Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm off on a grand adventure...

After over a year planning, tomorrow, I am leaving on a grand adventure with my dearest friend, Stephanie. We've grown up together. We met as freshmen in high school and here we are celebrating our 40th birthdays together! We will spend a little time with Jane at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath and yes, I do have a Regency costume. There will pics.

Jane Austen

After reading the delightful, The Guernsey Literary and PotatoPie Society a couple years ago, I had a huge desire to see this island. It sounds perfectly enchanting. This trip is somewhat of a literary tour for us.
In addition to spending time with Miss Austen, we will spend some time in Scotland and I expect to see some spectacular tartans!

Stonehenge-A must see

We'll end our trip in Iceland and I can't wait to be dazzled by the Aurora Borealis.
It's really a trip of a lifetime and a celebration of friendship! Doesn't this landscape look
absolutely dramatic and captivating?

So, tomorrow, I'm off to the UK for an adventure. If you have a moment, say a prayer for us for safe travels and a prayer for my husband and children. I will miss them all terribly.
I will see you in two weeks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our Big Summer Results!

Western Tanager

Luke and I had a good time birding over the summer. After watching the film, The Big Year with Jack Black and Steve Martin, we agreed to do a Big Summer. We knew that we would see a ton of birds we don't see in Colorado on our trip to the Outer Banks. We carried this book with us all over the Outer Banks. We flipped through this book constantly. I think I missed a chance to see an osprey because I was looking in this book. Luke knows his birds way better than I do and thus, he was able to distinguish between similar looking birds much easier. On the day that we were at the Kitty Hawk Memorial, I saw an interesting bird that I knew wasn't on my list. I asked Luke what it was. He wasn't feeling well that day and he barely responded. Little did I know that he was getting Chicken Pox! I'm still bummed about missing that bird at Kitty Hawk!

Paul took the big boys on a jeep trip on the beach to see wild horses and that's where Luke got way ahead of me on his bird list. He came back from the wild horse tour more excited about how many new birds he had seen than about the horses. At that point, I knew he was going to win. So, I made up a crazy rule that whoever saw a Western Tanager, no matter how many birds on one's list, wins. Of course, Luke thought this was entirely unfair and well, I thought this rule made the Big Summer a little more exciting. It could be anybody's game.

Western Tanagers are native to Colorado, but I haven't seen one where we live. Neither of us has a Western Tanager on our list. Luke wins!

Here's my list:

1. Red-breasted Nuthatch
2. American Robin
3. Common Raven
4. Mountain Bluebird
5. Red-winged Blackbird
6. Canada Goose
7. Scissor-tailed Fly Catcher
8. Black-billed Magpie
9. Common Grackle
10. Downy Woodpecker
11. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
12. House Sparrow
13. Laughing Gull
14. Brown Thrasher
15. Rock Pigeon
16. Northern Mockingbird
17. Herring Gull
18. Eastern Bluebird
19. Northern Cardinal
21. Brown Pelican
22. Purple Martin
23. Great Black-backed Gull
24. American Crow
25. White Ibis
26. Great Egret
27. Ring-billed Gull
28. White-breasted Nuthatch
29. Cormorant
30. Mallard
31. Steller's Jay
32. Mountain Chickadee
33. Black-capped Chickadee
Western Tanager

It's hard to believe that the winner of the Big Year competition saw over 700 different species of birds.  A serious birder could get my list in less than a day!
Now for Luke's list:

1. Crow
2. American Robin
3. Common Grackle
4. Canada Goose
5. Mallard Duck
6. Common Raven
7. Red-winged Blackbird
8. Scissor-tailed Swift
9. House Sparrow
10. Red-Winged Hawk
11. American Kestrel
12. Red-breasted Nuthatch
13. Mountain Chickadee
14. Herring Gull
15. Brown Thrasher
16. Bald Eagle
17. Laughing Gull
18. Rock Pigeon
19. Northern Cardinal
20. Northern Mockingbird
21. Eastern Towhee
22. Black Vulture
23. Osprey
24. Forster's Tern
25. Great Black-backed Gull
26. Ring-billed Gull
27. Boat-tailed Grackle
28. Brown Pelican
29. Barn Swallow
30. Brown-headed Nuthatch
31. Gray Catbird
32. House Finch
33. Purple Martin
34. Mourning Dove
35. White Ibis
36. Great Egret
37. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
38. Black-capped Chickadee
39. Brown-headed Cowbird
40. European Starling
41. Red-winged Blackbird
42. Fish Crow
43. Turkey Vulture
44. Double-breasted Cormorant
45. Black and White Warbler
46. Downy Woodpecker
47. Hairy Woodpecker
48. Northern Flicker
49. Black-Crowned Night Heron
50. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
51. Eastern Bluebird
52. Steller's Jay

Next up? The Big Winter!

Yarn Along: September Edition

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  

Instagram photo

I am reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. How is it that I have never read this book before? This is  my September book club selection.

I have been away from the Yarn Alongs most of the Summer. Not because I haven't been knitting, but I haven't really finished much this Summer. Also, due to a certain twin, my laptop broke. So, I ended up neglecting my blog this summer and the weekly Yarn Along.

 I got this crazy idea to knit stocking caps for everyone in my family for our Christmas card photo. I'm on hat #2. I only have 5 more hats to knit. This seems like a goal I can manage. It's really a simple hat with endless stockinette. I do, however, need to learn how to make a pom-pom. The above hat is for Tess. Simple wide red and pink stripes make for a striking holiday hat. I'm thinking about Gryffindor colors for Luke, but I haven't decided on colors for the rest of the boys in my family. I still have time. I think.

Head on over to Ginny's for more reading and knitting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mother of Five

She Mothered Five!Night after night she watched a little bed,
Night after night she cooled a fevered head,
Day after day she guarded little feet,
Taught little minds the dangers of the street;
Taught little lips to utter simple prayers,
Whispered of strength that some day would be theirs
And tranied them all to use it as they should.
She gave her babies to the nation's good.

She Mothered five!
She gave her beauty- from her cheeks let fade
the roses' blush-to her mother trade.
She saw the wrinkles furrowing  her brow,
Yet smiling said, "My boy grows stronger now."
When pleasures called she turned away and said:
"I dare not leave my babies to be fed
By strangers' hands; besides they are so small,
I must be near to hear them when they call."

She Mothered five!
Night after night they sat about her knee
And heard her tell of what some day would be.
From her they learned that in the world outside
Are cruelty and vice and selfishness and pride;
From her they learned the wrongs they out to shun,
What things to love, what work must still be done.
She led them through the labyrinth of youth
And brought five men and women up to Truth.

She mothered five!
her name be unknown save to the few,
Of her the outside world but little knew;
But somewhere five are treading Virtue's ways,
Serving the world and brightening its days;
Somewhere are five, who, tempted stand upright,
Clinging to honor, keeping her memory bright;
Somewhere this mother toils and is alive
No more as one, but in the breats of five.

-Edgar Guest

Last year, I was leaving my MOPS group and one of the mentor moms stopped me and handed me this poem. It wasn't long after the twins were born and I was in that exhausted phase. She'd printed it out and then used some of those fancy scissors to give the paper some fancy edging. I thanked her and stuffed the poem in my purse. Somehow that poem ended up on the fridge for the next year. Every now and then, I'd stop and read part of the poem. I don't really care about the part about the wrinkles much. I eventually took the poem off the fridge, but I couldn't throw it away. So, I decided to put the poem here and be that mother of five!

The Summer of the Bear

This summer was certainly the summer of the Bear. I saw a lot of our bear this summer. If the bear wasn't knocking over our (bear-proof, of course) garbage can, he (or maybe she) was out all times of the day. Our neighborhood bear got very bold this year showing up in broad daylight.

It's been an odd summer. Our garden was almost an epic bust. I have a small enclosed garden to keep the critters out, but this year, no matter how many breaches we sealed, the chipmunks got in and ate almost everything. It's been a dry summer and I suspect that the animals are hungrier than usual. I planted several varieties of sunflowers, but they never had a chance. I found bear prints in the sunflower patch and I caught the foxes eating the seedlings. I live in the middle of a wild animal park! My highest hopes were for the strawberries to grow abundantly. Every year, I dream of strawberry shortcake and home made strawberry jam. They might have flourished, but those pesky chipmunks devoured the flowers before the strawberries could even bloom. Needless to say, I kind of gave up this summer, but as I am always hopeful, I am already looking to next year. I plan to relocate the garden to get more sun. Next year, I will have my strawberries!
This was my garden at the beginning of the summer. It had so much potential. I bought a single Concord  grape plant thinking that at some point I could have grape jelly along with my strawberry jam plans, but the grape plant doesn't look as if it grew at all. 

I thought that the garden was a total failure, but I looked in the other day and I found six small pumpkins! I've been trying to grow pumpkins for almost six years! I am so excited! So, no strawberries, but I have these miniature pumpkins to decorate the house for Fall! I guess chipmunks don't care for pumpkins! I also found some garlic chives that the critters left alone! Even in disappointment, there's much to be thankful for. We're leaving strawberry season behind and moving into pumpkin bliss!

Summer ends a little sooner up here in the mountains. Around mid-August, I hear the first rustling of the aspen leaves and that seems to signal the end of summer here. School begins in August and as I have one child in public school, we find ourselves scrambling to wrap up summer, change gears, and get ready for the new school year. I know I'm not alone in thinking that September is really new year's. I will always feel that the academic calendar more accurately fits the transition into a new year. I'm okay with the end of summer, but I am not okay when I see the leaves on the aspens and maples drying out, turning brown, and falling too soon. Like I said, it's been a very dry summer! Autumn, I look forward to you every year and I will be bitterly disappointed if I don't get spectacular golden yellows and magnificent complex orange leaves to look at every day.

Today, we started our home school year. Luke is in 8th grade and he will turn 13 this Thursday.  I can't believe we're getting so close to high school. We've got some big decisions to make in the coming year. I haven't written much about home schooling on my blog in a long long time. More on that soon...In the mean time, here's a picture of Luke with Rhodie, his Rhode Island Red. He's become somewhat of an expert on poultry in the last year. Some of his chickens started laying eggs this Summer and he usually brings me an egg a day.

Well, here's to the end of the Summer of the Bear and to the beginning of a challenging and exciting academic year. It's time for pumpkins, cool nights, apple pie, and reading under cozy quilts.

I will reveal the winner of our Big Summer tomorrow!

Happy September Friends!