The Girl has been famously bad at following directions in a group setting.  This has significantly limited her participation in extracurricular activities.  We tried enrolling her in a dance class, and while all the other little girls obediently sashayed across the stage, she ran back and forth at top speed, cackling all the time.  The instructor sighed at her. We tried enrolling her in karate, and while all the other kids walked across the floor, practicing punches, she sat on the ground and cackled at Sensei. She took piano for a while and despite the teacher’s best attempts at various ways to get her to comply, it was all for naught.

So it was with some degree of surprise when, seemingly out of nowhere over last summer, she announced that she wanted to learn to play the violin. Eric rented a violin and found her an instructor, a 6′ 1′ tall Chinese woman named Hong who is a lovely person and a good instructor. At the first lesson, we told her that this would probably last a couple weeks and not to expect too much-we certainly didn’t. But the Girl has surprised us-she loves playing, usually is good about practicing and is dedicated to improving.  It’s been a few months now and I think it’s going to stick, at least for now.

Here she is at her first recital! A bit squeaky for sure, an extra few measures that don’t belong, but overall I think she did great!

Chatterboxes III

A few months ago the Boy had a sleepover at a friend’s house with 3 other boys.  His friend’s dad was telling spy stories, and one of them involved the army.

Other kid A: “What does the army do again?”

Other kid B: “They fight to defend our freedom!”

My Boy, upset: “NO! They do NOT fight to defend our freedom!! They fight for oil! and natural resources!! The ACLU fights to defend our freedom!!”

Seriously, readers, I am not making this up. Eric takes this as a liberal parenting victory.

Disclaimer: When I asked the boy about this the other day, he had no idea what the ACLU was, but stood by his prior remarks regarding the army. Still, the source was a reliable one and I’m sure it happened that one time.


Girl, having a fit about practicing her violin.

In fairness, this was really my fault-she was too tired and it was bound to happen. I send her up to her room to calm down and say that I’ll be up to talk to her in a bit. I go up a few minutes later, and find her on her bed, leafing through “The MIlestones Project,” a book that has pictures of kids all around the world going through the same milestones–first lost tooth, sibling, etc.

She is sniffling as she turns the pages, and then says in a low growl, “All of these kids…they have a better life than me! I have a HORRIBLE life!!!”

A bit dramatic, are we?


Boy, shaking his head: I’ve just had too much death lately.

Me: What?! What do you mean?! Who died?

Boy: Well, there was a big battle. First, thunderpaw died, and then ravencat, and then whiskerface.

Me: Are you … talking about Warriors?

Boy: Yeah.  Just too much death.

For the uninitiated, Warriors is a book series about a band of warrior cats.  Yes, warrior cats. It is interminably dense.


Girl: Mommy, you can’t go to work anymore!

Me: Why not?

Girl: Because I will miss your big, fat, belly too much!

We then got into a belly comparison of who had the fatter belly. I still won.


Girl, having a fit, having been told to go to her room, top of her lungs: OKAY! YOU ANNOYINGPANTS!

The next morning, Eric says: Girl, remember last night when you were having your fit and you called your mom “Annoyingpants”?

Girl: I called BOTH of you Annoyingpants!


One night we went to the Mercury Cafe-the Boy’s guitar teacher’s band was playing. We got there early and the boy asked if he could go outside and run around a bit, to which I replied that no, it’s night time in a bad neighborhood so he needed to stay inside.

Ten minutes later, the girl asks: Are there hyenas here?

Me: No…there’s no hyenas around here. Why do you ask?

Girl: Well, you said it was a dangerous neighborhood, so I thought there must be hyenas!

I just love that in her mind, there is nothing that could make a neighborhood dangerous except hyenas. Of course.


Me, to half naked girl: Girl, go upstairs and put a shirt on!

Girl: Okay!

She runs upstairs as fast as she can, then sprints downstairs. As soon as she hits the landing, she says: Fu-yoo! (her 2 syllable version of “phew!”) I made it!

Me: From what?

Girl: Oh, whenever I go upstairs to get something I pretend there are wolves there so I have to go fast and escape them.I escaped them this time!


And lastly, one morning the light was streaming through the blinds brightly, so I lowered them.

Girl: I HATE the sun!

Me: Oh, really? Well, then you must be a vampire.

Girl, dead serious, knitting her brow: You think I am a vampire? For real life? (side note: this is one of her favorite expressions these days, and I’ll be sad when she loses it. Instead of saying “for real,” she says this.)

Me: Yeah.  I mean, if you don’t like the sun then you must be a vampire.

Girl: Mom, I would NEVER suck your blood.

She then leans over, clamps her little mouth onto my forearm for a moment, and then releases me.

Girl: See? I can’t suck your blood. I am not a vampire.

I guess that proves it.  My daughter is NOT a vampire who has a horrible life and escapes wolves upstairs. My son has faced too much death lately and believes in the ACLU.


This summer we spent 5 days in Nebraska. I’ve apparently been in Nebraska before, as Eric insists that we drove through and even stayed in the state on our drive out from Michigan, but I have no memory of it.

One of our friends, Chris, grew up in Nebraska and his mother lives on 5 acres out somewhere in the middle. His family goes every year to visit and also for his boys to run around in the woods and creek and make things out of found objects, like time from summers past.  So different from city summers which are spent, for us, with pools and parks and the occasional camp.  We don’t have sheets of corrugated aluminum and bricks lying around our woodshed for kids to create forts out of.

So we piled into our minivan and headed East.  My two kids, his two kids, Eric, Chris, and myself.  Chris’ wife was off on a retreat and couldn’t join us. I’ve driven across areas of the Midwest before, once when crossing the continent to go from San Diego to Michigan, and once again when we drove from Michigan to Denver ten years ago. I’d just returned from a month in Ecuador and had missed the last 10 or so episodes of “24,” and a friend had taped them for me.  Every night when we decamped to a hotel, I’d pull out the VCR and watch a few episodes. I can get a little obsessed like that.

The most amazing thing about driving across the midwest to me has and still is the big sky. No buildings, no mountains, just sky as far as you can see in a 180 degree horizon. For miles and miles and miles. And grasses, and some trees, and then more of those.  I don’t know how the early pioneers didn’t get bored at some time.  Maybe that’s why so many of them stopped in Kansas or Nebraska when they headed out.  It was like, enough is enough.

big sky nebraska

big sky nebraska

We arrived in Franklin, Nebraska in the evening, and the kids immediatlely set out to finding random things in the yard and shed and began trying to make a tractor out of them.  At some point we heard a loud clanging and figured we should remove the large hammers from the play space, but otherwise let them play unhindered.

running girl

running girl

The next day we headed out to Red Cloud, Nebraska, to visit some of Chris’ other relatives.  His aunt used to be a teacher in a one-room school house and several years ago, her husband bought her an old one as a present and she had it refurbished and now gives tours.

one room schoolhouse

one room schoolhouse

Her first order of action was to gather all the kids around the flagpole and ask them, “Do you know the Pledge of Alllegiance?” in a tone that one would use to ask something like, “Do you know how to walk?”  All four children looked at her blankly. “Don’t you say it before class?” she tried again.  Crickets. Utterly horrified at the state of education these days, she instructed the kids to put their hands over their hearts (which also wasn’t really done that successfuly) and led them in the chant.



The siding is original and you can see the signatures and other writing on the  wall from times past.  I love seeing things like this when people try to say that kids used to be much better behaved-I mean, it’s just another version of graffiti, right?


Inside was the communal cups and washbasin (aka dysentery transmission module) and then the little classroom itself. It was remarkable to see something completely from another era and get a piece of life back then.

washbasin & cups for washing and drinking

washbasin & cups for washing and drinking

Are you ready to recite?

Are you ready to recite?

We then went to the town center of Red Cloud  and did a tour given by the Willa Cather historical society, as it was her home and many of the characters in her books were based on real people and houses.  In preparation for the trip I had just read “My Antonia” and it was unbelievable to see places and houses that she described in the book.

We visited the old bank

door handle of bank

door handle of bank

inspection notices from the safe

inspection notices from the safe

and then her home. Eric commented that it’s a weird sort of hagiography to preserve living residences for people like authors, instead of knowing them through their work. I disagree-I think that seeing where someone lived and understanding their enviroment gives you a different perspective on their works, and helps you to picture who they were, where they came from, and what was happening in the books.

The day before and after this we actually just spent wandering around creeks and railroads and campfires and getting good and muddy, at least for the kids.



backyard campfire

backyard campfire

Saturday we headed for Omaha, given that the real reason that Eric was even excited about this trip was to see the Flaming Lips in Omaha. Something I’ve been thinking about ever since this trip is the experience of being brown in rural America.  These were small, small towns we were in.  Everyone knows everyone and if aren’t from there, regardless of skin color, people stare at you, as even Eric can attest to.  Somehow, though, it felt different for me-more aggressive, unfriendly, and unwelcoming.  (This excludes, of course, all the people in Chris’ family who we met who were just lovely, wonderful people. I’m just talking about walking around.) In Denver, especially near where we live, I’m pretty used to going to restaurants and being the only non-white people there. Something I didn’t appreciate before this trip, though, is that Denver is cosmopolitan enough that I’m not unusual, or at least no one seems to stare at me. It was so uncomfortable in small town Nebraska to just be walking around. Maybe I’m making this up, but I don’t think so.

The other thing that struck me was the food. Whenever we ate at home the food was delicious-Chris’ mom is a wonderful cook and eats very healthy and largely vegetarian, which was great. Anytime we went out though, the options were entirely cheese/fried/meat. Even the salads all had meat or cheese dripping on top of them.  The healthiest place we could find to eat out was Subway. When we finally got near Omaha, we found a little Vietnamese place that was utterly delicious and fresh and wow! a green vegetable. How can people eat healthy if there isn’t any way to do so?

At any rate, I never thought I’d be saying this, but it was a relief to get to Omaha and not feel like we were in a small town anymore. There is a weird inclusivity in being ignored, or at least not feeling like you’re an exotic zoo creature. We stayed with Chris’ cousin, Travis and his family, who were all wonderful people. I hope we get to spend time with them all again!

That night we went to the Maha festival at the Askarben amphitheatre.  “What is ‘Askarben’?” asked Eric at one point.  It’s written on everything, much the way that everything here is named, “Mile High” something or other. Travis looked at us and said, “Well, it’s ‘Nebraska’ spelled backwards!” and then started laughing at the ridiculousness of it.  I mean, really? Let’s not make this a nationwide trend.

The festival was great! I’m usually not a music festival type of person, but this was awesome. It’s not commercial at all, it’s entirely run by volunteers, they had tons of community involvement and other tents and such with displays. First up was Bob Mould, who Eric was excited to see as he knew Husker Dü, who I don’t know at all. Then he started playing all these songs I knew by Sugar! Took me back to the early 90s and listening to “Helpless” over and over again in my dorm room my freshman year at college. Then came Matt and Kim who played very little actual music but were so entertaining and fun that I was smiling the entire time.


matt & kim

Last, but most for Eric, was the Flaming Lips, who did their usual megalomaniac Flaming Lips show. Eric insists that plebians like myself “Just don’t get them,” and dear readers, I have to say that I’m fine with that. Just fine.

lips, doing their lippy thing

lips, doing their lippy thing

The next day was a long 7 hours home, listening to books in the car, playing games, giving into ipads, and finally getting back to Denver, where we were all happy to be home.

Camp & Stitches

(This trip actually happened the last week of June…)

The title of this post sounds like a hipster housewares store in Brooklyn. Anyway.

This summer we went up to the Estes Park YMCA for a week and stayed in one of their cabins.  If you live in Colorado (or even if you don’t) it’s a great place to stay for a visit. We’ve never stayed in the lodges, the reviews aren’t so great on those, but the cabins are simple and spartan and just great for a little time away without feeling like you’re really roughing it. Every time we drive in and pass the yurts  and tepees Eric says something like, “Wouldn’t it be so great to stay in those one time?” Personally, I prefer to be closer to warm running water and doors between me and the bears.  (Side note-according to the rangers, there are only about 35 bears in all of RMNP! They say that they have names for them all and know their behavior.)

The first night we camped so it’d be easier to get the kids to their daycamp in the morning.

snacking by the fire

snacking by the fire

It was so pretty I thought we could get a nice picture of us and the girl.


so much for that

And look! Eric singlehandedly increased the bear population to 36!

The kids were in camp all week, which left Eric and I time to do fun grownup things like hiking, and road biking, and mountain biking, and drinking beer at lunchtime.


So many beautiful wildflowers (and some invasives) along the path






Wednesday evening, I was sitting outside the cabin reading a book and had just gone in to start dinner when I heard the girl yell “Brother hurt himself!” I went outside and found the boy at the bottom of a tree, with blood streaming down his shirt and face.  He was screaming, too, which immediately calmed me down.  My general feeling is if my kids are screaming in pain, well, they’re not a) dead or b)unconscious, so whatever it is is probably fixable.  He was able to get up and walk over to the cabin (ruled out broken legs, arms, good).  His chin was split open and he was complaining of not being able to open his jaw. A branch had broken in a tree he’d been climbing and he’d tumbled 7 feet or so to the ground.

As a medical person, it’s surreal when it’s your own kids or family that gets hurt.  I mean, you’re supposed to know what the right thing to do is, but it’s impossible to really be objective.  Most medical people I know downplay any injury their kid has-I’ve known parents that thought their kid was fine when they had a broken nose, or even a broken arm or something.  Part of it is that so many parents freak out when their kid has something minor that you get somewhat immune to it.  So he’s screaming, I murmur something about maybe needing stitches, which only made him scream louder ” NO STITCHES!! NO STITCHES!! CALL 911!! CALL 911!!”  Eric stared at me and said, “You’re the doctor! What do we do?”

I hesitated to have us take him to the ER, but what turned my mind was that he’d fallen into dirt and the wound needed to be cleaned. In hindsight, this was completely idiotic and he clearly needed care, but that’s what did it at the time.  On the way over he kept screaming and whimpering. The folks at the Estes Park Med Center were just wonderful-they got us in quickly and most gratefully, gave the boy some Versed.  This was fun as he kept asking what was wrong with his chin every 5 minutes. Because he couldn’t open his jaw, they did a CT of his face and found that he had a nondisplaced jaw  fracture. He ended up with eight stitches in his chin and a liquid diet.

Eight stitches!

Eight stitches!

The next morning, we bought a bunch of smoothies for him, gave him a couple ibuprofen and sent him back to day camp. I mean, he was walking around, clearly not feeling bad, and Eric and I had massages scheduled for our anniversary. The best part of this story is I ran his case by a maxillofacial surgeon at work who casually said something like, “Well, he’s 7 so it’s fine for now, but it could have damaged the growth plate. So when he starts going through puberty, watch and see if his face starts growing asymmetrically and then he might need a corrective procedure.” Fantastic.  So I’m going to start staring at his face obsessively when he turns about 11 or so and won’t stop for the next 10 years.

The last day we all went for a short hike before packing up and heading home.


 The boy’s chin has healed up fine, as has his jaw after a few weeks of soft food.  One of saddest things was watching him use his lower teeth to scrape a carrot to eat, saying, “I just miss carrots so much.”

Overall, a great trip that I think we’ll do every year as far as we’re able! Without the ER trip this time, I hope.

More Chatter

Another installment in “Tales…from Parenting….” (cue spooky music)

We were driving and the girl started to have a nosebleed.  This is not an uncommon occurence here as it is so unbelievably dry. The kids are both pretty used to it and she exclaimed “Mommy! I have a bloody nose!” I looked in the rearview mirror and indeed, there was blood dripping out of her nose.  I looked in the center console of the car for a tissue or napkin or fabric anything and couldn’t find anything.  Anything, that is…except a tampon.  Aaaaaand, yeah, I did.  It was one of those ones without an applicator.  I unwrapped the plastic covering and handed to her, telling her to stick that in her nose but not push too far. Given that it’s meant to soak up blood, the device worked quite well and the bleeding soon stopped. (Medical aside–this is really not all that different from the actual medical device used to stop serious nosebleeds, but those are generally a bit smaller. And come with more appropriate names like, “Rhino Rocket.”) Of course, the boy asked me what that thing was, and so I told him as simply as possible. “Oh, okay,” he said.  And the day proceeded.

Later, the same day…we’ve been listening to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy audiobooks while we drive.  We’ve listened to “The Hobbit” (11 hours) and “The Fellowship of the Ring” (19 hours) and are now on “The Two Towers.”  (about 8 hours in)  The boy loves the stories (as do I, a longtime fan) and I’d always thought that the girl did too, though I’ve always thought her comprehension of the books was around fifty percent or so of what was actually happening. The other day we were heading home from the Art Museum and I started to put on the audiobook. I was really looking forward to it as we had just finished the Battle of Helm’s Deep and I wanted to hear what was going to happen next.  As the narrator started to speak, the girl exclaimed, “Not Lord of the Rings AGAIN!!!” I said, “Girl, I thought you liked listening to these books!” She replied, “Not anymore! They are boring, boring, boring!! All they do is walk and walk and then fight a battle and then walk some more!!” I burst out laughing-even I have to admit that that is the most succinct and accurate book review of the entire series that I’ve heard yet. (We still kept listening to the book anyway, despite the howling protests.)

We were in the pool and I was playing with the girl.  We started to sing “Ring Around the Rosy” and spin around.  “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy, ” I sang, “Ashes, Ash—” “NOOO! YOU CAN’T SING THAT PART!” The girl interrupted. “Um, why not?” I asked.  “Because,” she replied, matter-of-factly, “the Wanderers will come.  And they will kill us.” Now I was slightly terrified, in a children-of-the-corn sort of way, so I modified the song.  Now we sing “ring around the pool,” and instead of ashes it’s “elephants, elephants, we all fall down,” thus confunding the Wanderers away from our souls.

and lastly, just to throw a picture in there…

Beware the toothless vampire!!

Beware the toothless vampire!!

Snow Mountain Ranch

What a fabulous Memorial Day weekend we had.  My high school friend Geoff and his lovely wife Karen and their twins came out to visit and we went up to Snow Mountain Ranch for the weekend.

I love that place-if you live in Colorado and haven’t been, you are missing out.  Here’s the view from our cabin:


ah, mountains!

Not too shabby, eh?

Later that afternoon some of us went for a hike.  There’s been a lot of snow and a lot of snowmelt so it was a bit muddy, and someone slipped and got a muddy butt, which didn’t bother our intrepid explorer one bit.


just keep hiking, just keep hiking


what’s in the water?

The next day we rented mountain bikes and tagalongs and went for a ride!



badass mountain biker


actually having fun


mountain biking with a trailer, not for the faint of heart

It just couldn’t have been better. Nights were filled with good food, good drink, and a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. I wish I could post some of the funnier game responses, but then this wouldn’t be a family blog, now, would it? The other thing that was great was that all the kids were old enough to explore on their own.  There were many hours where they would simply head off into the woods next to the cabin and create their own secret games and just play while the adults would relax in the cabin. If it sounds too idyllic to be true, well, I can’t help that.

The next morning we went for one last hike


The whole crew


Walking stick in hand


Hiking children


Running to catch up


Careful apple slicing

And then the trail got super super muddy (as the girl would say) and some of the hikers took off their shoes to squelch through the mud.  One of the hikers simply squelched through with her shoes on.  I’ll let you guess which one that is.


muddy paws


barefoot snow survival

When the trail got snowy, the barefoot hiking came to a quick end and we headed back.  By this time I had started to recite the poem, “Mud, Mud, glorius mud! Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood! So follow me, follow me, down to the hollow, where we will wallow in glorious mud!” which is from a children’s book of poems we have at home.

The girl, of course, began to sing this over and over again and then began to take it quite literally.


mud bath

Sadly, vacation was over after this.  Our friends had to head south and I had to head back to work a night shift at the hospital, which was even less fun than usual given what I’d just been doing.

I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again–there is something that is so wonderful about seeing your kids become friends with your old friends’ kids. It makes me feel hopeful and gives me a sense of generations and seeing the future being created now, and it’s good.

Chatterboxes, next up

Another installment in the “kids say the darndest things” episodes of this blog.

So, the boy has a best friend at school, who I’ll call Jake.  I tried writing this with just the kid’s first initial but it ended up sounding vulgar, you figure out which letter it is. One day Jake’s mother tells me that Jake told her that when he grew up, he was going to marry my son and they were going to “live in a house, shaped like a cake, surrounded by a lot of mist.” That in itself was adorable, and then a few days later when I was talking with the boy, I said, “So, I hear that you and Jake are going to live together in a house shaped like a cake, surrounded by mist.” And he replied, with a sigh, “We just love mist so much.”

Recently I posted on Facebook that I’m teaching the girl that leggings are not pants, which was tested not long after. One morning, after getting dressed, she came to brush her teeth.  I noticed that she was wearing a tshirt with leggings only. “Girl, you’ll have to put a skirt on.  You’re only wearing leggings.”  She got very, very serious, and said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.” She sat down on the bathroom stool and had me sit down on the edge of the bathtub to make her point. “I’m a kid,” she continued, looking me straight in the eye, “And kids wear leggings as pants.” I raised my eyebrows and replied, “Not in this house they don’t!” and went off to find her a pair of actual pants. The boy, later hearing me tell this story to Eric, said offhandedly “That’s spooky.” “Huh?” I said, not really understanding, “what’s spooky about that?” “Well, it just means that she’s growing up,” he said sagely.

We were out of coffee one morning (quel horreur!) and I took the boy with me to walk to the corner coffeeshop to get some. As we walked, he looked up at me and asked, “Mom, can I ask you something?” “Sure,” I said.  “Well, who are robbers, usually? Are they people like us, are they homeless people, or are they really really rich people?”  (?!)

And finally, one day after a rather tough afternoon for the girl, and then a tough dinner where we were kind of yelling at her for misbehaving, she just lost it.  She burst into tears and sobbed out, “I’m just a little, little girl, and my life is SO HARD!!’

Alpaca Poop

Catching up on blogging with some rapid sequence posting! It’s gardening season again! Last year I mentioned that I obtained alpaca poop from a cardiologist colleague who also happens to own and live on an alpaca farm. He is just one of the nicest people I know, to boot. This year I went back for more and brought the kids with me. IMG_1911 Just look at that face! On the farm they have alpaca, llama, and paco-vicuña, all used for their wool. They sell the fibers out of the farm and at various fiber festivals across the country.  Paco-vicuña in particular creates a lusciously soft fiber. The kids had fun getting to know the animals IMG_1917 Well, the girl did.  The boy, hilariously, was TERRIFIED of the curious but skittish creatures.  IMG_1910 That didn’t stop him from standing on the sidelines, shouting out instructions to the other kids and telling them the right way to interact with the animals, even though he rarely got within spitting distance of one again. IMG_1955 There’s the girl, helping to shovel some of the steaming pile of…poop. And once we got home, more shoveling. Thankfully I had some dedicated helpers. IMG_1963 IMG_1966 Pictured with the boy is one of his neighbor friends from down the street. He and his brother always run up and help us whenever there’s any gardening to be done, and are actually very good and helpful! Given that this post is a month old, most of the garden is done and planted at this point-will take pictures of that when it’s had a chance to grow a bit. Differences from last year so far–I’m not bothering with corn or any bell peppers.  I like the look of corn but it had too many creatures last year and not enough yield.  As for the bell peppers, I can’t get them to grow even remotely well.  I’m doing more beans this year and hoping to have some dried ones for winter, and I’m trying brussels sprouts for the first time. The boy also said he wanted his own plot so I’ve given him one of the boxes by the street-he thus far chose a broccoli plant, a green zebra tomato, a brussels sprout, and some flowers.  He’s responsible for the weeding and learning about the care of the plants, which will be a great summer project for him, I think.

Grand Lake vacation

Since this seems to be blog catch up day, I’m going to post about our summer vacation about a month later.

In August, we all found ourselves with a long weekend off and thought, let’s get out of here! Now, others might just take off and find a campground.  I prefer to come home to a stove and a hot shower and something between me and the bears besides a sheet of nylon. All the cabins I looked for were booked, but I was able to find a VRBO condo in Grand Lake that looked nice.

We had such a great time.  The first day we drove up leisurely, stopping on the way in Granby, maybe? I can’t remember–one of those tiny mountain towns. There was a great road side stop with a playground and a kids’ fishing lake. We stopped for a break and a little fishing. Did we catch anything? Uh, no.

The condo was nice and backed up to a nice open space where the kids could run around and be free. We went to check out Grand Lake and later that evening we walked across the road where there was a lake and tried again for fish, and again didn’t catch anything.

The next day we went back to Grand Lake and  rented a family kayak from these guys:  I was a little worried about how the girl would do with this, but it was fantastic! We were one of the first few people out on the lake, before all the annoying motorboats, so we had a peaceful kayak around the lake.  The highlight was seeing an osprey nest up close, and then seeing one fish and grab one out of the water!

After that we just hung out on the “beach” for a while, which was just fine with the girl.

Later that day we went for a short hike and more fishing.  It was so, so beautiful at this little lake.  I never tired of seeing the osprey flying overhead and skimming the water, hunting for fish.

I even tried my hand at fishing.

Again, we didn’t catch anything, but had a great time all the same.

Our last day, we took the long way back home and drove through Rocky Mountain National Park. We happened upon a ranger guided hike for kids! We had to wade through some tall tall grass, and at the end he had the kids draw pictures of animals that had adapted to their environment.

Then it was time to head home, but not before one last stop for fishing.

And…HE CAUGHT SOMETHING. A FISH. A real live floppy fish was on the end of the line.  We were so surprised we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves! While reeling the little guy in (it was maybe 6 or 8 inches long when we saw it) it wriggled its way off the hook and swam away. It was so exciting! I sort of get the whole fishing thing now, even if you do have to deal with a dead animal at the end of it all if you’re successful.

We loved it and will definitely head back.  It’s not that far away and one of the nice things is that all the out of state tourists go to one of the big mountain towns, so it’s largely Colorado families out there and it’s a nice low-key environment. Without any bears.

What the Hell do I do with all this Chard?

If you planted chard, chances are pretty good that you’re asking yourself this question.  There is only so much chard risotto and sauteed chard one can possibly stomach, and that tends to be the end of my repertoire of chard recipes, until this summer when I saw my friend Rebecca make some crispy kale chips that we gobbled up before dinner was even done.  Since kale and chard are often interchangeable, I thought, why not try it with chard?

First of all, gather chard.  I’m getting about this much chard twice a WEEK.

Next, wash and dry the leaves thoroughly. A helper makes this job much easier.

Next, remove the thick center ribs and then slice into one inch strips. I find that folding the leaves in half makes this much easier. You can save and sautee the stems for later, though I’m so sick of chard stems that I just put them into the compost.

Next, mix with olive oil, salt, and fresh pepper. Go easy on the olive oil. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 7-10 minutes. If they’re too thickly layered, you end up with steamed chard. When done, you want some of the edges to be dark brown and almost slightly burnt.

All of that chard? Roasted nicely down into a more manageable bowl of crispy tastiness. It’s like potato chips, but healthier.

Then gobble away!