Soccer, Cricket and a Birthday

At the Colorado Rapids home opener

At the Colorado Rapids home opener

We have been blessed with some great weather these past couple of weekends. Last weekend I took the kids to the Colorado Rapids (our professional soccer team) home opener. It was a gorgeous day, it was actually hot sitting in the sun for a couple of hours. Jude was glued to the match, which was a good one, while Anna would have been happy to leave at half time. Her favorite part of going to these games are the treats – she loved the blue cotton candy I bought her.

I had to do another quick trip to New York last week and actually flew back to Denver on my birthday. After the kids got home from school we celebrated with apple pie & ice cream (my favorite) and then we played some soccer in the backyard before heading off to Benny’s, my favorite Mexican restaurant.

My birthday celebration at Benny's

My birthday celebration at Benny’s

For over a month now there has been a major sporting event happening that most of America is oblivious to. I am talking about the Cricket World Cup. This has been played in Australia and New Zealand and included the 16 best cricket playing countries in the world – these are former British colonies for the most part. I have introduced Jude and Anna to the World Cup by having them watch the 5-minute highlights online of every Australian match.

This weekend was the World Cup Final and Australia played New Zealand in Melbourne. I was delighted to see when I woke up this morning that Australia won the game quite convincingly and were world champions. After watching the highlights of the final this morning Jude asked if we could play cricket in the backyard. We just happen to have a kids cricket set from when we lived in Sydney in 2012, so we dusted it off and had a 1-hour family game of backyard cricket.

Playing some backyard cricket

Playing some backyard cricket

Today, Marcy took the kids to the craft store because Jude wanted to make a diorama. Jude spent most of his savings on some caveman and prehistoric animal figures and then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon working on his creation. Anna followed Jude’s lead and put together her own diorama.

Jude created this diorama from a cardboard box, some paint and some little animal toys

Jude created this diorama from a cardboard box, paint, clay and some little animal toys. It is a work in progress, he has plans to complete the sides and back tomorrow.

Ringing the Opening Bell at Nasdaq in New York

Ringing the opening bell at Nasdaq with the LendIt team

Ringing the opening bell at Nasdaq with the LendIt team on March 11.

Well the good news this week that I am starting to feel better and I was able to make the trip to New York to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq on Times Square. This was a huge honor for LendIt, a company that has been in existence less than two years, but one that is at the epicenter of the fast growing peer to peer lending industry.

I got back to Denver late on Thursday night and left my suitcase open on the couch. Anna discovered it when she got home from school and thought it would be funny to wear some of my clothes.

Anna trying on some of my work clothes

Anna trying on some of my work clothes

This weekend we worked around the house and got some projects done. We had a short brick wall under our carport that we decided to knock down, so Marcy and the kids went at it on both Saturday and Sunday. The kids worked really hard, they carried every brick down to the sidewalk, and they were able to get the wall demolished by lunch time on Sunday. I was not much help in the process as I spent a good chunk of this weekend working on our taxes.

Jude hard at work demolishing our brick wall

Jude hard at work demolishing our brick wall

Marcy showing Anna how to use a mallet, chisel and hammer

Marcy showing Anna how to use a chisel and hammer

The weather was gorgeous this weekend. Today was the warmest day of the year so far and the kids spent pretty much the whole day outside. After working on the brick wall they played in the backyard and we went up to the playground for some soccer and frisbee. And they also spent some time climbing trees.

Climbing the tree in our front yard

Climbing the tree in our front yard

One Sick Family

It has been quite the week and weekend. I have been sick with the flu since last Sunday, only starting to really feel better today. Marcy and the kids were hit with it as well. The kids both had a couple of days off school although the flu didn’t hit them as hard as it hit Marcy and I. For me, it was the most sick I have ever been as an adult – I lost 7 pounds in less than a week and I am nowhere near 100% recovered eight days later.

The week wasn’t all about sickness thankfully. Anna showed off her yoga style below.

Anna doing the "crow" yoga pose which takes tremendous upper body strength

Anna doing the “crow” yoga pose which takes tremendous upper body strength

I had promised Anna that we would have a special Anna and Daddy date on Saturday. I bought tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters in the afternoon and while Anna enjoyed it somewhat we were both too sick to really get much out of it. We both complained that it was too loud and we left at halftime.

Anna and me at the Harlem Globetrotters at the Pepsi Center

Anna and me at the Harlem Globetrotters at the Pepsi Center

Jude barely left the house all weekend so this afternoon I made them both head to the playground. Jude had enough strength to climb some of the bars and that was about it.

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Butterflies, More Snow and Monopoly

Jude lets a butterfly land on his face at the Butterfly Pavilion

Jude lets a butterfly land on his face at the Butterfly Pavilion

The week before last the kids were off school and we decided to stay in Denver for a change. This is the week we have been going to Mexico for the last couple of years but with our big trip to Australia coming up in April we decided a Mexico trip would be too much.

So, one of the activities that Marcy planned was a trip to the Butterly Pavilion. It had been a while and the kids had a great time. Anna and Jude were both brave in letting the tarantula crawl over their hand. But most impressive was Jude who as you can see in the photo above he let a butterfly land on his face and let it stay there for 10-15 seconds. Marcy was so impressed with how still he stayed for it, something she would not let happen (nor I).

Anna let's Rosie the tarantula crawl over her hand (with adult supervision of course)

Anna lets Rosie the tarantula crawl over her hand (with adult supervision of course)

After a pretty mild January with virtually no snow February hit us with a steady flow of snowstorms. Last week the school had a snow day and it was so cold that Marcy stayed around the house all day with the kids. They ventured outside for shoveling and to build tunnels in the snow.

Jude digging a tunnel in the snow in our front yard

Jude digging a tunnel in the snow in our front yard

The other major pastime of the past couple of weeks has been Monopoly. We have probably played 10 games of Monopoly in the last two weeks and that is saying something given they can last for 3 hours or more. Jude is really into it, he gets so excited that sometimes he can barely control himself. He is quite the competitive game player. But having said that, he is learning to lose graciously, something we have had to work on a lot. Win or lose Jude loves to play often talking about the game for hours afterwards.

Anna likes it as well although she is probably not quite as passionate as Jude. What she has taken to is being the banker. She needs help but she takes the job very seriously and likes to help out in this way. She is also much more fair. If someone has run out of money she will want to give them some so they can stay in the game.

We love Monopoly because it really helps build many important skills. They obviously get to learn math, but with Jude starting to read, he gets to practice reading the Chance and Community Chest cards. Even Anna is starting to try reading for just that reason. It also teaches about spending money and delayed gratification.

Monopoly has been the game of choice in the Renton household lately

Monopoly has been the game of choice in the Renton household lately

With so much inside time the kids can get a bit antsy. So, after our Monopoly game yesterday we said they had to get out of the house and run around the block. Today, they did the same thing. Jude ran 7 laps around the block with is roughly 2 miles and he ran hard and strong. Anna ran the better part of 4 times around, with some rests in between. We are going to continue to encourage this activity.

Anna in full stride running around the block outside our house

Anna in full stride running around the block outside our house

Jude Starts Reading to Anna

Anna just loves it when Jude reads to her

Anna just loves it when Jude reads to her

Jude is starting to learn to read. He can recognize many short words and can sound out longer words. So a couple of times recently Jude has offered to read a book to Anna. The good thing about this is that while Jude is definitely reading the words he also knows these books by heart so he can fill in the gaps of the parts he can’t read.

Jude on his class trip to the zoo

Jude volunteering to answer a question from the zookeeper on his class trip to the zoo in front of the cheetah enclosure

We live less than a mile from the zoo and we are members so we go there a lot. We must have been there well over 100 times since the kids were born. But last week Jude’s 2nd grade class did a field trip to the zoo for the first time. They attended a class given by one of the zookeepers then went to see some of the animals, including a visit to the reptile house.

Anna trying to fly a kite in our backyard

Anna trying to fly a kite in our backyard

For most of the past two weeks the weather has been glorious. It has been over 60 degrees nearly every day and so we have had a lot of outside time. We have played some family football, been to the playground and spent some time in our yard. Anna tried in vain to get her kite airborne during one of these days but there was pretty much no wind so she was unsuccessful. But she had fun trying.

Anna showing off some of her Valentine's Day gifts with grey blankie

Anna showing off some of her Valentine’s Day gifts with grey blankie

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and the kids were very excited to open up their gift baskets from Baba and dig into the special chocolate bars we gave them. Anna spent the morning putting together some of the crafts that Baba had sent.

Overall, it was a pretty quiet weekend. Anna had a birthday party to go to so I dropped her off there and took Jude to Dave & Buster’s for the first time. He had a blast. He spent most of the time there playing this soccer game where you kicked a real ball against a screen to try and score a goal. He did well at it.

This afternoon we played a family game of Monopoly. I have great memories of playing family games when I was a kid and we want to do the same. And Monopoly is great because we can all enjoy it and no one has a real advantage. Of course, these games take hours and we didn’t quite finish before dinner. We will leave it as is though, and finish one night this week.

January Ski School Finishes and the Superbowl

Jude's official ski school photo

Jude’s official ski school photo

It was a full weekend. Friday afternoon we drove up to Keystone. The kids had the last of their four week ski school lessons. So, it was also the last day Marcy and I got to have our “ski date” with just the two of us skiing. The snow was decent but not great. Marcy and I did our usual 8-9 runs, including 4-5 bump runs, along with a good break for lunch and we were both beat at the end of the day. Speaking of the bumps Marcy has improved dramatically since returning to skiing three years ago and she is flying down the bumps now.

Anna's official ski school photo

Anna’s official ski school photo

We drove home on Saturday night because today we hosted the annual Superbowl party. This morning we awoke to see a decent snowfall overnight. It was a heavy, wet snow that was a real workout to shovel but it left everything sparking white.

The snow covering our backyard table and chair

The snow covering our backyard table and chairs

I made my usual red and green chilis and Marcy made brownies and a coconut/peanut butter dessert. We had a few people over to watch the game and it was a very enjoyable evening. Good to see an exciting game again in the Superbowl.

Jude and Anna licking the spatula clean after Marcy made brownies

Jude and Anna licking the spatulas clean after Marcy made brownies

Anna all dressed up for the Superbowl party

Anna all dressed up for the Superbowl party

Jude Gets Reading Glasses

Jude sporting his new reading glasses for the first time

Jude sporting his new reading glasses for the first time

We have taken Jude to the eye doctor for some tests and it turns out that he needed glasses. It wasn’t just because his vision wasn’t great, in fact the tests came back with 20/20 vision. But he has trouble focusing on the page when he is in school, his two eyes don’t bring an image into one line of focus, and the glasses should help with this. Not only that but he has about 15 minutes of eye exercises he needs to do at least 4 days a week while he attends vision therapy for at least a few months. We started them this weekend while we were in Keystone.

Speaking of Keystone we spent the weekend there again and the kids had their third Saturday of ski school this season. They continue to make great progress with both kids doing their first ski race this weekend and the instructor took Jude’s class down their first bump run.

We had a family ski day earlier today and there was a noticeable improvement from last weekend. Particularly with Anna, who is a real speed demon these days, she likes to race me down the hill.

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After their ski day Jude and Anna snuggle on the couch with a show

Back to Colorado Winter Sports

Jude skiing in Keystone

Jude skiing in Keystone

For the third year in a row we have put the kids in ski school every Saturday in January. While Jude was somewhat reluctant to do it Anna was very enthusiastic but both have ended up enjoying it and are making great progress.

Unfortunately, Jude has been under the weather this week with a bad cough. He missed two days of school but was a trooper on Saturday in ski school. He clearly wasn’t feeling 100% and when we went to pick him from his lesson he was lying on the snow completely spent.

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Anna showing her style on the Keystone slopes

We have stayed at the condo now two weekends in a row and this weekend we brought up our snowshoes. Anna discovered them right away and wanted to put Marcy’s on to walk around on the snow. She didn’t go far but she liked the whole idea of snowshoeing.

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Anna in front of the Keystone condo in Marcy’s snowshoes

For two Saturday’s in a row now Marcy and I have been able to have a several hour long date as we skied all over Keystone. It has been great even though the snow was a little thin for this time of year. Marcy loves doing the bumps these days and continues to get better at them. I would like to say the same for myself but my knees are getting weaker every year and I think my ability has plateaued. But I still really enjoy a couple of bumps runs every time I go out.

Today, we had a family ski morning. We all walked down to the lifts bright and early and took a couple of runs together. Jude was still nowhere near 100% but he agreed to give skiing a try today. But after two runs he decided he was done for the day. I still managed to shoot the video below that captured both Jude and Anna skiing albeit briefly.

This afternoon Jude and I stayed in and watched the Packers-Seahawks game while Marcy took Anna ice skating. They both have new ice skates and Anna was dying to give hers a try.

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Anna in her new skates at the rink at River Run in Keystone

Bringing in the New Year With the Des Moines Family

Anna bringing in the New Year in style

Anna bringing in the New Year in style

We have had a great week in Des Moines. Both Jude and Anna had a blast spending time with their Des Moines family. There were fun activities planned every day but the highlight was clearly the New Year’s Eve celebration. The Science Center had a special New Year’s Eve countdown for the kids at 12 noon that included a balloon drop as well as face painting. Then it was back home for the family celebration and countdown around 5:30pm that included a toast with “kids champagne” also known as sparkling apple juice.

Toasting the "New Year" at around 5:30pm on New Year's Eve

Toasting the “New Year” at around 5:30pm on New Year’s Eve

The incredible balloons the kids had

The incredible balloons the kids had made at the New Year’s Eve party

Marcy and I were able to catch a New Year’s Day movie but unfortunately I had to work every weekday. I tried to be around as much as I could and play with the kids and be social. We certainly watched our share of football, played cards, drank good wine and ate very well as usual.

While the weather was a little chilly all five cousins still enjoyed a trip to the playground

While the weather was a little chilly all five cousins still enjoyed a trip to the playground

It was very sad to leave on Friday afternoon. This really was the best trip the kids had ever had – they got along well pretty much the entire time and they just loved playing and spending time together. Normally, Jude is ready to go back home after a few days but this time he wanted to stay and for the first ever he cried when we left.

The mug shot - the entire family with their Christmas mugs

The mug shot – the entire family with their Christmas mugs.

The trip home was a little more harrowing than usual. The reason we left on Friday afternoon instead of Saturday was to avoid the snow storm that we could see was coming. But when we entered Colorado we hit the storm. It was a slow and sometimes harrowing drive and we made it home later than expected but in one piece.

 

Merry Christmas

Visiting Santa Claus on Larimer Square in Denver

Visiting Santa Claus on Larimer Square in Denver

This past week has been one of the kids favorite weeks of the year. They have been so excited for Christmas, counting down the days on their special calendar. On Christmas Eve we had our now traditional dinner at home with a smorgasbord of goodies and champagne.

Christmas Eve dinner at home

Christmas Eve dinner at home

As we put the kids to bed we told them that they had to sleep in until it was light and sure enough it was 7am before Anna came into our bedroom excited to go downstairs. We had left some milk and cookies out for Santa and some carrots and spinach for the reindeer. When we all came downstairs in the morning all the food was gone much to the kids delight. Then the present opening fiesta began.

Zoo lights on Boxing Day

Zoo lights on Christmas night

While we didn’t have a white Christmas, it did snow 6″ on Christmas night. The storm began as the sun was going down when we headed to Zoo to check out the lights. This has become something of a Christmas Day tradition and this year, with the snowstorm, we had the zoo virtually to ourselves, at least at the start of the evening. It was obviously very cold, so we didn’t last long, but it was magical with the lights and the snow coming down.

Anna with her birthday celebration in Des Moines

Anna with her birthday celebration in Des Moines

On Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed to Iowa. I think the kids were more excited for this trip than they were for Christmas. When we arrived at Baba and Grandpa’s house at 7pm the kids raced out of the car to say hi. Then, this morning when their cousins came they were deliriously happy.

After breakfast Jude and Anna had their belated birthday celebration with cake and everyone singing happy birthday. There was some exchanging of presents and then a day of play and watching football.