Otter weekend

Did you know that we have otters in Colorado? Or that a sea otter has more hair in one square inch of fur than a golden retriever has on its entire body? That otters can hold their breath for 4 minutes? These are some things that we learned today at the Denver aquarium as we celebrated otter weekend with their 3 river otters. We got to go through the exhibit before our otter tour.

Colorado’s state fish.

Vertical fish, seahorses, shrimp and a cute spotted fish.


Happy stingray.

This fish has big eyes.



Sea urchin mouth.

The real rainbow fish.

Funny fish.


Time for the tour! We followed our guide through the bowels of the aquarium and saw the filtration tanks for the fresh and saltwater, and the kitchen area. In the otter training room Blue was getting treats for touching a ball and coming to his shape outline. He also gets medication on a sliver of fish for his arthritis. It’s hard getting old (even when you’re an otter.)

Emmett was listening to a whistle and then touching his nose to our fingers on the glass.

Then we got to see them swim off all that food energy.

We went back through the exhibit touching starfish and watching these cool mermaid purses filled with baby bamboo sharks.

Then we headed to the stingray tank to pet the rays. They were crazy today, splashing us when they went by and coming up to your hand and rubbing on it like a cat wanting to be pet.


We had lunch at the aquarium to end our day there, sweet otter fest!


So, we finally went to the Taste of Colorado and….meh. We were expecting tastes from various restaurants, instead there was a lot of festival type food (turkey legs, corn on the cob, funnel cakes, ice cream) and only a handful of actual restaurants offering food samples. We headed toward the good restaurants and got things like: prime rib sandwich with a side of boiled shrimp, quiche, sushi, beef and noodles, lamb meatballs, cupcakes and funnel cake. We did find two new restaurants to put on the eating out list, a French one and a Mexican one. The real reason for being at the event was not the food, it was the King and Country concert. They were amazing and I have exactly one picture because I forgot to put my camera card back into my camera.

They played some favorite songs and some new songs that are about to be out. They did a really great show, everyone was singing along and having a great time. It was nice and hot for the show, but as soon as we started to leave some clouds rolled in (of course.)

This event goes on through Labor day, if you go I would head toward the end of the Greek theater by the library to eat some really good food rather than eating at the side tents. Also, bring in your own water!


Wow, Bethany got a lot done this morning – 2 Govt. quizzes, 1 English assignment, 1 Geometry assignment, 1 Biology test and responding to 2 discussion answers by other students. Grace turned in some writing samples, but she didn’t write them today. Hannah did the least amount of work, she wrote 5 sentences about herself.

We left at 11:20 to get to Golden to have lunch with James. If you want the best sandwich…ever, go to D Deli in Golden. Be prepared to wait in line and eat somewhere else (there are only 2 tables inside and 2 out.) OMG, I had the best, if not weirdest, sandwich. It was a Jackwagon ~ Peanut Butter, Jelly, Honey, Sriracha, Sunflower Seeds, Bacon, Crispy Fried Onions, Pineapple, Jalapenos, and Banana Peppers on a white panini bread. Grace and Hannah’s kids meals came in a bucket (with shovel), side and drink. Grace had a Maui Waui ~ Ham, Bacon, Cream Cheese, Pineapple, Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Teriyaki Sauce. Hannah had a Bommy Mommy ~ Turkey, Cream Cheese, Craisins, Sunflower Seeds, and Sprouts. Bethany made her own with pork loin and BBQ sauce and James had a Prime Time ~ Prime Rib, Gouda, Honey, Horseradish, Dijon, Spinach, Asparagus, Onions, Jalapenos, and Cranberry Glaze. It was so good. Yum!

We were meeting some friends for a hike, but after walking for a bit by the river, we decided to turn around and dunk in. The USGS had been by the river putting in a new stream flow meter (yay, now we will know exactly what the flow is at the chute.)

The sky clouded over and it started to rain, not good for swimming in an already cold river (how cold? It was about 44 degrees, I knew it was colder than we’d ever felt there before, I just didn’t know how cold till we got home and I checked it.) Bethany never gets in the water, but today she dunked in (I know, she picked the coldest time to do that.)

b at creek

Grace was crazy, she jumped in, dunked in and was swimming around. A guy came by and asked if he should jump in, Grace said, ‘I wouldn’t’ He said, ‘You’re already in the water!’ She said, ‘Yeah, but if I were you, I wouldn’t get in, it’s cold!’ (He jumped in anyway.)


We had to blow the heater on high and get a hot drink from Starbucks on the way home just to warm up (though my toes are still cold…)

Tomorrow it’s a concert downtown and Sunday it’s Otter day at the aquarium. We’ll spend Labor day around the house, getting ready for our CA trip which starts on Tuesday.

‘A day in the life’ {Thursday}


OK, so I could have picked any day this week. Monday was full of school and Chinese class for Hannah. Tuesday was more school and a walk at Hudson gardens. Wednesday is always light because of Park day, so I chose today. Yeah, I knew that we had a concert at the library and I knew that we’d be picking crabapples, but this is a more representative day – school in the morning, fun stuff in the afternoon.

So, I woke up at my usual time 7:30 am. I know this isn’t early for most people, but the girls and I are not early risers (unless we’re camping), so just pretend that 7:30 is early. I strive to start school by 9 am, so this morning time is mine to read my devotional, check my e-mail and HS group board, walk outside (sometimes), and do laundry-dishes-clean up around the house. This is also time to check over school to-do’s and make a specific plan of attack for the day (in general the girls know what to do, but if things are due, or big items are coming up, I need to let them know how to accomplish those goals.)

By 9 am the girls were downstairs working on school. Bethany finished up a report for English and this brochure for Government. Grace finished her Math and then worked on a map for History.

Hannah wrote her Math problems out (rounding), worked on her cursive and spelling.

There wasn’t too much school because we had to be out the door by 11:15. Our read aloud is:


Right now we’re on Clara Brown – Angel of the Rockies. We usually read at lunch time, but today we did it early because we had a treat for lunch, music at the library. Today it was Songs Judica and snacks from Whole Foods.

This time I brought paper and colored pencils so the girls could draw while listening to the music…music+art+culture.

Have a listen…..

The library also had an exhibit about Steve Jobs; giant i-phones were filled with US patents for his technology.

We saw a patent for a giant 1983 bulky computer and a 2009 i-pod and everything in-between. Walking back to the car we had to stop and take a picture in the red phone booth, even though it’s not blue…and not a police call box (you’d think someone would have painted it Dr. Who blue by now.)

We ate lunch at Chick-fil-a and waited out the rain. Back at home we used the delay in rain showers to head over to a local crabapple tree to pick enough apples to make jelly.

We picked about 10 cups (sans the ones Hannah ate.)

They have enough pectin in them to make jelly without adding pectin, so that is good news for us – first time crabapple jelly makers. We cleaned the fruit, cut off the stems and ends and boiled the fruit after measuring out 8 cups of apples. We picked the red crabapples because I thought they would make a pretty color of jelly (as opposed to the green ones.)

Then we strained the fruit, reserved the juice and boiled it again, adding in the sugar.

Finally we poured the jelly into jars and did a hot water bath to seal them. I had Hannah measure the amount in the jars versus what we started with. Let’s see…cooking+math.

Dinner was BBQ courtesy James, so I had time to plan out some more of our California trip (we’re leaving on Sep. 2nd…yikes!) We ended the night with a some TV and reading (not at the same time.)

So that is a pretty typical day in the life, some days are more schoolish, some days are more fun, some days are crazy and some days are snowed-in-sit-by-the-fireplace days….but they’re all good days at home.

See more ‘day in the life’ posts here.

Park day

Because for most of our year, there is no Wednesday, just Park day. We left Bethany at home because none of her friends were coming and she had to finish an English and Government assignment. I had James wake me up early so I could plan the rest of our CA trip and put the addresses for things in the GPS. I think I messed up on the return trip, I’m going to have to look at that again tomorrow.

I packed lunch and gathered odds and ends and we set off to the park. I went down the creek on a tube, it was fun! The girls took off for the chutes, so we followed.

We found a bigger snake than we did last week and Annie tried to hold it, but it was too wiggly for her.

A black crowned night heron sat in the tree right above the kids.

Annie’s birthday is tomorrow, so I sneaked some b-day pics into the day.

Too bad that was the last park day at the park, it’s such a cool place.

We move to a different park in Sep., but I think if the weather stays warm I might put a few park days back at this park too.


More school today. The schedule will go slower once we get back from CA, but this week (at least for Bethany) it’s work, work, work. She finished up a unit in Government, did some English assignments, Biology and Music. Tomorrow it’s more of the same for her.

After lunch, we went to Hudson gardens to see the frogs and maybe try to catch some.

We didn’t see any frogs in the small pond on the first try, so we headed over to the other pond. We found 4 frogs, but they were all too fast to catch. The girls went back across the creek to raid the plum tree.

Grace found ‘the sweetest plum ever’.

The bridge and creek.

Back at the small pond….well, who do we spy hiding by the potted plant?

He was just out of reach. This guy was also out of reach, just daring us to fall in the water.

We didn’t catch any frogs, but we did catch this handsome grasshopper.

A delightful time in the gardens. Back at home I baked some fish and spaghetti squash and then we went to the gym to swim and walk on the treadmill. Hopefully it won’t rain for park day tomorrow.


This week is ‘a day in the life’ over at the NBTS blog hop. I’m only posting one of our days there (and today is not that one.)

This morning we got off to an early start, Bethany had 3 on-line classes, plus her normal school work. Everything is going fine in 10th grade so far. Grace caught the OLS up on her math and history and Hannah did the same with her language arts and math. When the lessons got wiped they couldn’t be restored because K12 made changes to the curriculum, so we’re trying to catch up the on-line portion to where we were off-line.

The day seemed to drag on and finally we left for the river. It was cloudy outside, so we decided to walk to the river and look for frogs or crawfish. We did see some frogs, but they saw us too. The clouds made for pretty flower colors.

We walked up the old creek trail and found some downed trees to walk on.

Back at the river we chased the frogs until it started raining.

Co-op sign-ups were at 8, so after dinner I signed up for classes, then James and I took a walk outside. It was nice and cool. We watched Young Sherlock Holmes with the girls while a thunderstorm raged outside. After the movie we called it a night and went to bed.


Here is the awesome list of co-ops that my homeschool group is doing this session. I only have 4 classes I’m heading this session as we have a busy semester. (Mine are marked with an *)

04 TH Exploring Motion – Mouse Trap Car 1pm
05 F Around the Globe in 13 Works of Art 1:30-4:30
08 M Doktor Kaboom! Look Out Science is Coming 12 – 1PM
08 M Cliff Dwellings Museum Manitou Springs 1pm
09 TU Princess Party 10:00-12:00
10 W Mini Golf at Putter’s Pride 10:30 A.M.
11 TH Kick Ball 1pm
17 W Zombie Science-All About Decomposition 9am
18 TH Bird Banding 9:15am
18 TH Teens@Den Botanic Gardens-Catch Chihuly 2pm
18 TH Flaming Arrow Farm 1pm
20 SA Farms4Kids 12:30 – 2:30
21 SU Fall Equinox Hike 10:30 – Noon
21 SU History Club 3:30pm
23 TU Magic Tree House Book Club! 10:50-12PM
24 W Archery at Empty Quiver 1:00-3:00pm
25 TH Marvelous Matisse 2pm*
26 F Gold Panning 10am
29 M Miller Farms pick-your-own vegetables & play 9:15am

01 W DCPA: The Unsinkable Molly Brown 10a
04 SA Wine tasting and food pairing 2-5p
05 SU Tour Aquaponics facility 10-11:30a
06 M Bullies, Books & Backpacks/Family Awareness 10:30am
07 TU Exploring Motion – Building a Catapult 1pm
08 W Build, Build, Build 10am
09 TH Monster Mini Golf (glow in the dark) 2pm
10 F Teen Movie Night – The Maze Runner ~7pm
12 SU Punkin Chunkin Colorado 10am
13 M Whole Foods Rainbow Tour 10 am – 11am
14 TU ‘Oh Shakespeare – Who art thou?’ 11am*
14 TU Book Discussion Lord of the Flies 4pm
15 W El Dia de los Muertos: Calaveras de Azucar 10a
15 W El Dia de los Muertos: Catrina 10a
16 TH DMNS Whales Exhibit 11am
18 SA Colorado Springs Mini Maker Faire 10am
20 M Denver Botanical Gardens-Chihuly 10-2
21 TU Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Book and Movie 12pm
21 TU Math Game Night 6pm
22 W Archery at Empty Quiver 1pm
23 TH Theatre: Lord of the Flies 10am
23 TH Gourd Drum Making 1pm
27 M May Farm’s Corn Maze & 1900′s Farm Life 1:00pm
28 TU Halloween Party For Littles! 1:30-3 PM
28 TU Language Arts Game Night 6pm
29 W Movie: Dracula Untold – time TBD
30 TH BATS 1-2:30pm

01 SA Acid and Base Experiments 1pm
03 M Cheyenne Camp on the Prairie 1pm-3pm
04 TU Movie: Book of Life – time TBD
05 W Fall Hike at Lair O’ the Bear 10:30-12:30
08 SA Spooky Autumn Scavenger Hunt 1pm
09 SU Make your own Chai (adults) Botanical Gardens 1p
10 M Exploring Motion-Rubberband Powered airplane 1pm
12 W Tea with Molly Brown 10a
14 F CYT Presents PETER PAN 10am
17 M DU Field Sports and Ice Skating 10am
18 TU Mini-puppet theater 10:30am*
20 TH Winter Wonder Days 10am
24 M Thanksgiving Party For Littles 11-1PM

01 M Drawing I: Figure Drawing 10a
02 TU Fringe scarves and fancy bags 2:30*
03 W It really is a Wonderful Life! 1pm
05 F Calling all animal lovers! Tour – DDFL 2pm
06 SA Homemade Holiday Gifts 5:30-9:00
08 M Drawing II: Still Life 10a
10 W Natl Ice Core Lab Tour 12:45pm
15 M Drawing III: Landscapes 10a
17 W DMNS Silk Road Exhibit 11:30am
19 F Christmas Party For Littles! 1:30-3 PM


We went to Elitch on Friday, but I’m too lazy to move the post to that day. It was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain, but we went anyway.

We brought C with us and it was a great day.

There were so few people at the park that the girls didn’t have to get off the rides to go again and again….and again.

At one ride the operator stopped going through his spiel because the girls had heard it many, many times. We stopped for lunch and then headed to the water park.

The girls decided that after 2 rounds in the wave pool they were done. We went back to the park and watched a magic show.

Then, more rides.

We went back into the theater for the drumming show, that was cool.

Then, back for more rides.

Thanks to peer pressure Grace rode her first real roller coaster.

I sat and read a book while the girls stayed on the dragonboat ride for 30 minutes.

We had a few sprinkles now and then, but overall the weather was great because it: wasn’t hot and it made people stay away.

Mt. Evans trip

Today we decided to trek up to Mt. Evans since the road to the summit is closing soon. Why? Snow, which we encountered today. We started up the road to Echo lake.

We stopped at Echo lake to eat lunch.

The view from our table.

The girls fed the ducks, eventually getting them to eat out of their hands.

Then we hiked around the lake, taking a small loop of the Chicago lakes trail on the way back.

After lunch we headed up the road to the top. We were going to stop at Summit lake first, but we decided to go straight to the top instead.

Looking down on Echo lake.

Mt. Bierstadt from this side.

Marmot, I know he looks angry, but in real life he looked cute and friendly.

A storm was brewing.

Stopped to take a pic of a goat, do you see him?

See him now? They blend in well with the rocks.

Almost to the top.

Another goat posing.

Actually he was trying to get away from the hikers who were trying to get him in their selfie.

Posing by the sign before the icy snow started flying.

Storm hadn’t made it to that side….yet.

Brave Hannah facing the driving ice, 25 degrees and 12 degrees with windchill.

Bethany refused the free facial, the rest of us headed into the driving snow, every piece felt like it was scraping our faces.

Coming down.

Summit lake, the snow had stopped by this elevation.

Sun and flowers greeted us at Mt. Goliath.

A totally awesome trip up the mountain.


Park day yesterday was wonderful. The kids played in the water, Bethany got some friend time, we found some snakes, met some new friends, played and talked.

Today we started school by trying to catch up the on-line system to where we are at. Hannah’s course were wiped, History we reloaded, but I’m having to go through everything else and put tests back in. Grace has a totally different Math and History, so those stand as new courses. Bethany did a little bit of everything and we all helped with the Science lab because, well, it was fun. Bubblegum lab (I did this as a co-op once.)

Use the scientific method to determine which bubblegum blows the biggest bubbles and why. Pick two types of gum (one sugar free and one with sugar.)

Control your variables (use 1 piece of gum, chew for 5 minutes, etc.) After 5 minutes blow a bubble, measure the diameter, repeat 2 more time. Repeat with the other type of gum.

After blowing the bubbles, stretch each piece of gum out and measure the length. Now you can answer the problem with the data and see if it matched your hypothesis.

I thought the best part of the lab was blowing the bubbles, Hannah thought it was the stretching of the gum, Grace thought it was blowing bubbles and Bethany thought chewing the gum was the best part.

The world may never know.

Tomorrow it’s off to Elitch for Grace and Hannah, while Bethany stays home to write and do some school work.

More school pics

After a long day of school (for Bethany anyway, she’s working hard to be ahead so that when we get back from CA she’s not behind) I took Grace and Hannah to Hudson gardens for their school pics. It’s always nice to be there in the evenings, nice light, great water reflections, pretty flowers,

frogs and flickers,

and bunny rabbits who want to be in the picture.

Hannah, 3rd grade. We use K12 through a virtual school, part-time, which means we’re homeschoolers under the law.

I filed my NOI 2 weeks ago….even though we started this school year in March.

We do Music (drums and harmonica), Art, unit studies and random things through our HS group’s co-ops throughout the year. While taking pics we found sour cherries, crab-apples and plums to snack on.

Hannah likes reading and doing anything on the computer. She likes hands-on learning or out-loud learning.

Grace is in 7th grade, also using the virtual school part-time.

She does Language arts, History, and Math through them, we supplement Art, Music (piano), Biology, classes from Coursera that look interesting and random co-ops throughout the year.

Grace likes quiet during school and often retires to the study to read.

She hopes to start volunteering in a fish store taking care of fish, eventually she wants to be a Marine biologist.

So, there you go, school pics for 2014/15.


I decided to break my back to school photo session into two shoots, one with just Bethany. We started off at Hudson gardens.

Then I decided to go up to the Santa Fe art district to get some graffiti backgrounds.

You can find lots of different backdrops within a block.

So, Bethany is in 10th grade using the K12 curriculum through Insight (a virtual school.) She has English, Geometry, Biology, Government, Driver’s ed, Music and Finding your path.

She takes courses through Coursera when they come up and fit what she likes, does art for juried gallery shows every so often, likes to be in character to write (which is why her hair is red and she’s wearing a black dress, it’s a Kingdom hearts character) and likes to wear sunglasses.

She is currently writing a piece about an archaeological team that meets a strange fate on an island, a Beauty and the Beast story with a twist and about 5 other stories.

She makes straight A’s and is compiling a packet for a paid internship at Children’s hospital to be submitted this year. Yeah, she’s pretty cool.


James is still in Houston, but he gets home tonight. Bethany started off school with Geometry, then Science, then English. Grace did vocabulary, Language arts and reading. Hannah did spelling and reading.

Grace’s glasses broke this morning, so we went to Walmart to see what they could do about it. We managed to find the exact same frames, on clearance, and they popped the lenses out of the old ones and put them in the new ones – $8. Grace got her hair cut, it looks so much better, the dead ends are cut off. Running around in the afternoon threw my schedule off and I totally forgot Hannah’s Chinese class at the library. Next week is the last one, so I will make sure that I get her there. Co-op listings went off well this morning, only a few conflicts and none of them were mine. I have a class on Shakespeare, Matisse, a cereal box puppet theater and t-shirt recycling into a fringe scarf and a bag. I had about 4 more ideas, but no time to put them on my calendar with everything else going on. Trips, clubs, co-ops, school, hikes, field trips, dance; it’s shaping up to be a busy semester.


We headed to church this morning to teach in the 2′s room and James headed to the airport. He got a call that a good friend, dare I say his best friend, had a stroke. James was groomsman at John’s wedding and John returned the favor at our wedding. He was James’ teacher in technical school, had a business with him, let us live at his house when we were down and out and is a great guy. The word is that John had to have part of his skull removed to let the swelling in the brain go down, they don’t know anything else at this point. We’re no stranger to strokes, James’ Mom had 2 of them, the second one killed her, my Dad had 2 that we know of. We just know that for most people things aren’t the same after a stroke and John is young, in his late 50′s (which I used to think was old, but Grandma Carberry has changed my perspective on what old actually is.) So, if you’re into it – say a prayer for John and his family, they are going to need it.