Near Calhan, Colorado, is a wonderful place we had never visited before. Aunt Debbie and Uncle Dan invited us to visit the Paint Mines Interpretive Park with them. The Paint Mines are clay formations in beautiful reds, yellows and white layers. There are four miles of trails to explore that wind around caprock and hoodoos- a pillar of rock formed with softer rock on the bottom with a harder rock on top.
The mines are beautiful! We had lots of places to explore and many colors to enjoy since we visited early on an overcast morning. As the sun replaced the clouds, the colors faded and were not so vivid. We left soon after.
We often get into Colorado near sunset. I have already asked Allan that the next time we visit, could we please stop at the mines for our last rest stop. I would love to explore them at dusk!
Following tradition, Audrey and Andrea McGuire hosted a “high tea” for relatives soon after arriving in Colorado. Both girls worked hard making the event the highlight of the week. Using freshly picked wildflowers as a centerpiece, the girls finished decorating with tea cups discovered by their great-aunt.
The girls provided chocolate cowpies, chocolate chip meringues and pecan cookies they lovingly prepared earlier. Special treats were also brought by the girls’ Oma and great-aunts. Assorted teas were offered. Entertainment was provided by the girls’ uncle and brother who sang “Buffalo Girls”.
Each year, the formal tea party grows in number. The hostesses were pleased to discover that they were the very first to have ever invited Grandma Green to a tea party!
Knowing the next tea will be eagerly anticipated, the girls will continue to expand on their culinary skills and search for exquisite teas to offer.
She is not officially in kindergarten, but Megan is learning to read and has some workbook pages that she loves to do. She listens while the other kids do their lessons and she always wants to help with science experiments.
Megan loves to give hugs to her friends. Pastor Randy says that she has the hugging ministry! I know that she has encouraged many people with her wonderful hugs.
Andrea turned fourteen while we were on vacation. She enjoyed picking out a turtle cake recipe from Grandma’s cookbook for her birthday cake. We hung around the house and enjoyed being together for her special day.
Andrea’s new favorite birthday cake recipe is so easy, we memorized the recipe after making it the first time. Be warned, it is extremely rich 🙂
Use a German Chocolate Cake mix–you will not need the coconut or nuts– and instead of following box directions, add 3/4 cup melted butter, 3 eggs and 2/3 cup of evaporated milk. Pour 1/2 of the batter in a 13 x 9 inch greased pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. In a double boiler, melt 14 oz caramels with 1/3 c evaporated milk. Pour melted caramel evenly over cooling cake. Sprinkle with 1 cup pecans and 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top and bake for an additional 20 minutes. When cooled sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
One of the first things we noticed when we walked into Grandma’s house was a handwritten warning that Audrey designed the last time we were in Colorado. While we really dislike rattlesnakes, the memory did make us smile.
We rarely take vacations over the summer.Â Usually, we wait until it cools some and school starts up again for most children.Â This year we started vacation over Labor Day weekend.Â Our plan was to go hiking and then help fix up “Grandma’s house” while taking time to visit relatives and do some site seeing.
Near Chesterton, IN we drove through a storm.Â It was bad enough that Allan debated pulling over.Â The rest of the trip was dry.Â After a long day of driving, we stopped at Arrowhead Park in Neola, IA.Â We would have enjoyed exploring the trails but we got in late enough that we did not have time.Â It was a nice park, though a little loud with holiday campers.
We left early the next day and ate breakfast on the road.Â After driving a long time, stopping for ice cream and taking a short rest, we stopped at our favorite rest stop on SR 383 near Norton, KS. We drove a long time and got to Colorado in time to watch a beautiful sunset.
Two years ago in September, we signed Megan up to read “1000 books before kindergarten”. As much as we read, we thought it would be easy. Soon after starting though, we discovered it was too easy. One of the kids decided we should read 1000 unique books.
We all liked that idea and that became our goal. I researched “classic” books from the 1940’s on and found lots of wonderful books we have never read before. The children looked for their favorite books from when they were younger and we read those. Megan sat and listened to chapter books that the older ones were reading. We looked for books from our favorite authors. We found wordless books again. We discovered many new books that we want for our library.
On Friday, Megan took her record sheet to the library for the last time. We had read and recorded 1111 unique books in less than two years. She was so excited that she ran ahead of everyone to get her last sticker and then her certificate. She earned a book we never read before. Then, Daddy took her out to buy ice cream to celebrate!
It is really was not too hard to read that many books. It sounds like a lot and remembering to record the books is a pain. If you read one book to your child every day it will take less than 3 years. You can read duplicates. You can read your favorites and discover new ones. If you have older kids, read to them too. While the older ones did not listen to EVERY book Megan snuggled and read, they did listen to 75% or more of the books because they wanted too.
I would challenge you to change two things with the program. A paper certificate and a new book is nice. But make the reward bigger and better. Go out for ice cream–Megan’s absolute favorite treat–or for dinner. Then, keep reading out loud to your family. Don’t stop at picture books. Find books that are excellent and read out loud a lot!