Friday, July 27, 2018

Celebrating 11 Years!

Sofia is 11! We can hardly believe it! She woke up, which means I woke her up at 10am since that girl can sleep in late now that it is summer. She is a true night owl and stays up every night until midnight, usually in her room reading, drawing, writing or playing. Sometimes she says she stays up later. I don't know how she does it! Of course, she then wants to sleep in until 10 or 11am! I always have to wake her up to get our day started. The night before her birthday, she asked that I wake her up at 9am, but I decided to let her sleep a little later since it was her birthday. Olivia slept on the blow-up bed next to Sofia's bed. Weeks ago the girls used a bunch of sheets and blankets to build a fort over Sofia's bed and over the blow-up bed and the girls love sleeping together every night. The only down side is that Olivia likes her sleep more than Sofia, and she likes to go to bed earlier than Sofia does. But, when they sleep together they tend to stay up late. So, I woke them both up by singing "Happy Birthday"!

The girls slowly got up and came downstairs where Sofia's "HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY SOFIA" donuts were waiting! It was a huge surprise for Sofia and she loved it! They loaded their plates with donuts and enjoyed Sofia's birthday breakfast. They actually ran out of steam pretty quickly, so we had a lot of donuts left over. But, I'm sure they will enjoy them tomorrow for breakfast, as well.

Sofia requested spaghetti casserole for dinner, so I picked up all the ingredients at the grocery store and then we got ready to go to Altitude H2O, which is a big inflatable obstacle course/play area set up on Lake Grapevine. I bought the girls a 90 minute session and packed up snacks, drinks and sandwiches in an ice chest. The girls got dressed into their swimsuits and cover-ups and we headed out. They were super excited and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate Sofia turning 11.

We got to the lake and I set up my chair and got comfortable while the girls and the other participants ran into the water and climbed onto the huge inflatable. I brought my camera and was able to get some great photos of the girls, although they were usually facing away from me. Sofia's swim shirt has hot pink sleeves so she was always easy to spot and Olivia was always nearby. They were so fun to watch and they had a great time on the inflatables, although they both fell off into the water a lot! Once they fell in, they had to swim to an area they could get back onto the inflatable. So, they both did a lot of swimming and also had life vests on so they bobbed along in the water. I watched them and tried to stay cool while sitting by the edge of the water.

After 45 minutes all the swimmers had to exit the lake for a 15 minute break. The girls got out and ate their sandwiches and snacks and drank a lot of water. I asked them how it was and they said it was awesome! Olivia was a little frustrated since she said she fell off a lot. But Sofia really loved it and they both couldn't wait to get back on the inflatable. At 2pm, the girls gathered up again to go back to the inflatable for 45 more minutes of more fun. Honestly, I'd wished I had my swimsuit on, it looked like so much fun! Thankfully it was cloudy, so it felt much better than if it had been clear and sunny. The girls had a great time and before long it was 2:45pm and time to get out of the water and go home. The girls loved it and couldn't wait to go back another time.

We got home and I made the girl's spaghetti casserole while they relaxed and played MineCraft. Sofia recently realized how much she loves MineCraft and was able to download it onto the iPad, so she can play. She also loves to watch YouTube videos of others playing MineCraft that include dragons, since her version doesn't have dragons. We set out cheese and crackers, made Shirley Temples and set the table to celebrate Sofia's 11th birthday! CK grilled steaks and I steamed broccoli (with extra garlic and lemon juice) per Olivia's request, and baked the spaghetti casserole. It was a surprisingly easy meal to make. We'd offered to take Sofia anywhere for dinner, but she wanted to stay home and have spaghetti casserole. She's our home body and loves to just stick around the house. She always prefers eating at home over going out to a restaurant.

We enjoyed Sofia's birthday dinner and then it was time for presents! The girls decided to wait on cupcakes, which CK picked up from Sprinkles, until after all the presents were open. Sofia got several presents and was super excited to open them. She started off with the presents from Aunt Shirl and Uncle Steve, which the card said were for fun at the lake. The presents included a kite, two modern frisbees, including one that lights up and a Dig It Dino Egg. Next she opened the presents from Sian and family which were four volcanos of goo (actually one of her favorite things) and an inflatable world ball. The last present on the fireplace for Sofia to open was from her Aunt Cynthia, Uncle Jay and family and included a book about inventions and a really cool moon phase projector! She was super excited by all of her fun gifts and thought she was done opening gifts when her Papa brought her a bag...with an Apple laptop inside! She was BEYOND excited and the look on her face was priceless! The computer came with a set of Beats bluetooth headphones! She was SO excited and happy! It was fantastic! We know that Sofia will spend time playing her newly discovered fun, MineCraft, but she wants to use her computer to write a book, or books! She loves to write and is incredibly gifted, so we try to encourage her to write and express herself. I really think that she could become a published author when she grows up. She and her Papa set up her computer and then she got started playing around. It was great to see her so happy!

When she was done with her presents, we took a break to enjoy the delicious Sprinkles cupcakes. Sofia specifically requested Sprinkles' chocolate cupcake with marshmallow filling. They were all so good and a great way to celebrate Sofia turning 11! Sofia played around on her computer for a bit before it was time to go to bed! What a birthday!

Happy 11th Birthday, Sofia (in donuts)!!

All set to to wake up the birthday girl to surprise her with A LOT of donuts!!

One very happy birthday girl!

Picking out her birthday donuts!

And a happy almost-birthday-girl!

After gorging on donuts....barely looks like we've touched them!

Two excited girls are ready for Altitude H2O!

The girls and full course!


Climbing onto the Altitude H2O course for the first time!

Off they go.

Exploring...

Wipe out!

Heading in after the first session to get some snacks and water before the second session.

They love falling down at the entrance! So funny!

Happy 11th Birthday dinner!

Birthday girl with her presents.

With her Papa

With Mommy

And with little sister!

Opening the first present of the day from Aunt and Uncle!

A fun book from Aunt Cynthia and Uncle Jay and family.

Birthday cupcake!

Opening the FINAL present!!

Her own laptop!

The look says it all! She is beyond happy!

Crazy cupcake faced Olivia!

Setting up her new computer....with a very excited 11 year old!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rafting down the Rio Grande River!

After a great night's sleep, we woke up and had breakfast at 8am. The girls were super sleepy, but did get some scrambled eggs and bacon before we left at 8:30am. Before we left, Shirl and I made pb&j sandwiches for the ladies, and turkey sandwiches for the guys. I also brought along granola bars and pretzels since I knew the girls would get hungry at some point before lunch. After we'd packed our sandwiches and water bottles, we loaded up and drove to Santa Fe Rafting Co. which is only about 15 minutes away from the hacienda. About a week before we headed to Santa Fe, Aunt Shirl and I were talking about our upcoming trip and she suggested trying a rafting trip down the Rio Grande, which she'd heard about but had never been on before. She explained it and it sounded fantastic!! So, she said she would buy the tickets for 9am on Tuesday. I was really excited to go, and wondered what the girls would think about it. Once we were at the rafting company, it took a bit to fill out the paperwork and we met a few of the people who would be going rafting with us!

We all loaded into two vans and headed toward Taos, which would get us to the Rio Grande river, where we would start our adventure! The van ride took about 45 minutes to an hour through little pueblos and towns. Our van driver told us different facts of each of the pueblos we went through. Of course, after about 30 minutes both girls were hungry and ate a granola bar and a small bag of pretzels. I was glad I brought snacks, since no one wants hungry girls on an adventure.

We arrived at the drop off point, after driving along the Rio Grande River for the last 20 minutes of our drive. The rafting guides removed the rafts from the back trailers and we each were outfitted with helmets and life vests. Our driver, Elliot, told us he would be taking all of us in his raft. Apparently, each raft holds four people, but since there are six of us, Elliot said he could take us all. We were so excited to all stay together on our trip down the river! We soon realized that Elliot was the leader of the rafting guides and had years of experience on various rivers. He gave the entire group a safety briefing and said that we would be going down class 1 and 2 rapids with two sections of class 3 on our trip. Elliot said that since it was so dry, the Rio Grande river is pretty low so we would come across areas that we might get caught up and would need to work hard to free ourselves from rocks. Elliot packed our waters and sandwiches and we left our phones and cameras behind in the van. I really wish I had a waterproof camera so I could take photos throughout the trip. Aunt Shirl actually brought her camera and took some cute photos on our breaks. We broke up into four different rafts and we headed out in the lead! I sat on the front left with Sofia and Uncle Steve behind me. CK sat across from me on the right and Aunt Shirl sat behind him with Olivia sitting in the middle of them, but dropping into the center of the raft when we arrived at some rapids. Sofia was super excited, while Olivia was a little tentative. She often is nervous in new experiences, but usually warms up quickly once she realizes it's safe. Within 30 minutes she was loving it and soon wanted to sit at the very front of the raft as we headed down the river. The day couldn't have been more beautiful and perfect and the river was just perfect.

We gently floated down the river for part of our trip and soon found Elliot to be a great guide! Not only has he had a lot of experience and is very qualified, he clearly loves being a guide and was fun and easy to talk to as we headed down the river. He would tell us commands, like "Row two" or "Row hard" or "Two back" and told us what he meant by all of them. It was great to be the lead raft, since we had clear views of the upcoming rapids and a great view of the Rio Grande as we floated along. There were many flat, smooth parts and some minor rapids, which was really fun. It was shallow at points, but Elliot got us through those areas easily and he said we were the best group he'd had all week...I told him he really meant to say "all season!" We did actually work well as a team and navigated the river well by listening to Elliot's directions. It was really fun and an interesting way to see the land. We did end of stopping several times to wait for the three other rafts, since they were slower. The fourth raft was usually very far behind since their guide was deaf, so she would signal to another woman in her raft who would shout out the commands. Because of this delay, the rafters weren't doing their part in time which got them hung up a lot. Their poor guide ended up out of the raft and pushing or pulling several times. Of course, Sofia loved when we stopped because it meant a break to swim and splash. Uncle Steve was really the only one brave enough to join her. The water was COLD! It felt good on your legs and I would dip the arm of my long-sleeved sun shirt to get wet, but there was no way I was getting completely wet! At one of our stops, Sofia and Uncle Steve jumped in and CK had his legs hanging over the side deciding whether he wanted to go in, when Olivia stood up and Aunt Shirl asked "Olivia, are you going to swim?" to which she replied "No. I'm going to push Papa in!" and she did! It was so funny! CK was more than a little surprised and said the water was very cold!

We ended up eating our sandwiches whenever we had breaks on the flat areas of the river. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich never tasted so good! We went through our water pretty quickly and I was really wanting more water the last hour of our trip. In the last 30 minutes of our trip, we came across the two biggest rapid areas and it was super fun! Olivia sat at the very front and loved it and the rest of us worked hard to listen to Elliot and do what he told us. It was so much fun. Finally, the last 15 minutes or so were flat and pretty shallow so we had to work hard to get to the end. Plus, a headwind had come up and we really had to fight the wind even to move. By the end our behinds were sore, but just on one side from sitting so awkwardly in the raft. Aunt Shirl and I decided we should have switched places about halfway through to even everything out. We made it to the unloading area and it was 3pm already! It was such a fun trip and we all agreed we'd love to do it again. The guides set out water, lemonade, watermelon, ham cubes and cheese and it all tasted great after such a trip. Soon, it was time to load up and we thanked Elliot for all he did. He had to stay behind and help with the rafts. The guides were all great and it is hard to understand how hard they work on the raft. There were so many times it felt like we were floating effortlessly down the river, but Elliot was rowing and guiding us the entire time. The girls had a blast and they were both talking about what other river trip we could go on next time! Of course, Sofia wants bigger rapids next time!

We loaded up into the van and headed back toward Santa Fe. Sofia read while we drove and Olivia sucked her thumb and fell asleep, although she swore she never "actually" fell asleep! Once we were back at our cars, we decided to go to the craft beer place over by Meow Woof and followed Aunt and Uncle over there. We all ordered a beer, the girls had root beers and we got chicken wings and tater tots. Sofia was pretty bummed because her molar was very loose and bothering her. Finally, she went into the bathroom and pulled it! She came back super happy that it wouldn't be bothering her anymore!

After relaxing on the patio with our snacks, we returned to the hacienda for much-deserved showers. After showering the girls headed straight to the arroyo to climb and play. The rest of us sat out on the back patio and later ordered pizza and salad from our favorite place in Santa Fe, Il Vicino. Uncle Steve and I picked it up and we returned to the house to enjoy it. We sat outside and enjoyed the cooling evening until about 10pm and then headed to bed. We figured that we would all sleep well after our fun adventure!

The girls at the river, ready to go rafting!

All of us are ready!

Olivia is all set!

The professional photo of all of us!

Uncle Steve and Sofia fooling around in the COLD river.

The second raft behind us.

More fooling around.

Talking to our great guide, Elliot


A great photo of Aunt Shirl!

Group photo by CK

Olivia doesn't even want to get her feet wet because it's so cold

The rapids! So much fun!


A little snooze on the van ride home

Sofia reading and messing with her molar.

A girls after a fun day.

Success! Sofia with one less baby molar!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Santa Fe!!

We woke up early so we could get a jump on our trip to Santa Fe and enjoy our first day with Aunt and Uncle. We actually dropped Buddy off at Marco and Stacy's house at 8am and Stacy wondered what happened to the real Lee family, since we never get out of the house on time! Poor Buddy was not happy to walk into Marco and Stacy's house and watch as we drove off. Of course, I know he has a great time at their house eating Goose and, Mia and Lelu's food and sleeping on their couch. After dropping Buddy off, we drove to the airport, loaded up and took off for Santa Fe. Everyone, except CK, slept en route and we arrived around 11am. One great thing about flying to Santa Fe is that we always gain an hour, so the 3 hour flight seems even shorter. Either way, it went by quickly.

We landed and laughed when the jet center crew brought out a "red carpet" (it was actually blue to match the jet center's colors) and laid it down for us to walk on once we got out of the airplane! Of course, I had to get a picture of CK on the red carpet! We loaded up out rental car - which is delivered directly to us - one of the best perks of CK flying us places - and called Aunt and Uncle to let them know we'd arrived. We agreed to pick up Bumble Bee for lunch and head to their hacienda. Bumble Bee is one of my all-time favorite places to eat and I always look forward to a visit when we are in Santa Fe. The food is so delicious and easy!

We arrived at the hacienda and loved the great weather! It's sunny and "hot" but not Texas hot! It's just perfect in the shade. We said our hellos, unloaded our bags and set up on the back patio for lunch. It's such a luxury to sit outside and feel comfortable in July. We ate our Bumble Bee lunch and caught up and soon the girls were out playing in the arroyo. It's one of their absolute favorite things to do and they love to explore the coyote trails and make up stories (mainly about dragons). We relaxed and talked for a while and then headed to Meow Wolf. Sofia was super excited to explore Meow Wolf again and I was interested to see what we could find this time. The first time we visited, it was super fun and interesting but also slightly overwhelming. We found parking and stood in line to get in, just like our last visit. Meow Wolf must be busy all the time! We headed inside and started our adventure. Sofia wanted to read every letter and postcard in the mailbox and we very soon found it hard to stay together. Also, Olivia needed to go to the bathroom within 15 minutes so she and I headed out. Once we made it back inside, we stuck together and just explored. I basically let Olivia go and I followed her. It's such a crazy place that even though we visited a few rooms several times, there is always something new and interesting to see. We also found a few rooms that I know we never found during our last visit. The place is just crazy! We ended out running into Aunt, Uncle, Papa and Sofia and then tried to stay together. There were several new characters this visit, including the Captain, who was this woman in a crazy "captains" outfit who was in charge of the Universe and Foxmillian, who was half fox and half chameleon from a planet which had crystals. Now he is the only one left of his kind. He really did help fill in a lot of the mystery and loved talking to Sofia!

We found a couch and took a break and told the girls we would be there so they could explore on their own. It was 4:30pm and the crowds seemed to be thinning out and it didn't feel so full of people. The girls loved it and took off, checking back with us every 15 or so minutes. Finally, the girls were getting tired and hungry, so we headed out. Sofia could probably stay all day and visit with Foxmillian! We headed to Maria's, another huge Santa Fe favorite of ours! We enjoyed our dinner and conversation and then headed back to the hacienda. We sat outside for a while talking and the girls headed back to the arroyo for a bit before we headed off to bed. What a fun day!

LOVE this picture!!

The pilot and his crew are ready to go!

The girls and I are ready....for a nap!!

The red carpet (or blue) in Santa Fe! We have arrived!

At Meow Wolf with Aunt and Uncle - ready for our adventure to begin.

Sofia going into the washing machine....totally normal!

Love this picture - Olivia pushing her down into the washing machine.

Olivia heads in next...

Sofia about to enter the refrigerator.

The girls with Foxmillian


Sofia giving Foxmillian a hug.

Olivia practicing her piano

Practicing on another piano...

Olivia!

Trying to capture how unusual and overwhelming Meow Wolf is inside.

Papa and Uncle Steve playing a piece on the piano.

Olivia in the glowing ribs of the musical dinosaur

Just doing a little yoga..

The girls in the metallic tree play area

Checking out the huge spider

The crew under the spider!