This past week, I left part of my heart in Denver. The other part, of course, always belongs in San Francisco.
The reason behind such comforting abandonment is that all of my three children are currently in Denver. My husband and I returned to Alaska–quite literally without a child in tow. Although, two of the children that I speak of are adults, the youngest is still the baby (15 years old!) who decided that she wanted to spend a few weeks to train with the Colorado Ballet Academy.
So, of course, on her journey that will involve being away from home for the first time–I had to make sure I took that one way trip to help her navigate the first few steps of such journey. The plan had been that the trip would be a “girls’ trip”–without the devoted husband, and babies’ Daddy.
That plan was soon altered when he decided to surprise all three children by also traveling with us.
I had to keep such plans a secret–which was quite a difficult thing to do. There were numerous times when the Primadonna would say out loud, “Daddy, I’m going to miss you not coming down with us….. but, not really.” I’d avoid my husband’s face as he attempted to be really sad of seeing her go–because he does a really pathetic job at acting–but good enough that she did not pick up on it.
Our older boys, on the other hand, were a bit more concerned about me driving around Denver. Most especially our oldest, the journalist, who lives in Denver and reports for Denver7. The middle child had secured an internship with a marketing firm, and also decided to live in Denver for the summer until he returns to CSU-Pueblo to finish his soccer season, and senior year. They seem to forget that their mother earned her driver’s license in California and has driven through the streets of San Francisco. But, apparently according to them this was ages ago. My retort? I drove their asses to soccer activities, to schools, and to everything else through rain, snow, and hail–they all survived.
The logistics of the surprise in it of itself had to be meticulously executed. We were dropped off at the airport by my father in-law (with the husband as well) who played along while the Prima thought that the her grandpa and dad were heading off to spend a few days in the cabin. She and I would process through security, and the husband would follow us a few minutes later. He would reveal the surprise by approaching us at the airport Starbucks where she and I sat (I, making sure that her back was turned to the incoming passengers straight from the TSA checkpoint).
“I told Daddy that I’m really going to miss him, and I hope he’s not sad,” Prima said.
“Uh-huh,” I said as I looked over my shoulder and noticed that her Dad was walking towards us iPhone camera in hand positioned accordingly as he decided to video his maniacal plan.
“I mean, he has Charlie (our dog) to keep him company, and he can fall asleep on the couch while watching T.V. (mind you, the husband is only in his early 40s, and not in his 60s as she made him sound),” Prima said as her Dad starts to come up behind her.
“Surprise, baby girl!” he said out loud.
She looked at him–looked at me–puts her head on the table–looked up at him again–and then puts her head on my lap. She teared up.
She’s pissed. Girls’ trip ruined.
Of course, the mom that I am, I had prepared for this. In the weeks prior to, I’d drop hints that truly it wasn’t a girls’ trip because we would visit her brothers, and her future sister in-laws–and that one day, a true girls’ trip would be one where we would head off to places that only she and I would visit.
The boys’ reactions were just as loud and hilarious–but, of course, they were quite ecstatic to see their dad.
So, there we were–in Denver for a few days and attempting to capture family time, sightseeing time, and finally–me letting the last little bird go and be on her own. While it’s only for a little time, my husband and I are experiencing what the future would be like once we become a very young empty nester couple.
The Capitol, Food Trucks, and Game Room:
The husband wanted to experience the food trucks at the capitol. While he would have loved to taste every single item that day, the heat was unbearable for someone who spent twenty years of his life in Alaska. The day ended with some time at a place called “The Clue Room” where all seven of us were “locked” in a room filled with clues and a mission to save the world. It was an interactive kind of family game where all of us had to work as a team to solve the clues. The clues were not easy. In one room, we had a ballerina, two journalists, a writer, an engineer, a marketer, and my husband.
We were all surprised when the husband unlocked many of the clues. We will never make fun of his abilities ever again.
… such wonderous place. We first came across Manitou Springs two years ago on our first visit to Colorado to watch the middle child play soccer at CSU-Pueblo. We rode the train up to the mountain and captured the beautiful view. We didn’t have the opportunity to walk around the small quaint town square at that time. We wanted to make sure to have the opportunity to do so this time around. Manitou Springs did not disappoint. The artwork and shops offered that feeling that Belle must have felt when she walked around her town singing in Beauty and the Beast. I refrained from saying “Bonjour! Bonjour!”
The Food, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods
Need I say more? It has been one of our travel rules that we plan on visiting a Trader Joe’s, and/or Whole Foods. You see, in Alaska–neither of those exists. You can imagine the many reasons (shipping costs, freshness, etc). While the Fairbanks Co-op is one of my happy places at home, TJ’s and WF are my happy places outside.
I wanted to take so many photos, but the rule was to engage with those around me. Still–I was able to capture a few tidbits..
Our last day (Sunday and Father’s Day) was spent preparing the Primadonna for her stay at the Colorado Ballet Academy. My little sidekick will be on her own, and as all mothers can agree–this is never an easy thing… for the moms, and not necessarily for the little baby. The morning of, I decided to salvage a few moments with her by getting a pedicure in Lone Tree where we stayed, and where the first born lives. The neighborhood is beautiful, and we sat for coffee and coffee cake at the Monk and Mongoose coffee shop in the corner.
As I wallowed in letting go of the ballerina, I had to suck it up since it was Father’s Day after all. Of course, in his honor–the boys decided to take their Dad to Sonic’s.
As we hugged and kissed our kiddos goodbye, the husband and I are planning on actually understanding what it’s like to be at home without the kids. And, well, when asked upon how he felt about his surprise… this is the image that I will remember for a long time…