Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In the Past Year

Today I thought I would quickly share a few things we’ve been up to since my last post which was a little over a year ago 😬

I posted this on Instagram recently. It’s amazing how quickly time goes by. One minute we are looking at high schools for our son, and the next we are touring colleges! He applied to four schools and was accepted to all four and awarded merit scholarships. All his hard work has paid off!

I’ve been doing a lot more reading and trying to spend less time on screens and especially on social media.

We took an amazing, fast paced moving down the coast of California vacation that I will have to share more about later. So many places and so many photos!

Erin had a lot of “firsts” 😊 First ride on the Batman rollercoaster at Six Flags, first time visiting San Francisco, first time visiting a beach in California and first day of 6th grade.
I will end for now with 2019 being the year I finally saw my Blues win the Stanley Cup! 💙💛💙
Hoping for a repeat in 2020!

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The National at Red Rocks

I have been wanting to write this post since last October when it actually happened, so it is long overdue!
We celebrated 21 years of marriage in 2018 by flying back to Denver, Colorado for a three day trip to see one of our favorite bands at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
When we were on our family vacation there in June, Red Rocks was one of the places we visited. Mike and I decided seeing a concert there was definitely on our bucket list and we would go back  someday.

As soon as we saw The National was going to be there in October so close to our anniversary, we decided someday was going to be sooner than we planned!

Unfortunately the weather prediction for the day of the concert was cold and rainy with the possibility of some snow later that night. Thankfully they weren't going to cancel, so we went to REI and bought some waterproof rain jackets. I was so grateful for mine, and that it didn't rain the whole time. But when it did, I stayed pretty dry underneath.

We were in General Admission seats, so we arrived to Red Rocks early enough to be right near the front of one of the GA lines.
When we were finally let in, we found a spot as close to the front as we could.

Despite the cold, it felt pretty incredible to actually be at Red Rocks at all much less to see The National!
After the opening act, Sharon Van Etten, they began setting up for The National.

A bonus - the lead singer Matt Berninger came out first and talked to the crowd for a little bit as the rest of the band showed up.

They opened with "Nobody Else Will Be There" which we love.
Actually we love all the songs they played, so it's hard to pick a favorite. I think it was one of the best concerts we have attended together ever!
And one reason...
Matt came out into the audience not once but three times. This is a screenshot of one of my video clips as he floated up right past us. He literally does this using a microphone with a cord. It's crazy and brave in my opinion and he moves so quickly! I don't know how he does it!

Even though it will be hard to top Red Rocks Amphitheatre, I cannot wait to see them again. It will definitely be this year 2019 as they are going on another world tour to promote their new album coming out in May. They have a few stops in cities not too far from us, but I wouldn't mind somewhere new and farther away. I guess we will see!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Home Sweet Home

My husband's job takes him out of town quite frequently. In fact, when he is assigned to a project, he will often be gone Sunday night through Friday evening most weeks of the year for however long the job lasts. It's not ideal, and was really tough in the beginning! But we have learned to make it work for our family over the years.
I am not exaggerating when I say the expression "absence makes the heart grow fonder" really rings true for us all. We have learned to appreciate the time we have together so much more and try not to take it for granted.
Plus, I have to admit there are perks, too. Like the summer the kids and I were able to live with him down in Miami while his company was working on the Miami Dolphin football stadium.
Or back in 2011 when he was working up in Burlington, Canada outside of Toronto. The kids and I took a memorable road trip up there to be with him for a few days.

And funny enough, the other day my daughter was saying how she remembered playing on the rocks by the lake and having ice cream while we were there even though she was only four. I told her I had a photo of it somewhere and here it is! I am so going to frame this for her.

But overall it's not always easy doing the solo parent thing here while my husband is gone. Plus, we miss him! 
His latest project has had him up in Iowa the past two years in a town that is four hours away from home. It's a small town with not much to do, and we did the best we could to find fun whenever we went up to visit him and save him a drive home.

I am happy to say though that job has come to a close for him and he officially moved back home again last Friday! We have no idea how long it will be till his next assignment takes him out of town again or where it will be. We could have days, weeks or months! I think it's looking pretty good that he will be here for a while though, and we plan on making the most of it!

Already he has been a huge help with the morning school commute for me. And I can't tell you how happy it made us to have him stay on Sunday night, instead of rushing off to get back on the road. He was also able to go to an ice skating function for my daughter's school with us on an actual school night which is huge. He has said a million times how hard it is to be away and miss so many family activities. Hopefully he will get to enjoy a few more for at least the rest of the school year.

We are happy you are home, Babe!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Frisco, Colorado - Part 2

Well, I got a little distracted there with the turn of the new year and a pretty busy month so far. In addition to lots of school and extracurricular activities for the kids, I have been doing the Whole 30 plan and Yoga with Adriene 30 day journey for 2019. I am on Day 21 and Day 17 respectively for each one, but will share more about those in another post.

Today, I want to finish up sharing our trip to Colorado last summer.
You can see my other posts here:
Colorado Trip - Denver
Colorado Trip Pt. 2 - Red Rocks
Colorado Trip Pt. 3 - Mt. Evans
Frisco Colorado - Day 1&2

On our third morning in Frisco, my husband headed out for a longer bike ride to Keystone. So the kids and I took our time having breakfast, and then headed to a playground close to Main Street. My teenage son sometimes feels he is a little too old for playgrounds these days, but my daughter loved it! And eventually he gave in and joined us.
It was a pretty nice view there. The playgrounds here at home definitely don’t have a view like that!
Our next stop was to drop Evan off at the marina so he could fish for a little while. Erin and I had planned a visit to the Art Studio on Main Street.

It was a fun creative, space decorated with the owner's artwork. There were many arts and crafts activities to choose from, and Erin decided to decorate a picture frame. While she was painting away, I explored the studio.
One of my absolute favorite quotes was painted in a corner! I collect magnets from all the cities and places we visit. I decided to get a Frisco magnet from her shop because it was so unique.
When Mike had finished his ride, he biked over to us to hang out for a little bit before going home to change and pick up Evan so we could all have lunch together.

After lunch we drove to Breckenridge, and decided to take a gondola ride up to Epic Discovery 
to check it out.

It's pretty much a resort at the top with a restaurant and activities and rides.
To be honest if you are on a budget, I would not recommend it. Although it was pretty neat riding up on the gondolas, plus there is the view.

But it is also a little pricey. The boys got the $20 per person Scenic View Ski Lift ride that took them up an extra 1100 feet. We also spent $49 on a three activity pass for Erin! So I took her...
on the Bungee trampoline ride (which you can do for $8 here)
and the Gold Runner Coaster twice which she loved. It twisted up and down around the trees!

Later that evening, the kids ate dinner at home while Mike and I had a date night. We went out to eat at a nice restaurant on main street called Vinny's. Then we decided to walk around a bit after we ate, and did a little shopping just the two of us.

The next morning, Mike and Evan headed back to Breckenridge for Evan's 16th birthday gift - a fly fishing trip.

Erin and I on the other hand decided to go back to our favorite spot...Main Street!
We had breakfast at a restaurant called Bread + Salt, went back to the museum to get another Passport with stamps, visited a little candy shop and toy store. She said it was one of her favorite parts of the trip lol.

Then we drove to pick up the boys and have lunch back at the condo before Mike went on one last bike ride.
While he was gone, I took the kids to Rainbow Park to make the 1.5 mile hike to Rainbow Lake.

It started off with this nice little wooden bridge type trail by the parking area.
 But pretty soon we were walking on terrain like this...
and this. It was definitely NOT Erin's favorite part of the trip. But Evan and I enjoyed it.

And when we reached the actual lake, it was a mostly quiet, peaceful area. Definitely a nice way to spend time waiting for Mike to come back.

That night we went back to Breckenridge for dinner at The Canteen Tap House and Tavern. We ate out on the patio and enjoyed the view for our last night in Colorado.

I'm just going to end by saying, Frisco, Colorado was one of those places that will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved it! Really reminds me of how I felt while we were in Brussels, Belgium. Sometimes you just find a place that you connect with. I have two of those places now - Frisco and Brussels. Looking forward to seeing what other cities I can add to the list!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year! (and a movie review)

Let me just start out by saying that 2018 went by way too quickly. And I keep hearing from so many different sources that the older you get the quicker time flies. I definitely hope that is not the case for 2019, but I have a feeling it may be the fastest yet with all we have to look forward to this year!

I have so many things going on in January alone - trying Whole 30 again, starting a new One Little Word project, the Yoga with Adriene 30 day challenge, subbing in classrooms, basketball practices and games for my daughter, drum performances for my son, and my husband's out of town project ends soon so he will be home more (yay!)

But for my first blog post of the new year, I want to share my thoughts about the newest Mary Poppins movie which we went to see on New Year's Eve. (all images found on the internet) *And if you haven't seen it yet, there may be spoilers*

I will be honest - I am a huge fan of the original Mary Poppins movie with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. I thought they were perfection, and I loved the way Walt Disney and crew brought the book to life. I was definitely excited to see another story turned into a movie, and was so glad they weren't just doing a reboot of the original one.
I was a little afraid to get my hopes up that this one would be as good as the original. Emily Blunt has huge shoes to fill when it comes to portraying the character of Mary Poppins.
I went in with an open mind though. And to be frank, at first I felt she was just "playing" the character of Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews IS Mary Poppins. But by the second half of the movie I think Emily had won me over and achieved the right feel for the character. She has a lovely voice and I can't imagine anyone else playing the part in this movie now.

Which brings me to the songs. They were fine, but I didn't feel they had the same uniqueness as the original Mary Poppins movie. They actually seemed pretty generic. The only one that really caught my attention was The Place Where Lost Things Go. It was pretty moving during the scene in which she first sang it. And without giving too much away, I thought it was even more moving when the children sang it to their father in a reprise towards the end.
As for the rest of the songs, like I said they were ok, but I can't really remember too many of them today so I don't feel I really connected with any of them. On the other hand, I could sing most of the lyrics from the original songs right now if you wanted :). I didn't see the first movie until a long time after it was released, so I don't know if the songs were as loved or as known back then as they are today by so many. I guess time will tell if the same will be true of the new movie. I just don't think that will be the case though.

Another area of Mary Poppins Returns that wasn't as magical was the animation scene. In the original, they jump into a chalk drawing of an English countryside which leads to a merry go round and horse race. The new movie had a little bit of a more adult theme to it and ended a little darker and with nightmares.
The one thing I really did love about this new animation scene were the costumes Mary, Jack and the children wore. I loved the faux animation details so much!
One of my favorite parts of the original Mary Poppins, was when they went up on the roof tops with the chimney sweeps! They had a similar scene in Mary Poppins Returns, but it started out with them going downwards into a sewer. All I could think was really, we are going to the sewers.

But in truth, it was a pretty great song and dance number. And when you first come across the lamplighters, it's an impressive visual. I think it was one of my favorite numbers in the movie.

As for the other characters, I really did enjoy Lin-Manuel Miranda's performance. He also had big shoes to fill, but I like they he had a completely different character. The children also did a pretty great job. I loved that we were able to see what happened to Jane and Michael after they had grown up, but I couldn't help wondering where their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Banks were. They definitely were not so old in the original movie that they would no longer be around. And I will confess, I have not read the book so maybe more was explained there.

All in all, I did enjoy the new movie. I thought it was great that Dick Van Dyke had a cameo at the end. And I will admit that I may have teared up a little for sentimental reasons. (lol) Mary Poppins will always be one of my favorite characters and movies, so I'm glad another generation will be able to enjoy a new story.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars!

Which reminds me - my husband and I also watched Game Night with Jason Bateman and The Bird Box with Sandra Bullock. I would give Game Night 4 out of 5 stars and The Bird Box 3 out of 5.

Did you see any new movies over the holiday break?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Frisco, Colorado - Day 1 and 2

The next part of our trip took us to Frisco, Colorado. Mike picked it out because it was only an hour away from Denver and had lots of great bike trails that he could ride on between places like Breckenridge and Keystone.
What I loved most about Frisco is that it is a much smaller town than Denver, so it gave us a different feel for what Colorado is like.
Plus, I loved the main street! With the mountain backdrop and rustic feel, it was one of my favorite spots to hang out!
When we arrived into town, we drove straight to Main Street to have lunch. I had read about the Butterhorn Cafe online, and it had good reviews. It did not disappoint. I would definitely recommend having a meal there if you are ever in Frisco.

Then we walked down to the Frisco Museum which is FREE.
 Part of the museum is housed in the original schoolhouse which Erin loved.
But what she really loved the most was the area behind the schoolhouse, where they had some of the actual original buildings set up like a town.

And each building had a stamp press where she could get an embossed stamp for her little Passport book that the museum provides.
After our visit to the museum, the boys decided to hike up Mount Royal, which is the mountain on the left there right behind the museum. I knew Erin would not be able to handle that climb, so we decided to explore Main Street.
It was a good decision, because they were gone almost three hours on their hike!

We started at this cute little bookstore...
and made our way towards the mountains. We stopped at several little shops...
checked out this adorable little art studio where we made plans to return to when the boys had their day of fly fishing.
Then we finished off with drinks here.
Loved the street signs!
Then we headed to our condo. Too funny that this is the only photo I have of our condo there. I took tons of pictures of the one in Denver, but somehow didn't get any in Frisco. Oh well, it was cute. Not as big as the one in Denver which was two stories. But it was big enough with a master bedroom and bath, plus one smaller bedroom for Erin. Evan had to use the pullout sofa in the living room. It was only one mile from main street and the lake, and right across the road from the grocery store and other shopping spots.

The next morning, I went for a went for a walk for exercise. I was determined to stay on track with it even while on vacation.
The view was pretty spectacular.

After working out, my husband went for a nice, long bike ride and my son actually wanted to do some more hiking. The previous day they had hiked that first mountain you see in the above picture, which is Mount Royal. Next to it is Mount Victoria, and the one after that with the snowier top is actually called Peak One. His goal was to get to the top of Mount Victoria. A pretty popular hiking trail connects the three mountains, which you can read about it in this article Best hiking trails in Colorado: A Guide to Mountain Royal and Peak One in Frisco Colorado. 
It took him about four hours to get to the top and back.

While we were waiting, Erin and I headed to a nearby playground with another beautiful view!
Then we went back to the condo for lunch and to rest while waiting for the boys to finish.

That night we drove to Breckenridge to check it out. Kind of weird that once again I did not take any photos. I guess I was just enjoying the moment and not wanting to keep pulling out my phone.

Mike had biked into Breckenridge earlier that afternoon, so he was familiar with it. We ate dinner at a place he had seen called Blue Stag Saloon which was just ok. Afterwards we enjoyed walking around for a bit. It's more touristy than Frisco, but still a pretty little town.

And that was it for our first two days in Frisco! We still have two more to go, but that will have to wait until after the New Year!