Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Swimming and Camping

After our excitement with breaking and entering bears, we headed out for a different sort of adventure with swimming in Saratoga and camping in Colorado.

Fun was had by all.

Pizza for lunch.

A quick stop at the 'Antiques and Junque' store where daddy found a 'skinning knife.'

Finally the pool.  Splishing, splashing, slipping, sliding.

The water was nice and warm!

Swimming was a blast.

Dunking and diving!

Splashing daddy as he 'gets' the girls!

So proud she can stand in the pool!

Our little dare-devil LOVES the water!

Happily 'running' away.

Decisions, decisions - go down or not?

The hot springs were oh so hot and relaxing.

Bethany ventured all the way IN the VERY HOT SPRINGS!  The boys weren't so sure.  It WAS HOT!
Unfortunately, the river where the hot springs overflows, was too crowded so we didn't get a chance to play there - usually a favorite by many.

A quick trip home to pick up our camper and Apollos and away we went.

A not-so-long jaunt to a hunting cabin on private property in Colorado where we met some friends for a weekend of camping fun.

finally...... eating s'mores!

Gathering sticks for the 'fort'!

Bonfires, hot dogs, s'mores, rope swings, air soft gun wars, building forts, hiking, dirt bike riding, singing campfire songs, picking flowers, shooting guns, hamburgers, coyotes and wolves howling, fellowship, sharing life, a shooting star, staying up late telling jokes with friends, sleeping in a hunting cabin (boys), even walking the dog - all made for a memorable weekend family get-away.

Looking forward to more of the same in the future.

Taking mom to the fort.
Proud of their efforts!

Elijah riding with his friend on a dirt bike -- a first.

From riding on the back to riding on his own!
Bethany decided she LOVES
dirt bike riding.

Riding on her own!  Look at her go.

Jacob now WANTS a dirt bike!  Boys and their toys.

The view from our campsite as we headed off on our hike.

A deer skeleton we stumbled across on our hike.

Climbing, hiking!  Such troopers.
Cute girl in the back of a
pick up truck!

The road back to our truck.

Selah's blessed to have a loving and STRONG
big sister who carried her MOST of the way
on our hike.

Yeah, they are THAT cute!

Country girls in the making!
Making a 'house' of sticks.
Raking and working.... just because.

Pretending to 'start a fire'?

Adding some pine leaves.

The whole 'motley crew'!  (minus one little one and all the grown-ups)
Our last dinner before our friends left Sat night.
What a blessing and wonderful time of fellowship with great new friends.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bear Trap

After the attempted break in by the bear, the game warden arrived the next day with a live bear trap to set up in our yard.

Who'da thunk it!  A B-E-A-R   T-R-A-P.......... in. our. front. lawn!


Instructions were given to call IMMEDIATELY if we heard it slam shut.  "Just look out to see if the door is shut, run out and check with a flashlight to see that it is in fact a BEAR in the trap, then call the game warden."

Sound easy peasy?

I'm certain I barely slept that night.  Thump here, thud there.  Bears were being caught all night long.......  in my over active imagination anyway.

I did hear a huge crash in the night, but no bear was in the trap. Come to discover a lamp in the girls room fell over.  Of course it did.

Then we were off to camp for the weekend.

When we arrived back home Sunday afternoon, the trap was gone.  Did they catch the bear? Did he attempt to break and enter in another location?  Where's the trap?

All these questions and more we're hoping to answer tomorrow with a quick call to the Game Warden.

Come back soon and see what we find out.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Apollos - Our Hero

It's 2 am and all through the house, not a creature is stirring except.....   Apollos!

Ruf!...... RUF! RUF! RUF!!!!!

I spring awake.  That's not Apollos' "I have to go out in the middle of the night bark," nor his, "Silas won't let me pass in the hall," bark.  It sounds different.  It's what I'll call his, "There's an intruder!" bark.

I see him standing at the girls' window.  "What do you see out there, boy?"  Growl......

Peering out with him, I notice a 'dark figure' near our dining room window.  I rub my eyes, after all, it is 2 am and my sleepy eyes aren't quite focusing.

Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?

Then I hear some scrappling; a rip as the screen on the widow is torn through; a crash.  All the while, I'm watching to try to determine WHAT the figure might be.

IT'S........   A...........  BEAR!!!!!

From the initial sounds and seeing his body, first stretched up scraping and pushing at the window, then being pulled up into the window opening,  and finally hearing our kitchen chairs rattling, moving, and falling to the ground, I yell to Techno-genius who's still sleeping, "DOUG, THERE'S A BEAR IN THE KITCHEN!!!!!"

{NOT a phrase I imagined EVER yelling out to my hubby in the middle of the night.}

Recalling what a neighbor said she did when encountering a bear one day, I yell out, "Go bear, Go!"  in the most menacing voice I can muster in my current state of slight panic and disbelief.  Apparently they startle easily.

Techno calls 911 to report the bear being in our house.

Instructions to stay in bedrooms; keep the animals contained (other than the bear) are given.

I step into the boys room after shutting the girls' door and directing the girls to "Stay put and keep Apollos with you."

It's at this point I remember Silas.

"Bethany, is Silas in your room?"

"No." Quivers the reply.

This is the moment where I crumble.  A mixture of tears and laughter, I belt out, "There's a BEAR in our KITCHEN!  Oh no, the CAT is out there!"  In hindsight I think I sounded vaguely like the tormented Repunzel in Tangled as she ventures out of her tower in disobedience to her captive 'mom'.  HA!

Nothing like invoking panic and tears in your children during a crisis.

My mind races.  What to do, what to do.  Our cat is potentially in harms way.

Finally, Jacob announces out of the dark, "He's here, mom.  He's in our room."


Then, my  mind grapples with wanting to get a picture of this bear crawling in our dining room window.

No, I did NOT capture such an event with my camera.  I was mindful enough to stay back in the bedrooms away from the presence of a hungry bear in search of food.

Bethany then yells out, "He's getting down out of the window, Mom!  He's standing up at the window again."

I step back out and begin heckling the bear once again from the open hall window.

Slowly, he gets down and plods off to our front drive, looking back over his shoulder a few times as he makes his way to the road.

Assured he's gone, Doug and I both meander out to the kitchen to assess the damage.  This is what we found.

Dirt and mud where he scrappled to pull himself in.

Our ripped screen was on the floor

The ripped inside of the curtain w/muddy prints.

The toppled chair he used to 'pull' himself in.

The original 'entry attempt' in the
school room - the shade was simply
pushed out.

Apparently he had first tried to enter in through the schoolroom windows, but wasn't tall enough to get through.  Next he went for the dining room window.  Fortunately he wasn't able to get enough traction to pull himself all the way through.

Muddy prints outside the schoolroom window.
In hindsight, my strategic and aesthetic placement of lawn chairs in the front of the house probably aided him in his quest.  Doh!

The game warden arrives along with 2 Laramie police officers to assess the situation and give us advice.

The main suggestion?  GET.  A.  GUN!   Yes, that event moves to the top of the priority list.  Other ideas include moving our popcorn popper and the dog and cat food to a location AWAY from windows.  Not a simple task given our limited space, but.... we'll manage.  LOL! When a bear entering your home is the alternative..... well..... we'll figure something out!

All part of living in the mountains of Wyoming.

I've wanted to see a bear, but boy, I sure didn't expect to see it climbing through the window of OUR KITCHEN!!!!!
Bear scat outside our schoolroom window.
NICE!  Not!
Apparently this is most likely a juvenile bear who was 'kicked out' by mama bear who's ready to mate again.  He's on his own, hungry, looking for food to prepare for the coming winter.  As the game warden put it, "He's basically a mischievous and hungry teenager.  Not really meaning any harm but causing a ruckus anyway."

Whoever says greyhounds aren't good watch dogs are quite mistaken. Apollos saved the day.  He is our hero today.  He's earned free treats for a year - at least.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Fun

As the summer months approached and the school year ended, many were posting on facebook and on their blogs about 'summer bucket lists'.

These posts ranged from: 'how to' make your own list; ideas to add to a list; ways to display such a list; why you should make a list; some were even disagreements on what a bucket list was and why a summer fun list should NOT be a bucket list. After all, the assumption was, 'no one expects to die by the end of their summer vacation'.

As I read these posts a part of me was spurred to make a list, have the kids chime in, hang it on our fridge.  Make a plan of what fun things we'd do all summer.

However, reality quickly squeezed those visions from my  mind.

I knew we had TONS of activities this summer that weren't conducive to a 'summer fun' list.  Not that the things we had to do weren't FUN, but they also weren't typical events for such a list.

Acknowledging as well that still owning our house in Ohio would limit funds available -- possibly eliminating some 'fun' activities.

A smidge of guilt entered in.  I pushed it aside with practicality.

The summer progressed.

We fulfilled many of our obligations for fundraisers, camp, helping with our church booth on the 4th of July, teaching for VBS, continuing to unpack/organize our new home, etc.

One day, as we ventured out for yet another day of summer, I realized we were actually 'living' our summer bucket/fun list.

Go figure.

I decided to write out all our activities that we could have counted toward such a list -- had we ever made one -- things we've actually done or have on the calendar to do in the near future.

Here goes:

  • Cookouts with friends (we did this church wide a few different times)
  • Fourth of July events - bounce house, games, free ice cream, free snow cones, crafts, music, visiting with friends
  • Playing in the stream
  • Building forts
  • Digging in the dirt
  • A camp out in our yard
  • Making s'mores
  • A fire in the fire pit
  • Swimming - a couple times
  • The Hobo pool hot springs - a couple times
  • Fishing with Granddad
  • A fish fry
  • Making mud pies
  • Picnics in the park - several times
  • Trips to the playground
  • Camping NOT in the yard
  • Water balloon fights
  • Family movie nights
  • Playing board games together
  • Going up in the mountain range
  • Climbing rocks in the mountain range
  • Attending the fire station open house
  • Jubilee days Rodeo
  • Jubilee days parade
  • Meandering downtown during Jubilee days to 'see the sights'
  • Making a 'house' for a grasshopper - several times - and a lady bug
  • Painting
  • Playing with 'fluff stuff'
  • Playing with 'gak'
  • Air soft wars
  • Nerf wars
  • Sword fights
  • Whole house sleep overs at Aunt Biff's
  • Baking cakes
  • Picking wild flowers
  • Sitting outside, admiring the mountain views while having coffee
  • Riding horses
After reviewing the many things we've done -- spontaneously -- this summer, that smidge of guilt that tried to creep in was replaced and swatted away.

Even though our schedules were busy; full of obligations to help with church; camp for the kids; fundraisers as a family; teaching VBS; working a booth on the 4th of July; unpacking and organizing our home; we're managing to accomplish our non-existent summer fun list without even trying.

Day to day living.

Making memories.

Serving at church.

Doing fun activities as a family.

That IS our 'summer bucket/fun list'!  Whatever you choose to call it, we're enjoying our summer.

Nothing fancy, nothing overly planned.

Just fun times. Together!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Homeschool Kids

Recently I've seen a few facebook posts or articles 'in jest' that have portrayed homeschoolers in..... well..... a less than positive light.

I wanted to comment on these posts and articles, but as the Bible instructs, I decided it best to 'hold my tongue'.

As I continued to think about those unflattering comments, I decided I wanted to share a bit of what our homeschool kids are like.

Our oldest - Jacob.

Yes, he prides himself in being a 'nerd or geek' -- I can never remember which one is the 'better term' -- but I'd venture to say he'd be the same way whether he were homeschooled or not.  It's part of his 'identity'; he's chosen it.  He's a highly intelligent young man.  Very outgoing.  Respectful.  He's already taken 7 college classes ON a college campus and done exceedingly well -- not only academically, but socially.  He helps at home; cares for his siblings; and is supportive of his friends.  He had a successful paper route in Ohio in which all of his customers LOVED him and his congenial personality.

Did I mention he's only 16?

Then there's Bethany.

Somewhat naive and quite innocent for a 13 1/2 year old girl, but we find that refreshing in today's age.  She fully enjoys her childhood. She's not encumbered thinking about boyfriends, make-up, and being 'sexy'.  She's living life; enjoying her family and friends; growing into a respectable young lady.  She loves singing, art, cats, and horses.  Recently, she sang a solo for VBS at our church.  She aids me with our younger girls and is capable of running our home if I were ever unable to perform those tasks.  Any adult who meets her, always compliments her gentle nature;  her meek and quiet spirit; her beautiful heart.

Elijah is our tender hearted, sensitive young man.

Just 12, he's maturing into quite the gentleman.  He's taking on more and more responsibilities and readily volunteers to teach and help the younger girls.  Excelling in his studies, he's a full year ahead (2 if we had done what many recommended and held him back a year before starting kindergarten - given his late summer birthday).  His work ethic is increasing; his diligence to a task expanding; his attention span broadening.  He's really becoming quite a big helper; a tremendous young man.  His compassionate manner is ever present.  He's a lover of animals - particularly his dog Apollos; taking great responsibility for his care.  His respectful character gains him much accolades from adults in all arenas.

Our 7 year old daughter, Trinity, is very much the perfectionist.

Almost like a second 'first born', she displays great leadership (could be interpreted bossy) tendencies.  :-) She is all about equality and fairness.  Looking out for her siblings, young and old, is a common practice for her.  She frequently takes responsibility to guide the younger two in play or in comforting them.  Often giving up her own luxuries for their benefit.  {Albeit sometimes AFTER the other two demonstrate their displeasure.}  But hey, she is just 7.  She already loves to read.  Chapter books are her new favorite thing.  She can often be found sitting on the couch reading to her two younger sisters.  Shyness and an unassuming manner are what most people witness upon meeting her.

Charity - often referred to as Tigger.

Although a bit 'discractable' and high energy, Charity's heart is generally made of gold.  Just as her nickname's sake in the story book 'Pooh' - she is full of life and joy.  Her compassion for others is often seen as she expresses concern for their well being when they are hurt or in trouble.  Quite touching to witness.  Although shy in new situations, she displays tendencies (liker her mama) to be a tad hot headed at times; something we are working on with her - and mom.  She began reading this school year and took to it quite readily.  Despite the curriculum we were using focusing on short vowel sounds, she expanded her own knowledge and catapulted herself into reading many long vowel words as well.  Pride exudes from her as she reads and does her math problems.  Self confidence is not something she's lacking.  Secure is a word we often use to describe her.  Sweet and good natured are terms we hear from other adults in her life.

Our little caboose - Selah.  Often referred to as our 'spit fire' and 'mini-Liz', she is brimming with personality.

At age 4 she is doing tremendously well with 'unstructured' academics.  She loves to paint, color, make crafts, work on workbook pages, and help with Science experiments.  Many skills that would be taught in Kindergarten are already within her repertoire:  correspondence counting, colors, starting to identify letters and numbers in print, location words, pre-writing skills - to name a few.  Her attention span is phenomenal.  Her heart for others expanding.  Understanding right and wrong; consequences; fairness -- all growing.  Like her older sister, she too portrays great self esteem in addition to stubbornness in spades.  In classes at church or co-op she cooperates well and follows the rules readily.  "Quiet but a joy," is the typical report we hear in regards to her antics.

All in all, our 'home schooled' children are NOT backwards, awkward, weird. They are quite sociable, polite, kind, respectful and have a good head on their shoulders.  Yet, they aren't impacted by the 'peer pressures' so many children struggle with today.  Wearing the 'right' clothes, acting a certain way, taking part in behaviors of uncertain moral fabric, being like the 'popular crowd'; these are NOT struggles we have with our kiddos.

Angst and anger are not prevalent in our home -- despite having 2 teenagers in it.

Rolled eyes and raised voices do not characterize the interactions we have from our children.

Embarrassment over mom and dad's presence has not been an issue.

In general, our children love us and we love our children.

They are doing well with their peers. They have many friends.  They know the 'appropriate' manner in which to act around others.  They even excel in 'college' settings and other 'mainstream' venues.

Get this......  All.  Despite.  Being.  Home schooled.  Their.  Entire.  Academic. Career!


Yes, we're GREATLY proud of them.  But mostly I just want to show that homeschooling does not equate weird, socially inept, misfits.

If you ever meet our kiddos, I think you might agree!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Snuggle Time

It seems our girls have developed a 'tradition'.  A tradition of snuggling with mommy and daddy first thing in the morning.  {Predominately mommy.}

We've taught them to 'stay in their room' until 7:00 am, but after that... GAMES ON!

(This allows Techno and I to a) sleep in b) do our Bible study and prayer time together and/or c) sit outside with a cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet for a few minutes.)

Come 7am, however, we hear the pitter patter of little elephant feet.  You see, it's not the quiet, soft pitter patter one imagines from tiny feet.  Instead it's a loud, thunder of clomping, pounding as they make their way to mom and dad's room.

If awake, we can steal ourselves for the high jump that catapults Charity onto the bed - usually smack in the middle of my shins -- OUCH!; then we grab on tight to the covers as Selah uses them as her anchor to pull herself up onto the mattress; next Trinity jumps to the edge and crawls her way on top of mommy since the other two have secured their spots on either side of me.  (By this time daddy already has to log on to start work, so the girls have mama all to themselves.  AND I have them all to myself.)

Next they work at burrowing down next to me, securing blankets about them to 'get warm' -- usually managing to uncover mom and each other in the process.

A few minutes of close snuggling ensues.

Soon the questions and commments start:  Can I play your iPod?  Will you scratch my back?  I need a pillow.  Rub my arm?  Don't leave, Mommy.  Are you ready to get my breakfast?  Can I help you make coffee?

I must admit - despite the bruises on my knees, the tired arms, the ringing ears, the spinning head: this IS one of my favorites times of each day.

I love that our girls still want to snuggle.

That they 'fight' over their spot next to mama.

That they want me to rub their backs.

That they clamor to help me make our morning coffee.

That they WANT. TO. BE. WITH. ME!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fishing Time!

Monday we headed up the mountain range to fish.  Mill Pond and Mill Pond creek were our destinations!

The scenery alone was worth the trip!

Mill Pond - Beauty!

Mill Pond Creek - the water fall fishing 'hole' where we caught all our fish.

The older kids meandered off with Granddad to do some fly fishin'.  Fishing for the more serious fisherman at heart.

Jacob across the pond where he caught his first fish
while fly fishing

Jacob was excited as he caught a fish with one of his first casts.  Unfortunately, it got away while he was trying to figure out what to do with it.  His location was far enough from the group to not have a bag or knowledge as to 'what to do next.'

Bethany pulling in a fish.

Bethany, Elijah and Granddad didn't have quite as much luck as Granddad usually has - mostly because the fish were just too small to bother keeping.

Elijah getting a fish.

Back in the pond they went to grow another day.  I'd be willing to venture the kids had a great time anyway.

Granddad measuring the fish to determine if it were
a keeper or not.

Techno-genius and I - with littles in tow -headed to the Mill Pond Creek water fall where we fish almost every year.  It's a wonderful little fishing hole that teams with trout.

The girls - with daddy's help - pulled in 15 fish and tossed back a good 8-10 that were just too small and didn't swallow the hook.  A wonderful time and experience for all.
Pure horror at the thought of holding that fish.

Selah caught the first fish.  Excitement from pulling in her very own fish quickly changed to mortification as Trinity attempted to hand the fish to her for a photo op.  So glad I was staged to capture such a wonderful moment in our adventures.

Charity's proud of her catch.

Still very unsure.

We had to laugh at one point when daddy told Charity to throw her fish back into the stream as it was too small.  She took his words to heart.  Turned, wound up, and threw that fish overhand, with all her might, into the stream.  We could only laugh and hope the little fishy didn't come in contact with a rock on his way in.

Trinity had no fear this year.
Picking flowers was more Selah's speed.

Once again, Trinity was our 'go to girl' for retrieving fish and holding them up for Daddy to take off the hook and of course, for many-a-picture.  This year she was even braver, putting her fingers inside their mouths to 'feel' if they had teeth. She quickly found out, the bigger the fish, the sharper and more obvious the teeth.  :-)
Climbing rocks as boredom w/fishing set in.

Picking flowers, climbing on rocks, and playing in the pond were among some favorites while fishing as well.  Sisterly love was displayed as Trinity and Charity took turns - of their own volition - 'tending' to Selah as she wasn't too interested in fishing after her first catch.

Such a great big sister - keeping Selah occupied.

Selah looks so pretty w/flowers in her hair
Even Mom caught a couple

A mountain thunder storm quickly rolled in; chasing us to our car and down the range back home.

Dad too!

Once home, lunch finished, guess who received a lesson in fish gutting and cleaning?
Yep, that's me pulling out the 'guts' of a fish.  Who'da thunk it?

I managed to clean quite a few
with Granddad's guidance.
Yep, you guessed it.

Yours truly can now clean a fish, gut it, chop it's head off and prep it for freezing.

This weekend I'll cook up those 15 fish - plus the few Granddad and the big kids caught - for Elijah's birthday dinner with Aunt Biff, Granddad, Cousin Bob, and Cousin Jean.  I'm pretty sure we'll add quite a few of the fish Granddad has caught this summer to the mix making a full meal for all of us.  YUM!

Guess that will be the test of my skills.  :-/

Looking at the fish as we cleaned them, it wasn't hard to pick out Granddad's vs. Mom's.  Ha.  Mine were missing fins, skin was ripped.  In short: They Were A Mess!  But, they were clean and prayerfully edible.

I'll let you know when I blog about our fish fry on Sat!  I'll be sure to have the number for pizza on hand.  :-)
Fish anyone?
 It's what's for dinner!