Monday, July 29, 2013

Vacation- Otherwise Known as the BIG Post (with lots of pictures)

Saturday we returned home from a week with family in the middle of the mountains. I was excited for this vacation because it was just that...a vacation away from here, but I'll be honest. I'm more of a beach by the ocean person in 85 degree weather, getting my tan on (and maybe a drink or two). I'm not (or so I thought) a hiking up the mountain, sweatshirts and pants in the summer, wildlife in your backyard kinda person. I'm woman enough to admit when I'm wrong, and well...sister was wrong. I am in fact both of those people.
Gorgeous sunsets

This wasn't my first time in the Rockies/Mountains/Colorado. I went to Rocky Mountain High as a highschooler, and since Dan and I have been married, I've gone a couple times (once on a motorcycle..I'm BA). This was the first time, however, that I was smack dab in the middle of the mountains. Like, walk out my balcony and see the town below me, five billion switch backs to get here middle of the mountains. It was a gorgeous I can't describe, and even pictures don't do it justice. But I will try.

Our rental home was amazing. I would recommend Winter Park Lodging Homes in an instant if I ever went back. It was reasonably priced for the amount of home we had and compared to what you would pay for it in peak ski season, I'd say it was a steal. Every room except one had a walk out balcony with a small table and chairs so you could watch the sunset at night or just read a book with a cup of coffee in the mornings and enjoy the view. We had 14 people in our group and it was big enough that everyone seemed to have their own space-very important for people who have a hard time sharing a home for the week. The highlight for us was that this house had a hot tub and a ping pong table. They both got a lot of use, and since our kids didn't get to swim this week, it was also their make-shift pool.

Our week was very balanced. We spent a good chunk of time at the house just relaxing and soaking in the view, but we also got to experience some things away from the cabin. We did the Denver Zoo, Estes Park, a few gelato dates, White Water Rafting and some activities at the Winter Park Resort.
Playing in the Bouncy House

Chocolate gelato heaven

Dan kept asking him if he liked his gelato, but he wouldn't speak unless he wanted Dan to lick the sides of the cone.

Mini golfing

Mesmerized by the sea lions

Denver Zoo

We've done Estes Park every time we've come, but we had never gone from the Rocky Mountain National Park side. Let me just say....Oh.My.Word. GORGEOUS! If you ever want to really, and I mean, REALLY soak up the mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park is the way to do it. We didn't even do it justice, as we were just passing through, but there were so many places to pull off and explore and see. The wildlife was just amazing. It was one of those moments where Dan and I looked over at each other and said "How could anyone not believe there is a God after driving through this?" Iowa cornfields are pretty...they are in their own way, but WOW....the mountains are God's creation at it's finest.

We also took the tramway up the mountain again. This is always a favorite for my kids. You get to ride the tram towards the top of the mountain where there is a little shop and a lot of places to look over at Estes Park and climb and explore. My kids love getting peanuts to feed the chipmunks. The chipmunks were a lot shyer this year than the last time we came, but that might be because my kids have gotten louder as the years have gone on. Who knows? Our family climbed to the summit, and it was one of the only times my family was alone together. It was a lot of fun.
Chipmunk feeding

Taking a picture on our hike

Our only family outing this week. It was nice to do something with just the 5 of us.

Getting a bag of peanuts to feed the chipmunks.

We did it! We climbed to the top!

The view from the bottom.

The view from the top.

I also tried my hand at white water rafting this trip. I'm not going to lie. I was a little I was hoping Dan would forget to sign me up nervous. I knew that he was most looking forward to this and that he wouldn't forget to sign me up at all. To be honest, I would have felt pretty crummy if I had let that opportunity slide. If Jaedyn can do it, than I can do it. We had a pretty crazy leader, but our guide did a great job at helping us understand how it worked and keeping us in the boat. They have a lot of pressure to make sure that when beginners like us screw up, they can make up for our mistakes and keep our boat floating right side up. I can't say I'm ready to bump up to intermediate, but I'd definitely do the beginners course again. It was a ton of fun!

Mixed with all the fun, there was down time. A lot of reading, napping, hot tubbing, ping pong tournaments, snacking, game playing, magazine reading, movie watching, walking, flower picking, mountain gazing, exploring, gelato eating, stream walking, caterpillar catching.....I could go on. It was perfect.

Sawyer's favorite thing to do in the hot tub was put the bubbles on his face and say he was a Grandpa or Santa Clause.

Cutting wild flowers at the cabin

Hot tub time with Grandma and Grandpa

I snapped a crappy picture of a moose next to my car on the way home from white water rafting

Most of our mornings, we woke up to 48 degree weather, and so it was the perfect temp for a little hot tubbing before breakfast.

I enjoyed sitting on my balcony reading with a cup of coffee.

We walked down to the stream. The water was FREEZING. I'd guess it was probably 34 degrees.
But all good things must come to an end, and so we trekked back home on Saturday- 14 long hours in the car. As much as I'm disappointed to wake up to cornfields and not mountains, God still proves he can do beautiful things. This morning on my first 5 mile run, he painted a gorgeous sunrise, and I remembered that home is really the best place to be. I appreciate everywhere else so much more, but coming home and sleeping in my own bed, well that's just magical.

Home sweet home
It's been cooler here the past few days, and it makes me think of Fall. The beginning of the school year is my favorite, and I'm getting excited for what the new school year will bring. A few more weeks and there will be a shift. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, so we'll live up the rest of the time we have, but I think then I'll be ready for boots, jeans, fires, hoodies, leaves changing....I'm feeling blessed to live in a place where I get to experience all four seasons.

Here's to living up the rest of summer and making memories! Happy Monday!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


A little enjoying the small things for you this week. As we speak, I'm taking a small, well deserved break from packing up my life to head on vacation this weekend. It's consuming my thoughts and overwhelming every ounce of me. I hate having so much to do, knowing I really can't do the majority of it until the day before we leave. So instead of throwing myself a pity party and drowning my sorrows in wine, I thought I'd throw out a little "Enjoying the Small Things" post to make my outlook a little more positive. Okay, so I'm still drowning my sorrows in wine, but at least I'm happy about it. ;)

Right now I'm enjoying.................

Alone time with my boys

Not like Jae's home much anyways in the summer, but it was nice to focus on my little men when Jae's was at camp last week. We played cars, went picking for more strawberries (fun until Sawyer tried to pee in the strawberry patch..ugh), read books, went swimming and cuddled on the couch.

Sending my daughter off to the same camp I went to as a child

Talk about nostalgia. Inspiration Hills was a huge deal to me as a kid. I remember having my first real connection to Jesus there that didn't involve my family. As sad as it was to see my lady off to camp for her first full week away from us (that didn't involve some family), she was all smiles. In fact, it made me a little cranky that she didn't have ANY homesick jitters. It is, however, a whole lot easier to let her go when she's excited. When I walked into the doors to pick her up on Friday, it was as if I was walking through a time machine. Nothing had changed about that place. It had a comfortable familiarity about it. I listened to them sing songs and hug their "Aunts" and "Uncles" (camp counselors for those who are unfamiliar) and praise the Lord. It was very evident that He was present in that place during the week. Now that we are home, I hear her using terms we used at camp and often hear her talking about games we used to play, and it makes me smile that there are small bits of the past that haven't left this generation yet.

Drive-In Movies

Nothing says summer quite like an old fashioned drive in movie. We hit up Slade's Drive-In before the actual Drive-In movie and enjoyed some great food and delicious ice cream before heading out to watch Monsters University. We set up shop on the grassy knoll up front as people played frisbee and tag and laid on blankets reading books, waiting for the movie to start. We grabbed some popcorn and enjoyed a nice cool evening with friends, gushing afterwards about how some classic past times bring just as much happiness to our kids as they did to us.

Snails and Lake Water

Hands down I'd pick a pool over a lake. I love the blue water and the serene peace that falls over me when I hear the sound of the water bubbling out of the giant, blue umbrella and hitting the water. However, I grew up on the lake. Some of my best memories of my childhood were made at a lake, and I thoroughly enjoy making those memories for my kiddos as well. We spent Saturday afternoon at Paullina pit celebrating our nieces and nephew's birthdays. We spent a few hours swimming, being tossed in the air by grandpa, laying out on our sandy towels, picking snails off of the bottom of the dock and placing them in the palm of our hands while we watch them slowly slide across our sandy skin, and overall, just enjoying one another's company. The best part of the day? When my 6 year old niece hops into my arms and lays her exhausted, beautiful sandy blonde head on my shoulder and slowly drifts to sleep as I rock in the chair. The epitome of enjoying the small things. Heavenly.

Girls Night Out
We celebrated some special birthdays this past weekend, just the way we like them....with Mexican, dancing and margaritas. I was introduced to the Barefoot Bar on Saturday. I can't believe I've never taken the time to check it out. It's amazeballs. I loved the atmosphere. We followed it up by sitting on the dock and dipping our toes in the water and head banging to some 80's live music at the Gardens. Finish it off with a breezy jeep ride home, and you've got the recipe for a stellar night!

For now, I go back to packing suitcases, crossing off lists and trying to maintain some order in my house. Tomorrow I will be going full steam ahead to get my van packed up and ready for the 13 hour trip we will embark on at 4 AM Saturday morning. Wish us luck! Will be back soon with a vacation post!

What are you enjoying?!