Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breckenridge: Mountain Town Where We Try Our Hands at Panning Gold

Last year, we were unsuccessful in paying for our vacation with Gold Nuggets, but that doesn't mean we weren't willing to try again.  Let's be honest; my husband is rather cheap so if he thinks there is even a slim chance that our vacation could be free thanks to a little gold panning he's willing to give it a shot.

For this year's expedition, we tried the "official" Breckenridge Historical Society's site and not some tourist site.  As an added bonus, the cost was 1/3 the cost of last years trek into the creek.  If for no other reason than the Mountain Man who ran the Lormax Placier Gulch welcomed us into the Prospectors Cabin with the phrase "Dude" I felt that maybe we might stand a chance of actually going home with golden nuggets.

Not only did we get to tour an official prospectors set up and see firsthand the tools of the trade of gold mining the mountain streams, the Mountain Man took us to his favorite spot and showed us the tricks of the trade.  We learned to dig out the creek bed and go beneath the surface; there was swooshing and moving of water and silt in the pan and of course we felt that unlike the crowded spot we tried the previous year that this year we were in a pristine environment for finding that hidden gem; the allusive golden nugget.

Mr P and Mr C were intense; they were on a mission to find something, anything that would put them on the map as official gold diggers.  Miss A announced early on that she wasn't holding out much hope and that more than anything she was a little concerned that the clouds looked like rain.  ( I tried not to envision Pooh and holding an umbrella and marching about saying,  "Tut Tut it looks like Rain!")  Miss M wasn't easily swayed from her task either.  If anyone looked legit in showing us how to find wealth in rocks, it was our guide.

Alas it was not our day.  We did however get a great history lesson in how the Blue River in Breckenridge was the site of some amazing mining during the 1880's and how the miners used water under high pressure , scoured the hillside and collected the dirt and sediment to recover gold deposits.  All of this using hydraulic power they created in the 1860s.  Amazing.

While we might have let the Mine empty handed we did learn a lot and had a chance to get our hands into the soil and water.

To finish our trip to Breckenridge, we took a Gondola Ride up to the Base of Peak 8 and had a picnic lunch and watched the crowds.  It is amazing how many people there are in such a small amount of space.  Makes us really appreciate our stay in Keystone.  The girls found a patch of Snow/Ice not too far up the mountain and we decided to trek up there and get a picture of this wonder of winter in the middle of July.

The most humorous part was that the kids had no trouble climbing up the hill of snow, but Miss M did a 'bottom slide" a fur piece down the mountain.  Much to her siblings delight.  Thankfully, she saw the humor as well.  Then since we were already "dirty" we took a trek around Swan Mountain Road to feed the chipmunks.

Another great day in the Rockies...but then aren't they all!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Worship and Play in the Mountains: Can It Get Any Better

I'll admit that our family is a little bit creature of habit/ traditionalists/routine lovers.  You see even when we are on vacation, we tend to like to do the same sort of things we've done before.  If we loved a place before, we tend to return and do pretty much the same thing.  For our second summer in the Mountains, we kept to form while still trying to venture and try new things.

Sunday morning, we were thrilled to again worship as a family at the Frisco Bible Church.   The message is always a winner and the view outside makes you abundantly aware of God's Majesty.  Fun to Worship God surrounded by the Beauty of the Mountains.  Then to keep the tradition going we went out for lunch at the Butterhorn Cafe.  Thankfully, this year we got a seat inside, but as it goes it rained again!

Our stroll around the shops resulted in Mr P getting his own walking stick made out of Colorado pine. Amazing craftsmanship and beauty in that little stick plus I told him it's a way to prepare for old age when he'll actually need a cane to keep up with his younger wife.  

The rest of the afternoon involved walking around Keystone, playing miniature golf and hanging around the Condo.  A perfect recipe for a relaxing day.  There were even card games happening that evening in the condo.  Can't explain how perfect these laid back days are for this weary family.  I don't even recall any fights among the kids; and lets be honest that doesn't happen at home! 

Day 1 in the Mountains; Can't get better than this!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Road Trip: Our Family Vacation Begins

Our family vacation begins with only four members;  Mr C has been in Colorado for the past week at Church Camp and after an evening with friends in Denver, we plan to pick him up in Denver bright and early Saturday morning.  As we begin our road trip to Colorado, I'm not sure if P is more excited about leaving work behind for a week or having Mr C back in the family to balance all the females he has had to deal with for the past week!

Now, I'll be honest and say that Road trips with my family are pretty easy; there is a built in DVD player, we have snacks, art supplies and Ipods at the ready for the kids and we make pretty regular stops to stretch our legs and relieve our bladders.  (According to my husband, he travels much quicker alone) I, of course, enjoy the time to just talk to P while he drives and I do everything from knit, read and plan my calendar for the fall. We've come to the agreement that in the car my husband likes to drive and I like to do everything else.

For this first part of our journey, we'd packed a picnic lunch and made plans to add a little history to our lunch break by visiting a site on the Pony Express Trail.  I thought it was pretty fascinating; the girls not so much.  Guess the fact that they barely use the regular mail today makes them think that horse delivered mail is very slow and boring. 

By far, our favorite part of the first days journey was our arrival at our friends/relatives house in Denver for the night.  We've nicknamed these friends as our Colorado Family/ Cousins even though the family is really old neighbors and kids I babysat long ago.   Now that they have all grown up, I consider them even more like family!   The best part of this visit is that we got to meet the newest member of the family; a sweet baby girl who shares her birthday with Miss M meaning they are even more like family.

It was a wonderful night of catching up and soaking up time together in wonderful hospitality.  I'm so glad that my kids have younger "cousins" that they can play with and spoil with affection.  Mr C was especially glad that this year his bus arrived on time and that Saturday morning he got to join us for a lunch date with the gang.  Bonus.

Before we knew, it was time to make the trek up the mountain to Keystone with five members of the family and a trunk now filled with smelly camping gear/clothes to kickoff our week in Mountains.

Summer Vacation here we come!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Girl Scout Overnight at the Zoo: Miss A Has an Admirer

We slept with the Sharks and the Penguins and the Octopus and lived to tell about it; I think the fact they stayed in the tanks helped!

Our Girl Scout troop has talked all year about our big plan to spend the night at the Zoo.  It was the incentive to sell cookies, limit our number of field trips during the year and I think the reason some girls stuck out the first year of Brownies.  We have a great Zoo and often we take for granted the chance to see the animals, but getting the chance to have a night tour, sleep in the Aquarium and learn more about the inner workings of the Zoo is hard to pass up.

Miss A was thrilled to think that we'd be sleeping with the animals.  I, of course, was most happy that once again I'd convinced a troop of girl scouts that "sleeping inside with air conditioning and flushing toilets" is still camping.  In July those this are non negotiable in my book.  My favorite part of the sleeping part was that Miss A still wanted to have her sleeping bag next to mine.  I'm wise enough to know that those days are fleeting.  We choose a quiet corner by the Penguins and, after a night hike and a movie, I was ready for some sleep.  Thankfully, the fish like to sleep at night too.  They just get up a lot earlier than I would like, but then so do a bunch of 2nd grade girls.

My favorite part of the Zoo Overnight was our morning hike before breakfast.  We got to see some of the animals before they were really awake and ready for viewing.  It was amazing.  I'm really glad though that we didn't have to see the Bats sleeping!  A close second in favorites is probably all the hand holding that happens when you get a bunch of young girls together. You tell them to "find a buddy" and they take the job seriously.  I love seeing how girls through the ages stay the same; I can remember my Girl Scout field trips and holding hands with my friends.

I'll admit that I learned a lot about the Zoo and Animals on this field trip.   I'm not really what you would call and animal person and hearing our tour guide explain the animals more in depth and hear about the unique ways they were created to live in their native environments was amazing.  I loved how their diets are so catered to the areas of the world they live and how even the color of their skin and fur are natural protections for them from predators.  All of this makes me more in awe of how amazing our God;as only God can make so many different species and creatures.

Miss A's favorite part of the tour was our visit to the Gorilla Valley where she made a great friend; a Gorilla! This amazing Gorilla spotted Miss A sitting by a window and came right up to her and tried to talk and touch her; it was absolutely beautiful and amazing.  Of course, I'm glad the glass separated them; but it was like they were meant to be friends.  Miss A was smiling from ear to ear and so was her new friend.

Spending the night at the Zoo with the Girl Scouts and Mom Volunteers was great; getting to do this with my favorite youngest daughter was the best part.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

These are the busy years.... 

That's why the Calendar says December and  the Blog is still in July. Life got away from me. I was too busy with kids, house, husband  and life to sit down and write down all the things, places and events that have taken place in the last six months.  How did it happen?  

I'd thought the baby and toddler years were busy (they were) but these teen and tween years are crazy busy too. 
The physical demanding days of young motherhood have been transformed into the mind and energy demanding days of having three kids who each have demanding schedules, homework and events to get to.  Some days it's nine o'clock and I'm just wiped out. Spent.  

Thus, the blog has been silent while my life has been loud and crazy.  My goal over the next few weeks is in the quiet of the afternoon when the house is empty and the fireplace is roaring and Hallmark Christmas Movies are playing I'll sit down and catch this blog up on the last few months.  If I don't I'll never remember what all the 1000 plus photos I've taken are all about and I can pretty much forget ever getting my scrapbooks caught up.

Really I want to catch up on all these days because more and more I'm realizing that these days of the crazy busy life are fleeting.  Very soon these kids will be off on their own and P and I will be left just with the memories. I'll want to be able to log onto this blog and remember.  Then I'll go sit on the back porch with P and enjoy a glass of wine and we'll laugh about all those funny things the "kids" used to do!  

Slow down time...I'm enjoying the ride too much to wish it away.  That's what this Erma Bombeck Column reminds me so eloquently.  

 Erma Bombeck Column:

A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome -- that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?"


One of these days, you'll shout, "Why don't you kids grow up and act your age!"

And they will.

Or, "You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do ... and don't slam the door!"

And they won't.

You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy -- bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way."

And it will.

You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company."

And you'll eat it alone.

You'll say: "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?" And you'll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti.

No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.

No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.

No more clothespins under the sofa.

No more playpens to arrange a room around.

No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent.

No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.

No more iron-on patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby sitter for New Year's Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn't ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.

No PTA meetings.

No car pools.

No blaring radios.

No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night.

Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.

No more sloppy oatmeal kisses.

No more tooth fairy.

No giggles in the dark.

No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?"

and the silence echoing, "I did."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moo: Cow Appreciation Day

We are a fun family!  I'm just putting that out there to clear up any confusion.  Seriously fun.  When I saw on Facebook and Twitter that if you dress like a cow you get free chicken sandwiches, I was all over the idea.  Sadly, I didn't see the notice until the night before; not enough time to create and elaborate costume (that's happening next year!), but I think our "Cows" looked pretty darn cute.

Thankfully, Chic Fil A had free Cow Spots, Noses and Ears on their website and my crafty girls were able to find black and white clothes so that we could go as both a Angus and a Holstein.  Hey, we don't live in the middle of Cattle Country for nothing; we know our cows.

Well, that's a lie!  I have no idea what color different cows are.  I just know how to google images.  However, I think the contrast of the black and white cow made the adorable factor even greater.

My husband came up with the Rubber Band Ear Flaps and the Straw Noses; God love that man he does have some creative juices flowing.  P and I even wore the ears and noses (we like free food too!), but have decided next year we are going to go all the way and wear costumes.  Maybe we'll start making them for Halloween Costumes and then just be ready!

Cow Appreciation Day is not one of our Bucket List items for next Summer and I'm sure we'll have even more fun then.  Who knows maybe we can get Mr C to participate next time too; this year he had a Youth Group party to attend so we gave him a pass.  Chick Fil A, you might not be right in our neighborhood (which is still our hope), but our family for one is happy that you've finally made it our "neck of the woods."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our Visit to a Girl Named Sue

We are slowly working our way through our Summer Bucket list.  Since this summer is flying by, its a necessity to try to fit in a few of the items each week.  Knowing full well that Mr C would not want to do all of the activities, we had a few things that we knew would be just a mom and girl event.  A visit to the Train Museum and their traveling T Rex Exhibit: A Girl Named Sue was just such an event.  With Mr C off to a Junior Golf event, we spent the morning at the Museum.

Now I realize that my girls can be a little bit of creatures of habit, but I was surprised that both girls insisted we not just "swoop in and see the dinosaur."  We had to go around the museum to each of their favorite places and experience them too.  We couldn't skip the Train walk through or the Streetcar that reminds us Grammy or the statues that talk.  Heaven Forbid!  Thankfully on a hot summer day, I'm willing to stay inside and walk around and knowing that the girls were creating memories and using their imaginations and minds; even better.

"Miss Sue" was in someways just another stop on the journey.  Amazing, huge and quite a sight, but when we read some of the exhibits facts and overheard a documentary about digging up this creature from "Millions of years ago," it can be a little disheartening to think that so much of science tries to discredit the Creator.  I was thankful, however, that both girls have a firm grasp of how this world really came to be and that both realize that Scientific Dating and Science don't have to be in conflict with Faith and Belief.

Of course, our trip to the Train Museum wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Candy Shop which is the home of the best candy in the world, Chuckles.  The girls got candy too but they had to wait to indulge until after lunch that day!  No day out with the girls can end without a trip out for lunch and since we had to pick up Mr C at the golf course anyway, we decided the Chic Fil A was a must.

Bucket list item checked off!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Off the Needles: Second Graduation Blanket Finished!

My one and only nephew graduated from High School in May and, while it had been my intention to give him a blanket as a gift at the party, at least I delivered it before he actually left for college.  The reason I was two months late in finishing can be blamed on the fact that I wanted to make it as "long" as possible and since it was color blocked, I had to add another block of both colors to make it look right.  Excuses, excuses!

The Blanket is from a free pattern I found on Knitting Daily.  I expanded the pattern to make it a bit wider and used the yarn recommended at my favorite knitting shop.  I loved the feel of the yarn while knitting and think it made for a very cozy and snuggle ready blanket.  The pattern is fun and textural without having a lot of complicated stitches.

I love the combination of Black and Gold and think the pattern really shows up great in these colors.  In addition, they were the colors of my nephew's High School and College's team colors as well.  Perfect.

My next project is a Baby Blanket for a sweet little girl meaning the colors are completely different and the size is much smaller.  I think my favorite knitting is blankets these days.  It is not too complicated, is easy to transport and knit on the go, and is fun to think that someday these blankets might make bring back memories of the love that went into every stitch from their Aunt.

Graphic Afghan pattern can be found here:
I used Berroco Comfort Chunk- Bulky Weight Yarn. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Day at the USGA Senior Open

Mr C has two big loves in life: golf and great food.  Really.  Give this young man a chance to play golf and he will give up almost anything else.  Offer him a dinner/lunch out at a restaurant he deems exotic or prepare a meal that is fancy and he will come running.  Knowing this about him, it was hard to imagine that a USGA event would be in our area and he would miss out on going.  When Mr C's golf coach offered up some tickets for the practice rounds and my husband had ticket for Thursday, I knew we'd be moving heaven and earth to go to the tournament.

On Monday, Mr C and Miss A and I braved the extreme heat (95 plus) to watch the practice round and catch a glimpse of some of the Old Guard of the PGA in action.  Guys like Tom Kite, Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Fred Funk; the people I remember watching with my Dad on Sunday afternoons.  In fact, I might have had a middle school crush on Tom Watson!

Walking the hills of the Country Club and watching these golfers gave Miss A an itch to pick up some clubs just like her big brother that she idolizes so much.  Seeing them walk hand in hand between the holes caused a little lump in my throat thinking about the fact that in another year this young man will be off to college. Having days like this when we can spend time doing something Mr C loves so much is even more precious.

Miss A and I had fun too watching the people.  On a hot day, its amazing what people will wear to a golf tournament and how much $7 Lemonade they will consume to keep cool.  Within minutes of arriving at the course, Mr C realized that his Green Golf Shirt choice was not the best as it was also the color of the Marshall's for the tournament.  I bet five or six people came up to him asking questions and directions!  Good sport that he is he helped them out as best he could.

Mr C was thrilled when we ran into his Golf Coach and they were able to "talk the talk" while watching; guess he didn't like Miss A and my comments on the Golfers shirts, cute caddies and bad putts.  

A day at a PGA event would not be complete however without a little fun at the Stemzone Tent where Mr C was able to act like a Golf Channel announcer and Miss A played the role of the Sound Guy.  Miss A learned a little bit about the science of golf technology and what a Stem Meter is while Mr C was practicing his swing in the simulator.  

Spending the day at the US Senior Open was one of the highlights of my summer because not only did I get to see PGA superstars up close, I got to experience it all with two of my favorite people in the world.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July: New Traditions with Old Friends,

I love being an American.  Freedom. I'm proud of my country and the people who gave so much to make it possible for me to enjoy that freedom.   I get misty eyed at the Pledge of Allegiance.  Don't even get me started when we sing all the verses of God Bless America; a little emotional doesn't describe it.  In many ways, celebrating the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.

This year was a little bit different, but it was good.  Great really.  Relaxing and Refreshing.  It was exactly what a summer day should be.  After a lazy morning at home decorating a Flag Cake with strawberries and blueberries, we spent the afternoon at the Pool where they had bounce houses and games for the kids.  We enjoyed a beautiful evening on the deck with good friends eating awesome food, watching our children run around lighting off fireworks, laughing, and enjoying life.  Could there be anything better?

In my day to day life, I often get too busy to stop and be grateful or to ponder all the blessings I have.  On a day like this when I get to sit and watch my children soak up summer, I realize just how abundantly blessed I am.  Sitting outside watching the sky light up with fireworks and glimmer like gold and silver, I am amazed at the beauty all around me.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning New Skills: Roller Blades

Miss A was given a pair of hand me down Roller Blades and decided that day she would learn to use them.  No time like the present I guess is her philosophy.  Since roller skating comes pretty easy to her, I knew she could master the concept pretty easily.  The only problem is that our house in on a hill, and our driveway is very steep hill.  Yikes.

The process of getting ready to tackle this new challenge, however, was not one Miss A could do on her own.  There were elbow and knee pads, wrist pads and a helmet to put on and, of course, the skates to be put on.  Thankfully, she had willing helpers in her siblings who were able to help her get ready.

Not one to accept defeat easily however, Miss A convinced her sister to help her navigate the hills and at times hung on to her with all her might.  Sisterly love.  I got a kick out of watching Miss M and Miss A go up and down the street with one sister on skates the other walking beside offering encouragement and a welcome hand at times.

At one point, Miss A was ready to give up, but with her sister's cheering continued on for a bit longer.

I'm thinking there are a lot of life lessons that this snapshot of Roller Blades could teach me:  perseverance, support of those we love, sharing the burden and finally asking for help when it comes to putting on the "gear needed" to accomplish a task. Those are exactly the kind of skills I desire for my children to have when the go out in the world; how fun that my 9 and 13 year old are learning that while on Roller Blades.  Perfect.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day at an Amusement Park: Yes the Mother Got on a Ride.

Our day trip to an Amusement Park a few hours away is becoming a Summer Tradition and one of our kids' favorite things to cross off the Summer Bucket List.  Sadly, Mr C was unable to find a friend to join him for the day.  The joy of teenage jobs and summer conditioning for sports means there are less and less people who can skip town for the day and just have fun.  Guess Mr C should be grateful his summer job is umpiring and by the end of June he is unemployed.  At least that the message we told him when all his friends were busy.

This year, weather was perfect.  It was not too hot and not a drop of rain.  Of course, some of our group was disappointed that no rain meant no dancing in the puddles, but it was nice not to have soaked clothes and towels.  Our Cabana was located right outside the Wave Pool (or as Mr C calls it "heaven on earth") and we spent most of our time in the water.  Miss A was much more adventuresome on the water slides this year and with two teenagers hovering over her, the mother got to just sit in the water and relax.  I knew one day this could be my life!

We did venture out to do a few rides after lunch and, while my disdain for rides was well documented, the peer pressure put on me to ride one of the rides was a little overwhelming.  I guess the Water Log Ride is not considered "daring" enough.  I even tried to say that my job for the day was to watch the stuff since the stroller and totes needed some protection and I viewed it as my duty to be there for these items.  However after much arm twisting, I finally gave in and went on a "death ride" which seemed to include all of my least favorite things:  fast movements, twisting, going upside down, and having no control over the outcome.

I am surprised I survived.  The fact that I'm still talking to my children and my friends means that I fully understand the meaning of Grace.  They certainly did not deserve my forgiveness for forcing me onto this death trap, but I offered them mine.  Let's just say that next year I am going to be much firmer in my arguments that I can not under any circumstance ride a ride.  Maybe I can even forge a Doctor's Note

All in all, our day at the Amusement Park was fabulous and a perfect mix of fun and friends.  Plus to keep our Food loving son happy, we were able to make a pit stop at our favorite BBQ joint and Mr C was able to "devour" a brisket sandwich that tasted like heaven!

A perfect day!