Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, August 16, 2013

Denver Condensed

The trip to Denver was so much fun, and so exhausting all at the same time.  We forget, don't we, how much work it is to deal with a gaggle of small children, herding them here and there, trying to coordinate them all to get ready to go, or for bath time, dinner time, or (most importantly of all) BED TIME.  Every time I visit I'm reminded of how much work it all is, and how much credit young mothers (and old ones!) deserve as they plow through their daily routines.

 3 important reasons for Colorado travel: Lexi, Matthew, and Skylee...

and... our newest 4th reason: 3 week old Travis
We arrived late Thursday afternoon, and by the time we caught the Super Shuttle to the hotel, checked in, got our rental car, and drove a few minutes to Rex and Ronna's house, it was dinner time.  Ronna and the kids had just been to their school's Meet The Teachers night, and everyone was hungry.  L and Ronna made a run to California Pizza Kitchen in a wild hail storm and rain (WEATHER!!) while I held down the fort on the home front as the kids showed me all of their newest toys and latest activities.  After everyone was fed and happy (except new baby Travis, who was just ramping up for the night) we said good night and made plans to meet in the morning for a good breakfast.

Friday morning dawned with the typical gorgeous blue skies.  Fluffy white clouds were here and there, with some darker ones way off in the distance, hovering over the mountains.  In California, we almost never see skies that blue, so it was a treat.  We feasted on pancakes, eggs, and French Toast at The Egg and I.  Matthew had hot chocolate and was very proud that he didn't spill it.  Oh, it brought back so many memories of the crazy meals out with small children so many years ago, but what fun it was!  Lots of pancakes to be cut up, and lots of diving under the table for escaped crayons.

After breakfast, we went back to the house, where 5 year old Matthew, and 7 year old Lexi decided they were up for spending the day back at our hotel swimming, and spending the night in our hotel room.  Matthew threw a few things into a bag, but had to go back upstairs 2 or 3 times to get underwear, an extra T-shirt, or some other necessary item.  Boys... Miss Lexi, on the other hand, meticulously packed everything she would need, and then some.  She was leaving nothing to chance, bringing a beloved stuffed Hello Kitty, some Kettle Creatures, all needed items of clothing, paper, colored pencils, and a deck of cards.  (We played at least a hundred games of Go Fish, and Crazy 8s.  Seemed like at least a hundred, anyway...)

We headed to the pool first thing.  Luckily, it was a smallish pool, not too deep - and WARM.  Lexi is a decent swimmer, but Matthew didn't like to get his head dunked, so shallow water was a must.  However, by the time the afternoon of swimming ended, Lexi was swimming like a fish, and Matthew was proudly telling everyone "I dunked my head - and I didn't drown!"  It was great fun, and we were completely tuckered out at the end of the day.  Even so, Matthew wanted to play more card games, so we did, until it was just TIME FOR BED.  Luckily, there was a Harry Potter movie on and Lexi is obsessed with Harry Potter, so they both fell asleep watching it.  Quiet at last... and both L and I soon joined in the snooze fest.  We were just plain tuckered out.

In the morning we headed to McDonald's for breakfast.  Matthew (who never eats much) chowed down all three pancakes.  Every bit.  Proving that if he's hungry, he will eat.  Back to the hotel and more swimming.  This time, there were other children in the pool, and so it was a little more lively.  L got Matthew jumping off of the steps and getting his head completely under water.  He was having a great time.  He also taught Lexi how to kick with straight legs, and hold her breath longer so she could swim almost all the way across the pool with one big breath.  I forgot how much more the sun affects you at the high altitude, and we all got a little burned.   (Silly Mema didn't think to bring any sunscreen...)  But it was a great day, and we all had fun playing in the water.

We had to get Lexi back in time for her afternoon Mother/Daughter Back To School pedicures.  L and I watched the other kids while they had their toes painted.  During our visit we took care of cooking all the dinners and clean up, so Ronna could try to relax and rest a little bit.  And then we needed to hobble off ourselves at the end of the evening to rest up for the next day.  (How do these mothers do it every day?  I must have been a lot younger then...)

One night, as we were loading the dish washer, Skylee came up and touched the handle of a sharp knife that was in the dish washer.  To my surprise, she looked up at me and said "Dangerous!"  She is a very precocious talker (like her sister Lexi was.  And still is.)  So I had to get a video of this little tiny girl saying such a big word.  Hopefully you can make out what she's saying because it's so cute.  Sorry for my poor video skills...

On Sunday we met Rex and Matthew at church.  Lexi and Skylee stayed home with Ronna and Travis because they had coughs.  After church, though, I had my camera, and it was a beautiful day for pictures.  I'd already talked to Lexi about taking pictures, and she met us at the door in her pink tutu, all ready for her photo session.  She was such a willing little model, and it was great fun to snap picture after picture.  Here are my favorites:

Matthew was next.  Now, this little boy is extremely active, and doesn't sit in one place for long.  Plus, he was in the middle of playing a game on Wii.  In his pajamas.  So luckily I struck gold with the first shot, and I released him back to the world of Wii and Super Mario.

I decided to save Skylee and Travis for the next day when Lexi and Matthew would be at school, so after dinner L and I wound our weary way back to the quiet sanctuary of the Doubletree Hotel.  The kids were getting in bed early to be rested for the big first day of school.  And mom was just happy to be getting them in bed early for any reason.  We fell asleep to the sound of distant thunder, and the occasional lightning flash.

Monday.  Back to the house at 10:30 after a great breakfast of Eggs Benedict (for me) and pancakes (for L).  Ronna was ready to go, and after I figured out the proper camera settings, we got things rolling.  Skylee first.  This little girl just sparkles and shines with personality.  Her best?  This one:

But this one is pretty good too:

Ronna looked beautiful (as always) but poor little Travis just wasn't havin' it.  He fussed and fumed, here and there, and in between, we managed to get a few good ones:

And then Skylee had to get into the picture.  So we let her give kisses to Mommy...

 And ham it up with Papa.

And I contented myself by holding a (by that time) very mellow Travis.

Eventually, the kids came home from school.  Matthew on his 1st day of Kindergarten: "They all knew my name, and everyone liked me!"  Lexi's day was less satisfactory - someone she'd had a rocky friendship with last year decided to be mean to her.  Girl drama is the worst.  She is such a happy, sweet little girl, and it's hard to explain to her that everyone isn't always nice, and everyone won't always like her.  *sigh*  But soon enough we were off to their Jiu Jitsu class, which was a real experience.  My favorite part is where they struck a menacing pose, one foot forward, one arm up defensively, and they shout "DON'T TOUCH ME!"  You could see from the look on their faces that they imagined themselves very daunting foes.  It was adorable.  Although I don't know whether I'd tangle with Lexi.  My son is very involved at this gym - the workouts keep him sane - and we got the chance to meet a lot of his friends there.  I don't think I'd want to mess with any of these people for any reason.  Lots of muscles there.  They would be good people to have around in your next Dangerous Situation.

Back at the home front, we fed and bathed the kids as quickly as we could, and got them to bed.  I think we just threw grilled cheese and tater tots at them.  After things were calm again, the adults sat down to a lovely, quiet, grilled chicken salad, enjoying the quiet.  Until we heard Lexi crying up in her bed.  Seems she was sad to see us go.  I am such a sucker for that.  I went up and talked her down, and told her how much fun we'd had, and how sad we were to go home again.  And then she seized her advantage and asked if I would tickle her back while she went to sleep.  What could I do?  I tickled her back as I slowly felt her relax and slip into a quiet dream.  These little ones absolutely own your heart, don't they?

We left the next day after a quick drive-by to say a last goodbye to Rex, Ronna, Skylee and Travis.  The others had gone to school.  I realized I had taken a picture of everyone BUT Rex.  So one last pose for both of us.  Where did the time go?  Wasn't he looking just like Travis a couple of years ago?
Now look at him.  Never mind that - look at ME.  When did I get to be so... so... not myself?  Life is short.  So short.  I'm glad that we have the means to come visit and make time stand still for a few days.  I will take these small memories with me for the next year, and savor them.  It was pretty close to the perfect trip.  Time with each little one.  Time with Ronna.  A very special evening with just Rex.  Beautiful weather.  Blue skies.  Just the right amount of thunder and lightning to fall asleep to.  Baby talk and giggles.  Go Fish until bedtime.  Seeing that all is well with this sweet family, and that their home is happy.  It's the stuff that every good night's sleep is made of.


  1. Love all the pics! Sounds like you had a great trip. Can't wait for your trip out here!

  2. ...and this is the stuff that every good blog post is made of, dear karen. Thanks to your descriptive words and superb photography, plus that delightful video with sound, we are getting to know every member of your large family. You are allowing us to understand who they are and what they're all about. Most of all, you are giving us the opportunity to genuinely care about them. How could anyone look at those precious children and not care... not love? I melted when I watched that clip of Skylee speaking to you. It was also nice to hear your pleasant voice for the first time and to see more pictures of you. I'm still lovin' that short, red-streaked hair style. It was an excellent choice and, IMHO, you look as fresh and youthful as all the other young mothers. I hope it won't be an entire year before you see the Denver branch of your family again. Maybe they can make a trip over to the O.C. at Christmas time.

    Thank you for a delightful summary of your Denver visit, dear friend karen. Rest now and have a safe and happy weekend.

  3. That sounds like such a great trip. Love the photos of the sweet little ones. I'm in awe of young mothers these days. I don't know how they do all that they do.

  4. Lots of smiling faces here :) looks like you had an amazing trip

  5. Beautiful Karen... just a perfect trip! Thanks for sharing all those wonderful moments... You are blessed indeed.

  6. I've been wondering where you were! Glad you got a great visit with your grands. And your son.

  7. What a sweet, beautiful family! Love the blue eyes on Skylee! I understand the energy thing..after taking care of my Grandkiddos, I'm whipped! Sounds like a great trip. Hope you can get back to see them soon. You look wonderful! I love your hair..did your family like it? Did they notice your wonderful weight loss? I wish I could have played the video, but it didn't show up for me. My computer has been fixed, but some things still are not quite working right! Have a good week!

  8. Ok, a quick P.S...the video showed up and it was adorable..boy, she can talk so clear and so sweet! Smart little kiddos!

  9. Beautiful, beautiful family, and what a terrific time together!

  10. Ms. Karen, you have a lovely family.
    Jilda and I are going to Jackson Hole in October. We can't wait.

  11. great post! following you now! I hope to see you in my blog sometimes. thanks!
    Kisses from VV!!

  12. That picture you took of Alexis and her pink tutu is perfect! I loved seeing you with your family, Karen. They are all so beautiful. Skylee's pronunciation is astounding.

  13. Great pictures - and it sounds like it was wonderful - and EXHAUSTING fun! :)


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