Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Zinnias, marigolds, and pumpkins - Oh my!


We inherited a garden box when we bought our new house last February. It wasn't a pretty garden box by any means and we're actually going to rebuild it in the Fall. This year, just for kicks, I threw down some seeds to see what would grow.

* Wildflowers
* Pumpkins
* Zinnias and Giant Marigolds (started from seeds inside and then transplanted)

I even had a beautiful blue hydrangea plant next to Sadie's tombstone. But, TruGreen sprayed it and killed it. Wah wah... I've got a new cone flower temporarily in a pot until after we rebuild the garden box.

Surprisingly, almost all the seeds took. The tomatoes and volunteer tomatillo plant did not take. But, that's ok. This garden box was all about experimenting and playing this Summer.

The most pleasant surprise of all to me has been the zinnias. It's taken them a while to get to this but I love looking out or walking by and seeing their colorful flowers. I hardly have a green thumb so I enjoy these that much more.


Post garden box rebuild, I may have to sneak some zinnia flowers into the garden each Spring.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Her-MEOW-ne


This t-shirt was Madelyn's souvenir from our trip to Seattle. Yes, there is absolutely nothing about it that screams Seattle. But, looking at it reminds me of our walks back from Pikes Market, under the monorail, and the little mall we'd go past each time. Also, that's where we saw the woman "sleeping" in the street. So, I guess it does remind me of Seattle after all.

Now, for those of you muggles who are unfamiliar with Harry Potter, the picture pays homage to the time Hermione turned herself into her cat. My kids tell me it was in "Chamber of Secrets" and the polyjuice potion. (I'm no muggle. I just couldn't remember which book.) AND it's a fantastic play on words and we all know someone who likes a good pun and/or play on words. **Cough, cough. Honey.**

Last week, we met some of my friends and their kids at "the good" Jumpstreet in Ken Caryl for an afternoon of fun. Between my friends and I, we had six kids and our six kids were just about the only kids in the place. They let the kids jump well beyond what we paid for which was awesome. Happy, tired kids + happy mamas = Summer win for everyone.

Now, at Jumpstreet, this shirt made Madelyn a new friend. My friend's daughter who is a year younger than Madelyn came up to Madelyn and said, "You like Harry Potter and cats? I like Harry Potter and cats. Let's be friends." And, that's where it all started.

I wish we could all find friends who like Harry Potter and cats or whatever simple thing it is in life that makes us happy.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Road trip to Kansas City and beyond.

FINALLY posting pictures from our road trip to Kansas City and Lincoln in June. Yep, it's been almost two months but here we are...better late than never!

We took our first non-mountain, long road trip with the kids this past June. Our destinations were Kansas City to see friends and family and Lincoln, of course. The kids declared road tripping awesome. McDonald's in the car plus snacks plus movies equals a good time for sure!


We stayed in Lawrence with Don and Susan on Saturday night. They were gracious enough to tolerate our late arrival and made us feel incredibly welcome in their home. Sarah, Joe, and the boys came over Sunday morning for a delicious brunch. The Noltemeyers are old friends but they always treat us like family. It's so nice to having people like that in your life.

Speaking of Noltemeyers, our next stop was Olathe to see Matt, Sally, and the girls as well as their new home!

Love the Noltes and love these kiddos. They are all so sweet and are all so sweet together. Must because they have awesome parents. (Tee hee.)




Fireflies. Madelyn and Sawyer were beside themselves with the fireflies.


Brunch on Monday before heading to the Plaza. Let's do this again soon, Noltes!


Monday we moved to the Sheraton in the Plaza. We walked around some and did a little window shopping.

Met the cousins, Aunt Judi and Uncle Elvin, and everyone else at the Kansas City Country Club for night swimming and a picnic. It's been too long since we saw everyone but we had a blast. The kids loved the high dive and swimming. (Our joke was to see how many different pools we could swim in on this trip. As of this point, we were only at two.)



What a sweet group. Aunt Judi and Alasdair recruited us to help plan the Knight family reunion in the Fall and we're happy to help. Looking forward to seeing everyone again sooner rather than later!

Tuesday, we went to Oceans of Fun and had an ocean of fun. The weather was perfect and we got to the park early enough that we got to do multiple rides on all the really popular, really fun rides.


You'll never believe it but in the park, there was a trio of men playing drums and they were wearing tank tops with cats surfing on slices of pizzas. You should ask Madelyn if she saw it. (Also, wink.)

Hey, it's Ben Franklin!


After dinner treat on Tuesday - The Waffle Bar. Mine was good but I should have stayed simple.


Wednesday was an important day for our family. It was Sawyer's 7th birthday. Happy birthday, little brother! It was also the day we left Kansas City to go to Lincoln. GO BIG RED!

Stopped at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City. Took a tour and picked up our free baby trees.


Ate lunch at Valentino's also in Nebraska City. Madelyn has declared their spaghetti to be the best. I'm not even sure what to say about that. Hello...pizza?! I know she's mine but sometimes her food choices make no sense. Either way, thumbs up all around for Valentino's.


After arriving in Lincoln and checking in at the Cornhusker, we drove over to campus. There really is no place like Nebraska. I got all sorts of nostalgic walking around campus. For real, it's been TOO LONG since we visited.



It was also really hot but that didn't cut my campus tour short.



Memorial Stadium. This was as close as we could get to the field on short notice. Also, one of my little campers was quickly running out of steam and any interest in doing anything else besides having some birthday dinner and swimming, again.


Birthday dinner at Shogun. He was intrigued but a little nervous. Griff caught the shrimp in his mouth and while Sawyer wasn't interested in catching shrimp, he did realize that he really likes shrimp. Happy birthday, Sawyer!


We had birthday cake back at the Cornhusker. I think it was a molten lava chocolate cake in a cast iron skillet with ice cream although I don't have any pictures of the treat. But, we did get a picture of this tiny boot of beer. How cute is that?


We headed back to Colorado the next day and it was good to be home.

This trip made me realize I miss the midwest, humidity, mosquitoes, and all. I loved getting to see our family and friends and getting to share Lincoln with my family. Bonus: I may have sold both kids on going to the University of Nebraska, too, so I think the trip was a win all around.

Oh, and our final pool count is below:

1 - Matt and Sally's neighborhood pool
2 - Swimming with the cousins at Kansas City Country Club
3 - After KCCC, swimming back at the Sheraton KC Plaza
4 - Oceans of Fun
5 - Swimming at the Cornhusker

Seattle, Yo.


There's been a lot of flossing, "yo", and "bro" at our house this Summer. As you can imagine, it's been delightful and very mentally stimulating. (Insert eye roll.) Naturally, when I think about our trip to Seattle, the first thought that comes to mind is "Seattle, yo." 

Thought I'd share a few pictures from our trip this week to Seattle. The weather was terrific. After having been above 90 degrees for I don't know how long in Colorado, Pacific Northwest temperatures in the 60s and 70s was a welcome relief.

The Gum Wall. It's more like gum alley. I've heard that they clean it off at least once per year and it quickly gets re-gummed. (Is that a word?) And, in case you forgot your gum, there are a few stores close by that thankfully sell gum. We had our own.


When in Rome, you stick your gum on the wall. Sawyer didn't want to part with his gum so Griff added his to the collection.



Day 1. On Wednesday, Griff had a meeting with a client so the three of us were on our own for the day. Madelyn really wanted to visit the Seattle Aquarium. It is such a neat place and a really good aquarium. You can even ride on the back of an orca. (Wink, wink.)


We happened upon the sea otters' feeding time. Aren't otters the cutest?! Then, I found this brother and sister otter pair frolicking and generally having a good time. They're pretty cute, too. 


We visited the harbor seals a few times including once during their feeding and toothbrushing time. Each seal has their own Sonicare toothbrush that the keepers use on them to keep the seals' teeth clean.  Who knew?! And, on our second visit to the harbor seals, we watched as the "Madelyn" and "Sawyer" seals fought over who got to lay in the sun with "Mama" harbor seal. In the end, "Mama" let both of them stay with her in the sun.


After lunch, we took a break from the aquarium and ventured down to Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe...so much stuff and so many weird things. Definitely saw a lot of curiosities! We saw the mummies and shrunken heads and gawked at the Harry Potter wands. We sampled fudge and picked up a little to share with Papa later in the day. Madelyn found some shades she liked. Isn't she the prettiest?


My favorite was possibly the antique Wurlitzer (player) organ outside on the pier.


After walking around the waterfront, the kids wanted to go back to the aquarium which was fine with me. This time, we spent about an hour at the touch tanks getting sea urchin "hugs" and touching the tube worms and anemones. On our first visit, Sawyer didn't want to touch anything. On our second visit, he couldn't get enough. At one point, he was two-handed touching two different sea urchins and I swear I heard him exclaim "Madelyn! I'm touching two urchins!"

The volunteers at the aquarium are terrific. We learned so much through casual conversations with them. We still would have had a fun experience without the volunteers but thanks to their knowledge and accessibility, we learned so much more and had such a neat experience. I highly recommend the Seattle Aquarium.


Day 2. Griff was done with his client meetings so all four of us did some excellent sightseeing.

Fortunately, the kids arrived just in time to catch this piece of public art and hold it up. It surely would have fallen without them.


We did a duck tour and quacked our way throughout Seattle.


We watched a float plane take off past us in Lake Union.


And, while we enjoyed our duck tour, the events in Branson, Missouri, have been on my mind. I realize thousands of other duck boat tours, including ours, have had no troubles. I'm thankful for that. However, it hit a little close to home and I'm so sorry for all those people affected.

Back on land and done with our duck tour, it was time for the Space Needle. Here we come!


After we bought our Space Needle tickets, we had about thirty minutes to kill before getting in line. We found an awesome playground in Seattle Center. Madelyn climbed, Sawyer and Griff did the maze on the ground, and I solved the rebus puzzle.


What a view from the top of the space needle. I don't have a fear of heights but a sheet of plexiglass between the ground 600+ feet down and me is a little unnerving.



The rainforest Sphere at Amazon's headquarters in downtown Seattle.


Day 3. Back to Pikes Place Market. We only had the morning as we were flying home in the afternoon. Nonetheless, we arrived at the market around 8:30A. The shops open at 9:00A. But, the kids and I knew from walking around on Wednesday that there's a little window where you can buy the best looking pastries around - Three Girls Bakery.

What the kids and I speculated from our scouting on Wednesday was correct. Their pastries were THE BEST. I don't even have other words to describe it. I had a spinach and feta croissant, Griff had a ham and cheese croissant, Sawyer had a blueberry scone, and Madelyn had a cherry turnover. But, that's not all. Someone in our group (who shall remain nameless) suggested we get a second set of pastries and try some other things. The rest of the group consented and we ended up with two cheese danishes, a s'mores danish, and a raspberry cream danish. None of them went to waste and none of them lasted very long.

Bellies filled with goodies, we walked through the rest of the market. 

Bought some pickled herring at Pike Place Fish Market for our favorite Scandinavian fellow. Yes, they threw the jar of herring. And, while I paid for it, someone else in the market ordered two salmon which promptly flew right by...one of them was juicy.



Poppie reported that this pickled herring tasted different from the pickled herring at Costco. Neither he nor Griff could elaborate on how it was different.

And, Billie the Pig. We found him. His "sister" Rachel the Pig is in front of Pike Place Fish Market. He's less busy so we could get a good picture.


I'm happy to have visited Seattle. It was so nice of Griff to let us tag along on his work trip and I'm glad we could make it happen.

And, so much for cooler temps in Seattle. It's still hot back here in Colorado.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

40th birthday jam.


The big 4-0 calls for a family vacation. After a last minute switch-a-roo, we decided to go to San Francisco instead of Cabo San Lucas and we couldn't have been happier with our decision. The following is a quick summary, in mostly pictures, of our trip -

Thursday

Stayed at the Westin DIA again as Griff was flying in from a client's meeting that day and we had an early flight out on Friday. Luckily for us, the pool was open and the DIA zip line was up and running. We had some happy kids.




Friday

Early flight out but arrived in San Francisco around 9:00A PDT. Took an Uber to our hotel - Westin St Francis in Union Square - and had a little breakfast at Lori's Diner. Madelyn claimed this place was THE BEST. She still goes on and on about how that Belgian waffle from Lori's is the waffle all others are compared to. Considering how hungry we all were, it certainly hit the spot. Picked up our 3-day MUNI passes and headed off to AT&T Park.

Took the MUNI over to AT&T Park but arrived a little early for our tour. Luckily, there was a San Francisco public library nearby. You know how much my crowd likes libraries. So, we ventured in to kill a little time and add another library to our list of California libraries we like. (Coronado is still the best.)

Toured AT&T Park. It was pretty cool. I really like how they've gone to great lengths to recreate some of the charming characteristics of the old parks. A game here would be cool but we had other things to do and see.





Our room was in the newer tower of the hotel. You had to swipe your card in the lobby and enter your floor destination. Inside the elevator were no floor buttons. As such, we had quite a fun time constantly trying to trick each other into pushing the buttons in the elevator. Because, there were no buttons. Ha ha! Gotcha. People thought we were crazy...which we are but we're also fun.

Dinner was at Cafe Zoetrope in North Beach. A friend of mine recommended it. It's heavily influenced by Francis Ford Coppola and was incredible. I highly recommend it.



After dinner, we were hanging out in Union Square, enjoying the evening. And, you'll never believe what we saw. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. There was a man with two bengal cats on leashes in Union Square. Those were the most beautiful cats and they were loving all the stimulation. For a while after our trip, the kids would say the bengal cats in Union Square was their favorite part of the trip. Sheesh.


Saturday

We walked down the hill from our hotel to get in line for the Powell-Hyde Cable Car. We waited and waited and waited and finally got on one. San Francisco in August is a busy time for tourists. Thank goodness we have incredibly patient and cooperative kids.




Rode the cable car and got off at the end for breakfast at The Buena Vista. I can't even tell you how much I like this place. When Griff and I came to San Francisco in 2007, we ate breakfast here every morning. And, when we passed through SFO in 2011 on our way back from Hawaii, we had breakfast at The Buena Vista in the United terminal at the airport. Not as good as the original but good enough for a fix. There's really nothing special about The Buena Vista. Maybe it's the destination and the atmosphere. Regardless, we shared a table with two Australian men on holiday and filled our bellies for the day.


Walked down through Fisherman's Wharf and made our way to Pier 33 for our bay tour. The tours of Alcatraz Island were sold out through the end of August. So, we took their recommended alternate boat tour of the bay. On the water, it was so foggy. It was so foggy that even when we were under the Golden Gate Bridge, looking up, you could barely see it. On a clear day, it would have been a neat experience. But, in the thick fog, it was something else, very surreal.







We picked up a sourdough turtle, sourdough bear, and a ham and gruyere croissant at Boudin on our way back toward Ghirardelli Square. We sat in the grass at Aquatic Park, overlooking the Maritime Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, and passed the turtle, bear, and croissant sandwich around. I would definitely call this carbo-loading. We let the kids run around and chase birds for a few minutes then went up to Ghirardelli Square to get our free sample of chocolate.


We also purchased a little something at Ghirardelli to take home with us. Our plan from here was to take the cable car back up the hill to the top of Lombard Street. However, by this time, everyone else was wanting to go back that same direction so the cable car line was L O N G. On paper, from Ghirardelli Square to the top of Lombard Street, it's really not that far. What you can't see is the hill. But, we bribed the kids with chocolate - When you get to the top and haven't complained very much, you can have a piece of chocolate. And, we did it. They were such troopers. Madelyn encouraged Sawyer and Sawyer just kept trucking along. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.)

There was an enormous crowd at Lombard Street which was kind of a buzzkill. So, we looked and left.


Went back to the hotel for a bit. Then over to Chinatown to get some high quality Chinatown souvenirs. Madelyn got a fan and Sawyer got a fortune kitty.


We ate dinner at The Daily Grill and went back to the hotel for some much needed rest.


Sunday

Picked up danishes, coffees, and milks from the Starbucks downstairs at the hotel for breakfast. Today was our free day. We walked down to Market Street and rode the Market Street Railway over to the Ferry Building.

We walked down the Embarcadero and settled on The Exploratorium. The price of admission was high but it was worth it. It made me realize how much value we, as citizens of Denver, get from the SCFD which subsidizes the big museums in Denver. Anyway, The Exploratorium provided hours of scientific entertainment.





We made a sweet still-frame, animated video called "Daddy vs the Bull Snake" but didn't get a video of our video. It was awesome. But, alas we were getting hungry.

So, we went back to the Ferry Building and had lunch. After lunch, we rode the street car back down to Pier 39 to see the sea lions again. I could stand and watch the sea lions all day. From there, we went back to Ghirardelli Square for another free sample of chocolate. A little tip here: Don't bother waiting in line for the soda shop. If you walk into the gift shop, they give you a piece of chocolate FOR FREE.

We picked up a bus and headed back toward the hotel. Of course, we stopped at the Cable Car Museum. It was hot and loud in there but it was really cool to see the cables that pull the cable cars and how it all works.




We also walked down to the Chinese Fortune Cookie Factory, located in an alley between a few streets, for some fortune cookie scraps and purchased a bag of cookies. At this point, I don't have as many pictures due to sheer exhaustion. But, I'll tell you that we just finished off our bag of fortune cookies this last week.

Dinner was at Puccini & Pinetti in Union Square. It's right across the street from the hotel where Griff and I stayed in 2007. And, I shouldn't forget to mention that right around the corner from there, we saw a restaurant called The Old Siam. Sadie! We didn't go there though.

After dinner, we had 7 minutes to get to Ben & Jerry's before they closed. We literally ran into Ben & Jerry's at 5:57P with 3 minutes to spare but the woman shook her head and told us no. Boo, Ben & Jerry's. Boo. We found a Pinkberry nearby and had that for dessert.

Our flight back to Colorado was on Monday. After 3+ busy days of travel, fun, WALKING, and good food, we were spent. San Francisco was truly the fun adventure I anticipated when we switched our plans from Mexico. I would absolutely do it again. Sawyer keeps asking me when we're going back to San Francisco. He wants a Giants uniform although I'm not sure why. The other night, Madelyn saw a clip on the TV of a baseball game at AT&T Park and she exclaimed, "Mommy, they're in San Francisco! I recognize Levi's Landing." So, needless to say, our kids enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

Thank you, Griff, for taking us on a fun adventure. And, thank you, Honey and Poppie, for taking care of the Young Siam while we were gone. 40 is just another year and it's just another birthday but if someone wants to take me on a birthday jam, I'm game.