It is always fun to start decorating for Christmas and we are always eager to do it the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year we decided to give the kids their Christmas pajamas on the day we decorated the tree. It is a slight change from our original tradition of opening up Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve but everyone loved getting their pajamas earlier so I think we might stick with this new tradition. As always, I make our holiday poppyseed bread so we can enjoy it while we decorate the tree. My mom always sends each of the kids a new ornament every year so before we started decorating the tree the kids opened up their new ornaments. Peter and Abby got swimmer ornaments, Emma got a cute blonde runner ornament and Madeline got a unicorn ornament...all were so fitting. Madeline enjoyed decorating the tree more than anyone else. It is so much fun to have a little one in the house to witness the pure joy of the season. The older kids printed out a picture of Danny DeVito and put it on the tree in remembrance of Andrew. It is kind of an inside joke but in a nutshell, one year Andrew replaced one of his picture ornaments with a photo of Danny DeVito and it took me a long time to notice it. When I did, I laughed then I changed the photo back to my sweet boy. Unbeknownst to me, Andrew changed it once again. It became a running joke in the family to have Danny DeVito on the tree.
Deer Creek Reservoir is just up the road from Provo and is a pretty great body of water. The views from the shore are spectacular with Mount Timpanogos towering over the northwest shoreline and Park City to the northeast. The water was pretty temperate. When we got there, we saw one of the giant inflatable obstacle courses like we did in Mexico, so we sent the older kids off to do that and got the rest of the kayaks and paddle boards set up. We also rented a jet ski, which was a lot of fun. We only crashed it once, but it was a lot of fun for Mike to go flying in the air with the girls and pretend they were seagulls. Madeline loved the Jet Ski and went out multiple times. We would have people paddle board out, trade out for the person on the jet ski and go off into the lake. It’s crazy how fast those things go and just so much fun. No wonder people like going to the lake!
Driving to Utah is a bit of a slog, so it’s nice to be able to break it up. We got up early and, on our way out of town, stopped at the big park in Grand Junction. It was pretty amazing. There were dozens of slides, zip lines, ninja warrior stuff, and all sorts of fun stuff. Madeline had a blast, and the older kids proved that everyone loves playing on a cool playground. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot!
Packing and hauling bikes for seven people cross country is quite a chore, but bike rides like this make it all worth it. Right off the Interstate is a bike path that follows the river as it courses through Glenwood Canyon. The roaring water and the towering rock walls are spectacular. There are parts of the canyon that are only accessible by the trail, so It’s worth the ride. Of course, sometimes even the best laid plans have their hiccups. The plan was to start at the top of the canyon and bike downhill to Glenwood Springs. Instead, we started about half way down and biked up and then all the way back down. Of course, to do this, we had to leave a car in Glenwood and one in the Canyon. While in Glenwood, renting the Burley for Madeline to ride in, Peter somehow knocked the stem off his tire, thus creating an unfixable flat. Fortunately, after Mike used some choice words, they found a bike store and got a new tire put on. It only delayed things by about 30 minutes, so not the end of the world. Once the gang was all back together, we headed up the Canyon. It was breathtaking, both visually and physically. It’s hard to pedal uphill with kids in tow! When we got to Hanging Lake, we saw a marmot just hanging out by the trail. We turned around at Hanging Lake and headed downhill to Glenwood Springs. Of course, it wasn’t totally downhill. In fact, there were some big ups, and it was super sunny and hot. There were some grumpy comments, but once we made it to the bridge over the interstate, it was pretty easy. We ended up at a park down by the river in the shade with ice cream.
Our first day at Steamboat Springs was spent on a family bike ride with the kids along the Spring Creek trail. We rented a Burley trailer for Madeline and attached it to Andrew’s bike and headed out on a fun adventure together. We biked along the most beautiful trail that rang along the Yampa River. It wasn’t a very long trail all the way to the end from where we started but no one was complaining about that. After making it to the end we turned around and ate lunch at a park along the trail. Madeline was super happy to get out and play on the playground. We ate lunch and relaxed for a little bit before heading back on our bikes down the trail. On the way back we saw that the Alpine Slides were open, so we stopped and bought tickets. Each of the kids got to do 2 rounds on the slides and Mike and I each took a turn with Madeline on the slide while the other one kept an eye on the bikes. I wasn’t sure if Madeline would like the slide or be afraid of it, so I was pleasantly surprised when she screamed in excitement all the way down. I personally loved it too and enjoyed the beautiful views on the way down.
After getting back on the bikes, we rode along the trail but stopped briefly to check out the botanical garden we saw at the beginning of our ride. We parked our bikes and put on our masks and entered the Yampa River Botanic Park. We did a big loop around the park, just enjoying the pretty flowers and beautiful landscape and fun paths in the wooded areas. Then it was back on the bikes to finish out our biking adventure. When we got back to the hotel, we got on our swimsuits and headed to the pool for our reservation pool time. We were a little sad that the hot tubs were closed but the kids still had a blast swimming in the pool and fooling around together. The older kids took turns playing with Madeline which was nice. The pool was a great way to cool off after finishing our ride with the kids.
We headed to Fox Run Park this afternoon for some good old-fashioned family fun. We brought the hammock, frisbees, balls and some snacks and enjoyed spending time together in our small little section of the park. The kids took turns swinging in the hammock while the rest of us played frisbee. Madeline was our runner who just ran where the frisbee was being thrown. We made sure to throw her the frisbee often so she would feel included. She loved playing with us. After quite some time playing frisbee we got out the small plastic bat and enjoyed watching Madeline hit ball after ball. She really was quite good at hitting the ball. Every time she would get ready, she would ask, “Am I standing the right way?” We would position her with one foot in front of the other and fix her hand positions. We thought it was so cute how she wanted to be in the right position to hit the ball. This afternoon’s adventure taught us that we can still get out and have fun together outdoors without worrying about getting COVID19. We are so blessed to have each other to hang out with during this time of social distancing.