Sunday

We slept late, James is cramming for a test, the girls are playing with friends – a chill day. We did go to Flyin’ B park for lunch and found ripe crabapples and not so ripe pears.

They built a little bridge to get to the island, so we took a look.

The water was unusually clear, no need to fish for fish, just catch them in a net (now we can see the bullfrog, bet we can get him now!)

The work on the house on the property is coming along, new windows, railings, siding and paint

- they ruined my crusty backdrop.

The week: Fishing/hiking/swimming/BBQ in Pine, Hiking near Divide, Park day, Hiking near Nederland, Glitter henna tattoos and I don’t know what we’re doing on Sat/Sun. Hannah has a 4 week Chinese language course starting at the library next Monday (she just mentioned that she wanted to learn Chinese and I had just seen an ad at the library for a 4 week Chinese class – score!) We’re only doing school on Wed. and Fri. morning due to the other things we’re doing, I’m trying to ease us back into a 4 day school week mode. But, summer is not over yet!

Grand re-opening of Union station

Built in grand Gothic style in 1881, Union station has been a permanent landmark in Denver for over 130 years.

Originally each train company built its own train station, they were meant to be used for that train company. The concept of a Union station where all trains could come into started gaining national appeal right when the Union depot and RR company built Union Depot (later station) in 1881 for a cost of $525,000.

I tell you that number because, dang, this current renovation cost about $500 million! Included in the current plan: move the bus terminal from Market to Union Station, build a new cover for train platform, renovate the inside of Union station and build a hotel inside as well as eateries, transform the front parking lots into green space and fountains (which takes the space back to the way it was in the 1880′s), build lofts and office spaces, parking garage, connect new train line from airport and new line going out to Golden and outdoor shopping.

How do you get to the opening of the station….by train of course.

We took the D line to the mall, then the bus to the end of the line and took the underground bus station to Union station.

By then we were hungry, so we ate pizza at Anthony’s, nothing fills you up like a NY pizza pie.

(Yes, the pizza really is that big, it’s not just the way I took the picture.)

A bit of history of the Depot: In 1894 the building was burned by a fire that started in the ladies restroom, the clock tower and roof were damaged.

The clock tower was rebuilt from stone, the roof was lowered and in 1906 the Mizpah arch was dedicated.

The arch was taken down in 1931 after being deemed a traffic hazard, but since you can’t park in front of Union station now, maybe they will bring the arch back (doubt it, but one doesn’t have to look too far to see the Mizpah sign in LoDo.)

The stone tower got torn down in 1914 and was replaced by the clock we still see today and the lower center section.

The arches that line the walls of the great hall have 2,300 carved columbine flowers on them.

During the 20′s and 30′s the station greeted up to 80 trains a day; up until 1958 more people came to Denver by train than through Stapleton airport. It’s fun to see old pics and new ones side by side.

All of that said, we were super excited to see this:

Do you see it at the bottom? Yes, that says Denver’s Littleman ice cream.

If you are downtown and don’t want to walk up and over a bridge, across the park, across another bridge and up a hill to get your LM fix, you can just hop into Union station to get your fill. Need a drink? Terminal bar is where the old ticket booth was located.

(Same place, this picture is only a few years old.)

Need frippery and fun? That can be found at 5 Green Boxes.

Snooze incorporated some train art into its eatery.

Tattered Cover is small, but full of good reads (we bought a copy of Denver streets: Names, Numbers, Locations, Logic by Phil H Goodstein.)

book

The Crawford Hotel unearthed some unique items during renovation/construction and has put items on display for the public in their halls and on display in private in the rooms for rent.

I love that tub.

In the room we toured there was a frame of 3 stereograph pictures that some little kid probably lost at Union station back in the 1890′s. There are bits of train tickets, cab receipts, notes, money and more. I’m hoping to get a tour of the public art as a co-op this fall.

We got home and rested for a bit before heading to church. It was VBS this week, so today was family service day. We had a service just like the kids had during the week and then ate wings outside in the rain. I’m thankful for the shade and rain, just wish it hadn’t made my wings soggy.

We’re gearing up for a busy week here, so we’re taking it easy tomorrow.

Canyon hike

Now I know why we hike in the mountains in the summer, whew, hot! We picked up Grace from a sleepover, her friend moved to Elizabeth, so about an hour away. We didn’t have enough time to drive to where I wanted to hike, so we went to Castlewood canyon.

The sun was blazing and I think my cowboy hat let through more sun than it kept out. We went on the east trail which is natural surface…so rocks and more rocks.

We had to keep looking for the rock cairns to guide the way while not tripping and not stepping on cacti.

Some sights.

Cactus and Fairy trumpet flowers.

A cool rock shelter, but it can only hold one kid.

We drove into the Springs to eat at Fargo’s, then back home.

The evening was crazy. I dropped Bethany off to babysit, dropped Hannah at VBS, took Grace and Masiy with me to a visit with a lady who is going to watch Maisy when we go on our cruise, picked up Bethany, dropped them at home, and then picked up Hannah. I think Maisy will do fine at this lady’s house, she has 3 pugs and Maisy is bigger than them, so she’s not scared. Maisy saw the house and yard and sniffed around….of course she won’t remember any of this come November and will think that we have abandoned her to the pugs, but oh well.

Rainbow from the storm to the east.

Sunset.

Wednesday

We saw Walking with Dinosaurs this morning, it was a good movie. We went to the park and I forgot my camera at home, so I didn’t get any pics of the eggs in the swallow nest, the kids in the creek, the kids in the pedal boat or the crawfish and damselfly nymphs that we caught. But, since we took the nymphs home…..

We found out that dragonfly nymphs can take up to 4 years to crawl out of the water and morph into adults, damselflies take less time than that, but we don’t know how old these are. We got extra creek water to keep them in and I guess we’ll be looking for mosquito larvae to feed them.

It started raining just as we left the park, nice.

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
Langston Hughes

A busy day

We have Internet! We…don’t have a/c, but we will on Friday. We waited around for the a/c guy to come by and give us a quote, actually 2 companies, then we waited for the Internet to get fixed, then we headed out to Golden.

The cfs flow reading that I saw must have been upstream, the chute we were at was not 380 or 400 or anywhere near that low, I think it was closer to 500. The water was also colder than what we’re used to there, 60, but with the sun shining and the temps nearing mid-90′s it wasn’t too bad. The chutes are always a good place to people watch…or paint.

I took the underwater camera, it is a pain in the butt to get the pics off that card and onto the computer, so I hope you like them! I was trying to get a pic of the fish, but the water was too fast. So, rocks!

The girls stayed to the left of the chute, the water current eddied them back and forth.

The current was really strong in the shallow area, something that we haven’t experienced before. There was a Mom and toddler behind me and I heard an ‘Ahh!’, I turned around and saw the toddler underwater and heading toward the chute so I went to grab her, but the current pulled her out faster than I could get there – I just ended up knocking my leg into a rock. Her Mom jumped in and got ahead of her pulling her up and onto the rocks where her husband then pulled the baby out, it was kind of scary. Life jackets people! The tube flip rate was also high today (probably because of the faster flow.) I’d say 40% of tubes coming down flipped over, sending their occupants into the water and pulling them downstream for a bit before they could get a toehold.

I got sucked into the flow and just let it push me into the torrent until I could stand up downstream. The trick is not to freak out when the water pushes you under, give it a few seconds and you’ll be able to stand up. We found one pair of sunglasses, but a guy who was diving for things came up with 9 pairs. It really is a treasure trove of stuff people drop when they flip out of their tubes. You’d think stuff would get washed downstream (and I’m sure some of it does) but the eddy effect of the water pushing down sinks things to the bottom, today it was about 12 feet to the bottom! (Again, under the chute, it quickly becomes 10, 8, 5 and then 3 feet.) Some friends joined us, she made her kids wear vests, but then when her son jumped in and was circling around she went to pull him in and got caught in the flow, they had a floatie too, so she just kicked over to a rock. It was fun swim day, but I was on guard for other kids going out too far and getting stuck in the flow after that toddler got pulled out.

Tomorrow, a much quieter flow of water at the park.

Chatfield swim

Hot day.

Friends.

Getting used to the temperature.

Not freezing, but still pretty cold.

All in.

Nice clouds.

Good day.

What’s up

Friday we took a friend out to lunch for her birthday. Sherpa house, friends, fun.

I also went to the doctor to pay the ransom for my BP pills that they were holding hostage. The doc thought that was funny…I wasn’t laughing. You know I need those pills, but yet you make me pay a $50 co-pay so you can check my BP and tell me…I need those pills, hostage holding, pure and simple.

Saturday we had the a/c guy out and of course the board is fried again. We’ve replaced that board two years in a row, so we left him on hold and went to check out a new a/c at Home depot. Of course, no one is going to come out on Saturday and the part we needed was not available until Tuesday, so we made an appointment with both providers to come out on Tues. and bid against each other for a new system, that should be fun. Our Internet is still out (and Starbucks still makes a great caramel iced coffee), Tuesday seems to be the jackpot day for at least getting that back on (a/c…probably not until Friday…or later.)

With the fans on and the windows open it’s not too bad during the day, of course the a/c went out during what is going to be our hottest few days so far this year (in the 90′s.)

Sunday, I had to work in the 2′s room at church. We said goodbye to our interim pastor, Mark Scott, he’s headed to Missouri.

We grabbed lunch and then went to the Celtic fest in Elizabeth. Fairy dust? Check.

Kilts and knee socks? Check.

Armed fighting? Check.

Big pole throwing? Check.

Irish dancing? Check.

Crafts, pointy things, acts, big puppies and food? Check.

Drinks at the Saucy wench pub….check.

Ice cream and giant fruit loop marshmallow things…..check!

There were a bunch of clans there, but since it was more Scottish we only found one Irish clan.

James’ Irish side came from Ireland and when they got to the US they were given a differently spelled last name, Carberry instead of Cairbre.

Cairbre was a name used a lot in old times as a first name, I found this one cool story involving St. Patrick: Cairbre Nia, son of Rus Ruad, was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a King of Tara from the Laigin The earliest reference to Cairbre is in Tírechán’s Memoir of St. Patrick, a 7th-century Latin text found in the Book of Armagh. Patrick finds an enormous grave and raises its giant occupant from the dead. The giant says he was killed by the sons of Mac Con during the reign of Cairbre Nia Fer, a hundred years previously – i.e. in the 4th century. Pretty cool. We did tacos for dinner and watched Muppets Treasure Island after that.

It cooled off quite nicely during the night, but the temp is supposed to go right back to 90 tomorrow.

Our week – Chatfield swim, Clear creek tubing/swimming, movie/park day, waiting on a/c guys….

What do you bring to the table?

If a bunch of people get together in a room and don’t say anything what happens? {Insert crickets chirping here….actually I think that is a grasshopper….}

If a bunch of people get together and bring an experience, a gift, a thought to the table, what happens? People learn and discover new things. When you start the homeschooling journey one of the best things you can do is join a homeschool group. {Ahem, might I suggest the one I’m in?}

But, think about this: what are you going to bring to the gathering? The group does not exist to cater only to you, what can you bring that helps others out?

If you were starting to knit you might join a knitting club so you could get the hang of it, see some older knitters work their craft; it’s no different with homeschooling. When you join a group you get to see people who are steeped in homeschooling and people who are new. You get to see (if the group is inclusive) varying ways that you can teach your children and families of all ages interacting with one another.

Think about what you were before you were a homeschooler. Maybe you were a teacher, an artist, a storyteller, maybe you worked in an office and were the epitome of efficiency. You can bring those experiences to the group. Maybe the group you join has never thought about organizing a toy drive for the Children’s hospital and organizing is your gift.

Maybe you would like to teach an art class to more than just your own kids or put together a co-op where everyone gets to make bags to hand out to the homeless, bring it on!

What you bring to the table can benefit not only your children, but the whole homeschool group. It also works the other way round, let’s say that math is not your thing but somewhere in the group is a Dad who used to teach High school calculus – score! {And remember, Pi tastes great!}

Homeschool groups should be about bringing people together who have a common goal (homeschooling) and building an environment of discovery and learning.

Do all groups succeed? No, sadly they don’t. They might be too exclusive, pushing people away rather than welcoming them in. {Though we draw the line at giant angry bananas no matter how well they play the violin…}

They might not have the backbone of the group branched out enough, having one or two people in charge often leads to burnout on their part. {Branching out, it’s a good thing.}

Small wonder, it’s hard work putting a group together and getting it to run like a well oiled machine. {Kind of like this machine – which I don’t know how to operate, but someone in my group does!}

There are people who check out groups and find they aren’t a good fit, people who stop homeschooling and leave a group, people who wish for the perfect group. Again, think about what you bring to the table, what can you offer? Many people working together to host activities, field trips, co-ops, night outs, park days and classes build a wonderful group. Every little bit helps. {Jelly making co-op, tasty and educational at the same time.}

So, when you join a homeschool group don’t expect perfection – there is no perfect homeschool group, there never will be. But, there are many good groups out there that are places where families can come together to celebrate learning at home. As a group we strive not for perfection, but for a place where everyone feels welcome, where all teaching and learning styles are wanted, and most of all where it’s good to be different – because if everyone were the same that would be no fun at all. {See? Different and fun!}

{Interested in my homeschool group? Check out Common Ground Homeschoolers at: http://www.commongroundhomeschoolers.com You can also find a list of other Colorado homeschool groups here: http://www.home-school.com/groups/CO.html }

What’s in your toolbox?

Here is an advance copy of my article coming out on the new Colorado Education website this week. At least this is the one I assume is going up, there were a few others that I submitted just to let them see how I write.

Can you make a chair with a hammer, nails and a saw? Sure. Will it be a very good chair? Well sure, it might hold you up, but it won’t be intricately carved or a fantastic design. Learning is like that. You give a child a little bit of knowledge; let’s call it some tools in a toolbox. You give them some math, some reading, some science, sometimes you give them more of one thing than another.

You expect them to use their tools; use that theoretical hammer of math to bang away at some equations. But there is more to learning than just the basics. You need to provide more than just a hammer if you want your kids to build anything other than a rudimentary table and chair.

Oh, so you’re not a carpenter….well, let’s say you are an artist and you endeavor to give your child the love of art and show them how to use an artist’s tools to create a masterpiece.

Would you start by giving them your top of the line watercolors and a handmade brush of the best quality?

Or, would you give them some finger-paint and then introduce tempra paints, watercolors, acrylics and oils when they have explored the possibilities of finger-paints and found them lacking and they want a challenge. But what if your child is past finger paints and not quite ready for the next ‘step up’? Oh, the joy of homeschooling! You can tailor the pace of learning and the introduction of new tools to the rate that your child is at.

Learning is a bit like having this vast buffet of tools and knowledge at our fingertips. We introduce bits and pieces and allow the child to assemble them through the years. We have to remember though that learning is a life-long process. There is no ‘end’ date to learning. Our society has norms that say that at 18 you graduate from school and then you get a degree and therefore graduate from college. But, does learning stop there? What if your doctor never tuned his skills, investigated new ideas, kept up with the medical field? I sure wouldn’t trust him to have learned enough to treat me.

When you approach learning as a life-long investment, you see learning tools a little differently.

Maybe it’s not so important to teach grammar for 12 years, it doesn’t really change from the basic tool you started off with. Mathematics however is like a Swiss Army knife – you think you’ve reached the end of the tool and out pops another implement to use. Can you expound on science and history? Yes, both change, both have new information that becomes available all the time, both are thought provoking and reflective (What if the sun was just a few thousand miles farther away from our solar system? What if Japan hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor?) What about art, music, language arts, and all the other subjects that come up on a daily basis?

Look at the tools in your kit, pull out what you need, find better tools to challenge your children, dust off some pieces in there that haven’t been used in a while, and go read about some new tools to use in learning – heck, even better, invent your own tool and use it to teach something new to your children.

Teach them that sometimes the right tool for the job isn’t readily apparent and they may have to search for it; allow them to be inquisitive, ask questions, try it on their own and come up with ideas that might work (or might not.)

You might be surprised at the creative masterpiece they present to you.

DSL on the fritz

Because of the ‘rain’ our Internet is out until Tuesday (I’m posting this at Starbucks, so it’s not all bad….) Not that we haven’t had rain, but it was also out on Monday and James suspects that the current issue is a password issue and not a DSL issue, but then we don’t work for Century link, so there.

So, I am going to recycle some posts for the next few days. If you think, hey I’ve read that before! You probably have.

Hike

We took the Grant Terry trail in Golden today.

It’s a nice, wide path by Clear creek, which looked very inviting. The rain we’ve had made the path wet and muddy in places, but it’s shady – so you really can’t complain.

There were tons of flowers, pink, purple and white ornamental sweet peas on the trail.

Every so often there was a take out (or put in) that came off the river.

We kept hearing a hummingbird flit back and forth, it didn’t take long to find him. When I looked at my pictures afterward it was like playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’, can you spot the hummingbird?

(It was harder before I cropped the pics.) We crossed over a bridge at one point and took another section of the trail and saw our first snake of the season (a garter snake.)

He quickly slithered into the brush and we continued on. At times there was a glimpse of Castle rock on South Table Mt. from the trail.

There is an old viaduct, at some point it’s wooden along the trail. We found the cement portion, but we need to go farther to see the wooden one.

More flowers and a teeny-tiny caterpillar.

The girls dipped their feet (and ankles, knees and legs) into the river.

It’s still flowing faster than normal, but not too much, so….I told them we’d come tubing next week (really diving and swimming, they don’t like to use the tubes here.)

That was a great trail and has lots of trails shooting off of it to take, so we’ll be back.

Urban hike

with some other stuff thrown in. Today was the grand opening of the new RAFT store (teacher store.)

It’s at least 3 times as big, the green room is more than twice as big and the classroom space is bigger. We got to meet the Lt. Gov. of CO, Joe Garcia, and listen to him talk about how he wants to help Colorado educators and helping RAFT is one way to do that. Then we got to shop! RAFT had doughnuts from Voodoo doughnuts, a shop that I have wanted to try. They have a line to get doughnuts like Littleman’s has to get ice cream, so I knew they must be good, they are. We shopped around for a bit, got some cool stuff (I didn’t have my list with me, so I’ll have to come back for other things) and then headed to Heron pond.

Heron pond and the adjacent North side park are both stuck in the middle of city sounds and smells.

The pond is across from working plants, railroad yard and some times you can catch a whiff of the puppy chow factory. The park has some of the cement foundation of the old sewage treatment plant that stood there since the 30′s.

I know the description sounds awful, but the park is beautiful and the pond is a nice place to watch for birds (we saw an egret, flicker, wrens and blackbirds without even trying.) The park is the place to catch whiptail lizards (if you want to catch them.) We saw 5 in just a few minutes.

The river is pretty disgusting here – it is a very commercial area after all, but the flowers are nice.

The foundation that set these places up hoped that the natural would overtake the commercial, but I don’t ever think that will be that case.

Now that we had worked up an appetite, we went to the Source to eat at Comida.

Don’t know which salsa to choose? Choose 3 (salsa verde, cucumber jalapeno and pineapple habanero were what we chose today.)

We also had a queso, then tacos (bacon jalapeno, diablo shrimp, chorizo and onion, pork and cream) and a quesadilla. Slightly full from there we headed over to Union station to check out the new digs. They’ve been working on it forever, I was not liking the two new buildings on the sides, they seemed to overshadow the station, but at least they kept the station and so I guess I can handle the other buildings.

On one side there are dancing fountains, the other side has grass and sitting areas.

Inside there were big changes, the ticket counter moved and is now a bar.

A hotel, Snooze, Tattered cover, and other restaurants and shops are opening up (Snooze and a few other eateries are open, other shops are coming soon.)

They kept the lights and the grand feeling of the main open area – so I think I like it.

Here are some shots from 3 years ago.

From there we trekked over to Confluence park, again the Platte is roaring at the chutes, it’s probably only safe to go down the last one (and indeed, the girls want to come back on Thursday with swim suits and tubes to do it.)

If you want the baby rapids, try Cherry creek, it’s placid compared to the Platte.

Of course, if you’re near the river then you’re only a hop, skip and hill away from LM’s. So…..we beat the rain and got Twix ice cream (times 3) and Kahlua (guess which one was mine.)

So true.

So, a great urban hike includes things in the midst of commercialization and rail yards, a bit of downtown, some water play and always….ice cream at the end.

Monday

Sunset from downtown last night, James and I went to Green Russell for drinks and jazz.

James had his first work from home day in forever, and of course at one point the Internet went out, but then it got fixed. Grace, Hannah and I went to the river for a walk and swim, the swim part didn’t happen (we left Bethany at home to write.) The river is up, the chutes are foaming, great if you are tubing or kayaking, not so great for swimming.

But, this means that our swimming spot is still deep and placid (it is not near a chute.) Our short cut was blocked off, the high water must have knocked down some trees, so we turned around and headed for Hudson gardens. We were on the lookout for bullfrog tadpoles, they were really big a few weeks ago. Butterfly.

Damselfly.

Bees.

Queen Anne’s lace.

Waterfall.

Those tadpoles are wily. Finally, a toad, a great plains toad.

Muskrat!

Butterfly weed.

We did find one bullfrog, but it wasn’t a tadpole. His patience to wait it out was longer than mine. Seems like we missed our opportunity to catch a bullfrog tadpole, when they grow legs…that’s it. We let the toad go near the Hobbit hole and then went to get a drink to cool off.

I usually reward those hiking with me, though it’s not always with moustache straw Icee’s, but today it was.

Saturday

Last night we had an awesome praise and worship night at church. The only thing bad about over an hour of singing at the top of your lungs is that it wears you out, but it’s good for the soul.

Today I finally got open spots for the 3-D printer from the library. I didn’t realize why I got the spots, because it was out in Deer Trail, CO. So, pretty much out in the middle of nowhere on the plains. But, we decided to turn it into a day trip. We headed out to Deer Trail and the librarians hooked us up with the 3-D scanner and printer.

They printed out a mini-TARDIS for Bethany while Grace’s pewter whale was being scanned.

The whale didn’t scan right, probably because the laser was bouncing off the silvery whale and the computer couldn’t quite make out what it was supposed to be scanning.

So, we went to http://www.thingiverse.com/ and found a whale to upload and print. (She was last in line, so it didn’t get printed right then, they are printing it out later and sending it to our library to pick up.)

Hannah tried scanning her river otter, the scan worked better, but…if you look at Blue and Otter you can see that the printed otter has no space between the legs.

The sun was bouncing off the windows and making a shadow on the otter being scanned, so the computer didn’t get the spaces, but still, it’s pretty cool. We also got a mini-Eiffel tower, a tiny mouse, and a Mario. The printer uses the same plastic as my 3-Doodler. It prints a base that pops off after you take out the printed item, it’s easy to change out the colors (easier than with the 3-Doodler) and the librarian showed us that had printed out parts for the printer, how cool is that?

We also found out that we could book the 3-D printer that is at our library and print out things we have uploaded or things we find on Thingiverse…for free.

We had lunch in Limon, (we saw a sign that said tree farm – no way, do you see any trees?)

then headed on 24 to the Paint Mines area, James had never been there.

A storm was brewing so we made a quick hike.

We saw a few paint brush flowers and some other common wildflowers in the area.

Grace liked this area, she thought it looked like coral.

We’re going to come back here one day and start a hike from the other side of the park. It was so nice and cool, practically unheard of for this area in July, and the afternoon storm we drove through going home was a nice end to the drive.

A good day.

Library, movie, park day, ice cream!

Tuesday we went to the library for a teen necklace making event. Grace made a necklace for her friend Alex, it has coral pictures on both sides; Bethany cut out sentences and assembled them in the glass locket.

The kid movie for Wednesday was Madagascar 3, then we headed to the park for park day. It was nice and cool under the trees, we waited forever, then a few other Moms showed up. Grace got picked up for a sleepover and the rest of us went to the annual ice cream social for our town. We had cloud cover, but no rain, so the weather was awesome for eating snow cones and hot dogs and ice cream on the lawn while listening to a jazz band. Hannah had fun running around to the booths and getting prizes, she had a batman signal painted on her face and had her fill of ice cream. Because of the weather I think this was the best ice cream social we’ve had, every other year it’s been warm or hot or sunny. I vote we have cloudy every year.