Category Archives: HS group

Weekend – Park hill tour, NBTS 15th anniversary party, 25th church anniversary


Friday we got home about 2pm, started laundry, then Grace and I went to see her friend who was in the hospital. Hospitals suck, so Grace wanted to go and hang out – I think she wanted the adults to leave the room (but we didn’t.) James made spaghetti for dinner, we watched some TV and went to bed.

Saturday James and I went to the library for a walking tour. The girls did not want to go walking, so they stayed home and hung out with friends. When we got to the library I had three different librarians (from three different Denver libraries) recognize me and they asked where the girls were. Yes, we go to a lot of library events. Our walking tour started at the Pauline Robinson library, she was Denver’s first black librarian, brought books from black authors into the library and was responsible for integrating Lakeside (amusement park.) Walking in this area you can see that it is starting to come back.

There was a strip mall fire that pretty much brought down the neighborhood that was already in decline (a food desert area.) So, when funds starting coming in from the city to add buildings and services, the community was asked what do you want? There is a new rec center, a boys and girls club, a new elementary school and a mental/physical health building that offers garden space (and farmers market), hydroponics (plants and fish), mental and physical health facilities, a pre-school and an alternative school for troubled kids.

I walked with a coordinator of the facility and told her that our HS group wanted to: tour the facility and host a Preschool Valentine party. I’m excited for both of those things. We continued up the street, walking in the road for the most part since this area was designed during the 40’s-50’s when Hollywood curbs were in and pedestrians were out.

This intersection in Park Hill was across from a park (which had a gazebo ordered from a Sears catalog, paid for and put together by local Girl scouts.)

The area had no access to grocery stores, markets, clothing stores, you name it. So a market district was introduced, some people thought this would be the end of Park Hill (1920’s), but obviously it was not. There is a book store co-op that was started by local Moms back in the 70’s at the end of the block that is still going strong. Here and there on the street and in alleys are guerilla art and gardens. Bringing a little plant life and a little quirkiness to the area.

There were also lots of ‘Little Libraries’ in the area, some were registered, some were not!

Hickenlooper lives around here, we saw his house, but I didn’t take a picture. We passed some old churches and one church that now houses two different congregations.

We finally made it to the Park Hill library and sat down for a bit, drank water and had snacks and listened to the story of the library. There were 9 Carnegie libraries in Denver (Byers, Decker, Park Hill, Woodbury, Smiley – still standing) and (Denver central – now the McNichols building, Warren- now lofts, Dickinson -now houses an architecture firm and Elyria – now a private residence.) Park Hill doesn’t look like a traditional Carnegie library, but it’s there under that awful stucco.

We passed by some of the Boulevards put in by Mayor Speer during the city beautiful movement. Some of the money that was used was questionable, but hey, we see wide lanes, lots of trees and green spaces, so now we don’t care. We continued our walk through the neighborhood and noticed missing streets. Our next fact was a math one, the streets were laid out in an oblong rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Some streets are numbered but have names (Montview), some streets are 23rd on one side and 24th on the other and some just disappear completely. Also the golf course at City park was once a field full of cows, there was a lot of dairy making going on in the area when it started. We got back to the Pauline Robinson library and thanked our guides and headed back home. We weren’t home long before it was time to go to the park for our HS groups NBTS party and 15th anniversary party.

We had food and more food, cakes and doughnuts, games, coloring, tattoos, a photo booth and glow sticks.

We met two new families and had fun catching up with everyone.

Trying to get all the kids in the picture was hard….

I had to save the table art in photos.

Sunday we went to church and Hannah got to try out the new middle school room she’s in, she liked it. We went back for a lunch at the church celebrating 25 years, 15 of those in this building and the previous years in an elementary school in the area. This church started out as Highlands Ranch Christian church, then a bit later became Mountainview Community Christian church. It was the first church in Highlands Ranch that was a new church, not a plant from another part of Denver or an arm of a church located elsewhere, just the first (non-catholic) church to build in the area. We’ve had some ups and downs as a church, a major pastor shift happened some years ago and some of the church split over that, but some of us stayed and continue to get fed (sometimes literally fed) and volunteer here.

We pretty much lazed away the rest of the day, making only one outing after dinner….

The week – school, worship dance, St. John’s music at noon, Kindness Krewe, park day, NIA, youth group, CRUSH fest, HS skate, TNO, youth fest outing, ukulele class….feels like I’m missing something….

Dinners – crockpot chicken enchilada casserole, Asian lettuce wraps, pan fried tilapia with tomatoes and feta, sesame beef with fried rice, chicken creole pasta.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves 
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger
1 dash Asian chile pepper sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and discard grease; transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef until slightly tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chile pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; cook and stir until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center.

Sesame Beef

1 pound round steak
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, and onions in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cut steak into strips and add to bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 30 minutes.
Cook in wok or frying pan until brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds and cook for additional 2 minutes.



Bowling, art, fused glass, garage sale, babysitting, dim sum


Thursday we went to Boondock’s with friends for their cheap day.

It’s way too easy to change your name while bowling, every few minutes they were changing their names on the board. They played some laser tag, we ate lunch, played some more games, then we went back home (we had a neighbor with us and she had to go do stuff for school.) I got some more books from the library, here’s my current reads.

Friday we had Creativity club and had 3 other families show up, so that was exciting. I was talking and working on this piece, so I didn’t finish it.

The girls were drawing, then helped their friend make garage sale signs for tomorrow. We drove to get the fused glass from the library and got sandwiches and bobas to take home for lunch. Here are the before and after with the full fuse ones (tacky fuse turns out pretty much like the original.)



I took Hannah to the dentist again to get a small cavity filled, then we went to Grease monkey to get the oil changed. Grease monkey did have solar eclipse glasses, but this location had been out for a few days and had signs on both doors stating this. This did not stop people from coming in and asking if they had any glasses, the lady pointed to the sign and said ‘No’. Every person that called was greeted with, ‘Hello, thank you for calling your Highlands Ranch Grease monkey, this is Barb, we don’t have any more solar eclipse glasses, how can I help you?’ Some people on the phone still asked – you don’t have even one? No, ‘we don’t have any more’ means not….even…one. We were going to make a pinhole camera (and we might still do that) for that day, but I might just go to the library eclipse party and not make anything (they are providing glasses.)  Grace went with her friend to LM’s for ice cream and a movie in the evening.

Saturday was a long day. We started at a fundraiser garage sale with friends. It’s not like we did much, Hannah played and I sat in a chair and said Hi to everyone. We chatted between customers and they made about $200, which isn’t bad considering the number of people who dropped in. This isn’t really a garage sale kind of area, I mean people do have sales, but it’s not like when I was a kid and people went garage saling every weekend. I got a call from another friend who desperately needed a babysitter, her family took in her sister’s kids and I don’t think you can count therapy as a date. Grace hasn’t done any babysitting in a while and the kids were older (and more likely to be sneaky) so Hannah and I came as back up. They watched TV, jumped on the trampoline, played with their toys, we had pizza for dinner, they watched Sing, played some more and then it was time for bed. They did try and get out of their bedtime routine, but by 8:45pm they were at least in their beds (if not asleep.) We were there for 9 hours, so we ended up napping on the couch before the family got home. Next time (as long as it doesn’t involve being there that late, then they would have had to drive Grace home too) I would let Grace and Hannah go it alone.

Sunday I went to church, Hannah slept in, Bethany worked and James took Grace to her friends church. When I got out we got Hannah and went to Dim sum. I swear I thought they opened at 11am on Sun, but we got there and there was a long line of people waiting and a full house inside (it was 10am for opening.) We waited about 45 min, which isn’t bad, but I was starving.

It’s funny, we eat Dim sum the same way every time, like we have to grab everything on the cart right now because the lady may never come back with dumplings or noodles. We had a small feast and probably ate too  much, but it was good. Back at home I made my shopping list, we did that, then came home and watched Dr. Blake. We had a guy come over to look at the tub, he’s going to re-grout it later this week (it had been leaking and through a number of plumbers we finally found out it’s not the pipes, the water is getting through cracks in the grout – a much cheaper thing than if it were pipes.) I made dinner and we ended the night with a Father Brown.

This week – park day, hike, TNO, Pueblo trip, Elitch, dinner with friends, Bishop castle outing and for the weekend, jazz on the green and church.

Dinners this week – garlic pork chops, TNO (TV dinners), pork stew, BBQ stuffed potatoes, salmon, fire roasted chicken, beans and sausage. (Those aren’t really recipe type dinners…so…..yeah…..there is no recipe to share.

Unpacking, laundry, Teen night


Wednesday all I did, all day long, was unpack, clean out the car and do laundry. I had to wash the sleeping bags and you can only fit one in at a time, so yeah, took all day. The girls had a friend sleepover so that took up their night. We saw what Joel has been up to recently, shooting things.

Thursday I ran errands, got more books from the library, took Hannah to get her hair cut and took the girls and their friend to the Teen carnival at the DMNS.

Pixie cut.

The girls had fun at the event, but we had to leave at 9 (instead of 10) to get Bethany back home so she could sleep (work at 5am.)

Tomorrow it’s Platte swimming, dentist appointment making, co-op thinking and a busy weekend of my birthday present (yes, it was back in March) of Gaffigan and Koelbel-con on Sunday.

Co-op, Park day, hike {St. vrain}


My diatom co-op was today, I don’t know why I thought we’d be able to see any diatoms with the microscope I brought, they are really, really tiny and as seen in the pics below, you need a SEM to see them.

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They are a form of algae, unicellular, they have shells made from silicon dioxide, they have bi-valve shells like clams, they can be found in the arctic, the ocean, ponds, creeks….they have chloroplasts and can photosynthesize, but they don’t use it to produce sugar, they use it to produce oil for their food. I think the most interesting thing about them (other than the beautiful 3-d shapes) is that when they reproduce they split in half, then those halves split in half until they come to the point that they are too small to split in half – then they make eggs and sperm and create a new baby diatom! Cool handout and craft to make about them here.

We spent most of park day in the water catching damselflies, crawfish and minnows. Here’s a pic another mom took while we were in the creek, weird to see yourself from above.

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The ice cream socal got rescheduled due to rain….

Thursday the girls and I went up to Ward to hike the St. Vrain/Sourdough trail. Lots of flowers on the hike, a nice creek to listen to and downhill on the way back down (which means it was mostly uphill on the front end.)

After the hike, it was back to Nederland for lunch, a carousel ride and candy.

Then back home to pick up Bethany and head over to NREL for the 40th BBQ party.

This week so far


I picked up Maisy from the vet this morning, which threw off my whole day. I missed NIA, but made it to coffee with the NIA ladies at Panera (where I got to vent about how much money the dog cost us and about how they didn’t call me on Sunday to tell me that one more night would be $400 more on Monday…) Maisy looks pathetic with the cone of shame on, she only has to wear it when crated, otherwise we can watch her to make sure she’s not picking at her stitches.

We had to stay home to let Maisy out now and then. I did take Hannah to the pond so she could try to catch a fish, but no dice. I said I’d take her in the morning because they seem to jump around more when it’s cooler. I didn’t plan to buy any food this week since we leave on Sunday, so we’re using up what we have for dinners this week – Navy beans and sausage, teriyaki pork roast, yogurt-curry chicken with lentils, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, buddha bowls with random stuff I find in the pantry, leftovers, Sun – dinner on the flight to Paris. It’s also a lazy week because of Maisy. In the afternoon I took the girls to Krispy Kreme to get their free doughnuts for A’s, yummy.

Tuesday morning I took Hannah to the pond again, but I swear the fish knew she had a net, so they stayed in the middle. Next time she wants to bring some bread to tempt them closer to shore. Maisy was a bit perkier today and ate a bit more.

I was checking on camping spots for our road trip, trying to figure out of it’s better to go toward Reno or go down to the corner of Utah and then end up in the middle-ish of CA. I think, after much debating and going back and forth, we’ll be going across UT and NV and taking the same way back (but stopping in different places to camp.) Free camping takes a lot of planning and the spot I want to San Francisco takes reservations exactly 30 days out, which I can’t make since we’ll be somewhere in the Med that day, so I’m leaving it for a friend to do. We went to the library for Creativity club and one other family joined us there, it was a nice break from planning. I was in a doodle-y mood, Grace colored and drew and Hannah was looking at something on her phone.

Back at home I finished up a couple of books, I have a few more to finish before the trip and then I think I’m going to check out some new ones on my Nook to save room in my luggage.

Today is park day and we’re headed to Aurora for a city park day. It should be fun, there will be water play, a bounce house, snacks and crafts. Tomorrow we were all hiking, but Bethany has to work and we can’t leave Maisy in the crate for too long, so we’re just going to go on a shorter, closer hike. Friday and Saturday it’s cleaning, laundry, picking up things at the store and packing time – then it’s off to the airport early Sunday morning.

Creativity club, JAC and co-ops


I made CC early, 10, that was pretty early for the girls to get out.

After lunch we went to the Jr. American Citizen meeting. Alex was leading, Gwen did crafts and games, we had a snack and learned a bit about Memorial day and fun US trivia. I don’t think we’ll be making regular meetings (they are on Mondays…) but it was fun to see what’s going on.

Saying the pledge (the flag was outside.)

I had dinner in the crockpot, did 4 loads of laundry, Bethany did her last final and co-ops are opening later.

Service dogs, done and almost done, birthday pics


Monday we had a field trip to Freedom Service Dogs.

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I loved how the lady described what happens if a dog can’t pass their tests – they have a career change. The dogs are rescued from shelters, so they are almost all mutts, and they are matched with a client, trained (at no cost to the client, donations cover the up to $30K needed) and if all goes well, they end up helping a client who might be a Veteran, autistic, disabled or have emotional needs. The dogs are trained for each client, so one person might need a dog that can brace them when the stand, another might need a dog that can turn lights off/on, retrieve meds, open doors, the commands are almost endless. If a dog needs a career change, they are put up for adoption (they don’t go back to the shelter.) Hannah wants to volunteer there (you have to be 12), but I think she is only looking at the ‘playtime yard’ part of volunteering….

Tuesday I discovered that Hannah is ‘done’ with school. Grace and Bethany are very, very close. Now time for more reading, hands-on math, library events (more of them) and perhaps making a lap-book for our trip to Paris, Rome, Pisa, Pompeii, Majorca and Canne. I took Hannah to Hudson to take some pre-birthday pics, I like the ones with the rainbow scarf and flower headband.