Nov 28, 2016

A Colorado Thanksgiving

11/28/2016 — cori

Thanksgiving is usually the one time of year we get to visit Chuck's brother, John and his sweet family. Their family increased by one this year. Mason was born just 5 weeks ago, thus giving us a great reason to traverse across the country to spend Thanksgiving at their house. We had a wonderful time doing some family photo shoots during our time there. This was one of my favorites. However, before we arrived in Parker, we spent a few days in northern Colorado hiking, exploring, and college shopping.

Believe it or not, we accidentally found this amazing hike. We were up in Estes Park. It was a cold day with the forecast predicting snow. We didn't want to get stuck up at Rocky Mountain National Park, so we just found ourselves meandering through the town of Estes. We were on Devil's Gulch Road when all of the sudden we found ourselves right next to a park sign. We apparently took a back entrance into RMNP unknowingly and ended up at Lumpy Ridge - I kid you not. I couldn't make up a trail name that great if I had ample time to think. It was so amazing and so cool and so empty. We only passed 2 other people the entire time. 

It was our kind of hike: a little chilly, tons of rocks to climb, a little off the beaten-path, a little dangerous, quiet and full of serene views. So many of our favorite times have happened on accident or because we got lost. I'm so thankful for these special, unplanned times.

We even found cool photo op spots. How can you not on these gorgeous mountains?

I think this rock formation inspired the name Lumpy Ridge

Of course, what kind of hike would this be without a little daring and adventure? It doesn't look that far across in the picture, but Chuck would tell you otherwise. He was kind of stuck that way for a while. He risked life and limb trying to get one side of his body to the other, he just wasn't sure which side it was going to be until it happened.

As we were leaving Estes we caught a glimpse of a bunch of elk in the Estes Lake. We were speechless. We quickly pulled into the parking lot and got out to stare in awe at these gorgeous creatures as they were embarking on their fall migration. 

How lucky were we? The atmosphere was one of awe and wonderment. We felt as if we were witnessing something we shouldn't be allowed to see. These animals were mostly peaceful (a few bulls were wrestling with their horns but it ended as quickly as it started). The sounds they make don't seem big enough for their massive bodies.

Bennett has shown a lot of interest in Colorado State University. Since we were in Fort Collins, we took a morning and walked around the campus. Being there only made him more excited for college.

We visited Devil's Backbone in Loveland. We'd been there once before, but this time we saw a whole other part that we hadn't yet explored.

Yes, we walked much of the length of that.

As we were leaving Loveland, we spotted this gorgeous lake. Come to find out is was Lake Loveland. The water was like glass. The view was that gorgeous. It took my breath away. I just stood there staring in amazement. 

We got the chance to tour CU Boulder. It is a beautiful campus. Gavin really liked it.

And then finally, we made it to John and Karen's house. I got to spend a lot time with this sweet boy. Oh how I love babies! I was in heaven.

Chloe was amazing with Logan. They spent tons of time together. She was even able to put him down for his nap twice - no small feat for a 2 year old.

The brothers got to spend lots of quality time together, usually with a little one on or around them.

Even Bennett got in on the baby holding action. As long as Mason wasn't crying, he was happy to hold him.

We got to watch a lot of "Paw Patrol" before bed time. As you can tell, Gavin and Bennett are enthralled.

And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without our annual game of Guesstures. 

There are just too  many opportunities for crazy pictures. We like to call this one, "I don't!", Logan's current favorite saying.

We discovered the hilarity of the Dictionary Game. Try to keep a straight face reading Bennett and Chloe's definitions. It doesn't happen. The giggles are so much fun. Believe it or not, we didn't get one picture on Thanksgiving day. We were so caught up in getting everything done. John invited a second cousin and his family who were in town to join us. So we had a nice sized group. They had a little 1 year old named, Lilly. For whatever reason, Lilly really liked Gavin. Gavin managed to go most of the visit without touching a small child (his preference). But not Lilly. She would march right up to Gavin and put out her hand so he would have to take it and she would lead him somewhere or she would put her arms out and he had no choice but to pick her up. He was sweet and gentle with her ,albeit out of his element. I think he was secretly honored to be chosen by this sweet little girl.

I'm kind of thankful we didn't get any pictures of the actual Thanksgiving day because I kind of made a little mess. I was trying to be helpful, honestly. I was doing my assigned task (John made a list of each task and who was to do what at what time). I was mashing the acorn squash. I went to get the salt that was in a small bowl with a lid. As I opened the lid, something went terribly wrong and salt went everywhere. It looked like I took the bowl and just dumped it upside down. John had a mini heart attack. Of course this would happen when you least want it to. It took several of us to get the salt off me and vacuumed up off the floor. Thankfully, I didn't spill it in any food, right? That could have been disastrous. I've learned that you never know when I'm going to mess up big time. It usually happens at the most inopportune time, however. 

So, that was Thanksgiving in a nutshell. Already looking forward to next year.

I Wonder What He's Thinking?

11/28/2016 — cori

How many more ways can I say I love this kid?! There is NEVER a dull moment with Bennett around. Here we are taking selfies on the sofa bed at the hotel during our latest road trip. I know, I was dangerously close to his pit (I was holding my breath).

Seriously, all he has to do is turn and wink at me and I crack up like a middle-school girl.  See what I mean? He can cut any mood with his humor. He is a perpetual optimist, just like his father. He's always looking for the bright side.

But that doesn't mean he's always focused. That takes a little more effort. He zones out a lot and we don't know where he goes during those times. However, I think we found out. During our last road trip he was sitting in the very back seat in the third row (it's about as comfortable as sitting in lotus position for 5 hours straight). I turned around to check on him. I asked, "How are you doing honey?" He looked up with a blank look on his face and responded, "Basketball."

I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. Of course that's what he's thinking. That's all he's ever thinking about. He's like a dog, or at least our dog. All Ninja ever thinks about is food. She thinks everything we say to her is about food or how we're going to get her food. The same is true for our sweet Bennett boy. One big basketball covers that brain of his. One more reason to love him so.

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