A Full Week in Sydney

On the Manly Ferry into Circular Quay

On the Manly Ferry into Circular Quay

We have taken advantage of the beach every day this week. The weather has been pretty good for the most part so we have made a point of spending as much time at the beach as we can. But we have also spent time doing other things.

Lunch at the Sydney Oyster Bar

Lunch at the Sydney Oyster Bar

We all love catching the Manly Ferry into the city. It is a half hour ride with some of the nicest views in Sydney, particularly of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We spent half a day in the city walking around the Botanic Gardens and then heading to our favorite lunch place, the Sydney Oyster Bar which is right on the water near the Opera House.

Watching the Australian Soccer Team beat Honduras to make the World Cup

Watching the Australian Soccer Team beat Honduras to make the World Cup

A couple of weeks ago Jude was tooling around on the ESPN app and we noticed that the qualifying game for the World Cup was going to be in Sydney while we were there. We went to a World Cup qualifying game for the US in Denver earlier in the year but this was a big game in Sydney, the final qualifying game. The winner got to go to the World Cup next year, the loser did not. It was a very exciting game but Australia came out victorious in the end, 3-1. Jude and I both had a great time.

Anna showing her surfing skills

Anna showing her surfing skills

On Thursday the Miers kids came to visit and they brought their old surfboard, this was the same board that we borrowed when we were living here for six months in 2012. Anna wanted to go out so both Alicia and Emily went out with her and helped her catch some waves. She did well, getting up a few times and catching many waves with their help. We also bought some boogie boards for the surf and Anna has taken a liking to that as well.

Out with my old college friends

Out with my old college friends

As I do an every trip I organize a gathering with my old college friends. This time we met up in the city on Friday night at my favorite Sydney night spot, the Opera Bar, right by the Opera House. It was a very enjoyable evening catching up with everyone.

The entire Renton clan together for Robyn & Mark's engagement party

The entire Renton clan together for Robyn & Mark’s engagement party

Back in August I noticed a post on Facebook that my sister Robyn was engaged. I called her immediately and found out the great news. Her partner of 20+ years had popped the question (not sure what took him so long :-)). They had their engagement party at the Baulkham Hills Sports Club and my Dad was able to make it so we had everyone there. Mark’s extended family was all there as well.

Anna getting friendly with one of Robyn and Mark's horses

Anna getting friendly with Gally one of Robyn and Mark’s horses

After the engagement party lunch we drove out to Robyn and Mark’s farm out near Bargo. The kids had been really looking forward to this visit, they are very fond of their aunt and uncle and they love all the animals. Unfortunately, the horse they used to ride passed away a while ago and the other horses are not suitable for riding by young kids. So, they had to be satisfied with just petting the horses.

Jude petting Bud, their young and frisky horse

Jude petting Bud, their young and frisky horse

Our First Weekend in Sydney

Hitting the beach on our first day in Sydney

Anna and Jude hitting the beach on our first day in Sydney

On Thursday afternoon we left Denver for our annual trip to Sydney. The kids were super excited about this trip, particularly about spending time on the beach and with their little cousin Sarah.

The now traditional visit to mum's grave on our first morning

The now traditional visit to mum’s grave on our first morning

After an uneventful trip we landed in Sydney on Saturday morning their time (still Friday afternoon in Denver). We rented a car and headed straight for the cemetery where my mother is buried. We have done this every visit since she passed away in 2014 and it nice to spend some time there honoring and remembering my mum. It still feels strange that we don’t get to see her on these visits.

Anna, Sarah and Jude

Anna, Sarah and Jude

Saturday afternoon my brother and his family came over to our place at Manly. Anna said the thing she was most excited about for this trip was seeing her cousin Sarah, who is almost three. Both Jude and Anna enjoyed playing with her and then we all decided to go for a walk along the beach and to dinner.

Today, we went to visit my dad in the morning at the nursing home. He has aged in the year since we last saw him but he was in a good mood when we saw him. We sat and chatted with him for a while and I could see that cognitively he has declined a bit in the past year. But he is not doing badly for 91.

Visiting my father, Grandpa Jack, at the nursing home

Visiting my father, Grandpa Jack, at the nursing home

This afternoon we spent some more time on the beach and then went to visit an old friend from high school and his family. They have a boy just a year younger than Jude and they had a blast playing on the tennis court there. Anna played with their second eldest girl who is about three years older. They both want to go back.

Halloween and a Cello Recital

Reed and Anna about to go Trick or Treating in our neighborhood

Reed and Anna about to go Trick or Treating in our neighborhood

Tuesday was Halloween night and the kids were excited to get into their costumes and head out trick or treating. Anna dressed up as a huntress and Reed created a homemade plague doctor outfit which was truly impressive. Jude went his own separate way over to his friend’s house for trick or treating. They both scored an impressive stash of candy but like we have done every year they were allowed to keep a few pieces and the switch witch came and took the rest in exchange.

The Grim Reaper (Jude) and Santi ready to hit the neighborhood

The Grim Reaper (Jude) and Blockhead (Santi) ready to hit the neighborhood on Halloween

This weekend we were up early again for Jude’s soccer game, his last one of the season. His team lost against the white Rapids team but Jude played quite well. He will hopefully find out soon whether or not he moves up to white next season.

Anna and me at the Air Force Falcons football game

Anna and me at the Air Force Falcons football game

After Jude’s game I went on an Anna and Daddy date, something we had not done in a while. Anna has shown some interest in the Air Force Academy so I decided to take her to a football game there. We went and saw the Air Force Falcons take on the Army Black Knights although football was only of secondary interest to Anna. She enjoyed the pre-game entertainment the highlight of which was an Air Force jet flying very low over the stadium. We left at half time and went to the Visitor Center there which was nestled right up against the mountains. The whole campus is just beautiful.

Anna doing a cello recital with her teacher

Anna doing a cello recital with her teacher

Today, we were up early again, this time for Anna’s soccer. She had an indoor tournament at the same place Jude did last weekend. After that we came home briefly and then Anna had her very first cello recital. She was very brave as she was the first student up in front of about 100 people and she did great. She played the song from memory and didn’t miss a note as far as I could tell.

Pumpkins, Soccer and the Group Birthday Party

Jude watching the girls state field hockey championship at All-City Stadium

Jude watching the girls state field hockey championship at All-City Stadium

On Thursday of this week it was cold and a little snowy. But we could hear the announcer at the local stadium, it is less than two blocks away, and Jude rememberd it was the girls State Field Hockey Championship. So, we put on our ski gear and all went over to check it out. It was fun watching the game although Anna and Marcy left at the start of the second half. Jude wanted to stay to the end and it went double overtime and then a penalty shoot-out. There was a decent crowd with lots of high school kids but it was 9:15pm by the time it was all over.

Anna's soccer team after their undefeated season

Anna’s soccer team after their undefeated season

On Friday afternoon we had the Fall Festival at the school with a bunch of fun activities for the kids including a Haunted House. They both got dressed up in their Halloween gear for the occasion. Saturday, as it has been every week for the past two months, was all about soccer. Jude was excited because he got called up to the next level, the “white” team. He has been on the Blue team since he started in competitive soccer over a year ago and he was excited to be moving up a level. He played well and his team won 6-0. in the afternoon Anna’s team came from behind to tie the game and kept their undefeated season intact.

On Saturday night Anna had her very first sleepover with some school friends. She had a little trepidation but was overall excited to go. We did say she could call at any time and she decided to do just that around midnight. She wanted to come home because the other kids would not go to sleep. So, Marcy drove over to get her, luckily it was a short drive. She was back in her bed quickly and slept in until after 9am this morning.

Jude relaxing on the hammock at home with his "sparks" also know as sparkling water

Jude relaxing on the hammock at home with his “sparks” also know as sparkling water

Sunday morning Jude had an indoor soccer tournament at the Rapids new facility. Called futsal, this version of indoor soccer has no walls and is played on artificial turf. Called the Community Cup the entire Rapids U11 league turned out for this game. Jude played on a team with some really great players and they were unlucky not to make it through to the finals.

Anna carving her pumpkin in the kitchen

Anna carving her pumpkin in the kitchen

Today, we finally made it to the pumpkin patch where Jude and Anna picked out their pumpkins. As soon as we got home Anna started work on hers, doing it all by herself. Jude was still into soccer so he went into the backyard and played against the wall most of the afternoon. We did take a break to run around the park. Jude and I actually had a race, it is about half a mile, and he beat me for the first time. While I can still beat him in a sprint he is a faster runner than me now over any kind of distance.

Anna doing Aerial Gymnastics at the birthday party

Anna doing Aerial Gymnastics at the birthday party

In Anna’s class they do group birthday celebrations by season. So, this afternoon the class celebrated the fall birthdays, with five kids including Anna celebrating their birthday. We booked out this aerial gymnastics place which was pretty cool. You get to hang on these silk ropes and go upside down. Anna wants to do it now on a regular basis (and so does Marcy).

Anna and Marcy Go To San Francisco

Anna and Marcy get ready for their bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge

Anna and Marcy get ready for their bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge

Anna turned 9 a couple of weeks ago and like we did with Jude, Anna got to go on a big trip to celebrate. She decided on San Francisco. So, on Friday right after school Marcy and Anna headed to the airport. Anna wanted to ride a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge, so on Saturday morning they rented bikes and did just that.

Anna kicking back on their tandem bike

Anna kicking back on their tandem bike

They ended up on this epic 22 mile bike ride from Fisherman’s Wharf, across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and around to Tiburon. There they caught the ferry right at sunset back to Pier 41.

Sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry

Sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry

Today, they walked to Chinatown where they saw how fortune cookies were made, had freshly made pot stickers and enjoyed the shops. And then they caught the open air bus to see many of the other sites of the city.

Anna with her Chinatown purchases in Golden Gate Park

Anna with her Chinatown purchases in Golden Gate Park

Meanwhile, Jude had a sleepover with a school friend on Friday night. It was strange having the whole house to myself for the first time in over a decade. Saturday, after I picked Jude up we played some soccer in the park and then went to play mini golf.

Jude at the Halloween-themed Colorado Journey mini golf course

Jude at the Halloween-themed Colorado Journey mini golf course

Today, was all about sports. Jude and I watched Arsenal play soccer in the morning. Then he had his soccer match, where he played really well even though his team lost. We came home and watched the Broncos game and then this evening went to our local sports bar to watch the first half of Sunday night football. Jude loved it.

Anna and Jude with their giant fortune cookies from San Francisco

Anna and Jude with their giant fortune cookies from San Francisco

Anna and Marcy returned home tonight from their trip. Anna loved telling us about her adventures and showing off the things she bought including these huge fortune cookies.

School Play and a Four Day Weekend

Anna doing her daily cello practice with a great morning hairdo.

Anna doing her daily cello practice with a great morning hairdo.

It was a short school week with the kids on a four day weekend for Fall break. I was in London for our annual Europe conference and I missed the first snowfall of the season with a couple of inches falling on Monday. We decided not to go away for the long weekend and just have some time at home. But before the weekend, on Thursday night, we went to see Jude’s fifth grade play, The Ramayana. They have been working on it for over a month and it came together quite well. Jude did great. He nailed all his lines and was confident throughout.

Jude doing a monologue in his school play

Jude doing a monologue in his school play

On Friday the kids had a busy day. They went to the zoo in the morning and out to Chatfield Botanic Gardens for the corn maze in the afternoon where they also had some other fun activities. Saturday was soccer day with Jude playing early and Anna playing late. By the time Anna’s game came around it was cold and very windy. I think it was the windiest it has ever been for a soccer game so Anna was dressed for it, while the parents all froze on the sidelines.

Anna playing soccer on a cold and windy day

Anna playing soccer on a cold and windy day

Sunday was a beautiful day, although it started off quite chilly. We had decided to go for a hike but we waited until the afternoon when it was warmer. We found this beautiful hike, less than 30 minutes from our house. It was a solid 5+ mile hike gaining over 1,000 feet of vertical that took over three hours. The kids did great and I found myself not even able to keep up with them on the way down.

Hiking at Mt. Galbraith Park in Golden

Hiking at Mt. Galbraith Park in Golden

We promised the kids ice cream if they completed the hike. So, after dinner we went to Glacier where Jude had his new favorite: a root beer float.

Jude enjoying his root beer float at Glacier

Jude enjoying his root beer float at Glacier

Anna Turns 9!

Singing Happy Birthday to Anna

Reed and Jude singing Happy Birthday to Anna

As usual we had been building up to Anna’s birthday as soon as the month turned to October, Anna’s birthday month. We got an early start to the real celebrations as Marcy baked a carrot cake yesterday and with Reed doing a sleepover at our house we decided to start on cake last night. It was delicious.

Anna woke up early on her birthday and was greeted with lots of presents

Anna woke up early on her birthday and was greeted with lots of presents (it is still dark outside)

We wanted to get an early start on Anna’s birthday because Jude had a soccer game at 9am and Anna wanted to do go-kart racing which also started at 9am. Anna and Reed were up well before dawn with Anna understandably excited. She opened her presents and then it was off to “berries and cream” (Original Pancake House) for breakfast. We used to go here for birthdays when the kids were little but it has been a few years.

Blowing out her pancake candles at breakfast

Blowing out her pancake candles at breakfast

After breakfast we went our separate ways with Anna and Reed heading to Unger Racing for a morning of go-kart racing. They have both done this several times before and it is what Anna really wanted to do on her birthday. They had a blast going around in four different races.

Anna leading with Reed in hot pursuit

Anna leading with Reed in hot pursuit

Unfortunately, I had to leave around lunch time to head to the airport. We have our Europe conference starting in London on Monday and I had to leave. Anna and I were both pretty sad about it but I was grateful to celebrate at least half her birthday with her.

[From Marcy]: In the afternoon Anna had her soccer game where they won the game, and then she got to go home with a teammate for an impromptu playdate.

On Sunday the celebration continued for Anna when a friend invited her to go zip-lining in Castle Rock. It worked out very well, since Jude’s team made it to the tournament final and had a game at 1pm. They played a great game, but lost to come in second place. We went out for ice cream after the game though, and the kids really did have a great time.

Anna Makes Pancakes and the Fifth Grade Play

Anna makes pancakes now all by herself

Anna makes pancakes now all by herself

Anna has been mixing the batter on pancakes for years. But today she did all the steps by herself – she got out all the ingredients, plugged in the griddle and poured the batter on. And of course she flipped. The end result: delicious. Anna likes to cook and we love this newfound skill.

Walking by the Australian Embassy in Washington DC

Walking by the Australian Embassy in Washington DC

I was on a business trip this week to Washington DC and San Francisco speaking at two different events. It is the first time I have ever flown coast to coast, the funniest thing was I flew right over Denver on my way to SF.

Anna getting a cute new look

Anna getting a cute new look

This weekend Jude’s soccer was canceled but Anna had her game and her team had another good win. Then I took Anna to get her haircut where she got a bit of a new look. Very cute in my opinion. Saturday night Marcy and I had a date night – we went to a “Grease” themed school fundraiser at a garage. It was actually really cool with a lot of old 50’s, 60’s and 70’s cars.

Jude and me going through his lines for his fifth grade play

Jude and me going through his lines for his fifth grade play

Today was a quiet day. we stayed home and I even got to read the newspaper. I made some green chili, we went to the gym and watched the Broncos game. Jude had to learn his lines for his school play but, ever the procrastinator, he left it until Sunday night. But we spent an hour helping him practice his lines and by the end of it all he had pretty much memorized everything. Their play is in 10 days.

A Cold and Dreary Weekend

Anna showing Marcy all the little creatures she has made out of clay

Anna showing Marcy all the little people and creatures she has made out of clay

Fall has arrived here in Colorado. We have had snow in the high country and it has been a cold and grey weekend here in Denver. The kids got off school at lunch time on Friday and Jude was invited to a sleepover birthday party so we were a three person household on Friday night.

Both kids had soccer on Saturday morning and it felt like winter sitting there watching them play. We had to split up again as the times clashed so I took Jude this time and Marcy took Anna. They both had good games with Anna setting up a goal and Jude scoring one for the third game in a row.

By the time we got home from soccer it was raining and it pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the weekend. It didn’t really bother us. It was nice to hang out at home and not do much. Anna was into her crafts this weekend spending several hours creating little people and creatures and playing imaginary games with them.

Anna jumping in the rain

Anna jumping in the rain

Anna had her friend Reed over for a playdate and they put together this big Halloween house that Marcy had bought at Michaels. That took them most of the afternoon, then they decided to play in the rain. After Reed went home Anna continued to splash to in the rain. Somehow she pulled out the old paddling pool and put it under the gutter so it filled with water. Then she had a blast just jumping up and down for a few minutes. Needless to say it was straight inside for a hot bath shortly thereafter.

Today, we went to the gym and then watched some football. Jude and Anna both had another playdate this afternoon and I had to go to the airport for a flight to DC.

More Soccer and We Have a Hammock Again

Anna's soccer team celebration

Anna’s soccer team celebration with their trophies

For the second Saturday in a row we had a conflict with the kids soccer. So, this time I went with Anna and Marcy went with Jude. Anna’s team had a hard-fought 1-0 win and then the team went out for a team lunch. The coaches of Anna’s team are awesome. They organized trophies and certificates for all the kids on the team and they had a lovely presentation where each kid was made to feel special.

Anna's soccer team playing on the DU soccer field

Anna’s soccer team playing on the DU soccer field

That night Anna’s team was invited to be ball girls at the DU Women’s soccer game. They were also able to have a short scrimmage on the field during half time. The girls all thought this was really cool and they enjoyed being part of the action. But in the end being a ball girl was not that much fun. It was cold and most of the time they just stood there as the action was elsewhere on the field.

Anna and Reed enjoy the resurrection of the hammock

Anna and Reed enjoy the resurrection of the hammock

Today, we did some work around the house. We organized the garage and then put the hammock up – it has been sitting in our garage since we moved in.

Jude riding the mechanical bull at Jumpstreet

Jude riding the mechanical bull at Jumpstreet

This afternoon I met up with my good friend Rich to watch the Broncos game while Marcy took the kids (including Reed who was over for a play date) to Jumpstreet where they have all kinds of fun activities for kids.