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

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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.

Jude’s First Colorado Rapids Soccer Match

Jude attending his first Colorado Rapids soccer match

Jude attending his first Colorado Rapids soccer match

Jude loves soccer these days. So, I decided to take him to a professional soccer game this weekend. I bought tickets to the Colorado Rapids game on Saturday night where Jude and I both attended our first Rapids game.

Jude loved it. It was a close match, it ended up tied 1-1, and Jude was thrilled to be a part of it. And one of the great things about the game is that behind us was a lovely elderly couple who just loved Jude. So, they gave Jude a Rapids scarf to wear and help cheer on the team.

We had the a typical fall weekend here with lots of sport – soccer and football for Jude and soccer for Anna. A special treat for the kids is that Baba came to visit from Iowa for a few days. There is a grandparents day at school this week that Baba will be attending.

This afternoon, after Jude’s football, we went to check on our house and then on to the Park Hill Fair. There were plenty of neighborhood stores attending and a bounce house for the kids. We enjoyed our favorite gelato from Eis and both Jude and Anna had a snow cone.

Anna loves for snow cone at Park Hill fair

Anna loves her snow cone at Park Hill fair

On Friday night we went back to Benny’s for the first time in many months. It is always so good.

Anna, the little rock star, enjoying drinks at Benny's

Anna, the little rock star, enjoying drinks at Benny’s

Soccer Season Starts and the State Song

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Jude puts some effort into his kickoff

School is back in full swing and now soccer season has begun. Jude has been very excited for the season to start ever since the World Cup and his newfound devotion to the sport. He has had three games now and this past weekend was the first time that his team was evenly matched with another team. It was a great match, Jude scored a goal with his left foot, and the team notched their first victory of the season 5-4.

Anna takes the ball up the field

Anna takes the ball up the field

This is Anna’s second season of soccer and she still seems to like it. This weekend was by far her best game ever. She has always been content to hang back a little and let the other girls score the goals. But not yesterday. She was aggressive and strong and was rewarded with three goals, her first goals ever.

Our two adorable children after their Saturday soccer matches

Our two adorable children after their Saturday soccer matches

Enjoying pizza in our hotel room and temporary home

Enjoying pizza in our hotel room and temporary home

After the Labor Day weekend we moved into our new “home”, the Hyatt House extended stay hotel in the Denver Tech Center. It is actually pretty good as far as hotels go, we have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and it is not cramped but we are staying here far longer than we expected. We thought we would be here two weeks but it now looks like being closer to six weeks as the construction on our home is taking longer than anticipated.

Speaking of our home, we had a picnic dinner there in the back yard on Friday night. They are clearly making progress as you can see from the photo below. But there is still much to be done and it looks we will be back in there in mid to late October.

Construction on our house is progressing

Construction on our house is progressing

This weekend Marcy did her second “mud race”. This is where she gets together with some girlfriends and they do an obstacle course/run that involves going through a lot of mud. This one was called the Dirty Girl and that was how Marcy turned out at the end. She said the race was only ok, not nearly as good as the Spartan race she did in the Spring.

After completing the Dirty Girl race

After completing the Dirty Girl race

Finally, we have been singing the state song quite a lot lately. On our road trip to Mt. Rushmore it was sung dozens of times and the kids will often spontaneously start singing it whenever they hear a state name mentioned in conversation. So, recently Marcy recorded Anna singing the song from start to finish. So adorable.

Back to School and a Trip to Mount Rushmore

Jude on his first day back at school taken in the dark in Keystone

Jude on his first day back at school taken in the dark in Keystone

It has been quite a big week in the Renton household. It started in Keystone as we were winding down our summer vacation. We all thoroughly enjoyed having an extended stay in the mountains and we plan on doing it again next year. We probably would never have done it but for the fact that we were renovating our house. So, as difficult as that process has been and continues to be, it did have the silver lining of forcing us up into the mountains this summer.

It was back to school this week for Jude and Anna. The school moved over the summer, so it was a whole different campus for the kids to get used to. We had to leave bright and early on Jude’s first day. We didn’t want Jude to be late so we left Keystone at 6:30am and made it to school by 8am. While Jude was looking forward to heading back to school, the first day was met with tepid enthusiasm.

Anna on her first day outside the Hyatt Place hotel in Denver

Anna on her first day outside the Hyatt Place hotel in Denver

We decided to stay at a hotel in Denver last week, so on Anna’s first day it was a only a short drive to school. She was very excited to be a Golden Knight this year – this is what they call the kids who are in their second year of kindergarten. She loved her first day.

This weekend we decided to leave Denver and head to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Marcy picked the kids up from school early on Friday and we hit the road. It was just over six hours of driving and we had a few stops on the way so it was dark by the time we got there. We stayed in a cute cabin at a campground just a few miles from Mt. Rushmore. We drove out to see it on Saturday morning. Being Labor Day weekend it was packed. Anna decided she did not want to be there and was very grumpy all morning. We saw the Crazy Horse monument in the afternoon. It still has at least a couple of decades until it is completed and when it is done it will be spectacular.

At least Jude was excited to see Mt. Rushmore

At least Jude was excited to see Mt. Rushmore

On Sunday, we drove south to the town of Hot Springs. Here they have a natural heated pool, heated by the warm springs that gives the town its name. The town also has the largest mammoth archaeological site in the world and we did a tour of that. Jude was mesmerized by a lot of the information and Anna also enjoyed it.

Outside the Mammoth site in Hot Springs, SD

Outside the Mammoth site in Hot Springs, SD

One of the great things about South Dakota is the wildlife. We saw many bison and deer during our time there and we got up close and personal with a large herd that was crossing the road as we were driving back from Hot Springs.

Up close and personal with some bison in South Dakota

Up close and personal with some bison in South Dakota

We enjoyed our little cabin in the woods. We were tucked away in the corner of the campground and it was very peaceful and quiet – especially considering it was Labor Day weekend. The campground had a pool and a putt putt golf course, both of which the kids loved. On our last night we made a campfire and cooked burgers – it was delicious.

Relaxing by our campfire about to start on dinner

Relaxing by our campfire about to start on dinner

Peter Goes to England and China

It has been a very busy last two weeks for me. After returning from Iowa I had three days in Keystone before heading to London for work. I stayed over the weekend to head down to Dover where my good friend from college, Scott Miers, was attempting to swim the English Channel.

It was great to be able to catch up with Scott and his family, who were all over in the UK supporting him. He had trained for several years for this swim and was excited about joining the elite group of channel swimmers. Every morning all the channel swimmers gather in Dover Harbour for a short swim (just 1-2 miles is short for these guys). I joined in despite the freezing temperatures. I lasted about 150 yards.

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Me, Scott, Emily and Murph (Scott’s mentor) before a practice swim in Dover Harbour

Scotty ended up swimming the channel a couple of days after I left and he did it in 9 hours and 59 minutes which was two hours better than his goal. He crushed it – very few swimmers do it in less than 10 hours.

After London, it was back to Denver for less than a day before heading off to Beijing. I was invited to speak at a conference this past weekend and they paid for me to fly business class the entire way. We also have some potential clients for our company in Beijing so I was able to visit some other people as well. Didn’t get much down time but I did manage to get to Tiananmen Square one evening.

Me and my buddy Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square in Beijing

Me and my buddy Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square in Beijing

While I was away Marcy was left as a single parent for 10 days. They went to Glenwood Springs and stayed right by the hot springs there. The kids loved it, as did Marcy. The pool in the background is fed by natural hot springs so it is a very warm temperature year round.

Jude and Anna at the Glenwood Springs pool

Jude and Anna at the Glenwood Springs pool

While I was away Marcy’s bike broke. She has been complaining about this bike for a while now so she went out and bought a new one. And she rode it all the way up Loveland pass – nearly 3,000 feet of elevation change from Keystone.

Marcy with her new bike after conquering Loveland Pass

Marcy with her new bike after conquering Loveland Pass

The kids have enjoyed their last two weeks in Keystone. They had their third week of camp at the Keystone Science School, tennis lessons, bike riding, soccer, played lots of Uno and even went bowling. It has been a great summer in the Rockies.

Jude and Anna at the Dillon Lake playground

Jude and Anna at the Lake Dillon playground

A Great Week in Des Moines and a First Triathlon

Lily, Peter, Marcy, Anna and Chloe enjoying the pool in Des Moines

Lily, Peter, Marcy, Anna and Chloe enjoying the pool in Des Moines

We have had a very full last two weeks. We left Keystone on Wednesday, July 30th and we stopped in Denver to go and check on our house and meet with our contractor. Then it was off to Iowa although we decided to split the trip on the way there with a night in Lexington, Nebraska.

The kids were so excited to get to Baba’s house that they could hardly contain themselves as we drove on to their street. As is typically the case on these trips, it was a quick hello to everyone and then straight to the pool for a swim where they would spend a good deal of their time over the next 8 days.

Jude getting thrown in the pool by Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mandy

Jude getting thrown in the pool by Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mandy

The movie Frozen is a big hit in the Dahlen family so when they found out there was a Frozen night at the local Barnes & Noble the girls all got dressed up to go. Jude and I went to play tennis – he is not much of a Frozen fan.

Ella, Chloe and Anna dressed up in their princess outfits to see Frozen

Ella, Chloe and Anna dressed up in their princess outfits to see Frozen

Jude had been talking about getting a haircut like Uncle Nathan’s for some time. When we suggested Nathan could even do it for him Jude thought that was a great idea. So, one day Uncle Nathan came over with his clippers and shaved off most of Jude’s hair, leaving a subtle mohawk in the top. Jude loved it.

Uncle Nathan attacking Jude's hair

Uncle Nathan attacking Jude’s hair

We brought all four bikes to Iowa and we all did some rides while we were there. We have known for some time that Anna’s bike was getting a little small for her – she has had it since she was two. So, while we were there Marcy went and bought a new bike for Anna and we left her old one for Ella and Chloe. Needless to say Anna LOVED her new bike.

Anna on her brand new bike

Anna on her brand new bike that Marcy bought for her

From bikes to triathlons. Lily has done several triathlons and loves them. Jude and Anna had never attempted one. So, it was decided that they would have a practice triathlon with two laps of the pool, a ride around the block and then a run down and up the hill. Lily set up the course and did a great job getting Jude and Anna ready. She walked the course with them, and helped set up their transition station. They all loved it and even Anna was able to finish unassisted.

Jude finishing their practice triathlon

Jude finishing their practice triathlon

So, after the kids did their practice triathlon talk turned towards doing a real one. It just so happened that a kids triathlon was happening in Omaha on Saturday. Lily was already registered to participate so after a successful practice run we all decided to leave Iowa a day early and head to Omaha with the Dahlens for a night.

And we are very glad we did. This was Jude and Anna’s first triathlon, as I said, and we didn’t know what to expect. This event was very well run and they had three different levels that was split into age groups. Lily was in the intermediate group so she went off first and we all cheered her on.

Then it was Jude and Anna’s turn. They were both in the junior race which was good but Jude was one of the oldest in the division and Anna was the very youngest. And since they started the swim in age order Anna was the last person to swim.

Both kids did really well and we were very proud of them. Jude was strong on all three legs and finished the run strongly. Anna struggled a little on the swim but did great on the bike and also finished strongly. Even though Anna was the last person in and out of the water she passed another girl on the bike ride. And at the very end it was really cool with the other kids forming a tunnel for Anna to run through. The commentators also made special mention of Anna.

The most important part of all this is that Jude and Anna both enjoyed themselves and want to do more triathlons.

Jude starting the triathlon

Jude starting the triathlon

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Anna is the last one in the water

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Seconds after Anna finished her triathlon

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Team Renton sporting their finishing medals after a successful triathlon