Fun places to visit in Colorado Springs

A few weeks ago, my kids and I traveled to Colorado Springs for a Compassion conference (which I plan to share about soon!). While we were there, we visited quite a few Colorado Springs attractions, and most of them had free admission which made up for the one pricey thing we did do.

Pike's Peak Cog Railway - This was the one thing we paid admission for. It ended up being a really nice way to see a lot of scenery on the way up to the top of Pike's Peak. Our tour guide shared a lot of interesting and witty information with us on the trip to the top of the mountain.

Our Cog Railway train at the top of Pike's Peak

Our Cog Railway train at the top of Pike's Peak

Can you say you have been at this elevation?

Can you say you have been at this elevation?

Next time I find myself in Colorado Springs, I would love to drive up to the top of Pike's Peak. As much as I enjoyed the ride up on the Cog Railway, we sure didn't have a lot of time to roam around the summit once we arrived there. After standing in line for the restroom and getting the world famous hot donuts (both of which are a must!), there was really only time for a few photos, then it was time to load back onto the train for the trip down.

So, now onto the free stuff!

Focus on the Family Welcome Center - Even though my kids are older, I knew we needed to stop here to visit Whit's End and go down the three story slide. 

That three story slide is pretty cool!

That three story slide is pretty cool!

Kelsey was pretty excited when she found Narnia!

Kelsey was pretty excited when she found Narnia!

While we were here, we went on the guided tour, roamed around Whit's End, and explored the Kid's Korner. We were hoping to do a taping at the KYDS Radio, but we didn't realize you needed to make a reservation. If you have young children, I could see families spending a lot of time exploring Whit's End and the Kid's Korner.

Compassion Global Ministry Center Tour - Even though I have been on a tour of Compassion's Global Ministry Center before, I enjoy hearing different tour guides share their stories on the tour. And this time we had a very special tour guide and a special visitor on our tour!

Our friend, Rebecca, with my son, Matthew, and Sean, our trip leader from our Mexico sponsor tour

Our friend, Rebecca, with my son, Matthew, and Sean, our trip leader from our Mexico sponsor tour

Satish telling us the first time he saw this, he thought the garbage was too clean!

Satish telling us the first time he saw this, he thought the garbage was too clean!

We were surprised to learn that Sean, our trip leader from our Compassion Mexico Sponsor Trip, was our tour guide for the building tour. What a fun surprise!

And Satish, a formerly sponsored Compassion child, joined us for a part of the building tour. Once we got to this point of the tour, Satish shared with us that before he was enrolled into the Compassion program, he used to help his father sort through garbage to find things to sell at the market in India where he grew up.

Want to know what my favorite parts of the building tour are? Peeking at the mail center where all of our Compassion letters are processed and made ready for delivery, and visiting the replica Child Development Center, which is just missing real children ready to give you hugs.

Helen Hunt Falls - A friend of ours told us about the trails in this area.

This is quite a short hike at Helen Hunt Falls

This is quite a short hike at Helen Hunt Falls

Even though this is a relatively short trail up to the top of the trailhead, the elevation change and the overall high altitude made this hike just a bit challenging for us. But it was definitely worth the sweat and frequent stops along the way! If we had planned this day a little better, we could have hiked a couple of other trials while we were in this area. Next time...

U.S. Olympic Training Center - this was a favorite for both of my kids on this trip.

Waiting for their medals

Waiting for their medals

Michael Phelps trained in this pool!

Michael Phelps trained in this pool!

On this free guided tour, we saw different training areas and learned how long some of the athletes train here. We were told it takes four to six weeks for the athletes to acclimate to the high altitude of Colorado Springs (makes me not feel so bad that the hike up Helen Hunt Falls was a bit of a challenge for us!) 

Garden of the Gods - a trip to Colorado Springs almost requires a visit here!

Garden of the Gods rock formations

Garden of the Gods rock formations

While these rock formations are no comparison to what we saw at Bryce Canyon a couple of summers ago, they are definitely worth the visit. There are paved trails in the main area of the park (which is where we stayed for this visit), but there are many other trails to explore (which we will have to explore on another visit!)

U.S. Air Force Academy - Our last stop before heading to the airport was to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel

U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel

When visiting here, make sure you enter at the right gate (yes, we went to the wrong gate!). Once you make your way to the main visitor's center, you will find a building filled with history, a lot of information about what it takes to attend the academy, and what is required of the students at this academy.

No visit here is complete without making the short walk over to the chapel. What an amazing building! This is a building that should be seen in person, pictures just don't do it justice.

Well, that sums up all the places we were able to visit on our trip to Colorado Springs! And like I said, everything but the cog railway up to Pike's Peak was free!  Do you have a favorite place to visit in Colorado Springs?

Our Summer Bucket List

As much as I love the routine of our days during the school year, I love the unstructured time we have during the summer. But instead of spending endless days doing nothing, I like to have a bit of a plan as we enter summer. 

A few summers ago, when both of my kids were still home during the day, I took my kids on quite a few local day trips. Of course I took a lot of photos on those day trips! I even ended up making photo books of our adventures for them and gave the books to them for Christmas that year. As my kids have gotten older, I know that the time is precious and I am thankful that we have opportunities to do a lot of fun things together.

This summer will be the second summer that my daughter and I will be home together during the day. She is quite a homebody and would rather stay home all day. But I know I would go stir crazy! Last year, we made a list of some things we wanted to do through the summer. We even made plans to invite a friend or two along when we could. And we both tried some new things together.

Last night, we started writing down some ideas of things we want to do for this upcoming summer.

Our Summer 2014 Bucket List so far...

Our Summer 2014 Bucket List so far...

We found a couple of ideas on Pinterest, but we came up with a few of our own ideas too. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be adding a few more items to our list. I love that my teenage daughter still wants to do things like 'chalk the driveway' and 'crayon art'!

What are your plans for this upcoming summer?

Build a Bond Through Prayer

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." - 1 John 5:14

Do you agree that when you pray for someone, you feel closer to that person? I feel this is especially true about our Compassion sponsored children. Yes, I have met Felix, so I do feel a special attachment to him. But through prayers and letters, I know God has knit my heart to the other children we sponsor and write to.

If you are looking for a way to build a bond through prayer with your sponsored children, I have something to share with you today!

Bookmark of daily prayer prompts

When you received your welcome booklet, inside is a bookmark. On the back of that bookmark are daily prayer prompts to pray for your sponsored child. I love these bookmarks and I use them quite frequently! But I thought...wouldn't it be great if these were cards instead that could be used at our table so as a family we could be praying for our Compassion kids?

So I asked my talented art director husband if he would be willing to use his creativity to help me out...and here is what he came up with!

Aren't these gorgeous!

There is one card for every day of the month.

And I am making them available for you to print and use at home as well!

You can access the folder of prayer cards by clicking here. Or you can click on the individual pictures above.

I would recommend printing these out on cardstock so they are a little more durable. You can even laminate them or cover them with clear contact paper. Punch a hole in the top left corner and attach all the cards to a ring. You and your family are now ready to pray daily for your Compassion sponsored children around the world.

I am making these prayer cards available as a gift to you, my readers. Please do not sell or reprint these images. Thank you.

Tackle It on Tuesday: 1000 Piece Puzzle

1000 piece panoramic puzzle

1000 piece panoramic puzzle

If you recall from that post, we had just started two weeks of everyday rehearsals for the upcoming play my daughter will be performing in. Last week, three of the rehearsals were at night, which meant that we didn't really see my husband or my son for three days! 

The puzzle ended up being a fun way that we could work on a project together, even though we really didn't work on the puzzle 'together'. 

So, I know you are all just waiting to find out if we finished the puzzle...

Completed puzzle!

Completed puzzle!

Yes, we did!! And it was a tough one! Which is why you see two magnifying glasses on the table (homeschool science kits do come in handy!) We all enjoyed working on the puzzle so much that we are actually thinking of finding another one to work on.

Now that that project is completed, what is going to be my next Tackle It on Tuesday project?

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Last year, I really enjoyed taking a photography class and working through the Capture Your 365 daily prompts. However, once we got to the holidays, then my Mexico trip, then our crazy schedule right now with the play, I just knew I would not be able to commit the time to take on a daily photography project. What I would like to do though, is take some time this year to work through a couple of photography books that I have on hand, and work through some online tutorials to help me improve my photography.

So for this next week, I am going to start out small and just read through the first chapter of this book, Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. It is one book that my photography teacher had recommended and I haven't made time to read through it before now. 

What are you hoping to tackle this upcoming week?