Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mount Rushmore

Driving back from the west coast we needed something to do along the way to make it fun. We realized that we weren't that far from Mount Rushmore and when else would we  go to South Dakota.


It was a beautiful clear day and not too cold either. Since it was October, the parking lot was empty and there weren't many people there. I can't imagine what it would be like in the summer when it is crowded.


We walked around. The visitor center has a very good display on how this was made. The children both did the Jr. Ranger Program. Miss K filled out the book and then walked over there herself and got her badge.


We saw the mountain goat. He just wandered by the visitor center. The one park ranger said that he stays on that side of the mountain as it is safer.


I am glad we stopped and saw this part of America. It is fun for the kids to see things with Mount Rushmore now and recognize it as a place that they have been. It also was fitting with our American history from last year. They knew bits about each of the presidents. They will still sing the songs from CC last year.


Friday, January 4, 2013


No, we didn't go there during Christmas vacation. Remember, I said I am catching up on my blog. This is another catching up post. We stopped here on our way home from the West coast. We just couldn't go through Nebraska again. No offense to those that live there and love the state but it doesn't have much change of scenery. The kids and I had never been to Yellowstone so we decided to do something new on the way home.

We were traveling in the middle of October and we knew that the weather could be iffy. We spent the night in West Yellowstone staying at Holiday Inn. We were tired after driving from Spokane and our room was next to a group of noisy people so before we even unpacked we said something to the front desk and they moved us to the family suite -- nice -- three beds, two rooms and very quiet. The next morning we got up, ate breakfast at McDonalds, saw some Chinese students and met a couple that teach English in China. Then we headed into the park. We decided that we could stay until about 3:00 as we still had some driving to do that day.

We were excited to go.  The weather was beautiful and the part was not too crowded. We wondered what animals we would see. It didn't take long. He was right there munching his breakfast. The kids were excited to see this. The kids had a page to fill out with the various animals that we saw.



We decided to go up toward Mammoth Hot Springs first. We made a number of stops along the way. We were excited and stopped at all kinds of things that looked interesting.


We spent quite a bit of time walking around Norris Hot Springs.


We decided not to go all the way to Mammoth Hot Springs but we did stop at Fountain Paint Pots and enjoyed watching and listening to the mud pots.


Then we headed to Old Faithful. Along the way we saw a herd of buffalo so we had to stop and take some pictures.


The visitor center at Old Faithful was nice. We enjoyed walking through there and learning various things. The advantage of being there in October was parking was not a problem.


Miss K said she was a scientist. She was very intent on studying that rock.


We got excellent seating and waited for Old Faithful. It was fun to just sit and watch it slowly begin and then get so tall.


We then began our journey out of the park. We were sad that we hadn't seen any bears but you can't see everything. We did learn that if you saw cars pulled over to the side of the road that probably means there is something to look at. As we were driving out. We saw cars pulled over and so we pulled over and way in a distance we were able to see


a bear. We saw a bear. That is about the best picture that we got but we did see it.

We only had a day but we had great weather and it was not that crowded so we were able to see quite a bit of the park. We did drive quite a distance that evening and some of them were windy roads at high elevation. Maybe it was good that it was dark. Our stop was worth it. We have fun memories and good pictures.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I told you that the blog had not been priority and I have some catching up to do. This is a catch-up post.

I feel like November is an opportunity that I don't want to miss to focus on thankfulness. I know we are to be thankful in all things and we do work to practice that but it is good to have a time of really thinking about the thankfulness.

I needed something easy this year. We had just gotten back from spending 2 1/2 months on the west coast and came home to a house that had some remodeling while we were going so I had to put things away and knowing that Christmas was coming and I need to pack the house to move in February. I just couldn't do a big project. A friend gave me the idea of a making a paper chain. That was easy enough to do. I got some scrapbook paper and cut it into strips, put those in a jar along with some markers and found the stapler and we were ready to list the things that we are thankful for.


Miss K's list of things included all her aunts and uncles, her cousins, Sonic, Arby's, and a few other things.

It was fun to watch the chain grow each day. Some days the children would add more than one item so they could help the chain to grow.

At the end of the month, we had a long chain.


I think it was a fun way to think of all the simple, as well as interesting things that we have to be thankful for, things we might not always think about.

Since we were having a stress free Christmas, see the above about all that has happened, is happening, and will be happening, we took that paper chain and included it in our Christmas tree decorations.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Learning to Play Chess

I know the basic chess moves. Personally, I think chess takes to much brain power but other people in my family love chess. I do agree that it is good logic and thinking and so I encourage the kids to learn and play. J has been playing for the past few years and has played in a few tournaments. Miss K doesn't want to be left out of anything. She wants to play as well. Daddy has been patiently teaching her. She knows the names and is learning how they move.


Miss K can set up the board. She has learned to play King and Pawns.

Some of the chess books that we and use are DK CHess for Kids and Usborne First Skills Starting Chess. The Usborne book is the one daddy is following as he teaches Miss K to play.

We need to get her a Hello Kitty shirt to wear when she plays chess. Okay, that is a joke because one of J's friends was beat by a girl wearing a Hello Kitty shirt.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve

Our plans were to stay home and so I tried to make it fun evening for us at home. I dug deep into the cabinet under the sink (it is one of those cabinets that goes all the way back) and found the fondue pot that we received for a wedding present. Then I searched online for a simple fondue recipe. I bought all kinds of things to dip -- steak, ham (I didn't buy that I had some of the leftover Christmas ham), little red potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and of course bread. Next time I can skip the mushrooms. Everyone agreed that the bread was the best but for the balanced meal we needed some of the other things.


After dinner we played some games. J had gotten Jenga for Christmas. He tried to play with Miss K and the first time she pulled one out it toppled so he taught her to play. He did a great job teaching her. She knew what to do, look for the one that could gently be pushed out.DSC_0689

I was impressed with the Jenga skills that we have in our family.  DSC_0691

I think we counted about 27 blocks high and then it toppled but it was getting to the point that it was harder and harder. DSC_0701

Then we played Qwirkle. We have played a few times with Miss K playing with someone else but last night she wanted to play "by self". She did a great job only a few times did we have to tell her that she couldn't put her pieces where she wanted. It is fun to see her develop and learn. Qwirkle is a great game as we can play and have the strategy while Miss K can join and have fun learning. I will say that she has quite a bit of drive to do things herself and that really does help her develop.


We played Cadoo which is one that I bought at a thrift store while we were in Seattle.

It was a fun family evening saying good-bye to 2012 and welcoming 2013 and all the changes and transitions that this year has for us.

Ephrata Cloisters

We had a Saturday of doing fun things. We went out for breakfast and I think we ate too much but it was fun and one of the things on our list of things to do before we move. Then we dropped a quilt off at the quilt shop. Since we were there we decided to show the children where we got married. We have not been back since we got married.

When we got engaged and were looking for a place for our wedding. We wanted something that was a bit small as we knew it was not going to be a large wedding and we wanted something with history and charm. Built in the 1741 this provided the history aspect.


We took a tour which is the only way that you are able to get inside the buildings. When this was an active community their days were spent in prayer and work. The day was filled with prayers times including midnight to 2am. In the evening they would eat the one meal of the day -- just vegetables and bread.


They slept from 9:00 to midnight and then from 2:00 to 5:00. I don't think they were tempted to sleep much longer as they slept on a wood board with a pine board for the pillow. J tried it and decided his bed at home is soft.


We posed again for a picture.


This is what we looked like when we got married.


It was fun to take the children there and get a bit of local history.


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