The First Week of Summer Break and Father’s Day

Anna shows off the new dress she hand made

Anna shows off the new dress she hand made

The first week of summer break is in the books and it was a good week. No major plans so the kids had lots of downtime which they appreciated. There were bike rides, a trip to the museum, ice cream outings, swim team, and library trips but the highlight was probably a day trip to Keystone.

At Loveland Pass (12,000 ft) and a chilly 41 degrees

At Loveland Pass (12,000 ft) and a chilly 41 degrees

The kids, especially Jude, loves the tennis lessons in Keystone. So Marcy made sure they made it to the 10am lesson and then it was off to River Run for all the fun kids activities there like bungee, bounce house, climbing, putt putt, mining for gems and more.

Anna puts on her game face for putt putt

Anna puts on her game face for putt putt

Today was Father’s Day and I had a really nice day. I got to choose the activities so we went to Commonground golf course and played on the kids Par 3 course there (where kids play free). While neither Jude nor Anna love golf they did pretty well although they were very happy to be done after nine holes.

Enjoying my Father's Day dinner

Enjoying my Father’s Day dinner

In the afternoon we went to the gym pool and then watched the US Open golf. It was a super hot day, almost 100 degrees, so I decided a sushi dinner was in order. After we got back the kids still had lots of energy so they played in the backyard to wind down the day.

Jude jumping off the swing in the backyard

Jude jumping off the swing in the backyard

Tomorrow I am heading to France for work where Marcy will join me and the kids get to spend a week in Iowa.

Summer Vacation Starts and the Nine Year Change

Hiking the Evergreen Mountain trail

Hiking the Evergreen Mountain trail

The school year ended for Jude and Anna at noon on Friday. At 11am we all gathered in the main school hall for the end of year Rose Ceremony. This book-ends the year because on the first day of school we had the opening Rose Ceremony. On that day the first graders are paired with an eighth grader who presents them with a rose to welcome them to the school. On the last day of school the first graders present the eighth graders with a rose and well-wishes as they move on to high school.

Anna loved her eighth grader, she has even come to babysit a few times. In fact, Anna was crying after the ceremony because she said she will miss her eighth grade buddy so much. They had lunch together every two or three weeks and formed a bond during the year. It was a really sweet ceremony and a great way to end the school year.

This weekend we went for a hike at Evergreen Mountain. This is a popular trail about 45 minutes from our house that is a 5-mile roundtrip that goes up to 8,500 feet. Saturday was hot so we wanted to get up in elevation. Jude really didn’t want to go, he wanted to stay home and he was very grumpy at times during the hike. In the end I hiked with Anna and Marcy stayed with Jude and that worked out better.

One thing that Waldorf talks about is the nine-year change. This happens around the age of nine where they go through a transition of being a little kid and doing little kid things to moving to a more mature stage of life. We have really noticed it with Jude these past three months or so. Before he would play with Anna all the time, they were best buddies, and would play imaginary games together sometimes for hours on end.

Now, Jude turns up his nose at those kinds of games, saying they are for little kids and he is not interested in that any more. He main interest these days is soccer and he kicks his soccer ball around at every opportunity. He also likes to watch soccer and talk about soccer. Beyond that, he also likes to read, play Uno and chess as well as play with his football and table soccer games. But he does not like to play imaginary games any more. This has been hard for Anna because she feels like she has lost her best friend, the one who has been her playmate from the very beginning. Because of this nine-year change summer is going to look quite different for both of them this year.

Anna with her new skateboard

Anna with her new skateboard

Finally, big news for Anna today. She has a new skateboard. This is something she has wanted for quite some time. She bought this out of her own money and for now at least she absolutely loves it. She played on it for several hours today and she is slowly getting the hang of it. I think this skateboard will get quite a lot of use this summer.

A Soccer International and the First Hint of Summer

Jude went to his first international soccer match: Brazil vs Panama

Jude went to his first international soccer match: Brazil vs Panama

Last weekend was the long Memorial Day weekend but I was away in China. We are gearing up for our first conference in China and I needed to be there to move things along. On the Sunday night I was supposed to take Jude to see his first ever soccer international – a friendly match between Brazil and Panama. Since I was away, Marcy booked a babysitter for Anna and she went with Jude. She said she had a great time – it was much more fun than she expected. Jude, of course, loved it. He is quite the soccer fanatic these days.

Speaking of soccer Jude did tryouts this week for next season. He is moving into the competitive league and he very excited about it. He made the blue team which was the second highest level for his age group. His teammates made the level below and while Jude was disappointed not to be on the same team as them his competitive spirit meant that he was also pleased to have ranked above them. The season will start in the late summer/early fall.

With our Chinese partner in Shanghai with the iconic TV Tower in the background

With our Chinese partner in Shanghai with the iconic TV Tower in the background

I arrived back from China on Wednesday afternoon and we didn’t have a whole lot scheduled this weekend which was nice. Saturday, we went for a hike in the morning and just hung out at home in the afternoon. It was a warm day so our neighbors pulled out their slip ‘n’ slide in the front yard.

Hiking at Lair o' the Bear

Hiking at Lair o’ the Bear

Jude on our neighbor's slip 'n' slide

Jude on our neighbor’s slip ‘n’ slide

Sunday Jude had flag football in the afternoon and in the morning I took Anna out to get the car washed and then to the playground for an extended 90 minute play. She is in to “training” these days. She is strong and wants to get stronger so she pushes herself as she is playing. She spent a long time on the monkey bars, doing chin-ups and just going back and forth.

Then when we got home after Jude’s football she wanted to continue her training. This time doing handsprings in the backyard. I caught this action shot of her below.

Anna doing hand stands and back flips in the backyard

Anna doing hand stands and handsprings  in the backyard

A Recital, a School Camping Trip and the Last Weekend of Soccer

Jude warming up for his school recital

Jude warming up for his school recital

It was has been quite the eventful week. On Tuesday night there was a concert at the school for grades 3-12. Jude has been practicing his viola religiously every morning for many months. And the third grade got up on stage in front of the parents and the whole school and played three songs. Then for the grand finale the entire school played a song together which was really cool. Jude had a great time and looked like he was enjoying himself.

Jude finding some worms in the soil on the farm

Jude finding some worms in the soil on the farm

The very next day after the concert Jude was up bright and early for their excursion to Frog Belly farm. This was a trip that had been talked about for months – it was the first sleepover trip with his class. The entire third grade and many parents (including Marcy) camped on the farm on Wednesday and also did some work. They did odd jobs around the farm that included planting garlic, transplanting berry plants and milking the goats.

Jude massaging the goat's udder after milking it

Jude massaging the goat’s udder to assist the milking process

While Jude and Marcy were away I had a special midweek Anna and Daddy date. I left work early to pick up Anna from school and then we went for a hike in the foothills. We did the Red Rocks hike which is right next to where they have the big concerts. Then we went to Anna’s favorite place for dinner, Casa Bonita, where they have the cliff divers.

Anna hiking the Red Rocks trail

Anna hiking the Red Rocks trail

This weekend was gorgeous weather which was good news for the kids as it was the last weekend of soccer with both kids each having two games. Both Anna and Jude have developed into quite good soccer players and they have both had considerable success this season each scoring many goals.

Anna showing her kicking style during her last game of the season

Anna showing her kicking style during her last game of the season

Jude’s passion for soccer has really developed these past few months. It is the focus of his weekends. He wants to watch soccer on TV, he is constantly asking to pass the ball in the backyard and he absolutely loves the games. He has developed into one of the best players on his team in part because he just loves it so much and is practicing all the time. As long as he is enjoying it we want to keep encouraging him.

Jude in action during his last game of the season

Jude in action during his last game of the season

Finally, tomorrow Jude turns 9 1/2. But we celebrated it a day early mainly because I am leaving tomorrow for 9 days in China. Jude decided he wanted his treat to be donuts for his birthday, so this morning before breakfast we all walked down to our local donut place. We all sang happy birthday as Jude enjoyed his sugar and jelly donut.

Jude celebrates his 9 1/2 birthday with a donut

Jude celebrates his 9 1/2 birthday with a donut

Happy Mother’s Day

A Mother's Day movie afternoon

Snuggling on the couch on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day started early this year with Jude, our resident early riser, coming in at the stroke of 6am excited to wish Marcy a Happy Mother’s Day. Anna was up 30 minutes later but I made sure that Marcy could stay in bed as long as she wanted. After breakfast Marcy went to a yoga class and I watched soccer with Jude as Arsenal were playing.

This afternoon Jude had a football game and we went all to watch. They finished up just before some storms hit, which is better than they did for soccer yesterday when the games were all canceled because of rain. With crappy weather outside Marcy decided we should do a family movie. We ordered pizza for dinner and then went for a walk around the neighborhood after dinner – Anna was already dressed for bed but she came on the walk anyway, her remaining slice of pizza in hand.

Going for a post-dinner walk on Mother's Day

Going for a post-dinner walk on Mother’s Day

Saturday ended up being a quiet day with the kids soccer games canceled. The only other highlight of the week was the kids school assembly on Friday afternoon. Jude’s class recited a Russian poem in front of the entire school while Anna’s class did some dancing and movement. It was very sweet.

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