Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Day at Home, The Seasons are Changing - What Will It Bring?

The kids were a bit wiped out this week. Ethan might be coming down with an illness, so we decided to skip the race today. It feels a bit odd, but okay, too. I am welcoming the chance to be home for an entire day, if I want to be. I thought I might sleep in, but that simply did not happen. Instead I began putting the house back together. I have not folded laundry for a few weeks. We have no clean towels in the bathroom and I have not done real grocery shopping for almost a month. So, as Larr rocks climbs and the kids sleep, I am restoring order to the house. Later, once the house is a bit more orderly, I might work on my Halloween quilt. I might get out the Halloween decorations. I am likely to make Halloween Party invitations. Perhaps I'll take the kids to a movie. Who knows what today will bring.

With some of the time I spent sick at home I also knocked out a few scrapbooking pages from the All Girls camping trip we did in July. I have one more page to go, but I thought these might be worth sharing. They were kind of hard to do. I started with a scrapbooking challenge to use stitches in the design. I loved the ones in the gallery, but it just was not me. I even tried to force it, but it just did not work. I looked through gallery after gallery of page layouts. Again, being inspired, but not having any of those ideas work for me. Then I found that Natali Design of Studio Girls put out a new kit that featured items that made it possible for me to put my pages together quickly. It finally felt right.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mad Biking and Super Mac-n-Cheese or What More Could a Boy Want?

This past Saturday we rocked our way into the 2009 Cyclocross season. It was hotly anticipated. Both kids are on bikes that are much better than the ones they race on last year. Ellie has the bike she uses for both road and cross. It is about five pounds lighter than her Fuji was. Ethan got a slightly used Scott Racing frame and built up most of it himself. I am pretty proud of how he did it. We had the fork built up by the folks at our favorite bike store. That was too expensive to screw up since the fork needed to be cut precisely, it is made of carbon and it is worth over $500.Ethan had some guidance from Walt, the bike mechanic who seems happy to help Ethan learn. I was worried that it would not run correctly, but it performed nicely on Saturday.

Saturday was hot and dusty day at the Green Mountain race. The course is pretty technical, but also a lot of fun. Ethan placed second in his category. He seemed to be running much better than last year. Ellie was tired from having been ill earlier in the week and from babysitting the night before. However, she did great, too, even though she looked like she was hurting a bit.

That afternoon we drove up to Breckenridge to spend the night in the Pearson's cabin home on the ski hill. It is such a lovely spot that we felt like we were on vacation. Sunday morning the kids did the Brecktober race at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. I think it is one of my favorite races since it is so lovely. The race weaves through the forest on the cross country ski trails. One main challenge on that course is the woodchips that litter the course. They seem to absorb so much of the energy you put out on the bike. Both kids came in second. We had hoped for the first snow of the year. The closest we came was a bit of heavy rain and a short stint of hail. We were happy to take a soak in the hot tub after race. It was a nearly perfect weekend.

Here's a new recipe that Ethan absolutely loves. It comes from the Sept. 2009 edition of Cooking Light. I've made changes based on what my family likes:

Super Bacon Mac n Cheese

3 1/4 tea Salt, divided
12 oz. Penne Pasta
4 tea. Flour
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1+ TBL Hot Sauce
1/4 tea Pepper
8 slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Bring 6 quarts of water to a heavy boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.

In a sauce pan combine flour and 1/2 cup of the milk. Warm with medium heat while stirring. Gradually add 1 cup of milk and keep stirring. Cook until it begins to thicken, stirring all the while. Remove from heat and let it cool to 155 degrees *. At that point stir in 1 1/2 cup of cheese along with 1/4 tea salt and the pepper. Stir to melt the cheese. Next, add the hot sauce and the bacon. Stir to combine again and then add the pasta. At this point you can serve it or you can spoon it into a pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, top with a bit more shredded cheese and broil for 7 minutes. Serves 6.

* The study the folks at Cooking Light conducted proved that heating cheese up too much can cause it to take on a grainy texture when combined with the white sauce. At 155 degrees the heat is enough to melt the cheese but not break down the bonds that results in the grainy texture. If you find this interesting, you might enjoy reading the entire "Cooking Class: Mac-n- Cheese Basics" article in the Sept. 2009 edition of Cooking Light.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to Spend They Day When Your Sick or Finding Inspriation on the Internet Even Though You Entire Face Hurts - Always a Good Distraction...

(Tom Kitty Necklace from

(Super Sprinkles Necklace from
So today I am home sick. I felt pretty bad the last few days. Truth be told, I should have taken yesterday off. The tip-off, besides the fact that my sinuses, teeth, eyebrows, ears, throat and lungs hurt, not to mention the achy joints, was when kids from nearly every class said something along the lines of, "Uhhh,...miss...are you sick? You look kind of yuky today." They meant it in a caring way. Several who have been through this lately gave me caring tips on what to expect and how to cope. I took them up on their suggestions. I slept until about 9 o'clock and have been doing a bit of web surfing. I love it when I have time to waste and have fun. As I was checking my usual blogs I decided to follow some of their links. I found Twig and Thistle through Lotus. I will have to eventually work my way through her links. I picked out a few. Then I was off. Here's some of what I found:
I found lots of inspiration through the Oh So Beautiful Paper blog. I might have to add this to my favorites list. The trouble is that it makes me want to do letterpress and heaven knows I do not need another hobby! Here are some of the things I found through her blog:

Beast Pieces has some really wonderful examples of letterpress. This one really spoke to me. I think this is genius!

Layered Photo images inspired buy the Where the Wild Things Are book. Albert Cerritino's amazing contributions to the Terrible Yellow Eyes exhibit going on now in California.

AMAZING papercuts. I am such a sucker for these! I look forward to when I have the time and patience to do this kind of thing. I used to do them but once the kids were past about three I no longer found the time. You simply must visit Helen Musselwhite's galleries and admire her talent!

Back on the Halloween front there are great ideas from many places showcased on the At Home with Kim Valle' blog

Back at Twig and Thistle I found another fun Halloween Link for Amy Atlas. Her tablescapes are featured in the Celebrate Magazine. Their site includes a fun downloadable party planner, invitations, etc.

Here's a fun video of a silly video by Hockey, a band from Portland:
Hockey - Song Away (Official Music Video)

I also love the stuff over an Ann Wood's blog. She gave herself a project to make one cardboard horse a day until she had 100 of them. They were displayed in a gallery for a while. She is kind enough to share the templates with the entry about the project.

Now, if I just had the energy to do something with that inspiration. I think I will have to dream about them instead...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Riding in the Rain, Chilled to the Bone or How to Test Your Dedication to the Team...

Last Saturday was a fluke. Here we are in beautiful Colorado. Most days we still need to wear shorts and Crocs. But last Saturday - it had to be rebellious. It also happened to be the day of the Pedaling for Pennies, a benefit 128 mile ride our team does every year. Some of the money raised goes to help reduce team fees. Some of the monies are donated to a Childhood Diabetes Research fund. We knew the cold rain was coming, but we hoped that the forecasts would be wrong as they so often are, but they were not. The kids and I rolled out of bed at about 4:45 in the morning so that we could be on the road by 5:00 a.m. We had prepacked the car to make this possible. By the time the kids rolled out it was still dry, but not for long. Within the first 20 miles the weather had worked itself into a frenzy, slapping at the kids with cold rain. By the time they got farther north near Fort Collins it began to calm itself, but just for a while.

I was there to support the racers. I ended up helping Laura and Davis with their aid station. It was number 4, about 85 miles into the ride. Now, Laura does everything large and Davis is the king of making sure everyone has all that they need. Their aid station was the best. We made jokes that it was the Grisworld (National Lampoon) family aid station, but it was wonderful and so very welcome. We set up two awnings and a tarp that connected the truck with the awnings. There was a floor mat, a bunch of chairs and a huge spread of food. She had enough to feed an army, well, in fact, she was sort of expecting an army of riders, that is, but the weather kept many of them away. She had bagels with cream cheese and nutela, four kinds of large, luscious cookies, peaches, watermelon, honeydew, strawberries and grapes. If you needed protein you could munch on tuna, ham or turkey sandwiches. You could nosh on red licorice or nibbles of three kinds of chocolate. Many of the riders were experiencing leg cramps and were in need of salt. They were happy to find kettle chips and pirate bootie (sort of like cheese puffs). I might have even forgotten something.

The riders who made it to our station were hard core. The first group, the fastest riders, had mud splattered faces. Carlos joked that they all looked Brazilian (he's Brazilian and Spanish) and the all laughed. They were do dirty that they had to wipe off their hands and face before they could eat. I traded out some wet clothing for a few dry pieces I had. The next group was even more water logged. They even looked like they had crossed through a river. They were thankful for the food. Two more groups made it through. A few were picked up and sagged.

I was so proud of Ethan when he showed up at the aid station. Everyone else in his group got picked up and taken back to the start. He and James, the dad of a fellow team mate, put down the hammer and caught up with the earlier group. Later in the day they would encounter lightening on the ride. It struck a phone pole a few hundred feet from where they were riding. This caused the hair on his arms to stand on end. They quickly found an abandoned barn and waited out the storm. In the end he was one of very few to complete the entire course. We started with about 55 riders and about 15 finished without being sagged.

Ellie's ride was no so lasting. She had been sick with a fever earlier in the week. On Thursday she tripped and hurt her knee. On Friday she still had a low grade fever. I was happy she just showed up. She and Anna got about 45 miles in before quitting.

We're glad to have it over. Ethan was happy with his accomplishments. Ellie was okay with her performance since she was ill. I'm impressed with all of the people who pulled together on a cold and rainy day to show their dedication to the team.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bats, and Cats and Skeletons, ... Oh My! Halloween is Coming!

It's almost here. Halloween is just a bit away. I love the decorations, the silliness, the fun of it all. This year it started for me when the House of Threefolks posted these zipper pull charms on their blog on September 1st. . I just had to check it out. And of course, I decided I needed to have the dingbat set.

Then I was smitten with the brushes. I had to have them, too.
I can't wait to use them! (I love how affordable and mess free digital scrapbooking is!The images above were borrowed from the House of Three store front and the ">company blog. The links are offered above.)

Then I started looking for Halloween magazines at the store. I love to put all of my back issues from Halloween out each October. I found out about Kirsten Beason from the Cloth, Paper and Scissors magazine. Then I found her blog and got to see much more of her art. I loved the skeleton on the cover of the magazine and the dogs in the picture with the pumpkin.

I love the skeleton on the magazine so much that he might need to make an appearance on a quilt I may make. That leads me to think about Jane Sassaman and her great quilts.

Which made me think about making a lap quilt for our couch. I found a fun pattern on the Moda Fabric webiste. It was designed for Christmas, but I think I could do something fun with the idea for Halloween. I already had some fun fabric ticked away:
I also have some of this:
And then I found this fun idea on the Bad Baby Quilts site through Etsy:

And this awesome print in Smooshy's Etsy shop:

Okay, I could keep going, but I think I should move along and do something not computer related. Maybe I will design that quilt I've been writing about. I was thinking about visiting the mall to see the displays. They might not actually be ready yet. Even Target did not have all of their stuff up yet. I think it will have to wait a while.

Have you found any fun Halloween stuff that I might enjoy seeing?\

Friday, September 11, 2009

If I Had a Hammer, I'd...

I had forgotten that it was 9/11 until a few of my students came in as if they were dressed for the 4th of July. Sweet Briana had tried to organize the kids to mark the importance of the date. The room was not awash in the glory of our fine red, white and blue, but it was still, if just for a moment, of the remembrance of the significance of the date. This is a day to recognize those that we lost when the planes crashed into the twin towers, to celebrate the hard work of those who worked to put as much right as possible (both here and far away) and for the reminder of what our freedom costs. It is a remembrance that is more alive for them than Labor Day or Memorial day. It is one of those days that are emblazoned in the memories of this generation.

Last weekend we celebrated Labor day with a visit to the Hidee Mine where cousin Mark works. Ethan and Larr have been there a ton of times, but it is still a thrill for them. I thought you might like a look, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

I had been waiting for yesterday to happen since last March or April. So had Ethan, but for a different reason. I was excited to get my hot little hands on "The Beatles" Rock Band. I wish that it would have come out near our anniversary date. However, I presented it to him yesterday. I never got around to pre-ordering it so I was worried that it would be tough to get a copy of it. I ran to Target right after school got out. The night before Larr had been listening to the remastered songs and I thought he would have been dialed into the RockBand disc, too, but he was not. He was totally surprized when I gave him the disc. I could not wait a minute later so I gave it to him at school. I didn't even take time to unwrap it. He was excited, so were many of the kids. We gathered at home as quickly as possible to play. Brandon and Jesse joined us, too. I love the different stages and the fact that all of the songs are available from the get go. You have to "earn" the other songs on the other discs. The Beatles music is such a part of our lives, especially when we were in our early dating years, that it seemed like a great fit. We had a good bit of fun. But that was not all we did.

"The Beatles" Rock Band Trailer

Ethan had been anticipating the movie, "9" and was not disappointed. After a short, loud stint playing Beatles RockBand and having dinner, we all went to the movies. The art of the movie is great. The message is kind of scary and I am still not entirely sure what the whole message was. We've already begun discussing it and whether Ethan wants to be "9" for Halloween.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Recipe for a Great 16th Birthday Party - Boy Style

On Friday we celebrated Ethan's 16th birthday. He wanted to have a big party, so we invited a bunch of people to the party. We sort of had a gas station theme going...
He lit the candles on his cake with a small blow torch.

They ate:
12 pizzas
a 4 Tiered Cake (made by Ellie who is turning out to be a great baker)
108 sodas (9 twelve packs, which is funny since we don't normally drink any soda)
6 pounds of cheese sauce for nachos
4 pounds of Tortilla chips (a huge box)
1 cup Jalapenos
35+ waffles
2 jugs of Orange Juice
3 sticks of butter
1 quart of pancake syrup

Ethan invited his friends and their families. We had over 40+ people at the party. Timothy, nearly five, was our youngest guest.

There were late night bike races in the alley. You knew bikes had to make it into the mix somehow!

There were also lots of X Box 360s hooked up together with teams playing in different rooms but on the same screens - crazy, I tell you. And there was the Werewolf of Miller's Hollow game, an old fashioned, narrated game that is a lot of fun to play, especially if it is dark out.

Most of them did sleep at some point. When I got up in the morning I found sleeping bodies all over the couches, chairs and on many spots on the floors both on the main floor and the basement.

Ethan says it was probably the best party ever. I was happy he liked it. It was a pretty easy one to throw. Happy 16th year, my sweet boy!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Oh Wait, Where Did the Time Go, Will it Continue to Fly By or My Boy Turns 16 Today

Sixteen years ago my life made such a remarkable turn. It was the day my boy was born. On that day I thought I might stay pregnant forever. He was two weeks late and the med.s were not helping start labor. He finally made his appearance in his own sweet time. I should have known that it would always be like that with him. He was so anticipated. I painted a mural in his room as we waited for him. I picked an image from Mem Foxes' Possum Magic, though I changed the possum into a cat.

I read to him, we played music. The essence of who he is today was there from the very beginning. The time seems to go so quickly. It seems like just a few days ago when we would find places for him to dig holes in the dirt or find heavy equipment. I still almost expect to see his bright yellow rainboot, the kind that he wore for nearly seven years. Or the yellow t-shirts that he wore even longer. There was a time when he had an "Ethan Uniform" comprised of the bright gold t-shirt, a pair of jeans and the yellow rainboots. It was easy to find him in pictures because he always wore the same thing. He has changed his uniform, though he is still prone to wearing the same basic thing day in and day out. Now he has a white t-shirt, jeans and a different style of boots. He often wears a cycling cap, usually the one in the banner photo, and carries one of his bags. His look is distinctive. He's going for the Fixie Bike Messenger look and he pulls it off nicely. And he always, still, does things his way and in his own time. (Some times it drives me a little crazy. "Relax, Mama" he says,"I'll get it done." And he does, just no on my time schedule.) I see the passion with which he can do amazing things. How it can motivate him to plan, execute and see a project through. I see how resourceful he can be when a goal is important. I see how he can be led by compassion and offer help simply for the sake of doing good for another. I see how he can put people at ease and make them feel less stressful. I see how he can unite people or make a less noticed person feel special. I also see a young man who I can be proud of. Who I love and who I know will be loved by many others.

This birthday is a little hard for me. Sixteen seems such a pivotal age. He teases that soon he will be out of the house. Soon he may not need me to take him places. I will miss those times, incidental as they are, for us to connect, or just be, together. I recently asked him if, once he can drive on his own, if he will still want me to take him to the races. He said, "It's okay, Mama. I will still need you. You are not just here because I need a ride. You are here because I love you and how you support me." I know that our connection is not borne out of his needs, but rather through the ties that bind us, the joys we share, the joys we introduce to each other.

His birthday is not usually a big deal for him. However, this year he said he wanted a big party. We've invited a lot of people, but, being a holiday weekend, many of them can't come. We're going to have a rockin' party at our house tomorrow. His fare is simple: pizza, pop, chips, friends and a bit of gaming. I look forward to the wild, loud time we'll have. Maybe it will make me feel a little less melancholy. My sweet boy, or young man, I love you. What a man you are becoming!