Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boys and Sticks

 We went to the library the other day and I came across a book about sticks. I thought this was a great idea. Someone actually put together an entire book on how to play with sticks. Why didn't I think of that?!?!

The boys naturally gravitated to the chapter on weapons and so began our evening outing to Junction Creek to look for bows and arrows and swords. Patrick is now a proud owner of a pocket knife (which was his souvenir from Greece)  and was able to widdle the sticks to their proper shape (with a little help and muscle from us of course). A little twine, a hand saw (which made it a whole lot easier), and a pocket knife and boy, we were on our way.

In case you were wondering what weapons and neighborhood kids might looks like if they just so happened to be in the same location, you can take a look at Aeneas's eye. A near miss. Keep it within the family with some adult supervision! Jeeze.

In the past, we have made forts with some of the techniques used in this book. Here is one you have already seen but one we did recently along with some other great uses for sticks.

Fort sticks

 Stick Foosball!

Comparison sticks
Cooking sticks for stick and bug soup.

 Collection Sticks!

 Stick signs.

Fire sticks!

 Walking sticks

 Fiddle sticks

Save your money and go to the woods for some good play sticks!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

4th of July Math

The Silverton 4th of July parade left us with a multitude of bead necklaces. When got home, the boys went right to cutting them all of them into individual beads (don't tell Declan and Dashel!). Which turned into an impromptu math lesson. They were both murmuring about which color had the most and how they were going to count them and graph them for comparison. Here was the result.

Once the data was collected, I helped them on a really cool site I used to work with when I was designing for Farm Journal called Create a Graph

Yes, I know it's a kid's educational tool but when you have loads of data that needs to reported accurately, this was a lifesaver! You simply move through the tabs at the right, previewing along the way to make sure things are turning out the way you want and then it generates a downloadable file in any format you could possibly need.

Since I have illustrator, we downloaded the files as eps and then tweaked the color scheme to make it clean and clear. Such a fun tool. Who knew learning could be so fun?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Alpine Adventures: Stage 3

Ever since we moved here we have heard people rave about the Silverton fireworks show as the best they have ever seen. But with a late night show followed by a winding road, 2 mountain passes, no guard rails and a road packed with travelers pushing the travel time home to 2.5 hours, there was no way we were going to try it without a place to stay up there for the night. There were fires around Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Pass was closed, our normal route, so we detoured around via the Million Dollar Highway through Silverton and Ouray to access the Lost Wonder hut, dropping a few tents and chairs on our way through at a BLM campground outside of Silverton hoping for the best. 

When we returned to Silverton, everything was there! Parking was a mess and it looked like a mix of a NASCAR race and a refugee camp but all of the people were respectful, quiet and nice. Everyone was on top of each other and yet it seemed just fine. The McAlvany's met us up there with their kids and it turned out to be one of the funnest 4th of July weekends I've ever had. 

Fire restrictions left us roasting over the Coleman. 
Patrick, Dashel, Declan and Aeneas.

We all travel with the jumbo packs of baby wipes just in case we end up with something like this!
Good job Tess!

This was the first trip where the boys got to "sleep" in a kid tent. They horsed around until about 12:30 am and all woke up giving each other the McAlvany and McBrayer torture respectively. All in good fun of course.

Blair street, Silverton, Colorado

Hanging out on the drawtight waiting for the parade!

Movie star Tess.

I'm glad someone brought books!

The boys' favorite float.

Justin's favorite float.

It was fun watching the jeep to the left almost pull the bumper off the one in the middle during their stunt.

 The fire department water fight. 

Back to the campground and all of the boys put on their own parade with their own made up song and throwing beads.

Then we spent the hours of the afternoon making mud soup.

They worked really hard on this.

The big boys skipped rocks. This never gets old.

Justin teaches Mathias (Dave and M-C's bro in law) how to play Oh Heck.

After M-C had her fill, we all got to partake in some traditional 4th of July BBQ! It was really good coming from a girl from the South, where the BBQ flows like water.

The fireworks are indescribable. We were so close that they exploded over our heads. And they were so bright we had to close our eyes at times. They were so loud, each boom was heard 4 to 5 times as it echoed back and forth off the mountains surrounding Silverton. We parked on the highway and managed to skirt the traffic backed up that was headed to Durango and were at our camp in 15 min. What a fun celebration!

Happy Birthday USA!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Alpine Adventures: Stage 2

After one final night to ourselves at Lost Wonder, we headed up to Aspen via Independence Pass. It's only open in the summer, and we now know why. Parts of it aren't even two lane and nothing over 35 feet long fits because of how winding the road was. They don't even pretend The lines in the middle just mysteriously disappear at times! How festive that we do on the week of 4th of July!

Here we are at the top. I'm trying to groom some young photographers so that we make it into some of the photos. They are beginning to get it I think.

The pass is almost as high as Engineer Mountain at 12,095 feet!

Nothing like a summer snowball fight.

Sounds like a disaster to have a black football that is intended to be thrown in the dark but somehow this thing works with reflectors as long as you are willing to look like forest monsters so you don't get pelted in the face.

This picture says "life is good." To see your kids frolic in an Aspen grove is heaven to this Mama and says we've done some thing very right by our move to Colorado.

We stayed at a campground called Weller Campground which was situated in a beautiful shimmering grove of Aspens, right outside of Aspen, CO.

We spent the day in town. We visited a park where our kids looked nothing less than homeless having come stright out of the woods in probably the most pretentious town I have ever been to. All I could think was, "Damn, I forgot to pack the seersucker on this camping trip." 

The boys played in a fountain in the sidewalk in downtown Aspen and although they were soaking wet in sweatpants and tennis shoes, they looked sort of clean. Next time I will be more prepared by bring my bar of soap a change of clothes for them.

They got to picnic up Castle Creek in t-shirts and bare bottoms while their pants dried in the sun. I found this funny, but they found it a bit embarrassing despite the remote and private location on the bank of the creek.

This valley is just southwest of the famous Maroon Bells and happens to be ungated and free to drive. Go figure Aspen charges for entrance in to public land that isn't even considered a National Park.

The boys picked out the biggest marshmallows for the trip.

These bad boys are roughly the equivalent of 4 regular marshmallows. Such peaceful and beautiful family time!

More to come...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Alpine Adventures: Stage 1

Catching up with old Berry College friends is difficult when everyone is scattered to the wind, however there are times when the stars align and we can manage to get together. Ramu moved to Denver about 3 months ago and before Erik headed back east to Knoxville for a fellowship we literally had one weekend where all of us were with in driving distance of each other.

So began the McBrayer week long camping trip to the alpine forests of Colorado. We started at the Lost Wonder Hut of Monarch pass to meet up with Erik and Ramu and their families.

4 wheel drive road and a last minute dinner for the PA meant Bella got to come up to the cabin ahead of her parents with the Bergers. There wasn't room for everyone in the truck. She didn't mind the dust too much.

The Lost Wonder Hut stands in the shadow of Mt Aetna, sleeps 14 people and is a nice shelter out of the elements all year around. It also comes with paper products, a gas stove with oven, all the dishes you could possibly need and a brand new gas grill. A beautiful place.

No sign of mice but they would have had a hey day with the amount of stray cheerios we managed to scatter across the floor of the hut. This is Erik's wife Kristen with their two girls, Karlee and Morgan.

Aeneas and I we exploring the avalanche slide looking for spiders after breakfast.

This is Veronica, Ramu's wife with Isabella. She's not too fond of the Baby Bjorn.

However, she really hates it when she's strapped to JP and Mama is out of sight. I can't imagine why.

Someone forgot their truck up there.

Because Kristen is an overachiever and good like that, she carries both girls while her husband hikes ahead, shooting his pellet gun.

Taking a little hike

A little brake on the way

This was in a swamp on the hike. Does anyone else find this remarkable?!? Guess what it belongs to.

Come on. We haven't changed that much since our Berry days...

Nope. Just the same.

The boys loved this place.

Poker and whiskey in the wilderness. How cliche. 
Aunt Chris and Uncle George along with Lindsay came up to hang one night.

Kristen and Ramu.

Look at this cute family!

Morgan and Mama Kristen

The world's awesomest dog, Auggie.

Of course the Berger boy would bring his treasure hunting tools. The creek was so cold, no one could stand it for more than a few minutes, even the Hulk there. No gold for us.

Patrick thought Morgan was really cool!

Karlee and her flower princess crown. I've got to spoil the girls when I've got them. A and P are hardly in to these.

Awesome fort that Justin and the boys made once the others left.

Lost Wonder Hut has playable instruments galore if you are so inclined.

No camping is complete without s'mores.

These two turned out to be best buddies.

More to come...