Category Archives: Family

Winter fun for families at YMCA of the Rockies

Recognizing the need for balance in the seasons, the YMCA of the Rockies invited my family for a winter weekend at its Winter Park location, as it did half a year ago for a summer stay at its Estes Park location.

And once again, we had an exhaustingly good time. YMCA of the Rockies really excels at offering good clean varied family fun in the stunning Rocky Mountains.

Located 80 miles from Denver, between Winter Park and Grand Lake, Snow Mountain Ranch is breathtaking in the winter.

Snow Mountain Ranch sceneryContinental Divide as a backdrop

We stayed in a comfortable and quiet lodge with no TV. After a hearty buffet breakfast Saturday morning we started with inner tubing down a hill and ice skating at the pavilion.

sledding fun at YMCARunning start

YMCA innertubingBelly flop

Chillaxing on innertubes at the YMCAChillin’

family ice skatingSkating in a winter wonderland

After lunch we took aim at the archery wolf. Later, the kids were literally climbing the walls.

YMCA archeryTessa Katnessa

Aiming at the beastWe slew the beast

Snow Mountain Ranch rock climbingReed got a grip

Between those activities and dinner Roger went cross-country skiing, I went to a yoga class and the kids went swimming. THAT was just Day 1.

The next day we went to the gym for a morning of hoop-shooting and rollerskating.

YMCA winter fun

Snow Mountain Ranch roller skating

Some of the activities we’re saving for next time include dog sledding, sleigh ride, crafts. All too soon it was time to return home.

Are you envisioning your own winter vacation? Accommodations include yurts ($89 ), lodge rooms (from $119), cabins ($209 for 2 BR) and vacation homes ($349 for 3 BR). There’s enough winter left to plan your own stay at Snow Mountain Ranch. To get more ideas about families and Snow Mountain Ranch, read what other moms have to say about their experiences.

The Superbowl beckoned and it was time to head back down the mountain to get home. Now that we’ve experienced the summer and winter, the northern YMCA camp and the south one, the Y in its wondrous yin and its glorious yang, we have declared both visits extra-ordinary. We all agreed we’d love to have more weekends like this and make more family memories like these in the future.

Disclosure: My family was hosted for a weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch, which included lodging, meals and activities for purposes of writing an honest review.

Worded Wednesday: My family went to the 1920s

Over Thanksgiving weekend Roger and I took the kids for  a day in downtown Denver. We started out by throwing a football around at Civic Center Park on a gorgeous and sunny late-morning (Reed’s pick). At Tessa’s urging we then we switched to a volleyball, counting to see how many volleys we could get in a row (the mom may or may not be the weak link in that scenario).

Roger got to pick the restaurant where we had a yummy and healthy lunch, and then it was Mama’s turn to choose a place.

We walked to the new History Colorado Center, paid our admission and spent hours learning about life in Colorado in earlier decades. There were dozens of interactive exhibits, engaging for both kids and adults. Tessa and Reed got to drive a Model T and work in a town’s general store. We rode down a mine shaft and learned how to plant and detonate dynamite. We heard a storyteller recount her summers at Lincoln Hills, “the country’s only western resort accessible to African-Americans.” We tried ski jumping down a mountain (I made it 300 feet once but crashed and burned the second time).

But the funnest (and funniest) part was when we had our pictures taken for a 1920s yearbook in the Colorado plains town of Keota. These silly photos sealed the awesomeness into our day.

My family, if we lived 100 years ago

Did I gain two children? Nope. Reed snapped three photos, each of them wackier than the last. Even if I were in the worst mood in the world, one look at these mementos (especially my second “daughter”) would curl up the sides of my mouth. In fact I’m laughing quite hard as I type this last word!


Perfect Moment Monday: Happy happy joy joy

(ALI Alert: baby mentioned. Do not read if you are in a tender place.)

One week ago…

Sheri (my middle sister) and I are at a morning yoga class. She’s been living in Pennsylvania this year and it’s a real treat to spend time with just her, doing one of the things we really love to do.

Toward the end of the class we are on our backs, twisting our spines by windshield-wiping our knees first one way and then the other. Sheri is on my right and I am looking left with my arms outstretched. I feel her hand wrap into mine and I do not look over at her. It is a simple moment of sheer love, of pure presence, and I well up with love (as I tend to do).

We turn our knees to the other side and I turn my neck accordingly, now looking at her. She has remained facing me. We look into each other’s eyes and in that expansive moment our entire common childhood experiences fit. We smile at each other and a tear rolls down my temple, into my hair, toward my mat.


We go our separate ways for the rest of the day, each of us with a mile-long ToDo list.

We reconvene in the evening at a hotel in the opposite part of our city. Why? Because our third sister, 39-week-6-day pregnant Tami, is about to check into a hospital across the street, and she’s been staying at this hotel so the snowstorm we just had wouldn’t impede her birth plan.

By 10:30 pm, Sheri and I leave my kids in the care of my parents in the hotel and head over to the hospital to be with Tami and Gino. We joke around for several hours through her “surges,” as the hospital brochure calls them. Eventually, though, the surges become full-on contractions, about 3 minutes apart.

Sheri, having given birth to three boys via two pregnancies, serves as Tami’s doula for the next several hours. She is masterful at keeping Tami present — breathing with her through each contraction, keeping her in her body and in the moment — and encouraging her to rest in the brief intervals between contractions. I am amazed at both my sisters’ ability to keep going, wave after wave of contractions, Tami doing the laboring and Sheri keeping us focused. Sheri is doing her doula thing on one side of Tami and I am on the other performing energy work on her and sounding the breath with her — my ways of moving energy.

After about 90 minutes I find Sheri’s voice so soothing I retreat to the pullout chair, certain that I’m of no use anyway, having never given birth.

Tami makes it until 4:30 am before requesting an epidural. Sheri and I are asked to leave the room for the procedure, and welcome to come back shortly for the Main Event.

We step out at 4:40 am to a remote waiting room. We text updates to our mom and our husbands. We debrief our experience thus far with each other, we talk about how lucky we are because we are about to see a baby be born, we watch bad dead-of-the-night TV, we look at our watches.

At 5:05 Gino tells us we’ll be able to re-enter soon. Finally, at 5:15, he texts us to come on in. We stride down the long hall, eager for the high point of this long haul and to witness the minting of a brand new human being.

But we don’t see what we expect to see, which is Tami, less uncomfortable than before the eipdural, in the last stages of labor.

Instead we see a radiant Tami sitting up in her bed holding a bundle that looks suspiciously like a baby.

My I-want-to-be-born-NOW niece had crowned just as the anethesiologist was poised to insert his spinal catheter. He was rapidly replaced by the OB-on-call, who caught the baby at the head end of the bed because Tami had fallen over to the foot of it as the baby crowned.

So even though we missed the Main Event, we got to meet Eleana Grace when she was younger than a half-hour old. She looks ready to take on the world, doesn’t she?

Soon my Tessa and Tami’s Dominic, Eleana’s gentle big brother, arrived from the hotel with Grandma. It was pure joy to watch the two kids (and my mom, who cried. Guess we know where I get the upwelling thing) welcome their new sister/cousin/granddaughter to our clan. I wondered if Tessa and Dominic thought about all the happiness that their births brought us, as well.

What an abundance of perfect moments! Though I already posted for December’s Perfect Moment Monday, I did want to document and share these newly minted moments of exquisite perfection.

Happy happy joy joy, indeed. My cup runneth over, and I am grateful.


Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the 4th Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to joinThe next Perfect Moment Monday event will be on January 23.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Follow Write Mind Open Heart.
  2. Between the Sunday night before and the Sunday night after, write up your own Perfect Moment.
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  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.Perfect Moment MondayWhat Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Visit these moments of others and share your comment love.