Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Elizabeth is really getting into the spirit of things! It's so fun to see Christmas from the perspective of a toddler - its all so new and exciting. Even though she still doesn't really get it yet she sure is having fun and is pretty darn good at unwrapping gifts already.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowing Outside - Let's go to the Pool!

We woke up to another snowy day today and decided we needed to get out of the house for a while so we packed it up and headed to the pool!
Colorado is absolutely fantastic when it comes to options for exercise. This facility is part of the Foothills Parks and Recreation service and is just down the street from our house! Its brand new and has everything from racquetball courts to water slides and everything in between. Of course the activity pool is Elizabeth's favorite place, especially the little water slide and the fountains!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Playing in the Snow

The weather here has been getting colder and we have had a few snowy days already. It turns out that Elizabeth and Gregario both love the snow! Here are a couple of fun shots of Elizabeth and Gregario outside.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ellie's First Christmas Concert

Elizabeth had her very first Christmas concert, it was pretty entertaining to see all the adorable little kids all dressed up in their Christmas clothes and trying to participate.
While most of the kids were content sitting up on the stage, Elizabeth was marching to her own tune (I wonder where she gets that from? :-) I kinda think she wanted to do a little solo!
Elizabeth's school did a great job pulling it all together. As you can imagine the whole thing was total chaos but i'm not sure what else you would get with about 80 toddlers running around for a Christmas concert. None of the kids knew what to do or what the heck was going on, they had someone trying to run the microphones and music who didn't have a clue, so of course the speakers were ripping loud out in the lobby but wern't on at all in the Church so everytime they tried to use the mic it sounded like the mom from Charlie Brown but in the end it just added to the entertainment value of the whole thing!
I'm already looking forward to next years concert!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trick or Treak - about a month late

Well things have been so busy around the Smits household lately that we haven't had much of a chance to get some new posts up. Halloween was a few weeks ago and while Elizabeth wasn't so sure about the trick-or-treaters but we still had to dress her up and get a few photos of her.

Grandma and Grandpa Burke were out to visit for a few days and Kate took some great shots out in the park. The fall colors make for some great photography!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Aquarium!

Elizabeth's Grandma is in town and we all took a little field trip to the Downtown Aquarium to go find out what all is there...
It turns out, its a pretty nice little Aquarium, especially for kids!

Elizabeth had a great time get right up close to all of the animals. Surprisingly they have a bit more than just fish and interestingly they have birds and fish living together in the same exhibit. Who knew diving ducks, trout, and kids could live so harmoniously together?!
Grandma had a great time showing Elizabeth all of the new and interesting things to see and Elizabeth loved soaking it all in. Here are some of the local residents of the aquarium. I got lucky with these guys, they wern't moving very fast and was able to get some fun photos of them! (by the way, when you get frustrated that the fish keep moving too fast and you can't get a good shot of them, tapping on the glass apparently doesn't help)

One of the highlights of our "Underwater Adventure" was the stingray petting/feeding tank. Here you can buy little frozen minnows that you can feed to the stingrays and pet them as they go by!

Photography At the Aquarium:
Like most aquariums the Downtown Aquarium is Dark! Even in its brighter areas I still struggled to get decent images without using the harsh built-in flash. I had the camera cranked to its extreme low-light settings, (ISO set between 800 and 1600, shooting with the 50mm f1.4 prime lens). While I did manage to get a few decent shots i certainly did not get very many - it was just too dark. Interestingly I also took my Image Stabilized lens and basically found that Image Stabilization doesn't buy you anything there unless its a fast lens too. Everything just moves too much and while the backgrounds may come out fairly crisp the subjects come out blurry. My recommendation, for what its worth, take a fast prime lens or two, crank up the ISO and take about three times as many photos as you think you will need. While I certainly struggled to work the camera settings, I found this was a great exercise in learning about the inter-dependencies of ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and image quality.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bowling with Grandma and Pop Pop

Elizabeth did a great job on her first bowling adventure. She was the hit of the bowling alley with her very special Elmo "bowling shoes". Grandmom and Pop Pop were out for a visit and loved every minute of exploring the days through the eyes of Elizabeth.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Denver Zoo

Fall is such a great time to go to the zoo... the summer crowds are gone, the animals are more active due to the cooler temperatures and the colors are beautiful! Elizabeth just loves the zoo and we decided to have a mommy/ daughter day there last Sunday. I let Elizabeth explore the zoo at her own pace, so needless to say, we only saw about 8 exhibits in two hours. It was interesting as she really did not have any interest in the big animals like the lions, polar bears and giraffes. She wanted to see the animals up close and at her level. So that meant lots of birds!
Elizabeth walked back and forth to see the penguins and the ducks about 15 times each. She would walk away like she was ready to see something new and then be delighted to return to see that the penguins or ducks were still there!
Her favorite activity of the day was chasing around the peacocks and Canadian geese, each activity lasting over 20 minutes (hence why we did not see very many exhibits at the zoo!) It amazed me that she was so interested in them.
When Elizabeth could not catch the peacock, she resorted to a different tactic, crawling to sneak up on the bird, but that did not work either. Oh well, maybe next visit to the zoo!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

It was a beautiful Colorado day today and Elizabeth had a fun time picking out her pumpkin at the pumpkin patch.

I have very fond memories of my mom and dad taking my brother and me to the pumpkin patch when we were growing up. I can still taste the hot apple cider, fresh baked apple pie, candy apples and vividly remember the hay rides around the corn fields. I asked my mom about it this evening and she said that the pumpkins were already picked and cleaned up and put in a nice grass field for "picking." As you can see from this picture, the pumpkin patch today was nothing like my childhood memories. But that didn't seem to matter to Elizabeth! The muddier the better!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park

The fall colors are in their prime right now and we took a little excursion up to Rocky Mountain National Park to see them in all of their glory.
Interestingly the fall colors in Colorado really only come in yellow which takes some getting used to for us midwesterners who are used to the full spectrum of fall. But while the colors are mono chromatic the scenery is incredably dramatic with the mountains for a back drop.
We took Elizabeth on a 5 mile hike starting from the bear lake trail head which was packed with tourists - interestingly with the weak dollar there was a huge number of foreigners from Europe and Asia that we passed on the trail. Lets hope they spent a pile of money while they were here!
We had a beautiful morning when we set out and didn't take long to reach our destination - Lake Haiyaha at over 10,000 ft of elevation. Elizabeth had a great ride up and was a real trooper but shortly after we arrived the clouds came rolling in over the mountains along with some not so distant thunder so we ended our trip a little prematurely and got back down to safety.

Elizabeth had a great time exploring and watching the birds that would come and eat out of your hands - unfortunately we didin't get a very good picture of one to share - maybe next time!
We had a wonderful time on our hike but due to the weather we didn't get as many pictures as we would have liked to get to share with everyone. I guess we'll just have to go and do it all again to get some more!