Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Pre-Christmas Memory

I'm thinkin' it must have been about 40 Christmases ago... (Which is completely impossible, of course, because there's no way 1974 was actually 40 years ago. My math must be off somewhere.) Anyway, somewhere along in through there...

My mother, an accomplished and professional seamstress, sewed many of our Christmas gifts when we were growing up. Her project that year was to make five large rag dolls... one for each of us, boy dolls for my brothers, and girl dolls for my sisters and me. This was the pattern:
These were very large floppy dolls... about 2 feet long... so you can see it was quite an undertaking too make five of them, including the clothes. It seems Mother was sequestered in her bedroom with the door closed for days. We children had strict instructions not to go in there because she was working on "Christmas presents." Once our Christmas break from school started it was so hard to obey and not bother her.

One morning, shortly before Christmas, a friend of my mother's stopped by our house. Janie brought with her five large, flat wrapped gifts... and five much smaller ones. Even though it wasn't yet Christmas we were allowed to open them! Each of us received an over-sized Christmas coloring book and a box of crayons! We didn't even have to share our crayons with our brothers and sisters because we each had our own!

Probably a little birdy had told Janie that the preacher's kids needed something to do while their mother sewed. In any case, we happily gathered around the dining room table and spread open our new coloring books. I don't know how many days or hours that kept us occupied, but my mother still gratefully remembers the thoughtfulness of her friend that year.

I'm pretty sure I still have my doll from that Christmas packed away somewhere, along with other cherished rag dolls my mother made over the years. I would have liked to find her and take a picture to show you... but "ain't nobody got time for that" today. (I just Googled the pattern picture above.) But here's a snapshot from that era that I already had scanned. Obviously, it wasn't taken at Christmas time... but oh-so-definitely mid-1970s!
And yes, dear friends and readers, I do have good intentions of getting back to blogging! Maybe that will be a good New Year's resolution!

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Talkin' to the Squirrels

 All of us... especially Cookie... have enjoyed our shady backyard this summer. Cookie likes to chase rabbits and talk to squirrels, both of whom are frequent visitors.

The three snakes who have shown up at different times, however, are not welcome. I guess I ought to put up a sign:


They'd probably pay about as much attention to that as the door-to-door salesman pay to this one:
(Photo courtesy of Laura.)
But I digress. 

Our backyard is fenced all around and lined with trees and shrubbery, so though we have close neighbors we also enjoy a sense of privacy. It's lovely.
 As the leaves fall, it won't be quite so private, but I have to say, fall is just gorgeous in Colorado. Not just the aspens in the mountains, but also the city streets and brilliant blue skies.
The kids raked the leaves into a big pile. Doesn't it make you want to just go jump in it?
Maybe we'll build a fire in our little patio fireplace this evening and toast marshmallows.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn in the Rockies

 Last Sunday afternoon was overcast and gray, but we decided to take a short drive up in the mountains to see the aspens anyway.
 The brilliant gold is a sharp contrast to the dark green of the evergreens. Just breathtaking.
 I especially enjoyed this scene with the farm pond and the barbed-wire fence... and the little bit of blue sky peeking through the clouds.
 And, of course, we had to pose in front of the leaves!
 This one is just to embarrass the kids. Because that's what we do.
 What a privilege to live so near such beauty. It's almost worth putting up with city life. Almost.
Wonder if I can talk the man into going again this Sunday. Maybe the skies will be clear? You never can tell about Colorado weather.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rainbow Over the Mountains

Just a glimpse of the gorgeous, full-arched rainbow that spanned over the Rockies early this morning. I snapped these quick pictures on my phone on my way to work.
My co-worker, Chris, took this one from his house.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Helen Hunt Falls

We had company for the 4th of July weekend this year. Two of Lyle's brothers and their families were in the area. On Saturday we drove into the mountains outside of Colorado Springs to hike along Helen Hunt Falls.
Some of us only made it up to the bridge over the falls looking out over the parking lot.
 It was lovely shady place to sit on the rocks and enjoy the splashing stream tumbling over the rocks.
The men and kids hiked on up the mountain. I'm not sure where it took them and or what they saw, but I guess it was a pretty good hike.
They stopped at the bridge on the way back down.
No telling what the brothers were talking about... but they enjoyed being together. They don't get to see each other very often, since one lives in Kansas, one in Idaho, and one in Colorado.
We look forward to finding other pretty places to hike around here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mount Evans

Our afternoon drive the last Sunday of June took us up above the tree line to the summit of Mount Evans at over 14,000 feet.
It is the highest paved road in North America.
We had driven the Pikes Peak road several years ago on vacation, and this one was every bit as dramatic, with no guard rails!
We learned that originally this highway was meant to connect three "fourteeners"-- Longs Peak, Mount Evans, and Pikes Peak-- but according to the brochure it "proved unfeasible at the time" so they gave it up. That would have been really cool, though.
Since it was a hot day in Denver we hadn't thought about taking along jackets. It was breezy and in the 40s at the summit.
We walked around a bit, but didn't take the time to hike the additional 100 or so feet to the actual summit.
The park entrance fee was $10 per vehicle... a bargain compared to the $40 fee for Pikes Peak! Besides, it's closer to home... so I expect we'll be buying a season pass for $25 next year. 

It's only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but it's a great Sunday afternoon drive destination!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Graduation Day

The third Saturday in June was a beautiful day for a backyard graduation. The late afternoon sun filtering through the trees made a lovely setting for the girl graduate in her pink cap and gown. (She was the only graduate in her "class" so she got to choose the color.)
Her teacher (me)... and her "principal" (her dad)... made a few comments and presented her with her diploma.
Then her pastor-grandpa shared some thoughts and offered a blessing. The gathered friends blew bubbles at her as she tossed her cap into the air.
And with that... my homeschooling journey was over.

 Sixteen years I've invested in my children's education. Long days of wondering if we were covering everything we should be. Delightful days reading piles of wonderful stories. Challenging days when nothing seemed to go as planned. But oh, it was so worth it!

 As my mother and I previewed the PowerPoint presentation that I put together for the celebration, she commented, "The years have gone by almost as fast as those slides are changing." I agree with her. How could sixteen years possibly have gone by already?
My emotions have been bittersweet. In some ways, I wish I could go back and do some things differently. On the other hand, I'm excited to see what the future has in store for my now-adult children.

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of being home with them all throughout their childhood. Motherhood is a blessing I don't take for granted.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Washington Trip

The second weekend of June was my last convention trip of the season, and this time Lyle got to go with me! I really missed him traveling with me (and doing the loading/unloading and driving) on my other trips this year. This trip was to Seattle, one of our favorite cities.
We were even able to sneak away for a couple of hours to take a spin in the Great Wheel which is new since we were in Seattle for our 25th anniversary in 2010.
My team in Seattle was made up of some long-time friends, two of whom are Sonlight graduates! We had a good time working together and enjoyed hanging out with the team for Sonlight's sister company, BookShark, as well. Then on Saturday evening some friends from Idaho drove over to spend a little time with us. 

The trip was much too short for everything we would have liked to do... but to be honest I was happy to get home and put my feet up after 9 conventions this season! This was my 15th year as a Sonlight Curriculum Consultant and quite possibly my most challenging one yet.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Virginia Trip

The first weekend of June I was part of a larger team that hosted the Sonlight booth at the HEAV convention in Richmond, Virginia. I would have liked to see a little bit of the historic district, having never been to Richmond before... or Virginia, really, for that matter. But... it was a business trip, so sight-seeing was not on the schedule.
We flew in on Wednesday and got set up for the convention early in the day on Thursday, so we had a couple of hours to relax by the pool before time for the convention to start. One thing I noticed was how different the air "felt" in the southeast than here in the mountains... softer and heavier. It wasn't too hot that weekend, though, which was nice.
HEAV is one of the larger homeschool conventions so we definitely stayed busy. Our team was made up of a group of ladies (and one husband) whom I've become friends with over the years, and we enjoyed working together. 

And that was convention #8 for my 2014 homeschool convention season. Maybe next time I go to Virginia I'll get to see a little more of it. Or maybe not... ya just never know!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Vintage China

 For several years I've enjoyed collecting random pieces of pretty vintage china when I find it at a garage sale or thrift store. Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know about my eclectic violet tea set. Other than that the only full set of china I have is a set that Mother gave me that originally belonged to my great-grandmother.
I have treasured Granny's china and enjoyed displaying it and using it, but the pattern is not one I would have chosen. I like a delicate floral pattern. In fact, my favorite piece (other than the violet dishes) is a sweet little bread-and-butter plate I picked up for 50 cents about 3 years ago.

Imagine how thrilled I was this morning to discover a full service for 8 of that very pattern at a Salvation Army store we just "happened" to go in!
The set included dinner plates, soup bowls, salad plates, dessert bowls, and cups and saucers, plus a serving bowl, a cream pitcher, and sugar bowl. There were only 6 cups, but 8 of everything else (except the serving pieces, of course.) The price marked was $52.10. The dishes were all stacked on a counter so I thought maybe they had been spoken for. I asked the lady behind the counter who told me she had just put them out.

Lyle had given me some money a few weeks ago that he said I was to spend on something just for me. I had been hoarding it for just such a time. As I stood deliberating over it, the manager announced over the loud-speaker, "Our special today is 25% off brick-a-brack items..." That's when I noticed that the price tag was labeled "brick-a-brack!"

"This would be 25% off?" I asked the lady.

"Yes," she assured me. "It's labeled brick-a-brack, so that counts."

"I'll take it!" I declared.

She offered to wrap it and box it up for me while I continued to look around.

I went to find Lyle. "I just bought a set of china dishes," I told him. He knows my fondness for pretty china.

We were casually wandering through the furniture department when I spotted a hutch.

Lyle said, "I guess you need that to put your dishes in, don't you?"

It was marked $80. Mmm. I didn't really want to spend that much.

"Furniture is 50% off today," Lyle told me.

"It is?!" I guess I had been so tuned in to the "brick-a-brack" special that I tuned out everything else.

 So I got my dishes for $38... and the hutch to put them in for $40.
My "new" dishes coordinate nicely with Granny's china (which includes service for 6) so now I have enough dishes that I can have up to 14 guests and still set a pretty table! Before, any time we had more than 2 people for dinner I had to either use every-day dishes or paper-ware.
Naturally I had to come home and rearrange the living room to fit the hutch in just so, and then arrange all my pretty dishes in it. What fun!
How about a cup of tea?

A Cuddle of Bunnies

"Mom, can you step outside for a moment?" she asked.

"Why? What do you need?" I wondered.

"I just want to show you something real quick. It's so cute!"

So I followed her out the door and to the end of the porch.

"Be real quiet," she cautioned. "See? Two babies and a mama!"

They were cuddled up against the house next door.
"How darling!" I whispered. "Let me go get my camera. I bet I can get pictures with the zoom lens."

Even from 6 or 8 feet away, the whir of the camera frightened the first little bunny back into the hole under the porch.
I'm not sure that the larger bunny is the mama. 

I think maybe he's the brother bunny with two little sister bunnies.

But who am I to judge? 

Bunnies don't put pink and blue booties on their babies so we can tell the girls from the boys!
And then there was one!

Mama or big brother... whichever it was... anyway, it was the bravest one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Where Did I Leave Off?

Once upon a time I used to blog... It's been awhile, I know. I guess you'd like to know about some of the things that have been keeping my life so busy and my schedule filled, wouldn't you? Because I know you are just avidly interested in all my Ramblin's! Well, some of you are, anyway. I'm pretty sure. And for those of you who aren't... feel free to just ignore me. It's okay. Really.

So... where was I last time we met here? Let's see... I'd been to Alaska... and then home to Colorado again. Oh, but my spring travels weren't over. So I guess that's where I should pick up.
In May, my team (consisting of my friend Sherry, daughter Laura, and myself) hosted the Sonlight booth at the Homeschool Iowa Conference in Des Moines, Iowa... where the farmers apparently drive their John Deere tractors right downtown! This was scene as we drove into downtown from the airport.

Our adventures that weekend included having to transport the booth display in a small SUV (with multiple trips) instead of the mini-van I had reserved, because the rental car agency didn't actually have a mini-van... and walking 7 or 8 blocks through the Sky Walk system in Des Moines trying to find somewhere to eat between set-up and the first night of the convention. One of us had a fractured foot and another was operating on low blood-sugar and dehydration (or something!) so we were quite the sight hobbling along through the maze of passageways above the city streets. We also got to hear comedian Brad Stine on Friday night while we were there.

And that was Convention #7 for me for the 2014 homeschool convention season.

Just to keep things organized... and because I'm afraid I'll never get finished if I try to do all the updates in one big ol' long post, I'm going to post about each event or activity in separate posts. It may take me several days... but I guess since I'm already this far behind, that won't matter much, will it?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring Update

And again, weeks have gone by without an update... but by now I'm sure you know what that means, right? Busy-ness on the home front!

Last time I posted from Fairbanks, Alaska hoping to report in with pictures of the Northern Lights. Sadly, I didn't get to see them. I had found out, just a day or two before I left, that often hotels take a shuttle out in the middle of the night if the Lights are out. You can put in a request at the front desk for a wake-up call if they end up taking the van out. I inquired at my hotel, and sure enough, they offered that service. So I put my name on the list... but still no luck. 

I did get to see the Alaska Pipeline. Not that it's much consolation since it's always there... not an elusive thing like the Northern Lights.
 Didn't see any Alaskan wildlife either... but hey, there were moose droppings along the Pipeline! Does that count? No? I didn't think so.
Speaking of moose droppings... some enterprising outfit has come up with a way to market the stuff! In the souvenir aisle at WalMart, no less. All kinds of "punny" things made with shellacked and preserved moose poop! There was even a "lipstick" that had a label that said, "It won't heal your chapped lips, but it'll keep you from licking them!" Um. Yeah. I reckon it would do that!

Home again. It's been a busy few weeks with a special weekend conference at church, and getting ready again for my next trip: Des Moines, Iowa this weekend.
One evening we enjoyed a double-date with some friends at a pizza place up in the mountains. We ate on the deck overlooking a mountain stream. It's been a lot of fun to find new "favorite" places as we settle in.

The spring weather here in Colorado has been very fickle. We've had some lovely, warm spring days. The tulips and the cherry tree bloomed and faded. Trees have leafed out and the lilacs were in full bloom last week. And then... on Mother's Day it started snowing. And it snowed for hours. Days even. Well, two days anyway. We ended up with several inches... as in 6 or 8 inches. In mid-May.  I was not amused. We did not move south for this!

Honestly, it wouldn't have been too bad because, obviously, it is already melting quickly away. However, the heavy, wet snow accumulated on the leaves of the trees, and the weight actually broke several limbs on trees in our yard. We're waiting to see what the final damage looks like once the snow has completely melted and the trees and lilac bushes have had a chance to recover. We are planning to have Rebecca's graduation in our backyard in June, so I hope it won't be too ugly.