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?

Nov 4, 2019


11/04/2019 — cori

We tried so hard to come up with a fun activity to do on Bennett's birthday! We couldn't take him to another basketball game cuz we've done that like 3 other times. He's not a huge fan of golf. Football games are too expensive. We wracked our brains and then it finally dawned on us - squash!! Ever since Grandma and Grandpa taught him how to play squash, he's loved it. So I searched high and low and finally found one of only 2 places within an hour's drive of us that has squash courts. So we were up and out early this past Saturday to descend upon the University of Denver to play our little hearts out. We had the courts for 2 whole hours and we used every second of it.

The first match-up was Bennett and Mom. Bennett eeked out a win, but just barely. It was the last win he got against me. I ended up beating him (legitimately) 2 games to 1. 

It was a repeat story when Chuck and Bennett played. Chuck was up 2 to 1. This made him very happy as he is always on the losing end of the game when they play ping pong.

Bennett got his third and last win again Chloe. She was surely a good sport but her style of play is rather hilarious. She switches her racket from hand in order to avoid a backhand hit. She has a ballerina-esque quality to some of her moves across the court. It's fun to watch.

Chuck and I played some hard fought games, but each time, I came away the winner. I don't know how.

Chloe enjoyed looking like a squash player even though she lacked some of the necessary skills. Thankfully, she is learning how to laugh at herself. We had some good rallies even though I eventually won.

Let's just say it was hard to be Chloe on this day of play. She lost every game she played.

Oct 31, 2019

The Culmination of Childhood

10/31/2019 — cori

The joy of the new is a delicate
Dance with the old
They weave in and out
And  in our memories take hold.
A time long gone
Yet close enough to touch
Those stories flood back
Make us laugh so much.
A never ending smile
Laced with drool
Given freely to all
A gift, a jewel.
Protector of all
Especially the small
The superhero is ready
When his sister calls.
The ball, at home in your palm
Single-minded devotion
Practice and skill leave you calm
Nothing left to chance.
The sound of the swish 
After it leaves your hand
The search and the smile 
The nod from the stands.
All-consuming delight
Life-shattering too
The paradox of what you love
Can also hurt you.
Lessons learned 
Deep in the core
Can harden or humble
But can’t be ignored.
When life offered you less
You chose growth 
Strength and humility
The dance gave you both.
Your worth and your value
Spring from within
Not from what you do
But you are in the depths.
Nurture and protect
 Search and expand
With this as your goal
You’ll succeed as a man.

Oct 30, 2019

Solo Traveler #2

10/30/2019 — cori

This go around it was Bennett's turn. He spent a long weekend up in Fargo visiting Gavin and enjoying all that Fargo has to offer. The boys had great weather and a great time can't ask for more than that. Bennett got a tour of the University from Gavin and his friends. They ate at all the hot spots, walked the picturesque downtown area, and watched alot of Marvel movies.

Their interests and personalities are night and day, yet I love that they take the time to show an interest in what is important to the other, as any good friendship does. Not all siblings grow up to be friends, but I'm so thankful these boys are. What a joy it has been to watch them grow from little boys enthralled with superheroes to young men with their unique passions yet still addicted to superheroes - only in the fashionable way these days through MARVEL movies.

No mater how big and smart and strong and independent these two get. This is what I will always see when I look at them.

and this...

and this...

"There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own." - Edwin Markham

Oct 27, 2019

Solo Traveler #1

10/27/2019 — cori

What kind of parents are we - letting our little baby fly on a plane all by herself? Sometimes we forget that that "baby" is now a very self-sufficient, adept, independent 15 year old who can "do it by herself." She is fearless.

Chloe's best friend from Minnesota invited her to come hang out over Fall Break. So we just drove her to the airport and left her at the gate that said "Minneapolis" and somehow she made it all the way there all by herself and wasn't even sad or didn't even need us. I guess this is the whole aim of parenting.

Aspen and her dear Mom, Cindy, were at the gate eagerly awaiting the solo traveler's arrival. Cindy took this photo as the girls fell into each other's arms upon arrival. She said the airport security almost came over to intervene because as soon as Chloe walked out of the jetway, Aspen was on her and laughing and crying and hugging. These two have been best friends since 5th grade. It's been such a joy watching them grow up together and remain close through all the challenges of middle school, moving, and maintaining a long distance relationship. Thank God for FaceTime and cell phones!

Apparently, bathroom selfies are all the rage these days. I asked Chloe if they took any pictures together and this is the one she gives me. Even though they spent 5 whole days together doing all kinds of amazing things...this is the one picture I get. 

They went to a Farmington High School Football game where Chloe watched as Aspen performed with the Marching Band during halftime. She played with Aspen's little sister Riley while Aspen was at practice. She walked around the Mall of America with Aspen and their mutual Sydney for 6 hours. They spent a whole afternoon playing squash, ping pong, and card games at Grandma and Grandpa's.  They walked around the neighborhood, watched movies, ate out, reminisced, and had an overall amazing reunion doing all the fun things 15 year olds do these days. 

I'm so thankful that our children value their friends (and vice versa) enough to put in the hard work required to foster those friendships over time and space. It's not easy, but then nothing worthwhile ever is; it takes work, time, effort, sacrifice, and love to nurture relationships - near or far.

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