A Cold and Snowy Weekend

Ice skating on the main arena at DU where they play college hockey games

Ice skating on the main arena at DU where they play college hockey games

It was a quiet weekend. Actually it was a quiet long weekend for the kids. The weather was cold and snowy so all outdoor activity (including soccer and flag football games) was canceled. I got back from London late on Friday night so I was ok with taking it easy this weekend.

We stayed at home a lot this weekend. Our big outings were going ice skating at DU on Saturday evening and then a family yoga class earlier today. We watched the Sound of Music this afternoon and everyone really enjoyed it. The sun finally came out briefly this evening for the first time since Thursday morning so Jude and I went out to kick the soccer ball.

Speaking of soccer, Jude is becoming a little obsessed with the sport these days. We have a routine now that we will watch every Arsenal game together – they are usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings. After the games Jude usually goes straight upstairs to his table soccer game by himself. We have talked about this game before, we got it for his birthday last year and he still loves playing it. He setup the photo below himself of his little men playing their soccer game.

Jude takes a photo of his favorite pastime - his table soccer game

Jude takes a photo of his favorite pastime – his table soccer game

Anna’s Lemonade Stand

Anna all ready to go with her lemonade and cookie stand

Anna all ready to go with her lemonade and cookie stand

It started with an idea that Anna and a friend of hers had at school. They were going to make rainbow loom rings and sell them at home. Anna remembered that Baba had given us a lemonade stand a few years ago and so Marcy found it in the shed. (She didn’t have to look too hard; Anna knew exactly where it was and had been wanting to use it for quite some time).

That evening Anna sold a couple of rings to neighbors and a few passersby. Then on Sunday she decided to get serious. She and Marcy baked cookies and muffins and they had the stand all set up to catch the crowd after church. And while I wouldn’t say we ever got busy on the stand today Anna did make $15 from her efforts which she was quite pleased with.

Apart from that it was quite a busy weekend. We had soccer most of Saturday and then we hosted our quarterly “food group” dinner on Saturday night. Today, we had to wrap up the lemonade stand to go and watch Jude’s first flag football game of the season.

Baba Comes to Visit and a Trip to San Francisco

Anna gets her new glasses

Anna gets her new glasses

The kids have been back at school for a couple of weeks now but they had a bit of a treat this past week. I had to leave for my big annual conference and spent nine days away in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Baba came out from Des Moines last Sunday and stayed at our house so Marcy could come to San Francisco. So, right after the conference ended Marcy came out and we spent a few days relaxing in the beautiful city.

Before that, though, Anna had to get new glasses as you can see above. She went to the eye doctor and they recommended it – she loves accessories so she was excited about her new fashion statement.

Jude playing soccer in the backyard in the pouring rain

Jude playing soccer in the backyard by himself in the pouring rain

The soccer season started last weekend and Jude was so excited about it. They had a couple of practices and they had a successful first game. They won 9-3 and Jude scored a good goal. I didn’t get to see it unfortunately but got the full run down from Jude after the game. Then they came home and he continued to play soccer in the backyard despite the pouring rain.

We rode bikes to Sausalito from downtown SF - going back and forth on the Golden Gate

We rode bikes to Sausalito from downtown SF – going back and forth on the Golden Gate

When Marcy came to visit we had the LendIt team dinner so she was able to finally meet everyone that I work with. But then I took Thursday and Friday off so we had some time to relax. We decided to go for a long walk on Thursday – we walked around 15 miles around the city. Friday we had massages and had a relaxing afternoon catching up on our favorite TV shows. Then Saturday we rented bikes and rode to Sausalito, going back and forth along the Golden Gate. It was a beautiful ride, particularly going over the bridge, and the weather was perfect.

Having lunch on the water at the Trident in Sausalito

Having lunch on the water at the Trident in Sausalito

Baba brought the kids to the airport to see us as she had an afternoon flight. It was so great to see Jude and Anna again – I had missed them terribly after being away from them for so long. We had a nice reunion lunch and then Baba had to take her flight back home.

The crazy thing is that we left warm 80 degree weather in San Francisco and came back to 35 degrees in Denver and 6″ of snow on the ground. It meant all sport was canceled this weekend and we were lucky to make it home on time.

Spring Break in Des Moines

Jude with a kitten at Lily's friend's house

Jude with a kitten at Lily’s friend’s house

On Tuesday we all took an Uber ride to the airport (in a Tesla no less) and I went off to New York to work while Marcy and the kids went to Iowa. I then joined everyone when I flew from New York to Des Moines on Friday night.

The Iowa kids were in school so Jude and Anna got their grandparents to themselves through Friday. They went to the zoo, the Science Center, helped Grandpa work on his car and had many indulgences. On Friday night the big kids (Lily, Jude and Anna) all went with Uncle Nathan to see the Iowa Wild hockey team play and they stayed to the very end – not making it home until 10pm. They all had a great time.

Anna with one of the new kittens

Anna with one of the new kittens

On Saturday I took the kids to Glow Golf and then they went to a friend of Lily’s who had a cat that had just had kittens. They loved playing with the little kitties.

Today we had a wonderful morning at the park – the weather was warm and there was not a cloud in the sky. We played some soccer and before we knew it was time to have a quick lunch and be off to the airport.

The kids enjoying a goodbye hug

The kids enjoying a group goodbye hug

While there is always some arguing and bickering the kids all love to hang out with each other and are always sad when it is time to go. While we were at the airpot Lily sent us this sweet picture she had drawn for us.

Lily's love diagram of her family

Lily’s love picture of her family

An Epic Snowstorm, a Birthday and Easter

Our outdoor table is showing at least 18" of snow from this week's storm

Our outdoor table is showing at least 18″ of snow from this week’s storm

They initially said it was going to be a minor storm – just 2-4″ on snow. They they changed it to 6-10″ and finally as it was in full swing they said it would be 12-14″. The official total downtown was around 19″ and I think we easily had that much at our house. At one stage every major highway out of Denver was closed as we endured the worst snowstorm for several years.

The good news was that none of us had to go anywhere. The kids were on Spring break, I decided to work from home and so we rode it out here. In the afternoon Marcy took the kids to the museum which was open but closing early. I didn’t leave the house all day except to do some shoveling and to go for an evening walk.

Jude checking out the snow in shorts, t-shirt and boots

Jude checking out the snow in shorts, t-shirt and boots

The snow was thick and heavy, a joy to shovel… And many of the trees in the neighborhood suffered some damage with downed branches – we had a few decent sized branches down for the old spruce tree in our backyard.

Taking an evening walk in the snow

Taking an evening walk in the knee-deep snow

After dinner that night we decided to take an evening walk to enjoy the quiet and check out the snow. So, we all dressed up in our snow gear and ventured outside. The kids were really into it, literally diving into some of the snow drifts. It was certainly a storm to remember.

Jude on top of what we thought was a snow drift but ended up being some small trees.

Jude on top of what we thought was a snow drift but ended up being some small trees.

Our neighbors built an igloo in their front yard which the kids thought was very cool

Our neighbors built an igloo in their front yard which the kids thought was very cool

I had my 50th birthday the day after this big storm. I decided I didn’t want a big celebration, instead just a nice quiet dinner with the family. Marcy brought the kids downtown to the office where we enjoyed some birthday pie before taking a nice pre-dinner walk. Then we went to Ocean Prime, an upmarket steakhouse on the same block as the office. It was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time.

After a sumptuous 50th birthday dinner at Ocean Prime

After a sumptuous 50th birthday dinner at Ocean Prime

Today was Easter. The kids were very much looking forward to it and they woke up excited to find out what the Easter Bunny had brought. There were eggs all around the living room and throughout the backyard.

Some highly focused Easter Egg hunting on a cold Easter morning

Some highly focused Easter Egg hunting on a cold Easter morning

They received a nice Easter bounty of chocolate, candy, books and toys. Anna got a nice doll house cupboard and a miniature tea set while Jude got a new bike. He actually knew all about this because he has grown out of his old bike. And today was a beautiful sunny day, although it was a little brisk so he was able to test it out. We all went for a family bike ride this afternoon.

 

Jude taking a first ride on his brand new 27-gear bike

Jude taking a first ride on his brand new 27-gear bike

Spring Break Begins With a Trip to the Car Show

At the Denver Car Show in front of a beautiful Jaguar F-Type

At the Denver Car Show in front of a beautiful Jaguar F-Type

On Friday afternoon the kids began their annual two-week Spring Break. Both kids were excited to be done with school for a while. There are no major plans this week other than a day trip to the mountains for some skiing and then my birthday celebration on Thursday. But next week I head to New York while the kids and Marcy head to Iowa.

On Saturday I took the kids to the Denver Car Show. I have taken Jude a few times but this was only Anna’s second trip I believe. Jude has been really into cars lately so he had a blast naming all the cars and checking our his favorites. After a while, though, they both got a little crabby and were sick of it so we were out of there in under two hours. My favorite was seeing the Aston Martin while Jude liked the BMWs and Lamborginis. Anna liked the ride we took in a Jeep – they had an obstacle course setup and they took us around the “track” in a Jeep Wrangler.

Jude playing his beloved table soccer game

Jude playing his beloved table soccer game

Soccer has become a big part of Jude’s life. We begin each weekend these days watching the English Premier League. He is a big fan of Arsenal, and given that it is a very popular club, its games are usually on TV here. He follows along with the other scores throughout the weekend and he has memorized where all 20 teams are on the table. He has even started to take an interest in the Spanish League where one of his favorite players, Christiano Ronaldo, plays.

He also likes to play soccer. Today was a gorgeous sunny day, although it was a little brisk, but perfect for a game of soccer. Jude and I went to the local park to play for an hour. He then came back home and played with his table soccer game. Then before dinner he went outside to kick the soccer ball about by himself. As I said, it has become a big part of his life. And it will become ever more so when their Rapids season begins in a week or so.

Another Weekend in the Mountains

At the top of Keystone about to head down Diamondback , a black run

At the top of Keystone about to head down Diamondback , a black run

We left Denver right after school on Friday and headed up to Keystone. It was our first trip since January and it was great to be back up here. One of Jude’s school friends and his family joined us on Friday night and for a day of skiing on Saturday.

The three kids after their ski day on Saturday

The three kids after their ski day on Saturday

Saturday was actually not a great ski day. It hadn’t snowed here for a couple of weeks and it showed. Everything was really icy and our second run of the day, down Mozart, was the worst run I have had in over a decade. It was a sheet of ice the whole way down. By the afternoon it had softened a little but we were all ok with calling it a day just after 2pm.

Saturday night we had about 3″ of snow and we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Despite losing an hour to daylight savings we were on the slopes just after 10am and we had a great ski day. The snow was much better, it was warm and sunny and the kids did great. They have both now been on many steep black diamond runs and have handled them well. And on the blue runs Marcy commented this afternoon that they went as fast as she liked to ski.

Apres skiing with popcorn, Kombucha and a Star Wars movie. Life is good.

Apres skiing with popcorn, Kombucha and Star Wars. Life is good.

We decided to stay up here Sunday night to really make the most of the weekend. It has felt like a mini vacation.

Anna fits perfectly in the A-frame of our swing set

Anna fits perfectly in the A-frame of our swing set

A Graduation and Some Major School Activities

Jude proudly shows off his graduation certificate from vision therapy

Jude proudly shows off his graduation certificate from vision therapy

Jude started vision therapy a couple of years ago at the suggestion of his teacher. This was not so much because of poor eyesight, in fact Jude’s vision is 20/20. The problem was that his eyes were not converging properly onto one image. Marcy has taken Jude on the 30 minute drive on a regular basis for the past two years. The homework has been intensifying and when he took his test recently he passed with flying colors. We were all very proud of him because this was not easy for him.

Anna with her lyre at the class play

Anna with her lyre at the class play

Meanwhile, Anna has been working on her class play for many weeks. The play was the story of Snow White and Rose Red and the entire first grade class had to learn every word of the 5-minute play. Then, in front of all the parents they all recited the play while some students acted out characters, and others played the lyre. Anna really enjoyed the whole process of learning all the lines and acting out the story. She recited the lines to us one night over dinner as part of her homework. After the play they did some singing and some more playing on their lyre.

Jude working on his adobe house class project

Jude working on his adobe house class project

As for Jude he been very busy as well at school. He has been working hard on his first major class project. Everyone in the class had to build a shelter of some kind. After much discussion and research Jude chose to build an adobe house made of clay. We found a video online with step by step instructions and Jude went to work. Parents were not allowed to help do the actual work, it had to be the work of the third grader. Jude had to learn all about his dwelling so he could answer questions about it when they presented to the other grades. He worked hard on this and did a nice job with it.

Celebrating Sarah's first birthday in Sydney

Celebrating Sarah’s first birthday in Sydney

Unfortunately, I missed all of these major events as I was away in Australia for a week or so. The timing was disappointing for me but I was also very glad to get a trip in. We just moved my dad into a nursing home and he has not been well. And it just so happened that I was invited to Sydney to speak at a peer to peer lending conference so I jumped at the chance to go. Also, my little niece, Sarah, turned one while I was there so I was able to celebrate her birthday in person. It was also good to catch up with a few friends as well.

My old mate Enio and I at the Opera Bar in Sydney

My old mate Enio and I at the Opera Bar in Sydney

At the Beach in Mexico

Jude attacking the waves in Cancun

Jude attacking the waves in Cancun

We had a great week at the beach in Cancun. The JW Marriott was a beautiful resort, both kids said it was the best place we have stayed in and wanted to come back again next year. We may come back again some day but I will need to save my Marriott points again.

The kids loved the beach. Jude would literally spend hours in the ocean “attacking the waves” as he put it. He would only be 15-20 feet out from shore where the waves would start breaking. He would jump over the waves and try to avoid being pummeled into the sand. The surf was pretty messy and wild so he got slammed into the sand a few times. But he would shake himself off and do it again. Anna preferred to stay closer to shore but she also loved jumping over the waves as they broke on shore.

Taking the jet ski out to the boat for parasailing

Taking the jet ski out to the boat for parasailing

One of the highlights of the trip was the parasailing. They could only take three people at a time so Marcy and kids went. It was quite amazing to watch them from the beach. They went up so high – easily 100 feet in the air. All three of them enjoyed it but said it was really scary being up that high. I was certainly glad when they returned without incident.

Anna, Marcy and Jude heading high up into the air

Anna, Marcy and Jude heading high up into the air as the parasailing begins

On our last full day in Mexico we decided to go to Isla Mujeres, an island just 8 miles off the coast. We caught the ferry and then rented a golf cart to get around the island which is only 4 miles long by 1/2 mile wide. They had a beautiful beach on their north coast called Playa Norte where we spent the morning and lunch.

Jude and Anna in the pristine waters of Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

Jude and Anna in the pristine waters of Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres

We decided to take a drive down to the southern tip of the island to check out the Mayan ruins. While the ruins were a little disappointing – they were destroyed by a hurricane in 1988, the point itself was spectacular. It reminded us of some of the rugged  rock formations on the Australian coast although the rocks themselves were different.

At Punte Sur on Isla Mujeres

At Punte Sur on Isla Mujeres

They had a really cool walkway that went around the rocks on the south point which also happened to be the most easterly point in Mexico.

Anna and Jude sitting at the most easterly point in Mexico on Isla Mujeres

Jude and Anna sitting at the most easterly point in Mexico on Isla Mujeres

Our trip was over too soon but by Friday the kids were actually exhausted after a big week of activity. And the fact we all walked over 5 miles on our trip to Isla Mujeres the day before. So, the last morning they barely wanted to go into the surf. Just some relaxing time in the hot tub and the pool and then we were off to the airport home.

Anna showing off her new braids that she had done on the beach

Anna showing off her new braids that she had done on the beach

We were all sad to leave. It was a great vacation and the kids are already looking forward to their next trip to the beach.

Recreating an iconic photo from five years ago in Mexico

Recreating an iconic photo from five years ago in Mexico

A Warm Week and Off to Cancun

Roller blading to the local park

Roller blading to the local park

All week the weather has been warming up. After a cold January and a decent amount of snow this warming trend was quite welcome. This weekend we hit 60 degrees and so we all wanted to get outside. Yesterday, we went to the local park in the afternoon. It was the first time all year that we could do that. Marcy and Anna went rollerblading and Jude and I played soccer.

Playing soccer in his Arsenal gear

Jude playing soccer in his Arsenal gear

The fact that both Jude and Anna were outside being active this weekend was quite an achievement. Anna was quite sick this week – she actually missed school every day except Monday. She was vomiting and then had a nasty cough. We started her on nebulizer treatments and Marcy ended up taking her to the doctor because her cough was persisting and we were supposed to be heading to Mexico on Sunday. The doctor gave Anna the all clear although did suggest we continue with Anna’s treatment.

Watching a Harry Potter movie on the flight to Mexico

Watching a Harry Potter movie on the flight to Mexico

We were all up bright and early today to catch the 8am flight to Cancun. We were all very excited for this trip to get some beach and pool time and for the warm weather. As soon as we arrived the kids had their swimsuits on and they were down to the beach. The water was quite rough and not really conducive to swimming but the kids had a blast just playing in the shore break.

The beach! Jude and Anna were so happy to be back in Mexico

The beach! Jude and Anna were so happy to be back in Mexico