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Another Historical Look

Another Historical Look

In looking back for the old North Pole photos, I came across these vintage ones too, taken by my grandfather when he took my mom and the rest of the family to visit Yellowstone.  I thought they were fun to share, contrasted with some of our own shots from our visit to Yellowstone this summer.  (The pairs of photos aren’t all from exactly the same places, but you get the idea anyway.)  It is fun to think about what has changed, and even more than that-what has stayed the same.

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North Pole, Then and Now

North Pole, Then and Now

Several weeks ago we enjoyed a fun outing to the North Pole.  We were able to get together with some family we hadn’t seen in a long time, enjoy cousin time, and even finish our day with playtime and dinner at Uncle Matt and Aunt Kimi’s.  Here’s a little peek…

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And now, for those of you with a historical bent, here are some vintage photos showing not me, but my MOM at the North Pole!!  Wow!

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Nathan’s Chihuly

Nathan’s Chihuly

Here is a glimpse of what captured Nathan’s camera eye on one of our visits to the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  I think it is interesting to see what he chose, and I guess at some point we might need to give him the gift of a better resolution camera!

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Nature and Glass

Nature and Glass

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This summer and fall, Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting the Chihuly glass exhibit.  Having seen these amazing colorful blown-glass sculptures on a visit to St. Louis, we were excited to welcome them here to Denver.  Thanks to our gift membership we were able to visit on the very first day, and were far from disappointed.

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The striking colors, textures, and forms of this exhibit are some of the most compelling art I have experienced.  The glass looks so startling and so at home all at once.

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We have visited once more since that initial day, and look forward to going back as many times as we can to appreciate this unique expression of creativity and beauty.

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I will look forward to sharing more of Than’s photos in upcoming “Random Quotes” posts.

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To think what God can put in the minds and hearts of people, and what a dim reflection that is of his boundless imagination!

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Riding the Rails

Riding the Rails

Hot on the heels of the end of school, we headed out of town with Than’s parents for a very special getaway.  Since our train-loving boy is growing up fast, it was more than time to give him a good ride on a real steam train.

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Based on the recommendation of my train-loving grandfather, we drove south to Chama, New Mexico, for our ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

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We stayed at the Gandy Dance Inn Bed and Breakfast, just a block or two from the train depot, and could hear the train whistles loud and clear (to our great delight, of course.)  We also enjoyed splashing in the hot tub, eating delicious homemade breakfasts, getting to know the innkeeper, and seeing all the interesting collectibles and antiques.

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Our first full day in Chama was taken up by the main reason for our visit, the train ride.  We checked out the rail yards fully, boarded the train a little before 10:00, spent all morning travelling, ate lunch in Osier, 19 miles from the nearest paved road, and then traveled back to reach Chama again by 5:00.

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The trip was a wonderful experience.  Nathan was enthralled, loving to look out the window at every turn to get a glimpse of the engine.

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He also worked very hard to listen to the commentary provided by the friendly docents, picking up many facts about our trip and finding the answers needed to fill out his booklet and become a Junior Engineer.

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He proudly wore his Junior Engineer badge on the train ride back to Chama, and then kept it on for the rest of the vacation.  He practiced being the docent for the second half of the journey, repeating many of the things he learned as we traveled past various landmarks on the way back.

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Katya spent most of the time being Daddy’s companion, writing and drawing in her summer journal, and hanging out on the platforms at the end of the train cars.  We all spent some time in the open car, but she liked the ends of the cars better because she could see out!

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Both kids enjoyed the chance to go up in the engine at the end of our lunch break–so hot and noisy up there!

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Sooty but satisfied, we returned to our B&B for a much needed shower, then out for dinner and a walk through the quiet town of Chama.

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Our next day was filled with spontaneous adventures as Than played activities director, driving us around to all sorts of little-known nearby attractions.  We took a short hike to a nearby reservoir, threw tons of rocks into the water, collected interesting mineral samples, hiked up to the train trestle we traveled on the day before, saw a beautiful bird, visited 100+-year-old graves in the Chama cemetery, and generally experienced the northern New Mexico countryside.

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Although the train trip was the definite highlight, our final day was almost as good.  After checking out of the B&B, we “chased the train” all morning, driving along all sorts of interesting roads to see how many times we could park by the track and watch the train steam past.  It was a very simple but very exciting adventure, watching the beautiful historic train thunder past through gorgeous mountain scenery, accompanied by the excited waving of my kids.  The docent and several passengers on the train even started to recognize us and wave extra-hard every time we caught up with them.

 

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Finally loosing the train when it headed away from the road a little before lunch time, we traveled to the other end of the line, checked out the rail yards at Antonito, had some of the best Mexican food I have eaten in a long time, and then made the trek home.  I am so grateful for the rich blessings of time with family and precious memory-making experiences with my children.

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Katya Celebrates

Katya Celebrates

Here’s a peek at how Katya celebrated her birthday week…

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…trying out her new loft bed.  She was scared at first to be up so high, but it has quickly become a favorite place.  She also likes the new storage/play area underneath.  (Nathan got one for his birthday too, but since IKEA furniture can be a challenge to put together, we decided we’d better give it to him now since we would forget by June all of the assembly lessons we learned!!)

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…practicing the piano in two of her new princess crowns.

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…opening plenty of fun toys and treasures from loving family.

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…practicing her budding reading skills.

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…enjoying boxes and cards that arrived in the mail.

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…modelling new birthday clothes and accessories.  She changed clothes 3 or 4 times in one day!

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…testing out a new bike.  Daddy still runs with her–she can ride pretty well, but still hasn’t quite mastered the art of starting and stopping.

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…eating homemade pizza, berries, and red peppers for supper followed by singing and cake.  She asked for chocolate cake with strawberry filling and frosting.  The frosting was especially good–made with real strawberries!  (Here’s the link to the recipe I used.)

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I just love birthdays, and I think she enjoyed hers too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Litany of Thanksgiving, from the Book of Common Prayer

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea.  We thank you, Lord.

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For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ, we thank you, Lord.

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For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends, we thank you, Lord.

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For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, we thank you, Lord.

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For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play, we thank you, Lord.

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For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, we thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice, we thank you, Lord.

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For the communion of saints, in all times and places, we thank you, Lord.

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Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; 

To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

(Thanks to the What’s in the Bible blog for bringing this prayer to my attention.)

Final Idaho Post

Final Idaho Post

Just a few more pictures left from Idaho…

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My somewhat unsuccessful attempt at making Pinterest-recommended red white and blue 4th of July drinks.  (Tried to follow the instructions here, not sure why one worked great and most of the others didn’t do so well!)

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Nathan enjoyed celebrating his birthday one more time.

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Than even managed to get some photos of my parents with the kids on our last day there.  I am so grateful for a good visit, safe travels, fun activities, and especially the time with my family.  Until next year…

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Idaho Touring

Idaho Touring

A few “touristy” photos from our Idaho trip.

On the way out to our campsite, we drove through the Idaho National Laboratory site where my dad works.  We stopped at EBR-1, one of only 10 National Historic Landmarks in Idaho.

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EBR-1 was the experimental nuclear reactor that first produced electricity using atomic power, among other claims to fame.  (Check with my dad for the full rundown of how cool it truly is!)

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Although there is lots of interesting science to be learned, the favorite feature of the museum is all the buttons to push and knobs to turn, “operating” the now defunct reactor.  Just like I used to do, my kids jumped right in to some sort of pretend game that had nothing to do with nuclear power, and everything to do with fun! 

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On the way home from camping, we visited Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Another place I remember from my childhood, Craters features unique volcanic formations, mountains of lava rock, lava tube caves, and lots of other volcanic features that are visible in very few places in the world.

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Hiking up a mountain of cinder rock in the summer sun wasn’t tops on everyone’s list of best times ever, but we did it anyway and the view was certainly like nothing else we’ve ever seen.  It was fun to imagine what it would be like to see it as a Native American or a pioneer, coming across such a strange landscape without warning or previous knowledge.

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The kids’ favorite part was earning their junior ranger badges, thanks to a very impressive booklet with good activities for each of them to do.

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It may not sound like a tourist attraction to you, but Katya’s favorite feature of Idaho was the fact that they don’t have water restrictions, so she could use the hose!!

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Than and my dad even introduced her to the finer points of washing a car on the driveway, something she has never before done thanks to our life in the water-conserving metro area.  Work or fun, just depends on how you look at it!

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The Idaho Falls Greenbelt provides a pleasant walking path along the Snake River and past the huge waterfall for which the city is named.  There are lots of lovely gardens along the path, and fun public art in the form of benches made in all different shapes and styles by various artists.

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And of course, no visit to Idaho Falls would be complete without stopping as many times as possible at Reed’s Dairy.  The best Rocky Road ice cream in the whole world (or I suppose you could get other flavors too, if you really must :), delicious gourmet chocolate milk, generous kiddie cones for less than $2, and farm animals up close and personal.

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Idaho has a lot to offer, even if you don’t have a wonderful grandma and grandpa to make your visit completely perfect!

 

Family Pics 2

Family Pics 2

During VBS week, we also had the pleasure of a visit from my dad and my brother.  Uncle Nate had an architecture conference in Denver, and Grandpa tagged along for the ride.  We were happy to have them.  As an added bonus, we squeezed in a visit to the Botanic Gardens and Grandpa played photographer.  The results were much better than our last family photo attempt!

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Grandpa took some other good shots too, but I’ll feature those in some future Random Quotes posts.