Thursday, January 31, 2013

Childhood Inspirations

I'm feeling a little sentimental right now so before I get busy doing something else I figured I'll just type out a blog post while John is bathing the boys.  ****WARNING: THIS MAY BE SAPPY****

I consider myself a decently creative person.  I love to make things, dance, play the guitar, dance, write, dance, jam to music, dance... you get the picture.  I found myself thinking of my mom and dad a lot today and how they have shaped my life in many ways.  

My mind wandered to my mom first and how she used have a "craft room" at our house.  My dad affectionately called it the "crap room" but she really did have quite the collection of crafty sort of things.  She was really in to painting wood crafts and I remember her making banners for the church.  She always made our birthday parties special and usually made handmade favors for our friends.  She helped on the "Motivator" team when I was in Drill Team and made little good luck gifts for us girls.  And of course there was Cuna or Caritas.  For those of you who have never heard of such a thing it's gifts of love given at a Christian retreat called Camino (for adults) and Happening (for youth).  She and my dad always put together clever (and slightly cheesey) gifts for everyone in whatever theme of the weekend.  My cheesiness surely comes from BOTH of my parents. : )  If Pinterest was around back then I think my mom would have been obsessed with it!  This must be where I get my desire to make things.  As for Pinterest, I AM obsessed with it.  

I think of my mom every time I'm planning a party.  Like right now as I'm planning Ethan's 2nd birthday.  It's Nemo themed and even though it will just be us, my parents, and Matt and Jacquelyn, I plan to go all out with the theme.  (You can count on a post on it later.)  When I was little I have fantastic memories of themed parties - specifically a Little Mermaid party where we played Pin the Fin on Ariel.  Handmade of course.  There was also a dress up party where we went on a scavenger hunt for girly things like lipstick and cotton balls and old makeup compacts about to be tossed.  She made cute little wooden heart necklaces for my friends as a party favor.  I think about the graduation parties she threw for me and of course the mother of all parties - my wedding.  Still today she throws great parties and puts a lot of time and effort into everything from food to decorations.  It's quite inspiring.

But it's not just parties   Holidays were always a big deal in our house as I'm sure they are in lots of houses.  Of course Christmas and Easter were big ones and Santa and the Easter Bunny were always good to us kids.  My mom is a fantastic decorator and at Christmas time their house is literally transformed!  In a very classy way I might add.  I look forward to having a nice house someday with lots of space that I can decorate too.  My parents also love Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patricks Day and 4th of July.  We always got Valentines (still do) from my parents and looked forward to what they would give us.  I am so excited to help Aaron make Valentines for his class.  He has school on the morning of Valentines Day and they are having a party.  I also am excited to make a special themed breakfast for the boys that morning and later when John gets home from work, give them their Valentines.    

My mom has played the guitar off and on for years.  I think she got it from my granddaddy and together they passed it on to me.  My mom would play for her church when she was young and then for Camino and our church as an adult.  It was largely what inspired me to learn and play for my youth group in high school.  I still love to play the guitar if only off and on like my mom. : )

Now for my dad.  I started thinking of this in depth the other day and realized my love for music and dance come largely from him.  Remember those birthday parties I talked about?  Well as I got older I started having "dance" parties.  Or at least I tried to anyway!  My dad helped me transform our basement and sometimes our living room into a night club of sorts.  He had left over black lights and other colored lights from his Disco days.  Yup.  My dad owned a Disco club back in the day!  I wish I was alive to witness it but sadly it was before my time.  He would help me set up speakers and make mixed CD's to play at the party.  And of course, we BLASTED that music.  My dad has always liked loud music.  And so do I.  Whenever he found a group he really liked he would keep their CD in the truck and jam with the radio blaring.  My sisters and I LOVED it. Both of my parents love songs with good lyrics.  Music often speaks to them (especially my mom) in ways that nothing else can.  I have certainly picked that up along the way.

And as for dance, well I can imagine my dad had some serious moves on the dance floor at his Disco club but again I never got to witness it.  What I DID witness was his love for dance.  When I made Drill Team my 8th grade year my dad became my biggest fan.  He (and my mom) came to all of my performances, usually with flowers in tow.  I could always hear him in a crowd because he hooped and yelled just as the crowd would start to get silent.  I can't even tell you how many pictures and video he took throughout my dancing days.  I think a large part of why I loved Drill Team so much was because of my parents.  After high school my dad and I, along with my sisters, created a 5th and 6th grade drill team at my old Elementary School.  We called it the Black Bob Red Hots.  We were a great team, my dad and I.  He organized all the tough stuff (where to practice, the finances, the parents) and I got to do what I love.  Teach dance.  I have some of the fondest memories of my dad from those days.  And that love for dance has stayed with me and flowed right into Zumba.  I LOVE teaching Zumba.  And I BLAST my music.  :)

Mom and dad, many thanks for all the ways you've inspired me over the years.  I love you both so much.

I am also grateful for the time I have at home with my kids.  I think it has allowed me to become the creative mama that I feel I am.  A big thank you to my hubby for making it possible for me to be home. Love you.  

And thank you Pinterest!!!  I'll be posting some of the things I've done lately.  I like to call them "Pinteresting" as I get a ton of ideas from that fabulous website. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

So what do you do in the winter with the kiddos?

My mom asked me this question a while back as a totally normal conversation starter.  Only problem?  I couldn't think of anything!  But that is not to say we do nothing.  So I started thinking about it and in case you are wondering too, here is what we do to keep ourselves busy.

We do "art show."  It's when we drag out all of our art supplies and paint, color, play with play dough, etc.  It's usually followed by bath time in which they get to "do the dishes" and clean all of thier brushes and paint tubs.  It is debatable which is more fun.

 Check out their cute aprons from Grandma!

(This video was pre-aprons)

Sometimes we have dance parties.  This is a favorite for burning off cooped up energy.  I plug my phone into speakers and let them be crazy boys.  It generally is a lot of running circles but they LOVE it!!  Some of their favorites to boogie down to are the Ghostbusters theme song, Wooly Bully, and "Bad" from Dr. Seuses the Lorax.

We snuggle and watch TV together.  Our favorite shows: The Lorax, Cars, Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda, Curious George, Shawn the Sheep, Go Diego Go, Horton Hears a Who, Spiderman and recenntly, the Avengers.  Ok so we probably watch too much tv. : )

 We were supposed to be watching a show here but the boys decided to make it "snow" on their train tracks while I was in the bathroom.
Back to being sweet...

We like to go to the "Pirate Ship Pool" at one of the Lakewood rec centers.   I don't have any pictures of them actually swimming because I always go into the water with them.  Maybe I'll get a few next time we go as a family.  Besides the pirate ship there is also a huge slide that goes outside the building and comes back in landing you in the pool.  It's pretty cool and FREE for us because I work for the rec.  Ok so we pay like $15 a month or something for the whole family but it's basically free.

We also like to go burn off energy at the Southwest YMCA.  They have a bounce house that I have access to when ever we want to jump.  We just go and I turn it on and voila!  They have a whole bounce house to themselves.  Again, basically free because I work for the Y.  Duncan YMCA is also fun for the kids.  They have an indoor jungle gym/play place and an outside playground.  The boys enjoy playing there while I workout but it's not NEAR as flexible and you have to make reservations.  Still - pretty fun.

We still play outside.  Unless it's like 10 degrees outside, we try to spend as much time as we can outside.  I like to blog while they play. : )  In the few houses around us there are 4 boys (1 Ethan's age, 2 Aaron's age, and 1 9 year old who likes to play with us too).  Then there are two little girls ages 4 and 6 who the boys loved having over to play.  

 "We're making dirt soup mom!"

We haven't gone yet, but I'm told there are fun story times at the local library so we will probably check that out soon.  It's great for rainy/snowy days.  I will be taking Ethan to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center for story time next month while Aaron is in preschool.  Should be pretty fun.

We stay pretty busy.  And now between my new Zumba and Aqua Groove classes and Aaron's preschool schedule, we are keeping a full schedule again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Hike of the Year

The weather here has been surprisingly mild and WONDERFUL the last few days.  Yesterday the temperature gage in the Durango, which is usually pretty accurate, read 65 degrees!  Most of the week has been in the 50's so we decided to go on our first family hike of the year.  Remember we decided to do at least 30 this year.  So this is number 1 and the count begins!  I personally think 30 is a low goal but we'll see.

John and I had a great time... but the kids were pretty cranky.  When it's 55 degrees at home and feeling like t-shirt weather (yes I said 55 degrees is t-shirt weather) it's hard to remember that it will be significantly cooler on the mountain.  We brought sweatshirts and John and I stayed warm because we were working out but the boys got a little chilly.  Hence the bad moods.  Ethan is just no fun to be around when he is hungry, tired, or hot/cold.  In this case he was all three going up.  We hiked up Lookout Mountain starting at Windy Saddle (about 2/3 up) and ending at the Nature Center at the top.  The Nature Center has a great kids area with toys and things to explore. It's a good place to warm up and they have nice bathrooms too.  An important feature with kids who ALWAYS have to use the potty.  
 Old man Aaron sporting his new pack/hydration system that he got for Christmas.  He kind of reminds me of Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda...  hahahaha!!!!

 On the way up we passed by a group of about 15 deer.  They must be very used to hikers because they did not mind our company.  We thought it was very neat to see them just meandering around.

After we stopped for a while at the top we headed to a sunny rock to settle for a picnic lunch.  The boys were probably the happiest during lunch.  Go figure. The hike down was much quicker than up because obviously it's all down hill.  But we were in the shade the whole time and the wind had picked up so the kids were more than ready to get back to the car.  It was snowy and icy in spots and I had my first fall with the pack on.  Luckily Ethan never even flinched nor was injured in any way.  I mostly caught myself before I even landed but it was still a little nerve racking.  I just hit a very small patch of ice and lost balance.  I will be using my Ice Trekkers for sure next time!! It didn't occur to me to wear them with such beautiful weather.
 That would be string cheese....
Watching the hang gliders
This was the view from our sun roof in the car.  We counted at least 8 para sailers and hang gliders plus some walking up the mountain with their shoots and sails.

It's crazy to me how many people were out and about.  People were hiking, biking, trail running, para sailing, and hang gliding all over the place.  In the middle of winter.  I LOVE this state!  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Potty Power!!!

 Hello, my name is Aaron and I've woken up dry 12 nights in a row!

It's true.  The night we said goodbye to Aunt Chelsee, Aunt Katie, and Uncle Adam was the night we also said goodbye to pullups at night.  The first two nights he woke up wet but has not had a single accident since!!!  He's FULLY potty trained!!!!!!!  

But not to worry about all those left over pullups - they will be put to good use.  Little brother is so intrigued by the potty that he has started requesting to use it.  And actually does.  Especially if Aaron says, "hey Ethan, you need to use the potty?"  What's he going to say, no?  He's up for the challenge 100%.  Anything to be like his big brother.  He has gone at least five times in the little potty now.  Mostly after baths or before bed when Aaron tries one last time before lights out.  He is soooooo proud of himself. And we are so proud of them both!

I'm not planning on pushing potty training right now.  We started way before Aaron was actually ready so this time we're going to move slow.  It's so great that he's interested so I have a feeling it won't be long. I believe he'll be ready before Aaron was - if only for competition sake!  And since we won't have a move to prepare for, we won't wait as long to take away the evening pullups.  I'm guessing sometime this year we will become a diaper/pullup free house!  How exciting!  At least until number three comes along.  No I'm not pregnant yet.  Stop wondering! ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ski Trip to Keystone

We had such a fantastic time skiing together and spending time with each other kid free.  The morning of the 3rd we set off to Keystone where we had reservations to ski two days and stay over night at the Keystone Inn Hotel.

Both days were bright and shining although pretty chilly.  It took me about half a run to remember how to actually maneuver on skis. I got my one panic attack out of the way right off and after the first run I was good to go.  We skied until about four stopping to break at lunch over a shared $15 basket of 3 chicken tenders and fries!!  We vowed not to eat on the slopes again.  John's thermos was PERFECT and when we returned to the Jeep we enjoyed still wonderfully hot coffee.

After that we checked into our hotel.  It was a great place to stay and had a lot of amenities   The staff was super friendly and helpful.  We checked in just in time for happy hour and got a complimentary glass of wine.  We both really wanted to check out night skiing so we made our dinner reservations for later that evening and then suited back up and headed to the slopes again.

 View from our room

 Looking over the map whiling enjoying a glass of wine... just before we went out night skiing.  Maybe I should always have a glass of wine before skiing...

Night skiing was amazing.  I REALLY enjoyed it and would love to go again.  My fears of height and too many people were replaced by the beautiful starlit blanket of the night as we skied down the mountain with the run to ourselves.  I wish we could have gone several more times but it was zero degrees and we had dinner reservations to get to.  I would go night skiing again for sure.

Dinner was fantastic and we even splurged on a very pricey (and tasty) bottle of wine.  It was a fine dining steak house and well worth every penny.  I love that after 10 years of marriage we still have plenty to talk about over a nice dinner for two.

The next day we spent some time in the hot tub on the roof overlooking the slopes after dining in the restaurant at our hotel for breakfast.  Waking up on our time was FANTASTIC!  And we had no visitors in our bed throughout the night.  After checking out around 11:00 it was go time again.  Skiing was great the second day but a bit more crowded.  I think John could have lasted longer but I was pretty tired and ready to rest by around 4:15.

It was SO nice to get away for a few days.  I love my kiddos so very very much but I also love my husband more than I can ever say with words.  It's hard to have time with each other while caring for an (almost) 2 and 3 year old!  Thank you Chelsee, Katie, and Adam for watching the boys for us.  I know they had a great time with you!

Siblings Visit Denver

Following our Christmas visit to KC, Chelsee, Katie, and fiance Adam rode back with the boys and I to Denver.  John and I had planned a mini overnight ski vacation and they were our babysitters!  The trip home to Denver was a long one.  Katie and Adam hung in there like champs as the kids threw toys, yelled, and whined in the back seat behind them.  They weren't horrible - just extremely bored as the WHOLE car ride was during the day and they didn't really sleep much.  In the future we will probably not do it that way again!  I like to have a least of few hours of sleeping children. : )  Sometime shortly after passing Hays we stopped at a Dairy Queen with a fun play area to let them (and us too) stretch and run some energy off.

We arrived home around 8:30 and we pretty much crashed.  John and I had to pack for our ski trip and get to bed at a decent time.

The next morning we got up and the kids and sibs went in one car and John and I in the other.  They were off to the Children's museum downtown and we were headed to the slopes.  From what I heard - they had a pretty good time while we were gone and the kids enjoyed hanging out with their aunts and soon to be uncle.  I've "borrowed" some of their pics from FB to put on this post.  I'll post about our ski trip later.

Looks like they had a GREAT time!  We got back home on Friday night and the five of us stayed up planning the rest of our time together over strawberry margaritas.  Saturday was our tubing day. We drove... and drove... and drove... in the mountains.  Probably should have acclimated them a little first because I think everyone was a little nauseated.  Poor Adam had gotten the flu bug while we were skiing and had just gotten over it.  I think he said he got sick 13 times.  Yuck!  I'm sorry you were sick while here Adam.  What a trooper!  Sunday we met up with  cousin Bernita who lives in Aurora for lunch.  It was nice to catch up and see her again.

We were so thankful for the chance to get away for a couple of days and have them out to visit us. I wish we could have shown everyone around town some more but time did not allow.  Maybe next time.  I'm keeping pictures of gluten free menus I see now Chelsee!  Next time I'll be armed and ready to take you to a UNIQUE Denver restaurant instead of things you already have back home. : )

Glad you guys made it back safe.  Love you!