We had the BEST family day yesterday. I love 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. We spent most of yesterday down there--shopping, eating, and just enjoying the sights and sounds. Here are a few happy pictures from our day!
My four favorite people!
Our traditional "it's almost Christmas" dinner.
The Pinkberry in Colorado Springs closed this fall (BOO!!!) so we stopped in before heading home and had some of our favorite fro-yo for dessert.
Downtown Denver is beautiful at Christmas time.
I don't remember there being an outdoor ice-rink last year. I wanted to skate so badly but no one else in my family was up for it so we watched for awhile instead. It looked like so much fun!
Other things that made me happy yesterday:
1. John made us all take a pledge in the parking lot that no one was allowed to go to "Grumpy-town" while we were there. And NO ONE DID. Everyone was in a great mood all day long. Love that.
2. I found a cute sweater for SEVEN American dollars at H&M. That's a fun store--full of great bargains. Every time I'm there I think to myself that I want to come back some day while alone and take my time shopping. Maybe one of these days I'll remember that when I have some extra time on my hands.
3. Perfect weather! It wasn't too cold yet it felt like December should feel.
4. Late last night I found the girls watching television together. I asked them what they were watching and they smiled and said, "Guess?" I figured it was something on Disney and offered a few guesses but it turns out they were watching a Duck Dynasty marathon. That made me laugh out loud and of course, it made me happy, happy, happy because I can't get enough of the Robertson family these days.
Today has been full of errands and grocery shopping. I am 100% finished with my Christmas shopping! John braved Costco for me--I avoid it at all costs on Saturdays and the thought of going on the Saturday before Christmas was completely overwhelming. He's a good man.
Alrighty. I need to get off of the computer and give my house a bit of attention before getting ready for a fun Christmas party tonight! I am hoping to blog a little more regularly over our break--for the moment things seem relatively calm and leisurely. I could get used to calm and leisurely! Happy Saturday everyone!
I was driving home late yesterday afternoon from Abbey's classroom Christmas party feeling a mix of exhaustion and elation because we'd survived the week and our break had officially begun. I called John to check in and realized he'd beat me home. I asked why he was home so early and he smiled (you know you can hear smiles through the phone, right?) and said, "Because it's Christmas break, silly". Ahhhhhhhhhh, Christmas break. I love you. I love that my husband is on vacation for the next SEVENTEEN DAYS. My kids have the next EIGHTEEN days off. I am a one ridiculously happy mama right now!
This week has been pretty spacious for me. I didn't plan it that way--it just worked out beautifully. Typically the week before Christmas is nuts, but this week has been full of relaxation and fun. What a gift! I had two full days of catching up with friends (coffees, dinner, and hiking!) and thanks to a blizzard that blew in we got to enjoy a snow day this week too. I stayed in my pjs all day and made cookies with Abbey, wrapped gifts, did a tiny bit of straightening around the house, and watched a Christmas movie. It was fabulous! The only downside was that Will and Sarah had final exams that day that will now have to be taken after Christmas break (oy!) Thankfully their remaining exams aren't their most difficult ones.
I'm in great shape with all of my Christmas preparation and am counting down the days. I think I have two remaining gifts to purchase and wrap. John took a day off last week and we went to Denver and knocked out most of our shopping--he's fun to shop with because he's VERY generous! I haven't done much holiday baking but that's on the agenda for the next few days. This afternoon we're heading to Denver for a repeat of last year's Christmas Eve Eve fun. We opted to do it today instead of the twenty-third but for the life of me I can't remember why. Really looking forward to spending this day with my family!
The news out of Connecticut has been almost too much to bear.
In fact, when the news began showing photos of the children who were killed it was too much. We had to turn the television off.
We also learned over the weekend that a couple of dear friends unexpectedly lost people who were dear them.
Things have felt so heavy; my tears have fallen so easily and my grief is deep.
I was caught off guard by lines from Christmas carols a few times. Words like these from Away in a Manger: "Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there".
And these: "God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray, Oh tidings of comfort and joy...."
I'm hoping and praying that today is the beginning of a brighter week.
I'm very thankful that this week is feeling way less full for me. I actually have a few catch-up dates with friends on the calendar. HALLELUJAH! It's a busy week for my kids though...Will and Sarah have finals and Abbey is wrapping up some academic stuff as well. Their last day is Thursday and everyone around here is so so so so so so so so so ready for Christmas break.
How about a little random catch up via a few iPhone photos? (Please note that word 'random' in bold print.)
Sarah chose to take Ceramics as one of her electives this semester and has made some amazing pieces! She's a super creative girl and it's been fun to see the work she brings home from class. I love that she has one "easy" class in her schedule since she tends to be a bit of a braniac. We're so proud of her for that but I love seeing her nurture her creative side. This was her seasonal twist on the clay whistle they made in class. Rudolph's snout is the whistle and it really works! LOVE it.
I don't know who to credit for decorating this tree at the top of the Incline but I LOVE it. So cheery and fun. And we won't talk about the nasty tumble I took on my way down Barr Trail. It was my worst one yet. Yuck.
We had a blast of Arctic air blow in a week or so ago. It was brutal after the unusually mild weather we'd been having and it was a very real reminder of what winter feels like. It takes a lot for my morning walking posse to be deterred, though I admit to always being the one trying to talk everyone into staying in bed. I snapped this screenshot before our walk one morning last week where yet again I wasn't persuasive enough to keep everyone in their warm beds. In case you're wondering, 0 degrees is freakin' cold and yes, we realize we are slightly crazy. Crazy, but committed.
Besides, if we didn't brave the cold we'd miss seeing sunrises like this. I don't know about you, but I hate to miss a beautiful sunrise.
I'll leave you with a photo of Jack-the-beloved-beagle. I think he's happiest when we're all at home with him and he's snoozing in contented peace. Wouldn't you agree?
As we were unwrapping ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree a few weeks ago, I came upon the kids' photo ornaments with Santa at the North Pole. I got a little teary eyed at the sight of them. It has always been such a fun tradition of ours to skip school and to visit The North Pole, a Christmas-themed mini-amusement park just west of Colorado Springs. That tradition got shelved as Will and Sarah entered middle school and the tween/teen years.
Sitting there in a pile of ornaments and boxes and dripping tears, I looked up and asked the kids if they'd like to go this year. Surprisingly they said yes (well, two of the three said yes) so we found an available date, put it on the calendar, and made it happen.
It was such a FUN day with my girls. I really didn't know if Sarah would enjoy it this year because most of the rides are kiddie-oriented but she loved it! Abbey did too. A few times I found myself just standing still and listening to the sound of kids and grown-ups around me laughing and squealing with delight. It's a beautiful, beautiful sound and a really fun place to visit during December. I love the North Pole!
Sarah has a flair for the dramatic. Love that girl!
Rudolph is the most coveted reindeer on the carousel.
This picture was taken from the top of the ferris wheel--I don't know if you can see it very well, but it is a terrific (and sad) shot of some of the burn scar from the Waldo Canyon fire. Made my heart so so so sad.
The BEST Santa lives at the North Pole.
Abbey and Sarah rode the Tilt-a-HURL no less than 15 times. Not even kidding. My stomach lasted through about four rides and then reminded me that spinny rides are NOT my thing.
This was on the gondola ride. I have a similar shot from a few years ago!
It's not every day you bump into Santa walking around the North Pole!
I found this post of our North Pole trip from 2008. And 2007. And both made my eyes leak. Kids grow up sooooooooooo quickly.
I hope that one day my kids will look back and remember doing this together during the Christmas season. And if not, they'll have the photo ornaments to remind them of these special, special days!
SMP. Seven Minute Post. I think I need to trademark that or something.
I also need to come up with some sort of warning for rambling, random posts.
As much as I rant about how much I dislike Facebook, I realized again last night why I can never truly close my account: instant responses. I had some time last night to clean up my Christmas card list and I realized that we have a LOT of friends who have moved in the past year. Facebook to the rescue! I had rounded up almost all of the new addresses I needed within a matter of minutes with very little effort on my part.
I walk on a trail by my house almost every day but it's been a couple of weeks since I've been on a real hike. That's on my agenda for today. I worked like a crazy woman yesterday to knock out my work stuff so that today would be free and clear of obligations. We are having some pretty mild weather right now and I want to take full advantage of it. While I'm enjoying this very uncharacteristic weather, Colorado REALLY needs some snow! Things are so dry here.
Can y'all believe that Christmas is less than three weeks away? I need to sit down with John and get our calendars synched. The next three weeks are full of some fun things but there's some other stuff we need to try to fit in there and it will slip past us if we're not intentional.
I love the word "intentional". I wish I was more intentional about a few things in my life.
Okey dokey, my seven minutes are up! I have 45 minutes before I need to rouse my youngest child for school so I think I'll be INTENTIONAL about a few household tasks. Happy Hump Day, friends.
Current food: I can't get enough buffalo wings or red meat these days. I really have odd food cravings huh?
Current wish list: New slippers for Christmas! Are you reading this, John????
Current need: I need for all the candy cane Hershey kisses to disappear from my house because I can't quit eating them. Not to worry--I've almost polished off the entire bag that I bought yesterday. I also need to finish decorating for Christmas! And I really need to find some (free) pinecones. That shouldn't be too hard considering where I live, right?
Current triumph: I logged 100.8 trail miles in November--that's two back-to-back months of 100+ miles!
Current annoyance: Facebook. If I didn't have to be on there for work purposes, I would permanently delete my account.
Current addiction: Ummmm, the aforementioned candy cane kisses. I'm also still addicted to shellac on my nails; I'm tough on my nails but that stuff is TOUGHER and I love it.
Current blessing: Family!
Current outfit: I'm still in my workout clothes from my pre-dawn walk but today is feeling like a jeans and sweater kind of day.
Current excitement: I have something fun and festive planned with Sarah and Abbey on Friday! Also looking forward to a few Christmas parties with friends and to our church's Advent soup suppers and services.
Current to-do's: Get my Christmas cards ordered, get crafty (I have some small gifts to make), and finish Christmas shopping, but I doubt any of that will happen today. Today is a work day. Sigh.
Current favorite stuff: our Advent wreath and eating dinner by candlelight this month, our Christmas tree, and pretty much everything about this time (minus the busyness and the crowds!)