Utah, the Final Chapter

On our last day in the Beehive State, we decided to head into Salt Lake City (since that's where our plane would be taking off) and find a good place to eat. The guy at the ski rental shop recommended this place called Tucanos Brazilian Grill, so after following the instructions given to us by the lady-who-lives-in-my-phone, that's exactly where we ended up.

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This is one of the most unique places I've ever eaten! They have these colorful markers at each table, and as long as the green end is up, a server will come to your table over and over again, each time with a different type of meat for you to add to your plate.

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In case you can't tell from the way Mike's tongue is situated, that green side was up for a really long time.

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He brought us barbecued chicken on one trip, and prime rib on the next. He showed up with grilled pineapple and honey-glazed ham, and then it was garlic seared steak. It wasn't until he brought us the chicken hearts that we realized we needed to, at some point, put the red end up.

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I can proudly say we all tried a chicken heart. And in my opinion, it tasted a lot like frog legs, which I've never had, but heard that they taste like chicken.

Btw, they have an excellent salad and soup bar too!

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Soon our server headed over with the dreaded dessert tray.

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Mike absolutely insisted on getting the raspberry cheesecake, so I told him to stop whining and order it already.

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Here's Sabrina with a mouth full of what she chose…

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And no matter where we are, Sophie manages to find plain vanilla ice cream with caramel syrup.

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Me? Well, Mike was supposed to share that raspberry cheesecake with me, but I got nary a bite. Okay, fine, I got several, but what I really wanted was a little something I like to call The Plasma:

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What a fantastic place to eat! We'll definitely be stopping there again, the next time we're in Utah.

I leave you with one more TubCam. This one is Sabrina's, and she took it all by herself on her cell phone. Hold on tight!

Pilgrimage

I started stitching twenty years ago when I found out I was going to have a little girl. I decided I wanted her room to be full of cross-stitched teddy bears, so I pleaded with my mom to pick up her long-forgotten hobby of stitching and help me get some decorating done. She agreed, since it was for her first grandchild, and we headed to the nearest place that sold cross stitch supplies and purchased a book called Priscilla's Precious Bears.

Soon we discovered Treasured Stitches, a cross stitch shop that was within walking distance of my parents' home (and co-owned by Darlene Anderson), and it is there that I discovered Shepherd's Bush patterns: my first true cross stitch love.

Mom and I continued with the teddy bear theme for Breanna's room, and they all turned out quite adorably. But oh, those sweet little sheep, designed by the hands of Tina and Teri Richards… who could resist them? I soon acquired quite a collection of their gorgeous patterns and kits, and even called the shop once, awkwardly asking them if they would please consider designing a "Quilt Gatherer" piece to go with their other 'Gatherers.

That must be one huge piece they're doing for me, bc I haven't seen it released yet.

Soon I became active on the internet, and met my first-ever cyberfriend, Chris. She was also a Shepherds Bush addict, and we exchanged many emails oohing and ahhing over whatever new patterns came out. When Tina and Teri decided to hold their first retreat, I could hardly breathe for wanting to attend. But alas, for one reason or another, I've never been able to.

Excuse me while I have a moment of morosity.

Okay, I'm fine now.

Every year that Shepherd's Bush has had a retreat, Chris has attended. And every year, I've said to her, "One day I'll go too!" My mom, knowing my obsession with SB, visited their shop years ago and had Teri autograph a shop-exclusive kit for me. I think if George Clooney would have walked into the room, I would have said, "Oh, hi, Mr. Clooney! LOOK WHAT MY MOM GOT FOR ME." (And then I would asked him to sit next to me and pretend I didn't know how to stitch so he would put his arms around me and hold the needle and fabric "no, like this," like they do in the movies.)

I cannot believe how chatty I am today.

Since it's entirely too late for long-story-short, I'll continue. Fast-forward to our trip to Park City… when I realized I was going to be within walking distance (66 miles in -3 temps is totally doable), I knew I had to be there. I simply had to go! So while Mike and Marty ski'ed the blacks, I headed to Ogden in our rented Ford Flex. Sabrina and Sophie came with me in case I swooned and needed smelling salts.

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Btw, that's Nancy on the left. Hi, Nancy!

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Here's Sophie, rifling through all the stockings… she found it quite amusing that the original name of the stocking I stitched for Sabrina is Sophie's Stocking.

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Somewhere in this glorious section of the store, you'll find Sabrina…

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And here she is again, telling me to take a picture of Primitive Needle's Adam and Eve… I love how Tina and Teri convert the color schemes of so many designs to their signature soft palette…

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I truly wish I could have photographed every nook and cranny of this transformed carriage house. What an experience it is to see something new every time you blink!

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I am so very happy I was finally, after twenty years, able to visit this loveliest of shops. I was also honored to meet Teri, who was as hospitable and kind as I imagined her to be.

When my girls and I got to our car, Teri came running after us, telling us she forgot to give us something. She then presented each of us with the sweetest little sheep pins, and I found the gesture to be so lovely that I felt happy the rest of the day.

Thank you, Tina and Teri, for sharing with all of us your amazing talent, and for being mindful of the nuances that make each visitor to your shop feel warm and perfectly welcome.

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Meanwhile, on Main Street…

While Mike and Soph and Marty and Beth and Nick and Zach and Gabby spent the day skiing, Sabrina and I stayed at the bottom of the mountain, perusing the colorful shops on Main Street, just in front of our condo. There were banners on every lamppost, announcing the big Sundance Film Festival event coming up the following week (I believe it's going on as we speak?), so the streets were very quiet and the shopkeepers were readying things for the windfall of celebrities that would be visiting them soon.

One of our favorite shops (and one of the few that were affordable to us, since we are not in the Hollywood income bracket) had lots of fuzzy snow hats. I liked the owl hat best, so Sabrina humored me…

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A few storefronts down, we happened upon a boot shop, where Sabrina found a pair she fell in love with… I also wanted a pair, but if I bought two pairs, I would not have been able to buy milk for the children…

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Doesn't she look happy? I'm so happy I sacrificed. Excuse me while I go get a towel to wrap my cold feet in.

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After she we finished shopping, we decided to head over to Deer Valley (where the rest of the fam was skiing) and have some lunch in the lodge. While we waited at the bus stop for the shuttle to pick us up, I looked down at our boots and thought how this might be the last photo I would ever be able to take of my daughter and I as sole sisters. After all, sister's got a shiny new pair to drink with her tall glass of milk.

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(Btw, as grungy as these poor Ugg boots look, let me express that they are worth ten times their weight in gold, and I plan to get mine cleaned and restored back to their deep chocolate color very soon.)

We made it to Deer Valley within minutes and before meeting up with the gang for lunch, Sabrina and I rode the Funicular, which is an outside elevator that takes you up to a mountaintop resort. Once at the top, we went to the look-out area and got to see the resort below…

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(Remember when Sabrina got those goggles in Breckenridge last year?)

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This is one I posted on my 365 blog

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Soon we were headed back down the side of the mountain, and met up with the others in the lodge. Here's sweet Gabby, who refused to have her picture taken, yet later fretted and fussed that there were lots of pictures of the other kids, but none of herself. 😉 Gabby, when I see you again, I'm going to follow you around with my camera everywhere you go, bc you are a cutie-pie!

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Hi, sweet Sophieeee!

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(I could just eat that child up, in case you didn't know.)

Eventually everyone tired, and we all decided to head back to our condos and get ready to meet up for dinner and the Auburn/Oregon game. Here's Beth, talking to our server, Sawyer, who kept calling her "Paulette"… (I believe I also heard him call Mike "Tweedle-dee" and Marty "Tweedle-dum," when really, it's the other way around.)

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If you're wondering where all the kids are, they were in a corner booth. Here was the seating order, along with the ages of the children:

Zach – 9.
Gabby – 9.
Sabrina – 17.
Sophie – 10.
Nick – 12.

Sabrina still isn't speaking to us.

Later that night, after everyone had said their goodbyes for the day and settled back into their warm rooms, I got to my stitching, Sabrina went to bed, and Mike busied himself with another game of Angry Birds on his iPad. Soon he got up to go check on Sophie, and after hearing her squeal, he came quickly out of the bathroom, his face red, and he laughing. He told me to go take a peek at her, so I did.

I assured her I wouldn't take an inappropriate photo.

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Now that's a vacation.

I'll be back soon with a few pictures I took of the lovely Shepherd's Bush shop!

Utah!

Hello everyone! I've missed you all! It's taken me quite a while to sort through all the photos we took on our semi-family (Bre couldn't come with us) vacation to Park City, and I'm still not quite finished. But I'd love to share with you what I've got for starters, and I'll finish Part 1 with Mike's TubeCam video, which we actually had to film twice bc the first time he pushed "off" instead of "on." 🙂

Can you guess which airline we flew? I have to say, they are the nicest people, and they don't holler at you for almost breaking their arm if someone's suitcase is too heavy for the overhead compartment. (Now that was a sight to witness!)(Btw, it wasn't my suitcase.)(Moving on.)

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And the goodies they fed us! Not just peanuts and pretzels, but these fabulous little snacks, which I haven't been able to locate locally…

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Sophie brought her Bonkers along…

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And I brought mine…

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This was the view from Sabrina's seat…

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Which means there was no escape from the man sitting next to her…

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Our layover was in Las Vegas.

I'm not too sure I like the gleeful expressions on my childrens' faces in this shot…

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(Thankfully, an airport lady shoo'ed them off before they started asking for quarters.)

Once in Park City, we stayed at the Marriott Summit Resort, which was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend staying there if you ever visit this area!

The next day, we all headed up the mountain. I was NOT looking forward to this bc of a nasty fall I had in Colorado last year, but I gave it a chance…

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Sabrina is an excellent skier, but when I decided that I wasn't born to be an adrenaline-junkie like my husband and daughters seem to be, she stayed with me for the majority of the trip bc she was afraid I'd be lonely. ;)  (Besides, she was more interested in snowboarding, but the resort we ski'ed at – Deer Valley – doesn't allow 'boarders.)

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While Sabrina and I had an amazing lunch in the lodge, Mike and Sophie headed back up the mountain…

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Mike's BFF from childhood (Marty) and his family were vacationing with us, so eventually they joined up with Mike and Sophie. Sophie, please introduce Nick to blogland, will you?

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I love this next picture. It looks so travel-promo-ish. Or maybe Carnival Cruis-ish.

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Hi again, Nick!

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Here we are later that night, getting ready to go out for dinner… next to me is Gabby, and Marty's-wife-Beth is next to Soph… Gabby has a twin brother named Zach (he's behind Nick in the photo above), but he was in the corner playing video games, not wanting to join we chickadees.

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The next few days were filled with more of the same – skiing and shopping and swimming and eating – and tubing! If you've never gone tubing, you're missing out. Remember, I am NOT an adrenaline-junkie, but I love tubing!

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(Don't worry – I haven't forgotten about Mike's TubeCam. It's coming up!)

On the last day of skiing, Mike and Marty decided to ski the blacks. In case you're unfamiliar with ski terminology, here's a quick lesson: mountains have "runs" on them, which are the paths that skiers take to ski down the mountain. These runs are categorized as Green (easy), Blue (intermediate), and Black (advanced). The Black runs are then broken down into subcategories: Diamond (very advanced), Double Diamond (only experts should attempt), and Triple Diamond (you will probably die).

Here are the two besties, getting ready to attempt a very advanced run…

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Here's the part that makes my stomach flip: am I the only one who notices that the run just drops off?

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And am I the only one who doesn't think that narrow pathway is an exciting challenge?

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Let me interject a little back-story here: at dinner the previous night, I distinctly heard Beth tell Nick that he was not to go down the black runs with Mike and Marty. I saw the look in her eyes when she said it, and I'm pretty sure she wasn't to be challenged on it.

Unfortunately, I don't think M&M saw the same look I did.

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And I'm really sure Beth would not have consented to THIS:

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Let's take a closer look at that sign, shall we?

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I'm afraid I have to side with Beth on this one. The sign clearly states who best should ski the Mayflower Bowl.

I ask: Do these look like experts to you?

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I'll be back soon with more of our trip, but first… Mike's TubeCam! Hold on tight, bc it's much faster – and colder – than it appears!

Tubing in Park City, UT from Paulette Stewart on Vimeo.

P.S. I am only teasing about my sweet husband; he is, in fact, quite capable of skiing the blacks, and usually does so with Sabrina (while Breanna 'boards with the boys). 😉

Sugar or Bust

Recently Mike took Sophie to Kansas City for a fun dad-and-daughter trip. This was supposed to be all about an amusement park, a water park, and a baseball game, but it ended up being a "Hey Mom, glad you're not here" vacation.

I'm generally the wet blanket for Miss Sophie when it comes to junk food. And although her dad does the best he can with not giving in to her wiley charms (cough-yeahright-cough), he decided this particular weekend that it was going to be a free-for-all for his youngest daughter. And best of all: he'd text the photos to me to show his unbridled parental authority when I'm not around…

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Hark! What's this I see? Something with nutritional value?

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It looks like the two of them are sugar-crashing…

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This is Sophie's all-time-favorite, more-expensive-than-Starbucks treat:

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Someone was nice enough to take a great photo of Mike and Sophie:

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They did manage to squeeze a few rides in between snack binges…

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Now that they're back, I've decided to invest in a treadmill. And ban them from ever leaving town by themselves again.

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Texas, Part II

I'm soooooo happy to have my Bean home again! My goodness, she's been gone since June 2nd and we've all missed her very badly. She even started crying when she hugged me in the airport, and then of course I welled up… My Sweet Sabrina is home.

And now… I need to get the rest of these Dallas photos posted!

As I mentioned yesterday, I didn't take my camera with me to Hurricane Harbor, so you lucked out on Day #2. However, Day #3 was spent in downtown Dallas with my camera in hand, and let me be the first to tell you – my sister is one hard chicky to keep up with. But we managed, and Audrey only had to ask us a few times if we were ready to call it quits yet.

Our first stop downtown was to the Dallas World Aquarium…

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Here's Neenee, throwing a tantrum… poor Neenee!! (She was mad that Sophie could reach the information monitors and she couldn't.)

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And here's Neenee a little while later, throwing another tantrum. (She was still mad that Sophie could reach the monitors.)

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And now she's really mad, bc Sophie isn't getting mad back.

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Or maybe she was mad that I was taking her picture while she was throwing a tantrum.

After the Aquarium, we drove further into the city and passed the famous Sixth Floor building…

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…And then on to yet another cupcake shop: The Cupcakery.   

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Neenee wanted Sophie to try her orange cupcake…

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I could be way off base here, but I'm guessing she didn't like it.

Once we were in the car again, Neenee entertained herself with her new maracas that her mommy surprised her with…

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(That was my favorite picture of her.)

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Then it was off to the Country Marketplace for vegetables! Audrey makes the best roasted veggies with olive oil…

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And she puts dill in absolutely everything!

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Here are the girls, playing with a digital scale. Natalie is quite satisfied that she can "reach" this one…

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Sophie adores her baby niece…

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Audrey was NOT kidding when she told me they had hundreds of different kinds of cheeses!

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And since I'm a sucker for olives, I had to take a picture of only a portion of the olive bar…     
 
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The flowers were beautiful! Any kind you could think of! I loved all the signs over the different sections…

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What a fabulous shopping center this is… there were so many samples of things to be eaten, one would never have to actually cook anything on the day one visited. :)  I wish we had one of these where I live… everything from the soup bar to the bakery to the vintage-style candy was outstanding!

We made our purchases, and out into the intense Texas heat we went again. In the car, Sophie decided to help Natalie cool off by covering her in baby wipes…

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Since it was still going to be a few hours before dinner (roasted vegetables with angel hair pasta) was going to be ready, we made a quick stop for the best tacos I've ever eaten

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Oh my goodness. I want one of these where I live too. If you've never had a Fuel City taco, drive there now.

Home again, home again, to Audrey's house for dinner…

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(That was its pre-cooked state.)

It was so much fun sitting around Aud's living room with Shaun and Paul and the girls, just chatting and laughing. At one point, I realized that Paul and Audrey and I were reminiscing about our childhoods, just like I would hear my parents and aunts and uncles do when I was little, and I was quite amused by the thought… except I never heard them say things like "Man, I remember the time Mom tried spanking you and you farted on her hand."

(My apologies to anyone who is offended by the word farted, which my mother had convinced us kids for years was the "f-word.") 

On our last day, Shaun drove Sophie and I to my brother's workplace so we could say our goodbyes to him… in typical fashion, as soon as the camera was put away, Paul was all smiles again.

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(Btw, he was also smiling when he farted on our mom's hand.)

And now Sophie and I are back home in fit-for-human temperatures, still unpacking and wishing we lived closer to Dallas.  It was a lovely visit with family. 🙂

Texas!

I had a wonderful time visiting my family in Dallas this week! I took over 300 photos while Sophie and I were there, and that didn't include the day we visited Hurricane Harbor (I refuse to take my camera anywhere near splashing children)… but don't worry, I won't load them all here. 🙂

After we drove the 45 minutes from the airport to my sister and brother in-law's home, we all went to an awesome Mexican restaurant called Abuelo's. This is my cutie-pie brother, Paul. I think he should apply to be on The Bachelor. (Oh quit rolling your eyes, Paul.)

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And here's my favorite brother in-law, Shaun. On the drive from the airport, Sophie asked how long it would take to get to their house. "Twenty more minutes," Shaun said.

"It's only been twenty minutes?" Sophie lamented.

"Everything in Texas is bigger – even our minutes," Shaun said.

Shaun cracks me up. 

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(Don't you love his shirt? I bought that for him.)

The next day we headed out for a day of shopping, our first stop being Sprinkles, which is a darling little cupcake shop…

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Here's my sister, Audrey, holding our purchases…

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Here's my favorite cupcake…

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The heat was melting Natalie's chocolate-marshmallow cupcake before she could eat it…

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After we were finished, we walked over to a nearby fountain that had caught our attention… it appeared as if someone had poured laundry detergent in it – not only from the enormous suds, but from the freshly-laundered smell!

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Our next stop was the Galleria Mall, and the first place we came to was Saks Fifth Avenue, and the first price tag I saw was for $1,989.00, attached to a homely dress.

Saks Fifth Avenue cracks me up.

Inside the mall there was an ice-skating rink. Sophie loves to ice skate, but Natalie had never been, so Sophie put on her teaching hat and went to work on her little cousin… watching her learn to walk in the skates was the cutest thing… Audrey and I couldn't stop giggling at her!

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Audrey and I chewed most of our nails off, nervously waiting for Natalie to get the hang of it. Sophie was extremely patient, but for the most part, Neenee didn't want any help. It's both a terror and a blessing when a child has no fear – depending on which emotion wears you out first.

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For two hours, Neenee was content to make her way around the rink with a death-grip on the railing. Kind of like how I choose to ice skate.

I eventually ended up loaning her my jacket when she got chilly…

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She loved "skating" as much as her older cousin did, but as worn out as Audrey was from the worry, I doubt she'll be taking her again any time soon. 🙂

The next day we went to Hurricane Harbor, as I mentioned earlier. The heat was insane, but it was still a super fun time, and Soph and I got to ride a whopping two rides in 3 hours! Here's a photo of the girls in their matching outfits before we left…

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One of the cutest things about Neenee is that she loves to have someone play Super Mario on her Nintendo DS while she sits close to them and watches. It keeps her entertained for hours – literally. Sophie played quite a bit for her, but once in a while Natalie take over the controls and become engrossed in the game…

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She truly is a delight.

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And on that note, I suppose I'll go. I'll get the rest posted tomorrow, but for now I have lots of laundry and cleaning and some stitching to do! Deadlines loom, and my backside hurts from sitting here editing all these photos!

Btw, Sabrina called and said she's in Chicago now.. she'll be home in four hours, and I'm soooo excited to have her back!

Beautiful Day, part 2

When Mike took Sophie to the Keystone Snow Fort, Sabrina and I went off to ski. I'm not an expert skier like Bean (Bre is my snowboarder chick, and she couldn't go along with us bc she had classes to attend), nor do I aspire to be one. Although I love to go nice and straight and somewhat fast down a very easy bunny hill, I don't care for it when I actually have to try to control my skis. When that happens, the fun factor completely disappears for me. (And on the last run of the day – which also happened to be the steepest – I got to going SO FAST, I thought I was going to go airborne. After crashing down the mountain for what felt like 15 minutes of cartwheels, I opened my eyes to the bright sunshine, shocked that I was alive. The only thing that hurt me was my back, which got pelted with ice chunks when I started my own mini avalanche. A few moments later, Sabrina skied toward me and worriedly asked, "Mom, are you okay??!" I sat up and smiled, and she laughed and gave me the coolest compliment a teenager can give: "Mom, you are righteous!")

The next day, Sophie kept her promise to her dad and actually allowed he and Sabrina to teach her how to ski. They took her to a very small area to let her practice, and after only a couple of minor meltdowns, she got the hang of it and didn't want to stop. I, on the other hand, gave up after about an hour or so. Turns out my knee had taken quite a beating in the previous day's fall.

Here are some more photos from our trip…

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I'm convinced that Colorado doesn't use roosters to wake up, but rather giant crows. This one was all the way across the parking lot on top of another condo, and I was wishing I'd had a slingshot each morning it decided to kaw-kaw-kaw-kadoodle-doo…

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Why couldn't he be quiet like this guy, who was staring at him?

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Here was Sophie, on Promise Day…

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And here she was, a couple of days later!

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One of our favorite places to eat is Bubba Gump's in Breckenridge…

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Mike and I usually order the "Bucket of Boat Trash," but Sophie kept accidentally calling it the "Bucket of White Trash," which is why we don't let her place her own orders.

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Outside of the restaurant there is a bench with a pair of Forrest Gump's shoes that you can put your feet into to take a picture. This year, however, there was only one shoe. We're thinking someone stole the other one.

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When we're no
t eating out or walking in the village or skiing or sitting in the lodge, Sophie's favorite thing in the world to do is to swim in the outdoor heated pool when the temps are freezing. This is one of my favorite photos bc each night in the condo, when we were all worn out, we would pop in a dvd of The Office and eat popcorn. If you've ever watched The Office, you'll know exactly who Sophie looks like:

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(Every time Dwight Schrute stares at the camera and smirks after saying "Assistant Regional Manager – same thing," I crack up.)

I also love this photo…

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Sabrina scored some new goggles in a shop in Breckenridge. These suckers were expensive. Do you know how many Starbucks beverages I could have purchased for these things? Okay, not very many, but that's beside the point.

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We also went snowmobiling on the Continental Divide while we were there. Once I got over the roar of the snowmobile and learned how not to be the slowest one of the group, it was a really neat experience. It's amazing how quiet it is at 12,500 feet. (That is, once Mike stops talking. For those of you who know Mike, you're laughing right now and nodding your head.)

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Here we are with our instructor, Oz…

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And here is Sophie, trying to decide whether or not to use the Port-o-Pines, as Oz called them, or wait until we got back home. 

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It was a really nice spring break, and I thank you for stopping by to share it with me. My knee is still giving me troubles, but it's nothing a few hot cocoas won't take care of. And at least I got out of playing any bored games in the condo this year. (I'd rather have both of my knees blown out in a thunderous avalanche than to do that.)

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