Thursday, October 1, 2015

steamboat springs (the aspen show)

When I was growing up, my favorite tree was a Japanese Maple in my parents’ backyard. Every September the tree put on a show, and its leaves would turn the most brilliant shade of red before they fell to the ground.  I know that some people lament the end of summer, and fall is viewed as a harbinger of the cold winter to come. But I love the cycle of the seasons and see September and October as a time for renewal and introspection, which might not be such a coincidence since I grew up in a household that took Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement, very seriously.
In Denver, the temperatures have been really warm (maybe even a bit unseasonal), but the nights have turned cool. It’s sit-on-the-porch-and-watch-the-stars-while-drinking-a-glass-of-red-wine sort of weather. And as much as I love fall in the city, it’s up in the mountains where the season really shines. Groves of Quaking Aspens have started to turn their bright yellow, gold and orange hues. The colonies look like streaks going down the mountain and lend a shock of color to an otherwise green pine backdrop… basically, it’s an arborist's dream.
Last weekend, while my husband was celebrating his 40th birthday out-of-town with a group of childhood friends (all of whom are reaching the milestone this year), I took the boys on what I hope will become an annual pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs.
I’ve been feeling more intrepid, adventurous and confident as a mother, so I didn’t think twice about taking this solo-parenting vacation. Severe temper tantrums are becoming a thing of the past, which means my nerves are less shot and I’m better able to deal with minor behavior issues. On this trip, thankfully, there were none.
We hiked for hours around Fish Creek Falls, drove down the most bucolic country roads, soaked in the hot mineral springs at Strawberry Park ($10 adult/ $5 kids) and even dined out!
A friend of mine calls this phase—one where your children are no longer babies, no longer depend on you for every function, and are able to keep their emotions in check—as being “out of the woods.” And I truly feel like we’ve overcome some of the hardest challenges of raising children for the past few years.
Speaking of woods (see what I did there?), during the trip to the mountains, those Aspen forests were as breathtaking as they were restorative.
I found myself thinking about the Japanese Maple tree in the yard of my childhood home, and within a few minutes of hiking through the Aspens, Otis turned to me and said, “I think we should plant a few of these in our front yard.” I totally agreed…
Wishing you wonderful autumn adventures,

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

walking rino: street art with theo

I’ve got two little wildlings, Otis and Theo. We spend a lot of quality time together as a group, but it’s incredibly rare that I get to have one-on-one time with either one of them. So the other day, upon realizing that Otis had class and Theo’s school was closed, I decided to take Theo on a special adventure-- just the two of us. I toyed with the idea of journeying up to the mountains for a hike near Kenosha Pass, but then decided it would be fun to stay in the city and put on our explorer caps since we have plans to see fall foliage for the next three weekends…

 Of course I had to seize the moment and catch up on some overdue appointments too, so before we took off on our local adventure, I took Theo to the doctor for a wellness check-up. In hindsight that might not have been the best way to start off our special day, for it was temporarily marred by the 4-year-old vaccination schedule. But eventually he stopped crying, and the experience led us to have an interesting conversation about viruses. It also helped us choose our word of the day: “antibodies.”

As a reward for displaying courage and good behavior (all things considered), I treated Theo to a chocolate croissant. He was amazed by its construction and started yelling, “There’s a real live chocolate bar right in the very middle of my treat? It’s real live!! Isn’t that amazing, mommy?” Oh that Theo. He’s got “a million sweet tooths” and is truly a little boy after my own heart. Not wanting to leave the coffee shop without something savory, I grabbed two spinach empandas before we set out in the direction of the RiNo Arts District...

Now I’ve blogged about the ever-changing RiNo before. It’s a neighborhood that houses some of Denver’s best restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It’s also the epicenter of the city’s best street art, and there’s lots of it. The new murals are spectacularly detailed and there brand new pieces thanks to #COCrush15 which took place last weekend. Some of my RiNo favorites include works from artists Mariano Padillo, Jaime Molina, Mike Martinez, Hollis & Lana, David Shillinglaw, Scott Albrecht, Hyland Mather, Mike Graves, Blaine Fontana, Robin Munro, Sandra Fettingis, Jake Mertens, Lolo YS, Jeremy Burns and Max Kauffman*…just to name a few.  

(*As I was about to enter Max’s art house I noticed that Theo was starting to get sleepy, so I’ll be back to check it out next week.)

I’ve always been a big fan of street art, but it wasn’t until my friend Risa and I had a conversation about its larger importance that I fully began to understand how beneficial and inspirational it is. You see, I’ve always appreciated street murals from a beautification angle; they provide design, color, and art to a wall that would normally be vacant or plastered with tacky advertisements.

But street art also holds a second (more important) purpose. Namely, it makes art accessible to everyone: to parents with work schedules that are incompatible with museum hours; to children who don’t have easy access to art or transportation; to neighborhoods that are often underserved when it comes to public investments. In short, street art can inspire a creative force in almost anyone, regardless of income.

It also makes for a really great one-on-one adventure….




For more info, check out this column and this column by Lindsey Bartlett.

Overheard Theoisms:
“Those guys have coffee bean heads. That’s silly, so very silly.”
“…and then these octopuses were fighting bad guys- the Storm Troopers- before they were beamed back up to space. Yes, that’s what it’s about…”
“Hey, why is that man walking a fish with a dog’s leash? That’s hilarious.”
“Mommy, do you think we can keep a pet giraffe in our garage?”
“I’m going to show them my sword of justice. Then they will know I’m a superhero.”
“These leaves look pretty, but they’re not real. At least they don’t look real to me.”
“Torchic (Pokemon doll) told me this was the best tour ever. Hey, Torchic sounds like tour.”
“Is this where the natural gas comes from? I want to see it.”
“That silly monkey is playing games with me. He’s a funny guy.”
"Please can I go in here? (Closed Populist garden) I promise not to trespass."

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