Family Day Trippin’- Earth Week Finale

I think we had quite a successful first Earth Week and was beyond pleased with how quickly the weather turned from snowy to sunny allowing us to spend the last part of the week and most of the weekend outside, enjoying the springtime. As an added bonus and grand finale of sorts, we took the kidlets to Colorado Springs on Sunday to do some exploring at Garden of the Gods and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Garden of the Gods is one of those places in our country that can take your breath away by just existing. Huge red boulders jut out of the earth at all angles, towering over spectators and tempting climbers of all calibers to reach their peaks. Once a stomping ground for dinosaurs, these incredible formations have also housed an ancient sea, long departed beaches, and expansive fields of sand dunes. These rock beds, despite being geologically young, have a deep and rich history which is still being written. Fossils of plants and animals from the Jurassic time period are intermingled with lovers initials that have been carved into the rock faces over the past 100 years. Swallows take up residence in small cavelike indents on the sides these towering rock giants that have eroded over time to provide a perfect nesting and hunting ground. Garden of the Gods is beautiful, there is just no denying that. But more so, it really has a way of making me feel incredibly connected to the past and provides a sense of wonderment about the future. That interconnectedness is soothing and subtle but very empowering and despite my exhaustion, I walked out of there feeling strong and at peace.

Zoren and Astoria had a great time climbing among smaller rock formations and watching the pros gracefully ascend to the peaks a hundred feet or more above our heads. Z was in his element at Garden of the Gods and already asking for a return trip before we had even left, although his priorities quickly shifted at the mention of our next adventure for the day.

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The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a charming zoo that boasts a huge giraffe herd which roams around an area near the entrance and is definitely their biggest attraction. Visitors can buy handfuls of romaine lettuce and get up close and personal with towering giraffe heads. It is a cool experience for the kids and adults alike. Astoria was so excited to feed the giraffes and giggled profusely when one wrapped it’s long purple tongue around her hand to retrieve the romaine, then promptly announced that she was done. Zoren gladly took over her pile of romaine after he’d exhausted his own supply and fed giraffe after giraffe, laughing hysterically and loving every moment.

I am not going to lie, walking around that zoo was killer on my body. Everything is uphill and I was usually pushing a child in the stroller because one set of child sized legs was tired at every given moment that afternoon. Luckily, the abundance of adorable baby mammals made up for my aching hips and back. I got to watch the kidlets fawn over the two day old newborn giraffe and a sweet infant gorilla that rarely left is mama’s back. Astoria squealed with delight at a baby orangutan as it hung upside down, swinging wildly back and forth on some ropes, before climbing next to it’s mama for a cuddle session.

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We stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo until closing time and made a brief stop at the gift shop so the kidlets could each pick out a small souvenir which was really a highlight for them. Zoren, true to his character, bypassed all of the cheap zoo themed toys and excitedly chose to purchase a new compass. He made it a point to explain to me that he was getting the compass so he wouldn’t get lost on all of his adventures and bug hunting expeditions in the coming summer months. Astoria, who spent the entire day carrying around her stuffed baby white tiger that was coincidentally purchased on our only other trip to that zoo when she was just a few months old, decided to purchase a baby giraffe to keep her and baby tiger company. She spent most of the drive home creating hilarious and incredibly imaginative conversations between her two furry friends, mostly involving the eating habits of each animal and her adamant disapproval of the baby tiger’s carnivorous tenancies.

All in all, we had a great family day trip and I am so glad we decided to go. Especially since that was probably the last spontaneous family adventure we will have before our little ninja arrives. The month of May is going to be a busy mess of house hunting, endless packing, and luckily some breaks in between to spend time with friends. Right now I am equally looking forward to, and absolutely dreading the next two months of our lives. There is so much that has to happen before this baby arrives and at this point we just have to hope and trust that things will fall into place. We will find a house to rent. We will get this house packed up. We will move. We will get the new house unpacked and set up. We will get through Zoren’s dance showcase in the middle of June. And we will somehow be ready for this baby to arrive in eight weeks, yikes!

A Birthday Away

My 30th birthday was last Friday and I decided that since I am all sorts of pregnant right now and can’t celebrate with a few too many vodka tonics, the next best thing would definitely be a weekend in the mountains. We chose to go to Glenwood Springs because of their hot springs pool which was absolutely divine on my endlessly aching back. We did most of our swimming on Friday when the air was a little crisp and cool, making the 93 degree water feel extra warm and cozy. Zoren spent most of his pool time jumping off the steps into the water and plunging his head under so he could see everyone’s lower halves with his new goggles on. Astoria and I cruised around the giant pool on her little boogie board, stopping at the edges every few minutes so she could hang off the side without help and kick her little legs ferociously.

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We did some exploring downtown in Glenwood Springs, admired their public art and watched the Amtrack depart from the train station which the kidlets thought was great. They got super excited whenever the conductor would sound the whistle, letting out squeals of delight and throwing their little arms in the air to wave in response. Once the train was out of sight we walked around the downtown area to do some shopping. The kids both brought some birthday money with them and couldn’t wait to pay for things themselves so we found a cute bookstore which Astoria was ecstatic about. This pixie girl adores books and before I could even ask her to pick something out, little Miss was already seated on a stool reading a book from the pile she had pulled from a shelf in the kids section. Zoren chose to buy a Lego Ninjago graphic novel style book and Astoria bought a whole mess of princess, fairy, and Amelia Bedelia books. She probably would have cleaned out half of the kids section had we stayed much longer. We went into some other cool stores and boutiques where we found a cute owl muslin swaddling blanket for the new baby and Astoria bought a stuffed mermaid which she immediately connected with. So Mermaid Bella went everywhere with us for the rest of the weekend and I imagine won’t be leaving Stori’s side for quite some time.

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On Saturday morning we decided to go disc golf at this really cool mountain course outside of the Colorado Mountain College. It was an awesomely wooded course with amazing views of Mt. Sopris, a crater hole with the tee and basket elevated at either end of the giant dip in the earth, and a lot of random structures (like a zip line and sky ladder course about a hundred feet up in the air) throughout. Zoren loves disc golfing with Steve and that little man actually has quite a great drive and putt for being only four years old. I am sure Z will be giving daddy a run for his money once he is big enough to get a little more momentum behind his drives.

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We also had some great food while we were in Glenwood Springs. My birthday dinner was at a place called The Pullman which serves up great contemporary American cuisine, although Steve wasn’t a huge fan of his food, he did enjoy some good scotch and I thought my dinner was pretty rockin’, especially the carrot cake beignets I had for dessert. Those beignets were absolute perfection and, aside from the kids awesome sauce behavior at dinner, were also the best birthday present I could ask for. My other favorite meal on this trip was the home made perogies and potato leek soup at a little Polish restaurant called Polanka. It was absolute comfort food and reminded me of days long ago when I spent a ton of time with friends who moved here from Poland. Their mom would make the best food and I was lucky enough to sample some of it at special occasions and celebrations with their family. Polanka was exactly what I needed on this trip: cozy food and reminders of childhood days that I haven’t thought about in ages.

Even the drive home yesterday offered endless entertainment as Zoren and Astoria were cracking us up nonstop. Every time we would approach and drive through a mountain tunnel they would yell “Time tunnel, time tunnel approaching, hold onto your hats folks” over and over until we were through the tunnel, then burst into fits of giggles together. It was priceless. They love the show Dinosaur Train on PBS which is where this “time tunnel” business comes from and they love to pretend to be different characters from the show and carry on hilarious dino-themed conversations with one another.

It was a really nice and relaxing little getaway and exactly what I needed to recharge.

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And now back to the real world. Our Monday plans? Taking a Spring Sensory Walk and enjoying some sun on this warm spring day before temps plummet tonight and winter decides to make a comeback, likely dumping a foot of snow on our finally green grass.