Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blogging Rut.....

In case you couldn't tell by my lack of blogging posts the last year I'm in a blogging rut.....
I suppose I have plenty to write about being that I have three loud and busy kids at home and myself having spreading my eggs in lots of different baskets (church, painting parties, substitute teaching, library board, etc......that's an exhausting list.) But none of the things going on lately inspire a lengthy blog post, though I feel like I have enough stuff rattling around in my to keep me up at nights. Some of which......


  • We've lived in SW Kansas for 4 1/2 years now. The longest DR and I have lived in one place together our whole marriage. Honestly, I'm getting a bit antsy! We had a good wet summer this year in SW Kansas but I'm not sure if it was enough to start celebrating the end of a 5 year drought. It was odd though to drive down roads this summer and not recognize where I was because of all the green. Other than that life in SW Kansas is still pretty much the same; dry, windy and plenty of tumbleweeds.
  • Yip and Yap aren't playing football this year (4th grade). They lost every game last season and were pretty bored since they played on the line and barely touched the football. I love sports but I'm totally fine that they aren't playing football; it's made for a pretty relaxing fall so far! Our Saturdays are open and I'm not rushing them to practice once a week. They are looking more forward to playing basketball...me too!!! 
  • Yahoo is in Kindergarten this year and it's meant a big change for me. I'm home all by myself days I'm not working and she's suddenly has independence she didn't have before. Last week was the first time she went to the library program without me. I have to admit that it made me a bit uneasy. Not because I was worried about her but because, for the first time in ten years, I don't have the feeling that I have a child who can't be without me. It's odd. That's just something that takes a bit of time to get used to. I'm learning to like it!! 
  • Speaking of Library....I'm on our public library's board. I love my librarian (she's awesome) and other board members (so supportive) but working with other government entities (that will remain nameless) is exhausting. Sometimes I just can't figure out how people in leadership positions can be so stupid and irresponsible. *heavy sigh*
  • Substitute teaching is same old same old though I may be busier this year considering the new respiratory virus going around. The school sent home a note about it but really, it was hard to get too worried considering the beginning symptoms were the same as a common cold. So we stocked up on orange juice.....
  • Painting parties are keeping me busy too. I'm having so much fun doing them and now that school is back in session I'm averaging about one a week. I could write about them all the time but I'm sure you all would get bored hearing about them. The best part is painting parties gives me the opportunity to teach people who really want to learn!! 
  • I could say that I'm also busy cleaning my house while my kids are at school all day long but there's better things to do!!! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Painting with The Peanut Gallery, otherwise known as "My Family"

I know, I know....it's been forever since I've posted anything. 

I'm in a blogging rut....(I'll worry about that later..) 

Though a couple of weeks ago we had a GREAT family event!! My brother got married and our whole family came from Indiana for the wedding!! All my brothers and sisters, their kids and spouses, were in one picture! That happens only every 3 years or so...

( I LOVE this photo!) 


Most of us got together the week before the wedding and camped out at Lake Scott State Park. They have some really nice cabins. Not only did we camp out and climb hills and roasted marshmallows, we also had painting parties! We split up the guys and the girls because someone had to watch the kids while we painted! 


First two of my three sisters, my two sister in laws, mom, grandma and cousin painted outside in the campground shelter. It was great, despite the 95 degree heat and breeze. 
I've never had paint dry so quickly! 


Painting with these ladies was great! It was just as I expected it would be. They painted, asked questions, and came up with some really great ideas! 



Overall it was a great painting party! Very much like all my other painting parties. 
We painted a pasture with a barn, trees, a fence row and some flowers. 








But then the next day I painted the very same picture with the guys.....

...oh boy...

You know, sometimes when I host painting parties I tell folks that having a beer or a glass of wine before helps some people relax and paint. But I think my brothers took that advice just a bit too far. They came in pretty rowdy! (I had to have two beers right off to get through the night!!) 



Our family had rented two cabins for the week and we crowded the guys into one cabin for an evening of painting. 
My dad (on the left) and my three brothers...



...my two Okie cousins who had just arrived. We didn't even let them eat! 
(Thanks for being a good sport guys!) 


..and my brother in law. Yeah, he painted a fish...I ran out of big canvases!! 
All that was left was a little fish.....whoops. 
(Yep...that's my crazy husband in the background ....I'm not sure what that face is all about!) 



I've done about 40 painting parties and they've always been pretty relaxing for me! I've always enjoyed teaching people and coming up with new ideas for paintings. I love working with people and helping them solve their painting problems. 



But painting with my brothers was not relaxing. They sure know how to rattle my cage! 
My brothers were "The Peanut Gallery"!!  I chugged two beers just to deal with all the heckling!  
Though they were loud which was a lot of fun!! Sometimes painters can be a bit too quiet. 
But not my family of guys !! 


I guess maybe I deserved it though....
I'm the oldest...and I guess maybe  I was kind of bossy growing up. Especially to my brothers. 
Heck I'm at least ten years older than all of my brothers so they probably got tired of me (a second mom) a long time ago. 


Maybe they got it all out of their system though. I sure hope so.
I'm not sure if I ever want to paint with guys again if guys in general act anything like my brothers!! 



I was proud of everyone though! For as crazy of a week that we had with all wedding stuff I thought the painting parties went really well. My whole family did a great job painting! 



Normally I take a group photo of artists and their paintings but we were pretty tired by the time we were finished and didn't get around to it. 
I'm hoping they will all send me pics of themselves holding their paintings...
...HINT, HINT!!! 

...(9/22) and my mom just sent me a couple more pics!! 


My brothers Mater, Mountain Man, John Deere and my dad. 


And my mom and two sister in laws (sorry, no cool nicknames for you two...yet!) 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Salt Mine Museum

You know that expression that goes, "Make plans and God laughs."? 
Yeah, sometimes I think that's what I should name this blog. My plans have gone down the drain more times than they've gone as planned. 

Our family had actually planned on taking a vacation this week to Colorado but then two weeks ago we ended up taking a last minute trip back to Indiana. So there went our vacation money. While we were at home in Indiana we were able to do a little bit of fun stuff but our experience was overshadowed with trips to the hospital. (A close family member had us pretty worried for a while but everything turned out better than anticipated.) 

DR and I felt like we wanted to have one more summer fun day with the kids so we headed to Hutchinson, KS over the weekend to see Strataca; the underground salt museum. 


A fairly plain facade, as though it wants to go as unnoticed as the mine beneath it. 


When you get to the mine you have to buy tickets for a certain time. They only take 30 visitors down every 20-30 minutes. We arrived at 1:30 but didn't go down until 2:40 and this was on a Sunday afternoon too. 


Once it's your turn to go down everyone gets fitted with a hard hat and a self rescuer, a nifty 3 lb. device that is slung across our chest that, in case of fire and smoke, we would use these to breathe. Though we were reassured that in 70 years of bringing visitors down no one had ever needed to use them. 


We took a 90 second ride down in a hoist we arrived in the gallery, a huge room/tunnel with a few signs explaining that this salt mine is pure salt with very little other minerals found. 


This is an awfully big hunk of salt!!! I think it was 400 lbs...whoa! 
The Carrey salt mine is still active and is used as the rock salt that is put on icy roads. 



There are a lot of really neat artifacts on display throughout the museum. This is the machine that was used first in the process. This giant chainsaw would saw at ground level under a wall, then holes would be drilled in the wall, explosives inserted in the holes, then....BOOM!!....a pile of rock salt! 


Fresh air is pumped down the mine, of course, and since there are about 150 miles of tunnels there are places that don't need fresh air. Since the very early times miners have been blocking off some of those unused tunnels so as not to waste fresh air. In the distance you can see one such wall built of lumber. Some walls were also built by filling empty dynamite boxes with salt. 


Not only is the mine used to supply salt but some of the empty tunnels are used as storage. Every major Hollywood movie company has something stored in the Hutchinson Mine. There was this Dorothy from the movie Twister, Dean Cain's Superman suit, a uniform worn by Matt Damon from the movie Monument Men and more on display for visitors to see. 


The museum itself is self guided with a natural flow with a variety of artifacts on display as well as videos that explains the mining process. In this photo the family had taken a seat to watch how the salt was transported to the surface. 


You can't leave the mine without your own souvenier piece of rock salt (because THAT'S so hard to come by!) They have a huge pile for folks to rummage through. 


 

I have miners in the making!! Seriously, Yip is all ready to start training to be the powder man...yikes!!! 



A really neat museum that I highly recommend!! 



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Camping Solo (almost)

Wheat harvest started a few weeks ago which made me a harvest widow for a few weeks. Though there wasn't a huge wheat harvest (still in a drought despite June's rain) there was enough to keep DR working some late nights. Which meant it was a great time to take the kids camping!! (Since DR is not a fan of camping!) 


Everything went great if I do say so myself!! 

Hiking into the wild unknown....well, as unknown as you can get on a mile loop around the lake






Contemplating life's mysteries around the campfire.....really the only place for such heavy philosophical work 


Experiments in engineering.....


Gourmet dinners......

We did cut the trip short due to this sky rolling in. I'm not a fan of packing a wet tent. I've done that too many times! 

I'm already looking forward to our next trip!! It's looking like our July weather is going to make a cooldown next week so maybe then! 








Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Flash Floods are so much fun.

I know I've been absent this summer. Now that none of my kids take naps during the day anymore I don't find a whole lot of down time for blog writing as I used to. (I'm hoping that will change when school starts.) I found a few minutes tonight and thought I'd share some fun pics that are about a month old. 

During June SW Kansas had about 11 inches of rain which was delightful! One such storm brought 3 inches alone! And there is nothing quite as fun as playing in the flooded street after a storm...especially when you know all that glorious water will be gone by the next day. All that rain has literally transformed Kansas into a green carpet that, honestly, confuses me! I was driving down a back road just the other day that I barely recognized because it was so green!

Anyway, when it rains we take full advantage of the flash floods to play in the streets!! 















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