Jan 17, 2020

Art Appreciation

1/17/2020 — cori
Once Chloe and Bennett went back to school, the rest of us took a field trip to the Denver Art Museum to view the Monet exhibit. It was quite spectacular! I have always loved Impressionistic art and Monet in particular. In college I had a poster of his artwork in my tiny living area. I also painted a duplicate of one of his pieces in art class and gave it to my parents as a gift. I loved one of his many quotes that were painted randomly on the walls throughout the gallery: "Apart from painting and gardening, I'm not good at anything." 

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Monet's life and appreciating the perspective his paintings take. He loved wide open spaces, sunsets, flowers, water, and landscapes. In that, we are of one heart.

I was surprised to learn how often he moved. This painting was done while he lived in Holland. 

 
 Isn't this just gorgeous! Oftentimes I found myself equally impressed with the craftsmanship of the frames as I was with the art held inside them.

This one is entitled "Fog". It was done while he lived in London. How do you capture fog? It's so ethereal. 

The museum also had another exhibit entitled: The Treasures of British Art. That is where we viewed the piece above. This painting by Edward Collier is called "Ode to a Dead Soldier" and was done in 1667. The detail in this piece just blew me away. I don't know all the fancy speak that art appreciation people use to describe beautiful art, but if I did, I would use all the words. Incredible! 


Here is yet another impressive piece. This unbelievable architectural painting called "Interior of the Cathedral, Pisa" was done is 1859. How can people be this talented?! 

After being duly impressed at the art museum, we walked through downtown on our way to lunch passing this giant bear peeking into the convention center. We then indulged on the most delicious pizza outside of Minneapolis, Pizza Republica. We were just as excited about our food as we were about the beautiful art we just witnessed. Needless to say, we were all incredibly happy on this day of beauty.





 



Jan 16, 2020

Chloe's Quote

1/16/2020 — cori

The other day I was just innocently sitting on the sofa reading when Bennett wanders over and decides that is going to try to mess with me the way only a teenage boy can mess with his mom. I looked him directly in the eye and in my best serious voice and death stare said, "Boy, don't play games with me."

And as if on cue, Chloe appropriately adds: "Mom doesn't play a lot of games, but those she does play, she wins!"

Bennett got roasted twice. Chloe won "quote of the day." And I felt vindicated. Win/win all around.

Jan 15, 2020

Wisdom Tooth Tale

1/15/2020 — cori
Bennett got all four of his wisdom teeth out this past Thursday. He was a trooper. When the Doctor called me back after the surgery, he and the nurse couldn't stop smiling. I'm sure the see and hear so many funny antics as the kids come out of their drug induced stupors. When I first saw him he gave me a high five when I asked him how he was doing. Then he gave the Doctor a high five. I imagine he was doing that a lot prior to my entering the room. As I was attempting to video him (while driving) he kept winking at my phone.

Some funny things he said on the way home while his mouth was stuffed with gauze that I had to interpret:
    • "I'm stronger than this"
    • "I want a burrito" 
    • "basketball" (at multiple random intervals)
    • "the office"
    • "they put codeine in the iv" 
    • "i woke up in the car"



Jan 13, 2020

Adulting

1/13/2020 — cori
 This is what 21 looks like.

You still have to pose with your siblings on high ledges when Mom asks you to.

But it's so worth it because you're outside, up in the mountains on a gorgeous day in January celebrating the gift of being alive with your whole family gathered around you. What could be better?!

We were so thankful to be able to spend Gavin's 21st birthday together before he had to be back at school. We had an awesome 3 whole weeks together playing tons of games, eating tons of food, and watching tons of movies. We won at adulting.

Jan 4, 2020

Let's Go Adventuring

1/04/2020 — cori
A free, sunny, 60 degree Saturday in January has all the makings of an adventure. Sadly, Bennett had to work all day, but luckily, Brooke was available to join us, so we still numbered 5. Gavin had a hankering for Chuy's. Since it's an hour away from us, we decided to see what other fun things we could do around there. Lucky for us there was the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. This is where we in the above photo.

Who knew how incredible this museum would be?! Honestly, I took way too many photos of rocks. I really, really enjoyed my geology class in college.

 How can one not be impressed with a mini diorama made of silver and gold inside a walnut shell?!

This is Dolomite from Namibia.

This is Cyanotrichite from Idaho.

And this is the most incredible carving of a duck made out of Rhodochrosite.

Colorado School of Mines is located in Golden, Colorado. We accidentally happened upon the quaint little downtown area. Looks like an old west town. But we didn't stop, just passed through on our way to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.


We had fun walking through the snow covered paths of the Forest Trail Loop.

Dad and Gavin doing their best to keep the shoes clean.

When one finds a tree, one climbs it.

So does the other one.

And the last one. All by herself with no help. 
I just love going adventuring!







Dec 17, 2019

Parenting is Hard

12/17/2019 — cori

I know I've mentioned alot in this blog about how I really have loved the teenage years. And I still do, but....it doesn't mean parenting stops or gets easier. These past few weeks are proof of that.


These two adored each other when they were young. Bennett has always been so thoughtful about including Chloe. And Chloe couldn't give him enough kisses or hand holds. But things came to a breaking point this week and all those lovey feels were no longer in the air. It broke my heart. I waited and watched. Parenting looks different at each stage. At this particular one, I can't go in and tell them to stop and fix the problem for them. I have given them all the tools they need, I just need to stay on the outskirts and see how it plays out. 

However, I decided to come off the sidelines yesterday. The animosity between these two had risen to new levels and it wasn't getting better - rather worse. What I wanted to do was yell at them to take their heads out of their butts and see how they're hurting the other person. I wanted to tell them to just stop it and they would. I wanted to tell each of them how mean and selfish they were acting. But has anyone ever changed by pointing out all their negative qualities? Obviously, I was going to have to find a different way.

Chuck was out of town (the go-to peacemaker), we'd reached our breaking point, and I was the only parent left to clean up this mess. I was scared. I hate conflict. This cannot be overstated enough. I hate conflict between myself and others and just watching it play out between other people. I just want it all to go away. I decided the famous prayer of "Help, God, Help!" was in order. I left my prayer time with an idea of how to handle this situation and felt much better about the inevitable conflict that was to come.

I talked with each kid individually telling them that we would be having a talk in a little while about what's going on between the two of them. I wanted to prepare them so they not feel attacked. I wanted them to have time to think about the things bothering them the most so they would be able to articulate it instead of melt into a puddle of tears or use the famous teenage adage,"You just don't understand."

We all decided to sit in my room. I started the conversation off by reading them a blog I wrote 10 years ago about how much they adored each other. They both remembered the situation and seemed a little melancholy after I read it. I told them that their feud has gotten to the point where I needed to intervene because they are not using the tools I taught them. This situation has gotten out of hand and they need a mediator to help walk them through the hurt each of them are feeling. I get to be that mediator. 

They began by telling each other the one thing they love the most about one another. Then they were each free to tell the other the one thing that the other was doing that was causing them so much pain that they felt justified in treating each other in such spiteful ways. They each had to listen and not respond until it was their turn. It's hard to hear and see these ugly things in ourselves - especially when we feel justified. They had to sit with that pain and hear how it hurt the other. That is a humbling place to be. They both did it well. 

There was no yelling. There were no accusations. They seemed relieved to finally be talking about this and getting it out into the open. It was a healthy conflict resolution. I was the only one to cry, but I seem to do that a lot these days. I cry when I'm overwhelmed, happy, sad, hurt. Chloe might have cried as well, but I had my glasses off and couldn't see clearly. But all the tears were of relief. We were all relieved this hurt between each other was named, discussed, and forgiven. We were relieved to go back to our normal relationships letting love guide and not the hurt.

The thing about conflict is...it's normal. To avoid it is to avoid relationship. Relationships take work. We have to push through the hard parts. We're unique human beings with our own wills, of course there will be conflict. But how much do you love the other person? Enough to fight for your relationship?

To keep them honest and resentment from building up causing another episode like this again, now, on a daily basis, they will have to tell each other one thing they really appreciate about the other and one thing the other did or said that made them feel aggrieved. Like anything worth while, it takes practice. There will be more ups and downs, but they should be better equipped to handle them on their own.

The Far Side of Parenting is so much harder than when they were little. But I'm thankful for these opportunities to grow and learn along with my children.

Dec 5, 2019

Happy Thanks 2019

12/05/2019 — cori

Thanksgiving 2019 almost didn't happen. We were supposed to drive to Utah to spend the week with the Thompsons. No one could have predicted back in June that winter would be starting in October this year. The day before we were supposed to leave for Utah, we ended up getting one of the largest snow dumps we've ever had while living in Colorado - a foot of snow. Below, Chuck is demonstrating the depth of snow and snow drifts.


It snowed all day Monday and all night through mid-day Tuesday. We had originally planned to set out around 8am on Tuesday. When I checked the Wyoming Department of Transportation website to see if the main highway we have to travel was opened, I was disappointed to see it was completely shut down as indicated by the large red rectangles below. 


We checked all available routes...going through the mountains was impossible because all the roads leading up to the mountains were closed. The main highway going through Vail Pass was closed due to a rockslide. All the passes over the mountains were closed. Going north (the quickest route) through Wyoming was closed. So we decided to wait it out. We would just leave first thing Wednesday morning. But then I checked the weather and learned that Utah was under a winter weather advisory from 4am Wednesday morning through 10am Saturday morning. We were definitely between a rock and a hard place. This meant we would have to leave at 10pm Tuesday night, assuming I-80 opened back up, and drive all through the night to beat the blizzard that was supposed to be arriving at 4am. 


This drive usually takes 6 hours, sometimes a little less. On this harrowing night it took us 9 hours. I checked the wydot website one more time before we settled in for the evening to watch a show before our planned 10pm departure time and to my surprise, they had reopened the highway earlier than anticipated. It was 7pm. We all ran around the house like crazy people packing. We left by 7:45pm. The roads looked like the above picture all night long. That was not snow on the road, that was pure black ice. Chuck said he didn't feel a dry patch of road the whole way. Plus it was snowing the whole time. We were one of the first few people on the highway because no one else dared get back on. We saw whole parking lots full of semis waiting to get back on the highway. It was so perilous. Chuck did such an incredible job. We couldn't go faster than 45mph for most of the drive. The snow started getting heavier once we got to the western edge of Wyoming. The last 1.5 hours of the drive were near impossible due to exhaustion, snow, and ice. I'm sure they were closing the road behind us as we were driving.


It was heaven to finally arrive! We were indeed grateful! We got to their house at 4:45am and went straight to sleep for 4 hours. That first day was a blur of exhaustion. We were even too tired to play cards that night, if that's even possible to believe. However, one important event did take place on Wednesday where the repercussions would be felt the rest of the week. Katie asked Chuck and John to go put the turkey (that she had been diligently thawing for the past 3 days) in the neighbor's fridge. They left on their assignment. They came back and told us all the junk food these neighbors kept in their fridge like, boxes and boxes frozen pizzas, corndogs, and popsicles. We all guffawed and laughed it up. It shows how tired we were that none of us picked up on the key words in that sentence.


On Thanksgiving morning, Katie sends the guys back over to neighbor's house to fetch the turkey so we can get this show on the road. This is what they come back with. It is completely frozen. They had put the turkey in the neighbor's freezer in their garage and never thought twice about it...that is until they took it out. Then all the pictures of frozen pizzas, corndogs, and popsicles came flooding back and it dawned on them a little too late what their mistake was. I'm shocked they came back to the house without a new turkey in tow. But they did - with their collective tails between their legs. Katie immediately sent them out in search of a fresh, unfrozen turkey that we could actually cook on this day of Thanks. Shockingly, they found a grocery store opened that still had turkeys. He even brought home a consolation prize of her favorite donuts. Win/win. We eventually ate a late, late lunch/early dinner and all were happy. John and Chuck thought they were out of the dog house. They were framing the whole thing as though they single handedly saved Thanksgiving. I think not.


The girls are in charge of the annual Thanksgiving cake. This year we got a circle cake. And as per the custom, we couldn't fit in the entirety of the word "thanksgiving"...thus, happy thanks. This was not on purpose. Apparently, we have massive issues with space planning. 


Here are the happy chefs who are spelling challenged.


And here's what Bennett and Issac did practically every waking minute.


Football and talk time dominated the rest of the day.


We spent Friday morning up at the church playing pickleball. A game new to Chuck and I. But we loved it tremendously. We had some pretty serious rallies.


We also played PIG at the hoops. All of us. We went in descending age order. 


It was hilarious. Somehow Chuck ended up having to go after Lucy. Lucy is a dancer. So she added dance moves to every one of her shots. 



Chuck ended up following her and was forced to follow her lead. The following short clips prove how hilarious the entire event turned out.



"Buddy" Chuck for the win!


The snow was constant! The kids enjoyed a friendly snowball fight one of the days.


Penny Lane was also a constant. I don't typically like little dogs but this dog stole our heart.



Bennett was in love!


Saturday arrived and we couldn't figure out how we wanted to fit everything we hoped to do into one day. In steps Chuck and his organizational genius and creates for us a well thought out time map with start sticky notes. 


This impressed Issac so much that he had to make a larger scale version and also add some of his own items. I'm sure Wes added a few as well.


Lucy felt her version was more legible and neater.


While the girls went shopping (no pics, sorry), the boys went to a place called "The Dartside" where they played Nerf Gun battles. They couldn't have had a more fun time. And I'm so thankful I didn't have to go! We all conveniened at home and then headed back out for some more shopping.


This is what happens when you let the boys roam a store alone.


They said they were trying to find "date outfits" for our date later that evening.


Then we found a Lululemon store. Bennett had never been in one and was wondering what all the fuss was about. He decided to try something on while in the store. This was about all he could afford.


Not to be outdone - Buddy Chuck.


It was very cold out. So while we were waiting for it to get dark enough for the holiday lights to turn on outside, we waited in one of the Visitor's Centers in Temple Square. This particular building had a very large statue of Jesus. So the kids and I took a selfie with Jesus.


Chuck and John wanted one too.


Then Bennett and Chloe said they wanted a picture together but they did not want Jesus in it.


That just felt wrong, so I quickly snapped another to include Jesus because it just doesn't feel right cropping him out of the picture.


The guys were getting a little bored in Jesus' room, waiting.


These are two peas in a pod!


Finally, the moment we had been waiting for. We got to see the whole area lit up with holiday lights.


It was very festive and beautiful.


After our incredible "parents only" date that evening (loved the Korean food!) we came home and realized we forgot one of the activities we had brought along to share - the Thanksgiving Quiñciniera Piñata. It was named thusly because: 1) we forgot to do it on Chloe's 15th birthday, 2) Esther's 15th birthday was only a month away, 3) Lucy's 13th birthday was this month and 4) who doesn't want a Thanksgiving piñata? We value all tradtiions and are open to just about anything fun.


So, before we head out on Sunday morning. The guys fashion a long pole that they have taped the piñata to (not sure that the Mexicans would approve of our getto set-up). But it was too cold to hang it in the garage (6 degrees) and the ceilings were too low to hang it in the basement - thus, the pole solution. Makes much more sense now, doesn't it? Katie found a long wooden type stick thingy under her bed from Australia (see, we just love including all cultures) that the kids used to take turns hitting the piñata. 


It eventually broke under Wes' demise and a candy free-for-all was had. The perfect way to end a perfect week. The night before we left, we learned that I-80 was shut down again. We weren't even sure if we'd be able to make it back home on Sunday. Lucky for us, they opened it by 7am the morning we had to leave.


This was the mess we got to drive home on. All black ice, yet again. It looks like slush and snow, but it was not. That highway was a skating rink the entire 8 hours home. 


We are so thankful for the gift of this enduring friendship. We are soul mates. What else would make you risk life and limb to spend time together?! 

If there was one downside, it would be that this was our first Thanksgiving without Gavin. I knew the day would eventually come, but you're never really prepared for it. He decided to stay in ND/MN instead. He drove home with his friend Collin and shared Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sveta. He had a blast and got to spend quality time with family without us monopolizing the entire conversation. He's such a gentleman, he never interrupts, which means in our family, he rarely gets a chance to speak. So he had uninterrupted time with his grandparents and who doesn't love that?

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