Feb 17, 2020

We're At It Again

2/17/2020 — cori

On Valentine's Day morning, I woke up to this beautiful basketball cut-out sitting on my placemat. Basketball = love to Bennett. Of course he gave us his favorite thing. 

Shockingly, we all had the day off. I wanted to find something fun that all of us would enjoy doing. We do love squash, but the sad reality is that there are no squash courts closer than an hour away to us. So we found the next best thing, a raquetball court. I found raquetball much, much harder and failed quite spectacularly at it. Chuck is all excited in this picture because he's awesome at it and dominated all the games we played. Chloe, didn't even wear tennis shoes. I think that says everything about her interest and skill level. When it was our turn to play together, we made up our own game and called it "raquetball." 

From there, we came home and had a cookie decorating contest. As you can see form the picture, we each decorated 4 cookies (as close to similar as possible). They were all so unique and creative, we couldn't pick a winner.

Then we capped off the Day of Love with our many years old tradition of the Ghoti Diner and the same meal that Chuck has made every Valentine's Day since 2006.

The custom used to be that Chuck and I would sit at a separate table from the kids since this was supposed to be a "date." But as they've gotten older, we've allowed the kitchen help to join us at our table. Thus, the weird seating arrangement in this photo.

I will be forever thankful for this beautiful, creative, thoughtful, fun tradition that began out of necessity (no babysitters and little money), but continued out of love.

Feb 12, 2020

Parenting as a Mirror

2/12/2020 — cori

As parents we know we carry the awesome responsibility of raising our kids to be good human beings. But how do we do that? How do we define good? There are a lot of opinions on that topic. Some people feel that strict rules and hard work is the recipe. Others feel that a strong religious foundation will carry them through. And there are yet others who believe a more laisse-faire attitude towards child-rearing is the best method. How's a parent to know?

I'm not a big believer in one style of parenting. I think certain situations call for different methods. I will not allow myself to be put in a box. Children are all so unique, not even the same children in the same family will respond well to the same discipline style. All parents get quickly familiar with that upon the arrival of each new kid. So what do we do?

We listen to our kids. We learn our kids. There is not a book for that. Only you know your kid because you have a relationship with them. You know the tired cry from the hurt cry. You know the sound of backtalk from the sound of a genuine question. Most parents don't give themselves enough credit. You already know your kids. Yet, we feel the need to follow what someone else says in regards to discipline (remember discipline is not punishment, but discipling - showing them the way). Why is that?

It is much easier to speak from a retrospective standpoint. My blog attests to years and years of questioning and experimenting and failing when it comes to raising my own kids. But now that we're on the far side of parenting, I can see some things more clearly. For one, I was terrified of "messing up" my kids by my choices. Didn't happen. What a waste of time worrying. From your kids' point of view, you are the authority on every subject whether you feel like it or not. They have undying trust in everything you say.

Which is exactly why this next point is so important. You are your child's mirror! What they think of themselves is what they see reflected in you. Think on that for a moment. Our kids look to us to tell them who they are. Who do we reflect back to them? Are we constantly telling them their problems or are we encouraging them every time they attempt to (and maybe fail) at solveing them. Or are we just solving their problems for them. Do we withdraw our love to show our disappointment when they make a bad choice?

This is one of the most - if not THE most - important responsibilities of parenthood. We are not to hold our authority over them with an iron fist. We are not to demand respect because of our position. We are not there to fix our children's problems. We are not there to make life easy for them. We are there to love them, to be their mirror, and to show and tell them who they are.

For instance, for a while Chloe wasn't acting like herself and some negative behaviors were showing up in her life. Because of the heart connection we have and our mutual trust, she knows that when we need to sit down and talk about this, that she is not going to get chewed out nor are we going to yell. What we are going to say is, "Honey, I see some behaviors in your life right now that aren't consistent with who I know you to be. You are a kind, thoughtful, helpful, smart, conscientious girl who always does her best (this is the mirroring part). Yet, I'm not seeing that right now in your life. Is something going on that you'd like to share with me?"

There is usually a breakdown of tears and a deep sigh revealing the heavy burden that she has been carrying but has been scared to trust anyone with. There is no shame in this conversation, in this failure, in this situation. There is only love. She has the freedom to share her burden because she knows that the basis for all this is love, not "how bad she's been."  She was then able to confide in us. It still required discipline and helping set her back on the path, which might have caused her some discomfort. But it also caused a huge relief. It also brought joy back to her life. It re-established our heart connection. She is free to fail in a loving environment because we are here, not as her condemners, but as the ones who breathe life back into her and remind her of who she is. I think Mr. Rogers said it perfectly, "Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people."

I'll leave you with a portion of a poem written by Richard Rohr entitled: The Divine Mirror. It is written as our response to God, but can just as easily be substituted for human/parental love. Isn't God, afterall, the best example of love for us to model ourselves by whether as parents or human beings?

When we learn to love anyone or anything,
It is because they have somehow, if just for a moment, 
Mirrored us truthfully yet compassionately to ourselves.

If that mirror is withdrawn for any reason,
It causes sadness, emptiness, or even anger.
We are normally disoriented, even heartbroken for a while.
We die in some way. But why?
Because we only know ourselves in another's eyes,
We receive our identity - all of it - good and bad,
From another.

Feb 11, 2020

Yerba Buena

2/11/2020 — cori

How lucky are we?! We were given the opportunity to go to San Francisco for the weekend by Chuck's old boss, Pete. Chuck had done some pro-bono work for him and as payment, Pete flew us out to Frisco to join him for an event. It was incredible! Sadly, a delayed flight precluded us from enjoying the event with Pete. But we were able to meet him and his wife, Kristine, later that evening for the most delightful dinner. I just love conversations that go on for hours and you learn so much. The intellectual curiosity at that table filled me to the brim. They are the kind of people that make everyone and the world around them better.

This was the incredible view from our hotel room. That's the Bay Bridge in the background.

This is the front of our hotel that faced The Embarcado. It used to be an old Army/Navy YMCA hotel back in the 1930s.

We sure do love our fireplaces. This one was great for playing cards on.

The first night we were there, we dined with Pete and Kristine and called it a night. We woke up and had brunch with them the next morning before we each headed off on our own adventures. Chuck and I decided to walk up to Coit Tower from our hotel - a 2.3 mile hike straight up-hill. It couldn't have been a more beautiful day, high 50s and sunny. 

I'm always so delighted with the flora in California. Everything, even in winter, is so lush and colorful and bright. This particular one smelled like kool-aid, sweet and aromatic.

And this beauty looked like it came right out of a Dr. Seuss book!

This is only one of the many murals that lined the inside walls of Coit Tower. They are stunning and so detailed. It's a beautiful history of the city. Speaking of history, did you know that San Francisco's original name was Yerba Buena meaning, Good Herbs? Precisely for the same reason I'm enthralled with their flora, so were the original occupants. The area grew flowers and herbs and bushes so well and always smelled good. 

From the Tower we had an incredible view of Alcatraz Island.

We also got a spectacular view of Golden Gate Bridge.

Do you see that tall tower in the far upper right hand corner, that's Coit Tower. It's looks farther away than it is (only 1.5 miles). That's where we walked from to get to the famed curvy road on Lombard Street. I've driven down it several times, but this was our first time to walk up it. From there we walked down to the Bay to grab some ice cream at Ghirardelli Square (delish, btw). Then back through Chinatown to grab a late lunch. As we were leaving, we realized that it was close to the time for the parade to start, so we hung around for the opening of it.

We just happened to be there on the day of the Chinese New Year's Day Parade. What luck! And we had a front row seat to witness the festivities.

The dragon dancers were my favorite.

As we were leaving, we came across this group of people lining up and getting ready for their part in the parade. It was so cool to see the entire community take part in this event.

The evening sunset played off this signage beautifully.

This is the Ferry Plaza. Just beautiful inside and out.

And this is the view we were treated to once we got back to our room. 

The sunrise on the morning we left. *Happy Sigh*. Until next time San Fran....



Feb 6, 2020

New iPhone Feature

2/06/2020 — cori

My sweet girl was sick the other day. I woke up to several texts saying: "Mooooooom." When I didn't reply because I was sleeping, and Chloe didn't want to get out of bed to come get me, she reverted to using the new "echo" feature in the messaging app. This allows one to type in a word and for that word to reappear over and over again while cascading up the screen. That is what you see in this picture. 

This is the modern day equivalent of what we used to do as kids. We would either call our mom over and over again, with our voices, until she came into the room to see what we needed or ring the little bell she set by our bed for such an occasion. In our house, we have no little bell. But we do have personal cell phones with the echo feature and Chloe is very adept at using it. Can't you just hear her desperate, sick, voice with all those little "mooooom" texts floating up to heaven? I can. And I come running....when I can hear my phone, that is.

Jan 31, 2020

Tea and Crumpets

1/31/2020 — cori

This is our life in the winter. The kids come home from school to this. We like to call our little snack "crumpets" just because it sounds all British and formal and silly. But really they're just blueberry scones. We don't even know what a crumpet is.

And it's not as easy as just pouring hot water over a tea bag. Everyone here has their own tea preference. We have descended into pure tea snobbery. Our trip to Murchie's in Canada opened our eyes to what truly delicious tea is and now we are forced to order our own 50 bag box of tea (sometimes I'm so desperate I even pay shipping). How pathetic are we?!

This is what my tea cupboard looks like at the moment. I told you we are tea snobs. But what I love the most is that we can all share it together. We actually enjoy sitting around with our "cuppa tea" and visiting about our day while simultaneously getting all warm inside. Mind you, this happens usually twice a day, sometimes 3 on really cold days.

Jan 26, 2020

Birthday Adventures

1/26/2020 — cori

I turned 47 this past Thursday. I am so happy to be alive! I think about that everyday as my maternal grandmother never got to experience this age having died at age 46 from emphysema. Every single day is a gift. The brevity of life touched close to home today after learning of the tragic news that stunned the world of Kobe Bryant's death. It causes you to do some deep reflecting and soul searching; an apt reminder for us all to live each moment to its fullest.

We had a wonderful family celebration on Thursday evening where all my loved ones showered me with the most thoughtful gifts. We even had Gavin with us via FaceTime. Chuck pulled out all the stops, as usual, and gave me the most treasured gift of time together going on adventures. Being us, we like to have a plan, but rarely do we follow it. It's more of a "flexible idea list." Usually, we get to everything on our list and even then some, but we like to keep it open for other fun things that come up that we didn't anticipate. So, no surprise, that's what happened with this beautiful plan too. Sadly, we never made it to the Book Sale. (Side note: the library only has 4 book sales per year and we are there! This is our mecca. We have grown our personal library by leaps and bounds through this book sale. So it's a big deal.)

We decided instead to have a late (for us) breakfast at The Urban Egg and get nice and full to start our hike early. Around here, the sunniest and least windy part of the day is in the morning. The sky is a beautiful, vibrant blue. It's so sunny and happy. We decided to make the most of the beautiful morning. This was our destination - Horsetooth Mountain. It is the iconic Mountain in the Foothills of Fort Collins. This is as close as we made it, however. After almost two hours of hard hiking, we made it about 30 minutes away from actually getting to climb on the rock itself. You can see tiny dots on the right of the mountain, those are people. We are not them, nor did we want to be. We were happy just seeing it this close up. The entire hike was a 1300 foot elevation gain.

I just love this photo. It sums up our hike beautifully. Sunny, uphill, rocky, happy.

What an incredible vista! I can't believe this is my life!

On the way back down, this is the view we were treated to. Can you believe those incredible clouds?! Can you believe we get to hike in January, in the mid-40s?! 

After the hike, we checked into, by far, the loveliest hotel we've ever stayed in. Craftsmanship and fine details were everywhere. We were both very impressed! The rest of the day went by in a blur. We made the New Belgium Brewery Tour. I detest beer, but loved the tour. It was fascinating to learn how they make it and how much science and time goes into the process. We headed to dinner and then the theater where we were yawning our heads off. But being 47, we can do hard things. So we pushed through our sleepiness and even ended with a nightcap of french fries at The Emporium. Chuck always wins at birthday gifts!

Jan 23, 2020

Watering Plants

1/23/2020 — cori

This is my fridge. I love my fridge. These are the only two magnets I have on the front of it. Don't worry, there are also plenty of tacky magnets littered on the side that no-one can see. I'm normal. 

But this story is all about this adorable plant magnet. It is so artful. I just love it. I also love how succulent it looks. It looks and feels very real. 

That's why I couldn't help but giggle when I found Chuck in the kitchen one day with a tiny teaspoon measurement filled with water. He was gently pouring water into the teeny-tiny opening at the top of the magnet. I was laughing so hard I could tell him why. I just love his thoughtfulness!

 When I was finally able to calm down enough to tell him that the plant was fake, he asked me, "Are you sure?" To which, I said, "Ya, I'm pretty sure. But, now you have me second guessing." So we scrutinized the magnet to make sure there was no dirt in it. Turns out, I was right all along and Chuck had to clean up the water that was dripping down the front of the fridge since we don't water magnets.

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


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!

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