Monday, October 31, 2011

My Super Heroes

Batman and Spiderman

Two super heroes by my side.
I have never felt safer.

1 costume from the thrift store.
2 home-made capes.
2 home-made masks.
Glad the boys are low-key.

* home-made = made by Karl

Saturday we got to attend another Halloween Party!
The Mares family sure knows how to throw
a great family party.
Treasure hunt and haunted alley for the kids.
Dance party for the adults.
Everybody loved it.

Yes. Karl and I dressed up as well.
We went as a
Super Hero Family.
Nope. We did not take any pictures.
After a 3.5 k swim, a 65 mile bike ride,
a trip to the store, some cleaning-up,
making food and costumes for the party,
I was exhausted and (I admit) grumpy.
Nothing some dancing couldn't fix...

This is my favorite Halloween shot so far:

Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween

"Happy Halloween"

We kicked off Halloween
with a party in the Taylor's backyard.
The kids ran wild and the adults visited.
There was a bonfire and a lot of good food.
Everybody had a great time!

Stay tuned for more pictures...
Max was cold after swimming yesterday
and warmed up in his lion costume.
Today, he wore a different one.
Here is Noah in the lion suit in 2007.

Tonight seemed like a good night
for another pumpkin dessert.
(I made pumpkin cobbler twice last week.)
This time I decided on pumpkin cookies.
They turned out great,
so I am going to share the recipe with you:

Pumpkin Cookies

1 1/2 c flour*
1/2 t soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1/2 brown sugar
1 c pumpkin
2 T oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/2 c chocolate chips**
1 c walnuts**

* I used all whole wheat flour. It's the only kind I have.
** Chocolate chips and walnuts are optional. I used both tonight just because I had it in the cupboard.

combine dry ingredients
combine wet ingredients
mix together
(fold in chips and nuts)
bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

I actually doubled the recipe.
I like to bake some and then freeze some.
I put them on the baking sheet all ready
and then place the whole sheet in the freezer.
Want fresh warm cookies?
Just pop the baking sheet in the oven.
This also helps me not to eat a dozen cookies
by myself while the kids are in bed.
Tonight I limited myself to 6.
Or maybe 8.
I did not count.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Camping

Somewhere near Beaver Creek

It did not quite go as planned. But what in life does? Unfortunately, I am about the least flexible person I know but I am trying...

We left late on Friday, got stuck in traffic forever, did not realize it was fall break down in the valley, and my worst fears came true: the campground was full. Craptastic! Take a deep breath and ... find some dispersed camping. Should not be too hard, right? Well, it was not. Except that I was pretty grumpy. While getting packed up and the food ready, I kept telling myself: "This is worth it. Once you get there, you can just sit back, watch the kids play, and relax." Not so much. We found a good spot but had to carry our stuff a little ways. Schlepping stuff back and forth, setting up camp, taking it down the next morning, moving to the campground, setting it up again, taking it down again = one not so happy camper. Thanks for putting up with me, Karl!

The first night was pretty nice, actually. We had random snacks for dinner in the dark at 6:30. Then we just hung out on the red rocks and watched the amazing star show in the sky. I saw 3 shooting stars, just a few minutes apart, and was (almost) reconciled with the world. I am pretty sure I was asleep at 8 pm.

Breakfast was eaten bright and early.

Digesting all that yummy oatmeal.

Then Noah (on his bike) and Karl (by foot)
went a few miles down the road
to secure us a spot in the campground.
I was longing for a toilet, a table, and a campfire.
Karl couldn't care less...

I was trying to get Max to do some exploring
but he wasn't interested in moving much.

After loading up the car (again),
my grumpiness returned.
Karl sent me on a run
and I obliged happily.
When I returned 2 hours later,
camp was set up and the boys were playing.
Really, what am I complaining about?

Then we were off to Buddha Beach.
Great little hike.
Perfect swimming hole.
I am in heaven.

Sand angels.

My barefoot hikers.

We even found a 'diving' board!

Although freezing, I could not resist!

While Karl went on a run,
I made some delicious dutch oven dinner
and the boys found sticks for jousting.
We capped off a great day with a fire and s'mores.
We even had our very own pet.
A skunk.
He showed up about every 2 minutes...

We started Sunday morning with
hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Why not?

Max and I explored Beaver Creek.
Noah and Karl went mountain biking.

The End.

PS: We are not going inactive, we are just taking advantage of 1:30 pm church...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wild and Shy

Mr. Handsome

Noah. I love that kid. Can't believe he just turned 6. Crazy! I actually raised a kid to the age of 6. That is quite an accomplishment! Especially considering that he was an unplanned honeymoon baby. Both Karl and I had just signed up for an Ironman in Germany and a 50-miler in Arizona. Just two of the things we wanted to do before becoming parents.

Ready for...?

I was on the pill but I was late. No big deal. I was super tired all the time. Running? I think I'd rather take a nap. During another very sluggish run it struck me like lightening: I might be pregnant! That thought hadn't even crossed my mind before. I ran home, bought a few tests, took 3 of them. They were all positive! Shoot. Now what?

He is, indeed, German.

I pretty much had a minor (or major) nervous breakdown. I was about to graduate from college and had no idea what I was going to do with myself except dive into Ironman training and racing. Of course. What else would I care about? Well, that plan was now out the window.

The breakdown only lasted about 1.3 days. Then it was time to face reality and deal with it. So I did. And, of course, having Noah was the best thing that ever happened to us. Let's face it: 6 years later we might still be too busy adventuring around to even think about kids. Thank you, divine intervention!

First triathlon

Ok. Back to Noah. He is wild. As we all know. Just tonight he chose to run laps around the parking lot it in his pajamas. Twice. Because he could not sit still and listen to the bedtime story. Sure, sometimes it can be exhausting but I enjoy their energy and am so glad they are healthy!

Noah and Fay

He has been in Kindergarten for 9 weeks and already gotten into serious trouble twice! Yikes! The first time for breaking crayons and body-slamming a girl. (Noah claims she wanted him to.) Miss Chris explained to me that Noah is the social and academic leader of the class. Who knew??? Social leader? I had no idea. Academic leader? Really? He does not even know all his letters. In other words: He needs to shape up and be a better example so Miss Chris does not have 23 crayon-breaking and body-slamming Kindergartners.

Soccer Boy

On the other hand, is a pretty shy kid. I know. Hard to believe. He does not like crowds or unfamiliar situations and is very self-conscious. Once it was time to get ready for Karate last night, he had a meltdown. He could not tell us why he did not want to go but, of course, once he was there he had a great time! It's a good thing he has a (younger) brother to hide behind at times.

Not usually a Mama's boy

Tomorrow is our Primary Presentation. This will be his 3rd year in Primary and, once again, he is refusing to go to the microphone and say his part. He just breaks out in tears and wants to go home. Never mind that all the Sunbeams are very eager to get up there and present themselves. He knows there is no pressure from me and so we have come to the compromise that he will at least sit on the stand and sing the songs. He'd rather be sitting with us in the benches. I should just have Max sub for him. He would be thrilled! Last Sunday Max told me he wants to go up and bear his testimony.

No matter how wild or how shy, we love Noah for who he is. He is a great son, a wonderful older brother, and a good friend to many. But there is always room for improvement! On his and on our side...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Those Germans!

Gina and Mandy are right.
This is my mom's mom.
My grandma!
All growing up she and my grandpa lived
just a few stairs above us.
You know -
a 5-story house:

Attic (my little kingdom)
My family
Italian family (renters)

Oh. Wait. Americans don't live like that.
At least not in the West.
It's really too bad.

I loved having my grandparents so close.
Didn't like what's for dinner?
Let's see what Oma is cooking.
Out of eggs?
No problem.
Not allowed to watch TV?
I think I'll visit Oma and Opa.
Busted the glass front door?
Let's hide under their kitchen table.

They took us swimming almost every Saturday.
We spent countless hours hiking with them.
We went on vacation with them and took ski lessons.
Great memories!

Unfortunately, we were not able to make it
to Oma's eightieth birthday celebration.
But I can tell that they had a ton of fun without us!

There was, as usual, a self-composed song about Oma.

aunts, cousins, sister, niece, mom

My family modeling off some of Oma's knitted treasures.
This is only a small part of all the clothes/accessories
we all received over the years.

looks like Lynn needs some cousins to play with

There was, of course, lots of laughter and smiles.

aunt and uncle

And dancing.
This would be my parents showing off their moves.

Not sure how it all went down
but I am certain the party started in the early afternoon
and went well past midnight.
I am speaking from experience.

My dad and his 2 nieces.
He cracks me up!
Looks like one proud uncle!

We are looking forward to visiting Germany
next summer and can't wait to see everyone!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Any guesses...

... who this lovely, energetic 80-year-old lady is?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Passing on the Love

Karl and I love to bike.
In my book
biking = freedom.
So, naturally, we want to share that love with our kids.
I think so far we have been pretty successful.

I want to share our story with you:

Before making any other baby-related purchase,
we found a great deal on a single Chariot
and could not pass it up.
It's the best way to take your kid with you,
whether it is running, biking, or skiing.

Just before Noah turned 3,
he started using his balance bike.
We bought a wooden Skuut but that kid
got so crazy on this bike that it broke in half.
We screwed and glued it back together but it was not the same.

A couple of months before Noah's 4th birthday,
Karl got this tiny bike (12 1/2 inch) for $5.
So he took Noah around the block on it and - voila-
Noah was pedaling away on his own.
He was ready for his first race...

Max came along and although Noah was pretty
proficient on his bike,
he could not quite keep up at all times.
So we bought a double Chariot.
Noah would ride his bike and when he got tired,
we threw the bike in the back and he jumped into the trailer.

Then Karl found a 16-inch bike in the dumpster,
but it was too big and so we traded his brother for this 14-inch.
We are thinking Noah was about 4 1/2.

I always wanted a bike seat.
I know they are not as safe as a trailer
but they just seem more fun!
I think this was $20 on Craigslist.
When I did not want Max to fall asleep,
I would put him in the seat.
I was still pulling the trailer most of the time
to carry all our stuff.

We got balance bike #2.
Max started riding it much earlier than Noah.
Right after his 2nd birthday.
He's very good on it and has quite the bike-handling skills.

Shortly after Noah's 5th birthday,
some friends gave us their 16-inch bike
and this time Noah was ready.
And he got even speedier.

Karl and I had talked about a trail-a-bike a lot
but were never quite sure about it.
But we finally found the right one for the right price
($40 on Craigslist)
and it has been great!
Max was skeptical at first because it's rather unstable.
But, like always, it just took some patience on our part
and now he loves it!
So do I!
I call him my 'rear-motor' and we just cruise along.
So fun!

For Noah's 6th birthday, we splurged.
(Thanks to grandparents.)
We bought him a brand-new 20-inch bike.
He was ready for a better and bigger bike and
nothing will hold him back now!

I just love to see their progress and how much joy it brings them!
I am not writing this post to brag about my kids or our gear.
It's just what we love to do!

But it's not just recreation.
It is also a way of living.
We commute by bike whenever possible.
Karl to NAU.
Noah to elementary school.
Max to preschool.
Sarah to the pool and gym.
All to everything else within biking distance.
And 'biking distance' keeps increasing.

PS: So. If you have any bike-related questions, feel free to ask. I am no expert but I do have some experience and a very bike-savvy husband. Having a bike mechanic in the family definitely helps!