Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September Has Come and Gone

Time to do some major catch-up on the blog! September has already come and gone, and it's officially October. Leah started her 2nd year of preschool on September 5th, T/Th from 12-2:30. It's not nearly enough for this smart-as-a-whip-almost-5-year-old, but it'll have to do! She doesn't start kindergarten for whole other year. We will have to find lots of other things to keep her busy!
She goes to Miss Julie's house, who is a former kindergarten teacher, as well as a really nice grandma. So far, Leah just loves her. She loves packing her backpack and picking out her outfit for school.
The older kids have also settled into their school years really well, and recently had their annual Fun Run Boosterthon. Here's Lucy coming around the corner at record speed!
Zach slowed down enough for us to get his picture, and we figured both kids ran about 4 miles, so that's pretty darn good.
As soon as we got his picture he sped off though, and each time he passed us on his lap he'd put on a real burst of speed to impress us. He had Jon and I cracking up!
We recently renewed our zoo pass to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo down in Colorado Springs, as it's one of my favorite place to go. We bought some lettuce for the giraffes, and man, as soon as you hold out a piece they come running!
And then eat it right out of your hand. How fun that these kids get to grow up petting and feeding giraffes, of all things.
We love the elephants, too. There are five of them and they're one of Lizzie's favorites to watch.
Lucy and Zach found a wallaby who was napping in the sun to pet in the Wallaby Walkabout.
Of course Lizzie had to feed and brush the goats. She still gets right up in their faces and says, "Hi! Hi!" and waves to all of them. She loves taking care of those little goats.
That same night we headed downtown to Coors Field to watch the Rockies baseball game. It was Douglas County Schools night, so we got $10 tickets in the "Rock Pile," and we took those kids out to the ballgame to see America's favorite pastime.
Beautiful night at Coors Field, in a game that was ((almost)) a shut-out until the Padres finally got a base in the 7th inning. 
We'd been there for about an hour when Leah started sighing and saying, "MOM!! Golfing is SO boring!!" I think she meant baseball, but potato, potAto. We bought the girl some nachos and she was content until we left at the beginning of the 9th inning. Rockies win!
Lizzie finally had her 18 month check-up, about 2 months late, but better late than never. She got 2 shots, and was growing perfectly according to her own growth scale, although she's still tiny and only in the 20th%. When Leah left for preschool that afternoon, she made a beeline for these toys she is NOT supposed to touch (Leah's rule, not mine), and played with them happily until nap time. That little grin tells me she knew EXACTLY what she was doing!
We all visited Jon for teeth cleanings one Saturday when he was working, and even Lizzie got a full mouth examination. She made a model patient, especially compared to some of the stories I hear about his adult patients, ha ha.
As I was mucking out the garden and pulling out some of the dead plants, I discovered two HUGE zucchinis that had somehow hidden from view for weeks, on the backside of the planter box. Even Lizzie, who is my little gardener, realized these guys were enormous and extremely unique! Unfortunately they were all mushy and seedy inside (like a pumpkin) so I couldn't even use them to cook or bake with. Oh well, we are all SO sick of zucchini anyway!
We finally pulled out the Halloween decorations and sprinkled the house and front porch with them, so that it's all very festive. I decided this was Lizzie's HP Delores Umbridge costume dress, ha, ha. Maybe she can be her for Halloween? All she's needs is a toady black bow on top.
Last but not least, last week Leah's preschool had their first field trip to the Parker Adventist Hospital, to learn all about x-rays and what doctors and nurses do. Even Lizzie got to dress up in scrubs, preparing Curious George (who swallowed a puzzle piece) for surgery.
Dr. Leah examining her patient George to determine what he accidentally ate.
Leah with her cute preschool class (in matching tie-dye, I might add) and Miss Julie all done on their hospital field trip. Farewell to an excellent September, and here's hoping for an even better October!

Colorado's Foliage in All Its Glory!

As promised, we took our 2nd Annual Sunday Drive a few Sundays ago, up to Idaho Springs (about 1.25 hours away) to see the fall colors. Autumn is short and sweet up at that elevation and when the leaves turn, you have to jump on it, as it's not unusual to get snow in early September. But, instead of snow, we got rain (again), and lots of it!
The road less traveled. We picked a back country road and drove through probably the prettiest fall foliage I'd ever seen! Even better than Pennsylvania in the fall, to be honest. The best way to describe the famous Colorado "aspens on fire" is that each leaf is as bright as a shiny gold coin, then imagine tree after tree just glowing and shimmering in the wind! Too bad we didn't catch it when it was sunny.
I kept wanting to stop and take pictures, and even they don't do it justice. It was just so breathtaking, it was literally giving me chills.
It was misty and gold. Er, cold.
There was a little pull-out next to this lake, so here is where we pulled off and ate our indoor car picnic of a rotisserie chicken, baguettes, cheese, fall pears, and pumpkin pasties. The kids were good sports and didn't mind sitting in the car the whole time, because it was way too cold and wet to get out and walk around. 
Well, this little stink minded the most, but she did okay once we brought out the food! We're making some fun memories with these new Sunday drives!
As we were eating, the temperature kept dropping and dropping, and sure enough it started to snow. It was our first snowfall of the winter, but hopefully it takes a little longer before it makes its way to us in the valley! Brrr!
See those snowflakes??
One more of the mist and snow and fall leaves, with my most cooperative model, Lucy.
Even without the sun being out, it was still so colorful and gorgeous and we captured some good pictures. Colorado, you are STUNNING.

Cardon Colorado Camp-Out!

Wouldn't you like to go camping with this little cutie pie?? She looks like a purple minion with that hair. We headed up to Golden Gate Canyon State park (north of Black Hawk) Friday after school and nabbed one of the very few available spots left (it being Labor Day weekend and all). The kids were ready to be out of the car and to play some card games, and let the camping fun begin!
First, a picnic dinner of Jimmy John's and chips and grapes, before we headed off on a little sunset hike. Anything to take their minds off of s'mores, which seems to be the only thing they can ever think about when we say the word, "camping."
We headed over to a great little lookout point we discovered at a campground we stayed at the very first time we ever went camping in Colorado. It's a short, but steep hike up to the top of a nearby lookout point and you can see all across the front range.
We hung out at the top, which we had all to ourselves surprisingly, and watched the sun melt behind the Rockies.
Lucy entertained us with a few different yoga poses. It seemed appropriate after all since we were definitely becoming one with the mountain.
We finally headed back to base camp and broke out the s'more fixings while Jon got the fire started, and the kids (and Mom) stuffed themselves silly. That's a happy Shortcut!
Jon is the Master Roaster and gets the marshmallow perfectly golden and carmelized every single time. I don't know how he does it, but he's the only one allowed to make me a s'more.
Bedtime cuddles before heading off to the tent for a restless night's sleep rolling around in a sleeping bag! Actually, Lizzie and I slept in the back of the van, and Jon slept with the other three in the tent. All things considered, it actually wasn't too terrible a night's sleep. (Not saying I want to do it again anytime soon, though)....
We knew we wanted to do a hike (after a delicious breakfast of hot cocoa, pancakes, and sausage cooked over an open fire) that morning, so I researched my little list of kid-friendly hikes in the area, and we headed over to Silver Dollar Lakes off the famous Guanella Pass. The tiny town below reminded me of a little Swiss village up in the Alps!
It was a gorgeous hike, with a back country trail that featured blue skies, lots of sub-alpine trees, pristine mountain lakes, and lots of scenic overlooks. You couldn't have asked for better weather.
I mean, really?? It doesn't get much better than that, does it? I fall more and more in love with Colorado every time we go exploring.
The fall colors were just starting to peek out this high up in the mountains. Zach wore flip-flops the whole hike, which was pretty amazing considering there were some rocky parts that were SO steep, but here he is enjoying a well-deserved break, looking down at Silver Dollar Lake.
We found some more beautiful fall colors on our drive home, and it really started to feel like summer was over, as much as I didn't want it to be! I dread winter here, as it's long and the spring is always snowy and yucky, but the nice summers and the beautiful autumn season is enough to compensate for all of that. We loved our one and only camping trip of the season, and as the kiddos get a little older I'm sure it'll get easier and easier to go camping, and we vowed to do a few more trips next summer.

August Add-Ons

We enjoyed (and survived) the 2017 eclipse along with the rest of the world on August 21st. Lucy and Zach's class both had procured eclipse glasses for everyone to watch it safely, and our neighbor had some they loaned us. Although we were only at about 80% totality, it did get dark, the temperature dropped, and it was pretty darn cool. 
I loved the eclipse shadows on the ground and had to get a picture. Hopefully next time Denver will be right in the path of totality!
A brand new Raising Cane's opened right next to the Costco in Parker, so we went as a family to try it out for dinner. Of course they were all over the South, but it was pretty fun to taste some good ol' southern cooking right here in Colorado. Their chicken strips are to die for. Yum!
We found ourselves in the crosshairs of the HOA yet again, this time for the dying aspen we had in the front yard. Jon decided that he could probably take it down with his new chain saw, so instead of paying someone else to come do it, and a few broken chains later, we totally did it! I actually like the front yard better now-- it looks cleaner and you can see the house better. 
Little Lizzie is just growing up quickly and looking less and less like a baby. Here she is all ready for church, and especially nursery. As soon as that closing prayer is said, she makes a beeline for the nursery room and LOVES her friends and teachers! There was no adjustment period for her at all.
The summer harvest continued, with lots and lots of tomatoes to stew into soups and salsas, and TONS of raspberries for the little girls to eat. They are both berry fiends, and as quickly as I can pick them, they eat them up, leaving zero for jam and other preserves. Oh well. It's pretty heavenly out there in the early mornings just checking on the garden. 
Zach's cub scout pack recently toured the Parker Police Department, and Zach had a blast. Apparently they were asked if anyone wanted to be a policeman and why, and Zach answered, "Yes, so I can tase people!" They also asked where the most dangerous place to be alone was, and Zach shouted out, "Las Vegas!" which is actually pretty true, but I guess the right answer was "parking garages" or something like that. He is a character.
Miss Lizzie gets lots of compliments on her gorgeous curly hair. It is just like Lucy's was when she was a little girl, but just a few shades lighter. 
We had one last summer BBQ for Labor Day with our old neighbors the Barbers (who moved to Boulder), Lucy's friend Collette, our neighbors the Hess's, and Jeremy and Kylene and their kids. The weather didn't really cooperate as it was windy and chilly, but the kids had so much fun playing together and it's been good for us to reach out and make new friends in the neighborhood, too.
Last but not least, Jon took Zach on his most recent Scouting backpacking trip and Zach had a blast with those 12 year old scouts. They're all pretty obnoxious and rowdy, so I'm sure Zach fit right in, but best of all it gave the boys of our family some grown-up male bonding time together. It also marked the official farewell to summer as we headed right into September!