Monday, August 7, 2017

Family Trip to Akumal, Mexico

Our big family trip with Graham's family this year was to Akumal, Mexico, near Tulum on the Mexican Riviera. The majority of the trip was spent relaxing and playing in the pool and ocean. We also went on a cenote tour and visited the ruins at Tulum. As always, it was wonderful spending time with family!

Hard to beat playtime in the pool 

Our backyard

The cenote tour was tough for the kids as the water was chilly - they didn't like the first two

 Family on tour

The third cenote we visited, known as "Temple of Doom," consisted of three big holes (in the shape of eyes and a mouth of a skull) that you could jump down into and climb up. As with the other two cenotes, the water was crystal clear and blue. Unlike the other two, the water was a bit warmer, so the kids loved it and jumped over and over.

Sean jumping - he's quite the swimmer now! 

 Claire jumping

 Graham jumping

Mindee jumping into one of the smaller "eye" holes 

 The ruins at Tulum

 More ruins

It was HOT, so the homemade fresh popscicles at the end of our ruins trip were a welcome treat

Claire promised her taekwondo teacher she would bring him a picture of her doing a flying side kick on the beach in Mexico, so she did...


Sean playing with a soccer ball pump - he's getting so big! 

Cousins! They're all getting big...

Love this family!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Learning to Ride Bikes!

(This post was originally written for the Stapleton Moms blog)

We've struggled for years to teach our daughter how to ride a bike. She decided around the age of 4 that she was afraid - she didn't want to fall and didn't like the wobbly feel of the training wheels.

We were living abroad at the time and didn't have a ton of room for her to ride, so we let it go. She had a bike, but just wasn't interested.

Fast forward to age 6, when we first moved to Colorado. We got her a new bike, made a big, excited deal over it, but she was still afraid and didn't care. When we would get her up on her bike to give it a try it was a miserable experience for all three of us.

We tried encouragement and positive reinforcement. Nothing. We tried mild shaming - "Look at that little guy on his bike! No training wheels!" Nothing. It didn't help that she doesn't have immediate neighborhood friends who were riding - in fact, she had friends her age who were also still on training wheels. Oh, for some positive peer pressure...

She said it was too big, so we bought her a smaller one. She didn't like riding that one, either.

The look says it all...

This attitude leaked down to her little brother, who might have been more interested in riding, but followed his big sister's lead. We bought him a strider bike - no interest. I'll ride my tricycle, thank you very much. He inherited a 12" bike with training wheels from a cousin - that was more interesting, but he still preferred the trike.

We looked for a learn-to-ride-a-bike camp last summer and found a whole lot of not much. We signed our daughter up for a half-day of classes at a local outdoor store just to do something, but that wasn't enough for anything to stick. She was striding a bit but still didn't care. We were at our wits' end. She said she wanted to learn but never wanted to actually try.

Enter: Pedalheads! 

I saw a note online about how Pedalheads Bike Camp was coming to Denver and immediately signed up both kids. This is the first year they've been in the area - they're mainly located in Canada. They have three locations in Denver, and one happened to be in Stapleton - even better!

Knowing our daughter's attitude towards riding, we started prepping her about a month out to give her time to get used to the idea. "Give it a try - it might be fun!" "These are professionals - they know a lot more than Mom and Dad." While she wasn't excited about the camp, she at least agreed to give it a chance.

Since our kids were at the same level (even though one is 5 and one is 9), they were in the same class, which helped them initially and gave them a buddy. I signed them up for the all-day camp, but there are also morning-only and afternoon-only sessions. They work on skills, play bike games, do some crafts, play water games - it sounded like a ton of fun. We were excited and optimistic!

Day 1 with the awesome Mr. Tennyson

Day 1: The kids rode with their training wheels all day and worked on control, steering, braking, and learned about helmet safety. It was super hot so they also got to run through the sprinklers, which they loved. The kids rode over ramps to get them used to looking up instead of looking at their feet (held by the instructors, of course). Her bike was a bit small, so we were asked to bring her bigger one (which, thankfully, we still had).
Look - smiles! And after a full day of riding! Woo hoo!!!

Day 2:  After a brief morning review, they removed the kids' training wheels! Something just clicked for my daughter, and off she went, riding on her own! I talked to her teacher, and he said with the older kids it tends to be a matter of confidence since they already have most of the motor skills, and with the younger kids, it tends to be more a matter of mastering the balance and motor skills. My son was striding well by the end of the day and had pedaled on his own 5 times - yay!

Day 3: My daughter took to bike riding so well, they bumped her up to the Level 3 class with Ms. Celeste. Imagine our surprise! (Apparently, that's unusual - normally they'll bump up one level, but I'm grateful they were able to pivot and not leave her bored in the Newbees class.) Something clicked with my son after lunch, and off he went! A bit wobbly, but riding on his own!

Day 4: The Level 3 class walked their bikes over to Central Park and rode around there (about 6 kids with 2 teachers). The Newbees worked on braking softly so they don't fall over and improving control. Both kids come home smiling and wanting to ride their bikes more. Love it!

Day 5: Superhero day and a bike parade! Each kid in the class had his or her name announced and rode a fancily decorated bike through a course with ramps to great cheering and applause. We received a report card for each kid, and I know they would both love to return for another week.

We are incredibly proud of both kids and so grateful to Pedalheads and their fantastic instructors! Our son absolutely loved his teacher (Mr. Tennyson) and cried at the thought that camp was coming to an end and he wouldn't get to see him again. We may have to sign him up for another week near the end of the summer while big sister is at sleepaway camp...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Get Your Goofy on with "Travelers of the Lost Dimension" at Stanley Marketplace

(This post was originally written for the Stapleton Moms blog)

Photo credit: Adams VisCom
From left: Leigh Miller, Adrian Egolf, Diana Dresser, Bruce Montgomery
My family went to see Travelers of the Lost Dimension at the Stanley Marketplace last weekend, a silly, fun, campy immersive theatre experience that left my 4-year-old son repeatedly exclaiming, "This was the best best best best best day ever!"

Did you know there's a dimensional rift underneath the Stanley Marketplace? We didn't until we visited, courtesy of our low-tech guides at Mission Control. (We realized our kids didn't know what television fuzz was and had to explain - how's that for feeling old?)

Callandra (a.k.a. Graham's cousin, Diana) guiding the crew to safety
Supplied with our survival kit and personal atmospheric tank (read: balloon), we ventured into the Lost Dimension, encountering Callandra the fortune teller and her prophets, dodging rift worms, watching some fabulous Olympics-style dancing, participating in a live television show and art therapy, and even playing an interstellar video game (bring a quarter!).

The beauty of this show is its complete and utter willingness to be goofy. The more you buy in and play along, the more fun you will have. We had a great "crew" (fellow audience members) who screamed at the rift worms, gave advice to the guide, and cheered and threw roses for the dancers. The four-person cast and one-person crew pull off a masterful symphony of multiple characters (each with its own name and accent), wild costumes, and fun surprises.

Our Crew
The show runs just about an hour, so my 4- and 9-year-old kids had no trouble walking around (there are a few sit times to break up the action). The audience (maximum 45 people per show) is treated like a beloved cast member itself, and the ticket includes a free beverage (beer, wine, or fountain drink) at the Stanley Beer Hall for the day of the show and a passport of other offers for the Stanley Marketplace to use later.

Travelers of the Lost Dimension only runs through May 21 (after being extended since every show was sold out), so make sure you get your tickets before the rift closes!

To learn more and purchase tickets, visit