Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things to write down...

Whenever I share something cute or funny the kids say, people tell me to write it down. That's part of the reason I keep this blog. So here are today's note worthy events.
We played water balloons after church today. Caroline promptly smashed every one of hers, within 10 seconds of it being made, it was reduced to a puddle and shred of latex again. She had a blast watching them explode. Rylan, on the other hand, carefully saved every balloon I made for him. He asked for a bucket in which he nestled each, naming them ("cutie-pie") and talking to them like pets. I just thought the contrast between the two kids was so funny, and I love seeing how different their two personalities are.
The funny thing is, my destructo girl loves flowers and was also very sweetly kissing each petunia in the bed tonight. When she had almost reached the end she exclaimed, "Ooops, I got snot on that one!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Elevenmile Reservoir

This Sunday, we went hiking at a Elevenmile Reservoir state park. What a gorgeous drive and beautiful scenery! I fell in love with this place, the groves of aspens interspersed with rocks, the sparkling blue lake, and the sweeping views of the valley, rolling hills, and mountain range in the distance. I can't wait to come back again when the aspens are changing color. I am not sure how far we hiked, but the kids did really well and Rylan hiked almost the whole time on his own. Caroline was happy that there were lots of rock formations to climb and when her legs got too tired, Daddy carried her on his shoulders. Caroline is crazy about flowers right now, so we had many delays for her to pick handfuls of the beauties. Rylan liked digging in each different kind of dirt we passed. Hiking with kids definitely takes a lot of patience and an appreciation of the details of nature.

We got to see a couple hot air balloons finishing their flight on our drive to the reservoir.

Beautiful lake.

Rylan dressed himself this morning. At least he was easy to spot along the trail.

Rylan's trade mark squinty smile.

When I asked Caroline to smile for me, this is what she did!

3 Bottles of Sunscreen

Yes, it has been that wonderful of a summer! I don't remember when I have enjoyed this season more, and I am very thankful that the kids and I have been able to spend so many warm sunny days keeping relaxing and splashing in our pool. These pictures aren't that stellar, but I did want to capture some of the joy of our summer.

Sunshine, cool water, and a mountain view. What more could I ask for?

Swimming with Daddy, Caroline doing flips in the water.

I can't remember why Rylan was making this face, but I know he was a happy guy.

Ahh, juice boxes and snacks by the pool. A little slice of heaven!

Girl's Weekend

Bethany and I have been dreaming about a hiking and horseback-riding trip to Rocky Mountain National Park since she moved out here last year. The first weekend in August, we finally made it happen. Just us girls, no kids, hiking our hearts out in the wilderness. It was the most wonderful trip, and made my heart happy just thinking about it all last week.

One of the most special treats was seeing a beautiful wild Columbine. I thought the season for them to bloom was long past, since my "tame" plants were done blooming in June. I think I scared Bethany because she didn't know what I was getting so excited about at first and thought it might be a bear! We just saw this lone plant along the trail to Timberline Falls, but the next day saw many more on a hillside along the Cache Le Poudre trail.

Bethany and I had wanted to hike to Timberline Falls on her visit two years ago, but after hauling a certain 25 lb. 9-month old 3 miles to Loch Vale, I was too tired to hike another mile. Turns out, it was a tough, steep trail in spots, so we definitely made the right decision. It made reaching our goal all the more sweet this time.

One of the prettiest places along the trail. Two streams converged and then separated again in a lush grove of green plants and flowers.

There was a lot more snow near the lake than two years ago.

Yes, there is my brave, crazy sister climbing all the way to the top of the falls. Do you see the trail? My point, exactly. Our guide book said the trail might be slippery from waterfall mist, but this trail was still very wet from snow melt even in August. And that glacier to the right didn't give us much room to maneuver. I ended up following Bethany up that trail, very slowly and carefully through the water.

This incredible view awaited us after our nerve-wracking climb. That lake is Loch Vale, about a mile below us. We ended up hiking 8 miles and being on the trail about 4 1/2 hours on Friday.

On Saturday, after our ride, we finally got to see some elk and it sure was a dramatic sighting. These young bulls were sparring on a snow field high in the tundra. The colors of the mountains and sky behind them and the snow flying beneath their hooves was breath-taking. Definitely a rare and incredible sight.

Our horseback ride on Saturday morning was great. The highlight of the two-hour ride was seeing a moose in Sprague Lake. My horse got bitten on the rear by the horse behind him and did a little hop and buck, but other than that our ride was relaxing and uneventful.

On Saturday, we also drove through the park to Grand Lake. We hiked some on the west side of the park on the Cache Le Poudre river trail. There were lots of wildflowers and pretty green hillsides as far as we could see. If we had a little more bug spray to keep the mosquitos away, it would have been perfect. We had a nice lunch in Grand Lake on the boardwalk watching the sailboats and then headed back to the Springs and real life. We will have lots of memories and great pictures to treasure until next year.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

I had a funny conversation with Rylan tonight. It went something like this.
Rylan: I want a cat.
Me: We can't have a cat because I am allergic. When you grow up and move out, you can have all the cats you want.
Rylan: Is there a cat store? I want 36 hundred cats or... maybe five.
Me: That's a lot of cats! You know cats poop in a box and you have to clean it out, right?
Rylan: Okay, well when I grow up I will just ask my mo..I mean, my wife and she will do it for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

El Paso County Fair

We have done a lot of things and visited lots of cool places since moving to Colorado, but I still had not taken the kids to the fair. When I saw our county fair had "Dollar Days" last Wednesday and Bethany didn't have to work, we loaded up the kids for the adventure. The livestock exhibitors keep their animals on the fair grounds all week long in barns divided up by species. That made it easy to get up close to the animals, which I knew would be the kids' favorite part. I love anything agricultural and it brought back memories of showing rabbits and lambs at our county fair in Kentucky as a kid. The weather was very warm, there was precious little shade, and the heat made the kids crabby, but overall we had fun together.

Before we saw the animals, the kids had a chance to "drive" some big road-building machinery.

Rylan fell in love with these goats. We caught him petting this one and singing it a lullaby. He is so gentle and affectionate with the animals. I think we have enough room in our backyard for a baby goat, and then Charlton wouldn't have to mow anymore.
Caroline enjoyed the goats, too.
This foal was in a friendly mood. We also got to see some rabbits of which I didn't get any pictures. Caroline was so excited to see them, that she tried to kiss the rabbit through the cage! When that didn't work so well, the rabbit's owner had compassion on her and brought the bunny out for a proper petting. We definitely have room for a rabbit in the back yard. I haven't had the energy to care for another living thing for a long time, but seeing the kid's love for animals blossom is making me think the Clarke family may need a 4-footed addition sometime in the future.
As much as the kids loved seeing the animals, I think the ferris wheel ride may have won out in popularity. I was so proud of being frugal by only spending $3 on admission, and packing our own lunches, then blew that with our $3 rides (each person) on the ferris wheel. But how could we go to the fair and not ride at least one ride?
Hate that the wire cross in front of his eyes, but you can still see Rylan's big smile.

These two even managed to get a few extra turns on the wheel, because a TV news crew was filming. Rylan was so excited about getting to ride with his Bethany, too.

Caroline was busy scoping out some other rides she wanted to try next. She loved her ride, too, and wasn't afraid a bit. I am not sure who will ride those crazy, spinning, vomit-inducing rides with her when she is older. Definitely not her mama!

I need to head off to bed so I will wait for another night to update on how the kids are doing with their "habits." I will say God is definitely answering prayers and things are going very well!

After the rain...

....God put the most brilliant, breath-taking rainbow in the sky for us to enjoy. The pictures don't do it justice, it was really incredible!

Not exactly a pot of gold, but I did find a golden haired beauty at the end of this rainbow.