Wednesday, June 20, 2007

100th Blog! And an Ethical Girl

Wow - can you believe that this is my 100th blog entry? It seems amazing to me! I started this as a way for my out of town friends to keep in touch with what our family is doing. It also was, or rather, is , a means of my sort of keeping track of myself. It has grown since then. It still serves its original purpose, but it has also become a way for me to meet new friends. People that I most likely would not have met otherwise. :)
This past weekend was a big bike weekend. We had two races and a team party. My kids were awesome in the race. Ethan went faster than he had ever gone. He came in 14th in his division, which happens to be one of the largest and most competitive. It was a thrill to see him whiz by after completing 19 miles of the 20 mile race. Ellie was also wonderful. She came in second and earned a lovely metal. Her metal was not due to being the second most fast girl in her category. Rather, the two fastest girls in her group did not pay attention to directions and went a longer distance than they were supposed to go. This put Emily and Ellie in the top two spots. Now, we discussed that in their hearts of hearts, they knew the other girls were faster. Perhaps they should trade down their metals, we suggested. After all, didn't they earn them? After some hand wrenching, Emily and Ellie decided, on their own, to talk to the judges. The officials were great. They said that while speed and skill are important, so is knowing what you're doing and where you are going. The officials decided that Emily and Ellie had indeed won those metals. It was a hard lesson for the others, their parents complained about it at the race the next day, not realizing whose mother I was, but I understand where they are coming from. Perhaps they will learn to pay more attention to details, like directions. I figure that is an important life lesson. Anyhow, I am proud of my girl. It had to be hard to face the prospect of handing over your first big metal. I hope her ethical side will always prevail. I could have MADE her do the ethical thing. It was so much more meaningful that she chose it on her own. You Go, Biker Girl!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A New Chapter in my Life and Blacksheep Bags by Me

Oh gosh, I had not realized that it had been so long since I had posted. I thought it had only been a few days, a week, m-a-y-b-e since I had posted last. Where have I been? Mostly outside or at my sewing machine, at least when I was not doing that deep cleaning that we all so dread - one room at a time. I thought I would share with you what I had been making. I have some fun kid-related news, but I will save that for the 100th post.

My kids LOVE their bike racing uniforms. They feel transformed, faster, when they wear them. They have a lot of parts, so I decided to make them duffel bags. I looked around for pre-made ones, but they wanted ones to match their uniforms. So, it was Mom, Wonder Under, Computer Aided Fabric Transfers and my sewing machine to the rescue. I appliqued the different fabrics to match their racing jerseys. I even made my own pattern. The ones at the cloth stores did not have the right components. This one has four outside pockets, each designed to fit something specific like the sunglasses case, the gloves, the socks and the shoe covers. The ends sport large pockets that can hold two waterbottles and some powerbars. It was fun, but time consuming to design my own pattern. So far I have made two of them. I have two more in the works. One for Coach Paul who seems to always have time for my questions and one for Team Mentor, Bryce, or Brycycle, as he signs his emails. He is the nicest young man I know. He is about 20 years old and does all he can to help the kids improve. For example, this morning he took my kids on a 25 mile ride. I offered to take him to lunch, but he passed. I know that he will like his bag. I already have his request for pockets specifics. I also made a tote bag for my friend, Karen, who organizes most of our activities. Seeing her try to hold everything, I decided that she needed a bag, too. My kids wonder how many I will make. I do, too.
I have been out on my bike, too. I rode a borrowed one and loved it. Later I was thrilled when I has able to buy it for a very reasonable price. My goal is to make it out on my bike every day. I have not been able to do that, but I have gotten in some good rides. A week ago Ethan and I went for a 48 mile ride. I got out four times last week. :) My friend, Coach Paul, rode by and said, "Starting a new chapter in your life?" I said, "Yes, I hope so."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hammer In and Beginning to breathe

(Pictures will be added soon - I am writing this off location.)

The Last Officially Super Busy Weekend is done, at least for a while, and boy, was it fun!

On Friday we had dinner with my aunt, my cousin, her son, Evan, my mom and the in laws. Evan will turn 14 this summer. While I have always enjoyed being with him, this time was different. He was more of his own person, so I got to know who the real Evan is, instead of just the fun and polite boy I've known in the past. He bought out his electric guitar and played some tunes for us. He made funny, subtle and sarcastic jokes, which made me snicker. His mother is as pale and blonde as you can get. His dad is a full blood Navajo. Evan is a beautiful mix of the two - dark skin, high cheek bones, long eyelashes and a lanky walk. He will be, if not already, a heart breaker.

After dinner Ethan and I left for the "Hammer In." It is a very primitive, rustic and kick-in-the-pants bit of fun for a few days. Ethan and I went last year. When we pulled into the horse pasture where it is located we were greeted heartily by many people. "Ethan, bud, it is so good to see you." "Oh, Ethan! We were wondering if you were coming this year." "Ethan, is that you? No broken arm this year? And you are so much taller." You get the idea. It was like a home coming. His friend, Logan, who introduced us to the camp, was there. He is an eclectic, interesting teen who lives on a mountain farm in Conifer. He works as the king's page at the Renaissance Festival every summer. He and Ethan worked on making stuff to go to the festival in style. Ethan made a knife, but it was bent. Logan tried to fix it for him by putting it in a vice. He forgot that once the metal has cooled that is becomes brittle or hardened. When he tried to help, he actually broke part of the end off. Blacksmithing Tragedy! But wait, Logan did his fastest ever blacksmithing and saved the day by making it shorter, but still usable. Then came Suzanne. She is a trained message therapist that has a bad case of wunderlust. She never stays any place longer than a year. Her mom lives near us, so we get to see her from time to time. She always has wonderful stories. She had just returned from 4.5 months living at a station in Anartica. She told fun tales of cornering beakers (scientists) to find out what their projects are. She told tales of adventures with Kiwis (Aussies) and of -40 degree adventure hunts for bags of potato chips. She spun tales of what happens when the power goes down for about a day and six people get injured, but most still manage to have fun. Her stories and photos were amazing. They worked side by side. Then there were the blacksmiths - a fun and unusual looking lot.
I was up with the rising sun the next morning. It was peaceful and interesting watching the sun peek over the mountain and drench the heavy metal and wood tools with the early morning glow. Slowly the blacksmiths began to rise and stir. If you did not know you were at "Hammer In," you might mistake yourself for someone on the back lot at the movie studios. There's one guy who hand built a civil war cannon and wears interesting period clothing to go with it. There's guys who look like a rough lot with their long mustaches, their bandannas with skulls and their missing digits - these are actually pussy cats with a heart of gold in rough clothing. Of course we can't forget the guys who work at the live museums doing blacksmithing. Or how about the guy who is dressed as an Early American explorer - he's the one who helped Ethan get started with the knife. There are others that I have not described, but I am sure you get the picture, so of. While Ethan is working away at the forge and the anvil, I am in the cooking tent. Three to four of us are cooking all at the same time. There is the pie queen who made seven different pies. The most unusual and pretty popular variety is the buttermilk pie. It is like a custard that she topped with strawberries. We made a ton of main dishes including smoked racks of ribs, a smoked brisket with Cajun butter injected into it, deep fried turkeys, pork tenderloin stuffed roll, lemon pepper chicken, green curry pork, pickled beef tongue (more tasty than it sounds), white chili, wild rice with onions and mushrooms, wild rice with almonds and cranberries, white rice for the curry, two kinds of scalloped potatoes, spiced green beans, mincemeat pie, sausage, onion olive pie, beef stew, spiced apple dumplings and strawberry dumplings. Even with this long list, I am sure I have forgotten something. The fest was wonderful. We fed a crowd of around 80 people. During dinner it began to rain. Most people gathered under the tarps with the anvils and made hospitable, conversational groups. We were up until it was pitch dark and our eyes drooped. We had to bid goodbye early as Ethan and Ellie had a 7:20 a.m. race the next day. We had to leave at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday in order to get there are registered in time to race.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Crispy Fried Computer & Creativity

Say, do you smell something burning? You wonder where that smoke came from? It's the computer in my classroom! Earlier in the week we had a huge storm - buckets of water, rain so heavy that you might have thought a kid was standing outside of the window with the hose pointed to the building - and lightening!!! The storm was so big that my students had me stop so we could look out the window and see how much it was raining. Then there were six (yeah, you read that right, six!) bolts of lightening that hit right outside of the school. One got the flag pole and has left marks on it. The energy from this traveled through some parts of our building. In my classroom, and other, it was so intense that the hair on our arms stood up, the hair on our heads got funky, some kids kind of quivered. And then it blew out several computers, mine among them. The lights and the screen became uncomputer-like shares of coral. Then I got the blue screen of death (computer death, that would be). UUUrrrgggg! the lightening fried some parts of my mother board and transformed my internet server connector into something that looks like it came from the jewelry class. Amazingly, I was able to harvest my internet links and a few files, but nothing else. It was exciting. But now I am stuck having to use other people's computers - a problem since it is finals week. Bummer!

On a lighter note, I have something to share. If you look to the right part of the screen you will see a new widget for slide shows. I have made three in the last two weeks. This one is from our cycling team. I made it was a borrowed copy of "ProShow Gold" and it is WAY COOL! If you made slide shows for anything thing you need to check it out. I listed the company name on the last slide. It is a long slide show with three songs. The photo movement and transitions are a ton of fun! The others are not of interest unless you work with me as they are retirement videos for people here. I transferred it to my blog from If you have files (video, jpeg, etc.) this is an excellent and free resource that you should check out!Another fun website that I intend to go and play with soon is It allows you to make slide shows for your website or blog. It was just bought by While I am no fan of, I know that they have good software. If you are one who cruises the net, check it out, too.

Ethan and I leave for the "HammerIn" a Blacksmithing camp we go to each year. I should have some fun photos from that to share soon.