Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Snowy Weekend in a Wiki-Up - Ethan's Weekend

This weekend Ethan went winter camping with Scott.
The snow was incredible.
Here, he tries to show the size of the snow crystals.
And the foggy lake in the distance.

They spent Saturday building a wiki-up.

They had to collect the tree boughs from another spot.

They built a fire inside and kept it going all night long for warmth.

I think that both Ethan and Scott felt a sense of accomplishment. They left a note in the wiki-up inviting others to enjoy it, hoping that it would not get simply torn down needlessly.

What a Difference a Day Makes

This fall has been one of the most beautiful ones I can remember. As I drive, I try to take in the glow of the trees and the feeling of the season.

These are the scenes I witnessed as I drove around last Monday. Tuesday started just as nice and many of us began to disbelieve the forecast for a storm that would dump a major amount of snow starting that evening. When we went to bed it was just raining...

But this is what we woke up to. The morning started with at least five or six inches of snow, with more falling throughout the day.

Those glowy trees were noe dressed in a heavy blanket of snow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Party

We had our annual pumpkin carving party last night. We usually have a big shin-dig, but this year I could not get my self together enough to pull that off. We had a much smaller group who had a great time none-the-less.
I made some fun cupcakes for the event. I love the tiny cupcake banners from michael's.

In addition to the pumpkin carving, there were a few tickle fights. Can you see that mischievous look in their eyes?

Toby loves to be part of the party each year.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
From: Savour Fare Blog

1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large pinch sea salt
1 small pinch cayenne pepper
Wash the pumpkin seeds, remove any traces of pumpkin flesh, drain them in a colander and then spread on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil and dry in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The seeds should be dry and crisp.

Combine the melted butter, the brown sugar, the cumin, the garlic, the salt, the cayenne pepper and the worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl. Toss the pumpkin seeds in the mixture to coat. Raise the oven heat to 375 degrees, spread the spiced pumpkin seeds back out on your tinfoil, and roast for 8-10 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy.

Read more:

Spiced Apple Cider (sans alcohol)

1 (64 fluid ounce) bottle apple cider
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves

In a slow cooker, combine apple cider and cinnamon sticks. Wrap allspice and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth, and add to pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and keep warm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dia de los Christy

Ellie and I had so much fun doing the Day of the Dead photos that we thought we would share the fun with Christy who would like to be a model.
She was very accomodating and had fun, too. When we did Ellie's make-up I used cheap white clown paint. This time I dug out the nice Ben Nye professional stagemake up white that I had. It was so much nicer to work with. We still have to figure out how to make better thin lines. I suspect that Ben Nye has stuff to solve that, but I just didn't want to make any more trips to the store.

I modified the photo above.
I thought the girls were cute together.
Ellie did a few modifiacations on some of the photos. I hope to add those to this post soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dia de los Ellie - Part 1

For about two years I have walked around with this vision and a desire to execute it. I wanted to take some Dia de los Muertos photos. I find them so wonderful; just a touch macbre.
Recently I decided that this was the year to do it. Thankfully, my lovely daughter agree to help me. It was much more difficult to do the makeup than I had expected. I am pleased with the results and could play with them in Photoshop, but alas, I have to go to work tomorrow. Since I do not want to be Zombie Teacher (it is a week too early for that) I limited myself to a few variations. This is one that Ellie actually manipulated.

Here is one of mine.

Here's what it looked like before I played with it.

As you can see by this image that Ellie edited, she and I have very different tastes, but both of us produce interesting stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Crashing Good Time!

A few weeks ago Ellie joined a mountain biking team. She had so much fun at her first race: she could hardly wait for the second race. After the cross race on Saturday, we headed to Monument to pick up Laurel so that she could go out and preride the course out at Peaceful Valley Scout camp.
After taking a few laps we headed back to the Rathbun home for a quiet and restful evening. Mike made everyone a lovely dinner of meatloaf , mashed potatoes made from scratch, glazed carrots and a nice salad.

We were off in the early morn to make sure the girls could get settled in at the race location. As you can see above, Ellie got a great start right off of the line. Her roadie skills paid off with the up hill start. The kids had two laps to race. Ellie raced in the Freshmen Girls category.

I positioned my self at the most scenic and interesting spot on the course near the rock section. It does not look like much from this angle, cut was in fact pretty impressive. She came flying through, cutting a quick corner, and then...

Through the viewer of the camera I saw her crash. There was an audible inhale as all of the viewers gasped at the sight of Ellie doing and endo (this is where the bike wheel hits something, in the case a ditch, and the bike flips over, propelling the rider along with it.) Frankly, I was stunned. Then time went into overtime. Ellie's coach, Kathy, jumped onto the trail and scooped Ellie up. A race official steadied Ellie and her bike, checking to make sure she was okay. She was anxious to go. Kath said, "There's no blood and she wants to go...let her race!" The official, satisfied that Ellie and the bike were in good enough shape, jumped back into the race. As she sped off the official asked her to go slowly at first, but I believe Ellie was already too far to hear him.

She speed up to catch up lost time. I stood in the same spot for a while, waiting to see if my girl returned for a second lap. After listening to the coaches talk, I decided to go up farther on the trail to advice her to carve the rocks to the left. It was a long, anxious wait as the
the laps were about 25 minutes long. Ksenia's mother rode by me, telling me that Ellie was flying. That brought me relief to know that she was not only okay, but really back in the game. I had worried that she might have suffered a concussion or some other non-bloody problem. Sure enough, she sped past me and down the problematic rock section. The announcers had to scramble when Ellie finished the races as she came in many minutes ahead of the expected finish time for the freshmen. Later we were delighted to find that she won first place,
about four minutes ahead of the others in her category.

Like fire, rumors spread about her crash. Many people thought it was a girl who looks much like Ellie. The races continued, we cheered on her team mates and Ellie hung out with her other biker friends. Though she was sore, she was happy.

We were sad to learn that one of her varsity team mates, Audie, who was the race leader and expected to win his race, crashed, breaking his collarbone in two places. He had to go to the hospital straight away. He has since had surgery where they placed six screws and a titanium plate, helping him to heal quickly and grow strong again.

Her coach advised her on how to get onto the podium as the first place block is pretty high. At the awards ceremony later that afternoon her name was called and she tripped her way onto the box. We all had a good laugh about that, including her.
The drive home through the plains and gentle valleys of Elbert County was beautiful. As Ellie unwound she began to feel the pain of her crash.

Later that evening Kathy sent out a note praising each rider. For Ellie she wrote,

"Ellie you are the Princess today!!!! You did so great. Going from a nasty face plant to winning by four minutes is phenomenal!!! I knew when you took off it was your day to SHINE! You did it Girl! I am so proud of you recovering so quickly and continuing on. Most girls would have started crying. YOU just get up, spit the dirt out of your mouth and keep going - Can I ride with you? GREAT JOB!! Let's hope they let you finish as a freshman."

We hope that Ellie will be able to race as a freshman for States. It is possible that she will be upgraded to
Junior Varsity based on her racing results.

Since the race Ellie has sprouted many bruises, all black and purple. They are badges of her tough girl status. Her arm hurts, as does her head. She feels a bit better each day. Today she skipped mountain bike practice in hopes that sh will heal more quickly for States on Oct. 30.

At the cross race on Saturday a colorful hot air balloon sailed gracefully past the race.
She had a good race that morning, too.
She won the girl's prim (first girl over the line in a specified lap) which included a pair of Pearl Izumi socks, a character to color, and a few other things. A person from Coldstone Creamery gave the older riders gift cards for ice cream. That made the kids very happy.

Ellie also won the JR Women's 15-16 race. Prizes included a "Fast Girls Unite" shirt and an excellent pair of racing gloves, both from Pearl Izumi. I was especially thankful for those as a prize. We are pretty sure that she lost her usual long fingered gloves and we were goin to have to replace them. Thanks to Pearl Izumi for providing such wonderful prizes!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quaking Aspens

And just as quickly as Jack Frost had trapsed across our fields, pouring rain, sleet and snow across our fields, he left that night - as if he was on a journey else where. The next morning the sun gladly chased away the few remaining and whispy clouds so that it could reign sunny and supreme on Sunday. Ethan enjoyed a day of complete relaxation, gettting caught up on watching shows he loved through Netflixs. Ellie slept in and then returned to Fort Collins with Stephen and Maxl to see the pros race again. Larr and I went for a quiet drive in the hills. I had wanted to see the changing of the colors. I had fear that the rain and snow would have washed them all off of the trees, but I was thankfully wrong. Here and there we found pockets of the quaking Aspens in their various shades of change.

Many trees were festive and glowing dressed in the shimmering gold leaves. A few still sported the green on the edges, fading like an old tattoo on a wrinkled arm. Others took on a pinkish hue, making me think of little girls in two tone tutus. And then there were the trees like the one above. It was like it could not make up its mind and decided to keep both colors. I like that.

Other places reminded me of the value of solitude and quiet. It is calmness in physical form. In this quiet space I enjoyed the time with my husband. It is rare to have time with him that is not full of the chatter of scheduling plans, replays of the day or parenting issues. We simply enjoyed our time together, living in the moment and not on one found somewhere else on the calendar.

As the sun began to retire for the night we rounded the bend and drove into Central City, once a blast from the cowboy past, now a small gambling town. I spied this recently painted building. I love the image and the attempt to hold on to the past culture. Larr thinks the painting is less than a year old. I'd never really walked through a casino, so I wanted to check it out for my self. My brother loves to spend his birthday at the hotel casinos so I wanted to see what his excitement is about. We strolled through the Ameristar. It was certainly nice. We learned how to play craps, sort of (it is complicated) and we saw lots of slots going. We even check out the hotel, the roof top pool and walked through the spa. Those were very nice. I just don't see the excitement of it all. Thankfully, those games do not call to me.

Back home we went, driving in the dusk and dark. Happy to hav spent the day together.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

CycloHell - Be Careful What You Wish For...

Ellie loves racing cyclocross, especially when it involves mud and snow. But yesterday, well... we got a bit more than we had wished for. After a week of shorts and sandals kind of weather, a storm rolled in at about 2:00 a.m. on Saturday and set up a new challenge - bitterly cold, relentless rain.
Ethan, Ellie and Ariana

But the kids opted to race anyway - they love the mud! But soon they were frozen to the core. Ellie wore two jackets, one of them even a rain jacket, but was still soaked all the way through. The spectators were, too.

I think it would have been more fun if they weren't so cold that they fingers and toes were numb.


Still, they proved that they are fighters.


Hats off to those hearty enough to go for it.

Ellie had a pretty good race. She had a great start and was in fourth place for a few laps. Then came the all-too-slick mud that took down a girl right in front of Ellie. After a quick recovery, she was back in the game, but by then she lost a good bit of time. She placed 6th or 7th, not a bad standing considering that many of the national hopefuls were racing, too.

You go - my tough girl! I am proud of you.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Shutterfly Give and Get Joy Party

I love Shutterfly. I've been working all year long and have create a lot of our Christmas gifts through their site. About a month ago I got an invitation to apply to host a Shutterfly party. I put my name in the hat, but did not expect to get selected. After all, thousands of people applied and only a few select people were chosen - and I am one of them! I am so excited! I will host my party in November. We will have a potluck dinner and then get serious makin' stuff. Each person will get:
1 set of 15 premium Holiday cards
1 Photo Calendar
1 Card Holder
Sample Cards
Party Prizes

What a lucky girl I am. The tough part is figuring out who to invite. Next, what will my theme be like? I think I will have a look around at the new card design to find inspiration.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Little Mother & Daughter Graphic Design Goin' On

At the mountain bike race on Sunday Ellie noticed that many of the top teams had special t-shirts. She thought it would be nice for her team to have one, too. So we set out to create a design. The ram's head is different from the one on the jersey. It is one that I modified from an image I found online. I added chainring teeth to the horns and modified the face. Ellie did most of the remaining design. The bikes are Specialized Rockhoppers which we made into a graphic. Ellie has a good eye for design. We're sharing the design with the rest of the team to see what thier reaction is.

Here's a glimpse of the race. Thanks to Carrie Dittmer, Ariana's mother, for the photo.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Each Going His or Her Own Way

This past weekend we all were productive, but each person went their own way.

Ethan's Weekend:
Tom, one of Ethan's best friends, finished up his Eagle Scout project this weekend. He ran a crew of people who rebuilt the dumpster structure, put together a box to hold the rain drain tile (hose) and sand bags, and cleaned up the playground. The kids at school will be happy to find a freshly combed sandbox, free of fall leaf litter and debris that collects when then wind picks up. Tom helped with Ethan's project. Ethan said it felt good to be part of helping Tom earn that important rank. (I love it when my boy does good!) After a fairly lazy Sunday day, he attended a birthday party at Big Fun trampoline center. It was pretty cool until a person bigger than him jumped onto (into?) him. His legs still hurt. Ethan will take that in stride, but may not be back to such a place for a long while.

Ellie's Whirlwind Tour of a Weekend:
Ellie, ever the social butterfly, stuffed in a ton this weekend. On Friday after school she had me take her to Cyclocross camp in Lafeyette. It is on a beautiful campus of a small private school. This year there were a ton of great coaches so each rider had plenty of help improving his/her skills. She had lots of fun and got almost no sleep - just as expected. A bonus was the chance to get to know Marta better. She is the girl who is often on the podium with Ellie. They forged a friendship by being the only two girls in their group and by planning defenses against a silly boy who was assaulting them with grasshopper missles. Ellie found out that Marta is very funny. Marta says casually to Ellie, "hey, guess what..." "What?" Ellie replies in the voices that knows a joke is coming. "I'm naked under these clothes." After a bit of giggling, Ellie replies, "hey, guess what..." Marta offers up the obligatory, "What?" " I shower naked." And that is pretty much how it rolls. (She giggle just a bit even as she is relaying this scene.) The nights were a bit more rocky. The room where the girls were sleeping on the floor had a motion detector which meant that the lights went fully on about five times on Friday-Saturday. (The chaperones were planning to trick the sensor into thinking that no action was taking place on Saturday-Sunday morning.) Amazingly, that was an improvement over the shenanigans over in the gym where the boys were "sleeping." Imagine the reaction when boys standing full upright drop a shoe on the tummy of an unsuspecting sleeper - yeah, I'm sure it was a quiet riot for a while.

On Saturday night I arrived to swap out bikes and gear. I brought up the mountain bike Ellie is borrowing and delivered it along with the food I made for the team which included breakfast burrittos, healthy cookies and pumpkin blondes with homemade caramel sauce. I've included the recipe below. The next morning Kathy wore up the appropriate kids at about 6:30 a.m. so that they could get to Snow Mountain Ranch by 9:00 a.m. I forgot that Ellie does not like salsa, which was mixed in with the burrittos, so she skipped those, having only the healthy cookies for breakfast. Originally I had expected to stay and help at camp, only they did not need my help. This meant that I had options. I had already arranged for Ellie to ride up with Coach Kathy, but I could have taken her up myself, or met them there. I was very tempted as I wanted to see how it went, her first mountain bike race. When I asked her if she wanted me to go, or if she wanted to go alone (sort of) she said she was neutral. Earlier she said, "it's okay for me to go without you. I got this. I am old enough to do this stuff on my own." In the end, I decided not to go. I thought it would be good to cut the apron strings a little bit.

They arrived just in time for Ellie to do part of a quick loop on the trial and then line up. There were only three call-up so Ellie was able to secure the last spot on the front row. (She said it was wild to go from sleeping, to riding in a car for a long time to racing quickly.) Ellie got a good start and was in the break away right from the uphill start. Some people thought she was in the wrong gear to go, but her road skills helped out here. It took her a while to figure out how to use the gears without having to think about it too much. She was even in the lead for her group of ten riders for a while, but the lack of enough good nutrition and sleep took its toll. Eventually she came in third place and was happy with that result. She is sure the next race will go better sinces she will be well rested and fed for that one. Lots of people said to her, "You're a roadie so you will go fast on the uphills, but slow on the downhills." She is out to prove that wrong. Several of the boys placed well and now her new team is ranked 4th overall, a nice improvement from 11th place. That will make her happy.

After the race Kathy packed up the kids and headed down the mountain. I picked up Ellie at a meeting spot, had her change quickly at home and then we were off to cotillion. We even arrived with three minutes to spare. That too was a fun night. During one of the activities the students were supposed to figure out the order in which people should be introduced. The junior assistance were dressed up in parts. Ellie sported a baseball hat. Derrick, a tall Asian youth, got to wear a wig of blonde braids and Gracey was a little girl with a doll. Derrick turns to the girls and says, "Oh, today I get to be a blonde" Ellie quickly add, "I'm a blonde every day!" And they all had a laugh.

Once I picked my girl up she was pooped. She never let on how tired she was. By the time we arrived back home she was really draggin'. No one can say she wasted her weekend.

Larr's Weekend:
A main theme in my husband's life right now is meeting. He was at the school during Tom's Eagle Scout project, then over to help Karen with something she needed and finally home at the end of the evening, just after I headed out to make a delivery to Ellie. The next morning he was back at school for a long but productive meeting. He rounded out his weekend with a drive in the hills to take in the turning of the leaves. This weekend they are at their peak. We've had such good weather that the leaves have stayed on the branches, for the most part, and so Mother Nature looks quite regal these days.

Tammy's Weekend:
It is an odd time when I have so much time to myself. I was tempted to do something fun, but decided to take care of some deep cleaning that I had been putting off since the beginning of summer. I cleaned out the main bathroom and started in on my messy closet. On Sunday I cruised the internet taking in eye candy. I had a head-ache from the dust the day before and did not want to go back to it. I did finish up most of the laundry. My room is a mess with all of the piles to be sorted through, but it is a good start.