Friday, August 25, 2017

Around Here

The weather here has a hint of fall in the air!  It's rather unusual for August,  though truth be told, it has not felt as hot this year as most other years and it's been very wet.  Good for the garden and for us!

We've finally finished the garden shed and that's a huge weight off of our minds.  It took up so much time and energy, but it was worth it as it looks fantastic.  Pictures to come soon.

Historically, we haven't watched a lot of tv around here.  However, this summer, we've found that we all enjoy watching a show together and we've just finished up Anne with an E*.  Grace has read Anne of Green Gables before, and I expected her to be the one to love the show.  While she did really like it, I was surprised that it was Harris who really loved it!  In fact, he asked to read the book.  That made my day!

We went to a local observatory to watch the eclipse and I took appropriate snacks.  I totally dropped the ball and didn't have glasses for us, but strangers were kind enough to let us look through theirs.  It was really neat but seeing as how we had 85% coverage I was surprised it didn't get darker.

I took this snack plate to friends who had just moved.  I thought it was so pretty and I loved that I got to use vegetables from our garden.

The foundation of the new kitchen is complete!  I've been surprised, and grateful, that all the rain hasn't held things up too much.

My tomatoes took forever to get ripe this year and I was worried that something had gone wrong.  I needn't have worried because they are producing like crazy and we've been enjoying amazing BLTs.

The children and I went on our annual beach day with The O's and it was a fabulous day as always.  Family friends are such a blessing.

The flowers.  Oh, the flowers.  They have been glorious and abundant.

My baby got braces!  I think he looks adorable.

*Anne with an E deals with some pretty tough subject matter, it delves in to the abuse she suffered, so I would not recommend it for younger children.  They don't shy away from anything!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Frog and Toad on a Pitcher

Last fall,  Gretchen brought over this old pitcher that she had picked up for me at the antique store or flea market.  I love it as it makes me smile every time I fill it full of flowers.  For one thing, we always joke that we are like Frog and Toad so the scene on the front is perfect,  and, for another, I have so many questions about the frogs.

Why are they smoking (I now envision them as vaping!) and why is one playing the violin for the other while he sits with his drink (bourbon? lemonade?).  At any rate, it's one of my favorite flower pitchers and looks quite cheery with an armful of zinnias!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Our World and Manners

I've recently kicked off a family "manners school."  The children have rolled their eyes and said no way, but I am moving on it full steam ahead.  Folks, they need it!  Not because they run around being rude all the time, but rather because I want to equip them as best as I can with how to be kind, constructive citizens in this crazy and scarey world in which they are growing up.  I"m not talking about which fork to use (though we will cover that too) but rather how to make ones way while dealing with other children, adults, teachers, cell phones, and, of course, situations that are simply downright wrong.

Interestingly, on our first night, as the children reluctantly sat listening to me reading the intro of, How Rude! by Alex J. Packer, we came across this passage, "Society is often resistant to change, and even rights that have been won after years of struggle (for example, women's rights, voting rights, gay rights) can come under renewed attack by those who wish to turn back the clock."

I couldn't believe how timely it was in regards to all that our country is dealing with right now.  It led to a good and open discussion with the children about Charlottesville, even though I find I don't have the right words and tools in my arsenal to fully explain all that is happening and why.  We will continue to have these discussions with the children in small and big ways but I'm hoping that if any of you have resources that help with this (podcasts, news articles, roadmaps for discussions) that you will share in the comments as I'm betting it would help us all.  More and more, I feel like our children's generation is going to have so much to deal with, and fix, in every possible arena (climate, moral sticking points, politics and hate to name a few) that I'm fearful for them, but also, looking at the children I know and love all around me, I'm hopeful too.

P.S.  I miss the days when I could read a picture book to the children to communicate and teach the children so many things!

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Quick Airstream Trip

When we first bought the Airstream, we promised ourselves we wouldn't "count" trips or feel guilty if we didn't use it every single weekend.  If, in fact, we didn't even make it out in a season, we wouldn't feel guilt but rather look at its usage over many, many years.  And we've stuck to that, but we were starting to feel its pull as we hadn't been in the Airstream since our 9 week trip last summer.

So we took it out for a couple of nights and while it was a bit of a disaster in regards to what we forgot to bring, we settled in pretty quickly to the utter joy of camping together in the Airstream.  I wish I could put into words how much we love this little camper.  It just makes us happy.  It's been such a gift and a blessing to our family and I"m already looking forward to our next trip!

As compared to our trip last summer (I still dream of it, a year later) this was a very laid back couple of days.  We swam, hiked just a bit and even took a nap!  Oh, and we ate very well. 

It was the first trip we took with Rosie with us!  She was a natural and did great even when certain children made her pose with a towel on her head. :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In the Garden

I cannot believe that I haven't posted about what is growing in the garden and it's already August!    Here's a photographic exhibit of some, not all, that we have or have had growing...

The asparagus has delighted me in every way.  We probably won't be able to harvest for the next year or two but after that they can produce for up to 25 years!

The peonies all had at least one bloom and many had several more, not bad for the first year!

The garlic crop wasn't stellar this year but we harvested a fair amount and I learned some things for next year.

I've taken approximately one million pictures of this raspberry swiss chard because it's so darn pretty. The kale behind it has done exceptionally well too.

We had a beautiful spring/early summer crop of lettuces, radishes and snap peas.

I swore I wasn't going to plant any roses but, in the end, I planted 10.  I'm sure they will break my heart but I just can't stop myself.

 The clematis vines have been beautiful!

The dahlias are just getting started and have surprised me in that I have so many orange and yellows. I remember ordering mostly pink...

The nasturtiums I planted have actually taken over the beds they are in.  I clearly went overboard on them and they are trying to overtake my carrots.

 The strawberries have been so fun and usually don't make it past the garden gate before being eaten.

The zinnias are absolutely amazing and have done exceptionally well.  This color combo might be my favorite.

The green beans should be ready any day now.  Sadly, the cucumbers that were next to them were full and beautiful one day, and producing delicious cucumbers, and the next day they started wilting.  Within a week... dead.  Our zucchini and squash also struggled a bit and I thought they might reach the same fate but they seem to have rebounded so far.

The cosmos are also just getting started.  They remind me so much of a graceful ballet dancer floating in the air.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Grace's Blog Post from a Visit to Colorado

I've copied Grace's blog post from her own adventuring journal here because I know I certainly couldn't write it any better than she did!

I’ve spent this last week in the state of Colorado accompanied by my brother and grandparents. I’ve been flying alone to Colorado to visit my grandparents since I was 12, save for last year when I was on The Great Road Trip. This year, Harris, 12, came along, and it wasn’t a complete disaster… (just joking!) I kept a log, so I figured it was worth sharing. It’s typed like I wrote it out, day by day. Read at your own risk, ColoRADo-ness is ahead.
Saturday, July twenty-second. 6:54. In the air. 
It has begun! The flight is underway. Also, the flight is much longer than I remembered, and my Netflix logged me out. Go figure. I’m still laughing over this conversation I had with a flight attendant:
Her: what would you like to drink?
Me: oh, apple juice would be great. 
Her: okay, that’ll be $2.45 charged to your credit card. 
Me: water is fine…
Frontier may be cheap, but I can’t even get apple juice?? Jeez. We’re shaken by rough turbulence, but what rhymes with turbulence? Jubilance. Kind of. As we come in for a come in for landing, to the enthusiastic beats of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, I roll up my dad’s Khul pull-over sleeves, and prepare myself for the wondrous adventures the state of Colorado holds.

8:59. On the highway back home to Colorado Springs. Half an hour in to the hour and a half drive.
God, I love Colorado. The grandparents were, as per usual, right there waiting for us when we got out of the gate, and we proceeded to eat quesadillas and smoothies before we hit the road. There was a breeze and it was cool, almost chilly, a striking comparison to the 95 degrees and humid weather we were unlucky enough to have experienced at home. The sky was putting on a show for us, pink clouds were pulled across the big sky like cotton candy, and the mountains were silhouetted against this backdrop. There was a huge chiseled thunderhead right above the peaks, and the sun made it glow 4 different shades of pink and gold before we had even pulled out of the parking deck. It was soon dark on the road, but not before we got one last look at the mountains.
the adventure essentials

dad snapped this picture, which turned out really cool

Sunday, July twenty-third. 5:17. On the road to Glen Eyrie. 
Went to church in the morning, then to a small restaurant to feast upon crepes and waffles. Then it was off to a bug museum, which houses the largest collection of bugs in the world. Whilst there I learned that I would never be visiting Peru, Brazil, Columbia, Africa, and a host of other countries that are home to bugs that can probably scare and kill you in 10 different ways. If you saw the size of those tarantulas, you would feel the same way. I’m glad we didn’t visit it before our road trip last summer, or my parents would’ve had a hard time convincing me to go outside in Big Bend, Texas, where there are tarantulas the size of your face. No thank you. In comparison to these horrifying creatures, there were thousands of iridescent, sapphire, orange, and zebra butterflies, and beetles that looked spray painted into every color of the rainbow. We headed home for a little while, getting ready for our dinner and small concert in the evening.

8:39. On the way home from the Castle. 
We ate a really nice dinner at the Glen Eyrie Castle, and sat with a couple and their daughter and her fiancĂ©. We all had lots in common, and it was interesting conversation. Soon, it was up into the great hall, where we awaited the Flying W Wranglers. They’re a cowboy country/gospel/cowboy music band. They were fantastic! Gran and I nearly melted in the heat from everyone sitting in the room, but they were really entertaining and quite funny and witty! It was a great night.
Monday, July twenty-fourth. 11:18. Driving home from Cave of the Winds. 
We had a pretty eventful morning. We drove up to Cave of the Winds, a place we had visited before, but back when it didn’t have several attractions. We rode on a little seat that was on a cable across a section of canyon, and it let you fly across before stopping you and shooting you backwards, so you could be unloaded. They also had a high ropes course, which was by far my favorite. There was a little section, the highest part, that was away over part of the sloping mountain that turned into canyon, and, fueled by a Chick-fil-a biscuit, I spent most of my time over there on that section, with my post-card view of the mountains.
I can't imagine a better place to have a ropes course

2:25. Driving to grocery store then to pick up the Airstream. 
“We’re basically going up into the mountains to eat.” This is an acute observation from my grandpa. My grandparents happen to be the most prepared people on the planet, a stark comparison to my own family, who forgets things such as the essential electricity cable and a whole set of Dad’s shirts on a trip that lasts for two months. So yes, basically our camper was stocked for a three-week trip, and at this rate I was going to go home 10 pounds heavier. Forget having a summer body… Anyways after a trip to the grocery store (in which I successfully pulled of my sockos* look, much to the dismay of my brother), we hitched up the ‘Stream and headed home to pack her up. Uneventful evening, mostly packing for camping. We did a little drive through Garden of the Gods, and I enjoyed watching the rain come over Pikes Peak as per usual.
never a dull moment

*sockos are the lovely combination of socks and Chaco sandals. 
Tuesday, July twenty-fifth. 8:45. At camp. 
Woke up at about quarter past 8, loaded up, and hit the road! About an hour in, we stopped at a gold mine, one I had visited on my last visit, so Harris and Grandpa went down while Gran and I talked and made lunch. Boy, is the weather in Colorado unreal. Obviously we climbed a lot in elevation, but I’ll take 65 degrees and breezy any day. It was another hour to our campsite, which was situated next to the Ruby Mountains, with a perfect view of the Arkansas river and the panorama of mountains. Most of them are Collegiate Mountains which include Mt. Princeton! Lots and lots of rafters came down the river, and were all yelling and waving at us. Pretty much every raft that came down waves at us. We enjoyed most of our afternoon watching the storms and clouds roll in (my absolute favorite thing to do), and watching the lighting strike on the peaks near us. We summed it all up with s’mores, and fell asleep to a small rainstorm.
 don’t you just love it when you’re being smothered by a large, curly-haired koala? 

Wednesday, July twenty-sixth. 6:29. At camp. 
Woke up in my favorite way today. The best feeling in the world is when you wake up all warm and wrapped up in your long-sleeve and your sleeping bag, it’s chilly but not cold, and you look out your window through all the little raindrops, and see the mountains, and then you plop back down on your pillow and just bask in the thought that you’re there. We ate a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, and lounges around in the sun before it got too hot. There was a little unofficial trail (the best kind) beside our campsite, so we decided to explore, and found lots of rocks to climb on and cacti to (not) step on. Harris and I did attempt to cross the river to get to the meadow on the other side, but were unsuccessful in our attempt. So, instead, we drove to Mt. Princeton, and even saw the campground we stayed in when I was 5 and Harris was 3. The aspen and forests we saw driving up there… holy. Just so gorgeous and green and white. The best part, though, was feeding the little chipmunks in St. Elmo. We’d done it before but only when we were little, and now we were crafty in our ways to get them to climb up our arms and eat our seeds. They’re ridiculously cute, those little fellows. And their cheeks!! The absolute cutest. The rest of the evening consisted of lounging by the fire Harris built, and watching more clouds roll in over the mountains. Bonus, a funny story: so basically I was sitting on a rock, and happened to spot a red fire ant, with wings. And I was going on and on about how awful they are, because why would you even consider creating a terrible fire ant, and then adding wings? (God, I’m looking at you for this one.) So then I go and sit down in this nice reclining chair, all happy as peaceful. And I feel like on of my hairs is being pulled, probably by the chair. So I get up, dust off my shorts, and sit back down. Now it really hurts, so I try and brush it off again. Then, to my utter horror and fury, behold…. a red fire ant with wings, crawling away from the scene of the crime!! So, basically, I got bit by a fire ant with wings, right. on. my butt. Very pleasant feeling. Such a soothing combination of stinging, hurting, and uncomfortable-ness. And it did not go away, oh no, it persisted, so I walked around camp with some ice and everyone had a good laugh. Classy, I know. We had a couple more storms before the night was over, but all in all, it was a pretty glorious day.
 found this one from when we were there last! still getting those chimpmunks in ’08!

when you’re trying to get a picture of the chipmunk but you don’t have enough hands…

look ma!

how I feel all the time when in Colorado. 


 look at his little (big) cheeks!

 very bad quality but one of my favorites nonetheless! 

Thursday, July twenty-sixth. 8:37. Home again! 
Ah, what a laid back day! Woke up to sun and a breeze, and feasted on slightly burnt (but nonetheless perfect) corn bread courtesy of the master himself. We watched rafters go by, and yelled and waved at them, and laid in the sun. Harris made us a fire, and we slowly began to pack up. It was just a perfect half a day relaxing in the sun and watching the clouds form and pass. About an hour into our drive home we stopped at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Our crew was not blown away, but seeing these massive (redwoods kind of massive) petrified wood stumps was pretty fascinating. It started pouring and thunderstoming on us, so we retreated to the visitor center, where we saw all of the insects and leaves fossilized. The ride home was spent listening to music and looking out the window. Ute Pass is one of my favorite places to drive through, because you have mountains and rocks and trees and just gorgeousness. I love Colorado.
Harris and I call this “the mom pic” because we believe every mom takes pictures of their feet + scenery. 
Friday, July twenty-seventh. 1:37. Driving down Pikes Peak. 
Today was fantastic. I really wanted to go up Pikes Peak, so go up Pikes Peak we did! There was a long line to enter at the base so we were a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be just fine going up. Very soon, the air grew chilly, and we drove through meadows of wild flowers and aspen trees. When we passed treeline, we were immediately greeted by patches of snow, and a gorgeous combination of tundra, wild flowers, and rocks. The tundra is this luscious, green, thick grass that looks kind of like sod, but resembles more of a carpet. It looks like it was raining tundra, because there are just these different sized round splotches of tundra everywhere, like little polka dots. When we arrived at summit, at 14,110 feet, the thunderclouds were rolling in but the visibility was perfect. It was actually cold up there; a crisp 45 degrees. We took pictures and feasted on doughnuts, and climbed around of the rocks that jut out before they drop off. I can’t wait to climb and backpack this 14er someday! The drive down was less exciting, but we did cross paths with a marmot and several mountain goats. I adore the mountains; I would spend all my time up there, given the opportunity. Where cold, and snowy, and there are evergreens and you can watch the storms come in right on top of you… ugh I love it. It’s funny (well, devastating is more the word) how you wish and wish to be somewhere like the mountains and you’re there and you’re there and then poof it’s the end of the week and you have to go home. The grandparents have been wonderful to us, and gosh we are lucky that they live somewhere like Colorado. Harris wasn’t too bad to travel with, and could be *gasp* endearing and lovable (what???) when not imitating a Mexican jumping bean. We had a grand old time while here, and I know that this won’t be the last time we travel together. So, nothing but endless love goes out to my grandparents and little brother, and parents cause without tickets we couldn’t get there (they probably took the money out of my college account without telling me and I’m going to pay for it later…), and the state of Colorado cause you’re just plain beautiful. It’s called ColoRADo for a reason.
top of Pikes Peak!

probably the happiest human alive up here. 
probably my favorite shot of the whole trip. 

Saturday, July twenty-eighth. 10:50. Driving to Denver. 
I’m so, so bummed to be leaving today. We’ve had some amazing adventures, but the weather, the mountains, and the grandparents are going to be really tough to leave. Fortunately, we’re going to have lunch at my aunt Jackie and uncle James’ house, so that will be a great ending to our trip. I honestly cannot believe the week is over already! Sometimes I wish time didn’t fly so fast when you’re having fun… could ya just slow down a bit, buddy? Anyways, what a blessing it was to have this week and cram in as much as we could. Harris and I are two lucky bugs.
if anyone ever asks me to sum up the trip in one picture, I will show them this. (Harris stole my phone to take selfies and I’m trying and failing to get it back.)
8:17. In the air. No idea if we’ve hit a time change or not. 
I managed to snag the window seat, much to Harris’ annoyance, but that means I get to watch sunset from above the clouds and look down at all the city lights. Night flights are by far my favorite, and I pretty much look out the window and listen to music for the duration of the flight. And maybe watch a few crime shows… my grandma trained me too well. Also to be noted, the flight attendants on this flight are legitimately hilarious, and gave us a good time throughout the whole flight. Colorado, you and your beautiful mountains and beautiful people will be missed! Don’t worry, we’ll be back for part two! (Make that part 4 in my case…!)

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