Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Camping Fun At the Dunes Part 4

I had to add this post about camping as my brother came up with this cool invention. He knew how the children liked using the zip-lines at camp so he rigged up this fun invention this year for us to use at the sand dunes.

He welded some pipe to fit into his trailer hitch. He bought the cable and rigged up everything he needed to on the top of his 4 wheel drive van so that he could drive up to the top of a dune and put his invention to the test. He had an anchor that he tried but it wouldn't hold in the dry sand so we drove my suburban up and they clamped a loop over my hitch pin so they could get a tight line.

For the handle, he used an old bike handle and added a wrist strap for safety. It took a few tries to get it right but after that, the line never stopped.

Even though the kids had to drag the zip-line back up the dunes for the next rider, they didn't seem to mind. If you look at my daughters smile at the bottom of her ride, you can see that it was a fun activity and that it was worth the work.

The cousins also played as they do burying people in the sand, jumping off the dunes and just having fun playing games. This is the first year I haven't done lunch at the dunes so I sat and quilted as I soaked up some sun. This was also the first year that none of my girls were buried in the sand. They did make a little sand castle as there was some moist sand at the bottom of a dune. Each year brings something fun and new. I just wanted to share my amazing brothers idea with you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Camping Fun Activites - Part 3 Traditions

I have written the last few days about camping. I will continue today as we have so many fun activities that we do when camping. We don't do them all each year but it seems like each year we come up with something new.

I will just highlight some of the fun things we have done while camping on this post. Of course jeeping, exploring coppe
r and other mine sites is always fun but we never allow anyone into the mines even though many are still open. One we rather enjoyed last year was rappelling off the bumpers of our cars. Of course, we have experts with us that have all the safe equipment. We have several cars and park one at the high end, one in the middle and one at the lower end of the drop so we can have those that are a bit more daring go off the higher drop offs.

Last year I found some colored sand and so we did sand art at camp. Each child made some artwork of their own and we had a great time. I made this masterpiece to show them how to do it. I bought some mustard and ketchup containers to make pouring the sand easier. I never looked into coloring my own sand but I bet you could find instructions online.

I think every member of my family owns some type of guns. One brother in the military has more interesting guns and all of my brothers and in-laws have hunted so they all own rifles. I have a shotgun and handguns but have never taken them camping. Three of my siblings brought guns this year and they shot skeet. Last year, my brother in the military helped me and my girls shoot several types of guns.

We go to sand dunes of several types, national monuments, lakes, fishing, hiking, bat caves, lizard hunting, sports, games, movies, ATVs, motorcycles, buggies, accidents and more.

Here is a photo of me at the bat caves last year. It is a huge cave but when the kids start running around the dust makes it hard to see as you can see in the above photo. We have never seen a bat in the cave but the ground is inches thick with fine dust so we know it has bats.

The memories of camping are for the most part wonderful. We enjoy sitting around the campfire hearing stories of my dad's life. So many times he has had crazy situations while camping or hiking. It amazes me that he has survived all these years. Just this week, he had my oldest in the 4 wheel and there was a huge crevice in the road in the center that he came upon and didn't see. It came down to the fact that his hitch caught on a rock and saved them as they were heading in and he had to use his winch to get them out. It traumatized my eldest Princess and she came in as I was typing this post to tell me that she thought grandpa was getting to be a scary driver and perhaps she shouldn't ride with him anymore. I laughed and showed her the post from a few days ago where I wrote about looking out the window and seeing nothing but the bottom of a canyon.

I am GRATEFUL for my dad who pushes the limits of his environment and creativity who makes our lives exciting and fun but has kept us safe as well. The memories have lasted my lifetime and now my children's as well.

Thanks Dad, Grandpa, we love you!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Camping Fun Activities - Part 2 Traditions

My Family, as I said in yesterday's post, has gone camping every Easter (as well as at least one other time a year) since I can remember and before. For the past 16 years at least, (no one could remember the first year) we have gone to the same spot for Easter since it is in a warmer part of the state in which most of them live. It is also secluded and in somewhat of a bowl so that the kids can't wander far.

We did have a few wander off one year in search of reindeer they wanted to find and ride. We still haven't figured out where that idea came from as there are not even deer in the area where we camp. Another year one sweetie walked down the road and found another camping group. We were headed off to call for help when one of our group found her.

However, that isn't what I wanted to post about. We have for years at this site put up a zip-line. I shouldn't say "we" as it is my dad that brings most of the items and my brothers and he put it up. I am amazed at the things my dad can create for fun. He really is creative. So, here are some photos of the zip-line and how they make it. Also included are some great photos of the kids going down the zip-line.

I have always taken a Little Tikes baby swing for those little one's we have always had. However, a few years ago, one of the inventive brothers hooked the swing up to the zip-line so that the younger children could enjoy the zip-line along with the older children. In all the years with the zip-line, we have had one child slip half way down but the fall from there isn't large and we have never had an injury. It keeps the kids going for hours and hours. We have had a rail some years but as the children get older, they seem to do better without one.

They also string up a long swing which makes fun for all. We used to have the baby swing on a lower branch but we had no babies this year. My youngest Princess asked when they were putting up the swing this year as she thought she had waited long enough on our first day. There probably isn't 5 minutes that go past while we are in camp that the swing is empty. There are laughs and giggles continually as they twist, spin, swing and play on the swing. I am amazed that there aren't fights over it as they all seem to take turns pushing, twisting and swinging. Here my sisters twins get pushed this year.

We do have an amazing family and I am GRATEFUL I now live close enough to enjoy their company and the fun we have together. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Camping and Egg Hunt - Part 1 Traditions

I have collected these photos over time as I come accross them while posting about other things. I didn't realize how many Easter traditions we had until I started posting these pictures. The top photo is from about six years ago. We used to be better at getting a group photo but I realized that we didn't get one this year.

Our family has gone camping over Easter since before I was born. My earliest Easter memories are camping with my fathers family. One year my little sister got stung by a scorpion. We got stuck and had to use the winch to pull us out all the time. I remember one time waking up in the back of our 4 wheel drive and everyone else was out of the car except my dad who was driving. I looked out of the window and all I could see was the bottom of a canyon. I guess they thought it was a dangerous ride so everyone got out but because I was sleeping, I was left alone in the back. We obviously survived the cliff side ride. This photo is from three years ago when my oldest had about 15 lizards on her head.

Each year for years I take hand crank ice cream makers and ice and we make ice cream at the sand dunes. Here we are last year. (see post "Crankin-for-ice-cream" here: years jeeping, I swore that the car was going to tip over as we jeeped, or slide off sideways down the mountain. We all would get a chance to drive. Many times I remember my dad or brothers getting out and placing rocks on the road and then guiding us up or down the rocky road with their hands telling me which way to turn the wheel to get the tires on the rocks just right.

It was a great confidence booster for us to be able to look back and see the path we had gone down knowing we had many people who helped us down the rocky road. That is why God put us in a family unit I believe. Family is there helping us down the rocky roads guiding us sometimes helpings us constantly and other times just going down the same path in different order. Sometimes we lead and other times we follow.

One of the scariest times I had was about 12 years ago when we were driving down a very dry road and I was following my brother and the dust was so bad that I couldn't see anything in front of me. Until.... I saw break lights and hit the brakes just in time to slide into the back of my brothers suburban. I was driving a jeep at the time which was no match for the large bumper and it ended up shoving my radiator into my engine. No one was seriously hurt as I am a seat belt fanatic but it did teach me a great lesson.

When we are following others blindly, we may come to harm. We need to keep our eyes open and not follow without question or we may end up not being able to move forward on our own. Just like in life, we need to lead at times and follow at others but always make sure when following, that you keep one eye on the person you are following and the other on the destination.

Here are some fun photos of traditions we have done for as long as I can remember. We had egg hunts when I was a child while camping. I started taking bigger prizes for them to pick from when they got an egg with a number on it, they could only take one numbered egg. This is the prize table from this year. They line up in the order of the numbers and get to pick a prize according to that number. We used to have lots of kids under 12 but this year we only had about 12 as you can see in this photo. Next year it will be under 10. So, until we are all grandparents, we will have to find more fun activities to keep the older kids entertained. We had a fun one this year I will post about later this week.

We have taken a generator and large projector and watched movies on a sheet on the side of the trailer but we found that we enjoyed activities that help us interact rather than something we can do at home where we have no contact with others.

Our family enjoyed getting away from the phones and hectic school and work schedules for a few days. However, with the better towers, we can actually get cell service at spots in camp if needed. It is a different world now. We had a wonderful time and I am GRATEFUL for my family.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Camping Kettle Corn over the Fire

So, I really have some fun things I want to post but after being sick last week (due to lack of sleep and sitting under WalMart's air conditioning for hours of scanning) and having been camping all weekend and the busy day we had Sunday, I am exhausted and will ask you to enjoy this post and know I will get to all the other fun things going on in our lives after getting some sleep.

We were camping this past Easter week and my younger brother pulls out a container of popcorn, sugar, butter and a wok. He asked if anyone wanted Kettle Corn.

I have never made Kettle Corn. I have eaten it at events before but had never tried to make it at home. I like my coconut oil popcorn so this one was new to me.

He pulled some hot coals from the fire and placed them on the side and made them flat. He placed 1/4 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels into the wok. He shook the pan gently over the coals and in about 2 minutes, the pan was popping away at an even pace. It was so interesting to me. I tried years ago to use "Jiffy Pop" over the fire but much of the popcorn burnt before the rest of the kernels popped and once it is open, you can't pop it anymore.

My brother suggested that you buy a used wok at a store or yard sale and keep it just for camping popcorn. I can see the wisdom in that as my guess is the bottom will bet rather black being used in the fire.

We pulled out a bowl and I got some cups out and we all enjoyed eating the popcorn around the fire. My nephew took over on the last of the three batches that we made and he didn't shake it as much and the sugar got a bit burnt so if you are making this at home or on the camp fire, I suggest that you keep it moving. I think I may try this at home with some cinnamon on it and use coconut oil rather than the butter to see if I can get it to taste like coconut popcorn as I like it that way.

I will let you know how it works out. I know they have several flavors for sale at events so I will need to find and try some recipes. I hope you all had a great Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Knitting or Crocheting Bag

Since we have been doing more crocheting and hat making over the last few months, I was trying to find bags for each of the girls to use to carry about their yarn and supplies. They had bags but they were open on the top and the skeins and rolls of yarn would fall out along with the crochet hook or hat looms.

I pondered on the subject and came up with an idea to put grommets into the top of the bags and threat the yarn through the hole in the grommet which would keep the yarn from getting tangled together and keep the project zipped inside for carrying. I went to the local thrift store and looked at the bags they had. It took me several times to find enough bags.

Once I had the bags, I used scissors to cut holes evenly in the top of the bags. I made five of these bags. Some were just one pocket large bags for afghans. Two were computer type bags with side pockets and water bottle slots on the side which I thought would be good for my two princesses on drill team to take when they have competitions and are sitting for much of the time or on the bus.

The bag I liked best for me is a leather look bag and looks more like a large purse. It is the top picture. It is perfect for the baby afghans and hat sets I have been making for the past 5 months or so. I like the pocket on the front because it is large enough for the baby hat loom.

Once the hole is cut in the top of the bag, you put the grommet in the hole through the bottom and the top rivet of the grommet on the top of the fabric over the bottom grommet. There is a tool used for this large of grommet. I found that the larger grommets are quite expensive. I checked hardware stores and found them in the craft store.

I like my bag so much that I thought about manufacturing them for others. I had people commenting when I would take it to work on during meetings about what a great idea it was. I looked online and couldn't find anything similar and they had nothing like them in the craft store.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. I am at a second hand store and I find almost the exact thing I was making but better all for $2. Of course I bought it. This bag has 6 slots for yarn, grommets in the top, the sides are mostly see through plastic so you can see the yarn color and how much you have left. The bag has Velcro on the top to catch the yarn and keep it in place. It has a zipper pocket on top and on the sides for hooks, needles or anything else you may need to store. It has a larger compartment on the other side for the actual craft you are working on.

I actually found another one of these the other day and gave it to my friend Julie who made all of us afghans for Christmas and taught us her quick afghan method using three types of yarn.

This week, WalMart was having some clearance baskets and I found some snap together grommets made of hard plastic that are for yard fabric. I think they would probably work as well. If you can't find grommets you like or find they are hard to use with the tool, you can try these plastic snap together types found in the "Garden Center."

These are nice gifts for those who do needle and yarn crafts. I like having several bags for different project sizes. Each of the girls has their own bag so I can tell at a glance who left their project out. :-) Since we spend lots of time driving in the car, this is a great gift to keep the projects organized. Try making one from an old bag you have laying around. If it doesn't work, you probably didn't lose anything. Happy crafting!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meet the President and Senator

This last week was busy as you can see from our most recent posts. My third Princess was elected as Student Body President. The school is a large school so that is a big accomplishment. She received lots of great congratulations from students and teachers alike.

The "Blue's Clues" skit was a hit and everyone that was in her "blue" group was actually voted in. That said much for the skit.

I was proud of Princess number three as she went up to her opponent and shook his hand and I was proud of him for pulling her into a hug. She suggested that he run for class officer and his mother said, "That is what I keep telling him." His mother also commented on the blue teams cute skit. So, there were no hard feelings between opponents which is good.

Princess number four ran for class office which actually, as a senator she will be working with the student body officers so she will work directly with her sister which will be fun for both.

We came up with fun posters for her campaign as well. She used a dance picture that had both Princess 3 and 4 on it and they were holding up "v" victory fingers. We found a "V" Vote using the fingers as the "V" and used that for the sign. Then we said, "Vote" for "our family" again! Princess number 3 then wrote, "I President ___ approve of this message!" and then we posted their picture together. It was funny and they got lots of comments on the posters.

They both handed out different types of suckers. We had a fun idea to use gems but the school has a rule of no stickers of any kind so we had to forgo that idea. The girls told me that candy is the "choice" of all the students so we went with the cheapest, easiest method. Since I get the suckers after holiday's on sale and we used posters from other things and the shirts were on sale, the whole cost for both campaigns was about $10. You really can't beat that.

It will be a busy but fun year next year. Not much different from this year!:-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

111, one one one, years of signs

For about 12 years now my sisters and I have noticed a weird thing in our lives. We won't have looked at the clock all day and then we do and it is 11:11 or 1:11. This happens very often when we are on the phone with each other. In fact, it happened today on the phone with my younger sister.

When I am playing a scoring game, I end up with 111 many times. When we are driving somewhere, we will pass signs or clocks and they will be 1:11. My sister was looking into investing in a company and they guy picked a number out of a hat and when he calculated it out, it was 11,111 shares. I had a similar situation when I was looking to invest.

This past week, two of my cars rolled over the odometer to 111,111 miles. I tried to take a picture of it but had to wait until we took our exit. My girls have seen this phenomenon in their lives as well. We all just laugh now when we see the numbers. I will be driving with no radio on and will reach down to turn it on after driving for some time and it will be 1:11.

When I am posting my blog or working on the computer, I can't tell you how many times I will finish and hit "publish post" and look at the clock and it is 11:11 or 1:11.

Over the years we have taken photos and sent them to eachother. I would post the picture of the other car odometer but my daughter has it on her camera and I forgot to take it off. I also searched but I have so many pictures on the computer and back up drives and couldn't find them as I don't label most individual pictures but store them by date.

I usually just take it as an angelic sign but I am sure there is someone out there who can explain this as I have met many people over the years who say they have this happen to them all the time as well. So, does anyone know enough about numerology to explain why this situation occurs so often in our lives? If you do, please post and share.

For now, I just take it as a sign that God is thinking of me and I should remember him. I think that because in the dream book I like, the number one states: "New beginnings, Oneness with God, Eternal." The number three, (three ones add up to three and it states that if there is more than one number, you add them all together and look at the total number) Three means: "Trinity, dream has a spiritual message. Mind-body-spirit unity."

I wrote this post last night and had it ready to go a day early because we are going camping for Easter. I opened my email today and this is what my step mother sent, she doesn't know about our seeing 111 all the time. This was her email to me less than 12 hours after posting this online for tomorrow. "Chinese numerology and Feng Shui for 2011 Check this out: This year we are going to experience four unusual dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11, and that's not all; Take the last two digits of the year you were born and the age you will be this year and the result will add up to 111 for everyone!!!! This is the year of MONEY.

Also, this year, October will have 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays & 5 Saturdays.This happens only once every 823 years. These particular years are known as Moneybag years."

So, if you happen to look at the clock or see 1:11 this week, take it as a sign that Heavenly Father is thinking of you or perhaps he has a message he is trying to get to you. Perhaps that he loves you! Wouldn't it be cool if this week you found money (Trust in him) and saw 1:11! I hope you do!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Have A Winner! Castle "Daze"

We were all happy to find out that the judges picked ten winners out of the over 100 castles made for castle days. Princess number five was a winner over all and then they had a few "class favorites chosen. The history teacher picked a few of her favorites that were historically accurate. I took photos of some of our favorites to share with you to give you an idea of what they had.

It was nice as they had students sign up in shifts for different activities and invited the whole family to come and have fun.

For the younger children they had face painting and crown making. They had large replica's of the type of carts used during that time. They had a stage and had students sign up to perform. We enjoyed singing while we viewed the castles.

They decorated the ceilings with "flags" or "Crests" made by the kids. All in all, they did a great job and by the looks of the castles, the kids really put some work into them.

I really think this would be a great Family reunion activity. Each "Family" unit could make their own "Crest" or flag for the reunion. They could make the castles while there. It would be great for "Knights of Freedom," Boy or Girl scouts, an activity day, primary children activity, achievement days, home school group activity, young men or woman activity or girls camp theme and activity or, just an activity for each member of your family. Having them dress up or make paper bag vests could be fun also.

I was happy taking this last photo of her with her winning prizes knowing I was through with this phase of life with her being the youngest and now able to focus on other things....

Like this weeks focus, elections campaigns, drill tryouts, Easter camping, service missions to Kenya and the like! Is your house as crazy as mine? Isn't it great!