Hiking, Canoeing and Mini Golf

On a hike near Genessee

On a hike near Genessee

I had a long business trip these past couple of weeks. We had a conference in Shanghai and then I spent a week in London last week returning home late on Friday night. So, Marcy has been a single mom for most of the last two weeks. She organized lots of fun activities for the kids. They went hiking on this great hike by a river 30 minutes from home and the kids stopped to play in the water and check out the wildlife along the way. They also played mini golf with Anna’s school friend, Reed to celebrate his 9th birthday.

Playing mini golf with Reed

Playing mini golf with Reed

This weekend we had a quiet day yesterday. Anna and Marcy rode their bikes to the farmers market while I stayed home with Jude and watched the British Open golf. In the afternoon we went kayaking and canoeing in the Wash Park lake.

Canoeing and kayaking in Wash Park lake

Canoeing and kayaking in Wash Park lake

After dinner last night Anna decided to go skateboarding down our street in her pajamas.

Anna skateboarding in front of our house

Anna skateboarding in front of our house

Today we decided to go hiking again. We went down to a beautiful park southwest of Denver called Roxborough Park. We hiked to the top of Carpenter Peak, the highest point in the park. It was a solid hike, over six miles round trip and both kids did well.

Jude and me atop Carpenter Peak in Roxborough Park

Jude and me atop Carpenter Peak in Roxborough Park

Iowa, Copenhagen, Wales and England

An iconic canal in Copenhagen

An iconic canal in Copenhagen

It has been quite a busy three weeks in the Renton household. We drove to Iowa over two weeks ago right after the kids finished camp on Friday afternoon. Well, we actually spent the night in Kearney, Nebraska on our way. Then I was in Iowa less than a day because on Sunday morning I flew out to Copenhagen where I was attending a conference. I was there for three days and then flew to England where I met up with Marcy.

Near the summit of Mt Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales

Near the summit of Mt Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales

She flew out of Iowa on Tuesday and met up with me in Cambridge on Wednesday night. I had a conference at the University of Cambridge and we had a dinner there and then a conference on Thursday. On Thursday night we drove to Wales where we stayed at a B&B for a couple of nights. We hiked around the coast of Wales on Friday and then on Saturday we climbed Mt Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales at 3,400 feet. Given that you start the hike from close to sea level it was quite a challenging day.

Marcy outside Buckingham Palace

Marcy outside Buckingham Palace in London

After the hike we drove to London where we stayed right near Trafalgar Square for a couple of nights. Sunday we wandered all over London, visiting many of the major sights. We took in Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and we walked along the Thames for most of the afternoon. It was an unusually beautiful day in London, warm and sunny so we made the most of it.

Near Tower Bridge

Near Tower Bridge

Monday morning we flew back to Des Moines to rejoin the kids. While they had had a great time with their grandparents and cousins they were really happy to see us. The weather was warm so we spent a lot of time in the backyard by the pool as we normally do and the kids staged a serious water balloon fight one day.

A cousins water balloon fight

A cousins water balloon fight

I played some golf with Nathan on July 4 we had some sparklers in the backyard then we went and saw some of the local fireworks. On our last full day Baba and Grandpa took all five grandkids to Perkins for breakfast. This is a treat for Jude and Anna as they are order “Rainbow Pancakes” which is basically pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles.

The kids love to go to Perkins for breakfast

The kids love to go to Perkins for breakfast, look at those pancakes!

It was over all too quickly and on Thursday we were driving back home. After so much time away we had a pretty low key weekend here. We spent a lot of time at home but today we did venture up to the mountains for a hike which was fun. And this afternoon we all went to the local putt putt for some golf.

Hiking near Conifer, a solid 4+ mile hike

Hiking near Conifer, a solid 4+ mile hike

Father’s Day 2017

Anna showing off her new haircut

Anna showing off her new haircut

This week was another full week of camps for the kids. Jude had another Challenger Sports soccer camp, this time it was all day and the coaches were all visiting from Brazil. Anna had a half day soccer camp and then art camp in the afternoon. I asked Jude after two full weeks of soccer camps if he was sick of soccer and he said no. He would happily do it all summer long I think. Anna really enjoyed both her camps as well.

On Saturday, Anna got a haircut that you can see above, she just loved it and we did too. While Marcy and Anna were at the hairdressers Jude and I were wandering around Cherry Creek. We went to the farmers market and also checked out Restoration Hardware where Jude took a liking to some of the stuffy chairs.

Jude relaxing at Restoration Hardware

Jude relaxing at Restoration Hardware

Today was Father’s Day and I had a wonderful day. The kids gave me the sweetest cards at breakfast this morning and Anna made a special Happy Father’s Day banner at the bottom of the stairs. Then we went off to play some golf. We played the 9-hole course at CommonGround, where kids golf free. It was nice to enjoy the morning with everyone on the golf course. Jude is so competitive but Anna can hold her own for the most part.

Playing golf at CommonGround on Father's Day

Playing golf at CommonGround on Father’s Day

For the last year or so Jude and Anna have had a strained relationship at times. We are all working on it but it can be tough going some times. So, when they agreed to hold hands for a photo on Father’s Day I had to take them up on it.

Jude and Anna in the back yard on Father's Day morning

Jude and Anna in the back yard on Father’s Day morning

Jude’s First USA World Cup Soccer Game

At Jude's first ever World Cup Qualifying game featuring the US team

At Jude’s first ever World Cup Qualifying game featuring the US team

The highlight of the week, at least for Jude and I, was seeing the US men’s soccer team play a World Cup Qualifying match in Denver. A couple of weeks ago Jude was looking at the USA team schedule and noticed they were playing in Denver. So, we looked online for tickets and there was some for sale. We purchased two tickets and headed to the game on Thursday night.

I don’t think I have ever seen Jude more excited to see a game. We parked about a quarter mile away from the stadium and Jude wanted us to sprint to get to the stadium in time (we were running a little late). We made it to our seats in five minutes, just as the US team was coming out on to the field. It was a great game with the US winning 2-0 over Trinidad and Tobago and obviously Jude was thrilled. I think it will be an evening he remembers for a long, long time.

This weekend began a little early with Anna’s gymnastic performance. After a week of camp Anna’s group did a performance for parents. Anna did really well, especially considering that for much of the week she was injured with her hand and knee.

Anna playing the bean bag toss at the farm

Anna playing the bean bag toss at the farm

Yesterday Anna had a birthday party with a school friend and last night we went out to a farm south of Denver. It was Zuma’s Rescue Ranch and they were doing a fundraiser. This is a farm that Anna’s friend Reed has been going to for some time and they invited us along. It was a beautiful ranch and we saw the sun set over the fields and foothills. And we played quite the game of bean bag toss.

Anna giving it a swing as Jude looks on

Anna giving it a swing as Jude looks on

Today we had a quiet morning but this afternoon I took Jude and Anna to the local par 3 course which is right by their school. We had a surprisingly good time. They both enjoyed it and each had some good hits. Jude, ever the competitive one, won the day but Anna held her own throughout. Anna wants some new clubs now which is fair enough – she only has a putter and a seven iron.

Searching for crawdads in Harvard Gulch

Searching for crawdads in Harvard Gulch

Right next to the golf course is a creek that the kids have been to a few times. Jude really wanted to go looking for crawdads and so they brought their nets and waded through the creek. It is only a five minute walk from school so they have been here a few times with their class. They didn’t find much although did manage to bring home a dead crab.

Summer Break Begins and Another Soccer Tournament

School out for summer! Anna with some classmates on the last day of school

School’s out for summer! Anna with some classmates on the last day of school

The kids have been literally counting down the days until school got out for over a month. And this past Friday the day finally arrived. Jude and Anna are both very excited about the summer and are happy to be done with school. Anna celebrated with a class party at a neighborhood and Jude’s class had a picnic in the park.

Jude with the team trophy after winning their soccer tournament

Jude with the team trophy and his medal after winning their soccer tournament

This weekend was mostly about soccer. Jude’s soccer team had a tournament to close their season. They have been improving steadily throughout the year and they really put it together for this tournament. They went through undefeated and dominated their opponent in the final winning 11-0. Jude scored three goals over the weekend including a good penalty kick in the final.

Jude's team and coaches after their final win

Jude’s team and coaches after their final win

On Saturday afternoon/evening we had a block party. We blocked off the street and everyone contributed food and drink. While we have met a few of the neighbors over the last six months it was good to meet many more. What is good is that pretty much all the kids on our block are between the ages of 5 and 12 so there is a lot of potential for playmates, although there are more boys than girls.

Anna and Jude in a scooter race

Anna and Jude in a scooter race – they are actually going quite fast

Part of the evening was an impromptu scooter race with some of the neighbor kids. It started off as just a friendly race and became quite competitive as the afternoon wore on. After literally a couple of hours of races, we were about to call it quits and then Anna has a pretty bad fall. She scraped her knee and hand pretty badly and was in considerable pain. It was a bummer of an end to a great day.

Anna wearing the new dress she made in sewing class

Anna wearing the new dress she made in sewing class

Anna has been taking sewing classes for several months now and she loves it. She can operate a sewing machine quite well now and she has made all kinds of great things in her classes. This past week she was very excited because she made her very first dress – she designed and sewed it together. Of course, she showed it off on the second last day of school this week.

Chickens, a Street Fair, a Play and Baseball

Anna taking a liking to the Briere's chickens

Anna taking a liking to the Briere’s chickens

We had nothing much planned for Memorial Day weekend but it ended up being quite a full and enjoyable weekend. We started off with an impromptu dinner gathering with our new neighbors. There are two families who have kids around the same age as ours and we have gotten to know them quite well over the last six months. We invited everyone over here for burgers and beers. It was a lovely way to kick off the weekend.

Saturday morning was all about a big soccer match in the UK. Arsenal was playing Chelsea in the FA Cup final and Jude was super excited to watch it. He invited a couple of his school friends over, donned his Arsenal jersey and sat glued to the TV for a couple of hours. The goods news is that Arsenal won 2-1, Jude was thrilled.

We also went and saw some chickens at Phil & Denise’s house. They have had chickens for years and told us they wanted to offload a couple. We had been talking about getting chickens on and off over the years but this weekend we decided to take the plunge. Marcy ordered a chicken coop and so next weekend we will get our chickens.

Marcy and Anna saw the play the Secret Garden downtown

Marcy and Anna saw the play The Secret Garden downtown

Sunday morning we decided to walk down to Devil’s Food for breakfast. We had not all gone out to breakfast since we moved in and Devil’s Food used to be one of our favorite places when we lived in Wash Park many years ago. It was still really good.

After that Marcy took Anna downtown on the train to see a play called The Secret Garden. Meanwhile Jude and I went to play Putt Putt at our local course. Jude is getting much better and we had an epic game where I only just beat him. He loves a good competition.

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Jude on the bungee at the South Gaylord Street Fair

Today we hung out at home in the morning and then went to the South Gaylord Street Fair in the afternoon. They have all sorts of kids activities and then of course, there is the cotton candy and sno-cones as well. Jude and Anna took turns at the bungee and were very lucky to get their turn in before the rains came. It poured for about half an hour which put a damper on the fair.

Jude and Anna playing a focused game of baseball in the park

Jude and Anna playing a focused game of baseball in the park

The weather cleared up and Jude wanted to go play baseball in the park. We just bought a bat and we have some gloves and a ball now, all from our local used sports gear store, so we went down to the park to play our first game of family baseball. It was a lot of fun and a great way to end the weekend.

Midnight Oil at the Paramount Theatre

Midnight Oil at the Paramount Theatre

Finally, I must mention our night out this week to see Midnight Oil. This was a band I grew up with and saw many times in Sydney. They were a big part of my youth and I hadn’t seen them in over 15 years. Marcy bought great tickets, we booked a baby sitter, and we went out downtown to the Paramount Theatre. It was fantastic. I first saw them live 33 years ago and they still have the same great energy today.

Just the Three of Us

Playing Jude's new table baseball game

Playing Jude’s new table baseball game

For the first time in at least five years Marcy went away for the weekend. She attended a health and fitness conference in Austin. So, Thursday night she left and spent a long weekend away. So, it was just the three of us this weekend.

To top this all off Anna was sick on Thursday and had to come home from school. There was strep throat going around her class and sure enough she awoke on Friday morning feeling lousy with a really sore throat. She obviously didn’t go to school, so I took her to the doctor and sure enough she had strep. So, we had a pretty low key day Friday which was good considering the weather – it was a cold and snowy day.

Enjoying chocolate sorbet at Glacier

Enjoying chocolate sorbet at Glacier

Saturday Anna was feeling much better so after a quiet morning playing Jude’s new table baseball game we all ventured off on a bike ride. First to Chipotle for lunch and then to their favorite ice cream place, Glacier. It was quite the ride, probably 6-8 miles in all and Anna was pooped afterwards.

Marcy had recently bought a foosball table that was on sale and it arrived this weekend. So, Anna and I spent several hours putting it all together and it was ready to go on Sunday morning. We played several games on that today. We walked down to lunch at the Gaylord block and then we bought a baseball glove for Anna. We bought Jude one a couple of weeks ago so Anna really wanted one to. We then went to the park to play catch.

Our final fun part of the weekend was a visit to the local putt-putt golf place – we took one of the neighbor kids who was playing with Anna and Jude today. Overall, we had a nice weekend although the kids missed Marcy a lot.

Mother’s Day and Two School Field Trips

Jude and one of his school friends at Bent's Fort

Jude and one of his school friends at Bent’s Fort

This was an unusual week. Jude had a two night field trip with his class to Bent’s Fort, on the Santa Fe Trail, the oldest fort in Colorado dating back to 1833. Jude’s class has been studying Colorado history and they have read about this fort. So, the class took a field trip down to La Junta in southeast Colorado which is the closest town to this fort. Marcy accompanied Jude along with several other parents. They all slept at the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta, and with 24 kids and 10 adults in one large space, both Marcy and Jude arrived home a little worn out. Thankfully we had a quiet weekend to recover.

Anna on the class field trip to White Ranch in Golden

Anna on the class field trip to White Ranch Park in Golden

So, I was at home with Anna, it was just the two of us. Coincidentally, Anna had a field trip on Thursday of this week and I accompanied her class – the first time I had been on a field trip with her class. The class went on a hike to White Ranch Park which is near Golden. We did a solid 4-mile hike and then had lunch back at the trailhead. Anna did great, she even ran some of the hike both up and down.

Playing tennis on Mother's Day

Playing tennis on Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day and it was a gorgeous weather. We did a ton of yard work – weeding, mowing, pulling dandelions and just spending time outside. I bought Jude a baseball mitt this weekend so we spent a lot of time throwing the baseball as well. Then this afternoon we went on a bike ride around the park and we played another family tennis match at the local courts. It ended with a lovely sushi dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

MayFest and The Last Soccer Weekend

Jude walking around the Maypole at the school MayFest celebration

Jude walking around the Maypole at the school MayFest celebration

Friday was a big afternoon at school. It started at 2pm with the school assembly where the kids all performed for the parents. There was a variety of performances, from reciting poetry to singing and dancing. Then there was MayFest from 3pm – 6pm with lots of fun activities for the kids including walking around the Maypole.

Anna made herself a floral headband at MayFest

Anna made herself a floral headband at MayFest

I missed both the afternoon festivities because I was flying back from London but I did get to the main event which was the high school concert. This started at 6pm and involved the 3rd through 5th graders as well as the high school performing with their string instruments. Jude’s class got to participate in Ode to Joy with the high schoolers and they did a great job.

I bought Jude a genuine Arsenal jersey in England

I brought a genuine Arsenal jersey back from England for Jude

This weekend was mostly about soccer. Jude had two matches on Saturday and one on Sunday. They won all three quite easily – the team has really come together well and they are now in first place in their division. This marked the last weekend of their games and they will find out the final standings after next weekend. Anna had one game on Saturday morning and she still has a couple of weeks to go.

I bought Jude an Arsenal jersey on this trip – he wanted Mesud Ozil, No. 11 for Arsenal and I had to go to the stadium in North London to get it. Anna wanted a book on the Queen which I got from a local bookstore.

A Spring Storm and Ninja Warriors

Anna in her hyena outfit for her school play

Anna in her hyena outfit for her school play

On Friday afternoon I left work early to head to school for Anna’s second grade play. It was called, “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?” and the kids were all excited about performing it for the parents. They had already done several performances for other grades in the school and this was their finale. Anna did really well and enjoyed acting as a hyena on the prowl.

Anna showing her snowboarding skills on the sledding hill by our house

Anna showing her snowboarding skills on the sledding hill by our house

They had been talking about this Saturday snow storm all week here in Denver. On Friday night we had a parents night with the fourth grade. It had started snowing by the time we left the party and it continued to come down all night and throughout the day on Saturday. Soccer was obviously canceled so we spent most of the day at home.

As happens most of the time after a snowstorm here we awoke on Sunday to beautiful clear skies. Many of the neighborhood kids had gathered at the sledding hill by our house and had sleds and snowboards out. Anna put her ski pants on over her nice dress and joined them for about an hour. Jude decided to stay home to watch the Arsenal game on TV, and save his energy for the main event of the day: ninjas.

Jude and David enjoying themselves on the obstacle course

Jude and David enjoying themselves on the obstacle course

Sunday afternoon was spent at DU in their main area. The Wolfpack Ninja Warriors were in town and they had lessons, demonstrations and a competition. Basically, it is an obstacle course with all kinds of challenging exercises. Marcy signed up Jude and Anna for the kids program and some of their classmates joined in as well. We all walked over from our house to the arena. They all had a great time doing the obstacles. Jude was particularly obsessed with this one climbing wall where you had to run and jump to try and get to the top. He spent literally an hour non stop on this exercise.

Jude focused on making it up the wall

Jude focused on making it up the wall

Anna had two friends from school there who actually watched the TV show and who knew many of the pro athletes. They recognized many people and all the stars were gracious enough to pose for photos with the girls. Anna also saw the person she met when she went to a demonstration about a year ago.

Anna showing her strength and skill on the climbing log

Anna showing her strength and skill on the climbing log