Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mysterious

While I have been a Knitter for many years now (in fact, I feel the Knitter inside of me has been always a part of me, I just didn't recognize her for a few years), I still have many aspects of the craft yet to explore. As an inducement to challenge myself when I was learning to knit for the second time (long story), I signed myself up to work on a mystery knit-along featuring lace and beads. Mystery knit-alongs, for the uninitiated, happen simultaneously as a group affair, via email back in the old days, or Ravelry in the present, and as an individual activity, in the privacy of your own home or wherever you may be when actually knitting. For me in that first mystery knit-along, that just happened to be my local library in Centerville, OH.

For one glorious night each week, I fled the confines of my home and my three beautiful, yet needy small children. While Daddy took over the ship, I drove to the library, knitting bag clutched in an exhausted hand, and found a quiet, secluded spot in which to contemplate the nuances of charted instructions and make my work mimic that of the pattern designer's. Week after week a new clue would be revealed. Over time, I found it was a beautiful lace stole, Swan Lake, by Melanie Gibbons of Pink Lemon Twist. How did I learn this? It certainly wasn't from finishing it. Alas, to this day it is languishing half-knit in one of my knitting bins. Instead I watched as others from this fabulous group of knitters proudly posted their finished objects to our YahooGroup. I just wasn't yet experienced enough to keep up. I will say that my time was definitely not wasted. It taught me valuable skills, namely chart reading, which I prefer to this day over written directions, and the ever valuable SSK (slip, slip, knit). It also taught me to love lace. But I digress...

Years, in fact probably more than a decade, has passed since that mystery shawl. Over that time I have continued refining my knitting skills. I have successfully knit, and even designed, several lace shawls. Lace is my favorite thing to work on, and I truly enjoy the challenges it throws at me. But since that time I have never done another mystery knit-along. Perhaps it was because of my first failure. Perhaps it's because I was worried I wouldn't like the end result. Perhaps (and more likely) it was because of my time constraints of homeschooling three precocious kids. At any rate, while I've signed up for countless mystery knit-along patterns, to this day I have never begun one until this week.

Laura Aylor, who designed one of my favorite yet-to-be-knit-with-my-needles shawl, Cinnamon Toast, came out with a Christmas mystery knit-along called, Just For You. I just so happened to find it offered on Ravelry, and, on a whim, signed up for it. I really didn't think too much of it, but thought that I might actually work on it for once. The planning sheet was posted and I duly went stash diving. When I found four skeins of Knit Picks Cadena sitting in my bin, I was in.
70% Peruvian Highland Wool, 30% Superfine Alpaca, 110 yards/100 grams
Day one came and I woke up early for it. It was just me, the yarn, some hot, savory tea, and a cat cuddled up on my lap. The idea behind this knit-along is different than my first one. Instead of weekly clues, it is daily. It isn't lace, and it isn't complicated. Worked on bulky yarn, progress is quickly made, and by the 24th, all will be complete. While I don't know exactly how it will turn out, by now I am having a pretty good idea.
Here I am in my hideout on day 2.
It will eventually grow to be some sort of poncho/cowl thing. Normally, living in Florida as I do, I wouldn't knit something like this. Perhaps that is part of the novelty and joy of it. I'm knitting for the delight of discovery. I'm knitting for myself. It feels a bit like a guilty pleasure, stealing this hour or so every day to do it, but I can tell I'm happier and more relaxed. I wonder if I would take this time for myself every Christmas if it would become a more peaceful and joyous time versus the inevitable rushing and accompanying stress.

For today's clue (Day 4- we are more than halfway done!) I woke at 6:00. I have a cold, which is never fun, but with a lightness of heart I brewed the morning's cuppa, slipped into my comfy spot, queued my book (Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman as podcast by Heather of Craftlit) and picked up my needles with the newest clue. The house was quiet except for the orange bundle of fluff purring on my lap. As I listened to the fabulous satire of Gilman, my project grew before my eyes.
Today's iteration
Today promises to be a busy day. I have cleaning, laundry, baking, and wrapping waiting for me in abundance. I have, however, seized the day for myself, and know that I can face it with a smile, with anticipation for tomorrow's clue to entertain and entice me. May you also find some small way to find beauty in the flurry of the festivities around you. God bless!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hump

When our family decided to join Summit Homeschool Co-op this past fall, I thought that 31 weeks of academics sounded like an awfully long time. I worried that we wouldn't be able to keep the pace of early mornings, prepared and packed lunches, and (perhaps most importantly) that I wouldn't stay on top of my class duties. The hump, however, has arrived, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly the time has flown!

Originally the plan was for me to teach one class, British Literature. You know the poem, though, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men/ Gang aft agley." (It's Robert Burns, and yes, we've covered that one this year!). Anyway, about a quarter the way through the year I picked up a middle school math class as well. There are three of the sweetest students in it, and I'm all the richer for it! We are using Math-U-See for our text, and in so many ways I feel like I've come back to a good friend. I have gone through the book with my own kiddos three times already, and I'm having a blast working through it again with these kids.

For our last class before Christmas break, I surprised the kids with a math project. This year the kids are working on fractions, so for our class time I found a recipe that made up cookies in a jar, and I had the kids triple the recipe (3 kiddos in the class) so they could each make a Christmas gift to give their parents, grandparents, or someone special in their life. Instead of working problem after problem on their white boards (I love white boards!), instead the kids worked out their fractions on the recipe and then worked together to mix it up.
Sugar!

And lots of chocolate chips!

Make yummy Christmas gifts!
Needless to say, my poor Brit Lit students didn't have the fun of making up cookie mixes. Instead my gift to my literary students was a story. One of my favorites at Christmas time is Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales. After we covered the exigencies of high school English life (namely how to merge quotes in literary analysis essays) I regaled them with Thomas' vivid descriptions of Christmas as a youth in Wales. Alliteration, imagery, onomatopoeia and more techniques abound in that wonderful work. If you haven't read it, please do. It will put you in the mood for Christmas for sure!
Working together to blend quotations.

Don't they look excited?

All right, he looks a little excited (maybe).

So now we are at the hump of our year. I pray that each of the kids has increased in knowledge. I hope the rest of the year will continue to be one of growth and enjoyment. My lit kids are reading through Frankenstein right now, and we will begin working on it when the new year arrives.

Until then, have a blessed Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Knitting Summary

School is in session. Co-op is crazy busy. Thus is my reason for being as limited as I have been on my blogging efforts. I don't like it one bit. I keep a notebook of ideas for my blog. It is bursting with them, but none of them have come to fruition. This must change. I've been agonizing over how to change this pattern for awhile now. There's nothing like trying to overcome inertia. You know, that whole body at rest idea really is true. Literally a month has gone by (at least) where I've hemmed and hawed about where to take my blog. I've come down to this- knitting.

Knitting is where my brain relaxes and my tension eases. While knitting, I approach a Zen-like state. My body and my mind zero in to a focus of the fabric held between my fingers, and I relax. Problems recede and anxieties flee. That is part of my problem. Knitting has been scarce for me of late. That is changing, however.

Currently I'm working on Christmas knitting, which is the best knitting of all (unless it's being hurriedly finished on the 24th of December, that is!). It's the gift of time, the gift of love, and the gift of comfort for those I know, and even for those I don't know. To that end, here are a few of the gifts I have knitted this fall...


A gift for someone I don't know.
The first project I completed recently is Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts. This is a free pattern that is super fun to knit. I would consider it a simple pattern. The most challenging bit about it is the turned picot hem. Rather than sewing it after the fact, I simply knit it as I went along for the cast-on edge. Rather than get into the long details about how to accomplish this in lieu of sewing, I found a YouTube video that has nice detailing. If you're interested in this technique, check it out!

These mitts were knit in an easy care yarn, Berroco Vintage DK. The yarn is soft, wears well, and is machine washable. In short, it's the perfect yarn for a gift, especially when you don't know who will be receiving it. These mitts will be given away to one of the wonderful employees of Tom Bihn, a company who crafts excellent travel luggage and knitting bags. Tom Bihn has done much for me in my life to keep me organized and sane, not an especially easy job when that individual is a homeschooling mom of three teenagers. This is just a small way that I can say thanks for what they do. If you've never checked out their site, I strongly recommend you do. It is a made in the U.S.A. with attention to quality and concern for the world that I love.

After completing that project, I immediately launched into a super secret knit that is for one of my own household. I wish I could show photos, but I know this kid. He will be checking out my blog as soon as he's up, so it must remain a secret for the moment, but I'm almost done with it, and after Christmas comes, I'll post photos. Truly!

Next on my Christmas list, however, is a pair of slippers for my nephew in Colorado. My sister called recently and told me her son had absconded with her own pair of handknit slippers. When she got them back, he informed her that he wanted a pair of his own. Hers, I thought, were a touch too feminine for him, so I searched for a more masculine pattern and came across a fabulous one... Yuko Nakamura's Non-Felted Slippers pattern was just the ticket. Like the above Reading Mitts pattern, Yuko's is also free, but it only comes in one size, a lady's medium. My robust nephew sports a size 12 foot, so a little math was in order to convert the pattern, and according to my own son, who also sports a size 12 foot, these will fit him just fine!

They are knit flat and seamed along the bottom of the foot at the end. I knit them over a span of two days. As they are knit with bulky yarn, the pattern works up very quickly.
Biggo Yarn was the perfect choice!
I chose Knit Picks' yarn, Biggo, in Sapphire Heather and Cobblestone Heather for the project. I'm hoping it will hold up well. It's my first time using this yarn, which is a superwash blend of merino wool and nylon. Of course, time will tell, and the kid is only 12, so we shall see. I suspect as long as he's not shooting hoops out on the concrete while wearing them, they'll hold up well enough. I'll be knitting another pair before Christmas comes, so we will field test them here as well.

Here's the start of the pattern. It looks like a slipper (not)!
Because they are knitted flat, I took some photos. It's through the clever use of increases, decreases, and short rows that the slipper takes shape, and I wanted to capture its different stages of creation.
Through short-rows the slipper shape gradually appears. I'm afraid right now it looks more like a cod piece!
Almost done except for the cuff...
Finis! It looks better worn. I promise!
I have more projects lined up. Gaskell is begging to be knit, but it's for me, so it will have to wait. I have work that needs to be done, including finishing up Frankenstein, the next novel we are covering in my Brit Lit class. Decorating is demanding my attention. The kids are wanting lots of lovelies baked for the holidays. Last year's surgery at Thanksgiving and flu at Christmas pretty much decimated any chance of that happening, so this year I am charged to make it up. In short, life keeps happening. I'll try my best to keep documenting it. In the meantime, have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Sunrise on the Atlantic

Friday, September 26, 2014

Park Hopping

This past weekend our family snagged an opportunity to venture out into the great outdoors. Armed with our respective cameras, we had a great time capturing the time together and enjoying each other's company. Here are a few highlights of the afternoon...
A butterfly on some wildflowers.
Beautiful children!




A little mushroom





A turtle of some kind. 



Pygmy Rattlesnake (shudder!)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summit Summary

There's so much for me to love about this post. I adore literature. I enjoy teaching. To combine both with an enthusiastic class is pretty much the peanut butter and chocolate dream combination of my life, and I know I am blessed to have the opportunity to infect  share that love with my students!

Now that we are five weeks into it, I thought I'd share a little about what our little class has accomplished. For the skeleton of the class, I am using two texts, namely Teaching the Classics by Adam Andrews, and Windows to the World by Lesha Myers. Of course I have put my own spin on things, so I have added and/or changed a fair bit of the resources I'm using. As our focus is primarily British Literature, I've replaced writers like O'Henry (fabulous, but from the wrong side of the pond) with Saki. Since poetry is a passion of mine, I'm also including poems from a variety of British poets, both old and new. Here are the ones we've enjoyed so far:
For many of these titles, I have found them on the Poetry Foundation's website, a fabulous source for poetry as well as background information about the poems and poets who wrote them.

A large part of the initial classwork has been focused on the elements of fiction, and being able to distinguish them apart from each other. To that end, we have been using the ever-wonderful story chart as developed by Adam and Missy Andrews.
Here we have a student (my guy) pondering his options.

And another student contributing to the action!
With the lone girl in the class (it's positively packed with boys!) finishing it out with the conclusion.
To get a handle on these story elements (plot, setting, character, conflict, and theme) I've drawn on several different stories. To begin with, we are using short stories, as they are a little easier to recognize the elements taking place. Here are just a few of the stories we've used so far...
I'm looking forward to getting more involved in the longer novels. Suitably, we are starting off with Beowulf as translated by Seamus Heaney. I'm betting the boys will have a great time, there's plenty of action and battle scenes to enjoy!

Before I go, enjoy this little video of the poem, "To a Mouse." I love a good Scottish burr, and I thought it especially timely, given the vote for Scottish independence!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Knitwise

In the spare time of caring for my family, teaching my children, and volunteering in church, I knit. It's soothing to me, and I wish I had more time for it, but life impedes. Nevertheless, I keep an opportunistic eye open for those fleeting moments where a stitch or two can be completed. In this manner I've managed to finish a couple of projects and even start a new one.

First up off the needles is the lovely shawl, Zen Rain, knit for a very special person in my life, my mother-in-law. She selected the yarn from her local yarn shop, A Good Yarn, and it's a luxurious one. From the Neighborhood Fiber Co., Penthouse Silk Fingering yarn is 100% silk in a two-ply that absolutely glows with deep color saturation. She selected the colorway Rock Creek Park, which is a deep jewel-toned turquois. One ball, at 500 yards was more than enough to knit the entire shawl. Weighing in at four ounces a ball, I had approximately one ounce left over.
The ever-lovely Zen Rain Shawlette!
A close-up of the edging.
Next up off the needles is a sweet little cowl called the Serpentine Cowl. I saw a sample knitted up while on holiday visiting my sister in Colorado Springs at the Green Valley Weavers and Knitters Shop. This is a sweet little shop that sells a great deal of knitting and spinning equipment, along with looms and other fibery good things. I absolutely love visiting this shop! At any rate, I saw the sample and showed it to my sister. She loved it as well, so I picked up some yarn and cast on for a gift for her.
Finished cowl!
The yarn I used for this is Louisa Harding Yarns, Thistle. The color is number 6, a smoky sage, and it feels delightful around the neck as the yarn is 60% merino and 40% baby suri alpaca. I can't wait to package it up and ship it off, and then turn around and knit another for myself! Unfortunately for me, it took 3 balls, although I only went into the third ball by about 10 inches. I think I could have managed to do it with only two had I cast on with less of a tail. Additionally, there was an imperfection in one of the balls, and I had to cut and join, costing me extra yardage. If you decide to knit this one, I would still strongly recommend getting three balls (or maybe even four on the off chance that you could knit two out of them!) to ensure that you have enough to complete the project. 

Next up on the needles is Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts, which I am doing in Berroco Vintage DK, in color 2184, a lovely brownish purple. While this is the first time I've knit with the DK weight, I have knit a great deal of the Vintage in worsted weight. It's a fabulous yarn in an acrylic/wool/nylon blend, so it makes great gifts that are easy-care. These mitts are going to be knit for the good folks at Tom Bihn. I'm looking forward to completing them. I have two skeins, so once I finish the first set of mitts, I'm hoping to knit another up in the same yarn for me! I've only just cast-on and knit about five rows, so I don't have any photos, but I'll work as quickly as I can to get them completed and photographed!

In all other ways, life continues to be quite busy. Co-op is in full swing (more about that in another post), fall is hopefully not far away, and the kids keep growing. In other words, life is good! 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Old Dog Learns New Tricks

I get such a kick out of homeschooling. I don't know who learns more:  the kids or me! This year my sweet gal is taking a photography class at co-op, and it's taking me out of my normal track in life. I'm having such a ball going over all the nuances (and we're only in week 2!) of our respective cameras. Since she's dyslexic, I'm reading the book out loud to her. One of the modes she was working on was the macro setting. I pulled out some shells for an object study and let the shooting commence. I could hardly stand just watching her. I wanted to yank the camera out of her hand and take my own photos! Rather than doing the very unseemly and immature move, I went and gathered my own and got started on my own camera exploration. It was my favorite five minutes of the day!
A close-up of a shell

A close-up of coral
I played around some more with my little camera, a Canon PowerShot Elph 130 IS, a simple point-and-shoot camera and found that it had a color boost. It really made the photos of the shells pop once I turned it on!
Without color enhancement

With color enhancement
The book she's using for the class is Better Photo Basics by Jim Miotke, and we have found it to be useful as well as readable for the neophyte. I'm looking forward to the next lessons!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Celebration of the Socratic

Our family has been on the homeschooling trail for quite some time now. In fact my oldest is essentially finished with homeschooling and is happily exploring the excitement of dual enrollment. When I first began the journey I knew nothing about homeschooling save what was encompassed in the term, namely schooling at home. I merrily set up my pseudo-classroom, complete with American flag and blackboard. My tiny pupil, along with his toddler brother and baby sister, reported promptly to our home classroom directly following breakfast where we opened our morning (in kindergarten the essentials didn't take long) with the Pledge of Allegiance. That out of the way, we would proceed through the three Rs with diligence if not delight.

We survived this one year. It's not that my son wasn't learning, precisely. He was advancing just like he ought. It's rather that some element was missing. We weren't having fun! As we approached the end of his kindergarten year, I started investigating more about homeschooling and greedily gobbled up whatever tidbits I could find about educational theory, especially related to homeschooling. I ate up philosophy as championed by Charlotte Mason, a 19th century British educator who among other things, espoused short lessons, "living books,", narration and dictation, and regular time out of doors for nature study. I seized onto these ideals like a sinking ship and threw everything I had into the CM approach. By and large it worked marvelously well. My son enjoyed his new time out of doors, although he was too squirrelly to sit still and sketch the flowers or rocks or bugs we would find, and his shouts of delight at being out of doors would drive all wildlife far from our view.

Along our journeys my son did what all children do. He asked lots of questions. "Why is the sky blue, Mommy? How can the airplane stay up in the sky, Mommy? How does a skid steer work, Mommy?" All of these were par for the course of a 7 year old's interest. His questions, along with those of his younger siblings, drove us to the library for answers, and we would happily digest the content of dozens of books. So frequently did we frequent the library that the librarians would have books held in reserve for us as we trundled up with our book cart, just knowing that my children would love them.

In the early years the book cart was heavily weighted towards construction equipment and airplanes. While our more formal lessons encompassed the traditional subjects of math, reading, writing, history, and science, our less structured time was spent in "delight" pursuits. Eventually, we started to marry the "delight" into the "compulsory," and we ended up with a hotch-potch of educational pursuits. Under girding it all, though, was the question.

Admittedly, I didn't know that the exchange of questions and discussions was Socratic in nature until much later down the path. All I knew is the kids and I enjoyed our morning together sitting in the living room engaging in conversation. That's really all it was, but it opened up a rabbit-hole of opportunity to seek out answers to our "I wonder..."s. Really nothing was off limits. Matters of faith, technology, current events, literature, history - all of it was fair game for discussion and introspection. Eventually we got round to the great philosophers and we learned about Socrates. Imagine my excitement as I read about Socrates' philosphy with the kids, and we learned about Socratic teaching!

In a nutshell, Socratic teaching emphasizes the question rather than the answer. It empowers the student to think for himself, allowing him to wonder, imagine, and dream. It allows for exploration of ideas and information. It is personal and reflective as well as communal. It occurs fabulously well in dialogue, and works well across the age and experience continuum. It trusts the student. It goes beyond the multiple guess/fill in the workbook approach.

As the children have grown and matured, so has their questioning. My oldest has stretched his interests to encompass current events as well as literature and matters of faith. My middle guy has grown increasingly interested in scientific matters such as bio-genetic engineering and its ethical concerns as well as computer engineering. My youngest is exploring symmetry and architecture and enjoying all things Mark Twain. These pursuits have grown out of a natural, God-breathed interest, and I love that they experience enough margin in their lives to explore these concepts. Truthfully I not certain they could if they had taken a more traditional approach to education.

This year we are participating in a formal co-op for the first time. In it the parents partner up to share course instruction, and I am the high school British literature facilitator. I am so looking forward to the opportunity to facilitate discussion Socratic-style and hopefully spark some questions for my students as we enjoy great literature from Beowulf to Shelley to Shakespeare, sprinkling in a little Saki along the way. I'm looking forward to seeing how the kids react to Shelley's monster, a line from Byron, or some humor from Wilde. And hopefully along the way, they will find that literature is a gateway to something special, a communing with the author and a journey into his world. I can't wait!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lonely Places

I am busy. I suspect you are, too. Modern Western society values busy-ness greatly. The busier we are, the better we tend to feel about ourselves. Our self-importance inflates. And there is so much busy-ness to choose from! Work, school, children, church, friends... they all compete in our psyche to win a place of prominence in our lives. I am no different from anyone else. There are days where my head is still spinning as our family (or the few who are home at the time) gathers around the table to consume a cereal supper because I was busy with something else of self-proclaimed importance. These past few years, though, I have been waging a quiet war with busy-ness, and along the way I have even won a few battles.

As a Homeschool Mom, my battles tend to center around kids, education, and church. With three kids, there is always an event to attend or math to grade. My condition isn't unique. Parents of traditionally educated children struggle with homework, work, and conflicting schedules. The battle rages and we grow more and more exhausted and discontented. Our marriages suffer. Our health deteriorates. Our peace erodes. Before we know it, we are in full-blown crisis mode, either ill or relationally damaged.

The symptoms of stress are many and varied. They affect multiple systems in our body and have far-reaching consequences. Among the most common are:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Problems
  • Insomnia
  • Chest Pain
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Feelings of unworthiness/self-esteem issues
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Depression
  • Focus Issues
  • Fear
  • Reliance on chemicals (alcohol to sleep, caffeine to wake up, sleeping pills, etc.)
  • Weight gain
  • And so much more!
Quite literally, stress kills. It kills joy. It kills relationships. It kills the body. It kills the soul.

A few years ago, I read a fabulous book. Entitled Margin:  Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard Swenson, M.D. 


Dr. Swenson went into great detail about the consequences of living margin-less lives, the above list being only a small smattering of issues. Our busy-ness is killing us as a culture in more ways than one. I suspect that it is in large part responsible for our approximately 50% divorce rate, our educational challenges, and our healthcare crisis. It rips people and relationships apart. It is a battle I wage within myself that I lose more times than I care to admit.

When I find I am acutely struggling with something, I find that the Source of Comfort is critical to me. I open my Bible and search for wisdom. This past week at church I was reminded in the sermon of these words:

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."

Jesus serves as a model for how I should deal with stress and busy-ness. Immediately prior to this verse, Jesus had healed a leper. The news was out about Him, and people were constantly coming to Him, seeking to be healed of their illnesses. He had so much work to do, and He loved the people who came to Him. He had an authentic heart and passion for people, yet He pulled back from their very real needs. He pulled back to the Source of His strength and communed with His Father, not once, but often.

When we withdraw from the busy-ness of our lives, when we allow the opportunity for the voice of God to come, we open ourselves up to healing and hope. How can we nurture others when we run around empty and uncertain ourselves? In short, we can't. The faster we go, the greater we fall. The center cannot hold. Much as we appear to want to be, we are not gods.

I truly want this new school year to be a blessing to my children. I want my husband to feel loved and respected. I recently purchased a book, Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, that I am looking forward to reading in my quiet time. Along with the book, I'm journaling again. 

I hope you can reach out and grasp a little rest for your weary soul. Start small, perhaps five minutes or so a day. Claim it and look for ways to create more. Read. Write. Rest. Another of my favorite books is One Thousands Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp. As you build this new habit, may it become a source of blessing and renewal and by extension bless those you love!

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” 
― Augustine of HippoThe Confessions of Saint Augustine
Have tea, will journal!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Flora, Fauna, (and Family) of Colorful Colorado

I love traveling. In the act of stepping outside the familiar I feel free. Last year's trip to Scotland with my husband is a perfect example. The two of us explored the country freely, unencumbered by our regular commitments to community and family. This year we were blessed to bring our entire family to Colorado, one of my favorite places on earth!
That's what I'm talking about! This Colorado view of Blue Lakes is stunning!
The first time I saw the Rocky Mountains I was 7. Mom, Dad, my sister, and I drove out for a family vacation. This flatland Kansas gal was overwhelmed and amazed when I saw the mountains for the first time. Through all these years, they have stuck with me. Many people prefer the mountains in the winter, when they are snow covered and somnolent, but I prefer them in the summer, alive with color and movement. Maybe that's because that's how I saw them initially, but I am always stunned into silence by the beauty of the mountains. With all the hiking, geocaching, rafting, and horseback riding, we were able to enjoy a great deal of the flora and fauna of the mountains, and I'm excited to share it with you!
Leafy Bracted Aster


Indian Paintbrush

Blue Columbine, the state flower of Colorado

Geyer Larkspur (I think)

Best of the worst. No idea what it is, but it looks like a pussy willow. I'm sure it's something else, but I couldn't identify it.

Cultivated in Breckenridge, CO.

Another cultivated flower (poppy) in Breck.

Alpine Golden Buckwheat? Again, not sure.

Yellow Columbine


Cultivated Pansies

Yellow Columbine
While the flowers were absolutely stunning, there was plenty of animal life to enjoy as well. The most exciting glimpse we caught was of a female moose. Unfortunately, no photos were captured, as it was extremely fleeting, but I was thrilled nonetheless!
The back of Flame, my trusty steed!

My cutie on her horse.

Another cutie with his horse!

This deer was photographed sporting a tracking collar
near the trail head for Mohawk Lake.

This little guy was found downtown in Breckenridge, along the river.

A yellow-bellied marmot! Found at the trailhead
to Mohawk Lake.

Mountain Goats! Found at Blue Lakes Monte Cristo.

And Mountain Goat Fiber to spin, collected caught
in the branches near tree line.
Yes, we saw many beautiful animals, including a fox, lots of hummingbirds, a bluebird, and the ubiquitous magpies of Colorado Springs. One bird I found on a hike I wasn't able to identify.


The biggest blessing of all was to share in all these adventures with my family. We met Brett's family in Breckenridge and enjoyed making memories through all our adventures and food. Lots of yummy food!
Waiting to eat at Relish.

An unexpected treat in Leadville, High Mountain Pies!

With two tables and one small counter, we took up 2/3 of the joint!

I hope I can return there some day! It was
fabulous food!
Towards the end of the trip, we drove down out of the mountains and headed to the lovely city of Colorado Springs where my daughter and I remained a few extra days to spend time with my sister and her family.

Sis and I

 My sister suffered a nasty accident less than a month previous and had just come out of surgery to repair her ACL and meniscus. Thanks be to God the ACL was successfully repaired, but the meniscus was not salvageable. Instead of the hiking we had planned on, we ended up spending a lot of time in wonderful conversation in her living room. It was therapeutic for both of us. While the kids cavorted we caught up on life. It was a great time. We did manage to do a small bit of car sightseeing, and Sis drove us to the incomparably beautiful Garden of the Gods. There was a storm building, and I managed to capture a few nice photos of it.
Garden of the Gods.
After our tour, we were able to pop through and see Glen Eyrie castle, which is managed by the Navigators.

Glen Eyrie
Our alpine adventure is over now, but the memories will last forever. I'm so thankful to have a loving family on both sides. I'm thankful for the time we were able to share and the experiences we were able to savor. And I can hardly wait to return!
Cone flower from Mom's seeds in my sister's garden.