Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mega Post

Here we are at the end of August.  Where did the summer go?  It's been so busy the past 3 weeks, I'm having a hard time believing we actually are almost into September.  The run-down for this month is as follows:

Colorado Vacation August 15 - 20

Finally.  We finally took a trip that was longer than just a weekend.  Our first in over 3 years.

Tim's family has a cabin about 45 minutes outside of Colorado Springs at the edge of Pike National Forest.  Tim and I hadn't been out there in over 10 years, so we decided we'd take the kids and go this summer since we had a week to kill between the end of summer day-camp and the beginning of school.

It's about a 10-11 hour drive out there from our house.  We left home at 4:30 am, packed breakfast and lunch and ate on the road at rest stops.  Here's a picture from our first stop for breakfast (pan dulce - Mexican sweet bread).

I don't have a picture of lunch because it was so windy it was literally blowing our food off the picnic table (western Kansas).  We arrived in Colorado Springs at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  The elevation (altitude) where we stayed is almost identical to the altitude of Bogota (where our kids are from) - I just thought that was interesting.  Here's where the Great Plains meet the Rockies...

The Verhulst cabin is, a bit rustic.  However, it has almost all the conviences of home - a kitchen (only missing a dishwasher), an indoor bathroom with shower and hot water, and a washing machine (no dryer, just an outdoor clothesline).  This is about as rough as I care to go when 'roughing it'.

The view of Pike's Peak from the back deck is pretty awesome... and it never looked exactly the same any two times you looked at it.  This is what it looked like one afternoon.

There were several things at the cabin that kept the kids occupied.  We had a zip line, a wagon, a dirt bike and a bb gun.  We saw black squirrels, deer, woodpeckers, elk, chipmunks, humming birds and rabbits - all without leaving our deck.
Mayerly on the zip line
Claudia on the wagon
Claudia and Tim on the bike
Doe with fawn behind the cabin
Herd of elk on a hill just down the road from the cabin

We did get out a few times.  Our first outing was to Garden of the Gods by day and the Flying W Ranch for a chuckwagon supper and singing cowboy show by night.  Another day we took the cog train up Pike's Peak from Manitou Springs.  We also drove over to Cripple Creek and Victor (a couple of old gold mining towns) for a look around.  Cripple Creek is mostly a strip of casinos now, so we actually liked Victor better.
Garden of the Gods visitor center
Balanced Rock Cafe - Garden of the Gods Trading Post (Tim, Oscar & I had buffalo burgers)
 Waiting at the table to tie on the feedbag at our chuckwagon supper
The kids' favorite cowboy (L.J.) - he was the butt of most of the show's jokes
It was 44 degrees at the top of Pike's Peak, with a windchill of 39 degrees that morning.
Here are the girls in Cripple Creek, CO.
Here's a view of Victor, CO.  They actually have an active gold mine there that pulls over $6 million in gold out of the mountain - weekly... WOW!

We drove home from Colorado on August 20th (an all day trip).  I can't figure out why sitting in a car or an airplane for MANY hours makes me so tired - but it does.  And I'm never ready for vacation time to end - but it ALWAYS does.

First Day of School - Oscar & Diana - August 22

Don't they look thrilled to be going back to school???

First Day of School - Mayerly & Claudia - August 25

3rd Annual Adoption Picnic @ Windhaven Farm - August 27

For the past 3 years Gerry and Teresa Rima have hosted a picnic at their dairy farm in southwest Missouri for families who have adopted.  Most of the families who attend have adopted from Colombia, but there were children from Ethiopia and China too.  It's a great time with lots of kids :).  The Rimas have 17 (that's not a typo) children total, 15 were adopted - one from the U.S. and 14 from Colombia.  They are amazing people and we are priviledged and honored to know them.
The Rima Family (minus their 2 adult children)
My little buddy Bella - she's taken a liking to me for some reason :)
Most of the families who attended the picnic (some left before we took this picture)
Who knew a hammock could be so much fun?

Oscar's Birthday - August 28

Last (but not least) our oldest (Oscar) turned 14 today.  He has matured so much over the past year (and I'm not just talking about how tall he is getting).  I'm becoming more and more proud of the young man he is turning out to be and so glad that we could play a part in shaping who he is and helping him achieve to his greatest potential.
The obligatory cake and ice cream...
PC games from Grandma & Grandpa Verhulst
Speakers for MP3/PC from Grandma & Grandpa Verhulst
PC from Mom & Dad (also Swiss Army type knife in his hand)