Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter Fun 2013/2014

I just uploaded all of the pics on my phone to the computer and found a lot of photos celebrating the end of 2013/beginning of 2014.

The snow has not been very kind to our area and the mountains are bare on the south slopes.  Even without the snow, our local ice rink is the happening place.  When I first thought about taking the kids, I was sure the skating session would end in tears or, at the very least, I would be haggard and stressed out from kids hanging on me.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite was true. A sense of independence overcame the kids and off they went - on their own - skating and laughing!  We have been back a few times and it is always so much fun!!

At the beginning of winter, the snow gods had made us think the winter would be a good one.  After the first (and only) real snow, we loaded up the sleds and headed to the ski hill for a day of sledding.  My kids had never really sledded on big, steep hills and it was so fun!

The biggest event over the last few months included family and friends.  We had a visitor from Australia for Thanksgiving and we were lucky to have Luke home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Luke hadn't been home for the actual day in a few years, so it was very special to us to have him home.

My mom hosted Thanksgiving and we had quite the feast!  Our friend from Australia was gracious and interested in our American ways, so it was great to be spending it with him.

The day after Thanksgiving, we started a new tradition.  We went up in the Jemez and collected our Festivus Tree.  We haven't had a tree in a VERY long time as we have always put up the Festivus Pole.  For those friends of ours who are worried about the loss of the LaeserInstitute Festivus Pole, please don't worry.  Our Festivus Tree was traditional and, at the same time, very LaeserInstitute-ish.  The event of cutting it down,dragging it home and decorating it made the kiddos (and me) very happy!

As always, we did lots of Christmas activities.  We made gingerbread houses with friends, attended a Christmas concert, went to a light parade and to Christmas Eve service.

Two days before Christmas our beloved Death Monkey passed on.  It was traumatic and awful.  We knew she was feeling ill and we knew she was "sick" but taking her to the vet was not really an option (if you knew her, you know why).  Her health rapidly declined over the last three days and she left us.  Even though it was so sad, she went out growling.  As weird as it sounds, it made me relieved that she was the Death Monkey until the very end.  This is a picture of her cuddly in her bed.  She didn't really like to cuddle with us, so we took the opportunity to photograph her "softer" side.

We had been wanting to get new cats since we moved into our new house.  It is an older house with lots of room - aka room for rodents - and we needed some mousers.  Portia did a good job, but we knew her hunting skills were declining.  We also knew that bringing new cats into the house while she still lived here would be traumatic for her, so we didn't adopt while she was alive.  After she passed, we went to the Espanola shelter and brought home two additions to the Institute.  We adopted a male 6-month old kitten and a two year old mama kitty.  We haven't officially settled on any names, but they both have several aliases.  The kitten (white and tabby long hair) is Radagast, Groucho, Poncho Tonto and Mayhem.  The mama kitty (gray short hair) is Macy, Marcy, Mama, Mamacita and Mama Kitty.  Pokey, aka Mr Chompers, Yoko, and BooBoo, had a nervous breakdown when we brought them home, but has since adjusted - kind of.  He is still sort of nervous around them, but realizes we love him as much as we always did.  He is still top dog. 

We are looking forward to getting more snow!  C'mon!!!  We need it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 In Review

I just finished reviewing the Laeser Institute blog from years past and realized I haven't updated it in SO long!
We relocated to New Mexico (and just today someone in Florida asked me if it was in the United States) and have been spending the year settling in....

This blog is such a great place for me to bring together family memories, so I am going to give a brief (but maybe somewhat lengthy) synopsis of 2013...
One of our first photos in LA where the view is awesome!
Being back in NM has allowed us to spend a lot more time outside doing the things we love.  Last year wasn't the largest snowfall year on record, but we managed to play a little bit up at our local mountain.  Layton skied for the first time and he did GREAT!  Kestrel spent her time snow playing and cheering her big brother on.
Loving the sun and snow!

Gaining confidence

Looking good!

Tired after a full day of skiing
Winter didn't last as long as I thought it would and spring crept up on us quickly.  With the warmer weather comes lots of fun!
Celebrating the birth of the white rhino at Rio Grande Zoo

Spending time with Bapi at the Zoo

First MAJOR tooth loss!
One of mine and Luke's favorite childhood memories is of Bandelier National Monument.  On a gorgeous sunny day, we took the kids for their first visit.  We have been back a handful of times and love sharing this historic place with family and friends.
Cliff dwellings

Inside the dwellings

Kestrel's first trip up to the Ceremonial Cave now known as the Alcove House
Spring also brings birthdays our way.  Kestrel turned four on April 26th, Layton turned 7 on May 16th and Luke turned...ahem...older on April 19th.

Our kids had very different birthdays this year because they were surrounded by FAMILY!!  It was a first for them and I think you can see that they enjoyed these birthdays very much!!  Both kids also celebrated their birthday twice!!  Once in Los Alamos and once in Albuquerque.

Layton ended first grade and we couldn't have asked for a better teacher that Mrs. Magellsen to help him in his transition to a new school.  He was academically a little behind, but caught up fast and made lots of friends.  Once school was out, we were on SUMMER VACATION!!!!

We began the summer with a quick trip to Dallas on Memorial Day weekend.  Luke "worked" and we played!  We also met up with our cousins, Tyler and Lauren, but I didn't get any pics.  It was too hard capturing them while the kids bounced at the trampoline park!!!

On our way to LegoLand

Lady Lego

Tallest tower EVER!

Lego stage

He is in Lego Heaven

That's some TX PIT BBQ!

Fort Worth Zoo

Always love hotel pools!
As soon as Luke had some time off, we packed up the camping gear and headed to Colorado!  We picked an excellent spot near Pagosa Springs which allowed us to day trip to The Great Sand Dunes.  We finished the trip up with a HOT hike at Ghost Ranch.
Camp queen setting it all up

Cocoa in the morning

Day hike 

Storm rolling in over the Sand Dunes


Storm was crazy

Wish you could hear the families screaming as the sand pounded

Hike in the higher elevations to avoid the sand

Storm passed

Family portrait

Look at that view!

Meanwhile back at the camp site

Yep, gotta have BB gun while camping in the west

Nice day hike to a waterfall

Layton getting some energy out

Mom taking a clown ride after Layton petered out

Last hike at Ghost Ranch.  The kids were fairly miserable in the heat.

The landscape is worth the heat

Gotta love Northern NM!
Summer raged on and we took a wonderful trip to Topsail Island, NC with the Hester Family (Luke's mom's side).  We had the best beach house and it was truly a family vacation!!
My crew

I love these three!

Cousins with Aunt Jessie

Aunt Jessie telling a story...

I love Kestrel's hand on Aunt Jessie's arm as she says Thanks for the story

Sightseeing in Wilmington

Rainy day on the battleship


Bunk mates

Love this kid!

Looking sweet...

At the guns...

Not sure what she is doing...

Back at the beach

Most days were like this...

AH!!!  Don't eat the kids!!

Surfer boy

Beach bum

After the beach trip, we came home for the remainder of the summer and were joined by Nana and Grampa and our niece, Tea.  Nana and Grampa settled in nicely and summer continued to roll along.  The Fourth of July was a good time and memorable because Luke and I had our 20th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (eegads!!!!).  We didn't celebrate too much with the group, but we did see some old friends at the annual fireworks in White Rock.  We live in a small town now and the Fourth of July Parade was even smaller...There wasn't even a float!!  Layton and the girls headed downtown for some hard-to-find-fun...

Due to fire restrictions, we weren't allowed fireworks but I did sneak down to Okay Owingeh Reservation and get some sparklers, smoke bombs and snakes....

Love this mimi-me of mine!

With summer in full swing, we had to spend some time on the boat!  Grandma loaded up the coolers and we headed out.  We were lucky enough to have my niece, Jillian, with us.  

Wind in her hair!

We spent almost every day at the pool in our neighborhood, which is the same as every other summer, but Layton gathered courage and went off of the high dive (about 1000 times) and Kestrel mastered the slide.  Summer was FUN!

And exhausting!  I just love the above picture of the girls after a hard day of playing....

At the end of the summer, we spent Grandma's birthday with her.

The new school year came too fast, but we geared up and got ready for Fall.
First day of 2nd grade

Back to school climbing trip with best bud, Matthew
At the local crag

Look at him go!
 It was time for my birthday and this 22nd birthday was awesome!!  My good friend, Anna, made me my favorite - red velvet - from scratch and it was DELISH!!

 I worked the Fall semester at UNM - LA and Layton went head-strong into 2nd grade.  Kestrel is at home with me one more year and she is loving her "homework" and learning letters and numbers.  Teaching pre-school is HARD!!!  I am just hoping she is ready for Kindergarten in 2014.

Fall brought much cooler temps and one of my favorite holidays - Halloween!
We let him use the knife and carve it himself

Trying to make the same face as my pumpkin's...

The family

The best one!  Truly captures my family.



Watch out for these two


 My next post will not be nearly this lengthy.  I felt like I had lost a whole year of family pictures when I looked through the older posts.  We take A LOT of photos and it is hard to really see them all when they are in folders from Luke's phone, my phone, our camera, FB posts and ones that are emailed to us.  This allows me to put them in one place and create the history of the Institute for my babes...