I always feel rushed on Monday’s now that dance starts at 1. We should be done with school by 12, have lunch and be out the door by 12:40, but I’ve been having trouble doing that. Our on-line school was off and on this morning, but it’s always like that during count week (when the kids who are on-line are counted for attendance purposes.) It gets worse on 10/1, the actual count day and I heard a theory that people who don’t like on-line schools are flooding the servers bringing them down, but I think that’s just a theory. More likely is the fact that every kid using K12 is actually logging on and doing their work on-line, thus overloading the server (because not all of the work is on-line, but during count week you need to be on-line doing items that are only found on-line…if that makes sense.)

Our homework from last week for dance was to look at the old and new covenant from 2 Corinthians 3. In the old covenant the letter of the law was written in stone, the glory from the Lord was fleeting and mortal, a veil was put over the heart, there was death at the end. In the new covenant the Spirit of Christ is written on our hearts, the glory is eternal, a veil is lifted and there if life at the end. This week we were talking about the tearing of the veil at the temple when Jesus died. It is no coincidence that the hours of darkness that filled the earth were the same hours the the priest was preparing the lamb for the sacrifice on the day of atonement. When the priest was ready to slaughter the lamb, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished’ and the veil at the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn in two. There was no more need for a sacrifice to cover sins, it was done.

We got started on our dances this week, my class has ‘Blessed Redeemer’ by Casting Crowns. Hannah’s song is called ‘Day after Day’ and Grace doesn’t know the name of her song. We were going to play tennis after dance, but a storm rolled in and it rained hard. Streets were flooding and the pond by the dog park was way over its banks, that’s what happens here when we get a lot of rain in a short amount of time. It continued to rain all evening, we went to the gym to swim and it was raining when we got out. I don’t mind the rain, I hope it rains all night so that it is sunny tomorrow for the park.


This weekend went by slowly, the girls had a sleepover on Friday and played with their friends until late afternoon on Saturday. Meanwhile James and I went to Home Depot to get lights for the house. We replaced the light fixtures in the upstairs hall, over the sink and in the downstairs hall with matching globes with silver trim (which matches the one we put in the kitchen.) Next on the list is the ugly entry light and the even uglier plastic florescent light in the kitchen. We dropped the girls off at a birthday party/sleepover Sat. night and began our quest for food.

I like food, food is good and good food is even better. We’re always trying new places and (thanks to Westword) we’ve eaten at lots of places that serve great food. Our pick for dinner tonight was not a Westword pick though, it was a Houston pick. Perry’s steakhouse opened a location in our mall and since we never ate at the one in Houston, off we went. Perry’s is in the outdoor area of the mall and occupies what was Cru wine bar, but we’re happy to get rid of Cru and get Perry’s. We started with some cherry pepper calamari and lobster bisque for an appetizer. The calamari was tender and a bit spicy but it needed something over it, maybe a cherry sauce or a chili sauce? The lobster bisque was amazing, creamy and with huge bits of lobster in the soup. Now, if you are going to Perry’s you don’t have to choose steak, they have a pork chop that is 7 fingers high that is smoked to caramel perfection and served with applesauce. It’s carved table side and I bet it would serve a whole table (it’s like a roast and 5 chops on there.) It was probably the best pork chop I had ever tasted (and it wasn’t even my dinner!) I had the Southwest filet mignon that was wrapped in bacon and served over a corn and fig relish. Oh, the bacon essence seeped into the meat and the fig relish went very well with the whole flavor. Like most steakhouses, Perry’s serves their meats a la carte’, so you can choose sides to share off that menu. James got the au gratin potatoes and I got the sweet sriracha brussel sprouts. The potatoes were creamy and cheesy, but the sprouts were fried and crispy with a hint of hot and a hint of sweet, I liked them. We took most of our food to go (so you can have lunch the next day, a lot of lunch) and got an ice cream flambe’ because, well, fire is cool. Perry’s is not cheap, but you get a lot of food for the money and really you could split every item on the menu and still have food left over (especially the pork chops.)

The next morning we had brunch at a Westword pick that I didn’t realize was right across the street from another Westword pick. We ate at Old Major (Jezebel’s was the restaurant across the street) in the Highlands. I don’t know why, but the Highlands in Denver produces some great eateries, within a few blocks you have Little mans, Lola, Linger, Root down, Forest room 5, Jezebel’s, Old Major and a ton of other eclectic, hip and good food places. But, back to brunch at Old Major. The restaurant is known for their pork (hence Old Major from Animal Farm…a pig) which they butcher, smoke, cure and chop in house…that said we will be coming back for dinner! James went with the pork breakfast burger – Duroc pork burger, DBC bacon, fried egg, American cheese, pork fat french fries, and pickles. I had a small bite and it was very tasty, the fries were very good dipped in my sriracha honey. I had to try the chicken and waffles, and like I’ve said before – there is no best version, just many different takes on the concept. OM chose to use a huge crispy Belgian waffle for the base. They slapped on a wing, thigh and breast of chicken fried with a thin coating to a crisp. The coating was flavorful without being all crusty. I poured the sriracha honey (nice addition instead of syrup) over the lot and chowed down. I gave James a bite, but not more than that. I had chicken pieces left over when I was done with the waffle, so I dipped those in the honey (and the fries too.) Well done fried chicken and waffles! For dessert (yes, you can have dessert for breakfast) we tried the maple bacon creme caramel (maple bacon custard, Denver Bacon Co. candied bacon, bourbon caramel corn.) It was a flan with caramel syrup over it, delicious candied bacon and some caramel corn which made a nice light crunch. The only thing better would have been two of them.

So that was our food weekend, two very good restaurants (sans kids.) For dinner on Sunday the kids got to pick out their own food from King soopers. Hannah chose sushi (because she’s been trying to get us to institute Sushi Sunday…to no avail.) Bethany had a fried chicken dinner that I will have to remember is there (2 pieces of chicken, 2 sides and a roll for $3.99) and Grace had a TV dinner and a peach. James and I had leftovers from Perry’s, but I had to eat cold brussel sprouts because the microwave broke (and they were still really good.)

Some things for the week – dance, tennis, p-club, park day, youth group, hike at the refuge, hike in Nederland, art walk night.

Fun Friday {D’Deli, hike and swim}

Bethany finished up her photosynthesis lab, Grace and Hannah did History and Math, we stopped by the library to pick up books and then we went to Golden for our fun afternoon.

First stop – lunch. James took us to D’Deli a few weeks ago and we couldn’t wait to go back. I’m pretty sure they have the best (if not weirdest) sandwiches…ever. Today I tried the Das Butterbrot ~ Pork Tenderloin, Ham, Peanut Butter, Honey Horseradish Dijon, Sauerkraut, Apple Sauce,and Bananas. It was good, but it needed something, maybe craisins or pineapple? Bethany thought it was gross, but pork goes with sauerkraut and ham goes with apple and PB goes with banana and if you ate them all separate they’d still end up together in your stomach – so why not eat them together? Bethany played it safe with a BBQ sandwich, while Grace had the Maui Waui again and Hannah had the Bommy Mommy again.

After lunch we headed to the trail, this time we walked all the way down until it left the creek and started heading back up the canyon.

We didn’t see any hummingbirds this time, probably too hot.

But we did see leaves turning, pretty flowers and walking by the water is always nice. We talked about photosynthesis and why the leaves are turning colors, how the chlorophyll is being used up and the leaf isn’t able to produce any more energy and as it is dying we see the sugars present in the leaf.

Since it was in the 80′s and sunny and the flow was down to the 120′s and the water temp was 58 degrees, we decided to take a last dip in the creek (the temps next week are more Fallish, so I’m thinking this is the last swim.)

Grace found a sliver ring, a baseball, a whiffle ball, a plastic filter from a fish tank, a water bottle, a brick and a can in the water. We pulled everything out and threw it all away except for the ring and balls.

We also saw 2 fish, or it might have been the same fish twice. The water was clear to 5 feet, which was good because I forgot my water shoes and I hate stubbing my toes on the rocks (so I looked under water as I walked.)

We swam and found a friend that was just as crazy as us. Actually we weren’t the only ones in the water, some other people were tubing, some were jumping in, it wasn’t too bad in the sun.

After almost 2 hours (Bethany was reading a book, she got in and lasted for 5 minutes, then sat and read and pointed to her invisible watch whenever I looked at her) we dried off and grabbed some hot lattes to warm up.

We weren’t home long before heading to church for movie night, we’re seeing The Croods tonight and the girls have a friend sleeping over.

So, that was fun. I’m sure the Fall temps next week will get us outdoors for some more hikes.


I just finished this book by Ian Leslie.


It’s a great book about why humans are curious, why we should care to investigate and attempt to be curious, how to be curious and all things in-between. As a homeschooler I want my kids to be curious, it helps them to be self motivated to find answers to things they know nothing about, it creates a sense of accomplishment to be curious about something and learn about it and it sparks further learning. Everyone starts out curious, what does this do if I hit it? Why does fire burn? Why does grape kool-aid stain counters (and more importantly, how do you get the stains out?) Here is the bottom line of the book, ways to stay curious, but I still encourage you to go read the book and not just take these words as everything that is in it.

1 – Stay foolish (or I would say, have fun)
2 – Build the database (learn a lot about a lot of things)
3 – Forage like a foxhog (we need foxes and hedgehogs in this world)
4 – Ask the big why (it’s never wrong to ask questions)
5 – Be a thinkerer (a tinker who thinks)
6 – Question your teaspoons (this relates to a conference on boring things, but even boring things have value)
7 – Turn puzzles into mysteries.

If that got you thinking (even if it got you thinking that list was weird) then this book will be a great read.

Collage Matisse style

I did a Matisse co-op not too long ago, but we were painting in his style for that one. Today we were making cut-out collages in his style.

When Henri Emile Benoit Matisse was young he dreamed of being a lawyer. While in law school he fell ill and while recuperating his mother brought him paints to bide his time. He fell in love with painting and became a great avant-garde artist. Later in life he fell ill again and was confined to his bed and then a wheelchair. He couldn’t paint anymore, so he found a new way to get the images out of his head and into the real world – scissors.


He cut large pieces of paper and had assistants glue them onto even larger sheets of paper that they had colored under his direction.

We read this book, a simple book that tells of his life from boyhood to his death.


It shows him in bed cutting out a huge leaf, that is one thing the books can’t convey – how big these works were. One picture that we looked at was 10X12 in real life, the flowers in the picture have to be as big as your hand.


So, we were making smaller pictures. I had stencils in the shape of some of his famous cut-outs, a child, a man, a woman, an angel and more.

Some kids used the stencils, some didn’t.

Some used the negatives of their cut-outs, some didn’t.

I put some piano jazz on and the kids were quiet for over an hour cutting, pasting, assembling and coming up with some amazing art.

Some of the pictures started out as one thing and morphed into a story.

Suddenly the men were no longer dancing under a plane, now they were parachuting from an aircraft hit by lightning.

Guess who did this one? Grace said it was easier to cut out the shapes rather than paint them (except for the tiny fish, but if we were doing this Matisse style for real, then the fish would have been as big as my hand.)

Matisse would be proud.

Monday, Tuesday…almost Park day!

Monday went by fast. The girls worked on school stuff, then Grace, Hannah and I went off to dance. Bethany continued to work at home and then she read and wrote some fiction stories. James was working from home, so he took a break to go to the gym. Our devotional this week at dance was about Christ becoming human and divesting Himself of all His glory. We’re supposed to spend the week looking at the meaning of obedience and writing down thoughts of how the old and new covenants are different. Here is Hannah’s poem from last week:

God never lies
God is bigger than the mountains
He sustains my life
He protects me
He loves me
God is patient
He waits for me
He listens to me prayers
I dance for Him and He likes it.

-Hannah :)

After dance we ran by the shoe store to buy new ballet shoes, but they were all out of the sizes we needed. Back at home I made garlic chicken alfredo pasta. James and I had tickets to see The Treasure of the Sierra Madre at Alamo drafthouse, so we headed over there after dinner.


John Huston certainly made a winner when we made this movie, it’s got it all: characters, big names, great quotes, wonderful themes and truths about life. Bogart is Fred C. Dobbs, he’s gritty, selfish, greedy and not the brightest tool in the shed. Tim Holt plays Bob Curtin a likable character that chooses the moral high ground. But, the lead character is Walter Huston as Howard a down and out gold prospector that knows how the love of gold can change men’s souls. I don’t know if John Huston was always going to cast his dad in the role of Howard, but I can’t see anyone else playing that role as well as he did. Huston cast himself in the role of the wealthy American who keeps getting hit up by Bogart. Anyway, we got to see the movie playing from 35mm film – scratches and all. It was nice.

Howard: Ah, as long as there’s no find, the noble brotherhood will last but when the piles of gold begin to grow… that’s when the trouble starts.

Dobbs: Conscience. What a thing. If you believe you got a conscience it’ll pester you to death. But if you don’t believe you got one, what could it do t’ya? Makes me sick, all this talking and fussing about nonsense.

Dobbs: Let’s see, three times 35 – is a hundred and five. I’ll bet you 105,000 dollars that you go to sleep before I do.

Bob Curtin: You know, the worst ain’t so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it’ll be before it’s happened.

Tuesday the girls woke up late. We got some school done and I finished up a Shutterfly book about our CA trip (I was trying to hurry because there is a half off coupon good till Wed., just made it!) I made pork steak and pasta with tomatoes and olive oil in it (time to go shopping, I had nothing to add to the meal except pasta.)

Tomorrow is Park day and I have to remember to bring leftover things from last week to the park to be picked up. So far, a good start to the week.

Aspen views {you’re welcome}

We bribed the girls with pizza at Pieology and then drove up into the mountains to do some aspen viewing.

As we passed some stands of aspen we were asked ‘where are we going?’

Hmmmm….past one tunnel, through Georgetown, nope not there yet.

Past some more towns, just a bit past Frisco to Officer’s Gulch…yep, here we are.

The girls scrambled off to hike around the lake.

We caught up.

Going around the lake.


A cute squirrel we saw.

More aspens and lake views.

We went through the long tunnel on the way back.

We stopped for coffee in Frisco.

It was a good aspen day.

Fun Friday {CU}

After doing some school, we headed to Boulder to do the drop in scientific illustration class.

It was going on in conjunction with the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators exhibit that is being shown right now.

We had paper, pencils, plants and microscopes.

I sat with the girls as we tried to draw some dried plants. The microscope was set up with poppy seeds, they looked so cute.

Grace thought they looked like little whales with no tails.

You can’t really see in this picture, but Bethany’s poppy seed was very intricate.

Hannah went all out with her Prosopis juliflora.

A dried poppy plant.

Playing in the kids area.

A few more.

We looked around some more and then headed to Pearl street to meet James for dinner. On the way to Centro Latin Kitchen we stopped to watch a guy playing glasses full of water. He was really good. As for Centro – good food and cheap (go at happy hour.) We feasted on veggie nachos, devil shrimp, street tacos (pork, chicken, lamb and shrimp), quesadillas, mac and cheese and for dessert – churros, tres leches and coconut fried bananas with pistachio ice cream. I don’t normally like bananas in stuff, but the banana fried with the coconut was good.

We drove home and stopped for a sunset shot, not the best one because I waited too long, but still a nice end to the day.


Today, after doing school, we got the supplies for Bethany’s science lab. I made everyone do it because, well, why not?

Safety first!

The lab is pretty simple, but the reaction of the liver to the hydrogen peroxide was pretty cool.

Also, lighting matches with the oxygen gas being given off was cool too…

which led to lighting matches just for fun.

Which led to Hannah asking why toothpicks don’t light from the match books. I asked her if she thought the toothpick was the same as a match – one is wood and one is paper, but they both burn. She looked at the matches and thought that the stuff on the match must have something to do with why matches light when you rub them on the cover and toothpicks don’t. The chicken liver that we used bubbled up so much that it kept overflowing the test tube.

It was fun to listen to the pop of the toothpick relighting when it got near the bubbles from the liver. Hannah’s piece produced some nice popping sounds.

The same experiment with apple, potato, onion and carrot wasn’t as neat.

The potato and onion foamed up, but didn’t light a glowing match. The apple and carrot did practically nothing. You can find one version of the lab here

Doing laundry and cleaning up liver fluid overflows took up the rest of my day. Next week it’s a photosynthesis lab, that one shouldn’t be as gross.

Park day!

I tell you, nothing beats park day. The kids get to play, the parent get to chat, the shade was nice, the water was cool – it’s nice. We had a huge crowd today, probably close to 40 kids ranging in age from 2 to 15 (with lots of 8 and 12 year olds in there.)

But first, school. Bethany worked on Driver’s ed today (don’t worry it’s just the book work side of it – though I don’t know why you’d be worried, you don’t have to drive with her…), some Government and some Music. Grace worked on a Math test and got a 100, even though she was pleading to not do it. Hannah has started working on cursive and it’s true – when someone wants to do something, they will do it easier than when they don’t want to and you force them to do it. This week she took her training wheels off her bike and is riding without them and now she’s learning cursive. Maybe tomorrow she’ll ask to learn Algebra (I doubt it.)

The park was nice, we found 3 picnic tables in the shade and set up there.

2 boys (twins) had a birthday today and were turning 12, they brought cookies to share. We got to chat about our trip, vent a little about lots of things (not just me venting, other people venting) and play.

There were so many scooters that looked alike it was hard to keep track of which one belonged to which kid.

We stayed until 4:30 and then headed home with an extra kid in tow. Bethany has youth group tonight and we’re taking the girls to the pool until it’s time to pick her up. Tomorrow we’re all doing a science lab (that’s really only Bethany’s), so we’ll see how that turns out.

Dance day

Back to school. Bethany was doing English today, lots of writing. Grace was doing Math and History. Hannah was reading and did some Math. We tried on ballet shoes and found that Hannah needed to wear Grace’s and Grace needs new ones, but for today she was wearing Bethany’s old ones. Our dance times moved, so now we need to be there at 1 and 2 instead of 3 and 4.

I had class first, there were 3 other ladies in it. So, a really small class. I think the date came faster than people were expecting, so maybe we will have a few more people by next week. Grace’s class is huge, 13 kids, I think a few of them might get moved to another class because of their age. Hannah’s class has 11, which is also pretty big. The theme of this session is ‘knowing truth’. We were talking today about two truths of God, that He is infinitely awesome and that He is intimately approachable. We started with Romans 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Our homework is to list who God is and what He has done, so that’s going to be a long list.

(Can’t read her shirt? It says, ‘I am currently unsupervised. I know, it freaks me out too. But the possibilities are endless!’)

Hannah’s homework was to make a poem about who God is, so far she’s been writing down things she knows about God like: He never lies, He is bigger than the mountains, He doesn’t have to stretch or do the splits (I’m guessing she doesn’t like the new stretches and splits she’s doing in class.) I’m thinking the ‘never has to stretch’ isn’t going to make it into the poem…mainly because I’m pretty sure that Jesus stretched when he woke up in the morning.

Grace has to find a verse on who God is, that is a pretty easy task.

Bethany had an ortho appointment and I went by to get the oil changed in the car. They thought I was back too early, but we did just travel about 3,000 miles, so I thought the car might like a new air filter, new wipers and new oil.

It was TNO tonight, so I had dinner at Whole foods while James took the girls to the mall. Some plans for the week: park day, a visit to the botanic gardens, scientific illustrating with professors as guides at CU and for the weekend maybe an Oktoberfest or a sugar beet fest.


Oh the joy of seeing that Colorful Colorado sign. Colorado license plates! Mountains to the west! The Platte river!

We didn’t even stop for lunch, we just grabbed candy at the gas station. We got home and hugged James, scared Zoe and nearly gave Maisy a heart attack (she thought we were gone forever.) We emptied out the car, started laundry and told all of our adventures. It was an awesome trip, but it was also good to be home. The animals were funny, when we were away Zoe became master of the couch and was so comfortable and happy. Maisy, however, was scared and depressed. When we got back Zoe went and sat in her litterbox for the rest of the day while Maisy did a happy dance. We caught up with James and Joel when we got home. It was so nice to sleep in our own beds, we won’t be complaining about that for awhile.


We went to church, then took a picnic lunch to Flyin’ B park. The water was so clear we could see the fish. Most of them were small, but we did see one big fish that was a little wary of the bread we were throwing in. I think that’s because it’s a catch and release pond, so who knows how many times he got caught that day. We went on the other side of the pond to see if there were any bullfrogs, there were and he heard us coming and splashed into the pond. The crabapple trees were so full they were bending over and the bottom limbs were touching the ground. My jelly turned out good, so I don’t need to make any more, but it was tempting. Really though, how much crabapple jelly does one need?

I took a nap in the afternoon, James made tacos for dinner, we watched a Charlie Brown movie and called it a night.

We’re home!

I’ll be filling in the past few days in a bit. I’m also adding in videos, so if you already read a post below, go see if there is a video there now. I have some from the beach, aquarium and …. I think that’s it.

We had fun, it was great to meet Alex and Mrs. Maris in person, to see both aquariums, swim in the ocean, see whales and otters and explore around.

But, as always, we’re glad to be home! We missed the first snow in Denver, but it was light and gone now – so we’re ready for the next one.

Nevada, Utah, Wyoming

It’s funny, you can travel through a whole bunch of states in a few hours, but in Texas a few hours won’t get you very far. Also, on every trip to Texas I have gotten a broken windshield – this trip…nope (and we went through 5 states.)

We slept late at the hotel and then got going about 9 am.

When we hit Utah we noticed that on the salt flats by the road people had spelled out things with the rocks, sometimes just initials, sometimes sentences and sometimes just a symbol. Just like we had to stop to help graffiti the Cadillacs in Texas, we felt compelled to stop and make a heart out of rocks…at least Bethany felt compelled.

We ate lunch near Salt Lake City, then continued on to Wyoming. Our goal was Flaming Gorge. Yes, this could have been the place we camped at on our last night of vacation.

This landscape of red rocks, gleaming water, towering cliffs. It could have been, but it wasn’t.

Why? Because their campsite was closed. Yep. Oh, and there was no sign on the main road, no we had to drive into the park to find this out. We could have dry camped, with no fire, cat holes for bathrooms and no hot dinner – but we didn’t. Instead we asked magical GPS lady where a campground was and she pointed us 45 minutes away, back at the freeway where we had gotten off. We rolled into the KOA at 7:30 pm and instead of a beautiful sunset behind the rocks we got this.

I know, I shouldn’t complain, most people would kill to be at the KOA instead of in the middle of nowhere, but I really liked that middle of nowhere. We set up the tent, cooked stew for dinner and went to bed about 9. It got cold during the night and anything that was touching the tent (blanket, pillow, sleeping bag) had ice on it in the morning. But, it was only one night and the next day we were homeward bound.