Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Aunt MerMer!

Happy Birthday to our fun Aunt MerMer!
We love you very much and hope you have a great day!


I promise this will be my last post on our Colorado vacation, but when my father-in-law asked if I had any pictures of the condo we stayed in, I realized I hadn't really talked about our accommodations.  And it definitely deserves mentioning. 

During our week in Steamboat, we stayed in an upscale resort called One Steamboat Place.  Our condo was a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo with two of the bedrooms being master suites.  It had an open living/dining/kitchen area that was perfect for our large group.  The condo also had a Little Tykes Room and Gameroom with a pool table and a Wii that we accessed almost every day to give the kids some play time.   It was definitely one of the nicest places I have ever stayed on vacation.  (Sorry Mom and Dad!  Don't get me wrong...I loved the Holiday Inns we always stayed at when I was a kid, but this might be a little higher on my list!)
The kids loved this huge bathtub in the junior master suite and I loved it because we could get everyone bathed at one time.  Meredith and I lined them up every night and created our own bath time assembly line! (Lily was usually in there too...I'm not quite sure where she was in this picture.)
One nice thing about our condo was that they drove us wherever we needed to go in Steamboat in this handy dandy bus, aka the "turtle".  They also provided all of the car seats while we were there.  All we had to do was call down, request the turtle, and give them a few minutes to get the car seats in.  The turtle held 13 people, which is exactly the number we had in our group.  It couldn't have worked out better.
The last thing that I think we will always remember about the condo is how friendly the staff was.  They could not have made our stay more pleasant.  It didn't matter what we asked, their answer was always "ABSOLUTELY"!  By the end of the week, it became a family joke to see how many times we could get them to answer "Absolutely!" to the requests we made.

"Can we get a trash pick up in Room 411?"

"Can we get a ride into town for dinner?"

"Can we get you to come put our tired and cranky kids to bed while we go out for drinks?"
(Well... maybe we didn't ask them to do that, but we are pretty certain they would have if we had asked!)

I know I've said it before, but we are so thankful to the Ranelle's for graciously offering their condo to our family for the week.  It will definitely be a week we will never forget!

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's So Hard To Say Goodbye

It's no secret that these two are inseparable when they get together.  Our Colorado trip was no different.  They were joined at the hip pretty much the entire vacation.  They were playmates during the day and roommates (with Aunt MerMer) at night. 
So, when Friday rolled around and it was time for Addison to leave, they didn't quite know how to handle it.  Parker's tears started first and were quickly followed by Addison's.  Big, genuine, crocodile tears.  (I have to admit, I teared up a little myself just watching them.)  After a few hugs, we finally said our final good-byes and waved as she drove away.  Parker was in a funk the rest of the day.  He cried at dinner time when she wasn't there to sit next to him and he cried again at bedtime when she wasn't there to say good night.  I love the special relationship these two have... it really is priceless!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keeping it Real (in Colorado)

For those of you who got the impression from my last few posts that everything was "sunshine and roses" in Colorado, I thought I'd do a quick Keeping It Real post to show you that a vacation with 6 kids ages 5 and under isn't always easy.  Sure, there was a lot of laughter, fun and memories being made last week but there was also a lot of 1) tantrums, 2) multi media and 3) candy/suckers that we turned to in order to survive.
Sometimes when you are little, you have to have a meltdown to get your point across.  Some points that were made by the tantrum throwers last week were:
"I didn't like getting up at 3:30 in the morning and I don't want to sit by myself in this seat!"
"I don't want my face painted!"
"I don't want to take turns on the handicapped swing!"
"Me either!"
"I don't want to sit in my mommy's lap for one more minute!"
"I don't want to take turns pushing the buttons in the elevator!  I want to push every button, every time!"
(There are lots of smiles in this picture, but they didn't last long.  We finally had to start keeping track of who had already pushed an elevator button and who would get to push it next time. *sigh*)

Without any toys to keep the kids busy in the condo, they watched an insane amount of Toy Story 3, Tangled, and Dora last week.  They also stayed very busy with games on the iPhones, iPads and Wii.  I think Parker went into multi media withdrawal when we got back home on Sunday.

We also had to have a sugar detox when we got home due to the abnormal amounts of sugar the kids ate while we were in Colorado.  Anytime we needed a picture of the kids together, we used candy and suckers as bribes.  Anytime I needed to make someone happy in a car or plane, I used candy and suckers.  (I think one of my girls had 3 suckers on the short 1 hour and 25 minute flight to Denver.   At 6 o'clock in the morning.  It helps with ear popping, right?)  Anytime someone got fussy due to waking up too early and being off schedule, I shoved a sucker in their mouth. 

I can't count the number of times I've said, "No, we don't eat candy/suckers after breakfast" since we've been back this week!
Not every moment was ideal, but I wouldn't change anything about our week in Steamboat.  I'm so thankful for the chance to get away with my family and make fun memories with our kids.  Thanks again to the Ranelle's for making last week possible.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Pics in Colorado

Here are some of my favorite family pictures we took while we were in Colorado.

The Browns
The Rowlands
The Rhones
Granna and Granstan with all 6 grandkids
All 6 grandkids
Parker-5, Addison-4 1/2, Eden-3 1/2, Aubrey-3, Lily-21 months, Ryan-11 months
Granstan with his boys


Colorado- Days 7 & 8

Addison and Aubrey didn't leave until after lunch on Friday so after breakfast Cory took the bigger kids for one last walk around the bottom of the mountain.  (Check out the two hot air balloons in the background.)
We spent the last few hours relaxing and playing in the plaza.  Parker and Cory played catch while the girls ran around and played in the flowerbeds. 
(Just moments after this picture was taken, Lily spilled her entire glass of orange juice down the front of her shirt.  More good times!)
After Emily's family left, Cory and Parker treated me to a massage down at the spa.  I truly think it was one of the best massages I have ever had.  It was so nice to be pampered after trying to keep lots of kids happy and entertained for a week.  I love my boys for being so thoughtful!

Saturday was time to head home.  It was a great week, but I was ready to get back to our own beds and daily routines.  The airport in Steamboat was very small.  In order to board the plane, we had to go outside and walk up the ramp to the door, which the kids thought was very cool!
The first flight was short and sweet! We made it to Denver without any issues.  Eden was in much better spirits this time and was able to walk through the airport on her own.  All three kids loved the moving walkways.  It kept them entertained for quite some time!  I'm actually thinking about installing one in our hallway!
I would love to report that the final flight went as smoothly as the first, but all good things must come to an end at some point.  Lily spent the last hour of the hour and a half flight screaming at the top of her lungs.  Nothing I tried would calm her down.  And believe me...I tried everything!  I've never been so ready for a flight to end (and I have a feeling the passengers around us felt the same way!)

A huge shout out to Aunt MerMer- we definitely could not have made this trip without her.  Her extra set of hands were priceless and we appreciate every time she stepped in to give us some help with the kids.  Thanks so much Aunt MerMer- we love you!
The kids were exhausted after a full day of traveling and we were all so happy to be back in our own beds that night.  We had a fabulous time in Colorado but the saying is so true- there's no place like home!

Colorado- Day 6

Thursday was Addison and Aubrey's last full day in Steamboat.  We awoke to a hot air balloon flying right over our condo.  It was so close we could see the fire blowing.  I thought Lily was going to wake up all of our neighbors as loud as she was shouting "UP! UP! UP!".
Cory and Jon left after breakfast for one last hike on the mountain.  After they returned, we attempted to get our annual family pictures.  We were quite pleased with how well they turned out (thanks to some Smarties candy and suckers!)  I'll show some more of my favorite pics in another post soon.
After pictures, we treated the kids to some time in the jump house down in the plaza.  Poor Ryan wanted to jump with the big kids so bad.  Next year he'll be right in the middle of the chaos!
We spent one last afternoon playing in the creek and swimming in the pool.  One thing I learned is that kids never get tired of playing in water.  They could have spent all day, every day either in the creek or pool!
After we got the kids ready for bed, Granna and Granstan let us go out to an adult dinner one more time.  We ate at the local brewery and had a great time!  We were sad that Emily and Jon were leaving the next day but were looking forward to our last day in Steamboat!

Colorado- Day 5

Lily and Ryan were both up at 5:30 on Wednesday morning.  Yes, I mean 5:30 AM!  What????  Aren't we supposed to be on vacation this week?  And this was the second day this week that this happened.  My child who is rarely up before 8:00 at home thought it would be fun to get me up before the sun was even up.  Emily and I were miserably tired, to say the least.  By the time breakfast rolled around, I felt like I'd been up for half the day.  It came as no surprise that Lily fell asleep in the stroller as soon as we started walking. 
While Lily was snoozing, Emily and I took the kids to preschool story time at the library.  They enjoyed some books about bubbles and then got to go outside and blow/pop some of their own bubbles. 
Next to the library was a park so we headed over there after story time to let them play for a while.  They had a fun time running, climbing, sliding, and swinging together.
For lunch, we found a pizza place that sold pizza by the slice. 
Pizza + Gatorade = 5 very happy kids
During nap time, Cory and Jon took Parker and Addison tubing down the Yampa River, my mom took Eden and Aubrey swimming, and Emily and I crashed with the babies.  I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a nap so much!
After dinner, we attempted another local park that had been recommended to us.  Unfortunately, the kids were worn out from our busy day and only lasted about 15 minutes before the meltdowns began, mostly over having to take turns on the handicapped swing.  Don't let the pictures fool you- there were a lot of crying children in the bus on the way back to the condo!  I have never been so glad to see bedtime arrive!
Parker loved playing catch with his daddy and Granstan in the mountains!