Saturday, November 26, 2016

July 17, 2016 - Family Day

Another Sunday in the books.  This one happened to end up another “plan a bunch of cool stuff to do as a family only to realize you failed to properly research resulting in just driving the family all over the place never getting them all out of the car together” day.   We do this from time to time, and it kinda stinks.

This is how we always look in the van. 

The Cattle Drive

We planned on going and watching the Cheyenne Frontier Days Cattle Drive they do here every year to kick off the festivities.  They drive tons of cattle through the city, going right down I-25’s service road.  They pass right by houses, businesses and Heather and my junior high school, McCormick.  I hear it’s awesome. 

Not the real one, we missed it darnit.

We read a comment by someone that said something like “even though it starts at 7:45 am, you can get there a few hours late and still see the end of it if you sit by the park.”  Talk about a dream come true for parents of four!!!  So we left the house at 9:30 am all excited…only to get a front row seat the nothing but a trail of horse and cow poop all the way to the final destination. 

Planning at the Burger Inn

So then we ate at the local Burger Inn for breakfast.  The highlight of the day for the entire family.  Then we discussed what we were going to do with the rest of our family day.  We all agreed that we wanted to go look at RV’s, a Dunlevy Family Pastime.  We decided we would travel down to “the big one” down in Colorado.  So we finished our egg muffins and headed out. 

 My favorite burger joint. (photo credit: burger inn facebook)
An Unfortunate Discovery

An hour later, we were welcomed by a big fat CLOSED sign.  That’s when we remembered that “the big one” was closed on Sundays.  What a bummer that was!! So we did what any family of six would do in this situation…we went to a thrift store.   We found a couple of little toys for the kids and a Motown Songbook. The kids played with the toys for about 30 minutes and we looked around at a bunch of old junk.  Woohoo!!

How could I forget they were closed on Sundays. (photo credit: lazy days rv website)
The Park and the Rebel

Then we were going to go back to Cheyenne to go to a park.  But it looked like it was going to rain.  So we went home to do the cleaning we had to get done for the day.  We told the kids if they hurried, we could go to the park.  Then, the 4 year old decided she wanted to test her limits.  All of a sudden, no one could go anywhere as she had to be disciplined.  What a disaster.

Enjoying Each Other on the “Bad Days”

But looking back, it wasn’t a bad day.  We had fun just being together.  We all laughed and learned as we usually do and I don’t think that anyone would consider it a day lost.  Sometimes just being together is the thing that matters the most.

August 5, 2016 - Zinnia’s First B-Day

So excited!!
Our youngest just celebrated her 1st birthday.  I’ve often wondered, 3 other times (with my 3 other kids, to be precise) if other parents have the same difficulty choosing what to do to celebrate that first birthday.  They are too young to be able to remember what they did on their first birthday, but have you ever been to a one year old’s b-day party?  Having 3 older kids, we have to keep them (and ourselves) entertained as well.  So we didn’t throw a typical first birthday party.

"Give me a kiss!!"
What did we do you ask?  We had a two day extravaganza for the whole family.  On her birthday we went to my new favorite place in Wyoming, the Terry Bison Ranch. There they have chickens, horses, cows, llamas, ostriches and of course bison.  We took a train ride out to feed the bison.  Our one year old was ecstatic when she saw them!!

Wouldn't be a Dunlevy B-day without horses
The older girls got to do their favorite thing in the world…ride ponies, while the one year old watched in fascination and afterword got to pet the ponies.  All-in-all, it was a great time and we will definitely be returning.

In her Element
Dad's got a lot to learn
They have a knack for this sort of thing.
Another place we will definitely be returning is the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.  We went there on the second day of her birthday and it was worth it.  I had a lesson that ran until 1230, so we didn’t get there until about 3:15 sadly.  That only gave us an hour and 45 minutes, and if you’ve ever been to a museum, you know that is simply not enough time.

Our timing, however, was great.  We went the day before Google’s robotics exhibit was moving out.  While our family hates robots, we are genuinely fascinated by them and want to keep tabs on advancements made in the field.  After all this is going to be a big part of our children’s lives and they need to be aware of it.

"Exoskeleton" Robot
Ugly Climber Bot
Our family bond was deepened when were creeped out by a facial mapping bot, angered by a bot that kept it’s balance when pushed and overjoyed when one bot was too dumb to realize that our game of tic-tac-toe was over.  It was even more fun after we left as we all took turns describing ways in which we could destroy robots if they started getting weird on us.   We had some great laughs.

"Loving a Robot" How sweet (not).
It was a very good birthday weekend for our one year old and our entire family.  And while she may not remember it exactly, this weekend will help her shape who she is in the future.  And hey, we got some great pictures for her to look at down the road.

A Family of Strange Folks

The Birthday Girl!!

July 24, 2016 - Toddlers & Nuclear Missiles

Webster defines the word “insanity” as “Taking four children ages 5 and under with you to a tour of a nuclear launch facility without snacks or a nap.”  After today, I realize Webster nailed it on the head. 

Permission to Come Aboard

This weekend was Fort D.A. Russel days, something that I’ve heard about hear in Cheyenne (they hold it every year), but neither Heather nor myself has ever attended.  They let you on the local Air Force Base, which is literally a quarter mile from our house, and perform re-enactments from practically every war America has been in, give tours of historic homes of former military leaders, and give tours of the Nuclear Missile sites. 

When we first arrived they already started having a little trouble.  It was a little warm out.  Our 5 year old decided that she wanted to whine the heat and get mad at her sister because she was sitting in the self-shaded stroller.  This while listening to a Civil War Camp discussion.  I’ll give them a little credit, they did make it through an Old West gunfight reenactment before this.

Teaching Toddlers How to Launch Nuclear Missiles

Naturally, 30 minutes after their typical naptime, we decided it would be a great idea to take the missile tour!!  What could possibly go wrong?  Well the baby was hungry, as we realized that we had forgotten to pack her milk.  The 5 year old and the 2 year old were way too fidgety 7 feet away from a 30 foot missile maintenance hole.   Once we moved on to the classified area (every toddler should enter classified military areas), everyone had to go to the bathroom.  20 minutes later, we missed 85% of the presentation and held up a giant line outside the lone restroom.

There's a nuke under there.

Super great idea to bring 4 little kids into a small crowded room that sits atop ICBM's.
Next we moved into the command center.  You know, where the military receives the President’s commands to launch the ICBM’s?  Where they put in the codes to confirm the launch.  Yeah.  Four kids under 5.  The baby deliriously yelling, sometimes happy…sometimes upset…decides to grab onto the first thing she sees.  We don’t even know what this big black handle looking thing is, but it looked important.  Her screaming caused us to have to leave the room.  Upon return, whilst the demonstrator is entering the launch codes, the 5 year old and the 2 year old got into their scheduled hourly scuffle, about who-knows-what.  Then it starts to hail outside.  We are trapped between the command center and the outside, in a big room with a wonderfully loud echo.  AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

(sorry no pics of the room, it's a classified area, but make sure to check it out if you are in Cheyenne)

The Separation

The nuttiest part was the bus ride home however.  When the next to last bus arrived, we noticed that the front of it was full.  I would have had to lift the stroller over several innocent bystander’s heads.  In a split second decision, we decided to split up.  Why?  This made no sense.  She would take this bus with the 3 older kids.  I would take the baby, the giant stroller and all the stuff  we brought with us.  Great idea!!!  We both realized how absurd this plan was as Heather’s bus was driving away. 

The baby was extremely tired and hungry, and pretty much screaming unless I held her.  I decided to take her on a walk, maybe see if we could just walk out the base gate.  Well you could, on the other side of the busy street.  I looked back…there was the short bus…now two football fields away.  I ran all the way to catch it.  When I got there I realized “how am I going to hold this baby and fold up this giant stroller.  Well the bus driver was just standing there staring at me…so I put him to work.  Once we got the baby and stroller on board, riders started piling in…walking by me and the screaming mad baby in the first row. 

We arrived at the tourist infested entrance to Frontier Park 5 minutes later.  Once again I put the bus driver to work and proceeded on my way.  The baby top of her lungs screams echoed off the 50’s era houses as we passed dozens of people on the way to the van.  I had to get her out and hold her to keep her calm.  Once we arrived at the van Heather was not there.  2 minutes later she explained to me her own chaotic story. 

All in All - They Were Good Troopers

We realized during all of this just how good the kids actually were for us both on that Military Base, and how it all fell apart when we separated.  As difficult as it was to keep them content and behaving together…it is near impossible alone.  So, no matter the difficulties we face in life or our marriage, we know how important it is for us to remain faithful to our marriage vows and each other until the end.

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016 - Back at it Again

Back at it Again - Monday, November 14, 2016

Today was a great day.  I finally feel back in the groove...if you can't tell it's been awhile since I've written one of these.  But today is a good day to get back on it. 

Why do I feel so re-energized?  Well, I had 3 students today...the first time in a long time that I've had that many back to back, and they were all returning students. 

My first was Justin...he used to come to our shop back in the day.  My wife and I both taught him bass.   He was incredible he's definitely going to surpass my skills at some point in the future.  He's learning Country lead, something I've always wanted to get deep into, but never have.  Now I have to keep 1-2 steps ahead of him or he's going to be teaching me.

Justin playing his old instrument.

My second was Julian.  Back in the day, he was one of my first students at the shop's first location.  He was learning guitar, now we've moved on to vocal training.  He sings for his church, and wants to expand his range a little bit.  Very exciting...he had no idea we were even back in town until we saw him at his job a few weeks ago.

Julian at the old shop.

Finally, I had Alexander.  We restarted lessons several months ago, but today was the first day that he was the last of a block of students.  Alexander was my 5th student ever.  I started teaching him back in 2008, the year I met Heather.  Now he's taller than me...and learning some very intricate techniques.  Today I had him write a lead part and a separate bass part that we initially played as a duo.  Then I had him combine the two parts into one and figure out how to play it.  Took a little bit of time (it was tough) but he got it!!

That's good form for an 11 year old.

I'm back up to 10 students now...I once had 50 a week back in the old days.  We'll see if I can get back up close to that number.  Here is a pic of the wall of fame (pics of many of our students) from the shop.