Category Archives: pictures

Minus One

Last weekend, for the first time ever, Luke went away for the weekend on a church retreat for sixth graders. I have to admit, it was really, really weird to not have him with us… I felt like I was forgetting something all weekend.

However, it was really cool to spend some time with just the two younger boys while Luke was doing all of the Big Kid Things. Because we did not have a crazy overscheduled weekend for once, we had plenty of time to just do what we wanted.

Friday night, after Matt and I took care of the yard work and finishing up our bathroom remodel, we decided to have a bonfire in the cul-de-sac and let the boys have s’mores before dinner. Might’ve been our best decision all weekend.

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Saturday: early breakfast at The Shack (I’m obsessed with their berry granola pancake), a long walk on Grant’s Trail,

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and took some time to hang out at Grant’s Farm.

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It was just so much fun for Matt and me to focus on these 2. And even better, by far, was how they got along with each other. I’ve loooong known that just removing any one of them from the mix for a while totally changes the dynamic, but it’s such a pleasant surprise to see these two getting along.

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By Sunday afternoon we couldn’t wait to have Luke back! He was, of course, exhausted, but full of fun stories. Growing up Catholic, I didn’t have these kinds of experiences, so I’m excited for him that he got to experience something like this with his youth group!

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Things are totally (eyeroll) back to normal now, with B and JH resuming their roles as oil and water. Oh well. It was sure fun while it lasted.

Vacation 2014: The Estes Park Part (The Beautiful Weather Days)

Picking up where I left off

When we woke up Thursday morning, we knew the forecast had a much better day in store for us, despite some initial cloud cover and gray skies. We grabbed a quick breakfast at a little cafe on our way into RMNP, and we stopped for the obligatory entry pic at the park, since it wasn’t raining for once.

One of our very favorite parts of the park from our trip 3 years ago was the Alluvial Fan. Unfortunately, in the flood last fall, much of the Alluvial Fan was washed out, and we were disappointed to find that it was completely closed to foot traffic while they’re doing some sort of rebuilding. However, we did one good hike (a bit narrower and rockier than some) near the Alluvial Fan that took us up high enough to see the rushing water that eventually spills out below.

We spent some time driving around different parts of the park as the clouds completed burned off for the day, and decided on hiking to Alberta Falls. We were in a bit of time crunch, especially given that the trail is a) very busy; b) a little more difficult on the way back up than others we’d done; and c) we were meeting up with friends in less than an hour. No matter. We did it anyway.

SO glad we did. The last time we were there, and we didn’t realize this at the time, we didn’t hike all the way up to the best view. This time, Matt was intent on making that happen, including a small, dangerous, off-path diversion before we realized the regular path would take us up to a breathtaking view! We loved it…the air was misty with the spray coming off the falls.

We hiked back quickly to meet our friends, the McGills, for a walk around Bear Lake. How cool is it that their trip overlapped with our time there? Our kids had fun climbing rocks, until Elle slipped on the absolute last step of her climb down and gashed her leg! So that was a bummer. But still, definitely a highlight to have them join us there!

One more 2 mile-ish hike that day on what became known as “Horse Poop Pass” because our trail had been used FREQUENTLY by horses. Gross, but for boys, pretty much the highlight of the trip, what with all of the poop talk.

We finished the prettiest day in EP with mini-golf, where Jack Henry got TWO holes-in-one! Dinner at a very forgettable pizza place, and then a stroll down Elkhorn for t-shirts and ice cream cones.

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Part 2 of our Colorado trip began Friday, as we took Trail Ridge Road all the way across RMNP as we headed to Steamboat Springs to meet up with my whole family!

While it was a tiny bit hazy as we got started early, by mid-morning it was crystal clear and the absolute perfect day for seeing all that this incredible road has to offer. We took our time moseying along, looking for wildlife, stopping to skip rocks in the river, and checking out the Continental Divide.

Up next: 7 adults + 8 kids in one condo for 3 nights :)

Vacation 2014: The Estes Park Part (The Bad Weather Days)

As I mentioned before, we had 36ish hours at home. Around 4am on Tuesday, we woke the family and headed to the airport for our 7am flight.  And for the first time I can ever remember, our plane took off EARLY (I love you, Southwest Airlines!).

It was only after we were comfortably sitting on the plane that I remembered: we’d forgotten Jack Henry’s booster seat for the rental car. So that was fun. Related: I’ve got a brand new booster seat for sale.

After a brief panicky moment where we realized that the boys had left their backpack on the bus that took us to the rental car place from the airport (it was found immediately – that bus was still in the parking lot 10 minutes after dropping us off, which I consider a miracle. Oh, and everything was in it, which included an iPod and iPad. Sheesh.), we headed to Boulder for breakfast. We ate at The Buff, recommended by a friend who lives there, and it did not disappoint!

By going through Boulder, we planned to take a slightly more scenic route into Estes Park (EP from here on out)…however, we didn’t realize we’d really be rerouted due to damaged roads from last fall’s disastrous flooding. But, that was fine. We were treated to a pretty view of the St. Vrain Creek the whole way. Which was nice, because the rain started to fall on that drive, and it stayed majorly overcast and rainy for the next 36 hours.

Kind of a huge bummer when the reason you’re in Colorado is to hike, and the weather is unseasonably cold and wet.

However, we made the best of it. We bought ponchos, ate a snack, and got started on our first hike of the trip shortly after getting to EP.  We all loved Gem Lake. The trailhead is located just outside of EP and not in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) proper, which made it super easy to access. I was too worried about rain while we were on this hike, so I kept my camera in the van and just used my phone. This was probably the hardest hike we did, and everyone loved it, from the views to the difficulty to all of the rocks to climb on for the 11-and-under set.

Sidenote: these boys of mine nearly gave me heart failure several times with their rock-climbing antics and getting too far ahead on the trail this first day. I *may* have tried to put the fear of God in them by making them read the back cover of a book on people who have died while hiking in RMNP (and the story on the back cover is about a 12-year-old boy from the Midwest who was never seen again after he got too far ahead of his family and presumably fell to his death. I know, I am the funnest mom ever.)

We ended that day by settling into our amazing condo (people, seriously…if you’re going to EP, stay here), getting dinner at a place we’d never have tried if it weren’t for TripAdvisor’s recommendation (and it was delicious!), and went back to the condo and crashed by 9pm. Since we’d been up since 4am.

Day 2 in EP started out with more rain, but since our plans included not much more than RMNP, we decided to tough it out and take the drive up Trail Ridge Road that morning. We saw nothing. Absolutely nothing. Unless you count thick fog as something. Matt made us take this mile-long walk (thankfully not a hike) up in the Alpine region where it was 37 degrees, heavy fog, and steadily drizzling. As you will see in the pictures below, I wasn’t thrilled.

So we ate lunch in the van up at the top of Trail Ridge Road, turned around, and drove back down. We crashed at our condo for a while, and when the weather looked slightly more favorable later in the afternoon, we talked the boys into going on another hike: Nymph Lake (which we’d seen last time we were in RMNP in 2011) and on to Dream Lake.

It was raining on us as we started, but the drizzle stopped as we made our way up to the first lake. The trail was muddy and we stopped often to watch the water running off the mountainside in various cool little trickles. And then, we heard it ahead: a waterfall. We totally weren’t anticipating it, and it was raging due to the recent rain. It made wearing a poncho and being cold totally worthwhile! Dream Lake was beautiful, but I would definitely love to see it on a not-overcast day sometime with my own eyes, knowing it looks like this.

Making that last hike happen made us feel like the day wasn’t totally lost, and we all appreciated that had it not been raining for 2 days, the mini waterfalls, huge waterfall, and overflowing streams wouldn’t have been near what we got to experience.

By the time we made it to dinner at Poppy’s, we were really tired and hungry. There wasn’t a lot of talking until there was food in everyone’s belly…these children don’t stand a chance of avoiding the hangry gene.

Up next: the prettiest days ever in RMNP.

Vacation 2014: The Wisconsin Part

As is custom in our family, we wait until the boys’ baseball season is over to travel. Which means that by the time late July rolls around, we are very ready to get out of town for a while!

This year’s vacation had 3 parts: Wisconsin and 2 parts in Colorado. We spent a weekend in Wisconsin with Matt’s family, came home Sunday, Matt worked Monday while the boys and I did laundry and repacked everything, and then very early Tuesday morning we headed to the airport. It was a whirlwind but really, really fun!

Our extended family now numbers 16 on the Diehl side, which means we’ve outgrown the family cottage. Therefore, Matt and the boys and I stayed in a little cottage across the neighborhood from the rest of the family, which worked out fine! We spent our lake time eating (great meals out but also pounds of Chex Mix, which I have proven time and again I have no self-control with), playing baseball, shopping a little bit in Lake Geneva, eating some more, and playing at the Assembly Park beach. Just all-around fun family time at Lake Delavan!

Sidenote: Luke found this picture of our family at the lake years ago on Google Images. Isn’t that crazy? Also: we had a talk about not searching Google Images, because, you know, they aren’t always PG.

So here’s the rest of the story, told in pictures…

Life Skills 101

“So, Mom, did you know that there was like a TOTAL CASCADING WATERFALL OF MILK off the counter this morning? Right here. My sock got some on it, but I still wore it all day.”

This was a conversation I had with Bennett this evening while he was working on making dinner for himself and his brothers. It came up because as he was making grilled pj&j, he dropped glob of jelly on his sock, and I told him to just take it off since it was almost time to shower anyway.

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And actually, I did not know about the milk waterfall. I was upstairs getting ready for the day, and B and Luke were eating breakfast together (Matt and Jack Henry were already on their way to baseball).

They’d done a pretty good job of cleaning it up, but you know, didn’t do it in a way that would truly pass Mom-inspection. So, I pulled out my newest trick: telling him I was going to teach him a Life Skill, instead of correcting what wasn’t done right.

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“Life Skill” has become a frequently-used phrase around here this summer. A couple of months ago, I realized that there are SO MANY THINGS – all the things – that a kid needs to know and know how to do. It’s not like you can just put them in a book and have them read it. It’s things that pop up in day-to-day life that make you think, “hey, a kid needs to know this.” Maybe I should make a list.

Like being able to take a few bucks into a Quik Trip and buy a bag of ice (don’t worry, I sent 2 of them in together). Or how to do a load of laundry start to finish, or use the dishwasher. Or how to go up to a concession stand with your water bottle and politely ask for a refill, and say thank you when they give it back to you. Or how to order in a restaurant, giving the waitress your attention.

Or, figuring out how to put the dishes away that you can’t reach.

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So this evening, instead of correcting the cleanup that was done in the morning, I said, “Hey, buddy, I’ve got a Life Skill to teach you. Remember that little ant problem we’ve had in the kitchen? Well, ants like leftover food that’s on the floor. And if you don’t wipe up a spill like milk with a wet paper towel, they’ll find it.”

Easy peasy. Doesn’t sound judgmental. Problem solved.

WHY IN THE WORLD DID I NOT THINK OF THIS APPROACH BEFORE NOW?

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My favorite Life Skill teaching happened this morning though. Bennett, Luke and I were in the van on the way to Jack Henry’s last baseball game of the summer season. I had a bracelet I couldn’t put on myself, so I reached my arm behind me and told B what to do, then said, “You know, this a good skill for you to have when you’re older. Your girlfriend or wife might sometime need help with this.”

Bennett’s immediate response: “Well, the bracelet is on, but this is one skill I’m not going to need. Because I’m going to be single, and be a baseball player, and live with my dog.”

This has literally been his mantra all summer long. About not getting married, having his buddy Connor as a roommate since they’ll both be professional baseball players, and having a dog. (I’m all: “Life Skill: someone needs to take care of your dog while you’re on the road all the time with the MLB, cowboy. Maybe a wife would be a good idea. Also? I want grandchildren.”)

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So, help me out. What are some other things my boys need to know how to do on their own?

Telling Time.

Sunday night, after the last of the boys’ baseball games was officially rained out, we hopped in the van to go get frozen custard.

Jack Henry grabbed this book on his way out the door:

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It’s a handmade quiet book that my mom’s beloved sister, my Aunt Dee, made for me when I was really little. It has all sorts of fun little activities, and my boys have all enjoyed it, too, as preschoolers. I thought they’d outgrown it for the most part until the other night, when Jack Henry pointed out the clock page.

JH asked if we’d teach him to tell time, so on the 15-minute drive, we taught him the hour and minute hand, and how to count by 5’s around the clock. Then he wanted me to give him times to put on the clock with its moveable hands, so I did.

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Matt decided to complicate it a bit and taught him quarter after and to and half past the hour…I thought that was too hard for him, but he got it!

It just made me so happy to know that this book is still being used and teaching another generation!

Thank you, Aunt Dee!

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Toothless Twins

The dental drama chez Diehl continues…

Luke has not lost a tooth in several years. He lost his front eight, and we’ve been waiting for his canines and molars to loosen up. Particularly because as soon as they are out, his orthodontia can begin. A couple of weeks ago, his lower left canine started to loosen. By midweek this week, it was really painful when something bumped into it.

Today, I finally convinced him to go ahead and pull it. He did, relieved to have it out for two reasons: one, it had been so long since he lost a tooth that he had forgotten how it felt, and two, now he could eat again without pain.

Jack Henry has had a really loose front bottom tooth for the last couple of weeks that he has let get to the point of dangling. So gross. I have been joking for the last several days that maybe both boys would lose a tooth on the same day. So when Luke pulled his today, Jack Henry wanted me to pull his.

On the first try, I got it out. He rinsed his mouth in the sink, and we went to sit down because he was feeling a little lightheaded. We sat with an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel on the bleeding spot for a couple of minutes. In an effort to get him out of the mindset that this wasn’t very fun, I suggested he go watch his brother play Minecraft.

Jack Henry agreed and pulled up a chair to the computer. I went into the kitchen to do something, and a minute later, I heard him walk into the bathroom. I don’t know why, but I followed him in there, just in time to catch him before he hit the floor.

Totally fainted. Just like his brother. It’s less scary for me than it used to be, but it’s really weird to see your kid with his eyes rolled back in his head and not responding correctly.

He fully came around after a couple of minutes and drank some juice and laid on the couch to recover.

I seriously CANNOT believe that we have a second kid who does this. I totally blame Matt.

Here are the toothless twins, and let me just say that Bennett is thrilled to not be in this club tonight.

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