Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Christmas Eve was a late night for all of us... but we knew that Christmas morning would dawn early with Joe being eager to see if Santa had really come. The Sullivan's and the Davis's made an agreement that we wouldn't do Santa until 6:30 am. NO earlier than 6:30 am.

I think that Joe was awake at 5:30 and we kept him corralled until 6:30 and he went busting out the door and downstairs to awaken Grandpa and Grandma... oh and the Sullivan kids.

They raced back upstairs and set to discovering what all Santa had brought to Durango. Santa had brought Joe a remote control monster truck and a scooter that he had been coveting.

Jocelyn got a mini micro scooter that converts from a ride on to an actual scooter as well as a barbie four wheeler.

A successful santa, I'd say. :)

We had some four legged visitors. The day before we had had a mama and two babies. Today we had the papa, a young buck and the mama and two babies from before. They literally came right up to the door. Amazing.

Chris, Jason and I decided to go for a run. I have to say that I LOVED it. I had a hard time running up the mountain so we walked it. I even struggled a bit with that... but with time I could probably do it. :) It felt good to get some energy out.

About 3:00 pm, we all dressed up in our snow clothes and headed to a tubing hill at Durango Mountain. Mom and dad took Lj to the lodge and the rest of us went to the mountain. After the first trip down the hill was a little rough for Joe but after that he got the hang of it and rode down with me and Amelia. We all really had a blast.

We did say that there were two improvements they could make... a magic carpet to take you to the top of the hill and a kiddie hill for the littler kids to start out on. But other than that.. it was a LOT of fun.

We all headed home and I got started cooking dinner. Christmas dinner is a tradition that Kristin and I used to do together and it was important to me to do it this year. I made a roasted beef tenderloin, macaroni and cheese, vanilla bean and pomegranate roasted brussel sprouts and an apple and blue cheese salad.

While I was cooking dinner, the kids all had a blast playing with their new toys. Conner seemed to enjoy playing with his helicopter until it got stuck behind the big stuffed bear up on a ledge. :) Chris had to crawl up there to retrieve it.

Jason was in charge of cooking the tenderloin and the rest was mine. Without tooting my own horn... I think this was the best Christmas dinner I've cooked. The macaroni and cheese was perfect and the vanilla bean made just a little differenc to my favorite brussel sprouts. Add in good red wine and wonderful company... = perfect.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve In Colorado

 Our first morning in Durango we awoke to snow.  It was truly the perfect Christmas Eve...  it felt like Christmas, it smelled like Christmas, it looked like Christmas.  We had a fire going in the fireplace, hot coffee, great company. 

Mostly we sat and just watched the fire going and snow falling.  The kids were all playing and exploring.  They went out and sledded (Joe had never been) and had snowball fights and knocked icicles off the roof. 

We had planned to cut down a Christmas Tree but there was already one at the house so we didn't need to. 

Vicki spent most of the day cooking and preparing our "Feast of Seven Fishes" an old Italian tradition. 

                       The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Christmas celebration.
Today, it is a feast that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes. However, some Italian-American
families have been known to celebrate with nine, eleven or thirteen
different seafood dishes. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus

We had shrimp cocktail, king crab legs, spaghetti with red tuna sauce and a breaded flounder with a salad.  We didn't do all seven fishes but it was the theory.  :)  We didn't eat until after the Polar Express though.

We left for the Polar Express about 5:30.  When we arrived there, all dressed in our matching pajama's....  it was still snowing and you could hear the train.  The people were bustling and the anticipation of Santa was in the air.  We had a little time to kill so we walked out and saw the train as the other riders got off.  Joe was so excited. 

Then we went in for the "presentation of the Polar Express" and lined up as the train rolled in blowing it's horn.  The coal car smoking and the engine puffing.  To say it was magical is really an understatement.  And Conner (the 15 year old) tried to pretend that he wasn't caught up in the moment... but the twinkle in his eye gave it away. 

We had paid for upgraded parlor car and it was so worth it.  It wasn't all that much more money... but you got a lot for the money.  We each had a table and got Santa hats and got to keep our hot chocolate mugs.  Our chefs "peppermint and gingerbread" were fantastic!  They sang and involved all of kids even the big ones.  We rode to the North Pole and Santa boarded the train.  We sang Christmas Carols and we ate cookies.  It was Christmas Eve in Colorado and it was magical. 

We all left the train and went through the museum and headed on home in the snow.  We got home and had dinner and put the kids to bed to get ready for Santa. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Boys went fishing and guests come for dinner

One of Jason's fondest wishes was to go trout fishing with his fly rod while in Durango. So, his Christmas present was a guided trout fishing trip with Chris. They packed up and headed out early early early on Thursday morning.

While the boys were gone we just hung out and really had a lazy day. One of the Sullivan boys wasn't feeling well, so he spent most of the day in the "man cave". The kids played in the snow. LJ took a nice nap on her mama's chest. The kids watched movies and enjoyed the snowy landscape. I had a fleeting thought of going for a run... but dad poured me a glass of wine to help me get over that urge. :)

One of our distributors is in Durango... and they were coming over for dinner with their two kids. I had planned dinner to be an apple cider marinated pork loin with four cheese scalloped potatoes with bacon wrapped green bean bundles.

Chris made fresh bread almost daily, which was delicious.

Unfortunately, right before dinner, mom started feeling under the weather. Luckily, she and Brady were the only ones who fell ill. It could have been bad... especially right before the end of our trip.

It was great visiting with Chad and Donna and their two girls. They are originally from Philadelphia.. and I recognized the accent. :) But they decided they didn't like people so they moved to the mountains where they live on 40 acres with one neighbor.

I love people so that is hard for me to understand. But I can absolutely understand loving Durango. I fell in love with the mountains, the snow, the touristy feel of the town, the skiing. Loved it. Maybe I loved it more because of the easy going feel of the week.... little demands on anything. Just enjoying life.

Pictures to come. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Skiing and Ski School

Boxing Day. :) Usually this day is reserved for day after Christmas sales and lunch with the ladies. It's a tradition that I love and look forward to EVERY year.... but this year it wasn't in the cards. :)

We all got up early because Joe had ski school (which he was more than a little bit dubious about). So the Davis' headed out a little bit earlier than the Sullivan's so that we could rent our gear. We made it up to Durango mountain and I started the process of getting Joe his gear. First up was the helmet. It itched his head. :-/ Second... his boots. The nice lady fitted him and put it on his foot and it hurt him. It was too tight. :( He started crying. Uh oh.

Jason took him off and had a talk with him and I got his ski's and poles. He came back and seemed ready. We took him outside and got him all outfitted and went to drop him off at ski school... and they weren't open yet.

We went to Purgy's and got a drink for him and some coffee for us. Jason took him out and put him on his ski's and practiced "pizza slice and french fries". And it was time. We took him over and met with his teacher. They were all so good and welcoming. He was off and running before we could even wave goodbye.

Next up... we went and got our ski's and such. We met up with the Sullivan's... and I contemplated taking a half day lesson too... as it had been 25 years since I skied. But Vicki was confident that she could get me back to it and we decided to do one easy run and see how I felt.

We took the lift to the top and I felt pretty good. It really was just like riding a bike and soon I was back to being able to hold my own. The boys went their way and the girls went ours. we stayed mostly with the blue and green runs and wow... I forgot how much I enjoyed skiing. My shins were sore and I would probably have better gear if I did it more... but I loved it.

We had lunch at a restaurant at the top of the hill and skied some more before we went back to pick up Joe. When we got there to get him... he had had a blast... and was even the star pupil. Taylor, his teacher, said that she called him "her pro Joe". He had started turning right away and then went back to pizza and french fries. He's even come home with a new saying that Justin from his class said... "knock it, lock it, put it in your pocket." Go figure. :)

We all returned our gear and headed out after a quick stop in the store for some shirts and the photo shop to get pictures of Joe skiing (that I paid too much for).

On the way off of the mountain we continued to have problems with our car so we called my parents (who were headed into town) and had them meet us at the GMC dealership. We literally limped into the dealership and left the car. We went into Walmart to get a paci (or four) and some boots for Jason... and ran back to Walgreens to get Mom's prescriptions.

We had so much leftover food that we did "must go's" and everyone kind of had a little bit of whatever they wanted. It turned out to be an early night for everyone because we were tired.

LJ had had a great day with Papa and Grammy. She had a four hour nap with Papa in the rocker and it was just an easy going day for them. Another great day in Durango.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Good Morning Amarillo... Hello Durango!

Good Morning Amarillo. I had set my alarm for 5:00 am and figured that would get the kids stirring. We wanted to get an early start so that we didn't roll into Durango too late.

The plan was to get breakfast along the way in the first town we came to. Poor plan as Jocelyn was asleep shortly after we hit the road. We did need to stop for gas so I ran in and grabbed some breakfast sandwiches.

About three hours into the trip we had a "check engine" light came on and then a "power reduced" signal. We literally coasted into the nearest town on a sunday. Nothing was open. We both had visions of tow trucks and a ruined christmas vacation. But... luckily Jason knew to unhook the battery and reset it. He hooked it back in and it worked. He asked me if we should take the safe way or the scenic route we planned on. We chose the scenic route.

OMG was it beautiful. Each rise over a mountain was prettier than the next. The hills got snowier and snowier. We went passed babbling brooks with snow and ice. We passed snow covered hills and rocky cliffs.

We stopped in Taos for lunch and to let the kids run around. There was a small playground in town (attached to a toy store) and it was perfect to get a little energy out. Joe got to play in the snow and ice... and he LOVED it. LJ was a bit more cautious but she eventually jumped into the fray.

We ate and then headed back out to our car to move onto Durango.

More gorgeous mountain scenery and cooler temperatures.

We pulled into Durango (remember, Joe had no idea) and as we came down the hill and saw the Durango train... we asked Joe if he knew where we were. His reaction was absolutely priceless. We told him that we were doing Polar Express the next day and he was over the moon.

Next up... drive up to the house. It's about 20 miles outside of town.

We pulled into the driveway and walked into the house... and man oh man did we hit the jackpot. It is gorgeous. We got the master (because we needed the extra space.) and settled in. Met Chris and Vicki's kids and settled in. Chris made an amazing dinner with flank steak with a pear/blue cheese reduction over field greens. AMAZING!

We were finally there and ready for a wonderful vacation. The kids were all enamored with each other (well except for the 15 year old who hates everything... wink wink).

I could seriously live here.

On the road to Durango

On the Road to Durango

When we planned this trip, it was August. I don't even really remember how it came about... kind of a "wouldn't it be cool" thing that then panned out. Joe loves the Polar Express. Like LOVES the polar express... watches it year round and has dreams about it kind of loves it.

So when it started coming together we wanted it to be a surprise for him... but he had to know we were going somewhere and somewhere cold... so we told him North Dakota. (who knows how I pulled that out of my backside). And as it's gotten closer he has started talking more and more about North Dakota. He even has dreams about it. But he has said a few times that on Christmas Eve he was going to ride the Polar Express.

Saturday morning we got up early early early so that I could go and feed the kittens at the office and drop off Murphey. We all got ready and dressed, last minute things together and I ran off.

It took me about an hour but I got back and we loaded up and headed out. We must look like the clampits because we have the car loaded and the trailer behind us... surely we must be moving to Durango and not just going for a week.

I have to say that Jason and I have gotten along amazingly while preparing. Any of you married folk know that getting ready for the great american road trip can really bring out the stress... but we had lists and we each had functions (thank you Jason) and we got along with no bloodshed.

We had the plan to stop a couple of times to let the kids stretch their legs and use the bathroom... and we stopped at an amazing rest stop between Houston and Dallas. And to make it even better... they had all decorative concrete and our color had been used in the bathrooms. It was Davis color, but they bought it at Cement Colors. :)

We had to stop at Cement Colors to see James and drop off his Christmas present and some buckets (which we forgot to drop off) and look at some material. Then on to Jami and Biggs to have lunch and let the kids run for a little bit.

By 2:00 pm we were, once again, headed North. I swear we took an extra hour for all the times my littlest man had to stop to go to the bathroom. This time we will limit his fluid intake. ;)

So we pulled into the Big Texan restaurant at 8:00 pm. What tourist trap ... ahem experience that is... a kids shooting range, a candy store, a curio shop, a bar, a beer garden and the restaurant. And if you can eat a 72 oz steak, a salad, three shrimp and a baked potato in under an hour... it's free. They have a table set up in the center of the restaurant (right by the grill) with timers... and there was a man sitting there eating. He knew he wouldn't be able to do it... but he was trying. blech.

We got seated and ordered... and had a meal befitting a tourist trap... ahem texan monument. The kids were getting fractious so we headed to the hotel.

I have to say that with 630 miles and 10 hours 59 minutes... the kids did marvelously. Truly./.. we could not ask for a better car riding experience with these two.

Our elf, Eli even joined us on our adventure. He has ridden on the dashboard the whole way. He showed up this morning sitting on top of the coffee pot. Wonder where he will end up today?

Jason and I are both so excited to come up over that mountain coming into Durango and see Joe's face. I fully intend to have the video going because he is going to ... absolutely freak out.

This... THIS is what parenthood is about. Providing these magical moments for your kids.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Big Sis, I love you

Big Sis I Love You

© Ranja Kujala 
My dear Big Sis, you are the greatest there is,
And amazing in every way.
I greatly admire and look up to you,
Each and every day.

You are always showing how much you care,
From your heart that is filled with love.
You are a beautiful Angel,
Sent from the heavens above.
I am the luckiest Sis in the world,
To have grown up next to you.
We played and laughed and had fun together,
A great bond that has always stayed true.
Big Sis you are always in my heart & thoughts,
And I am always sending you a hug and kiss.
You are my world and I love you so much,
Always and Forever...Your Lil' Sis.

Kiki, on the anniversary of you flying with the real angels...  I celebrate you.  You weren't always the easiest... but your heart was the size of Texas and your smile... well, it lit up a room.  Your energy was only rivaled by the amount of love you showered on others.  If love could have healed you...  you never would have felt an ounce of pain.  

I miss you every day.  As time goes by...  the bad falls away and only the good remains.  This is both a blessing and a curse...  as it makes me miss you more.  I hope you are up there healing all the sick animals in heaven with Jasper at your side.  I will always and always and forever adore you, my kikibird.