Dec 21, 2017

Bad Dad

12/21/2017 — cori

This guy and his shenanigans has Chloe up in arms. First of all, it's hard being a 13 year old girl and having a dad who is goofy. She is constantly exasperated or embarrassed by something he says or does. You know, the perils of being a teenage girl. However, her silly father has totally outdone himself now. First, he had the audacity to get a speeding ticket and get his picture taken while doing so (like this picture is going to somehow show up at Chloe's school and she'll never be able to live it down). As if that wasn't bad enough. Now Chuck is up to more shenanigans that has Chloe fearing that her father might get arrested.

And it has everything to do with the new house we are building. Unlike any house we've ever built, this particular builder doesn't want you on (your own) property without a representative from their company with you. Or your realtor. Well.....that's not always convenient. And they're not always around when we go check out the progress on the house. Chuck has zero problem breaking that "law" (let's call it what it is: a preference). 

So the other day we take yet another trip out to the house and not a soul is in sight. Chuck starts walking into the house. Chloe and I (the true, blue rule followers) hesitantly get out of the car and look around to make sure there will be no witnesses to incriminate us. Dad might be fine having his picture taken as he cohorts with danger, but not us. Chloe and I quickly run in, grab a peak and run back out to the safety of the car. Chuck and the boys take their jolly ol' time examining every last detail.

By time they get back to the car, Chloe is beside herself, "DAD!!!! WHY ARE YOU SO BAD WITH THE LAW?!" Hilarity and laughter ensue. Chloe is mortified. Chuck now wears that phrase as a badge of honor. It explains alot about him. Whenever he's about to go through a yellow light or jaywalk or do a u-turn in an unauthorized location, he says it's because he's "bad with the law." 

Dec 19, 2017

The Sway

12/19/2017 — cori

Last week Chloe had a choir performance. I was the only one who could attend, so I videoed much of the performance to show the fam. After watching Chloe's performance, I realized we failed her in one key area. See if you can spot Chloe:

Did you spot her? Yup. She was the one, unbeknownst to her, swaying the OPPOSITE direction of the ENTIRE choir. Every single time I watch it I giggle. It is just so cute! And the funniest part is, she did the EXACT same thing on the second go around.

Obviously, she was mortified after I showed her the video. There was a lot of denial. We had a nice long talk about being able to laugh at yourself. This was a very humbling experience for her, but she had to admit it was hilarious! She then showed the clips to her choir friends. One of them laughed so hard she cried. Another friend said her dog could sway better. Apparently I have overlooked teaching my daughter the fine art of swaying to music. The whole thing is my fault. At least that's the story Chloe is going with. #swayfail

Dec 8, 2017

First Timers

12/08/2017 — cori
This is the first year, believe it or not, that we've ever done gingerbread houses during the holiday season. We just never thought about it. But then Chloe came upon this little kit where all we had to do was assemble and decorate our own tiny house. I could get behind that.

Unfortunately, each house came all stuck together. Chuck had to 'unstuck' them by cutting on the scored lines. You can imagine how well that turned out. One of us had a cow (Chloe) because our pieces weren't perfect. Others of us used lots of icing to hide said imperfections. 

The formation of the house is the actual hardest part. You need 3 hands at least to hold everything together. This was not Chloe's happiest moment. All the lines and pieces were not matching up exactly. We may have even had a little panicking go on. 

Bennett used creative architecture techniques, but hey, it's standing - that's really all that matters. The pathetic amount of frosting the kit offered was nowhere near enough. I had to go make some more frosting - thus the beautiful ziplock baggie that Bennett is so delicately applying his frosting with. 

These are the finished products. I'm embarrassed to admit that this was mine. I was the first one finished though. I didn't even win a prize. And I made the biggest mess. Tweezers would have been nice. I feel that this would fit in nicely with a display of houses decorated by 1st graders.

Chuck's looks exactly like the picture on the box. Yay for him. His little designer self put the rest of us to shame. The entire time he was decorating his chalet, he kept complaining about the hole size of the frosting tube. He would have preferred multiple frosting bags with varying degrees of hole sizes for all his highly detailed work. 

And here's the all important bank that is a must have in every Christmas village. I was actually surprised by the 'less is more' look to Bennett's design. I am also amazed how he got his snow to fall on his roof in the shape of an /s/. 

Chloe, on the other hand, subscribes to the 'more is more' mentality. Her entire roof was caked in frosting. She even used a knife to help spread all the 'snow'. But her decorations were very precise and color coordinated. Apparently the bakery got hit by a blizzard.

Overall, it was an ok experience. I can't say I would like to incorporate it as a tradition or anything. However, we may do it again when Gavin gets home so we can watch him go all Donald Duck with the whole experience. I would do it all over again for the laughter and general hilarity that would ensue. 

Nov 28, 2017

Person of Interest

11/28/2017 — cori

I never really ever gave much thought to this sign before. Aren't we always being watched by 'Big Brother'? I just figured the city was gathering data on how many people actually disregard red lights. But now we have a greater appreciation for this seemingly benign sign. Turns out Chuck's a wanted man. These creepy red light photo cameras prove it.

What I love most about the photo is how nonchalant Chuck is about the whole thing. He even dares to smile in the face of danger. He's all like, "La-di-da, I'm just enjoying taking a little drive" while unbeknownst to him, his mug shot is being taken as he maliciously drives 12 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. And the city will have none of that. They will catch him in the act and dare him to prove them wrong.

We only know this because he received a citation in the mail the other day with these pictures in it proving his violation. They are asking him to either pay up or appear in court. He has now become a Person of Interest to the city. We only thought it was a tv show. Seeing yourself in a picture you never knew existed is eerily similar to the show's opening monologue: "You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything."  

The funny thing is that Chuck is the one who got the ticket. I'm the more competitive driver of the two of us. I challenge the speed limits all the time. Granted, I know my limits and I rarely go 10 mph over. I also am very observant and read road signs (one key difference between the two of us and our driving styles). 

Ever since we moved here, I've been in a huff about the horrible, overly-cautious drivers here. They go exactly the speed limit and it drives me absolutely bonkers!!! No one wants to be caught going even 1 mile over the limit. Now we know why. 

We were foolishly living in ignorant bliss. We had no idea we were being watched. No longer. We will now join the rank and file of obedient drivers dutifully going exactly the speed limit everywhere we go. How boring.

Nov 21, 2017

On Being Short

11/21/2017 — cori

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, I used to be taller than my kids. I looked like a bonafide big person. Now I just look short.

Now and Then

I kinda knew the boys would out pace me in the height department sooner than later. But I knew I'd always have Chloe, my little girl.

And then she decided to grow. In this picture, I had to stand on my tippy-toes so as appear taller in stature than I am. 

A few things I've discovered that happens upon your children outgrowing you:

1. They think they suddenly become smarter and you suddenly become not as smart. The reality is somewhere in between. They are certainly growing intellectually by leaps and bounds. But they are also seeing you as human. You're no longer on a pedestal. You don't hold all the information and knowledge anymore....say like in Algebra 2 homework for example. You start answering with a lot more "I don't knows" to their questions. They may even have outpaced you in a particular area of interest and actually know more than you. This gives them the confidence they need to step into that vast, scary world and make a go of it all on their own.

2.  Your flaws and idiosyncrasies become much more noticeable to them. Their growing maturing helps them see you as not always mature. At least I'm not. Sometimes I get tired of being the 'mature one' and just want to goof off like a kid. Those moments are glaringly obvious to them now. They actually like it. I think it makes you more relatable and not like this person that always has things altogether.

3. They love flaunting their new found height over you. They love looking down on you, physically -not in a negative sense. If this growing one happens to be a girl, she will LOVE wearing all your clothes, shoes and jewelry. She will also look half your size since her metabolism still works in spades and yours has started taking on a slower pace. 

4. They will start putting their arms around you in a protective gesture of love. At least my people do. They all come up to me a random times of the day and stand there with their arm around me looking down on me. I love it. I soak it up. What they say with their actions is more than words could ever say. 

Nov 10, 2017

Happy Girl

11/10/2017 — cori

This is genuine happiness! Chloe could live on this farm. It's so amazing watching her with these huge beasts. She's not the least bit intimidated by them. You can tell she's in her sweet spot when she's out in the corral with the horses, tacking them up, and especially while riding. She's got a great sense of the horses and what they need or want or when they're in a bad or ornery mood. I love that Chloe has found her passion. Aunt Lou would be proud! And I especially love that the stables are so close to our house. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she ended up working here a few years from now. This is definitely Chloe's sweet spot.

Nov 9, 2017

Learning New Things About Your Kids

11/09/2017 — cori
Recently we were talking about how sometimes we continue to say certain words wrong for years because that is the way we hear them. For instance...I said "bollyball" for volleyball until I was in COLLEGE!! Ridiculous, I know, but I must embrace it because it's who I am. (And to think I now teach others how to speak English - kind of ironic.)

I recently found out who got the "wrong sounding word" gene - Bennett. See that nice little blue shirt he's wearing in the picture below? I just found out that he has been calling that a "tink top" until just last year. I could not control my laughter. I had the giggles for hours afterwards each time I said that word. 

Then I learn something new about Gavin. Just this summer he told us that he missed the "Pope mobile". We were like, WHA?! (He gave it away before we moved since it would have died en route to CO.) He was like, "Ya, my friends named my car the Pope mobile ever since I starting driving it." We were like, "WHY?" And he was like, "Cuz it was white and I was driving it." I guess it was a compliment for Gavin. (Minnesotan's are very Catholic and Lutheran and place high regards on the Pope.) But why are we just now learning of this hilarious name 2 years late? I totally could have run with that this whole time had I known about it. I hope he gets another white car in the future.

Oct 26, 2017

I Need To Take My Pants Off

10/26/2017 — cori

As a family we have watched this movie (The Lego Movie) at least 5 times. It is chalk-full of so many great one-liners! Both Chuck and Bennett have used Batman's infamous line more times than I can count, "I only work in black, or really, really, dark grey."  as well as, "If this relationship is gonna work out between us, I need to feel free to party with a bunch of strangers whenever I feel like it." But what I didn't expect was our own version of the "Honey, where are my pants?" line.

Over the past year, it seems that whenever Chuck gets home from work (or anywhere for that matter) the first thing he says as he walks in the door is, "I need to take my pants off." It's become our family's code for: I need to get comfortable and I need to do it now. It usually involves changing into basketball shorts (for the boys) or comfy pajama pants (for the girls). We just like to chillax.

It's not like we walk into the house and immediately step out of our clothing. I mean, not now-a-days at least. The kids used to do that 10 years or so ago. Their outfit of preference was plain old underwear (forwards, backwards, inside out, on your head...whatever...anything goes). We've raised the bar a bit since then. Underwear are optional; pants aren't.

Oct 16, 2017

Chasing the Sun

10/16/2017 — cori
Yesterday we took a 2 1/2 hour drive to go hike in Vail, Colorado. We were prepared to spend the whole day up in the mountains taking in all the beauty. When we got there we were super surprised to still find some fall color left. 

The trail we hiked was called Booth Falls Trail. It has a 1390 foot elevation gain. Our calves felt each and every foot. There was lots of huffing and puffing going on. As you can see, it was a wee bit cold to start off the day. I think it was in the 30s but projected to reach the low 60s. We failed to take into account the shady side of the mountain. That's the side we were mostly hiking. Let's just say it was much colder than the 30s. As we were traversing ever farther up the mountain we kept telling the kids, "Look, right around the bend, I bet the sun is over there. Let's keep going until we reach the sun." 

What a gift! The sun was at the perfect angle to make this tree look like it's glowing against the backdrop of the mountains behind it.

Even though it was colder than we anticipated during our morning hike, it allowed us two cool things: an almost empty trail and beautiful lighting for pictures.

I literally gasped in awe when we came upon this grove of Aspens. The yellow strip of leaves in the center made this section of the Aspen forest look like something from a fairy tale.

I think this is Chuck's rule: "If there is a big rock on our hike, I must climb it." It doesn't look like a huge boulder from the picture...but it was. And when you're trying to climb with cold, numb hands on a rock that feels as cold as steel, it adds to the challenge.

My traveling buddies.

Walking into this part of the pine forest was a little foreboding. Definitely no sun back here. We also thought this would be a prime spot for some bears to be hiding. The sign at the start of the hike warned us of bears in the area. We just kept talking real loud the entire time and I believe that is what saved us from any bear encounters. We're still not sure if we're happy or sad about that fact.

The other side of the dark forest led to the whimsical, white, bright opening of another Aspen grove.

Finally! We found the sun. Here my people are basking in it's warmth. I think we're all part reptilian.

Since it was too cold to hammock on our fist hike, we promised the kids we'd hammock on the second hike after lunch. We ate our picnic lunch and then headed over to Frisco, CO for our second hike of the day. Thankfully, it warmed up considerably. This was the view I had from my hammock.

Hammock positioning is of utmost importance. Apparently, everyone wants to be next to me. Chuck and I were able to find a spot close together....until the kids invaded.

Our serene, romantic little setting was turned upside down by these crazy kids. I think Chloe changed the location of her hammock at least 4 times. They weren't happy until they were all snuggled right next to us - literally.

Bennett was so close he was resting his foot in my hammock. Chloe was so close to Chuck she was laying her head on his shoulder. I think we need to have a talk about hammock etiquette with these jokers.

One happy, cozy, snuggly, warm family. Perfect way to end a day of hiking.

The view we were treated to on the way back to car from our last hike. Ample sun and warmth - just the way we like it! 

Oct 13, 2017

True Story

10/13/2017 — cori

Obviously I did not take this picture, but it was the best one I could find off the world wide web to help you better visualize this story. So, the other day I'm walking back to my car after coming out of a store. The parking lot is very small and cramped. I had a hard time parking myself. The cars were very close together (take note of the example in the picture). As I was nearing my car a big, orange truck was trying to pull into the spot next to me. So I just stood to the side and waited (while thinking to myself please don't hit my car, please don't hit my car). 

As I'm waiting, the lady opens the truck door and comes out of the truck all distraught, "I can't do this!, I can't do this!" Looking at me she says, "Can you please park my truck for me?"


I say, "I could stand back here and try to direct you so you could see me in your rearview mirror."

"No. No. You do it for me." Then she just walks away from her truck to stand on the sidewalk.

What choice did I have? I hopped in the truck, with her baby still in the back seat!! and Tejano music blaring. I try to adjust the seat so that I can actually fit my legs under the steering wheel. I couldn't find the knob for the volume though. I then manipulate a truck I've never driven, in a parking-lot that's way too small, into a parking spot that seems impossible. 

But apparently to your random stranger, I look like just the person who could fulfill this type of challenge.

Somehow I succeeded and the lady was extremely grateful. Just goes to never know when someone will ask you to park their car out of desperation. It felt good to help someone today. I just never envisioned I'd be helping anyone in that particular fashion.

Being open and willing to whatever life throws at you can lead to some pretty hilarious situations.

Oct 12, 2017

Look For Pockets of Good

10/12/2017 — cori
I can't seem to get this thought out of my head as of late. It is undeniably true. I get so caught up in sadness with the world around me. When I watch the news, when I hear the president speak, when I see the many natural disasters wreaking havoc around the world, when I watch the persecution of certain groups of people simply because of their religion or the color of their skin, when I see people being mean to each other, when I see the disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', when I hear hate heart breaks with each piece of bad news. I'm overwhelmed with the wretched state of humanity sometimes. I get super disappointed in people. I become overly critical and cynical. I often expect the worst in people because that is what I see time and time again.

But then I'm reminded of all the people out there doing good...doing their part in their little part of the world. And the cynicism begins to fade, the sadness turns to joy, the hopelessness is replaced by hope. I hear stories of people who work their entire lives for those wrongly accused and oppressed as is the case of Bryan Stevenson with the Equal Justice Initiative. I read first hand accounts of Jeremy Courtney with Preemptive Love putting himself and his family in a war zone to help Iraqis and reach across the racial/religious divide. I catch glimpses of random people doing kind things for other and it melts my heart. I watched with tears in my eyes as neighbor helped neighbor over and over again in the replaying scenes from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. When I start looking, I become overwhelmed with the amount of people doing good. To me, this is what I envision the Kingdom of God on earth looking like. Millions of small pockets of people loving people, helping them where they are, sacrificing for the common good, putting others first.

My new mantra has become: "Look for pockets of good." If I choose to look for those, the disappointments fade. I become a little more gracious towards others. I feel my cynical heart melting and being replaced with compassion for those who act out in anger and fear. I learn from a man who knows all too well. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of those pockets of good. He actively loved those who hated him, he wanted reconciliation, he wanted to bridge the divide, not make a deeper chasm. He challenges my anger towards the mean-spirited, the violent, the hateful, the self-centered. He beautifully orates:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

I recently read an amazing book by Brene Brown called, "Rising Strong." It said alot of things that were hard to hear. I'm still ruminating on this book. It's too raw and real to put into words right now. But the one part that stood out to me was when she said, "People, for the most part, are doing the best they can." *sigh* I don't often hold that point of view. I'm sad to admit, I don't often give others the benefit of the doubt. I'm learning, I'm failing, I'm getting back up again and trying. But if I am able to keep that idea alive in my mind, it plays nicely with: "look for pockets of good." 

When you really start actively looking for pockets of good and believing that people are doing the best they can, then you start seeing beauty everywhere, all around you. The amount of organizations and random people you see doing good become overwhelming and too numerous to keep up with. It doesn't matter the religious affiliation, the cause, the motive...people loving and helping other people is a beautiful sight - if you only look for will see it.

Oct 11, 2017

Lake George

10/11/2017 — cori
This past weekend Chuck and I had the pleasure of flying out to Lake George, New York to celebrate my cousin's wedding. We'd never been to this part of the country before and were excited to explore. We flew into Albany, New York and drove an hour north to reach our destination, Lake George. On our way we stopped by this adorable little town called Saratoga Springs. We passed by a park entrance that was so alluring, we had to drive down the winding, tree-lined path to see what was set back in the woods. We were not disappointed. The place was called: Yaddo. I just love that name. Turns out that the mansion and the grounds were donated in the 1920's as an artists retreat. You can see how artists are inspired by this alluring place - and to think we found it on accident. 

Below is the fountain that the mansion faces. To the right of the pond are beautiful rose gardens.

In the rose garden is this intricate sundial.

The sundial alone was a piece of art. But I loved the poem carved into the sundial.

We eventually made it up to Bolton Landing, on the shores of Lake George where our hotel, The Sagamore, awaited us. This is a view of the front of the hotel. The grounds are immaculately kept.

And here is the back of the hotel. This is the side that faces Lake George. Just stunning.

The views are good and picturesque from everywhere.

Unfortunately, the fall colors of the Adirondack Mountains that this part of New York is famous for were in short supply. Because the summer-like weather stretched long into early fall, it didn't allow the colors to proliferate as early as they usually do. There were small pockets of color, as is shown in here next to the covered walkway we used each day to get from our lodge to main hotel.

We explored the surrounding towns the day of the wedding since it wasn't until later in the afternoon. We visited Fort William Henry in the village of Lake George (the southern most tip of the lake). This was a famous fort during the French and Indian War and made famous in the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans."

After exploring this small town, we drove to the top of Mount Prospect which was at an elevation of 2,030 feet. We were treated to 100 mile views. It was serene watching the clouds settle snuggly between the mountains.

Again, not much color. Everything seemed a bit muted and dull.  But you can imagine how these mountains look on fire when they are at their peak of brilliance.

Then it came to the moment we were all waiting for. Kelley and Luke's wedding. She chose this venue because of the special memories it has of her childhood taking vacations to Lake George every summer and staying at the Sagamore Resort.

Kelley's Aunt Grace officiated the wedding. She was pure joy and her message was expressed so beautifully. She spoke on Colossians 3:12. Her analogy of clothing yourselves with love, patience, humility and compassion will not soon be forgotten.

Kelley is a born actress. She and Luke both adored the spot light.

This is during the Father/Daughter dance. After Uncle Mike and Kelley had their private moment, all the rest of the dads and daughters were invited to go out to the dance floor to join them. My Uncle Mike is a the father of 3 daughters. This was their special dance.  

Finally, our turn with the bride and groom. It is always so exciting sharing each other's love.

The next day we took a boat tour of Lake George on The Morgan.

Here we are enjoying the mild weather. Unfortunately, it quickly took a turn for the worse and we all had to run downstairs and seek shelter inside the cabin when an unexpected storm blew in.

This is the view of the resort from the boat. The hotel and grounds are extensive.

Again, we got to see small pops of fall color during the boat ride. We also learned that the lake is spring fed, 32 miles long, only 3 miles wide at it's widest point and it runs north, dropping 226 feet and empties into Lake Champlain. The color of the water is a beautiful aqua blue that unfortunately is hard to tell in this photo.

The rain forced us to change our plans. Instead of hiking the rest of the day, we stayed around the resort to watch a cooking demo with one of the chefs. Here we learned the tips and tricks of making a delicious apple pie.

On our last night there, the clouds treated us to a spectacular show of color during sunset. Always a treat!

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