Friday, November 30, 2012

A Big Leaf Pile

Most of the leaves fell off the trees in some wind storms, so we never got around to raking. Instead, most of the leaves were blown around, with quite a few stopping at the fence. So the other day, when it was relatively warm and calm, we started raking them into a big pile so the kids would have a chance to run and jump into the pile. I remember jumping into leaf piles as one of my favorite things to do as a kid. Desert Boy remembered it from last year and was very excited. He claimed the first jump into the pile.

All smiles!

Then it was Desert Girl's turn. She decided for a long run to build up speed.

Then it was time for the jump.

The kids got some really good exercise. I was content to sit and take photos.

Maybe we'll get another good day to do more jumping into big leaf piles. Then we need to haul the leaves out to the meadow for the cows to eat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Wreaths

 Now that Thanksgiving is over (and it was awesome!), we've been decorating a little bit each day to get ready for Christmas. I am ready to see some festive colors, yet I feel like if I decorate all at once, I won't appreciate the decorations. So we started with a wreath. I bought this beauty at the local craft fair. It makes me smile every time I see it.

But that's not our only wreath. Here's the one we put up this afternoon:
 Henry's wreath on his new doghouse! I had the red wreath background, and we went out to one of our bushes that needed trimming and trimmed it, using the cuttings for the wreath. Desert Boy was delighted to staple them on. A nail pounded into the front of the doghouse, and voila, instant brightening.

 Who said a doghouse was only for dogs? Actually, Desert Boy and Desert Girl were busy decorating more of the interior for Henry.
 I convinced Henry to go into the doghouse so I could get a photo of him, but I don't think he liked sharing with two little kids.

Time will tell who will use the doghouse more...the kids or Henry?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The New Doghouse Project

 We decided that Henry needed a bigger doghouse, so a couple weekends ago we headed down to the equipment yard to gather our materials.

 It was a cold morning, so we put the kids in their snowsuits. They thought it was great fun to go on a treasure hunt to find wood. Especially since there were fun tools, like a crowbar. Doesn't Desert Girl handle it well?

 Henry is four years old and usually sleeps outside. During warm weather he likes the padded lawn chair. During bad weather he's in his little doghouse. We figured he deserved a larger doghouse that included some nice padding.

 A pallet was the base, and Desert Boy eagerly hammered boards on top of it.

 If Desert Boy did it, Desert Girl had to also.

 Hard at work.

 We didn't quite have all the tools we needed so had to do a little improvising. Desert Boy was eager to help.

 Soon the doghouse was taking shape. Desert Boy decided that he should paint Henry some scenes inside the doghouse to make it more like home. We agreed, as it kept him quite happy.

 He did some cute paintings, but I didn't manage to take a photo of them before the insulation went on.

 This weekend it was time to finish the roof and paint the doghouse. The kids loved painting with real paint.

We are almost done, just another layer of paint, a little more work on the roof, and some decorations. Check back soon to see the final product.

And, by the way, Henry is using it. I think all the padding made it especially appealing. I understand where he's coming from, I like a comfy bed, too!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for so many things in our lives. It is nice that we have a day to reflect on those things (and check out Internet sales--oops, I wasn't supposed to admit that! My Internet shopping addiction continues...)

Fortunately we're going to get out of the house soon to go trot with the turkeys--or something like that. I have to admit, any time that I see wild turkeys, I have this strong urge to shoot one and eat it.  Fortunately I never see wild turkeys running around the grocery store, or I could get into some trouble!

Have a great day!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Howdy! I sure have gotten a little behind on blogging. My goal is to get in three posts a week, but it's been almost a week since I've last posted! I feel like the ancient bristlecone above--reaching out in lots of directions and without any extra energy. Winter is supposed to be the quiet time, right? I'm still waiting!

I have to admit, I haven't been blogging not because I've been away from the computer. I've been on the computer quite a bit. Writing, organizing photos for a photo book, and dare I say it, shopping. Yep, I'm addicted to Internet shopping. I keep telling myself that if I lived in the city, I would be spending more on impulse shopping. Of course, it's fairly easy to cover a lot of virtual world in a short amount of time! Needless to say, I think we might get our Christmas shopping done early this year. Sometime soon I will try to tear myself away from the deals and post more photos. But right now, I better go check for that next deal...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Moab Trip Day 3 - Slickrock Biking, Dinosaur Bones, and Rock Hounding

 On our final day in Moab we got up early and left the hotel. We had things we wanted to do. First on our list was to do some mountain bike riding on slickrock. I really wanted Desert Boy to try that out, as he loves bike riding and is surprisingly good at it. I did some research on the Internet before our trip to find out where to go. Despite the abundance of slickrock in the area, it turns out there's not much that's open to bikes and is relatively flat and close to a parking area. As Desert Boy's bike is rather basic (no gears, no hand brakes), we needed something that wasn't technical. Fortunately on one forum I found some advice to go to the cutoff of the Bar M trail and take it over towards the Circle O trail. We found the huge parking area (with just one other vehicle in it), and took off on the cutoff road.

 The cutoff road had some hills that really frustrated Desert Boy, and he was not happy walking his bike up them. But he loved the downhills. Before long we had met up with the Circle O trail and were riding on real slickrock!

 The views were awesome.
 The trail was marked with a brown line, and we were challenged to stay on it in order to protect the pockets of cryptobiotic soil (soil with microorganisms holding it together).

 The slickrock was a little difficult in places for Desert Boy, but it was relatively flat. Off in the distance we could see Arches National Park. We'll have to return again to go visit--we decided to skip it this time instead of doing a quick drive by. On our next trip it will probably be a main focus.

 Eventually the trail started descending faster, and we decided that would be a good turn-around point. It was such a nice ride, and my husband and I decided we need to figure out a way to go on a half day ride (sans kids).

With the bike ride over, we loaded up and headed to another nearby attraction: dinosaur bones!
 We took a slightly dubious road to Mill Canyon in the van, hoping we wouldn't get stuck in the deep sand. Fortunately we made it to the trailhead and started on the marked trail.

 A quick stop for a family photo! Everyone is starting to get the idea that if they smile the first time, I won't torture them with extra photos, and we can get it done right away.

 This trail was different than others I've been on--it showed distinct dinosaur bones in situ, but no big replicas anywhere. It made it feel like we were scientists making these big discoveries.

 Of course the signs helped quite a bit!

 The trail was gradual and good for our kids. We weren't totally alone--a family that had been at the race the day before was also there, and the kids had fun running along the trail together.

 I really liked the views.

 More dinosaur bones. Seeing them in the rock gave me a greater appreciation of how hard it could be to excavate them. It also gave me a much better idea of how to look for fossils. I probably wouldn't have known I was looking at dinosaur fossils without some guidance.

 Across the draw were some remnants of an old mining operation.

 Then we drove around the corner to half-way house, a rest stop for early travelers to and from Moab. While the kids dug in the sand, I went for a short bike ride to check out another area.

 It had nice slickrock, but also a lot of deep sand and steeper ascents, so I was really glad we had chosen the other spot for Desert Boy's first slickrock experience. Apparently Dead Horse State Park also has some good bike trails for kids. We'll have to try them out on another trip.

 Then it was time to get in the van and drive for hours. But I couldn't help myself and found directions in a book to a rock hounding place right off the interstate. In fact, the directions were to go half-mile past a sign and then go through the gate. That's right, just go through the gate on the side of the Interstate. No on/off ramp, just slow down, pull over, and get off. The directions were good, we found the gate.

We drove near the bluff and started looking for jasper, in particular for jasper geodes with calcite and celestite crystals.

 We weren't exactly sure what we were looking for, to tell you the truth, so we just picked up any rocks that caught our eye. We will take them to some geologist friends and find out what we got!

 It didn't matter too much what we were finding, because we were having a good time and the scenery was fabulous.

 The terrain was fun and slightly challenging, but not overwhelming.

 We could see the Interstate nearby, and the San Rafael Swell extended in both directions. We saw quite a few roads and decided we would have to go back and do some more exploring in this area.

 Then it was time to get back on the Interstate--go through the gate, check for traffic, and merge!

 We had another stop when my husband found a cattle exclosure. He loves to check them out and see the differences between grazed and ungrazed land.

 Desert Girl was a little cheeky.

 Can you see her attitude? Oh my, she gives us so many laughs!

She loves to explore and learn.

The rest of the trip was mostly driving, although the kids enjoyed half an hour at the playground while I went grocery shopping. They ran the whole time. 

We had an awesome three days. Now we're back to our regular routine, but just looking at these photos brings back good memories.
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