Friday, July 28, 2006

Eight-Year-Old Fashion Diva

We've got a little fashion queen living in our home. Sarah has a real sense of what's fashionable and what's not, what she wants to wear and what she doesn't want to wear. Yesterday the kids and I met some friends in Castle Rock for a movie. After the movie, we made a quick stop at the GAP outlet, because it's a shame to be that close and not venture in. I have great luck there finding stuff for the kids and their prices are great! I was looking at the boys stuff, then the toddler girls stuff while Sarah spent about 10 minutes perusing the little girls section. She then came and found me and showed me the outfit she had picked out. It's quite gauchos and a hip, green tee. Being the "yes" mom that I am these days, I let her buy it. She did a little fashion show for her dad when we got home and he gave the thumbs up. She looks adorable in it. I've learned the hard way that Sarah has her own fashion sense...and it's quite different from mine. Sometimes I rebel against her style and just buy the clothes I think she should wear. I usually regret it because they hang in her closet looking new at the end of the season, leading to some serious school morning battles. (Abbey has a great many outfits waiting for her to grow into!) I'm slowly realizing that she just needs the space to forge her own way here. Being allowed to choose her clothes that match her style is a good thing, and I see how it makes her little heart come alive. She loves it. She even loves picking out my clothes. John and I got a sitter and went on a date last Saturday night and she came in my room before I started getting ready and rummaged through my closet for the perfect outfit for me. She chose one, took the things off of the hangers, then laid it out on the bed for me...complete with jewelry and shoes. She told me what I needed to wear to the movies yesterday, and she gets Abbey dressed for me most mornings. I think she'd even pick out her daddy's clothes if he'd let her! I'm kinda slow sometimes to get things, but I think I'm finally, ever so slowly, tuning in to the heart of this creative child of mine. And lengthening my motherly tether just a bit. Just a bit.

And then there is her big brother. So much like me. I told John the other night that I think I need to call both of my parents and apologize for being such a pest at age 9. You know how your parents tell you they hope you have a child just like yourself? Well...I got one. John just looks from me to Will and back to me and laughs out loud sometimes. Slightly irritating. But Will is so much like me. He's constantly asking things like...are you sure you know how to get there, are we going to be on time, did we bring enough money? And he has ears that don't miss ANYTHING. John and I used to talk in code around him but he's even deciphered most of that by now. So now we just whisper...and even that is often overheard. "Mom, did you say we were going to Target? Really? Don't they have toys there? Can I get a toy? I have $8 but the one I want costs $15, so can I still get it? Are we still going to Target? When are we going to Target? Have you decided if I can get the toy I want?" Get the picture? I know I was the same way. So left-brained...and so not like John and Sarah.

The jury's still out on Abbey but we're starting to see some of that birth order stuff emerge. She is very funny...and she knows it. Usually the youngest tends to be the clown and it seems that's the path she's taking. John told me the other morning she woke up early, shortly after he did, and she asked him to cut up a banana for her. Maybe ten seconds later she walked in the kitchen and asked him, "Dad, how are you coming along with that banana?" She makes us all laugh around here. And her own laughter is contagious.

Well my intent wasn't to turn this into a post all about our kids but I've strayed far from that intent. It's okay though. They're the central focus of our lives right now and they're each a beautiful gift. So unique and so very loved. Fiercely loved.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


John's sermon from a few weeks ago is available for download from our church's website (see link on the sidebar at right)...the bummer is that only the first 7 minutes got recorded. That is definitely too bad because it was one of his best sermons yet. Our loss for sure.

I'm a newsy girl. I read the Denver Post faithfully every morning while drinking my tea, and I try to catch the news every evening. We have a particular news station that we like here. The news team is kinda goofy, but we like the main weather guy a lot. Tonight I turned on the news while getting dinner together, and instead of the usual weather guy appearing, the station manager came on and reported that Mr. Weatherman was "suspended without pay" until further notice. Apparently, last night the weatherman cut into local programming with a storm alert, and when they went back to regular programming, his mic wasn't turned off and he let a couple of "f" bombs slip. Yikes. He apologized on air last night (the one night I didn't watch the 10 o'clock news!) but his future is yet to be determined. I feel sorry for him. We all make mistakes and I really hope this one doesn't cost him his job. Seems like a well known guy made a similar mistake recently and the public was pretty willing to overlook it and forgive him.

It's been a busy week. Only three more until school starts! Bummer indeed. The time is already filling up and that only makes it seem shorter. So as much as I can, I'm trying to rest and have days of doing nothing. As much as I can.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Wiping Decade

In January '04 I attended a Captivating conference in Buena Vista, CO. Captivating is the sister book to Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and he co-wrote Captivating with his wife, Stasi. Anyway, Stasi was describing the current season of life I find myself in as the wiping decade...ten years of wiping noses, bottoms, tears, spills, etc. When I heard that term, Abbey wasn't yet two and it really resonated with me. But I've realized this summer that my decade of wiping is drawing to a close. Not too long ago I took the kids to their favorite park (Colorado Springs has GREAT parks) and I took along a book and a lawn chair. I spent most of the time reading uninterrupted. Two years ago that seemed like a far-away dream. One afternoon this week I spent about 2 hours scrapbooking in my room, while the kids played in theirs. Unbelievable. Even last summer that was impossible unless they were all tucked in for the night. So I'm thrilled that the labor-intensive part of parenting is coming to a close, but wondering what the next decade of parenting will hold for us.

Okay...I need to do a little nutritional ranting. Unless you've been on Jupiter for the last year or two, you've heard and know how bad trans fat is for you and your arteries. There's been a major campaign to get trans fat out of chips, baked goods, things with a shelf life, etc. I'm usually very careful about reading labels but was surprised recently to find that I brought home two items with trans fat in them. One was Bisquik (for Sarah's saugage balls) and the other was Nutri-grain waffles. The Bisquik I can understand, and probably should have read more carefully, but the Nutrigrain waffles really threw me for a loop. I'm constantly looking for ways to incorporate more whole grains into the kids' diet and I thought the waffles would be a hit. They were--just not for me. Even Chik-Fil-A boasts a trans-fat-free menu. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, and that's what makes me so surprised to learn that trans fat is still lurking out there on the grocery aisles. So heads things carefully! I know I will be more careful from now on.

Friends in the south...take heart. Our high temperature yesterday was 77. If the usual west-to-east pattern persists, cooler weather might just be headed your way. And some rain too. It was nice here yesterday and today is a repeat of it. Here's to hoping you can catch a break out east! Or maybe you should consider a plane ticket to naturally air-conditioned Colorado. We LOVE company!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ho hum

It is so HOT here! I know I probably shouln't complain...we're hovering around 90 while our families are enduring sweltering temps in the 100s. John talked to his parents last night and they said they were at 105. And that was the actual temperature. Factor in the humidity and the heat index only raises that temp. Ugh.

Will got his tooth pulled yesterday afternoon. He did great. He even got $5 from the tooth fairy. Lucky kid. He's been to the dentist 4 times in the last week, and John has taken him 3 out of those 4 times. So yesterday, the dental assistant asked John (with great sympathy) if he was a single-dad. I got a kick out of that. I had been there the day before with Will getting his teeth cleaned, but I guess she wasn't paying attention...or maybe she was. Who knows??

So far our week has been filled with appointments--haircuts, dentist, and the pediatrician. Today Abbey had her 4-year check-up. I'm a little behind on that huh? She turned 4 in March! Our doctor recently sold her practice, so this was our first visit with our new doctor and Abbey loved her. Although I wasn't expecting it, Abbey ended up getting 3 immunizations today. The doctor said we could do it today, or come back in the spring because she'll need them to start kindergarten next year. I gave Abbey the choice, and she bravely chose today. She was brave indeed...didn't even cry!

Thanks for praying for our friends I mentioned in my last post. Things seemed to have settled down a bit for both families. Our neighbor won't know conclusively about diabetes for about 3-4 weeks. But it looks like he won't be insulin-dependent at this point. They're going to have to manage his blood sugar with diet right now. That is very good news. Again, thanks for your prayers.

You know...there really never is a dull moment around here. I don't think I'd know what to do if we had one either!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

in the blink of an eye

This afternoon we were planning to go with our next door neighbors up to her parents cabin just north of here. We planned to hike, let the kids play, then have dinner with her parents. We touched base about an hour before leaving and she told me she wasn't sure if her 3-year-old was feeling well...he had been very lethargic all day. I met her out at the van to get our stuff loaded up a few minutes before leaving and she said he still hadn't perked up. She was puzzled about what was going on and wondered out loud if he could be diabetic (her husband is) and she went back inside to prick his finger. Well...long story short, his blood sugar was sky high and they headed to the ER where the doctor said it probably is juvenile diabetes...nothing else generates that kind of a spike in kids blood sugar. So in the blink of an eye their lives have changed. Oh and did I mention that in addition to their 3-year-old, they have 13 month old twins??? They've got so much on their plate already and now this!?!

And the day that Sarah had her birthday party, my friend (who did the party for us) got a phone call from her mom. Her mom hadn't been feeling well for a few weeks but had gone to the doctor that day and they found many suspicious spots that needed attention. She headed to the Mayo Clinic and got a report this week that they were all malignant, very widespread, and that surgery wasn't an option. In the span of one week (the blink of an eye) things went from bad to worse. It's very overwhelming stuff. And I feel so helpless in all of this. All I can and know to do is pray...but somehow it doesn't feel like it's enough. But if you want to pray too, please join me. For the Richardson and Luhring families.

This morning we had an amazing church service. On Sunday nights in June, our church offered a class on Psalms. John was one of three that led the class, and a huge part of it involved the participants writing their own psalms...ones of thanksgiving, praise, and lament (more, but I can't recall the other forms right now). In place of the sermon this morning several volunteered to share their psalms corporately, and it was a beautiful worship experience. It was so courageous of those folks to "lift the veil" and let us peer deep into their hearts for a few minutes. John probably has words to express how moving it was, but I find myself lacking the words. Just know it was a rich time. And the blink of an eye...the fire alarms started going off right before communion. In a really calm voice, our pastor asked everyone to gather their belongings and leave the building (a real life fire drill!!!) It was surreal. We all gathered on the lawn right in front of Shove Chapel and without skipping a beat, Pastor Ken led us right into communion with the alarms still blaring and the siren of the firetrucks en route wailing in the background. Can't say I've ever experienced anything like that before. But it was wonderful. We sang a cappella and everyone just lingered there after we formally dismissed. It was the most memorable service we've attended in a long time.

Interestingly, across the campus lawn (our church meets in the chapel on the Colorado College campus) there is a huge parking lot where most of our church members park. This morning, that parking lot was the starting line-up point for the Gay Pride parade through downtown Colorado Springs. So while we were having this beautiful service out on the campus lawn, there is a huge hoopla going on about 300 yards away. We had to do some explaining to our kids on the way to the dressed in drag isn't something they see everyday. Maybe one of the more humorous moments of the day though.

I just had another thought or two to add to the above post. First, our church was fine. There wasn't a fire but there was quite a bit of smoke. The college and our church have partnered together and every Sunday afternoon they feed the homeless in downtown Colorado Springs. They were grilling something today and it burned and the smoke triggered the alarms. So that's all good!

The other thing is that we really love our neighborhood...because we love our neighbors. They're not just our neighbors, they're our friends. Last night, my next door friend and I left our kids at home with our husbands and went to Target, then out for dinner. And we were planning to join them this afternoon until a trip to the ER changed things a bit. That's what makes the diabetes thing so hard for us. Last night we were talking over dinner about potty-training, time-outs, and other kid stuff...tonight they're facing a major health concern with their young child. Because they're our friends it affects us too.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Curly Girl

So last Sunday I was sitting behind this girl at church with a headful of beautiful, red curls. Really beautiful curls. I see her at church all the time and always notice her hair. It's hard not to miss because it is an extraordinary shade of red. Anyway, I introducted myself after the service and complimented her hair. We started talking about other things but ended back on the hair topic. My hair is naturally wavy/curly though the flat iron has been my best friend for about 4 years now. Long story short, she inspired me to let mine go free...and I haven't straightened it all week. She directed me to some websites and a suggested a book that I picked up at the library this morning, and I've decided to stop fighting my hair and become an official "curly girl" least for a few weeks. an important thing to women!

Sarah's birthday was great. She was queen for the day and doesn't seem willing to relinquish the throne anytime soon. She's got a bunch of birthday money burning a hole in her pocket right now and is scheming for a trip to Walmart. I'll take her anywhere BUT Walmart...I can't stand that place.

Abbey went to a little day camp this morning at the kid's play gym here in town. The theme for today was Princes and Princesses. She loved it. She made a cute crown, had a royal snack, and got to play to her hearts delight. It was a nice way for her to spend the morning, and it was nice for me to have a break too. A few days ago we went and toured her new preschool. She'll go M/W/F this year but she doesn't start until after Labor Day. We're switching to a new preschool this year. I should have done it last year but wasn't really thinking until it was too late. Her new one is right across the street from Will and Sarah's elementary school. So, I can take Abbey to school and then walk her brother and sister across the street too (such fun on cold, snowy mornings!). Both schools are pretty close our house. I was so logistically challenged last year on preschool mornings. This will be a nice and welcome change. Abbey's excited too but a bit sad that her friends from the last two years will be staying at her old preschool. She's such a great kid though and makes new friends very quickly. She'll be FINE!!

Our neighborhood is having a big garage sale weekend. Will and Sarah begged me this morning to ride our bikes around to all the sales. We hit a few of them and they spent some of their money on some things they didn't really need. They each bought a beanbag chair. Sarah found hers for $1, but Will had to pay $5 for his. Good lesson for them about economics, huh? Anyway, the sale continues through tomorrow and they're both begging (pleading is more like it) to let them sell some of their old things. I can't stand having yard sales. So much work for so little profit. We'll see. I keep telling them to ask their dad. He's nicer than I am though so he'll probably say "Sure...just don't bother your mom"...which never ends up working out quite like he suggests it might. I'll let you know...maybe we can sell that stupid NordicTrak that's still sitting in our garage.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The "D" Word

The "D"entist. Well...little Will didn't get his tooth pulled today. John took him this afternoon and they were home sooner than I expected them. Will walked in the back door crying, but said it wasn't because his tooth hurt. He freaked out when they put the mask over his nose for the nitric oxide (I think that's the name of the gas). He hates that part...I remember from his previous experience. They tried for a while to get him to cooperate but to no avail so the the dentist pulled the plug, wrote him a prescription for some valium, then re-scheduled for next week. Lucky kid. So next Tuesday he has to take his valium before he goes to the dentist and hopefully will be relaxed enough not to fight the gas mask. Start praying NOW!

Dentist is a "d" word, but the other "d" word that hit me today was divorce. I got a call this morning from one of my friends in Arkansas telling me that some friends of ours are getting a divorce. It's a terribly sad situation. Unfortunately, getting phone calls like that is becoming all to familiar...we know four couples who are in the midst of that right now. It grieves my heart. As I was listening on the phone this morning, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I don't know quite what to do with information like that except to pray for them...and especially for their children. In all four cases young children are involved. I just want to cry for them.

Tonight we were outside with the kids and I was pulling weeds in our flower beds. Here's a thought provoking question for you...what exactly are weeds good for? Do they exist for a purpose? And why do we have so much trouble growing grass but not dandelions and all those other pesky varieties? Anyone have a good answer????

Tomorrow is Sarah's 8th birthday. She is very excited about it too. She woke up this morning asking about her cake, presents, birthday breakfast, birthday lunch, birthday dinner, and tonight asked us if she could invite the kids in the neighborhood over for a birthday party. I reminded her that we had a party last week but she wasn't quite satisfied that and is still scheming for some sort of neighborhood bash tomorrow afternoon. I wasn't planning to make a cake because we had birthday cupcakes at her party last week so we talked her into making some ice cream sundaes tomorrow night. She agreed on the condition that we serve ice cream with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Sounds yummy to me. She's requested sausage balls for her birthday breakfast and Subway for dinner tomorrow night. And we've got the presents taken care of though I need to get them wrapped in a little while. We pulled out her baby album this morning and I was amazed at how fast the last 8 years have gone. The days on her infancy don't seem that far away. Anyway, she's a great kid and we're so proud of her. Tomorrow should be a fun-filled day!!!

Oh was the first day this month that we surpassed 80 degrees. It finally felt like JULY!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Remember back in April and May when I was so ready for school to be out because I LOVED having the kids all at home with me? Well...toay I'm ready for school to start again. Arghhh. I think I'm going crazy. I had to leave for a little while today and I couldn't have been happier about it. They're whining and arguing and seeming not to listen to or care about a single thing I say. It's getting really old. And summer is feeling really long. Thankfully John has been around to absorb some of this for me, and that's been a really good thing.

Will is having a tooth extracted tomorrow. It's a molar on the bottom left. He had a cavity in that tooth a long time ago, but now it has started to abcess and has to come out. Better sooner than later, so we have an appointment tomorrow afternoon. Ouch! It makes me hurt just thinking about it. He actually had a tooth pulled a couple of years ago and did great. We're hoping for a repeat procedure. This time around though we have dental insurance. We haven't had it in YEARS, so it will actually be nice when it comes time to pay the dentist tomorrow...or at least that part won't be painful. Our health insurance is the reason that John continues to work at REI. They offer health insurance to all part-time employees--regardless of hours worked. For over a year we paid for our own and the cost was outrageous and our coverage pitiful. REI has been a huge blessing in that regard.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

hodge podge

We finished watching America's Funniest Videos a little while ago. We all love to laugh and that show keeps us in stitches. After it was over, John was flipping channels and the Simpsons was on FOX. I was doing something with Will, but I heard Abbey say, "'s the Cheese-sticks!" After a couple of minutes had passed I burst out laughing. I buy string cheese for the kids all the time, and the Simpsons characters are on the packaging of a particular brand. When she saw the Simpsons on tv, she immediately associated them with string cheese and kept asking to go back to the Cheesesticks show. Hilarious. It was also funny during the Sonic commercial when she told us she wanted a bubble gum "flushie". I think she meant a "slushie". Hope so anyway.

John shared a fantastic message this morning. I'm pretty sure it was recorded, but I don't think it will be available from our church website for a week or so because the guy who does that is out of town until next week. I'll try to alert you via this blog if and when it is available for your listening pleasure. smile. It is always a little hard for me when he preaches. Mostly because I know that he is really enjoying himself and is living out his calling. Seriously, so many people come up to us both after he preaches and tell us things like...he has a gift, his words are annointed, and wow...that was beautiful. And that creates tension in me because I have really enjoyed this break from pastoral ministry for almost two years. Our last church experience was very, very hard for me. Selfish, yeah. Honest, you bet. I'm not exactly sure what to do with all that either. I guess I wish that he could just keep doing things the way he's doing them full-time in publishing and preach a little on the side. I like not feeling the "pressure of the position" and I know he likes that too. But when he's in that role, like he was this morning, I know that preaching is not completely written out of our future. So we both contine to pray about that and keep all options open.

I just have to give you a little weather report because our July weather has been so bizarre. It has continued raining all day today and we haven't seen the sun since Friday. Our lawn is loving this rain, and so is our checking account. Water here is so expensive because there isn't enough of it. We have watering restrictions and are only allowed to water three times/week. We've had significant rainfall every day this month. It's creating problems all around us too...roads washing out, flooding, rockslides (the front page of today's Denver Post showed a car parked along a highway smashed flat by a boulder that fell!), and standing water everywhere. So unusual for a state that has had drought-like conditions for the three years we've lived here. The rain has brought very cool temps though. I don't think we've hit 80 degrees since the end of June. We went to the park after church for a party for a friend and it was FREEZING! The bank temp sign read 55 degrees at 2:30 this afternoon. So, not only are we saving money by not having to water...we're not having to run our air conditioner either. Nice.

Oh yeah...John's meeting with Eugene Peterson on Friday was cool. He went to a large assemby meeting at NavPress where Mr. Peterson spoke, then he went with a group of 10 to lunch with him. It was nice, and John said he was pretty much as he expected him to be. It was a neat opportunity and John was grateful for it!

Every so often I think of something that I really miss about living in the South. Last week, I remembered how much I miss swimming pools. You just rarely see them around here (water is scarce--seriously!). But in the're everywhere. I get such a kick out of flying into DFW airport from here. As you're landing, you look out the window of the plane and all you see is a blur of turquoise from all the pools. We do have a few pools around here, but most of them are indoors. They get more use out of them that way because when it's 68-70 degrees in July, it's not really warm enough to swim. When we lived in Arkadelphia, we had lots of friends with pools as well as a great aquatic park. I would take Will and Sarah swimming almost every day (before Abbey came along!). It is great fun and a great way to get your kids to sleep at night...exhaustion works wonders. We've been swimming once since we've lived here...isn't that SAD? My next door neighbor took us to the pool at her parent's high-rise condo in downtown Denver last summer. It was fun, but kinda weird too. The pool was on the third floor. Still fun though. So yeah...I really miss swimming and having a pool to swim in.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lazy Day

Today is one of those days that just screams LAZY! We've yet to see the sun though we've seen a slow, steady rain for a few hours now! I love it! It's one of those days where I think I could just stay in bed and read or watch tv ALL DAY!!! I can't even remember the last time I did something like that. Probably BK--before kids.

Anyway, John gave me a chance to be lazy today. He gave me the morning off...a huge gift. He's so busy with work these days and that leaves me dealing with the kids for long stretches without a break. And breaks are really, really nice. So I got one this morning. He got everyone up (actually, Abbey got everyone up about 6:50 AM), fed them breakfast, got them dressed, then took them with him to run errands. I got to stay in bed and read for awhile, then work on getting our Estes Park photos from last week in a scrapbook. Very relaxing, and very good for my heart!!! They were gone for about 4 hours and I enjoyed every single second of quiet. Sometimes I like to leave the house for a break, but the best break for me is when THEY leave and I get to stay home. So, thanks John!!! I owe you.

Sarah had a fun birthday party this week. It was a rubber-stamping/scrapbook party. One of my friends is a rubber-stamping enthusiast (it's actually her business) and she has a scrapbook room in her basement. We went to her house and she organized some projects for the girls and then let them have lots of creative space. It was GREAT and Sarah was really in her element. She helped me put together some fun treat bags for her guests--full of scrapbooking goodies. So, I was kinda in my element too. It's fun that we've found something we both enjoy and love doing together. We followed up the party with lunch at Fatburger. So she was queen for the day, and thinks she will remain queen until her actual birthday arrives this week! I'm all for it!!! Birthdays usually last awhile around our house.

Our weekend is feeling really full. We have a friend's 40th birthday party to go to tonight, and another party after church tomorrow to celebrate one of Sarah's friend's victory over cancer. John preaches in the morning too. So yeah, a full weekend. Glad I got rested up this morning!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

It has been raining for about 3 hours now. And I can't even begin to tell you how uncommon that is in Colorado. It has rained like this for the last 4-5 days and it's GREAT! We are usually so dry that we pray for this kind of moisture. It's not unusual to get a shower or two each afternoon in the summer, but they're usually brief and the sun comes right back out. These however, have been slow-moving storms that are dumping major rainfall, and we've got puddles all over the neighborhood. It's amazing, and we're so grateful! Our fireworks even got rained out last night. We didn't go downtown as planned because we had major storms yesterday afternoon and the ground was soaked. We went instead to the cul-de-sac at the end of our street and watched two different firework shows from afar...until the second storm that moved through put an end to things. It was fine that time we were wiped out from the activites of the day and were only a few hundred yards from home!! Oh was freezing cold too! We all had on jeans and fleece and were wrapped up in blankets and were still shivering! I LOVE summertime in Colorado!!!

Next week Sarah will be eight years old. We're having a birthday party for her tomorrow! She is so excited. Should be fun...I'll let you know how it goes!

Tonight is the first time in about a month that all of our kids were in bed with the lights out at 8PM. With our company here, then vacation, then July 4, we were pushing 9:30-10:00 every night. Highly unusual for us. Our kids are in bed by 7:30 on school nights!!! I'm ready to get back on schedule. Otherwise John and I never have any time alone.

John is up to preach again on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it! He's swamped with work and deadlines right now and is trying to squeeze some sermon prep in somewhere. Last week was so nice for him...he really needed a break from all he's got going on right now. But right now, Estes Park feels like a lifetime ago. He's getting excited about Friday. It's the day he gets to meet Eugene Peterson (the Message guy) at NavPress. Exciting stuff.

Monday, July 03, 2006

4th of July!!

I love the 4th of July. In fact, it is my favorite holiday. People look at me funny when I say that, but I'm serious! I think it has something to do with the fact that I LOVE summertime, love being outside, and love being around other people...and all those things are usually a part of our 4th celebrations. I remember as a kid waking up on the 4th of July to my dad playing John Phillips Sousa records on his old turntable. We'd usually have some sort of bar-b-que plans with friends and family, then we'd sit outside in our driveway and watch the Elks Club fireworks while being eaten alive by mosquitos. When I remember my childhood 4th of Julys, I smell smoke and Off insect repellent! Nice!

My favorite 4th of July ever was in 1990--the year John and I got married. We honeymooned in Boston, and were there for July 4. We sat on the banks of the St. Charles river and listened to the Boston Pops concert and watched the most amazing fireworks display we've ever seen! It was awesome and is forever etched in my memory!

This will be our third July 4th celebration in Colorado and we're making new traditions that I hope our children will remember fondly! Monument has a 4th of July parade, so we're heading downtown in the morning. It is so much fun!!! It is a long 2 hours long...and there are floats, bands, firetrucks--the works. The kids love it because most of the float participants throw candy, and they scramble to collect as much as they possibly can! Politicians pass out popsicles, churches give out water bottles, and one dentist even throws toothbrushes to the crowd (we need them after all the candy!). Ours is a small town and it's doubly fun because you see so many people you know--spectators and parade participants! Tomorrow some friends from our small group at church are joining us. Should be fun for the kids and adults too.

I also love the 4th of July in Colorado because it's NOT usually hot! Our high tomorrow is supposed to be 77...and we'll need to take fleece with us to the park for fireworks. Nothing muggy or buggy about this holiday and I love it!

Tonight we invited some of our little neighborhood friends over to make firecracker hats for the parade tomorrow. I saw the idea in my Family Fun magazine and they are super cute. The kids went with me to Hobby Lobby this afternoon to get the stuff, and we set up two tables in our garage (it was raining) for craft-night! They turned out great and the kids will look quite festive tomorrow. We're also planning to have a little neighborhood bike parade tomorrow afternoon. We've invited some neighborhood kids to make a few loops around the block with us. Everyone is going to decorate their bike, wear their hats, and ride all together. I think it will be so much fun!

The downside to all this 4th of July fun is that John has to work at REI. We were both so surprised. We never even considered that he might be scheduled to work. After being off last week, and needing some time off this week for meetings, he's kinda at their we'll celebrate without him...and that is so hard for me. He feels so bad (and sad) about it too because he knows I love this holiday, and he likes it a lot himself. At least he'll be able to go to the park for fireworks with us. Our friend is a self-proclaimed fireworks snob and says the best show is in downtown Colorado Springs. I think we're going to trek down there even though we can see two really great displays from our backyard because it's always more fun with friends!

Happy 4th of July to you! Celebrate freedom this day!!!!!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We're back from our stay in Estes Park. We had a really good week together and did lots of fun things. My favorite thing was spending time in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can not believe how beautiful that place is until you see it for yourself. I'm moved to tears each time we're there. Seriously, it's that beautiful. God is the best artist!! We did some hiking and I was so proud of the kids, especially Abbey, for completing a two-mile hike uphill to Alberta Falls. We did some more hiking too, and saw some elk and deer and lots of chipmunks. Every time we're at the park, we try to see the bighorn sheep at Sheeps Lake. The sheep live up in the mountains, but come down to these kettle lakes to lick minerals from the mud. The times of their descent are never predictable, and we've never seen them in the park. Big bummer! The bighorn sheep is the symbol of RMNP, but the visitors who actually see those elusive animals are the lucky ones!

Our kids will tell you their favorite thing was the go-karts and bumper boats and the giant slide. That was fun, but they love being in the park as much as their parents do.

Um...if you're ever headed to Estes Park, let me tell you where NOT to stay. Our little cabin that I fell in love with last year quickly lost it's charm on this trip. Seems the owners had a problem with mice. Eek! It really was so gross. The first night we were there we were watching a movie all together and John thought he kept seeing things out of the corner of his eye. That was all he had to say for me to be a ball of nerves. Literally, I curled up in a ball on the couch and stayed that way for the rest of the movie. We got the kids to bed and he got out the broom to do a little searching. Sure enough, we saw two mice. He shooed one out the door, but we never found the second one again. The next morning, he got the owners to set some traps out. Let me just say we stopped counting at 8 dead ones. So, so gross. I was really irritated. John felt bad about it all week. If we could have found another place to stay, we would have, but Estes Park is packed in June and July. NO VACANCY is a sign you see everywhere. We finished out the week, but the owners knew we weren't happy and wouldn't be back next year. I understand that the cabin is on a cliffside, and field mice are sure to turn up every now and then, but this was infestation. It was NOT a restful week for me! The kids were great about it though, and didn't seem to be too aware of our guests...or their mother's fear. We ended up eating out a lot more than we planned to...simply because I didn't want to be in that place! We did find another cabin we'd like to stay in next time. We were shopping one day (we spent a lot of time out!!!!) and discovered a cabin on the river that we wanted to check out. We stopped in and the owner showed it to us, and I was delightfully surprised to find that it fits our budget and is WAY nicer than the Mouse House! I'm there!

The weather there was fabulous. Highs were in the 70s, lows in the 40s. We had to turn on the heat at night! And we wore fleece when we were hiking. Up in the higher elevations of the park, the temperature is much lower! One night we went to a dulcimer concert downtown in Estes Park. I was freezing! The wind was blowing and temps were in the 50s. Despite my layers and fleece, I couldn't get warm, so we left...and went for ice cream! John and the kids could eat ice cream even if it was 30 below. I passed up ice cream for a chai from Starbucks! It warmed me right up!

Before we left home, John and I gave each of the kids a roll of quarters. The deal was that every time they complained, argued, talked back, or whined, they lost a quarter. At the end of the week, any money they had left was theirs to spend on whatever they wanted. They each lost a couple of dollars, but their daddy taught them an important lesson about grace...getting something you don't letting them spend money they didn't really have! Good lesson, and I think they "got it"!

Oh yeah...about those license plates we've been searching for. We're still lacking four states--Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, and West Virginia. I'm sure
we could have found them in Estes Park, but John wasn't quite as into this quest as the rest of us, and didn't want to drive us through the parking lots! So...we keep searching.