Wife to my awesome husband and mom to our two little Texans; currently adapting to life on Fort Carson, Colorado after moving here from Dallas; blogger, writer; purse aficionado, foodie, and just a wee bit Type A
With the school year wrapping up, I decided F&B need a reading challenge, and I kind of need one too. So I proposed that we each pick a book each week that we are going to read before the next week starts. Granted, this doesn't preclude us reading more (and I kind of expect a lot more), but I thought it would be good to each pick at least one good, appropriately length book to finish each week.
Back in the fall, Faith's teacher sent out an email contest about an essay contest from the Daughters of the American Revolution organization. It was open to fifth through eighth graders, with one winner per grade. I suggested to Faith that she give it a try and she did. The main topic was Forgotten Patriots of the American Revolution and she wrote about James Armistead Lafayette. We sent it off, then kind of forgot about it.
In early January, the counselor at her school called me. He had received a call from the local chapter that Faith's essay had won for our area. Since the school awards ceremony was coming up, we kept it a secret from her for a few days, and her counselor presented her the award during the assembly. She received a certificate and a bronze medal. And we kind of forgot about it again.
Fast forward to the end of February and I get a phone call. Faith's essay won for the entire state of Colorado! This time, the husband and I took her out to dinner for a celebration pie (long story) and told her then. During the third quarter awards assembly at her school, the LtCol from the sponsoring battalion presented her with a battalion coin from him & the unit.
This past weekend, we were invited to Denver for Faith to receive her state award at the DAR conference. She was introduced to the whole luncheon and received another medal (silver this time) and the chance to compete for the southwest region!
Of course, our diva is thrilled and we are pretty impressed with her too. This makes her one of 50 fifth grade winners in the entire country!
Meet Ben Junior the betta fish, Spongebob the yellow snail and Gary the whitish snail.
They were a gift for Mr. Ben as a pet of his very own, including the cool pineapple house and light up bowl. Friends were PCSing and taking a fish is difficult, so they shared Ben Junior with us, and I bought him Spongebob and Gary to help clean the tank.
Ben is a very serious fish daddy. He cleaned off his dresser to make room, feeds them daily and seems to talk to them. :)
Garden of the Gods in the distance, photo from across the road
A few weeks ago, Faith and I headed to a Girl Scout sleepover up in Denver at the Wildlife Experience, which was really cool for the girls. Besides checking out all the wildlife exhibits and the Imax, the girls got to try a little indoor geocaching idea, to learn more about it. One of the docents offered to take our girls on their outdoor geocaching course and they all loved it!
It should not surprise anyone that Faith was up in the rocks asap.
Faith and I realized that we had a new family project on our hands. We dragged Ben out and found our first cache, right outside the main gates of Fort Carson, and exceedingly close to our house. He was hooked on the idea too, so we grabbed the husband and headed out to Garden of the Gods this past weekend for some geo & earth caching, as well as some beautiful scenic hiking with the puppy-dog.
Doesn't Dante look excited to join in?
Garden of the Gods is just under a half hour from our place on Fort Carson and it is dog-friendly, as is much of Colorado Springs. Since Dante loves to be with us, we harnessed him up and headed out. He was quite thrilled and we are now considering that he might be border collie-mountain goat as he was quite confident scaling the rocks.
My children exhibit such caution in life.
We attempted our geocaches at Garden of the Gods, only to discover, after two different "I swear we are in the right spot" coordinates, that the GoG caches are earthcaches. There's no hidden container, no book to sign, just coordinates and trivia questions. Once we figured that out, we logged the two we thought we found, then decided to hike for a bit.
Mr. Ben climbing high!
Scaling the big rocks is probably F&B's favorite part of Garden of the Gods, and likely Dante's least favorite. It's a little embarrassing to have a dog crying because he wants to climb rocks with the kids. However, we figured the kids wanted to climb, so while we were there, it was a good time to do so.
We do love the red rocks, the whole area is so pretty!
Finally, the kids decided they wanted to find real geocaches too, so we took a break and mapped out 3 nearby ones that were actual caches, then headed out. One was close to the Garden of the Gods' visitor center, another on a walking trail in a nearby subdivision, and the third in a walking trail behind an office park.
Faith found a cache!
All three were fun to find, but the kids loved how this one was hidden in an old fallen log. A second one was hanging in a pine tree, wrapped in a dark green tape so it resembled a pinecone bud until you looked closer. We logged those too, then decided that we are definitely going to do this again. There are tons of caches in COSprings, not to mention all along our typical travel routes!
With two kids, we love quick and easy meals and snacks, so we were quite excited to check out the Tyson Chicken Fries.
Since F&B were off school on Friday, I schlepped them off to Sam's with me to see the store display and samples and do a little other shopping. (For the record, no coffee creamer = emergency! We fixed that at Sam's too.)
This afternoon, in the process of attempting to get ready for the Girl Scout campout tonight, the perfect opportunity for a quick chicken snack appeared! Thankfully, I have a 10 year old and was able to put her to work helping me out. She was agreeable though, since she also wanted a snack.
Our thoughts? The chicken fries are yummy, I loved the taste and the shape was perfect for dipping. The kids had quite a few and even the puppy got a tiny sample (he's technically the third furry kid).
Even more fun, we were tasked with making a dipping sauce for chicken! Ours is a favorite anyhow, and really is a great dipping sauce for appetizers too--veggies, crackers, it even makes a great sandwich spread. And tomatoes & roasted red pepper together? YUM!
Since the chicken fries bake in about 12-15 minutes, at 400 degrees, we used the cooking time to make our dipping sauce, again, tasked to Miss Faith while I was working on other campout related items.
Tomato-Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce
1/2 block cream cheese, softened
3-4 roasted red pepper pieces
4 tbsp spaghetti sauce
2 tbsp mayo
In a mini food processor, place the red pepper pieces and the spaghetti sauce until the red pepper is mostly pureed.
Add the cream cheese, puree again.
Add the mayo, puree again.
Use a spatula to clean the sides, and stir the ingredients to ensure well blended.
Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers.
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This year, Miss Faith and I decided to help add some decorations to our Girl Scout cookie booths. We lucked out to get some great cookie booth times, both on post and off. The sweet managers at our local Safeways were extra kind and let the girls set up in the store on two very cold days.
The stop sign was easy to make, and required only minimal craft supplies--2 sheets of red card stock ($1 tops!), a 3/8" flat dowel from Michael's (about 79cents) and some white paint. Two of our neighbors were Faith's best customers, so we asked them if they would save us the boxes from the cookies.
I used a steak knife to very carefully slice through each box, one at a time, then wove each one onto the dowel. The last box, I didn't pierce completely so the dowel wouldn't slip through. I added hot glue between each box to hold them in place. I cut octagons from both piece of card stock, Faith painted the stop on one of them, then hot glued them to the dowel rod and sealed the edges. About 5 minutes of work and we had an adorable sign that everyone noticed!
Because we live near a military base, we also get many people who want to make a donation for cookies for the troops. Faith decided to make little bookmarks to help say thank you to them. We used lots of old cookie boxes and cut them into strips. (I used a scrapbooking paper cutter to streamline this.) At the top of each, we punched a hole and wove some ribbon into it to make a tassel, then Faith wrote on the back of them "Thank you for supporting Girl Scouts Troop #, Location". We also made a batch for our personal friends and family who bought from her. Total cost for these? $3 for the ribbon, and I already had the markers and tools to cut & hole punch them.