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Christmas 2012 Recap

I am so proud of myself! I just realized that I had remembered to “lock” some photos to my camera before I downloaded and deleted the memory card in Colorado! I had transferred them to an SD card, but they weren’t there when I got home. Luckily, copies are still on my father-in-law’s computer, and he will send me a CD. Until then, I still have some of my favorites!

I often think how Chloe and Leo have no idea how lucky they are. After all, Santa and Mrs. Claus have come to visit them at their grandparent’s house for two years in a row. Can you imagine?! You can see Chloe’s expression when they came to the door here (if there is a next time, I’ll have to get it on video!). Leo, naturally, wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. However, it was great fun, and that night we had an amazing Osso Bucco dinner made by Grandma Sandy. And, as if on cue, we were surprised by the biggest group of neighborhood carolers I have ever seen later that night!

We also did some other fun “firsts” during our week in Colorado, including attending the children’s Christmas mass at the local Catholic church, had a very exciting visit to the North Pole Santa’s Workshop, a storybook-like theme park not far from Colorado Springs, AND went on our very first horse-drawn sleigh ride! Wow! It was crazy to get to play in the snow and go sledding one day and then turn around and hop a flight to Cancun the next.

It is tempting to think the rest of this year will be very boring in comparison, but somehow, I don’t think so…

More photos from this trip are on Flickr.


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Pueblo, Colorado


Rosemount Mansion Museum, Pueblo, Colorado

Grandma and Chloe enjoying the Rosemount gardens

One of the first day trips we took was to Pueblo, Colorado, about an hour’s drive south of Colorado Springs. Our main goal was to tour of one of “America’s Castles,” Rosemount Museum, a 37 room, 24,000 square foot mansion and home of the wealthy Thatcher Family. What is really special about this home (besides the fact that it is huge and gorgeous) is that almost all of the furnishings and decor are original – Tiffany chandeliers, stained glass, hand painted ceilings, fancy woodwork, beautiful fireplaces, etc. After 75 years in the family, the home was donated by the youngest child, Raymond Thatcher, when he died in 1968 with no children of his own.


“Kelly Falls” on the Riverwalk

View of the Arkansas Riverwalk

Bell memorial statue, with Grandma and Chloe in the background

Fountain statue with the coal-fired plant in the background

After our tour, which took about an hour (including a real mummy on the third floor!), we drove into downtown to stroll along the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk. It is billed as a 32-acre “urban waterfront experience” which “returns the Arkansas River to its historic location in the heart of downtown Pueblo, after being diverted in the 1920’s due to a flood that destroyed the area.” It was very pretty, with many interesting statues, but I was kind of disappointed that there wasn’t much representation of Native Americans.

We didn’t go into any of the shops, but I will recommend stopping into family-owned Cookie Ladies Bake Shoppe where we picked up scoops of local Josh & John’s all natural ice cream. Mmm!


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On the horizon

We’re in Colorado. David is on a fly-fishing trip with his father and two brothers on the Gunnison River and Chloe and I have spent the week with David’s mom, taking day trips from their home near Colorado Springs. I’ll share more pictures and details of our adventures soon, but meanwhile I thought I’d post the two different views that David and I are enjoying right now.


View of Pike’s Peak from David’s parent’s house one morning, shot using a telephoto lens.


View from Lake City, taken with David’s iphone.


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Pics from Colorado

I was just looking through the few pictures I took while in Colorado recently and thought I’d post a few to share. My camera has seen very little action lately and I had to really try and make myself pull it out once in a while, which is pretty unusual for me.

On the afternoon we arrived David’s brother Andrew and his fiancée Aundrea took us to a lovely little creperie for lunch, appropriately called Crepes ‘n Crepes. They make them fresh with an array of fillings for you to choose from. We started off with bowls of delicious french onion soup, and then I devoured my butter, ham and chevre crepe. For dessert the four of us shared the dreamy concoction shown above: a strawberry banana crepe with extra Nutella and cream cheese sauce on the side. OMG. So divine! I hadn’t had crepes this good since I was a college student studying french in Quebec for a summer. And of course, I washed it all down with an Orangina.

Although we didn’t do too much sight seeing this trip, the day before we left David’s “Uncle David” came into town. We enjoyed a nice dinner that night and the next day we took a little drive to see the Garden of the Gods and had lunch in the small, picturesque town of Manitou Springs. It was warm and sunny, so after lunch Sandy and I stopped into a Pikes Peak Chocolate for my first taste of Josh & John’s super yummy ice cream. I couldn’t decide so I went ahead with a scoop each of mint chocolate chip and double chocolate Oreo. I wish I had gotten a picture of that!

On the way back we stopped for a tour of the Van Briggle Pottery Studio in Colorado Springs. I had been here before, but I gathered that Uncle David is quite an antique collector. I can’t say I’m wowed by the pottery, but I certainly respect its history and its surprisingly high prices. I was actually amused to see a sign that said something like “Please handle the pieces, we will be responsible for any breakage.” Since I get tired easily these days, Sandy and David joined me on these cool vintage chairs near the door. I just like this picture of the two of them.


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Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster, Colorado

A few days before we left Colorado, Aundrea and Andrew suggested that we all stop into the Butterfly Pavilion. It’s a neat place, great for kids, where you can see all kinds of insects up close, hold a tarantula in your very own hands, gently pet a few objects of sea life like starfish and horseshoe crabs and see all kinds of butterflies. We were lucky to be on time to watch one of the two daily butterfly releases. A speaker comes out with a small cage of butterflies, picks them out individually (by their wings, which surprised me because I thought you were never to touch a butterfly’s wings), gives a short educational lecture and releases them to fly away freely in the tropical conservatory, which is like a plant-filled rainforest-like room.

It was neat to walk around slowly looking for butterflies hidden amid the foliage, or see them flutter by high above. Sadly, I saw several butterflies with torn wings, due careless children, despite the warnings of the speaker. David’s dad mentioned that the place was showing its age, which is true, but I still found it to be a worthwhile and unique experience.


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Summation, Holiday 2007


With David (foreground), Aundrea (hidden) and Andrew at Breckenridge

I can hardly believe that it is the first week of 2008 already. Now that things are calming down I feel like I finally have a chance to think, and reflect. The past few weeks have just been so crazy/wonderful. I started receiving a busy stream of freelance work around the end of November, then we celebrated David’s birthday the second week of December in Las Vegas/ Death Valley, on the third week we left for almost a two week visit in Colorado with David’s family over Christmas and New Year’s and the past couple of days have been spent wildly catching up on all the freelance work. I feel like I am just now able to take a full breath after all that excitement!

I didn’t write a lot about the holidays, too busy enjoying each and every day I guess. Although I didn’t get to spend it with my own parents and sister, spending time with David’s family was really great. I feel very lucky to be able to say that. I didn’t miss grey and rainy Portland hardly at all. Yes, it was super cold, but there was snow, too. Lovely, white, sparkling snow tempered with lots of sun and blue skies.

David and Paolo
David and nephew Paolo (love that chicken hat!) on the 4-wheeler.
Old Colorado City
A quick stop through charming Old Colorado City

Christmas gifts this year were simply astounding. Lots of precious handmade items along with amazingly thoughtful and useful ones. I really hope the recipients of our presents (many handmade, some purchased) felt the same. I wish I had thought to photograph some of those things, but that’s okay. Actually, if I had the time, I’d catalogue each and every thing I received. Seriously. I feel like each item holds that much specialness. It’s a good thing that I’ll never expect to have another Christmas exactly like this one.

Am I starting to sound a little gushy? I can’t help it. It’s really how I feel. Each day was an adventure. And lest I forget, a short list includes: attending mass, snowboarding at Breckenridge, watching butterflies, spotting deer, eating delicious meals, enjoying the snow, watching indoor skydiving, learning to knit hats, driving the 4-wheeler, driving a brand new Honda Civic, sewing my first slippers, cooking a soufflé, seeing fireworks on Pike’s Peak, making cookies, watching movies (notably Ratatouille and Surf’s Up), playing games, reading (Kite Runner), and so much more.


Sunset over the mountains

At this moment, I feel completely blessed. And reminds me of a saying in one of our new gifts, a 2008 calendar with photos of the family (including pets!) along with dates for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions given to us by David’s brother, Andrew, and his fiancée Aundrea:

“Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold; the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.” -Democritus

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