Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Monday, May 27, 2013

Annual Visit with the Gaeke's

Marilyn and I made a decision years ago to make an annual visit to our sister's home in Littleton, Co.  We've become the surrogate grandmas since the Gaeke children never knew their Grandmother Kopczynski.  We've had some really big shoes to fill, but every year we come home with new pictures, memories, and hearts bursting with the joy!

After breakfast snuggles with Grace and Ryan!  Those two are definitely lap buddies.  I had them on my lap reading stories, playing games on the IPAD, and at the breakfast table.

We planned to have a girls only day on Saturday, but didn't want the boys to feel left out so we took them shopping at Target.  Paul told me about his dream to own the Rancor Pit - a Star Wars Lego project.  He described every character and the entire story behind this particular project hours before we were schedule to go to Target.  Maureen called the store ahead of time and asked them to "hold" it for us.  When the clerk handed him the box he just grinned from ear to ear.  He had the entire project finished in less than 2 hours - he reads the instructions page by page!  Impressive for a 7 year old!

 We bought a smaller project for Ryan and he needed a little help from Dad and big brother to finish the space ship.

Saturday morning Grace put on her special pink dress and got her American Girl doll, Marabella, ready for the girls day out at the American Girl store at the mall!

Marabella's bucked up and ready for shopping!  The store is amazing and really overwhelming - there were so many displays and so many tempting items.  Grace found a little pet dog for Marabella named Grace.  We talked her out of it because the dog was $20.  We told her she could have her pick of pets for Marabella from the bag of  25 Beany Babies we paid $20 for at a garage sale instead.

Marabella with her new pajamas, slippers, and eyeglasses.  She scored big time!

Karlee talked Grace into a new hair do!  We all thought they looked so cute, but the hair bands came out in less than three minutes - barely enough time to get some pictures.

 First lesson with garage sale clubs
 Grace quickly mastered the garage sale scooter!

 Ryan knows all about Angry Birds and loved the new T-Shirt from Target.  I didn't get a picture of him riding the strider bike - darn! It has no pedals and he can ride it like a real bicycle.  We rode around the block several times and he loves to stop and talk to everyone!  Daddy Paul told me he'd only been riding the strider bike for three weeks.  Grace thinks he's ready for her pink princess bike!

 A final good-bye gift from the yard - lots of lovely flowers the kids painstakingly picked for us! I learned from Dad Paul that each child is very different.  Paul, the compliant one; Grace, the confident-CEO type, and Ryan, the demanding one.  This is what I observed:  Paul told me all about his unit on Egypt and Mesopotamia - he remembers everything!  He also knows all the Star Wars characters and proudly displayed two posters his friend gave him - they are now hanging in his room and he can name every character and tell you how they are a part of the bigger story.  We watched a little video of Grace at her school.  She confidently grabbed the microphone and in her CEO-type voice said, "My name is Grace Gaeke and I want to be a dentist when I grow up and I am going to Littleton Academy for kindergarten next year." She's also the one who sang the Jesus song with appropriate hand movements -"You can't put Jesus in a box...He is everywhere....You can't put Jesus in a jar...He is everywhere."  She has a direct line to heaven if judged by the prayers she could say before meals.  Ryan learns so much from his older siblings.  He wants to and thinks he can do pretty much everything they do.  I got to sit beside him in the car during our garage sale expedition and he seemed to know the way to Grace's school and the Yogurt Shop.  By the end of the trip he could tell me which turn was left and which was right!  I love the way children learn and also the way they teach olders like me about enjoying the simple things in life, like roly poly bugs, and gummy worms!  Pure unadulterated joy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Projects in Denver

Marilyn and I are project people.  We like to have something to do when we get together.  Karlee made sure we felt useful while we were in Denver.  We went to garage sales for two days, searching out the best bargains for the kids and for Karlee's new apartment.  They found the best deals at the home of an elderly gentleman who recently moved to an assisted living facility.  I walked through the home thinking, "this represents a man's life and he's not here to even tell us about it."  Mirrors and furniture were not the right color so off we went to Home Depot for find real and spray paint!  Luckily, it was a nice day and Karlee could paint that desk outside in her tiny back yard.

We first sprayed this mirror and then spread metallic paint over - no final picture, but it looked awesome on her living room wall.

Karlee and John live near the heart of Denver in an area known as Five Points.  Mom and Aunt Theresa had some concerns as we drove through the neighborhood to the apartment.  Some streets still look like ghettos with windows boarded up and weeds and trash in front yards.  But when we finally found their apartment, our concerns faded.  They have a tiny back yard for their dogs, plus a larger green space between apartment buildings.  I copied the following information from Wikipedia that explains the history and recently developments in this historic neighborhood.

Five Points was known as the "Harlem of the West". It became a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Denver because discriminatory home sale laws in other neighborhoods forbade black people from settling in them. From the 1920s to the 1950s the community thrived with a rich mix of local business and commerce along the Welton Corridor offering the neighborhood butcher, real estate companies, drug stores, religious organizations, tailors, restaurants, barbers and many other main street services. Welton Street was also home to over fifty bars and clubs, where some of the greatest jazz musicians such as Billie HolidayDuke EllingtonMiles DavisNat King ColeCount BasieDizzy Gillespie and others performed. Black performers that other hotels in Denver would not accommodate stayed at the Rossonian Hotel, built in 1912, and performed there, making it a famous music venue.

Five Points district c. 1885
The Five Points community suffered from the late 1950s through the late 1990s because of drugs, crime, and urban flight. Many properties were abandoned, the local economy became somewhat irrelevant and the larger market found local business conditions unappealing. Attempts at redevelopment were made but there were many hindrances to reinvestment. The district became a no-man's land in need of a larger vision and a new generation of leadership.
Five Points has always been a neighborhood with a diverse economic mix of residents, evidenced by the variety of houses there. Mansions were built next to row homes. Many of the rich began moving out of Five Points in the late 19th century to live in the more popular Capitol Hill neighborhood. Five Points was also home to a large Jewish population and is still home to a former synagogue, Temple Emanuel, on the corner of 24th Street and Curtis Street. After World War II, many Japanese-Americans lived in Five Points. Agape Church on the corner of 25th Street and California Street was once a Japanese Methodist church.

Five Points today 

Attempts to rebuild a strong business economy on Welton Street began in 2009 with the formation of the Five Points Business District. Progress is being made, with a new coffee shop at The Points development, as well the rehabilitation of older properties on the East end of the street. In early 2013 another coffee shop and a fitness studio leased space in a newly renovated property on 30th Street. The long empty Rossonian Hotel continues to be a reminder of the glory days but does not yet have any firm prospects for a tenant. Live music venues account for a sense of vibrancy on the nights when a concert is scheduled. Residents in the neighboring blocks are anxious for services that cater to the needs of the changing community.
A new apartment complex will be built started in 2014 at the corner of Park Avenue West and Welton, directly across the street from Sonny Lawson Park. And in 2013, Sonny Lawson saw many improvements with new ball field fencing and facilities as well as improvements to the layout of the park.
Five Points history is recorded and exhibited at the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center and at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. A number of African-American churches and businesses still exist in the community.
Denver's Juneteenth festival draws thousands of people every year. A parade starts at Manual High School and goes down to Welton Street where vendors sell merchandise and street performers entertain the crowd.
In the early 1990s, Denver's first light rail system connected the downtown business district to Five Points. With the expanded light rail system and the forthcoming train to the airport, residents have better public transportation to all over the metro area. A new transit stop is being constructed at 38th and Blake which will provide train service to DIA in 2015.
In the 2010 Census, the neighborhood was 56.95% white, 15.23% African American, 1.72% Asian, and 0.81% Native AmericanHispanic or Latino of any race is 22.53% of the population.[1]

We couldn't spend all day working so John, Karlee's special friend and roommate, joined us for a great meal at Pete's Greek restaurant near Washington Park.  Marilyn and I appreciated being just that much closer to Littleton - we could drive all the way on Broadway instead of negotiating the freeway and Santa Fe Blvd.  The owner of the restaurant insisted we all have a shot of Ouzo - an anise-flavored apertif.  John's pretending and Marilyn declined.  I took a sip, but Karlee downed her shot and before we left she managed to drink mine as well.  Another new experience for this senior citizen!!!

Karlee's new sofa pillows - forms from garage sales, new fabric from Joann's.
While I slaved away on the sewing machine Marilyn and a movie entertained the kids.

Maureen has a new sewing and scrapbooking space, but she doesn't like the concrete wall!

Voila, wall covered with a DIY curtain made out of fabric featuring her favorite color!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

These are the Days of Our Earth

 Last week Colin and all the students from Moscow Charter School entertained audiences with a soap opera spoof, "The Days of our Earth."  Colin's been practicing with the Marimba Band every Monday after school.  He told me his teacher was impressed because "I was the first one to get the soprano part."

The dedicated teacher, Mary Donohoe, hauls these Marimbas to the school every week so the children can practice at the Charter School. Listening to the kids play brought tears to my eyes!  What a dedicated bunch!
Colin's third grade class, dressed as bees!

Duane stopped at the Crocs store at the airport to make sure Colin really fit his role as a Bee!

 There were also Farmers and Native Americans.

And Rainforest People and children thanking "Dirt" for making their lunch.

Dirt made my lunch,
Dirt made my lunch.
Thank you Dirt, thanks a bunch,
For my salad, my sandwich
My milk and my munch 'cause
Dirt, you made my lunch. 

Here's Mother Earth telling the Doctor about her concerns!

Mother Earth and Father Time!
The play, cleverly created by Toni Salerno, taught the students the importance of caring for our Earth.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to the mothers of my grandchildren

Today I've spent a little time praying for the mothers in my life - especially the mothers of my sweet grandchildren.  Modern mothers have a difficult job - everyday!  I appreciate the gift of these three young people who bring a lot of joy into my life .  If I'd have known it would've been so much fun I would've had my grandchildren first.  I've heard other grandparents say the same thing because we have the time to enjoy the babies, toddlers, and teenagers.  We can do it without the stress of discipline or the worry over homework, manners, and values.  My spiritual director told me my job is to radiate God's love to my grandchildren.  Period!

Karen now faces the challenge of being the mother of a teenager and a quiet, sassy, independent one at that!  Bradleigh is not at all like her mother, who talked on the phone for hours as a teenager.  Karen wanted to be with her friends all the time either via phone or in person.  She chatted all the time about the events of her life.  Bradleigh is content to be home, spending time in her bedroom, just being quiet and avoiding all drama of most of her friends.   I appreciate Karen's patience, love, acceptance and encouragement of her first born child.  Next year she'll experience the pain (already) of sending her on to college.  
Karen faced new and different challenges when Jake was born!  He developed into this smiling, flirting child who charmed everyone!  I remember one Christmas at my Mom's house when all the older girl cousins marveled at his continuous smile.  He also possess great athletic abilities that require "Mom sacrifice time" to take to practice, to give up weekends for tournaments and to agonize when things don't go quite right in a ball game.  Jake is a helper - he puts dirty clothes in the hamper, clears his dishes, and is always ready on time.  Karen's determined to teach him how to cook - he loves to be waited on.  

Anne's career-driven life totally changed in 2004 when Colin entered her life.  When they moved to Idaho in 2006 I thought she was unrealistic in her determination to work only when Colin was in school - maybe two hours a day.  But she did it and still does.  I'm amazed at how patient she is with Colin - always taking extra time to teach and explain things to him.  I know I probably said to my kids, "because I said so."  Her sense of humor and delight in exposing him to lots of events and experiences teaches me that life is to be lived fully.  I'm impressed that he has daily chores and helps a lot with Odie, their dog.   Colin inherited Anne's avid reading ability.  He's already read all the Harry Potter books - some more than once.  She cultivates that reading time and encourages him to get off the computer - a trait he probably inherited from his father.  
Thank you for the greatest gift of my life!