Archive - 2012

1
Llama Trek
2
Dining Room Chair Makeover
3
Bella Monster
4
Hidden Places in Disneyland
5
Three Months
6
A Letter to Pipsqueak
7
Taco Biscuit Pie
8
Climb Ev’ry Mountain
9
Teaching Bip to Read
10
The Exploratorium

Llama Trek

Boo went on another fun adventure with his Boy Scout troop over the summer.  This time the hike involved llamas.  One of the scout dads has llamas that he rents out and he led the boys a two-night excursion.  Boo wasn’t going to go at first, but I talked him into it.  Because seriously, how can you pass up a llama trek?

Here’s Boo with Marshall the Llama right before heading off on the trail.  Apparently, there is quite a bit more to leading llamas than you’d think.  You need to keep them close, but not too close and hope they don’t sit down. You’ve got to keep them away from the other llamas or they’ll spit.  Going uphill was the hardest because the llamas didn’t want to cooperate, so the boys had to tug them.

Malcolm is the white llama with the dark eyes.  Somebody brought him too close to Boo while he was holding Marshall and Boo got spat on.  Took it right in the eye!  The other scouts said it smelled terrible, but fortunately for Boo, he couldn’t smell it.  Their owner told the boys to put their cameras away and got Boo all cleaned up.

This all white llama is Copi, who is Boo’s favorite.  He was the most gentle and patient of all the llamas, even though he was carrying quite a load.  The whole expedition got caught in a hail storm and Copi just kept going, even though he didn’t have any rain gear.  Boo says Copi likes to smell people’s hair.  You’ll just be standing there and you’ll feel something around your ear and it’s a llama nose.  Copi’s nose, specifically.  He and Boo were the first ones up the hill and Copi kept turning around and humming to his friends to catch up.

This is the campsite.  Lots of room for boys and llamas.  Boo said they ate better on this trip than they usually get to  – hamburgers and pancakes and lots of snacks!  Usually they have to carry in all their own food and the means to cook it, but with the llamas doing all the carrying, they were able to bring up a grill! Something spooked the llamas the first night and they managed to escape, despite being tied to nets filled with 5 or 6 very large rocks.  The owner was able to track them all down and return them safely to camp.  The next night they were tied to trees.

Despite the hail and the llama spit, Boo had a good time and said he’d go again.  I call that a success!

Dining Room Chair Makeover

I’m so excited about my latest project!

About 14 years ago, Phil’s mom gifted us with her dining room set. The whole thing was in pretty bad shape, but we needed it, so we used it. Over the years we’ve learned that it is an antique, and 80 years old, at the very least. We had all the pieces restored when we stopped moving around the country and it is looking really nice.

Except the seats. Let me show you…

Not too bad, eh? Take a closer look.

They’ve been an embarrassment to me every time we have people over. We figure the seat covers are about 30 years old.

Well, my friend Niki is visiting and we took the time over the weekend to finally do something about the chairs. We had Phil removing the seat pads, 4 kids and I removing the nasty fabric and Niki cutting and stapling on the new fabric. It was pretty straight forward work, just time consuming. In about 2 hours we replaced all 6 seat covers. Take a look at them now.

Oh yeah!

Bella Monster

After knitting a monster for Bip and another for the traveling monster swap, I knit a monster for Pumpkin Girl.  This is another pattern from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters.
The pattern is Gort the Gym Bag monster, but of course Pumpkin needed a ballet bag monster.  The yarn is from Knit Picks – Felici sock in Peachy.

 She is Bella the Ballet Bag monster!

Bella has been mooching the granola bars that Pumpkin carries in her bag, so she’s gotten a little chubby. But her arms still look lovely in 1st and 5th position.

I like the way the striping ending up looking like ballet slippers and tights.

Hidden Places in Disneyland

Hidden Places in Disneyland that you don't want to miss!It’s no secret that we love Disneyland. I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’ve been.  We even went last January.  Over the years we’ve come up with a list of our favorite things. You can look anywhere for the best rides to go on for different ages, how to beat the crowds, and where are the best places to eat. But want to share my family’s top 10 out-of-the-way places and things to see. These are lesser known things to experience, the kinds of things left out of guide books, or overlooked by park goers. Enjoy!

1.Storybook Land Canals after dark. What sets Disneyland apart from other theme parks? The ambiance. They create a scene so beautifully that it can take your breath away. For a truly magical experience, ride the Storybook Land Canals after dark. The ride is lit with little fairy lights, probably by Tinker Bell herself. If you can manage it, ride without the kids and hold hands with your honey.

2. The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through. This is overlooked by most people, but fun. The entrance is to the right, as you are leaving Fantasyland, just before you go under the castle. Dioramas tell the story of Aurora and her Prince as you walk up and through the castle. Don’t be too surprised if something jumps out and startles you! And watch for Malificent’s shadow moving across the wall…SleepingBeautyCastleEntrance

3. When You Wish Upon a Star. As you pass under the castle arch, pause for a moment and listen carefully. You will hear Jiminy Cricket singing “When You Wish Upon a Star”. I’m such a sap, hearing that brings a tear to my eye every time.

4. The Wicked Queen is watching! While you’re in line for the Peter Pan ride, look over at the Snow White ride. Up in the castle window, Snow White’s wicked step-mother will open the curtain and glower down at the crowd!WickedQueen

5. Poisoned Apple. Right at the entrance to Snow White’s Scary Adventures is a brass poisoned apple. Touch it…if you dare. PoisonApple

6. Now you see him…In the Mad Hatter hat shop, take a look at the mirror on the wall. The Cheshire Cat will appear and disappear. But if you want a good picture of him, go around to the left of the Alice ride. He’s sitting in a niche in the rock.

7. Square trees? Check out the trees in Fantasyland. They are cut into squares. This is to go along with the artwork in the Sleeping Beauty movie, which is all straight up and down and angular, reflecting the tapestries of the time the movie is set.

8. Photo op. Trying to get a picture of your kids on the Dumbo ride is difficult. Instead, look for the Dumbo set up just for pictures to the left of the ride.

9. South of the Border. A fun Mexican restaurant hides between the entrance to Big Thunder Mountain and the Castle. Even if you don’t eat there, take a stroll through the quiet passageway next to the restaurant for a change of pace.RanchoDelZolcaloPassage

10. Stroll through NOLA. Don’t miss the streets of New Orleans Square! Pay attention to all the details that Disney does so well. Rest your feet in the shade while sipping a soda on a curving staircase.

NOSquareStairs

Three Months

It has been three months since the start of the Waldo Canyon Fire. The kids’s t-shirts say it all.

Community does not burn down.

I am so proud of our town. We’ve been working together to help the families who lost everything. Boo and his Boy Scout troop are collecting holiday items for the free “garage sale” for the families. Everything from decorations to roasting pans to wrapping paper! Air Force Academy cadets provided physical labor in helping to clear vegetation in the burnt neighborhoods. There is an active campaign to patronize the local businesses who had to close for a week or longer during the height of the tourist season.

Meanwhile, efforts have been made to mitigate future damage from flooding. Run-off from the burn scar will pose a real threat for the next few years. We took advantage of the free sandbags offered by the city, just in case the creek behind our house overflows its banks. Helicopters are once again flying over our house. This time they are dropping mulch before the snow comes, to make up for the lack of vegetation that previously prevented landslides.

I’ve said it before, but here it is again. I love my mountains! I’ve grown to love this community. This is our home now. Despite everything, I never want to leave.

A Letter to Pipsqueak

…who won’t sleep.

My dearest, sweetest Pipsqueak,

Mommy and Daddy love you so very much.  Your chubby cheeks, your happy smile, the way you yell “Daddy!” when you hear the garage door opening.  We love to hold you, play ball with you, help you pet the “meows”.

But you know what we don’t love?  The way you won’t sleep at night.

Really, dude, what’s the deal? We’ve been through many a baby.  Some slept better than others.  But you, my little friend are a Bad Sleeper.  And we’re old now.  We need our rest.  Do you see the gray hairs on my head?  They are from lack of sleep.  Really.

What do you think you are missing at night?  I’ll tell you what – SLEEP!  Look over at us.  We’re sleeping.  Boo and Pumpkin and Bip…all sleeping.  Even the cats.  Are sleeping, is what they are.

You have a warm, cozy bed.  You have people who love you.  Your belly is full and your diaper is dry.  Just sleep.  Please.  For the love of all that is good and right in the world, please sleep.

Love,

Your mom and dad, who haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 1 year, 5 months and 24 days.  Not that we’re counting.

P.S.  Here’s a picture of you doing that sleep thing once.  See how cute you look?  I’d love to see that again.

Taco Biscuit Pie

The day after we evacuated from the fire, I realized I had left all my recipes behind.  I knew that I could find some of them online, others were family recipes I could get from my mom.  Others would  suffer the same fate as our house.  Fortunately, we had a happy ending.

This particular recipe came from a Pillsbury Family Fun Cookbook published in 1983 and until very recently, I could not find it online.  So I’m sharing it now so that I can always find…and you can try it, too! This is one of my children’s absolute favorites.  Enjoy…

 

Taco Biscuit Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Taco Biscuit Pie

Ingredients

  • 10 oz can biscuits (Grand or Hungry Jack size)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 4 oz (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup crushed corn chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Separate dough into 10 biscuits.
  3. Arrange 7 biscuits around sides and 3 on bottom of ungreased 9 inch pie pan; press biscuits to form crust. Biscuits will form petal-like shape around rim of pan.
  4. In large skillet, brown ground beef; drain.
  5. Stir in kidney beans and taco seasoning mix.
  6. Simmer 5 minutes over low heat.
  7. Spoon hot meat mixture into prepared crust.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-16 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  9. Immediately top with cheese and corn chips.
  10. Sprinkle with lettuce and tomato.
  11. Allow to cool 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.
http://themacandcheesechronicles.com/2012/09/13/taco-biscuit-pie/

Climb Ev’ry Mountain

One of the best things about Colorado is being outside. One of the most popular things to do is climb 14’ers. A 14’er, if you don’t know, is a mountain greater than 14,000 feet above sea level. Pikes Peak is one, and at 14,115 ft, is #30 in the state. Climbing these mountains is not for the weak of heart or mind! You have to be in good physical condition and prepared for the worst weather conditions and ready for all sorts of challenges.

Boo recently had the opportunity to go on a 14’er climb with his Boy Scout troop. Because of scheduling conflicts he had to go without his dad, but the adult leader agreed to bring him because Boo has proven himself to be a Reliable Scout on many other adventures.

I promptly started to worry. I’m his mom, it is part of my job! I had a very serious discussion with him about safety and weather. I warned him that he could expect the mountain to be 30 degrees colder than where we live. A hat, gloves and a fleece jacket would be necessities, even in August! He humored me. I think he even managed to keep from rolling his eyes. Then the planning meeting confirmed all this and more. I, for my part, did not say “I told you so.”

Departure day arrived. When I dropped him off I could tell he was nervous. I reminded him that the first day was just car camping and the climb to the peak was “just” a hike. I don’t know if my words helped him, but I know I felt better! Still, I worried just a bit.

Saturday morning I got a call.

“Hey mom! Can you guess where I am?”

“Well, I have an idea, but why don’t you tell me yourself.”

“I’m on the top of La Plata Peak! 14,336 ft!”

What a great kid! He accomplishes a mighty feat and his first thought is to say “hi, mom!”

When he returned home on Sunday he was full of stories. He said the scenery was absolutely beautiful and that the pictures he took couldn’t do it justice.

He showed me pictures of how steep the terrain was and told me there were four, very discouraging false peaks. One of the scouts got altitude sickness and needed to turn back with his dad. Boo said it was the toughest hike he’d ever been on.

So let’s hear for the boy! Conquering a 14’er at 13 years old.

Teaching Bip to Read

Just when I think I’ve got this parenting thing down, somebody goes and proves me wrong.

This time it was Bip.

I started teaching Big Brother Boo to read when he was about six years old. He wasn’t too enthusiastic about the process, being a young boy who would rather run around like a crazy person. But we both stuck to it and he learned to read. My torture of choice was Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, known as 100EZ in the homeschool circles. I liked it for the cheesy title.

At about the same time, four year old Pumpkin Girl insisted she wanted to learn to read, too.

“Ok, ok,” I told her. “Later. When you’re older.”

But she would not be ignored and one day she told me again,”Teach me to read.” And the she dropped that heavy 100EZ book on my lap. Have you seen that book? Almost 400 pages thick!

When I recovered, I let her learn to read. Next thing I knew, girl friend was reading at a second grade level. I don’t think I finished the book with either child. They just didn’t need to since they were both strong readers.

So the years passed and now  it was time to teach Bip to read. Out came Ol’ Reliable, 100EZ. I can’t say for sure when the tears started. Lesson 1, maybe? With 99 more lessons looming ahead of us. From day to day, Bip couldn’t seem to remember which sounds the letters make. Ten lessons into it, we quit.

He’s just not ready, I told myself. Boys are often late readers. Yeah, that’s it.

Several months later, we started all over again. It was only slighter easier. Day after day we trudged on, often repeating lessons. Bip was in serious danger of learning to hate reading. I finally shelved 100EZ permanently. I got out some Catholic readers, circa 1950. Bip struggled some, but got through them. We got out the Bob Books, too and he really liked those. Next in line were the Sonlight readers. Then I found a Dick and Jane anthology and Bip sat down and read story after story aloud. He was reading!

Over this past summer we all caught Bip reading various things. Labels, signs, that kind of thing.

“I thought you said you can’t read,” we’d say.
“I can’t,” he’d reply.

Until one day I turned the question around and said, “You can read, can’t you?”
” Yes,” he admitted. Aha!

So now Bip is reading. He is still working his way through the Dick and Jane book. He really enjoys those, as well as the Catholic readers which are very similar in content and illustrations. He reads more and more outside of the context of school.

I really don’t know how it happened or where I go next with him. I like a well laid out plan, 100 easy lessons all bound in one book. I do have a stack of readers that I’ll just let him work through and I’ll teach him phonics rules as they come up. Bip’s not the only one learning here. I’m being challenged by him in many unexpected ways.

But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Exploratorium

We finally made it to The Exploratorium. My first experience with this (or any) hands-on museum was when I first started college. My good friend Ben took me and my roommate, and maybe Philip. Ben had worked there in high school and he showed us all the best exhibits. Everything there is good, actually, which explains why a group of college students would even be interested. During the time I lived in San Francisco, I went to the Exploratorium at least once a year.

The children loved it! They dashed from exhibit to exhibit, trying to get experiments to work. Most of them required little or no help from a parent, beyond reading the instructions for the early reader among us. We couldn’t get all the experiments to work and some turned out differently than we thought they would. Others we totally rocked. But that’s all part of the fun!

At the bubble tables you try to create the biggest bubble you can. Bip tried to pull a bubble over his head, but it didn’t work.

Then we watched other kids doing it and realized that he needed to move faster. And then he got it!

Funny chairs!  This would have been a fun picture of all my boys, but Boo was off with his cousin.  I had no idea where he was.

This room was dark and had lights moving across the floor in various patterns. The only point of this was to interact with the light however you felt like. Pipsqueak loved this! He chased the lights, stepped on them, attempted to hop over them. He even rolled on them.

If you go:
The Exploratorium is located on the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts, so make sure you allow time to walk around outside and check it out, too.

They have a small cafe for food and a place to sit down. Food isn’t allowed outside that area. They’ve also got lockers available for a fee if you have stuff to stow.

Don’t forget, they are closed on Mondays!

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