Monday, August 24, 2009

Eli's cake

Eli wanted to make a cake to celebrate the last day of summer (the day before school starts).

He chose confetti cake, the Betty Crocker mix, did the mixing himself, and baked it yesterday.

We frosted it today,

and Eli shared it with Robbie and Robbie's friend Charles. I think it will make the transition from Summer to School much sweeter!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jane: Band Camp photos

There are lots of band camp photos at the Peforming Arts website for Robbie's school. Here are a couple. They had a great time!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jane: Marching Mom Camp

I just got back from marching band camp . . . yes, you heard correctly. I was at camp this morning, volunteering.

Apparently, this is the way they keep the costs for marching band camp low: parents come to help in the kitchen and with clean up. This way, it costs only $100 for 4 days/3 nights.

When I got there, I swept the cafeteria, then mopped the serving area. After that, I went into the kitchen and did whatever they told me: washed dishes, cut up melon, made sandwiches, organized the salad bar, etc etc. I kept thinking of my friend Karen, who was a camp director for a few years, and who LOVES to cook for large groups! I don't think I'm cut out for it.

The food tasted OK, but when cooking for large groups, I think it helps to have the large groups be very hungry, because it's not going to be gourmet quality or very fresh. Lots of cans were opened. . .

Robbie is now at 9th grade orientation, a day-long event (!) rivaling the orientation for many first year college students!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eli and Jane: Garden of Delights

Eli's pumpkin plants are doing well this year as you can see. They're the Jack Be Little pumpkins, and he already has 3 of them from one vine.
This is my zucchini plant. Beautiful, isn't it? But it has produced exactly zero zucchinis! It thinks it's an amigurumi--a totally useless object.
My tomatoes, on the other hand, are doing very well. These are some of the Celebrities, just about ready to become BLTs. I've had many tomatoes from the Health Kick (plum tomatoes) and the Sweet 100s (cherry tomatoes) already. Both of those are excellent varieties.
My cages aren't tall enough for the tomatoes this year! They keep shooting up above the cage, and I pinch them back, and they shoot up, and I pinch back . . . That's the basil in the front. It's about waist-high. We should be able to have pesto once a week now.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Robbie's Lego Showcase

Here's another two-person build. This time the second person was Joe Jackson. I didn't run out of LEGOs this time though. We dissected a remote control car and attached (mostly taped) the parts to a LEGO chassis. It runs well and looks... blocky. Anyway, here's a picture.

It is front-wheel drive and as you may have guessed, the wheels with lots of tape around them are the drive wheels. The wheels operate independently to steer because we couldn't find any servos.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jane: Marching Band

Robbie started Marching Band practice this week. The high school is abuzz with practices, rehearsals, kids doing all sorts of things these days.

It all prompted this joke:

How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?

The whole section. One to change the light bulb, and the rest to snitch snacks from the choir room.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back from the Mountains

Well, I miss those Rocky Mountains already, even missed them as we drove east through eastern Colorado with the mountains at our backs. My consolation will be playing with the pictures I took to make a scrap book--I've decided to do an old-fashioned scrap book so I can include postcards, maps, etc.

But I will post a few pics here, too!
Heading west was new to Robbie and Eli, who'd never been west of Des Moines. (Before you feel sorry for them, they've visited Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Atlanta and the southeast coast, London, and, of course, Cedar Point.)

We drove as far as western Nebraska the first night and stayed in a former cowboy town, Ogallala, complete with a "Boot Hill" where they buried people with their boots on.
But our main goal was Rocky Mountain National Park. We got there early afternoon the next day, and moved into our cabin in Estes. I would recommend a KOA Kamping Kabin (above is the one we stayed in--nice view, eh?) for any of you out there who'd like the camping experience without the tent :-) It was rustic, but comfortable, and a bit warmer than a tent on those frigid mornings!

That day, we hiked and picniked in the mountains, starting with a hike up Deer Mountain.

Robbie said the mountains were "mountaintastic," and they were.

And so were the wildflowers.
The next day, we did some of the trails near Bear Lake: first Alberta Falls, which was spectacular.
Then we hiked to Nymph Lake, cool and beautiful with its water lilies.
We had lunch there, then went back to the car for a drive over the Trail Ridge Road, the highest US highway! We saw many things: Elk
Alpine wildflowers

Great views

And, at the Alpine Visitors' Center, marmots, to Eli's delight!
On Tuesday, we drove to the outskirts of Fort Collins where Robbie and Bruce got on a whitewater rafting tour on the Poudre river. Eli didn't want to go, so I took him into downtown Fort Collins for some fun at a history/science museum, and a visit to some antique shops. After that, we went back to the RMNP for a dinner picnic at Endovalley, where we saw water ouzels, and a ranger talk at Bever Meadows.

That was our last day at RMNP. The next day we headed to Boulder, where we toured Celestial Seasonings!

Everyone enjoyed it. The automated factory is fascinating, and the mint room was sinus-clearing!

We met my college friend Becky, and her daughter Sarah, for lunch in Boulder, and then visited the Center for Atmospheric Research, up on a hill. Cool exhibits on climate.

From there we drove to Colorado Springs, arriving around 7, where we stayed the night.

Colorado Springs is a contrast to Estes Park. It's more desert-y, with red sands and sandstone, and cactus, and hot temps. We went out early to Garden of the Gods Park, which, despite the hokey name, is a beautiful city park (free!) filled with unusual rock formations.

From there, we visited an old tourist spot, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which had all sorts of native American cliff-dwellings that you could walk through, and cool artifacts (clearly scavanged and stolen, as was the early 20th century custom!)

Then on to Manitou Springs, another old tourist spot, famous for its mineral springs, which we tasted. There were all kinds of cool shops here--we enjoyed the bookstore, dulcimer shop, odd crystal shops, coffee shop, and the boys loved the old arcade with late-70s video games! Robbie beat "Donkey Kong" so his initials are there!

Our last stop was the Money Museum at Colorado College. They had excellent exhibits on the Civil War and "Good and Bad Faces" on money (a coin with Idi Amin, for example)
That night we attended a Colorado Springs Sky Sox game--very fun, as minor league games are. You can see the action very clearly because it's not a big stadium. There's a cute mascot, funny between-the-innings games, and it was a beautiful night! Here is their new logo, Pikes Peak with "angry cloud eyebrows" :-)
The drive back was through Kansas, hot and windy. We stayed in Lawrence, and got back at about 3 on Saturday.

I think everyone enjoyed the trip. There was only minimal bickering from the boys--too much to interest them--and I think it brought our family together. Oh, and now we're all hooked on mountains!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Robbie: Hylian Shield\200th post

Remember the Hylian Shield I made out of LEGOs? Sure you do. Now you can buy it (if you are made of money) here at the LEGO shop website!

Oh, and also this is the 200th post to this blog since it started so...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jane et al.: Mountains!

We're leaving this morning for a trip to Colorado. We'll be spending 3 days at the Rocky Mountain National Park and a couple days in Colorado Springs with a stop in Boulder in between.

We might be able to blog by using Robbie's DSI, but probably there won't be much news until we get back.

I'm looking forward to seeing those mountains!