Sunday, June 28, 2009

GoodBye to Kiddie Land or Turning My Nephew into an Adrenaline Junkie

Here's Amy with Orlando (in orange) and Angelo.
I thought the transition would be a bit more gradual, but it wasn't. It came on line a rush or water. It started yesterday with an innocent trip to Elitch Gardens, the local amusement park. Grandma Gay used Orlando's 11th birthday as a reason to get us all together for a day of fun. The bigger kids went on the roller coasters and the big rides. Angleo, Orlando's younger brother, started out in Kiddie Land. He had been happy there for years. We expected it would be the same again this year. We met part way through and he went on the Farris Wheel with his mother.

Grandma Gay had us all meet for lunch and ice cream.
When the conversation turned to what people were going to ride. Ang did not want to be left out when the big kids turned to go on the Boomerang.At first Ang was just going to watch, then Orlando talked him into giving a try - and that was the end of Kiddie Land for this kiddo.

While the big kids were riding the Minderaser (or the Mind Blower, as Grandma Gay calls it), the boomerang, Twister II (an old school style wooden coaster, the Half Pipe and other adrenaline rush inducing rides, Amy (my sister), Grandma Gay and I went on the Ghost Blaster ride, shooting at the targets in the ride with the laser guns.

It was also a chance to take some nice photos of Kaylah and Aleah. Aleah is a Snow White look alike with her lovely, soft skin and her deep,dark black hair.

The kids enjoyed the wave pool and the Pirate's Cove Water Playhouse. We went on lots of rides. Grandma Gay, Robert (my brother) and Aleah had enough and went home around 4:00. The rest of us were diehards, staying until the park closed.

Amy and I stayed for a bit of the Loverboy concert. She made me laugh when she said, "Tam, just imagine, this is our first concert together." Then about ten minutes later we both agreed that it was too loud, so we left.
We had a great time visiting while the kids went after every thrill. Little Ang was exhausted but refused to give in. He was a trooper, going to the very end. I imagine that he was asleep in the car even before we got to the main road. With a stay of about 12 hours, I am sure we got our money's worth from our time at Elitch's.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Wonderful Nature of a Loving, Gentle Grandfather

Mowing Grandpa's lawn has been Ethan's job for many years. I don't even remember how old he was. It started because he broke a $1,100 window that had to be replaced. After he paid that off he saved for a computer. With Ethan away at camp this week, Ellie had a chance to step in and give it a go. She was nervous. The lawn is large and has a hill. She was worried that she would not do a good enough job. However, Grandpa reassured her that she would be great and that he would help her. And he did. He was oh so gentle and wonderful about it. He gave her instructions in small bits, made easy to understand remarks on how to improve and walked along with her the entire way. In the end the lawn looked great, Ellie was proud and the two of them became that much closer. I am so thankful for such a man in our lives.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Creative Challenge Gets Me Scrappin' Digi Style

I love the Jessica Sprague site. I took her "Get Organized" class so that I would wrestle all of the digital elements I have into a manageable system. This week she is celebrating her 2nd blogiversary with a week long party full of freebies and daily challenges.

For her day three challenge she offered up 11 movie posters for inspiration. I was not so moved to take part yesterday, but today was a different story. I was enthralled with what I saw others do with the ideas so I jumped right in with photos from recent events.

I haven't even blog about Ethan's time at Hammer In, yet.

If you like mine, you ought to go over to the Jessica Sprague site and check out what other people created!

It has been energizing to find a little time to do something creative. I've been so busy with teaching online and trying to get the house deeply cleaned. I took a break from all of that yesterday so that I could take part in the Bike to Work day. It happens every third Wednesday in June. I did not actually ride to work, of course, but I wanted to get out and be in the middle of it all. I rode down to the REI Flagship and found a big party going on. There must have been about 200 people there. Stations were set up all over the city. Various organizations and businesses set up breakfast stations. Some even gave out a little schwag. At REI I had orange slices, played a bike related trivia game, got a few protein bars, a few stickers and some fun bike buttons. They gave me enough for each girl on our biking team. I was excited to share them. Ellie tells me nicely that those are an adult thing and that she does not expect the girls to actually want them. Oh well. I think they are loads of fun. I'll share them with the moms if the girls do not want them. At another station I got water and a special bag to keep cold things cold for a while. A couple of girls were on the trail with signs, clapping for every cyclist and pretending that we were having a Tour De Colorado. It was all silly, fast fun. It felt good to finally be on my bike again. It was so much fun that I think I might have over done it a bit as my muscles were a bit soar later in the day.

Now, I think I'll go back to scrapbooking...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Of Mountains, Trains, Leadership, Pack Horses and Departures - A Full Day

Yeah, we like to use our weekends to the fullest around here. Saturday was a grand exaple of that. We were up and out of the house just before 7:00 a.m. in order to get to the Mike Horgan Hill Climb in plenty of time. Ellie prefers having about an hour on site before her race starts. This was the first hill climb of the season, and it was a big one. The junior start out at Nederland High School, west of Boulder. The hill climb was just 3. miles, but the grade is quite steep most of the way. She was tired even before she began since she had around three sleep overs, a full day and evening at the amusement park and then another visit to Lakeside Amusement Park on Friday night. She was tired enough to not even feel much like a racer. She still did okay, coming in second place. She is usually faster than the girl who came in first place. She used to feel like she was good at hill climbing. Yesterday shook her confidence. She said, "Hill climbing is good for those who are tiny. I am not tiny anymore." More than half of how you perform is in your head so we will have to work on this one. This was a race that was an accomplishment, and not so fun. For much of the course it is a 17% grade. That doesn't sound like much, but it kicks more people's butts.

We had fun while we waited for results. She loves to chat with her friends. She and Dad also kidded around. She was silly and did not want to look at the camera for any of the photos.

Ethan did not do this race partly because I thought we would not have time for that and taking him to camp. It is also a much harder race for those who are 15+ years old. They start out in Boulder and race for 18 miles. That trek includes going up Magnolia Road, the steepest paved road in North America (or something like that - it's killer!) He elected to spend the time wandering around and adventuring in the woods.

After the race was over we took Ethan to Tahosa where he will be on the youth staff for week two of the Big Horn Leadership camp. He was pretty excited. He gets to be the head quartermaster. This means he is in charge of getting and handing out all of the stuff, including the food. This is the job he hoped for. I think he will also be teaching Pioneering (how to make stuff with logs and rope.) as well as Orienteering. We had fun getting ready for camp. Each day has a silly theme including Future day, Romans and Eguptians, Cowboys & Indians, Pirates and Ninja and Midieval days. He took a toy ray gun, a sheet for a toga, a whip, lots of pirate stuff and a few other things. I also made him a purple robe for a creepy campfire story about the Purple bishop who kills campers and wraps up their clothes in purple cloth. We made a purple robe and found purple glow sticks. He will then slink around in the woods after they learn about the story. The boys think it will be fun. I think he will have a grand time.

On the way home we took a detour to go and see the Moffat Tunnel. It is a cool spot that we have visited many times. Larr was hoping he might get a glimpse of a train coming through. As luck would have it, one happened through about ten minutes after we arrived. He had a blast taking lots of photos. Then we hoped in the van and raced to the intersections so we could watch it go by. My favorite was when they passed by on the bridge. The engineer smiled, waved and honked the horn. I love things like that. It made me feel like a kid again, with the thrill of the engine, the rush of excitement as it goes by. It makes me forget the dirty dishes that seem to be ever present in the kitchen sink or the dirty clothes in need of laundering that seem to multiply overnight. It helps me live in the moment.

Larr and I finished off the evening by seeing "Departures". It is a movie that I have been waiting to see for some time. It is a wonderful Japanese movie about a young Celloist who has to get a job and becomes a person who prepares people for creamation. It is a tender, funny and sad movie. It made us laugh and cry. I was spent by the time it was done. I would definately recommend that you see it, if you like subtitled movies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Glenwood Springs Omnium- A Weekend Adventure

While the boys were at Winter Park gallivanting, Ellie and I were having a grand and exciting time in Glenwood Springs. We drove up Friday afternoon, right after we went to the Disney "A Christmas Carol" Train Tour. It was fun, but that will wait for another day.

A family from the team there, Two Rivers Cycling, invited junior racers and their families to stay on their land in New Castle. We knew the boys, Evan and Ryan, from the races, but we didn't know them very well. We were singing along to loud music, looking for the turn off when we missed it. Out of the corner of her eye Ellie saw Evan and his little brother happily waving us down. We turned around and followed them up their long, country driveway. On the left we enjoyed the sights of horses and llamas grazing on tender grass, soaking in the sun. On the right lay an empty field. Straight ahead we spied a large garage with a curved driveway that was home to many pieces of heavy equipment. Ethan would have loved that part. Next to it was a lovely home with great stonework. Once we got out of the car it was a flurry of talking. Both boys were excited to have us arrive and wanted to show us absolutely everything. We met the dogs straight away. Buddy and Max had to make sure we were a-okay. Once we got the all clear tail wag we put the bike in the bike room and went off to meet the horses. This was followed by a more subtle greeting by the orange cat, Iatola. He decided we could be friends. I carried him around for a while as he purred, I petted and talked. I also got to hold a few of the chickens. I love chickens. These guys did not seem to mind being petted. Later we got the tent set up. Other people arrive. Some we knew, others were new to us. It was a lot more fun than camping alone in some remote spot.

The next morning I made french toast for all of the kids there using eggs freshly plucked from the nests and milk from a nearby farm. Ellie raced in the 2009 Colorado Road Race Championship. It was a thrilling race. She came back much quicker than I had expected. She whizzed by in a tight pack of about 12 racers. Ellie was locked in the middle and could not sprint. I could see concentration and frustration on her face. In the end she came in second place. The other girl, one she had not raced against before, beat her by about 3". It was killer. She was disappointed as she had saved enough energy to break out a sprint and get in front of the pack. She and her team mate Stephen had led the pack many times over the 15 mile course. They took their turns at pulling the line. Others never took the lead. A few times they even got a jump, but then was swallowed back into the crowd. Her friend Ariana took first in her class.

After the race was over we spent the afternoon at the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs pool. The kids had a blast. I relaxed and visited with Carrie, Ariana's mom. Next up was a huge and fun party back at the Lake's house. I think over 100 people showed up. We had tons to eat and lots of people to visit with. After the party was over we fell into our tent, exhausted. Carrie had to go to Keystone so Ariana stayed with us. This allowed her to race on Sunday.

Sunday was a more relaxed morning. I made breakfast for the kids again. This time I had a larger crowd. They ate, smiled and were all quick to say thank you. The races were good, but the out of town kids all seemed to move a bit slower on their bikes. I guess the swimming and the party took their toll.

Ellie came in second again, but this time it was not a close ending. Ariana came in second as well. The races for the older boys was super exciting. One of our guys was in the lead and then got a flat. There was a mad dash to get a wheel from the truck and switch it out. In the end that young man took second place, too. Between races I took a short walk and did a little window shopping. I loved looking in the windows for "A Passion for Picnics." They had such wonderful table linens. It is a good thing that they were closed. I might have been tempted. I also looked longingly into the quilting shop that I would visit later in the afternoon. I made my way to Scared Grounds for a drink. I enjoyed their framed cards and art from

They made me miss my down sweet pooch. The girls got lunch and ice cream. Then we went back to watch the pro races. We were pleased to see so many kinds of women in the pro women's race. Some were short power houses. Others were long and athletic looking. The men's race kept our attention the entire time.

We were on our way home quickly after the races ended. I thought the exhausted girls would fall into a sleep quickly. Instead, they played and made silly music videos. We all wished the weekend would not come to an end. We are already looking forward to next year's race.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Epic Single Track Winter Park Mountain Bike Race Series - Ethan's First Mountain Bike Race

On Saturday Ethan took part in his first ever mountain bike race. And boy was it a race. The first in a series of seven races, this one might just be the hardest. The course began at the base of the Mary Jane Black Diamond ski trail at Winter Park and continued upward for about 5.5 miles.

At times the grade is so steep that it is a challenge to even walk it. When Ethan was little he was always cautious, so I would not have imagined that he would take on this challenge.

This came about because a friend from college, Greg, called up and offered to sponsor both kids to race in the series. Ellie politely declined. Ethan had more of a "Hell Yeah!" kind of response. Early last week I think he began to get a bit nervous. Watching it and doing it are very different. Still, what fun to go racing with a college buddy.

Ethan raced with the 18 and younger , plus the 50+ beginners. I'm not sure what group Greg raced with. Larr took the lift up and then down the mountain. Ethan said it was a very hard race. It took him nearly an hour. Another boy from our team, the amazingly talented Skyler, placed 13th in the pro category.

He took something close to 40 minutes to do his race. I imagine they were all fun to watch. I pushed Ethan for details, but I got the usual teen boy, very short response, "Yeah, mom. It was kinda hard, but real fun. Sometimes it was so steep (here he shows me how steep it was by making his hand into a mountain and an indication of the bike with rider going up)that it was hard going. I did not walk any of it. It was fun."

You can imagine my surprise when I found that he won his category. Now, there were only three kids, but still, that's pretty cool.

He got a really lovely medal and a great beer drinking glass. It will be great for root beer. It goes nicely with the others Ellie has won. Now he is jazzed to to the other races. Unfortunately he will miss the Super Eight race since he will be away at camp.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Girl is the Colorado 2009 Junior Women 10-12 State Time Trial Champion

My, have we been busy. I am hoping that it will begin to feel like summer vacation some time soon. Last weekend we had a lot of important things happening, including the state junior championship. Going into it we knew Ellie had a good chance of winning. She has become a very strong, skilled rider. She had her eye on one other girl who had beaten her a few times at the TT series we did in the spring. We figured that Ellie would be first or second and that the gap between them would be something under 15 seconds apart. I did not get to see her race since I was in Loveland with Ethan and Ari at the Hammer In, a blacksmithing camp we do ever year. Dad took her to this race and took lovely photos. Coach Lawanna let Ellie ride the Orbea. That made Ellie feel like she could fly. In the end Ellie won by just over three minutes. In racing terms, that is HUGE! She was very excited. She came home with a nice medal and a championship vest. She was really rather humble about the whole thing and would not let us photograph her with them. I will persist and get one. I think she'll be glad for that later. She thinks that a lot of it has to do with the Orbea. I told her a great bike helps, but she supplied the power and the skill.

This weekend we head off to Glenwood Springs for the Road Racing championship. She has a good shot at that, too. Larr and Ethan will stay in town. Ethan is going to try out mountain bike racing at the Epic Single Track series in Winter Park. This first race runs up a black diamond ski run. Its crazy what some people find fun. I am proud of him for taking on this new challenge.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Lonesome Stone Fiber Farm Visit


In early May, when we were the retreat at Snow Mountain Ranch, Laura and I venured out and into town. While we were in a home decor store I asked about finding a yarn store. Kirsten and I knit and chat each year at the retreat. Much to my surprise, the store owner knew about an Alpaca Fiber farm in nearby Grand County. I quickly shifted from my plan of making cinnamon rolls to visiting the farm. What a wonderful excusion that was. Here, let me show you...

First we checked out her shop at the
Lonesome Stone Fiber Farm in Grand County, Colorado. There were so many choices to be made. In the end I purchased some natural colored Alpaca yarn to make into a nice someting for a man, like my son or husband. Laura loved trying on the shals. I finger the lovely yarn and came away with stuff for two more projects. The woman who owns the farm showed us around. We also got to earn a few doggie points with this lovely girl. I think her name is Lily. She was a supposed to be a guard dog. It turns out that she is a lover. I gave her a lot of pats. At one point she made a sound that I took for a low browl. It turns out that is ti more like an encouraging "purr" of sorts so I continued. I could have spent half of the afternoon loving her.

The owner was fun and invited us to check out how she makes the Alpaca fleece into yarn. She gave me permission to invite you along. Seeing this made me have a new level of respect for the cost of yarn.Here's the process:

First, she sorts out the good fleece from the junky stuff. It gets washed by hand and spun in a washing machine to remove as much water as possible.

Then it is placed on drying racks. She has several fans speeding up the process.

From here the fleece gets pulled into a machine that seems to fluff it. The machine sort of seperates out the fleece and flings it into a closet. She said it is like being in a fleece snow storm if you were to stand in there during this part of the process.

Then it gets carded.

From there it begins to get processed into ply "ropes".

These get combined and begin the process that resembles yarn.

At the end of that process, you have yarn, but it still needs a bit of work to make it ready to sell. This dandy device measures and makes yarn skiens.

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Here is another version that home spinners might recognize.

The final stop was in the area where they dye the yarn. I loved the shelves of dye. We talked about color for a while. I was a bit distracted as I kept stealing glances of the newly created yarns. I bought a few of them to take home.

Next, we went out to greet the Alpacas. We walked out to the mom and baby sections. They seemed pretty friendly and very curious.

They cautiously greeted us. A few even let us give them a few pats. I love the ears.

I think that visiting the Lonesome Stone Fiber Farm might have to become a spring time tradition!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Succulent Baby Back Ribs Recipe & Rain - Lots of it

It has been raining for the last few days. For a while, it was off and on. Now the only variable is how much it is raining. Ellie loves it. This crazy picture is of her trying to catch rain in her mouth. I like what it will do for our garden, though the weather has been so cold that some of the seeds are taking a long time poke their little leaves through the dirt. Ethan and I keep wondering if the lack of show is due to cold weather or squirrel raids. We usually see where they have dug up the dirt, so we're optimistically thinking it is the cold.

A local grocery store had a great deal on baby back ribs, buy one get two free. Crazy. I'm not sure how they make that work. Anyway, after many years of trying to find an amazing rib recipe, I think I have found it. The method take planning and time, but it is so worth it. Here it is:

Succulent BBQ Ribs

3-4 Lbs. Ribs (Country style, baby back, etc.)
BBQ Sauce from the store
Hickory Smoke Flavor (the best is from William Sonoma!)

The Rub -
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
3 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Black Pepper, ground
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder

Mix the rub together. Then prep. for the process by laying out layers of foil then plastic wrap until you have enough for all of the ribs. I wrap two country style ribs together or cut the baby back ribs so that they are in groups of about four. Rub all sides of the ribs. Place the on the plastic wrap and wrap them up nicely. The woman I learned this from uses two layers of wrap for hers. Then wrap that in foil. Continue until all are prepared. Let these sit in the fridge over night. You can also freeze them at this point.

The next day you place the foil and plastic wrapped ribs in a casserole pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. Take the ribs out and turn the oven on to high broil. Carefully unwrap the ribs. You can brush them with a bit of BBQ sauce, if you like. You can also amp up the BBQ sauce by adding a small bit (1 1/2 tsp) of liquid smoke to to. Place these on a broiler pan. Place that near the broiler, watching closely for the meat to brown. This happens quickly. Flip and finish. Feel free to brush with warmed up BBQ sauce, or serve it on the side.

Monday, June 01, 2009

My Kids Create Art for the Auction

Each year, Alpine Valley School has a silent auction to raise money. Each year I make jewelry. I am happy to report that it sells well. This year both of my kids decided that they needed to get in on the action.

Ethan forged and welded as many things as he could find time to make. We were surprised at how high they went for. His "Welcome" sign was the hottest of his items. It went for $30. So did the dog he made.

He loved the dog and would have been happy to keep it. He set the minimum bid pretty high. I was worried that it would not go. When I asked him about it he replied, "I'm not worried, but I do hope it sells. I stayed up very late and burned my arm making it. I think it is kind of cute. If he sells, I will make another one."

He also forged some hooks. He offered those at a reasonable price so that a kid could bid on one. His best friend's mom actually ended up with at least one of them.

He and I kept checking the bid sheets. I was thankful that everything sold. It does a kid's heart good to have someone who is not his/her parent value what they create.

Ellie and her friends made a fun, large stuffed monster they named "PEZ." Such love went into this fun guy.

The big thing we bid and won was this great robot lamp that Ari made. You can turn it on and it glows red. Like Ethan, Ari loved the thing he created, but was also happy to see it sell.

After lunch, while bidding was going on, lots of people tried their hand at the slack line. This is a nylon cord strung between trees. The goal is to walk on it like a tightrope walker. This is how Ethan broke his arm a few years back. Still, he enjoys giving it a try.

We also had a bit of rain. Ellie loves rain these days. Here's a silly and odd photo of her. She is trying to catch rain in her mouth. I think part of the fun is having a reason to wear those boots.