"Santa left presents under the tree!"

That's what Peggy and I awoke to this morning at a respectable 7:15a. So we made our way downstairs to watch Chloe unwrap what was given to her by Santa, Rudolph, Chamberlain, and Peggy and me.

As coincidence has it, the first thing she opened was THE thing she wanted Santa to bring her: the Bratz girls house and dolls. (An aside: Neither Peggy nor I saw a toy with SO many little pieces. Some were just a little bigger than the head of a matchstick. I have a feeling the vacuum cleaner is going to be nabbing some of them over the next couple of weeks.) In addition to the toys and games (e.g. Uno, a basketball, science kit, RipStick, to name a few) Peggy and I also made a point of making sure Chloe received "experiences." To that end, she got a trip to the Denver Nature and Science Museum, trips to the observatory at CU, and a 1-hour glider ride over Boulder (I'll be joining her for that one!)

To our delight, the weather was nice enough for us to go outside in the afternoon for a family walk to the neighborhood park to let both Chamberlain run around and Chloe get used to her RipStick. Afterwards, it was back to the house to make dinner (ham, fish, and green bean casserole) and dessert (raisin pie).

(Pictures, top to bottom: Chloe giving it a go on her RipStick; my raisin pie.)


The Tradition Grows, and our Little Angel

With no reason to see we shouldn't just because we're in a different time zone, Peggy, Chloe and I continued the Christmas Eve Day Bowling tradition that was started about 20 years with my friend Phil and brother Eric. We were joined by friends who, like my and Phil's parents 2 decades ago, thought it was a good idea to get their kids out of the house for a couple of hours. (For a brief history of the tradition, go to the bottom of this post.)

The High Score Award goes to Eric for his 196, with honorable mentions going to Brad (176, Boulder high score), and Kevin (154, Yardley, PA high score)

Tonight was also the Christmas Pageant at the church we've been visiting. Chloe reprised her role as Angel and did a great job in singing "Away in a Manger" and "Silent Night."

(Pictures: Chloe showing her winning form [l]; and in her Christmas dress [r])


The Bowling on Christmas Eve Day Tradition

It all started about 20 years ago when I was hanging out at my friend Phil’s house on Dec. 24. His Dad was the pastor at the church so he was busy. His Mom was prepping like most Mom’s on that day so she, too, was busy. And my friend and I, being dutiful teenage boys, were driving both of them nuts. His mom said we better find something to do or else… so we called around to different bowling alleys to see which ones were open (most were to our surprise), and then called my brother Eric to chauffeur us to the alley.

It was such a great way to get out of our parents' hair and bide some time before the fun/chaos ensued, we did it the following year, too. Even when we went our different ways – to college, for career – Phil, Eric and I usually found ourselves – jointly or individually – in a bowling alley on 12/24. And so, for almost every year since, I've gone bowling with family and friends.


Playing in Powder

Us Schrammels, along with our friend Carl, spent the day at Eldora. Chloe was enrolled in her 3rd lesson, which left, Peggy, Carl and I to go play in some 6" of new snow that fell overnight.

What became immediately obvious to Peggy and I is that these conditions are completely different than what we skied in in PA, NH or ME. How so?
  1. Less ice. MUCH less ice. Virtually NO ice.
  2. When you hit a knee-high pile of snow here, it dissipates because it's powdery. We're used to hitting a pile of snow and it being a lot denser, which usually causes one to brace for the impact and adjust balance.
After lunch, Peg traded in the skis for her snowshoes and did some trekking around Eldora's Nordic Center, and Carl and I went back out on the slopes. What all 3 of us noticed quickly is that the temperature dropped pretty significantly while we were inside. Carl and I did a couple of runs then found ourselves in a small summit cafe to warm up. (I don't know the temperature at the time, but when we left for the day 1 hour later it was 10 degrees.) We did one more run, and then met up with Peggy. She put her skis back on so we could do some runs with Chloe after her lesson.

And my, what a little skier we have on our hands! She's skiing on green (beginner) trails now, and is gradually progressing to longer and slightly steeper runs. And her stability/balance have improved greatly since her last lesson. She's not "snowplowing" as much and is pretty good at bringing her skis closer to parallel on the turns. Her big trick today was showing us how she skied through the woods... kinda. Right off the lift we were on there's a 50 foot trail that skirts through some trees before emptying back out on to the trail. There's still some practice to be done, but Peggy and I couldn't be more proud of her and how well she is doing.


A Day of Fun Hodgepodge

Today was a good mix of fun things.
  • It started off by Peggy and I dropping Chloe off at church for the Christmas Pageant rehearsal... she's slated to be an angel (insert own joke here.)
  • While she was there, Peg and I did some different things - she went for a run along the Boulder Creek Path, and I returned a book and checked out a new one from the Boulder Public Library. (Yes, I actually read a book, Phil.) The one I read/returned was called "Trail of Tears" by Gloria Jahoda, and chronicled the forced migration of eastern Native American tribes to lands West of the Mississippi River. The one I checked out is called "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown.
  • After picking up Chloe from pageant rehearsal, we grabbed some lunch downtown, and then strapped on some ice skates for some fun family time on at a local outdoor rink.
  • After skating, Peg went to volunteer at a local food pantry, and Chloe and I stayed home to play Crazy 8s. (She's pretty good, actually. I'll teach her Texas Hold 'Em next.)
  • Upon Peg's return from the food pantry, I drove her and Chloe around to neighborhood friends so they could deliver some holiday cookies they made over the weekend.
(Pictures, top to bottom: Chloe and Peggy at the local ice rink; the juxtaposition of the banner with the nature of the store was too good to pass up.)



Peggy and I ditched... work? No.

School? No.

Chamberlain at the house? Yes, but that's not very rebellious.

Anyway, we ditched something and stole away for a morning at Eldora. Not a lot of people so we could ski right on to the lift, and pretty good snow... gotta love midweek skiing!

We could only stay for about 2.5 hours and then headed back home so we could make it to Chloe's holiday party at school.


A Cycling Post

I learned a couple of days ago that I am now of member of the GS Boulder cycling team. (What does GS stand for? It's an Italian acronym for Gruppo Sportivo, or "Sporting Team.") The team is a nice of mix of cyclists, including avid racing types, enthusiastic recreationalists and those somewhere in between. I see myself closer to the latter category... lining up for a some road races here and there, but not planning on doing it every weekend from March through June. So does that mean I'll shave my legs? We'll just have to see about that one... with temps ranging from -11 to 11 today, it's tough to think about reducing the amount of insulation on my body right now. (For those who know a little about cycling, the club has some interesting folks in its history, which can be read about here.)

Another recent achievement is that I just passed the "3,000 miles" milestone for the year, a first for me in my 3 years of riding. Other personal bests achieved this year are max. avg. speed for a ride (19.9 mph), max. speed on a ride (48.5 mph), max. avg. climb gradient on a ride (5%), and max. feet climbed per mile – a measure of how "hilly" a ride is – (133). And after another 73 minutes in the saddle, I'll achieve a new record for yearly riding time (currently at 185.5 hours).

All of this might have some categorize me as "nuts," and, well, perhaps that is accurate... so be it. But, in Boulder, it might not even reach "par for the course" status... check this out.


Playtime for All!

Peggy's just 4 days into her "sabbatical" and to be honest with you, I've seen less of her now then when she was working from home. Today's adventure took her and Chamberlain hiking just North of Lyons, CO (which is about 13 miles north of Boulder). They did about 6 miles on mostly-snow-covered trails, not seeing a single soul all day, unless you count the 15 or so deer. (Interesting sidenote: the one trail they took is called Sleeping Lion Trail, and it got its name from a mountain lion that used to take a 45 minute nap there.) Unfortunately, the battery on the point and shoot petered out and she wasn't able to get pix of Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak. But she was able to get a picture of Chamberlain in the snow (right).

But, Peggy and Chamberlain weren't the only ones to have some outdoor fun today. Chloe and I were invited to join her friend Clay and his mom for some ice skating after school. It was the first time skating for both Chloe and Clay... each took their fair share of falls, the worst of which was less than 30 seconds before stepping off the ice to leave. But considering they've never tried to balance and propel themselves on two narrow slivers of steel, both did very well. Perhaps another Torvill and Dean in the making? Luckily, I recharged the battery on the point and shoot and was able to take some pix. (Right: Clay and Chloe waiting for the Zamboni to clear the ice.)


Another Great Day on the Slopes

Even though the warm temperatures this weekend did a number on the snow in Boulder (we were down to bare grass by Sunday afternoon), they had less of an effect at Eldora, which sits at about 9,200 feet above sea level. And it certainly didn't lessen Chloe's excitement for taking another lesson, or Peg's for wanting to try out her new skis.

Chloe spent the entire day's lesson on the bunny slope and did another great job. Peggy and I watched her a little before lunch, and she was a little wobbly on the steeper part of the trail. But when I checked on her at the end of the day, she was managing her way down the entire trail without any assistance... quite an improvement in 4 hours! Chloe also had her first taste of riding the chair lift, which Peggy and I thought she would be excited to talk about. Nope... she was all excited to tell us about riding the local shuttle bus from the bunny slope to the lodge.

Peg's new ski/binding/boot combo worked out well, though her legs were a little tired from the run she did this morning. She'll be heading back up to Eldora later this week to take a lesson... can ya' tell she's enjoying her time off?


Tea for Two

Peggy and Chloe had Christmas Tea together this afternoon, continuing a tradition they started when we lived in Richboro. This year's installment took place at the historic Hotel Boulderado (no, that's not a typo), a 100-year old Victorian hotel in downtown Boulder. While sipping their tea and eating their finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, they were entertained by a choral group in Victorian garb singing seasonal pieces.


An End. A Beginning. And a Month In Between.

Today was Peggy's last day of working for PharmaNet. For the last several weeks, she was being recruited by another consulting company called United BioSource Corporation. The offer she got from UBC was too good to refuse, so she decided to "give notice" to the folks at PharmaNet and she and they came up with today as being her last.

Her beginning at UBC, though, doesn't officially start until January 6, 2009. By doing some quick math, you'll notice that's about a month away. She plans on filling her days between now and then with hiking, skiing, volunteering at a local food pantry, and driving her husband batty.


A Winter Blanket

We got visited by an early winter storm today. What was supposed to be a couple hour event putting 3-4" of snow on the ground turned into an all-day affair, leaving about 8-9" of light, fluffy snow to live with. It didn't have much of an impact on daily living here, but it did make for some pretty scenery. Unfortunately, though, it probably won't last long because temps are expected to be in the 50s (and possibly higher) over the weekend.

(Pictures, left to right: snow-dusted Flatirons; the blanket of snow in Boulder Canyon.)