Archive for February, 2008

The Art Project Challenge

Tamara challenged the crew to design and build something from scratch. Each was allowed to purchase what was needed from the local hardware mega-mart. The kids picked up almost everything they needed including dowel/closet rods, bejeweled drawer handles, nails, screws, concrete, buckets, roof exhaust flashing, washers, copper piping, electrical wire, clear tubbing, a pan, some artificial flowers, marbled beads, and smooth polished stones.

Wind chimes.

Flashing, flashy hat

[More to be added: Moses’ abacus and Charity’s stepping stone]

Update!  Moses’ design. Dad’s implementation!

Moses called it his “math thing”.  Yes!  An abacus it is.  Thanks Cyberchase.

2 Projects. One complete, and one not yet started.


Crew Trip #2 – Red River, Part III

This is the third of a multipart post.

Once officially in Red River, tensions cooled and playtime began. We were situated in a very nice location and wonderfully affordable. (Next time we venture thus, we’ll take lots of food and eat “at home”, at least at night.) Once set up sufficiently, we bundled up and headed out for some tubing. It was great and surprisingly Moses was fearless. “Spin me please” his little high-pitched voice gently commanded the college aged attendant at the top of the hill. The next few times he chose to go “straight, please”. We enjoyed a very nice meal across the street that evening and retired. The winds blew fierce all night and even caused brief power outages. But no harm, no foul.

On our first full day of Red River, we headed off to the Enchanted Forest for a snowshoeing adventure. We parked up top and walked down and up into the little community of homes. In the back, about 1/2 a mile from the road, and several hundred feet up, was our days destination. We entered a smallish home-office and called out over the walky-talky for help and another young man soon arrived on a snow mobile. Renting and strapping on our new shoes, we proceeded to shoe about. Good exercise, we stayed on our toes for an hour or so. No one wanted to fall, for that meant certain bone chilling powder flowing up your pant legs and down the nape. We ate a lunch of Raman (nice and warm) and headed back out for a longer hike. Venturing a few miles, we ended up back on the couches of the office, chatting nicely with one another and a few other visitors and locals – cc skiers mainly. A nice older lady packed us all into her 4×4 and took us back to our van. Turns out, her store was situated directly below our room! How God does work! We went to visit her and her husband later that day. After another nice meal across the other street, Tam and I dropped the kids at home with Disney, and sauntered in the frosty air for a bit.

Our last day in RR, we spent doing school, exploring the town, and throwing snowballs. This was actually my favorite day. For breakfast, we hung out at a cute little bakery and coffee spot, across the street. After retrieving our study material, Tab and I talked economics, Charity read, and mom and Judah did history and reading. The young lady served us coffee all morning. We left and found some ideal ice breaking locations (once again) near our abode. Hurling hard-packed snow at timidly and delicately formed ice…ahhhh, satisfying! We broke whole snowbanks free of their river view. Also, we strolled past much of the little town and eat lunch… yep, across the street. (All 4 meals were at different shops.) Then, mom went shopping. Judah and dad got some glasses, Tabitha a green knit hat, mom a RR tee shirt, and Moses and Charity plush animals. We tubed that evening again, and ate in the room. You know, I think my kids and my wife love the Disney channel.

Fortunately, the drive back was completely uneventful except for a few early outbursts as dad negotiated the 7:00 am snow. Downhill on packed snow…not too fun. Happily, no blizzards had visited us that night. The 15 hours didn’t fly by, but were enjoyable. What an extremely nice adventure.

The bridge and little area near our place.

Mom and Mo tubing

Judah tubing

A pair of beauties…with snowshoes

Deep powder

Up to our room

The pedestrian bridge

The non-pedestrian bridge.

No, she’s not thinking about hitting Charity here, just river ice.

See. I told you.

Tons of fun.

And icicles.

And some more.

And one more.


I think I go this way.

All the way up.

For all of our wonderful RR photos, go here.

I think there’s 1 more video of Mo tubing, here.

Crew Trip #2 – Red River, Part II

This is the second of a multipart post.

We departed Fort Sumner, NM after a cold continental breakfast with Super 8. Leaving early we planned to get to snow with as much daylight as possible. In the car dad took the responsibilities of primary teacher for the first time. Charity and Tabitha studied mostly on there own. Judah and I read aloud from his reading book, history books, and science. We hit Santa Rosa and eventually arrived in Las Vegas, NM.

There are fewer antithesis greater than Las Vegas, NV and NM: smallish, dirty, 70s-style, almost primitive, but thankfully very friendly and hospitable. We pulled into the first gas station to fill, bathroom, and ensure proper directions to Red River. But we didn’t pull out…under our own power. This time the starter was as dead as Billy the Kid. Some crying and much fretting ensued. The polite suggestion was made to check the store for help. I did remembering the kind female clerk that has steered me away from an expensive $6.95 map of NM when simple directions would suffice. She indicated a nice do-it-yourself gentleman in town often helped her, and said she’d call him for me to see what he could do. (And he drove a tow truck, too.) In about 8 minutes, Joe and his young hispanic helper had arrived. The conclusion: the starter is probably dead. I asked if he knew the whereabouts of a local shop. Joe said the Ford shop was just up the street about 1.5 miles. Then I asked for a tow. Generously and with cheer, he consented. To be fair, his vehicle was a former tow truck. Chained to the frame, we were pulled along. With Ronny Copeland training, I knew a light foot on the brake much of the way was needed to keep the link taunt. In a few minutes we arrived in the back lot of Ford. Shaking hands and profusely acknowledging their kindness, I thought of rendering payment, but had no cash whatsoever. (I will probably still do so if I can locate the local gas-station and clerk.)

Entering the dealership I was pointed to the “Repair” shop I’d just passed on the way in the back door. The desk-jockey of the shop completed his phone call and asked how he could help. I explained the task needed as he made notes. He said 30 minutes would pass before the van could be examined. (I noticed that didn’t mean repairs would ensue.) Then our larger family was pointed to the waiting area in the dealership. Amenities: TV, chairs, magazines, floor alphabet puzzle mostly very dirty from greasy clean-up hands. We waited anxiously and perhaps somewhat impatiently. Snow lay SO close! To the desk-jockey’s word, the van was magically pulled in (how did it start?) and I watched the examination. Again, the starter was diagnosed as ruined. “Good. At least we’re on the same page”, I thought. The van was pulled out. (This time the starter was hot wired.) Mr. Desk-Jockey explained kindly that a starter from Albuquerque would be there in the morning. It would only be $135. My quickly blood-drained brain froze. “Or, we could get one from Car Quest, but the price is about $255.” Still drained, I took the expedient option. $255 + labor + examine labor + yada-yada it would be. I sent Tam and the busy bunch to DQ. A good move really. Food usually helps the grumpies. The part showed up soon after they left on their walk down the street. With interest, I watched the part swap: new for old. Before lunch was done, we had a 100% starting vehicle. Again, I profusely thanked the quiet mechanic, Mr. Desk-Jockey specifically for his patience with me, et. al., and even the cashier for her initial directions back to “Repair”.

I picked up the crew at DQ down the street, checked directions in DQ (the teenage workers didn’t know the street running in front of their store was 518 to Mora, NM. Only a chat with the manager confirmed it. I guess there was a time that I didn’t know much about Memphis either.), and we were off again. 12:30. At Mora, we followed the Angel Fire sign down an obscure looking road. The mountains lay in the distance with snow atop. 3 snow plows passed us. A minivan with a foot of snow on the roof hurried past. Finally, we passed Guadalupita and ascended to the highest elevations. Frozen creeks, snow galore with laden trees, and wind-swept snow-covered valleys met us! With difficulty and caution we sauntered into Angel Fire. Again, store attendants pointed the way and we went. The road to Red River was even more icy and steep. Finally, the grace of Red River kissed us. Quaint, snow covered, cottages and store fronts. A virtual wonderland of cuteness! And our accommodations smack in the middle of the cozy community. <Sigh> We checked in.

Winter wonderland.

The wind was sweeping this day.

Up to our keesters!

Almost there.

Allllllllllmost there.

Now let’s get out!

First play.

One of our views.


Commence PLAY!

Crew Trip #2 – Red River, Part I

This is the first of a multipart post.

We left for Red River after class on Sunday morning. For the most part we drove from Austin to Abilene to Lubbock to Clovis, NM to Fort Sumner. The wind turbines were cool to see. Like the oil pumps that litter the landscape, they might start to be an eye sore until they eventually blend with the rest of the environment. The turbines became less fascinating in Lubbock when our van refused to start! After a few minutes of desperation, it once again decided to start. Directly to Advance Auto Parts, we tested the battery and alternator. Unfortunately (in a manner of speaking), both were deemed good by the good manager there. A nice chap, if not a bit talkative, reassured us our battery was good to go, but in passing mentioned to keep an eye on the starter. (Sound advice! I wish I had just thought to say, “Hey, do ya got one lying around here and could you give me a few pointers putting one on? (I had watched a friend replace our solonoid a few years before while in the driveway. How hard could a starter be?)) We continued on to Fort Sumner for the evening in that one hotel town, the renowned death place of not-so-old Billy the Kid. The “other” attraction was the Billy the Kid museum. Riiiiight. The van started fine and we drove on currently unawares of the trial that still lay before us.

On our way.

The wind turbines.

Still on our way.

Thanks for the check up!

Check back for more to come and the continuing saga.

Field Trip #14 – Home Ain’t What It Use To Be

In preparation for next week, mom decided that we’d better start next week’s lessons today! After a fun filled Christmas and New Years…

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