Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in Colorado

This little family flew out to Colorado to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with my parents...the weather was wonderful, the food was fantastic, and the time spent was filled with fun!  We did NOT partake in any Black Friday shopping, except for a random trip to Target on Friday afternoon.  It was oddly quiet at Target when we went, so we figured we must have come well after the rush.  Fine by us!

We spent Wednesday at the Denver Zoo, Thursday doing thankful turkey stuff, and then Friday at the Denver Museum of Science & Nature.  And then we flew home on Saturday afternoon.  It was a quick trip, but we made some fun memories and Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug got to be entertained by Ava, non-stop.  One of my favorite moments was when we were eating lunch before leaving for the airport...after 15 minutes of eating, she suddenly stopped chewing, and quietly asked, "Why is everyone staring at me?"  Because she was right - we were totally watching her eat, and no one was really talking.  I'm surprised it took her that long to catch on that she was our sole entertainment for the meal!

Look at these little guys!

 
Posing so well with the zebras

 
Already tired of the pics...or not so thrilled with the giraffes.

 
How tall are we compared to the polar bear? Short!

 
Completely and blissfully unaware of the komodo dragon sneaking up on her...

 
 
 
It's gonna get me!

 
Watching the sea lions and listening to Grandpa Doug

 
Strutting her stuff

 
Entering the newly remodeled area of the Denver Zoo - very cool!

 
This gibbon had the crowd fascinated as he swung on the ropes above our heads.

 
On the carousel with Grandma Karen

 
Yum...ice cream!

 
We bought her a set of building logs at the Zoo, and she's had so much fun playing with them.  And we also learned that Scott is pretty serious when building things...

 
Great dinner at Carmine's - they had $1 glasses of house wine.  Dangerous!


 
Checking out the "big kids" park by my parents' house

 
Ah, so snuggly.  Or being squished by Mom. You choose.

 
At the Denver Museum of Science & Nature - in the Discovery Zone!

 
Here's Scott building again, with Ava as his helper...to give him credit, the mansion he built was pretty impressive.

 
This was pretty cool - this fan blew the scarves up in the air, and provided many minutes of entertainment.

 
See?!

 
Checking out the view from the top deck at the Museum...what a great view on a beautiful Colorado day!

 
And now it's back to reality for the next few weeks...work, work, work, tumbling, visiting family, going to a Cirque show (yay!), family pics, Santa visit, Christmas parties, etc.  I have a feeling this holiday season is going to pass us by at an incredible rate... 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Days of Gratitude

November is a perfect month to take a good look at life and count our blessings.  For the last two Novembers, I've done a daily check of something I'm thankful for in my life.  Some days it's silly, some days it's serious, but every day, it's sincere. 

I just read something a good friend posted on Facebook, and am inclined to agree:

People feel 25% happier when keeping a gratitude journal. (source: Super Soul Sunday, 18 Nov 2012)

By focusing on the positive, it leaves less room to focus on the negative points in life. And I think everyone can benefit from that choice.

Here's what I've been blessed with the last eighteen days (starting with November 1):
  • Day 1: Today, I'm thankful for people with a sense of humor. Unexpected laughter can make any situation bearable!
  • Day 2: Today, I'm thankful for the energy of four year olds, cause I'm feeling old!
  • Day 3: Today, I'm thankful for my circle of girlfriends. I am so blessed to have each and every one of them in my life. In the last 30 hours, I've had the joy of spending time with four different ones, and I couldn't be happier!
  • Day 4: Today, I'm thankful for this day of rest. It's amazing what a calm day around the house can do to restore my good spirits. Oh, and that extra hour was mighty nice, too!
  • Day 5: Today, I'm thankful for new activities that will ensure Ava will sleep well at night...first night of gymnastics, yay!
  • Day 6: Today, I'm thankful for the ongoing education in our everyday lives. I had no idea Ava would teach me all about echolocation at the young age of four!
  • Day 7: Today, I'm thankful for the brief moments of time that I have to myself. Whether it's on my drive home, or after everyone goes to bed...those minutes of solitude help keep me somewhat sane!
  • Day 8: Today, I'm thankful for Ava's laughter, dance moves, and little singing voice. They are just a few of many things that make this house a home.
  • Day 9: Today, I'm thankful it's Friday. Enough said!
  • Day 10: Today, I'm thankful for this quiet night at home, snuggling with my girl, watching a movie. Love those sweet moments!
  • Day 11: Today, I'm thankful for our veterans...I can't imagine how different our lives would be without the sacrifices these brave men and women have selflessly made for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • Day 12: Today, I'm thankful that hunting season is winding down. It's kinda nice having another adult in the house again
  • Day 13: Today, I'm thankful for grape pop. Yes, I realize this is a silly thing to be grateful for, but after a less than stellar day, it made me happy. Sometimes it takes just the smallest things to bring back a good mood!
  • Day 14: Today, I'm thankful for modern medicine. I am happy to report that this week of surgeries is turning out on the positive side. Life is such a fragile thing, and we should never, ever take it for granted!
  • Day 15: Today, I'm thankful for our furry friends. They drive me absolutely crazy at times, but then I'm reminded of their unconditional love, and remember that I could learn a lesson from them in that!
  • Day 16: Today, I'm thankful for our little family. Just finished up a great pizza and movie night, with lots of giggles!
  • Day 17: Today, I'm thankful for the little luxuries in life. By hiring someone to clean our house, I just got this Saturday back to spend with my family!
  • Day 18: Today, I'm thankful for my emotions. I may not always understand them, and sometimes they are a hindrance, but I rejoice at the way they touch my heart and accentuate my life.
We're getting ready to head out to Colorado for Thanksgiving to see my parents, so I have a feeling the next two days are going to fly by.  PLUS, we hired someone to clean our house once a month, so we need to make sure that things are picked up so she can do a great job.  I can't tell you how excited I am about that little change in our lives - I clean every Saturday, so that means that one weekend a month, I can have a break...do the grocery shopping early, take my time at Target, take Ava to the library, take a nap, whatever!  I'll gladly take that 4+ hours of time back!

So, what are YOU thankful for today?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Friends

Even though we don't live in a neighborhood with lots of kids (still hoping to change that in 2013), we're fortunate to have friends with kids right around Ava's age.  One of my closest friends, Angie, is dating a man who has a four-year old son, Brady.  We've had a few play dates, and they seem to really get along and play well together - even minus the common factors such as princess dress-up or Transformer toys. 

This past play date, Ava was getting a little pouty near the end, and like a nice little boy, Brady was trying to cheer her up and make her laugh.  Since this isn't the first time it's happened between Ava and a little boy, it made me ponder (very briefly) how early the "traditional" gender roles manifest themselves with children.  All I can say, is that I think someone is going to have their hands full with our stubborn and sassy girl! :)

Angie did a fantastic job of lining up activities for Ava and Brady to do at their last play date.  It was awesome for me, as well - all I had to do was show up!  Since it was just a few days after Halloween, we thought it would be fun for them to wear their costumes so they could get one more use out of them.

First up...decorating brownie pizzas!
 
Bumblebee (Transformer) and Jewel Sparkles (Lalaloopsy) did a fantastic job covering their desserts!



 
 
Angie has had a bat pinata that she has used as decoration over the last few years.  A pinata won't last long when you have a four-year-old around!  Angie filled it full of non-candy items (raisins, animal crackers, etc.) which was AWESOME considering the bags of candy that they had just acquired from trick-or-treating, and we let them go to town!  We gave each of them three tries to hit the pinata, blindfolded, and when that just wasn't working, we let them have free reign, with full vision.  I'm not sure who made the first cut, but they had an absolute blast!

Ang telling them the rules...
 
 
Now that's a cute bat!

 
Brady's getting ready!


 
Ava's turn!

 
Action shot...not sure she connected, though!


 
Brady has his own cheering section!

 
And...done!

 
And what's another fun, fall activity?  Bobbing for apples!  It was a little chilly that night, so we brought that game inside...it didn't last too long, but they still had fun!
 




 
And...we still weren't done for the evening! I suggested a bath, and then a showing of the Charlie Brown Halloween special.  It was a perfect way to wind down from all of the excitement...
 
I know my time of posting "naked Ava pics" is coming to an end, but they played together so well and had so much fun, I had to post these innocent pics!  Ava and Brady did great in the bath...no questions about their physical differences (whew.) 
 
Brady thought it was hilarious that Ava's rear was right at eye level - look at that grin!
 

 
Brady had a great time creating some massive tidal waves in the tub...I think Ava was just trying to stay out of the way!

 
Once everyone was all cleaned up, Ang built a fire, and pulled out a new game to play.  We watched the movie, had some wine, and read some new books.  I'll be honest, that was a Friday night, I had a long week, and the fire and wine put me to sleep.  Not surprising, of course. :)  But, it was a great way to kick off the weekend, and we are definitely looking forward to our next get together!
 

 
Hey, who's this guy?  We are right in the middle of hunting season, so Scott's been gone four weekends over the last 1.5 months.  It's certainly given me an appreciation for single parents...but it means that Ava and I get to spend a lot more time together, and we're finding new, fun things to do, which is great!  I know that Scott's been missing us, and is looking forward to being home once hunting season is over.  At least he's able to sneak in some cuddle time when he can!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween 2012

October has been a fun month, full of activities and adventures, spooky stories, and sweet treats.  Our fall bucket list "made" us get out there and do things we might not usually do, so I'm grateful that Ava's pre-school sent the list home with her, and encouraged us to do all of these fun things.

This past Halloween week was especially busy, but there are certain things that HAVE to be done...like carving a pumpkin!  Last year, we carved 6 (I think), so this year, it was a blessing to realize we only had to carve one BIG pumpkin.  We did end up going the route of a fancy design, as opposed to a more simple face.  However, Scott and I took turns cutting out the detailed portions, so I didn't get utterly sick of carving like I did last year.

Love the free laughter!
 
 
Princess Darla

 
Lucky's not quite so thrilled to be wearing a tiara

 
Scott was busy...he dug out a huge window well for our bedroom in the basement, so it can actually be marketed as a bedroom.  Poor guy was really sore the next day.

 
Love the look of concern!

 
Yuck.




On Halloween night, we met up with Scott's cousins and we headed out in SSP to collect the goods.  I was very happy to hear Ava thanking people for her treats, and wishing them a Happy Halloweeeeeeen!  I think we were gone for maybe 45 minutes, and that was plenty long for our little girl.  She refused to wear a coat and mittens, so her hands were little popsicles by the time we got back to Great-Grandma's house. Next year, I'd like to dress her up in a snuggly suit so she stays warm!

They didn't have a Halloween party on October 31 at pre-school (they held it the next day), but I still wanted to send her to school in something a bit festive.  Plus, she got these cool ghost earrings from Great-Grandma that she wanted to show off.


 
The wig that came with her costume (Jewel Sparkles, a Lalaloopsy doll) didn't work out, and it turns out that I don't have a small barrel curling iron, so we went easy and left her hair alone.  In the process of leading up to this costume, she's broken two tiaras - thank goodness we seem to have a plethora around the house!

 
She really liked having her face painted!


Needless to say, she racked up quite a bit of candy.  If we're not careful, that candy will still be here next Halloween, so as odd as it sounds, we need to make sure it's being eaten on a regular basis.  Nothing like shoving sweets down a child's throat!  (I'm rolling my eyes at myself, here.)

It sounds like they had a fun Halloween/pizza party on November 1 at pre-school. I saw a pic on Facebook of all the little girls in their costumes...not surprising that most of them were princesses of some sort! Maybe next year, we can try something different. :)