A Haircut, a 5K and Elitches

Anna sporting her new hairstyle

Anna sporting her new hairstyle

The last week of school vacation turned into a pretty busy week even though we spent it mostly at home. We started off at the hair salon. After growing it out for over a year Anna decided that before school started she wants to get most of it chopped off. We all think it is an adorable new ‘do.

Climbing the walls, or at least the doorways, at home

Climbing the walls, or at least the doorways, at home

The kids learned a new trick this week courtesy of our neighbors. They showed Jude and Anna how to wedge your feet into a doorway and climb up. As you can see Jude got pretty high.

All dressed up

All dressed up

Marcy and I went to a wedding on Saturday for our good friends Rich and Maggie, the first wedding we have been to in a decade or more. So, Marcy and I both got dressed up so Anna decided she wanted to get dressed as well. She really wanted to wear a tie so I tied it around one of my winter jackets for an interesting look.

After the 5k many years of students gather around Mrs Clark

After the 5k many years of students gather around Mrs Clark

This morning we all ran a 5K in Wash Park, it was a charity event for some friends of ours from school. Jude did great, running his heart out to finish in 32 minutes while Anna took it a bit slower with her school friends. Marcy and I also completed the race well. Afterwards, we ran into Mrs Clark who taught both Jude and Anna two years of pre-school.

After the boat ride where we all get drenched

After the boat ride where we all get drenched

The city of Denver has a reading program encouraging young kids to read. If you go to the library and show them how much you have read they give prizes – both Jude and Anna won a free ticket to Elitch’s. So, today was the day we went. After finishing the 5K, we quickly went home and got on our swim stuff and headed to Elitch’s. It was quite the day. Anna is over 48″ now which brought so many of the rides in play for her now. I went on a couple of very intense roller coasters with her.

It was a long day and a busy weekend. We should all sleep well tonight.

Another Great Week in Iowa

Getting ready for a water balloon fight

Getting ready for a cousins water balloon fight

It was another full week in Iowa with lots of fun activities. There was a trip to the zoo, to Living History Farms, an indoor trampoline place and more. With the Olympics on there was a lot of watching swimming and gymnastics. One night I took Jude out on one of our Jude and Daddy dates – we went to putt putt golf and then dinner at a sports bar.

A trip with Grandpa in the Jaguar

A trip with Grandpa in the Jaguar

By the end of the week our kids were ready to get home. Jude especially was getting homesick, so on Saturday we made the long drive back. We had to drive in separate cars because Marcy had the new car she bought in Kansas City.

Jude's favorite thing to do, soccer in the backyard

Jude’s favorite thing to do, soccer in the backyard

Today was just a relaxing day spent at home. The kids stayed home all day enjoying some time with their favorite toys, activities and the neighbor kids. Anna decided she wanted to mow the lawn, even though the mower was pretty heavy for her, and even harder with the grass so long from being away, she managed to do a great job.

Anna mowing the lawn for the first time

Anna mowing the lawn for the first time

The Annual Summer Trip to Des Moines

A big Des Moines welcome

A big Des Moines welcome

We started off this week at a hotel in Kansas City where we were staying to buy Marcy a new car. We bought a new Ford Explorer and she drove it to Des Moines Monday morning where we had a big welcome. Jude and Anna wasted no time and within 30 seconds of arriving they were both jumping in the pool.

The five cousins are in the pool every day

The five cousins are in the pool every day

Since then the kids have spent a good chunk of every day in the pool but they have also done a few other activities. Baba always makes it fun with treats, games and outings. This morning they went out for pancakes at Perkins and they have had donuts and many other goodies.

Matching USA swimsuits

Matching USA swimsuits Chloe, Anna and Ella

The Olympics started this weekend and Jude, Anna and Lily are getting quite into it, particularly the swimming and the gymnastics. Tonight Anna and Lily were so motivated by the gymnastics that they spent over an hour doing handstands and flips as well as push ups and sit-ups. They were just full of energy all night.

Setting up for the cousins triathlon

Setting up for the cousins triathlon race

All five cousins enjoy triathlons so today Lily set up a family race. Jude, as always was super competitive and he ended up winning the race. This all happened while Nathan and I were away playing golf – we did 36 holes today so we were away all day.

Jude in action during the triathlon

Jude in action during the triathlon with Lily coming from behind

Gymnastics, Soccer Camp, a Triathlon and a Road Trip to Kansas City

Anna doing bridge and about to put one leg in the air at gymnastics camp

Anna doing bridge and about to put one leg in the air at gymnastics camp

This week week both kids were in camp – Jude in a half day soccer camp and Anna in a full day gymnastics camp. They both absolutely loved these camps. Jude was one of the best players in his soccer camp and he got to play with some English soccer coaches. Anna learned lots of new moves in gymnastic camp and also made new friends.

Getting ready for the swim in the Lone Tree triathlon

Getting ready for the swim in the Lone Tree triathlon

Yesterday, we got up bright and early to drive south to Lone Tree for a kids triathlon. It was their third triathlon and they were looking forward to it. Jude went in the 8-9 year old group and he did great. He really pushed himself hard almost to the point of exhaustion as he had the competitive juices flowing. He ended up coming second overall and he said “it was the greatest athletic achievement of his life”. He was clearly very pleased.

Jude determined to do well as he starts the bike leg

Jude determined to do well as he starts the bike leg

Anna was in the 6-7 year old wave and was also one of the strongest racers. Her triathlon was half the length of the 8-9 year olds but it was still a major workout for Anna.

Getting ready to take off on the swim leg

About to take off on the swim leg at the start of the race

Jude went to meet Anna on the run and cheer her on. We also cheered her on but she was really tired at the end. But she was a trooper and came in 5th girl and 8th overall. She is not as competitive as Jude but she was happy.

Our champion triathletes

Our champion triathletes

Both kids had a full day after their triathlon. Jude went to play with some school friends that turned into an all day outing with even more biking and swimming, and Anna celebrated a birthday with some of her own school friends at a neighborhood pool.

Then this morning we were up bright and early again as we drove to Kansas City. We are on our way to our annual Iowa summer trip but Marcy is looking to buy a new car after selling the Mini. There are two Ford Explorers in Kansas City and we met the dealer this afternoon and drove them both. So we are spending the night here and Marcy will try to buy one of them tomorrow.

Anna getting a turn in the front seat on the car ride to Kansas City

Anna getting a turn in the front seat on the car ride to Kansas City

Sunday Swim Meets

Anna has her coffee (decaf) and she is good to go for the swim meet at 7am.

Anna has her coffee (decaf) and she is good to go for the swim meet at 7am.

I have spent most of the last two weeks in China for our first LendIt China Conference, just getting back Wednesday afternoon last week. I was away for 12 days and I missed everyone terribly. Marcy surprised me by bringing the kids to the airport to meet me which was such a treat.

Both Jude and Anna are on swim team this summer and the past two Sundays there have been swim meets. Today, we were hosting one at JCC so both Marcy and I volunteered to help out. Both kids enjoyed the meet and it was such a nice day we stayed at the pool for a couple of hours afterwards.

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Jude enjoying a post swim meet Gatorade

On Saturday Jude and I went to the robot exhibit at the museum. Everyone else had been before and loved it and Jude was keen to go back and see it. It was pretty cool with a robot soccer game, climbing robots, self-driving cars, drones and more.

Jude gets up on stage at the robot exhibit and tries to blow a small drone away.

Jude gets up on stage at the robot exhibit and tries to blow a small drone aways

While Jude and I were at the museum Marcy and Anna had a little hairstyle and mani/pedi party at home. Anna painted Marcy’s nails and brushed and styled her hair, and vice versa.

Anna painting Marcy's toenails

Anna painting Marcy’s nails

Jude had no camps this past week but Anna had a half-day art camp which she loved. She would be happy to be on camps the entire summer and Jude would be happy to stay home all summer. We have come to a happy medium with some camps for both kids.

At the Peace Hotel on the "bund" in Shanghai with the 2nd tallest building in the world in the background

At the Peace Hotel in Shanghai with the 2nd tallest building in the world in the background

The Annual July 4 Week in Keystone

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Twister was a big hit with the kids this week

We have had a great week on the annual July 4 trip to Keystone. The Dahlen’s came out for the week, unfortunately Baba and Grandpa had to stay home, and it has been a wonderful time. The five cousins have all played really well together and for the most part the weather has been great.

Getting ready for the start of the Keystone July 4 bike parade

Getting ready for the start of the Keystone July 4 bike parade

The annual July 4 bike parade is always one of the highlights and this year all 5 kids rode their bikes over to participate. Ella decided to watch from the sidelines but everyone else rode in the parade. And after about we had to demand Jude stop otherwise I think he would have kept going all day.

Jude feeding the ducks at Keystone Lake

Jude feeding the ducks at Keystone Lake

We also spent some time at the lake – it is an easy ride on the bikes now for everyone. The fish and the ducks have been hungry, Jude and Lily went on a paddleboat ride and Anna went in a kayak by herself for the first time.

Anna going for her first solo kayak paddle on Keystone Lake

Anna going for her first solo kayak paddle on Keystone Lake

One of the highlights of the week in Keystone for the kids is camp at the Keystone Science School. This year, for the first time, we had all five kids enrolled in camp. They have all enjoyed it but it has also meant that the grownups could do what we pleased this week. This has meant lots of golf for Nathan and I with Marcy and Mandy doing yoga classes, walks, reading and relaxing.

All five kids on the first morning of camp

All five kids on the first morning of camp

Once again this year I have to leave a day early to head to China for our conference there. But it has been a great week that we have all enjoyed.

Anna and the twins playing by the river

Anna and the twins playing by the river

France and Iowa

Sunset in Paris

Sunset in Paris

The last two weeks have been quite something. Somewhat on the spur of the moment we decided that Marcy should accompany me to France on my latest business trip. I had a couple of days in Cannes on the French Riviera and then a few days in Paris that included a weekend. We had plenty of miles and work was paying for everything so we booked a ticket for Marcy. Then the kids got to spend a week at Baba and Grandpa’s house in Iowa.

Being spoiled by Baba with pancakes, cream and sprinkles for breakfast

Being spoiled by Baba with pancakes, cream and sprinkles for breakfast

Marcy flew to Iowa with the kids and I flew directly to Nice, France where Marcy joined me the next day. We spent two days in Cannes attending the incredible Cannes Lions show and spending some time on the beach. We also had a formal dinner to go to while we were there with some of my business associates. It was great to be by the beach again.

At the beach in Cannes on the French Riviera

At the beach in Cannes on the French Riviera

Then it was a train to Paris where I had one meeting Friday afternoon and then we had the entire weekend to ourselves. On Friday night we went for a walk from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower, about 3 miles. The sun doesn’t set until 10pm this time of year so we wandered around well into the night.

Saturday was our one full day together in Paris and we made the most of it. We got a day pass to their bike sharing program and rode bikes all over the city. We went to the Pantheon, a spectacular mausoleum where many famous French people are buried. We walked around the Latin Quarter, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, visited the Rodin Museum and then had dinner in a lovely cafe down an alley in the Latin Quarter. We finished the day in a pub watching soccer – as the European Championships were on in Paris.

Pool play with the twins

Pool play with the twins

Meanwhile back in Iowa this kids were having a blast. They were getting lots of pool time and with Lily away on camp they got to play with the twins a lot. Baba took Jude and Anna to the baseball game where Jude won a t-shirt that was thrown into the crowd. It has become his new favorite pajamas, he wears it every night.

The proud new owner of an Iowa Cubs t-shirt

The proud new owner of an Iowa Cubs t-shirt

Marcy flew back to Iowa on Sunday night and then on Monday back to Denver with the kids. They have had camp this week with Anna in Math Camp and Jude in a Money Matters camp at the local Young Americans Bank. Both have enjoyed it immensely. Now, we are getting ready to head up to the mountains for our annual July 4 week.

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