Aug 12, 2017

UCI Orientation

8/12/2017 — cori
A couple weekends ago, Chuck, Gavin and I got to travel to SoCal for Gavin's new student orientation at the University of California, Irvine. This university is even better than I imagined it would be. (The only thing that could make it better would be free tuition.)

We had the whole first day we were there free and enjoyed exploring the surrounding area of Newport Beach.

We also spent a lot of time walking around campus, Gavin showing us around.

Here we are posing with his new mascot - Peter the Anteater. We learned a very interesting fact during orientation: UCI is the ONLY school (elementary, middle, high or university) in the U.S. with an anteater as it's mascot. We are embracing the uniqueness. Zot, zot, zot (that's the supposed sound it makes).

As we were walking around we happened upon this amazing place. I think Chuck and I were more excited than Gavin.

Here's Gavin trying to act cool in his dream-like sports arena. These people get him. UCI was one of the first schools in the nation that had a program for playing League at this level of competition.

Here is a close-up of one of the individual computer stations. It is for competing in an online, e-sports game called League of Legends that Gavin has been playing and following for years. I hope to see him here as part of a team one day. And yes, you have to try out for this team, just like any other sport. They take their e-sports seriously at this school. UCI was the among the first universities in the nation to have a top-rate program for e-sports.

Later that evening we went to Laguna Beach and passed this beautiful mural while walking down the coast line.

The water and weather made it too cold to swim, but that didn't stop Chuck and Gavin from making attempts at it.

Some more lovely beach art and rock formations.

The following day we dropped Gavin off for his first day of orientation and then we drove up to LA, about an hour north. We went to Griffith Park and the famed Observatory that gives you sweeping views of the city as well as...

the Hollywood sign.

We spent the majority of our last day there at the University learning all kinds of goodness just for parents. As soon as it was over, we had a dinner date set with a friend we hadn't seen in over 27 years. It was so good to connect again, meet her family and know that someone is close to Gavin if he ever needs help.

Jul 27, 2017

The Great Salt Lake

7/27/2017 — cori

Although we have visited Salt Like City before, we had never been to this eerily beautiful place. It's very quiet and still. It almost feels like what you might imagine the surface of the moon to be like.

Yet all around it is surrounded by mountains. There's even an island mountain in the middle of the 33 foot deep lake called, Antelope Island. This is where I took these photos from. We learned several interesting facts while visiting: it is a bird sanctuary for thousands of birds, only brine shrimp live in the lake and there is no outlet for the water.

Here's our rag-tag group of visitors. This is just the beginning of many more Thompson/Mallott family adventures.

After not being around any friends (except Bennett) for over 2 weeks, Chloe was in heaven getting to spend quality friend time with Esther and Lucy.

Bennett and Isaac both share a love of basketball and kind-heartedness.

Here I am sporting my Junior Ranger button that Chloe gave me after attending a "Let's Learn About Snakes" session at the visitor center. I learned that although there are many poisonous snakes in Utah, including the rattlesnake, not one rattlesnake resides on Antelope Island for reasons unknown to scientists (see...I was paying attention).

These two! Wes has a special affinity for Chuck. Really....who doesn't have a special affinity for Chuck?!

Jul 26, 2017

The First Hike

7/26/2017 — cori

It is the end of our first week in Fort Collins. Bennett is wondering when we're going to do something "fun". Like moving across the country and unpacking all your belongings into a new townhouse isn't "fun" enough. However, the kids had done great with all the recent upheaval and all the packing and unpacking. We all needed a little fun. A nice hike in the foothills of our new mountains should be just the thing. So we set off for Horsetooth Mountain around 8:30am armed with hiking backpacks, sunscreen, and water. Just not enough air.

As we were driving to the park we saw some idiots walking up the street towards the park we were headed to. We mocked them, "Duh! You're supposed to hike on the trails people; not the street." Obviously, they didn't know as much as we did about hiking. Then five minutes later we pull into the park to park and are told there are no more open spots. "But," said the park ranger, "you can park a mile back down the hill and walk back up here."  Ohhhh....those people we just saw weren't idiots, they were fellow poor souls who got shoved to the 'bad' parking lot down the hill. Nobody wants to hike up a street on a hill a mile before actually starting their "real" hike. We were doomed from the start.

Here we are rounding our first bend on the real hike. We were already exhausted. We just climbed up a mountain, dodging dangerous cars on a bendy road and depleted half our water supply and even more of our oxygen reserves. Therefore, we chose to hike the "easy" path. There was no way we were going to hike for 4+ hours in this 90 degree heat on a moderate-hard path on our first weekend in Colorado. Those just aren't realistic goals people. 

Although the "easy" path was beautiful, it was not "easy". We were huffing and puffing and exerting mucho amounts of energy, sweat, and oxygen. We eventually came to a fork in the road. We could chose to go up farther to see the Horsetooth Falls from a higher elevation or go back down into the gully and see the Falls face on. This was a very hard decision for our weary and oxygen deprived brains. Going up meant more climbing and our legs were already cramping and throbbing. Going down meant we would have to climb up again and there was no way anyone was voting for that. So we decided that just hearing the Falls was enough for us. We've seen Niagara already...all falls are pretty much the same, right?! 

I think I have a picture of Chuck standing like this from every hike we've ever taken. This is his pose. Normally it also involves being on the edge of a large boulder, cliff or mountainside preferably with a terrifying drop-off just inches from his feet. 

And to top off our first adventure in Fort Collins, I hiked with a migraine the entire time. It was hard - very hard. But I wasn't about to take away everyone's fun. Granted, none of us could move the rest of the day. We laid on the sofa, the floor, the bed...anywhere...we just had to lay. We paid for that "easy" hike the rest of the day. But hey, we had fun!

Jul 14, 2017

A Week Later

7/14/2017 — cori

We got all moved into our temporary housing. We found a beautiful, new apartment complex that offered a townhouse option. We got it set up and boxes emptied within two days.

Chloe colored her hair teal.

Bennett already got injured. He took an elbow to his
 eye during basketball practice at the high school.

Gavin's friend Colin already came out to visit for 2 days. 
They explored every square inch of downtown Fort Collins. 

Chuck has set up his office and is hard at work.

And I've already taken one sunset picture.
I'd say things are 'normal' around here.

Jul 7, 2017

See You Later...Not Goodbye

7/07/2017 — cori

Over the horizon, around the bend
A glimpse of the future, a peak at the end
One chapter is over, a new one begins
No more "what ifs" or "might have beens"
Adventure awaits, we're excited to start
 The old always holding a place in our heart.

It can often be scary starting anew 
Sometimes fear takes a hold of you
Causing doubt to play its sound bite:
"What if nothing works out right?"
"What if I can't make any new friends?"
"What if we're wrong, what then?"
Fear of failure, risk and sorrow
Do not lead to happy tomorrows.

Having a dream and following your heart
Means taking a risk & making a new start
Living a life of no regrets
Doesn't mean there will be no upsets
But those you will learn to take in stride
As you understand the joy of how to abide
With what ever circumstances come your way
The excitement of life is in each new day.

Oh, the things we learned and how we grew
Minnesota we owe you our gratitude
For friends we made and people we met
These are the things we will never forget
For six long years we were more than blessed
With neighbors who were the very best
And family who lived close by
Leaving them behind makes us cry.

The journey of life is full of unknowns
How we react is the choice we must own
Excitement or fear; joy or sorrow
Shapes our attitude and all our tomorrows
I choose thankfulness for this adventure anew
And getting to share it with my favorite people, too
I'll take any path with them by my side
Living life fully with arms open wide
To new opportunities, adventures, and sights
I'm embracing life with all of my might!

Jul 1, 2017

Summer Solstice

7/01/2017 — cori
It's safe to say that the longest day of the year is probably one of our most favorite. And we like to celebrate it by staying outside as late as possible. So this past June 20th we headed out to our favorite lake to spend some quality time outdoors. We took a blanket, snacks (even though we had just finished dinner), the volleyball and my camera. All the important things for a night of fun.

We played monkey in the middle with the volleyball and got really sweaty running all over tarnation.

We played sand volleyball.

We (by that I mean Chloe) did handstands in the warm water.

We captured the sunset well after 9pm.

And we took a selfie to commemorate our love of ringing in our favorite season of the year.

Jun 22, 2017

"I Think We Should Touch More"

6/22/2017 — cori

...says the one who sits as close as possible to me every chance she gets.

...says the sweet girl who was glued to my hip the entire first two years of her life.

...says the daughter who holds my hand walking from one room of the house to another, through the store, down the street, in the car. There is never a time when we aren't holding hands.

...says the one who sits on my lap even if there are open seats available.

...says the girl who cuddles me on the sofa every time we sit down.

...says the sweet girl as she shares my pillow while we lay on the floor in front of the fireplace keeping warm.

Touch is definitely one of Chloe's love languages. I love it. It is not mine, but I am learning. I am actually quite averse to touching for whatever reason - showing affection that way does not come naturally to me. I don't hug people "just because." But my sweet girl (and her Daddy) do. I've learned how to reciprocate and see it as love and not smothering. What a gift they've given me. (Bennett too - he has hugged me as soon as he's waken up every single day of his life, even now).

I am so thankful for the gift of 'touching more' that she gives me. Unadulterated love and affection. I pray I never take it for granted, appreciate it every chance I get, and hope it continues until we're both old and gray. 

Jun 14, 2017

Gavin's Graduation

6/14/2017 — cori

This day was always so far in the future. It was so far away it was fuzzy, blurry, dream-like - definitely not a reality that would be imminently upon us. And yet it was and is and did. It snuck up like all things do, under the guise of "time". We were so busy living, doing the mundane things you do with kids: grocery shopping, playing cards, swimming, vacationing, hiking, carpooling to practices, disciplining, cleaning, laughing, going to parent/teacher conferences. And then one day, we woke up and our boy was a senior. And we were happy.

He is so ready to go out into this world alone. I have every confidence in him. But I don't have confidence in myself to enter a future without him. Not that we won't ever be together, just not in the same way. And that's ok. It's ok to be sad, happy, worried, and excited all at the same time. Learning to live within the paradox of those emotions is what growth looks like. It's what change looks like. And that's a good thing! Not an easy thing. Most likely a very hard thing. But still a good thing.

I'm reminded of a blessing by David Steindl Rast that captures this feeling perfectly for me. It goes like this:

Source of all blessings, you bless us with change - in the seasons of the year, from snow to 

greening, flowering, fruiting, and harvest.  In the seasons of life, from childhood to youth, full ripeness, and sagging. All living things keep changing. May I welcome change as a sacred opportunity to grow and savor in each unrepeatable moment's fleetingness what is beyond change.

The actual graduation ceremony was amazing. The day couldn't have turned out more perfect. The weather was warm with a gentle breeze. All the people who loved him were present and celebrating with him. We had so much family that we took up two rows of bleachers! It was awesome. The speeches were memorable and the sunset - perfect. What more could you ask for? 

I only choked up twice - once when the students were walking into the stadium. I don't know why that got me, but it did. You can see Gavin in this picture. It looks like he's looking right at the camera. He has a white NHS collar on. (Unfortunately, we didn't get any other pictures with the collar because we refused to pay an extra $25 for that privilege. But we know. He graduated in the top 10% of his class with a 4.09. ) The other moment came when a special needs boy crossed the platform to receive his diploma and the whole graduating class of 420 kids cheered for him. I just love that! 

I thought I would be sadder. I thought I would cry. But I was too happy to be sad. I couldn't stop smiling. I was thrilled for him. The tears will come. Thankfully, just not today.

Jun 6, 2017


6/06/2017 — cori

This is Dandi - Dan and Andi. Isn't that an adorable moniker?! Andi is my cousin, the third amongst her 4 siblings. She and Dan are high school sweet hearts. This was a precious wedding and one I am so thankful to have been able to be at. 

Chloe and I flew to Connecticut for the weekend to celebrate this special event with Andi. It was such a fun time together. I especially love that we are the same shoe size and we can switch shoes when one of us is having a problem walking in heels. (That would be me. Chloe actually helped me out by letting me wear her wedges. I kept literally walking out of my heels.)

 I am 18 years older than Andi. I did the math while I was there. She was only 5 at my wedding. Wow - time literally flies.

This is at the Hartford Golf Club where the reception was held. It was the perfect day. The setting couldn't have been more beautiful.

Young love - so precious to see. 

Chloe and Kelley dancing the conga line. Chloe was very uncomfortable on the dance floor - so Kelley dragged her out there and tried to teach her some moves. She was exactly what Chloe needed. Kelley is Andi's oldest sister.

All the cousins - minus Jack. I so wish Jack could have been in this picture with us, but we couldn't find him. He was a maniac on the dance floor - so fun to watch! I only wish I could have captured it on video. Boy, does he have some moves!

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