Monday, February 27, 2017

Trip to the Buffalo

For the past few winters, the guys in our small group from church have tried to get away and head to the Buffalo River for some quality down time together.  As they began trying to find a weekend that worked for everyone, they literally couldn't find one that worked from February to June.  So, unfortunately, not all the guys could make it this year, with work responsibilities and unforeseen  illness, so the group was much smaller this year.

Past Buffalo River trips 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

And while the guys were away the women and children played.  Why eat dinner alone when we could eat all together?  Life's a party anyway, right?  What's another 14 more kids?  We threw a table cloth on the floor and had a taco picnic.  Everything's better with friends and cheese dip!
It's also a little more fun without all the children, so on Friday night, we each got sitters so we could enjoy some delicious sushi from Oceans and some uninterrupted conversations with each other.
I'm grateful for these women, for their friendship and encouragement!  Life is so much better with friends!  After dinner, several of us went to watch Hidden Figures, which I'd really been wanting to see and it was fabulous!  Loved the story of those three women who had tenacity, drive and so much strength!  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and am so thankful that things like separate water fountains,  restrooms and places on the bus, are no longer a thing.  We, as a people, have made some progress but have some much further to go.  I highly recommend this one!

Friday, February 24, 2017

End of a Season

For the past nine weekends we have had our Saturday's a bit high-jacked by basketball. With three boys playing, it meant most of our Saturday's were spent cheering on the Kangaroo's, the Thundering Herd or the Warriors.   Somehow, Emerson's team, the Kangaroo's, got really "lucky" and had all but one game start at 8:00 in the morning.  Let me just say, that is so.super.early! Adam coached both Emerson and Lawson's teams and we enjoyed watching the boys learn and grow individually while also learning to work together as a team.

This was Emerson's first year to play basketball.  He didn't seem totally enamored with the game, but just running up and down the court with his hands up seemed like a lot of fun to him.   This guy melts my heart.
He sure makes me smile!
This was Lawson's third year to play Upward basketball.  He enjoyed playing with his friends Chandler and Cole; they played really well together each week. Lawson seems to have a lot of natural athletic ability and we enjoyed cheering him on all season long.  Each week we'd make a human tunnel and cheer each team out onto the court, he definitely enjoyed playing this season!
These cute girls enjoyed playing and snacking together during the games!  Oh how we love sweet London Kate!
Peyton, continues to hone his b-ball skills. It's his favorite sport right now and one that he is quite aggressive with.  He dribbles well with both his left and right hands and easily brings the ball down the court to either side, where a lot of kids his age tend to dribble down with just the right hand and then get trapped over in the right corner almost every play.   He still is perfecting his shots, trying to get more consistent when he shoots, but Adam and I were very impressed with how aggressive he was, how confident he played and even though his team didn't win one game all season long, he never got a bad attitude, he just played as hard as he could. We look forward to watching him in the future!
These three kiddos chased each other around during most of Peyton's games and enjoyed quite a bit of popcorn and many a ring pops.

So, here's to the end of a  season...tomorrow, I'll enjoy sleeping in a little!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

Valentine's Day was filled with hugs and kisses and lots of sugary goodness this year. For me, I was hopping from one party to the next which had me in a complete flop sweat by the time I carried all the items for each class party along with grocery and toiletry items for the 4th grade service project into the school in the POURING RAIN! Although it was a lot of "partying" I'm thankful to have the opportunity to be there with my kiddos.

It started with a pancake breakfast with the 4th grade.  The room moms did a great job of providing a fun breakfast for the kids inspite of the electric griddles that kept shorting out.  One mom eventually had to cook in the hallway, but they got 'er done and the kids enjoyed it so much!
Pancake. / 原味鬆餅。
After that I headed over to the teacher workroom where I was helping to set up and host the teacher appreciation luncheon for that day. Once a few other moms arrived, I slipped out for a bit to be in Emerson and Ava Jane's rooms.


Ava Jane's class played a fun game of color BINGO; those three and four year olds are all adorable!

Next up was second grade. Lawson's class had a bunch of fun activities, there was a cute Valentine's Mad Gab type short story that was at one station, BINGO at another, a fun dice game at another and the most adorable picture and frame station to top off all the cuteness! One of Lawson's Valentine's day cards had a sticky spider as it's "gift"...this funny dude asked me to take this picture.

Then, of course, I had him strike a more "normal" pose.

That evening we did an early bath so that we could do dinner and then curl up as a family and watch a movie before bedtime. The kids loved it and so did I....although I didn't make it through the entire movie.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ski Trip 2017: Part 2

On our last day in Breckenridge we decided to go walk around and see the International Ice Sculpture contest that was taking place.  It.was.AMAZING!  Poor Dad, kindly dropped all of us off and then proceeded to try and find a parking spot to no avail!  The rest of us were able to see the awesome creativity and enjoyed seeing the keen attention to detail in each and every sculpture.
downtown Breckenridge
This rectangular block of ice is how each one of the sculptures start out.
Then it turns into these unbelievable works of art!
This Iguana in the hand was my favorite!  I couldn't believe the intricate detail!
After seeing all the beautifully shaped ice, we loaded back into the car and headed for our tubing reservation at Keystone.  The views were again so majestic.
Upon our arrival it took us quite a while to find a parking spot.  Once again, it was G-Dad to the rescue, as he let us out and drove around for some thirty plus minutes looking for a parking spot (note to self, next time, make an earlier reservation for tubing and maybe try not to do it on a SATURDAY!) 

We had a lot of fun tubing, I'd highly recommend it!
This whole trip was fun for everyone but like everyday life, it was full of unexpected twists and turns and of course the regular fare as well, but we made lots of memories and for those I'm so very grateful.  The twists included a re-routed and delayed flight, sitting in the small Amarillo airport for a few unexpected hours; there was whining and a wet seat (from a child's accident on flight---and of course I'd not packed any extra changes of clothes).  There was the carrying of all sizes of skies, boots, helmets and poles; there was lots of snowy goodness on a chilly 2 degree day; the misplaced debit card, getting "stuck" in the snowy driveway and having to push the van out to the street, then we wrapped up this trip with a "wonderful" lady who we had the "pleasure" of speaking with in the Little Rock airport when we landed.  As we waited for a couple of people from our group to come out of the bathroom, this woman says, "Oh my, its like a tornado of children"...they were all standing fairly close to us and not really making much noise.  I wanted to shout at her and say, "if you want to see a tornado, you should've been on our plane with the screaming, crying, whailing child who literally cried from tarmac to tarmac"...but I restrained myself.  This elderly woman sitting at the gate who overheard this lovely encounter came up to me and said "if she thinks this is a tornado, she must never have had children!"   We exchanged niceties then headed toward baggage claim.  All in all, I do believe this will become a regular family trip.  Breckenridge, you did not disappoint!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ski Trip 2017: Part 1

Last week Adam had an American College of Healthcare Executives conference out in Breckenridge, Colorado.  We took the opportunity to join him afterwards and spend a few days skiing together as a family.  My parents and sister joined us and we truly had a great time.  We had an early start to the day, but these kiddos did phenomenal, they were super excited to not be in school and to be flying to Colorado; we even got to watch the sun rise!
Prepped with extra i-phones, i-pads and a laptop all loaded up with digital Disney movies for the kids to watch and games to play, the first leg of our trip went seamlessly.  I don't know if it's just user error or what, but several times during the flight, if a child switched from the movie I'd started at take off, to a game, for some reason when we tried to put the movie back on it would say "can't connect to i-tunes" which this little Momma had hot flashes and sweaty palms as I tried to keep the kids entertained with the small packages of Lego sets leftover from Emerson's party along with Star Wars coloring pages and books to read.
The pilot tried to land in Denver on Tuesday morning but the fog was too dense so they re-routed us to Amarillo, TX where we landed and waited for the fog to dissipate.  The airline gave us each $10 vouchers for lunch so I took my five vouchers and ordered some quesadillas.  As I waited, the stewardess called all the passengers to re-board the plane.   Literally, the ONLY restaurant was right across from the gate where our plane was waiting, the stewardess could see me and my little posse, waiting for our food, so I calmly walked over and said, "we are waiting for our quesadillas, should we wait or re-board?"   She said, we could wait another few more minutes.  So the kids and I took the 20 or so, some odd steps back over to the restaurant (which was taking an exorbitantly long time to make cheese quesadillas!!)  At that point a male flight attendant came over the loud speaker and said, "all passengers on flight 4246 to Denver need to board immediately!"  I literally looked at him from across the way and said, "c'mon kids, we'll have to get food in Denver" which both attendants said, "I'm sorry, we need to try and get the plane to Denver so you don't miss your connecting flight." Well, I wasn't catching a connecting flight, thank goodness, but I did have whiny, hungry children who were very disappointed to have ordered and NOT received their food.   I pulled out all the electronic devices again, got everyone settled with a movie and their headphones on, when the gate attendant, kindly walked onto the plane and handed me the quesadillas we'd been waiting twenty plus minutes for...there are truly thoughtful people still left in this world!

The kids traveled great and were thrilled to finally land in Denver just 2.5 hours later then expected. Our week of snowy adventure had begun and we were all excited to make fun memories!
The drive up I-70 was quite foggy, but we made it.  We got to the cabin, unloaded our luggage, then got back in the van to rent all our gear, grab dinner and grocery shop.  It was a long day, but it was worth it!  Lachie-poo wanted to wear Ava Jane's helmet.
The guys at Alpine Sports were so helpful and fast, we got eight people fitted and out the door in less than an hour, I thought that was great!
Wednesday morning we had reservations for the kids to be in ski school and they had to be there by 8:15, so it was another bright and early wakeup for us all, but the kids were totally stoked, so there was no bemoaning or whining which was nice!

After we got the kids checked in and settled, Adam and I took off, up the hill, for a few early morning runs and a fun day-date.   First out of the shoot, you know where we went?   Right to a black diamond.  It was a total accident, so I told Adam, "well, I guess this is one way to warm up!" (He'd been there for two days prior to our arrival, so he'd had a chance to practice a bit before hitting the black diamond that we were on!)  Let me also say, we usually Spring ski, so this winter weather, of 2 and 9 degrees during the day, was quite chilly!!
We decided to take a hot chocolate break after several runs while waiting on Mom, Dad and Whitney after dropping Lachlan in child care.
Beaver Run Base
Here are the original four McLellan's reliving the skiing memories that we made almost every year together when Whitney and I were growing up.
We enjoyed the house we rented very much.  It was about a five minute drive from the gondola at Breckenridge so it was very convenient to the slopes and the historic downtown Breckenridge.
Beautiful Mount Quandary, with its over 14,000 feet stood beautifully in the backyard of the home.
All the boys (small and large) had a great time in the downstairs playroom.  The pool table, pac man game and TV were all a huge hit.
The boys enjoyed curling up with G-Dad to watch River Monsters.
All the kids did ski school for the first two days which couldn't have been better.  All the instructors were kind and engaging and none of my kids were sad to see us leave them there.  They enjoyed ski school and fell in love with snow skiing!!  Adam and I are excited about the fun family memories we hope to make in the future.
The last day, all the kids skied with us and it was seriously so much fun!  Honestly, with the cold weather and the learning curve of skiing, my expectations were very low as to how Emerson and Ava Jane would do, but I was so very pleasantly surprised that they LOVED it.  In fact, whenever we suggested to Ava Jane that we take a break and go get some hot chocolate she would cry because she didn't want to leave the slopes.  That was a good/bad thing since Momma here got cold and wanted to warm up a bit, but I took it since the alternative could have been constant crying and whining because of the cold.  This sweet girl completely shocked me with her desire and "want to" to ski.

This was the first of hopefully many more years of skiing together!  I sure love these people, the smiles on the faces you can't see behind those warm face masks, and the excitement that the kids had when barreling down the slopes toward the lodge.  I'll finish up blogging about our trip tomorrow with our visit to the International Ice Sculpture contest and our family tubing trip to Keystone.  We truly had a great time together; I'm so thankful we had the chance to go.

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...