Saturday, September 29, 2012

10 Years and Counting!

It's hard to believe that we've been married now for 10 years!  A lot has happened in the last ten years and it has been quite a journey.  We are so very blessed to have each other and two beautiful children.  We were engaged in Colorado and 10 years later here we are - locals.  Although we miss our family and friends back in KC, we are so happy here. 

To celebrate we decided to take the kids camping at Rocky Mountain National Park.  We thought about a fancy dinner or a date out but when it came down to it, we just wanted to spend it with our family in the great outdoors.  It is so weird to be able to decide one morning to go camping in the mountains and be set up at our campsite for dinner that very night.  Crazy!

We don't have a lot of space in either vehicle and since we were not sure if we would be going off road-ing we wanted to take the Jeep.  But with both car seats in the back and virtually NO space to bring even a bag of clothes we needed to buy a hitch haul platform.  It worked out nicely and I think we'll be getting some good use out of it in the future.

The drive was not too long (about and hour and 45 minutes) but it poured on us when we hit Boulder.  Thankfully it stopped raining when we got to Estes Park and it never rained again while we were there.  We found an EXCELLENT camp site with a beautiful view of the mountains.  It was cool but we all layered up well and it was manageable.  The kids are not used to dinner taking so long to cook but they survived and it turned out great.  BBQ chicken on kabobs, baked potatoes, and steamed carrots.  Yup, we like to live it up - no hot dogs for our special occasion! : ) I thought it would take forever to get the kids to sleep but it wasn't too bad.  We sat around the campfire, sang songs, and made up stories for the kids.

 Elk just wandering around.  They were all around us and they have a very musical call that we heard all night long.
 Ethan helping carry the firewood... or at least the kindling
 Enjoying the fire.

We all slept in one giant sleeping bag bed comprised of a total of 4 sleeping pads and 5 sleeping bags.  The kids were layered in long sleeved pjs under their fleece zip up jammies and stayed pretty warm sleeping between John and I.  The over night low was in the upper 30's which made for a pretty brisk morning!  Surprisingly the kids never really complained about being cold. 
 Bright and early!

 Boys warming up in the morning by the fire.
 Enjoying nice warm hot chocolate.
Our awesome view!

We made pancakes, bacon, and fruit slices for breakfast and enjoyed a spectacular view of the mountains from our campsite.  By the time we packed everything back up it was about 11:30 and check out was at  noon.  We spent the rest of the day checking out the park.  First we went to a water fall area where there were huge boulders and rocks for the kids to climb on.  We had a picnic lunch there.
 Breakfast.  Ethan's eating, Aaron's playing.  Same as at home except look at the backdrop!
 I love those boys!

 There were all kinds of little chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits, and birds to check out.
 That's my mountain man!  I love him so much!
 Ethan and I.  He wanted to climb those rocks all the time. We couldn't keep him off of them.

 Our little helper.  To be fair, Aaron helped with all of the sleeping bags but I didn't catch it on camera.
 Ethan got a ride to the Jeep.
 Our climber loved all of the rocks to climb.

 The rangers constantly warned us about putting our food away due to bears.  We were a little worried about the soft top on the Jeep with all of the crumbs inside but it was fine.  Even the rangers seem concerned about it.  Glad they didn't come around.  That we know of anyway!  Although it would have been really cool to see!
 Climbing between rocks
 Call me cheesy!  This was at lunch. : )

 The kids enjoyed throwing rocks in the creek.  Ethan especially loved the bubbles.
My sweet little Aaron

Then it was off to find a trail.  Since I have joined the Mountain Mamas club I contacted the founder and asked if I could rent or borrow a child pack while were gone.  She enthusiastically told me to to take one of her demo packs so I could try it out.  So with the fancy demo pack and our old consignment find we were able to carry both kids on our backs while we hiked.  The views were incredible!  We ate a snack by Cub Creek lake and let Aaron hike for about half a mile.  The whole loop was 6.2 miles!  We were both pretty tired by the end of it but had a great sense of accomplishment.

We drove around a bit after that and then finally headed home when it started getting dark.  While driving through Estes Park we were stopped by a whole heard of elk crossing the road!  There must have been at least 40 of them!  I've never seen anything like it! 

This has been an unforgettable anniversary.  We will forever remember our 10 year anniversary as the first real successful camping trip and hike in the beautiful rocky mountains that we now call home!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bed Battles

Since discovering his new found trick of escaping the crib, it has been nearly impossible to put the kids to bed. So we decided to try a Love and Logic technique even though it sounded if-y.  Last night we put the boys down after their usual bedtime routine and told them they needed to go to bed. Then we shut the door and waited to see just how long they would hold out. Before long the light was on and they were playing and laughing but we just let them do it.  They had to stay in their room but beyond that it was up to them to go to sleep. The idea was to let them make the mistake of staying up too late and dealing with the consequences the next day.

At close to 11 we finally went in to check on them after hearing a crash. We walked into a disaster. It was insane! They had pulled down the plastic bins out of the closets and emptied all their clothes and all the books off their book shelves. An entire container of wipes had been pulled out one by one and strewn across the floor and it smelled like poop.  (I assume it was the knocked over diaper pail because we never found poop later.) We were ready to scream but instead I said, "oh this is so sad. Little kids who make big messes have to clean up before breakfast. Oh this is sad. What a huge mess you'll have to clean up. If I were you I'd probably go to sleep because this will be a big job in the morning and if it were me id want to clean it fast so I could eat my breakfast." Breakfast is their favorite meal and the one they both eat the most of.

They went straight to bed after that and I set my alarm to wake them up early. Except I overslept! But I heard as soon as they came out of their room so I bolted out of bed and was of course met with, "I'm hungry mom. I want breakfast." To which I of course said, "oooohhh, little kids who make big messes have to clean up before breakfast." It was like pulling teeth but I made them clean it without my help except to tell them where stuff goes. John and I traded off and even ate part of breakfast (bacon) right in front of them. After an hour and a half they finally had everything picked up. I was hoping the message sank in. They were also tired and cranky so we periodically mentioned outloud to eachother, "I hate it when I go to bed too late. I get tired and cranky. People aren't fun to be around when they are cranky are they?"

So tonight we said "little kids who keep their room clean get to eat breakfast right away but kids who make big messes have to clean them before breakfast." We also threw some of our own techniques in like disabling the light switch and the door (until they fall asleep)... hehehe. They never made a single mess. They did try to play in the dark and keep eachother up. Ethan had a few meltdowns but they were asleep by 9. All in all id say it worked out pretty well. Tomorrow we are going to convert the crib to a toddler bed and try putting Ethan down first. I'm nervous because Aaron likes to join Ethan in the crib. But if we can make it a reward for Aaron to stay up then maybe it could work. My enforcable statement might be, "Older brothers who leave their little brothers alone to sleep get to stay up later." We'll see...

Here's the picture of the destruction.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Aaron is a skillful climber and has been since about, oh... 10 months old.  Our little monkey is also very bright and good at problem solving which contributes to his uncanny resourcefulness.  Up to now, Ethan has been our little angel who climbs a little but all in all is just a simple little cuddler who doesn't get himself into much trouble.  Until now.  Now they are roommates and I'm convinced that Aaron must stay up at night giving Ethan tips on how to get into trouble during the day.  I picture him like, "OK Bubs, here's what you do.  Just follow my every move.  I'll show you the ropes.  You'll be out of that crib and into trouble in no time!"

Since rooming the boys together Aaron has made it his mission to see how many times he can climb in and out of Ethan's crib.  It doesn't matter how many times he gets in trouble for it.  So it's no wonder that tonight Ethan finally figured it out too.  John and I watched in bewilderment, after we put the boys in their respective beds, as Ethan made his debut at hoisting himself up the corner of the bed and over onto the glider.  It took him several attempts and he was pretty cautious but he made it.  And he was VERY proud of himself.  We tucked them in, said our prayers and goodnights and left the room with a certain dread.

About  two minutes later our adorable, dimple grinned Ethan comes hopping into the kitchen (Aaron prancing behind) proudly proclaiming with arms waving high, "Mommy! Daddy!" as if he had just won the Iron Man triathlon or something.  He also figured out, with the help of his older brother no doubt, that he could use his little rocker pushed next to a desk that we use as a changing station to access the light switch and turn it on for all kinds of delightful play time with Aaron.  Who needs sleep?  This went on for an hour and a half until I was forced to rock Ethan to sleep in a separate room and let Aaron go to sleep on his own with the light bulbs unscrewed so as to disable the light switch.

What do we do now????  Seriously??  The crib has now not only been rendered useless as a containing mechanism but also a hazard as Ethan is liable to get hurt vaulting himself over the edge.  I guess it's time to start the search for a loft bed.  With rails of course.  The plan was always to put Aaron on top and move Ethan to the cool toddler Jeep bed.  I just thought it would be in February or so when Ethan turned 2.  That's when we moved Aaron.  I have a feeling I'm in for some rough bed times!  Good thing John works days now so he's always home at bed time to help out.  Whew!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thomas Round 2

The day has finally come where Aaron and Ethan get to actually ride on Thomas!  We have gone to see Thomas in Baldwin City back in Kansas two years in a row but cheapskate mom never let the boys actually ride him.  For $18 a ticket, including kids, it seemed too much of a racket.  So we basically went to enjoy the other FREE activities and sneak a picture in front of him.  It worked, they were too little to care.  When I knew we would be moving to Colorado I looked up the tour and found out Thomas would be in Golden!  I didn't know we would be residents of Golden only 2 weeks before our scheduled tour though! It turned out to be the perfect "Welcome to Colorado" for the boys.  Aaron has been anticipating this for weeks/months.  Every time someone would ask if he was ready to move to Colorado he would tell them, "Aaron's gonna ride Thomas!"

We had a great time even though the kids were mildly cranky.  I thought they did great for being tired, hot, and hungry.  I was a little disappointed in the ride itself though the kids thought it was pretty cool.  It was just a circle around the Railroad museum that did 3 loops.  No cool passes up North or South table.  Bummer.  As it was, "Diesel" had to help Thomas pull the eight cars around the loop at a crawling pace so I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have made it up any mountains.  Mom forgot the cash in the car (almost forgot the tickets!) so luckily John found an ATM machine to buy some food for the kids.  I packed water but no snacks!  What was I thinking??  All in all I think the kids had a great time though.  It will be quite a memory.

 In the bus from the parking lot.  Fancy charter buses instead of school buses. 
 We're here!
 Man the sun is bright!  It was a little on the warm side too.
 Waiting in our car.
 The gang.
 Look, it's like the Sodor Steamworks!  Aaron asked where Kevin and Victor were.
 Thomas and Diesel pulling us around the loop.  We chose a car without a top because we thought we could see around better.
 The conductor came around and punched our tickets.
 My handsome boys.
Our friend Thomas
 Diesel helping Thomas out.
 Mr. I don't like loud noises trying to watch Thomas pull away.
 Playing with trains.  Cool table huh... we have a play room now that would accommodate a table like this...
 Crazy Eman waiting for lunch.
Tired boys!