Friday, August 26, 2016

end of summer... beginning of fall!

The last weeks of summer found us on the water a lot...

There were lakes and ponds and rivers to explore - but more importantly there were always friends to explore with! Whether on kayaks, paddle boards, canoes or row boats the boys loved to hop in and stay cool in the late summer sun... and I thought it was the best idea for keeping them busy and relatively clean! (who needs a shower when the river water will do?!)

But as the first day of school approached, we decided it was best to take at least a day in Glenwood for school supplies and more importantly, putt-putt golf! And while the boys blew through 36 holes of mini-golf... I realized they just use it as a means to an end for Skee-Ball! It's the best $1.50 I could spend though: they earn enough tickets to get a few plastic army men to keep them fully occupied staging an epic battle in the car on the ride home!

So the first week of school did finally roll around and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then the expressions on the boys' faces should tell the story of how they truly felt about going back to school:

Despite the look of complete disdain, Hamp actually had a fantastic first week in 7th grade. He claims it is "the best grade yet" and has already been inspired by his science class to demonstrate a few experiments at home! (nothing chemical, just physics as work!)

And Sammy's expression says it all: he loves 4th grade. He loves writing and reading and learning in general and has a wonderful class and teacher. All good things to report.

The high school is in good form too, and I thoroughly enjoy my work there. Looking forward to another good school year for us all!

The best part is the feeling of autumn that is already in the air. Although it is only August, the mornings are a brisk 50 degrees and evenings on the deck involve a sweatshirt for sure. Won't be long before leaves turn and fall and thoughts of summer days on the water will be mere memories. Glad we enjoyed them while we could...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NYC

It was a Sunday evening and I had just sighed a breath of relief at the prospect of having absolutely NO PLANS (no play dates, no work schedules, no appointments and no visits) on the calendar for the next 7 days. I was looking forward to seeing where the days would take us - the lake? camping? maybe a movie in Rifle? or lazy days at home? - and to enjoying our last real week of summer vacation.

Who knew that the days would take us on a spontaneous, 3-day trip to New York City?!

It was as simple as Hamp suggesting we go.
And I knew this would be the best time to do it.
Besides, I had ALWAYS wanted to take my boys to NYC.
I had dreams of them seeing the skyscrapers, taking a taxi-cab, playing in Central Park and seeing a Broadway Show. I wanted them to experience the mass of humanity that NYC offers - the electricity that 1.6 million people living on an historic and iconic island presents. I wanted them to have a frame of reference for every movie scene and image with a Manhattan skyline or subway station or brownstone or archetypal building.... for them to say, "I've been there" or "I recognize that".

So when Hamp said we should go to New York, I said OK!
(I think he was a little shocked! But I told him not to get used to that answer...)

We flew into the city at night and the boys couldn't wait to catch their first glimpse...

... and what better way to start off the trip than a taxi-cab ride into Times Square to get to our hotel!


So what does 3 days in NYC look like for us?

Well, the first thing we did was ride the subway. Sam loved it, Hamp not so much.
We spent the morning exploring downtown - Wall Street, World Trade Center, 9/11 memorial, and Battery Park. Then we took the Circle Line Cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and were rewarded with great views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the famous bridges that connect them all:
 

Later that day we explored mid-town, including Rockefeller Plaza (with it's great shopping... aka Lego Store!) and the view from Rockefeller Center!
 
 

Day two began with a bike tour through Central Park, then lunch in the park, then an afternoon boat ride in the park, and then more time playing in the park.
Still... we barely scratched the surface:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Broadway show: check!!!
 

Day three was open for exploration and catching all the other spots we missed the first two days! So we moved from City Park downtown, to Washington Square Park, to Madison Square Park, to Central Park (again!) and when it rained, we explored the Metropolitan Museum and Grand Central Station.
 
 
 


While we took in plenty of the main, iconic tourist attractions I was most excited about some of the small moments that we experienced in NYC: a local man asking us about our trip and sharing with us his favorite places to go; Hamp hailing a cab for us; Sam being the subway expert and even using his own Metro Card; getting pizza and hotdogs and kebabs from the cart on the street corner; playing a game of ping pong against a local construction worker while the World Trade Center hovered above us; the sights and sounds (and smells, unfortunately) of a million people from as many different walks of life all moving through the streets and subways and buildings at the same time - and my boys beginning to understand what humanity means.

And taking the 7 train into Queens at night to see the skyline one last time before catching our flight home:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Family in Meeker


We were lucky enough to have my brother and his family take a week (and a half!) off to trek up to Colorado and spend their Etheridge family vacation in Meeker!


I dare saw we had plenty of entertainment;

~ if not for the endless trails to hike and bike and the river to raft and the lake to swim and waterfalls and caves to explore

~ and if not for the Legos, trucks, backyard games, campfire with S'mores, and bubble baths at Mojo & Dado's house

~ and if not for the trip to the soda fountain for a scoop of ice cream and the concert on the courthouse lawn and the Color Run and the Community Appreciation Day (that would warrant it's own blog post had we taken any photos! It was awesome.)

... well then we always had entertainment enough in just being together!
It was so fun just to watch these 4 cousins play together...


********


What a great visit - I'm already excited for the next time we can all be together.
Oh, and how wonderful that there will be a new Etheridge baby joining us next year, as well!!!
Congratulations Alec & Jei!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Family in Tennessee

We had a great family vacation in Tennessee last week...
kicking off with an afternoon baseball game in Denver!

Best. Game. Ever!!!!
Not only did we go with some of our best friends, but we got to see Gonzalez hit a grand slam and then cheered the Rockies on to a win with a walk-off home run by Story! Pretty Epic...

Then a quick & easy flight into Knoxville was met with a wonderful surprise announcement:
We are getting a new member of the Hightower family!!!
The 6th Hightower grandchild, Miss Charlotte Rose, will be joining our family in early December!

She will have lots of silly cousin love to share in:

Papa & Yaya treated us to an absolutely fantastic day at Dollywood's Splash Country waterpark.
We had beautiful weather, we rode ALL the rides, we enjoyed the luxury of a cabana for rest time and meals, and the grandkids were all tall/old/brave enough to take on even the most challenging waterslides...



THEN vs NOW
2011 vs 2016

The rest of the week was spent sharing quality time together at the house. There was much laughter, lots of good food and family visits, minimal tears/time-outs/scuffles, plenty of foosball tournaments and playing in the neighborhood pool, a trip to the movies and of course a night of s'mores and fun around the fire pit!