so we wanted to get up in elevation. Jude really didn’t want to go, he wanted to stay home and he was very grumpy at times during the hike. In the end I hiked with Anna and Marcy stayed with Jude and that worked out better.

One thing that Waldorf talks about is the nine-year change. This happens around the age of nine where they go through a transition of being a little kid and doing little kid things to moving to a more mature stage of life. We have really noticed it with Jude these past three months or so. Before he would play with Anna all the time, they were best buddies, and would play imaginary games together sometimes for hours on end.

Now, Jude turns up his nose at those kinds of games, saying they are for little kids and he is not interested in that any more. He main interest these days is soccer and he kicks his soccer ball around at every opportunity. He also likes to watch soccer and talk about soccer. Beyond that, he also likes to read, play Uno and chess as well as play with his football and table soccer games. But he does not like to play imaginary games any more. This has been hard for Anna because she feels like she has lost her best friend, the one who has been her playmate from the very beginning. Because of this nine-year change summer is going to look quite different for both of them this year.

Anna with her new skateboard

Anna with her new skateboard

Finally, big news for Anna today. She has a new skateboard. This is something she has wanted for quite some time. She bought this out of her own money and for now at least she absolutely loves it. She played on it for several hours today and she is slowly getting the hang of it. I think this skateboard will get quite a lot of use this summer.

A Soccer International and the First Hint of Summer

Jude went to his first international soccer match: Brazil vs Panama

Jude went to his first international soccer match: Brazil vs Panama

Last weekend was the long Memorial Day weekend but I was away in China. We are gearing up for our first conference in China and I needed to be there to move things along. On the Sunday night I was supposed to take Jude to see his first ever soccer international – a friendly match between Brazil and Panama. Since I was away, Marcy booked a babysitter for Anna and she went with Jude. She said she had a great time – it was much more fun than she expected. Jude, of course, loved it. He is quite the soccer fanatic these days.

Speaking of soccer Jude did tryouts this week for next season. He is moving into the competitive league and he very excited about it. He made the blue team which was the second highest level for his age group. His teammates made the level below and while Jude was disappointed not to be on the same team as them his competitive spirit meant that he was also pleased to have ranked above them. The season will start in the late summer/early fall.

With our Chinese partner in Shanghai with the iconic TV Tower in the background

With our Chinese partner in Shanghai with the iconic TV Tower in the background

I arrived back from China on Wednesday afternoon and we didn’t have a whole lot scheduled this weekend which was nice. Saturday, we went for a hike in the morning and just hung out at home in the afternoon. It was a warm day so our neighbors pulled out their slip ‘n’ slide in the front yard.

Hiking at Lair o' the Bear

Hiking at Lair o’ the Bear

Jude on our neighbor's slip 'n' slide

Jude on our neighbor’s slip ‘n’ slide

Sunday Jude had flag football in the afternoon and in the morning I took Anna out to get the car washed and then to the playground for an extended 90 minute play. She is in to “training” these days. She is strong and wants to get stronger so she pushes herself as she is playing. She spent a long time on the monkey bars, doing chin-ups and just going back and forth.

Then when we got home after Jude’s football she wanted to continue her training. This time doing handsprings in the backyard. I caught this action shot of her below.

Anna doing hand stands and back flips in the backyard

Anna doing hand stands and handsprings  in the backyard

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.