Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Vacation

To my great relief, and perhaps some small surprise, we pulled off a last-minute Colorado vacation with huge success. As the school year loomed closer and closer the thought of letting the summer pass with no trip whatsoever became unbearable, so we quickly reviewed our options and set off on a Colorado adventure of camping, fishing and canoeing, with some short family visits tucked in.

Our first stop was Loveland where we grilled at a nice little park, and then went boating on Horsetooth Reservoir with my sister Cindy, niece Tiffany, and her new husband, Gary. Great start to our end-of-summer fun!

After that we went over to Golden and took a nice walk along Clear Creek with my brother, Matt, Mysti, and my niece Shayla. Matt pointed out all the best fishing spots, and Madison worked hard at being just like her awesome Cousin Shayla. She may have even been convinced that the Jonas Brothers are NOT cool, after all.

Next was a quick visit with Grandma MaryAnn, then on to the mountains. We found the perfect spot at Peak One campsite, outside Frisco. Restrooms close by, right on the lake, good spot to put the tent in some trees. The area has been pretty hard-hit by beetle kill, and they've done a lot of work clearing out the dead stuff. Madison claims to love fishing, and the action was good enough to supply the first night's delicious fresh trout dinner. Of course, her idea of fishing is having her dad do everything except reel in the fish while she plays in the water and sand, then gets the excitement of bringing in the prize. Brilliant! We went canoeing the second day, which was super fun.

After two nights of camping, we packed up and headed on to Leadville for a hotel room, showers, and some touring of Jay's childhood memories. On the way there, we tried to ride the gondola in Vail, but were stormed out. A nice train ride up the mountain, and somewhat underwhelming tour of an old mine finished off that leg of our adventure, then back through Vail to make another, more successful stab at the gondola ride. Gorgeous views from the top!

A last chunk of quality time with Grandma Mary Ann and a lovely drive around Indian and Elkhorn Mtns rounded out our whirlwind trip. It was quite possibly the smoothest and most relaxing, yet fun-filled trip ever. Perhaps we should do these last minute things more often!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Safari Zoological Park

Yesterday, in an effort to squeeze as much fun as possible into the last few weeks of summer vacation, we headed north to the Safari Zoological Park in Caney, KS. It's one of those places I've been meaning to take M, but never seemed to do, and was proud of myself for finally getting it off the list and on the schedule. As much as she loves critters and creatures, I was hoping she'd really enjoy it. And she did!

Of course, the alligators, tigers, bears, leopards and other fantastic animals couldn't quite compare with the thrill of the pond full of regular ol' turtles (even the beautiful white tiger getting hand-fed a whole chicken couldn't compete), but luckily the turtles were at the end and made a wonderful capstone to the tour. I asked M what her favorite thing BESIDES the turtles was, and she emphatically said it was the Lemurs. We were allowed to put our hands up to the cages and they would hold our hands. They have the coolest little padded fingers.

The owners are super nice, and I enjoyed talking with them and hearing their future plans. Jay and I had been to the Safari years ago, but it's really changed since then, and it sounds like more improvements are on the way. I can't wait for the new tree houses to be built for overnight stays. Can you imagine how the place must come to life at night? Sign me up!

And now M wants to have a zoo when she grows up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back to the Blog!

Okay, so it's been over a year since I last blogged. What's up with that? Well, I think facebook may have distracted me a little... but that's no excuse. So it's time to get back to the blog!

The past year has been full of great stuff. Since my last post, Little M has had two birthday parties, lost 5 more teeth, and graduated from kindergarten. She's gone from princesses and ponies to... well, more princesses and ponies. But also Star Wars and plenty of other fun stuff. Of course she's still crazy about bunnies and all sorts of other little critters. This summer she's made lots of new friends in our back yard, including Mr. Frog and Crickety, The Staghorn Beetle. She has a very tender heart for creatures, and was devastated when a boy stomped on a bug on the school playground. It was great consolation that she got to take home the butterfly cocoons on the last day of school, since they hadn't emerged yet. She was so excited when they emerged, one by one, and then had a great time releasing them in our backyard.

Let's see. She's also reading very well, and actually enjoys it, to my great delight. To see her sitting quietly absorbed in a chapter book is one of my favorite things. Her latest reads are the Magic Tree House books. Very cool. She's definitely her mom's daughter in her love of books. Of course, she's got plenty of her dad going on. She's adding and subtracting like crazy, and has a pretty good start on the basics of fractions. Is it just me, or are kids smarter now than they used to be? I didn't know how to do any of that when I got out of kindergarten. I wasn't writing awesome stories about pretty poodles (she'll tell you that's an alliteration). I don't think I could even write my full name.

But don't let all the reading and writing and arithmetic fool you. She's still the active, almost never stops moving bundle of energy. Yay! And I think we've talked her into taking soccer this Fall (I told her they have snacks), so we'll get to see some of that energy at work on the field. Can't wait!