"I'm Going to Rock This Place Out!"

Those were the words uttered this morning by Chloe as we headed out for our 1st day of skiing here, and her 1st time EVER on skis. (Nope... she is not lacking in confidence.)

We spent the day at Eldora, a ski area 40 minutes/25 miles away. We arrived in plenty of time, which allowed us to get a "lay of the land" and let Chloe take what ever nature breaks she needed before suiting up and spending the day in ski school. (Peg and I dropped her off at 9:30a, and under instruction of the ski school staff, we were asked to not interact with her again until 3:00p.) The instructors take the kids out for a little, come back in for snack, go back out for a little more, come back in for lunch, go back out for little, come back in for snack, and go back out again to finish off the lesson.

While Chloe learned how strange it is to stand on a slope and have slippery planks attached to the bottom of her feet, Peggy and I checked out the rest of the mountain. And that took all of about 1 hour. It's not a criticism of the ski area: the warm weather I wrote about over the last couple of weeks, while great for biking, didn't help the ski areas out. So, Eldora has only 4 trails open -- 2 beginner, and 2 intermediate. Perhaps it was a good omen of days and weeks to come, but the afternoon we spent skiing in a steady snow flurry.

At 3:00, Peggy and I met up with Chloe and her instructors to see how the 1st day went. In one word: Awesome. She was a little nervous at first, but he said as the day went along, she really improved and picked up the early basics quite well. She did so well that she progressed through the 1st three stages (of 5) they have for beginner skiers!

We celebrated in the lodge by planning her next lesson, and taking in some candy and soda. I thought the sugar from that, combined with a successful first day on the slopes, would have carried Chloe home. But 20 minutes into the trip back home, we looked back and saw Chloe slumped over in her car seat, asleep.

Mom and Dad are very proud of their Chloe for rocking that place out!

(Pictures, top to bottom: one bundled up snow bunny; Chloe and I celebrating a successful day at Eldora; the newest skiing family.)


Another family hike

KnPnCnC took advantage of yet another unseasonably warm day (temp in the mid/upper 50s) and headed to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), which is located in southwest Boulder. The destination: Mallory Cave. The distance: 1.1 miles O/W. The elevation gain: 920 feet.

For a good part of the year (from April 1 to October 1) entrance into Mallory Cave is closed in order to protect the Townsend's big-eared bat, a species of bat that uses the cave as a breeding place. The first part of trail has an interpretative section, with signage along the way informing readers about local weather patterns. One little nugget we picked up from this section of trail was that West Boulder gets, on average, 20 more inches of snow per year than East Boulder. (If you're a weather nut and/or would like to pick up some other little nuggets on regional Boulder weather, visit this site.) Once past the interpretive section, it was pretty normal hiking... rocks, trees, the occasional view of Denver, and Chamberlain sniffing EVERYTHING. Eventually, we got to a place in the trail where dogs were allowed to be off-leash, and Chamberlain looked like a pup again (whitening face aside.)

The final approach to the final approach (you read that right) was unlike any other we've seen... the trail became a series of multiple short switchbacks, many of which were less than 20 feet in length, as it worked its way up between two huge slabs of pink sandstone. Once done with the switchbacks, we saw the final approach to the cave... a 50-foot vertical scramble up a sandstone slab.

Considering she had never done anything like this, Peggy and I were surprised with Chloe's enthusiasm for scrambling up it. This wasn't like her time in the rock gym where there were ropes and helmet... one misstep here could lead to a pretty good "ouchy." With Chamberlain along, we knew it wouldn't be in his best interest to attempt the scramble, so Peg stayed behind. (Even if he could manage the scramble, who knows what the boy would get himself into in a cave where bat guano might be aplenty.)

So up Chloe and I went, her first with me close behind, pointing out where to put hands and feet, and putting myself in position to act as a net if need be. Thankfully, that part of my service went unused. In fact, she did GREAT! Grabbing and pulling and pushing and squeezing her way up to the top, and not thinking much of it. As we got to the cave, we realized we left the flashlight with Peggy, but no matter as the bats were gone and it was basically one large chamber and not really much else to explore. Now it was time to explain to Chloe that there's another half to the challenge of visiting the cave: getting back down the steep 50-foot slab.

So, now in reverse order (and me still preserving the roles of hold pointer and net) down we went. In order to keep her close to the slab and leaning back, we spent a lot of time on the descent scooting along on our butts. Chloe commented at one point, "It's just like going down a slide!" I didn't feel it was right to tell her there weren't cushioning wood chips awaiting us at the bottom if we started sliding, though. Just like her performance ascending, she did a great job coming back down... finding places to put her hands and feet so she can lower herself down and control her own weight. It was a great achievement for our 5 year old (and a pretty proud moment for Peggy and I), and one that I put up there with her learning how to ride a bike. Chloe was so bolstered by her performance that once we got back down with Peggy and Chamberlain, it didn't take long for her to start giving pointers to other hikers contemplating making the scramble!

As we started making our way down the switchbacks, it became apparent that Chamberlain took the time waiting for Chloe and I to return to recharge his batteries. No sooner do we get past the first couple of switchbacks and he starts running around like a maniac. He goes charging down the trail to play with 2 Blue Heelers and had a display of energy the likes of which neither Peggy nor I have seen in a while.

By the time we got back to the car, Chamberlain's energy had waned, but Chloe's was pretty solid, for she knew the next stop was an ice cream shop. (Thanks Yardley friends... we finally got around to using the Glacier Homemade Ice Cream gift certificate!)

All in all, a great day in Boulder!

We didn't take a camera with us, but here are two pictures by others I found on the web of the final approach to the cave.


Report card time!

Chloe recently finished her 1st trimester in Kindergarten, and Peggy and I couldn't be happier with the report card she brought home.

Her school doesn't use A-B-C grades; rather, they report on a "progress scale" on certain broad-category standards, such as reading, writing, science, social studies, etc. For all of the standard categories, Chloe received either an "Excellent" for progress or "Good."

Then within each broad category, there are some more detailed achievement measures (e.g. for Writing, the teacher indicates Chloe's progress on 3 areas: writing and drawing to convey thoughts and meaning; printing in upper and lower case letters; and using letter/sound relationships to spell simple words.) Well, for all of these "more detailed" achievement areas, Chloe received either a 4 (advanced achievement) or 3 (proficient achievement).

The funniest achievement measure came in Music... she got a 3 (proficient achievement) for "Keeps a steady beat." Clearly, the music teacher hasn't seen the videos of Chloe I recently posted here!


So much for having a good day...

...for it appears as if I have a one-way, non-refundable, non-transferable ticket to h-e-double toothpicks. Here's proof.

MAN! I'm gonna really miss snow.




Need a stocking stuffer idea?

Well, do I have something for you! Maybe.

This whole bailout business has got me in a tizzy. The list of who got what (Exhibit A) and who is still looking to get public funds to save their hide (e.g. Detroit's Big 3, subprime lenders and borrowers, etc.) is long, and growing by the day. (Read this NY Times article about some interesting requests.) And it irks me that people who stayed within their means, took on less-risky loans, etc. are going to get kicked in the teeth over this for years to come.

So, I've come up with something that like-minded individuals might want to buy. A bumper sticker that has a short, polite yet not-so-subtle message to those whose decisions got us into this mess:

If I can get sincere requests for them – price point estimate right now is between $2 and $3/sticker (depending on overall quantity I get printed) including shipping and handling, minimum 5 stickers per order – I just might pull the trigger and get them printed. (I could sell it for less, but it would be at a loss. Which means, I guess, I'd be eligible for bailout money because I'm trying to stimulate the economy, yes?) The final image (e.g. font, color, etc.) may change, but I foresee the text staying the same.

Anyway, if you're sincerely interested in ordering at least 5, let me know. And by all means, pass this along to family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.


Humor of the Economics/Tax/Political kind

Long story short, I was reconnected with a high school classmate of mine via Facebook (Holy Moly is that a time-killer site!) Anyway, we swapped blog addresses and I read his one post and HAD to point to it... I found it pretty funny, and hope you will too.

It's not something he authored; rather, it was something that has apparently made the e-mail rounds several times and in several iterations (so apologies if you have read it before.)

So, without further delay, read on.


Mom's Away So the Kids Can Play

It's Friday night here in Boulder, and with Peg away, Chloe and I felt it was a good time to play some music, namely the kind that Peg usually wouldn't want to listen to. And it was time to play said music loud, and let Chloe be Chloe.

So, for those of you who may have thought people can't (or shouldn't) dance to the likes of Metallica, System of a Down, or Velvet Revolver, I have a 5 year old that can prove you wrong. If you have speakers, please turn them on now... loud if you like such music, less loud if not so much.

Exhibit A:

If the above video player is not working, click here and hope you have something that can play *.wmv files (e.g. Windows Media Player)

Exhibit B:

If the above video player is not working, click here and hope you have something that can play *.wmv files (e.g. Windows Media Player)

Exhibit C:


Halloween weekend recap

Friday - Even though Chloe's school was closed today (staff professional development day), she was a busy girl. From late morning until mid-afternoon she had some friends over for a playdate. And then after they left, it was some scheduled down time before trick-or-treating. Well, as "down" as we could get her a couple of hours before going out.

Around 5, we headed over to the Finks, friends/neighbors who have 2 girls – 1 Chloe's age – to hang out and then make the T-o-T rounds with them. I'm not sure what time we started, but when we left, we were in a sea of kids and costumes... it was great! After a while, I went back to the house to see what kinda of traffic we were receiving. And it didn't take long to notice we had some while we were gone... the once-full bowl of candy we left on the porch was nearly empty. I refilled it, hung out with Chamberlain, and greeted about 20 more T-o-T-ers over the next 30 minutes. I then joined Peggy and Chloe at another friend's/neighbor's house for a post T-o-T-ing get-together. Peggy was tired, so she left after a while, and Chloe and I followed about 30 minutes later. When we got home, Peggy said she had about another 30 T-o-T-ers come!

One activity we didn't take part in on this night was this.

Saturday - It's been nearly 3 months since we've been here, and we haven't really visited Denver as a family. So after lunch, we drove in to see some sights. The first stop was the zoo. It was deceivingly big... in the nearly 4 hours we were there, we didn't get to see all of it. We had a great time, though Peggy and I think Chloe's favorite part was the soft-serve ice cream with sprinkles.

After the zoo, we made our way over to the 16th Street Mall, a popular pedestrian mall in downtown, for dinner. We walked around a little bit, but it didn't take long for all 3 of us to realize we were hungry. We checked out a couple of places and ended up going to a place called, coincidentally, "Earl's." After dinner, we realized we had a pretty tired girl on our hands so we headed back to Boulder.

Sunday - Our 3 month "anniversary" of being Boulderites. So how'd we spend it? By doing some Boulderite things. We went to church in the morning (not sure if that is uniquely Boulder-ish or not). But after coming back and changing around, Peggy and Chloe rode their bikes down to Pearl Street to stroll around and get some shopping done, and I jumped on my road bike for a 59-miler, which put me just shy of 1,200 miles since moving here.

(Pictures, from top to bottom: Chloe the Genie; Peggy and Chloe on Halloween night; our pumpkins.)