The O’Malley family has just crossed over the 1-year mark of living in glorious Colorado and despite the numerous ups and downs of the past year, one thing is for certain – I am just as smitten with this state as I was the day I planted my roots here. I’ve now been witness to all four seasons and can honestly say that I will be happy living here for the rest of my days. Maybe we’ll move around over the years…perhaps a stint in Breckenridge, maybe another stint in Estes Park when our children have moved out for good (more on that later), who knows? The possibilities here are endless, but here in Manitou Springs we have a workable combination of natural beauty and accessibility, not to mention an impressively open-minded artistic community. The local businesses are charming, though swarming with tourists in the summer months, and the school district offers a wonderfully creative environment for its students; Manitou Springs was one of the first adopters of a 1:1 Ipad initiative in the entire state, giving Ipads to every child in 4th grade and above. As a technology professional, the nerd in me was excited to see that they are the only “Apple Distinguished” school district not just in Colorado, but in the Western United States.
In not so great Colorado news, yet another majorly destructive wildfire broke out in the Springs area last week. Fortunately for us, we were completely out of harm’s way this time and no evacuation was necessary. Nevertheless, the Black Forest fire topped the destruction caused by last summer’s Waldo Canyon fire by nearly 200 homes (600 compared to 400, give or take). In just one short year we’ve experienced the two most destructive fires in the state’s history. A part of me (a very teensy-tiny part) is starting to wonder if we are just like those stubborn people in Oklahoma who continue to live smack in the middle of “Tornado Alley” despite the seemingly obvious possibility of losing their homes, if not their lives. While we aren’t seriously considering relocating, news like this does motivate Sean to practice what he calls “fire mitigation” and what I call “an excuse to use his chainsaw” like nothing else. I think if I could just come up with a line of power tools for doing things like laundry, dusting and vacuuming, I’d be a very wealthy (and popular) woman. This would also allow retailers like Home Depot to expand their market to the untapped female demographic, although as I give this concept more thought I think Costco may be a better option since then we can purchase these sweet housework power tools for our husbands and a 2-gallon jug of margarita mix for ourselves at the same place. We ladies are all about efficiency, after all.
And now I suppose an update on the kids is appropriate. In short, Kellan is our favorite. Now, before you get all judgmental of the fact that we are playing favorites, it’s important to note that this is a very clear shift from six months ago when Kathryn, from the day she was born, was “the good one.” Those of you who know our kids would have to agree that despite having her “serious face” nearly all of the time, Kathryn was the easy one, the content one, the pleasant one. As long as she had food, she was happy. She never complained about anything – not about what we were trying to get her to eat, not about when it was time to go to sleep or when it was time to get in the car, nothing. Now there is nothing she doesn’t complain about. And when I say complain, what I really mean is shriek at the top of her lungs. I look back on a time when the daughter of friends of ours seemed to be just screaming all of the time for no apparent reason and thinking to myself, “How can they just let her do that??? Why are they not dealing with this? Make her shut up already!” Talk about eating crow…now we are the ones dealing with The Exorcist child. She is also choosing not to use her verbal skills in any productive sort of way; every day she exhibits a clear understanding of the English language, but getting her to actually use it to communicate has been futile. The one word she uses profusely is “bar” which refers to the granola bar she better have in her hands at all times lest an unimaginable scene of terror and destruction unfold. From the moment she wakes up each morning, we have approximately 3 minutes to get that damned “bar” in her hands before she goes completely apeshit crazy. Depending on her mood that particular morning, a second bar for the other hand may very well be demanded also. To further illuminate the extreme sort of Terrible Two situation we are dealing with out here, an attempt was made at camping this past weekend in Estes Park. I thought it would be a nice gesture for Father’s Day weekend to do something that while I don’t particularly enjoy, Sean enjoys immensely. So I went out and purchased a tent large enough to sleep eight people comfortably with the thought that if we had enough space to fit two queen-sized air mattresses, then there was a good chance I could survive two nights with my children at a campsite. After all, there would be plenty of activities at the Jellystone Campground to keep them busy during the day and, more importantly, exhausted at night. Cue the universe: “Not so, you silly, silly woman. Not so.” Our darling daughter cried (or yelled, or screamed) during the entire 3-hour drive; we then rushed to set up the campsite since it was already an hour or so past their bedtime, but bedtime just wasn’t going to be in the cards for Kathryn. Despite having eaten at least five granola bars on the car ride in between shrieks, there was no satisfying her. No blankie, no rocking, no reading her favorite book…no sleeping. Only screaming. Eventually at around 1AM I became so embarrassed (these campsites were especially close to one another) that I put her in the car and we drove around so she could fall asleep, but every time I stopped the car so I could get some shut-eye myself, the screaming started all over again. I finally had to check us into a motel at 3AM so I could lock her into a large enough area where she couldn’t hurt herself, but where I could lay down and sleep anyway. She finally passed out at around 4 and we slept a few hours before getting up and driving back to the campsite. We enjoyed the day at the campground for the most part, but by the time evening drew near again, Sean and I were both so exhausted that we didn’t want to risk another sleepless night…so we left. We packed up our shit and we left. The best part about our 24-hour camping adventure (besides arriving back home, that is?): the part where we were able to pull over on the way home and get Kellan’s car door open before he booted all over the inside of the car. That was the highlight. On a positive note, though, we all slept in and had a lovely Father’s Day with the comforts of home. It was a rare drizzly day in the mountains, but it was nice to just lay around, build a fire, and use our latest toy – the new Vitamix blender the kids and I got Sean for Father’s Day. I think we used it at least four times yesterday – we made smoothies, crushed ice, soup (it actually comes out of the blender hot!), banana ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce. It’s the coolest appliance on the planet.
And Kellan is the coolest kid on the planet. Every day, every single day that little boy melts my heart. He’s still naughty sometimes as any 3-year old should be, but even when he’s naughty, he says the cutest things like “I be naughty boy right now. I not be nice to mommy right now.” But mostly he is helpful, sweet, and mindful. He is curious and charming and I just love him to pieces. He is loving preschool and we are loving watching him grow and learn. He loves his teacher Miss Yvonne, but he most definitely “do not like Zander.” I’m not really sure what major offense this Zander committed, but it must have been something pretty darn serious, like monopolizing the train set. I also think part of this shift in him has to do with the stunned feeling we all share in the presence of his little devil of a sister. She has outdone his ability to throw a tantrum with such ferocity that he has surely admitted defeat at this point. He must figure if he can’t compete in that arena, he may as well earn his parents’ favor with good behavior, which he has for now. For now (and we know it’s only temporary), he wins. Eventually the winds will change again and our little Kat will be in good graces again while Kellan will spend his days in timeout. For now I am grateful that they are sparing us double destruction, as I’m sure that phase is right around the corner as well.
In other O’Malley news, Sean took a new job in IT Support at Pike’s Peak Hospice (one of his old CDW customers) and broke his ankle trail running. He loves the new job and the fact that he only has to be in a boot for six weeks (three weeks down!) instead of a hard cast. We are looking forward to a couples getaway in one of our favorite places to visit, NYC, at the end of July. We have some great memories from traveling there a few times together pre-baby and I am really looking forward to a trip to Zabar’s followed by a picnic in Central Park, taking the subway all over the city and grabbing dinner on Mulberry Street.
‘Til next time…