Month: July 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Where’s the Skele-Gro??

Yesterday morning Ben twisted his ankle while taking out the trash. He said he heard a snap and it was rapidly swelling. A trip to urgent care confirmed my suspicion: he broke his ankle!

The good news is they said it was a clean break through the lateral malleolus of his fibula. It's lined up nicely and shouldn't need pins or other surgery to help it heal. The bad news is it's his right foot, so we are unsure how long he cannot drive. He has an appointment with orthopedics next week. Fingers crossed he can get a walking boot!

Finished shawl

Figured I should share the finished product:

This is the first of two shawls I made this summer. I ended up following the original pattern almost to completion, then ripped it out and started again. I combined the pattern with another I like. Many details posted on my ravelry page.

I love it. Blanket-like, bright happy colors, and a delicate lace pattern.

Oh I hate July. Summer, please end, I hate you.

Reading Yoga

Jack loves to read.  I took some pictures of him reading during two lazy summer afternoons.

Grand Junction Summer Time

We rounded out July with another trip to visit grandparents.  There was A. Lot. of swimming.  Jack worked hard to coordinate using a snorkel for the first time and he had great success!  He and Sam both enjoyed the novelty of flippers until their feet were raw with blisters from the rubber.  They swam every morning and every evening for the weekend we were there.

One of the office staff had baby goats the Friday we arrived.  She invited us over to see the farm animals.  The boys were very brave and outgoing petting and feeding the goats and horses, and pestering the sweet kitty.

Sam drew a thank you card, with complete goat anatomy.  Can you spot the eyes, nose, horns, beard, and “pumps”? (“Because it’s a woman goat.”)

Summer fun

Here’s a hodgepodge of photos I took over the summer.

Keeping cool with friends

Coming home from Art Camp

The boys had to keep working hard even when school was out!

I made s’mores treats with marshmallows, chocolate, and Golden Grahams.  They were amazing.

Exploring Hyatt Lake at a church picnic

Mini Golfing Adventures

Discovering the joy of Kinetic Sand

After church video games in coordinating clothes

Early morning Star Wars

Yarn Chicken

This is called yarn chicken:

When you are binding off with a limited amount of yarn and hope it’s enough.

I play it often, wanting to squeeze all I can out of each skein.  

 But this one is a doozy.  Roughly 1,400 stitches across with a bind off that’s a pain-in-the-butt to undo if you have to rip it out (“Icelandic bind-off”).  I’m going to be very cranky when this doesn’t quite fit…but I’m too bull-headed to chicken out first.

. . .

Later today:

Dang it!  So close.  I’m going to try something radical.  Instead of picking back the bind off and the previous row, I’m going to drop the remaining stitches and try to bind off using the top row- in essence only ripping out my remainder.  It might be a little lopsided but with blocking it won’t be very noticeable.  Fingers crossed this works!

SoHo Esjan


(Taken before blocking)

Esjan, one of several projects I finished recently.  This is a pattern from “celebrity” knit designer Stephen West.  I loved the large size and crazy, loopy tiers.  I made sure to stop by Purl Soho while in NYC to get yarn for it.  I love buying yarn as a souvenir!

I ended up knitting this shawl twice.  The first time I made a few mods to the pattern to account for my chosen yarn being smaller than what the pattern called for.  Still too small, and with too much leftover gray, I decided to rip the whole thing out and start again.

For those who always ask me how long it takes to knit – I made this twice in less than a month while simultaneously knitting a complete pair of socks, 4 inches of a fine gauge sleeve, and a few thousand stitches on another shawl.

I really liked the ruffles which naturally occur from the pattern.  However, I wanted to smooth out the garter stitch tension and make it as large and blanket-like as possible.  I gently blocked it and it grew magnificently.  The edge flattened into a large zig-zag – not ruffles but still fun (I expected this based on the pattern photos and other ravelry users).


Before blocking


After blocking

Tomorrow I’ll take up my other shawl sitting on needles.  It’s fingering weight (smaller yarn, takes longer to knit the same area size) and I had to buy more yarn from the shop in GJ when I was out last week.  I also completed it once, then ripped it out completely to start again with a modified pattern.  I should really stop doing that 😉


Boys becoming friends

OK, one thing I will admit is nice about summer is that the boys are becoming closer friends than before. When we’re not doing separate trips or camps, they spend all day and night together and they seem to really enjoy it. Here’s some playtime photos from the last few days. As you can see, dressing up and playing superheroes is one of their top fun activities.

Amanda chooses to ignore the minions running around the garden store.

Yes, I’m saving this one for high school graduation slideshows.

They have shoelaces hidden up their sleeves to shoot out their wrists.

Spiders crawling all over my house!

Jack made his costume crown during quiet time. I love that Sam wears this knight costume. I think he’s the same age Jack was when I made it for him.  It’s held up remarkably well considering it was cheap acrylic and has had heavy play!  

Jack says that he read Robin Hood to Sam during quiet time and afterwards they wanted to shoot arrows in the backyard. After Dad came home he assisted Sam with his first archery experience.  He seems so tiny to me! But this isn’t far off from when we started Jack on archery too.

Run for the Border Finale

Jack and I woke up around 7:30 and headed straight for Devil’s Tower.  Along the short drive to the visitor’s center, Jack realized what prarie dogs were for the first time and fell in love.  There was a huge field of them them right across the entrance to the park land.  At first he said “All I see is a lot of small rocks”, but I told him to look again and he soon saw the cute little buggers running all over.

We arrived at the visitor’s center a bit before they opened, so we headed up around the loop trail so we could see the tower from all sides.  The trail was pretty flat and paved, so it was easy going – there was also a pretty large amount of traffic for 7:45 in the morning.

The first feature we reached was the large boulder field.  Climbing is allowed in the boulder field up to the actual tower face without a permit, so I encouraged Jack to scramble up it a bit.  He was pretty nervous though, so he didn’t go far.

Rock Hopping

Once he got down from the boulders, we continued along the trail.  Soon, we saw a deer up ahead.  I stopped and was pointing to Jack and the person behind us thought we were pulling over to make room for us and charged ahead with a thank you.  I whispered “There’s a deer there!” and he stopped and gawked with us for a few moments.  It became clear that the deer was going nowhere fast and they guy asked if I thought he could continue up the trail (I don’t think he was from the US).  I told him the deer would probably run off as soon as we got a little closer, so we continued on.  I was wrong though – that deer had no intention of abandoning its sweet grazing spot.  We eventually passed right by it, not 10 feet away.

Oh deer!

Just past the deer we saw a bunch of people off the trail looking at the tower and we realized they were watching climbers scamper up the sheer rock face like little spiders.  Seriously, these guys were way quicker than I would have expected.

Where’s Waldo?

We continued around the rest of the trail.  On the eastern side, I got to touch the face of the tower, which was my main goal.  We also saw lots of prayer bundles and prayer flags, but we didn’t learn the full significance of them.  I also saw a group of little figures that I liked.

Forest Spirits?

Back at the visitor’s center, Jack decided he didn’t want to do the junior ranger program here, I think partially because it was becoming VERY busy.  He just asked to get a Devil’s Tower coin, mostly because it had prarie dogs on the back.  We climbed back in the car and plunged deeper into Wyoming.

One planned stop I had was to visit the site of the Sundance Kid’s incarceration.  However, since it was July 3rd, the museum and courthouse were closed.  A small bummer, but Jack was very much not interested in this historical figure, since he was a bad guy.  I had to coerce him to take a photo with the statue they had on site by saying he could beat him up.

Take that evil doer!

After many more miles on the Wyoming highways, Jack was ready for a stop.  Lusk, WY was the next reasonably sized town, so we stopped there for pizza and to visit their stagecoach museum.  It was lucky we stopped because I think Jack enjoyed something at this little museum more than anything on this trip.  As most of you know, Jack is very interested in the Gravity Falls tv show, which is about a lot of paranormal stuff.  When he saw this real two headed calf in the museum, he was more excited than I’ve seen him in a long time – he even demanded a photo!

It’s paranormal!

Once we actually had our pizza, Jack realized he had eaten a half can of pringles and wasn’t actually hungry, so we took it to go.  I figured there had to be a reasonably nice park down the road.  Right when Jack was ready to eat, we came upon Lingle, WY and a lovely little park right next to the highway.  We pulled over and had a quick pic-nic.

Pizza TIME

We were hearing from Rachel and Sam that they were on the road home and we were on track to arrive around the same time as them.  When we got near Cheyenne, I was feeling a little road weary, so I asked Jack if he wanted to stop in for some mini golf.  That was not exactly a hard sell.

Mini Golf 2

It wasn’t the best course, but it was definitely better than Ogi’s.  Jack liked them both the same though, which means he had a great time.  Refreshed, we hit the road for our final leg of the trip.  Soon we were back in the big city and back with the rest of the family.  Jack missed Sam a lot and I missed them too, so we were happy to be home and to have a nice chill evening with everyone together.

Jack and I had a great adventure.  I hope he remembers some of it 🙂

Run for the Border Part 4

Part 4 of a special guest post by Ben

We slept in.  Which is good since we didn’t have a reservation at the (relatively) famous Hotel Saskatchewan sunday brunch until 10:00.  We were both up by 9:30 and we got dressed and went downstairs for the brunch.  It wasn’t quite ready for as at 10:00, so we had to wait for a bit until it was all set out, but once it was ready – I was blown away.

This was the very best buffet I have ever been to.  There was a table with giant bowls of shrimp, mussels and smoked salmon.  There was a GIANT table filled with cakes, pies, custards and all kinds of other treats and pastries.  The back wall was filled with those metal serving domes and had things like rice pilafs, eggs benedict, bacon, sausage, gravy and more.  There was even a fella carving off very nice looking roast beef of some kind.

Jack got a plate of bacon, a pastry and three pieces of cheese. He ate only the bacon.

But it was gooood.

Not the best bacon of the trip, but a close second!  I had a slightly larger brunch, but I could only do three plates without feeling like an absolute glutton.

Third plate not pictured included eggs benedict, bacon and sausage.

The waitress came to clear Jack’s plate and when I said we were probably ready for the bill, she looked shocked.  It was at that point I realized that I had probably just paid WAY too much for a plate of bacon.  It was true, but I thought the experience was worth it.

We popped back up to our room to grab our stuff and checked out.  We were on the road by 11:00, which was right on schedule.  The road out of Regina into the Regway portal was even more lonely than the road we  had taken in.  I assume because it was not a rail line.  We soon came to the border and easily made it back into our home country.

Our next stop was the sleepy town of Plentywood, MT for a snack stop.  The first place I saw was the Dairy Queen, so I took it as a sign.  Jack was VERY pleased that this was where we had pulled in.  I was extra lucky since when we called home, we found out that Sam was already eating ice cream.  If we hadn’t already had an order in for a blizzard – there would have been some serious jealousy.  It was a nice little town and a very busy and friendly DQ.

“Well, luckily, I just ordered ice cream”

Filled up with good ‘ol american dairy, we plunged deeper into Montana.  After several miles on a pretty rough highway, we transitioned to this:

Umm, Montana? Can we have a word about your “highways”?

It was actually a REALLY nice gravel road though.  I also felt the need to pull over to take a picture of the beautiful terrain and stopped to read about the old wagon road that was nearby.  At that point though, Jack noticed the impending storm and had to become brave again.

Stiff upper lip

Luckily, we made it off the gravel road and got some fuel before the storm hit, but south of Wibeaux MT, the storm hit hard.  It was the most hair-raising portion of the trip, if only because I wasn’t sure what we would even do if the storm got any worse.  It was blowing hard and whipping huge sheets of rain across the road.  The road was good by this point and was free of standing water though.  We kept going at a much reduced speed, despite Jack yelling “I can’t see ANYTHING”.  (Note, I COULD still see well enough to drive at the speed I was going).

After the storm passed, we drove by a really neat state park called “Medicine Rocks”.  There were a bunch of slate grey sandstone formations that looked like giant blocks of swiss cheese scattered about the prairie.  Jack was in no mood to stop, but if you’re ever between Baker and Ekalakka MT – you should consider stopping in.

A little further down the road, I decided to pull into a little town called Ekalakka in search of some food for the nights stay near Devil’s Tower.  It was a tiny little town, but actually had a quite large grocery store, so we were able to get some yummy stuff for that night – most importantly, marshmallows.

Another interesting find in Ekalakka was as we drove through town, I noticed a big trailer and a bunch of people in weird clothes.  Then I noticed that there was a stage and an audience in front of the trailer.  They were putting on “You Never Can Tell” by George Bernard Shaw in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere!  I desperately wanted to to stay for a bit, but Jack was in a road trance. “We’re not here for plays Dad.”

We continued on toward our camp ground, but I was becoming more and more worried that I hadn’t been able to contact Rachel in hours.  If I still didn’t have a signal at camp, I was sure she’d freak out.  So we stopped at a little crossroads gas station and I asked if they had a phone I could use.  They said they didn’t, which kind of irritated me.  Luckily, it didn’t matter.  Shortly down the road, we had a phone signal again as we neared Devil’s Tower.

Along the final stretch of road, we saw SO MANY deer.  We saw some antelope that were right up next to the road and just chilled while we stopped and gawked.  We saw a herd of eight deer chilling in a meadow under some burr oaks and cottonwood.  Not to mention the dozens I saw roadside as I carefully drove with blistering perceptual intensity through the final stage of the day’s trip.

Finally, we saw the tower and soon after we were at our campground.  We had made it well before dark, which is good – that drive would have not been great at or around sunset.   Our campground had the cute practice of showing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” every night, and we had arrived just in time.  I didn’t make Jack stay long, since I’m sure it’s too scary for him, but I at least got to experience it.

No free mashed potatoes.

We had great views of Devils Tower and we got a nice little cabin (since we were worried about weather).

Jack was almost too silly to photograph by now

Even a porch swing!

As night fell, KOA employees wandered around lighting communal fires. Perfect! We have marshmallows!  I knew that fire was allowed, but I didn’t want to buy wood and try to start my own fire, but I did want Jack to experience roasting marshmallows.

He thought it was pretty cool at first, but got bored and tired pretty soon.  We retired to our cabin and watched a little TV on my phone as we drifted off to sleep.  This was the longest drive of the trip, and probably the least eventful as well.  We still had plenty of fun though and we were ready for a great start in the morning!


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