Another Week in Camp and Jude’s Big Hike

Playing kickball at the Keystone Science School camp

We were up in Keystone all week as the kids had another week of camp at Keystone Science School. This time the theme was sports and they played all kinds of different games, learned about new sports and learned some the science of sports. Jude went to a Rockies game in Denver one day and Anna went ice skating one day. On Thursday they have Family Night so Marcy and went and we all played a big game of kickball.

Family night at the Keystone Science School

It had been a while since I had taken the kids on a special date. Saturday was the day. Jude told me that he wanted to climb a mountain on our date so we got up bright and early on Saturday for that. I found a hike that looked reasonable, a 2 mile climb up Revenue Mountain (elev. 12,889 ft), outside of Keystone. The first half was relatively easy, following a four wheel drive trail. But the second half was tough. We couldn’t find the trail so we just scrambled up the steep slope and the rocks were unstable at times. We took it slowly and made it to the top in 2 3/4 hours. It was a tough hike but Jude barely complained and had plenty of energy left.

Jude on top of Revenue Mountain (12,889 ft), his longest and hardest hike ever

One of the great things about this hike is that we went past many abandoned mines. They used to mine silver in the area in the late 19th century. Jude was very curious about the old mines so we stopped and looked several times at some of these ruins. In one of them Jude found an old tin can that had been opened. Since mining has been been gone from here for over 100 years we estimated this was quite the old relic.

Jude holding a 100+ year old tin can

Jude holding a 100+ year old tin can

Jude declared after the hike that it was the best Jude and Daddy date ever. He did great on the hike and he had more energy than I did on the way day down. He even broke into a run at one point near the bottom. We completed the entire hike in 4 hours and 20 minutes. I said to Jude that I think he is ready for a fourteener which we will try and do later in the summer.

Ice Skating on an Anna and Daddy date

Ice Skating on an Anna and Daddy date

We drove back to Denver on Saturday afternoon and then it was time for an Anna and Daddy date. Anna wanted to go ice skating so we went to the DU hockey rink. Anna really loves skating so we had a nice time, she is more steady on her skates than I am. After skating I took Anna out to a nice restaurant on Old South Gaylord.

Today the kids had a swim meet and then hung out at home for the rest of the day.

Keystone, Shanghai and Denver

All the cousins are their trek to Lily Pad Lake

All the cousins on their trek to Lily Pad Lake (in the rain)

A lot has happened these past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago at this time we were in Keystone with the Dahlen family. Nathan and I played some golf while Marcy, Mandy and the kids went to Lily Pad Lake one day. It was not a great day weather-wise and the kids all got soaked, but not until after they had made it to the lake.

On Thursday, I had to wish everyone goodbye as I had to travel to Shanghai for a work trip. The Dahlens all left on Thursday as well so Marcy decided to come back home to Denver as well. It was another great family trip in Keystone.

The Shanghai skyline taken from our Sunday evening restaurant.

The Shanghai skyline taken from our Sunday evening restaurant.

The kids had half-day tennis camp last week while I was away. One afternoon Anna had an appointment with her doctor where she received a gift for completing her chart. This marks six weeks with no thumb sucking. Anna has been a champ here with not one slip up since her first appointment. As a reward Anna received ballet shoes from Marcy and beautiful fake nails from her doctor. She was very proud, as well she should be.

Anna showing off her new ballet shoes

Anna showing off her new ballet shoes

I returned a day late from Shanghai after my original flight was canceled but was home by Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning we went to the “Insectival” at the Butterfly Pavilion. They have tons of stuff for the kids to do there and Jude really enjoyed the fishing for crawdads. He spent a good hour doing this, catching and then releasing the crustaceans.

Jude showing off his crawdad catch at the Insectival

Jude showing off his crawdad catch at the Insectival

Yesterday afternoon we hung out at home and the kids played. We had some rain and they took advantage of his by creating mud-balls in the garden beds, they even created a “mud-man” kind of like a mini snowman.

Playing in the mud in the garden  bed

Playing in the mud in the garden bed

Today we had a swim meet so it was up super early. In fact this was our home swim meet so Marcy and I got to volunteer so we were at the pool by 6:30am. Once again the kids had a great time and they got a kick out of the fact that Marcy was a timer and I was the starter so we were very much involved in the day.

At the JCC Swim Meet

At the JCC Swim Meet

This afternoon we packed up everything and came back up to Keystone. The kids have another week of Keystone Science School and I will be working from here this week.

The Annual Visit to Keystone from the Des Moines Family

Lily, Jude and Anna off to their first day of Keystone camp

Monday morning with Lily, Jude and Anna off to their first day of Keystone camp

We have been up in Keystone all week and, as they do every year, Marcy’s Des Moines family came out for a visit. Lily came out early with Baba and Grandpa so she could attend the Keystone Science School camp for the week. The theme for the week was the Physics of Flight so the kids had all kinds of activities around flight including indoor sky diving, zip lining, learning about helicopters, catapults and more. The kids had a blast.

Dinner at the Ski Tip Lodge with Marcy's parents

Dinner at the Ski Tip Lodge with Marcy’s parents

The big deal with camp this week is the Wednesday night sleepover. It was the first time that Jude and Anna had ever had a night away from their family and so we all approached it with some trepidation. But they had a good time although we think they did miss us and it wasn’t all that easy being away from home for the first time. But we took advantage of the night and went out for a sumptuous adults-only dinner at the Ski Tip Lodge in Keystone. Marcy and I had not been their since our second anniversary when Marcy was pregnant with Jude.

Celebrating Lon & Connie's 45th wedding anniversary atop Keystone Mountain

Celebrating Lon & Connie’s 45th wedding anniversary atop Keystone Mountain

The wedding anniversary for Marcy’s parents is on July 3rd. We all vividly remember 10 years ago going to a fine dining establishment, Alpenglow Stube, at the top of Keystone mountain. This was before kids when there was just six of us. Now, with five kids under the age of 10 the celebration is quite different. This year we caught the free gondola up to the top of the mountain and had a wonderful burger dinner outside. And with some cupcakes to finish the meal off.

Getting ready for the July 4 bike parade in Keystone

Jude, Anna and Lily getting ready for the July 4 bike parade in Keystone

Every year Keystone has a bike parade for kids on July 4. We have been participating in these parades now for many years and this year for the first time we had all five kids on bikes with no training wheels. Jude, Anna and Lily were the most keen, finding their way towards the front for the start of the parade. We spent the rest of the day at home and instead of going to fireworks that evening the kids decided to stay and roast marshmallows in the fire pit and just hang out by the fire.

Jude and Lily kayaking at Keystone Lake

Jude and Lily kayaking at Keystone Lake

Today, we rode our bikes down to Keystone Lake. All nine of us made the bike ride down and then we went out on paddle boats as soon as we got there. They let the kids kayak by themselves, so after the paddle boating first Lily and Anna and then Lily and Jude went out in the kayak on the lake with no adult supervision. They thought that was very cool.

Anna giving the thumbs up at her manicure

Anna giving the thumbs up at her manicure

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Anna is going through a major transition these days with breaking the long habit of sucking her thumb. She has done amazingly well with literally no slip-ups since seeing the doctor (actually an orofacial myologist) about this over four weeks ago. Today was a milestone because she had completed her calendar – with stickers filled in for every day and night she has spent without sucking her thumb. So, as a reward Marcy took Anna to get a manicure. And this was the first time that Anna had ever been able to get all 10 fingers done. Previously, we had always not included Anna’s left thumb because that was the one she sucked. It was a big deal for Anna to get all ten fingers done today.

To close out a great long weekend we all gathered around the TV this evening to watch the women’s World Cup Final. We all delighted to see the US team win – Jude most of all. He watched every minute of the game and was very excited with the win.

Fathers Day and Our First Swim Meet

Jude and Anna in the hammock on our back porch

Jude and Anna in the hammock on our back porch

This week’s post covers the past two weeks. Last Sunday was Father’s Day and it was a lovely day. We went for a bike ride and played some tennis in the morning and in the afternoon I watched the US Open golf. The kids even joined me for an hour or so. Then Marcy cooked a great dinner which we all ate outside.

Playing golf in the backyard on Father's Day

Playing golf in the backyard on Father’s Day

Having dinner outside on Father's Day

Having dinner outside on Father’s Day

Robyn and Mark bought Marcy and I a hammock for our wedding over 10 years ago. We have been meaning to use it and so when I was away in London before Father’s Day Marcy bought a hammock stand and put it up on our back porch. It was my Father’s Day present and it is so incredibly comfortable. I have to often compete with the kids as to who gets to use it.

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Jude and Graham (our next door neighbor) wrestle in the front yard

One of the good things about this summer so far is that the kids have been spending a lot of time with our neighbors. Every day we are home they play together and for the most part they all get along great. Graham is six and looks up to Jude, but Anna also joins in most games and loves spending time with them. It is a shame they are going to be moving soon.

Jude getting ready for his next race at the swim meet

Jude getting ready for his next race at the swim meet

Today was the first ever swim meet for Jude and Anna. They both wanted to join the JCC swim team and so they have been going to training a couple of afternoons every week. They were both a little apprehensive about their first swim meet but they ended up having a great time. They both swam well, tried hard and enjoyed themselves.

Anna in her freestyle race at her first swim meet

Anna in her freestyle race at her first swim meet

School Holidays Begin With a Mountain Spartan Race

Anna with her Kindergarten graduation cape

Anna with her Kindergarten graduation cape

Tuesday of this past week was a special day for Anna – her graduation from Kindergarten. It seems like she has been in Morning Glory forever. She has actually been a student there the past two years but with Jude in this same class the two years before that she has been around this class for four years. But she was thrilled to be moving on to first grade – she is ready.

They had a beautiful graduation ceremony where each child sat in the front of the class and showed off the weavings they had made. The teacher then told a few anecdotes and gave each child a “graduation cape”.

On a Jude and Daddy date hiking on Green Mountain

On a Jude and Daddy date hiking on Green Mountain

Jude had one extra day of school, finishing on Wednesday. Then, on the first day of summer vacation I woke Jude up early (at 5:30am) and went on a Jude and Daddy date. It was Jude’s choice to do this hike and he loved it. We did an hour hike around Green Mountain and then to breakfast at Snooze, Jude’s favorite breakfast place. The hike was gorgeous. With all the rain we have had the mountain was truly green and the wildflowers were out in full force.

On Friday we headed up to Keystone for the weekend. It was our first visit for several months and the reason for going up was that Marcy was doing a Spartan Race in Breckenridge on Saturday. A Spartan race is an obstacle course that involves ropes, walls, water, mud, fire and this case snow and some pretty severe elevation changes. Marcy and her friends were doing the “Beast” – the longest course at almost 13 miles and 30+ obstacles.

Rachel, Marcy & Tina - the night before the "Beast"

Rachel, Marcy & Tina – the night before the “Beast”

Friday night we all went up to the top of Keystone Mountain for dinner and to enjoy the views. It was the first time they had Friday Afternoon Club this year and with pretty decent weather we gave it a try. While it was a little chilly the kids as well as the grownups all had a great time.

Jude running in the Kids Spartan race

Jude running in the Kids Spartan race

Saturday, it was over to Breckenridge for the Spartan Race. Jude and Anna were enrolled in the kids race which was a half-mile version of the Spartan obstacle course. They had to maneuver over fences, crawl through the mud, throw a spear and run. Jude was very determined to do well and he ended up coming in sixth place for his race. Anna also did very well in the race.

Anna going over an obstacle during the kids Spartan race

Anna going over an obstacle during the kids Spartan race

Anna, Griffin, Jude and Brody after the kids Spartan race

Anna, Griffin, Jude and Brody- muddy kids after their Spartan race

We had Marcy’s friend, Tina, and her family staying with us for the weekend. Their kids also went in the Spartan kids race. After their race we saw the mom’s off on the Beast and then we all went over to Peak 7 at Breckenridge where they have the kids area. The race is not much of a spectator sport as everyone goes off up the mountain on the obstacle course and we knew we wouldn’t see Marcy and her friends again for several hours. So, we had lunch and the kids went on the roller coaster there before lightning closed everything down.

Marcy gives Anna & Jude thumbs up just before she finishes the Beast

Marcy gives Anna & Jude thumbs up just before she finishes the Beast

We then went to the finish line of the Spartan course and waited. After about an hour or so we spotted Marcy coming in looking pretty good considering everything she had been through. The kids and I cheered her on over the last few obstacles, which were all extremely challenging. Marcy just got done when the race had a long lightning delay. So, we didn’t see Tina and Rachel for some time.

Eventually, everyone made it in and we had some elated but very tired racers. I was really proud of Marcy. She had been feeling a little under the weather the couple of days before the race but she came through the race feeling strong. I am sure she will be sore for a few days but she had a blast and wants to do it again next year.

Tina and Marcy - what an effort

Tina and Marcy – what an effort

Rock Climbing, Hiking and Football

Anna on the climbing wall at REI

Anna doing great on the climbing wall at REI

We had quite the active weekend. It started off on Saturday morning with a trip to REI. I have been in need a new bike for some time and now that I am biking to work quite a lot I decided it was time.

One of the great things about a trip to REI is their climbing wall. Members get to climb for free and we have been wanting to do this for a long time. Jude and Anna both did really well on the wall. Anna eschewed the beginner route, going for something more challenging, and she still made it all the way to the top. Jude needed a climb a little more challenging than Anna and he made it up with relative ease.

We watched Star Wars (Episode IV) on Saturday afternoon and then we all hopped on our bikes (I had my new bike) to ride to a friends party.

Anna and Jude running down the Mt. Galbraith trail just outside Golden

Anna and Jude running down the Mt. Galbraith trail just outside Golden

Sunday we decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather and head to the mountains for a family hike – our first one of the year. It was just under a 3 mile hike and the kids did really well. They had enough energy that they actually ran the whole way back to the car – we couldn’t keep up with them.

Jude showing his determination trying to score a touchdown

Jude showing his determination trying to score a touchdown

After hiking we drove straight to Jude’s flag football game. It was his last game of the season and it was his best game ever. He scored one rushing touchdown and would have had another if not for a poor refereeing decision. But most importantly he enjoyed himself and he said he would like to play again in the fall.

Gray blankie has been relegated to the window sill in our closet

Gray blankie has been relegated to the window sill in our closet

The biggest news of the week was Anna’s appointment with the speech therapist – we went to see her to start the process of weening Anna from her thumb sucking. This person was someone recommended by Anna’s kindergarten teacher and she was amazing. Since the appointment Anna has not sucked her thumb once. Not even for a second. She gave Anna a whole kit of stuff to support her in this process and Anna has had to call her every morning to check in with her.

While it has been a difficult process for Anna, she has done remarkably well. I expected going cold turkey like this after 6 1/2 years of sucking her thumb would mean many sleepless nights. But that has not been the case. This is why we have the photo of blankie here because while Anna is going through this process blankie needs to be out of sight.

Finally…Some Decent Weather

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Anna watering our new grass

After what has seemed like weeks of rain we finally had some decent weather this week. While it has still rained a little pretty much every day the weather was been warming up and the mornings this weekend were simply perfect.

On Saturday we had a morning tea at school with Anna’s new first grade class for next year. We know the teacher, Miss Brittany, quite well because she has been one of Anna’s teachers in her kindergarten class. Marcy and I both think she is great, which is important when you consider that Anna could well be spending eight years with this teacher.

Yesterday afternoon we went on our first family bike ride to get ice cream of the year and then we stumbled on the Park Hill Arts Festival on our way home where Anna got the pretty dress you see above.

Today we went to church for the first time ever as a family. We have a local Unity church just three blocks away and have been wanting to try it out for some time. While the service was nice it was very much an older person’s church so we probably won’t be back.

This afternoon Jude had two football games so we all went down to watch him play there. And then our friend Wendy came over with her daughter Laura and we went to ice cream again. Wendy and Laura are spending four weeks in Australia starting in June so we chatted about good things to do and see.

Celebrating Jude’s Half-Birthday

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Celebrating Jude’s 8 1/2 birthday at Cake Crumbs

We decided to stick close to home this holiday weekend without really any plans. The highlight so far, at least as far as Jude is concerned, was his 8 1/2 year “birthday” on Saturday. We always celebrate half-birthdays with a treat of some kind but no presents. Jude decided he wanted to go to Cake Crumbs, our favorite local bakery for cup cakes.

This weekend we have spent a lot of time in the yard. Marcy has been doing a huge amount of work weeding and getting our backyard in order. Jude and Anna have been helping some as well although they usually gravitate towards the play set after a while.

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Anna enjoying the show at Casa Bonita on our Anna and Daddy date

Yesterday I went on an “Anna and Daddy date”, something we had not done in a while. I decided to take her to this place called Casa Bonita which is kind of an institution here in Denver. It is a very popular restaurant, not for the food at all, but for the kids entertainment. They have an indoor diving pool, with cliff divers, plays and all kinds of fun shows for kids.

It is a very popular place and I didn’t realize how popular it was until we arrived. The line to get in was easily 100 yards long. But we decided to wait it out (it was well over an hour before we got our seat) and Anna was glad we did. She loved the cliff divers who really put on a great diving show.

We continue to get a lot of rain so we have been trying to get outside when it is nice. Today, we managed some soccer and a playground session but the whole weekend and for that matter the last couple of weeks have been much wetter than normal.

Testifying Before Congress and the End of Soccer Season

On Capitol Hill about to testify before a Congressional committe

On Capitol Hill about to testify before a Congressional committe

There was a big day for me this past week. I was invited to testify before the House Small Business Committee on Capitol Hill and so I flew to Washington DC for 24 hours this week. It was quite an enjoyable session with the congressmen and women eager to learn about peer to peer lending.

After seemingly just getting started, the soccer season is now over. The Spring season is only six weeks and with us being away for two of them and then some washout weekends we only really had a couple of weekends of soccer. But they tried to make up for it this weekend with soccer both days. Both Jude and Anna liked playing with their team again.

Anna's soccer team with Coach Matt showing off their trophies

Anna’s soccer team with Coach Matt showing off their trophies

While we were away in Sydney we had some work done in our backyard. We finally had a play set put in after talking about it for years. When the weather has been nice they have both played on it a lot since we got back.

Jude, Anna & Lily on the new play set

Jude, Anna & Lily on the new play set

We have had some visitors this weekend. Lily and Baba caught the train out from Iowa to come for a short visit. They have trooped around to all the soccer games this weekend but also played quite a bit together at home. And tomorrow Jude and Anna are not going to school so they can be with their cousin and grandma for the day.

Lily, Jude and Anna being a little goofy at our kitchen table

Lily, Jude and Anna doing some drawing before bed at our kitchen table

Crappy Weather and Mother’s Day

Jude catching a wave on the boogie board

Jude catching a wave on the boogie board

This week started in Sydney with more crappy weather. The last few days there we hardly saw the sun at all and we had several days of rain so very little beach time. Monday was our last day and we were determined to get out and enjoy the beach. I organized with a good friend of mine to borrow some boogie boards for the day and off to the beach we went even though it was 65 degrees and cloudy. And the water was cold. But the kids enjoyed it, both catching some good waves.

Anna ready to go on the boogie board

Anna ready to go on the boogie board

The clouds finally departed late on Monday, just in time to see a spectacular full moon rise up out of the ocean. Then, on Tuesday morning we awoke to beautiful sunshine but we had a morning flight so we couldn’t enjoy it at all. The flight back went about as well as we could hope and Jude and Anna were very happy to be home.

The view from our apartment of a spectacular moonrise over the ocean

The view from our apartment of a spectacular moonrise over the ocean on our last night in Sydney

Our luck with bad weather continues. As Sydney enjoyed glorious sunshine after we left when we got to Denver it has been rain, rain, rain….and snow. We awoke this morning to 4″ of snow on the ground. We have barely seen the sun in two weeks.

As today was Mother’s Day we made the best of it. The whole family went to a yoga class and then we went and got donuts. This afternoon we spent at home and this evening Marcy wanted to go out to our favorite local restaurant, Chop Shop, which is just two blocks from our house.

Mother's Day dinner at Chop Shop

Mother’s Day dinner at Chop Shop